True Love

Dear Ella and Maggie,

Now you know the story of how your Dad and I met and started dating.  It was certainly a roller coaster of a ride trying to get to that place… It was indicative of our future together that our beginning, well, began as it did.

I knew I loved your Dad, and I was pretty sure I wanted to marry him. We talked about it almost from the beginning.  I think the fact that we were friends first made things move pretty fast once we started dating.  I had my doubts though.  Being a total romantic I had these notions that I should be swooning at the very thought of him.   I wasn’t, so I thought maybe I wasn’t “in love’ with him.  I remember telling my dad that. It was such a pivotal conversation that I also remember where I was when I had that conversation with him.  I called your Boppa while my kids (students) were outside playing at recess.  I was leaning up against the fence having a cup of coffee.  I always had coffee in my hands.  It was the unspoken rule that Miss Herrmann had a cup of joe in her hands until lunch.  Even if I wasn’t drinking it.

It’s been a little over 14 years since we had this conversation, but I can still remember the gist of it….”Ruth, being in love with someone doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to have butterflies in your stomach every time you talk. Love isn’t just a feeling. Love is work.  Being in love with someone means choosing to love them even when you don’t. Because there are going to be days when you don’t love Erich, maybe you won’t even like him very much.  Love is choosing to stay with someone even when it gets really hard. And it will be hard sometimes.  The faith that you two have in God will be the THE most important thing. You will need to lean on HIM when you aren’t loving each other… ”

Huh.  Could I choose to love Erich even when I didn’t? And through the hard? The short answer is yes.  I had dated several guys before your dad and as I remember it, there is no way I could have loved them even when I didn’t.  As a matter of fact, deep down I knew long before my relationships ended with them, that they were not who God had planned for me.  I only stubbornly stuck it out because I didn’t want my parents to be right.  Don’t do what I did.

With your dad it was different.  I wanted to be with him. All of the time.  Even when he annoyed me.  I mean, he once ate spinach out of my teeth.  No joke.  If I could stay with him after that, I knew I loved him.

So that was it.  I knew I loved your Dad and that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.   Now I just had to wait patiently for him to ask me to marry him.  Based on the crazy start to our relationship, it will not surprise you that I had to wait rather impatiently.

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A Misunderstanding

Your Dad and I have been on quite the roller coaster ride for the past 14 years.  Never a dull moment, and that includes the months leading up to when we actually started dating. You’ll remember that I was regretting my decision to throw down the “let’s just be friends” rule?  Well, I still did, but it was the beginning of a new school year (September of 2002) and I was busy.  Your dad was busy too. He was in his last year at the Seminary in Mequon which meant a Thesis along with his other studies, and a part time job in the library on campus.  It’s funny to say it, but way “back then” in 2002, our main form of communication was email.  We spoke once a week on our land lines…yep, still had one of those, and occasionally splurged and called on our now antiquated cell phones (there were no touch screens, there were no cameras, and *gasp* there was no texting).  Good old-fashioned communication.  I sent him the occasional care package, much to the amusement of his buddies…he didn’t hear the end of it.

At first all was well, but a couple of months in to the school year a well-meaning friend of ours decided to play match maker and set me up with a guy I had gone to college with. I was not interested. Not even a little.  I wanted to date your dad.  Even though I had politely declined, about a week later I found myself on a date with Tom.  I thought, “Why not, I’ll be clear about my intentions about this “date” and that I really WAS fine “just being friends”.   I knew that would be challenging when he showed up at my door with a single rose. Oh crap.  Might take a bit more convincing.  Ok, I can do this.  We went to a movie (can’t even remember which one) and then to dinner at an Italian restaurant.  I remember not being very hungry.  On the way home we stopped at one of my favorite little hole in the wall bars near my home.  I can remember clearly telling him that I would be happy to get together with him as friends…with other friends. He took me home, I said good night and thanks for a fun evening.

Crisis averted. 

Nope.

A couple of days later he called me.  He called me a lot over the next few weeks and I knew the only way for him to realize I wasn’t interested was to ignore the calls.  I thought I had made my point and that all was well, after all, he stopped calling.

