a wedding, a birthday and a vacation !!

I didn't post the last couple of days because we've been a little bit BUSY!!

The little "crick" we crossed to get to the field where the wedding was held! 
Saturday we attended an AMAZING wedding for an even more AMAZING couple . . . LOVE YOU both so much, Cubby & Vi!  ♥  It's an odd feeling, attending events that, in the past, I've always attended as a couple.  It's a part of this new life that I really do not like (as is true with ALL other parts of this new life actually!) . . . Yet, again, God's grace was evident and the day was wonderful!  Following the wedding, we started out on our grand adventure of the summer . . . I'll try to post more details as we go, but suffice it to say DAY 1 (and into DAY 2) were quite the adventure . . . it DID end with us arriving at Jeff & Norma's house (later than expected) safe and sound!

Patrick & Kaitlyn (back row)
Taya (15), Tessa (ALMOST 18) and the BIRTHDAY GIRL, Kajsa Jo (13)
Sunday (yesterday) we celebrated our "Angel Baby's" Birthday!  That was the name the girls gave Kajsa when she was born because she was SO MELLOW . . . she just "went with the flow", which she still does - though she is a little more WILD & CrAzY now days!  It seems impossible that 13 years have passed since Kajzi joined our family and made it complete!  She has brought so much joy to each of our lives and I know that I speak for all of us (her Daddy included) when I say that we LOVE that girl to pieces! ♥

I can HONESTLY say that the only thing that would make our trip better is having Rick here with us.  I am so aware every single moment that it is just "the four of us" rather than five.  When I was driving, late Saturday night (early Sunday morning) and all the girls were in the backseat watching a movie, I felt like I could reach over to that empty front seat and touch Rick.  It was a good reminder, though, that he really will ALWAYS be with us - he is in our hearts and in our memories - and that will never leave!  I also know that he'd be SO EXCITED for us on this adventure - and he'd be proud of us for taking it on!  

Today (Monday) found us visiting Cedarville University for Tessa (how is THAT possible?), and then hitting the road (9+ hours in the car!) on our way to FLORIDA!!  We got as far as Montgomery, Alabama which is further than I was hoping so tomorrow morning will be a quick drive to our destination.

Cedarville University 

We received a "travel care package" that contained this sign . . . we only got two "honks" today - we'll have to try harder tomorrow!
Today was a day filled with fun and LAUGHTER . . . LOTS of laughter!  It started when the girl at the college introduced herself to us, and then asked who we each were.  She started with me, and said she assumed i was Mom, which I told her was correct and told her my name . . . Taya was sitting next to me . . . she politely shook the girls hand and told her that her name was TESSA . . . without batting an eyelash . . . the girl then turned to Tessa who didn't know WHAT to say!  I think she finally said, "she's NOT Tessa, I am", at which point Taya realized her mistake and someone shared her REAL name!!  . . . I'm laughing as I type it - but as is usually true with stories like this - you really had to "be there"!   

We continued on with the tour of the college - it was just us and another mom and daughter - and isn't God just "cool" in orchestrating events . . . the mom was a widow and the girl had lost her Daddy 5 years ago . . . out of ALL the students looking at Cedarville, we were paired with one who really "knew" what our lives are like . . . another reminder of "God in the details"!

Everyone else is settled in and sound asleep as I type, and I must join them! I'll work at posting some each day - as time and energy allows!


plans for the FUTURE . . .

I know I've mentioned it before, but this is really one of my FAVORITE verses!!  And it has become something to hold onto . . . HE knows the plans He has for me - even when they don't make sense to me.  He does not plan to harm me . . . though November 5 (and all the days that have followed) sure have been painful!  He plans to give me HOPE and a FUTURE!  Those are powerful words, and a reminder to keep my eyes on HIM and He will lead me into those plans He has prepared for me!

I had a LONG post drafted in my head, but after getting everything that had to be done tonight done, it's TOO LATE . . . so, I'll be QUICK!

