Thank You God

Today, I have experienced something so incredible. I have seen how goodness can come from grief and how the sins of others can be turned around and used back against the enemy through love. Today I feel so blessed. I truly feel loved by God in a new way.

A year ago I was struggling with many things. I was wading through wounds and learning how to grieve so many different losses. If I were to take one more hit like the ones I had just gone through the previous years I had made it up in my mind to quit certain aspects of my life. But God brought my family to a place of incredible healing. He brought us into people’s lives that loved us, truly loved us. Love from the Father touched our very souls through our new family.

My husband and I are two very different people now.

As I reflect on today and how I was able to love two sweet, tender hearted friends who have truly been more like sisters to me, I look back and see how the trials and the pain were all worth it. I see how God has used my own pain to grow love in my heart and allow it to make me better. If I had allowed the sins of others against me to make me bitter, I would not be here today. If I had not run into my Father God’s arms I would be a broken and spiteful woman.

But I chose to run into the loving arms of my Savior. Each time I would weep in His arms. He would whisper sweet promises in my ear and tell me how proud He was for choosing love rather than hate. There were days I told Him how angry I was. Other days I told Him that I was tired of the ache. And on my darkest days, I told Him that I was ready to leave this earth. During those moments He would speak life into my aching soul. He convinced me that I was worth it. He showed me that His truth was the only one that mattered and that those who I wanted to love me in return but denied me that one wish were hurting, perhaps even bleeding to death.

Today, I have seen such beauty come from choosing Gods way through the pain. I am so thankful for God’s love and His healing. He is so good! Through death and illness He is good. Through rejection and slander He is good. Through everything God never changes. He is good and that does not change. Most often people blame God for the hurt or the bad things that take place when really it is a consequence or response to the sin in our own lives or from the lives of those around us. With free will God gives us the choice to choose Him or not. With free will come painful consequences when what we choose is out of line with Gods heart and desire for us. His ways are always best. His heart is for us, always.

Dear Readers, please know how much God is for you. His heart is so full of love for you. He chooses you. To you He says, “You are worth it”.

Thank you God!

 

Image-1 (3)

 

Advertisements

The White Flowers

IMG_0864

This week I was reminded by my husband  about how much I have changed from a year ago. A lot of healing has taken place in the past year. A lot of encouragement and building up has occurred by great leaders around me. I am beyond grateful!

At the time I took the pictures shown above, I was not yet ready to share with the world why these flowers were so important to me. I had already been given enough advice on how to grieve, how not to grieve and I was tired of being told that I should be over it. God has done so much within my heart since then.

The flowers in the pictures represent love from Father God. If you are on a path of grieving let me be the first to tell you that God understands and that he holds you, weeps with you and sees every tear. You matter. Your grieving heart matters. You are not alone. You have loved much and that is something very beautiful.

One Saturday night I had a dream with my Mom in it. She had some white flowers she had been watering and she told me that she had asked God if she could give me some white flowers. She also said that she wanted me to tell my Dad that “it is okay and that she understood.” At the time I did not know the significance of what she said. But I do remember waking up weeping because she had been so real in my dream. All I longed for was to have more moments with her where she was not in pain.

Crying in the mornings by that time had become a regular occurrence. Fatigue was also something I was unable to overcome. I did my best to cry as much as possible before getting into church mode so that I could tend to my sweet kids and their family well that Sunday. As we drove back home after a good church service, I was beyond exhausted so I sunk deep into the passenger seat. My husband slowly turned into our driveway and my eyes caught a glimpse of white in the flowerbeds below our front window.

It could not be! I jumped up and quickly walked over to investigate the flowerbed, which I had not planted anything in, watered, or tended to the entire year. To my sweet surprise there were white flowers, just like the ones my Mom had been watering in my dream the previous night. I could hardly believe it! Tears welled up as I realized how much my Mom loved me. Even more so I realized how much my Father God loved my Mom and loved me. It was like a sweet balm to my aching and bruised heart at the time. It was confirmation that God was giving me permission to love, let go of the pain and grieve rather than feel guilty for it. It was a realization that grieving was allowing God to heal the pain of separation rather than having to lose someone so close to me. I had not lost her at all. It would simply just be a little longer before we could hug each other, plant our own garden again and sip some coffee while laughing.

I still have days where the separation seems too far and my heart is hit with an ache so deep that tears well up. But I have never lost the hope and the ever-increasing joy that Heaven is waiting for us. God does not like separation either. It is why he sent Jesus. Heaven is our hope. He is our joy. And until that day, I choose him.

Besides, you never know when God will send you flowers.

