Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Truth is...

There is a song by Selah called "I Will Carry You" about the loss of their daughter, Audrey Caroline. When Barrett first died, I would listen to that song all the time. It was exactly what I needed.
 
I had not listened to it in awhile but just recently it came up when I had my iTunes on shuffle. There is a line in the song that says, "People say that I am brave, but I'm not. Truth is I'm barely hanging on". And the day I heard that song, that's exactly how I was feeling. When it played I thought, "Yes God! That's me!".
 
People will say, "I don't know how you do it. That must be so hard. You are so strong". The truth is, I'm not. I am weak. Many days, I am barely hanging on as I try to find a balance between being present with my children earthside while at the same time I long to be with my son along with everything else life throws our way.
 
But as I thought that and I could feel the well of tears slowly rising, I could feel God say, "But you are holding on. Maybe it's barely, but you are holding on, and that my child, is courageous".
 
I looked around the room and I thought about all of the women I've been blessed to cross paths with who share this heartache. I thought about the other people in my life who are fighting other unspeakable battles. We all have days where on the outside we appear brave, but the truth is we are barely hanging on. But you are hanging on; despite the pain, the heartache, and the raging storm, you are hanging on.
 
The truth is, that you are courageous.
 
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9
 
The truth is, you are loved and you are not alone.
 
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth!
Psalm 121:1-2
 
I may have many days where I feel that sentiment, I'm barely hanging on. But He is hanging on to me. He is ever faithful. He gives me joy and a reason to smile and sing. This road is hard. Burying your baby is hard. Being apart from them in this life is hard. But I am thankful for this journey. I am thankful He chose me to be Barrett's mom.
 
"I will praise the One who's chosen me, to carry you".
 
 
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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

GO

Recently I found myself in a place where I realized that I wasn't doing much to further the kingdom of God. I was doing everything "right". Praying, studying my Bible, singing praise and worship songs, and avoiding all the things we are taught to avoid, but what was I really doing

So I began to pray and ask God to place me where He wanted me. As this was going on, I had just made the decision to go back to school after much prayer. After praying about that, I felt that God was calling me to work with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. That's great God. Wonderful. I can do that. But what about now? What do you want me to do now?

See, there I was again, throwing up my plans. Then, in God's perfect timing, everything fell into place for that to happen now. In fact, the way everything fell into place so perfectly, was in such a way that could only have been orchestrated by God. Actually, I am still amazed by it.

I am blessed to start that volunteer work this week. And all week, that voice has crept up, but every time God's truth has been right behind it.

Will I have time? I start school Monday.
My timing is perfect.
God, I am a mess right now. I don't know if I have the strength to help other people.
I will give you strength.
God, I don't think I can do this.
You can't. But I can.
God, are you sure?
Go.

That last word has been popping up in everything today. As I studied my Bible this morning, I saw   Go. In the David Platt book I am reading, I saw Go. At church tonight, I read Go.

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.
Matthew 28:19

Then I heard the Lord asking, "Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?" I said, "Here I am. Send me."
Isaiah 6:8

And the truth is, I am a complete and absolute broken mess. Right now, I spend much of the day wondering which way is up. I still have my own past I am battling and recovering from along with current storms.

But the Truth is, that I serve a God who is bigger than all of that. I serve a God who can use anyone, from the smallest of people as I have seen through Barrett, to the most broken of people. To doubt that, is to doubt His power. 

I would so appreciate any prayers this week. Mostly for the women and children I will encounter. That they won't see me, but that they will see Jesus. 


  
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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Patience, Forgiveness, & Trusting

To say God has been working on me this week would be the understatement of the year. I've once again been taught that my best laid plans are fallible.
 
So, first on the agenda is patience. I've come to a place where my hometown no longer feels like home. And there are days that I feel like I could pack up and leave tomorrow. But I know that God wants me here for a bit longer. I don't know if that's a year, or two years, or five or ten. As much as there are days that I wish it was sooner rather than later, the answer I always get when I pray about it is "Wait. I have work for you here". I recently got somewhat of an answer to that when God opened up an opportunity for me here working in the path that I feel He is ultimately calling me to as my ministry. I will admit that has made it much easier to say "Ok God. I see why You want me to wait". It has also made me realize that when I think my plan is best, it's often because I can't see just yet what great things He has in store.
 
