Sunday, December 9, 2012

Happy Birthday To My Dad

Today is my dad's 71st birthday.  I've been thinking a lot the past few days about just how blessed we are to have him.  We've been given strict instructions not to buy him anything, nor are we to throw him a party.

I just keep thinking about what a gift from the Lord Jesus he is to all of us.

ALL of us.

Each and every person who has ever met him.

I've thought about all the things he's given me.  I'm not talking about things you can pay money for either.

I'm talking about unconditional, unwavering, longsuffering love.

And choosing to be my dad.

Even long before he married my mom, he treated us as if we were his biological children. 

Sara wrote a sweet poem for English about him, and she has framed it to give to him when we go to visit him after church.

He's going to love it.

We love him so, so much!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Happy 40th Birthday, Babe!!

Today Nathan turns the BIG 4-0.

I thought about writing a post listing 40 reasons why I love him.

But there are more than 40.  Many more.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

I've been sifting through a lot of pictures the past several days trying to figure out if I want to do a Christmas card this year, and I ran across one I had forgotten about.

I would never, ever consider putting it on a Christmas card to send to all of our family and friends.

Bless him!!

Happy 40th Birthday, Babe!!

I love you!!

Thursday, November 22, 2012


It was an emotional day.  One I am glad is over.

I dread tomorrow so, so much, but as I sit here with hot tears streaming down my face I can hear my Mama.

If she were here she would be telling me I'm going to have to pull myself together for my girls.

She would tell me to stop crying for her because she is with Jesus.

And she would be right.

But I just can't seem to pull it together.

And I most certainly don't know how to stop crying for her.

I have tried.  To do both.

I'd pull myself together, and then something would cause me to fall apart again.

The tears stop for a little while, and then out of nowhere they start again.

I miss her.

I have been very aware of God's grace today.

A grace that has been in abundant supply.

Right now I am most grateful I can trust that exact same grace with be given to me tomorrow.

Grace for the moment.  That's what Mary would remind me of.

And not a moment before I need it ... and never a moment too late.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Eight Months

It's Wednesday.


I still hate Wednesdays.

I have purposely stopped counting the weeks ... well, sort of.  I do try not to keep a running count, but somehow I still do.

But not only is today Wednesday ... another week added to the time she's been gone ... it's also the 21st.

Eight months.

Seems like 80 years.

I miss her.  So much.

It still hurts.  My heart is still raw.

I still find myself picking up the phone to call her.  Just this past week I picked up the phone to call Mary, but instead I dialed her number.  I was already crying when I picked up the phone, and once I realized what I had done I sobbed.

Hard, gut wrenching sobs.

On the way to the dentist today, my mother-in-law drove passed the funeral home.  I had a rolodex of memories begin flooding through my mind, and my stomach pain increased.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  The first without her.

I don't want to do this.  I don't want to sit around my dining room table eating turkey and dressing without her.

Nothing about this year will be the same.

Nothing.  It will never be the same again.

I've been working on our Christmas card this week, and as I've waded through photos over the past year her picture is everywhere.

It just makes me miss her all the more.

I miss her voice.  I miss hearing her say my name and asking me what I was doing when I answered the phone.  I miss all her nosey questions, and her unsolicited advice.

I miss the way her perfume smelled on her.  I can't stand the smell of it in the bottle, but somehow it always smelled so clean and beautiful when she wore it.

I am fearful of forgetting what her voice sounded like or the way she smelled.

I know this is supposed to be a season of Thanksgiving, and I really do have tons to be thankful for.

It's just so hard to see it through tears.

I had no idea last year would be the last Thanksgiving my mom would be alive. I missed spending it with her because I had a horrible stomach virus.

But I'll never forget the laughter my girls had while telling me about playing a game with her.

I am grateful they have that memory.  I am so grateful laughter comes when they talk about her.

How precious are those memories.  What a gift they've been given.

A gift we've all been given.  Somehow even through tears Sara and Hannah can make me laugh when talking about her.

I still don't understand how laughter can come from the raw brokenness of a heart, but I am so grateful for the grace the Lord gives us to allow it to happen.

And I am grateful we have one more year to spend with my dad.  I pray this isn't the last year.  I hope to have at least twenty more with him.

Well, truthfully, I hope Jesus comes back before then.  But I don't want to loose him before then.

