It has been an emotional week.
My dad has been gone for a little over a year and yet, thoughts of his passing have come to the forefront of my mind for no particular reason. At times I can hardly wrap my mind around it. My dad went home to heaven the day after the funeral of one of our dearest friends, who had unexpectedly passed away just the week before.
The friend whose birthday would be this Monday~the day before my dads. They entered this earth a day apart and left this earth a week apart.
Thoughts of the trials my children have faced, and continue to face have also weighed on me. Thoughts of missing my sister-in-law as I watch her son get married tonight have brought tears of happiness mixed with tears of sorrow.
And then, thoughts of the horrors other countries are facing have been a constant, even as I write this.
I have struggled with what to post this week. I have prayed and asked God for words to encourage, and yet He has been silent.
And I couldn’t understand why.
I wondered if perhaps he didn’t want me to write a thing. Certainly I don’t want to post some cliche story that God never intended I share.
Sometimes you may wonder why continual “bad” hits you from every direction and God seems to remain silent.
Here’s the thing.
For me, He hasn’t been silent. He has been speaking to my soul, but my mind was screaming too loud to hear Him. My eyes were focused on the emotions I was feeling instead of on Him.
My scripture reading landed on Job this week. I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to read it. I complained. I told God I needed something uplifting, but He knew exactly what I needed.
Quotes that I had scheduled a month ago popped up on my Holding Hope page all week, and it still didn’t hit me. Quotes suggesting I pray about what my mind wanders to. Quotes reminding me to keep praying, even if all I have left is a whisper.
(1 Thessalonians 5:17, Philippians 4:6)
Quotes that told me to just Be Still.
My mind was anything but still. My thoughts were running a marathon inside it. But today in the tiny moments of quiet I had, I prayed again.
I finally heard Him.
His whispers through the cracks of distractions touched my heart.
(I Kings 19:11&11, Matthew 14:28-30)
He kept telling me to be still and as much as I argued that I was being still, I knew deep down I wasn’t. So I stopped. I stopped trying to figure out all the answers on my own. I stopped and I just sat. I sat on my bed and I asked Jesus to sit with me. Just to sit there and hold my hand and still my heart. (Matthew 28:20, Jeremiah 29:11)
And He did.
And He told me to tell you to do the same.
How easily I allow circumstances to weigh me down and steal my peace and joy as I wonder what’s going to happen. How easily I miss my loved ones and fall into a sadness I don’t want to climb out of, instead of realizing the comfort and hope of heaven.(1 Thessalonians 4:13) How easily I try to control situations and find myself in continual unrest. How easily I focus on the bad and miss all the good.
I miss Him.
We’re all looking for hope. For answers.
We scroll through social media looking for that quote or devotional that will give us those answers we’re seeking. We even open our bibles, as if a verse will magically appear to answer our “whys”. God often uses all of these things to help those in need, myself included, but sometimes in the looking we are striving in our flesh to find the answers that only God knows. Sometimes the answer is simply Him, and that’s all we need to know.
(Hebrews 6:18 & 19)
Once we get to the place of that realization our eyes are opened. We see life through Him and in His stillness, everything is changed. We suddenly understand that we don’t have to know all the answers, we just need to be still with Him. (Ephesians 1:18)
Don’t stop praying sweet friend, even if it feels like God is silent. He is not. Keep seeking Him in the stillness until His stillness pushes out all the distractions and it is just you and your Savior~
And through faith, you once again see your life through His eyes. The eyes of of Him who loves you and gave Himself for you.
(Galatians 2:20, 2 Corinthians 4:17 & 18)
Happy memories can dance through the recesses of our minds and bring so much joy to an ordinary day. Memories give us hope, because we can see the entire picture that the happiness was painted around.
Tears can stay with us as well. Just as much as the happy memories can linger, so can the memories that brought us tears.
When I set my mind on one or the other, it amazes me how many of those moments come flooding back. The good and the bad. The moments that brought tears are so distinctive to me. Some have stayed with me from a very early childhood. They are etched into my brain and I can remember them like they were yesterday.
Kindergarten and the first death of a beloved pet.
The stinging words of a supposed friend.
Having to move for the first of many times.
My parents fighting.
My parents separation.
Leaving all my friends and moving far from our country home to a city filled with people.
A heart broken by young love.
The cool girl with her mean words.
The word cancer and the death of my grandfather after a year of hospital visits and treatments.
Watching the agonizing pain and heartache my mother was going through every single day because of it.
Leaving my family to move 700 miles away.
The words “your child will have birth defects. Termination is an option”.
Losing my best friend.
The mama tears of watching your children through every phase of their lives as they face all the same heartaches you did.
A crushing betrayal.
10 wasted years of unforgiveness.
Losing my mama.
Death upon death upon death.
Losing my daddy.
Unanswered prayers of a begging heart.
Too many tears to mention.
In those moments I did not want to hear~
“God does everything for a reason”
“We can’t have rainbows without rain”.
Or any of the cliche things that people say, because they don’t know what to say.
In those moments I just wanted to cry. And I wanted someone to cry with me and understand my pain.
Tears are very lonely.
Tears have a profound impact on us. Heartache can shape our souls if we allow it. Our days will be filled with misery or bitterness, anger or resentment, self pity or loss of hope. Sometimes even the loss of our will to live. And when the tears beat down on us day after day after day, sometimes we give up the fight, because there’s no fight left in us.
If we continually look back at our life we can have hope again because we can see that somehow when we truly believed all was lost, God brought us out to the other side. We were never alone. (Joshua 1:9) He was always with us, we just lost sight of him through the tears that blurred our vision and blinded our hearts.
Whatever might be causing your tears today will be a memory for your tomorrow. God does not just paint the beautiful pictures of happy moments. He paints His goodness and peace and comfort into every heartbreaking moment we go through. One day you will look back and see the entire picture God had painted.
His word tells us that He puts every one of our tears in a bottle, and writes them all down in a book. A bottle is a container. It holds things. Every single one of your tears are precious to Him and when you thought you couldn’t hold it together any longer and it was the end of your story, He was holding you and writing what you didn’t think you could. (Psalm 56:8&9)
Yes, if we set our minds on the heartache we will be overcome by the grief and so, our loving Heavenly Father and Friend bids us~ set your mind on things above. (Colossians 3:1)
Time passes so quickly and the moments that I thought would break me are the moments I see God putting His loving arms around me, picking me up and carrying me through.
(Psalm 34:18&19) I feel the comfort He gave and the peace that overcame the heartache. (John 14:27) I see that He did answer my prayers, despite the tears that blinded me in those moments. And I look ahead to the day I am in His presence when His loving hand will wipe away every single tear that has fallen from my eyes. (Revelation 7:17, 21:4)
Each tear He holds in His bottle sets my heart on things above. Each tear reminds me of my Savior’s love. Each tear reminds me that He wept along with me and understands.
(John 11:35) Each tear reminds me that my Savior suffered for me, yet He did it with joy.
(Hebrews 12:2) Each tear reminds me that I am never ever alone, and as I look back each tear reminds me of the beautiful happy moments God created for me through it all.
Because each tear makes every happy memory so much sweeter. And the happy far outweighs the sad. (Psalm126:1-3)
Don’t hold on to the tears. Let Jesus hold them. You hold on to the good. Every single good memory~and just believe. You will see His glory. (John 11:40) because everything good and everything perfect always comes from God. (James 1:17)
And because He is writing your book, and every story He has ever written always has a beautiful ending.
(2 Peter 1:19, Psalm 139:1-18)
After I gave birth to my second child, I began hemorrhaging. Those moments in time are so vivid to me and yet, they almost feel like a dream~The team of nurses rushing me down to surgery, a cold surgical room composed of nothing but steel, the anesthesiologist telling me to count backwards, and then waking up next to my husband.
Of all the things I remember, there is one memory that stands out the most to me. The absence of fear and the incredible, overwhelming peace that washed over me as my last thoughts were~ I am going to die and I am going to wake up with Jesus.
Words cannot express the comfort I felt.
It will last with me my lifetime.
In that moment there wasn’t a single thing I could do to control that situation. My life was in the hands of God and in my weakness, He was my strength.
It’s easy to talk about fear and having faith when you’re on the other side of it looking back. As the saying goes “Easier said than done”. We might think our faith is strong, but in a split second life can change. In times like those, we don’t have the chance to say- “hold on Crisis, let me get out my bible and notes and uplifting music so I can be in the right frame of mind”. Our dependence is totally and completely in the power of God. This is why meditating on His word every single day is so important. He promises that His promises will stay with us in those split second times of crisis.
But what about the moments in our lives where time is not our friend? Where split seconds turn into weeks or even months? The moments that time allows us to get inside our head and become overwrought with worry and fear? The times we know we should be meditating on His words but we find ourselves constantly meditating on the problem instead?
This is where I have been the last few days.
The same child whose birth caused my faith to go into high gear in a matter of seconds is going through a trying time with her own unborn child.
As a mother, it’s times like these that I have no idea how people can lean on their own strength instead of the power and strength of God.
Because I would crumble.
I readily admit that I am weak.
Not only is it in a mother’s heart to worry and sometimes fear for our children, it’s in the heart of everyone who loves deeply. When we love deeply we will do anything to help the one we love. To take their pain away. To make everything okay again. To give them comfort and peace and joy.
Even though time has been tempting me to worry and to fear, even though the nights have been long and my heart hurts for my child~ I know that there is not a single thing I can physically do to change the situation, just like the day that she was born. The only thing I can do is to cling to my faith in God’s promises and place all those worries and fears (over her worries and fears) into His hands.
Because when we are weak, He is strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-11
Because He loves us infinitely more than we could ever imagine. In fact, He loves my children infinitely more than I ever could.
Isaiah 49:15, 66:13
So I will praise Him through all of this. I will praise Him because no matter what happens, I know of His steadfast love for me. I know of His steadfast love for my daughter and for my grandchild who has yet to be born. I know that His Mercy is new every morning and that He is forever faithful. Lamentations 3:22-23
And I know that He is in complete control.
