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.

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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.

Fight Back With Joy: Celebrate More. Regret Less. Stare Down Your Greatest Fears- Margaret Feinberg

Fight Back With Joy Bible Study

Fight Back with Joy: Celebrate More. Regret Less. Stare Down Your Greatest Fears.- Margaret Feinberg (Click on the link below to watch a video)

Fight Back With Joy


I found myself laughing and crying my way through Margaret Feinberg’s newest book, Fight Back with Joy. One of the things that I appreciate the most about Margaret is how she opens up about her painful journey through cancer. With her honesty it allows each of us as the reader to be able to be honest with ourselves. Too often when we walk into a path that is filled with darkness and loss, we sometimes can get lost within the depths of those powerful emotions of sadness and hopelessness. What Margaret so beautifully describes in this book is how there is always hope, and that we can choose joy as our greatest weapon against the darkness.


At the very beginning Margaret addresses the common misconception about joy that I think most of us have believed. She states, “For most of my life, I had thought of joy as a natural byproduct of a life well lived. A complimentary add-on, a tacked-on freebie.” I, too thought the same thing as Margaret. Although, I have had moments in the past 5 years where I slowly but surely have had different hints of what joy was really supposed to be, I have not fully grasped the truth about joy until my Mom passed away. Sometimes, just like with Margaret’s journey fighting cancer or like a life without my Mom, we find that joy is right there for us to take up for ourselves amidst the darkness, amidst the pain and sorrow. It is always our choice.


You must read this book to understand Margaret’s journey searching for joy is often much like our own. She tried a “yes experiment”, which failed. Each of us search for more in life. We want to be happy. We want fulfillment in life. We want things to go as we plan them. I am in full agreement with her when she says, “Many people live joyless lives because they don’t understand what joy is, what joy does, how to discover joy, and what to do with it once they find it.” I have lived joyless not because I did not want joy but because I did not understand what it was. I thought that joy meant always feeling happy and having my life circumstances just right.


“Practicing defiant joy is the declaration that the darkness does not and will not win. When we fight back with joy, we embrace a reality that is more real than what we’re enduring and we awaken to the deepest reality of our identity as beloved, joyful children of God.” Joy is a choice. It is as basic as that. As Margaret so beautifully points out, “we are created for joy”, and “we are destined for joy.” Jesus made it possible for us to have joy. It is definitely a part of our heritage.


Joy is your heritage


As I live and let go, and choose Jesus, I realize just how much joy is a choice for us. Too often people will play a blame game about their lives. Too often we can remain angry. Too often we think that our bitterness is because of how bad life has treated us. The reality is, is that our life is a gift. God extends grace to us everyday. He chooses to love us and pursue us even when we choose to ignore him. I can tell you from experience that when we choose Him, there is no end to the things that he wants to show us. Joy is one of those great gifts. It is a fruit of the Spirit and as such, if we choose Jesus, it should be an action in our daily lives.


When you choose joy, you will find that life is great even amidst the pain, the sorrow, and the darkness. Joy is powerful. Will you Fight Back With Joy? Margaret Feinberg has written an exceptional study on joy by being very honest and raw about her darkest journey so far. Through her testimony, we see how “life’s thorniest paths can lead to great joy.”


To purchase the book today please follow this link: http://mar.cta.gs/0biGreat Joy

Letting Go and the Victory Dance!

The grieving process is murky business. There are so many reasons why this is the case. For me, I was already in a grieving process regarding several things in my life before my Mom passed away. Her death has helped me process and let go of some other things in my life. I am learning that choosing joy, choosing Jesus is worth every bit of pain. Just recently, as hard as things have been for me emotionally, God has been so good in helping bring healing in the letting go process. Sometimes, he uses one pain to help heal another.


A few things that I have let go of are my ideas of what my family would look like, as well as a relationship that I know I will never have again. In the past, I thought that I had done a pretty decent job with “letting go”. Looking back now, I realize that in letting go of one thing, I had picked up an expectation of what would take place after this happened. Each time I would feel more turmoil because I thought that surely change would occur in the way that I had envisioned it. The process felt like a battle. Certainly I did not have control issues. But as we become more honest, each of us has our own set of control issues.


This past weekend I finished a journey. When I say I finished a journey there should be a significant “hip hip hooray!” I know that God is up in heaven smiling proudly and my Mom is doing a victory dance (yes, we would do these either in person or miles a part). I smile just writing about this thought. You want to know why? Because this journey that I finished is really a beginning. It is a journey that my Mom cried over, prayed over and yearned for. I finally have an understanding of letting go with the intention of not picking anything up in that process. Not having control is actually a very freeing experience when you do it in the correct way.


So this weekend, I reconciled things deep within me. God has done something miraculous within me. As I have given up and let go of this hindrance to my heart and soul, I no longer am pinned down.  It is a wonderful feeling to continue on a journey of forgiveness while not feeling tied down to what was holding you back. I cannot fully describe how this feels as I thought that I would only feel this way when reconciliation of the relationship occurred. I am still in awe.


