Embrace the Onion Layers!

As I am watching a chick flick today I am reminded of many things that I miss.


 

I miss watching chick flicks with my Mom and my sister. I miss girls shopping days. There was never something so fun to recharge with coffee and pick out the perfect outfit. It took me several months after Mom passed before I was able to walk through the mall without tears rolling down my eyes. I had already worked through grieving our third person  prior to Mom passing but then to have both gone was a complete devastation to me. There are still moments I get misty eyed.


 

I miss enjoying the perfect cup of coffee with a freshly baked scone. I miss talking about life, family, and God. I miss her smile, her laugh and her hugs. I miss her encouragement, her perfectly timed words to usher in a reminder that God was always in control.


 

There are so many things that I miss. She or someone else like her will never fill the void again. As life continues on, the new people, the new changes right now enhance the void. It will take time but I know that these are all good things.


 

I have learned that grieving and healing has layers, much like an onion. It is a process and there are moments of relief when it feels like you have worked through many different things. Soon after this, God works deeper and helps you work on more. God loves to restore, reconcile and heal everyone. But we must be willing to continue to persevere through each layer. I could choose to stop right here and stay where I am, doing my best to ignore his voice to work through the process. To be honest, that never works and only causes more harm than good. It creates an infection and a bigger mess to be dealt with later.


 

As a kid I hated onions. I could find the tiniest onion in my food and dislike the entire bite in my mouth. But I have come to enjoy onions more. I might get more indigestion and some bad breath every now and then but onions enhance flavors. Onions bring out the best in the food. Onions are also very good for you, and have been known to help reduce inflammation and fight off infection.


 

So dear readers, embrace the onion layers! I know that it can hurt. I know that it can even take your breath away. But it is always worth it.

Choosing Love Daily

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There is nothing quite like having a heart full of gratefulness despite difficult seasons. There is power in your personal testimony when you begin to honestly describe your journey, not to gain sympathy but to praise God for bringing you through it.


I have had several people ask me how I have been able to come through a year so difficult and hurtful and not be bitter. To be quite honest, bitterness only causes us more harm than good. I have written about letting go several times. This is why bitterness is not something that remains in my life. Even though there have been moments that I could have rightfully justified harboring anger and bitterness towards certain people from a human perspective, I chose God instead. I am not stating this to brag but only to display his goodness when we choose him.


When we choose God daily, the things that hold us down, slowly are revealed to us. It is at that time that we have a choice. Will we continue to hold onto these things and allow ugly bitterness to grow? Or will you choose God and allow him to turn all things into something beautiful? When you choose him, beauty will shine from within even if you feel like the darkness is shoving you down.


This reminds me often of marriage. God has shown me so much of himself through my relationship with my husband. A huge part of this has to do with the fact that my husband chooses God daily and chooses me daily as well. When two people become one and follow Gods leading, there is nothing quite like it. When two hearts choose each other and follow God, the adventures are never ending. Love is also never ending.


There have been moments in our lives when so many things were up against us. In other people’s perspectives, we could have easily let it separate us because of the pain. Instead, we chose to listen to each other. We would hear and see the pain that we needed to let go. Through that, we allowed each other to have a part in the healing journey. We were two people unified through Christ learning what love was and what it continues to be. There have been countless moments that we would just sit and listen. Some of these moments were difficult but at the end our hearts were never so intertwined.


We still choose each other daily. I know that this makes God smile.


When you choose God that is what life is like. Even though it may be difficult, working through the hard things is completely worth it. It is worth it because your heart will become further intertwined with Gods own heart. When you heart becomes more intertwined with his own, bitterness is unable to take root. Love will grow deeper in your heart and gratefulness will make your heart want to sing.


When my husband chooses me and holds me during my most difficult moments, he is showing me Gods love. When we have both hurt each other and he chooses to love me rather than reject me, he is showing me Gods love. Forgiveness is a powerful tool. Letting go of anything that hinders us is crucial. Loving like it is our last day on earth is one of the greatest gifts we can give each other. The enemy would like nothing more than to split up marriages and families because it distorts what Gods love for us looks like. Together, we have learned that our marriage must come first after placing God in the center of everything. When we have a successful marriage, we will have a successful life. The success is all because we place God in the center of our lives. He is our foundation.