I had to get SO MUCH done (lawn mowed - 4 hours on the lawnmower - CHECK, laundry done - CHECK , fridge cleaned - yuck - CHECK, long (relatively) run - 4 miles - CHECK, bills paid - yuck - but thankful that I have the money to pay them! - CHECK, pool (mostly) vacuumed - CHECK) so that I could FINISH PACKING - CHECK because TOMORROW we leave for VACATION (again, I know!)!  We will be visiting the college that Tessa will be attending in the fall and then we will (again) be spending time with Rick's brother and sister-in-law!  I'm SO THANKFUL to them for the love and support they have shown to us!  I don't know what we would do without their support!

I also have a bit of BIG NEWS that goes right along with the verse above - about God's plans for my life.  After working at school for many years (I started as a substitute aide, progressing to full time (school year) aide, to Attendance Secretary, Athletic Secretary and then to Middle/High School Secretary) . . . I am leaving my job at the school.  This is not a decision that I have come to lightly and not without much prayer and wise advice from trusted Christian brothers and sisters!  I didn't say anything until it was "official", though I found out that I had the position last Monday.  Tonight I "officially" sent in my resignation letter, so I guess that is as official as it gets!  This is a HUGE change for me as well as for the girls.  I have worked at the school for as long as they have attended the Middle/High School - so I've "been there" longer than they have!  They were very supportive of my decision and that was a HUGE blessing to me as well!  I have already filled out my pre-employment paperwork and had my required physical.  I will be starting in mid-July, after we return from vacation.  

Another big change, lots of prayer involved, and ultimately, a decision that I had to make, all without being able to discuss it with my best friend.  When I got the news that I had gotten the job, I didn't tell anyone right away.  I had to let it "sink in" a little, and then get over the fact that the ONE PERSON who I knew would TOTALLY celebrate with me wasn't here to do just that.  I do know though, that he would be proud of the decision and he would fully support me, encourage me and celebrate with me!  Despite the fact that it's a MAJOR change for me and the girls, I feel no apprehension.  I have a peace and contentment that I KNOW can only come from the Lord and the fact that He is indeed leading and guiding me!

I will do my best to post some pictures and thoughts from vacation, but I'm sure we will be BUSY.  We are driving this time and will be putting in some long hours on the road!  I'm so EXCITED to be able to spend this time with the girls and am so thankful that we are able to do this!

GOD does have plans, and we are doing our best to listen to Him and follow where He leads us! ♥


Heavy heart....

Tonight I am going to bed with a heavy heart....a sweet friend I graduated from high school with was in a serious motorcycle accident last year. She suffered a severe head injury and has been receiving care in a nursing home most recently. Today (according to her husband's Facebook update) she was taken to the hospital for a high fever. She is currently in the ICU fighting yet another battle, this time, against infection raging in her body. Love you, Tracie, Jim and family ...

Also today, I was praying, asking the Lord to use me to bless others who may mourn the loss of a spouse...I found out late this evening of a 50 (ish) year old man in my town who passed away ... that was a prayer I really DIDN'T want an immediate answer to ... praying the comfort only God can give for this sweet girl and her 3 (yes, 3-same as me) daughters ...

Please pray for both of these dear families....that's all for tonight. I have some big things going on in my life, but tonight, even those things that seemed so important just a few hours ago pale in comparison to the requests mentioned above.



Visiting the cemetery to visit Rick....still have a hard time connecting those dots....I am so thankful though that it really is only the final resting spot for his earthly body. Before his body could be lowered to ground, he was more alive than ever in Heaven! I'm also thankful for the beautiful spot that we were able to "lay his earthly body to rest" - it truly is a beautiful, peaceful spot.

Today's "Jesus Calling" devotional read, "You are My beloved child...I chose you before the foundation of the world, to walk with Me along paths designed uniquely for you...your hope and your future are rooted in Heaven"

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9

So, even though a run to the cemetery still seems surreal to me, I can rest assured that God has designed even this path, uniquely for me.....and that my HOPE and my future ARE rooted in Heaven!


We survived another "first" today . . . and this a tough one because it was the day set aside to honor DADDY . . . 

