Monday, January 13, 2014

Psalm 139:16 “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be”.

Psalm 139 is one of my favorite passages in Scripture … and I just LOVE this verse!  But sometimes it is oh so hard to believe, trust and understand.  

I remember those early days after Rickey died wondering about the book being written for me.  

I felt so alone.  

Everyone I knew still had their spouses, their girlfriends, boyfriends, friends, and my best friend was gone.  He was the person who knew me inside and out, the good, the bad and the ugly.  He was the one who I bared my soul to and shared my hopes, dreams and fears with.  

I didn’t know anyone else who was 45 years and a widow.  

My parents still had each other, my friends had their spouses, my kids had lost so greatly, and I had no idea what to do.  I didn’t know how to help them or to help me.  I didn’t know anyone who had faced this situation.  I knew they were out there, but I didn’t know who they were!  So many people helped and tried to help, but was there anyone who really understood? 

I started blogging again, and through that, found a network.  There were widows out there, too many ladies who like me, had faced this tragedy way before we’d expected to be saying good-bye to those we loved.

One of those precious widows and I connected with each other pretty quickly.  She had been on the journey for 6 months longer than I had, so my emotions weren’t strange to her – and since her journey was so new, my feelings and emotions were still vivid to her.  In her I found someone who did understand!  She had been there!  She felt the unbelief, the anger, the frustration, the loss . . . all of it, she UNDERSTOOD!  She had a daughter who was close to Taya’s age, her husband died suddenly and unexpectedly.  She “got it”!  “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be”.  God ordained Leah coming into my life just when she did, just when I needed her the most!

As we journeyed “together”, Leah and I, {she lived in North Carolina and I in the Upper Peninsula}, we stayed in contact, reading each other’s blogs, e-mailing, texting, and finally talking on the phone as the girls and I vacationed in Georgia in March/April of 2012.

We shared the heartaches, the pains, and eventually even the joys. 
We shared the stories of finding someone new and {gasp} falling in love again.  And we understood each other, the joys, the fears, the jumble of emotions that can't be fully understood unless you have lived them.

We shared all of this through the wonder of the world wide web and a few phone calls and texts sprinkled in.  I just love technology!

Fast forward to December 2013 ...

Tessa is now all grown up, living with her Uncle (her Daddy’s brother) and Aunt in Kennesaw, Georgia, working at her Uncle’s business.  Taya & Kajsa have a full 2 week break from school {which ended up being a 19 day break because of our frigid weather!}, I am losing my job on 12/20/13 {see previous post, and the rest of the story, well, that’s an entirely separate blog post!}, and Rick can close Corrective Bodyworks for the holidays . . . so we plan a trip to Georgia to see Tessa.  She won't be coming come home for Christmas as she will be coming home in January for her mission trip to Liberia {another separate blog post!}. 

As we plan, and start to look at “logistics” I remember that Leah is only about 3 hours from Atlanta.  How crazy would it be?  Could it work?  It’s Christmas break and everyone is so busy, but I’ll take a chance . . . I send Leah a text telling her of our plans . . . she almost immediately responds that, well, as a matter of fact, she and Joel {her new, gift from God love} have tickets to see her Carolina Panthers play the Atlanta Falcons . . . in ATLANTA . . . the weekend we will be in town!!  

“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” 

. . . Wow, God, you are amazing!  I’m crying as I type these words, for I do believe that God knew, way back on November 11, 2011 when my world came crashing down.  He knew that on December 29, 2013 both Leah and I would be in Atlanta, Georgia.  He knew that the timing would work out for us to meet each other {along with the new loves that God had brought into each of our lives}.  Back then, in the midst of darkness, He was orchestrating our meeting . . . when the timing was right!

On Saturday, December 28, 2013, Rick and I drove into the city and found a parking spot.  We took a walk looking for a smoothie shop {which was closed}, we met up with a sweet homeless man who walked us back to the CNN Center {which was attached to the hotel Joel & Leah were staying at} where there was a place to get smoothies . . . and Starbucks!  Rick got a smoothie, I got us some coffee and we sat and visited and people watched until Leah & Joel arrived. 

