In honor of the fatherless…

As Father’s Day quickly approaches, it becomes more and more evident that my earthly father has left a gaping hole. Passing the Father’s Day cards in Walmart, needing advice, or simply wanting to send him pictures of our newly installed fence. He’s not here. He won’t be here. And he is dearly missed. That fact won’t change, but this Father’s day – though there may be tears – is still be a day worth celebrating.

What about those who never knew there father? Or possibly worse, knew their father but he was abusive? Neglectful? What about you?

Most days I completely look over the fact that I still have a father, the best one there is…. my heavenly Father.

“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, Abba, Father. Romans 8:15

I have the spirit of the living God inside me and because of that I have been reborn into a new, and perfect family. Not only that, he cares for our needs.
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:26
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” Ephesians 1:3

I find it interesting that even the Lord’s prayers starts out with “Our Father..” God wants us to come before the throne and recognize him as a father figure. He is that and much more but our human minds can only comprehend and compare it to what we are familiar with.

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If you are hurting, due to loss or a broken relationship… Take heart friend you’re not alone. This Sunday I will be repeating this verse over and over to myself. Maybe it’ll be an encouragement to you.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1

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What I didn’t know about grief…

We anxiously waited outside his room. He just got admitted to a new facility — hospice. Once the nurses and doctor got him situated we got to go back in ans see him. We didn’t know if he had an hour, or a day. We just knew he wouldn’t be leaving the building. We sang, prayed and cried. It was the longest week of my life and at the end of it my dad would be where he always long to be. Home. In heaven.

But what about us? What about those left behind? You see, I’m not worried about my dad anymore, I’m sure he hasn’t stopped talking and soaking in everything. He probably has the biggest place on the block after sacrificing all he was and did for the Kingdom. He’s free. And us? He was our leader, mentor, pastor, and the glue to our family… The grief  sets in.

Most days the thought of him finally free is enough to get me through the day. But then I hear my kids asking where padgie is..  I have big decisions to make and I want to give him a call.. And don’t get me started on how I feel about my mom losing her team mate way too soon. It sucks. It really does. Some nights I just want to scream. People say it gets better. And in some ways it gets more bearable, we learn to function. But does it get “better?”

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I’ll be the first to admit I was pretty naive about grief, I sure I still am. I had no idea that sometimes after loosing someone, dreams can be a common and frequent accurance. One week I had a dream every. single. night! About the accident, hospital, him waking… him dying… him resurrecting… another member of the family dying suddenly. It was pretty horrific and exhausting! I still dream of him. But he no longer speaks to me and he’s usually in the background. Two things are always very clear. His closed mouth smurk and big blue eyes are sparkling. He’s always happy.

Grief, a tiny word that carries a big weight. One moment you’re fine and the next you’re almost paralized with a wave of emotion. Whether that be anger, anxiety, or sadness.

I’ve learned a few things over the past 10 months. God is there in the midst of your grief. He is there in the darkness, he is there when you’re stuck in a crowd of people and you’re not sure you’ll be able to handle one more smile. He is there when you’re looking at your kids and aching for them to know their padgie. He is there.

I also know, he will be there on father’s day when my heart is re-breaking, he will be there as the facebook memories pop up from previous visits with my dad. He will also be there as the anniversary of the horrific accident comes around and memories come back like a flood. He WILL be there.

Hebrews 12:12-15

“Therefore lift your drooping hands, and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;”

I didn’t realize how hard grief would be, how consuming it can be. But I also couldn’t have fathomed the measure of grace that is given while you grieve. The days are hard, the nights are painful… but the presence of our Lord Jesus is much sweeter.

 

 

 

 

A year of restoration.

We’ve been home for over a month now, it seems like much longer in many ways. I miss my family like crazy, but I am so thankful for the sweet time we had together.

I’ve been praying for several things, asking for God’s help, guidance, direction, healing… During one of my quiet times of prayer a word kept popping up in my mind. I felt like the Lord was speaking to my heart saying, “steph, you need restoration.” Me “restoration? I can’t get any rest! I’m a mom of 4 kids 4 & under!” But that’s not what the word restoration means. Take a look.

res·to·ra·tion

[ˌrestəˈrāSH(ə)n]

 
NOUN

 

the action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition:
“the restoration of Andrew’s sight”
synonyms: repair · repairing · fixing · mending · refurbishment · reconditioning · 

My heart has been wrecked, we’ve had so much change, coming and going and the person I sought out advice from the most is now home with the Lord. Great for him, but what about me?

My body is a mess, I have a lot of issues thanks to have Hypermesis 4x along with gastritis, gestational diabetes, I could go on… but you get the picture!

Our family is tired, the last thing we need this year is to be over committed, we need grounding, time together and a lot of grace.

Our finances are another story, we are trusting the Lord to restore them in his time and provide as he always has!

My personal walk with the Lord isn’t great. I do a whole lot of praying/singing but do I take the time to listen? Am I quieting my heart and giving him the time he deserves? Unfortunately no. Reading my bible has been extremely hard after my dads home going.

