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.