I am not~
But praise God because He is the I AM!
Exodus 3:14, John 14:6, 15:5
Today I want to encourage you. What is your heart and mind meditating on? The problem or the promises? Are you worrying or worshipping?
We need to come to grips with the fact that we are not in control and stop allowing fear and worry to control us by giving it our hearts and minds. Give it all to God. Believe me, I know it’s hard, but every time my mind starts meditating on anything besides His promises to me I know that I need to give it back to Him~
even if I have to repeat the process over and over again.
Because I know in my heart that He is the only One Who controls the outcome and that outcome will be what’s best because it’s given from the One Who gave everything for me.
In the last week I have been asked a very similar question on two separate occasions. The question went along the lines of~ What has God done for you this year?
I am embarrassed to admit that both times my mind went blank.
My immediate thought was~He took my dad. And for some reason I couldn’t get past that.
I didn’t want to answer. I wanted to get up and leave the room, partially because younger family members were waiting for my reply and partially because I’m a pastor’s wife, so shouldn’t I have my act together? Shouldn’t I come up with a million things God has done for me?
I could have plastered on a fake smile and given a rehearsed, cliche answer on God’s abundance. I knew all the right words to say. In my heart I know He has given me countless blessings, but in that moment that was all that I could think of.
My dad. He took my dad.
As I contemplated what to write for a post this week I knew that I wanted it to go along with Easter, but again my mind was drawing a blank. For some reason I had writer’s block. I mentioned it to my husband only minutes before I was asked for the second time~
what has God done for you this year?
I went down to my bedroom later and felt shame that I hesitated and could not answer in a way that would glorify my Savior.
As I lay in bed in the quiet darkness that night, I mulled over that question again and again and I truly believe God answered me.
A tender compassionate answer full of mercy and grace, patience and love~
Yes I took your dad Charisse, but that’s not the end of your story. I took him to heaven. I brought him home. Not only is he in the presence of the many loved ones that have gone on before him, but he is in My presence. That has given Me joy. He is home with me.
And I wept.
If it wasn’t for Easter. If it wasn’t for the horrific death Christ endured on the cross, my dad wouldn’t be in heaven today.
The breathtakingly beautiful part of the glorious story of Easter doesn’t end with the horror of that death. It begins with life after death and the incomprehensible knowledge that~
Jesus did it all with joy.
He was beaten and nailed to that cross. He hung in agony as He took the sins of all mankind upon Himself. He died for me and for you and he did it with joy.
Did you get that? Do you truly understand that?
He did it with JOY.
Because that’s how much He loves us.
That’s how much He loves my dad. That’s how much He loves you.
No matter what we go through or how hard our circumstances are, I have this hope to cling to~ Jesus did it with joy. For me.
If I had to do it over, my answer would be so different. God has done so many amazingly beautiful things for me each and every day. I know there will always be trials, there will always be sorrow and pain, sickness and suffering. There will always be heartache in the permanent form of death, but none of these things are the end of our story.
Love is. Jesus is. Heaven is.
And Easter is our promise of that joy.
What has God done for me this year? Everything. He’s done everything. And to know that He has done it with joy makes my heart sing. A love like that is almost unbelievable. How do I know it exists? I know because not only has He told me in His word, He continually reminds me when sorrow makes my heart forget.
I truly believe God gave me writer’s block because He wanted to be the author and finisher of my faith. Easter is the perfect first chapter. It’s ending is a beginning. A beginning overflowing with pure love and absolute joy.
Easter. For the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross that we might become the children of God. My dad is partaking in that reality in heaven even now. I get to partake of that reality here on earth.
All because of Jesus.
And because of that reality, my story has only just begun.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God...”
1 John 3:1
“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
When was the last time you laughed?
I mean really, truly laughed, holding nothing back. Laughed until you cried and your sides hurt and you couldn’t breathe?
Do you remember the freedom in that? Feeling like just for a moment all the cares of the world were pushed aside and you were free to let go and experience unfiltered joy? (Luke 6:21, Psalm 126:2)
If you cannot recall a time like this, perhaps you are living inside circumstances of sorrow, whatever that sorrow might be.
Maybe you didn’t even realize you were residing there, until you thought about how long it had been since you laughed in such a way. Maybe you’re sitting in circumstances of your own choosing or maybe you have no control over the sorrow that has enveloped your life. Whatever the case, I don’t want you to be stuck there and more importantly, God doesn’t want you stuck there. A life of being stuck in sorrow is not His plan for you.
I’ve looked back at articles I’ve written and realized that I can be a bit emotional at times. When God moves my heart so tremendously, it stirs a deep passion within me to want to share that with others.
Phrases I often use are:
God loves you so much.
God is always with you.
God will help you through anything.
Allow Him to hold you.
Cry out to Him.
All of these things are true, but might leave the reader feeling lost and questioning~
And so today, we’re going to start with the first 3 points on our journey through circumstances to joy. I’m going to show you some things that God has used in my own life to pull me out of my sorrow and help me see hope in the joy before me.
1. If you read my Ebook you know that my first point is always the same. The difference in how this point is applied often depends on the circumstances we are in. Whatever the circumstances are, this will always be the most important thing you can do. Ask God for help. (Matthew 11:28-30, Galatians 5:22a) I will never stop asking, even when I know deep in my heart that there are things I need to change. When I know that I should be implementing the steps in this article on a daily basis, but I don’t. When I am too emotionally and physically exhausted to push through and do those things, I continually just talk to God all day long. Even on those days that I fool myself into thinking joy will never come again, so “what’s the point?”~there is one thing I know to be true no matter what~ He will never leave me. He won’t abandon me. He will pull me through this. The Holy Spirit will minister to my heart and comfort me, even when life feels hopeless and joy feels far. God is always trying to help us but too often our circumstances tune Him out. Never stop asking God to help you, even if you feel like He is silent. He is helping you without you even realizing it. (John 14:16,18, Zephaniah 3:17, Isaiah 26:3&4
2. Realize that when you ask for help, the circumstances that follow are God’s way of helping you~you just need to open your eyes to see it. You know what usually makes me happy? Predictable, mundane, day in, day out schedules. Being in control. Knowing that each day holds its tasks and at the end of that day Mike and I will relax on the couch. Maybe we will talk or watch a few of our favorite shows. We will laugh, we’ll go to bed, I will feel fulfilled with what I accomplished that day. I’m that kind of person. I’m a schedule and list maker. I thrive on routine. I’m a control freak. If my house isn’t cleaned up and straightened at night with everything in its place, I can’t relax. I feel uneasy and unhappy. This need to be in control is just as bad as looking at material things for happiness. I’m looking at “the control I think I have over situations” to make me happy and last March when life went out of control and spiraled downwards month after month into continual heartbreak, I lost all control and my happiness along with it. I yearn for predictable and mundane. It’s how I’m wired. The past 3 weeks have been anything but. My dad passed away unexpectedly in October. Working on packing up his things has only been part of the “crazy busy” my life has been. Long days have gone into long evenings right into early mornings and the crazy busy beginning all over again. I found myself thinking I just want a normal day at home. I want to do some laundry, bake some cookies, clean my house, sit in front of my cozy fire drinking coffee or just watch TV! But as I complained about that busyness and thought about my prayer for help, the Holy Spirit showed me that because I have been so busy I haven’t had time to just sit and think. Usually “the sitting and thinking” leads to “the missing and crying”. As my head hit the pillow each night I realized I was so exhausted that I fell asleep quickly, as opposed to laying in the dark crying. And I knew it was God. God was helping me. It might not have been a way I would’ve chosen, it certainly wasn’t an easy way, but it was God’s way and it worked. He knows my crazy, emotional, over thinker brain far better than I do. (Psalm 139:2) Jesus is continually going to God on our behalf and I now wonder how many times through the years I missed the answers to the prayers I had prayed, just because they weren’t the solution I was looking for. (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25)
3. Stop listening to yourself (John 15:11) If God in all His wisdom did not intervene and answer my cries for help, I would be overthinking everything. My emotions are continually telling my brain that things will never change. Because I’m such an emotional person, I too often let my emotions dictate my life. I think all women~ whether they want to admit it or not~ are emotional. Our lovely hormones play a big part in that. When my emotions begin to dictate what my life story is, I start to believe it. I don’t like to admit this, but quite often since my dad died I have been scared. Not scared as in fearful, but scared as in “this unshakeable heaviness and lonely feeling.” Scared as in “this dark cloud of sadness will never go away. I will never see joy again.” The beginning of each day seems to be promising as I open God’s words to me and pray, but as the day slowly creeps by and thoughts bombard my mind, as my emotions kick me over and over again~ I feel as if God is very far away. That scares me. These are the times that we must realize our thoughts are not God’s thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9, Psalms 94:19), Even if we are struggling to believe it, we must go back to point number 1 and talk it out with God. Stop listening to ourselves and listen to what God is speaking over us. (Philippians 3:3) His words are truth, our emotions are not. He isn’t far away. He isn’t there only in the times we set aside to kneel and pray. He is our constant companion. A friend that sticks closer than a brother. A comforter and peace maker. He is the ONLY One who understands with 100% clarity and compassion what our heart is going through. (Psalms 139:1-18, Philippians 2:5, 4:6-7, 2 Timothy 1:7, Proverbs 16:3, Luke 2:10, John 15:11)
You can’t simply “choose joy” without God. You can’t wake up and just decide “Starting today, I’m going to be happy” without God. Our strength is not enough. It will never be enough. It doesn’t matter what kind of a personality you have, Satan knows your weakness and he will find a way to steal that joy. Only Jesus is the strength of our joy. Pray about these first few points this week. Ask God to open your heart and your eyes and show you what you’ve been missing. (Nehemiah 8:10)
I am so confident in the strength and power of God’s truths and the joy they speak over our circumstances, that I am adding a second post today. Scripture that you can print out and continually read throughout your day to comfort and encourage your heart.
