life rearranged

For awhile, I mulled over what to do while away in Africa. Wi-fi is possible - but not a guarantee. And honestly? I really don't want to worry about publishing posts and tweeting and updating statuses. I will write - but most of it will be my hand to a sheet of paper. Once I decided this, I knew I needed to ask some friends to take over my space for a little while. These are women I trust, admire, love and respect. I can't wait for you guys to meet. For the next two weeks, women from all across the U.S. will post their thoughts on Story. Today, you will hear from my dear friend Aimee. We have a fun story - one filled with childhood, adventure, thrills and spills and travel. Although we don't talk nearly as often as we did on the cusp of our international excursion, I still consider Aimee one of my "sexy foxy ladies" and someone who I know would be there if anything were to happen. This story she is about to tell you is proof of that very fact.

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On May 22, 2004, I woke up to the sound of my parents playing "Goin' To The Chapel" in celebration of a day we had planned and waited for with great expectation.

My wedding day.

After the hair appointments, pictures, and last minute touch-ups, I began the long walk down a church aisle to my best friend. I will never forget the look on his face when he saw me, or the excitement I felt when we were introduced as Mr. & Mrs. Luke Keiffer for the first time. I thought about how I had never loved him more than on this day. But more importantly, I will never forget the committment we made before Godto each other that day. I held his hands while I pledged my love and loyalty in sickness and health, for richer or poorer...for better or worse. Who could imagine on such a happy day that "worse" would come when you least expect it or that God could use the worst in such a mighty way?

On May 22, 2010, I woke up in a hotel on the Riverwalk with the love of my life. Despite my best efforts, Luke was the first to say "Happy Anniversary."

Because he always wins that game.

I had been looking forward to this day for a while. I couldn't wait to catch up and reminicse with my best friend. I did my hair, put on a dress, and took a picture with my husband much like I'd done on our wedding day. We were just as happy then as we were six years earlier. But little did we know that at that very moment, Luke's dad was being flown to a hospital in Dallas after having an accident athis lake house. We got the call as we were leaving the hotel to go out for the day. You know that feeling you get when God is preparing your heart for bad news? Yeah. Me too.

Even though, Luke's mom assurred us there was no reason to drive up yet, I felt like the Lord was telling me we needed to go. Austin was with my parents for the weekend andour bags were already packed. Clearly, He had gone before us and worked out every detail. We threw some extra clothes in a duffel bag along with an unopened bag of mustard pretzels.

Because these are the crazy things I do when there's a crisis. Let's just say I know my southern roots run deep when I'm thinking about the possibility of people needing food while at the hospital.

Hey! Don't judge. Mashed potatoes and fried okra would not have traveled well.

So there we were, driving up to Dallas without a clue as to what we would find once we got there. With each phone call we realized that things were much worse than we originally thought they would be. At this point, I had completely forgotten that it was our anniversary. It seemed like weeks instead of hours since we had discussed our gameplan for the big six year celebration. All that mattered was that my husband needed me and the Keiffer family needed us.

For the rest of the night and most of the next day, we sat with many of those that had celebrated our marriage with us.In a matter of a few minutes, our lives were rearranged. All of our plans and the things we thought we would be doing were not what God had planned.

May 22, 2010, marked the day that I began a long walk through a "worse" with my best friend. I will never forget the tears we cried as we prayed together and begged God for His mercy and grace. I will never forget the way he told me with complete confidence that he trusted God with his father's life and the lives ofthose he loved most. I thought about how I had truly, never loved him more thanat that moment. I held his hands as I told him how proud I was of him and how honored I was to walk this road with him. But more importantly, I will never forget how God showed up in the midst of a great trial.

These last few weeks, the Keiffers have logged many hours at the hospital and even more on our knees. We have witnessed miracles and seen the hand of God in every detail of this situation. Let me say it again. You know, just to be clear.

We have witnessed miracles. We have seen the hand of God in every detail of this situation.

Our new normal has given me eyes to see the eternal works God is doing.The hospital is not just a place where we spend time with someone we love most. It's our own personal mission field. Those that ask us how things are going are another opportunity to give God glory for great things. 2 Corinthians 4:1-11 says it best:

1-2Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we're not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don't maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don't twist God's Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God. 3-4If our Message is obscure to anyone, it's not because we're holding back in any way. No, it's because these other people are looking or going the wrong way and refuse to give it serious attention. All they have eyes for is the fashionable god of darkness. They think he can give them what they want, and that they won't have to bother believing a Truth they can't see. They're stone-blind to the dayspring brightness of the Message that shines with Christ, who gives us the best picture of God we'll ever get.

5-6Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we're proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, "Light up the darkness!" and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.

7-12If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That's to prevent anyone from confusing God's incomparable power with us. As it is, there's not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we're not much to look at. We've been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we're not demoralized; we're not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we've been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn't left our side; we've been thrown down, but we haven't broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus' sake, which makes Jesus' life all the more evident in us. While we're going through the worst, you're getting in on the best! {The Message}

When this first happend, I wondered if our future anniversary celebrations would ever be the same. And now I would say that Ipray they wouldnot. Ipray that we will never forget the anniversary gifts God gave us on May 22, 2010. He gave us the gift of more time with someone we love very deeply. He gave us the support of family and moments of laughter during a time filled with tears. Above all, He gave usa front row seat to his awesome power. A chance to witness first hand why He is called the Great Physician.

I love that we started the sixth year of our marriage being the hands and feet of Jesus to two people we love. What a blessing it has been to praise the Lord together for the eternal work He is doing in our lives and the lives of those impacted by this situation. It has been a privilege to serve others alongside my husband as we seek to glorify God in our words and deeds.

Six years ago, I didn't just pledge my love and loyalty. I promised to do life with Benjamin Luke Keiffer. For better or worse.

And I pray that when we go through the worst, someone would get in on the best.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

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Aimee, thank you so much for sharing this incredible story of faith!

Africa Prayer Requests:

- Today is Kibera Has Talent day! Pray for fun and laughter and joy to fill the students and leaders as we continue to build relationships with the children of Kibera.

- Also pray for health and rest. With almost a week under our belt and a week left, energy and sleep are important to maintaining strength. Please pray against any sickness or exhaustion that may creep its way into the group. My hope for these kids and us leaders is that in our weakness He would show His strength.

- Continually pray for our hearts. Pray for protection and reminders that this is not about us and ALL about Christ.

Posted on June 18, 2010 and filed under story.