Then the weird started to happen.  I began to realize that your Dad was communicating with me less and less.  No emails, no once a week phone call. What in the world?  I finally emailed him to see if he wanted to meet me at what would be your Uncle Seth and Noah’s final play-off game for the season.  He said no, he was too busy.  I was going to be in Wisconsin, not two hours from him and he was too busy. What in the world?!

At this point I was more then annoyed but it only got worse.  My friend Karen and I decided to grab dinner and a beer and then head to an MLS basketball game.  When we arrived an acquaintance of mine saw me, grabbed me by the arm and rather enthusiastically exlaimed, “RUTH, I am SO happy for you!!!!” My rather confused reply, “Um, thanks Patricia…but why?”  “Well, you and Tom of course, it sounds like you two are pretty serious!!!” HUH? WAIT! WHAT? “Oh, noooo, nope, noooooo…we went on ONE date and I haven’t seen or spoken to him since!”  Cue awkward silence.  The rest of the evening was a blur, most likely because I spent it racking my brains trying to figure out what just happened.

Now I am curious.  Does your Dad think I am dating Tom? Why does Patricia think we are seriously dating?  I tried communicating with your Dad but it was hard, because of course, we were busy.  I finally threw out a Hail Mary and thought, “if he doesn’t bite on this one, I am done trying. I’ll move on.”  I invited him to have dinner with my family one night over Thanksgiving weekend.  He actually responded back that he would like that and it was set.

Traditionally, a big group of us from MLC would get together the first night home for Thanksgiving. We always met in downtown Milwaukee.  That night I drove with your Auntie Leah and our friends Ang and Becky.  I had barely walked through the door of the place we were gathering when one of the gals meeting us, upon seeing me, grabbed me by the arms and exclaimed, “Oh my goodness RUTH I am SO SO happy for you and Tom, it sounds pretty serious!” WHAT IN THE WORLD?!  I was absolutely fit to be tied at this point and with great exasperation and maybe louder then I should have, said, “What in the world is going on?! I went one ONE DATE over a month ago! We are NOT dating, we haven’t spoken in a few weeks?!?!?”  Cue awkward silence. Again. Sigh.

That night I went over and over in my head what could have possibly happened.  I just could not figure it out, none of my friends could. But I knew.  I knew then that your Dad thought I was dating Tom, and that he thought we were practically engaged.  I mean, why wouldn’t he? Every one else did!

The next day Erich met me in Sheboygan for dinner.  We drove to the restaurant separately from my parents with the plan to go out afterwards on our own.  We had a really nice dinner with my parents and siblings but I was biding my time. I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to ask him if he thought that Tom and I were dating.

We went to one of my favorite places, Sandy’s.  When I was a little girl your Boppa would take Auntie Leah and me there for kiddy cocktails and carrots while we waited for your Mammy to get done waitressing at the Hoffbrau House nearby.  At the time Sandy was still holding down the fort. She passed away from cancer a few years later. I loved going there, for the memories mostly, but that night it was probably for the comfort of familiarity.  Knowing what I was about to talk to your Dad about, I am sure that’s why I chose Sandy’s.

Sure enough, Sandy was behind the bar.  Let the grilling commence.  We ordered a pitcher of Leinie’s Big Butt. I remember because we got the last of it, and it was good.  I didn’t let the grass grow under my feet. He might as well have been tied up in a dark garage with a spot light on him.  I could tell he knew something was coming too.

“SO, Erich…do you think I am dating Tom?”

“Well, yeah, I do.”

“Huh. Why do you think I am dating him?  Because I’m not”

“Well, because Tom is telling everyone you are serious. Wait. You’re not?”

“Noooo, we went on one date. That’s it. He wanted more then that but I said no. Wait. Tom is actually telling everyone that we are serious?!?”

“Well, yeah.  That’s what I heard from my Mike (whose dad is the one by the way, that tried to set Tom and I up in the first place)…and Tom also told Mike (a different Mike) that you were dating.”

“Really.  Well, we’re not dating.”

“Oh. Ok.”

Not how I envisioned this conversation going…”Oh. Ok.” That’s where it ended. Not, “Really, you aren’t dating? That’s great! I mean, well, not great, but what I mean to say is, I’ve been wanting to tell you that my feelings have changed and I was wondering if maybe yours have too?”

