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Despite whether or not you agree with Ravi Zacharias as a Christian, I think all of us could agree with him on this quote.

“…morality is good for civil coexistence but morality alone will not save this society   unless we develop an accountability to our creator not merely for moral reasoning but for the recognition that life at its core is sacred.”  Ravi Zacharias

I am overwhelmed at the thought of what my son and his generation will face in years ahead.  Our kids are watching us and how we react to the events unfolding around us and much of what I see troubles my heart. I want my son to see me respond in a way that has integrity, where I am respectful of others and their opinions, I also want to make room for differences and demonstrate what it looks like to be responsible in the midst of chaos.

It’s not just how we respond to the current events but it is how we parent our young adults during this time.  If we are not intentional,  we risk our nation collapsing in their lifetime.  Please seriously consider what that looks like.  An eye opener for me was listening to a documentary on how Hitler came into power in Austria.   It’s a terrifying thought.  If you want to listen to the documentary, let me know.  I just ask you listen, truly listen and then think about how that could occur in our country.   

It takes one generation for the tides to turn and our kids need to know how to ask questions  and think critically for themselves in school and out of school.   They need to witness us critically thinking through current events.    They need to see us facilitate conversations that are respectful and productive.  They need to see us turning away from the sensationalism that is permeating every part of our lives. 

Social media is feeding the crises in our country.  We complain about our kids and their screen time, yet we don’t see the ramifications of our own screen time.   Our kids see us filling ourselves up with one side of an argument and professing we know the truth.  Sadly, most of our news is being given to us by those motivated by promoting themselves making truth and unbiased reporting almost impossible.   I don’t think it’s easy to find mainstream media sources that one could respect.

One potential solution is a  “fact checking” organization.  It’s a great idea, but don’t forget it is almost impossible to find an organization without bias.   It is always good to know who you are trusting by finding out who founded the “fact checking” company, finding out if the majority of founders/staff/fact checkers come from companies with a tendency to be left or right and subject to bias and are they funded by any outside companies and if so which ones and ask yourself if they may have a bias of some sort.

For 20 years, I opted out of current events for various reasons, and now I have reemerged to find my head spinning out of control from the news.  It is impossible to find consistent reporting on the Covid 19 virus.  The political arena is destructive and vicious, and I’m not talking just about the politicians – I don’t have to scroll far on FaceBook before I find extreme judgement from the right to the left or the left to the right. I have friends and family on both sides, and I respect them all, but I don’t understand the poison filled posts.   I don’t even know where to start in relation to the horrific events we have seen play out in the last month.  I’m horrified at the violence in every aspect and on every side.  I would love to close my eyes and just go about my life, but I have a son that I need to lead and lead well.

As a Christian, I recognize that we are flawed people living in a fallen and broken world.  As a Christian, God has also instructed me to rely on His word and teach my son.  God has instructed me to take His word and actively teach my son.  God’s instruction is available to each of us in how to respond to everything that happens, but it’s up to us on whether or not we allow Him to lead us.

Deuteronomy 11

18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

On YouTube, I watched an interview with Ravi Zacharias.  He spoke about how he had moved from a debate format to an open forum format because he felt it wasn’t as effective as an open forum where you give the audience a chance to ask questions and give them an opportunity to also challenge him on his views.    I have watched many of his videos on YouTube and it’s obvious God has given him extraordinary gifts.  What I love about him is that he can speak with someone with a polarizing view to his and still be incredibly respectful and inviting to dialogue.

I wish I saw that in our political arena among us as voters.  Every single candidate should be able to speak in whatever forum they can and anyone that wants to attend should be able to attend without interference from the other side.  Election day will be what it will be, but I would like to see us as voters uniting and agreeing to not interfere with one another – invite one another to dialogue but don’t interfere with one another.  Politics are politics, and I hate that….but as voters let’s do our part and play fair, respect one another and even love one another despite our differences.

Reasonable people can sit at opposite sides of a table and disagree and accept disagreement.  Regardless of whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, there is much that could be learned from one another but let’s play fair.  We can’t control the politicians but we can have self control.

What would Facebook and our discussions look like if we kept Titus 2:12 in mind.  Even if you are not a Christian, I don’t think you can say there is anything wrong with the following piece of scripture – it could as easily be translated into a viewpoint of someone that is not a Christian and they would agree.

Titus 2:12 NIV

You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. 

Also, let’s not forget about the undecided, trust they are smart enough to figure out their own views without any of us swaying them in ways that lack integrity.

Lastly, our kids have to reference multiple sources when writing most papers, we should do the same as we navigate our world events.

Reminiscent

Tending to remind one of something

Suggesting something by resemblance

Absorbed in or suggesting absorption of memories

Reminiscence

A story told about a past event remembered by the narrator

The enjoyable recollection of past events

A collection in literary form of incidents and experiences that someone remembers

On New Year’s Eve when David shared with us he wanted to sit down and reflect on our last decade and be prayerful about the decade we were entering, I found one of the books that David had printed for me from the old CarePages I kept regarding our long journey.  I wanted to reflect a moment or two about our previous journey.   I skimmed through it reflecting on life was 10 years ago.  Our lives were upside down yet overcome by God’s presence.  It’s so hard to comprehend how one can feel complete panic at the same time of feeling enormous peace.  Something only able to occur because of God, He gives us the ability to make it through all things.  One can’t believe it until they actually experience it.  I’m one of the fortunate ones to have actually experienced it.

I meant to place the CarePage book that David made for me along with the others but had not done so yet.  As I sat down today for my bible to bible “imprint”time,  I picked up the CarePage booklet and read through my post from December 26th, 2009 (versus skimming it which I did on New Year’s Eve).  My last entry of 2009 was titled: ” Merry Christmas!”

My post had the normal medical update information.  Lance was chemo free for a couple weeks and would be for another couple of weeks.  It was weeks of a routine that meant weekly PET scans and MRI’s that showed some stabilization of lesions.   The lesion count was down to 16 and the majority still in Lance’s collar bone, pelvis, one of his femurs and the handful of liver lesions they could never seem to reach with chemo.  And I wrote…”all in all things are encouraging.”  I continued to write, “Lance has developed another infection which caused fevers and a general feeling bad these last two weeks.  It’s called Cytomegalovirus (CMV) reactivation which affects intestines, liver and lungs….”.    I continued on how while it was nice to have a break it was hard to be in a “holding patter” of wait and see.    I touched on being homesick and even missing the snow and touched on how hard it was to see Christmas trees on everyone’s cars as I wanted desperately to be “one” of those families enjoying the Christmas season with everyone healthy and happy.  As I read my post, I’m convicted in my own heart in how I have come to take things for granted.  We live blocks from UAMS and Multiple Myeloma patients are living out their lives day in and day out fighting a horrible disease like we did so many years ago.  .

God has redeemed so much of our pain by bringing David into our lives.  We are so blessed.   He is an extraordinary man that loves me immensely (despite my being a yankee as he says…he never imagined he’d marry someone from north of the Mason Dixon line), he loves my son as his own and leads our family with his faith filled heart.

I’m so thankful to have these carepages and thankful I took a glimpse at my last entry in 2009.  It continues to encourage me that God is leading me to remembering all that he did as I begin to spend time in his word “imprinting” my new bible from my old.

This is a glimpse of what I call God’s “breadcrumbs”…

My December 26th, 2009 post:  Although it’s been a challenging few weeks for me in patience and a challenging few weeks for Lance due to this new infection, God continues to reveal himself in subtle but amazing ways.  Last week I met a wonderful couple in the lobby and happened to run into them two days in a row.  The 2nd day, she said ‘let me write a couple things down for you.’  When we left I looked at the index card she wrote on for me. 

On one side she wrote:  “GOD’S WILL” – What I would choose if I knew all the facts.  TRIALS designed by God to draw us closer to Him.  TEMPTATIONS designed by satan to distract us from God.  Proverbs 3:5-7 

On the other side she wrote:  Be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication; with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God and the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

For those of you that exchange emails with me you will know that my signature on my email is this last scripture she wrote on the back….What are the odds that some ‘stranger’ in flesh but friend in Christ would write down a piece of scripture so close to my heart not even knowing me?  We continue to be amazed at how God reveals Himself by entwining our lives with others through scripture.”

David and I have been trying to impress upon Lance the importance of writing down prayers, making notes in his bible or keeping a journal.  It’s so easy for days, months and years to blend together and lose sight of what God has done.  When you have things documented in one way or another, you are able to see in the midst of things what God is placing in front of you and keeps you on course.  As time goes by, having things written down helps you remember how faithful our God is and how we are incredibly strong because of His spirit that dwells within us.

My December 26th, 2009 post: “Another ‘coincidence’ was a bookmark Little Lance picked out for my mom for Christmas which shares a hymnal by Fanny J Crosby “Blessed Assurance”  Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!  Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!  Heir of salvation, Purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, Washed in His blood.  This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all day long.  When my mom looked at it she exclaimed, ‘you know…at our church this is one of the hymn’s that we sing at least every few weeks.’ Out of all the bookmarks Little Lance could have picked, this is the one that he chose depicting a song that his Grandmother sings frequently at church…!  So on our bad days we hold onto these experiences that we know are more than a mere coincidence…”

So thankful for my best friend, Nyla, who became my sister in Christ when we met in 2009.  Her husband, Paul, had Multiple Myeloma and we became instant friends.  We were the oddballs of the patients and caregivers because most patients were in their 60’s and above and we were the odd ones that had young families  at the time at UAMS.  (Thankful for advancement in the medical community and that there is much more known about this disease, it’s caught early, Dr’s recommend patients go to a known Multiple Myeloma center versus treating it like other blood cancers which is giving patient’s a fighting chance for long term survival.  Thankful to Nyla who encouraged me to start the CarePages which I didn’t want to do (I’m not sure why).  It truly became a Holy Spirit experience as I saw what God was doing in the midst of it all and I can recount it all now as I look back at what once was which strengthens my faith today and hope it will be a great source of strength for my son as he grows up.