I owe so much of my own journey this past year to my amazing husband choosing God first and then choosing me daily. I have done the same in return. Choose God first every single day. Choose love. Let go of what hinders you. Be free. Live full of joy!


You can still choose God through the grief. The Holy Spirit will come to comfort you through every step. He is there holding you as you cry. But do not harbor bitterness. Let him hold you through it all and allow his beauty to take root from the pain. He is worth it.


Let us all choose God every day. Let us let go of anything that hinders us from loving God and loving others. After all, without love, this life would not be worth anything we go through. God is love. Choose him.


He is worth it!


Hebrews 12:1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Letting Go

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The past several weeks a few profound thoughts have helped me to understand what my journey of letting go looks like. I have realized that letting go does not mean forgetting; that forgiving does not mean that everything will go back to the way it once was but rather reconciliation is the next step. People often mesh these two together somehow and judge others based on the second half.


 

I know that these two examples can be big topics that deserve their own post. But for now, I would like to just mention them. It has dawned on me just how much judgment is cast on others if things do not look a certain way in someone’s journey of healing. The thing that matters the most is whether we are following and obeying God. Are we choosing him daily?


 

The other day I found myself swept up in the arms of God as I listened to a new song. It spoke about being wrapped in the arms of God and being able to let go. This sums up the past year for me. Having God’s arms of love wrapped around me has been what has empowered me. When you know how much God loves you and you are swept away by love rushing into every crevice of who you are, things that once may have held you in bondage fall to the ground as you release your grip on them. God is the only one that matters. His love changes everything. He is the safest place to be.


 

In his arms I have been learning what letting go looks like. When one has lost someone either by death or by separation of friendship, letting go comes in waves with the grief. It is important to recognize that one can let go of the things that hinder us from moving forward while remembering the individual’s memory. Just because you are letting go does not mean that you will be forgetting them or dishonoring who they are.


 

Letting go brings freedom. It does not mean that it will be an easy process. But it is worth it. Letting go does not mean attempting to duplicate the individual. You can still embrace the traditions that once were if it is healthy to keep them now that the person has gone on. What I mean by this is that often we can get caught up with trying to “bring” their personality or gifts into the void. The reality is, is that no one can duplicate or fill that persons spot in your life. We should not try to place other people in that position either.  Besides, no matter how hard I try to make my Mom’s chocolate chip cookies or cinnamon rolls, she was not the one that made them. The love ingredient that made them so special is now something I can remember fondly but not attempt to put in as if I were her. I must be fully myself.


 

There is a tricky thing about grieving. Sometimes you wonder who you are. Through this past year God has been reminding me who I am. And in his arms, I never doubt who I am. I am a daughter of the King.


 

 

I am his. Even in this mess, this beautiful journey, I am his.

 


 

I am HIS.

The Calm And The Sunshine

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I have to admit that I was in rebellion against my own process of working through grieving since I last wrote. Each time I would start to write I just felt a little frustrated that I was struggling the way that I was. Instead of writing I chose to pack or unpack. This transition in our lives has been more difficult than I expected even though it has been one of the greatest changes for us.


 

Every time that I have moved I always had my Mom to help organize my kitchen. Each time I went to unpack I had feelings of extreme sadness, and frustration. I know that it has only been 10 months since she passed but there is a part in me that feels like I should be feeling happier and not still be breaking down in tears. To be perfectly honest though, my heart has hurt more this past month than it has for the past several months. It feels as if her death just happened. Because of this, I can often feel inadequate. I know that this is a lie but to feel such sadness makes me feel a sense of guilt. I know that Mom is in Heaven. I know that I will see her someday. This makes me feel like that truth should outweigh my sadness.


 

But I truly miss my Mom so much that it hurts. So much change has occurred in the past several months. These changes are all very good, but growing pains certainly have hit. Everything that seemed to be of some kind of discouraging opposition has shown itself to make us better. Because of our recent move, we are now able to focus on certain details of our lives that we were unable to do before. As this happens, the growing pains have increased. God is purifying the gunk that has occurred in previous months. I pray daily that I am obedient. I want to allow God to uproot anything within me that should not be buried in my heart. This can be painful at times as well.