Wouldn't it be great if He returned before the sun rises today?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Betraying Feelings

"Never doubt in darkness what you once believed in the light."

This quote is from the devotional from Joni and Friends today.  It was originally written in her Pearls of Great Price devotional book she wrote in 2006, I think.  And Joni quoted it from a friend.

It's worth quoting many times over.  It's such a simple reminder to me what Darryl has told me for years, "Your feelings will betray you."  What we feel is not truth, especially in our darkest moments.

I feel alone.

But my Heavenly Father has never once left me.  Not even for one second.

... for He Himself has said, “ I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” ~ Hebrews 13:5

I feel like there is no hope.

But with God all things are possible.  And Paul reminds those who are His in Romans 8 all things will work together for our good and His glory.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. ~ Romans 8:28

I feel like He doesn't hear my prayers.  It's as if my pleas are falling on deaf ears, and sometimes it even feels like He's ignoring me.  Even David reminds himself over and over throughout the Psalms the Lord does hear him.

I love the LORD, because He hears My voice and my supplications. ~ Psalm 116:1

But know that the LORD has set apart the godly man for Himself; The LORD hears when I call to Him. ~ Psalm 4:3

It's a gorgeous day today.  The sun is shining bright.  The sky is clear.  The temperature is perfect.

And yet life feels so dark and cold.

I am grateful my feelings aren't truth.

I am grateful I have a Heavenly Father who never changes.  He's the same when it's dark as He is in the bright light.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. ~ Hebrews 13:8

He is the bright Light.  The Light of Truth that shines on my untrue feelings.

 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. ~ I John 1:5

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “ I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” ~ John 8:12

I think life feels so dark because the Lord has shone Light on so many ugly, dark things.  It's exposed, and it hurts.

And I can't fix any of it.

He has most definitely put a bright light on that idol of mine.  The fixer in me doesn't want to hand it over to the Lord once and for all.  I don't like His timetable.  I want it done now.

Obviously that's not part of His plan.

And it's hard.

I'm tired.

I'm overwhelmed.

It hurts.

I'm sad, and sometimes even distraught.

I feel hopeless, helpless.

I feel forgotten and forsaken at times.

And that makes life feel dark.

So, I am grateful my feelings aren't truth.

I am grateful my Jesus is the Light that shines upon what is true.

His truth.

When His lamp shone over my head, And by His light I walked through darkness; ~ Job 29:3

send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places. ~ Psalm 43:3

Monday, November 19, 2012

Being Grateful for Brokenness

My intent was to finish what I had started at the beginning of the year.  I wanted to be purposeful in concentrating on what I had to be grateful for, and writing it down so I could go back and read it later.  I stopped the day my mom died, and figured November was the perfect month to begin again.

I failed.  I didn't even complete a full week.

I allowed life to consume me, and by the end of the day there was no energy left.

And I chose to wallow in life's hurts and disappointments.

So much so, I ended up in the ER yesterday morning with severe stomach pains.

I started feeling bad on Wednesday night and it progressed over the next few days.  It had gotten so bad even swallowing water put me in severe pain.  Yesterday morning I was in so much pain I was sweating and crying, so we headed to the ER.

After several test, it was determined the culprit was most likely an inflamed ulcer.  They aren't certain, but everything seems to point to that.

Stress.  Stress that is so heavy it causes you to crumble.

All around me life is crumbling, and there isn't anything I can do about any of it.

I can't change it.  I can't fix it.  I can't make people behave in a way they should be.

And I'm having a hard time accepting that.

I'm a fixer, and it's so hard for me to watch people I love hurting and being self-destructive.

And I've allowed wanting to fix it all to become an idol.

The pain of watching the lives of people I love deeply crumbling has put callouses on my knees.  I've had friends praying with me.

I have literally begged the Lord to take us home and just get us out of this messy, hurt-filled world.

And then I've gotten up from my knees and walked away with the very issues I laid at His feet.  Instead of leaving them with The Fixer of all things, I thought I might be better at it than Him.

Or at least quicker at coming up with a solution.

Not so much.

If I had a penny for every tear I've cried over the past week, I could pay off our national debt and start a savings account for our country.

Darryl sat in silence yesterday afternoon as I rambled non-stop, and when he got up to get me Kleenex to keep snot from flying across the room and landing on his shirt, I keep repeating, "I don't know what to do anymore.  I don't know what to do."

