As this year draws to a close, receive My Peace.

Good thing the quote above was part of this morning's devo.  I needed it . . . many times over today!  (told you it wouldn't ALWAYS be "pretty" reading!)

This morning's reading continued, "This is still your deepest need, and I, your PRINCE OF PEACE, long to pour Myself into your neediness.  My abundance and your emptiness are a perfect match!  I designed you to have no sufficiency of your own.  I created you as a jar of clay, set apart for sacred use.  I want you to be filled with My very Being, permeated through and through with Peace.

So, as I sit home (alone) at 10:19 on New Year's Eve, I can say, that I am filled with peace {again}.  I have needed "filling" time and time again over the past 8 weeks, the past 8 days, the past 8 hours, the past 8 minutes!  As I said, as I sit here ALONE . . . after 20 years of marriage and with 5 kids and 5 grandchildren between us, 6 siblings and sibling-in-laws, their kids & grandkids and our parents, not to mention friends and church family, alone isn't something I am accustomed to.  But, it's o.k.  Now.  It hasn't been o.k. all day, it's been, then it hasn't, then it has, then it hasn't . . . are you beginning to see a pattern?  I FINALLY did.  It was a pattern of "TRUST in GOD, let HIM fill my empty places" . . . "poor me, nothing to do on New Year's Eve" . . . "TRUST in GOD, let HIM fill my empty places"  . . . "poor me, New Year's Eve is really a "couple's" holiday" . . . "TRUST in GOD, let HIM fill my empty places"  . . . "poor me, the phone will ring with plans soon" . . . "TRUST in GOD, let HIM fill my empty places"  . . . "poor me, the girls and their friends are all going to a party tonight" . . . "TRUST in GOD, let HIM fill my empty places"  . . . it was a vicious cycle . . . all day long . . . and into this evening.  AND, it was a SATURDAY.  The day.  The {dreaded} day.  But, this morning, the dread didn't set in as much as last week.  And last week was better than the week before, and so on.  So, I CAN see GOD WORKING.  Week by week, day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment.

My parents DID call and ask if we wanted to go out to dinner tonight, but we had bought steaks and shrimp that we planned on for supper, so we decided to stay home and do that.  It was all good, except I burned the steaks a little bit (Rick did most of the grilling!).  It was all good, except for the empty spot at the table.  It was all good, because GOD was with us.  Another FIRST, New Year's Eve dinner - just the 4 of us . . . and we survived - yet another first - GOD saw us through, again!

I found a link to a WONDERFUL post from another "widow" about how New Year's feels - it was another "just what I needed".  If you are interested, you can link to it HERE!  The author reminded me to look for the ROSES, not the thorns, to make a list of ALL I have to be THANKFUL for (and it's a LONG list!), she reminded me that my cup is more than half full, it RUNNETH OVER - I can be FILLED with HIS very Being, permeated through and through with His Peace!!

Just as I was letting Satan have a foothold and allowing the "pity party" that I was having for myself to become FULL BLOWN, I got a Facebook message from my elementary school "pen pal" (who I just re-connected with this past summer).  "Thinking of you and praying for you. Praying God gives you peace, blessings and continues to comfort you while you grieve.  Have a wonderful evening with your girls.  Much Love"  The "time stamp" on the message said she sent it at about 10:30 this morning - I did not receive it until about 6:30 tonight - just WHEN I needed it! ♥  Aahhh, JESUS NEVER FAILS!  

I also sent a quick text to a dear friend downstate, just asking her to pray for me/us this evening . . . she quickly responded that she was/is and would continue to be!  She and I were able to "chat" on facebook a little later, and after I did a little venting, a little complaining and some "pity-partying", she (and God) helped me re-focus. . . "TRUST in GOD, let HIM fill the empty places"!  I wrapped up my chat with her feeling re-energized in the Lord!  As the girls left to go to the party tonight, I felt the pity settling in again, but continued with cleaning up the house, until I got a text from ANOTHER dear friend - asking how I was doing . . . I answered honestly with "yucky"!  Before I could set the phone down, it rang, and it was HER! :)  We had a nice chat for about 1/2 hour which I think left us both feeling better (both of these dear friends are also spending New Year's Eve "alone", both for different reasons, but both still able to relate to the "alone-ness"!) 

So, tonight as this year draws to a close (1 hour and 23 minutes as of RIGHT NOW), it is bittersweet.  Part of me does not want to let go of 2011.  2011 will ALWAYS be the last year that I had Rick here with me.  It will always be the year that the kids last had their Daddy here with them.  2011 will always be the year we "lost" life as we knew it.  2011 will be bittersweet, filled with good memories (a spur of the moment trip to Alabama, the birth of Lila Faith Marie, lots and lots and lots of love and laughter, a new pancreas for Luanne . . . ), as well as "not so good" (for us) memories.  We will never forget 11/5/11.  I know that the "sting" of that day will slowly become less.  I know that the happy memories will continue to override the sad.  I know that God who has been SO FAITHFUL to us will continue to be no less faithful in the days to come.  So, with a heart of gratitude for all of God's gifts, with a heart of sadness for us, we bid good-bye to 2011.  We look forward to 2012.  We look forward to seeing where God is leading us in this journey to our "new normal".  We continue to ache with missing Rick, but at the same time rejoice for him, knowing WHERE he is!  We continue on, moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day, knowing that heartache WILL come.  People WILL fail us.  We WILL wonder "why".  Some days will seem "easy" and some days will seem impossible.  Yet in each of these circumstances and more, GOD will remain FAITHFUL.  God will remain the SAME.  God will NEVER LEAVE US.  God will NEVER fail us.  God will FILL THE EMPTY PLACES!

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."  2 Corinthians 4:7


I am leading you along a way that is uniquely right for you . . . .

"I am leading you along a way that is uniquely right for you. . . Marvel at the beauty of a life intertwined with My Presence.  Rejoice as we journey together in intimate communion. . ."

That was the thought I woke up to in my devotional this morning - after another good, sound night sleep, even in an "empty" house!  

John 15:4 "Abide in Me and I in you."

CONSTANT reminders from God . . . reminders to ABIDE in HIM and He WILL abide in and with me.  HE will lead me along a way that is UNIQUELY right for ME!  Rejoice as we journey together in intimate communion (Abide in Me and I in you)!

Each day, I learn to "lean" a little more.  And each day, I am given just the reminders that I need that God is always near - as near as my next breath.  

Today was another day filled with blessings.

The blessing of a really good night's sleep!

The blessing of a job to go to (even though I grumbled about having to go in during "vacation")!

The blessing of Lake Lundgren Bible Camp!

The blessing of picking up my girls from Lake Lundgren Bible Camp!

The blessing of the girls and their friends being home and enjoying each other's company!

The blessing of phone calls and texts and facebook messages from friends!

The blessing of my "baby girl" snoring softly next to me as I type!

The blessing of the Lord's nearness - every moment of every day!

The blessing of KNOWING.  Knowing where Rick is today.  Knowing that we WILL be reunited some glorious day.  Knowing that NOTHING surprises God.  Knowing that HE has carried us for 8 weeks now.  Knowing that He will continue to carry us in the days ahead.  Knowing that SO MANY people love and are still praying for us!  Knowing that as a New Year is on the horizon God is already there!  Knowing that He is behind, before, above, below . . . Knowing that HE IS THERE - always!

