Today I ran across this picture on my Timehop:
It’s not the type of picture that would normally elicit memories from the entire day because I probably posted a million similar pictures. This picture however brought with it an array of unexpected emotion.
2 years ago today I sat alone in my living room with my ridiculously pitiful pup and wrote the last blog post I have had any desire to write. I sat for hours with tear stained cheeks and typed my heart out in my Microsoft Word document. I hit saved, exited the program, and never posted it.
So here it is, the last blog post I wrote on January 13, 2015. Take heart half way through, it gets a little better toward the end
I wish I had nice things to say to you, but I can’t think of any right now.
So far you have brought pain and bitter heartache.
I want this to be a letter about all about the positive things, the things you have in store, the secrets to come, the adventures to be had, no negative and no bad…
but it can’t be.
Because with all of the things that are in store and all of the adventures to be had, there is still a bitter ache.
2015 will never be what I thought it should be.
Every happy thing that happens, the things I will want to shout from the rooftop,
the things that make me want to pick up the phone and call home,
will immediately remind me
that 2015 will never be what I thought it should be.
And when the days get hard and I feel low,
when I am in the grocery store and I can’t find the right aisle,
when I have more kids in my house and need advice or just an understanding ear
I will again remember
that 2015 will never be what I thought it should be.
No matter what else happens, 2015, when I look back at you it will sting.
Along with the good memories will come the heartache
Along with the adventures will come a sharp pain
2015 will never be what I thought it should be.
It’s 2015 and 10 days ago my mom died.
2015 will never be what I thought it should be.
Don’t stop reading yet though, because the good part is coming.
For me, 2015 has been heartache and pain beyond what I have known before
but 2015 is not what my mom thought it would be either.
You see, my mom was battling Leukemia, she had been battling it in one form or another for over 2 years. She had undergone extensive chemo, lost all of her hair, had a catheter in her chest, been through a bone marrow transplant, and lost her life as she had previously known it to be. She didn’t have the energy to work, or the immune system to spend time around many other people.
Her life had become something that she never thought it would be.
But she didn’t quit.
She persevered, she ran the race and she finished well.
She loved to the end.
She loved the people that others took for granted.
She loved the downcast and the overbearing.
She knew the love of Jesus and she gave love from Jesus.
Her life had become something that she never thought it would be,
but that didn’t matter,
because Jesus was still the same.
He was the same for her
and I know
that even though 2015 will never be what I thought should be
He will be the same for me too.
and 2015, even though you bring me pain,
I know you brought my mom peace
I know that right now she is Singing With the Saints.
So even though I am angry enough to throw things at you, and I am extremely conflicted about my feelings on the next sentence… on behalf of my mom I will say,
And for one reason or another, I never wrote that last sentence. I have no idea or memory of what I was planning to put there. Today I sit in a different living room typing once again with tear stained cheeks while eating crackers to curb the nausea that has come with the pregnancy of my second child and trying to my keep my first child from chewing on my toes with his brand new, really sharp teeth (babies are gross).
In September 2015 I found out I was pregnant for the first time, and I realized in that moment that this letter was accurate. For the rest of my life it will never be what I thought it should be. There are still so many happy days, and the years have looked much brighter than the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015 looked for my family, but the ache that comes with loss never really dulls or goes away, you just kind of learn to live differently.
I have also learned that while the first half of the letter is accurate mostly on the days when big things happen, the second half of the letter is even more accurate every single day. Jesus is still the same, and He is enough. He doesn’t take the pain away, because pain is part of life on this sin riddled Earth, but He holds us through it, He gives us the strength to continue, and He gives us joy even in the hard times.