My December 26th, 2009 post:  “We went to a wonderful church service last night…We had a wonderful time opening presents… our first nerf gun fight at the hospital while we waited for Daddy Lance.  It was unusually windy so we opted for a quiet hospital hallway for a fun nerf gun fight.  Lance was very proud of hitting me right between the eyes…literally and let’s say it really tickled his funny bone (and mine).

While many days are a bit foggy, I remember this day as if it were yesterday and even have a picture somewhere that one of the nurses had taken of us.  I even remember having a red mark on my forehead and we had velcro vests since they darts had velcro.  It was a great example of one of those peace filled moments (an ability to be present) coming through an adventure filled moment  for my 5 year old at the time and for me as his mom in the midst of so much uncertainty through a nerf gun fight in the hallways of UAMS.

My December 26th, 2009 post:  We were blessed with a visit from my brother, Doug, and his wife, Diane, and my mom and dad at the same time.  Little Lance has been spoiled…it’s been a wonderful week.”

A few weeks ago, my  brother was in town for his birthday a few days before Christmas.  I was so thankful to have time with him, his wife, Diane, and their two friends, Steve and Nancy.  It meant so much to our mom to have us all together.  She was quite emotional before their arrival and she said, “It may be my last time for us to spend time together.”  I didn’t understand until after the fact that I think what she meant was due to her dementia it might be one of the last times she fully comprehends and can remember having everyone together.  Dementia like Multiple Myeloma is an awful disease and brings to the forefront every family get together, every holiday….will this be the last holiday together as a whole.  It was a question I asked myself each holiday although we never spoke about it when Big Lance was alive.  My heart aches for my mom knowing she struggles with those thoughts but I’m so thankful I have her here in Little Rock and I get to see her almost every day.    Family is everything.

My nephew and his wife, Stephanie, were in town the last few days and my mom was elated that they took her to lunch and then hung out with her and participated in the trivia game that the other residents were enjoying that afternoon at her “new house”.    What a blessing for her to share a part of her new life with them.  Last night, Ryan and Stephanie came to our house for dinner and I had my mom help me make some peach and cherry cobbler for them.  Her favorite story about Ryan and Stephanie is how years ago, she sent peach cobbler home with them and they had consumed most of it shortly into their trip.  (At least that’s the story she tells which wouldn’t be a surprise since she made really good cobbler).  It was a wonderful visit with them.

Visits from family mean so much to someone that is struggling with a disease of one sort or another.  We lived for those days when family or friends would fly in from Chicago to visit and my mom is overjoyed to see her family together.

Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.  And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.  Be at peace among yourselves.

1 Thessalonians 5:11-13 

The commentary in my old bible:

As you near the end of a long race, your legs ache, your throat burns, and your whole body cries out for you to stop.  This is when friends and fans are most valuable.  Their encouragement helps you push through the pain to the finish line.  In the same way Christians are to encourage one another.  Be sensitive to other’s need for encouragement, and offer supportive words or actions.  “Those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work”, probably refers to elders and deacons in the church.  How can you honor your pastor and other church leaders?  Express your appreciation, tell them how you have been helped buy their leadership and teaching and thank them for their ministry in your life.  If you say nothing, how will they know where you stand?  Remember, they need and deserve your support and love.

My “own” commentary:

I would add that “those who are leaders in the Lord’s work” isn’t necessarily the elders or deacons at a church.  While I agree that we need to absolutely lift our church leaders up so that they are encouraged, I think we all need to remember we are all one body.  We ourselves, each have our own ministry.  The difference between a church leader and ourselves is not that they are held in a higher regard by Christ but that they have a more obvious and defined ministry.  They each carry an incredibly heave load and that is not to be overlooked.

Unfortunately though, we often overlook that we each have a ministry.  It doesn’t matter what season of life, it doesn’t matter the type of work we do, it doesn’t matter what our family dynamics are, it doesn’t matter the number of facebook or twitter followers we have.  We are often caught up on numbers of social media, who we “are” defined as by our careers or “lack there of” etc that we forget the most important part is that we have each been given a special calling by Jesus Christ.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’”            Matthew 28:18-20

Often we accomplish our calling by recalling and sharing all that God has done.

1 Thessalonians 5:11-13 was one of the verses at the end of my CarePage post December 12th, 2009.  I’m going to predict this verse will come to me in another way in the near future.  Thank you Lord for all you continue to remind me of and show me.

 

Amazing feeling.  I sat down with the goal of copying my notes from my old bible to my new bible for 30 minutes and like yesterday I found myself embracing and remembering the miracles of God and time went on and 30 minutes came and went as I felt God moving me to copy my notes longer.

Remember the things I have done in the past.  For I alone am God!  I am God, and there is none like me. Isaiah 46:9

On New Year’s Eve we took my mom to Flying Fish for dinner.  I took her there because she had talked about it several times.   The facility where she lives (thankfully she calls it home and is happy there) takes her and a handful of ladies that are highly functioning like her for outings.  Last month they took the ladies for a drive in the downtown area and later that day my mom told me about their trip and how things started “to come back to her” as she remembered our trips downtown when Lance was called Little Lance and how we had eaten at the Flying Fish frequently.

I told her we would eat there soon and so as New Year’s Eve approached I thought it would be a great place to go.  When I called my mom and told her we were picking her up and taking her to eat there for New Year’s Eve, I realized quickly she was having a moment where she couldn’t remember things.  I didn’t say anything and just told her it was a great place for fried shrimp and and catfish.  We arrived and she didn’t remember it but looked forward to some fried catfish and shrimp.

As we approached the door, there was a gentleman standing near the door and he said said something to me.  I thought he was asking for money and I explained I did not have any cash and only a credit card.  He said he didn’t want money  but hoped to have something to eat…there was something about him that is hard to explain but he had a quiet and gentle spirit.  I invited the man whose name was James to join us.  (interesting I caught a typo reading through this a second time and where James is I had Jesus).

As we waited in line, we began talking.  I wish I could remember everything he said.  He thanked me for asking him to join us and he began talking about his father who had been hard on him but that he was thankful his father instilled in him an understanding of helping the person next to him and why that is important.  He said something like, “You have to be nice to everyone.  The person standing next to you might be the person to save your life.  They might be the person to call the ambulance.”  He said something else that I wish I could remember but it sounded like someone we know whose name is Brother Paul who leads the Friendly Chapel which is a church that supports our community in amazing ways…those that have nothing…those that are homeless and without shelter those that go “unseen” by so many eyes.

I told him he reminded me someone we knew by the name of Brother Paul.  I asked him if he knew Brother Paul and he simply nodded his head and said, “Yes, I know him.”  He then paused and I thought for a moment that he was being polite and saying he knew Brother Paul but really didn’t.  Minutes passed and he said, “Yes, I know him.  He’s in North Little Rock.  I have been there a few times.”  He knew exactly who I was talking about.   We continued talking and David came in after parking the car and I introduced them.  David told him to order whatever he wanted and James ordered a two dinners so he would have something to eat later on.   I asked him if he would like to sit with us as he ate dinner and he graciously said he would like to but needed to get to the shelter to ensure he could get in.

My son and I prayed with him as David paid our bill.  I wasn’t aware that my son, Lance, had called David as I was talking to James in line upon our first arrival.  I didn’t know that Lance had asked David to grab his wallet which was in David’s truck that still had the $100.00 in it that David had given him on Christmas Eve to share with a random person that Lance wanted to bless…someone in need.

Interestingly (or rather Divinely inspired) David had given each of us $100.00 to give to a random person in need because earlier that day he and Tanner had been at Brother Paul’s for their Christmas service and the present wrapping event they hold annually for children to pick a gift for themselves and two for the adults in their lives.  It was something Brother Paul said that led David to giving each of us $100.00 to bless someone in need that we didn’t know.   “Interesting” the inspiration that came through Brother Paul blessed a man that we met “randomly” that carried the Holy Spirit within him that knew Brother Paul.

There is no coincidence only bread crumbs God leaves for us, we just have to open our hearts and minds and put our skeptical jaded culture driven thoughts aside in order to see what God has placed in front of us.  We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus but we can only do that when we welcome Christ into our hearts and our minds and we set ourselves to the side and our judgements to the side and allow ourselves to trust, be vulnerable and reach out to those around us – to those that we know and don’t know.

Back to my point….I didn’t know David had brought Lance his wallet and didn’t know Lance had retrieved the $100.00 and had it held in his hand.  When we were done praying and James was getting something to drink, Lance asked if it was ok if he gave James the $100.00 meant for someone in need.  I said, “Of course”.  Lance tenderly offered it to James and James thanked him and said, “You know a lot of people don’t know you have to pay to get into a shelter”.    He then said randomly, “You know Jesus looked like he had nothing, but he had everything”.

James is right.  Years ago I didn’t know that those seeking refuge in a shelter in the cold and rain have to pay in order to stay, I only found that out a few years ago while I went through the Chaplain certification process at UAMS and then worked at UAMS as a Patient Advocate.  I encountered those in great need on a routine basis and it was always heart wrenching to see them in need of the basics.  We all take so much for granted..we all wake up in a warm bed and a warm house.  The homeless are thankful to have just a few dollars so they can sleep on a cot in a warm place as they take refuge in a shelter.  While it’s only a few dollars, a few dollars is a huge amount of money to them and they never know if they will have it day to day.