 

The past year has been very hard. It has been full of much pain. But it is this pain that God has used to mold us, shape us, make us stronger and prepare us for the things ahead that are much bigger and greater than we ever would have been able to imagine on our own.


 

So far, we have been overcome with such love from our new church family. We have walked into a family who has made it clear that they will love and support us for who we are. When one has lived through a storm, experienced much opposition, and then that changes to sunshine and encouragement, it almost feels like a dream. We are still processing this. We are so thankful!


 

It does not matter what you are going through. God is for you. No matter the storm, and  no matter your struggle, God is for you. He is protecting you. He is holding you. Remember, the storm does not last forever. He still calms the waves, and brings forth the sun.


 

Psalm 118:1 (ESV)

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

 

When Two Worlds Collided

Two worlds collided over Memorial Day weekend. It was a weekend that was full of many different emotions: heartache, pain, sorrow, yet full of joy for our Father. It is so hard to describe exactly every little feeling. It all felt so surreal.


 

It is most difficult to process two worlds that do not make sense quite yet. One full of memories of what once was, and the other that is now. The sorrow is ever present. It is a constant friend or foe depending on your perspective. Yet, there is joy, there is hope knowing that God is our strength. Life is bittersweet.


 

Our Mom was a most extraordinary woman. She loved us in such a way that no woman ever has. There was no doubt in each of our minds that she cared for every single one of us. She made sacrifices for us. She gave her life for others. It is this love from her that makes the void feel so deep. We can all be grateful that we had a taste of heaven through her in our lives.


 

Now, as our Father, whom we have only known with our Mom embarks on this new beginning it seems so strange to see him with anyone else other than our Mom. He loves each of us enough to want us to be a part of this new journey. It is a foreign way of living when it seems like all those happy memories of someone so dear to you feels as if it all is slipping away to be forgotten forever. Yet, I know that is not what is happening.


 

It is all these feelings that pollute being rational. I have learned to be slow to action during this time of grieving. To be perfectly honest, my husband has received the worst of these struggles within me. He has been so gracious as I battle through every emotion, rational or not. I am thankful I am not alone. He has learned to bring me coffee in bed (this is a nice perk!). For those of you who know me well, you can laugh knowing how amazing I think this is. I wish I liked mornings better.


 

Many have asked me how I was able to officiate the wedding for my Dad and Step Mom. To put it quite simply, Love. I knew from the beginning that this was God. It was more than evident to me that God brought my Dad and his new wife together and they gave me the greatest honor to be able to officiate it for them. I was able to talk through the tears because God gave me the strength I needed. God is strong in the broken places.


 

I also feel like I need to explain the tears. Some people thought I was just sad. Other people thought I was simply happy. It was both for me. Two worlds collided in that moment and I was overwhelmed with grief, and joy all in one setting. It was a definite and more solid ending to what our family once was and who my Dad used to be. But it was also a beginning to a new joyous journey with an added gift of a wonderful woman of God whose love and care for our journey up to this point has been rather remarkable.


 

My tears also represented a huge miracle for my husband and I personally. We saved the flower girl spot for our daughter J, for our wedding (for those of you who do not know, I am a Step Mom to a beautiful girl). When this did not happen because of unfair actions from the other party, it was hard for both of us. J was able to be a flower girl for my Dad’s wedding. I was crying because it was truly a miracle that she was there. I also felt like this was something that Mom would have wanted and prayed for herself.


 

God was showering us blessings in multiple ways. These realizations came upon me, wave after wave within the ceremony itself. I found myself shaking as emotion after emotion flooded my heart. And the tears just fell. It was beautiful.


 

 

Philippians 4:13

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

 

The Crashing Waves

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There are moments in life when everything comes rushing in all at the same time.


Sometimes it feels like I am in the sea, waves crashing against me one after the other. When I begin to look around at everything that is going on around me, it can take my breath away. The waves are never ending. It is when I focus my eyes on Jesus that I realize that I have breath and can keep my head above the waves.


