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.

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Today…

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(Picture above is a screen shot of Moms Facebook page)


This time last year, our family was preparing for the celebration of life service for our Mom. That day was interesting, and exhausting.

Today, I have a mingling of feelings and I cannot seem to decide which one to remain in. A part of me wants to go to my Moms grave and just weep. But another part of me wants to enjoy the day, celebrate those in my life, and go buy flowers! I want to eat pie. I know that technically I can do all of these in one day but for whatever reason going to my Moms grave seems to be the hardest. I have bounced back and forth, having feelings of guilt for not wanting to make the drive by myself or even with my husband. For now, let me share with you what I spoke at her celebration of life service. This is completely unedited as it was written the night before and under heavy grief and exhaustion.


My Mom was an extraordinary, beautiful woman. She loved deeply, was passionate about life, never let her battle with Lupus define her, and wanted to please God in everything. She desired reconciliation of certain relationships, strove for love and peace in her home, and wanted the best for each of us.

As her children, we got to see her love us unconditionally. We saw her cry over the brokenness of others and witnessed beauty in its purest form. Some of my fondest memories are of her sharing scriptures with me. Isaiah 41:10 was one of the first ones she taught me when I was scared at night. She was the one to lead me to Christ at her bedside when I was 7. I remember her praying for me, and letting me know that God held me in my heartache.

Our family vacations were never dull and when things got rough, she was one that would try to find something to cheer us up. I will miss her laugh. Her smile. I will miss the ways that she lovingly cared for each of us. But she showed me how to love God and how to love people. She showed me how to be a Mom and now I get to pass that love on to my daughter, whom she also treated just as one of her grandchildren. Not everyone accepted my daughter as a part of our family but my Mom did and I can tell you that my daughter will never forget her because of that.

I am thankful for a Father who loved our Mom and a Mom who loved our Father. They made sure we knew about it. Often we would find them kissing in the kitchen or making up after arguing over the salt and pepper shaker. My parents were in everything for the long haul and that definitely included ministry. Every ministry decision Mom would do with her whole heart and she was excited to worship God in that way. On the same note, my Dad allowed my Mom to serve and he did an excellent job uplifting her into those different roles. We witnessed our parents go through the hardships involved with ministry. Through it all, we learned how harmful sin could be. How it can penetrate and scar the Lord’s most faithful servants. The most beautiful things that I can say occurred from those scars was the grace and forgiveness my Mom extended to so many. She may have been deeply hurt and beaten but she loved you anyway. She was able to do that because Jesus had done the same for her.

She would not complain about the pain that she was in, nor describe the list of health issues that she knew would eventually end her life. She did not let her illness define her. She never used it as a crutch. If anything, it gave her more determination to serve God more and more each day by loving others as God loves everyone. This was one of the reasons why she and my Dad served in Dominica these last several months. When there was a need she would fulfill that need. When God said, Go to Dominica, she was ready to lay her life on the line. She served with everything within her. She was willing to give all because you were worth the sacrifice. Each of you were worth the sacrifice because she understood how much God loved each of you. She was willing to give her life just so that you would know that. She was willing to give her life because Jesus gave His for her. He brought healing to her mind, her heart, and her soul. She understood what it meant to love Jesus.

I can stand here as a proud daughter of an amazing Mom, confidant, and friend. She showed us what the scripture in Mathew 16:24 states, “ Then Jesus said to his disciples, If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” Let me ask you this. What selfish ways do you need to give up today? What legacy do you want to leave behind? My Mom died giving her all for others. She died ultimately giving her all for her Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, leaving a legacy of such beauty of God’s deep love for us. She loved Jesus. She loved you. And she would want you to know that God loves you so much more.

“Always Hope No Matter How Much It Hurts”

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Reconciliation has been what is on my heart, especially as the year mark has been occurring in pieces. Tomorrow marks the year that we had the celebration of life service for my Mom. Naturally when someone passes some people feel like making changes to reconcile relationships. Others remain constantly waiting for a friendship to begin as they slowly reach out.


 

Forgiveness is the first step. And as reconciliation does not occur, forgiveness becomes a daily process. Many have wanted nothing more than for reconciliation to occur in order for a friendship to blossom and grow.  Several have opened up to me asking for guidance. The constant question is, “How do you deal with this when there is no closure, when there is hope for reconciliation and a relationship but constant rejection is what I get?”


 

To you who have asked this of me, and are asking this yourself, the answer God has given me for my own personal journey is,


 

“Always hope no matter how much it hurts.”


 

To be perfectly honest with you, I have struggled with this answer. I have struggled with it because it means that I am open for constant pain and rejection. This may be something that you struggle with as well. The truth is that God always intended for reconciliation to be a part of everyone’s life but not everyone is obedient to his will. Everyone has a choice to submit to him.


 

For those of us who are waiting, hoping beyond all hope that reconciliation will happen sooner than later, keep holding on. Do not give up hope.  Our hope is in Jesus. That is the best reminder I can give anyone as well as for myself.


 

In this beautiful mess, this journey we all are on,


 

“Always hope no matter how much it hurts.”

 

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.