As he handed me the box of Kleenex, he simply said, "You can't do anything.  You are going to have to trust the Lord."

He's right.

It's hard to find things to give thanks for in the messiness of life.  Underneath the rubble of brokenness what is there to be grateful for?  How can I be thankful in the midst of fragments of glass and soot.

I can be grateful for the brokenness.

It's in the brokenness in which I've been given much grace.  And endless, boundless amount of grace.

It's in the brokenness Jesus has drawn me to Him.  It was His brokenness that saved me.  His brokenness has allowed me to sit at His feet for hours.  Sometimes quite, but often times begging.  Waiting for healing ... for me and for others.

And as my friend ... my big sister, Connie, always reminds me, it's through brokenness Jesus creates a beautiful mosaic of our lives as He puts us back together.  Healing in only a way He can.

"Beauty from brokenness."

The beauty of grace.

When I think back over the past several months I can pick out things I am grateful for.

And when I gather them all together, it's simply one beautiful mosaic of God's grace.

A grace that has carried ... and continues to carry me through seemingly unbearable pain.

I can be grateful for brokenness.  I just have to keep it in the light that Jesus shines upon on it to see the beauty of the stained glass that He will one day will become a mosaic of grace.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day 3: Today I Thank Jesus For ...

Last week my sister-in-law was unexpectedly given tickets to the CMA Country Christmas taping at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.  The taping for was Saturday night, and she called to offer to share her gift with us.

I was hesitant about going.  Just going to church can sometimes wear me out for days.  Plus, my legs just can't handle a lot of walking.

Saturday night was a perfect example of how the Lord cares about every single detail of our lives.

Nathan was able to drop us off a few feet from the door.  The way our tickets read it was hard to determine where our seats were, so we asked a nice man to help us out.  We learned our tickets were actually for a suite, and it was located about 20 feet to left of escalator we were to take right in front of us.

I probably didn't have to take a total of 100 steps to get to our seats.

I had such a great time Friday night.  It was so fun and there were moments some of the music caused the hair on my arms to stand up.  It was absolutely beautiful.

I am grateful for the opportunity we were given to be able to attend the taping, and I cannot wait to see it on TV and see how they edit it.  I am so, so exhausted, but it was well worth it.

But I am even more grateful for my sister-in-law and her willingness to share with us what she had been given.  She's the type of person that thinks of her family first when a fun opportunity arises.  She is a blessing to us in so many ways.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Day 2: Today I Thank Jesus For ...

Last night was our Friday Night Titus 2 monthly gathering for the ladies in my church.  Our focus this month was spent loving on and praying for a sister who is walking through a hard season.  God's plan for her unborn daughter has yet to be revealed.  It was discovered a few weeks ago she has some serious heart abnormalities, in addition to some other issues with her small body.

I can't even think about it without crying.  To be walking in her shoes is beyond anything I can imagine.  There is so much uncertainty of what each day will hold.  Will she survive the pregnancy?  Will she survive the surgery she will need shortly after birth?  Will they ever bring her home?

Only the Lord knows.

As she shared with us last night, the statistics are frightening.

I've been talking through some ways we can come along side our friend with other ladies within our church.  Our current bible study is Treasures of Encouragement by Susan Hunt, so we've used this as an opportunity to live out what we are learning.

God's timing is always perfect.  It was by His design we would be working through this particular study at the same time our sister would be walking through the hardest thing she has ever had to face.

He is equipping us for what He has called us to do.

We decided a few weeks ago we would use our November Titus 2 gathering to spend some time praying with her.  We asked everyone to bring a meal she could pull out of the freezer and heat on the nights when the day has been packed full of doctor appointments, or when exhaustion has just taken over.

It was such a sweet sight watching ladies walk in carrying meals in their arms.

But what was even sweeter was sitting in a room with a group of ladies with our hearts joined together carrying our friend to Jesus.

Yes, it's true.  As she shared with us, the statistics are unnerving, to say the least.

But God is not a statistic.

He's the One who created her tiny body.  He knows the complexity of her heart.  We believe if He chose to, He could heal her before we could even take our next breath.  We believe He can heal her through modern medicine and by using the hands of her doctors.

We are praying for healing.

We are praying our sister and her husband will bring their daughter home and she will live a healthy life.