We parted ways and he stayed on my mind and in my heart.  As we got into the car and was driving to my mom’s “house”, my mind lingered on James and suddenly I saw the face of a gentleman I met briefly at UAMS so many years ago and a part of me wondered if it was the same James.

The “Flying Fish James”  had shared with me he was from Houston and hurricanes brought him to Little Rock and this was his 2nd time in Little Rock.  He had worked on oil rigs and “chased” the material things in life and said now it all doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter that he has nothing because all he needs in Jesus. He mentioned in passing that  his first wife of 27 years died and that his 2nd wife taught at UALR.    It makes me wonder what his journey was and how he had arrived in life where he is but the reality is none of that matters.  He has the most important thing anyone can have and that is his faith in Jesus Christ our Savior.  He blessed us immensely that night seeing his spirit filled with Jesus despite his circumstances.  He is a walking witness to what Christ in your heart can do hardest of times.

The UAMS James….I haven’t thought about him in years until driving in the car that night.  I shared this with David and Lance and hope I have it documented in the Care Pages somewhere.  I would love to see what day and year I encountered him and remember more details.  If I can’t find it, it’s ok.  I have it documented here for Lance someday and Lance will remember the night at the Flying Fish and my sharing the story of the UAMS “James” and that’s all that’s important.  I want Lance to remember and see the bread crumbs of Jesus all around him from our past journey, our current life and the future journey he will travel as he matures.

I think it was in 2009 because I think it was within the first year of our time here in Little Rock.  Someone must have been visiting or Little Lance was being watched by someone because it was a rare evening at UAMS that I didn’t have him with me.   Big Lance was in the infusion center for his routine antibiotics or blood products that were a daily need including on weekends.  I remember there were only a handful of patients and/or their caregivers in the waiting room and it must have been after 6pm because the front desk staff were gone for the day.  I was a bit weepy that night and went down the hall to where Little Lance and I would have nerf gun wars on the weekends because it was an area that was closed off in the evenings and the weekends so we would have fun in the hallway that lead up to the doors that were locked in off hours and around the corner from the waiting room so we could go there and have fun without disturbing anyone.

I sat on the green sofa like chair and remember feeling the tears slowly run down my cheeks and then I became aware of a man quietly and methodically moving his broom down the hallway in my direction with his head down as he focused on the floor.   When he was right in front of me he said (and I remember the first part of what he said as if it was yesterday), “Sister, why are you crying.  I see that you are wearing a cross and you are a believer.”  I don’t remember the rest of the conversation…I almost feel as though I was more an observer than I was a participant in a two way conversation.  I remember how he spoke and how he had a presence about him.  The only other thing I remember him telling me (rather describing to me) was how he had been on one of the floors above where we were and how one evening he felt the Holy Spirit washing over him like waves.  He moved his body in a way where I could almost feel what he had felt and as though I could see the Holy Spirit washing over him one night long before.  That is all I remember but those two things will never leave my mind.

The Flying Fish “James” and the UAMS “James” seemed as if they were one.  They had the same presence, they spoke the same, I felt the Holy Spirit in both and leaves me wonder if by some twist of events was it the same James.  Is it the same James?

This afternoon, Lance has a friend over, David is at work and my mom is excited to be taken to lunch by my nephew who is in town.  What a blessing it is to have him here to see her.  I’m making my way to taking the Christmas tree down and thinking through my notes in my bible and while doing this the song Way Maker has come on our Sonos player.  It is a live version so in between lyrics towards the end he began listing the things God is over….

You are here
Moving in our midst
I worship you
I worship you
I worship you
I worship you
You are here
Working in this place
I worship you
I worship you
Way maker
Miracle worker
Promise keeper
Light in the darkness
My God
That is who you are
Touching every heart
I worship you
I worship you
You are here
Healing every heart
I worship you
I worship you
You are here
Turning lives around
I worship you
I worship you
You are here
Mending every heart
I worship you
I worship you
Way maker
Miracle worker
Promise keeper
Light in the darkness
That is who you are
I then hear him add some lines….
Even when I don’t feel you working…Even when I don’t see that you are working…You never stop working
Who’s name is above?  His name is above depression, His name is above loneliness, His name is above disease, His name is above cancer, His name is above everything…that is Who You are.

That is who He is in each of our lives.  He was above David’s heart wrenching journey so different than ours, He was above the heart wrenching journey my son and I had when his dad was so ill and He was above our dark days through following his dad dying, He was above the depression and loneliness David and I both experienced in our separate journeys.   He was above the disease and cancer of my late husband, He was above the battle of cancer of my father-in-law (Grandpa Lance) and my biological mother, LeeAnn,  who both died the year before Lance died, He was above my mother’s lung cancer which was diagnosed the year after Lance died, He has been above my mother’s loneliness as her disease dementia has progressed and He was above the health problems that could have taken my own life just 2 short years ago in January of 2018.

He was above it all.  We have so much to be thankful.  We have a faithful God and I’m so thankful God is taking the scales off my eyes once again and helping me remember all He did and given me hope filled anticipation of all that He will do and the ability to be present in what He is doing.

We have an enormous and faithful God that is over all things.

A New Decade

Last night we what feels like a rare opportunity.  Lance is 15 and seldom do we get to block an entire evening with him due to school, sports, friends etc.  Balance is important.

We took my mother to Flying Fish for dinner and then took her back home where she has found a new community in the memory care center where she lives.  She is happy, she feels safe and she is no longer alone and confused.  Although she has difficult days, she also has more days than not that are filled with simplicity and joy in a stage of life where things are so different.  I praise God for bringing my mother to Little Rock where we can ensure she enjoys her life to the fullest extent that she can right now.

After dropping her off, we returned home and settled in to watch 8 episodes of the new Star Wars series.  For a family that does not watch tv, it’s interesting how we all looked forward to being still with one another and enjoying doing nothing other than watching tv for 4 hours.  It’s even more alarming that David was looking forward to it because for those that know David, he is incapable of sitting idle for any extended period of time.  We made popcorn, ate cookies a wonderful family had dropped off earlier in the day.  We watched every episode and finished about 2am this morning.  A simple and beautiful way to begin this new decade – time together with no distractions and finding joy in simple entertainment.  A night to remember.  A new tradition.

While our time together brining in the New Year was beautiful, even more beautiful was David sitting us down to think through this last decade and how our lives have dramatically unfolded – the good and the bad.

We each looked back at our last decade and listed off our top 3 good things and our top 3 bad things that happened, while keeping in mind God worked in the bad and the good.

I didn’t want my answers to taint Lance’s so I asked that David and Lance finish their lists first and I went last.  Lance keeps his emotions so tight and I listened and watched him as he dipped his toe into the water as if he was testing to make sure it wasn’t to hot.  The first bad thing that he said happened was that Georgia died.  Our sweet Rhodesian Ridgeback, Georgia, died in November of 2018.  We adopted Georgia in 2011 just months after Lance’s dad, Lance, died.  It was heart wrenching.

I took note that Lance did not list his dad as number one but know that is Lance’s way of coping…a little bit of initial avoidance helps him keep his emotions in check.  Thus, one of our prayers for Lance in 2020 is for him to be more open with his emotions with us.

Lance’s number two was as I expected, his dad, Lance, died.  His number three was our disastrous short move to DC.  We all have moments that are gut wrenching as we think about our mistakes and how they impact our children and that is my number 1.  David, however, pointed out how God used the worst decision I could make for my son and myself and God provided a blessing the very next year.

Navigating life as a young widow with a young child is hard.  I made my portion of mistakes.  I didn’t know where we belonged.  In some ways I felt as if we belonged in Little Rock with those that became our family and in other ways I missed life in a city and felt we needed to return to something that was more familiar…at least more familiar in our “previous life”.  We could have returned to Chicago and unfortunately I allowed the enemy in and I allowed the enemy to deceive me culminating in our move to DC which was very short.  Thankful to the night I called my friend, Mary, and could hear her husband, Mark, say in the background, “Tell her if she feels like she needs to come home, she should.”  Mark is only 10 years older than me but has always felt like a father and I can hear his voice as if he said those words just yesterday.

Although, it is my biggest mistake as a mother and Lance’s number 3 on his list of bad things that happened in this last decade, David pointed out if we had returned to Chicago following Lance’s death, we likely would have never returned to Little Rock.  If we had not returned to Little Rock, I would never have met him (although he already knew who we were and had been praying for us).

Thank you God for using my mistake and for returning us to our home land that is filled with abundant fruit and for brining David into our life.

Lance’s number 1 good thing in the last decade is that David and I got married.

My goal in 2020 is to get back into a daily rhythm of documenting God’s ‘bread crumbs”.  The first one of the year is thinking about God leading me to today.  On December 29th, 2019 Ben Parkinson’s sermon was a bread crumb.   The day earlier I reflected on the little time I have spent in the new bible David gave to me last Christmas.  My struggle has been  that it feels like a stranger in my hands.  My old bible is beat up and I have been writing in it since 2003 or so before Lance’s was born and while we were going through in vitro which was a heartbreaking journey in and of itself.  I have written prayers though that journey, through losing Little Lance’s twin at the end of the first trimester, through his birth and through his dad’s diagnosis of cancer just weeks after Little Lance turned 1, prayers through our journey in Chicago and prayers upon our arrival in Little Rock hoping for that far out chance of a miracle, prayers following his dad’s death and prayers trying to navigate life as a widow and only parent and prayers and notes of God’s amazing work in bringing David into our lives.

God spoke to me and told me my time in his word would come through take my old bible and writing every prayer, every note and though scribbled into my old bible and write it neatly into the beautiful bible David gave me.  I frequently thought I would need to go and “fix” my old bible so that one day Lance and his children would be able to read my handwriting and make out what I may have written in pencil or scribbled to where even I could almost not read it and fill in with words above the areas I had written in shorthand.  Thus God prompted me, my new bible that seemed foreign would no longer be foreign if I documented every single bread crumb God has given me into my new bible.  It will be a long process but one I am incredibly excited about.