You can have freedom from sorrow. You can laugh again~deep, heartfelt, freeing laughter from the depths of your soul. Laughter that comes from unfiltered joy. Laughter that only comes from God and the joy that only Jesus gives. Make that your goal this week. JOY.
How can I get my joy back?
If I was asked this question a year ago, I would have been very confident in how I responded.
Today I don’t know.
I guess that isn’t 100% true, sometimes I just “feel” like I don’t know. My emotions feel like a jumble of “I don’t knows”.
Even though there are a lot of good answers on how to find joy, I can tell you this, not all circumstances merit that cliche answer many people like to throw out there.
ie~ “choose joy”.
It isn’t always that simple. The “fake it till you make it” mentality doesn’t work when it comes to joy. Sure we can change our attitudes and mindset to reflect happiness, but in some circumstances the darkness is still buried deep inside, no matter our good intentions .
The good news is, there is Someone Who will always be our answer. THE answer to every heartbreaking circumstance this world throws at you.
Jesus~ first and foremost.
Actually, only Jesus.
He’s the answer.
God obviously knew that our human hearts would still struggle. He knows our frame. (Psalms 103:13-14) He is our strength through every circumstance. We’re the ones who forget. So he gave us His word. The Bible. And in it we find a wealth of wisdom on how to find joy.
The hard part is applying that wisdom to our everyday lives.
How do you find joy when you’ve lost more loved ones in the last year than ever before? How do you find joy after coming home from a heart wrenching funeral of the dearest friend, only to find your precious daddy gone without warning the very next day? How do you smile when your heart hurts terribly for friends and loved ones going through their own heart wrenching moments? Sickness, job loss, accidents, affairs, abusive relationships, death. When sleep won’t come because you can’t stop hurting for them? Or for yourself? When you feel like joy and Jesus are very far away?
And in the unexpected moments when you do catch yourself smiling and feel a little spark of that joy, you immediately feel guilt along with it.
Our little church has been bombarded with heartache lately. Truly tough stuff. It’s knocked the air out of our lungs as my husband and I try to minister.
Last week I woke up feeling like this heavy cloud was hanging over my life. Our lives. I just wanted everything to stop. I wanted to sit in front of my cozy fire, oblivious to my circumstances and forget everything. I wanted to smile again. I wanted to go back to when things were predictable and happy.
When I woke up feeling that way, I could almost picture that black cloud hovering above me and all I could utter was~
“God please help me.”
And He did.
God immediately reminded me of the story in the Old Testament about the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. (You can read about it here~Exodus 13:21-22, 40:34-38, Numbers 9:15-23, Psalms78:14)
If you’re not familiar, God led them with a cloud by day.
The moment God brought that picture into my head felt like freedom.
God was in that cloud.
It was His reminder to me that He is always with me, even in the dark clouds hanging over my life. He is in control and despite feeling hopeless, He is in that cloud protecting and guiding me.
Not only did God lead and protect them with a cloud by day, He also gave them a pillar of fire by night. Just as I longed for my predictable life and the comfort of sitting next to my cozy fire, I saw that pillar of fire that God provided as comfort too. (John 14:8)
If you continue digging deeper into God’s words you will find that the pillar of cloud and fire were continually leading and when they stopped, the people were to stop and set up God’s tabernacle. That tabernacle was God’s gracious presence. A place to reside for a time. A home. A dwelling place.
God showed me that He is always leading. Sometimes my moments might feel cozy, warm and comfortable and other times I might feel like a dark cloud is parked over every facet of my existence. That’s when God wants me to stop. Stop wandering on my own and just be home with Him in His beautiful presence, beside the still waters (Psalms 23) and among the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) . He tells me I can stay as long as I need because He will never leave. (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5) He is my dwelling place no matter what circumstances look like all around me. (Psalms 46:1-2, 91:1-9)
Despite that phenomenal story of God’s leading in the Old Testament, His children still complained. They were still afraid. They wanted to go back to their predictable lives back in Egypt, even though they were slaves in that predictable existence. They missed all the beauty that was ahead for them. All that God had prepared for them.
I don’t want to miss the beauty God has ahead for me. I don’t want to just exist and be a slave to my circumstances. I don’t want you to miss God’s beauty either. That dark cloud that you might feel is constantly looming overhead, that cloud is guiding you.
Whatever your cloud might be, God is in it.
In the next few weeks I would like to take you on a journey with me. The journey to find joy again. I want to help you to see that God is in that cloud. I want to show you specific ways God has shown me how to find joy again, despite the deeply sorrowful circumstances we might be in.
I want to share with you my Savior’s solutions.
He is there. Don’t let go of that hope.
Joy will come again.
My heart is glad. My whole being rejoices. My flesh rests in hope.
(Psalm 16:7-11, 30:5, 34:17-19, Isaiah 41:10)
FINDING THE GOOD IN THE GRIEVING
I realize this is a very long post, but I ask you to bear with me because once again, I’m going to be brutally honest here and admit some things I’m dealing with. Things I don’t want to think about, let alone write about. But things that God has given me to help me through this. Steps that I think can truly help others.
I know many of you have been anticipating 2021 since March of 2020.
It’s been a year of horrors, and people desperately need to believe everything will change for the better in the coming year.
But I am struggling.
Thanksgiving and Christmas~
decorating shopping, wrapping, baking, Hallmark movies and Christmas music~
all of these things masked the deep ache of grief in my heart.
I didn’t want to face it just like I don’t want to face 2021.
I don’t want to move forward.
My heart wants to go back in time.
I’m facing the responsibilities that go along with losing your last parent. Packing up a lifetime of memories my dad held on to. My memories. I don’t want to go through his drawers and cupboards and make the hard decisions on what gets thrown away, or given away, or kept. I want to keep it all, right down to the tape dispenser and air freshener he recently purchased.
No, my heart doesn’t want to move forward. Instead, I want to go back in time and just sit with him there in his living room. Laughing about something funny my grandchildren did. Sharing a chocolate. Reminiscing. I want to see his red Jeep outside my front door as he stops by for his daily check in.
I want to tell him one more time how much I love him.
I know many of you are in the same boat. This year has taken so many loved ones.
The heartbreak has been unfathomable.
In the past 5 months I’ve written 7 posts on a variety of things that can change your life for the better.
Today my own heart longs to be changed.
I don’t want to be sad. I don’t want to mask the pain with busyness or superficial happiness. I don’t want to continue to push it down into the recesses of my soul and pretend it isn’t there, always looming over me like a black cloud.
I don’t want to dwell on “what if’s” and “could have been’s”.
How do I move past this deep ache of grief?
I understand that everyone deals with grief differently. My own personality does not want to read someone else’s words on how to deal with grief.
The devil knows this.
He knows our personalities and he will use our own deceitful hearts against us. (Jeremiah 17: 9) He tricks me into believing that I am unique in my pain and no one can possibly understand enough to write anything that will help.
But he is wrong.
God has continually been tugging at my heart. He will never leave me.
He will not give up on me~
even when I feel like giving up on me.
He is always whispering to my sadness~”I am right here Charisse.” (Romans 8:38&39)
And so, today I want to share some simple things God has used to comfort me. I am a work in progress. My words are not the ‘end all’ solution. They are a day by day choice. Every single day has new challenges and I know I am facing some even harder ones in the coming weeks.
1. Ask God for help- As I have said in my previous ‘life changing’ posts, my number 1 tip will always, always, always be to ask God for help. You will never conquer the next 6 steps if you do not take this very first one. (Psalms 16:11, Romans 8:26, John 14:16-18, 26, I Peter 5:7)
2. Stay in Gods word- The minute I slip away and allow other things to come before, or even replace my time spent talking to God or reading His word is the minute the heartbreaking grief takes control. (John 15:11, I Thessalonians 5:17) Every morning I must get out of bed and choose joy. (Nehemiah 8:10) Choose God, His words, His promises, His peace. Some days when I wake up I just know it’s going to be a good day. I smile. I tell myself I can do this. Other mornings, I just want to hide under the covers and sleep the day away so I don’t have to deal. I don’t know why one morning can be so different from the next, but these are the days that I must choose wisely. I must choose God. Which takes me back to point number 1. I cannot do this in my own strength, so on days like this I cry out to Him and ask Him to help me. Some days I am silently begging Him for help over and over and over again. Even though the day may feel like it was the worst day ever, when I lay my head on my pillow that night I realize I made it through, but only because of Him. If we could see our lives the way God can~if we could understand how horrible things would have been without His continuing presence~we would realize that even on our worst days He was right there with us and got us through it. (Jeremiah 33:3) Tomorrow is a new day. (Psalms 118:24)
3. Face your grief- as much as I don’t want to, I have realized that I cannot pretend my dad is just gone visiting my brothers. I cannot push the pain down deep and not think about it, because in doing so the pain will remain debilitating. I must face it, and in facing it a myriad of other steps come into play.
4. Cry. Talk it out. Ask for help and prayer- We should not feel shame for the grief we are going through. We do not have to pretend we have it all together. We need to cry and not bottle everything inside. This is an area I have a hard time with. I do not want to cry because I do not want to cause my children worry or sadness and I don’t want my grandchildren to see me sad. I have realized that this not only makes the process harder, but drags the grief out longer and longer. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, for someone to just come and sit with you as you talk about what you’re going through or just need to reminisce. (Galatians 6:2) There is nothing wrong with asking others to please pray for you when you are having a bad day. (I Thessalonians 5:25, James 5:16, Matthew 18:20) There is nothing wrong with crying. (Psalms 56:8-13) There is nothing in the Bible that says that we shouldn’t cry, only that we should not cry as if we have no hope. (I Thessalonians 4:13) Which brings me to my next point.
