puzzle pieces

Heavy Sadness.

Grace, Joy, Peace, Understanding, Love, Friendships, Growth . . . 

SOME of these emotions that have bounced around in my brain and on through my heart in the last {almost} 10 months.  Those and SO MANY others . . . 
through them ALL, God's love has been sufficient.  He has been faithful to be my ALL in ALL, my strength when I am weak.  HE has sent me just the people that I need just when I need them . . . And I'm shown HIM through THEM!  I've learned MUCH about myself and MUCH about God through this journey.  I HAVE learned that even though sometimes the road is rough and rocky and twisty and turney and DARK . . . HE is there.  He is in my tomorrow and HE never leaves and never forsakes.  And yes, He does send us who we need, when we need them! 

There were SO MANY details that had to be "taken care" of after Rick died . . . SO much paperwork, so many phone calls, more paperwork.  Burial sites to buy {ugh, really, I'm NOT supposed to have to do that}, a casket to pick out  {the BIG kids did that and I'll be FOREVER thankful} and then MORE paperwork, a funeral to plan and more paperwork.  There were bills to pay accounts to settle and insurance claims to be made . . . did I mention paperwork?  I'm thankful that I WAS the "bookkeeper" in our house so most of those things didn't overwhelm me.  Some of the other "details" did.  Ordering the stone was one of them.  They are expensive.  It's FOREVER . . . it can't be changed like my living room furniture, or a new purse.  It needed to be a "legacy" to Rick's memory, but small enough to fit the requirements of the cemetery (and it's one of the only things we had ever discussed about death - that we both thought it foolish to spend extravagant amounts of money on caskets and grave markers . . . )   I also had to overcome my dislike of going to the cemetery . . . though now I find it peaceful - and I have NEVER felt like Rickey was there . . . I know where he is and it's not in that box in the ground!  Another "thing" that needed "taking care of" was his truck, which I did trade in along with my car for a new, reliable vehicle . . . knowing FULL WELL that he'd have been THRILLED for me! 

So many pieces to the puzzle.  This weird, crazy puzzle that suddenly became my life.  This weird, crazy puzzle that kept getting taken apart, and somehow, the pieces didn't always fit, or were missing.  Each day it seems, I rearrange the pieces - re-fitting some, finding "lost" ones, sometimes throwing some that got into the wrong box away.

There was one rather large piece of the puzzle that was missing for me.  There is an old saying that says "accidents usually happen close to home".  I Googled it and it's true (well mostly the numbers were based on car accidents, but still . . . )  Anyway, less than 5 miles is CLOSE TO HOME.  Very close.  We live on #15 road.  Rick's fall happened on #12 road . . . yep, 3 miles as the crow flies - a little bit more when you go via the road.  Close to home.

I drive past #12 road EVERY DAY.  I've never gone past the house where the "accident" was.  I don't often go to the cemetery alone - but it's not exactly the place you ask a friend to join you for a picnic!  Anyway, last night on the way home from town, it was time.  I just felt like I needed to see where Rickey had spent the last moments of his earthly life, and were it was that Jesus reached down and took his hand and led him to Heaven.  As I said, God has blessed me with some WONDERFUL friends.  One of them happened to be with me (yes, it is a guy friend), and I asked if we could "detour" home.  I'm sure he wondered WHAT I was going to ask, because the last time we detoured, we visited the cemetery.  He asked where and I told him and he told me to tell him what road we needed to take.  As we drove, we talked, I verbalized that I wondered if when he left the house that Saturday morning, Rickey EVER had a clue he'd not come home again . . . and how ready would we be if we would know when it's our time?  We came to the corner where the house stands.  My breath was momentarily taken away.  I commented that it was a higher roof than I thought and that I thought I had heard they were near the chimney when the fall happened. He mentioned that it was a very steep roof.  We drove slowly by and continued on our way back to my house .... quietly.  Another piece of the puzzle put in its place.  That one for some reason was one of the hardest.  I'd rather have not needed to find that piece and put it in place.  But, I'm thankful that by God's grace, it's done.  So, now, I do know.  Less than 5 miles from home, accidents DO happen.  Earth shattering, life changing accidents.  Accidents that ROCK you to your core and leave you forever changed.  Accidents that in the world's eyes are just that, tragic events that are referred to as accidents.  Yet, I still cling to God's promises.  He didn't blink that moment on that day.  He didn't forget any of us, or Rickey as he fell.  God knew.  He knew I'd survive the paperwork.  He knew I'd survive the insurance phone calls, the casket and burial plot purchasing I'd have to do.  He knew the clothes I'd have to pick out, the songs that would be sung.  The details on the death certificate, and yes, that "spot" where it happened.  So, no, it wasn't a picnic and it surely wasn't a "date", but I'm so thankful that I didn't have to visit that spot alone when the time came.  I'm thankful for the people that GOD has put in my life.  For the strength that God has given me - to trust Him when it would be easier to curse him.  For being able to listen to His nudging as to the timing of visits to places.  I wasn't ready until now to go to the house with the "roof" . . . yesterday, I was.  God, with His sense of humor (YES, I believe God has a sense of humor) chose to send me a new friend.  A friend who has been "there" for me as I navigate these waters.  A friend who has helped me to grow . . . in my walk with God, in my grieving process.  A friend who listens when I talk about Rickey - and I do - every day . . . A friend who (ironically/coincidentall/"CRAZILY") is named Rick.

