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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, April 30, 2008

Happy 25th Anniversary Andrea

This is a day I have been bracing for since probably 2005 and we were told Andrea’s cancer had returned. I had hope Andrea would live till today, April 30 2008. Today along with May 11th. Mother’s Day and Nic college graduation are the two days I was praying Andrea would live until. But it was not to be. I guess if I was truthful it is not as if I would have been satisfied or content for Andrea to die tomorrow. Had Andrea made it till today I would have prayed for another date in the future. It is not as if had Andrea lived till May 12th I would have said I was okay with her dying. I learned that in the chemo room when we would see people who were all ages, yet there they were fighting to live. I thought to myself I guess no matter how old you are you still want to live. Be it a 25th wedding anniversary or a grandkids graduation there is still a date on the horizon you are trying to get to. I guess if there wasn’t you would just quit.

My pain began last night as I could not sleep and realized the clock had turned 12 and in fact our anniversary had begun. I thought how I would have wished Andrea a happy anniversary at midnight. Then the thought of turning out the light and going to sleep brought a fear to me. I just did not want to face the silence of the night and the emptiness of the bed. More than any other night I did not want to be alone last night and I found myself leaving the TV on until sleep overtook me.

Today I left for a TDY in fact I’m typing this on the C-12 as we fly to Alabama. Maybe it is good that I’m not at home tonight. Maybe it is a blessing to be away. But to remember my wife and our marriage I took my lunch break and went to the National Cemetery to sit with Andrea. I packed up Andrea’s journal, her prayer cards, her Bible, our wedding photos and my iPod and Bose player and went out for my beating. A beating I had to take for Andrea, a beating I could not ask God to take away, and one I really did not want to be taken away because to not suffer today would be to not care about the life I had with Andrea. So I sat down and cried, but then I thought of Andrea and her wonderful faith. Her faith in God that was as unwavering as I probably will ever see in my life. The best way I can describe Andrea’s faith was she just believed. She believed with such assuredly it was as if she had she had seen Jesus and you know I think she had. She was blessed with the faith of a child and it was a blessing to see. She did not doubt in God’s love for her, nor His ability to heal her, so if she was not healed it had to be God’s will. And so she waited for a healing that never came but she never doubted.

As I sat at her grave today I thought of our marriage, I thought she had the same faith in me. I know it may be hard for some of you to hear but I was not the perfect loving husband who has the faith you read in my words right now. Sadly I will admit to you until Andrea’s cancer I was not the spiritual leader of my house as I should have been nor was I living my life for the Lord as I should have. I’m sorry to say I was not the man or husband Andrea deserved. I’m sad in more ways than I can express that my wife had to suffer and die for me to become the husband she had dreamed of. But as I was talking to my friend Lori Jo today I’m thankful Andrea got to see me grow into the man she had prayed for all those years. I know it must have given her a peace to see and know our marriage had matured.

I thought of our marriage and how patiently Andrea waited for me. She never nagged me or told me she knew better, when in fact spiritually she was much more mature then I and had every right to. Instead she always allowed me to be the head of our marriage even when looking back I know she would have been the better candidate. But Andrea believed in God’s plan for a marriage and she had faith I would be the man God intended me to be. I know she prayed for me our whole marriage I have read it in her journals and her prayers for me. She waited patiently for me to mature in my faith just as she waited patiently for God to heal her. In both cases she trusted God and His plan.

As I sat at her grave I thought how perfect the words I had put on her tombstone, “Woman of Faith.” That really captures the uniqueness of Andrea, for it was through her faith that she believed without doubting and it was by her faith that she trusted God in her illness and in out marriage. Her faith was a witness to us all who were blessed to have known her. But she did not rely on her faith; her faith was not in her faith but in God. That may be hard to distinguish between but there is a significant difference in having faith in our faith, or ourselves, and having faith in God. Andrea could have easily had faith in herself and her success as a believer but she saw herself with such humility. I don’t think she ever realized how special she was and that just made her that much more special. She was the easiest woman to love, for she allowed me the room to grow, always offering me godly advice in the most gentleness of ways.

This past week I watched some of old home videos from around 1989. We were so young and both learning to be parents. I was your typical dad busy with work and being a new Instructor Pilot and maybe every once in while I would misplace my priorities in life and not spend as much time as I should with Nic. I remember how Andrea would remind me of my error in choice say to go play golf instead of play with Nic, she would start singing,

"And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon Little boy blue and the man on the moon. When you comin' home dad?I don't know when, but we'll get together then son. You know we'll have a good time then."

