Memories

Memories are complex. The other night I was thinking of my Mom. I remembered when she was pregnant with my brother and how sick she was. It was almost as if I experienced being a little girl again who wanted my Mom to feel better again. Being a child I thought that by sharing my favorite doll and laying the doll on her belly would make her better. My favorite doll always made me happy and helped my tears go away. Such a precious memory right? My Mom in her exhaustion did such a good job to encourage me even when I was full of energy and I did not make rest easy for her.

I am now the same age as my Mom when she had my brother. For some reason it is a very significant age for me. I wish I could visit Heaven and ask her all the questions going through my mind these days. I have a brother or sister in Heaven that I have never met and I know my Mom would understand every thought and feeling.

There are days I wish I had my sister to chat with. I miss us three girls all together. I had always dreamt that my Mom, sister and I would talk girl talk and about kids with cups full of hot coffee. Those days will never be.

I am blessed with others who understand but no one can replace my Mom.

Love you Mom!

In the Stillness

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In the stillness you are there God.


 

There is something so beautiful when we take time to rest and slow down. It is beautiful because in those moments God can bring healing to your mind, body, and soul. In many ways our culture is not one that values rest. It seems that the pendulum swings too far into apathy or to a state of constant busyness. God values hard work and rest, not one or the other. After he created all things he rested and surveyed it all to find that it was good. Resting can be similar for us. After a hard week of coming and going we need to take time to slow down, rest, and celebrate Gods goodness through it all.


 

I have been prioritizing a different mindset in order to slow down and rest more than I have in the past. It has been a beautiful time with God. I find myself  cherishing these extra long moments where I turn off my phone and allow God to speak his truth over me.


 

These times have been crucial for my heart. God has shown me more of the goodness in the negative. It can be so easy for us to despair when bad things happen and we face loss. But circumstances do not change God. He remains steadfast. His goodness and love remain even when it feels as if life is crumbling. We must fill ourselves with him. That only happens when we stop and focus everything we have on him.


 

Like my Pastor says,

“We must be so whelmed by Heaven that we are not overwhelmed by earth” (Dr. Davenport)


 

In the stillness you are there God.

In the midst of everything, you are there.

You are for us.

You are faithful through everything.

You have already won the victory.

We begin and end our day in your victory.

Even when there is darkness your light is there to guide us.

Your love and goodness surpass all understanding.

Your power and grace fill us so that we burst with joy.

Thank you for your faithfulness.

We relax in your presence.


 

Thank you for rest.

The Encouragers

 

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It is an amazing feeling to walk out of discouragement into encouragement!


 

When I began this blog I was determined to be as open about the grieving process that I was going through. It has been healing for me. I wanted to help others through my honesty. I wanted to send a message that grieving is not wrong, but that it is a part of life and that we must support one another through the different stages.


 

Too often, our current culture does not allow time to grieve, or even support and acknowledge that people are. I know that part of this stems from our busy lives we all carry. For those who have not been touched by the loss, they often can forget that an individual is still processing through the loss and separation of their loved one. Because they forget, they begin to question why someone may be tired, sad or discouraged. People can come across very insensitive. Because of these people, it highlights those who are very encouraging. The “encouragers” are the ones that give you permission to grieve. They cry with you. They will hug you. They will listen. I am thankful for these people!


 

I am the type of person that does not want to stuff issues down. I have intentionally been working on dealing with the grieving process head on as best as I have been able to in certain environments. I am thankful to be in a place full of love, and incredible encouragement. It has allowed me time to breathe. Dreams begin to resurface in a place of love and encouragement. Hope grows. One is able to break free from penetrating sadness that can often come and go as grief hits. Freedom reigns.


 

If I could give any sort of advice to anyone trying to support someone who has lost a loved one, it would be this: Give the other person permission to grieve when you are around him or her.


 

God does this for each of us. He acknowledges how hard it is. He sympathizes with us and gives us grace. He holds us, carries us and cries with us. He does not say, “Suck it up. Stop crying. You need to work harder to be happy. You really need to pray more since this shows you have sin in your life…” I could go on further but I will not.


 

Instead this is what God says, “My child, I love you. You will make it through this. The pain you feel reveals a heart that loves deeply. Sin caused this separation. I did not design you to experience this separation. It is why you struggle so much. Let me heal you, guide you and renew life to your aching soul. I will continue to listen to you, encourage you, and give you grace as you learn a new life. I understand your loss. It is hard. But you are stronger than you feel. I am holding you. I will pour my spirit into you to renew your soul. I love you.”


 

We all need to be more like God. We all need to extend mercy and grace to each other no matter what. We all need to encourage and love one another. Romans 12 describes very clearly how a true Christian is to live. Love should be greater than anything else. Love should permeate everything that we do, even when we might not understand what someone else is going through.


 

Romans 12:9-15

Marks of the True Christian

“9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” ESV (read the rest of this chapter. It is so good!)


 

Since my last post, I have been blessed by so many who have prayed for me, loved me and sent encouraging notes. Thank you fellow encouragers!

 

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!

 

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.

Thanksgiving: my thoughts on grieving and why I am thankful

This week has been interesting. The anticipation of the Thanksgiving holiday has been an up and down journey. By now I have become used to the interesting face of grief, even if I wish it were not there. Any writing that I do is normally a healing form of processing every feeling, and thought. These run rampant and can often change without a moment’s notice. From the grief books as well as talking with others who have had their own loss, this is all normal.


In light of Thanksgiving, I truly wish the best time for each of you. There is so much to be thankful for. If you find yourself struggling through the loss of someone dear to you, know that you are allowed time to grapple and struggle. If the holidays bring pain from a loss, know that there are many who pray for you. I know that I am. Even though there are some days that may seem so hard that I wish the day would just end, I am thankful for this journey. This journey helps me to understand those suffering losses so much better. It provides an instant connection with someone else that I may have only met that day. We can come together in the loss and pain, with the understanding that there are no words needed since we are going through the same journey, separate, yet together. How beautiful is that? When half the nation seems torn right now, rioting against brothers and sisters, we can still come together, even amidst our differences and just be present, praying for our hurting hearts.


Beauty often comes after a harsh, long, and tiring journey, where victory comes from endurance, faithfulness, and remaining true to Gods calling on your life. The journey of grieving has beauty written all over it, especially when one is willing to face it head on, walk through it, and acknowledge that it will be there for a lifetime. This does not mean that you lack faith. If anything it acknowledges the great faith you have to be able to endure such heartache and still trust in God. Keep your eyes to the heavens. God is there while you cry. He understands a life of sorrow. Jesus lived it. If you do not believe me, look up the prophecies about Jesus, as well as his time in ministry. He wept. He suffered the loss of his own earthly father. He let grief go, which meant that he felt it, worked through it, and continued to live life through the heartache. He just understood eternity and heaven much better since he was also God in human flesh.


This then makes me think how much grace and understanding God gives to us during our time of grief. I know that I am much harder on myself. This comes partially from the lack of understanding from others, so I feel like I should be doing much better than I am. I am thankful that God understands. I am thankful that God knows my heart. He knows your heart as well. This Thanksgiving, I am so thankful that God is trustworthy. He has carried us all through some of our hardest, and darkest moments. When we are at our worst, he still loves us so much. I am thankful that he holds me when I feel like giving up on everything just because the pain in my heart is overpowering reason. I am thankful he never gives up on me. He is always there. He has never left me when uncontrollable tears start to flow.


Yes, there is so much to be thankful for.


Happy Thanksgiving!


May you know how loved and valued you are.