I'm thankful for him and Renee (2 of my "newer" friends) ... GOOD friends who have made each day more enjoyable.  Each "puzzle piece" more bearable to put into place.  Friends who are just "there", when words aren't enough, or are too much.  Friends who enjoy my memories of Rick, and encourage me to share them.  Friends who I feel are sent by God.  I have no idea where my life will lead. . . but I know that I've very recently been challenged by God to be willing to "Not just send my money this time, but how 'bout me going?"  Maybe it's to Liberia, or who knows . . . i'm just thankful to not walk the road alone, but to have friends walking it along side of me! :) 


Happy Birthday Bud! ♥

August 18. . . .

Certain days have certain meaning . . .

Certain days will always have certain meaning . . .

As August 17 became August 18 during my shift at work last night I changed from entering the date as 8/17/12 to 8/18/12 . . . 

However, I found myself wanting to write 8/18/56.  

Yes, 1956. 

It’s the date I’ve filled in countless times in the past 20 years.  

It’s the date of Rickey’s Birthday.  


Rickey would have been 56 years old. 

Last year, we teased him that he was the “speed limit” . . . NEVER thinking he’d “forever” be the “speed limit” to us.  A year ago, we were eating a Birthday cake that Tessa had helped decorate at her job at Mum’s Flour Company . . . didn’t she do a good job??!!

Today we won’t be celebrating with Rickey here on earth, but we will celebrate that we KNOW he is celebrating this Birthday with JESUS!!

We will be "celebrating" with 100’s of others of Christians raising our hands and our voices in praise to Jesus at "Rock the Lakes" - a Franklin Graham music festival in Green Bay! The praise and worship we experience will pale in comparison to the celebration that Rickey is experiencing before the throne of God, but it will be just a small taste Heaven for us!

So, it is a bittersweet day, a day that we wish we could share with Rickey here on earth.  A day we'd love to be planning cake and ice cream and Packer t-shirts for gifts . . . a day that is sad for us, but truly so very joyous for him!  I trust fully that this Birthday is the BEST ever for Rickey and that all he would tell any of us today is that we MUST make sure.  We must make sure, as he was that if we don't make it to that our next Birthday, we will be absent from our {earthly} bodies, but PRESENT WITH THE LORD . . . and truly, there is no greater Birthday Present!! 

So, Happy Birthday Bud, Happy, Happy Birthday . . . you will always be loved and never forgotten . . . 
and we can't imagine what a Birthday in Heaven must be like!  Thank you for always loving us unconditionally and in that, giving us the strength that we have needed to be strong since you "re-located" to Heaven!  We will see you again someday, and until then, we will do our best to point others to JESUS as you did with your kindness and love . . . thank you for sharing your 55 Birthdays on earth with us!


God still moves! :)

Lately, this describes me to a "T"! :)
Proof is in the fact that it is 1:25 a.m. and I'm on the couch, blogging! :)  
This after 4 hours of sleep last night . . . and not much more than 5 in any given night the last month or so . . . yet, I'm not feeling it!! 

I've been exercising better (not running every day - lifting weights - doing different things), I've been eating MUCH better (not starving myself) and have not had a Diet Dew (or ANY soda!) for a MONTH.   I've also had very little sugar (treats on the weekends only) and LOTS of fruits, veggies, proteins and WATER!!  I've learned that I like most veggies, avacados, protein shakes, pizza (on Saturday to raise my "leptin" - google it!) and coffee (yes, coffee!)!