She knew what was important in life and she was right, but she did not become angry at me, or yell that I never spent time with her and Nic, no she just sang that song and looked at me with her beautiful smile and I knew she was right. I would put away my clubs and we would go in the front yard and play “Guess what animal I am.” It was a game Andrea made up where we would each take turns acting like an animal and the others would guess what we were. We used to call ourselves the “Weird Ravellas” for doing things like pretending to be animals in the front yard. I remember, and I bet Nic still does, Andrea’s impression of a cat. She was on all fours and hunching her back. Nic and I could not guess what she was and when she told us she just could not comprehend how we missed it. I think in her mid it was an Emmy winning performance. I still remember Nic and me rolling in the grass laughing. I have those memories because I had a wife who was wise enough to help me when I was making wrong choices.

Now do you see why I always say I am who I am because of her. It is the truth. She was an amazing woman and wife. She found pleasure in being my wife. She found fulfillment in her role as wife and mother and there was nothing she would not do for one of us boys. And there was nothing I would not do for her. Sadly she would be asked to die for us, for me to be the man I am today. To be the man I need to be for Ginger and the kids. The person I am is a result of the unselfish love of Andrea. She always told me it was worth all she was going through if it helped me, the boys or anyone grow in their walk with the Lord. I was a blessed man, and I still am, for having been chosen to be Andrea’s husband.

1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

John 15:13

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

Today as I stopped crying and thought of all God had given me in Andrea. Laid down on my back on Andrea’s grave, turned up my praise music on my Bose stereo and closed my eyes and sang. It was a beautiful sunny day. Every time I come to Andrea’s grave I would be crushed because I would think Andrea was down there. My mind could not comprehend the reality of the woman I loved being in the ground. It would brings waves of sadness and uncontrollable tears. It was too much for me. But today as I laid on my back looking up at the blue sky I thought this is a better way to look at this place, because Andrea in not in the ground she is alive and as I told Lori Jo today Andrea is with her first love, Jesus. She is not sad; she is living the completion of the faith she had on this earth. She is reaping the rewards of a life lived by faith. I thought the only thing in this grave is her cancer, and for the first time I smiled at the thought. I was glad the cancer was dead. It’s existence ended on Dec 17th but Andrea’s life had just begun.

As I lay on my back in my uniform, singing praise songs, I could not help but think we are still the weird Ravellas.

Happy 25th Jokie. Thank you for all you did for me.

I love you. Jim

Friday, April 25, 2008

Unsung Hero

I (Jim) decided to explain my post "Unsung Hero" because of how people might interpret my words. I also decided to remove the blog because as I read it again I was afraid of how it would reflect on Ginger, Troy's memory and myself.

I did not write this blog to compare Troy and Andrea. I wrote this blog to express my feelings and thoughts I had over the past two weeks. It began when I would visit Andrea's grave. Usually there was a funeral and most often it was for a veteran and so there was always the a flag draped coffin and a 21 gun salute. It made me think of my life and my funeral. It to would be with all the military honors as well. I thought about Andrea and all she did for the military, her sacrifice and dedication was no less then my own. Yet in her death there is no recognition to her service, no thanks for all she did. Much like my article "Hero of the 4FW" that I wrote for the Seymour Johnson paper, and in an earlier blog "My Hero" I was trying to remember all Andrea had done for me and for the Air Force.

I have to apologise to Ginger and to anyone who took my words the wrong way. I have always written my thoughts as they come to me. But there is usually something I have seen or heard that triggers my thoughts and I do not always share all what is behind my words leaving the reader open to fill in the blanks. Though I have written this blog as my own record of what I have experienced I have to realise it is read by many people some who know me well and some who I have never met.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My Friend Speedy

Romans 8:38-39

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord

Saturday my friend Speedy went to be with the Lord. His cancer and his treatment in the ICU were frighteningly similar to Andrea's, and sadly so was the outcome. Tomorrow my friend Kathy and I will attend the funeral at the National Cemetery at Ft Sam Houston, the same place Andrea is buried. I ask that you remember Dora and her family in your prayers tonight.