Sigh.

We went back to my parents house,  after what I am guessing was decent conversation. After all, we had catching up to do. I can’t remember what we even talked about, most likely because all I could do was think about why he wasn’t telling me how he really felt. Maybe he didn’t have feelings for me after all? I was holding out hope that he would still say something once we got back to my parents house.  It was not to be.  We walked into the kitchen to the sound of laughter in the living room.  My family was watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  As soon as your Dad heard that he was gone.  Like, I was literally left standing in the kitchen alone.  Ditched for Ferris.  LOL! Oh man, I am just now finding the irony in that!

I went to bed annoyed.  I woke up annoyed.  We went to church together and of course all the old ladies were frittering about “who that young man with Ruth could be”…as a matter of fact, my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Falck actually walked up to us and said, “Well hello Ruth, it’s good to see you. Now, who is this young man, is he your boyfriend?” HAH!  “NO, he is most definitely NOT my boyfriend”…I may or may not have been emphatic about that.  Mrs. Falck caught it…pretty sure your dad did too.

After church it was time for us to go our separate ways, me to Michigan and your dad to Mequon.  As we said our good-byes, my sister was actually standing there with us.  He hugged me and then he turned to Leah and hugged her too. And then he left.  As he drove away I remember your Aunt being so miffed. “I can’t believe he hugged me the same way that he hugged you!!! I should go after him and give him a piece of my mind!”  She didn’t, but I secretly wanted her too.

The entire drive home…almost 8 hours…was in silence. I know that might not seem strange to you now because I am always the one saying “turn down the radio” while your dad is the one turning it up…but I was always listening to music in the car. I loved it.  But I was angry that nothing happened, and I stewed in it.  To top it off, a conversation with a really good friend on the way home soured the trip even more.  She said, “Well, if you hadn’t pushed him away when he was here, maybe this wouldn’t have happened.”  The thing is, while he lived near me, I really didn’t think I was interested…I didn’t know what I wanted then.

I did now.

I really don’t remember much about the first day back to school after Thanksgiving break, so it must have gone smoothly.  But I do remember everything that happened afterwards.  I walked down the hall to Pastor Ehler’s office and knocked on the door. He was still there and welcomed me in.

“How was your Thanksgiving Break Ruth?”

“Oh, it was really nice. I got together with a few friends, you might remember Erich from last year? ”

“Erich? Oh yes, he vicared for Pastor Thomford last year! Sure, well that was nice!  So ahhh, are you guys dating?”

“No. No, we are not.”

“Hmmm…do you want to be?”

“What? Well, um, I guess maybe, yes.”

“Well, what’s the problem?”

I gave Pastor Ehler’s the 30 second commercial on the whole “everyone thought I was dating Tom” debacle.

“So then, he didn’t tell you whether he was interested or not?”

“Nope, he didn’t.”

“Why don’t you tell him how you feel?”

“ME? No, I can’t do that! I am old-fashioned. He’s supposed to come to ME!”

“Ruth, things aren’t the way they used to be.”

“Well, they should be.”

“Ruth, what is the harm in telling him how you feel?  What’s the worst thing that could happen? So he might tell you he isn’t interested in that way.  He seems like the type of guy who would still be your friend. But what if he says he is?”

“I see your point. But I still think HE should have come to me first.”

“Go home Ruth. Right now. Call him. You’ll feel better. Let me know what happens tomorrow, because I’ll be asking you.”

No. Pressure.

So many conversations leading to so many misunderstandings brought me here. And now this conversation, with my Pastor of all people, was leading me to have the most life changing conversation I would ever have.  It amazes me how God works like that.

The whole 2.5 miles home I was gathering up courage to call him.  What would I even say to him?  What if he said no. What if, by breaking my own rules, I broke our friendship?

I called him.  He wasn’t answering. Do I leave a message? What do I say on the message?

“Hey Erich, it’s Ruth. Call me.”

That was it. 6 words. For me that’s some kind of record.

Your dad called me back within the hour.  I was so nervous.

“Hey, Erich…thanks for calling me back”

“Yeah, no problem, what’s up?”