It was like meeting up with old friends . . . and after all that’s what we were really.  We had faced one of the biggest storms of life “together” and we had a bond.  A bond of our “widowhood” as well as the bond of Christ and the crazy, bumpy, heart-breaking, exciting, exhilarating road we have walked, hand in hand with Him, and with each other!

We had the precious opportunity to visit for a couple of hours!  The guys found plenty of “common ground” {married to widows, Dads and step-dads, and wives who can talk circles around them to name some of what they had in common!}.  Yes, Leah can talk as much as I can so you can imagine what the visit was like!  Time passed way too quickly and we had to head out and say our “good-byes”, but what a sweet time we had!  Leah’s Panthers {Joel is a Dallas fan, but we decided we like him anyway!} beat the Falcons that day, our Packers lost the next week, so as we proceeded in the playoffs this year, we were cheering “Go Panthers” ... unfortunately Leah's Panthers lost this weekend . . . so now we wait for next year {at least we don't have to cheer Go Cowboys!}!!
Next year, it looks like the Packers and the Panthers may be opponents here on the Frozen Tundra, so my fingers are crossed that Leah and Joel decide to try and make it to that game . . . and in the end, I know that God IS in the details . . . He knows when we will have to opportunity to get together again, until then, I'm thankful we have Facebook, blogging, email and texting!!! 

Here are a few pictures from our afternoon together!!

We meet FINALLY!! :) 

Joel, Rick & myself chatting . . . 

Joel & Rick trying to figure out how to get a word in . . . 

CNN center . . . and the Omni hotel.
Joel & Leah's room is in that tower - I didn't know that when I snapped the picture! 

Us ♥ . . . 

Joel taking a picture of Rick . . . 

Who was taking a picture of Joel! . . . 
(don't you love their pink phones?!)

Joel, Rick & Leah chatting . . . 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

No Flu Shot For Me . . .

I recently made a decision that has caused much controversy.  I decided that I would not be immunized against influenza even though I am working in the Health Care Industry.  This decision was not one that I made lightly, withouth much research (on my own and by my husband), council (even from my doctors) and most importantly, prayer. 

There are always 2 sides to every story, and people become very passionate about what ever "side" they are on.  I do not desire to cause division.  Whatever side you are "on" is  your personal choice.  If you choose not to be immunized (or not to have your children immunized), I urge you to research the matter carefully and make an informed decision based on your personal religious and moral convictions.  If you choose to be immunized (or to have your children immunized), I urge you to research the matter carefully and make an informed decision based on your personal religious and moral convictions. Either way, please don't go into it "blindly" or just because it's what everyone is doing.  

That is what I did.  I HAVE been immunized in the past.  My children have received immunizations.  Most of my grandchildren have not been immunized or have received minimal immunizations.  

My choice NOT to be immunized is not a judgement on you if you have chosen differently.  There are many circumstances surrounding the loss of my job that go deeper than just not being immunized.  Inconsistencies in policy and procedures and the notifying employees of said policies would top that list.  I am not fighting this "battle" because of those inconsistincies though.  I am convinced that, for me, receiving the immuniztion is not the right thing to do.  In the exemption request that I provided to my employer, I stated that, "As a Christian I believe I am to treat my body with respect as it is a gift from God (2 Corinthians 7:1 "Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." and 2 Corinthians 6:19 & 20 "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.").  I also stated that, "My husband has also voiced his concern over tha adminsitration of the vaccine, and has stated that he wishes me to abstain from receiving it.  I desire to comply with my husband's wishes as the head of our household (Ephesians 5:35 "For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.").  I continued with "We have also elected, after much research not to vaccinate our children in regards to the flu shot, boosters or Gardasil. I believe that destroying life and knowingly injecting myself/my family with toxins is a contradiction to my beliefs and unacceptable.  Health is of great importance to me and something that I do not take lightly.  I choose to maintain my health by eating foods that contributte to wellness, not partaking in alcoholic beverages, smoking or any type of recreational drugs."