Samuel 12:24 Fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart.  For consider what great things he has done for you.

Psalm 77:11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.

God blesses us immensely when we remember what He has already done for us.

The bread crumb in all this?

God prompted me to do this on 12/27/19 or 12/28/19 and then Ben’s sermon on 12/29/19 he mentioned Deuteronomy – remember His faithfulness.

 

Just Today

My writing abilities seemed to stop years ago.  They Holy Spirit led writing just doesn’t seem to exist, at least for right now.  I know the difference between writing my perspective on things and those writings that pour out of me because they are not mine but are God’s.  All that seemed to disappear sometime after my late husband’s death.  Those writings were as much to keep family updated on our long 7 year journey with my late husband’s battle with cancer as much as the writings were for my young son and documenting what I called the “bread crumbs” God provided for us to keep us strong and to encourage us when we felt we were going to fall apart.

I haven’t invited many to this blog after Carepages no longer existed and a few people follow it as it’s been passed to a few others and feel the need to change it from my perspectives to just simple day to day documenting for my son.  Feel free to follow and feel free to not.  I need my writing to flow in a way that provides my son memories of what God continues to do.  I’m thankful my husband, David, was able to print out the old Carepages that covered years of our journey and have them bound for me to pass onto my son one day.   So for now I’m going to write as I did once before although there is no updating on a cancer journey and no updating on my ongoing battles with depression and anxiety.  The facts are what they are…my son and I have an amazing life because of the amazing man God brought to us in 2015.  He has stepped in as Lance’s father 100% and is an unbelievably wonderful husband to me that I love more than anything.

So I leave the fact as they are and for now I simply want to document the small things God does that all add up to the big things he does in our lives.

Last Friday I sat with another mother of a teenager at my son’s school.  She lost her own mother recently and spoke of her own “breadcrumbs” that involve her mother, a college, a commencement speech, a son, a prayer at the end of a ceremony that included my own son’s life verse which is Isaiah 40:31-32.  She spoke about a bird, a hawk and a consistent presence of the representation of a birds presence.  I in turn spoke of a drive Little Lance and I had in the summer of 2011 two months after his dad died of a hawk flying in front of our car almost like he was guiding us.  Although he had just turned 7 months before we had a very adult like conversation about how the hawk was guiding us.

Today at chapel we sang the hymn:  You Who Dwell in the Shelter of the Lord

You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord, who abide in his shadow for life, say to the Lord, “My refuge, my rock in whom I trust!”

And I will raise you up on eagles wings, bear you on the breath of dawn, make you to shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of my hand.

Snares of the fowler will never capture you, and famine will bring you no fear; under God’s wings your refuge with faithfulness your shield.

And I will raise you up on eagles. wings, bear you on the breath of dawn, make you to shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of my hand.”

For to the angels God’s given a command to guard you in all of your ways; upon their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.

And I will raise you up on eagle’s wings, bear you on the breath of dawn, make you to shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of my hand.

No coincidence my conversation from just a few days ago at a football game to this hymn being sang at chapel today – on a day that particular mother also attended.

Also, today at chapel the Mayor of Little Rock spoke. He said the bible – old testament and new provide some amazing people we should model our lives after.  He said we should think of King David and the courage he demonstrated, he said we should think of Moses and Joshua and the leadership they exhibited (although later he said Joseph – or at least my ears hear Joshua in the beginning) and the boldness of Paul.

He spoke about the necessity of us to demonstrate courage, leadership and boldness.  He spoke about the necessity of preparing for one’s day.  He, himself, starts with reading the bible to help him face the unknown of the day.  He spoke about how the simplicity of making a bed in the morning and starting the day off with structure can in turn give courage and boldness as we face many things in a day that are chaotic (not structured).  We can bring calm to a storm and structure into a storm when it charges towards us as we walk out the day if we start with a presence about ourselves which can come from first putting our own affairs in order before we walk out the door.

He spoke about thinking about 3 P’s -Preparation-Push-Paying it Forward (and an overall P of positivity).

If we are prepared and “put together” before we walk out the door we can have more courage and strength to fight the ungodly powers in our culture that are looking to distract us from God’s work.

If we push forward in the midst of adversity we conquer the ungodly powers of the underworld that want to crush us in adversity.  In James we are told that we will face adversity – but it’s up to us what we do with it, we can crumble beneath it or we can have courage like David, leadership like Moses and Joseph in the midst of the storm and the boldness of Paul to charge forth no matter what we face.

Then we must pay it forward and as we come out of the fire we must lift those up that find themselves in the fire.

I thought he recited Psalm 55:22 but as read those verses I don’t think that was correct and so I’m left wondering what verse it was.  However, on July 22, 2012 I underlined Psalm 57:2-4 I cry out to God most High, to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.  He will send help from heaven to rescue me, disgracing those who hound me.  My God will send forth his unfailing love and faithfulness.

Today is a difficult day – in fact the last few weeks difficult.

The sudden realization of the state of my mother’s dementia resulting in an immediate move for her from Missouri to Little Rock to live in a memory care center.  We have went from speaking to her about visiting about a month ago to see Lance’s football game to quickly within 24 hours just 2 weeks ago realizing she could no longer safely be in her home.  A weeks stay with us before we could move her into a facility where she is secure and cannot wander off and will be eating and being cared for and just 3 miles from our home.

On our way home with my truck filled to the brim with my mother’s belongings, her beside me and Duke our dog so cramped in the back he had very little room to move I was pulled over for speeding in a construction zone – enough whereby I could have been arrested and my car impounded.  I remember seeing one sign and thinking it was for a town and no others in the construction zone although I was exhausted and had my mother in a state that was hard to see and hard to come to terms with and it all happened so fast – a visit to see us and to think about looking at facilities turned within 24 hours to an immediate move.  Thankfully the police officer took mercy upon me and all is well.

Our dog very ill with pneumonia and could have lost him.

My identity stolen and a credit card opened in my name and now trying to untangle that.

Our dishwasher broke.

I know there are a few other things but I can’t think of them for now….but most of these things are small.  I view them as satan’s attempts to pile things on me in the midst of a very trying time seeing my mother helpless and childlike while also still trying to build momentum myself so I can be the wife my husband married and the mom my son is used to.

So, all this to say I refuse to not see what God is doing.  I choose to praise God in the midst of it all even if my praise is thanking God for my husband and my son who are the most wonderful stabilizing forces in my life.  I choose to praise God even if it’s thank you Lord for not letting me buckle today and thanking God for lifting me up and putting one foot in front of the other.

I want my son to read this one day and remember the worldly things around us mean absolutely nothing – the best job does not matter  – the best grades do do not matter – being the best athlete does not matter.  No matter what stage in life we are the only thing that matters is that we work hard to see God in all things not just the good things.

I have an incredible son who is an amazing student who works so hard and a natural athlete that he excels in everything he tries and has great aspirations to be a Dr one day.  While those are all things to celebrate I want him to remember the most important thing I see in him today is who God has made him to be which is a young man with incredible maturity and integrity – he has served on the Honor Council two years in a row as he represents his class in a role that demonstrates the responsibility, maturity, compassion  and integrity he has.  I want him to know those qualities are the most important in his life because those are the qualities that God has instilled within him to that makes him like David who had courage, Moses and Joseph who demonstrated great leadership and Paul who was incredibly bold.  I love the fact Lance does not back down from stating the truth boldly and separating right from wrong and isn’t afraid to say it – I never want him to lose that.

Joshua 1:9 Be strong and courageous for God is with you where ever you go.

Lance, I love you and am proud of you and the amazing young man you are and are becoming.

 

 

 

 

Come to the Altar

Listening to O Come to the Altar this morning after having a couple of really bad days this week which appears to be a weekly cycle. Sometimes there are triggers and sometimes it’s simply a dip so low that I can’t seem to find my way back out. I can step back and see the amazing life God has gifted me with after so many hard journeys – I have an amazing husband and son and a handful of faithful friends that I can count on to pull me out of moments by lovingly and patiently encouraging me to meet for lunch when I don’t want to leave the house. I have a husband that patiently walks me through those moments and sometimes days when I am incredibly irrational and unconsolable at times even for no tangible reason. It’s in these moments I can’t feel God – I known He is there but like my life I can’t feel him.

Then frequently it’s a matter of days and I feel like me again, I not only see my life but I feel my life again. I not only know that God is there but I can feel Him again. As I reflect on this past week it was a gradual decline from Monday afternoon to hitting bottom on Wednesday with lots of tears, irrational thoughts and then leading to Thursday where I felt numb to everything and then as the day wore on I could feel myself coming back up again and by Thursday afternoon I picked my son and his friend up from school and could speak with them and hear about their day and feel a depth of interaction with them as opposed to the previous days that it was a struggle to even say the simplest of things…I could ask how their day was but then would trail off unable to reply to their response.

Then this morning, I woke up early and could feel the depth of joy of the “Lynn” that I know and the “Lynn” my husband and son love to see. Although, my cheerful and talkative mood can sometimes where on them since they are not early morning people.

I struggle with how I impact my husband and son when I struggle with my lows and thankful they are loving and patient and thankful my son is old enough where it’s not a burden on him in the same way it was when he was a child. We can talk frankly about it and although I still struggle with guilt over my lows impacting them.

However, my best friend sent me a text yesterday that said, “Lance sees you fighting through this….that is what he will remember. Please stop worrying. David and Lance love you. All they need is to know you are working through it all and they will be so proud of you. I am! And I know you will learn to manage and conquer this. It will not prevail over you. Love you.”