There comes a time in life, after all these things collide, that one must just be. Breathe. Relax. Rest in the arms of Jesus. The Lord reveals himself in so many ways. It can be easy to get caught up in our selfishness that each of us are born in. This is so easy to do especially when unfair things happen in life: betrayal, death, lies, sickness, disrespect, slander and rejection. Have not all of us been touched by this in some way?


A life with Jesus finds the joy amidst such things. A heart for Jesus, says, “I will endure anything just to be more like you, just to be able to spend time in your presence everyday.” It is this desire that fuels every breath I take. It helps me to sleep well at night and roll out of bed each morning to go pour out my life everyday.


There is nothing better than to know just how much God is for you, just how much he loves you!


He shows me who I am constantly. When waves come my way in order to make me believe a lie and allow myself to become defeated, he shows me that he has prepared me for such a time. Life is so much more than just flesh and blood. There is a battle raging. It rages like the seas.


Who do you say that you are, reader? Are you prepared for death? Are you prepared to endure hardship just so that others may know that God is love; that he pursues them on a daily basis? Are you ready to be in battle everyday, no matter how tired that you are, just so that God can use you to bring others into his light and furious love? He wants to become more a part of your life. He desires you. He loves quality time. And as you are on the battlefield he is there showing you how amazing he is by the things he does through you.


Life with Jesus is a grand adventure. If you think otherwise then I challenge you to spend more quality time with God through prayer and studying his word. The more that he becomes more and you become less, a new life unfolds. You will be able to pray for people, and help people in ways that are beyond your human ability to help. You can have strength to face your greatest fears. In all of these experiences you will become more interwoven with Gods heart. Through every joy and trial, through every mountain in your path, you will be swept up in awe at Gods glory, power, omnipotence, grace, and love.


He is a good God. His love is always there. When the arms of those you love can no longer hold you, his will always be there to sweep you up to be close enough to hear his heartbeat. Such peace.


Plumbs newest album has a song called “Smoke”. The Chorus speaks what my heart says during this time in my life. So many things have ended. So many things have felt like they went up in smoke, forcing me to let go.


Chorus:

“You are my hope
You are my song
You are the oxygen inside these weary lungs
You are my safe place
You are my home
You are my shelter when it all goes up in smoke”


And the bridge says,

“My healer
Provider
You are my God
Protector
My strength and shield
You are my God”



Through it all, God is so good. I will declare who he is no matter how hard things might get. He never changes. Therefore, he is always good and his love and power rage on despite the waves that may be crashing in your life.


Psalm 18:1-3 (ESV)

I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.

Learning Not To Look Back and Forgiveness

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Last night as I was talking with God about everything that has gone on and is going on, I had a healing experience. Recently I have been working through feelings of anger that I never had before. I have been angry because other people that I love are hurting and there is nothing I can humanly do right now to solve the problem. I have been angry that my Mom died the way that she did having suffered a stroke that kept her in the hospital dying until her last breath. I have been angry even with myself for words buried deep within me years ago that I spoke from deep hurt as a young lady towards my Mom. Feelings of anger that I would hurt my Mom even though it was not intentional caused me emotional pain. All of these feelings rolled together into one unexpectedly.


These are new feelings. These feelings surprised me because when Mom passed away I literally had no regrets in regards to my relationship with her. We had a connection that is harder to explain to many. We had both worked through our own hurts together. Mom apologized for many things, as did I towards her for the tough journey she helped me walk through in high school. I can recall a moment in a coffee shop with my Mom. With tears in her eyes she apologized for a lack of action on her part to help protect me. Even though much of what she was apologizing for was out of her control, it was probably one of the most healing points in our relationship. Don’t get me wrong, we had a good relationship then, but there is something amazing when Jesus molds two hearts together, he continues to draw you both closer through him. I miss this relationship with my Mom beyond description. We understood one another. We did not need words. There was comfort. We both knew that we would support each other no matter what.


But recently the hurtful things I said that wounded her so many years ago came flooding back. My heart was broken. These memories as well as her in the hospital are something that I suppose still need to be worked through.  I know that the stages of grief go in cycles and often strike people differently. But last night as I was working through these feelings of anger and grief I saw an image of my Mom. She was right in front of me. She gently cupped my face in her hands, looked me directly in my eyes and said, “Honey, I am better now. Do not worry about all those things. I am better. Do not look back.” The love in her eyes penetrated my very soul and I knew God was speaking. God, through the silence allowed my heart to let go again. God speaks these words. It is all throughout scripture. Press on. Do not look at the former things. Do not look back. Move forward.


