Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Before and After----His Arms!

About 18 months ago, I got a message that changed my life.

Life became divided into "before and after".

It's amazing how one little message can do that.

Our journey with uncertainty began.  Excruciating journey of a battle that was only won in heaven.  Not on earth as we hoped.

Many others of you know that same feeling.

 It may or may not have been cancer or death.  It may have been shocking news about a spouse's infidelity.  It may have been a loss of a job.  Whatever it was, it was life-changing.

My heart has been VERY heavy for a dear friend that has had lots of those "messages" recently.  Illness and death has knocked on their door way too many times lately.  I've been heartsick.  Wanting to do something, anything to make it better.  Yet, I know that prayer and encouragement is the greatest gift I can offer.  I can't change the circumstances (though I would if I could).  Even though I know what they are going through and can be empathetic....their journey is still THEIR journey and is raw and PERSONAL to them.  It doesn't matter how many people have been down that similar road, it's totally different when it is YOUR path.

Today, I got another such message.

One that pretty much knocked me off my feet.  It took me back to that moment we got the message concerning Daddy.  All in a whirlwind of moments, I felt it all again.  I was literally sick just with how it all  hit. So hard.  So raw.  Today was an emotional roller-coaster I wasn't expecting.  Thankfully I have an incredible rock of a husband, amazing kids, and some precious babies to hug and play with.

You see, you NEVER want anyone else to have to walk a painful path, most especially when I know how  much it ripped my own world apart and how difficult of a battle it has been to cling to my faith.

I know that you find out how strong you really are.  I know that you find out that God REALLY is as close as you need Him to be.

I know those excruciating minutes, days, hours of waiting and wondering.  The questions.  The overwhelming information being thrown at you in whirlwind flashes.

I know that you run on adrenaline and in the quiet moments when you think no one is around, you let the walls cave and don't know if you can pull yourself back together.

I know all about the strong outer shell and the inner turmoil.

I know the devastation of watching a hero suffer and how your brain can't process what you are seeing with what you heart is feeling.

For those of you facing similar situations, for my dear friend that life has hit so HARD lately, and most specifically for the one whose world became divided into "before and after" today and those that love you......

You won't walk alone.  Guaranteed.  We will be here.  We will lift you when you can't stand.  MOST IMPORTANTLY, HE will lift you.  His arms will reach you.  Life really isn't fair at times, but God will NEVER take you where His arms can't reach you.  EVEN when you are furious at Him.  EVEN when you no longer want to be on speaking terms.  His arms WILL reach you!  He WILL give you the courage, strength, and ability to face EACH and EVERY uncertain moment.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day 2012 (Part 2)

As much as Father's Day hurts because of the loss of my own hero, I can't help but smile the biggest smile because of the amazing blessing of the priceless man that my kids call "Daddy."

Today at church a large portion of the message was about the difference between a father and a daddy.  Our kids are blessed beyond imagination to have a Daddy.  He isn't just the provider.  He is EVERYTHING else as well.  I've seldom met men that value fatherhood and being hands on, more than the man that I call my best friend.

Kevin, I will keep this short and sweet.  You know I could get as sappy and could write endlessly about my respect, love, and admiration of you.

Instead, I just simply want to say thank you.  Thank you for being the man of honor that you are.  Thank you for being more than just a father.  Thank you for being a REAL Daddy.  What a priceless gift you are.  WE treasure you.  Today, we HONOR you.

Thank you:

  • for the endless laughter.
  • for the endless sacrifice.
  • for putting us first DAILY, minute by minute.
  • for teaching the power of forgiveness.
  • for teaching us ALL to have a servant's heart.
  • for being the greatest Mr. Fix-It on the planet (for tangible things and intangible as well)
  • for praying constantly for each of us
  • for teaching us that love never fails.
  • for proving that it is more than just spending quality or quantity time...that it's a powerful combination of both.
  • for being a man of integrity, courage, and for being led by the Holy Spirit.
  • for the hugs that can't EVER be matched.
  • for teaching us perseverance and to never give up when things seem impossible.
  • for walking hand in hand with each of us as we pursue stronger.together.
  • for being willing to go to the ends of the earth to fulfill our purpose, even if that is literally what it means some day!
  • for being a role model that exemplifies and provides the lens to which our kids view their Heavenly Father!

Father's Day 2012 (Part 1)

We've been without Daddy for almost 18 months now.  Many days I feel stronger and capable of feeling like I *will* get through this.  Then there are days that just continue to rip me up inside out.  Father's Day happens to be the one that hits me the hardest.  Other holidays are hard, but it's easy to focus on other things.  You can't do that with Father's Day.  

This morning I was thinking about the empty spot that he has left in my heart.  I can't replace it.  I can't fill it.  I can't wish it away.  I can't heal it.  I can't.  

Yet, I realized something powerful today.  That empty spot is there for a reason.  

A powerful one.  

It's the hole that reminds me that there IS a reunion coming.  That piece of me WILL be made complete. 

However, that hole serves as a greater reminder.

It reminds me of what he taught me.
It reminds me of what he expects of me.
It reminds me of the fact that he will ALWAYS be part of me and that nothing can change that. Death is temporary.

Above all, it reminds me to never give up.  Stay strong.  Stay on the NARROW path. It reminds me that I have to keep my focus heavenward.  NOT focused on things of the world.  I have to keep my eyes on Christ and live a life that keeps me in continuous connection with Him. Forget worldly standards. It reminds me the importance of teaching my children spiritual values that can withstand the pressures of the world.  

That hole may be painful and stings with such emptiness.  Yet the reminder of why it is there is beautiful and priceless.  

