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Perfect Imperfection

Tonight we put up our Christmas tree, the first Ravella/Gilbert tree. Actually we have two trees. One is artificial. It is perfect. It has p...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Greatest in status or authority or power Supreme or highest in power;

Superior to all others

The right of God to do as He wishes with His creation

Romans 9:21

Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some Pottery for noble purposes and some for common use

I (Ginger) am typing this blog on an airplane enroute to New York and then on the the Holy Land. As a I so suavely pulled out my laptop and begin typing away I can't help but laugh inside a little. Me, the stay at home mom of 5 little kids who only a year and half ago didn't know what an ipod was, had no clue how to text message and thought myself incapable of using the internal mouse on a laptop. I never even planned on owning a laptop. Ah, that is the key word - plans. I have been thinking on this subject so much lately and knew it would be the jumping off point to the next blog I would write. Depending on how long the remainder of this plane flight is, it might even be a two-parter, who knows?

Plans are a sketchy and exclusive thing. We make them, we map them out, we fret over them, we invest ourselves in them, they pretty much dictate our lives in one way or another every single hour of every single day.

Have you ever known what it is to have your plans washed away as quickly as the tide wipes out a sandcastle. One big wave and poof! All your hours and hours of labor in the sun vanish right before your eyes.

Anyone who has suddenly come face to face with a life altering event knows this sinking sandcastle feeling. Being a doer in life not just an observer usually played out to my benefit. It especially came in handy when I married Troy and became a military wife. My friends will be the first to tell you, I am not very organized but I am an accomplished planner. We military wives have to be. We have to map out our futures as they are usually hinged on a next move, next job, next deployment, next holiday spent far from family, next new friend we need to meet, in general the next thing is always right around the corner and we want to embrace it so we plan. I don't think just military wives are necessarily like this, I think it's sort of ingrained in lots of us as little girls. We like to plan our next birthday party (the day after our last one), we like to plan what we're wearing to prom in January, we like to plan our weddings before we get to the third date and we like to plan what our newborn baby will be doing after he graduates from college. We cook for a month in advance. We book our calendars chalk full. In fact, I remember looking back over my calendar the week of Troy's accident. There were a lot of plans I had made for that week. Losing my precious husband was no where on the list. Hopes and dreams and plans are just part of using our imaginations and creating our future realities.

But when those hopes and dreams hinge on things in this earthly life (admit it, 99% do) and suddenly that earthly life gets sucked down the big drain, then what? Those of us that has happened to know what happens next. We stand in the middle of the rubble that used to be our perfect life and wonder what in the world just happened. I often said for months and months after Troy died that all of my hopes went down in that airplane crash with him. They did. Or they seemed to. At least all of MY hopes and dreams did. I remember the first time I spoke to my good friend, Marlo, who lost her husband in a plane crash 10 years prior, we spoke of these broken and unfulfilled dreams. We talked about how we were supposed to grow old together as couples. We were to watch our grandchildren play on the front porch of our dream log cabin in the woods. All of the Air Force assignments we were going to take and enjoy. Marlo, much further down the road than I was, told me to consider that God obviously had other plans for me. She was so confident that her husband, Rick's, accident was a part of the plan God dreamed for her that she named her widow ministry, Dreamed for Me Ministries. She was in a place I could not be at the time and still struggled to comprehend sometimes in the painful moments - the place where we rest in the fact that not just our joys but our struggles are all part of His plan.

I spent a lot of time in prayer and study trying to reconcile that a loving God could not only allow but actually be the architect of such painful devastation as what I have experienced. It just didn't make sense that my Abba Father would hurt me like He was. Not just hurt me a little bit but rip out my heart and soul and lay on a bed of fire. I began studying Job, David,, Moses and found that I was having more and more in common with these great men of the Bible. We all felt God had forgot caring about us, instantly stopped loving us, erased our names from the palm of His hand. As I have mentioned before, I had to check my feelings against the Truth of Scripture.

Matthew 10:29-30

"Are not two sparrows sold for one penny? Yet not one will fall to the ground apart from the will of the Father.

Isaiah 49:15-17

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands

My nanny, Jessica, graduated from Bible college with a degree in Biblical counseling (she came to the right house!). As she watched me wrestle with trying to lean on the Someone I thought had let me fall, she recommended I read a book called "trusting God when you don't understand" by Jerry Bridges. I knew He had really blown my trust and that was the crux of my problem with Him. This book has captured me and I continue to not just read it but highlight it and study like a textbook. This book talks about God's sovereignty and who He is all the time, no matter what our circumstances He does not stop sitting on His throne, eyes wide open, not letting anything touch us, His children, without His permission. But if I believe he didn't turn His head or nod off then was He just being downright cruel to rob me of my future and steal every drop of happiness I had ever known?