1 Peter 5:10

10And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

Friends, restoration takes WORK. I’ve made some changes that have already been helping.

I’ve backed off from formal ministry at our Church, it allows me to 100% focus on the kids and ministering to people out of my home on my schedule. Whether it be meeting a mom friend for coffee, or having someone over for a meal.

I’ve also completely changed my eating habits and it’s working! I’ve lost 15 lbs and have almost completely eliminated my stomach pains.

I’m trying to hug my babies more, I’m very distracted most days and out of it. Just trying to get everyone fed, changed etc. But I am doing my best to spend focused time with them. It’s a work in progress.

Justin is currently working at our friends cafe, they’ve been so gracious in letting him come back till he finds something else. The pay isn’t much but it helps. He also got hired on to be a seasonal patrol officer from Memorial Day to Labor day. This is a big answer to prayer. We have something else in the works that would start in the fall, we won’t know for a while if he gets accepted but we would appreciate your prayers that he would!

It’s still hard to read the bible. bib working on it, and won’t give up. But if I’m being honest, it’s the hardest thing out of everything I need restoration in.

 

I have good days and bad, some days I am on the edge of crying or having a breakdown as soon as I have a moment alone and other days I’m fine. But all in all, He is good.

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In this world you will have trouble…

I use to like New Years, it was a time to reflect. See where you’ve been – how far you’ve come. We’ve had hard years, I’ve lost 3 out of my 4 grandparents. All who lived within a mile of my house growing up. I thought I knew what loss was like. But this year has brought a whole new level of grief. Loosing my dad so horrifically shook me to my core. Broke me.

I cried on and off most of the new years eve, grieving the year one that has past. Not sure I could bare a new year, with new losses. I wrote a friend way too late sharing a specific struggle and asking her to pray I could get some sleep. While chatting we both agreed the new year can feel like, “Oh great, what is going to happen now?!” I’ve been contemplating that a lot. I’ve been reminded of the passage in John 16:33…

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

We are actually told by the Lord himself that we will have trouble. Our feeling of “Oh great, what now!?” Isn’t totally wrong. It’s pretty accurate. He spells out to his Disciples in John 16 all about what kinds of trouble.

In verse 2, he doesn’t only say they will put you out of the synagogue, but he even goes on to warn them that when they are killed, people will think they are doing a service to God. (sound familiar, especially in these days?)

In verse 12, he says he has even more to tell them but they could not bear it. What? That’s not very comforting.

Thankfully he tells us exactly why he told us this…

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

If we stay in Him throughout this life we will find peace. We will make it through.

I think going into the New Year with goals, high hopes, and ambition is a good thing. We have much to look forward to, but don’t loose heart when the trouble comes. Because it will. The end of the verse says…

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Ultimately, we will be renewed. We will see our believing loved ones again. We will get our mansions. We will be fully healed. We just need to be patient. We need to serve the Lord where and when we can and those things will come. We can bank on Him.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Take heart dear ones. If you’re not feeling chipper about the New Year that’s okay – just don’t give up on the one who has already overcome our trouble. We WILL be made new.

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The Detour

It’s been a while since I’ve had the mental and emotional energy to write. I’ve been going through the bible study “His name is.” I got to the name “Alpha and Omega” and got stuck. A lot of questions arose and it was hard to get through and really be able to believe the verses I was reading about that description of God.

If he is the Alpha and Omega…

why hasn’t he sold our house?

why aren’t the connections we had turning into job offers?

December has been a month of questions… prayer… and reevaluating my own heart. What do I really believe in my heart of hearts. It’s convicting, humbling and exhausting.

Although there will be many questions that will not have answers this side of the kingdom. The Lord graciously has brought clarity in a few areas. It was not what we expected but we are thankful.

On January 8th we will be driving back up to Delaware. Our house hasn’t sold, and overall we would prefer to raise our kids in an area where the cost of living in much lower and it’s less crazy. It’s been a hard decision. We really don’t want to leave my family, but we also no longer have peace about prolonging our stay when we feel the call to go back.

We came for two reasons, to allow Justin to go through the dispatch course. And to be a help and comfort to my mom as she transitions into a new season. Justin finished the course at the top of his class. Praise God! My mom is also feeling a little stronger. She is very much still in the early stages of grief, but a lot of the paperwork following my fathers passing has been completed. She is amazing. She has given us her blessing to move back up. We don’t want to leave and she doesn’t want us to leave. But we both know it’s for the best. I wouldn’t trade the last few months we’ve had together for anything. We have no regrets. We laid everything at the alter and the Lord has graciously given it back. Our hearts are thankful.

There is a still a need for employment for Justin. He applied for a job that is located about 45 minutes from our house in Delaware! We appreciate prayers, it is a job that would combine his skills in dispatch, military training, as well as costumer service experience. We believe that either this or something we do not yet see will open if we’re obedient and follow His prompting.

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We have praises already!

-We’ve been gifted money to help cover the costs of the moving truck and getting re-established. Praise God!