That's what we want.  That is what are hearts long for.

Ultimately though, we want God's will for her life.

His will might not be to heal her.

It grieves my heart to even type out that sentence.

As we sat with our hearts joined together taking turns praying for our friend, I was overcome with such gratitude.

Grateful to part of a group who desires carry all the needs and wants of our sister to the foot of the cross ... to the One who heals.  Grateful to know the Holy Spirit was in the room with us, and all of things we didn't know to pray for He was interceding for us.

Grateful to know we serve a God that is good ... to know once we walk away from laying it all at His feet, whatever He chooses to do is what's best.

One of the sweetest moments of the night was hearing my friend Mary thanking the Lord for showing us that before even entering this world He has used her life.  Through her He has brought us closer to Him ... collectively and individually.

Her life already has purpose.

A purpose that is invaluable.

She is already been such a blessing to us, and we haven't even met her yet.

Even in times of complete uncertainty, we can be certain God is good.  Even when it hurts.  Even we things are scary.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day 1: Today I Thank Jesus For ...

I began this year with plans of writing 366 Days of Gratefulness.  I wanted to be purposeful about focusing on things in my life I have to be grateful for.  The day my Mama died I stopped.  I didn't stop thinking I no longer have anything to be grateful for ... although I admit there are many days it's hard to see any of it.  I just stopped.  I was so overcome with grief all I could think about was how much my heart was hurting, how much I miss my Mama and how much I long for Heaven.

Are you coming today, Lord?  Please come and take us home today.

This was my prayer as I swallowed my daily morning meds hoping the Lyrica would be enough to temper the pain in my legs and arms.

I was asked a few weeks ago if I was going to start my "366 Days of Gratefulness" (366 because this was a leap year) back up.  Actually, my friend strongly suggested I do.  I really had no plans to.  In my heart I thought why bother?  Life is so messy.  It seems like things have continued to go down hill since the day my Mama died.  Just when I think my heart possibly can't hurt anymore, Satan rears his ugly head.

However, after that conversation I started thinking about how during our daily conversations my Mama would mention something I had written.  She would tell me how much she loved I was doing that every day.

As the holiday season quickly approaches the knot in my stomach grows.  If I didn't have kids I'd probably skip the holidays.  My girls would be sorely disappointed if I did though.  

And it's not what my Mama would have wanted.

I was reminded by a friend last night how much she loved the holidays.  She loved having all of us together.

Adele's text started the wheels in my head turning, and I made a decision.  In honor of my Mama, I"m going to start over.  What better time than the first day of November ... the month we celebrate Thanksgiving.

Day One ...

I have made it no secret I pray for the Lord to come back every single day.  Some days I repeat that prayer 50 times over.  I long for Heaven more and more every day.

"Living In Light of the King's Return" was the title of our pastor's sermon this past Sunday.

"Waiting for a Jesus who rescues us."

I have that written, highlighted and starred.

Also in my notes ...

"A King who laid down His life so that we might be redeemed."

"Waiting with a comforting hope ... a hope that gives us strength in suffering."

"We are able to have joy in suffering because our hope is knowing that God is making us desire Heaven more."

This week has been one of the harder weeks in my life.  I've struggled a lot with the sin of worry.  I've been anxious.  I've had moments of despair.

I have questioned, Lord, why?  What could You possibly been doing in this?  All I see is a recipe for complete disaster.

Over and over I have felt the Holy Spirit asking me, Do you trust Me?

Of course, I do.  Absolutely!, has been my response.

But do I really?

I shamefully admit there are moments I don't.  My heart is prone to wander towards anxiously worrying about things I have no control over.

When I really should be trusting Him completely.

I know He is sovereign.  But I am finding myself trusting He's sovereign even over this.

As I was flipping back through my notes from sermons over the past few months, brightly highlighted in pink I have written ...

"He sovereignly reigns over every circumstance."

Every is darkly underlined.

Thank you, Jesus, that even in this You are sovereign.  Thank you that I can have a hope in a Christ who never fails ... a Jesus that will never change.  You will always be faithful to complete the good work You have started.  Thank you there is a Heaven to long for ... that this isn't all there is.  That one day You will wipe away my every tear.  Thank you for the grace and mercy You pour over me each and every day.

Thank you, Lord, for loving me when I am the most unlovable.  Thank you for not leaving me when I've tried my darnedest to push away.  Thank you for running after me when I have tried to run from You.