As I looked at the family photos of Dora, Speedy at the memorial I was saddened knowing the pain my friend Dora was going through and the pain that awaits her. I wish I could bear it for her and her kids but I can not. I remember Ginger's first email to me after Andrea died, she told me nothing would take the pain away, or allow me to "escape" the path I had to walk. I have often thought about that. It was a prayer that would not be answered. No matter how much I asked God to take away the pain I was feeling and the pain that awaited me, it was not going to be taken from me. It a strange way it was mine and mine alone. Others could sit with me, they could tell me they were sorry for me, that could express their own sadness, but there came a time when I had to face the sadness and loss alone. As her husband I enjoyed Andrea's love and now I would suffer for that. I could not go to sleep and hope someone would bear the pain for me, thinking that I would awake and life would be fine. Sleep would only delay the pain that was mine, mine to hold and mine to get through. It was the price paid for a great marriage and it hurt beyond any pain I have ever felt, and it was worth it. As I enter my life with Ginger knowing she or I will face this again, and it is worth it.

So as I thought of what I could do for Dora, I thought of the one thing that carried Andrea and I through many difficult days. That gift was scripture. It helped us during days waiting outside the CT room, days in the chemo room, days in the bathroom while Andrea was sick, days waiting for test results and most of all sleepless nights spent in the "Holiest of Hollies." That is what Andrea called the closet in our house and when we could not sleep we would go in there and pray. Sometimes together many times alone. But every time we left feeling comforted, stronger, and ready for the fight. Andrea and I both made small books of 3 x 5 cards with our favorite scriptures. I took out Andrea's book yesterday and copied them into a book for Dora. I knew I could not take her pain but I could give her the one thing that is greater then her pain, that is a reminder of God's love. His love for her, her kids and for Speedy. Promises of His faithfulness, assurances that Speedy is as much alive as he ever was, and now he is healed. I hope he has seen Andrea. I hope they have had a moment to share the joy of being healed and being in the presence of the Lord.

I hope they have a nice day with Jesus.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Our Music

As you can probably hear I have added a new feature to the blog. I was looking at my niece's blog and I saw she had music on hers. So after some instruction from Jennifer I had added music to the blog.

I have found that music helps me worship and nothing draws me closer to God's thrown then music. These songs are some of my favorites that have helped me. They all have meaning to me and bring back memories of difficult times but also a faithful God. Songs like "Breathe" by Michael W Smith. A song Andrea and I heard in concert. I still can see Andrea standing next to me singing that song with her hands raised in praise to God, tears streaming down her face as she sang, "I'm desperate for you." "How Great is Our God" is another one of Andrea's favorites. If you remember the blog I wrote about Andrea wishing she was in Heaven, it was this song she was singing. "Cry out to Jesus" is a song that speaks to when Ginger and I were in the pit and all we could do is cry out to Jesus. "Believe Me Know" is a song that Andrea heard the week before she found out she had metastatic cancer. She was in the parking lot of K Mart in Goldsboro when this song came on the radio. Later she told me when she heard this song she knew the cancer was back. It is a song of believing and remembering God's faithfulness in your life. I still remember when I first heard "Praise you in this storm." Andrea and I were laving base on the way to chemo and this song came on the radio. All I remember saying to Andrea was, "Did you hear the words to that song?" I listened to it many times when I was discouraged. Turns out Ginger found comfort in this same song. Although we were apart, it turns out we both were finding comfort in the same Christian music.

"Cry on my shoulder" is a special song for Ginger and I. We heard it together when I went to San Angelo to see Ginger on New Years Day. We were sitting in my car talking and listening to my ipod. I sang the words to Ginger, poorly but I sang anyway, but we could have both sang the words to each other. It was our first song.

"With Hope" is a powerful song by Steven Curtis Chapman and it was sung at Troy's memorial service.

But I chose the first song for a reason. It is by Jeremy Camp and it is called "Beyond Measure." This is a song speaks to our life right now. Many of his songs have helped me as his words were my words. Songs like "I still Believe"and "Walk by Faith" were written after his wife died. Ginger and I listened to these two songs when life overwhelmed us like a wave crashing over us we were tossed around, unable to find our way to the surface, struggling to breath. On my first trip to Phoenix Ginger and I went to a Jeremy Camp concert and he sang these two songs. I will never forget that night as we sang these songs, songs we both listened to before we met. In that moment we both related to each other and the pain we had gone through alone and now we were singing them together.

If you don't know, Jeremy Camp lost his wife to cancer and since then Jeremy Camp has remarried and has a daughter. "Beyond Measure" is about his life now and how God has blessed him beyond measure. Take the time to listen to his words and you will feel the emotion of a man who has suffered and has found joy, a man who has had to surrender his desires and trust in the sovereignty of God. This song helps Ginger and I as we deal with our joy and the sadness of losing Troy and Andrea.