I PROMISED myself that I'd get to bed EARLIER tonight, and here I am, still blogging and messaging someone on Facebook (!) . . . so, on this "New Year's Adam", I'm going to get going so I'm ready to stay up to greet 2012 (? - maybe I'll make it - midnight IS past my bedtime - especially with having to get back into REAL life next week!).  And, as I greet this New Year, I will do so with the anticipation that each New Year brings.  This one will certainly be different than I ever expected it to be, but I believe that if I keep my mind stayed on Him, and TRUST Him for every tomorrow, He will bring blessings in the New Year that I never expected.  HE will carry us through with His tender loving care and His mercies that are new every morning!


Yet I will rejoice in the Lord!

Well, here I am on night #2 of being "home alone" (hey, that would be a good movie title...!! :) LOVED those movies!).  Seriously, though, I'm here, night #2, and I'm doing JUST FINE - really!  GOD IS GOOD!!  I slept REALLY well last night, waking up at 7:00 a.m., checking the news and falling back asleep until 9:00 a.m. . . . WHAT am I going to do next week when I have to go back to work . . . aarrggghhh!! :) 

This morning brought a light dusting of snow, and it was so pretty!  It wasn't enough though to keep me from running to town to have lunch with my best (girl) friend, Donna!  We met at Applebee's, had a nice lunch, and a nice visit.  After lunch, we walked to Younkers to check on the boots I had been looking at (and had them hold for me!).  I'd looked at the boots at the Younkers in Appleton AND in Green Bay, but didn't buy them - they were a bit more than I usually spend on footwear - BUT, I really liked them!!  So, last night, as I was looking in Rick's "sock" bin, I was surprised to find a basket full of loose change (Rick had jars that we found in the truck, under the bed and I think in the garage, but I never checked in the socks!).  When I found it, I was talking to Donna and commented that maybe that was Rick's Christmas present to me - my new boots.  So I called Younkers and asked if they had and could hold them for me.  I was pleasantly surprised when she told me that they would be going on an even BETTER sale tomorrow (today)!  I was also able to use a coupon that I found on-line for $10.00 off, so they ended up being about 60% off - a nice surprise, and a little gift from Rickey! ♥

They are "EMU" brand, and wool lined - which for someone like me whose toes are always NUMB with the cold, I'm really excited to have warm feet!!

After I was done at the mall, I headed home with the plan to stop at "the shop" to visit mine and Rick's really good friend Blair.  He owns/operates a muffler shop in town, and I was really glad that today hadn't brought him any afternoon customers (he probably wasn't as happy as I was about the lack of business)!  Blair has been friends with Rick for YEARS as they both own part of the hunting camp in Cedar River, and I've known Blair since high school . . . he's one of those friends that it doesn't matter how long it is between times when you see him, you just pick back up where you left off.  This time, the "picking up" was a little harder since we didn't really get to talk at Rick's funeral, so this was our "first" visit . . . and the "firsts" are always the hardest.  But, 2 hours later, as I drove away, I was so thankful that the Lord prompted me to make that stop!  That visit with Blair (who knew Rick SO WELL and could share so many memories with me!) was just what I needed - it did my heart good! :)  I won't wait 2 months to stop in and say "hi" next time!  After I got home, his sweet wife sent me a Facebook message telling me how good the visit was for him (& here I was thinking how good it was for ME!) so it was for sure a "God thing"! 

Once home, my mom & dad popped over to see my purchases of the day (my boots & a TV . . . no, I didn't "need" one, but the tiny one in my room was really hard to see, and considering I got $225.00 off on that purchase, it was a deal too good to pass up!).  I then got phone calls from Liz and Donna, so chatting with them while straightening up the house filled my evening. ♥

One of my devos today had verses from Habakkuk:  Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will take joy in the God of my salvation, GOD, the Lord is my strength! (vs. 18 & 19a).  These verses come after hardships are listed, fig trees not blossoming, no fruit on the vines, the produce of the olive fail, and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls . . . YET I WILL REJOICE!  Now, I can't relate to those hardships - I have never even SEEN a fig, don't have a vineyard, hate olives, can't grow crops to save my life, and have no desire to have flocks of anything - I CAN relate to hardships!  Some days they are more obvious than others, but they are always there, big and little.  Another devo (I have a couple I read!) read in part, Trust Me with every fiber of your being!  What I can accomplish in and through you is proportional to how much you depend on Me . . . I care as much about your tiny trust-steps through daily life as about your dramatic leaps of faith . . . Consistently trusting in Me is vital to flourishing in My Presence!"  I LOVE how 2 completely seperate devotional readings can "tie" together so well . . . hhmmmm, wonder WHO makes THAT happen?!  So, again today, I'm reminded that God is in the BIG things and in the little things!  He cares about the "traumatic" events in my life as well as every little detail of my "every-day"!  

So, tonight, as night #2 reminds me that it's bedtime (I do have to go in to work for a little bit tomorrow morning before going to pick up MY GIRLS!), I can REJOICE in the LORD.  I can take JOY in the God of my SALVATION.  GOD the Lord IS my STRENGTH!  He cares about me ALL THE TIME . . . on November 5, and every day before and every day since . . . He did not leave me or forsake me . . . ever!  Each day He gives me those reminders - today in the way of a visit with an old (not as in Blair is old - old as in "long time"!) friend, phone calls from dear "sisters" and Facebook messages (as I was blogging here) from dear friends and a sweet sister-in-law!! ♥  God is good and He does watch over me EVERY second of every day!

"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on YOU, 
because he trusts in YOU!
Trust in the LORD forever,
For the LORD GOD  is an everlasting rock!"
Isaiah 2:3-4

"Blessed is the man (woman) who makes the LORD his (her) trust!"
Psalm 40:4



Today, my devo read in part:  "I am your Refuge and Strength, an ever-present Help in trouble.  Therefore, you don't need to be afraid of anything - not even cataclysmic circumstances . . . as you grow closer to Me, I open your eyes to see more and more of My Presence all around you.  . .. like shifting shades of sunlight . . . you have eyes that see and ears that hear, so proclaim My abiding Presence . . ."

So, with that (and since it's late and I'm tired), I'm just going to say tonight, that I'm THANKFUL! :)

Despite the circumstances of "life" right now, I have opened my eyes to see MORE and MORE of HIS Presence, and I do notice the shifting shades of sunlight, along with so many other things!  So, tonight, I'm thankful...

