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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Reign in My Heart

Love wins!

I felt compelled to declare this truth today. We have been walking our daughter through some difficult things. Her sweet heart has been holding onto guilt for things completely out of her control. 

The more that lies are said and hurtful things are done I can see how pointless it all is. Do you want to know why?

Because love wins. 

As long as I choose Jesus, forgiveness & love, nothing can compare to Him. I have started saying, “I forgive you” out loud because I want love to reign in my heart. Ever since I have started to do this I have literally seen a shift occur. Truth surfaces & a confidence in Jesus & who I am deepens. 

Dear ones, when life hurts due to the actions & words of others choose love. 

Love wins!

Romans 8:31-39

The Treasure

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The past several weeks have not at all gone as I had originally planned. But I guess that is life, right? I am writing this with a smirk because I have begun to find joy in these simple hiccups in plans. God has little blessings and treasures even amidst those times as long as you are able to stop focusing so much on what did not happen!

The fatigue and health issues that I have been having, which I thought were simply from stress and grieving were indeed more than just that. Unbeknownst to me, I have actually had mono. The mono then led to a flare up of tonsillitis.  Because of my diagnosis, I realized just how much I needed to slow down, and not put such high expectations on myself to do everything that I wanted to do. This meant that I did not hand out any Christmas goodies or cards to many people that I originally planned on (sorry everyone). It also meant that I have been learning the art of pacing myself while enjoying every single moment possible to the fullest measure. When one’s energy is low and food puts pressure on an inflamed and swollen spleen, you learn to enjoy every bite because it could be your last for a couple of hours.

I am grateful for everyone who has put in extra effort to help carry loads for me since I am ordered not to do so for at least a month. I am grateful for a husband who helps do laundry, pick up the house, and cook for me while I lay down on the couch. For those who know me well, I am much like my Mom…  a stubborn go-getter, never letting pain and fatigue stop me from living. This is how I have been living my life. I did not realize how serious it was until my spleen was at risk of rupturing. I am thankful that God was protecting me and intervened through the prayers of my husband and my daughter.

Despite all of the physical disruptions to my plans, Christmas has been very full of blessings, sweet surprises, and moments filled with tears as well as laughter. The art of choosing joy is the best way to live life. Cherishing every moment and not getting hung up on how things are so painfully different is also important. What will your focus be on? I choose the positive things. Those people who are right in front of me. A daughter that needs me and wants to be a part of everything even if I am so tired that I feel like the couch is enveloping me.  My husband that chooses to work hard, provide, take care, encourage, and love me as well as our daughter with every fiber in his being blesses me daily. What greater treasure is there than that of the people whom love you and you love?

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Those people are my God given treasure. They remind me just how much God loves me.

I could have chosen the other route. It would have been easy to sink into the misery of what my body has been feeling for over a month and allow that to overtake my thoughts and feelings. I am stubborn.

I choose joy. I choose to be thankful. I want to be the type of woman that has grit! I want to be tough as well as sweet and gracious. I want to be like Jesus whose life was not always full of great circumstances yet he knew whom his Father was and why he needed to choose his ways. Life is not about us. Life is about love and choosing that love above all else. Life is about pointing others to the source of our joy. Life is showing others why we choose the way of living lovingly and joyfully. Life is full of twists and turns with blessings and treasures at every single one of them if we take the time to see them.

Life is beautiful!

God is the source and he is good.

 

 

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!

 

When Two Worlds Collided

Two worlds collided over Memorial Day weekend. It was a weekend that was full of many different emotions: heartache, pain, sorrow, yet full of joy for our Father. It is so hard to describe exactly every little feeling. It all felt so surreal.


 

It is most difficult to process two worlds that do not make sense quite yet. One full of memories of what once was, and the other that is now. The sorrow is ever present. It is a constant friend or foe depending on your perspective. Yet, there is joy, there is hope knowing that God is our strength. Life is bittersweet.


 

Our Mom was a most extraordinary woman. She loved us in such a way that no woman ever has. There was no doubt in each of our minds that she cared for every single one of us. She made sacrifices for us. She gave her life for others. It is this love from her that makes the void feel so deep. We can all be grateful that we had a taste of heaven through her in our lives.


 

Now, as our Father, whom we have only known with our Mom embarks on this new beginning it seems so strange to see him with anyone else other than our Mom. He loves each of us enough to want us to be a part of this new journey. It is a foreign way of living when it seems like all those happy memories of someone so dear to you feels as if it all is slipping away to be forgotten forever. Yet, I know that is not what is happening.