In addition to the aforementioned religious reasons for my expemption request, I had a letter from my doctor, Doctor Patrick Flynn of The Wellness Way in Green Bay.  In his letter, he stated, "This is a formal statement allowing Sheila Reed a medical exemption from receiving the flu shot.  Her Thyroglubulin Antibodies came back at an extremely elevated level of 1332.9 and Thyroglobulin Peroxidase antibodies are at a level of 929.0.  Given the autoimmune nature of her thyroid disease we cannot advise any extra stimulation of her immune system." ("normal" levels should be 5 - 25).

Following a report on NBC26 regarding my situation (you can watch it here:, I read the following comment on a friend's Facebook page (the friend had linked to the TV 26 story and stated that she too had opted not to get the shot this year).

Someone (whom I don't know and has NO IDEA of the details or background on my story) commented on Facebook: "She works in public health care. Period. Was it disclosed as a requirement when she took the position? If so, she had the option to not accept it. To have privileges in hospitals, my former bosses had to have TB tests and required vaccinations."

My response to her was: "I'd like to address your question regarding the flu shot. When I took the job, we were offered the flu shot, but given the option to decline it and wear a mask during flu season. So, no, the requirement was NOT disclosed when I took the job in 2012. In fact when the flu shot clinics were held this fall, in October, that was still the option given to us. I completed my declination as per policy. On December 5, I received an e-mail stating that flu season was upon us and all unvaccinated employees were to begin wearing a mask when in patient areas. On December 6 (less than 24 hours later), I was informed that the contract that was ratified on 12/2 stated that immunizations were now a condition of employment, UNLESS an employee provided the hospital with a religious or medical exemption. When I approached my Union on this change in wordage in our contract, they stated that they were led to believe that employees were still going to be allowed to "opt out" and they were sorry that they were unclear on that provision. Following that, I followed the "new" policy and I provided both a religious as well as a medical exemption request. I stated my Biblical reasons for not desiring to inject my body with potentially fatal chemicals as well as providing them with documentation from my PHYSICIAN stating the medical reasons related to my autoimmune disorder that I should not be immunized. Both aspects of the exemption request were denied with no reason given. During that time, I followed policy and wore a mask at all times I had patient contact. I even continued to work my scheduled shifts AFTER receiving notice that I was going to be terminated (I received notice on 12/13 but am not being terminated until 12/20 @ 3:00 p.m.) Again, remember, both aspects of the exemption request were denied with no reason given, but I was given "every possible chance to be immunized before being terminated" even though I assured them that I would NOT be changing my mind. Unfortunately in a news "blurb" that is less than 2 minutes in length, it is very difficult to obtain all the information and background that is involved. I respect authority and policy, but I don't like being "bullied" by policy makers who refuse to take the whole picture into consideration before they take action. It will be with sadness that I leave a job that I truly love, but I also believe that God gave me one body and one life and it should be my choice, with His guidance, as to how I take care of it!

So, there you have it, my "side" of the story.  I totally respect the position my employer has taken on protecting patients, I am just not happy with the way it all happened and the inconsistencies that presented themselves throughout the process.  

I know that God is in control and He is in my tomorrow, so I need not fear what that day holds! :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Differences . . .

We live in the house I grew up in . . .

While we were in New Hampshire in July, we visited at least FIVE of the houses he lived in during his childhood (and that wasn’t even all of them)!

I’m a talker . . .

He is not (and he believes when my 25,000 words a day are used up, it’s time for me to QUIT talking . . . WHAT??)!

I am NOT an “animal person” . . .

His kids call him Noah (we have 3 dogs, 3 cats, 2 ferrets and a fish)!

I had never watched a soccer game (or a UFC fight) . . .

He coaches soccer and has played for 40+ years and loves the fights (our first date was  a pizza & watching the fights)!

I never drank coffee . . .

He starts the day with a whole pot of it!

I have 3 GIRLS . . .

He has 3 boys . . .

And, this is just a “short list” of our differences!