So I want to encourage you this year, if you are or find yourself in a place of loss, depression, shame, guilt, fill in the blank, look to Jesus. He is the author and perfecter of our faith, He is there in every season, and as I have seen over and over again the past 2 years
HE MAKES ALL THINGS NEW
*Sorry my first post in 2 years was sappy and full of tears, hopefully in the years to come I will fill these pages with much more upbeat words.*
When you can’t find (any of) your (15 brand new) journal(s)…
December has been a gold mine of memories for me. I’m not sure why this is the month that has brought out all of the memories, but it would seem that December is a month of nostalgia. I remember the fuzzy socks my mom wore all winter long. They were giant and comfortable and she always had them on in the winter, and it never failed that underneath those fuzzy socks her toes were perfectly painted a deep red to go with the theme of December.
I have memories of hot chocolate and marshmallow crème, because it melted better than regular marshmallows, memories of cowboy Santa’s, moose, and a million random Christmas decorations that she picked up (probably from Goodwill) that didn’t really match anything else that she put in the house.
I have childhood memories of coming home from Christmas vacation in NM to a house still decorated and a tree still up, ornaments still hung and stocking still stuffed. It was like Christmas after Christmas when we came home because my parents always saved Christmas with our immediate family for after the festivities with extended family when we traveled. I remember the year of the fold out doll house, it was the exact one that I wanted. I remember the year I got a sewing machine and my grandma took me to buy a few extra necessities. I remember how excited my grandma was that I was interested in sewing. I remember that year my mom putting extra work into making sure someone could help me understand the basics of my machine (because she didn’t sew), thanks Mrs. Jeananne…
We didn’t have a lot of set traditions around the holidays, but it didn’t matter. Each year was unique and I remember them for that very reason. Christmas won’t be quite the same this year without fuzzy socks, red toes, and hodge-podged décor, but I still have Rudolph hanging on my front door to remind me of the little things that made my mom happy and to remind me that no tragedy is too big for God to heal, and if we look hard enough we can still experience joy in the details.
Lord, thank you for today and for the people you have placed in my life. Thank you for joy and for a better second half of the year. More than anything, thank you for reminding me that you never leave my side, and I am only far from you when I choose not to pursue you. Please give me a humble heart and a genuine desire to pursue you no matter my circumstances.
Matthew 5:2-12 (ESV)
“And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
My prayer for myself right now is that I would be a better example of what it looks like to be called “blessed” by the God who created the universe and then sent His only Son to leave every comfort of His home and step into a world that was/is completely hostile to Him so that we could experience a true and lasting relationship with our creator and the only true King.
I feel like Clint and I are in a slightly new phase of life.
We have almost reached our initial goal for our 5-year plan. Granted, it did not all go as anticipated. I think we had kind of hoped that while we faithfully followed the heart God gave us for foster care he would, within that time span, begin building our forever family. But it is not our job to determine our future, it is simply our job to obey the calling God places on our lives.
(Image is a link to source)
And so we have. And it has been a roller coaster, but we have been thankful for the opportunities placed in front of us. We have had a total of 2 placements, 4 kids in our home. It has been quite an adventure.
This being said, we also know that we are only human, and when life throws you more than you can handle you have to lean on Christ to provide. So right now he has provided us a time of rest. A break from the hard parts of fostering, a time of renewal so that we may follow what He has in store for us next faithfully and without hesitation.
While I know this time is essential, I must admit I am not very good at it. I long to keep my heart open to what is next, and I pray that God is working to put all the pieces in place while I rest. The song playing through my mind is that of Bethany Dillon “You can do more in my waiting, than in my doing I can do.”
That being said, I spend a lot of time online hunting through different websites that could be important for our next steps when rest time is over. I have combed through websites like International Justice Mission, The International Mission Board, A21 Campaign, Noonday Collection, Countless seminaries, and many different masters programs to get an idea of what is out there.
Out of all the websites I have combed through God has placed one on my heart to specifically share with you.
As a foster mom there is a website that I am ever aware of, and regularly perusing.
Every state has a website full of children in foster care whose parents rights have been terminated. This means they are officially in custody of the state, they have no mom and no dad. No parents to ever show up in court for them, no parents to schedule visits with. They are in limbo. These are the kids who end up turning 18 and aging out of the system with no family ties to walk with them through their adult years, no parents to teach them about taxes, jobs, relationships, or parenting.