Thank you for being my Redeemer, my Comforter ....

For being my only Hope.

I long for the day I will be with You forever.  It's really is my greatest desire underneath all of the other "wants" in life.  But until that day, thank You for the promise I can always hold on to that You will never let go of me.

And when life hurts ... when the pain is seemingly unbearable ... thank you for giving me and over abundant amount of grace and mercy.

Thank you that I can lay it all at the foot of the cross, walk away and know it's all for my good and Your glory.

Thank you always wanting the best for me.

You are what is best for me.

Thank, Jesus, that I am Yours and You are mine.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Today I Celebrate My Friend

She's one of my best friends, and today is her birthday.  Her 40th birthday.  We've been friends for 30 years ... since we were in 5th grade.  I thought I would celebrate her today by explaining why I love her beyond any combination of words I could put together.  I've tried writing this post for the past two days.  Each and every time I have had to delete it because I am finding it very difficult to find the words to adequately explain what a beautiful person she is.  A beauty that comes from the depths of her heart.

She is truly one of the most loving, selfless people I know.  Sometimes to her own detriment.  She cannot say no to anyone in need of something and often finds herself pushed beyond her limits.  And she does it out of love for others.  A want to help.  A want for others to be full of joy and not hurting.

She has always been there for me.  Even during the times she couldn't physically be with me, she's there.  Calling, texting, emailing me.  Just to remind me she loves me and is praying for me.

And when Robyn tells you she is praying for you, she is praying.  Those aren't just words that fly off her tongue because it seems to be the appropriate thing to say.  If she says she's going to pray, you can rest assured she's carrying you to Jesus.

She loves Jesus passionately.

Thirty years of memories can't be summed up in just a few paragraphs.  We've have laughed to the point of hurting stomachs and tears, and we've held each other through hurting hearts and tear stained cheeks.  She always wants what's best for me.  She has celebrated the greatest events in my life with me, and hurt with me though the darkest moments in my life.  Her love has been unconditional, and yet at the same time, because she loves me, she talks straight to me.  I always get the truth.  Like it or not.

She has held my secrets close to her heart, and she has trusted me with hers.  I am honored she calls me one of her best friends, and she feels safe enough to pour her heart out to me.

I love watching her finally being able to be a mother to three of the sweetest boys.  It brings me to tears every time I think about the years and years of heartache she endured, and how God blessed her with three miracles.  Three blessings she doesn't take for grant it.

I love her.  I adore her.  She is one my dearest, closest friends.  She is one of the few in my closest circle of trust.  The few I can count on one hand.

She is an enormous blessing to me.

I treasure her.

She is my sister.

And my forever friend.

Happy 40th birthday, Robyn.  You are one of the greatest gifts the Lord Jesus has ever given me.  Today I am thanking Him for you.  I don't know what I would do without you.  Thank you for loving me even when I'm unlovable.  For being a faithful friend.  For not being my judge, and for always carrying me to our Redeemer.  Love you, and praying you are blessed today as much as your bless everyone around you.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Time Doesn't Heal

I have often wondered if the person who originally said, "Time heals all wounds" was ever truly wounded.  Surely they were.  I don't think anyone gets through life without being wounded, but their declaration that time is a healer is so wrong.  It's nothing but a cliche'.  A default to say to someone who is hurting.

Time heals nothing.

Jesus does.  And I learn more and more every day He takes His own sweet time doing so.

I was reminded in our pastor's sermon today sanctification is a process of pruning to make us more like Jesus.

I hate the process.

Sitting on my Mom's carport waiting for the paramedics to bring her body out of her house, I kept reminding myself that my Jesus is the same in that moment as He the moment before my dad called to tell me she had died.  Over and over I kept saying to myself, "He still the same."

I needed to remind myself of that very truth.  I had just spent a beautiful Spring day with ladies from my bible study group.  On the drive home while I was sipping on my lemon slush from Sonic, I laughed and chatted with my friends.  I distinctly remember looking at the blooming Dogwood and Redbud trees and thinking about how faithful God is.  My mind wandered to how grateful I was Jesus loved me and how everything that happens in my life was all for my good and His glory.

Thank you, Jesus, for loving me.  Thank you for never letting anything happen in my life that doesn't first pass through Your hands.