 

IMG_0699

I Will Exalt You

Image-1 (1)

Here I am going into the second year of holidays without one of my best friends, my Mom. This time last year I was doing my best to walk the journey day by day uncertain of how the waves of grief might hit me as important traditions ceased and days trailed off. I was not anticipating the grief to take a different face yet have such similar affects on my body as last year. Once again I cannot seem to remember things like I used to, my appetite is either none to completely ravenous, and I am very emotional. To be perfectly honest, this makes me feel a bit angry because I do not like this affect on my body.

Despite all of this, there is a difference. Laughter fills my body clear to my bones. Each day I choose joy and choose love. Letting go has come much easier. The ache still lingers. Tears still fall. Last year I was mourning Mom and continue to miss her each day. But this year I am mourning family as well. It has felt like we have taken hits to our family in all ways after having to fight a battle for our own little one recently. Everything seemed to hit all at once. That alone is exhausting!

Even amidst the issues God has given us victory. He has provided for us like only he can. He has drawn us closer to him. He has drawn us closer as husband and wife. If there is any purpose for the pain in the journey, being intertwined closer with him and with my husband makes it all worth it! That alone gives me a reason to sing. That alone gives me a reason to smile through the tears.

I want to know him more! I want to move in his love and power effortlessly and fully surrendered to him. I want to sing and dance. I want his joy to bubble over onto others. I have known many joyful people that I have wanted to be like. Their joy seemed so contagious. You know the ones I am talking about. They can often be labeled as, “those annoying super positive people out of touch with reality”. I now understand why they always have a positive response. When you spend more time with God and choose his joy, it penetrates every part of your being. You have a reason to be so positive. No Eeyore over here!

He is the source of my strength. He is the source of my joy. He is joy! Because he has won the victory we can persevere with joy through anything. Because he was and is stronger than anything that could come up against him, we have a reason to be full to the point of overflowing with joy!

My heart overflows.

Joy is Jesus.

nativity.jpeg

The lowly manger scene reveals our source of joy. When God brought the greatest gift to come save us and make a way for us, joy entered our lives. Holy Spirit within us is a reflection of that day, the only virgin birth known in history, and a family knit together by God. The furious love of the King of Kings coming to save the day in the most unlikely way was also anxiously awaited by so many. It was scandalous for the time period. But Mary and Joseph chose to obey. Because of their obedience and God’s perfect timing, joy was sent to all people.

This is the reason I sing. This is the reason I can laugh in the face of grief. This is the reason I love like every second counts. It is why I live.

Jesus.

“I will exalt you; I will praise your name”.

When the Numbness Wears Off

psalm

As year two rolls around things are different in many ways. There are some days where the ache is very deep, especially when I think of the holidays and unreconciled relationships. I have processed through this difficult onslaught of deep(er) emotions this time around and I realized something.


This time last year I was numb. There was so much that I was feeling, and struggling with that I had no time to process the deeper emotions that I was feeling. Looking back, I did the best that I could considering the circumstances that occurred after my Mom’s passing. Now I am working through much more. I am working through what holidays are now and it makes my sadness feel huge in the short times that it hits.


The sadness seems to grow depending on the day the closer we get to Thanksgiving and Christmas. The sadness seems to grow as relationships go uncared for. I am mourning multiple things. Unreconciled issues only make it worse.


Hope. There is always hope. I know that the grieving takes time. Relationships take time too. In those moments when the grief hits like a ton of bricks God is there to carry the load. I am so thankful for a loving Father who takes care of my heart. I am thankful for grace and mercy. I am thankful for a God who brings to light the darkest places of our heart in order for us to heal and reveal to us what our part of the reconciliation process is. I am thankful for forgiveness. I am thankful God desires us to be full of his joy. I am thankful Holy Spirit is my comforter.


If the numbness is wearing off for you trust that God knows exactly what you need. He does not want you to stay numb. He wants to pump you full of his joy in the process!


You are beautiful when the numbness is wearing off.

What Do You Choose?

IMG_1088

 

Life is full of choices. We all know this. Many times we like to blame others for our poor choices and the attitudes we choose to have. Growing up my parents told me from the time that I could remember that I had a choice to be grumpy, and mad. This was such a hard thing for me to grasp because I felt so deeply. It surely could not have originated from my heart. Turns out, it always has.


 

Time and time again, God has placed me in situations where I have had to choose between my feelings or to look past them and see things his way. Through this past year of grieving, I had to constantly choose him over how I was feeling. Grieving takes you through exhaustion, sleepless nights, and bursts of emotions depending on the memories that come flooding into your life again. I have learned that just like love, joy is a choice and it is hardly based on feelings. Yes, there will be times where you feel an immeasurable amount of happiness but joy is always a choice.


