. . . there's more to our journey . . .

Oftentimes, someone touches your life and you are never the same.

Such is my experience with some of our dear friends.  They are the
friends who we called upon the day of Rickey’s accident.  The ones who
live out of town – 2 hours away.  The friends I knew I could call to
meet up with Kajsa who was gone on a youth group event for the day.
The friends who, though we only had been friends for a short time, I
completely trusted to meet up with her and bring her to us at the
hospital.   Those friends, who despite the fact that they have a life,
dropped EVERYTHING for us.  They got Kajsa for us and delivered her
safely to us, “big brother” sitting in the back seat with her,
comforting her the entire ride.  The friends who then drove us home
(all sandwiched into their smallish car).  The friends who helped us
pull all of our mattresses into the living room for that night and
then they stayed with us – all camped out on the living room floor –
because we needed the closeness of friends & family – we weren’t ready
to be home alone yet.  They dropped everything, for days, and were
just there for us. 

I’ve always appreciated it, but almost 2 weeks ago, their
love and sacrifice was forefront in my mind.  This time, the roles were
reversed and they were in our shoes.  Their Daddy/Grandpa went to be
with Jesus.  We didn’t stop our lives for them as they did for us, yet
we felt their pain, and their joy, the two again mingled at the
earthly loss of a loved one, yet with the knowledge that Daddy/Grandpa
was free in Heaven!

Though we didn’t know their Dad/Grandpa well (we had met at a few
occasions on visits with them), we know them, we love them, we have
laughed and loved and made many fond memories with them . . . and we
could relate to their pain.  We attended the funeral that was held last
Friday.  The service a celebration of a life well lived for Jesus.  The service
a reminder to those of us who are Christians of the HOPE we have in
the Lord, and a CHALLENGE to those in attendance who did not have a
personal relationship with Christ, or who had wandered from their
“first love”.  It was a beautiful service, as funerals go.  There were
tears – many of them.  There was sadness – much, for a huge hole is
left in their family.  But, there were smiles.  And laughter.  And
joy.  All mingled together . . .

The Pastor, a man I had never met before, spoke of the loss for the
family, but also of the gain for the one who has gone before his
family who remains here on earth.  He spoke honestly of heaven and the
hope that we all have for eternity – if we are children of God.  He
spoke clearly of the ONLY way to make sure that we are going to heaven
– a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  He spoke of our “dash”
and how important it is to make sure our “dash” leaves a legacy . . .
you can read “The Dash” poem he referred to HERE (it is
copyrighted).   The song “Shall We Gather At The River” was sung . . .
the chorus says, “Yes, we’ll gather at the river, the beautiful, the
beautiful river.  Gather with the saints at the river, that flows by
the throne of God” . . . what a beautiful word picture!  A river more
gloriously beautiful that the most beautiful sight we can imagine here on earth!
As a congregation, we sang “It Is Well With My Soul”.  A song that I have
blogged about previously.  At the last verse and the chorus, we all
stood, declaring the truth within the lyrics, “And Lord, haste the day
when my faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
the trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend, Even so, it is
well with my soul” . . . it is always moving to me to be singing that
song with a room full of believers with hands lifted in praise to the
One who, even in the midst of grief, allows us to say, “it is well
with my soul”.

Being able to say “It is well with my soul” also allows us to move
forward in our grief process.  It does not mean we forget.  It does
not mean we don’t miss the person who we have lost – every.single.day.
 It means we have trust that “whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to
say, it is well, it is well with my soul.  It is a complete
abandonment to trusting God’s will - even when it makes NO SENSE to us.

I just read a statement that was made by another widow, she said,
“Moving forward after a loss of a spouse is difficult and sometimes
seems impossible.  But one must remember that our loved one would not
want us to lock ourselves in the past.  They would want us to learn to
live and live life to the fullest.  It is not letting the love or
memory go, it is letting the pain go.  I will always love my late
husband, but I know God does not want me or my children to stay in
misery.  It is not a bad thing to move forward – it is not dishonoring
a love – it is honoring that love by moving on.”

That is pretty profound . . . and a perfect segue for me . . . I
titled my blog “Our Journey To A New Normal” back in mid-November
2011.  At that time, I had NO IDEA what a “New Normal” might look
like.  I couldn’t imagine what tomorrow would look like, much less
days, weeks, months or years down the road.  There were times I
thought I might have an idea of what the future looked like . . . but,
really, I had no clue.  I had to trust God fully – for each tomorrow.
I had to abandon all to Him – even when it made no sense.

After being married for almost 20 years, the mere thought of meeting
someone new, dating {yikes – at 45 years old or more?!} was enough to
scare me to death.  But, God. . . . yep, but God . . . one of my
favorite sayings . . . but, God says, “I know the plans I have for
you, declares the Lord”.