This is a short post meant to encourage anyone that stumbles upon it through it being forwarded or simply stumbles upon it. Depression and anxiety is of the enemy and as another friend prayed with me two days ago, I need to bind this up and place it at the feet of Jesus and be ok with the moments I don’t feel Him but I can rationally KNOW He is there and He will never leave me or forsake me and I need to realize I will come back up again – I always do. Sometimes it take days and sometimes it takes longer…but while God does His part I am responsible for my part which is:

1) Being transparent with my husband and friends without worry of judgement – they love me deeply and the more transparent I am, the more they understand and know how to support me.

A great reminder of that was Tuesday when I had lunch plans with two of my favorite friends that have been alongside me since our arrival in Little Rock almost 11 years ago during the darkest time in my life. I sent them a text that morning explaining I was struggling and needed to cancel. They both text back that it would be better for me to get out. They offered to come to our home but I knew it would not pull me out of my emotional downturn so they suggested we just meet and keep things light and the best thing would be for me to get out and we could talk about things if I needed to at a later time. While it did not fix things that day or Wednesday, they encouraged me to make the right decision and I followed – that was my part that I had to choose to do so God to do His part.

2) Making choices to listen to the music that ministers to my heart the most, Lauren Daigle is my favorite artist currently. I have listened to “You Say” over and over again this week.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIaT8Jl2zp

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough.
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know.
You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, You say that I am Yours…
Taking all I have and now I’m laying it at Your feet
You have every failure God, and You’ll have every victory

So that’s all I have, I have decided to write short blogs and what is on my heart since I struggle with feeling the Holy Spirit lead me in what I feel is “substantial”. For now, I’m trusting God that what I write in a short blog in 15 minutes is what He intends for me to write either for someone that stumbles upon it or even more importantly perhaps if for my son to read these one day when he is an adult and my hope is his memory of me is fighting through a long difficult journey that included his fathers’ death and that he remembers the strength it took to fight through my depression and anxiety and praising God in the midst of it all – even on the days that I could not outwardly demonstrate it and even the days I could internally feel it.

God always met my praising God through my son as I would hear him whistle to songs as Klove played and we drove to school or the allergy Dr or church….God has used my son to praise God when I couldn’t. That is something important he knows one day when he is an adult.

I’m not proofreading this and just going to let it go…and trust what is written is what God has intended.

For those struggling – go through the motions despite your feelings, do your part, make choices the best you can that you don’t want to make, encourage friends and family to keep you accountable even when you don’t want it and be easy on your self when you don’t follow through – remember God’s grace, it’s impossible to make these journeys perfect and that’s ok.

Keep your heart open to seeing and feeling your loved ones praising God on your behalf and interceding with prayer on your behalf when you can’t pray at a depth yourself.

So that is all I have – David, Lance, Mary, Betty, Nyla, Veronica, Thomas and Hayden – although you may not ever see this entry or may see it much later, know how thankful I am to each one of you for loving me unconditionally.

I am often touched by the chapel talks given at Lance’s school & recently one of those talks resonated within my spirit.  One of the teacher’s spoke about the gift of music & the amazing impact that singing & music can have on someone.  Music can be sung & listened to in moments of great joy as well as in moments of great sorrow.  Our family has been impacted by music in both joy & sorrow & every emotion in between.  We decided in 2005 to listen only to Christian music.   We have always had it playing in the car & at home around the clock.  It was an intentional decision to keep our eyes focused on Christ at a very dark time.  Listening to only Christian music did a number of things for us:

1) It kept God’s word ringing in our ears – I would often wake up with a specific song playing over & over again in my head which lifted me up even before placing my feet on the ground.  I would often hear Little Lance whistling songs from KLOVE. I love that he has Christian playlists for when he works out & sees at an early age the importance of allowing God’s gift of music to minster to him now as a teenager.

2) It helped support keeping my moods as level as possible.  If you think about “popular” music (regardless of the decade) typically it triggers one’s mind to jump between emotion to emotion going from music making you want to dance, to be melancholy, to fixate your mind on the wrong things of life whatever they may be and the cycle goes on & on as that music plays.   Much of our music focuses our mind on everything that us unholy, that glorifies a life of no self control.  If you are honest with yourself how much of our music focus on the “wordly things”, think about our children and our teenagers and the impact of songs sung “glorifying” a life of sex, drugs and rock and roll.  I do not make judgements about choices of music that others listen to and there are times that I listen to certain music from the 80’s and 90’s and even current day pop music, however 99% of the time I make a choice to listen to music that lifts my spirits, levels my mood, places my focus on the things Christ would want me to focus on.   I also want my son focused on God’s words as he listens to music and for now at least at the age of 14 that is what he gravitates to.

As I think about music two pieces of scripture come to my mind for our family:

2 Corinthians 10:5:  “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Philippians 4:8:  “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

As children of God we have been given armor by God to defeat the enemy and his attempts to discourage us.  I became aware of this Godly gift of armor given to me initially due to complications in my pregnancy which was followed by my late husband’s diagnosis of cancer when our son turned 1.  As a Christian I could not use human’s tools “of pulling myself up by my bootstraps” to get through, I had to use the armor of God.   A part of that armor was taking my thoughts captive (the best I could which I did NOT do perfectly) but I tried hard to be intentional about certain things & one thing was using the gift of music to help us sustain our faith, give us hope & remind us of God’s amazing love for us.

I remember blogging about this on CarePages & receiving a text from a friend struggling with depression & encouraged her to listen to only Christian music for 30 days.   A month later she called me & while she still struggled she shared with me how listening to only Christian music had a profound impact on her struggle.

This is why the recent chapel speaker’s story resonated with me as he spoke about the healing that can come from God through music as well as “the gift of ONE moment” that can come from a person.  He spoke of his experience when music ministered to him during a time of mourning as well as his experience of the “gift of one moment” given to him by one person who made “one comment” that changed the trajectory of his life in an amazing way.

I have had so many of those moments, some have come through music & some of those moments came through others during a complicated pregnancy, my late husband’s long battle with cancer & his ultimate death & some of those moments are given to me through my husband whom I married after being widowed for 4 years.  David keeps Christ at the center of our lives & that sustains me through those things I currently struggle with.

I remember in 2010 a song ministering to me as I ran early in the morning with my running group.  A song came on my IPOD & as I looked at the river as the morning daylight broke through the darkness, I heard God’s voice saying take it a moment at a time – I will sustain you. I had been in what I call “my shut down mode” which is where I feel robotic & I move through life in a survival mode & God spoke to me in that moment.   Running has always been one thing that has helped me manage my anxiety & by running with a group it kept me from becoming a hermit in my struggle – they too ministered to me without even knowing it.

Another “gift of ONE moment” came a year later through a song.  Little Lance & I were in our kitchen & I was crying, we held hands & a song came on KLOVE called “Move” by Mercy Me.  What I didn’t know until years later that this song was released on May 23rd, 2011, just weeks after Lance had died.

Lyrics: I’m not about to give up –Because I heard you say there’s gonna be brighter days…I wont stop, I’ll keep my head up..no, I’m not here to stay..there’s gonna be brighter days..I just might bend but I won’t break as long as I can see your face..when life won’t play along & right keeps going wrong and I can’t seem to find my way I know where I am found, so I won’t let it drag me down, oh I’ll keep dancing anyway…I’m gonna move, move…I’ve got to hold ‘er steady…keep my head in the game…everything is about to change…this hurt is getting heavy but I’m not about to cave…everything is about to change…there’s gonna be brighter days.

In that moment, that song ministered to Little Lance & I as we held hands.  Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance”.  We did all of those in that moment of mourning.

Another “gift of ONE moment” came during that same period & it’s one of those “mother’s moments” that breaks my heart but I remember keeping blinds closed for days & we didn’t leave the house.  My friend, Betty, who lived across the street had noticed she had not seen Little Lance & I coming & going.  She came to check on us & she sat on our couch with me & encouraged me.  That same week, I heard a lawn mower in our front yard & as I peered out our window, I saw another neighbor that lived two doors down mowing our front yard – all gifts “of ONE moment” by those that cared for us.   A recent “gift of a moment” came through my beautiful husband (we married August 1, 2015 after my being widowed for 4 years).  As night fell (on a day where my anxiety was great & I could not sleep) he simply said, “lay here next to me & I will recite some scripture I know…I will do my best to remember the verses..& I will start in Genesis….”  As David began to softly speak in our bedroom with the lights out, I could feel myself relax & I drifted off to sleep as I listened to his voice.

I know these events seem disconnected but each of these “gifts of moments” ministered to me.  Gifts to me as a widow trying to navigate life with my 7 year old son & just one example (of many that exist) “gifts in a moment” by my husband, David.

The gift of a song in one moment, the gift of a friend in one moment, the gift of a neighbor I barely knew in one moment, the gifts given to me by my husband now.

Some of “those moments” came through the Holy Spirit moving others around me & some of those moments came from the Holy Spirit moving me to make decisions so He could carry me through difficult moments.

We make decisions every day where we have an opportunity to give “a gift in a moment” which was one of the points of the chapel speaker at Lance’s school – he was given a “gift” by a teacher through a “random” comment while he also spoke about the “gift of music” & the healing that comes through music.

Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

We all struggle in one way or another, some of us are more willing than others to be vulnerable & transparent about what our struggles are (even I have periods where I struggle to be vulnerable and transparent).  Our culture tells us to “make life” look good to the outside world despite what our struggles are but God tells us to be in community, do life with one another, comfort one another as we have been comforted & sometimes that calls us to be vulnerable & transparent while other times we are to be a soft voice to someone in the dark with simple encouragement.