And it is for these kids that I would
ask DARE you to pray for an open heart.
I Double. Dog. Dare. You. to allow your heart to be opened to the scary things God might call you to if only you would let Him.
I Double. Dog. Dare. You. to sit down with your spouse tonight and pray for God to break your heart for what breaks His, pray that He would give you His eyes, and pray that He would give you faith like you have never had before.
I Double. Dog. Dare. You. to click the link below and not fall in love with at least one of these kids who desperately need The Church to take Christ’s commands seriously, and step up.
It would be easy to put one verse here from James, but because the whole chapter ~book in fact~ is so clear to speak about how we, as Christians, are to respond to our broken world full of broken people in need of an incredibly grace-filled, healing Savior, I will put the entire chapter to give the verse context.
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
Blessed in the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no on say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts on one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. The desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
If anyone things he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. “
James 1 (ESV)
I really want to add James 2 as well, but you get the picture, and if you’d like you can go on and read the rest of the book. Actually, please read the rest of the book.
On Monday I drove to Missouri to see my grandparents.
I wasn’t expecting anything special, just a quiet visit with my grandparents because I don’t see them often enough.
I got a lot more than I had expected. It’s cool how God shows up when you least expect it. It’s amazing how the littlest things can often feel like stitches sewing up a broken heart.
I have always seen my mom in my grandpa. I think they are so much alike.
They share an adventurous spirit, a gypsy soul that can only be tamed by an incredibly gifted personality, and even then only for a short time. They share a wild side, a mischievous personality that is always up to the best kinds of no-good. The kind that may get them into a little bit of trouble, but that also makes a situation feel light-hearted and that seems to draw people to them. They are fun, and they are unique.
But on Monday when I pulled into the driveway it was not my grandpa that seemed to bring back the memories of my mom. It was her mom. My grandma. The one with the incredibly gifted personality that every gypsy soul needs in their life. It was her expression and how she came outside to greet me when I pulled up, with her hands on her hips and squinting into the sun. I could almost see my mom.
I miss that.
I stayed with my grandparents for three days and it brought healing that I never anticipated.
I saw my mom in my grandma like I never realized. I saw her in the compassion and matter-of-fact way that she spoke. I saw her in the busy-body that is my grandma, the never-sits-still always-ready-to-help attitude that has always been my grandma. I saw her in the little things that I never thought to think about.
God used small moments. I found healing in the way that our conversation flowed. In the fact that even when we had nothing to say it was ok. I found comfort through watching her work and interact with the people around her. I found comfort because I felt almost like I was with my mom.
I am so thankful for my grandparents. I am thankful for how he put my mom together using their personalities. I am thankful that I have time with them to know where I come from. I am thankful for their past and how it shaped their present, and I am thankful for how God used their past to shape the woman that I called mom.
God used the smallest moments of my time to bring little bits of healing that I can only pray will be the beginning of a renewed hope in my life.
I could write about so many different things right now. My life has had a lot of twists and turns lately and the emotions have all kind of jumbled up inside of me. Which means that at just about any moment in time I am likely to have a complete emotional breakdown (which is super neat, because if you know me, or anyone else in my immediate family, you know that we just don’t cry like normal humans…). Crying at the drop of a hat and random moments in my life, ya know, the moments in which tears don’t even make sense and I cannot explain why they are there, has been a pretty major life change in and of itself (for me and my sweet husband who has no idea each time why I have just totally lost it in the car while we were singing and dancing to fun songs just 30 seconds earlier. I am sure he is rethinking our marriage or at least looking up mental hospitals….. Jk. He loves me and has handled this so well.) But here is the really crazy part, when I am not having an odd emotional moment I am simply a 5’2″ 100lb picture of complete apathy. And it is the worst. I know there are real emotions inside of me that care about things but they are all so tangled up that it seems the only thing that can come out is apathy. Am I alone here? When all the other feelings are just too much or too tangled, or buried too deep….