We started our day by running over to say Happy Father's Day to Papa Jerry before we all headed off to church.  On the way to church, we delivered Auntie Bev her Birthday daisies . . . (YEARS ago, Rick picked Bev daisies for her Birthday - the number of daisies corresponding to her current age - I think it started when she was 16!)  It's a tradition that I fell in love with and we have continued it each year, and couldn't stop this year, so Bev again got her daisies - with love from RICKEY! ♥ (mixed in with just a few tears)


Church was good today, our new Liberian friend, Titus spoke as it is his last Sunday with us before returning to his homeland!  We also sang "It Is Well With My Soul" which has become a song very dear to my heart!

Following church, we grilled burgers with my parents and then Gramma & Papa Rye came over and we all celebrated (early) Kajsa's Birthday - she's going to end up with a week long celebration this year . . . fitting for her 13th Birthday!

We are now settling in for bed with a house FULL of girls!  We gained Daila & Maddie as well as Daisy this afternoon, so it will be a fun filled couple of days!!  Tomorrow, Sarah & Sarah (friends/cousin) will join the "gang of girls" and on Tuesday some more will come for Kajsa's "kid" party!

So, another "first" is almost done with.  I can't say they get easier, but, again, I can say that we survived.  God was ever present in our day and gave us constant reminders of HIS love!  

My devotional this morning was about how the Lord enjoys hearing our LAUGHTER . . . which seemed almost contradictory to the emotions that could have overridden our day, yet, we did find reason to laugh today.  We laughed while making lunch, while driving with the little girls, out by the pool, as we came in and got ready for bed, and many times in between.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine" . . . Proverbs 17:22

"Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.  For My yoke is wholesome, and My burden in light and easy to be borne."  Matthew 11:29-30

So, even on a "sad" day, we did have cheerful hearts and we felt our burden lessened by the Lord.  He is close at hand and provides just what we need each day.  Father's Day will NEVER be the same again, of that I am sure, yet, we will always honor our Fathers, here on earth with us, and those who have gone before us to Heaven.  We will press towards the goal of the prize that is set before us, secure in the knowledge of our eternal reunion . . . all in God's good timing!


Father's Day.....

Ah, Father's Day .... I don't think I've ever given as much thought to it as I have this year. Though the day will be one filled with heartache for sure, I am also filled with pride! Pride in the awesome Daddy that my kids were blessed with! A man of integrity, who truly did "Love the Lord with all his heart, and his neighbor as himself"! Our time with him was cut way too short by our earthly standards, yet we DO have the assurance that some day we will have a glorious reunion ... in the place where there will be no more tears and no more parting! Oh, what a day that will be! Thank you, Rickey for sharing these years with me, for being the BEST Daddy to your 5 kids and an AWESOME Papa to the little ones! You will always be loved and nobody will ever take your place in our hearts!! Thank you for showing us how to love just a little bit better, serve a little more willingly, embrace all that life has to offer and most importantly for shining the light of Jesus to all those around you!! We will see you again and until then, we will do our best to make you proud!

I'm also blessed tonight for the Dads in my life!! To my Dad, Jerry, and Rick's Dad, Buck, both also men of God who have helped to make us who we are today! Their Godly example and steadfast love for their families is a blessing!! Thank you both for ALL YOU do for us!!

Also my step-son Nick and step-son-in-law Brian...you are both amazing dads and your kids (and wives!) are so blessed to have you!! Nick, the role you have stepped into in your sisters lives will never be forgotten!!

We are also blessed by the girls uncles, especially Uncle Tim and Uncle Jeff, who have provided love, support and advice - in so much the same way Daddy would have! Thank you for blessing us and thanks Rochet, Weston, Addie, Norma, Kaitlyn & Patrick for "sharing" Tim & Jeff with us!

I LOVE YOU ALL and wish you the Happiest of Fathers Days!


lost post . . . . FOUND!