I actually started rambling about stuff we had already talked about when we were together over Thanksgiving.  I can’t even remember what exactly, but finally your dad said, “Ruth, you told me this stuff already when we saw eachother.”

“Oh. Yeah, I guess we did.  Well, here’s the thing. I need you to be quiet (this is funny since he had been quiet as I rambled on and on about things he already knew…on top of the fact that your dad was already a quiet guy).”

“Ok.”

“So Erich, I have been wondering if you’ve ever been interested in me as more then a friend?”

“Yes.”

“Oh! Ok…so like, in the past 6 months.?

“Yes.”

“6 weeks?”

“Yes.”

“Last couple of days?”

“Yes.”

“Today?”

“Yes.”

“Oh.”

Silence……then I start up again.

“So what do we do now? Do we start dating?”

“Yes, I’d like that.”

And the rest as they say, is history.  Except that I won’t stop there.  I’ve got stories to tell…our stories…your stories. HIStories.

Love you both so much…to the moon and back, to infinity and beyond…and don’t you forget it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Summertime

After that first meet up for beer and a movie, I found myself slipping into an easy friendship with your dad.  That summer we spent alot of time around the firepit, catching dinner or a movie, and going for runs at our friends Kathy and Jim’s home (a veritable nature preserve filled with trails).  Afterwards we’d jump into their nephew’s pool (which happened to be next door).

I think I felt a shift in how I felt about your dad about half way through the summer.  It was right about the time Mammy and Boppa came to visit.  Maybe it was because I was seeing Erich through my parent’s eyes.  I could tell they really liked him. They hadn’t liked ANY of my previous boyfriends so this was progress…and your dad wasn’t even my boyfriend (yet).  Your dad had come over to my house for a cookout and bonfire I was having with friends and family.  There was a ton of left over food so I packed up a couple of containers for him to take home.  He stayed late into the night visiting with us so when he left he forgot them.  This is important to note.

The next day my parents and I went to go see “The Road to Perdition”.  I got a speeding ticket.  I hope I am never in the car with you when you get a speeding ticket. I’ll just leave that thought right here.   My neighbor, Howard, had given us money for steaks to cook out on the grill, so after the movie we picked them up.  Earlier that morning, I had called your dad and left a message telling him to come and pick up his left overs.   I still think he planned it this way, but he didn’t end up stopping by until around 5PM.  My dad and I were in the backyard getting the grill ready when Erich came out the back door of the house with a beer in his hand.  I was puzzled.  I knew he was coming to get his food, but why the beer in his hand?  I mean, how long does it take to pick up leftovers?  “Your mom invited me to stay for dinner, I hope that’s Ok?”  I remember exactly what I was thinking then. “Well played Mom, well played.”

The day before, I had told my parents that Erich and I were “just friends” but that I was starting to think maybe I was feeling something more. I really didn’t know if I wanted to change anything. Truly. I was happy being his friend.   Your Mammy had other ideas.

That summer went fast and before I knew it Erich was heading back to Mequon to finish his last year at the Seminary.  I was bummed.  We had spent the whole year avoiding each other because everyone wanted us to be together, then we finally decide that we can be friends only to have to say goodbye a few short months later.  By then I knew I cared about your dad a lot. And I was kicking myself for the “let’s just be friends” rule I’d thrown down in May.

 

 

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The Vicar

When I first met your dad, I was actually dating someone else. He was the Vicar at a nearby church and me and my then boyfriend decided to attend that church one Sunday morning. I remember exactly what my first impressions were that day. “Man, he is so uncomfortable in the pulpit, he’s a nervous wreck…oh, I can’t watch this.” Later, when he was greeting us on the way out I thought, “No way could I ever date this guy.  He’s way to skinny, and I don’t date guys skinnier then me…he’s too tall…too blond…” Nope, I was NOT interested. Upon further reflection years later, it begs the question WHY did I care? I was dating someone else!