 

It is all these feelings that pollute being rational. I have learned to be slow to action during this time of grieving. To be perfectly honest, my husband has received the worst of these struggles within me. He has been so gracious as I battle through every emotion, rational or not. I am thankful I am not alone. He has learned to bring me coffee in bed (this is a nice perk!). For those of you who know me well, you can laugh knowing how amazing I think this is. I wish I liked mornings better.


 

Many have asked me how I was able to officiate the wedding for my Dad and Step Mom. To put it quite simply, Love. I knew from the beginning that this was God. It was more than evident to me that God brought my Dad and his new wife together and they gave me the greatest honor to be able to officiate it for them. I was able to talk through the tears because God gave me the strength I needed. God is strong in the broken places.


 

I also feel like I need to explain the tears. Some people thought I was just sad. Other people thought I was simply happy. It was both for me. Two worlds collided in that moment and I was overwhelmed with grief, and joy all in one setting. It was a definite and more solid ending to what our family once was and who my Dad used to be. But it was also a beginning to a new joyous journey with an added gift of a wonderful woman of God whose love and care for our journey up to this point has been rather remarkable.


 

My tears also represented a huge miracle for my husband and I personally. We saved the flower girl spot for our daughter J, for our wedding (for those of you who do not know, I am a Step Mom to a beautiful girl). When this did not happen because of unfair actions from the other party, it was hard for both of us. J was able to be a flower girl for my Dad’s wedding. I was crying because it was truly a miracle that she was there. I also felt like this was something that Mom would have wanted and prayed for herself.


 

God was showering us blessings in multiple ways. These realizations came upon me, wave after wave within the ceremony itself. I found myself shaking as emotion after emotion flooded my heart. And the tears just fell. It was beautiful.


 

 

Philippians 4:13

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

 

3 weeks ago… A Thankful Heart

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So much has happened within the past several weeks. I am just now getting to a place where I can actually sit down and write something other than, “hey guys, a little busy here!” There are so many thoughts going through my mind right now as I think back over these past weeks. I feel emotions ranging from sadness, disappointment, frustration, to joy, and gladness. I understand more how much life is a painful journey of letting go and allowing God to mold the hardest parts of my will. These past weeks have felt like a glorious breaking of every part of who I am.


 

We have gone from one big event to another major transition, all while being sick 4 out of the 6 weeks. Stress does that to your body after having endured so many long days. I have to admit that I am ready to be back to “normal” and actually get some rest. In the meantime, let me share with you a little part of my journey from 3 weeks ago.


 

I had 9 minutes left until I had to go on stage. I was doing my best to work through the vast majority of my nerves and excitement before Kids Convention was to officially begin. Earlier that day I had run into the arms of Jesus as a wave of extreme sadness and longing for my Mom came upon me. Kids Convention has been the closest to a personal dream coming true in my life. As a child I sang as often as I could. I had dreams of being a professional singer on tour around the world. When my world crumbled down on me with my own tragedy in high school, all my dreams were buried in their own graveyard. It was not until about 4-5 years ago, God was showing me how he wanted to take back from the enemy what he had stolen. My Savior, and Lord helped me take back my voice!


 

8 minutes were left before I needed to go on stage. There I was going to find my water bottle and put a cough drop in my mouth when an amazing woman asked me if I had any significant prayer points. It was then that the floodgates opened. In that moment, the longing for my Mom was beyond what I could hold within myself. My sciatica was also really causing me pain. As I cried and told her how I felt she put her arms around me.


 

7 minutes left before I needed to go on stage. As the tears fell, she anointed me with oil and prayed for my aching heart and hurting body. 6 minutes left and she still was not done. Inside I was thinking how my timing could not have been any worse. But the waves of grief do not ever come in good timing. I have had to work through feelings of guilt when it strikes at the worst of times. I made a conscious choice to cast the guilt aside from feeling this grief.


 

5 minutes were left and her prayer ended. It was in a sense a perfect timed prayer as I was able to run to my position and begin a weekend I will treasure in my heart forever. The tears were gone. Strength was renewed within my mind and body. And there I was using my voice against the enemy once again. I know that my amazing Mom was celebrating. I could imagine her doing her air punches with her lips firmly pressed together followed by a victory dance.


 

I am so thankful that I do not have to walk this life alone. Healing and grieving is a painful journey. There are times that it can feel dark. Other times you can feel overwhelmed. I am learning that even in the grief, and even in the pain, God is so much stronger. His goodness surpasses anything. His love furiously invades every aspect of life. Because of God there is so much beauty in the journey.