5. Eternity- God has given us this amazing, unaltering hope through the shed blood of His Son Jesus on the cross. Eternity. If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, if we in repentance accept His gift of salvation~ God promises us eternity with Him in heaven. (I Thessalonians 4:14) My daddy did this and I have the full assurance from God’s word that my dad is at home in heaven right now. (Romans 6:8, John 14:2, I John 5:13, II Corinthians 5:8) If I choose to focus on my dad instead of myself~ it changes my whole perspective. Why would I choose to wish for him to be here with me, when he is in the very presence of his God? His Heavenly Father who loved him so greatly that He sent His Son to die for Him? My cousin so sweetly reminded me of this on Christmas Day. His very words were~”he is celebrating Christ with your mom right now.” My parents are celebrating Christ, and what a celebration!!! They are in glory. No more pain. (Revelation 21:4) Only praises. (Psalms 89:5, Luke 15:10)
6. Focus on the good and be thankful- This can be a hard one because when we focus on the good and happy memories, they often bring the tears as well. I know there will come a day when my tears turn into happy, thankful tears. And so, I will remember all the happy times. All the moments turned into memories. The moments that wouldn’t seem particularly special at all to anyone else, but hold beautiful happiness to me. Moments that I thank God for. (Philippians 4:6) As much as my heart hurts and wants those moments back, if I continually remember step number 1, I know that God will help me to be thankful and to see how amazing it was that I had all those silly, special, mundane moments with my dad here in Caseville the last four years.
7. Live every day as if it were your last- (Psalms 90:12b) We do not know what tomorrow holds. (James 4:14) We aren’t promised tomorrow, or even today. Knowing this, and with God’s help, I am moving into the future. Today. January 1, 2021. I am resolving to live every day to the fullest. To see the beauty in every single thing~ whether that’s the snow storm in our forecast, whether that’s the silly things my husband does that tend to irritate me or my aching back that I threw out putting Christmas decorations away~ I am asking God to show me the good in every singe thing. And my friend~ there is SO MUCH GOOD. (James 1:17) Beautiful, fresh clean snow. A picture of a new beginning. A husband that loves me despite all my irritating qualities (like putting away heavy Christmas boxes without asking for help) and then waits on me hand and foot. Time spent sitting with him because, as much as I want to, I can’t move. And realizing how precious this time of doing ‘nothing’ is. I am resolving to truly be present for my grandchildren. To stop and listen to their childish babbling and soak in every word. To play with them and create beautiful moments they can someday remember and be thankful for. So I will ask you~ how do you want your friends and your loved ones to remember you right now? Today? If you drew your last breath as you fell asleep tonight, just as my dad did, would they remember sadness or would they remember joy? Not a masked happiness but the true joy that only comes from God?
I want my friends and loved ones to remember joy. I want my husband and children and grandchildren to remember my laughter. I want them to remember me smiling, just as I will always hold the memory of my dad.
My sweet, precious dad outside my front door in his red Jeep. Smiling.
Smile again with me my friends.
I promise, God can change your life!
Ask Him to help you find the good again.
I stumbled downstairs last Sunday and with sleepy eyes poured myself a cup of coffee. At the moment, I definitely did not feel excitement. I was tired and wouldn’t have minded crawling right back into bed. And then it hit me. Today was my anniversary, and immediately I thought about Charisse 35 years ago on this day. The barely 20 year old who couldn’t sleep. The young girl who couldn’t wait for this day and the beginning of a life full of beautiful. The thankfulness her heart felt toward God for blessing her with everything this day held.
Yet here I was, 35 years later muttering about how tired I was. Wishing for bed instead of worship.
Many things went wrong on the day of our wedding. A huge snow storm hit that day. The limo my parents ordered to drive us to the wedding never showed up. My father in law’s cummerbund got misplaced, so at the last minute my fiancé drove in the storm to the tuxedo shop to get another. He then got hit by a car due to slippery roads. My grandparents were late due to the storm and almost didn’t make it. The snow worsened by the minute and we weren’t sure anyone would show up. None of this swayed my joy. None of this made me want to go back to bed so I didn’t have to think about all the “bad”.
All I could focus on was him, Because I loved him.
As I remembered that day, it gripped my heart. It’s the season of Christmas and yet, so many of us are focusing on the bad. The countless number of times I have heard or read that “2020 is the worst year in history” has been staggering. I can’t help but think about God and the murmuring He hears coming from those of us who are supposedly His children. Praise has not been on our lips, including my own. Thankfulness has not filled our hearts, but instead continual complaining about all we are subject to.
There is no joy.
There will always be something to complain about. We live in a sin cursed world where the wrong seems to outweigh the right. We can complain about our government or injustice or this pandemic and the rules we are asked to abide by. We can complain about not seeing family members or the fear of catching this sickness. But I would like to remind you that the good can outweigh the bad, we just haven’t been looking for it. We have been focusing on the bad so much that we have lost sight of all the incredibly good things God has blessed us with.
Lives filled with beautiful.
I would like to challenge you today to focus on Him. I have found in my own life that when I take my focus off of Him and place it on myself, I find all kinds of things to complain about. But, when I shift my focus to Him I find countless reasons to be thankful. That’s when joy floods my heart and soul.
Think back to a special day in your own life. A day that you remember that feeling of pure joy and the reasons you felt that joy. That’s a beginning. That’s the first step in telling God thank you. If we could just decide in our hearts that we are going to choose thankfulness and praise over complaining, our lives will be transformed.
I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of the bad. I’m sick of social media and the news and the constant “bad” that is bombarding us. I want to focus on the good. All that is good in our life is only because of God.
I want to focus on Him.
I know there are hard days. I’m not always the picture of happiness and joy. Sweet friends have gone home to heaven this year. My precious dad went home to heaven. Covid has hit our little town. Family won’t be with us to celebrate this year. Our children’s Christmas program has been canceled. Just yesterday I broke down while shopping. The memory of Christmas shopping with my dad just last year hit me like a ton of bricks. I had to hide out in the underwear section until the tears subsided. We all have bad days, but later my husband reminded me of what a precious memory that was to have. Christmas shopping with dad.
Our wedding day ended up being my fairy tale. All my dreams came true. Over 500 people came out in that storm to celebrate our union. Happiness and joy filled the church that day. A day I will never forget. Don’t ever forget when Christ filled your heart. A heart that once was dark, now filled with His light and love, joy and happiness. What if we all chose to celebrate Christ’s birth differently than the rest of the world, despite the storms we have all been facing?
Find the good. Find the thankful. Find the gladness and joy. Find the beautiful. It’s right there where you are, you’ve just been missing it. This Christmas, focus on Him.
And he brought forth his people with joy, and his chosen with gladness:”
Psalms 105:1-5, 43 KJV
Psalms 78:22, 32, 37-39, 42, 53 KJV
The raw humanity of grief has overwhelmed my soul the last few weeks.
My heart feels such a hurting emptiness. My emotions have gone from despair to anger to joy, almost as if I’m on a roller coaster.
Despair that I will never say I love you to my dad again, or visit with him on his porch. No texts, no meals together, no more reminiscing about the beautiful life God blessed us with. Despair at the feeling that my childhood has been taken from me and I am left alone without the comfort of a mom or a dad to love me, as only a mom and dad can.
Anger when others have told me God won’t give me more than I can handle. Anger that someone would tell my kids they shouldn’t be so broken hearted. Anger when others have told me my dad wouldn’t want me sad, or how much sweeter heaven gets every day.
My selfish heart wants that sweetness back. My selfish heart wants them here with me again.
I am ashamed to even admit this.
I know in my heart that the despair and the anger are not where God wants me to stay, but I also know He understands. He understands the despair. He understands the anger. When you lose someone you loved with all your heart, He understands the tears.
The tears fell this week.
I cried out to God.
I told Him I don’t want to be strong,
I just want my dad back.
I begged God to help me.
As I cried out to Him, somehow through the tears and the despair, through the anger and the weeping~joy came.
Joy because God showed me how very much He loves me. His love is infinitely greater than my own. It’s infinitely greater than the love of my mom or my dad.
God’s love is greater than life itself.
As I wept over the fact that I lost my dad so close to Christmas and that we would not be sharing our favorite holiday together, as I tried to hold on to hope amidst the ache my heart felt~God reminded me of a song my daughter sang last Christmas Eve.
A song my dad loved.
I have listened to that song over and over again this week.
The words have filled me with unexplainable joy~
“Wondrous Gift of heaven, the Father sends the Son. Planned from time eternal, moved by holy love.
He will carry our curse~
and death He’ll reverse~
so we can be daughters and sons.
Who would’ve dreamed, or ever foreseen that we could hold God in our hands? The Giver of life, born in the night revealing God’s glorious plan.
To save the world.
To save the world.”
He knew the pain of death and separation from our loved ones would be a pain we could never bear on our own. He knew the sin of the world would bring death. And so~
He sent His Son.
God sent His Son to save the world.
He sent His Son to save me.
He sent His Son to save you.
That is the joy I will focus on.
The joy of the wondrous gift God gave me. The gift of His Son. He reversed death and gave me the gift of eternal life in heaven with Him. The gift of being carried home to my people someday. The gift of being in the presence of God almighty. The gift of falling into the arms of my Jesus, my Savior and my Redeemer. The gift of knowing that my mom and my dad are in Gods presence even now.
Because God gave His only begotten Son.
The rawness of my broken heart will probably never go away until the day I see Jesus, but I will cling to that joy in the brokenness because those I miss so very much are in the presence of Jesus.
And one day I will be too. I can never stop thanking Him for such a beautiful gift.
I miss my dad~
but I am God’s daughter.
He is a Father to the fatherless.
He is my Father, a Father of infinite love.
Love greater than life itself.
The kitten’s little body was beyond repair. We lived on a farm.
Accidents on a farm weren’t new to me, but this time was different. This kitten was mine. She was a fluffy ball of soft black comfort and she fit perfectly in my small hands.
My dad told me she wasn’t going to make it. There was nothing that could be done for her. Her tiny body was broken beyond repair. I begged my dad to wait one more day before putting her to sleep.
That night little Charisse knelt in her bedroom next to the picture of Blessed Mary. I held my rosary in my hands and I begged God to heal my little kitten.