I've just completed my fourth week at my new job, and with this week came the notice that I had been awarded a position that I applied for with MORE hours (70% is the classification - which averages 7 days in 2 weeks!).  It is the midnight (11 p.m. - 7 a.m.) shift, which is why I'm not stressing about being awake at 1:30 in the morning!  I'm excited about this shift as I can usually sleep anytime and anywhere, I will still have days, evenings and weekends to do things I want to (I'll just have to adjust sleep around my plans) and it's more hours with a little better pay (than my previous position - and much more than the 40% position I originally took!).  And it's in the ER which is where I really enjoy being!

God's hand has just been SO EVIDENT to me in the past month that I can't even describe it!  

I LOVE this verse as it is SO TRUE! 
In ALL of the changes this last month has brought my way, I have SOUGHT the LORD first in all of them, and HE has answered BEYOND anything that I could HOPE or THINK!  

I know with all my being that Rickey always wanted the BEST for us and that one of his primary desires was to see me happy!  Because of this and the wonderful love that we shared, I can trust that God who loves me WAY MORE than Rickey ever did/could have, will do even more for me than Rickey ever could have done!  I can, therefore, move joyfully into the future . . . knowing that I have SEEN the LORD move this month.  CHANGE is SCARY.  I LIKE the FAMILIAR.  I like to know what is around the next corner, but, when I RELINQUISH that control, the LORD does take center stage and all I have to do is trust.  He never command that I understand, or even like all that comes to me, He just tells me to trust.  To seek Him so that he can answer me.  To seek HIM so that He CAN deliver me from my fears! 

I don't know what tomorrow, or next week or next month will bring, so I CHOOSE to embrace each "TODAY" that has been gifted to me!  :)  I will rest in the assurance that HIS love for me will never waiver and will never fail.  I know that I WILL fail, as a daughter, sister, friend, employee, mommy . . . but that God will love me anyway.  He will lead if I just let Him! :) 

I often am told that I seem very happy, and that is what I want people to see.  I want them to see that the JOY of the LORD is my STRENGTH!! :)  I want HIS light to shine through  me - by way of my smile so that I may point others to HIM! :) 

Since Tessa's Birthday on July 12, I have started a new job, a new exercise routine, new eating habits.  I've made some AWESOME new friends, and learned more about myself along the way!  I've seen Tessa change her mind about going "away" to college, give her room to her little sister and move herself to Grandma & Papa's house (just a little "change of scenery" for all of us)!  I've come to appreciate that things don't make sense to me.  I don't understand how God works, and I may never, this side of GLORY!  I've relaxed MUCH on a messy house, sleep patterns and road trips (taken by the girls without me along "for safety").  I've grown in ways I thought I never would have, but still have grown.  God has given me things that I have asked for, and blessed me with things I didn't dare even ask, but hoped for!  I've had the opportunity to have some really good conversation with my girls - from the big things (how THEY feel at this point in life and about losing their Daddy) to little, silly, funny, laugh provoking things!  I, just today was able to talk to one of Rickey's DEAREST friends who is embarking on an endeavor that we can hopefully incorporate Rickey's legacy into (more to come as details are ironed out!).  This was one of my really big prayers was that we could HONOR Rick's life through his love for HUNTING, and it appears that GOD is opening some doors!  I'm thankful for his friends who share this desire with me, and my friends who are anxious to see where God takes this and want to stand alongside of me as we honor Rickey's memory! :)

Today, I CHOOSE to allow God to take care of the "little" stuff and the "big" stuff and to sit back, let Him lead and "enjoy the journey! :) 

After the "whirlwind" month that has just passed, I can truly say that each and every day (and sometimes each and every minute), I have SEEN God's hand at work.  I have SEEN Him moving in ways I never dreamed possible . . . so, i can say with calm assurance . . . 


...9 months ...

"Hold My hand, and walk joyously with Me through this day . . . together we will savor the pleasures and endure the difficulties it brings . . . be on the lookout for everything I have prepared for you . . . I am your guide , as well as your constant companion . . . I know every step of the journey ahead of you, all the way to Heaven!

~ Jesus Calling Devotional

As I type this, it is 12:16 a.m. on August 5, 2012.

9 months.

To anyone who is a parent, 9 months is typically a joyous countdown!  The culmination of 9 months of excitement and planning and waiting and wondering and worrying is coming to an end.  9 months results in the joyous arrival of a new addition to the family.  