Since the start of this blog, I have focused on my journey through
grief.  I have prayed over each post and I have endeavored to make God
the focus of all that I have posted.  I have never desired to make it
appear that anything that has come my way, good or bad, is of my doing
. . . it is all from the Lord.   I am no better or no worse than
anyone who reads here . . . I just went through something that many
people don’t go through at my age.  We all experience the loss of
loved ones, be it grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, spouses,
friends or children.  It’s just that when it’s the loss of children or
the loss of a spouse at a “young” age {45 is younger than normal to
become widowed}, it doesn’t seem as “normal”.  Because of this, and
because I desire to be sensitive to others who grieve the loss of
Rickey with me, I have been fairly quiet about my personal life over
the past six months.  I’ve not been quiet because I didn’t want to
share, I wanted to!  I wanted to “shout it from the mountaintops” {as
a friend asked me why I wasn’t doing!} . . . but, I did not want to
dishonor Rickey or his memory, or the grief that others were/are still processing.

However, reading the quote above, by another widow, has helped me to
realize that it is o.k. to move on.  And to talk about it.  To share
the happiness that God has allowed back into my life!   To say today
that I am happy is a completely true statement.  To say that I believe
God has a plan for my life is as true today as it was on November 5,
2011.  Though today, that plan seems much more hopeful than it did
back then!  To say that I am BLESSED is a truth that I marvel over

Rickey will never be replaced in my life or my heart.  We were married
for almost 20 wonderful years and have 3 amazing daughters.  I was
blessed with 2 awesome step-kids, their spouses and their babies who
continue to love and support me on a daily basis.  They are amazing
big siblings to their younger sisters, and that love has only grown in
the past almost 15 months!  I was blessed.  I knew what a good
marriage was like – and I hoped that one day I would have that again.
Hoped, but didn’t really believe.  I thought that maybe God would send
someone to me who would be a “companion”, but not in the sense of what
I had before – I couldn’t imagine that I’d again have a best friend
who I’d share all of me with – the good, the bad and the ugly.  And
not only share me with, but who would accept me, the good, the bad and
the ugly!  It seemed too much to ask or think or dream.  Yet, here I
am today, and I can say that God has blessed me with just that – more
than I imagined, or asked or thought or dreamt!

In Rick (yes, God does have a sense of humor doesn’t He?!), I have
someone who wants the best for me, and for the girls.  I have someone
who loves me when I’m acting loveable and even when I’m not.  I have
someone who holds me accountable for my bad behavior, and reminds me
of what is important in life . . . and will what I think is SO
IMPORTANT really matter in 5 years {or 5 minutes}?!   I have someone
who holds my hand {figuratively and literally} through whatever a day
may bring.  He honors Rickey’s memory with me, and is the only person
who has ever visited the cemetery with me.  I have learned to love and
trust and smile and laugh again.  I {we} have been blessed!

Life isn’t all “rosy” . . . as some would accuse me of painting it out
to be.  We met and married quickly . . . Rick lost a son and his dad,
I lost Rickey . . . we both know life is precious . . . can can be 
far too short . . . and we aren’t promised tomorrow.  
Not everyone has been happy with our decision.  We
have had adjustments to make {growing pains}.  We are 46 and 51 years
old . . . and both set in our ways  and I’m a little “spoiled”!  We
combined households and both have children.  Just to make it even MORE
interesting . . . we have 5 pets added to the mix {and I don't even LIKE animals!}
 I was one of those people who NEVER {I know, never say never}
wanted my kids to have a step-parent – or a different last
name than me.  I always took that stand because I was determined I’d
never get divorced.  I never imagined death would enter the picture.
Our “growing pains” have served to draw us closer to each other and
closer to God.  We recognize that the “statistics” of secular culture
are against us.  We also recognize that marriage is a covenant – with
each other, and with God.  When disagreements arise, we bring them out
in the open, we talk about them and we pray about them, and we
remember how blessed we are!   We do devotions together daily and we
don’t hide our hopes, dreams and fears from each other.  We dare to
dream together – of our future and what God might have in store for us!

Life will not always be perfect.  There will be bumps in the road.
With God’s help and by God’s grace, we will continue to move forward.
We will continue to love and laugh and enjoy the life God has given us
– growing pains and all!  God will continue to teach me lessons day by day.  
Each day will bring some reminder of Rickey – be it in the smile of the kids, 
a look, a joke, a shared memory . . . the mounted deer heads and bear that still
adorn our home, or the memories shared by dear friends and family –
and that’s all good . . . very good, because Rickey is a part of our
lives – he is and will always be Daddy to his kids, and he will always
remain one of my best friends.  He’s just gone on to Heaven before me
– where he waits for all of us!!  I was left here and have just been
blessed by God – again  - with another best friend – one not to take
the place of the one I lost, but to be an addition to my life.  A
wonderful addition!  One who brings joy to each day, puts a spring in
my step and a smile to my face {and puts me in my place when I begin
to act too spoiled or ungrateful!}.