Anyway hope you enjoy the songs!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

A Night of Thanks

It's not a party until Auntie Faye and Uncle Lin arrive! We love you two!
Ginger and her mom....

Ginger and her cousin, Julie... Big smiles run in our family!

Ginger and her good friend, Erin... one of many friends it will be hard to say good-bye to.

Jim and Ginger with Boppa and Juju.... so glad they made the trip from Texas!
Us with Ric and Sally, sweet friends and hosts of the beautiful evening. Thanks Engrams!

Aimee made the blog! Yippee... Angela, Ginger and Aimee (Phoenix Aimee). Love you girls.

"Not a Good-Bye......."

Last Saturday night, Jim and I had a wonderful celebration for our engagement. It was night to thank God for His wonderful provisions. It was celebrated with many of those who have made up my loving network of friends here in Phoenix. My "family" here in the desert. I hesitate to try to put into words how I feel for these sweet people here. I know I will do it an injustice. Troy and I came to Luke AFB exactly 4 years ago. We viewed it as "another non-operational flying assignment" and a nice chance to be near home after 3 years of living in Italy. The thing we had no idea would happen was that our lives would become so intricately woven in the fabric of our community here that we began dreading leaving years before it was supposed to happen. As I have told many, God made a nest for us here. What Troy, nor I, nor anyone at this engagement party ever dreamt was that this nest was the only protection I would have from the twenty foot fall from the tree that would happen to us on Nov. 27th, 2006.

Our pastor Steve and his wife, my dear friend, Tami were the first to my aide the second I was told Troy was involved in an Iraqi plane crash. They did not leave my side for virtually months on end. So many leagues of friends rallied around me that I would literally fill the pages of this blog with their names and their kind deeds. They faithfully "....mourned with those who mourn" (Romans 12:15).

As I am preparing for this, our 8th Air Force move (my first alone), I feel my roots here being tugged a little from the surface. But I am(and my friends I leave behind here should be too!) rest assured that those roots run deep in the landscape of my life here. We will always return to visit our friends and the bridge over Luke AFB bearing my husband's name. It's not the end of the book, just a new chapter. Thanks for a lovely evening and an amazing place to call home. And thanks, too, for "Rejoicing with those who rejoice...." (Romans 12:15).

(These are Jim's reflections on the night):
I wish I could have sat with everyone there and expressed my thanks to them. I can't help but feel a debt of gratitude to each and every one of them as they all cared for Ginger when life was at its most arduous. We have all experienced hard times and we all know that it can be difficult to see a purpose in the midst of trials and at times to see a way out. Last night I met so many people who had given so much to Ginger and the kids. Even though I shared in Ginger's trial, too, it was only through emails and I never had to see the reality of the words she wrote. It was these friends that bore the brunt of Ginger's pain and suffering. They are the ones who cared for the kids when Ginger was lost in grief. They are the ones who took care of the management of the house, paying bills and ensuring just the mundane events of life were taken care of. They moved Ginger to a new home, hung the pictures, organized the closets, and threw a first birthday party for the twins. This and countless other acts of love and kindness are what these people represent. And last night was a time to celebrate God's answer to so many prayers spoken by so many.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Blessed Be The Name of The Lord

Blessed be Your Name
by Tree63

Blessed be your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where the streams of abundance flow
Blessed be your name

Blessed be your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name

Every blessing you pour out,
I turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say...
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be your glorious name

Blessed be your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's all as it should be
Blessed be your name

Blessed be your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be your name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, Blessed be your name

I heard this song as I went to get out of the car today at the Hospital. It foretold my day. I sang it many times during Andrea's treatment. It is a hard song to sing and truly believe the words you are saying. It comes from Job 1:20-21. Jobs reaction after he was told he lost everything including his sons and daughters.

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb,
and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised."

I first met Dora and Speedy at Wilford Hall chemo room during one of Andrea's treatments. Dora was adjusting to the reality of Cancer and I was trying to pass on the experience of 4 yrs of chemo treatment. Experience I wish I never had. It was a meeting God had orchestrated.

Today I received a message that Speedy was in the ICU at BAMC, being treated for pneumonia, the same ICU where Andrea was treated.