If any of you are working through anger, regrets, or past actions that led to pain and hurt, stop looking at them. Do not look back! For those of you working through regrets regarding my Mom, please know that you have been forgiven long ago. She would never hold these things against you. She never did here on earth so why should you be holding onto them now that she is in Heaven? As her family, we also forgive you and do not hold such actions against you. Forgive yourself and know that my Mom and more importantly, God, would want you to press on and move forward. Keep going. Do not look back.


God loves you beyond anything in the entire world! Messy as you are, you are loved dearly! That is beautiful is it not?

A Letter To My Mom

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I know that you are in the best place imaginable. I am thankful that you are no longer in pain. But today the distance and the separation is way too far. I see your name in my phone and I want to call or text you. I still send you emails because I imagine you reading them up in Heaven. And I can just imagine your bright smile, full of the most joy we have ever witnessed, shining forth the living and vibrant love of Jesus.


It is a strange paradox to have joy knowing that you are in the presence of Jesus, in our forever home, yet desperately longing for your presence by my side. I am thankful that your body has been rid of disease; that you have been fully restored. I remember slowly, as the years went by, your frame became smaller and weaker. Despite that, your hugs brought such peace. I always enjoyed feeling your arms around me, as I was safe in your arms as your daughter. That was something that I never outgrew. It was as if love was holding me, pure love. What a taste of Heaven that was. I thank God for that gift.


Not having you here has been difficult because I enjoyed being with you. We didn’t need to say anything at all. Just knowing that we were together was enough because I already knew how much you loved me. This was why, even as you lay dying in the hospital, I still wanted to be with you as long as I possibly could. Even at the funeral home, I just sat by your coffin because my mind and heart were still working through the fact that even though your body was there your spirit was not. I knew that once the coffin was shut, and we lay your lifeless body to rest, that I would no longer have my beautiful Mom to look upon, or hold. I had to tell myself to leave you there because my future was with the living.


I still cry when I go to the mall. We had the best shopping days. You taught me how to be the best clearance shopper around! But Mom, when hard times come, I miss having you to talk through them. I miss the connection that we had. There is no one like you. You literally were the only one I trusted with such things. Now that is gone, the dark days seem a lot darker. I am thankful that God holds me. I am thankful that Heaven is my home, and one day, this will all be a memory.


I tell J all of the time that you are helping prepare for a big party; that you beat us there and get to wait with excitement for when we get there. This seems to help her grapple with the thought that you will never be here on earth again to hug her. She must have felt the love like I did because she talks about missing your hugs the most. And as we talk about you together J will say, “It sounds like she was the best Mommy!” And I always reply back, “Yes, she was!” I pray to be the type of Mom you were to me. You were truly the best!


Thank you Mom for loving Jesus! Thank you Mom for being the best! Thank you for all you taught us. Thank you for being present and making the most of every day. Thank you for giving your life for Jesus. I look forward to coffee with you in Heaven. Sending you butterfly kisses now and forever.

Perceiving the New

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My last post was about letting go. Since that time, I have realized on a deeper level how letting go is often a process and it can often come in different stages. But once you have let go of something completely, and God frees you from the pain, perceiving the new is so much easier. When pain is dragging you down it can make your eyesight a little cloudy. There are times when one small glimpse of the new is hard to focus on.


This weekend was a great weekend full of sorrow, and joy. I could not be more proud of my Dad. My Mom up in Heaven is so proud. God smiles like a proud Father. To see the new coming forth and being able to be a part of that is by far one of the greatest gifts in life. I could not be more grateful that God made it possible so that I could be a part of this new journey with my Dad being installed at a new church. Healing occurred this weekend.


As any healing process goes, you have to be willing to endure extreme moments of pain and sorrow. It can hit you in a rush and overwhelm you to the feeling of drowning. At the end of the rush, as long as you handle it correctly, your breath can return and a feeling of relief follows. With this relief, perceiving the new can become a celebration.