What we need to remember is God loves each of us & can help us navigate trials.  BUT our faith cannot be passive, we have to make choices that allow God to work in our lives.  For me, my choice of music for our family is one active thing I can do to keep our minds on what is “holy and pure”, it is what helps me navigate days of anxiety left over from life’s journey.  I can make choices to give “the gift of a moment” to others, the same as I have received even on days where “I don’t feel like it”, even on days “I don’t want to leave the house”.  As I have said, I don’t do this perfectly but I am focusing trying to make intentional, active choices to have faith that God can move mountains as He has done in the past.

There is a great song by Elevation Worship called “Do it Again”

Walking around these walls I thought by now they’d fall But You have never failed me yet Waiting for change to come Knowing the battle’s won For You have never failed me yet Your promise still stands Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness I’m still in Your hands This is my confidence, You’ve never failed me yet I know the night won’t last Your Word will come to pass My heart will sing Your praise again Jesus, You’re still enough Keep me within Your love My heart will sing Your praise again Your promise still stands Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness I’m still in Your hands This is my confidence, You never failed …I’ve seen You move, come move the mountains And I believe, I’ll see You do it again You made a way, where there was no way And I believe, I’ll see You do it again….

I am praying these words resonate with others that need encouragement or need to have a time of reflection & praying these words are documented as words of wisdom and transparent vulnerability for my own son who will be an adult sooner than I would like and hope they help him navigate his own life.

Understanding…..

Recently I read an article in one of Lance’s rock climbing magazines that deeply disturbed me. The writer was reflecting on the deaths of 3 of his friends that were world renowned rock climbers. The article did not sit well with me for a number of reasons and while I want to respect the writer’s perspective, God has put this article on my heart as something that I need to address from a number of directions.

It is true everyone handles death differently in their lives and there are certainly differences on how one handles death in relation to whether it was the loss of a parent, a close friend, or a spouse etc. As the writer reflected how each death impacted him at a deep level he included a quote, “It was the nature of his profession that his experience with death should be greater than for most and he said that while it was true that time heals bereavement it does so only at the cost of the slow extinction of those loved ones from the heart’s memory which is the sole place of their abode then or now. Faces fade, voices dim. Seize them back, whispered the sepulturero (grave digger). Speak with them. Call their names. Do this and do not let sorrow die for it is the sweetening of every gift.” -Cormac McCarthy, The Crossing.

I write this blog for those that I know that are widows or widowers and for those that know a widow or widower. Everyone knows the “stages of grief” but what many do not know is that grief is like a “U” shape with various emotions dotted along the “U”. Anger, guilt, desperateness, depression, anxiety, gut wrenching pain, sense of loss so deep words cannot describe as well as feelings one cannot feel as you go through the motions of life like a robot..and the list goes on. I led a bereavement group a couple years ago while working at UAMS and one thing we discussed is that due to certain triggers, someone grieving can be on one side of the “U” curve” and functioning well in life and then something happens in their life and it rips them back to another side of the “U” curve as if the loss just happened.

I’m blessed to have walked my walk as a widow with my best friend and a handful of other widows from our bizarre “Multiple Myeloma” world that no one understands unless you have lived it. I suppose, I need to recognize that with that being true it is also true that I have no understanding the road travelled by someone that lost their spouse in a different way (7 year journey of cancer vs a sudden loss) – loss is unique in not only how someone deals with grief but it is also different in the sense of how the loss occurs and many times we don’t discuss that as a culture which leads to a significant misunderstanding of those dealing with grief regardless of the type of loss or how the loss occurred.

I think the writer including this quote from this book is simply an expression of a writer – one person that had a perspective from his own loss or had a generalized perspective that seemed to fit his article (same for Cormac McCarthy). Regardless, I think it twists grief into something it is not and from my perspective it twists rebuilding one’s life following the death of a loved one into something that is incredibly destructive and unhealthy for those surviving a loss.

In my personal experience, I have been misunderstood by many and I have also experienced others having insight into my journey and attempted to give me feedback that I refused to listen to as I tried to box my grief up and “find a new normal”.

Some examples are a few loved ones in my life challenging me when asking if giving presentations regarding patient and family centered care and what that looked like in our “journey at UAMS” was truly healthy or was it destructive in some ways….it’s taken me time away from UAMS to see how destructive it became over time. It started as something that appeared to be spiritually and emotionally healing but turned out to be something that had me trapped in some ways – still living in my “old life” and remembering the day to day survival we endured over a course of 7 years-it took a toll in significant ways on me emotionally and spiritually.

Another sad example is a few people in our lives expressing to my husband, David, that he would be playing “second fiddle” to my late husband. While good intentions, these are not people that have walked my path of life (not even close) and that one statement is incredibly hurtful to both David and myself because it has NO basis of truth. It seems only my best friend and I truly understand this as we are the only ones that have remarried since the death of our late husbands. Some of those that I know are embracing life fully and just have not found the right person and some I dearly care about are straddling two worlds in a way keeping them from taking steps forward. It also pains me that a few people have said this to David whom I love with my whole heart – my heart is not split in any way, David has it wholly and completely. God brought me an amazing man.

Another example is a dear friend that gasped months after my late husband died when she realized I was no longer wearing my wedding ring after my late husband died. I stopped wearing it after God clearly expressed to me the need to take small steps to move into a new life.

To back track a little, following my late husband’s death the depths of depression were hid from most except a handful of dear friends that knew truly what I was going through while others saw the “facade” that I was able to present to the outside world for short spurts of time. Then I entered a stage of focusing on “finding a new normal in life” as I entered a residency program at UAMS to be certified as a hospital chaplain. I had feedback from my peers and my supervisor that I was not dealing with my grief but rather running from it – keeping myself so busy that I was not able to be truthful with myself regarding my grief. I also asked to be assigned to the ICU during my residency which meant I was the chaplain where my late husband was hospitalized many times as well as worked on the unit where he ultimately died. In my mind at the time, it seemed to make sense that it was “healing to me” to work through unresolved issues. Only later, would I understand that this has prolonged my dealing with the feelings of trauma and the daily ups and downs of a 7 year journey with my late husband battling and dying of a cancer that required round after round of heavy chemo. Following that program I struggled in making life decisions and needed to regroup and once again found myself running from emotions that needed dealt with. I then worked as a Patient Advocate in the name of “giving back to the institution that gave so much to our family”. Once again, in retrospect while it appeared to be a healing process it was one that became incredibly destructive to my emotional health.

I was straddling two worlds, the world of a new life with an amazing husband and a son who was and continues to thrive along with my “old world” a life that was built on being in a “survival mode” and bracing myself for the next Dr’s appointment that showed the aggressiveness of my late husband’s cancer to the next appointment where things were looking up and given hope of a new trial on the horizon. My best friend described it as walking alongside a cliff edge with your spouse, knowing ahead of time they are going to slip and fall to their death but just not knowing what day and what time that fateful event would occur.

Many people do not recognize that Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is something that can impact those that have lost someone they love. Even I had a hard time understanding that this isn’t something that just has to do with someone that has served in the military or someone that has experienced abuse etc but it also is associated with those that have experienced the death of a loved one.

It has taken a lot of therapy to recognize the Multiple Myeloma roller coaster impacted me in ways I didn’t even begin to understand.   I’m still hesitant to let anyone outside of my trust circle in for fear of being misunderstood.  However, God has put it on my heart that I am not following His will when I keep my struggles to myself. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth to remind them they must remember that being “comforted” can also mean receiving strength, encouragement, and hope to deal with their troubles. It is no different for us today…the more we suffer, the more comfort God gives us. If we are feeling overwhelmed, we must allow God to comfort us and remember that every trial we endure will help us comfort other people who are suffering similar trials. Although I have “hinted” at the ramifications of a long journey and a difficult past preceding the long cancer journey of my late husband I find I can no longer be quiet regarding ongoing struggles with depression, anxiety.

How can God use me to comfort others?
How will I truly heal from living in a survival mode for so long?
How can I witness to others about how God can carry them too in the midst of dark days and the days following trials?
How can I get others to understand that although you can embrace an amazing new life, there are still things that can haunt you and be incredibly destructive to you mentally/emotionally if not properly dealt with?
How can I fully embrace my amazing new life with an amazing husband and wonderful child if I don’t deal with the ramifications of the past?

While my late husband is embracing eternity with Christ, I have embraced my new lie with my beautiful husband, David, with my whole, mind, heart and spirit fully whom I love second ONLY to Christ.  I am so blessed as is my son who now calls David dad.

I think  what bothered me about this article and it saying we should “not letting sorrow die for it is the sweetening of every gift” is that it is filled with words that lead to guilt.   Our pasts of tragedy in death cannot be allowed to haunt us.  We must find the ability to let go of our loved ones.

For me I know my late husband is with Christ – there is no jealously which allows me to love my husband, David, now with a full heart. I refuse to be quilted into this sense that we must not let faces fade and voices dim…that we must call their names…”do this and do not let sorrow die”. Remembering should never die but we must let grief and sorrow die. Losing my late husband no longer haunts me – as a believer I have complete comfort he is where Christ wanted him to be. However, the suffering my late husband endured still haunts me but the reality is I must work through that and let go of that as well.  It’s not healthy to dwell in the melancholy of voices and faces from the past.

The reality is we MUST let sorrow die and find our way through our new life. We must embrace the healing needed and for many of those that have lost loved ones. For me, depression and anxiety was an incredible struggle before my late husband’s diagnosis and our 7 year journey amplified things in ways I’m just now beginning to understand.

I can only heal and become totally present when I acknowledge with transparency the struggles I’m having because not only does that help me take steps towards freedom from my own mind but it also will allow God to work within those I know (and those I don’t know) that are struggling.