But God . . .

Ah, I love those “But God” situations!

But God . . .

In His wisdom, and knowledge and (yes I believe) sense of humor, God brought us to each other!

Proverbs 27:17 says, “ You use steel to sharpen steel,  and one friend sharpens another.”

We have seen the proof of that verse over and over this past year +.

I can honestly say that our differences (though many) have helped to “sharpen” us and our relationship.  We enjoy living in the house I grew up in and the familiarity that it offers, and it was fun to visit Rick’s childhood homes with his siblings and “bonus” mom this summer and hear all of their memories and stories!   Rick prayed for someone who would communicate with him, he got me (& Kajsa who can talk ALMOST as much as I do!  Watch what you pray for!), but I am learning how to be quiet (sometimes!).   Those animals are growing on me, even when the 160# dog jumps in bed with us!  I now watch soccer and have enjoyed going to the Peshtigo Bulldog games, and actually understand most of what is going on! We even went to a UFC fight in August for Rick’s Birthday and it was fun!   We start each morning with our warm mugs of coffee while chatting about our day with each other.  I have 3 girls, he has 3 boys . . . he has learned to carry the shopping bags, and I have learned that boys think WAY differently than girls!  Differences . . . many, many differences, “but God” had a plan when He brought us together.  Each day, we pray that God would make that plan evident in our lives.  Each day, we pray that we would sharpen each other.  Each day, we thank God that in His wisdom, and knowledge and sense of humor, He brought us together, for something bigger than ourselves and for something that only He knows and understands! 

We have differences, many of them.

But . . .

I love the Lord my God with all my heart, mind, soul and strength . . .

He loves the Lord his God with all his heart, mind, soul and strength!

I love my parents, my girls and my family with all my heart (and his family as well!) . . .

He loves his parents, his boys and his family with all his heart (and my family as well!)!

I desire to honor God in all I do, each day of my life . . .

He desires to honor God in all he does, each day of his life!

I made a COVENANT to love him for as many days as God grants me breath on this earth . . .

He made a COVENANT to love me for as many days as God grants him breath on this earth!

So, here we are, differences and all a little bit more than one year into this journey called marriage!  We’ve had some amazingly fun times and we’ve had some amazingly rough times (just keepin’ it real here!) but, we are here.  Together.  Sharpened.  Still in love.  Still seeking God’s face in all that we do.  Still often amazed at God’s sense of humor.  Thankful that God knows what He is doing, even on the days when it doesn’t make sense to us!

We have opened up a massage clinic, Corrective Bodyworks, where Rick spends his days helping others find relief from pain (which is his passion).  God in His infinite wisdom allowed me to be laid off on September 5 from my position at the hospital, we made the rental agreement on September 13 – the time off allowed me to help in getting things ready for the Grand Opening on October 1 (also our FIRST anniversary).  I was called back 2 weeks ago to a different position in the same department at the hospital (which is an entirely new post!).  I’m not sure what God has in mind right now, but I am learning to trust in Him and to lean on Him as I (not always so) patiently wait for the path to be made clear!  I’ll TRY to do better at blogging for anyone who actually reads this and wants to know what is going on!!

For now, this song says it perfectly!

I'm learning to lean, learning to lean,
Learning to lean on Jesus.
Finding more power than I'd ever dreamed,
I'm learning to lean on Jesus.

The joy I can't explain fills my heart,
Since the day I made Jesus my King;
His blessed Holy Spirit is leading my way,
He's teaching and I'm learning to lean.

I'm learning to lean, learning to lean,
Learning to lean on Jesus.
Finding more power than I'd ever dreamed,
I'm learning to lean on Jesus.

There's glorious vict'ry each day now for me,
Since I found His peace so serene;
He helps me with each task, if only I'll ask;
Ev'ry day now I'm learning to lean.

I'm learning to lean, learning to lean,
Learning to lean on Jesus.
Finding more power than I'd ever dreamed,
I'm learning to lean on Jesus.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

. . . a CoUpLe oF ThiNgS . . .

First things first . . . 