Soon after that my relationship with my current boyfriend crashed and burned. I knew deep down that it wasn’t going to work but I was being incredibly stubborn about it because others in my circle of family and friends were telling me he wasn’t the one and I wanted to prove them wrong. Ironically, I had dinner with said EX-boyfriends mom the day after we broke up. That might sound strange to you but we were close and knew that it would be the last time we would spend time together…a last supper if you will.   At one point in the conversation she said, “You know, Erich Westphal is available and such a nice young man, you should go out with him!” Say what?!?! Your son and I just broke up and you are trying to hook me up with the Vicar? I don’t think so.

For the better part of the next year my friends Jenny and Karen kept trying to set Erich and me up. At gatherings they would sneakily seat us next to each other. His name would come up casually in conversation but I just kept telling them I had no interest in dating Erich and NO I am NEVER going to marry a pastor! It’s too predictable. “Lutheran School teacher meats Lutheran Pastor”, they date for a year, get married and have 6 kids. Nope, not me (I wanted 4 kids).

Finally, in May of 2002, Erich came to our school to do a presentation on his time as a Missionary’s kid in Africa. I loved Africa. I loved mission work. As a matter of fact, I wanted to do a stint in the Peace Corp as a teacher in Africa but it never panned out. He had my attention but again only because we shared a common interest. During his presentation I was having an internal war with myself. “Ruth, just ask him to hang out, this doesn’t have to be an issue. Just tell him you want to be friends. Lay the ground rules. Don’t give him the wrong impression.”   I hesitated long enough for him to be walking toward his car. I called out for him to wait a second. He looked at me with a little bit of surpise and said, “sure.”

Conversation as follows:

Me: Listen Erich, I want to hang out, but just as friends. You and I both know that everyone is trying to set us up and I am not interested in that.

Erich: I know, and I feel the same way. Just friends.

Me: Really? Great! So how about we get together on Friday, split a 6 pack and rent a movie?

Erich: Sounds good to me.

Wow that was easy…and that’s just what we did. The following Friday we split a 6 pack and rented a movie. As friends.

You might think that my reasons for not wanting to date Erich seemed pretty superficial, and you’d be mostly right.  I had it in my head the type of guy I wanted to marry and Erich didn’t fit the bill.

Not much later, to my surprise, God would show me what I needed.

Both of these pictures were taken the summer we became "friends".

Both of these pictures were taken the summer we became “friends”.

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Curve Balls

I am tired.  Emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally.

Exhausted.  

Since March, Erich has been dealing with a back injury and needed surgery in May. He is limited in how much he can do, meaning he can walk and drive occassionaly.  My responsibilities have doubled and there are days when frankly, I would like to throw in the towel.  There are days when I throw BIG pity parties for myself…I lament my weaknesses…Why can’t I be stronger? Why can’t I handle this better? Why do we have to go through this AGAIN.  How can I juggle my business, parenting, the house, the dog, the cat, and the chickens without letting one of them fall to the way side.  I resent my husband at times, especially when I really really don’t want to drag the garbage to the curb 200 meters away.  I found myself “slightly” losing it at 10:00PM last night because Ella’s Karate pants were dirty and she had practice this morning.  I miss being close to my family. If they were close I would have more support. 

I can already hear all of the little violins playing for me right now.  At this point you’re probably thinking, “Suck it up Ruth. Geez! We’ve all got problems!” You would be right on that score, and I guess that is why I wanted to be transparent. 

I am a sinner through and through.

Ugly. Scarred. Dirty. Wounded. Selfish.

But I have a God who loves me through and through.  

Eternally. Deeply. Unconditionally. Selflessly. Mercifully.

I have been looking through some of my old writings and came across the following piece. It is absolutely incredible to me how this still holds true 6 years after I wrote it.  I can’t tell you how much I needed this reminder today.  I can’t do it alone. And God doesn’t want me to. 

********“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope, and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.

            I do not remember who directed me to this passage five years ago when my husband was diagnosed with cancer, but I have clung to God’s promise in those words ever since then.

            Life tends to throw a curve ball every now and then and in the summer of 2003 Erich and I weren’t ready for the pitch! We had just gotten engaged and were enjoying the early stages of planning a wedding. Erich had some health issues earlier in May that were still causing problems, but being young and naïve we assumed everything was fine. Then, a week before Erich was to begin his first call as a tutor at Nebraska Lutheran School, Erich felt a lump pop out from his neck. He went to a general practitioner who ordered x-rays and a CAT scan, but he felt that it was probably nothing more than a fungal infection. We waited the weekend for the results and on Monday the doctor gave us the news.

