Monday, October 25, 2010

Not What I Had In Mind To Write About.

Everything has been pretty normal at the Ruppe house lately. Well, "normal" for our family. Kiah is enjoying her Senior year of high school at Oakdale. This is the first time in her life she has been to public school. We started home schooling the year she began kindergarten, then when we bought the store, after a couple of years it became too difficult for us to be at the store all day and still complete the school work, so we put them in Christian School. This year, because of a schedule conflict, we decided it was best for her to attend Oakdale. Her grades are great, she is doing extremely well academically and socially.
Kiah should be getting her car back from the body shop this week. She is working at the store after she gets out of school in order to have the money to pay her car insurance.
Punky also works quite a few hours a week at the store.
For those who read this blog but may not know our family personally.... we own a convenience store with a deli and gas station here in our small rural town. One of Wendell's friends bought the building and opened a store there in 2002. After a few months he decided it was not what he wanted to do so Wendell bought it from him. At first it was not something I was thrilled about doing. I am a very planned out person, not very spontaneous. I liked having a steady income and knowing how much that income would be weekly. I have never been a risk taker. But after much prayer, I became convinced it was definitely the Lord's will for us to purchase the store. I have prayed lots of prayers in my life and I would love to say that after praying I have always known exactly what the Lord would have me do, but that is not the case. But I can say that I know without a shadow of doubt it is the Lord's will for our family to be in this store. Wendell was working a very good job in Knoxville and continued to work there until he was laid off a few years later (I can't remember for sure the exact date). We purchased the store and opened it with the deli on March 10, 2003, this date was special to Wendell because he was saved on March 10, 1996, and nothing was going to stand in his way of opening on that date!!! We had the gas installed several months later. Me and my young girls ran the store daily by ourselves for the first three months. Wendell and Stephanie would join us after returning from their day jobs and we would all be there until at least 11:00 p.m. six days a week. We have always closed on Sundays. I was there at least 16 hours a day, six days a week, for the first three months. It was very hard. After leaving there each night I still had all the laundry and household chores to do and also all the bookwork for the store. There were times when we first opened that I would be there hours at a time without seeing one customer. I remember being so exhausted one afternoon, very close to tears, I hadn't had a customer in two hours, and I began to question God. I began to pray and tell the Lord I had honestly felt this was His will for us but I was so exhausted and so discouraged that I was afraid I had been mistaken. I asked the Lord to please help me to know for sure that we were still in His will because that was what mattered to me most and if He could just somehow let me know we were still in His will I knew I could find the strength to go on. Within a few minutes I had a customer, one of many. You see the rest of that day we had more customers than we had ever had. I remember smiling in my heart and soul and thanking the Lord for helping me understand that His will had not changed for us. That was the last time I have ever questioned the Lord on whether or not our family running that store is His will for us. Believe me it has not always been easy, there have been many times that I have prayed on Wednesday and told the Lord that I just didn't know how we were going to be able to pay the bills on Friday if he didn't intervene in some way. There has never yet been a Friday that I was unable to at least pay the bills that were due that day!!!! There were so many times after being there all day and being so tired and ready to go home and an employee would call in sick and I would have to stay the rest of the night till closing. Although we now have many customers and the store stays very busy I assure you we are not putting millions in the bank!!Ha ha!!! I assure you this is not a high profit business, financially. But the Lord has provided. There is nothing more comforting than knowing that no matter what happens you are where the Lord would have you to be!!! There is an unexplainable peace that fills you when you know that you are doing His will for you and no matter what happens, good or bad, He is in control. I truly believe that where the Lord leads He will provide. It may not always be in the ways we expect, but He will never direct us down a path He will not walk with us.
I don't know why I am writing all this tonight, when I started this blog entry this was not what I had in mind to talk about. Maybe someone that reads this is having a struggle with what the Lord's will is for them ? I don't know, I just know this is what is on my heart to talk about tonight.
When I was at Vanderbilt last year having my second and most extensive surgery on June 2, 2009, after closing the store, our employees and some other young people who were in the parking lot, were robbed at gun point by two men. The robbers tried to get back in the store but the employee with the key had just left. No one was hurt. We praise the Lord no one was hurt!!! They were eventually caught, as is always the case, and are now in jail. Wendell did not tell me about this until a week latter when we were driving home from Vanderbilt. The only reason he told me then was because he knew I would hear about it as soon as we got home. The most amazing part of his story, and the part that still brings tears down my checks, is how the people in our community reacted and came out to support us and protect our store and our employees. There were men there nightly after that. They sat in the parking lot armed and ready to defend our business and our employees. It is hard for a normal person to imagine the mind frame of people that would "kick those that are already down" so to speak. My family was already going through the lowest valley of our lives and then this happens. But isn't it amazing how God always has that remnant standing there ready to do all they possibly can to help and support those in need!!! God's people are people, they are not all perfect or without flaw, but they are some of the best people on earth. Wow, how honored and blessed I feel for my family as I think back on how during the lowest point in our lives there were soooo many people there lifting us up in prayer, helping us financially and supporting us in every way possible!!!! God is sooo good to have blessed us to live in such a wonderful community with some of the kindest, caring people in the world!!!!
I know there are so many people, who are now going through the lowest valley in their lives. My heart aches as I think of some of the things friends, family and acquaintances are going through. I have shed many tears and said many prayers for those I know who are struggling in different ways. It's so hard to understand why some things happen like they do, but if I have learned anything through the valley my family has walked through it would be..... We are not alone, God is ever willing and able to meet our needs, and His precious grace is sufficient to see us through!!!! I am one of the least deserving of all His children, but oh how He has been there for me. He can, He is, and He will be, there for all those who call upon Him!!!