Please help us welcome

Born on 9/12/13
7 # 8 oz
19" long

Precious daughter of Nick & Ashley Rye

and adored little sister to Presten, Daila, Maddie & Lila!

(Papa Rickey is surely smiling a BIG smile in Heaven today!)

Auntie "Konky" (a.k.a. Kajsa Jo) loving on Kinsley ♥

Auntie "Table" (a.k.a. Taya Jill) loving on Kinsley ♥

Secondly . . . the house is a WRECK . . . we pushed things from one end of the table to the other so we could eat supper tonight, the dishwasher is FULL (at least it's clean), the sink is full (they are dirty), the counters are covered (I think they are white) and I'm sitting here, sipping coffee, enjoying spending time with Rick, blogging and watching football & FIFA world cup soccer!!  :)  I am learning that PEOPLE are more important than things and that time spent with loved ones can't ever be gotten back - the messy house will still be there waiting for me tomorrow (though I wouldn't mind a housekeeper!)!

Third, and the post that has been rolling around in my brain all afternoon is this . . . 

Do you ever just KNOW that something is right?  I mean, really you just know that it is so totally a "God thing" that you really can't believe it?

Well, I recently had (or thought I had) one of those situations!  As I stated in my last post, I worked my last day at the hospital a week ago today.  Everyone has been asking what I/we plan to do "now" and I've been pretty honest that we're not really sure.  With Rick just finishing up with school (and starting again the same day he finishes!), we are looking at some options we have tossed around for awhile now.  We haven't received clear direction on any of them yet, so we are still seeking and praying.  In the meantime, what looked like an opportunity presented itself to me.  It looked like the PERFECT opportunity.  The timing seemed just "too good to be true".  The details seemed like they just "had to have" been orchestrated by God.  Others agreed with me that it sure seemed like a good thing.  I did keep in mind that sometimes the things that appear to be too good to be true, really are too good to be true.  So I prayed, diligently, that God would make my path clear.  I basically "told" God that I need him to write it in the sky for me, so I would KNOW what to do!  Today, I found out that for whatever reason, that "perfect" opportunity was not to be.  At first, my initial reaction was to be wounded.  Hurt that "I wasn't good enough".  Angry at who ever played a part in the decision.  Ready to display an "I'll show them" reaction.  And then, God reminded me that I asked Him to show me.  I asked in faith (just as I had asked for a tree), and the same as before, He again "gave me a tree".  Only this time, it was not exactly the tree I'd prayed for because I thought this was so "right".  Now, hours later, as I sit writing about it, I can say with assurance that this "no" WAS an answer to prayer.  A clear, concise, direct answer to prayer.  No part of the decision was left to my choice, all I had to do was graciously accept the answer I was given, or stew over the decision and make myself and all those around me miserable.  I think I'll chose the gracious route.  God has a bigger plan than I can see.  Like the song from Casting Crowns, "You're Already There" says (in part): 

"From where I'm standing
Lord it's so hard for me to see
Where this is going
And where You're leading me
I wish I knew how
All my fears and all my questions
Are gonna play out
In a world I can't control

When I'm lost in the mystery
To You my future is a memory
Cause You're already there
You're already there
Standing at the end of my life
Waiting on the other side
And You're already there
You're already there

From where You're standing
Lord, You see a grand design
That You imagined
When You breathed me into life
And all the chaos
Comes together in Your hands
Like a masterpiece
Of Your picture perfect plan

In a world we can't control . . . where our future is a mystery (to us), it's already a memory to Him.  He has a picture perfect plan, that will come together like a masterpiece, if we can just be patient and trust that He IS already there, standing at the end of our life, waiting on the other side!  So while we wait for the answers tomorrow, next week, next month . . . HE'S ALREADY THERE!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I asked for a TREE . . .

Ask, and it will be given to you" . . . Matthew 7:7

This blogging on two blogs sounded easier than it really is!!  You see, it would be very easy if I could separate my life into tidy little boxes (kind of like men can do in their minds!) . . . then there could be "life BEFORE 11/5/11 and life AFTER 11/5/11".  However, though there is a "before" and an "after", my life is intertwined in the before and after . . . 

