Grieving through Christmas 

The holiday season is hard. It is difficult for those that have recently lost, and it is  difficult for those that have lost in years past. I know that for me, there are years that pass by quickly and the season feels easier than others…new memories are made and old memories welcomed. Other times, of no choosing of my own, unwelcomed memories creep in, awaken grief and flood the heart. A feeling of emptiness pours down and a heaviness in the chest appears that feels as if a thousand bricks are weighing me down.

However, to those who have recently lost, I know the days are long and almost unbearable. I remember those hard days during the holidays that filled my life with a mess of emotions. 

I know the days  when walking out the front door seems impossible because you know what lives on the other side of it – a life where everyone’s hanging lights, shopping for gifts, and filling the air with Christmas songs. Music that once brought good feelings, but now only brings grief and the rememberance of the ones you’ve lost.

 I remember the days when the memories you once cherished fill your mind, but now get lost in your moments of pain…

when you wish you could fast forward through the days of family gatherings and opening presents…

When the days leading up to Christmas feel overwhelmingly harder than the actual day; And the days after Christmas give you a sigh of relief because you can finally breath a whisper that says, “I’ve made it through.”

 I remember those days. They are hard, but always redeemable. Hold tight to these days of tears – remembering what Christmas is. Who He is.  How God brought a Redeemer to a sin filled world and layed him in a manger. Because It is in these moments of remembering Him that will bring comfort and a hope that will never disappoint; and it is here that you will find peace and strength to move forward. Surround yourself with those who allow you to grieve silently, to stand in conversation speechless, and to not fake a smile. Ride out the storm. God will provide you enough strength to make it through. 

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Fancy and Adventurous 

 Presley learned to ride her bike recently and Hope dresses up every day in ballet and dance gear. These two girls are filled with joy and are always playing together. The other day, Presley said,”mom thank you for giving me a sister. I would be so lonely and sad without her.” One of the things I so desperately wanted for Presley was to give her a sibling. My heart may have had fear about carrying another child, but my heart desperately wanted this for her. I am so glad that God provided this for her. They love each other! Hope’s saddest moment of the day is when she leaves for school and her happiest moment of the day is the moment we leave to pick presley up from school. She adores her big sister. They play well together but presley tends to be a little mother rather than a big sister. She has taught Hope to be a little bit more practical and fancier; and Hope has taught Presley to be a bit more adventurous and daring. It’s so much fun watching these two sisters grow up together!

One Nation Under God


Not moments after France was attacked red cups disappeared from social media, prayer was rekindled and accepted again in a Nation that had just recently been fighting to extinguish it from every corner.

The same people who want to abolish prayer are the same people who are fighting to accept A hurting people from foreign lands. And the majority of people fighting to keep prayer the center of a nation we call “godless” are refusing a people being slaughtered in a region that has undoubtedly been on their recent prayer list.

God answers prayers, but the answers He gives aren’t always easy. They are hard…difficult and heartbreaking at times. It’s not always easy accepting the answer God gives. It wasn’t easy when I accepted His answer that He was calling my mom home; and it wasn’t easy as I watched her leave this earth. But what I learned from her death and what I always remember in difficult times is that

When His answers are difficult they are still good. And when His answers are  heartbreaking they are still redeemable . And when His answers are scary they are  still sovereign.

He asks us to do the difficult- to reach out and help those who are hurting. He asks us to trust, not in mortal men, but in the One who saves. He asks us, “how much meaning is behind your prayers? Do you want to save a hurting people enough to get into the trenches with them? Walk next to them? Live among them and help heal their broken hearts? Do you trust Me enough to make it right? Do you have the courage?”

Courage doesn’t always seem practical. It wrestles with danger and is in limbo with self-sacrifice. A daring man is not courageous, just foolish. God does not ask us to be daring, he asks us to be strong, to be courageous.