The next morning nothing had changed. I knew my dad wouldn’t be home until much later, so I prayed some more.
I can vividly remember recalling a conversation my aunt had with my parents just the week before. She had started going to a new church and she was excited about it. I didn’t really understand what she was talking about, but I remembered her telling my parents that we needed to pray “in Jesus name”. My little mind thought perhaps this was the answer. I would ask God to save my kitten then add the words “in Jesus name”.
I walked through our apple orchard all day long praying over and over again that my kitty would be saved “in Jesus name”.
When my dad’s car pulled in that afternoon I was sure my magic prayers had worked. I ran to meet him and we walked into the barn to check on my kitten. She wasn’t any different and even though I was only 9, I knew she needed to be released from her pain.
I wept uncontrollably.
I think I cried for a week.
The pain of that moment felt so deep to my young heart.
At the time I didn’t realize that my internal fears and heartache were manifesting themselves in other areas of my life. My parents had been arguing for months and deep down I was scared. When I lost my kitty all the emotions bottled up in my young heart came pouring out.
I was broken and the only thing that would truly heal my brokenness was literally the name of Jesus, I just didn’t understand that at the time.
I was the one who needed saving.
I viewed God like a genie.
Ask what I want and get my wish.
And surely if I added “in Jesus name” the magic would happen.
When I look back at the circumstances now, I realize I was terrified. I was lonely. I was afraid of a future that looked different. I didn’t understand that even if my kitty was miraculously healed, even if my parents did get back together. My heart would still feel that lonely emptiness and the only One Who could fill it was Jesus.
We women are emotional creatures. When something is burrowed deep down in the recesses of our hurting hearts it boils to the surface manifesting itself in every area of our lives. We either become angry or bitter, sad, depressed or even mean. We snap at little things or cry over an innocent comment. We don’t dig to see what’s truly wrong because we don’t want to face that darkness.
What is weighing your heart down today my friend? How have your emotional reactions been? Does your heart feel empty? Do you feel alone or scared, stressed or anxious?
Can I tell you something? Jesus is the answer to all of the above. Jesus name is the answer to your brokenness.
Maybe you are scared about an unknown future or a situation that seems hopeless. Perhaps you’ve never received the gift of Jesus and have not experienced His presence in your life or perhaps you have, but you’ve buried His comfort and goodness deep down under piles of heartache and forgotten that there is power in His name.
He is your answer.
He has never left you, but you’ve forgotten His peace that passes all understanding.
Just a few years later I heard the beautiful story from God’s word of how He sent His only Son to die for me. For my sins. My heart was pricked. What a Love was this!! I knelt down that day and repented. I spoke His name. I asked Him to be my Savior. My brokenness was mended, my fears were gone and His comfort wrapped around me with a peace I never knew existed. He wasn’t just some magic God that answered prayers like a genie. He was my Father, my Savior, and my eternal Friend.
His beautiful name truly saved me from my brokenness. He forgave me of every sin~past and present and I knew that He was all I would ever need no matter what my future held.
Check your heart sweet sister. Dig deep. Is Jesus there? Have you forgotten His love, joy and peace and buried it deep beneath the heartache and hurt, stress and anxiety or fear and anger you are feeling? Do you need to be released from your pain? Go down into that darkness and let His light shine all over that mess.
Speak His name.
That beautiful name.
Allow Him to save you from your brokenness~ forever,
just speak His name.
RAIN SHOWERS AND DARK DAYS
This morning I sat in bed.
It was dark and the lamp next to my bed gave the room a soft, cozy glow.
God’s word was open on my lap,
but I wasn’t reading.
I wasn’t praying.
I was listening.
It was raining.
Hard, driving, continuous rain.
And I remembered.
I remembered a time when I was only 4 or 5. A day just like this. I was in the family room with my mom. I think she was ironing. The room was dark as rain cascaded in heavy streams down the windows.
And a lamp was on.
I can vividly remember looking at the rain and looking at the cozy glow the lamp gave the room,
and looking up at my beautiful mom.
And I felt safe and I felt loved. I felt cozy. I felt like I didn’t want that feeling to end. Ever.
Every time it rains I think of that day.
I think that’s why I’m a bit weird in that,
I love rain showers and dark days.
They bring me back.
Sometimes it’s such a good feeling. Like being wrapped in a soft, comfy blanket. I love the coziness I feel inside my home.
And then there are other days.
Other days when life is hard and heartache or pain have hit me out of no where, days like today that make me weep,
because I want to go back.
I want the freedom that comes with being a child again. No responsibilities. No need to be strong for everyone. No pain. No heartache. No real, deep down, debilitating hurt.
My mom. I want my mom.
I’m a grandma and there are still days I want to go back.
There are still days I want my mom.
So I look down at my lap. And through the tears I see a love letter written just for me. And even though the words become blurred due to my tears, He tells me this~
“As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted....”
My mom is gone.
I have bad days.
I have heart wrenching, pain filled days.
I am not always strong.
I have days where all I want to do is cry and go back.
Back to that little girl who looked up at her beautiful mom and knew everything was right and good and safe.
And then God whispers to my heart and I realize that even though I am a grandma,
I will always be God’s little girl.
He will always be there to comfort me.
He doesn’t scold, even when I lose it and cry and tell Him I’m not strong enough, I can’t do this adult thing.
He just loves me and tells me that He knows. And then He holds me and comforts me. He tells me it’s okay as I let the tears fall.
Just like that rain.
And just like that old lamp,
When I look up at Him I can suddenly feel that cozy, safe glow inside my heart~
and I know
Everything will be right, and good. I am safe. I am loved. I am held in His arms forever. The weight of the world is lifted and released from my heavy heart and I am a carefree child again.
I am His child.
And so are you.
“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”
YOU CAN’T DO THIS
Everyone deals with grief or pain or heartache differently.
Some people talk about it.
They cry openly. They pray and seek God.
And the harder things seem, the more they seek Him.
Sadly my flesh is not that way.
Ever since I was a child, whenever I was faced with something sad and overwhelming I would determine not to think about it. I would push it as far back in my mind as I could and if it popped back up, I would shove it down further.
Until I broke.
When my mom passed away I remember being on stage at her funeral. I sat at a large, white grand piano with my girls and we sang~”There Will Always Be A Christmas in Heaven.”
My mom loved Christmas.
I didn’t shed a tear that day, and so many people asked how I was able to do that. I smiled and I lied and I mumbled something about God giving me the strength, when in reality I refused to think about it. When people asked, I said I was fine.
But I wasn’t.
A month later, on Christmas night I broke.
I didn’t just cry, I sobbed heart wrenching tears that wouldn’t stop.
I finally admitted I wasn’t fine.
I told God I couldn’t do it alone.
And yet, every single time I’m faced with heartache, somehow I think I can handle it on my own.
I shove it back into my mind and down deep into my heart and press on in my own strength~
but every single time I break.
I fall before God and cry out to Him. And I wonder how He continues to love me, lift me back up and restore my brokenness.
I do this with big things like grief, and I do this with little things like the pressures of everyday demands that weigh on my shoulders and get heavier and heavier until I can no longer carry them anymore.
Why do I do this? When will I learn?
I can’t do this. Not without Him.
And so, this morning when I woke up and looked ahead at everything that needed to be accomplished today, this week, this month~
Today when I didn’t want to get out of bed. Today when I drank a little more caffeine and tried to give myself the pep talk of “you can do this Charisse”.
Today God told me I can’t.
Today God told me to pick up His word, to listen for His words of encouragement and to give it all to Him.
And so I did.
Tomorrow I might fall again. I might fall over and over again. But I am so thankful for my God Who doesn’t look at my yesterday’s and hold them against me.
My God Who gives me a brand new day to start over.
My God who continually picks me up, wipes away my tears and tells me~
I will do it for you.
A MOTHER WORRIED ABOUT HER CHILD, A CHILD WORRIED ABOUT HER MOTHER.
Many tears have been shed this week.
How easy it is to pen the words~
Trust in the Lord at all times~
until those times fall heavy upon your own shoulders.
My daughter’s son has been extremely sick this week. The hardest part is watching the pain precious Gabe has been in. It is heartbreaking. The sad thing is, we can’t figure out why. It’s scary when your child asks if you will please give him a shot so he will feel better. What toddler voluntarily asks for a shot? Worry has crept into every single minute of every single day. One sleepless night after another and despite an ER visit, every day
the pain continues. A mother, worried about her child.
My sweet friend has been in the hospital. She has been like a grandma to me, and like me~she was also a pastor’s wife. I can’t tell you how often she has blessed my life with words of encouragement and wisdom, with stories that had me laughing and crying. She’s a treasure to me. Her daughter has been by her side continually. What seemed like a cautious ER visit turned into the very real possibility that sweet Dorothy would be seeing Jesus very soon. So many tears have been shed. Watching your mother in so much pain, struggling to breathe and not knowing if each breath will be her last. One sleepless night after another. A child, worried about her mother.
Heartache, trials and pain are no respecter of people or age.
Today I do not know the outcome or have answers for either, but this I know~
My almighty Father does.
I’m not going to pretend it’s simple or easy to trust Him through this, it’s been hard. But I know how very much He loves my daughter, He loves Dorothy’s daughter and most important~
how very much He loves my grandson and my friend. Jeremiah 31:3
So every day, every minute I ask Him to hold them. To allow them to feel the peace of His comforting arms around them. Isaiah 26:3, 2 Corinthians 1:3
I don’t try to hide my tears. They have been flowing and that’s okay, because I know that my Savior wept. John 11:35
He understands sadness. He understands my tears. I will cling to Him in His goodness and hold tight to His promises. 2 Peter 1:4
Whatever you are going through right now, no matter how deep or how dark or how painful it is~ you are not alone. Micah 7:8
He is with you!
He is with you!!
He is with you!!!
