A Thanksgiving for the broken.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, a day of feasting, family, and football. What could be better? Over the years it hasn’t been hard to feel thankful as the day approaches. This year has been different, this year has broken me. I don’t feel thankful. I don’t even want to try.

I was sitting in church when the pastor started his message on thanksgiving, he said thanksgiving is just that. It’s about stopping and GIVING thanks. It’s not thanks”feeling.” I felt convicted and rightfully so.. The Lord has been allowing difficultly to come, things to be taken away. We’ve had to wait longer for things than we thought, cancel trips, deal with sickness. And worst of all, I no longer have my dad.. my friend.. my rock and the one when trials came I could lean on his biblical grounding and encouragement.

But we are not called to give thanks just when life is all together – when we feel like it… we are called to give thanks to our Father in all things. Tonight my family and I visited a church where an African Children’s Choir performed. These kids come from the most broken parts of Africa, orphaned, abandoned and yet they’re up there praising God. My troubles and grief seemed to pale in comparison and these sweet kids taught me what I need to do. Lift my hands, and praise through the pain. Dance when my heart is breaking.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I don’t have many words of encouragement, or a profound message to share. I just want you to know if you’re hurting like I am. Stay pro-active, keep dancing, keeping praising. Even if it’s the last thing you want to do. This is a song that is ministering to me tonight.

 

 

I just need to lie down.

The words came out of her mouth, words I never thought I’d hear from my little sister on a Sunday afternoon… “Dad’s not going to make it.” I fell to my knees but it soon turned into being sprawled out on the grass in my back yard. I was too week to kneel. Too overwhelmed to keep my head up. I needed to lie down.

It was the first time in my life I was that overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with grief, pain, shock, and my head was spinning so fast I almost blacked out. It would not be the first time.. over the last few times there have been several moments where I would need to lie down so I wouldn’t black out. But in every circumstance someone was with me. When I saw my dad is the hospital after the accident. My friend Ramon had been in my dad’s room all night. Keeping guard. Waiting for the rest of the family to come. I was the last one to get there. He escorted me to my dad’s room. Then walked out to give me space. If he didn’t walk me through those doors, I might have passed out. Thank you Ramon.

Once my dad was transferred to hospice, we were waiting outside the room to get to see him. The feeling came again and I had to lie down in the hallway. My sweet husband caught on and sat down so I could put my head in his lap until we were allowed to go into his room.

There have been several other times since the summer that has happened. It wasn’t something I’d ever thought would happen during the grieving process. But it made a common Psalm come to life in a whole new way. Psalm 23:1-2

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.

He makes me lie down in green pastures. When I’ve heard that psalm before I always envisioned a picnic… Just a lovely day in the park. But today as I read it, I see the Lord letting us lie down and rest. Life it just too much, sometimes we can’t push through. Sometimes we need to stop and lie down in the hallway or on the grass. We need to just be. The Psalm continues in verse 4.

           Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[c]
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

He was specifically talking about Death. Life is no picnic. But do you know happens when we lie down… Let’s look at verse 3.

   He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness[b]
    for his name’s sake.

I don’t know about you, but I need some soul restoration right now. I feel worn and weak. I’m thankful for this promise from God. He is our good shepherd. He know what we need. Friends, it’s okay to lie down. But in the midst of that exhaustion, lie down your needs, wants, and pain unto the father. He’s the one who can do the restoration work.

Today I visited my dad’s “resting place.” Such a strange phrase since I know he probably hasn’t stopped partying since he was taken home. I wasn’t planning on going today, I’ve been avoiding it. But wanting to go at the same time. We got caught in traffic downtown and decided to go home another way… right by memorial park. Justin asked if I wanted to stop. I wanted to say NO, I really don’t! But I did. And he knew I needed to. As soon as we drove through the gate I felt that weight, and grief come over like a flood. I just barely made it to the spot and collapse and laid there for a few minutes. I was able to pray and as I did the clouds opened and sunshine burst through. It was warm. Like a hug from our heavenly father. I miss my dad. I always will. But I know if I let myself lie down. Restoration will come.

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Justin took this picture. I almost deleted it… But it’s where I’m at. Miss you dad.

I’m just a grasshopper.