Those words fluttered through my heart as we passed by miles of Dogwood and Redbud trees.

I had no idea within the next hour my life was about to change forever.

I had a friend ask me just this week if I still believed my Jesus was the same.


Seven months later I still believe it.  I actually believe it more today.  I was pretty solid on it back then, and today I'm even more firm in my belief.

Seven months later He hasn't changed.  Not even once.  He hasn't let go of me.  Even in those moments I've tried to run from Him, His grip holds me close.

I have had to remind myself hundreds of times throughout the past seven months that my God never changes.  He is faithful.  He is sovereign.  He causes all things ... even the things that cause my heart to bleed ... to work for my good and His glory.

Even the sudden death of my Mama.

But it still hurts.  My heart is still raw and the tears still flow easily and frequently.  Time hasn't healed my broken heart.

But God.

But God has been and will continue to be my Comforter.  He will hold me close and not let me go.

It's a gorgeous Fall day today.  Perfect weather.  While visiting the cemetery after church this morning, He reminded me once again He is faithful.

This time instead of blooming Dogwood and Redbud trees, it was this ...

Even with the changes of the seasons, He is still the same Jesus.  The one who loves me and will never leave me.

And one day, in His precious time, He will be the One to heal my heart.

In the meantime, I am grateful His mercies are new every morning.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tonight You are Queen, Forever You Are a Princess

Hannah girl,

Burks 2012 Homecoming Queen!  Your mama is so excited for you!!  Today has been so fun, and I'm so grateful the Lord allowed me to have a front row seat.

Hannah, my prayer for you is you realize what an opportunity the Lord has given you.  Your classmates, your friends, your family will all be watching you and how you handle the gift you have just been given.  I pray you stay humble.  I pray you use this opportunity to show all of us around you that this crown you have just been given is a gift from the Lord Jesus.

Hannah, there is no crown that could ever be placed upon your head that will ever compare to the crown that was placed upon the head of Jesus.  His crown didn't sparkle and shine.  His crown was full of thorns that caused Him to bleed and suffer for your sins.  And because of the crown He wore as He died upon the cross, you will always be a princess.  A daughter of the King of Kings.

I pray you don't look at this as a popularity contest you have just won.  Hold your head high, Hannah girl, and show them Jesus.  Show those who are watching you Who lives inside of your heart.

We achieve nothing without Him.  Being Homecoming Queen will one day fade away, but being a child of the King is for eternity.  You will always be a princess, and that is far better than being a queen.

I love you so much.  But my love is nothing compared to how much Jesus loves you.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mama

It has never entered my mind that one day I would be celebrating my birthday without my mama, much less my 40th birthday.  It seems like it was just last week we were laughing and talking about how this is a "milestone" year.  The last milestone birthday I cried for a month, and she was teasing me about it.  I've always taken it for granted, and honestly, until this year I never realized what a blessing it was to share her birthday.

She was a blessing I took for granted.

Rather she is a blessing I took for granted.

Twenty-six weeks ago today Jesus called her home, and it was on a Wednesday.  I'm not sure why the Lord chose for the first birthday I would have without her to be on a Wednesday.  Wednesdays are still so hard for me.  They continue to be a reminder of the day my life was changed forever.  In two days she will have been with Him for 6 months, but she still continues to bless me every day.  The legacy she left us is full of more blessings than I can count.

I found this photo last week.  I remember this day well.  It was just a Summer day we had gone to visit her.  This picture sums up her relationship with my girls.  She loved them beyond all measure, and they love her right back.  One of the things I am most grateful for is the story this picture tells.  They gave her so much joy.  They could always make her smile.  They know she loved them.  She not only told them, she showed them.  She also gave them much joy.  She provided much laughter for them.  When Sara and Hannah talk about her today, they laugh and smile.

We talk about her a lot.  We want to remember her.  We laugh, we cry and we are grateful for the many blessings the Lord gifted us with in her.  Her life mattered.  She touched more people than I will ever be able to count.  More than I will ever possibly know.  I continue to learn more and more about her through the people she touched.  And the Lord opens my eyes a little more each day to what an amazing, strong Mama He gave me.  A Mama who loved Him deeply, and wanted everyone she met to know her Jesus.

I wish she were here.  I wish we were sharing a chocolate, chocolate chip birthday cake.  I wish I were stressing over what gift I was going to buy her instead of picking out flowers to put in the vase on her grave.