My Dad preached out of Isaiah 43. It is a perfect message about life. If you love and follow Jesus, this passage can pertain at any part of life. It is another passage that reinforces how we must never get stuck in the past or remain stagnant. It is evidence that you must continue living your life. You disobey and dishonor God when you stop growing and moving forward with him. You dishonor God when you do not move on. Because God is always up to new things. He is always working powerfully, you just have to stop looking back, and have eyes pointed in his direction, which is at the new, miraculous, glorious things that he is doing.


This weekend marked the new that God is doing in my Dad’s life, as well as part of the new for our family. And as hard as some things are because of the separation from our Mom, there is so much to celebrate. God is so good. He places the lonely in families. He restores the broken. He brings healing to pain. Because of him we can have joy amidst the sorrow. Laughter can become the best medicine. And when times of pain arise in the healing process, new breath and new life can begin to form, bringing forth hope.


You must let go of your past in order to “perceive the new”. Looking back does you no good. This does not mean that you cannot reminisce or talk about memories. Those are all ways to celebrate the people God gave to you. But looking back to keep things the same way, never willing to change or see things in a way that God desires, is wrong. To obey God, is to perceive the new. To obey God is to honor and uplift God. To obey God is to accept that you must change how you think about things and instead have the mind of Christ. That is how my Dad is living his life. I believe that any new change in his life will be a result of his obedience and love for God.


I believe that the new that has come and the new that is coming is cause for a celebration even if my heart still hurts and yearns for my Mom. It is a comfort to know that my Dad feels the same way. He loves my Mom. This is evident as he obeys God, perceives the new, and lives life full of love, and joy amidst the sorrow. He continues to honor her memory by choosing life and love. He continues to honor God by not only perceiving the new but also embracing it. Anyone who states otherwise I question your heart and motives. Anyone who says this is wrong needs to seriously do a proper study of Gods word.


Healing is a painful process but scripture never stated it must be done alone. Healing is a process. Letting go of the past must be done in order to move forward and perceive the new. Holding on never does anyone any good. Bitterness, a joyless, and a disobedient life is what you inherit by holding on. Letting go is actually where the truth about freedom and control can be experienced. Because in letting go, life is the greatest even amidst sorrow. Joy overflows. And God is there always to hold you close to his heart in a peaceful embrace. Holding on to have your own way is like a screaming child battling against his will, and pushing him away while he allows you to throw a fit. How pointless is that, right? God knows best. Let go. Perceive the new. Embrace it. Celebrate it. Obey.


Isaiah 43:18-19 (ESV)

“18 “Remember not the former things,
    nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.


I encourage you to read this entire chapter as it is pretty epic! God loves you and he knows what is best. Now, it is up to you to decide whether you truly trust him. Letting go shows that you do. By all means allow yourself to feel every feeling of sadness and pain but do not remain there. By all means weep and tell God why you are hurting so badly, but do not push him away.


He will give you strength for the healing process. He will not let you drown. He will restore new breath and replenish your soul. Joy is yours to choose and his arms are opened wide.

2015: Not Losing Hope

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As usual, a new year brings about reflection and resolutions. I found myself annoyed while I was on social media on New Years Eve. I was annoyed because so many mark a new year to change without really ever doing anything differently. I was annoyed because 2015 would mark the year, my first year, without my Mom in it.


I was also annoyed because I lacked any vision for what 2015 would hold. This is not in itself a bad thing. For me it has been the first time that I have not known what direction God will be taking us as a family. Through this God has been teaching me that it is okay to not always see a glimmer of what is to come (although he often shows us what steps to take). He cares more about the day to day and at times the hour-by-hour trust in him more.


I have always been the one to dream these big impossible dreams that could only be explained by God orchestrating them. There came a time in my life though that I realized my own selfishness. Too often our culture, as well as our human nature, is so inwardly focused, that we do not even realize that we expect God to fit into our life, our dreams and our expectations without really ever changing. We think that a magic prayer or even remaining stagnant, proclaiming that we follow God, is good enough. News flash. If you claim to follow Jesus Christ good fruit will be evident in your life. This means joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, love and self control will grow more and more a part of who you are on a consistent basis (look at Galatians 5:22-23). It does not mean that you can speak all of the right words and get into heaven, while all the evidence in your life dishonors God.


