My name is… Judi Manis. Yes, I am getting used to my new name. I love it. I am part of a new family. At our wedding last month my niece, Emily, who is 10 years old got to meet Rick’s granddaughter Nicolette who is 10 years old. They were chatting excitedly when Emily exclaimed, “I am getting a new uncle!” To which Nicolette responded, “I am getting a new grandmother!” LOL!!
I am 47 years old and I’ve never been known as a mother, much less a grandmother! I kind of gulped when I heard of their exchange. Becoming a wife is new enough to me, not to mention becoming a mother and grandmother. Nonetheless, I am so very excited about this new family I have had the privilege of becoming a part of. Being a family with Rick means I am part of something wonderful. It means I have an opportunity to LOVE and BE LOVED for the rest of my life no matter what.
In my single walk with Christ over the years, I had learned to receive His love for me. I had tried for many years to really love Him, only to find myself consistently failing. Finally, I came to the understanding that it was only through receiving God’s love that I would ever have any love to give another. Because He loved me first, I can now love.
I had become somewhat at peace with being single and still feeling so precious (if only to my husband, Jesus), really KNOWING deep down that He adored and cherished me. Now there is an outward manifestation of His sweet love for me through my husband, Rick. I recognize Jesus in him. I recognize that sweet, grace-filled love in our relationship and I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I don’t believe it is a short-lived “honeymoon stage” of love. I believe it is a life-changing entering into the Kingdom of God’s version of love that lasts for eternity. I think that because I experienced it before I ever met Rick and became a part of his family.
Rick was married for 30-some years to Teresa. From the stories he tells, she was an incredible woman, wife, mother, grandmother, minister of the Lord’s love. I have laughed til I cried from some of the stories of their antics and I have wept openly from some of the suffering she experienced toward the end of her life. I am amazed at how she is and will always be a part of who Rick Manis is. How she is now somehow a part of my life. And I am honored. On my wedding day, I woke up thinking of her. I felt her smile and blessing as I considered the role I would take of loving and caring for the man she spent the majority of human life with. I know that she is now at peace, absent from her body, but present with Jesus, fulfilled beyond even what I am experiencing. She has fully stepped into that Kingdom of God version of love that lasts for eternity. I am grateful for her and all the love she poured into the Rick Manis family. And I am grateful she will always be a part of my family.