As I drove up to the hospital a flood of memories came to me. As I parked I looked up to the windows of 3 South, the ICU. I sat frozen in the car unable to get out, as memories of my 22 days of going to this hospital came flooding back. I thought back to Andrea and her telling me about her first appointment at Dr Atkins office. She sat in the car frozen in fear until she could make a call to a friend. Then my phone rang and it was Ginger. Her voice calmed me and her prayer gave me strength. I got out of the car and walked through the ER doors, the same doors I pushed Andrea into in her wheelchair. I saw where she sat in her wheelchair as we waited to be checked in. I saw her smile at me. I walked past the ER bed Andrea laid in. I saw her as she began to have difficulty breathing. I saw the look on her face when she could not breath, I saw the painic in her eyes as she looked to me for help and I could do nothing. I saw the doctors rush to intubated her. I heard the silence as Andrea would not utter another word to me. I stood outside the doors of the ICU and remembered my daily routine of being at the hospital. I walked by "Andrea's room", mercifully empty, and I found Speedy in the room next door. I saw nurses and doctors who had treated Andrea. We exchanged uncomfortable greetings, both knowing it was not true, I was not doing great.

The room was frighteningly familiar, the ventilator, the IVs, the nurses, the doctors, the whole sicking mess. But there was also in the midst of pain the most beautiful sight and it brought to me a found memory.

There I saw a family surrounding a man of faith. And in the room there was so much love, I found myself remembering why Andrea and Speedy are so special. They both took up their cross in faith and in doing so they gave those of us who were blessed to be around them a peace and strength. Andrea and Speedy are the same in so many ways, and I could feel every emotion and thought Dora was having as I watched her lean down and kiss Speedy's hand. As she gently rubbed his hands she was alone with him in a room of people. Her love so evident in the tenderness of her touch, and the gentleness of a kiss on the forehead. I think at that moment I could have told her her thoughts, her fears, and her hopes. I have never felt so connected to someone I had only met a few times, but Dora's path crossed mine for a reason and today I could not help but think how Andrea led me there today. She was still impacting people.

Dora and I held each other as I walked out of the ICU. I looked into Andrea's room as we passed by. I remembered her petite frame laying in the bed. I remembered asking her if she was too tired to fight. I remember her telling me she still wanted to fight. I remember she smiled whenever I tried to read her lips. I remember telling her we had to have her stomach working to have a chance at getting off the vent, to then have a chance of fighting the cancer that was causing her liver and lungs to fail. I remembered the enormity of the fight we had. I remembered having to tell her her stomach was not taking the food. I remember her look when I told her. I remember the sinking feeling in my gut as I started to grasp what this meant. I remember her response, she mouthed, "Oh well" and shrugged her shoulders. At the moment I did not fully grasp what we had said between us. In two days I would. I remembered the struggle between life and death that took place in that room. I remembered how I fought to keep death away from Andrea, as if I was trying to keep back a pack of wolves with a torch. But they just crept ever closer in a ring around us as the flames died down. I remembered when death came to offer its comfort. I remembered how death no longer seemed my enemy, as if I was acknowledging a worthy opponent after a tough battle. We met in the center of the battle field and shook hands. I remembered how I no longer despised death for he brought the only source of comfort to my wife. Who I once hated I now strangely welcomed. I was defeated and I accepted the outcome of the battle, the terms of surrender. He took his spoils of war and left standing in that room, alone with my two boys.

I ask you to pray for Dora and Speedy, tomorrow is their wedding anniversary. Pray for their children and for all the family. Pray for the doctors wisdom and the nurses strength.

Today I went back to the scene of the crime I faced one of my greatest fears, but as I left I was glad I had gone because I saw the worst side of cancer and I remembered my own battle, but I also saw the strength of the human spirit, I saw faith and I saw love. And I realized for all the horrendous things cancer can do to the body it can do nothing to take away love. In fact where there is true love, cancer only serves to highlight that love. It only makes what was strong stronger. It brings to the surface the true character of a person. Today I witnessed a son's respect for his father who taught him to be the man he is today. I witnessed a daughter's love for a dad that made her feel special as a little girl and a woman. I witnessed a sister's dedication to her brother. Most of all I witnessed the unbreakable bonds of love between a husband and a wife as they face cancer. I saw a wife care for the man she had loved since she was young. I witnessed commitment lived out. I witnessed strength being passed between two people who had become one. I witnessed faith when difficulty was attempting to mock all they had professed. I watched a family come together and surround Speedy. I know he was aware of us all. I know he was comforted by the love that was so evident in the room.