But I am grateful she gets to spend this birthday with Jesus.  There is no better place to celebrate.  Although it hurts so deep, and the pain is so intense, it's a blessing to know she's in Heaven.  I am sure she's having a party.  I imagine she has collected a group of people to sing.

My mama loved to sing  And she loved The McKamey's.  We would tease her that she was a groupie.  If the McKamey's were singing within 200 miles, she was there.  Their style of music isn't my preference.  I'm more of a Casting Crowns, Mercy Me, David Crowder, Indelible Grace type of girl.  But not my mama.  She was a McKamey's fan through and through.

I was sorting through my email yesterday.  I've let it pile up over the past several months, and as I was clearing it out I ran across an email she sent me on February 21, 2012.  Exactly one month before she died.  When we spoke on the phone that day she was telling about a song she wanted me to hear.  She said she was going to send me the link to the video on YouTube.  I grumbled.

"Mama, you know I don't care anything about hearing one of their songs."

"Well, I want you to hear it and let me know what you think.", she said.

One of the first things out of her mouth when she called the next day, "What did you think about that song?"

I actually barely listened to it, and I'm surprised I didn't delete the email.  Surprised, and so grateful I didn't.

My Sovereign God knew the night she sent this to me it would mean nothing to me.  I wish I had remembered song when we were choosing music for her funeral, but He knew I would need it later.

I imagine my mama is in Heaven singing a lot like Peg when she gets excited ... when she is full of laughter, kicks off her shoes and swings her white hanky.

Happy Birthday, Mama.  I miss you so much the heartache is seemingly unbearable at times, but it brings me much comfort in knowing you are home with Jesus.  I didn't tell you, just like I failed to tell you so many other things, but thank you for sending me this song.  Thank you for confirming for me what I already knew, by His Amazing Grace you are home.  I love you.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Happy 17th Birthday, Sara bear!

Sara bear,

Today you are seventeen.

SEVENTEEN.  One night I was holding you in my arms for the first time, and when I blinked you were SEVENTEEN.

As I have watched you grow over the years, my heart becomes more and more full of love for you.

6 weeks

At 6 weeks you were sleeping through the night.  You've always loved to sleep. I would sit and rock you for hours while you slept just so I could stare at your precious face.  I could not wait until you were 6 weeks old, so I could take you to have your first professional picture made.  Mama Gaile bought you this dress.  She bought it before you were ever born.  She was so excited, and told me the day she gave it to me she wanted you to wear it your first Sunday at church.  You did.  Complete with the matching socks and headband she bought to go with it.

10 weeks

This is your first Christmas picture.  Even though you were only 3 months old that Christmas, you were lavished with gifts.

3 months

Look at that sweet face.

6 months

At 6 months you were sitting alone, and when you would fall over trying to reach for something, you would push as hard as you could with your feet trying to move yourself along the floor.  When that didn't work, you would just roll yourself wherever you wanted to go.

Mama Gaile also bought this dress.  The socks she bought to go with the dress you wore to church on your first Sunday still fit, so you wore them with this dress also.  You even wore the same headband.  This was your first Easter dress.  I know your are horrified at all the ruffles.

6 months

Your future was so bright, you even had to wear shades at bedtime.

7 months

We went to visit Mama Gaile at work the first time you went trick-or-treating.  She was so excited to show you off to all of her patients.  And mommy and daddy were so excited to eat all of your candy for you.

9 months

As you grew, so did the size of bows I made you wear.  And you became more and more precious to us with each passing moment.  Just look at those sweet cheeks.  Mercy.

11 months

Your second Christmas.  You kept reaching for those bears, and we were barely able to keep you on that block long enough to snap this picture.

12 months

This picture was taken the night of your first birthday.  The day you turned one you started walking.  Notice the black eye.  Your fell that afternoon at your birthday party on Mama Gaile's porch.

12 months

You have always been so happy.  Looking at this picture I just want to scoop you up and kiss those sweet cheeks.

13 months

Daddy was for sure you would love soccer as much as he did.

15 months

The beginning of a beautiful friendship.  Pop Pop bought him for you for Christmas.  You had just ripped Pooh out of his box and threw the box on the ground.  From this moment on he went everywhere with you.  Everywhere.