-Our realtor has graciously taken our house off the market and was so kind about it all. If you need a good realtor in Delaware she’s been wonderful. Praise God!

-We’ve gotten to spend a lot of time with family. It’s been such a sweet time of fellowship. Whenever we are together it is a time of restoration and wonderful fellowship. Praise God!

-We have already been able to do some shopping at Ikea to replace some furniture we sold as well as go to costco (I’ll miss costco & Ikea!) and get things for our pantry. All paid for! Praise God!

-We’ve had such sweet responses from our friends and family in DE excited for us to get back and offering to help or load items as we need them. We really have been blessed with a wonderful community. Thanks be to God!

We will be very busy in the next two weeks. Packing, soaking up the time with family, and traveling back up.

Please pray for:

-Safety on the roads and while moving things around.

-The right job for Justin to open at the right time, that will provide what we need.

-A good transition for our family as we go back home, and for my mom and sisters as we leave.

-Pray against depression. We’re leaving sunny south Florida for freezing Delaware. It’ll be hard for us all.

 

Thank you all for your prayers. We are excited to see what doors will open next. I can say with my whole heart I do believe our God is the Alpha and Omega. I am excited to see what he does next.

*highlights from Florida*

The museum of Science and Discovery

Getting to see the Dolphins play

Double Dates with my sister and her boyfriend

A date night to see the Christmas pageant

Getting to celebrate the Holidays at home

Tea time with my mom in the evenings

A lunch date with my mom

Justin doing well in school

Walking to aunt Linda’s house

Play dates with cousins

Time with my Grandmom

Playing at the beach and park

 

 

 

 

 

The Magi from the East.

matthew-2-1[1]This week in the bible study “His name is…” the topic has been about “the bright morning star.” We’ve looked at several verses through out the bible where it has mentioned the star, and why that is significant during this advent season… but that isn’t what stood out to me. I have appreciated the study but the verse that struck me wasn’t because it spoke of the Star but because it told me about the Magi from the East. Here is the verse:

  After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.'” Matthew 2:1-2 

We’ve all heard the story of the magi.. It doesn’t actually say how many there were. They just show up in Jerusalem because they saw a star. Where from? The East. Why did this strike me? They must of had some incredible faith to travel all the way from the East, likely thousands of miles through dangerous terrain. Who does that?

Being Magi they likely studied the prophecy’s of the Old Testament. The would have read of the prophecy’s such as:

“I see him, but not now;  I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the people of Sheth” Numbers 24:17

To travel all that distance takes an enormous amount of faith. They didn’t even have an address and had to stop for directions along the way. Not only did they make the trip but they brought gifts fit for a king, they knew they’d be meeting a king and came prepared.

When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:10-11

They rejoiced when they saw the star, they knew the Lord was on to keep his promises. I don’t know where you are at in your journey of faith. We’re surviving completely off of faith that our Lord keeps his promises. We don’t have all our directions or an address… or in our case a buyer for our house or a job lined up. But we know that the Lord keeps his promises.

Be encouraged friends, be like the magi. Expect the Lord to show up.

 

His Name Is…

What are you doing to prepare your heart for Christmas? Besides hanging to stockings, putting up the tree, and finding the best deals on gifts for those you love… I’m talking about preparing your heart – focusing on the real meaning of the season and ending this year off right.

If you’re like me… in the business of the season you let your personal time with God slip away. And if I’m being 100% honest I haven’t have a regular daily devotion since my dad passed. It’s hard to pick up the bible and read. Not only with the move and never being alone or having much space from my littles.. But even in the few moments of calm it’s hard to want to pick it up and devote the time.

Last year, I was introduced to the Love God Greatly bible studies series. They’re made for women, by women and they are offered for free! I’ve done several of their studies and have enjoyed them all. I decided to go ahead and order their book on amazon to support the ministry and to keep all my notes together. But that isn’t necessary.

Over the next four weeks the hundreds of women across the US will be picking up their books, reading the word of God and inviting the Holy Spirit to teach them more about himself. Each week will focus on one the many names of God.

Week 1: Bright and Morning Star 

Week 2: Alpha and Omega 

Week 3: Good Shepherd 

Week 4: Prince of Peace 

Each week I plan to recap what the Lord is teaching me about himself. I hope something will encourage you. If you have been looking for a easy devotional I’d encourage you to check out their site! They also blog through the devotional and I have appreciated their insight.

https://lovegodgreatly.com/introduction-for-his-name-is/

Blessed is the one

who does not walk in step with the wicked

or stand in the way that sinners take

or sit in the company of mockers,

but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,

and who meditates on his law day and night.

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,

which yields its fruit in season

and whose leaf does not wither—

whatever they do prospers.

Not so the wicked!

They are like chaff

that the wind blows away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,

nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,

but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.”

Psalm 1 sums it up for me… I want to delight in the Lord, meditate on his word. I believe the Lord will watch over me and my family. But I must meditate. Dig deeper. I’m trusting I will grow deeper in Love with my savior as he reveals more of himself through his work.

Until next week! Goodnight. ❤