I posted this on Sunday....I mistakenly deleted it on Monday....try as I might, I could not retrieve it....tonight, I pulled out my iPad and opened my browser and there was my "lost" post....guess it WAS supposed to be posted after all, not just when I tried!!  

And since its been a couple of days, a quick update...things are going well. We are aware that Sunday is Father's Day but I have talked to each of the girls and they are doing ok....in fact, Kajsa wants to do her family party Sunday! (we will be on VACATION on her Birthday!) God has been granting me His peace and patience as I wait on an answer from Him, and I've been fairly content in the waiting....which is not the norm for me! Today, I kept having "flashbacks" to November 5, different places triggered memories of different parts of the day, which doesn't happen THAT often anymore....not sure why, but again, God was faithful and saw me through! I've been re-reminded of the great friends I have and just walked with one of them through a little health scare which appears to be under control and nothing to worry about, as she and I said, YEAH GOD!! 

And now to Sunday's lost post (it's pretty long....) 

Today in church we sang "In Christ Alone".  I don't often "hear" Rick's voice in my head.  I don't often dream of him either (and in my contact with other widows, this is common, not sure why?).  However, today, as we sang, I clearly remembered Rick singing, just a portion of that song as we sat together in church (one of those places that is full of people yet I now feel so alone).  The portion of the song where I "heard" his voice goes like this: 

No guilt in life, no fear in death,  
This is the power of Christ in me; 
From life's first cry, to final breath, 
Jesus commands my destiny; 
No power of hell, 
no scheme of man, 
Can ever pluck me from His hand; 
'Till He returns, 
or calls me home, 
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand. 

You can listen to the whole song by clicking HERE

One of the FEW times that I "hear" Rick's voice - very clearly, as if he was standing there right next to me, and it speaks the very TRUTH that has sustained me since November 5.  With God, there are NO "coincidences", but that's sure what I call a "God thing"!

As I walked to church tonight for the first night of VBS, I took the back way, 5 miles to church with the temperatures in the mid 80's . . . WHAT was I thinking?? . . . I got to "thinking" . . . scary thought, I know! 

I KNOW that I have been disappointed in others over the past 7 months. Sometimes, the disappointment is real and has a reason, often, it's because I don't communicate my needs well, and other times, it's simply because people truly don't know what to do, what to say, how to act . . . and, I'm learning I'm not alone - other widows, across the country (and I'm sure the world) struggle with similar feelings.  I don't want someone to know those things, because in the "knowing", they would have to be "living it", and I don't wish that on others!  However, thanks to the WORLD WIDE WEB, we are much more connected to other people.  Those who, not too many years ago, would have remained strangers, can now become friends.  My prayer is that in the friendships that I am forging with other widows (and their prayers as well) would be that through our circumstances, we could educate others, so that we can better follow the Biblical mandates to "care for widows and orphans".  

Ahem, back to my walk, oh, yes!  As I was walking, I was thinking how to feebly attempt to give some sort of explanation and the following is the best I could come up with . . .  (DISCLAIMER:  These are MY opinions & thoughts - my grief journey can't be compared to anyone else's, therefore someone else may have completely different feelings on the same issues - this is why I believe it can be so difficult to minister to the grieving - no two people grieve the same!) First of all, I notice that people tend to think that the "big" days are when I need them the most.  You know, the "anniversary" days - the 5th of the month, on Saturdays, Christmas, Graduation . . . you know . . . but honestly, I can "psych myself up" for those days.  I KNOW they are coming, I can prepare myself for them, they are still tough, but I've got warning they are on the way, I have planned for them.  It's the normal days that can be harder.  I can't tell you when those days are, because they are unpredictable.  The day when the washing machine isn't working right and I have no idea why.  The day when the garbage cans are full and I just don't want to make another trip to the dumpster.  The day when 3 girls need to be in 3 different places and there is only one of me.  Those are the days when I "need" to just have someone "there".  People say they are "there", just "call anytime you need anything", but in reality, everyone is still busy LIVING LIFE.  I am realizing that it doesn't mean they love any less or mean the "call anytime" sentiment any less, I'm just not the "priority" to them that I was to Rick . . . sigh.  (Another Disclaimer - my parents live next door and I SERIOUSLY don't know what we would do without them!) I have also heard quite often, "Oh, my goodness, today must have been hard for you, I can only imagine that I would . . . _______________ (fill in the blank).  But, in reality, you CAN'T.  You can't imagine how I am feeling at any given time any more than I can imagine how you are feeling.  With that thought in mind, of "imagining" how someone else is feeling, I began to formulate this blog post (took me long enough to get to it, right?) . . .  