Our pathway to freedom came through courage. Courage placed our ancestor’s feet on American soil. And courage has hung our flag and stuck its rod into a cratered moon, a dying land, and among the rubble of an open grave. If we continue to walk the line that our Nation is “One Nation Under God”   then we must have the courage to act on it….and what a comfort that must be for both Christians and Muslims escaping the same fate.

Seeking His Will

  
June 6, 2015: 

God has shattered any pre-conceived notion that I have had about what His will is. I have prayed for opened doors, closed doors, road blocks, and easy paths. But wrapped in a prayer can be a laying out of my will enveloped in a sea of demands made by me. 
“Do this God, and I will know it’s your will and leading”

  “Allow for opened doors, and I will know the way to your will, God.” 

I have been on both sides of closed and opened doors; and the one thing I have learned is that neither one is a guarantee that God’s will for us is on either side of it. I have walked through open doors just to have them be closed later. I’ve detoured around closed doors just to be brought back around to the front again with a yearning to enter.

Opened doors do not always hold an open invitation to walk through them. 

And

Closed doors do not always shatter dreams and cast out a refusal to enter.

And so how can we really “know” where God is leading? What is His will? 
I have been lead to places and have had opportunities arise just to realize that God meant it as a stepping stone to a much bigger plan. 
God’s will does not always work the way we want…with a perfect formula or within a perfect script. 

I know of many times in my life where God’s will has been difficult to grasp…without a clear and open path to those desires of the heart. 

Sometimes it’s been as easy as a closed or open door, but most of the time it is not. 

For me, most of the time there are several detours, discouraging events along a hard fought road to doing to his will; living out his calling and purpose for my life.

I have found that when I throw out a statement “show me your will, God” after an opportunity has presented itself I feel more inclined to look for “signs” that I am doing His will. It is when I persevere through a commitment to walking in a daily relationship with Christ that I hear him more clearly. It is God that is doing the leading, the pruning, the guiding…way before an opportunity presents itself. 

God’s plan for us rises above our perception. 

Even in my own reasoning for what I think God’s will is, ultimately, His purpose is far beyond my insight or what I think His will is. 

His plans are so much bigger than I often think. Every written plan is for his purpose, His glory, in the big picture of forever…not the momentary life we live. 

May God guide you daily to knowing Him deeper so that when He does bring about an opportunity to walk in His will you might know it fully; without any hint of doubt. 

Village Music 


Meet Damas!

He is a sweet and talented young man living in the Village Merci de Dieu in Haiti. He loves the Lord and has a heart to praise Him. It is very apparent that the Lord is working in him and through him. During the evening hours, you will hear praise music sounding throughout the village. This is because Damas and a few of his friends took it upon themselves to start up a youth group, praising Jesus during the week and twice on Sunday. There are many needs within the village, both physical and spiritual.

The need for deeper knowledge in Christ is not determined by the borders and boundaries of where we live. We are all in desperate need of the hope that comes from the knowledge of who Christ is.

Damas is sharing the love of Christ through his music…music that comes from an old drum, a beat up piece of tin, and an electric keyboard. 


He desires to have drums, 100 watt amp, speakers, and a bass guitar. 

Some of these items could be donated here in the states and taken down on the next trip in November; or it could be way of donating money. If you have a love for music, or knowledge to lend, it would be greatly appreciated.

This would be a great opportunity for your church youth group to come together and raise money for Damas. 

If you would like to help Damas by donating any of these items please let me know or you can donate online noting it “damas music” at

http://www.mercyintl.org/donate/

A Servant’s Heart


…As tears filled my eyes

I felt guilt

I felt shame

I felt unworthy and overwhelmed.

I could not bring myself to eat the food that was set before me, but knew if I didn’t then I would offend the one who gave so graciously and sacrificially.

Darline is a beautiful woman, inside and out, living in Merci De Dieu Village. She touched my heart and soul for life…and I’m quite certain God intended it to be that way. I have said before, “we go to Haiti to bless and in return are blessed far greater by the people there.” It was no different this last trip and I know that my husband and step-mom would agree.