So….I am drawn to 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 with the hope that I can be confident that as I share my suffering I can in turn help others by bringing light to a subject that is avoided because we live in a culture that avoids the issue of mental health (despite recent advocacy in light of the suicides of high profile celebrities) the reality is those stories fade and the stigma continues.

2 Corinthian 1:3-7
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 6 Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 7 We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.

I would not be here if it was not for my husband, my son and my faithful friends supporting me and I hope to reach out to others that are struggling with the same…

John 16:33 New Living Translation (NLT)
33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

I feel called to say that I cannot take credit for the amazing young Godly man that Lance has become. There were many times in our long journey while his biological dad, also named Lance, fought a courageous battle for 6 1/2 years against Multiple Myeloma (a blood and bone cancer) where I admit I struggled with times of anger and envy as I looked around me and saw “normal families” with children having “normal lives”. We uprooted ourselves in August of 2008 thinking we would be in Little Rock for a “spell” never knowing we would be there for 3 1/2 years with only a few trips back home to Chicago. But…now Little Rock is our home and I look at the amazing young man in front of me that is now taller than us and I see how Christ has used ALL of our journey to strengthen and mature Lance in his faith in Christ. He is mature beyond his years emotionally and most importantly spiritually.

In relation to my faith, I don’t say this is “what I believe”, I say, “this is what I KNOW.” I came to Christ later in my life, in my early 30’s, and now at the age of 48 I can stand here and say that I experienced the Holy Spirit not only dwelling within me but DESCENDING upon me, my beautiful late husband, my incredible son and my amazing husband, David.

I share all this to not only document our lives for my son, Lance, for when he is older but to also share and witness to what Christ has done in our lives. Our lives were TRANSFORMED by Christ in our early 30’s and as a result I have a son that has known Christ and seen Christ work in ways that are so powerful it’s hard to describe in words and that is why Lance received such an honorable award – it’s Christ living and dwelling and working within him inwardly and outwardly.

I hope that a special woman (that I have not spoken to in years) will read this and recognize that I’m talking about her…for it was because of her we started Lance in school at Episcopal in 1st grade and was able to keep him there during very difficult times. The Holy Spirit moved her and I am forever grateful for her responding to the Holy Spirit. Lance could not have been at a better school not only academically but more importantly a school that provided a quiet, Holy Spirit filled, nurturing environment for a young boy at the age of 5 that needed a safe place to go to school where he could escape a difficult reality that included seeing his father’s incredible daily suffering.

I can’t say we straddle “two worlds”, our previous lives in Chicago and our present lives in what we now call home, Little Rock, however, there are emotions I can’t describe that I experience every time I say goodbye to a loved one after they visit us from Chicago. As I dropped off Grandma Bev, Uncle Dennis and Aunt Kathy at the airport I said “I’m not going to cry…” but that always seems impossible. I so wish we had family closer, family that have known us and loved us always….but that’s not our reality. I have to embrace our new life and not live in the past and I HAVE to give my mind a new “narration” of our story as I say good bye to our loved ones as they return to our old home. Lance and I have an amazing life with David here in Little Rock, a life I never dreamed would be possible after Lance died. I can’t allow my mind to feel the sadness that we don’t have extended family closer to see routinely but rather look with excitement and anticipation of their next visit. One day, I hope to be strong enough to return to Chicago for a visit and perhaps that’s a matter of pushing myself but I know God will tell me when the “right time” is but I have to have an open heart to the Holy Spirit leading me and I might have to push myself out of my comfort zone.

God has intricately weaved an amazing man into our lives and I am so overwhelmed with the blessing that David brings to our lives. Lance is a blessed boy to have had an amazing father for his first 7 years of life who witnessed to all around him about the power of Christ in the midst of his battle with cancer and his suffering and he now has an amazing dad to raise and guide him as he becomes a young man with Christ at the center of all he teaches Lance and Christ as the center of our family as a whole and our daily lives.

I woke this morning knowing it would be a difficult day saying goodbye to Grandma Bev, Uncle Dennis and Aunt Kathy with the lyrics to the song “Move” by Mercy Me running through my mind. I remember an evening after Lance died that Little Lance and I held hands dancing in a circle while laughing and weeping all at the same time and listening to this song over and over again from the cd we had bought. This song ministered to us in amazing ways then and God knew I needed these lyrics running through my mind early this morning before taking them to the airport.

I’m not about to give up by Mercy Me

Because I heard you say
There’s gonna be brighter days
There’s gonna be brighter days
I wont stop, I’ll keep my head up
No, I’m not here to stay
There’s gonna be brighter days
There’s gonna be brighter days
I just might bend but I won’t break
As long as I can see your face
When life won’t play along and right keeps going wrong
And I can’t seem to find my way
I know where I am found, so I won’t let it drag me down, oh
I’ll keep dancing anyway
I’m gonna move, move
I’m gonna move, move
I’m gonna move (I’m gonna move)
I’ve got to hold ‘er steady
Keep my head in the game
Everything is about to change
Everything is about to change
This hurt is getting heavy
But I’m not about to cave
Everything is about to change
There’s gonna be brighter days

We have an amazing God. Christ has carried us through our darkest days and my prayer is for those that read this post that don’t have an intimate relationship with Christ to reach out to our great God, know he lived, died and was resurrected for every single one of us – it’s never too late to accept Christ in your life.

For those that have an intimate relationship with Christ but are struggling and not able to feel Him right now, know I’ve been there, keep holding on and do your part and fight the enemy that wants you to lose all hope and fight like a warrior with the armour God has given you and take it one step at a time. Keep getting up, keep praying, concentrate on things that are of God, listen to KLOVE (an amazing radio station that can be listened to around the country) around the clock, turn off the tv, ask God to move your heart, if you don’t know what to say, talk out loud and simply say “God I need you and I don’t even know what to pray….” say that over and over again. Remove ALL things that are worldly distractions and concentrate on His word, find a piece of scripture that speaks to your heart and memorize it, say it over and over again in moments of despair.

Although I have an AMAZING life, the trauma of witnessing so much suffering has left what feels like permanent scars – I still have difficult days BUT I’m fighting the enemy with EVERYTHING I HAVE with an amazing husband and an amazing son by my side. The enemy has NO power over me or you – through Christ we can truly do all things and survive all things BUT we have to do our part and NEVER expect Christ to “swoop” in and do all the work. We live by faith, not by sight which means we have an active part in fighting the enemy and the cards he deals us. God has won the ultimate battle against death and suffering and our job is to witness to others around us NOT by having perfect lives but by living life as a transparent Christian, vulnerable about our battles AND picking up our shields of faith and fighting the enemy by keeping hope even when we feel like we can’t.

BUT we have to actively fight! Pray, make right choices, when you make mistakes, remember God gave us new days for a reason, we can always start over again the next morning as the sun rises, ask for forgiveness, be compassionate, remember everyone has “baggage” they are carrying and sometimes that comes out in ugly ways but we are all in the flesh struggling in the land of the walking dead, remember we all can live in eternity with our father, remember we all have different perspectives on things that are highly debated and sometimes we have to rise above a circumstance and be lovingly truthful and truthfully loving. We don’t have to agree with others but we should live our lives biblically, we can’t water down His word but we still have to be compassionate and gentle in our ways (not always easy for a Yankee like myself).

There is another great song that I love:

The Proof of Your Love

If I sing but don’t have love
I waste my breath with every song
I bring an empty voice, a hollow noise
If I speak with a silver tongue
Convince a crowd but don’t have love
I leave a bitter taste with every word I say
So let my life be the proof,
The proof of your love
Let my love look like You and what You’re made of
How You lived, how You died
Love is sacrifice
So let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love
If I give
To a needy soul but don’t have love then who is poor?
It seems all the poverty is found in me
So let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love
Let my love look like You and what You’re made of
How You lived, how You died
Love is sacrifice
Oh, let my life be the proof,
The…

I encourage each of you to ponder what does that actually look like in daily life…what does that look like when family relationships are strained…what does that look like in the workplace in the midst of politics…what does that look like when we disagree with those around us about politics or other highly debated subjects…what does that look like in every single daily part of our lives???? I admit that asking myself that question is convicting to my heart but I want to challenge myself and those I love and those around me to be transparent with ourselves about where we are failing our Lord and Savior in relation to “Letting our life be the proof of His love”.

Thank you Lord for moving me through Your Holy Spirit to write again…thank you for the work You have done and are continuing to do within my beautiful son…thank you for my amazing husband…thank you for my amazing late husband’s family that love my son, myself and my new husband David, thank you for them loving him and accepting him as their family, thank you for breathing life into me again through David, thank you for the hedge of protection you have around my son and our family, thank you for my best friend, Nyla, thank you for the hedge of protection around their family. Thank you Lord, I praise you this morning for moving me to write about all you are doing within those that I love.

Blended Worlds

I just dropped off my mother-in-law from Chicago and my late husband’s Aunt and Uncle at the airport. They came in town for “Class Day” at Lance’s school. We knew Lance was receiving an award but did not know what award it was and since he is transitioning into High School (so hard to believe) we thought it would be a wonderful way to celebrate this “rite of passage” leaving middle school.

Lance’s advisor stated he could not tell us what award Lance was receiving but stated it was a “prestigious” award. We let family know that we didn’t know what kind of award but were proud of Lance and wanted to celebrate his accomplishments with those that could attend. We were thrilled that Grandma Bev from Chicago and Uncle Dennis and Aunt Kathy were able to book flights on short notice.

As the 8th grade awards were being given, I started to video each one as I didn’t know which award Lance was to receive and wanted to capture the award starting with the description of the award to his name being announced.

They started with the Citizenship Award and nope that was not the award, then came the Academic Awards, Health & Physical Education – nope, Religion – nope, Fine Arts – nope, Foreign Language – nope, English – YES -!

