The Circle

Church service had ended and I was talking with a sweet couple. Soon I went to move and found myself surrounded by a circle of people. I made a joke and hugged some of these precious people. I could have just waved it off but I realized that these people in some sense surround me often with prayer.

For a large part of my life I felt betrayed, alone, & sometimes exposed. I didn’t feel safe or known. No more. 

As I was reflecting on my past and seeing the extreme difference in my present it made me smile. It was just a circle of people surrounding me but it was more than that. It was an example of what is & what will be. 

God goes before you and he stands behind you. He places people in your life to surround you and go on the front lines in prayer on your behalf. You are never alone. You are loved.

I love the people in the circle. They are a reflection of God’s heart for me. 

My heart is full of gratefulness.

I am blessed.

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Speechless 

Is there a word that better describes grateful, thankful, or blessed? Joy? 

The past month has renewed hope within me for the impossible. I cannot describe it. I could not tell you when it happened. One day I woke up & all of a sudden what seemed impossible no longer looked or felt impossible. Childlike faith & joy was  restored. It was not like I lost it but the pain that God delivered me from has now enabled joy to invade every part that was ever damaged.

Words are not adequate. Giving my life will never convey how grateful I am for all that God has done for me and my family. 

Just this past week alone I have found myself wanting to shout praises to God! Simple things like being greeted from our cat at home have made me say “thank you”. Or the time she fell out of our window this past week & bounced off the side table onto the floor because she fell asleep there (she didn’t get hurt and I laughed a lot). 

What really gets me is when I see my daughter smile at me & tell me unsolicited, “I really love you Kara”. I love hugs from my husband & waking up knowing he is excited that I’m the first person he sees. 

I am grateful for voxers & phone calls with friends who have lasted the test of time & distance. I love that others have adopted me & love me without an expectation of what my response may be. Love has literally consumed my heart that it often feels as if it will burst.

Grateful? Thankful? Those words do not cut it. Those words merely express a tiny piece of what is in my soul. 

I am living in freedom! 

Joy is life.

Now I know what it means to laugh my way through trials. Do you want to know why?

Because my God is going to do the impossible! There is no way the enemy can win.

Working For It!

I have to be honest for a moment. There are so many things that I want to write about but I am hesitant to because there are some things better kept quiet for this season. Eventually there will be a time when I can write about all sorts of triumphs & victories after mighty battles. If you sense that I am being vague, it is to honor certain people I hold dear as well as protect those that are innocent. Our words can cause so much pain even if the truth is being told. I want to write words that speak life, and encourage readers in times of great struggles yet address great difficulties at the right time.

In church today I realized how much my mind is changing. Getting rid of toxic thoughts and surrounding myself with non-toxic people have led me to a place of such joy & freedom. I still have a lot of work to do but I can honestly say that I have noticed a change in my life. Praise is on my lips even amidst trials. Truth is in the front of my mind rather than lies. Because I know whose I am and He is good & mighty & powerfully loving, not wanting any sin to taint me, or someone to mess with me, I am able to rest. No matter what happens I rest without fear of tomorrow.

Life can be hard but my joy does not depend on my circumstances. My joy comes from the One that never changes. He is always faithful, is always good & never gives up on me. He is my constant one. He is the only one I need to look to for my worth. He is always there when I am alone. He understands every tear & speaks life into my identity so that I can slay the enemy once my feet hit the ground every morning. 

Grace is extended during imperfect moments when my emotions are on overload & pain is expressed outwardly. Every time I invite him into the mess, healing occurs.  A new level of confidence grows and new levels of joy flood my soul after failure or heartache is turned to victory.

Surrender and healing is worth the hard work. Just like others work hard for that hot body, I am working on my soul. 

Waterfall

When you have hiked the trails to a big waterfall have you just stood there and marveled at its beauty? 

I love the smell of the water in the air. Even if I stand a fair distance away I can even feel the mist upon my face. It makes me feel close to the Creator. I long for closeness. It is what drives me everyday.

Life right now reminds me of a waterfall and I am standing in awe. Many circumstances that often cause an ache in my heart still remain the same. I have much hope that these things will turn into good. Why? Because God has literally made impossible things possible.

For so many years whenever something good started to occur an intense season soon followed. It occurred like this so often that I used to live my life flinching, waiting for the next negative and hurtful thing to happen. Instead of enjoying the waterfall up close I was content just feeling the mist on my face. 

I have chosen to live differently. Fear is gone and I am getting drenched under the waterfall.

BAM! What?


Have you ever gone so long in a season that you literally just thought that life would always remain that way? I ask this question because my husband and I have gone through season after season of intensity. Seasons were filled with yucky slime and we often felt robbed. Despite this we chose Jesus and chose to laugh, chose to remain steadfast and choose love. All we have ever desired was to please God and be faithful to him in all things. We still desire this knowing that we may have to walk through heart wrenching things. Life is tough but I have been realizing that because of God I am stronger and tougher than what may happen in this life.

Recently we have been living in a new season. It came slowly, and steadily until one day… BAM!! We were walking right into a miracle. What?! This was something so new and so surreal. God had laid our path in order to walk out impossible things. We have always believed this about God but never did we dare to even dream what he wanted to give to us. As I write this, tears well up in my eyes because I feel so overcome with his love for us. 

Our entire married life has been filled with miracles. When we needed a car, one was given to us. When we had no money for food or rent, a check would show up in the mail or groceries would be delivered to our door. When we were in desperate need God always provided. He was never late and never too early. His timing was impeccable, perfect.

Not only does God care about providing your physical needs but your mental and emotional needs as well. When you need people in your life to love you just like Father God, he will either send them or lead them to you. As we have walked in miracles God has given us the biggest one: family and a home. We no longer feel like we are wandering. Our hearts swell real big with gratefulness and a deeper love for others. 

Through it all, God remains faithful. The greater question through every season whether good or bad is, will you remain faithful to him? Will you praise him no matter the circumstance? 

Our answer has always been, “yes, God” and I pray that it always will.



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!

 

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My Heart

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I want to take a moment to express what is on my heart right now. It is not very often that I talk about the dynamics of my family of 3 since I originally started this blog to document the journey of grieving through my Mom’s death. As life continues to flourish and the sneaker waves of grief become less powerful, other things are written on my heart that I want to share.

Did you all know that I have an adorable daughter who is 7? She is quite brilliant, has the best laugh and her smile lights up a room. She also has the best Daddy in the entire world! They are so much alike. Do you also know that I chose her? When I married my husband it was also the day that I chose to be who she needed me to be whether it was Mom, friend, counselor, or just a bonus.

The journey has not been easy. It has been full of heartache and tears but we have always chosen to persevere, and laugh along the way. She has been worth it!

But let me highlight the man in our life a little bit more. He has faced these giant mountains in his life. Together as husband and wife we have faced them together, praying that God would move them on our behalf and on the behalf of our daughter. He has had to fight many battles for us to be a family of 3. And I must say how very proud of him that I am.

He has chosen love and mercy. In the process he never once lost sight of his daughter and he never once lost sight of me. He is honest to the core of who he is. He is the most faithful man that I know and has had moments where he could have easily justified giving up at any moment. But he has such incredible integrity and faith. He perseveres. When he is struggling he still comes to comfort me in my time of incredible grief. He loves me, cares for me, tends to my aching heart and serves me with his whole heart. He has shown me what the scriptures instructs a husband to do, to lay down his life.

He loves Jesus with everything he has.

It is because of Jesus that we are where we are today. Together we are mighty!

“Your praise will ever be on my lips!”

psalms 34

 

Gods Love Never Fails. The Year Mark

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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.

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!