 

I would have days where I would wake up, body aching, heart aching, and all I wanted to do was to curl back underneath my covers. But I had a choice to make. Was I going to live life? Was I going to choose to love my husband, my daughter, and those God placed in my life? Was I going to choose joy despite how I was feeling? My answer was always, yes. No matter how hard it was I did not want to get stuck where I was. No matter how much my heart ached, I still chose to embrace God everyday knowing that it was only through him that I could work past the grief.


 

Still to this day, as the grieving process has taken a different turn and a new normal has set in (somewhat… what is normal anyway?), I have a choice to make. Will I choose Love? Will I choose Joy? All of those things come from God. The more time I spend with him, the more of those things I will have in my life. It is not always an easy journey. More often than not, God shows us areas we must be willing to let go of and change. The moment you choose to let go of control and let God have control, your life becomes full of freedom. Misconceptions of who he is get thrown out the window when you spend time with him. Wrong thinking and wrong behaviors sift to the surface and then you have a choice to get rid of those or keep them and rot.


 

When I think of choosing to rot, I think of a video I watched where a six-year-old girl asked her parents to “not let the monster take over them”. I also have heard several songs talking about how sin, the monster, needs to be overcome. How many of us have chosen the monster to take over us simply because we wanted our own way? At one point in our lives, we have allowed this to happen. Our sin nature leans us to do so. But thankfully, when we choose God, to spend time with him daily, hourly, and with the intention to obey his every direction, freedom from the monster is what takes place. Only then, can true love and true joy become a part of daily life. Even when love and joy take root instead of bitterness and sin, we still have the choice to make it for ourselves.


 

God never forces his way with us. But he is in constant pursuit of us when we choose to ignore him. I see people make choices everyday that affect everyone around them more than they realize. And when we do not choose God, unfortunately everyone else suffers and loses out with them. It saddens my heart to see kids be so gravely affected. There are days where my heart aches over the loss that many of these kids suffer because someone in their life chose to rot.


 

Our lives will be the most stable and peaceful place it will ever be when we realize that we must give up our control for Gods ways to dictate every thought and action. Until we allow God to be a part of everything, will we realize that choosing love and choosing joy is a daily discipline, forever to be molded by our Creator.


 

What do you choose?


 

Lord, I want to choose you daily! Help me to choose love and joy and may it permeate everything I say and do.


 

Galatians 5:22-26

“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

Beauty From the Mess

0322091919

It amazes me how the grieving process works. Just the other day I found myself ready to send a message to my Mom. My brain had fully engaged in the thought that I could send her a life update to get an encouraging reply back. It is in those moments when the wave of grief hits you directly in the face, and you stand there soaking wet with the reality that this just cannot happen. Previously, this used to smack me flat on my behind. This time though, the wave was gentler. I am thankful for this.


I will admit that no matter how long someone is gone, that longing for them will always be there. They have been grafted into your being and you are never the same when they are gone. You just have to learn to continue choosing life and joy!


Honesty is also a key component throughout the grieving process, otherwise it can be easy to get stuck right where you are. I got tired of the facade years and years ago. I have never appreciated the facade. Too many people get hurt when we choose to be fake with others. In a natural way to protect ourselves, we have somehow been convinced or told that we must keep the struggle and pain to ourselves. To be blunt, this is the biggest lie that I once believed. I used to be held to this standard as a leader in a previous time of my life. Since I was real and allowed God to use my pain and my story, I was treated as if I had failed as a leader. I needed to not portray brokenness and struggle through some very difficult things in my life. This lie comes straight from the enemy.


God uses everything in your life. He finds joy when you come to him with your pain because one of his favorite things to do is to turn it into something beautiful in time. If we choose to be fake and not be real, keeping the pain and struggles inside, when and where would God get the glory if no one knows anything about it to begin with?


Be real. Be honest. Love deeply. Have compassion for others. Share your story knowing that God can be glorified throughout the messy parts of life. Someone else may need you. Someone may be going through a similar journey and needs to know that they are not alone. Be brave.


God loves to take our mess and turn it into something beautiful. We must be real. We must be honest. We must allow God to use everything in our lives for good. Choose love.

Life Is Simply Beautiful With God

IMG_0699

Today is Mom’s birthday.


This year I actually was looking forward to the day because of what the Lord has been doing in my heart. It is hard to describe but the best word I can use is FREEDOM.


With the death of my Mom, God has used it to bring peace and healing to so many different parts of my heart. He still is working amazing healing in me. I know that my Mom is incredibly happy and proud, especially since in Heaven truth comes to light and all things hidden or murky are revealed. I am so thankful she knows and is proud of me!