For those who have never been here, this is a picture of our store, Wendell's Market And Deli, located at the top of the hill in Oakdale.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

What Did I Ever Do To Deserve His Mercy!!!

Two weeks ago Mikiah finished her shift at the store and walked out to see her seventeenth birthday present waiting for her in the parking lot.

We had gotten a GREAT deal on her dream car!!!!

Yesterday, Friday, October 1, 2010... I don't know whether to call it Mother's intuition or not, but the Lord has blessed me with a strong connection with my children. I have a certain "feeling" that comes over me when all is not well!!! I was at home, felt something wasn't right and had been calling Kiah's cell phone, calling the store, I called her friends house, and no one knew where she was. I knew she would not ignore my calls. I was pacing the floor. It was only 4:30 in the afternoon but I had just felt something was wrong. The third time I called her cell phone I left a message and told her to CALL ME and that I was worried she had gone over a hill!!! Wendell came home from his Mom's house and I questioned him but he hadn't heard from her either. I think he and Punky just thought I was crazy!!! He left to go help at the store. I continued to call and pace. About ten minutes later I saw him driving back up the driveway with Kiah in the truck. She had been able to hold in her emotions until she saw me:(
She had met the school bus as she was driving up our road. Our road is very narrow and curvy, with only a few spots actually wide enough to get over in the grass to pass. She was nervous, which I understand, It's hard to see exactly where to back around the steep curves. She got to a place where she could get over, backed too far, and started over the bank. The picture doesn't do justice to how steep it really is. Not that she was able to steer as she went over, but she missed all the trees, but went over a lot of really big rocks and ended up in the creek. She was wearing her seat belt but she also had the top down. I praise the Lord for protecting her. The car could very easily have flipped on those huge rocks and we would be facing a different outcome. Kiah walked away without a scratch. The accident had just happened a few minutes before Wendell had gotten there. Her cousin was behind the school bus and saw it happen. He had rushed down the bank to make sure she was ok.

Papaw came with his chain saw to cut some trees out of the way so as to not do more damage as the wrecker pulled it up. He's an amazing man!!!!

I came up on a wreck several years ago, of a teenage boy who was well liked by everyone in Oakdale, It was a horrible scene that I will never forget. I pass the cross that marks the spot where he passed away every day. I had just thought earlier that day how his loving parents had to pass that spot daily and how I could not even begin to imagine their pain.
The Lord sure has been merciful to my family!!!!