I probably have you all very confused right now, because if I don’t see you daily or you’re not in my immediate family I have done a terrible job of keeping you informed and I really am sorry. So let’s do a quick recap:
January: I’m not explaining this one, you can read some previous posts here If you want to know more about what life was like in January. Along with the hard stuff though we also received a foster placement of a 3 and 4 year old which was mostly fun (except the potty training) but there will be a later post about all of that.
February: the company that Clint works for made some huge cutbacks and laid off over 300 people including like 40% (maybe 30? Math is not my strong suit) of his division including him.
March: other things…
April: clint got a job, this is good news but it meant uprooting our lives and moving to Dallas where we know a grand total of 2 people. We are starting over again (more on this later too). Also the day after we moved here the kids went back to their biological family (again, more later), it was not planned out like the last placement but it wasn’t really a surprise either. It was a loss all the same. We miss them, but we are trusting that God loves them more than we do and that He will take care of them when we cannot.
All of these things by themselves Are hard, but by themselves I think I probably would have handled them better. All together it is just a lot. I miss my Lufkin people. It’s so cool how God created a family for us all over the world and we were privileged to spend three years with our family in Lufkin. I know God has planted family here as well, but seeking them out is a long and vulnerable process.
I did not write all of this so that you will pity me. People have had harder times and there will always be someone who is going through something. Writing helps me understand what is going on inside of me.
Currently I am taking delight in a passage of scripture I read a couple days ago via She Reads Truth.
“and there I will give her vineyards, and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope” Hosea 2:15
Achor translates to trouble. We all will go through times of trouble. I will hold on to the promise that God will turn my valley of trouble into a door of hope.
The current place that we are calling home. 🙂
Excerpts from my Journal while Traveling
“Lord, You are the master craftsman. You have made everything I have seen and been in awe of. I know that You can heal mom and give her a long, full earthly life.
I also know that mom is tired, and that she is looking forward to her long, full heavenly life with You.
Whatever she decides through this process, help us to be understanding and at peace.
Please teach me to be humble and obedient. Help me to really listen to Your words and to be sensitive to go where you lead.
Give me a longing for ‘the least of these’ and a heart so full of compassion that standing still simply isn’t an option.
I know your timing is perfect, though it makes no sense to me.”
“… when we got back to the village our hosts wanted to hear more about the Living God. I got to share about how Jesus was born, how he lived, died and how he rose again so that we could live with Him forever. I got to share about how this news took away my fear of death and gave me hope for a future.
And then it was like someone else started talking even though it was my voice, and they were sharing about things in my life that felt far too personal to be sharing with total strangers whom didn’t even speak my language.
I started talking about mom and what my family is currently walking through. I shared about how mom is not afraid of the possibility of death and about how I have hope and peace despite my sadness because I know I have an eternity to spend with her after death.”
I never had any intention of sharing my situation, but obviously God had other plans. It felt so weird to say those things out loud, and even as I was saying them I wasn’t really believing that things were going to work out the way they did.
We went to a lot of villages and came home with a million stories, but this will always be the one that I remember the most. It taught me about vulnerability. It reminded me that, even though we often times feel like we need to hide the hard parts of our lives and only let people in on the good, that is not how God intended us to do life.
It doesn’t do anyone any good for me to pretend like I am not sad when I am. The beauty of doing life with Christ is that there is joy even in the pain. I am thankful that God gave me an opportunity to share what was going on in our lives with people on the other side of the world who have never heard of a hope beyond this life, or a peace that surpasses all understanding, or joy regardless of circumstance. So I will end this blog the same way I ended my journal that day,
“Lord, I pray that the words You gave us today would take root in the hearts of the people we shared with.
I pray that they would have an unquenchable desire to hear more
and that You would send someone to tell them more.”