This 9 months is not that type of joyous celebration - for us, but for Rickey, it is.  It marks 9 months of living in the very presence of Jesus . . . seeing, tasting, feeling, experiencing the eternal joys of Heaven!  I am reading a book right now called "The Color of Rain".  In it, a husband is dying of cancer.  The last line I read in the book tonight was, "He (the dying husband) is being called home and that call cannot be denied".  Since November 5, THAT thought has been an anchor to my soul.  I love word pictures and my word picture from that day is of those fleeting moments between Rickey's earthly life and his Eternal life . . . and the moment the two intersected.  My image has been of Rickey falling, but as he fell, God REACHED DOWN from Heaven with an outstretched hand and said, "Well done, my good and faithful servant, it is time for you to come Home to me now".  At that point, Rick reached out his hand and in the TWINKLING of an eye, he moved from this life to Heaven!  Jesus called and Rickey went - without a backwards glance because he was READY to meet his Savior!  Shouldn't we all want to be that ready, to be anxious to GRAB HOLD of Jesus' hand when He calls to us?  Rickey was, and therein lies my comfort.  So as I type this in the wee hours of the morning of the 5th of the month, I can say that the Saturdays do not come with such a sharp pain anymore.  The 5th's of the month don't paralyze me with fear anymore.  The "anniversary" days are there, they always be.  Rickey's birthday is coming soon (the 18th), but we already have plans.  God, in His mysterious ways KNEW that some of the girl's FAVORITE bands would be doing a FREE concert, in Green Bay, on Saturday, August 18!  So, on that day, we will join hundreds of other Christians in worshiping the Lord - just a small taste of the worship Rickey will be experiencing on his first birthday in Heaven!

God HAS been gracious.  He has BLESSED me BEYOND measure.  Even in tragedy, HE has been there for me, every single step of the way.  He has made the crooked ways straight, and as I have walked closer and closer to HIM, I have felt more and more real HIS presence.  I have friends and family who mean the WORLD to me.  Friends who know me and understand me and "get" me!  I have been blessed by their presence in my life, and am forever thankful to the Lord for what they are to me!  I am continually amazed at HIS blessings in this, my CrAzY life!

I have learned to look for the "little" things . . . the blessing of waking up each morning (even at 3:30 a.m. this past week as my work shift was 5:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.), the smell of the flowers (or fresh cut grass), the warmth of the sun, the trees blooming, birds singing . . . I see HIM in those things and more . . . in a beautiful sunrise or sunset, in a full moon rising, in the stars in the sky and sitting around the fire-pit listening to the nighttime insects chirping and the fire crackling.  Listening to the goofiness of my girls and their friends and their infectious laughter!  I'm learning to sense GOD in all things and to thank HIM for every blessing He sends my way - big or small - and not to question His leading, but to "enjoy the journey"!

Today, I ran another 5K and "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" was more true than I could imagine! :)  When I started to run in January, my goal was to run (and finish) a 5K . . . just one . . . which I did do in March.  My "goal" time was to finish in under 30 minutes.  Today, i finished my 2nd "official" 5K with a time of 24:52 and was FIRST in the 45 - 49 year age division!  Eating right (hardly any sweets, NO Diet Dew & learned to like COFFEE - WHAT is up with THAT??!), exercising, weight lifting and running have all pushed me to grow and move forward.  To be stronger.  To continue to live, and laugh, and love and enjoy life . . . because I KNOW that is what Rickey would want for me! 

My new job is AMAZING!  I am so at peace in making the decision to leave my old job and move on to this one!  There are so many opportunities in this position and I really enjoy the change and the challenge!   God is working on me and (hopefully) through me.  My prayer continues to be that I may shine HIS light to others as He has blessed me with His love and peace!

So, even though this "9 months" will not be marked in the joyous way the 9 month culmination of a pregnancy would be, I will "celebrate" it.  I will celebrate the JOY of Rickey being more alive than ever in Heaven where he waits for us.  i will celebrate the work that God has done and continues to do daily in my heart and my life . . . in growing me and teaching me and upholding me.  I will celebrate that "I know who holds the future and I know who holds my hand".  I will celebrate my friends, old and new who GOD has brought into my life for His glory and His purpose - and I will not take a single one of them and their blessings to me for granted!  I will celebrate the fact that even though I was excited for her to "move on" in life and experience the world, Tessa has decided to attend college locally - at least for this semester.  I will celebrate her and her sisters - that they are each other's best friends and the lights of my life!  

I will celebrate the fact that Jesus calls me to "Sit quietly in His presence while He blesses me . . . to rest in His sufficiency  . . to keep looking to Him and communicating with Him as I walk through my days with Him!"  ~Jesus Calling (paraphrased)

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...