Saturday, March 28, 2009

Knowing AND Feeling God's Love

The last two weeks have been tumultuous, yet truly a blessing as well. Losing both vans in two days was very difficult, especially with a large family. We had only Abe's little Toyota to get everyone every place for 2 weeks. We thanked God often for that little car!

We were careful to give God all praise and to trust Him for whatever He had for us through those two weeks. I'm so thankful that my son bought a whiteboard and bulletin board for our kitchen. We have been using the whiteboard for a prayer/praise list and we pray together after dinner every night. It's been a special time for us, but with the "van issue" it has proven to show not only me, but the children, God's special love and care for, the Radle Family.

There have been so many literal miracles that have taken place, and praying together as a family for specifics, has helped us all to see those miracles and has made God even bigger in our eyes. He is in control. Yes, we know God loves and cares for us, but to SEE and FEEL this has been an incredible blessing that is difficult to describe. God cares for ME. He truly wants the best for me.

Well, He provided the best and beyond what we could ever have dreamed or hoped for. So many "little" things worked together for us in His perfect timing, and now we are rejoicing and basking in His love for us. The details are exciting, but I'll need to share them at another time. I just wanted to thank those who have prayed and give God praise for His wonderful and amazing works on our behalf. The end result:

OUT WITH THE OLD (and completely useless at this point):


...when I say NEW, I mean NEW! This is a 2006 and is fully loaded and hardly used with very low mileage! The best part: it has heat and airconditioning!!! :)!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Lost and Confused, but Trusting...

This week has been a challenge that has given many opportunities to learn what it means to trust in God fully. Being without Todd to call or make major decisions, I have been left feeling very alone, lost, and confused. However, I am also learning yet another phase to what it means to fully trust in God. Prov. 3:5 is my life verse. It has been my favorite verse in the Bible before I even met Todd, and over the years it has come to mean more and more. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding."

This week I had to come to the realization that we no longer can use Todd's van. We're eventually going to have to junk it. The following day our red van broke down, and the mechanics told me it was time to look for a newer one. Now there are numerous reasons for me to panic. I have never bought a car. I don't have any money to buy a car. I don't know how to buy a car. I don't know anything about a car. Perhaps the biggest one: I need a car. We are a family of seven, and I need to find a car big enough, and I need to find out how to pay for a car big enough. Mostly, I need to trust God.

As I trust, waiting for God to show me all the answers to all these questions, I hurt. I miss Todd. I feel like I need him. I know all I need is God. I've never done this, but if you are reading, I sure could use your prayers! ...and I thank you very much for them during this difficult time.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Emotional Goodbye

I know it's "just a van," but it was Todd's van. Today we finally had to come to the realization that it's time to let go.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Today we celebrated Nathan's 18th birthday! Woooo Hoooo! We're all so proud of him. Happy Birthday, Nate!

Another big part of today was having Trina take her SAT's this morning. I still find it hard to believe she is a junior in high school.

For me, this was a day, although filled with joy, was also filled with a deep sense of missing Todd, the father of these children. Four years ago, I just never, ever thought a day like this could ever be imagined, let alone experienced in real life. It wasn't how it was supposed to be. This was a day that Todd should have been a part of. Yet God was here. God knew. And God got me through. Thank you, God, for my wonderful children, and for helping me through these difficult days. I'm learning that God's grace truly is sufficient.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Father to the fatherless!

Looking back over these years since Todd has gone home to be with the Lord, I can see countless times where God has been a wonderful Father to my children, who are now fatherless. Todd was a great Dad. He loved his kids with all his heart and had a way of letting them know that...not just in his words, but also in his actions. Our kids knew that Dad would give his very life for them. He talked often with them, individually and as a group (I loved our family meetings!). It is difficult to watch these kids grow up without their Dad now. Taking them to get their driver's licenses, preparing for graduations from high school, advising them about college, even watching the younger ones receive awards...all of these milestones in a child's life are so hard to deal with, knowing their Dad is not here with them.

Yet they have their heavenly Father! He DID give His Life for them! He loves them more than Todd ever could love them! He is protecting them, caring for them, and providing for them. I am so thankful for the many ways God has been so faithful to my children and has kept them safe in His Arms. He is the best Father. Even though Todd was a great one, God is the BEST one!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ludwig G. Leibbrand

Today I received a package from my parents that included, among other things, a video entitled, "Celebrating the Life of Ludwig G. Leibbrand," or Uncle Louie, to me. As the children and I gathered around to watch, we realized again how much Uncle Louie loved to serve others and make others smile. As we listened to the testimonies from the family, we also realized how much Uncle Louie loved us. The stories sounded so familiar. He did the same for and to us! I laughed through my tears when I heard of the knots in the straws, home-made donuts, those mischievous, smiling, sparkling eyes, and how Uncle Louie made each one feel so uniquely loved.