He will never ever leave. Hebrews 13:5
You don’t have to be afraid of evil tidings. Fix your eyes on Jesus and trust in Him. Psalms 112:7, Proverbs 3:5-6
And when you feel the trust won’t come, when the worry overwhelms you and the fear grips your heart~ cry out to Him~
“Jesus I believe, help my unbelief.”
Let faith whisper to your soul the very words of your Father~
“I am with you.
Nothing can separate you from my love.
everything is possible.”
A mother, worried about her child.
A child, worried about her mother.
A Father tenderly holding them both.
Psalm 103:4, Revelation 21:3-4
“And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
*** I wrote this on Wednesday. On Friday my sweet friend Dorothy took her last breath and was immediately in the presence of Jesus. I’m so thankful God gave me the precious gift of her friendship. She will be so missed.
Thankfully,my grandson has turned the corner and we are finally starting to see our precious Gabe almost back to normal.
THIS~ HELPLESS, OUT OF CONTROL, MOM OF ADULTS~ PHASE.
Lately It seems as if I see more and more articles about the mom life and how hard it is.
How fast it goes.
I’ve read encouragement about everything from babies to teenagers and even advice as they leave for college or their happily ever after with the love of their lives.
There are so many tough transitions through all these phases, but I rarely read about this new phase.
This helpless, out of control, mom of adults phase.
I thought crying babies who wouldn’t sleep was hard. I thought their first day of school and kindergarten graduation was hard. I thought their first crush, their first heartbreak, their college prep, senior trip and last summer at home was hard.
When they went to college I cried my eyes out. When they got married I wasn’t quite ready.
But once they leave~
really leave and are on their own~
no one tells you how incredibly hard that is.
It’s hard because you feel like you no longer have any control whatsoever.
They don’t live under your roof.
You can’t protect them.
And just as it was so very hard when they were little and sick and crying, this is even harder. I’m sure all of you moms have faced one of these situations.
Suddenly they’re no longer tucked in upstairs, they’re hundreds of miles from home.
They don’t have a cough or a tummy ache, they have cancer.
They aren’t having a bad dream, they’re living a bad dream.
They didn’t have an adolescent boy break their heart. They had a husband break their marriage.
They didn’t lose their favorite baby doll. They lost a child.
There are no band aids and kisses that can heal that pain. Mama rocking them to sleep doesn’t make all the bad go away.
And this~ this is agonizing.
It’s in our mom DNA to make that pain go away. To make everything better. To whisper words of comfort. To hold them and sing lullabies. To fix every boo boo and dry every tear.
That’s what we’re supposed to do~
but we can’t.
No one ever warned me what a mother’s heart goes through.
Sleepless nights that don’t go away, no matter their age. They’re still your baby, and if they’re crying you are crying and your heart is shattered.
So what then? What does a mama do when all seems so hopeless. When all control is lost and we can’t do what a mama is supposed to do?
We realize that it was never really us to begin with.
It was God in us.
God in the touch of a mother’s hand. God in the whispers of her heart. God in the softness of her arms. God in the reassurance of her words.
God has never left them and He never will. He is the one who will be there now. Continuing to do all these things that we no longer can.
He will hold them. He will comfort them. He will whisper to their hearts. He will sing lullabies to their souls. They will never be alone. He will watch over them and wrap His loving arms around them. Trust Him that he will continue to do what He has been doing through you all along mama.
It isn’t easy. It’s very, very hard. We as mothers would take that pain and heart ache for our children a thousand times over if we could. But we can’t.
So now it’s time to give that pain and all the shattered pieces to Jesus.
Place that child in His tender, loving arms and watch Him do miracles that mamas do, but no longer can.
You know in your mama heart how deep your love for your children is. Hold on to that knowledge
His love is infinitely deeper than ours could ever be.
One word that can change her life forever.
2 minute read
The blankets were warm.
The lights were dim.
The voices were soft...compassionate.
She was explaining to me what she would be doing, showing me the screen and the images.
I watched as the needle went in, almost as if it wasn’t happening to me.
But it was.
And time stood still...
Thousands of us have been here.
Right here in this very moment.
Holding our breath.
Watching time stand still~
yet our life pass before our eyes.
Waiting for the results that are finally spoken.
And in the waiting,
those who have been here before us have two options:
To show that person empathy,
or to show them apathy.
To remember the fear, the anxiousness, the worry~
and to allow all of those pieces of our hearts to spill forth into our words~
or to thoughtlessly dismiss it because somehow you made it through.
You were ok.
But she may not be.
I remember both reactions in those moments my life stood still.
I will never forget the sweet compassion and heartfelt prayers of those who knew exactly what I was going through.
As that needle went in and I watched, I felt God comfort my weary soul. I felt the prayers of loved ones wash over me and as time stood still, I heard my Savior whisper to my anxious heart that I would be okay...
No matter what story that needle had to tell~I would be okay.
Because He is my Father and even if I lost my very life, I would never, ever lose Him.
And if my physical body had to endure tremendous pain in the process and I had no strength left to hold on~
I wouldn’t have to~
because He would be holding me.
And my sisters would be holding me. Holding me in prayer and compassion. The compassion of those who had been there, who remembered the 60 seconds it took as the doctor told them their results.
That compassion and those prayers allowed me the peace that passes understanding.
60 seconds that could change a person’s life forever. One word that could bring immense relief or heart wrenching sorrow.
So choose your words and actions wisely as you encounter a sweet soul going through the waiting. Remember exactly how you felt and what you wished someone had said to you.
Only 60 seconds,
but they could change her life forever.
Your empathy can tell them a different story.
A story of comfort and of hope.
A story of a sister who will stay by their side and a Savior Who will carry them through.
The story of peace that passes understanding~
No matter what story that needle has to tell.
II Corinthians 1:3-4
The other day while visiting my daughter I came across the stump of a tree they had cut down. It was the strangest thing~ sweet stickiness was bubbling up from inside that stump but the branches that were once attached lay brittle and lifeless. The beauty they once held had died.
I gazed across the yard at another tree. It was standing strong with its branches all in tact, glorious flowers budding from every limb~and I smiled.
I knew that I was like those limbs laying lifeless, because I hadn’t been attached to the strength of that Vine. With my dad being sick I’ve been emotional, tired, worried. I’ve let a cloud hover over my heart. I’ve let faith fall by the wayside of “what if’s”. I’ve allowed the struggles of life to take control instead of clinging to that Vine.
Jesus is that Vine. The Vine that never fails. He is immovable and strong. Always there.
And so I stop. I sit in the quietness of His presence. I ask everything of Him. I ask my Savior to speak to my heart. I ask Him to be my strength in the days ahead. I ask Him to renew my faith. I ask Him to show me life from His words so that I might bring glory to His name~
just like the glorious blooms of that beautiful tree across the yard.
Days later I watched as my dad held on to the cane I recently purchased for him. The older gentleman that I bought it from explained to me that it was unique in that~
It was made from the strong roots of a tree. And I smiled.
In that moment God’s glory was shown to me as my dad leaned on that vine. God whispered to my soul that not only would He always be my strength and support, He would be my dad’s as well.
Glorious, joyful flowers bloomed in my heart that day.
We cannot do this life if we are not attached to the Vine. All we need do is ask. Without Him we will be nothing but dead, brittle, lifeless branches.
I want His sweetness to stick to my soul and His Vine to be my strength.
I want His beautiful glory to make you smile.
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered.
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”
John 15:5-8, 11
THE REALITY OF MANY
One minute the sun is shining.
You’re smiling as you sing along to your favorite iTunes.
It’s a perfect Saturday morning.
The next minute you’re getting a call from your dad, asking to be taken to emergency.
And everything changes.
One week turns into two, and then three. For some people this scenario goes on for months or even years. Hospitals. Doctors. Sickness.
You feel as if you are living in a dream. Emotional and physical fatigue take control of your normal routine. You can’t sleep at night and you can’t seem to drag yourself out of bed in the morning.
You leave your loved one in the evening and hold your breath the next day, waiting to hear from them, trying not to think the worst. And then you do it all over again.
You go through the day to day motions, not sure how you even managed. Not only do you find yourself wondering about the distant future, you wonder about tomorrow.
You wonder about an hour from now.
Sadly, this is the horrible reality of life for many.
This is the person next to us in line at the store. This is the lady that quietly comes to church but sits alone. This is the cashier that takes our money with a tired smile. This is the waitress that takes our order with heavy shoulders. This is our brother. This is our sister.
This is someone who needs us.
Petty little things that disrupt our daily routine do not compare to the heartache others are quietly facing. We get angry over the long lines at the store. We lose our patience with the cashier for taking so long. We snap at the waitress who got our order wrong. We don’t get out of our seat to welcome that lady sitting all alone.
Too often life revolves around “me.” We don’t open our eyes to those hurting all around us. We don’t look for opportunities to encourage those we speak to, because we are too busy focusing on ourself.
And all along that lady standing next to you is wondering if her daddy will see tomorrow. That wife is wondering if she will get to see another anniversary with her husband. That mom is wondering if her child will see another birthday.
Don’t wait for your own crisis to recognize this. Something I found myself guilty of as I walked down the hospital corridor day after day. As I looked into the rooms of patients that had been there for months and into the tired, heartbroken eyes of loved ones.
Look for opportunities to share a kind word, a smile, a meal, a hug. Offer to sit with a loved one who’s been sick far too long. Pick up groceries or run errands for a tired care giver.
Look into the eyes of that cashier, that waitress, that person next to you in line, that lady sitting all alone.
Look right past yourself and into their eyes. Truly see them. Then do your best to give them a little bit of that Saturday sunshine back again.
WHEN “GOD WON’T GIVE YOU MORE THAN YOU CAN HANDLE” DOESN’T CUT IT.
I’ve been accused of living in a bubble.
It used to upset me and I’d feel the need to defend myself. I watch the news. I know what’s going on in the world. Tragedy has hit home in my own life on more than one occasion. I know and understand the suffering of others.
But maybe, just maybe my blog has become a bubble of pet answers and cute cliches, and I truly wasn’t seeing the deep despair some are living with on a daily basis.