So . . . when I posted THIS post on my other blog back in July 2012, I had no idea how much I'd look back to it even now.  On that day, I posted about how I had left my job at the school, taken a new job at the hospital and then found out that the new job was no longer "mine" . . . the post was titled "... don't sweat it ..."  Little did I know a short 14 months later, I'd have to remind myself of that yet again.  That original job fell through, but then I was presented with another, better job which is now done.  I received the notice of my lay-off last Thursday (which ended up being my last day as it was the beginning of a 5 day weekend for me).  So, here I am, again jobless.  And trying not to sweat it!  (and if you read back to the July 2012 post, you will see that the events I referred to happened on the 5th of the month (Rickey died on the 5th of the month) AND my lay-off last week . . . yep, it happened on the 5th)

Yesterday as I ran errands, I found myself driving past the cemetery and thinking (as driving past there usually gets me to doing) and I was worrying myself a little bit about "what" the future held when all of a sudden I "heard" 
. . .

"You asked for a tree . . . I gave you a tree, didn't I?  Trust Me AGAIN, my dear child.  . . . 'Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?' (Matthew 6:26 & 26)"

Ah . . . yes, a tree.  I asked for a tree.  And HE gave me a tree.  The tree pictured below:

When I went to the cemetery on that cold day in November, I went alone, to pick out a place to bury Rickey.  It still seemed surreal, but I recall very clearly praying as I drove, "Lord, I hate the cemetery.  I hate the new part of the cemetery, it's all open, there are no trees, no nothing, it seems so cold and barren, if there could just be a tree, any tree, Rickey LOVED being in the woods so much, he NEEDS a tree"(actually I needed that tree, Rickey had far more splendor at that time than all the trees on earth combined!).  When I arrived at the cemetery, I looked for the sexton and saw him, standing waiting for me, at the base of a PINE TREE!  He told me that there was a spot, right by where my parents had purchased plots that was a little walk-way, but it really served no purpose.  If I thought it was o.k., he could make it into 2 burial plots.  "If it was o.k."?  He was standing at the base of a PINE TREE . . . the tree I prayed for.  Yes, of course it was o.k.  No, it wasn't o.k., I wasn't supposed to be here, telling him where he could bury my Rickey.  But, as not o.k. as it was, it was still God's clear answer to my prayer, and my unspoken petition that He remind me that He was still watching over us.

So, again, the "before" and the "after" come together in that reminder that if I ask, in HIS name, HE does listen.  If He cares about the birds in the air, He surely cares even more about us!  As I shared this story with my good friend Molly, she put even more perspective on it, as she stated, He not only gave you "a" tree, He gave you THE tree . . . the tree He died on to give us all hope for eternity.  Oh, what a beautiful parallel, what a confirmation that I don't have to "sweat it" that HE is in control, of my prayers for a job, and direction, and clarity in what He wants for our future!  So as Rick finishes up his last few days of school and we try to discern what HIS way for us is and not what OUR way is for us, we will remember, He gave me "a" tree and He gave us "THE" tree!  We have nothing to fear, "If God is for us, who can be against us"?  Romans 8:31  

So, as we look to the next few weeks and months as we make some BIG decisions about God's direction in our lives, we'd love for you to cover us in prayer!  We'll share things as we have clarity on these decisions, for now, nothing is certain except that God is in CONTROL and nothing that touches our lives surprises Him and that He does have a plan for our lives!

After all, He gave us a tree!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

WeLcOmE . . . i'M gLaD yOu are HERE!

Welcome to the home of my new blog . . . I pray that if you followed my other blog "Our Journey To A New Normal" you'll enjoy this one as well!  

I'll share here, "life as it happens" . . . sometimes deep, sometimes silly, and sometimes just plain old boring to the average reader, but just something that I want to remember in years to come, and if I don't write it down, I probably won't remember it!

So, with that being said . . . WELCOME . . . I'm glad you're here!