Psalm 121:4

Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep

This is when I began studying

Romans 8:28

" And we know that all things work together for the good of those that love the Lord and who have been called according to His purpose."

and clung onto
Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans i have for you. plans to prosper you not harm you. plans to give you a hope and a future. these are things i will do, I am the Lord your God.".

But what if that was just for Isaiah and the Israelites? Not if we believe that these scriptures are all consistent with God's character. Not each of the stories or words in the Bible are specifically about our situations but all of them point to who our God, Jehovah is, all-mighty, 100% loving, ever-faithful, totally able.

I am certainly no Bible scholar but I did begin fervently reading my Bible and hanging onto His promises for dear life. I needed to know He was unchanging.

Hebrews 6:17-19

Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure

I needed to know that I could trust Him. He wasn't a friend that turned on me. He wasn't a moody or fickle bully. He was and He is the Great I Am. And at the same time, the gentle Shepherd.

Ezekiel 34:12

As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.

He did not stop working in my life when He took Troy Home. My plan was to be married to Troy until we were putting our teeth in jars next to our beds. My plan was to raise 5 kids together. My plan was to be a general's wife and minister in the AF alongside the love of my life- the one God gave for pete's sake!

My plan was not to bury my 34 year old husband. My plan was not to explain to my 5 little children that their daddy was never coming home but living with Jesus instead. My plan was not to be a widower. My plan was not to be a single mother. My plan was not to wish myself dead as a better alternative to getting up in the morning. My plan was not to be alone.

But the days (okay moments- let's not exaggerate) that I began to make the choice that I could trust the Lord again and to accept this was His will for me were the moments that I thought I might could go on. That I might could still feel like His hand never left the top of my head.

I have many more thoughts on this subject but I am advised turn off electronic devices. Wow, they're talking to me-the "techie" :).

Okay, I am now at JFK airport and awaiting my flight to Turkey then Israel.

Just in the last few weeks I have stumbled across several things that reminded me of Troy's plans. I found his "to-do" list from before he deployed to Iraq. He didn't have everything crossed off the list. Maybe he finished it in Iraq. Maybe he thought it could wait until he got home. He obviously finished all the work the Lord had for him to do, though.

As I was in San Antonio a few weeks ago I was at Jim's house looking for napkins. I found some beautiful napkin rings that Andrea had purchased at some point. The tags were still on them. She had plans to use them some evening. The Lord must have finished all the work He had for her to do.

Troy and Andrea leaving us was not our plan but the Lord's. It was our plans to have our time with them as our spouses forever. They left us way too soon. They were far too young. But for whatever reason, our time with them on earth was finished in God's eyes, and as Believers we have to accept that as His will though it was not ours.

Isaiah 55:8

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord

Well, we are beginning to board. My plan is to visit the birthplace of our Lord. My plan is grow in my walk with Him. My plan is to return and marry the love of my life in July and us raise our children together. But I must surrender always my plans to His will.

James 4:13-15

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."

Please pray for safe travels for all of us.

I (Jim) am finishing this blog and posting it as Ginger's laptop has no power...little thing called 220v vice 110v. Anyway as I read this blog I was amazed knowing God was speaking to us both. We had not discussed this blog or what Ginger would write about but this week I had been thinking of writing a blog on God's sovereignty, which is what Ginger is writing about. I had been thinking how we need God to be sovereign. When things happen like Troy and Andrea dying I have to admit it makes you struggle with God's sovereignty just as Ginger wrote about. But in the end I really need God to be sovereign otherwise what do I make God out to be? What God do I serve if He is not in control? How can I trust Him if He only stands by and allows life to just happen. I can't ask God to be sovereign until a tragedy hits then deny him that right. Life is just hard at times and who God is and what we believe about Him can not be circumstantial. I do not look at Andrea or Troy's death as a reason to doubt God's sovereignty. I find comfort in the fact that God was in control every moment of Ginger's and my life. Even in directing our steps that brought was together to write this blog. God was sovereign over our darkest days as well as our joy we now share. I need Him to be all that He is. I need Him to be all that I am not. Because Only He can direct our steps with such love. Only He deserves our trust when I see a picture of Andrea or when Ginger looks into her children's eyes.

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