  • I'm thankful for the house that was filled with the girls and their friends and lots of laughter last night and this morning!
  • I'm thankful for a GREAT night's sleep last night!
  • I'm thankful that Luanne is home and recovering well (we got to see her for a little bit this morning at Gramma & Papa Rye's where she is staying!)
  • I'm thankful for my sweet girl who came to me this morning and asked, "Will you be o.k. with all of us gone, Mama?"  (To which I responded quickly and totally honestly, "Yes, I will be FINE, you GO and have FUN!")
  • I'm thankful that as I drove by the cemetery this morning, I could do it without feeling like I was going into a panic.
  • I'm thankful for Lake Lundgren Bible Camp - where the girls are through Friday for WINTERFEST!
  • I'm thankful for the GODLY friends that my girls have made at camp throughout the years - those who they were looking forward to spending this week with!
  • I'm thankful for Mike and Mama Ruth and Sponz . . . and everyone else at camp who loves us, prays for us, and provides this "safe" place for my girls (and all the others who attend camp there!)
  • I'm thankful for family members who are more like "sisters" than cousins - and the love & understanding that they have - no matter WHERE I am at emotionally!
  • I'm thankful for the errands that I needed to do that got done today.
  • I'm thankful for the chiropractor!  My neck and shoulder had been bothering me since Monday - and after a visit to Dr. Dave, I feel MUCH better!
  • I'm thankful for the FUN phone call from my cousin's wife that she had just WON tickets to a concert in Menominee in January (and even more thankful for her friendship, love, and prayers, and that their daughter and my girls became FAST friends this summer at SEEDS at LLBC!)
  • I'm thankful for my BEST FRIEND, Donna, who really is the SISTER I never had - she and Rick are SO MUCH alike that Jim (her husband) and I just have to laugh!!  I was looking through a basket of "stuff" Rick had "saved" and told her to tell Jim that there was a 1/2" piece of 3/4" copper - and I wondered WHY you would save it, Jim said he'd have thrown it away (as I would have), but, Donna responded, "copper is worth money" (must be WHY Rick saved it)!
  • I'm thankful for the basket of "change" that I found when I was looking through that pile of "treasures" that Rick had kept . . . Merry Christmas to me from Rickey!
  • I'm thankful to Bobbi for challenging me to exercise in the new year (ugh, did I really say THAT, now I might have to actually DO it - I asked her if I couldn't just be her Jillian Michaels)!
  • I'm thankful for the years that Rick and I had together, living, loving, learning and laughing most of the time!
  • I'm thankful that I'm assured of Rick's "final resting place" and of my future home in Heaven!
  • I'm thankful for the "quiet" in my house tonight.
  • I'm thankful that the Lord has given me PEACE about being home "alone" while the girls are gone this week - REALLY, for those of you worrying, I AM O.K. with it . . . it's another FIRST, but one that had to come sooner or later - the girls are growing up and I would NEVER want to hold them back from LIVING LIFE!! :) 
  • I'm thankful to all of you who worry about me, but please believe me when I say that I am O.K.  And it's not in my strength that I'm o.k., it's because the LORD is carrying me each and every day, each and every moment.  I'm keeping my eyes on HIM and trusting in HIS plans for my life!


"Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do.  But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength"

That was a quote I "stole" (again) from Facebook (thanks to Paige this time!).  
It's a quote that makes me think . . . and I LIKE it, but I would like to add that the "true strength" has to come from the LORD!    The funny (?) thing is that so many people "think" that I should be falling apart; rather than seeing the strength that the Lord has provided, they wonder WHY I'm not giving up/falling apart.  I KNOW full well that the strength that I have is NOT MY OWN and it comes from the LORD and HIS love for me.

When I initially started blogging, a friend said to me, "You have no idea how many people you have brought closer to God".  To which I replied, "That's why I'm doing it - then Rick's death will not have been in vain".  She assured me it wasn't - which was very encouraging and why I have continued blogging.  If you read here regularly, or are just checking it out for the first time today, I want to be sure that you know that I'm not doing this for anyone to point to me and my strength.  I want them to see PAST me, and even my circumstances, to the LORD!  Today, I was talking to someone who we had sent our CHRISTMAS LETTER to.  She told me that she had given it to someone who had lost her son this past summer and it helped her to "get over the hump".  Someone else told me that she was moved after reading here and is at peace (she is going through a very difficult time herself).  That's it, that's why I'm doing this, partly just to put my feelings "down" so I can look back at them and see how the LORD has worked in my own life, but also to show others the HOPE that we have in the Lord!

Today's devo started out: "I am preparing you for what is on the road ahead, just around the bend. Take time to be still in My Presence so that I may strengthen you."   I don't know if you remember the "word picture" I wrote of awhile back, but it was EXACTLY about that - what is just around the "bend" and how HE lights our path - just one step ahead, and then last night, I posted about how HE is already in my tomorrows!  It's still AMAZING to me to see God working in all the "little" details, including when I read Facebook posts and devotionals!  It is AGAIN proof to me that no detail of my life goes unnoticed to my Lord!

Today we went to the orthodontist then on to Appleton and back to Green Bay to do some Christmas gift exchanging (buying gifts for teen-aged girls isn't easy!) and some after Christmas bargain shopping with gift cards we received.  We listened to the radio and the girl's iPods as we drove.  Several times we heard Matthew West's "Strong Enough" . . . it's a beautiful song with words that ring SO TRUE: 

You must, you must think I'm strong
To give me what I'm going through
Well, forgive me, forgive me if I'm wrong
But this looks like more than I can do
On my own.

I know I'm not strong enough to be
Everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up
I'm not strong enough
Hands of mercy, won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough
Strong enough
for both of us.

Cause I'm broken
Down to nothing
But I'm still holding on to the one thing
You are God
And you are strong
When I am weak.

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
And I don't have to be
Strong enough
Strong enough.

So, there it is, in the lyrics of a song....I'M NOT STRONG ENOUGH, when I'm BROKEN and down to NOTHING, I can still hold on to ONE THING . . . HE IS GOD and HE is STRONG when I am WEAK . . . 


So as we "wind down" from the busy-ness of the holiday season and the days become more "normal", the hole in our lives left by Rick becomes more glaringly evident (November & December are BUSY months and also "hunting" months - so we were used to Rick not being home during this time - he was typically at camp much of November, and December brought muzzle-loading season and late bow season along with always being hectic due to Christmas "festivities").  In these days where reality seems to "sink in" more, I will continue to lean on the Lord.  Letting Him be STRONG ENOUGH for both of us!  As I send all three girls off to Winterfest at Bible Camp,  I will be THANKFUL that they are all attending - and getting to spend time with the great friends they have made at camp.  I will take the time to enjoy the "quiet" of the house and will pray that the girls will draw even closer to God during these days.  It will be a different "quiet" at home, but I'm actually ready for it - it will be good for me!   It seems another thing that people have a hard time understanding, but honestly, I WILL be O.K.!   I will continue to hold on to the ONE THING, that HE is GOD and HE is STRONG when I am weak.  He has proven Himself faithful to me over and over and over again, and I know that He is always in my tomorrows, always that one step ahead of me, preparing the road, just around the bend.  I WILL be STILL in His Presence so that He may strengthen me!


Don't ever fear tomorrow....God is ALREADY there!

....isn't THAT a GREAT thought?  Reminds me of the song that has the line "There are things about tomorrow that I don't seem to understand, but I know WHO holds tomorrow and I know WHO holds my hand"!

The "title" of tonight's post was actually "stolen" from the Facebook status of a VERY WISE young man (Thanks Beau!).  Amazing, though, how GOD always puts JUST WHAT WE NEED out there, JUST WHEN WE NEED IT - even using Facebook as a tool!  

Tonight, I "chatted" with Nick on Facebook and told him that I KNOW that even if Rick "could" come back, there is no way that he would WANT to, now that he has tasted Heaven's glories! Our sadness is really only selfishness on our part - what Rick has in Heaven DOES NOT COMPARE to what we have here. That still does not change the sadness that sometimes surrounds us for all we feel he is "missing" here and all that we are missing him being a part of.  Selfishly, I WANT HIM HERE WITH ME (us)!  But, again, I have to CHOOSE to TRUST that the LORD's plans for my life are beyond my scope of comprehension.  HE is with me each day and HE will lead and guide.  I don't HAVE to understand (which is HARD for me - it means it's something that I can't "control"), I just have to TRUST that God's ways are higher than mine, and that HIS love for me is never-ending.