            Erich was in the advanced stages of cancer. The doctor asked Erich if he had experienced any other symptoms. Of course he did. How could we have made the connection? How could we have not? I think I could have heard a pin drop at that moment, but in the next it was a blur of questions and planning. Erich would have a biopsy at noon, we were to get to the hospital right away.

            How did ‘nothing’ become ‘something’? How could planning a wedding turn into a year of appointments, doctors, chemotherapy, and illness? It could, and it did, because it was all part of God’s bigger plan. I have come to realize that when the Lord say’s ‘prosper’ it does not necessarily mean that we are promised riches beyond compare, it means that he is going to give us just what we need. Let me explain.

            When all of this was happening I was still a teacher at Christ Lutheran School in Oakley, Michigan. After talking about it, we decided to move up our wedding so that I could be with him while he underwent treatments. Erich was diagnosed on July 14th and we were married on July 19th, less than a week later, in his parent’s garden! Most of our immediate family and all of the friends that were part of the original wedding party were there; that day I felt rich beyond compare.

            Then, my sister shocked us with an offer to move in with us for the year to help out in any way she could. Was she kidding? She wanted to live with newlyweds and deal with the ugly side-effects of chemo? Yes, she could, and she did. Life with her that year was always full of laughter and support. On days when I could not take Erich to appointments, she did. As a matter of fact, she was there for his very first dose of chemo while I was in Michigan packing. God new that Leah would be just what we needed to help us through the year.

            Family, friends, and people we did not even know helped us financially, so that I only needed to work part-time. This allowed me to be with Erich on a regular basis. God surely prospered us during that time.

            When the Lord promises not to harm us it needs to be understood that God himself would never hurt us; as sinful human beings it is inevitable that we will face some kind of trial or tribulation. What it does mean is that He will make us more than conquerors when troubles do come our way. (Romans 8: 28-39) Every day that Erich was sick I reminded myself of this. My constant hope and prayer was that God would bring Erich peace in one way or another; either God would heal him and he would continue on in his time of grace, or he would be given the greatest gift of all…eternal life with Christ Jesus his Savior.

            As it turned out, God had more work for Erich to do here on earth. After only three months of chemo, his stage 4 Rhabdomyosarcoma was gone. It has been almost five years since that first diagnosis and Erich remains cancer free. He has been serving the congregants of Christ Lutheran Church in Zumbrota, Minnesota for the past four years. We have been blessed with a beautiful baby girl, Ella, whom we adopted at birth two years ago. God has most certainly given us a wonderful future!********

Life throws us curve balls.  It’s inevitable.  But we’ve got an Almighty God that is there to help us bat them out of the park.

2 Corinthians 4:16-17, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.”

Erich will celebrate 10 years of remission in August.Image

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When They Want to Talk, Listen.

***There have been several times in the past few years when one or both of my parents have told me “When your girls want or need to talk, DON’T brush them off…never be to busy for them.  They will open up to you and as they get older, they will be more willing to talk to you about the really tough stuff.” Last night was one of those moments with Ella.  She needed to talk, her heart was heavy.

After talking with us she was able to go to sleep peacefully, and happy.  Had we brushed her off and chastised her for getting out of bed, or told her to get over it (which is always tempting when you are enjoying quiet time), we might never have enjoyed the following conversation. Of course, it lasted much longer, but I’m giving the condensed version. :)***

Dear Ella~

Last night you came into our room crying. I was outside with the dogs, but daddy was there.  You said, “Daddy, I have something that’s really sad. I just want to go to heaven tomorrow…I don’t want to struggle or be bullied anymore. I want life to be perfect.” Now, I am not exactly sure what your Daddy’s response was, but he sent you back to bed after talking with you.

A little while later you came out of your room as I was coming up the stairs.  You were still crying and I asked you what was wrong. You told me the same thing you told your Daddy.  You were still really upset.  It scared you to think that you might go to heaven with out us, or that we might go with out you.  You really wanted us to all go to heaven together. Tomorrow. We are still here, so I thought I would write to you so that you will be reminded of our conversation last night.