18 months

I know, I know.  Your hate this outfit.  Every time you see this picture you point that out to me.

22 months

This was the first of several dress Grammy smocked for you.

2 years

Your second birthday party.  Notice the underwear.  And no, I didn't leave you in your pajamas that day.  You just had to put them on as soon as you opened them.  The gift opening was put on pause while you dressed yourself, and when  you opened the underwear, they had to put on too.  You did eventually learn they go under your pants.

2 years

Pop Pop and G.G. bought you this outfit.  Guess where he bought it? : )

2 years

When we got home from having your 2 year picture made, You insisted I take your picture with Pooh.

2 1/2 years

Have I mentioned how precious you are, and how I love you more and more every day?

2 1/2 years

 2/1/2 years

This is your first trip to the beach.  You loved it.  We were visiting uncle Skip and aunt Marilyn in VA Beach.

2 1/2 years

I'm not so sure why daddy thought it was a good idea for you to paint your nails by yourself on Pop Pop and G.G.'s white chair.

2 1/2 years

There once was a day you and daddy didn't butt heads so much.

3 years

This picture always makes me laugh.  You were so over the picture taking, and when you were told to look in the mirror this is the face we got.

When I asked you to say cheese, this is what I got.

3 1/2

I love this picture.

3 1/2

Daddy was hopeful you would love soccer, but you spent more of your soccer "career" attached to daddy ... or standing in front of the goal holding the ball in a the middle of a game screaming, "Take my picture, Mommy!".  Once soccer made you sweat, you wanted to quit.  Sweating has never been your thing.

3 1/2

So, Mama Gaile tried to make you a singer.

4 years

I'm sure you'll have something to say about this outfit.

4 1/2

Your first school picture.  Preschool actually.  This picture looks like a mug shot to me.  It better be your ONLY mug shot.

5 years

By looking at this picture, you would never imagine you could throw the huge temper tantrum you threw at your 5 birthday party because the other kids were picking up "your" candy that had fallen out of the pinata.

5 years

This is Mister Monkey.  He was the class "pet" in kindergarten.  When you were rewarded for good behavior you got to bring him home, and at the end of the night you (rather mommy) was supposed to journal what you did.  Well, we lost Mister Monkey that night.  After looking for two hours, including tracing our steps back to where we had eaten dinner and ran errands, we found him hiding behind the end table in the livingroom.

5 years

Your first time being a flower girl.

6 years

6 years

Your second time being a flower girl.

6 1/2

You've always loved being a big sister.  Hannah might bug you sometimes, but you love her to pieces.  Notice she's wearing the same pajamas you got for your second birthday.

6 1/2

This picture is full of so much love and joy.  Mama Gaile loved you so, so much.  This makes my eyes fill with tears and puts a smile on my face at the same time.  I always wanted you to have the type of relationship with my Mama like I did with hers.  I am so beyond thrilled you did.

7 years

One day you were 7, and it seems like when I woke up the next day we were buying your first car.

16 years

This picture cracks me up.  You are so full of excitement, but look at Hannah's face.

16 years

Your junior year.  Hard to believe you were once bald.

16 years

I've never seen two people butt heads the way as you and daddy often do.  You are definitely just like him.

16 1/2

Now you are a senior.  I have loved watching you grow and mature.  When I looked into your sweet face for the first time, you were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life.  I thought my heart would burst with love.  With each passing year you have become more and more beautiful.  I love those blue eyes, and your smile lights up the room.  But I love the beauty in your heart even more, Sara bear.

I love being your mom.  I love how sometimes you still call me mommy.  I love how you come home and give me a play by play of your day, and they way you share your heart with me.  I love watching your love on other people.  You have taught me so much.  I find myself becoming full of fear wondering if I taught you well.

But then one day I walked into your room and discovered this.

I stood there cried.  I realized in that moment I had no reason to fear.  I have failed you as your mom.  But Jesus will never fail you.  Looking at what you have surrounded your mirror with I am certain you know that.  I am so grateful you love Him, and your realize more and more every day your need for Him.

I pray you always run to Jesus.  I pray you know He is all you need.  That He is the only one who will NEVER, EVER fail you.  As much as I love you, He loves you more.

Happy 17th birthday, sweet Sara bear.  I will always love you from the tippy, tippy top of your head, to the tippy, tippy bottom of your toes.