We were so incredibly proud of Lance as only 10 awards were being awarded to 8th grade students and there are 75 in his class and Lance received one of them AND for English! He has incredible admiration for his 8th grade English teacher Dr. Covert as do David and I. He is an incredible teacher and I can’t begin to tell you all of the discussions we have had in relation to things he has learned in Dr. Covert’s class. Although I have to say, I could say the same for every single one of his teachers at his school. Although, Lance has a similar personality in some ways to Dr. Covert which has resulted in a certain unsaid connection with this particular teacher. I am so impressed every time I read something Lance has written for this class.

They then went on with awards for History, Mathematics, Science and Technology and thought this was the “end” of the 8th grade awards.

BUT Then The Head of Middle School was listed as speaking about something called the “The Reverend Canon R. Ewing Jackson Jr. Medal”. I wish I would have noticed the word medal in the description of the next agenda item as I would have started videoing again, I simply did not realize this was another award being given and while I did not catch it on video, the Head of Middle School emailed me his script from this award and it was:


The Reverend Canon R. Ewing Jackson, Jr Medal is given to one eighth grade student who exhibits excellence in academics, leadership, citizenship, and character during his or her tenure as a student at Episcopal Collegiate School.
It is our pleasure to present this award to Lance Viscioni Wilson.

I was so overwhelmed by his words as he announced the name of my son who is a beautiful, mature Godly young man. What an incredible honor! I only wish I had caught it all on video but the words are sufficient and the memory is embedded in my mind.

I feel called to say that I cannot take credit for the amazing young Godly man that Lance has become. There were many times in our long journey while his biological dad, also named Lance, fought a courageous battle for 6 1/2 years against Multiple Myeloma (a blood and bone cancer) where I admit I struggled with times of anger and envy as I looked around me and saw “normal families” with children having “normal lives”. We uprooted ourselves in August of 2008 thinking we would be in Little Rock for a “spell” never knowing we would be there for 3 1/2 years with only a few trips back home to Chicago. But…now Little Rock is our home and I look at the amazing young man in front of me that is now taller than us and I see how Christ has used ALL of our journey to strengthen and mature Lance in his faith in Christ. He is mature beyond his years emotionally and most importantly spiritually.

In relation to my faith, I don’t say this is “what I believe”, I say, “this is what I KNOW.” I came to Christ later in my life, in my early 30’s, and now at the age of 48 I can stand here and say that I experienced the Holy Spirit not only dwelling within me but DESCENDING upon me, my beautiful late husband, my incredible son and my amazing husband, David.

I share all this to not only document our lives for my son, Lance, for when he is older but to also share and witness to what Christ has done in our lives. Our lives were TRANSFORMED by Christ in our early 30’s and as a result I have a son that has known Christ and seen Christ work in ways that are so powerful it’s hard to describe in words and that is why Lance received such an honorable award – it’s Christ living and dwelling and working within him inwardly and outwardly.

I hope that a special woman (that I have not spoken to in years) will read this and recognize that I’m talking about her…for it was because of her we started Lance in school at Episcopal in 1st grade and was able to keep him there during very difficult times. The Holy Spirit moved her and I am forever grateful for her responding to the Holy Spirit. Lance could not have been at a better school not only academically but more importantly a school that provided a quiet, Holy Spirit filled, nurturing environment for a young boy at the age of 5 that needed a safe place to go to school where he could escape a difficult reality that included seeing his father’s incredible daily suffering.

I can’t say we straddle “two worlds”, our previous lives in Chicago and our present lives in what we now call home, Little Rock, however, there are emotions I can’t describe that I experience every time I say goodbye to a loved one after they visit us from Chicago. As I dropped off Grandma Bev, Uncle Dennis and Aunt Kathy at the airport I said “I’m not going to cry…” but that always seems impossible. I so wish we had family closer, family that have known us and loved us always….but that’s not our reality. I have to embrace our new life and not live in the past and I HAVE to give my mind a new “narration” of our story as I say good bye to our loved ones as they return to our old home. Lance and I have an amazing life with David here in Little Rock, a life I never dreamed would be possible after Lance died. I can’t allow my mind to feel the sadness that we don’t have extended family closer to see routinely but rather look with excitement and anticipation of their next visit. One day, I hope to be strong enough to return to Chicago for a visit and perhaps that’s a matter of pushing myself but I know God will tell me when the “right time” is but I have to have an open heart to the Holy Spirit leading me and I might have to push myself out of my comfort zone.

God has intricately weaved an amazing man into our lives and I am so overwhelmed with the blessing that David brings to our lives. Lance is a blessed boy to have had an amazing father for his first 7 years of life who witnessed to all around him about the power of Christ in the midst of his battle with cancer and his suffering and he now has an amazing dad to raise and guide him as he becomes a young man with Christ at the center of all he teaches Lance and Christ as the center of our family as a whole and our daily lives.

I woke this morning knowing it would be a difficult day saying goodbye to Grandma Bev, Uncle Dennis and Aunt Kathy with the lyrics to the song “Move” by Mercy Me running through my mind. I remember an evening after Lance died that Little Lance and I held hands dancing in a circle while laughing and weeping all at the same time and listening to this song over and over again from the cd we had bought. This song ministered to us in amazing ways then and God knew I needed these lyrics running through my mind early this morning before taking them to the airport.

I’m not about to give up
Because I heard you say
There’s gonna be brighter days
There’s gonna be brighter days
I wont stop, I’ll keep my head up
No, I’m not here to stay
There’s gonna be brighter days
There’s gonna be brighter days
I just might bend but I won’t break
As long as I can see your face
When life won’t play along and right keeps going wrong
And I can’t seem to find my way
I know where I am found, so I won’t let it drag me down, oh
I’ll keep dancing anyway
I’m gonna move, move
I’m gonna move, move
I’m gonna move (I’m gonna move)
I’ve got to hold ‘er steady
Keep my head in the game
Everything is about to change
Everything is about to change
This hurt is getting heavy
But I’m not about to cave
Everything is about to change
There’s gonna be brighter days

We have an amazing God. Christ has carried us through our darkest days and my prayer is for those that read this post that don’t have an intimate relationship with Christ to reach out to our great God, know he lived, died and was resurrected for every single one of us – it’s never too late to accept Christ in your life.

For those that have an intimate relationship with Christ but are struggling and not able to feel Him right now, know I’ve been there, keep holding on and do your part and fight the enemy that wants you to lose all hope and fight like a warrior with the armour God has given you and take it one step at a time. Keep getting up, keep praying, concentrate on things that are of God, listen to KLOVE (an amazing radio station that can be listened to around the country) around the clock, turn off the tv, ask God to move your heart, if you don’t know what to say, talk out loud and simply say “God I need you and I don’t even know what to pray….” say that over and over again. Remove ALL things that are worldly distractions and concentrate on His word, find a piece of scripture that speaks to your heart and memorize it, say it over and over again in moments of despair.

Although I have an AMAZING life, the trauma of witnessing so much suffering has left what feels like permanent scars – I still have difficult days BUT I’m fighting the enemy with EVERYTHING I HAVE with an amazing husband and an amazing son by my side. The enemy has NO power over me or you – through Christ we can truly do all things and survive all things BUT we have to do our part and NEVER expect Christ to “swoop” in and do all the work. We live by faith, not by sight which means we have an active part in fighting the enemy and the cards he deals us. God has won the ultimate battle against death and suffering and our job is to witness to others around us NOT by having perfect lives but by living life as a transparent Christian, vulnerable about our battles AND picking up our shields of faith and fighting the enemy by keeping hope even when we feel like we can’t.

BUT we have to actively fight! Pray, make right choices, when you make mistakes, remember God gave us new days for a reason, we can always start over again the next morning as the sun rises, ask for forgiveness, be compassionate, remember everyone has “baggage” they are carrying and sometimes that comes out in ugly ways but we are all in the flesh struggling in the land of the walking dead, remember we all can live in eternity with our father, remember we all have different perspectives on things that are highly debated and sometimes we have to rise above a circumstance and be lovingly truthful and truthfully loving. We don’t have to agree with others but we should live our lives biblically, we can’t water down His word but we still have to be compassionate and gentle in our ways (not always easy for a Yankee like myself).

There is another great song that I love:

The Proof of Your Love

If I sing but don’t have love
I waste my breath with every song
I bring an empty voice, a hollow noise
If I speak with a silver tongue
Convince a crowd but don’t have love
I leave a bitter taste with every word I say
So let my life be the proof,
The proof of your love
Let my love look like You and what You’re made of
How You lived, how You died
Love is sacrifice
So let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love
If I give
To a needy soul but don’t have love then who is poor?
It seems all the poverty is found in me
So let my life be the proof,
The proof of Your love
Let my love look like You and what You’re made of
How You lived, how You died
Love is sacrifice
Oh, let my life be the proof,
The…

I encourage each of you to ponder what does that actually look like in daily life…what does that look like when family relationships are strained…what does that look like in the workplace in the midst of politics…what does that look like when we disagree with those around us about politics or other highly debated subjects…what does that look like in every single daily part of our lives???? I admit that asking myself that question is convicting to my heart but I want to challenge myself and those I love and those around me to be transparent with ourselves about where we are failing our Lord and Savior in relation to “Letting our life be the proof of His love”.

Thank you Lord for moving me through Your Holy Spirit to write again…thank you for the work You have done and are continuing to do within my beautiful son…thank you for my amazing husband…thank you for my amazing late husband’s family that love my son, myself and my new husband David, thank you for them loving him and accepting him as their family, thank you for breathing life into me again through David, thank you for the hedge of protection you have around my son and our family, thank you for my best friend, Nyla, thank you for the hedge of protection around their family. Thank you Lord, I praise you this morning for moving me to write about all you are doing within those that I love.