I read a quote the other day about forgiveness that truly pertains to what I am talking about: “Forgiveness might not mean that a relationship is saved but it certainly frees and saves you.” I would have to say that this has been my journey. So many times I was told that I did not forgive a person because our relationship did not go back the same. I battled with this so much because I chose to forgive this person on a daily basis. I had owned up to my part and I had attempted to talk and address issues in order to move forward and heal. I never admitted to doing everything correctly or perfectly. I lost track of how many times I said that I was sorry. The song “Unloveable” by Plumb pretty much sums up how I felt. I still can feel this way.


I got to a place where attempt after attempt to restore this relationship just turned into a constant wound that never would stop bleeding. Part of this was my own fault because I should have known that no matter how much I tried I could never force someone to love me back and have a relationship with me. See, there’s my control issues right there. I wanted to be loved by this person. I thought this person understood how much I loved them and wanted to enjoy life together. I thought this person wanted the same as me. But I was in denial about the fact that I was being rejected simply because we were two different people. I should have let go in the beginning.


My Mom was pained greatly by this. I have had to work through feelings of anger knowing she died without ever seeing this relationship reconciled. I remember nights my heart was so broken and the pain ran so deep that even my tears were trapped. Through the grieving process of my Mom, I was surprised with the feelings that arose within me again about this relationship. Questions of why, disappointment and the yearning for this person to be my friend rushed my heart once again. There I was learning how to reconcile and forgive again. Thankfully with Gods grace he has never stopped teaching and refining me.


He has been a part of this painful journey, allowing me to bleed while getting dirty with me in the mess because of how much he loves me.


There is something truly extraordinary when we reach a place where we have worked through much of the mess. Healing comes flooding inside in a surprising rush. This is what I have experienced. As I have continued to let go, this time around, God has helped heal the pain in my heart. What a relief! Victory dance!


I cannot deny how God has used one person in my life so significantly. My husband has helped me more than I could ever ask of anyone. He has listened to me process time after time. He has held me as I cried. Sometimes full body crying I might add! He has encouraged me to keep on forgiving. He has prayed for me. God has used him to show me that letting go does not mean giving up. Letting go allows you to choose freedom and joy.


This time around, the chains that held me down, the pain, has been broken from me and I can dance a victory dance. Freedom!


Experiencing this brings such relief to my aching soul. I feel cleansed. I feel like I am a different person.


Thank you God for all that you have done! Thank you God for making a way to freedom.


Somewhere up in heaven, Mom is dancing and cheering.


Ultimately, knowing that God is pleased with me matters so much more.


I am choosing Joy!

Living Life with My Hero.

Do you ever have moments in life where you just wish that you could fast forward? I am past the point of wanting to go back in time to relive the moments with my Mom and my family. To live in the past is to have no future. But there is also this other reality where if you just look to the future your present becomes invaluable.


I have to be honest with you for a moment here. There have been many moments in my life the past month with the holidays, that all I wanted was to not feel what I was feeling and to not be where I was. Grieving comes in huge tidal waves at times. There are moments where it feels like your feet have become unstable, and the shock from the cold water takes your breath away. It can consume you for a time and in that moment, all you want is to feel something good and be somewhere different.


But the important part of grieving is working through it, feeling every bit of everything that is inside you knowing that with time, things will get better. It is also so vital that you continue to live your life. To many people, they think that they must dwell in the past, and in essence stop living for a time. But the best way to give honor to anyone that you love that has passed away is to live life to the fullest. This means, continuing on serving God, loving and growing your families and learning the new you. This has no timetable, whether short or long.


One thing that I know for a fact is that my Mom would want us to enjoy life. She would not want us to stay in silence always looking back at our past with her. We can still honor her and remember her in every action that we do, while moving forward and choosing joy. Our future is not in our past with her. This gives her no honor if we stay there. It also gives her no honor if we tell others how to live or not live their lives as we move forward. I know that my Mom is being honored in how my Dad is living his life. In fact I can guarantee you that not only is she smiling in joy knowing that he is not alone, but God is smiling proudly with how my Dad is living so honorably. I have huge respect for how my Dad is living. I could not be anymore proud of him! He’s my hero.


When I get told that I am not honoring my Mom or that I have not changed one bit, I am now at a place where I can say what a blatant lie that is. I can say with no doubt in my mind, and with full confidence in my heart, that those are all lies because of who I have become in Christ. I am not the same person that I was many years ago let alone even a month ago. God is refining parts in me that I did not even know needed care. I know a lie when I see one and it no longer causes me to feel the need to prove those people wrong. I have no need to. The evidence is how I live my life. So my simple reply is, “I forgive you.” This is vital because forgiveness is a process and often comes with a constant care of choosing forgiveness when pain can arise within again.


And pain does arise, especially when our families are at a place of allowing new people in and we learn who we are becoming. I wholeheartedly support my Dad. He is on a new adventure full of grief and sorrow as well as new joy, a new beginning and a new life with an amazing woman. My Mom is up in Heaven rooting, “Way to go Ed! You are living the way I wanted you to without me. We knew this day might come. It is okay. I understand. Keep on living. Laugh more. Love more. Forgive more. Cherish every moment with our kids. Cherish every moment with the woman that I prayed would come into your life.” But more importantly I know how proud God is of my Dad.


With that said and with Gods word, there really is no way to argue against that. Live life. Choose life. Choose love. Make God proud.

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.