What answers do I give to those who feel as if they have no hope?
How can I tell a mother that her children will be okay when that mother is facing debilitating heartache and despair in her own life?
How can I speak words of hope to those who know all those same words, and still can’t grasp that hope?
“God doesn’t give us more than we can handle” doesn’t cut it.
So what do I say?
I don’t know.
I don’t have all the answers.
As desperately as I want to, I can’t write some cute cliche that will answer all the heartache and pain you are going through.
The only answer I have, the only answer I can cling to is this~
God loves you.
When life is at its darkest, when those we love the most in this world have failed us~ failed us in a way that breaks us to the point we think there can be no return,
God loves us.
He is the only One Who loves us unconditionally~with grace and mercy. With power. With hope. With strength. With compassion and with comfort.
And when there isn’t anything else left to cling to~ we cling to Him.
When the pain is so deep we don’t have words left to say~we just ask Him to hold us and keep loving us because that’s all we have left in our emptiness.
And we can know that He will never leave us. He will never forsake us. He will keep loving us amidst the anger we feel for the circumstances life has thrown at us. He will keep loving us when we stop believing He does. He will keep loving us when we can’t pray. When we have lost all faith. When we can’t function. When we can’t stop the tears from flowing.
He will keep loving us.
Cling to Him as He holds on to you.
He won’t ever let go.
Everything and everyone will eventually disappoint.
When you feel like there’s nothing left in this world to trust in~
the One Who gave His only Son for you because of His unfathomable, indescribable, unending love ~
THAT love belongs to you.
It is all yours.
It wraps around your heart and soul and holds you when you think you can’t go on.
God will never stop loving you.
And if that is all we have left in this world,
It is enough.
ARE YOU THERE GOD?
In the late 1970’s, all the girls my age were reading the same book~
‘Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret’.
I was in junior high.
I was boy~crazy, wore knee hi’s and couldn’t wait to grow up.
Are you there God?
Such silly things to talk to God about~ Boys and womanhood.
Are you there God? I’m graduating high school and leaving for college.
Scared and excited.
Are you there God? The man of my dreams is asking to marry me.
Are you there God? I’m moving hundreds of miles away. Away from everything and everyone I know and love.
Are you there God? This little one is calling me mom. Do I even have a clue how to do this ‘baby’ thing?
This ‘teenage’ thing?
This ‘saying goodbye as they leave for good’ thing?
Are you there God? Devastation has hit our country. The Twin Towers.
Thousands are killed.
Are you there God? I don’t think I can recover from the deep hurt this person caused.
Are you there God? My sister in law died leaving six children. Her youngest only 6 days old.
Are you there God? My mom is gone.
The same year.
I can’t breathe.
Will I ever laugh again?
Are you there God? Sickness, Celiac, mammograms, biopsies, abnormal cells.
Are you there God? My dad has had a heart attack and stroke.
Are you there God? My husband can’t see. He’s losing his sight....
Yes God is here.
I could not have made it through without Him.
He held me and carried me through each one of these moments in my life.
He is here even now as I laugh with my dad.
He’s here as I cherish memories of my mom and sister.
He’s here as I gaze lovingly at my children, their spouses, their children.
He’s here in the twinkle of my grandchildren’s eyes and the giggles of their hearts.
He’s here in the whispers of my husband’s I love you’s.
Even as He was there when I was boy~crazy and wanted to grow up too fast.
It wasn’t silly to Him when I asked. Nothing is too silly, nothing is too hard and nothing is too sad, because He loves me. He knows everything about me. He understands.
Just as He understands whatever it is you are facing at this moment.
And He loves you.
Are you there God?
You are not alone. Ask Him today.
He will answer your heart~
I am always here my child. Always.
I will hold you. I will carry you through.
All you need do is ask.
Psalm 62:8, 139:17
WHEN YOU’VE BEEN HURT DEEPLY
The bomb dropped in their backyard. Miraculously, it did not detonate. It shook the entire house with its force, but there was no apparent damage to the naked eye.
I recently read about this event in the book ‘It’s Going To Be Alright’, a short biography of my friend’s sweet mother. I was in awe of the words as they came to life on the page.
It was 1941, WWII England.
Bombs and shelters and daily fears. The reality of which many of us know nothing about.
Days later, as her mother picked up a piece of her beautiful crystal, the entire dish disintegrated in her hand. Unbelievably, each piece looked intact, but the bombs implosion had shattered its core.
One touch and it fell apart.
Her heart was broken as her cherished wedding present had to be disposed of.
I have felt this way in my own life at times.
I will be up on the mountain. Up on the top shelf, just like that crystal. Life will be good. Happy. Beautiful.
One word. One thought.
and I fall apart.
All because of a past hurt that shook me to my core.
A hurt that broke my heart.
A hurt that I thought I was past.
A hurt that I believed I had forgiven.
And yet it revisits me.
It comes as an uninvited guest with no warning.
And I am shattered.
I don’t want to fight these feelings. I’m tired. I’m heart broken. I feel alone. The pain is too deep.
So I stay there a while, just like that shattered crystal all over the floor.
I might look like I have it all together to the naked eye.
But I am broken.
So I convince myself that I cannot be fixed. I can’t be glued together.
I will never be what I once was.
I am no longer of use in serving.
And I give up.
I can quote all the verses on forgiveness and comfort and God’s love.
I’m supposed to have it all together, but inwardly...
I dwell on the “befores”,
when everything was still okay.
Before the hurt. Before the bomb. Before I was shattered.
I stay there and wish for it back.
I allow myself to remain broken.
But I am still treasured in my brokenness. I am still loved, even as shattered pieces laying on the floor. Unable to get up.
My God will sweep me up.
He will deeply love every tiny shattered piece of me.
He will hold me in tenderness.
He remembers who I am.
He knows what I have become,
yet He loves me still.
I cannot put my shattered pieces back together again. Only He can.
He holds all those tiny pieces in a box of His making.
Not the beautiful display piece I want the world to see.
But the beautiful brokenness that He alone holds together.
That He alone sees.
I am put back up on a shelf. Not on display, but tenderly held and protected under the shadow of His wing.
Because I am so cherished that I cannot be thrown away.
I am a beautiful reminder of love.
Just like the cherished crystal.
He holds me there.
He tells me I’m okay. I am loved.
I am not alone
Because I am His.
And just as He forgave~despite all the reasons not to,
and SO loved,
through His strength I can do the same.
I can be beautiful again.
My life can serve a purpose.
But only in His box.
All my brokenness.
All the shattered pieces.
Protected and held by Him.
I may not ever know the reason behind the hurt, and even though I don’t understand the pain~
I know He does~
And He can, and will use it for His good.
And maybe someday, someone will read about it, just like I read about the beautiful, broken crystal.
And in the reading they will be reassured and know~
It’s Going To Be Alright.
DON’T LOSE HEART IN THE NOW
It was almost Christmas when our family moved from Ohio to MI to live with my parents.
It had been a long and lonely few months up until this time. My husband had been working out of state all week and I was left alone with our four small children, our youngest being only 8 months old.
We enrolled our kids in the same school my husband graduated from.
It was an exciting time.
Christmas was right around the corner and we were sure a pastorate position would be as well.
All was right with the world. We thought.
God had different plans that year.
It started with Andrea’s teacher informing us that she was extremely behind in her class.
She told us that the class already knew the entire alphabet, but that Andrea could not identify one letter. We were in shock, she had been getting such good grades at her previous school.
Her sweet teacher suggested we start out with flash cards and work with her every night. From the beginning.
I had panic moments. How could I teach her the entire alphabet when she was already so behind? There were many, many long nights. Lack of patience and crying often ensued (from mom and daughter).
It didn’t take long to figure out what was going on. I would hold up a card, Andrea would look at the card, then at me. Directly at my mouth every time. Apparently she had gotten very good at lip reading and instead of identifying what the letter was, she was waiting for me to mouth the word.
She didn’t know the truth, she was only imitating.
Due to some unfortunate circumstances, the next 8 months weren’t easy ones for our family.
There was a lot of praying. A lot of crying. Some fighting. A lot of trusting.
And so much learning.
During that time, Andrea wasn’t the only one learning, I was as well~
Learning to trust God was a big one. Not just with the alphabet incident, but also in the circumstances of life that surrounded us.
Next on the list would be the realization that our children watch everything that we as parents do, in every situation. How we act. How we react. We are teaching them in every moment we live and their little eyes are soaking it all up.
A parent can send their child to the best school, the best church, the best children’s programs, but ultimately as important as all these things are~
God has chosen YOU as the most important person He wants your child to learn from.
YOU have to teach them.
They might imitate the good behavior they learn at church. They might know all the right answers from the lessons they are taught~
but the truth of life’s lessons, the hard lessons, God’s lessons~you’re the one that will teach them that.
They can imitate their teachers or their church leaders, but every single day, every single moment, they are watching you and the truth you are teaching them by the life you are living.
It will be hard.
There will be times that it will be very hard.
There will be panic moments, lack of patience, fighting and even crying.
There will be a lot of praying.
Don’t give up.
Every night for 2 hours I worked with Andrea. It wasn’t easy for either of us. She finally got it. Months later when that pastorate position became available in a little town called Caseville, her teacher told us she was ahead in her class and doing very well.
Twenty Five years later Andrea teaches as a substitute at that very school.
One day, your children will have children. They will teach them the lessons they learned from you, whether they were good or bad.
I know I made many mistakes through the years, mistakes I see my own children replicating at times, but I also see the amazing ways God allowed them to see some of the good too.
It’s very humbling to watch your own adult children.
When the days and nights seem long and hard, you think that day will never come~but it will.
And then you realize it came too fast.
Don’t lose heart in the now.
Stay with it mom.
Teach them. Pray with them. Discipline them but most of all, love on them.
Then, one day watch with a heart that is full, as they do the same.
Psalm 78:2-4, 6-7
WHEN YOU’VE BEEN MISTREATED
I just want to wallow in it.