I will continue to blog . . . but my posts may be lighter . . . they
may be just sharing about our day-to-day lives, and the life lessons
that we are still learning – each and every day from the hand of our
loving Heavenly Father!  I hope you’ll continue to join me as we
continue on this new path to “Our Journey To A New Normal”!

NEW YEAR'S EVE DAY . . . 2012



“Hey I don't know about you but I can’t wait till the day
When I'll be with my Lord and everything is ok
And I'll be just like him so sin won't get in the way
Basking in his glory that's where I want to stay
I just wanna go where
I'm only breathing your air
Father hear my prayer
Take me there
Take me there”

{Take Me There – Trip Lee}

The girls really like to listen to Christian “rap” type music.  Me, I
can take it or leave it – for the most part leave it!  The song “Take
Me There” by Tripp Lee has been running through my head lately though, so I
thought maybe it was time to reflect and post about some thoughts that
I have been thinking in relation to those lyrics.

Read those lyrics above again, and reflect, are they true for you?

Can you really say that you can’t wait for the day, the day when
you’ll be with your Lord and everything will be o.k.?  When you’ll be
just like Him and sin won’t get in the way?  When you go “there”
{heaven} and are breathing only His air?  Wow!  That should be what I
can’t wait for, should be what I focus continually on, but, more often
than not, my mind wanders from those thoughts.

It got me to thinking, how many times have I said, “I can’t wait”?  I can
think of so many examples . . . when I was pregnant . . . “I can’t
wait until this baby is born” . . . and then . . . “I can’t wait until
she can roll over, crawl, talk, walk” . . . “I can’t wait until there
are no more bottles, diapers, diaper bags” . . . “I can’t wait until I
get a new job, a new car, start a new project, move into our new house” . . . “I
can’t wait until Christmas, my birthday, that “special day”” . . . “I
can’t wait until vacation, spring break, the weekend” . . . you get
the picture . . . our lives {mine at least} seem to be full of “I
can’t wait’s”!  And pretty much all of them {again, at least for me}
is very earthly and temporal . . . WHY is my focus not on I can’t wait
until the day when I’ll be with my Lord and everything is o.k.?  Why
do I allow the things of this earth to over-shadow eternity.  Why
don’t I keep my focus?

Lately, God has been teaching me {through others} to re-focus my
focus.  To look at my circumstances in light of eternity.  To
remember, will it really be important 5 years from now {and in reality
will it be important 5 minutes from now}?  I’ve been learning to
forgive – and forget.  I’ve been learning to extend grace – as Christ
extended grace to me.  I’ve been learning to be more patient.  I’ve
been learning to empathize with other’s circumstances rather than
judging them . . . I’ve certainly not arrived, and I never will, but
I’m learning, and I’m becoming more like clay in the Potter’s hands
{at least I pray that I am}!  
And it’s a DAILY learning, TRUST ME!!  

I totally blew it again Monday.   We came home from a “mini-vacation” on Sunday
and I came home sick {never say never, but I never get sick!}.  So,
when we got home, I headed straight to bed.  Everyone else relaxed for
the afternoon . . . which is great . . . except when mom wakes up the
next morning and everything from the weekend is still
ALL.OVER.THE.HOUSE!  Let’s just say, I wasn’t very gracious.  Or
patient.  Or Christ-like.  I had to retract my ill-spoken words {again} and
apologize {again}.  Ugh.  I had to be reminded that a messy house is a
house that is lived in and loved in.  It’s a house full of people
living and loving and enjoying life.  It’s a mess that does NOT matter in the
light of eternity  . . . or for that matter, in 5 minutes.  The words
spoken in anger are far longer lasting than the mess in the house.

Oh, if I could please remember that next time . . . my devotional from
Proverbs 31 Ministries had this prayer . . . on Monday {I LOVE God’s
timing} . . . “Dear Lord, I blew it today.  I gave in to my knee-jerk
reaction and lost it.  Please forgive me for the things I said that
were mean & harmful to others … harmful to Your heart.  Grant me the
humility to make things right, to say I’m sorry, to ask for
forgiveness.  Help me to be obedient to Your Word that tells me that
it’s better to hold my tongue and my temper, than to give into the
heat of the moment.  Thank You Jesus. Amen.”   Yes, Amen.  F.O.C.U.S.
and then re-focus!  Another of my devotionals had this, “We must make
the continual choice to fix our gaze on God and our glance on the
circumstances”!  F.O.C.U.S.  This quote reminds me that it is a choice
– a continual choice to fix my gaze on God and glance at my
circumstances – which is hard for this “Type A . . . A.D.H.D.”
personality to do!

So I have to choose daily, hourly, by the minute to F.O.C.U.S. . . .
and re-focus – on God, on my family, on what is truly important in
life and what really won’t matter in 5 minutes!

F.O.C.U.S. . . .

Psalm 119:15
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.

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...