Grief. Two years later.

Grief.

“a. deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death.”

Such a tricky word that encompasses so much, yet feels too small to cover the feeling it brings. If you are walking into the Christmas season with grief in your heart, I feel you.

Today, it has been two years since I received the word that my father was missing. Tonight, it will be two years since mental illness ended his life.  I was a thousand miles away and within minutes my life changed forever. Walking into “the most wonderful time of the year” while also feeling like I’d rather skip it is my new normal. And I know I am not alone. I know there are friends around the globe wishing they would wake up and Christmas would be over because it’s a chore to fake joy every day in December.

The strange thing about grief is that it looks so different on each hurting person. My grieving process probably looks different from your grieving process. My siblings and I all grieve the same loss differently. It is important to remember that it’s quite okay if your grief looks different from those around you. The first few months after dad left I had to figure out how to be okay with what my grief looked like. Because I despised the random outbursts of tears in the middle of coaching, the need to take hour long showers to catch my breath, or the canceling of activities. None of those things are who I am, but who grief turned me into. I am thankful for an amazing support and counseling to get me through those horrible months, but grief never really goes away, at least it hasn’t two years later. However, in the grief there is also joy. And in the hurt, there is also peace. And in the missing, there is also remembering.

 

“For everything there is a season…A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance” Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

 

My mother has used a phrase since we started this journey as suicide survivors. She reminds us often: God Wins. God wins…period. Grief is a battle. Sometimes, it is an every day battle. Sometimes, I can go a whole week without needing my dad for something. But regardless, we grieve, God wins.

I know I have many reading this who never had the opportunity to meet my loud, dry humored, Disney movie loving, sports talking, thing fixer of a father. I ask that you read my speech from his memorial service (click here). I believe it paints a clear picture of what he meant to each of us who knew him. It does not seem fair that he left this world before more people could have him in their life. It pains me that I do not get to experience him whispering to my babies or building cribs for the loves who come into our home. But when I picture my dad in heaven I imagine him holding all of my friends babies who never made it to their arms, and I am once again grateful for him.

Thankful for hope and waiting for heaven.

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(Jimmy and baby Amber. May 1991)

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Infertility Awareness 2017

This week begins our 4th year of unexplained infertility.

When we decided to “start” trying to get pregnant you could not have prepared me for what the past 36 months would be like. The buckets of tears I would cry after painful procedures and negative pregnancy tests. You could not have prepared me for how closely I would check labels on everything from mascara to ketchup. Or how many times I would have to quietly delete social media from my phone to stop from obsessing over others pregnancy announcements.

In the past 36 months I have gone from excited, to embarrassed, to outspoken. Excited at the thought of joining my best friends in the joys of motherhood, embarrassed that I seemed to be broken and unable to carry a baby, and now outspoken on the heartbreak that infertility brings. My life, and my heart is different. I am a different person.

I have panic attacks: Jesus redeems. I am weak to the point of inconsolability: Jesus is strong. My mind wants to live in the “what-ifs”: Jesus whispers truth. I mourn when my friends are joyful: Jesus gives grace. I am weary: Jesus gives rest.

My hope is not in my ability to carry a child in my womb. My hope is in the ability of Jesus to make me whole.

Month after month I read the story of the fiery furnace. Daniels friends were faced with the hardest choice of their lives and this was their response.

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)

But even if He does not.

He could. God could have swooped down and delivered those guys from the fire. He easily could have said, “wow guys, thanks so much for sticking up for me and not bowing to the idols”. But instead Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fire and God got the glory.

He is good. So good. He is able to deliver me from my hurt. But even if he doesn’t, I will not give in to the devil’s lies about my ability to be a mother. Even if He does not, He will still receive glory. This is my prayer and my hope. That others would see my fight, my story, my hurt, and see God getting the glory.

This past week was Infertility Awareness week. I am thankful for the stories I have heard  this week from women and men, telling their stories and bathing each other in grace. If you know a woman or couple who is currently battling infertility, send them a card. Remind them they are loved and cherished. Because you never know when the dark moments come, and there could never be enough support.

sometimes you need a giant stuffed puppy to cuddle you better.

big ideas, big plans, and big BIG prayers.

 

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I have big ideas, big plans, and big BIG prayers for this year. I cannot remember a year that started with so much promise. Everything in our lives up until this point has happened so quickly that most of the time when January rolls around I don’t have the mindset of thinking ahead. But this year; this year is different. The start of this new year brings excitement.

I follow many different creative women on social media. Many of them have a grand cause and are fighting the good fight against the devil. Doing kingdom work while providing for their families or supporting amazing ministries. One of those women I feel privileged to follow and learn from is Katie from Dear Mushka. She so boldly empowers women to not only learn and memorize scripture but to wear it around their necks as conversation starters and as a way to share the gospel in a casual but life-altering way. Each week Katie takes us through a different scripture verse with helpful tips and encouragement on memorization (see promise cards here). And the verse this week was nothing short of a God-ordained miracle in my life.

 

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:19

 

All at once, I felt the presence of God. At first I didn’t even stop scrolling as I briefly read the card. Then I went back, and read and read, until I was sitting on my bed in tears. Something just stops me at “riches of his glory”. I am in awe. Am I worthy enough to have my needs met “according the the riches of his glory”? Because there are times (honestly, most of the time) when I absolutely do not feel that way. Times when I feel defeated, discouraged, and broken. When the hurt of losing dad, or the longing for a baby, or the discouragement of letting others down makes me feel like I deserve less. But God! He wants me to be rich in him. He delights in me. My needs have been, and will continue to be met, according to the riches of his glory. Such grace!

 

So these are my “big God life change only He can do” prayers that I am starting January with. Believing that they will be met according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. I am writing them on my wall, at home and work, and sharing them with you so that when he answers my prayers that together we will celebrate.

 

  1. I pray that 2017 is the year we see foster children in our home.
  2. I pray that 2017 is the year that Northwoods Community Church impacts children in ways that furthers the kingdom like never before.
  3. I pray to be connected to scripture in 2017 unlike any year before (this includes 52 new memorized verses).
  4. I pray that 2017 is the year my sweet husband gets to use his incredibly creative talent for big and important kingdom work.
  5. I pray that 2017 will be a year where and abundance of people will enter our home and feel like they are loved, cherished, and honored more than ever before.

 

How are you praying this year? I challenge you to pray a “big life change only He can do” prayer. And believe in the power of Jesus’ name. Happy 2017 my friends.