Life isn’t television

Published on November 15, 2019

I have twins, Aspen & Annalise. Pictured here on their 12th birthday and 1st birthday.


The 11 years in between these two photos are comprised of so much more than time or oohing and aahing over how much they’ve grown (though, my how they’ve grown! ;-)). I look back and see me and my Mom holding them as babies. That picture doesn’t capture the whole story. My smile hid the sorrow in my heart. Of all the birthdays that should be celebrated with both of parents, it should be the first one. Their Dad had just died. He wasn’t there and honestly, because he wasn’t, I wasn’t either. I loved those babies as fiercely as a momma bird should, but my wings were fragile.

Birthdays are about looking back and looking ahead. I couldn’t see their future, any of our futures for that matter. But the beautiful thing was, God did.  His promise to never leave or forsake us couldn’t ring truer than it does when I look into those twin faces, then and now. The next year, on their exact 2nd birthday, they met their new Dad and boy did he turn out to be some kind of miracle. And tonight, on their 12th birthday, they giggled with friends and smiled big brace-face smiles and blew out candles just like I always imagined they would when I gazed upon their tiny newborn faces. They love and laugh and hope and dream. They have friends and family and wholeness just like I prayed for. On their first birthday I couldn’t see how God could do any of that. How would He ever finish their stories with happy endings? I don’t know how He did it, but I guess that’s not really any of my business. That’s what makes Him so marvelously mysterious.

There were more chapters to be written, not just in the twins’ lives but in our family’s story. In Jim’s family’s story, too. Life isn’t television. You don’t get to sneak a peak at the previews. Not knowing what’s ahead is probably for our own good. The terrifying twists would paralyze us, keeping us from fully living in the present. The terrific turns would fixate us on the future, missing the growth that happens in the waiting. Not knowing either enables us to fully wrap our arms around truly trusting our Father.

If you’re reading this and wondering how you’ll live through something or what will happen in the next episode of your life, rest in the fact that you don’t have to have it figured out. God does. The memories of who you were will be woven into the fabric of who you will become. Not that I still don’t cry a little with each kids’ birthday… I’m human and being human means we still hurt. It’s ok to have hard days, even to have birthdays that are more empty than they are full. The God of the Universe is never too big or too busy to be about you and your dreams.

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Ginger Gilbert Ravella

Ginger Gilbert Ravella is a military wife and widow, mother of five, stepmother of two, writer and international speaker. At 36 years old, she faced the sudden tragic loss of her college-sweetheart husband in Operation Iraqi Freedom and the horrors that quickly followed. Her late husband, Major Troy Gilbert, an Air Force F-16 pilot, gave his life while saving over twenty Special Operation soldiers, defining a true American war hero. His remains were tragically taken from the crash site by Iraqi insurgents, which ultimately led to the most unprecedented and captivating story of recovery in U.S. military history. Major Gilbert left behind five beautiful children, all under the age of 9 years old. Ginger’s openly genuine testimony of wrestling with God in the midst of despair and depression resonates with those who question their faith and future in the face of tragedy. Their private pain became front-page news time and time again over the amazing ten-year journey of bringing Troy home to U.S. soil. She shares her heart-wrenching story of loss, perseverance and hope. Ginger has appeared in venues such as “The O’Reilly Factor”, “Fox and Friends News”, TIME Magazine, “CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper”, The Golf Channel, USA Today, Air Force Times, Gary Sinise documentary “Lt. Dan Band – For the Common Good”, Stars and Stripes, NRA TV documentary with Lee Brice “This is My Cause”, CMT News, PGA Magazine, The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, and numerous national radio interviews. Ginger works tirelessly to minister to widows through Never Alone Retreats as well as supporting and raising funds to help fallen and disabled veterans and their families. She is an international speaker and author devoted to her God, her family and her country. She is remarried to another widower and USAF fighter pilot, Colonel (Ret) Jim Ravella, who lost his wife to breast cancer. Their profound inspirational memoir, titled “Hope Found”, is a collection of personal stories beautifully woven together with real-life struggles, vulnerable faith and unshakable patriotism. They document their stories of suffering, the lessons they learned, and the path to finding joy again. Their personal mission is to encourage anyone who seeks reconciliation and peace when life hurts the most and to continue to serve their nation by serving others. A portion of the proceeds of their book goes to helping fallen military families and breast cancer patients. Ginger and Jim currently reside in Franklin, TN with their children.

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