I left the hospital remembering that the Lord had taken, but He has also given. I remembered the song I heard as I arrived and I praised God for his unending unfailing love for me and Dora.

I ended the day at a fund raiser for our Relay for Life Team from work. It was organized by a wonderful friend Rene. I'm asking anyone who reads this blog to prayerfully consider making a donation to the American Cancer Society in memory of Andrea and in honor of Speedy. You can use the link below to go to our team web page and make a donation or if you prefer there should be an address to mail a check. I think you have to cut and paste the address in your browser.

God bless you and remember it is the same God who gives who takes away. He is sovereign and He is love.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Loss of Innocence

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."

I just have been thinking about life and the loss of innocence. I have heard that term before but it sounds different to me now. We all know we will face death at some point in our life; it is just always in the future. For Ginger and I death came far too soon and it has stolen time from us. Time when we should be living without the thought of death. We cannot get back the ability to live free from the reality of death; the innocence is gone never to return. When my Mom passed away it was sad for my brothers and sisters because we lost our mother and a mentor in our lives but death at 87 is not unexpected nor does it seem unfair. But to lose someone when death is not expected either in a moment like Troy or for me over time and certainly at such young ages, you are brought face to face with the frailty of life at a time you never expected. And that forever changes the way you look at life.

One of the "side effects" of losing a spouse at such a young age is life becomes uncertain. I know God does not give us a spirit of fear, and I try not to live in fear but it is real. The thought of Ginger going in for a mammogram strikes fear in me. The idea of me flying again does the same for Ginger. Living is no longer a given, the thought of not living is no longer an improbability, and in that way death is still stealing from us the simplicity of living. I know when Ginger goes in for her mamogram I will spend that day and every day until we get the results in prayer, fighting the thoughts I know will come to me. I try to remember what Andrea used to say, "Jim worry is a poor substitute for prayer." I know I will be scared the day of Ginger's appointment, I wish I was not but I will be. I will have to remember that the answer to life's uncertainties is prayer.

Matthew 6:33-34

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

We have all read or heard this common verse. It is so simple to read yet so difficult to live out. Why is that? Why do we struggle so much with tomorrow? Why do we tend to live in the future or the past? Why are we so afraid to just live today? To just be content in the moment. We spend so much time planning, planning for retirement, planning the week, planning our vacations, or just planning our day. All of which have to be done. But I think we get so used to planning the future that we tend to "live" there and we lose the ability to live in today. In doing so we tend to go from mere planning to controlling and our desire is that goes has planned. This can become a barrier to trusting God and allowing Him to lead us to places we may not have the wisdom to see. I have to admit this is one of my weaknesses. I guess it is the military training and the need to have a plan that tends to make me so set in my way that I can place my way above God's.

My fear of losing Andrea and my fear of Ginger having a mammogram can be a reflection of my priorities. When I think of Ginger going to the doctor and the fear that goes through me I have to remember to release the fear. In a way I have to release Ginger, for to live in fear is to place my love for Ginger above God or a best it is a reflection of a lack of faith and trust in God. It is the same feeling I had about Andrea. I allowed fear to drive my thoughts my decisions and fear becomes the focus of my prayer life. I will never forget one day I felt God speak this message to me, "Jim just trust me. Don't seek an outcome for Andrea just have faith in me." It was simple and profound message. Just trust God. Who loved Andrea more then Him? Who gave more for her then Him? My prayer life had become a mere begging session with God, my focused so wrapped up in getting what I wanted that I was not trusting God. But it is hard when you have to set aside someone you love. When you have to set aside the one thing God asks you to love. But I have to remember He will never ask me to love anything or anyone above Him. And whatever that is in my life, whether it be my wife, my job, or anything that I hold on to so tightly that I fear losing it beyond my desire to love the Lord then I need to rethink my priorities. Now that my life has been blessed so richly with Ginger I know I will face some of the same There is nothing of this world that compares to God and there is nothing in this world that is of more value than to me the God. When I can say that and I can live that my fears will dissipate.

These verses remind me how great God is and why He is worthy to be the center of my life. These and many other scriptures remind me that God's love for me gives me the freedom to live without worry.

1 Peter 1:17-19

Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

1 Corinthians 3:11-13

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work.

Psalm 86:8

Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours.

Psalm 89:5-6

The heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness too, in the assembly of the holy ones. For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD? Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings?