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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...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I never thought writing on our blog would end up being an annual thing!  Wow, I haven’t posted in a looooong time.  It’s not that there haven’t been many times I have wished to or had things on my heart that I wanted to share.  It has been more about lack of time and energy to do so.  Life is busy with a capital B!  And I guess, in a way, that means a lot of healing has taken place in my heart and in Jim’s heart.  The fact that we are living each year more and more “normally” (whatever that means) must mean something remarkable has happened to allow us to do that.  As Martha Stewart would say, it’s a good thing.

Or is it?

Yesterday, “normal” life hit me hard and the way I responded to it still makes me want to hide my face from God Himself.  He and I have talked and we are okay.  Yet I was compelled to just sit down and type out a bit of it for you (on another change – my Mac laptop!).

Let me say one reason I haven’t blogged in a long time is because I felt this need to catch everyone up.  And frankly that thought just exhausts me.  Suffice to say the Lord is working in our lives and our family.  Jim and I are still finding out who we are as this new couple.  We still work at finding where Andrea and Troy fit into our daily lives.  They are ever present in our hearts.  But what should that look like in our marriage, parenting, etc…?  The kids are doing well.  Jim’s boys had some major life events happen to them this year.  Nic married Kate in the spring.  Anthony began college this fall.  Our Boston will become a teenager next week.  Greyson is learning to cook and play the guitar.  Bella is growing into a full up girl now.  And Aspen and Annalise are teetering on the line of being the little bitty to being a force to be reckoned with! 

There were a lot of emotions as I watched Nic get married and Anthony graduate from High School this year.  Here were two momentous life occasions I know Andrea had been dreaming of since they were little.  My heart hurt at Nic’s wedding, as I knew she should have been there instead of me.  It wasn’t my rightful place.  Yet, in God’s plan, there I was.  It was the first of many occasions for both Jim and I that we must learn how to be these new people He has called us to be.

New.  I have always really liked that word.  New cars, new houses, new adventures, new foods…. It all sounds exciting and full of promise.  But when Christ calls us to be new what does that look like? 

Ephesians 4: 21-24

“Surely you heard of Him (Christ) and were taught in Him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.  You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Key phrase in there is “made new in the attitude of your minds”.  See, that is the absolute ONE thing I will tell you should come out of the horrific nightmare that losing a spouse is.  Ok, the ONE thing that should come out of the horrific nightmare that losing a spouse is IF you have walked through it all with Jesus as your fellow sojourner.

Now back to what happened yesterday.  I had a small breakdown.  Jim and I have been discussing the “what’s next” options for his next job.  Seems simple enough.  But really there is so much to it all that it would bore you to tears if you gave you all the details, so let me just say, Jim’s talent and experience can take him many different directions and for the first time he really has some difficult choices to make about career, retirement, etc…

 Now, I have always been the girl that raises her hand if someone is handing out a new idea or adventure to try.  I have had every hairstyle and color combination known to man (woman).  I have successfully loved living and traveling overseas.  I can make quick decisions to change houses, cars, jobs, you name it.  So I don’t know what has gotten into me?  Maybe the fact that my life and my kids’ lives all changed SO dramatically with a simple knock on my door almost four years ago that I am still trying to recover.  In the last four years I lost my husband, I checked “widow” in the status box of my kids’ school forms, I became a single mother of five, I moved to another house, I almost died inside, I began dating for the first time in 15 years, I spoke on national news, I moved to another state, I fell in love, I re-married, I became a stepmother, I moved again, I became a public speaker, ….  Okay, now I remember what has gotten into me- insanity! J

But in and through all that craziness and sorrow, Christ was there.  He was with me.  He was with my children.  He protected me, at times from myself.  He showed me miracles.  He provided for me.  He lifted my head.  He cast out fear.  He loved me through His people on earth.  He gave me wisdom.  He understood my anger.  He restored my health.  He gave me strength.  He gave me light.  He covered my children.  He gave me hope. 

And though at times I questioned it, He showed me He can be trusted and He is faithful and there is nothing under the sun He cannot do for His child.

So, yesterday, after many many talks between Jim and I about our future, about the options, the possibilities, the what-ifs, etc… I found myself crying my eyes out.  I found myself so overwrought with the possibilities, some of which might be hard, all of which are going to require more work and more change, that I felt fear like I haven’t felt in a long time.  I went to the bedroom to curl up in a ball and just wallow in a good dose of frustration and worry (mainly over the kids and what one or more moves will mean to them and what the unknown is doing to me).  Jim came in, with that calm grace that I have seen him exhibit before and sat on the bed and told me this:  “Ginger, one of the biggest things I learned during the four and half years Andrea had cancer was that we can only do so much, then we must just pray, actively research options, wait and trust in what the Lord would reveal eventually.  As a family, we now must do that our future.” 

And you know what my statement was? “I don’t want to have to ask the kids to trust God with any other big thing.  They have already had to trust Him for so many huge things.  It’s just not fair!” 

Oh my goodness.  Did that just come out of my mouth?  Jim tried to comfort me some more then went on to get dinner on the table.  I just lay there and wept.  Now not for my life being uprooted again but for the shame I felt before my Savior.  I told Him, “Lord, I am so ashamed I just said that, that I thought that!”  What on earth did I mean by I did not want my children to have to trust the Lord for anything else?  In the months and now years since Troy’s death, my children and I have learned what walking by faith looks like.  What trust in the Lord with all your heart even when you don’t understand ANYTHING looks like.  We have seen Him miraculously answer our prayers.  We know things we never would have known.  If I want my kids to have all these fabulous experiences in life, like travel or opportunities to do cool things, why on earth would I not all the more want my kids to know Jesus better? To know how it feels to put all their confidence and trust in Him?  You know why?  Because sometimes there is some major pain that precedes it? 

C.S. Lewis said “We’re not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us, we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” 

Frankly, I just don’t want to sign myself,  Jim or any of our kids up for the pain route again.  I want to dodge it like a bullet.  That is what I have been working myself silly trying to do with planning for our next move and consequently for the rest of our lives at the same time!

And finally yesterday, fear and the Enemy caught up with me. 

As I lay there many flashbacks of God’s provisions came upon me.  From November 27, 2006 to today, November 2, 2010 I could remember countless ways God brought us through the darkness.  And I just told Him how sorry I was for forgetting.  Just like the Israelites struggled with the same exact thing.  God knew they were going to face some hard times so he warns them over and over to not forget His faithfulness.

Deuteronomy 6:10-12

“When the Lord your God brings you into the land He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give – a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant – then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery”

Hello to myself!  Flourishing cities, I didn’t build; houses filled with good things I didn’t provide, vineyards and groves I didn’t plant, eating and being satisfied… That’s my life he’s talking about!  Compared to that dark day in November, this November is bright and it is flourishing!  How could I ever for one minute lose sight of that contrast?  Now, you may think I am being hard on myself OR you may think I should still be on my face seeking Jesus because I have obviously lost it! And honestly there were many times the first year after Troy died that I wanted to just smack someone when told me the latter.  Rightfully so.  Because, though they generally had our best interests at heart, when they told me I should be feeling this way or doing that thing I just couldn’t express how incapable I felt.  Not to mention I simply hadn’t gone far enough down the faith road with Jesus yet. I didn’t have all the fulfilled promises to recall that I do now.  And frankly, it was too soon to be telling me anything! J 

 BUT now, now that I am standing further back from the heartache, now that I do have happiness again, now that I have lost count of the good deeds He has done for me,… Now I confess I am in need of some reminding.   

I am reading Mary Beth Curtis Chapman’s new book “Choosing to See”.  It takes a while to get to the part I was wanting to hear about; the tragic accident of her youngest daughter being run over by her second oldest son in their driveway back in 2008.  It is real book about people of real faith who as she puts it “learn to do hard”.  Her oldest son wrote something he read at his little sister’s funeral that I thought quite eloquently, especially for a teenage boy, described all of this: (taken from page 176)

“The only analogy I can come up with is this: it’s like God is an abstract artist…and when you’re real close to a painting like this, it’s hard to focus, it’s blurred and you can’t see what’s going on.  You have to walk really far back, and then the whole painting comes into focus and you can see what the artist was doing..” 

(Incidentally Steven Curtis Chapman’s CD “Beauty Will Rise” is one of the most phenomenal collection of songs on suffering with hope I have ever heard.)

Deuteronomy 8:2-3

“Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands.  He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

I am not saying that my heart doesn’t have any trepidation and that there won’t be many more times when fear and anxiety creep in.  I believe God is compassionate and has a never- ending supply of patience.  He is a Father Himself so I know He is with me as I desire love, security and success in my children’s futures. He doesn’t fault me for wanting a nice home, great schools, an amazing church and friends and satisfying job for Jim.  And when I start trying to figure out the where’s, the how’s, the what’s of the next year I can tell you I want to start making plans like yesterday.   The Lord knows how much upheaval and change my kids have faced and how I want security for them after all they have been through.  And I know we will probably have to yank up our Florida roots and go replant them more than once.   I know it will not be easy for the older kids to understand.  But I do know God gave me a husband and the kids a father not just to fill an empty role but one that gained wisdom from his own longer painful journey to share with us.  Jim and Andrea were forced to learn blind trust one of the hardest ways possible. 

I think Jim and I will spending a lifetime reminding each other to just step back from the abstract mess and look back at the masterpiece God has created in our lives. 

As I was reading verses in Deuteronomy, the Lord showed me one I have honestly no memory of reading until today.  I think He saved it for a time such as this.

Deuteronomy 6:20-23

“In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?” tell him: ”We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a might hand.  Before our eyes the Lord sent miraculous signs and wonders – great and terrible – upon Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household.  But He has brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land that He promised on oath to our forefathers.”

Thank you Lord!

1 comment:

  1. Ginger that was beautiful, thank you so much for sharing your heart so that when we face trials of our own we are reminded to look to the One who has us fully in His grip. Our family will be in prayer for yours that you will have peace in where He sends you next. We are right there with you assignment wise, waiting to hear and then to tell our kiddos what's next. You are an inspiration to so many. God bless you!