Last night, I posted kind of quickly because it was late and I was tired, but my thoughts were so much on the sermon that Pastor Fred preached that morning.  It was just amazing because PEACE is something that is so elusive to so many.  And SO MANY cannot understand peace - especially in the midst of a storm like we are in the midst of.  I have TRIED to explain it to people, and they JUST DON'T GET IT!  That's where Matthew 14:27 just jumped out at me, NOT AS THE WORLD gives . . . so, anyone who does not truly KNOW the Lord CANNOT have this peace.  They can't understand this peace.  They can't "get it", until they "get HIM"!  And that is my prayer for anyone who is just not "getting it", please, look to the Lord, trust in Him TODAY, make him the Lord of your life.  Open your heart to Him and accept his free gift of salvation.  Make 2012 THE YEAR that your life changes!  Make it the year that you can KNOW peace!  Make it the year that you DON'T fear tomorrow, because GOD is already there! 

Today was an interesting day.  It was really one of the first days since November 5 that I didn't have anything "particular" that HAD to be done.  Up until this point, I had to keep on "doing".  First it was the details of Rick's memorial celebration, then the details of insurance matters (some of which are still on-going), then getting through going back to work/school, then my birthday/then the little girls & Ashley's birthdays & Thanksgiving, then Christmas preparations and finally Christmas . . . and then TODAY.  BAM . . . it's over.  All the "firsts" that were so pressing have come . . . and gone.  So, now what?  This is our "new normal".  This is our new "forever" (as long as our days on earth last).  

I was SO THANKFUL when I read the devotional over at Proverbs 31 this morning . . . "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up on wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."  Isaiah 40:31.  I have always loved this verse, but hadn't really related it to this current phase of life.  This devo (click on the "Proverbs 31" above to link to the entire post) reminded me that "It's not our strength that causes us to soar, but HE lifts us up out of the weary places and makes us soar"!  Good truths, and so good to be reminded of them.  The devo ended with this prayer:  Dear Father, I’m tired and I cannot do this on my own. Today I take my eyes off of what I cannot do and I place my focus on You. On Your promises. On Your Word. Lift my wings with Your strength and help me fly again. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.   This is a prayer that needs to be prayed DAILY - sometimes hourly or even moment by moment!  I do completely trust that HE will help me "fly again", as long as I keep my focus on HIM!

Today also brought about some VERY GOOD NEWS . . . Rick's sister, Luanne will be coming HOME tomorrow!  I'm still in awe of how God works.  How we, as Rick's family, have been the "givers" and the "receivers" all within such a short period of time.  As I pray for Luanne and her recovery process, I also pray for the family who made this gift possible.  A family whose "first" Christmas without their loved one happened just days after their loved one passed away.  The whole process takes on a whole new meaning when you have experienced both sides of it.  I pray that the family feels comfort as we do - from the Lord.  I pray that they will realize what a gift they have given (not to just Luanne, but probably many others).  I pray that the God of Peace will reign in their lives.  I am thankful to them that they made this possible for Luanne.  

So, again tonight, as I am snuggling in bed with Kajzi Jo, listening to the sounds of the "big" girls and their friends in the living room, I am THANKFUL.  Thankful that God is always with us.  Thankful that I don't have to fear tomorrow, HE is already there.  Thankful that we had a "good" Christmas in spite of the sadness that we also felt.  Thankful that Ashley & Brian and Nick & Ashley were able to be with us for Christmas.  Thankful for Presten, Daila, Ty, Maddie & Lila - these precious little people who are a "part" of Rick . . . these little ones who the girls and I LOVE SO MUCH (as well as their mommies & daddies).  Thankful for my "big" kids and the fact that we can be here for each other.  Thankful for the 3 girls that Rick & I were blessed with.  Thankful for the love of friends & family (& plates of treats that are delivered "just because", the texts and facebook messages reminding us that others are still thinking of us, and praying for us)!  Thankful that I don't have to "soar" on my own, but I can let HIM be my strength!  Thankful that HIS mercies are NEW every morning!  Thankful that even though sometimes I take my eyes off of HIM, HE never takes HIS eyes off of me!


Merry CHRISTmas!

It's late and I'm TIRED!

Here are a few thoughts wandering through my mind - I will elaborate more on them tomorrow!

We SURVIVED . . . another FIRST . . . our FIRST Christmas without our dear husband/daddy.  It was different to be sure.  We noticed the absence of Rick more than you can imagine.  It hit me at the oddest times.  When I went into the bathroom at his parents house (don't ask me why, it just did)!  Watching Daila & Maddie "cheer" for us.  Eating rice pudding.  Taking a nap this afternoon . . . grief is not predictable - that is for sure!  Yet, at these times, and so many more this CHRISTmas weekend, just as I felt myself beginning to sink, I would remember that my sadness was for those of us who are HERE.  Yes, we miss, yes, we wish the days together would have stretched on for YEARS more, yes the memories are bittersweet, but, those are OUR feelings.  RICKEY celebrated his first CHRISTMAS in HEAVEN . . . and the DELIGHT of that MUST overshadow my earthly, selfish grief.  I'm NOT denying the grief or the sadness, the loneliness or the missing Rick that we feel, I'm just re-focusing, learning to REST in God's PEACE! 

Which is what today's sermon was about!  You either HAVE peace or you DON'T!  It's black and white.  Yes or no.  It's like, are you pregnant or not?  You can't be "somewhat" pregnant, and you can't "somewhat" have peace!  GOOD STUFF!

Matthew 14:27 "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."

Lamentations 3:32 "...though He cause grief, He will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast love."

Therefore, as this first CHRISTmas comes to a close, I will CHOOSE to TRUST - again in the LORD.  I will CHOOSE to accept His PEACE.  I will CHOOSE to let my heart be un-troubled, I will CHOOSE to not be afraid.  I will TRUST in his compassion and accept the ABUNDANCE of His steadfast love.  As I lie down to sleep again tonight (with my house FULL of LOVE - Nick, Ashley & the girls are staying with us!), I will echo the words of the old hymn (1800's) that still ring true for believers today:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say;
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come;
Let this blest assurance control;
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And has shed His own blood for my soul.

It is well, it is well,
With my soul, with my soul,
It is well, It is well with my soul


Mild He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die!

. . . again today, night gave way to morning, a light dusting of CHRISTmas snow covering the ground, my dad clearing it before we were even out of bed!  As every day before, the sun rose, right on schedule, regardless of the fact that it was again SATURDAY, and not just "any" SATURDAY, but also CHRISTmas EVE SATURDAY . . . "double - whammie".  Or, should I say, "could have been double -whammie"?  I awoke EARLY (close to 4:00 a.m.), but was able to get back to sleep with little difficulty, which in itself was a HUGE blessing!  I then slept until well after 8:30, as did everyone else in the house!  God blesses, even with sweet REST! 

I got up and began preparations for the day and for Christmas Eve supper, fully aware of WHAT day it was, yet, not feeling the normal unease that has typically inundated me on each Saturday since "that" Saturday.  The LORD is healing, giving a balm to the wounds.  So, rather than this Christmas Eve Saturday being a "terrible" day, it ended up to be a rather good day!    One of my devos contained this phrase, " . . . celebrate also your rebirth into eternal life.  This everlasting gift (His birth) was the SOLE PURPOSE of My entering your sin stained world".  Our REBIRTH into ETERNAL life was the SOLE PURPOSE for HIS entering our sin-stained world!  And because I KNOW without a DOUBT that Rick had received that GIFT, I can rest assured that he is celebrating CHRISTmas this year with the KING of KINGS!  Another devo was entitled, "DEATH DESTROYED" . . . which needs no explanation if you are a Christian and read THAT headline!  (if you aren't, please go back and read SO HOW DID HE KNOW - HOW DO WE KNOW?