I’m fighting the pricking of my heart because~
I. Deserve. To. Wallow.
How many times can a person get mistreated?
How many times can I get knocked down and pick myself back up again?
I don’t want to get back up.
I want to be angry inside.
I want to cry.
I want to run away.
I definitely don’t want to read my bible or pray.
My heart knows what God is whispering to it~
I block my ears like a little child.
It’s not fair
It’s too hard
I can’t do this anymore.
Let me have my moment.
But God keeps whispering~
He will keep bringing me back to this place over and over again~
Until I realize Jesus.
Today I only realize Charisse.
God knows my circumstances.
They aren’t accidental.
He wants me to see Jesus in every moment~
Even in the mistreatment and hurt.
He whispers to my soul~
Be tender hearted
as I forgave you.
I am undone.
His words pierce my heart.
I can forgive
I can be kind
I can be tender hearted
I can love again
I can do all things through Him~
And that’s exactly what He would do.
“To the saint, personal insult becomes the occasion of revealing the incredible sweetness of the Lord Jesus”
“The disciple realizes that it is his Lord’s honor that is at stake in his life, not his own honor”
“Never look for justice, but never cease to live it”
There is a sphere.
It continually turns, as water gently cascades across its surface.
It sits in a waiting room and when my children were younger, the first time they saw it they were in awe.
It was limitless.
It was powerful.
It was beautiful~yet, with the simple touch of their tiny hand they could stop it all.
Without realizing it, we often limit God’s power in every hard situation we face. We compartmentalize what we believe God can and can’t do in our lives. In our messes. In our anxieties, in our fears, in our unknowns and in the world around us.
We might hear the trite words~
“God does everything for a reason”. Or~”you just need to pray about it more”. Although meant to be, these aren’t words of comfort. They are often pet answers from a sincere heart that has no answers.
Perhaps a heart that hasn’t truly been intimate with God’s power.
And we limit God.
God can do anything.
Just like that sphere, when our hands interfere and our hearts disbelieve-God’s beautiful glory no longer cascades across our lives and the lives around us.
And we ask “why God, why?”
And the whole while our sweet Father is telling us-“lift your hand of disbelief away and allow my power and my glory to wash over you. Let Me show you what I can do in your life.”
In the waiting.
That job situation. That school situation. That hurting marriage. That crying infant. That rebellious teenager. That health scare. That loved one’s illness. That unknown future.
I used to watch my children as their tiny fingers touched that sphere and think about how big they looked next to it, as if they had the world in their hands. They held the power to control its beauty.
And then, I couldn’t help but think~
My God is so much bigger.
The reality of our minute stature hits me hard~
He holds our world in His hands and we hold His power in our hearts. With Him, anything is possible.
Lift your hand. Let go. Watch God’s power, glory and beauty cascade over your life and just believe.
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,”
“God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.”
“Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.”
“Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.”
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”
“But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble.”
“And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God.”
“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?”
“I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.”
“Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7
MOMENTARILY MIXED UP MAMA
No one really told me exactly what to expect after having babies. It was all the rage in CT in the 80’s to go all natural. With my first pregnancy we went to the Lamaze classes, toured the hospital, read the books on natural child birth and bringing baby home~ but no one warned me about the hormones and how messed up I might feel inside afterward.
I ended up going the “all natural” route with our first until the last five minutes and even though the Doctor told me medication would take at least 20 minutes to kick in, I insisted. Three minutes later Jessica was born. So, my next baby was born with no medication whatsoever. First and last time I did that. Ohio had different views on labor and delivery. The doctors there were all about the epidural and being pain free (thank the Lord) so, I actually got to enjoy my last two deliveries. But~the hormones with each baby when I got back home~ that was another story, and I never talked to anyone about it. I held it all inside. I felt like a failure as a mom and a wife. Both sets of parents came all the way from MI to CT to visit after Jessica was born and I can remember feeling so confused inside that I wanted to hide in my tiny bedroom. I didn’t even confide in my own mother or husband. I cried about everything, things that made absolutely no sense at all. I cried when I cleaned house, I cried when the sun was shining, I cried when Jessica wouldn’t sleep and I cried when she was sleeping. I cried when Mike left for youth activities and I cried when I caught our little kitchen on fire because I forgot I was preheating oil to brown some stew meat in. I felt like I was in an out of body experience. My body was doing the motions of wife and mother but my brain was far away and scared. The thing is, I felt like I was crazy or losing my mind so I was too scared to talk about it and even if I did talk about it, I had no idea how to explain my feelings to anyone. I couldn’t even explain how I was feeling to myself. So I bottled it in and cried.
Things are so different today. Mothers are encouraged to talk about postpartum, to get help, to understand they aren’t crazy. As encouraging as it is to know that other mothers have been where you are, it’s still a very lonely and scary experience and it’s doubly hard because our husbands, our knights in shining armor, have no idea how to help us and probably think to themselves that their wife has lost her mind.
So what are we supposed to do? NOT what I did. One thing I have learned in the 32 years I have been married is that open communication is critical in your relationship. Two have become one. You are not alone. Talk to your husband even if you don’t know what to say~ tell him exactly that! Tell him you can’t even explain what’s going on in your head and you have no idea what he could do to help you except possibly listen, have compassion, hold you and allow you to cry without trying to fix you. Ask him to try to understand that you don’t even understand. The second thing I learned is~ don’t feel silly telling your Doctor what you are going through. God put doctors in our lives for a reason. They will not think you are crazy because it has been happening to mothers since the beginning of time. They are there to help you, so allow them to do just that. And most important~prayer is vital. When I thought I was crazy, the only thing that brought me comfort was the fact that I knew my Heavenly Father knew me even when I didn’t know myself and He was with me through all the tears and every mixed up feeling. When I didn’t even know what to ask for or how to pray, when the only words I could utter were “please help me”, my heart knew that my all knowing Savior would do exactly that.
Whether you are expecting and don’t know what to expect or you have just given birth to a little miracle yourself, take heart precious mama. Allow your husband, your Doctor and most importantly, your Savior to help you. God knew that only you would be the perfect wife and mother for your family when you were still in your own mother’s womb. Remember~you are exactly that~ a momentarily mixed up, gloriously grace covered, absolutely perfect and adored mama. 💕
Christmas was my mom’s favorite time of year. I think she started talking about it and planning it on January 1. The presents she would purchase, the dozens of different cookies she would bake, the meal menu and house decor. The family get togethers. It meant the world to her and when we lost her a little over a month before Christmas, I felt like I lost the world. So from Thanksgiving until Christmas, in my feeble strength, I attempted to push the sad thoughts as far as I could to the back of my mind and focus on everything and anything to take my mind off of the pain. I would become mom for everyone in my family, my brothers and especially my dad. With everything I did, my thoughts turned to mom and how she would do it. I baked endless amounts of various Christmas cookies, breads and candies. I wrapped each present perfectly. Every room was decorated. I was determined this would be an amazing Christmas for everyone. But it wasn’t. Anyone peeking into our windows that Christmas might have thought that everything appeared to be amazing, but our hearts were hurting. When I opened the gift my dad presented to me, my heart broke even more. It was a charm necklace my mom had purchased and engraved months before and it said~”All our love Mama and Daddy 2003”. I held on to that necklace like I was holding on to mom. She had picked it out and with all her love she had held it and thought of me. I choked back the tears for fear I would make everyone sad. I smiled and put it on, but inside my heart was weeping and that night after everyone was gone and my kids were in bed, I turned off the lights and with only the light of the Christmas tree, I broke down. I didn’t just cry, I sobbed~heart wrenching, take your breath away sobs from the pit of my being.
It can be so easy for someone to sit and write a blog about dealing with the stress of the holidays along with teething babies and diapers and terrible two’s or how to be thankful amidst the constant activities in our already busy lives and how this Thanksgiving we should focus on being grateful, but those things are all a part of life. If we can’t be thankful for the small things, God help us. So what about those that are going through the heart wrenching moments~ finding out a husband had an affair, the doctor informing you that you have cancer or worse~that your child has cancer, the death of a child, a sibling, a parent, a loved one. Losing your spouse and soul mate after 50 years together? How do those people find thankfulness amidst the heart ache? God has brought some amazing women into my life. Women that have suffered not just one of the things I mentioned, but all of them, and yet they shine the love of Jesus so brightly that you can’t help but smile when you are around them. How can they be this way despite everything they have been through? I truly believe they made a conscious choice to have a thankful heart from the very beginning. A gratefulness to God for everything, even the small stuff like diapers and terrible two’s. They looked for God’s goodness on their lives in every situation. They longed for God and saw that goodness and knew how very much He loved them and they held on to that hope and love when true heartache hit home.
That Christmas, when I felt like utter darkness was surrounding me, I chose to cry out to God, the only One who truly understood my pain. He did something amazing in that moment. He showed me His Son, only a baby lying in my Christmas manger under the beautiful glow of the tree. The hope for an entire lost world, my lost world, and I thanked Him. I clung to Him that year, my hope and strength and life and love. My everything. And I thanked Him for His gift to me of salvation. Because of that baby, His only Son, I would see my mom again in Heaven one day. God gave me a thankful heart and it was my Christmas miracle.
It isn’t easy to be thankful in the heart wrenching moments, especially if we are trying in our own feeble strength, focusing on anything and everything to take away the pain, except the Only One Who can. As we head toward the end of another year, this Thanksgiving focus on the ultimate gift. Our Savior, who was born in a manger and gave His life for us. You may not be going through anything painful this season, but perhaps you are allowing the small stuff to overwhelm your soul and take away your thankfulness. Instead~ Open your eyes to those around you. Look past what you think is such a hard situation and see the hurting hearts of others. Pray for them and daily choose to practice thankful and grateful hearts in the small stuff God has blessed you with. Allow it to be a learned behavior but most importantly focus daily on thanking Him for the gift of His Son and when you feel like the darkness is all around you, the glow of that gratefulness will shine through from deep within your heart and you will be able to say “thank you”. ❤️