To TRY to give it a LITTLE perspective, TRY to imagine . . .  (L=Ladies, M=Men, B=Both) 

(L) - He leaves for a "quick" morning errand, you have plans for a little later in the day, you talk to him on his cell phone about 1/2 hour before your afternoon plans are going to start . . . but he never comes home, instead a Police Officer is in your yard. 

(M) - You leave to finish up something so you and your family can do something later in the day - you don't make it home - you will NEVER again come home to your loving wife and family. 

(L) - You hear a Dr. say those words to you, "I'm sorry, _____ (insert your husband's name here) didn't make it."  And, in that INSTANT, the life you have known to this point is NO MORE. 

(L) - Imagine that you are only 45 years old and you have 3 children still living at home who NEED, LOVE, WANT their Daddy - as do his 2 older children and his grand babies - who for the most part, will forget what a wonderful person Papa was - because they are simply too young. 

(M) - Think about all those "little projects" you were going to get to "some day" that are now still waiting, but "some day" will never come.  WHAT would you want others to do for your beloved?  HOW would you want your friends, your brothers in Christ to take care of your family, now that you are no longer here to do it yourself?  And remember, she probably doesn't even realize all of the little day-to-day things you did to take care of her and the kids - she just knows you couldn't get your socks in the laundry basket! 

(L) - Try to decide where to turn from here.  What is right, what is wrong, HOW are you supposed to act, re-act, where do you turn, who can you trust to lead you now that the head of the family is no longer here. 

(M) - What would your wife, children, grandchildren NEED if you were suddenly gone?  What will they do?  How will they survive?  You were very possibly the primary (if not only) breadwinner.  How will they pay the mortgage, 2nd mortgage, home improvement loans, car payments, medical bills . . . and beyond the immediate, obvious needs and concerns, will they be able to stay in the house you have, together, made into a home, buy groceries, pay for insurance (homeowners, auto, health, dental, vision, life . . . ), pay for college . . . pay for LIFE . . . HOW would you want others to care for your wife if she were in the shoes of a widow? 

(L) - To add to all the other changes in your life, remember that you are now single (though you probably consider yourself still married to the spouse you loved dearly), so even though you have things at your home that need to be done, you now have to worry if it is "appropriate" to ask male friends to come and help you . . .  

(M) - Imagine that your wife is now alone in this world.  Statistics state that:  "A widow will lose 75% of her friends. 50% will leave their church after being widowed.  60% will suffer a serious illness within the first year.  In most cases, income declines."  With these staggering numbers, WHAT would you hope that others would do for your wife - so that she does not become one of these statistics? 

This is a SHORT list.  This is a list to give you a glimpse.  To TRY to imagine. On November 5, 2011, I LOST HALF OF ME.  Rick was not only my husband and the Daddy to my kids, he WAS MY BEST FRIEND!  We didn't do alot of things with others, we were very content to be together.  To enjoy each other's company and our kids and grand kids.  The friends we did have are all married.  I am now a "single" amongst "marrieds".  When I have a GREAT day, it's just not the same.  I can't pick up the phone and call him to report my good news.  I can't send him a text, knowing that as soon as he can, he will reply, either by text or a call.  When I have a TERRIBLE day, I can't come home and vent about it, cry about it, just "share" it - the person who cared the most isn't here anymore.  When the Packers have exciting news, it's just not the same anymore (I was glad they didn't make it to the Superbowl - I didn't want to have them win it and not share the excitement with Rick - he LOVED his Packers).  When I see the biggest bear I've EVER seen in the wild, I can't call and tell him.  When the girls have important events, and I have previous comittments, I have to decide how to divide myself - he can't go with them - I have to do the best I can - and thought others have promised, "if I can do ANYTHING", they still have lives to live and may not be available. When I want most to cry, laugh, mourn, celebrate, I now do it alone . . . so please don't try to imagine how I am feeling at any given time.  

God is a good God.  He has given me grace for each day.  I can truly say that my faith has grown more than I can ever imagine over the past 7 months.  Though there IS an underlying grief to each and every moment of each and every day, life can be good again.  We do laugh, and joke and have fun!  But as you "imagine" please imagine what YOUR life would be like - the changes that you never asked for.  The loneliness that comes from half of you being ripped away.  

Don't offer me pity.  

Please offer me grace (and a kick in the butt if I need it - some of you have graciously come along side me and done both and I truly appreciate you for that!).  Please understand that you can't understand and I'm beginning to "get" that.  

Please be patient with me as I try to navigate these new waters.  Please remember that I'm LIVING what most people don't ever want to imagine . . . 



This reminds me of my yesterday....an "anniversary" day, oh how I hate those!

But, yesterday, the 5th of the month, 7 months since November 5, I can say this quote was fairly true! I realized that I did not mark every hour with the hours/moments of November 5. I was very aware of the date, but, I could/did cling more to good, happy, fun, 20 years of life memories as opposed to those horrific, life changing, earth shattering memories of November 5.

I can still easily "go there" if I let myself. A sight or a sound or a smell and I remember one minute detail and replay it over and over, until I realize what I'm doing and ask the Lord to help it stop!

I don't believe we will ever truly be free of the memories of that day, goodness, ask people, "Where were you when Kennedy was shot, Elvis died, Regan was shot, the Challenger exploded, Princess Diana died..." and people remember. We remember horrific life events of strangers, how would we not of our own loved ones? Yet, over time, God does ease the pain. He brings back the memories of good times, He reminds us that He is always there, sometimes even in the reminders of the "horrific".

That will always be a precious memory to me, that in the midst of it all, the confusion, the disbelief, the horror of it all, I clearly stated and believed with my whole being, "Daddy is in Heaven." That truth did not demand further explanation. It was fact. And it still is fact.

So, yesterday, I COULD remember his eyes and events we shared and laughter (oh, so much laughter!) before I remembered the details of November 5 ... All because God is good. God does love and heal and comfort and restore. Each day, good is remembered. Grace is offered. Lessons are learned. Each day is one day further from November 5, yes, but, each day is also one day CLOSER to Heaven!


I'm learning . . . slowly!

... and I'm OFF (in my new bright YELLOW Fila SkeleToes) . . . this was the FIRST "hand-off" and the easiest step of the day yesterday (all teams did run a "starter" lap around the High School track to start the relay - then my team-mate who is "tagging" me here took off and we jumped in our support vehicle and headed to the first check point!)! My team-mate is just finishing the FIRST leg of 3-ish miles and was "tagging"  me for my first 3 mile leg!! 

... and here I am . . . out in the middle of "farm country" where most of the relay was run!  I'm about 1/2 way (1.5 miles) into that first leg.  Except for in the "exchange zones" (as pictured in the first picture) the majority of the running was done individually as everyone has a different pace!  There were always cheerleaders along the way though as each team (19 of them) had support vehicles and everyone cheered for everyone!  The atmosphere was so much fun!

The relay course was a 9 mile "loop" though the local country-side.  That 9 miles was broken up into three separate 3 mile legs.  The 9 mile "loop" was eventually run 4 times by each team for a total of 36 miles and with each runner ultimately running the entire 9 miles - just at 3 different times.  It was an absolutely amazing day - the weather was a little warm for us "Yoopers", but the sun was shining (I have a "farmer's tan" to prove it!), there was a nice breeze, and it didn't rain!

... we also did our final lap as a team (I blurred my teammates faces as I didn't get their permission to blog about them!).  At this point, we have all run 9-ish miles and are very happy to be DONE!

The event is called the "Hope Memorial Relay" and you can read more about it HERE!  I'm honored to have been a little part of such an amazing organization that serves our local cancer patients!

After my "roller-coaster" day yesterday, I awoke this morning to a devotional that read, "Welcome challenging times as opportunities to trust Me.  You have Me beside you and My Spirit within you, so no set of circumstances is too much for you to handle.  When the path before you is dotted with difficulties, beware of measuring your strength against those challenges.  That calculation is certain to riddle you with anxiety."  A good reminder to take ONE DAY AT A TIME (or more accurately, one MOMENT at a time)!

I was deliberate today in looking for God's blessings . . . and I saw them!  Mostly in the "little" things!  

School is done and I only had to work half a day - that's a BLESSING!

A "good-morning" e-mail from one of my "besties" - that's a BLESSING!

An early morning "thinking of you" text from a "new" friend - that's a BLESSING!

An awesome chat with a co-worker - that's a BLESSING!

Coming home and mowing my lawn (I LOVE to mow the lawn!)

- that's a BLESSING!

Finding this little flower (a little blurry) as I was mowing the lawn that sprouted up on its own amidst weeds and dry soil

- that's a BLESSING!

Going for a run (when I feared I'd be TOO SORE to attempt it!) and actually running it at my normal pace

- that's a BLESSING!

My Dad coming over and starting to turn my bedroom deck into a screened in porch for us

- that's a (huge) BLESSING!

Having another bonfire and making "pudgy pies"

- that's a BLESSING!

My backyard that looks like a park - giving me the beauty of God's creation EVERY SINGLE DAY

- that's a BLESSING!

Going to sleep with the windows open and hearing all the "summer sounds"

- that's a BLESSING!

. . . so, maybe, just maybe, part of my "roller-coaster" emotions are based on my mindset (?) really, could it be?!  And my FOCUS!  When I focus on me, and my problems, and what I don't have, and I start asking God WHY, I jump on the roller coaster and HANG ON because I am in for a ride!  Today, when I made a conscious decision to focus on GOD and HIS blessings (that's why I took pictures of those blessings - to keep me LOOKING for them), my "ride" became much more level than yesterday's roller coaster . . . interesting, isn't it?  

I KNOW that I will still have roller-coaster days.  I know that grief will hit me like a tidal wave when I least expect it.  I know that I will respond poorly to people and circumstances and "life" from time to time.  My focus will waiver - off of Him and on to me, on to circumstances, on to all the fears that want "in". I'm glad today though, that I was reminded of so many blessings that are there - for me - if I take the time to look for them!  I'm thankful that my devotional reminded me that my challenges are opportunities for me to trust God MORE!  I'm gad for the reminder that when I focus my eyes on HIM, when I keep my mind "steadfast" my day is much more peaceful!  I'm learning . . . slowly . . . and I'll have to learn - again and again and again . . . 

But, I'll keep in mind:

"You will keep in perfect peach him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You."  Isaiah 26:3

What blessings did HE give YOU today?


roller coasters . . .

I have NEVER been a fan of roller coasters!  I remember once, being at Six Flags Great America with Rick and actually CRYING in line because I didn't want to ride the roller coaster we were waiting for (I did and HATED it!) . . . 

So, as much as I dislike riding a roller coaster in an amusement park, I dislike even more when my emotions are a roller coaster!  

I didn't sleep well (at all) last night . . . I was SO NERVOUS about running 9 miles that I kept waking up thinking about it!  I woke up to my devotions that read in part, "When your focus is firmly on Me, My Peace displaces fears and worries . . ."    I'm sure that when Sarah Young was writing this devo, she wasn't exactly thinking of running a relay race, yet, how appropriate it was for me THIS morning!  "Now may the Lord of Peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way."  2 Thessalonians 3:16

Today dawned sunny and beautiful - great weather for running!  And, really, it was an AMAZING day!  I'm SO THANKFUL that my former boss, Jason, asked me to be on the team that he was putting together!  My teammates were AWESOME! Thanks Jason (our driver), Linda (Jason's wife), Paul and Brad - it was a BLAST!  Thanks as well to Brad's wife Jenny for all the encouragement. Last night, Nick called and encouraged me, today, Tessa & Taya were in the support vehicle for another team and cheered me on, my mom & dad came up for the finish and Fred & Renee were there too!  Along with my "sister" Donna & so many other friends . . . It was an unbelievable day!