Nathan will be turning 18 on Saturday, and I've been praying and looking and wondering what special item I could give him that belonged to his father. I gave Abe Todd's high school graduation ring for his 18th birthday. For Nate, I decided on giving him Todd's father's pocket watch. It was the only thing Todd wanted of his father's when his father passed away. Anyway, as I was looking for that special item, I came across Uncle Louie's wedding gift to Todd and I. I smiled and cried at the same time. Aunt Jeanne and Uncle Louie were staying with my parents when they came up for my wedding. Uncle Louie asked my parents if he could visit our condo while we were on our honeymoon. If you knew Uncle Louie, this may not have been a good idea, but when we returned, Uncle Louie was back in Florida, and this is what we found on our bed, with a home-made card wishing us well.

It was a Ziggy in a nightshirt that said, "Nighty Night," and it was lovingly placed on our bed between our pillows. Todd and I loved this Ziggy and it has been on our dresser, reminding us of Uncle Louie's love, all these years. Thank you again, Uncle Louie.

I have to thank God for allowing me to know and be loved by my Uncle Louie. It's still difficult for me to believe he's not down in Florida making cards for people and spreading that smile and joy, but I'm thankful I will see him again one day. He will surely be missed by many, but none will miss him more than Aunt Jeanne. The kids and I made a card for her today.

We used Uncle Louie's signature flower and the kids all put numbers by their name (you have to know Uncle Louie to understand that one). We love you Aunt Jeanne, and we're praying for you!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

I love my kids!

I really do. They make me laugh. They keep me active. They encourage me. They also seem to enjoy letting me know my faults as well. That's a little tough sometimes, but as long as it's respectful, it's good.

Toby (5 years old) called me in her room tonight. She was scared. But instead of the usual, she said this: "Mom, I was going to tell you I was scared, but I remembered what you said about God and how He is with me. You don't have to stay in here, but I wanted to tell you I was scared." How precious is that? I almost cried! I love that little girl. She still talks about Daddy and wanting to see him in heaven. Just today she asked me when we could go to heaven to see Jesus and Daddy. I told her we had to wait until God said it was time. She answered, "I want Him to say it's time now!" do I!

My older kids are pretty cool. I love them, too. Very much. I just love my kids. God has blessed me with some great children. I pray they continue to seek Him and learn to love Him more each day. I'm certain their Dad would be proud of all of them.

Even after almost 4 years, I still feel so broken as a family. We're not whole. Todd was such a huge part of our family. It still seems so strange not to be able to share things with him about the children. It still feels strange to say "my children" rather than "ours." I took Trina for her driver's permit last week. She is the third one now to get her driver's license, and still it feels so very strange without Todd here sharing these monumental occasions.

I love my kids; I'm proud of my kids; yet I miss their Dad more with every step they take in their life.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Loss of a Legend

Well, at least in my little world. To his family, friends, and community, Uncle Louie was a legend. Yesterday we lost that legend suddenly and unexpectantly to a massive heart attack. My heart longs to be with Aunt Jeanne and the family and friends and community in Florida, where Uncle Louie was bigger than life itself. Describing Uncle Louie to others could take hours and pages, but if I had to use one word, it would be GIVING. Uncle Louie loved to give to others. He gave mostly of himself: his time, his heart, his love.

My very early memories of traveling and going to Florida meant seeing Uncle Louie, and that meant not only a ton of smiles and laughs, but also special care packages made just for me and my siblings. When it was time to leave, he was always hiding special treats in the car for us with notes of love and promised prayers.

He and Aunt Jeanne wouldn't miss my wedding...he treated us like one of his own kids. He loved Todd, and he grew to love our children, who were soon treated like his grandchildren! We would get special packages in the mail, never knowing what to expect under all the tape and styrofoam, but it was never disappointing. The kids would squeal with delight to see a package from Uncle Louie (always distinguishable with lots of tape and addressed to "The Radle kids"). Most of his gifts and treats were home made, which made them even more special and unique. He showed us his "work area" once, filled with recycled cards, candy, little plastic toys...anything that would put a smile on someone's face. He was known especially for his cards. He made them special for each one, with obvious love and care. He would hand them to those in his community who needed a smile. He would hand them to people who were sick. He would send them to friends and family for any and all occasions.
Todd received many "Get Well" cards when he was sick from the cancer, but none was as special as Uncle Louie's:

Uncle Louie will be missed by many, yet he left us so much to be thankful for. If you knew him, you were blessed. I am most thankful for his testimony and love for the Lord, because I know one day I will see him again in heaven. He, Todd, and his son-in-law are all rejoicing in heaven tonight. Uncle Louie is safely resting now...basking in God's love, after giving so much to so many here on earth. Thank you, Uncle Louie. We love you! You will be greatly missed.

I don't think it has settled in my mind and surely not in my heart yet, that he is not here with us. I don't want to believe it, because of what a tremendous loss this would be. Yet, I am happy Uncle Louie is now in heaven, at peace in the presence of his Lord and Savior.