31 But the men who had gone with him said, “We can’t attack those people! They’re too strong for us!” 32 So they began to spread lies among the Israelites about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored is one that devours those who live there. All the people we saw there are very tall. 33 We saw Nephilim there. (The descendants of Anak are Nephilim.) We felt as small as grasshoppers, and that’s how we must have looked to them.” Numbers 13:31-33

Yesterday was a rough day, we are still very new to everything down here. I was called out of service because my usually very happy baby decided to start screaming and not stop… My second youngest loves to bolt and not come back and then when you proceed to talk to her she says “no! mommy!” With a very cheesy grin. I’m tired. Not sleeping and battling stress. God has led us to Florida and we obeyed but it’s not easy. We need to adjust to a new church, new routine, new friends and trust our house will eventually sell and Justin will find work after school. I’m feeling as small as a grasshopper. My sister asked if I was okay yesterday and I wasn’t. “I feel like I’m in a spiritual desert!”

The story of the twelve spies of Israel came to mind. They were lead very miraculously out of the hands of pharaoh and slavery. Moses told the leader of each tribe to scout of the land the Lord promised to them. They did for 40 days. And you know what they found?

“23 When they came to the Eshcol Valley, they cut off a branch with only one bunch of grapes on it. They carried it on a pole between two of them. They also brought some pomegranates and figs. 24 So they called that valley Eshcol [Bunch of Grapes] because of the bunch of grapes the Israelites cut off there.”

Grapes! So large they put them on a pole. How amazing is that? It was a place of great wealth. Now what’s the hold up on setting up camp? Oh right… those giants that made them feel as small as grasshoppers. Well, spoiler alert! They WERE comparable to grasshoppers. Who could blame them for being timid and saying no way, this is too much. Too big.

Do you remember what happens next? They were exiled to the desert where the whole generation died off and never got to experience the abundance of fruit that comes from faith. There were only two in the group who were spared. Caleb and Joshua. What did Caleb say that spared him?

“30 Caleb told the people to be quiet and listen to Moses. Caleb said, “Let’s go now and take possession of the land. We should be more than able to conquer it.” 

Not only did he say they could conquer it, but they should be “more than able.” Why? Why did he believe that? He had FAITH. But more than that he wasn’t backing down to a challenge. He knew the Lord, he saw the miracle of the Red Sea and he didn’t let his fears and reality of their size fog the realty that God is able, He is greater, and he follows through with his promises.

I’ve been very focused on the Giants. As a result, I’ve been believing lies. He is able, this wasn’t right. I’m too tired to press on. I’ll just stay here. etc.

I need to look back and see the miraculous ways God has already moved, then be willing to fight with faith the giants that are here and are to come. I have a daily choice. Keep walking. Keep fighting. Pitch my tent. What other option do I have? The desert? No thanks. It’s time to sharpen the blades. Get on my knees. And recommit to His best for my life.

I don’t know what you’re facing. Maybe it’s great loss? A lot of change? Or just the weariness of life. Don’t be afraid to trust the one who is greater than all just because a task might be towering over you. Just because it is promised, doesn’t mean it won’t take work.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;

we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ Romans 8:31-39

Home again – Great Is the Lord!

After an intense few weeks of packing, minimizing, and two full days of driving. We arrived safely in Fort Lauderdale. We are relieved to have made it and are ready to settle into a new routine. Justin starts his dispatch training October 9th. Thank you for your prayers. We are tired but thankful we get to fill mom’s house with some crazy grandkids.

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I have so much I would like to share, stories of His grace and goodness. They will come… another day. For the moment, I’d like to share a Psalm that has helped me muster the strength to continue on through sleepless nights and waves of grief. As well as, SO much change. God is Good… Even when situations are bad.

Psalm 145

Great Is the Lord

A Song of Praise. Of David.

145 I will extol you, my God and King,
    and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you
    and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and his greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall commend your works to another,
    and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
    and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
    and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
    and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
    and his mercy is over all that he has made.

10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
    and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
    and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
    and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

[The Lord is faithful in all his words
    and kind in all his works.] 
14 The Lord upholds all who are falling
    and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand;
    you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and kind in all his works.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
    he also hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord preserves all who love him,
    but all the wicked he will destroy.

21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
    and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

 

Thank you Father for your provision, your goodness, your grace. You’re good when things are bad. We don’t have to understand, we just have to trust. Help me praise when I’m weak and trust when I want to doubt.

Goodnight friends.

 

 

I have a choice. Today I choose…

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I was standing in my garage, helping my husband move boxes down from the attic. I found a shoe box full of some of my random stuff from before we were married. Mostly pictures. I quickly flipped through them holding my breath and then accidently said out loud.. “phew, thank goodness.” After realizing I said it out loud I looked up and saw Justin watching me and he said “none of your dad?”

You see we’ve made it through the week of him on life support. We spent his last days singing to him, holding him, praying over him. We honored all his wishes for burial. We planned the memorial, and did our best to honor him and God at the service. But now what?