 

Thank you God for walking this journey with me. Thank you for the beauty.

 

 

 

2015: Not Losing Hope

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As usual, a new year brings about reflection and resolutions. I found myself annoyed while I was on social media on New Years Eve. I was annoyed because so many mark a new year to change without really ever doing anything differently. I was annoyed because 2015 would mark the year, my first year, without my Mom in it.


I was also annoyed because I lacked any vision for what 2015 would hold. This is not in itself a bad thing. For me it has been the first time that I have not known what direction God will be taking us as a family. Through this God has been teaching me that it is okay to not always see a glimmer of what is to come (although he often shows us what steps to take). He cares more about the day to day and at times the hour-by-hour trust in him more.


I have always been the one to dream these big impossible dreams that could only be explained by God orchestrating them. There came a time in my life though that I realized my own selfishness. Too often our culture, as well as our human nature, is so inwardly focused, that we do not even realize that we expect God to fit into our life, our dreams and our expectations without really ever changing. We think that a magic prayer or even remaining stagnant, proclaiming that we follow God, is good enough. News flash. If you claim to follow Jesus Christ good fruit will be evident in your life. This means joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, love and self control will grow more and more a part of who you are on a consistent basis (look at Galatians 5:22-23). It does not mean that you can speak all of the right words and get into heaven, while all the evidence in your life dishonors God.


We tend to be a selfish nation and humankind tends to be inward focused. We can make self a god. Instead what needs to take place is to allow God to have complete control over every aspect of our lives. We must allow him to ravage our hearts with his holy love. We must allow him to change and transform us. This is the only way that any lasting change will ever occur.


He has much bigger plans for us than we could ever come up with on our own. When we choose him everyday, life will often look so much different than you ever expected, in a good way. When I realize my selfish tendencies it helps me to surrender to God daily. This dying of self can be painful at times. The death of my Mom greatly shed light on several things in my own life. Habits, thinking processes and even how I communicated and dealt with my emotions were all things God brought to my attention. It was not that I had been doing anything wrong but these things needed refining in me. And I am so thankful!


I am thankful I listened to him in those moments because I would not be here today sharing this blog. My fear of being fully myself around others is slowly melting away. Too often I let the worries of ministry, family members, friends, and even strangers keep me from being fully honest in my writing. There was always this desire in me to speak the truth but I often let the opinions of others keep me from writing them out. God is so gracious to us in moments like these. He is so patient.


He knows what is best every time. His timing is also perfect. Usually, the dreams and plans we thought we would have, take a much different turn because he wants more for us than we ever could do for ourselves. He loves us so much that he uses everything along our journey to get us to the place we wanted to be all along. That place is directly in his will, having gone on a miraculous, love consuming journey filled with sorrow and joy. All of the things in this life, the heartache and the pain are all worth it when you realize that the best place is in full surrender, laying your life into Gods hands. Because once you do that a whole new world is opened up to you. It is beyond description. In giving up of yourself, dying to your selfish ways, you gain everything.


I see many holding on to other things. People gravitate to sex, money, food, fads, and even double lives. The death of my Mom has shown me this more. I have seen how some choose to hold on when letting go is actually much healthier. This is a process for each of us in life. Too often we try to hold onto our life when the greatest freedom and joy is in letting go and bowing before God. We are not promised tomorrow. We do not deserve the grace God gives us everyday. We do not deserve such patience when our sin splatters over everyone in our lives. And if you think you are good at hiding it, or justifying it, think again. The foolish ones never know how evident it is to those around them. And all of us have been foolish in our lives. We were just too prideful to take a serious look at ourselves at the time. We thought that by controlling our own lives, we could achieve everything we ever wanted or at least be able to hide our own sinful, dark secrets.


But one thing that I never fully connected until many years ago, is that dying to self means that you must be willing to give up everything in your life, even what you considered good and maybe even godly. This includes your dreams. Too often I would hold onto certain dreams and expectations of how my life would go because I assumed that I did not need to give these up as well. This reality came crashing down on me when I married my husband. Marrying Jeremy was a huge dream come true! It was not my original dream of what I thought getting married would look like. In fact, I ate a lot of my own words because I never realized the power of God unifying two hearts together after a complete transformation had taken place in both of our hearts. For this I am thankful.