Darline has nothing, at least by American standards, and yet opened her home to us so that she could serve us a meal. She said she felt blessed by God and in return wanted to bless us with a meal because that is what God called her to do.

She wanted to bless outwardly what she felt inwardly.

This woman…

A new mom, 10 days post-partum cesarean section, worked all morning pouring herself into making a delicious home- cooked meal for us. As I sat at her table I swallowed hard and breathed deep as tears filled my eyes I felt guilt- I felt shame- I felt unworthy and overwhelmed.

I knew I didn’t need this meal, not in the way that the tiny bodies of her children needed it. I could not bring myself to eat the food she set before us, but also knew if I didn’t eat then I would offend her…causing her shame and embarrassment.

I questioned myself for a few minutes. I could not bare to waste a single bite, but then wondered if I left most of it untouched would she be able to give it to her children?

She walked around the room with a newborn baby in one arm and a servant’s heart in the other.

What was even more heart-wrenching was the fact that I knew where the money came from that paid for our meal…how she earned it.

I knew that, at 9 months pregnant, she sat hours upon hours in the scorching heat hand embroidering beautiful artwork onto a piece of cloth so that she might be able to provide for her family through the Threads of Blessing program.

I knew the amount of money that sat in the envelope she had received the day before and I understood the amount of money she had just spent on this beautiful meal for us.

I sat and grieved. She gave what, in her words, God called her to give.She gave in the midst of

-not knowing where her next meal would come from

-not knowing if her husband would be able to find work in a city where men and women fight to live- life.

She stepped out in obedience. She stepped out in faith trusting God- that he would provide for her family despite her questions and “what ifs.”  She walked forward in grace extending a heart of thankfulness. She sacrificed for the sake of saying “thank you” because she felt God calling her to pour grace upon us.

As we sat at her table, She told us of her days before and after the earthquake. How her family was forced into one of the many “tent cities.” How she had to sit outside the tent because on most days the temperature inside the tent reached 120. She lost everything.

She shared about God’s faithfulness to her during this time. How she continued to put her hope and trust in the One who would eventually answer her plea with the blessing of moving her into Merci de Dieu Village.

She says she continues to trust God. She continues to put her hope in Him despite the every day circumstances surrounding her. She continues to wait, persevering in prayer, as her husband tries to find a job…to make a living.

I left her house that Sunday afternoon asking myself, “have I ever truly given- Sacrificing for another?

How much more am I called to give…To pour grace into others?”

I have a budget for giving. She gave what she didn’t have to give.

My giving is not sacrificial. My giving is me giving up a luxury- a date night, a meal out to dinner, a pedicure. She gave out of obedience in fullness of trusting in the One who has always provided for her.

I will always be grateful for the kindness she showed, the grace she walked in as her daughter washed our hands after the meal she spent an afternoon preparing for us- She not only served our bodies…she served our hearts forever..

Hope’s Prayers


It’s no secret that Hope is her own person. She does things on her own terms, in her own time. She isn’t as advanced in her vocabulary as Presley was at this age, but she excels in gross motor skills by leaps and bounds from where Presley was. Every evening I say a prayer with Hope that focuses on what we are thankful for. I start off by saying,

“Dear Jesus, thank you for mommy, daddy, Presley, and Hope, and….” …at which point she usually chimes in with “tank you for oranges and bananas, amen.” This evening, for the first time, she extended her list (and her vocabulary) to….

“tank you for doors, and tank you for drawers.  Tank you for Presley. And tank you for Presley’s room, and tank you for Presley’s bed.  And tank you for oranges and chicken. Ummmmm, And mommy room and mommy door. And tank you for Friends. And friends play. Ummmmm tank you for books and butterflies. And tank you for spiders.amen”

Half of these words I didn’t even know she knew!!! An evening I would like to remember 🙂