After running my 3 "legs", running in the last couple hundred yards with Linda (she was our anchor), along the starting lap & the finishing lap (which all 4 team members ran) and a lap around with Donna as she finished up the 5K portion of the day, i put in about 9.75 miles!  WHEW!

There is such a thing as a "Runner's High"! . . . And then I came home.  Alone.  CRASH.  Big Time.  OUCH.  It was one of those days when I looked around and said, "Why?".  Why, Lord?  Why us?  Why Rick? Why? Why? Why? It was one of those "looking around" times where I was in denial . . . really, this is real?  He really is gone?  He's never coming back?  CRASH.  OUCH.  YUCK!

"Now may the Lord of peach himself give you PEACE at all times and in EVERY way." . . . 

I pulled out a pool float, cranked the radio and floated . . . 

"The Hurt & The Healer"
by Mercy Me was one of the first songs I heard . . . 

The question that is never far away
The healing doesn't come from the explained
Jesus please don't let this go in vain
You're all I have
All that remains

So here I am
What's left of me
Where glory meets my suffering

I'm alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I've fallen into Your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide

Sometimes I feel it's all that I can do
Pain so deep that I can hardly move
Just keep my eyes completely fixed on You
Lord take hold and pull me through

So here I am
What's left of me
Where glory meets my suffering

I'm alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I've fallen into your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide

It's the moment when humanity
Is overcome by majesty
when grace is ushered in for good
And all our scars are understood
When mercy takes its rightful place 
And all these questions fade away
When out of the weakness we must bow
And hear you say "It's over now"

I'm alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I've fallen into your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide

Jesus come and break my fear
Awake my heart and take my tears
find Your glory even here
When the hurt and the healer collide

Ah-ha . . . God met me . . . floating in the swimming pool listening to the radio!  The lyrics to a song reminding me that my HURT and the HEALER do collide.  He hears my hurt.  He feels my hurt.  He understands my hurt.  I'm not "alone", ever.  Even when I feel TOTALLY alone . . . aaahhhhh!

And after that, I fell asleep . . . floating in the pool . . . enjoying the sunshine warming me . . . relaxing into the arms that were open wide . . . where the hurt and the Healer collided.

We ended the night sitting out by the bonfire.  Enjoying each other's company.  Visiting with the girls friends and my mom and dad.  Yes, a BIG PART of "me" was missing.  The other half of me was missing.  And oh, yes, I missed him today.  So bad it HURT.  But, God rescued me, He whispered HIS peace to me . . . at all times, in every way!

(but, I still don't like roller coasters - the real ones or the emotional ones!)


...and i HOPE I sleep WELL as tomorrow, I RUN!!

I'm on a relay team that will complete a 36 mile run tomorrow.  There are 4 runners per team with each runner running 3 legs of approximately 3 miles each!  I didn't really plan to run the relay, I was just going to run the 5K race and was quite content with that.  I got "the call" this morning that there was a team that needed a runner, would I do it?  So, I said yes!  It is called the "Hope Memorial Relay" and it has a special place in my heart.  The race raises money for local cancer patients and was started my my good friend Jessy's family after her mom Barb lost her brave battle with breast cancer.  Jessy is the mom and Barb the grandma of my "other" daughter, Katie - who is Tessa's BEST FRIEND! ♥  I'm honored to be taking part in this event (and TOTALLY scared too - that's NINE miles of running if you didn't count!) 

I sure will miss having Rick there to cheer me on . . . but I know that really he is always in my heart, so part of him WILL be right there with me!


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...