*And yes, Daddy, I'm still doing my best to hold fast to those promises we made you!  Because those promises guard that privilege of being reunited with you in heaven on the day I see Christ face-to-face!*

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Wrong Paths

First off, if you happen to be one of the few that are still reading my posts I apologize up-front.  I have a feeling this one will be long and a bit disjointed.  My thoughts are all-over the place at the moment and I don't know if they will "come together" as I start typing or if they will still be floating around like they are in my head!  It is what it is!  :)

I love to write.  I love to blog.  I've met some amazing people through this process, reconnected on a much deeper level with different family and friends, felt the Holy Spirit moving in my heart and hopefully encouraged others along the way.  It quickly became a GREAT extension of my heart.  For the past couple of months, I just haven't had the "desire" as great as before.  Even though it's still a HUGE part of who I am and is on my list of "want" to get done, it just hasn't happened.  Hopefully I will settle back into that rhythm in the next several weeks and enjoy this "extension" of myself.

I had planned to write this actual post on Friday, but I'm just now getting around to it.  I LOVE the honesty of  "Full Disclosure Friday....those posts and facebook updates that are about REAL transparency and honesty.  You know, the ones where you admit failures, things you wish you could change, or even something embarrassing.

Well, here is "my" Full-Disclosure Friday.  First Disclosure: It's Sunday night (and I didn't realize it was after 9...I guess THAT is why it is dark outside!).

The real disclosure:  I've been on the wrong path.  Actually I should say I've been walking down MANY wrong paths lately.  Each wrong path could be a post in and of itself---but I'm rolling it ALL into one.

Wrong path:  worrying WAY too much about being weird.  Feeling left out.  Wondering what others "REALLY" think about our family.  Letting specific issues that continue to hurt define me, hold me back, and block me from being who God has designed me to be.

Wrong path:  letting fear of failure prevent me from trying again and succeeding.  This applies to MANY areas of life right now.  It seems like an endless list.

Wrong path:  letting past hurts get in the way of TRULY letting God come in and heal.  Just holding on a bit too tightly to those last bits of me that God needs in order to shape me into the image He has of me.

Wrong path:  doing too many good things instead of REALLY focusing on just a few of those things He has purposely designed for me.  Now that I'm purposely making those changes, it is making unbelievable changes in life.  There is freedom in saying "no".
"You have to start saying no to good things, so you'll be able to say yes to the best things. Too many good things quickly become the enemy of the best things."  Craig Groeschel, "Weird:  Because Normal Isn't Working"

Wrong path:  heading the wrong direction for WAY too long in regards to the way I home educate.  It has been great.  It has been beneficial and effective.  It just hasn't been the way the Holy Spirit has been leading me.  Time to line-up with His way.  Ready to go in the direction He has for us----no matter how much work it takes to prepare.

Wrong path:  thinking that there is always MORE to do.  That God has something MUCH bigger for me.  Yes, He does.  SOME DAY!  But today....  it's the small things that matter.  I've spent too much time on the wrong path believing that the little things don't matter enough.  That is perhaps been the biggest wrong path.  

The ah-ha moment has TRULY come to settle in my heart in a deep way the last several weeks or longer.  

I've not been searching for more.  I've been happy and content RIGHT here.  In this moment.  Embracing the fact that I am enough.  God is enough.  My role is enough.  More than enough.  

The truth sinks in more every day.  

The truth has come in a most unique little packages.  

My "babies".  

The little ones that I have the blessing of taking care of on a daily basis.  The ones that seem to be just a natural extension of our family.  They just happen to go home with their mommies and daddies at the end of the day that are heads over heels in love with them.  

I've heard it countless times, "Girl, you are crazy!" Or, "How on earth can you balance your own family and have babies around?"

I've wondered the same thing.  I've thought the same thing.  

Yet, the answer has always been the same.  

When you are operating in your passion, one GIVEN BY GOD, you become energized.  

I thought my love of babies was normal.  I've since learned it isn't.  It's a God-given passion.  

Here is the thing:  having these babies has taught me such valuable lessons.  God provides.  God sustains.  They've caused me to embrace me own family even tighter.  They've taught me to simplify and then simplify some more.  They've kept me on my toes and continue to!  They leave me completely exhausted and completely fulfilled at the end of the day.  Just like my own children.  

They've taught me that I can't start my day without spending time with God first.  They've reminded me how amazing my husband is on EVERY level.  

They've taught me to not stress out over the small things.  They've taught me to re-evaluate my priorities!  

They've blessed me.  

They've taught me that just like my family, THEY are my ministry.  

They've reminded me of what matters most to me as a parent and caused me to re-embrace that with my own children.  

They've reminded me of getting off the wrong paths and onto the one God designed.  Reminded me that being "weird" is perfectly where God wants us.  Reminded our family that "wide is the path, and narrow is the gate" and the value of the narrow.  

Above all, they've taught me the value of Ecclesiastes 9:10 and are causing me to embrace it in EVERY aspect, MORE every day......

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might!"  

No just getting by.  No just letting life slip by.  Embracing it and giving it everything.  Taking the gifts God has given and using them fully, completely and to His glory.  Whether it be wiping noses, drying tears, picking up countless messes, climbing the mountain of laundry, mopping and then mopping again five minutes later, teaching and reteaching, hugging, kissing, dropping off and picking up, singing, rocking, laughing, and all the countless other things. No matter how insignificant it seems in the moment, the realization that it REALLY matters has TRULY entered my heart in a deep, profound way and life has never felt more complete and more on track.  Even in the hard moments.  Even in the painful ones.  Even in the ones where I might temporarily agree with those that call me "crazy!"  Doing it with ALL my might......