We tend to be a selfish nation and humankind tends to be inward focused. We can make self a god. Instead what needs to take place is to allow God to have complete control over every aspect of our lives. We must allow him to ravage our hearts with his holy love. We must allow him to change and transform us. This is the only way that any lasting change will ever occur.


He has much bigger plans for us than we could ever come up with on our own. When we choose him everyday, life will often look so much different than you ever expected, in a good way. When I realize my selfish tendencies it helps me to surrender to God daily. This dying of self can be painful at times. The death of my Mom greatly shed light on several things in my own life. Habits, thinking processes and even how I communicated and dealt with my emotions were all things God brought to my attention. It was not that I had been doing anything wrong but these things needed refining in me. And I am so thankful!


I am thankful I listened to him in those moments because I would not be here today sharing this blog. My fear of being fully myself around others is slowly melting away. Too often I let the worries of ministry, family members, friends, and even strangers keep me from being fully honest in my writing. There was always this desire in me to speak the truth but I often let the opinions of others keep me from writing them out. God is so gracious to us in moments like these. He is so patient.


He knows what is best every time. His timing is also perfect. Usually, the dreams and plans we thought we would have, take a much different turn because he wants more for us than we ever could do for ourselves. He loves us so much that he uses everything along our journey to get us to the place we wanted to be all along. That place is directly in his will, having gone on a miraculous, love consuming journey filled with sorrow and joy. All of the things in this life, the heartache and the pain are all worth it when you realize that the best place is in full surrender, laying your life into Gods hands. Because once you do that a whole new world is opened up to you. It is beyond description. In giving up of yourself, dying to your selfish ways, you gain everything.


I see many holding on to other things. People gravitate to sex, money, food, fads, and even double lives. The death of my Mom has shown me this more. I have seen how some choose to hold on when letting go is actually much healthier. This is a process for each of us in life. Too often we try to hold onto our life when the greatest freedom and joy is in letting go and bowing before God. We are not promised tomorrow. We do not deserve the grace God gives us everyday. We do not deserve such patience when our sin splatters over everyone in our lives. And if you think you are good at hiding it, or justifying it, think again. The foolish ones never know how evident it is to those around them. And all of us have been foolish in our lives. We were just too prideful to take a serious look at ourselves at the time. We thought that by controlling our own lives, we could achieve everything we ever wanted or at least be able to hide our own sinful, dark secrets.


But one thing that I never fully connected until many years ago, is that dying to self means that you must be willing to give up everything in your life, even what you considered good and maybe even godly. This includes your dreams. Too often I would hold onto certain dreams and expectations of how my life would go because I assumed that I did not need to give these up as well. This reality came crashing down on me when I married my husband. Marrying Jeremy was a huge dream come true! It was not my original dream of what I thought getting married would look like. In fact, I ate a lot of my own words because I never realized the power of God unifying two hearts together after a complete transformation had taken place in both of our hearts. For this I am thankful.


But I never knew that marrying Jeremy would mean that I would lose one of the most precious relationships to me. I never realized that others would hate Gods truth and unifying love between two hearts so much in my life. I never realized until after several years of going without this relationship that I tried to hold onto the dream that this person was going to be my confidant, and best friend for life. See, my dream looked a lot different than it has actually been like. Even though this lack of relationship still breaks me to pieces, and I cry often about it, I would not trade the life that God has given me. Because I know and trust that God loves me and loves to reconcile relationships every day, I have hope that the dream I let go for this relationship (yet fought to keep for so long), will one day be so much better than I ever thought possible, because instead of my dream, it will be Gods dream for us. In the waiting I still get to enjoy love and joy in its fullest measure because I chose God and he gave me one amazing husband!


I have to apply this hope to so many other dreams in my life. And it is with this that I choose to begin the year 2015: Never losing hope for the desires that God has placed in my heart, knowing that one day, everything will come together so much better than I ever imagined, despite the pain and heartache along the way. This is how I begin 2015.


Thank you God for 2014. Thank you for loving me so much that you desire me to change and grow and thrive even though it can be excruciating at times. Please continue to give me the strength I need to continue on without giving up hope. Thank you for the joy you give everyday when I choose you.