What can I do when everything that has to get done has been done and I’m still left without a father? This week I’ve been doing something, I’ve been getting angry. While teaching my son to ride his bike, I get angry that my dad will never see him ride it. While packing to move to Florida, I get frustrated knowing I’m moving into my parents’ house… But now it’s “mom’s house.” While at the mall I see old couples in their 70’s & 80’s and I get mad cause the Lord chose to take my dad home and now my mom is left again to pick up the pieces. Friends, I’ve been battling.

I know God is good. I know he was gracious in how everything came about. I’m richly blessed to have the family I have. But knowing all that doesn’t suffice. I have to make a choice in how I’m going to act upon that. I need to choose to be thankful. I need to choose to remember all the good. When I stop running from the pain and memories and take a moment to pause and think, I can be thankful. The pain won’t subside but the anger will fade and the peace will start to overflow. I can’t keep running.

This is a song my church sings, it’s been one I’ve been trying to sing when I get angry and frustrated.

“My heart is filled with thankfulness

To him who bore my pain;

Who plumbed the depths of my disgrace,

And gave me life again;

Who crushed my curse of sinfulness

And clothed me with his light

And wrote His law of righteousness

With power upon my heart.

 

My heart is filled with thankfulness

To Him who walks beside;

Who floods my weaknesses with strength

And causes fears to fly;

Whose every promise is enough

For every step I take,

Sustaining me with arms of love

And crowning me with grace.

 

My heart is filled with thankfulness

To him who reigns above,

Whose wisdom if my perfect peace,

Whose every thought is love,

For every day I have on earth

Is given by the King

So I will give my life, my all,

To love and follow Him.”

Now I have to make the right choice. I need to not shy away from certain activities because it brings memories that are painful. I need to stop and breathe when I get frustrated and list things that I’m thankful for. It’s not easy, it won’t ever be. But God is gracious and will sustain. I’m reminded and challenged by Colossians 3:15. It says, “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called to one body. And be thankful.”

Today I choose to be thankful. I choose to lift up my hurting heart and praise.

 

**I’d like to add a special thanks to all of you who have encouraged me to keep writing. It’s not easy. It makes me challenge my innermost self and I usually don’t like what I find. But I want to be a vessel that God can use, however feeble my efforts might feel. If I only bless one person it is worth it. Thank you all again for your continued prayers for us as a family. They are felt and so appreciate.**

 

 

We’re moving on.

My husband, Justin, and I have been married for five years. We have four babies under four and have been blessed to live by Justin’s family in Delaware. We also have attended the same church and deeply love our community. But sometimes God calls you to move on when you’re most comfortable.

Justin is an incredibly hard working, faithful and dedicated husband and father. I was blessed with a father like that and I wasn’t sure if there were any guys left like him… But thankfully I snatched up a good one. 😉 After two deployments in Iraq his dream of staying through till retirement in the army was no longer for the best. And selfishly I didn’t mind when he told me that he was planning on getting out!

Three years ago he started liberty online full-time in hopes of finding a new career path. He was working full time with a very sick and pregnant wife and a baby under one. He’s been full-time in school while working until this summer. It’s taken sometime but we’ve finally found his passion in the field of Aviation. He earned his private pilot license and through that learned about dispatch. In June he signed up to go to fort Lauderdale, FL (where my family is located) to get his FAA certication for dispatch so Lord willing he can start a career he really loves by the new year.

My father passed very suddenly, but before that happened his advice was very instrumental in our decision to take the leap and sign up for dispatch. We had no idea when we signed up to come to fort Lauderdale in the fall that my dad wouldn’t be around. But God knew. We believe his hand has been guiding us in this direction.

My mom has graciously offered the back part of their home to us to move into. By October 1st we will be on our way home to Florida. When my dad was in the hospital I promised him I’d stick close to mom and help her as much as possible in this next season We have every intention of keeping that promise for as long as the Lord guides us. I’m thankful for my husband who loves my family just as much as I do and is more than willing and excited for this move. I’m ready to get home.

We have two big prayer request. The first is we own a home. We put it on the market a week ago and today is our first showing. We know we’re coming to the end of the traditional house hunting season, but we also realize we have a great big God who can move a house in seconds if that’s his will. Please pray we get an offer soon, and it’s one that is financially acceptable and we have no problems selling. The second would be please pray Justin will find a dispatch job shortly after completing the course. He is anxious to get started.

We covet your prayers! We l know if God isn’t in this, than it’s all for nothing. We hope and pray he is glorified through our family.

“A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9IMG_20170803_191004_973