The girls helped me as we got things ready for supper (with my parents) and then we took a quick ride over to Grandma & Papa Rye's house!  They were having a quiet Christmas Eve as the "out-of-towners" aren't going to be home for Christmas this year and Luanne is still in the hospital recovering from receiving her early Christmas gift - a new pancreas!  She is recovering well and has had steady blood sugars since the surgery.  Only those of you who "live" with diabetes day by day can understand the true enormity of that!  We will go back over to their house tomorrow when the big kids are in town.

After we had supper (wonderful ham thanks to my dear friend Nicole, chicken, baked potatoes, broccoli salad and rice pudding), we opened up our "Gramma & Papa" presents and then went to the CHRISTmas Eve candlelight service at church.  This service has become one of our few "hard and fast" traditions for any holiday, so it was a bit different this year - again, another first.  Usually, we don't all sit together at church, but Christmas Eve is the exception.  Seems most years, we have sat, Rick on one "end" of the girls, me on the other, and we would have our arms draped along the back of the pew, around our girls with our hands met and held in the middle.  I missed that tonight, as I miss so  many of the "little" details of life on a daily basis.  Yet, GOD was there tonight.  I felt His presence as we quietly and reverently remembered His birth, His gift to mankind, His gift to Rick, His gift to us.  So it was "different", yes, but it was still good.

When we came home, we opened gifts (several of which we will exchange early next week - shopping for teen-aged girls is NOT easy!).  Somehow, the girls, with the help from "God" as they tell me, got me an iPad!  I have been wanting one for YEARS (since they first came out), but have always dismissed it as "frivolous and unnecessary".   Now, I'm not saying I don't still think it is "frivolous", but the thought that THEY thought of ME and what I'd ENJOY said more than the gift itself (though I do love it!).  As I worry day to day, that I'm not "enough", doing enough, loving enough, nurturing enough, "being" enough to them, they are doing the same about me.  So, along with the iPad, an "open hearts" ring and a scarf, they gave me a card that read: "I know life's been a little cloudy for you lately . . . Just know God's got SUNNIER days ahead.  You're in my prayers.  The Girls, Merry Christmas! We Love You♥"
There are NO WORDS!  GOD HAS BLESSED ME BEYOND MEASURE.  Though I will probably never (here on earth) understand why God called Rick home (early in my mind), I will NEVER doubt the BLESSINGS that He (GOD) and he (Rick) left me here with in these 3 beautiful girls, their big brother & sister and our grandbabies.  So on this eve of our Dear Saviors birth, I will again REST!  Rest in the Lord's LOVE and care, in the LOVE that I KNOW Rick had for each of us, in the LOVE of Rick's and my parents, in the LOVE of our children/grandchildren, in the LOVE of our family and friends.  I will rest and refresh and be ready tomorrow to face another day in this journey called life, holding TIGHTLY to the one who holds my future and also holds my hand!

"It won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright."
1 Corinthians 13:12 (The Message)


"mErRy ChRiStMaS eVe, Eve (a.k.a. Merry Christmas "Adam")"!!

Rick and I always wished each other a "Merry Christmas Eve, Eve" on the 23rd.  In fact, the 23rd MAY be the day he "proposed" (I know, I'm not "overly" sentimental and don't remember the EXACT day)!  I do remember though, we had gone shopping for a "Christmas outfit" for me.  And I remember the outfit (from Fashion Bug) - white sweatshirt material STIRRUP pants and a light rose colored sweatshirt "cardigan" . . . Oh, my, just thinking of it gives me the shivers - but back then, it was "THE STYLE" . . . hopefully some things that "go around" don't come "back around"!  Anyway, as we left the store, Rick held up my coat and "helped" me into it, knowing that immediately my hands would go in the pockets because I'm ALWAYS cold.  So as we stepped out into the parking lot, in went my hands and they felt a ring box! Yes, I was TOTALLY SURPRISED! :)  That was 20 years ago, if not today, this week.  And, except for the fact that if I could have "my way" I would have chosen to keep Rick here with me longer, there isn't anything else I would change.  I think that is probably why I am able to "move on" and "survive".  I had the BEST 20 years of my life, which initially added 2 wonderful step-kids to my life, and then our 3 beautiful girls, and then grandbabies - many people don't get half that time to spend with their BEST FRIEND, or they are married, but it's not "good"!  I was blessed beyond measure, and those blessings continue with the children and grandchildren that remain!  God proved to be faithful 20 years ago this week as Rick and I made wedding plans, and HE remains faithful today.  God helped us through the good times and bad, in richer and poorer (more poorer, but that's o.k. too!), in not much sickness, and basically good health, until death did us part. But, those vows did NOT say that when death parted us, God would cease to be faithful, so I DO continue to TRUST in the faithfulness that has sustained me!

Anyway, all that to say, we always wished each other a "Merry Christmas Eve, Eve" so today, as I was looking through facebook, I had to smile when a friend of ours {Tim Decker} was happy that he had just finished wrapping his gifts and it's only "Christmas Adam" (get it, Adam comes before EVE?).  So, thanks Tim, for the smile that is still on my face! :)  

Today, my devo started out: I am King of kings and Lord of lords, dwelling in dazzlingly bright Light!  I am also your Shepherd, Companion, and Friend - the One who never lets go of your hand.  Well, that was pretty cool when last night I blogged about "who" is really my "BEST FRIEND", and no, I hadn't "read ahead" in my devotional book!  So again, GOD IS IN CONTROL of EVERY LITTLE DETAIL!

We are now home from our little adventure.  We had a really good time, the girls got their shopping done and there is a slight dusting of snow to give us at least a little bit of a white Christmas.  Laundry is almost done, table is set for Christmas Eve dinner with my parents and all gifts are wrapped!  Tomorrow we cook and do a little bit of baking.  Yes, Christmas will still come with all it's festivities.  It will be a different Christmas for us this year to be sure, but the reason for the celebration has NOT changed.  We are celebrating the birth of our Savior.  The birth of the ONE who gives me reason for hope for tomorrow.  The birth of the ONE who Rick is celebrating Christmas with this year.  So as I maneuver through these days of "celebrating" and "grieving" hand-in-hand, I will cling to God's promises, I will cling to the fact that I am assured that Rick is celebrating Christmas in Heaven, his Christmas will be gazillion times more wonderful than I can ever imagine!  I will cling to the words of two songs that God whispered to me over and over and over today.   And I know they were God's whispers because I'm pretty much a Christmas music kind of girl this time of year and neither of these are Christmas songs!  The first was:

Something beautiful, something good,
All my confusion, He understood.
All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife,
But He made something, beautiful of my life.

All my confusion, HE UNDERSTOOD!  All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife, but He made (and is making, every day) something BEAUTIFUL of my life!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone,
Because I know, I know, He holds the future,
And life is worth the living, just because He lives.