There is no greater feeling than to have things reconciled within your own heart despite the unreconciled circumstances surrounding you. That is the beautiful thing about God. His peace and healing is unlike anything in the entire world.

There are still days where the void seems much too large and I crawl into the arms of God just to weep. I know this will be a continual process but there is also beauty along the journey.


Life is simply beautiful with God.

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.

Today…

IMG_0715

(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.

Gods Love Never Fails. The Year Mark

DSC01272


I have found myself smiling and laughing a lot more these days. Life is a beautiful journey. Words cannot begin to adequately express the gratitude within my heart that God has answered so many prayers in this new journey that we are on. We persevered through a very hard, tumultuous season and it was worth it all.


The year mark has begun. Before I go on further, let me first say how good God has been and continues to be. He has carried us and given us strength. He has helped us through all of the heartache and given us many times full of joy. His joy is our strength and because of his strength, we have joy.


Today, July 27th marks the day that Mom had her stroke. My Dad had sent me a message on Facebook asking for us to pray for them as he thought that Mom had a stroke in their hotel room. I remember telling my younger brother and my sis in love what had happened, since they were over at our house for lunch. Instantly, we stopped what we were doing. It was a time of devastation. A time that we all had dreaded might come someday, yet it felt too soon. I can recall my sis in love come around us and say a few words. I cannot recall what she said. I can only remember that I was impressed by her and was thankful that she was there. We agreed to get a hold of family members as a team. And we prayed.


This time last year we were anxiously awaiting word on how things were going. Our only form of communication was Facebook messenger. This time last year marked a beginning of sleepless nights, checking our phones for any news and updates and praying unceasingly. We had to wait hours and hours before getting our next update. This was incredibly difficult for me. I am assuming it was for everyone else. Sleep was hard to come by and I was worried I would not hear my phone beep with the next update.


Looking back, I am thankful that I was able to see God’s hand working out special details just for us, while things were happening. My younger brother just happened to be over at our house when I got the message. God knew we needed to be in person with each other for that news.  It was a miracle that Dad was able to get Mom back into the states since the doctor’s on the island did not want to send her further than the neighboring island. He had to convince the doctors on the island that Lupus was real and how serious it was. They did not even have her on the proper medication to help with the pain she experienced before her stroke, so her body was going through a lot of trauma. Our Dad fought a battle for her. He was persistent. I am thankful that God gave him the strength to be able to do this. I am thankful that the last moments that Mom was aware of things that they were able to communicate last words of love for each other and for us, even though she was unable to speak. Love does not need words.


I am thankful for the ones that helped pay for all of our flight tickets within hours of finding out that the doctor in Florida had told our Dad to get the family there as soon as possible. I am thankful for the church family that helped our Dad in Florida, especially when we could not be there. I am thankful for a sis in love who let us use her credit card so that we could get our tickets and then pay her back later. Then after we had been making payments, my other sis in love had helped pitch in money as well. I am thankful for the other people who also contributed to the rest of the family to fly out and have money for food. When a crisis like this hits, and there is no human way of things working out, and God uses others to help, neither words nor actions are adequate enough to show our gratefulness.


I am thankful that because Mom was flown to Florida, each of us was able to make it to her side. We were also able to be in person for a time with our incredible Dad who went through the first couple of days alone without any belongings on him. It was hard to leave him there for the last several days before Mom passed. I like to believe that God wanted special moments with our Dad even though in my mind, it was brutally hard to know that we could not be there to support him.


The hardest part now is working through the first year mark, which has presented itself to be difficult as expected. I know that everyone grieves differently. Because I have a tendency to be a perfectionist I can look at my own journey and feel like I am not doing it well enough. As I write this I can laugh at how ridiculous this is. The past year has been filled with much loss, much change, unfair expectations weeks after burying my Mom, betrayal from those who were supposed to support us, disappointment that a death of someone so close would not cause reconciliation, death of a family unit, death of who we once were, new family, church merge, job change, and a move to name a few.


As I reflect I realize how ridiculous it is to put expectations on myself that I should not be struggling right now. A lot has gone on. God is still healing me. I am thankful to say that I harbor no anger or ill feelings from the past year. I struggle more with trusting people. I struggle to trust that when someone tells me something loving and supportive that they actually mean it and will not go back on their word. But God is helping me with this. I am certainly not perfect. God’s goodness and love never changes. He is trustworthy.


Through it all, Gods love has overwhelmed us. As each wave crashed over us, his love consumed our hearts. He loves us so much.


He loves you! Our Mom, died giving everything within her so that others would know how much God loves them. It is my belief that the prayers she prayed for so many are being answered still today.


God is for you. He loves you! No matter what happens in our lives Gods love never fails.


Romans 8:35-39

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.