But I never knew that marrying Jeremy would mean that I would lose one of the most precious relationships to me. I never realized that others would hate Gods truth and unifying love between two hearts so much in my life. I never realized until after several years of going without this relationship that I tried to hold onto the dream that this person was going to be my confidant, and best friend for life. See, my dream looked a lot different than it has actually been like. Even though this lack of relationship still breaks me to pieces, and I cry often about it, I would not trade the life that God has given me. Because I know and trust that God loves me and loves to reconcile relationships every day, I have hope that the dream I let go for this relationship (yet fought to keep for so long), will one day be so much better than I ever thought possible, because instead of my dream, it will be Gods dream for us. In the waiting I still get to enjoy love and joy in its fullest measure because I chose God and he gave me one amazing husband!


I have to apply this hope to so many other dreams in my life. And it is with this that I choose to begin the year 2015: Never losing hope for the desires that God has placed in my heart, knowing that one day, everything will come together so much better than I ever imagined, despite the pain and heartache along the way. This is how I begin 2015.


Thank you God for 2014. Thank you for loving me so much that you desire me to change and grow and thrive even though it can be excruciating at times. Please continue to give me the strength I need to continue on without giving up hope. Thank you for the joy you give everyday when I choose you.

Thanksgiving: Beauty Amidst Sorrow

Thanksgiving has come and gone. I will be perfectly honest with you and tell you that for me, the anticipation of the Thanksgiving Holiday was much more difficult than the actual day. Questions would go through my mind about how we were going to be able to handle the day without our Mom. Initially, Mom and Dad were not going to be able to be a part of Thanksgiving this year due to serving in Dominica. But it was the reality that we would never have this day with Mom as a part of it that created such turmoil. I cried everyday prior to Thursday. I would wake up in a deep sadness and go to bed with a similar ache. But Thanksgiving morning came and I was doing much better than I had anticipated.


There was joy in being able to pick up our 6-year-old daughter knowing that we were going to bake in the kitchen together. Some of my fondest memories with my Mom were in the kitchen. Not every Mom or woman in the kitchen would do such a thing. The kitchen for my Mom was a place of love not a place of ownership. Because these times with her were so precious, my dream was to do the same with my daughter. And I have to say that this year it was so healing for us to bake pumpkin pies. My daughter would ask me, “Did Grandma Carrie teach you this?” and I would reply, “Yes, she did. And that is why I want to teach you.” Her eyes would light up and she would smile from ear to ear.


It is moments like these that help all of us to be able to grieve in a healthy way.


Thanksgiving week seemed to be a refining time for my heart. The past several months have presented challenges and other heartaches. God has somehow increased his measure of love within my heart for others, especially those who have hurt me during this journey. I know that there are many who simply say things because they do not understand. But there is such a thing as empathy and compassion for others who are grieving and doing their best to work through the grief while living their lives. This Thanksgiving God was able to bring me around full circle. He helped me to realize that most often, those who inflict pain upon others have hidden wounds and pains themselves. This is not a new fact for me. But God gave me a deeper understanding of such things.


God has been teaching me so much about the hurting. Because of what I have been experiencing through my own journey of grief, God has been helping me walk others through similar pain. I never would have these new tools and insights had I not been on this journey. There can be so much beauty amidst such sorrow.


My Mom was an amazing gift. She graced this earth with obedience and love to God that many would never be willing to give simply because of their own selfishness. Through her death, we saw the ultimate sacrifice. Even though there is pain in the separation, there still is so much beauty.


Having made it through Thanksgiving, gratefulness overflows out of my heart for God. He has blessed us so much. He has taken care of us in our time of need. He has given us many more moments with our Dad whom, had things gone differently, would still have been serving on the island of Dominica. God continues to reveal through our mess that life is still so beautiful!


There is so much to be thankful for.


Thank you God!


We love you!

Meeting with the Doctor.

In the past week and a half I have felt like all the words and emotions have been stuck inside of me. I have realized that I have had a difficult time putting all of the pieces together of the past several months. Because of this I must apologize as time literally has taken on a whole new meaning. I feel much older than I actually am after these past 4 months. Exhaustion has become a steady part of life. Swollen eyes from crying for hours and headaches to follow are all normal. I am uncertain of what my soul will look like after the brunt of this pain has dulled. I know that I am a daughter of the King and He is teaching me how to learn a new dance. He is using every ache in my heart to mold me and to teach me more about His great love. He is making me stronger.