I told you that while that would be wonderful, it most likely wouldn’t happen that way. Of course, it could, but that only God knows when we will be taken to heaven to be with Him.  I asked you why God brought you into the world, even with it’s sin and suffering. Your response? “To tell as many people as possible about Him so they can go to heaven.”  Exactly my dear girl.

You also mentioned that you prayed for God to take my “Wildtree Girls” with me to Heaven since I love them so much and we are friends.  In addition, you asked God to make a special place for cats, dogs, and chickens. You asked if that was possible to which I responded, “we don’t know exactly what Heaven is going to be like, but we know it’s going to be amazing and beautiful, and who knows? Maybe there will be cats and dogs and chickens. But the most important thing is that we will be perfect, we won’t ever get sick or mad or get picked on…and we will be with Jesus.”

As hard as life may become. As much as we might wish for God to take us to heaven right this minute…he has a plan for us…for you.  So while we are here on earth, we make the best of it with the gifts and talents God has given us.  We continue to share the gospel message with everyone we meet.  We continue to pray for those who don’t know Jesus is their Savior.

Your love for Jesus shines brighter every day.  It fill my heart to the brim with joy to see your faith growing stronger each day. Keep on letting your light shine Ella Sophia! God will continue to bless you always and in all ways.

I lov you to the moon and back, and to infinity and beyond, and don’t you forget it!

Mom

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It’s a New Year

Dear Ella

The last time I wrote you was December, 2012. Yikes.  This grand idea of mine to blog about our life and my memories isn’t going so well.  Maybe instead of promising that I will write…. I’ll just say that I’ll do my best.

I’m thinking I should change the name of this blog to “To Ella & Maggie with Love”, since this blog is about both of you now.

Christmas 2013 was a tough one, I can not tell a lie.  We experienced a huge ice storm which resulted in a ton of tree damage.  It’s January 4th and not much has been cleaned up since all of the branches that fell are now stuck to the ground or covered in snow.  This spring we’ll be doing a major clean up.

Not only was there a lot of damage, but the power was out for days.  Your Dad ended up having to cancel Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Service.  It felt weird and it was sad not to have church at St. James.  We were SO thankful that Granny and Grandpa let us stay with them for a few days.  We were able to go to church at St. John’s in Bay City and that was wonderful!  I hadn’t been to a Christmas Service there since I was probably your 16!

We are extremely thankful to God that we were kept safe, that our cat and chickens survived, and that all we lost was a refrigerator full of food.

While there was much damage, there was also a lot of beauty.  The ice covered everything in sight.  ImageImageImage

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Once we were able to come home, we were able to watch you open your Christmas gifts.  Your favorites were your Seat Pet (a cat that attaches to the seat belt) and your Nintendo DS.  Maggie’s favorite is her Rockin’ Rider Horse, Lucky and her piano.

The flu also struck the Westphal household during Christmas break. I was sick first and then I gave that ugly bug to you and Maggie. On Friday night, you both threw up at pretty much the same time. It was ugly. And comical. I’ve never seen so much puke all at once in my entire life. And I hope to never see that much again!  Your Dad got sick Sunday, but not so bad…your sister got sick Sunday night and Monday again. 7 times. That’s how many times Maggie threw up.  I am so thanful she didn’t make it an even 8.  I can tell you that it’s true what they say, when you’re a mom you acquire a stomach of steel. I’m thankful for that too! 😉

Grammy and Papa came to visit over our Christmas vacation.  It was wonderful to have them here. They love you and Maggie so much and it’s always a joy to watch all of you together. Of course, the ugly no good flu struck down Papa on Tuesday and had him layed flat all day Wednesday.  It seemed to be the gift that just kept on giving this Christmas!

Well, I think I’m just going to ease my way back into writing, since it’s been a year! Time to get my snow gear on and check on the chickens, I’m also hoping to play outside with you for a bit but with it being 29* out and feeling like 18*, I’m thinking we’ll be in sooner then later.

I love you Ella Sophia, to the moon and back, and to infinity and beyone…and don’t you forget it.

Mom

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