And as I do my best to be both Mommy and Daddy (which I fail at miserably!) to our 3 girls, as much as I wish I could fill the void left in Nick & Ashley's lives, as I hurt for all their hurt and WISH I could just kiss it and make it go away, but can't, THIS verse speaks to me:

How sweet to hold, a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives
But sweeter still, that CALM ASSURANCE,

So, it's NOT me, I don't have to be BOTH Mommy & Daddy, I don't have to be the one to fill the void, I can't kiss the hurt and make it go away, but I can have this CALM ASSURANCE that this child (Nick, Ashley, Tessa, Taya & Kajsa) can face UNCERTAIN days because HE LIVES!  All I have to do is to continue to lift them up in prayer and ENTRUST them to HIS care.  HE loves them way more than I do.  He can care for them WAY BETTER than I can.  He will hold them through these uncertain days, BECAUSE HE LIVES!!

So tonight, we will CHOOSE to sleep well (we are exhausted after vacation) in HIM and tomorrow, we will CHOOSE to follow Him, to trust Him, to celebrate HIS birth, and to BELIEVE that Rick is celebrating with HIM this Christmas!

So, until tomorrow,  "Merry Christmas Adam!"!! ♥

I will trust in YOUR unfailing love!

...another short post tonight . . . we are at our good friends, the Dempsey's in Appleton.  Today is Cody's 18th Birthday and we ended our little vacation helping him celebrate.  Tomorrow, we will finish up Christmas shopping (the girls, not me-I'm DONE!), get our Christmas Eve groceries and head home! 

It has been a good week, we've had some {lots} of laughs (Kajsa, did you just push the "up" button? ... as we are standing OUTSIDE the elevator with ALL of our going home luggage and she is INSIDE with all her going home luggage and the doors close - and YES we needed to go DOWN, not up - the look on K's face was PRICELESS as those doors shut!  I was wondering how far up she'd go, but luckily, she didn't push any buttons so when she pushed the "door open" button, they opened right up, we all got on and went DOWN one floor to find our waiting vehicle!).  It's also "odd", we have gone "away alone"" like this before, but this time, we will be coming home "alone" as well . . . it's an odd feeling, one that I'm not really liking "getting used to".  I'm thankful though, that the Lord is carrying us through each and every day and we are NEVER truly alone.  I'm so glad that HE promises to be our EVERYTHING as long as we remember to lean on him!  "Still I will trust in your unfailing love and my heart will choose to rejoice in Your salvation"  Psalm 13:5  Daily.  Daily I have to TRUST.  Daily.  Daily I have to CHOOSE.  To CHOOSE to REJOICE.  To CHOOSE to rejoice in HIS salvation.  To CHOOSE to BELIEVE that He knows the plans He has for me {us}.  Plans for a future and a HOPE (Jeremiah 29:11).

It's hard.  It's strange.  It still doesn't seem "real".  It's "sobering".  It's scary.  It's SAD.  Though I DO trust in EVERY TRUTH that the LORD has laid on my heart these last {almost} 7 weeks, the other truth remains, I'm SAD.  My best friend is not here to share the excitement of Christmas with me.  My best friend isn't a phone call away.  My best friend isn't here, by my side helping to raise OUR girls.  But, in truth, my "BEST" friend, really is the LORD.  HE loves me even more than Rick ever did.  HE IS here, every day.  HE is by my side, helping to raise the girls, and HE has allowed me all the wonderful memories that I have from my {in my mind too short} time with Rick.  HE brings a smile to my face even when I don't feel like it.  HE gives me STRENGTH to carry on.  Today, I was reminded of the song Rick and I had played at our wedding, the chorus went like this:

It's not that I love you less than best,
For each day I love you more and more,
But there can only be one first place in my heart,
And you know who that's for,
My Lord, my Lord, my Lord.

Jesus is number one in my life,
So second place will have to do for you,
But I'm counting on spending the rest of my life,
In LOVE with the two of you!

Of course, I had planned that "the rest of my life" was going to be alot longer than this, but if I HONESTLY mean that FIRST PLACE in my heart is the LORD, then I have to TRUST that HIS plan for me is right on track, and HE will continue to lead and direct!

So, tonight as we settle in, with the girls over-tired and giggling, hugging me and kissing me goodnight and telling me that they LOVE me, I WILL REST in His promises and TRUST in his goodness for each of my tomorrows!

As Mary, the mother of Jesus from the blessed Christmas story, I too "...will believe what the LORD has said to her will be accomplished."! Luke 1:45


.....He will sustain you!

Psalm 55:22  "Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you;  He will never permit the righteous to be moved."

This was the Bible verse I awoke to this morning - after the BEST night of sleep I've had in WEEKS!! :)  We were sleeping by 10:00 last night, I woke up around 6:00 a.m. (same as on work days), but fell back to sleep and was SHOCKED to see it was 8:30 a.m.!! :)  It felt WONDERFUL! 

My devo this morning also read in part: My plan for your life is unfolding before you.  Sometimes the road you are traveling seems blocked . . . . Do not fear your weakness, for it is the stage on which My Power and Glory perform most brilliantly.  As you persevere along the path I have prepared for you , depending on My strength to sustain you, expect to see miracles, and you will!

The other day, someone asked me, the typical "how are you doing"? (and honestly, I'm getting TIRED of that question - and there is NO RIGHT answer to that question!).  Anyway, I answered that I was doing fine.  "No, how are you REALLY doing"?  I replied that REALLY, I am doing fine.  "Are you LYING to me?" . . . Ah, see, there is NO RIGHT answer! But, thanks to the promise in Psalm 55:22, and MANY others in the Bible, I CAN answer that I am doing o.k.  God is GOOD.  HE is sustaining me (us).  HIS plan for my life is unfolding before me.  Sometimes the road seems blocked (YES!), but do not fear your weakness, for it is than MY POWER and GLORY perform most brilliantly!  Expect to see miracles (in that I can say, each day, YES, I am doing o.k.!).  So, yes, daily, hour by hour, moment by moment, I cast my burden on the Lord.  I give him my sadness, my loneliness, my feelings of inadequacy in raising our 3 girls, my concerns about money, my . . . . . and HE does SUSTAIN me!

Today, we got going slowly, but that was just fine!  The bell-man at the hotel hailed a cab for us, and we were OFF!! (too bad our cabbie didn't speak a WORD of English)!  He could drive though and delivered us safely to the aquarium where we enjoyed a couple of hours looking at all of the exhibits!  We had a very good time!  Taya suggested Rainforest Cafe for lunch and Tessa had never been there, so we jumped in ANOTHER cab and asked him to deliver us there.  This cabbie spoke English very well and it was an enjoyable ride!  After a good lunch, we headed BACK over to Michigan Avenue and the Watertower Shops and the Disney Store and finished up some shopping (I TRIED to shop at the Apple store (iPad) but didn't make any purchases!).  EXHAUSTED {again} we headed back to the hotel and crashed for a couple of hours before heading back out and meeting up with our DEAR FRIENDS Jonny & Christine Cummings and their beautiful kiddos!! They are some of the MOST SPECIAL people in our lives and it did my heart good to see them!  They had brought some of the youth from their church to go ice-skating at Millennium Park but it was too full, so we headed to another skating rink and the girls even rented skates and skated for awhile!  We are now settled back in at the hotel, ready for some rest!

So as this day draws to a close, I am rejoicing in the fact that we have had a wonderful time away!  I'm thankful for travel safety and good weather, I'm so PROUD that I am the mama of these 3 beautiful young ladies and  I'm trusting in God for all my tomorrows, I am "Walking by faith, not by sight"  2 Corinthians 5:7



It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O most high, proclaiming your love in the morning, and your faithfulness at night.
Psalm 92:1 & 2.

What beautiful verses, proclaiming your LOVE in the morning and your FAITHFULNESS at night!  That is what we do each day - as the LORD carries us!

This morning brought the WONDERFUL NEWS that Luanne's surgery went well last night, she was still quite groggy, having a little trouble "waking up", but her sugars are doing well!  PRAISE THE LORD!  I KNOW that she had her VERY OWN angel keeping watch over her and the doctors and nurses last night and I'm so glad to hear good reports today!

This morning found us up early and on the road at 7:32 just as we planned (we were shooting for 7:30, so for us, 7:32 is PRETTY GOOD - we seem to run late more often than not!).  We made it to Chicago in just over 5 hours and that included a couple of stops, in Marinette, Green Bay and then at the Lake Forest Oasis!  THANK GOODNESS I had been down here in June and PAID ATTENTION - not only to the driving, but to the boat tour we took as the GPS decided not to work right when the "express" lanes were closed and we had to "re-route"!!  I knew we were going past our hotel on the expressway, but took the exit that the GPS said, and then I followed my instincts from there, and we drove right to the hotel!! :)   Just a BIT more traffic than we are accustomed to driving in, but we arrived all in one piece! :)  Our room was ready for us early, so we toted all our bags up (22nd floor), settled in a bit and then took off to explore Michigan Avenue!  We didn't make many purchases - it was a little overwhelming - we will go back tomorrow or Thursday morning!  After several hours of wandering, we came back to the hotel (EXHAUSTED) and ordered Chicago Deep Dish pizza from Giordono's (and should have ordered a SMALL even though it said it would only serve 1-2 people!).  We are all EXHAUSTED, watching Monte Carlo and ready for bed - already - at 6:15 p.m.!!  :)  Tomorrow, our only "for sure" is the Shedd Aquarium, the rest of the day, we will play by ear  -  which is really the BEST kind of vacation!  We have enjoyed each other's company and I think it was a good decision to get away and do something fun!! 
I LOVE THESE GIRLS SO MUCH and will forever be thankful that God blessed me and Rick with them.  I certainly wish Rick was with here with us, and would be here for years to come to help in raising them, but, I will continue to TRUST that the Lord has a plan for all of our lives, and in honoring Rick's life and memory, I will, with God's help do the best that I can! 

This is the view after dark from our hotel window.  I'm a country girl at heart, but it's sure fun to see a view like this once in awhile - it is quite "magical"! 

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"Full Circle" in a sense.....

Proverbs 16:3 . . . "Commit your work to the Lord; and your plans will be established." 

That was one of the verses in my devos this morning, and the last line of the devo itself read: Let My Presence bring order to your thoughts, infusing Peace into your entire being.

That's good stuff! :) So, AGAIN today, as every day that I CHOOSE to be STILL and LISTEN, God met me and spoke to me!  But, tonight, I'm going to be short, and tonight, it's not about us (well, kind of about us, but not in the usual sense - stay with me though!)

If you have been reading along since I started this blog, or if you read back, you will recall that in the hospital, when the nurse asked if we had talked about organ donation, and when I said we hadn't, she then asked if we wanted to.  My reply of "yes" startled me so that I actually almost looked around the room to see where the answer came from!  My next response was to ask the girls, reminding them that Auntie Lulu was awaiting approval to receive a pancreas transplant (due to the diabetes she has dealt with for years).  

On November 22, just a little over 2 weeks after we gave the o.k. for Rick's organs that could be used to be "gifted" to others, Luanne posted on her facebook that she was officially on the list for HER transplant.  It was with mixed feelings I read that.  I LOVE Luanne, and am thrilled at the changes this will bring to her life, but, I also KNEW the PAIN another family would have to endure for her miracle to happen.  Yet, I was EXCITED for her, it was a feeling of things coming "full circle".  This time around, Rick's family will be on the "receiving end" of this beautiful gift of life, rather than on the "donating end".

She has had a couple of "dry runs", she gets a call that there's a potential match, be ready, but then the call comes telling her, that no, it was not a complete match.  Luanne rested in the Lord's answers to this as she knew HE was in control!  There was even a call yesterday (Sunday) that she didn't get the "NO" answer to until 4:30 a.m. - and thankfully so, the roads were terribly icy, and Madison is quite a trek!

Anyway, tonight as I was at the basketball game, I got the text.  From my mom.  Luanne is on the WAY to MADISON.  She left at 6:00.  Taken there by her daughter Carri & granddaughter, Megan.  She was on the way.  For a pancreas transplant.  It happened.  It really happened.  And you know what?  It felt really good to be part of the family that received the "good news" call this time!  I immediately prayed for the precious family who made the generous decision to donate their loved one's organs.  I prayed that the Lord would hold them as He has held me (us).  And then I prayed for Luanne & Carri - for safe travels and calm nerves.  I prayed for the Doctors & Nurses who will be (probably are RIGHT NOW) performing this miraculous surgery on Luanne!  I prayed for Gramma & Papa Rye & the rest of the family.  I prayed that Rickey would be Luanne's angel throughout this process! ♥

So, tonight, or tomorrow, or whenever you read this, please lift Luanne up in prayer.  Give thanks to the Lord for the miracle of modern medicine that allows these surgeries to be possible.  Pray for fast healing with no complications.  Pray for wisdom for the Dr.'s and Nurses.  Pray for peace for Luanne, Carri, Luke (her son) and their spouses and children.  Pray for peace for Gramma & Papa Rye.  Thank God for His goodness to Luanne - from the start of this journey, for her willingness to just WAIT on the LORD for His timing!  Pray for the precious family who is facing Christmas in a very different way than they thought they would be, but was self-less enough to give Luanne this the best of gifts!  Thank the Lord that things do come "full circle"!  Not full circle in that our grieving the loss of Rick is in any way completed or full circle, but that God in his graciousness allowed us to say "yes" to donation and now, we as Luanne's family are on the receiving end of this most wonderful gift!

Proverbs 16:3b "...and your plans will be established".

Thank you tonight, Lord that you have established our plans.  Thank you especially today, that you have established Luanne's plans.  Thank you that you have given her peace through this journey.  Be with Luanne, the Doctors and Nurses even now, as the procedure is probably underway.  Be with her family and extended family, let them rest in YOU tonight, trusting Luanne fully to your loving care.  Please allow her healing process to be quick and uncomplicated.  Thank you that she has her brother Rickey watching over her tonight.  Thank you that you do bring "beauty from ashes", with this being just another way we can see that.  We can now fully see the joy that is brought to the family who recveives, even though the family who gives, grieves . . . none of it outside of your PLAN, and all of it orchestrated by your loving hand.  {Amen}

Goodnight, Luanne, you will be in my (our) thoughts and prayers all through the night!  We can't wait to awaken in the morning to the wonderful news that you have a new and healthy pancreas working inside of you!  LOVE YOU ♥


Wonderful, Merciful Savior

Wonderful, merciful Savior
Precious Redeemer, and Friend
Who would have thought that a Lamb could
Rescue the souls of men?
Oh, you rescue the souls of men.

Counselor, Comforter, Keeper,
Spirit we long to embrace:
You offer hope when our hearts have
Hopelessly lost the way,
Oh, we've hopelessly lost the way.

Almighty, Infinite Father,
Faithfully loving your own;
Here in our weakness you find us
Falling before your throne,
Oh, we're falling before your throne.

You are the One that we praise.
You are the One we adore,
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for,
Oh, our hearts always hunger for.

Tonight we went to the Sunday School Christmas program at the church Rick & I grew up in, the church our parents and some of our siblings still attend.  It was another "first" - the first time we have been there since Rick's accident - not that we always went together, it's just glaringly obvious now, that we are going alone, because it's our only option.  Bev and her friends sang this song - and I just LOVE it!  You offer HOPE (that has been such a recurring theme, in the last month & 1/2 - HOPE that comes ONLY in our TRUST in GOD) when our hearts have hopelessly lost the way (oh, and ours feel like they have lost the way, how do you move on when there is such a hole in your lives?) . . . . Here in our WEAKNESS (oh, yes, WEAKNESS like nothing I've ever known, weakness that can only be overcome by HIS strength) you find us, falling before your throne (FALLING before HIS throne is the ONLY place I can find true strength and peace and HOPE)  . . . . YOU are the one that we PRAISE (yes, I will PRAISE, even now), you are the ONE we ADORE (the ONLY ONE who deserves true adoration), YOU give the HEALING (a little more each day) and GRACE (Grace that makes NO sense to me . . . yet it is poured out on me daily) our hearts always hunger for (yes, I hunger for HIM and the PEACE and HOPE He continually gives to me!).

So, here we are, at another Sunday night.  We have made it through another weekend - those are the hardest - the "routine" of the ordinary just isn't there, yet, each weekend, we survive, we receive blessings for the moment, we learn lessons from God's hand.  Today is also 1 month since my Birthday.  When I think back, look back, I can see that healing has begun.  I can see that I don't feel as "raw" as I did then.  The pain is still fresh - the wound hasn't healed (I don't believe it ever does, completely), the emptiness is sometimes more glaring now that things have "settled in", yet, the fluttering of my heart, the "panic" feelings, they don't hit as often.  There is often more peace than turmoil.  The memories are more often the GOOD ones, not those of "that day".  The laughter comes a little easier, the reminders from God continue to give us strength and courage to continue on!  So yes, time is healing.  Time is NOT forgetting, but it is a moving forward, learning anew how to "live life", how to navigate this "new normal".  And because of God's grace, we are doing that. 

Sunday is another interesting day in our journey.  It is the only day of the week that all 5 of us were home getting ready, a change in the routine of the week when Rick usually climbed out of bed as we were walking out the door!  Sunday, he was the first to leave (sometimes with a girl going with him - depending on our speed in getting ready) as he was the greeter - and he took that job VERY SERIOUSLY (sometimes, I hate to admit, to my frustration).  So, when I finally arrived at church most Sunday mornings (always running late), Rick was there, holding the door open, with a hug and a kiss for me. So, to say walking in to church is different is an understatement!  My sweet Aunt Ev told me today that they come to church a little later than they used to - because they liked to come and chat with Rick a little before finding "their" seat - I never knew that!  She is ALWAYS so sweet, and I can just see the pain in HER eyes when she talks to me - she's so sweet and encouraging - and I love the hugs from Uncle Gordy - we really are SO BLESSED!  I'm AGAIN reminded why I am so thankful for my family and friends!  The sermon (that I ALMOST missed today, but that's a whole different story!) was from Matthew 1, specifically verses 22 & 23:  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet (spoken by the prophet in Isaiah 7:14 - check it out - it's ALMOST word for word) "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel".  Not sure if you see it or not, but, I see another theme emerging here . . . so many times over the last few weeks, I've heard songs, sermons, read devos . . . all speaking of our Immanuel - GOD WITH US!  I guess he wants to make SURE that I am LISTENING and REMEMBERING that HE IS WITH ME (us)! :)

Sunday afternoon football just isn't what it used to be either, though I still love OUR Packers, I have come to cherish other things much more than a Packer WIN (thank goodness too, because today, they didn't get one!).  Football is a fun past-time, I enjoy watching WHOEVER is playing actually, but in the BIG plan of life, well, it's really quite un-important!  (though I am sure hoping for more PACKER WINS this year!)  All things that are a part of the new life we are living - changes, reminders of what is missing, but along with the sad reminders, the good reminders of WHAT is important, that GOD is ALWAYS there, that HE will always carry our burdens, and no matter how dark things may seem, HE has plans for our lives - and they are plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

So along with some of the trials of the day, we also looked to the future (the NEAR future actually) as we did laundry and started to organize and pack for our little road trip to CHICAGO.  A HUGE change of pace for us country girls!  Christmas time in the CITY!  Excitement and anticipation is settling in.  The girls and I have done much "adventuring" in the past (Rick always said, "Go, have fun, I have my hunting trips and hunting season" and since most trips involved shopping at one time or another, he didn't mind not tagging along!).  So, we plan, knowing that even if Rick were still physically here with us, we would plan this trip with his blessing, he would say, even if he couldn't get away from work, "Go, have fun!"  He loved "us girls" and encouraged the times we had together (looking back, I think, was this God's way of preparing us, through Rick's blessing and encouragement, because HE knew it would be "just us girls" at this point in our lives..... ?)  I really do believe that God and Rick prepared us for this.  We have driven places by ourselves alone (though not to the "big city"), we have checked into and stayed in hotels alone, we have enjoyed our time together as "the girls".  We do know how to do those things.  The difference, the BIG difference, is that this time we won't be sending texts and pictures to Daddy/Rick.  We won't be calling home to  share our adventures, won't be looking for little presents to bring home for him. But still, I think, he WILL know, he WILL want us to have fun, he HAS given his "blessing" on this trip . . . We as "earthly beings" have NO IDEA what Heaven is like, but it's nice for me to think that Rick is "watching" and "encouraging" us in all we do each day.  I do know that I knew him well enough to KNOW that this trip this week DOES have his blessing, his encouragement, his LOVE!  It is one thing that I feel each and every day.  I KNOW, without a DOUBT, that Rick left this earth LOVING us.  Of that, we have no doubt, and though he is missed DEARLY every moment of every day, we do have peace in that knowledge...we said I LOVE YOU OFTEN between him and I, him and the "little" girls, him and Nick & Ashley . . . every phone call ended with Love you, say hi to Brian/Ashley and give the kids hugs . . . RICK LOVED US, of this we are SURE!  And to know THAT and to know that God's love for us is even GREATER, well, that is cause for feeling peace, even in the midst of the storm!

He can.  He does.  He shall.  Hope for it.  Pray for it.  Believe it.  "The rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain, and the Glory of the Lord will be revealed."  Isaiah 40: 4-5

I remember sharing a "word picture" with my Aunt Peggy a couple of years back, it went something like this ... During ROUGH times, I picture myself walking in the woods, in the PITCH DARK on a VERY CURVY trail, it could be SCARY, very scary, but I'm not afraid.  I'm not afraid, because there is a LIGHT showing me the way - but, JUST ONE STEP AT A TIME.  Not too far ahead so I have to chase after it, not behind me by one step so I might stumble, but just enough for THE NEXT STEP.

That's the road I am walking right now . . . DARK, CURVY, SCARY (at times), yet I don't have to fear.  God is lighting my path - just ONE STEP AT A TIME.  I just have to keep my eyes on the LIGHT of HIM and He will bring me safely through.

Thy word is a light unto my feet and a lamp unto my path . . . You are my hiding place and shield . . . I HOPE in your word!  Psalm 119: 105 & 114

So many changes ...

We like to tell people that we love Chattanooga so much we moved here twice! Since my last post in 2020, we spent eight months in Michigan...