The days in the hospital at Fort Pierce seemed much longer than they actually were. My accounts are pieced together and are somewhat difficult to filter through. The meeting with the Doctor finally happened after waiting for several days. Some of Mom’s nurses and care team were a part of this family meeting. I have to point this out because these people were rock stars. The love and care that they gave to my Mom was phenomenal. I wanted to hug them so tight in gratefulness each time that I saw them. We could not say thank you enough. They were caring for the most amazing woman we had known as Mom, confidant, friend, counselor, doctor, and comforter. They were caring for her in ways that we were unable to.


The air was thick with tension. There was a lump in my throat the size of a golf ball (at least it felt that way) and I had to tell myself to breathe. I did my best to put on a brave face, although, I have often been told that my face looks angry even when I think that I have a smirk on. My face is a horrible liar of what I attempt so hard for it to portray. I really do not know why this is and it can be very frustrating at times.


The Doctor had finalized looking over all of the recent test results, and brain scans. He came into the room and summarized what had happened to Mom’s brain and what was currently going on. To sum it up, Mom’s brain had such a big clot in it that her brain matter had literally been moved over. The stroke was likely due to her Lupus attacking her brain. Any small bump to her head that would move this brain clot further would kill her. She would never regain the use of her left side, as the damage was already too severe. This news was not of any alarm to me. I had enough education about the body to see and understand what was going on. I saw the swelling in her hands and the drooping of her left side, as well as the awkward position she was in, and knew that if there was ever a chance she came back awake, she would never, ever be the same. The Doctor confirmed this when he gave us our choices for what was to come next.


Because he saw how much my Dad loved and cared for my Mom, he knew that she was deeply loved. He said that sometimes scenarios would come up where he has to look at other reasons for procedures other than just for the patient. He saw how much we loved our Mom and that he was willing to do a procedure to remove the blood clot in hopes that the bleeding would stop, and the swelling in her brain would go down enough that her brain matter could heal. The chances of her surviving this procedure were very slim as her other brain cells were very weak and could cause another cataclysmic stroke in a different area of her brain. If she did survive this procedure, the best scenario was that she would be paralyzed. She would most likely not even be able to speak. She would need constant care for the rest of her life. Rehab would be very difficult.


Anyone that knows my Mom knows how much she never let her illness define her. She had been diagnosed with Systemic Lupus for over 20 years and had lived in immeasurable pain everyday. Each year I would say that the pain and issues worsened. Many times she would have to go on special medications just to be able to have the energy and endurance to enjoy family events and important outreaches. So many people never fully realized the sacrifices that she would make to her health and her body just to be given the honor to serve them. She never wanted a handout. She always wanted to do for others.


For those of you who took her for granted and talked bad about her; to those who judged her on the sidelines because you justified your apathy; to all those who abandoned her when she needed a cheerleader, know that she loved you despite it all. Might I also add that I need to say this: I forgive you. It is one of the most painful things to see such a hardworking, loving, tough woman who made the sacrifices that she did, get beat up by backstabbers, gossipers, and slanderers who masked themselves as friends and leaders. I pray that someday you will be known by another name. I pray that you will understand that my Mom only wanted you to know how much Jesus loves you. I desire this for you as well. I need to tell you again: I forgive you. Please do not be held back by any shame or guilt. None of us want that for you. Embrace forgiveness from Jesus and change. Be like Jesus. Be love to the world.


To all of those who prayed for her, bought her coffee, gave her an extra sweater, or turned up the heat in your house because she was cold; to those who baked a meal, gave her candles, and told her “thank you”, know that she never took your simple gestures and kind words for granted. She loved so many of you. It was this love that somehow was still shining even  on the hospital bed. It was this love that motivated her to give her life for Jesus as she did.


For that love, we knew that she would suffer even greater knowing that she could not do anything on her own if she survived the procedure her Doctor offered for her. We were devastated. As I was holding back tears, I realized that I was also holding my breath. My younger brother started to cry, the pain evident on his face. Then my older sister started to hand out Kleenexes. By that time I could no longer keep the tears inside and I had to remind myself to breathe. As reality hit each of us differently, my older brother started to ask questions that I could not even think of at that time. These questions helped lead us to talking out the next steps for our beautiful Mom.


The conversation that followed made the Doctor and nurses cry. They knew what this meant for us. They saw our struggle. They wanted our Mom to get better. Every little thing that they did was in an effort to restore our Mom back to us. So, in those minutes, each one of us was unified. Love was in that room. Love for a woman that each of us had known in our own personal way, whether she was wife, friend, sister, Mom, Mother-in-law, or patient.


Yes, Love met us in the room that night. In the mess of us, love was what made this night beautiful. Love was still alive. It was what helped us make the decisions before us.