This is where that "t" word - "trust" - goes right along with patience. I don't want to begrudgingly carry out His work where I am. So I have prayed for a heart that is open to wherever He has me, and I am SO completely excited about this opportunity He has provided. It feels completely right and I can't bear to think that I would have missed it had I jumped the gun and stuck with my plan. I firmly believe that everything in life is something that God can use to shape us for a higher purpose and I am seeing that fulfilled in mine. Where earlier in my life I was asking God "Why am I going through this? Why me?", I can now say "I see how You can use that storm now to help other people". Does it take away the hurt? Not completely. But it brings purpose to the pain.
 
From that pain, stems forgiveness. Can you partially forgive someone? Because I feel like that's where I have been at in my life for two years. A stagnant forgiveness. But forgiveness isn't Instant Grits and it isn't stagnant. There was a day when I honestly and sincerely forgave someone. But then other hurts crept up and that grudge came right back and I held onto it with a tightly gripped fist. God has taught me that sometimes forgiveness is a daily choice. Today I forgive you for this pain I am feeling today. It is a process. Forgiveness is a daily surrender. "God, I am laying this down. I am letting it go". WOW that is hard to say some days.
 
Then comes that "t" word again. I can readily admit that I have issues trusting most people. I have a tendency to close myself off for the most part because I feel like I have to for protection. You wouldn't think that because it seems like I share a pretty good bit, but it's true. I build up walls that few can tear down. This week I was reminded that, just like myself, all humans are fallible; even the ones I blindly trust. And that's ok. That's the lesson I am learning. That all people are fallible and I can't expect perfection from anyone. That "f" word is creeping back up again...forgiveness. Again, it's a process. It doesn't happen overnight. Does it mean that trust is gone forever? No. It means you have to work a little harder to reach the point where you choose to freely give it again.
 
This week, I am thankful to serve a gracious God who meets me where I am. I am thankful for a God that I can call out to at any time and place. I am thankful for a God that, when I don't even know which direction to turn, He is there guiding me and when I say "God I can't do this anymore, I NEED A BREAK", I hear that whisper "Let me do it".
 
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30
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Monday, February 2, 2015

Sunrise

Usually, I do most of my scripture reading at night. It's always been my routine and in the morning I listen to a bit of praise and worship songs with my headphones while the rest of the house sleeps. But I usually don't do much reading and studying in the morning because, well, I like to pack in those few extra minutes of sleep. Terrible reason but I'm being honest. I was selfish with my morning time instead of giving all of it to God too.

The last few days, circumstances have caused my schedule to change and finding the same amount of quiet time at night has proven difficult. So yesterday morning, I opted to rise earlier and give that time to God.

And OH WHAT I HAVE BEEN MISSING. The mornings are so peaceful. The girls were both sleeping (I'd like to paint a picture of two peacefully sleeping children, but let's be real--Audrey was snoring and Cate was sideways in the bed with her feet in Audrey's face--but sweet all the same). Even the dogs opted to remain sleeping. So I sat in the quiet of my home and stared outside at the peaceful quiet that surrounded me and I just listened. 

I took a few moments to just be quiet and still. And I couldn't remember the last time I really did that. Between kids, work, school, volunteer work, and errands, etc, I never take the time to just be completely still and quiet. And I rejoiced in the moment with God where, for just a moment, I could just be--free from anxieties, and troubles, expectations, and busy schedules. The world around me seemed to disappear.

Those moments before I opened my Bible or turned on any music are something that I now treasure...the part of my day I will now look forward to. I can't believe how long I've been missing that beautiful, peaceful time with God. Sometimes it's necessary to break that routine and schedule--you never know what you might be missing.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.
Exodus 14:14

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Perfection

I have seen perfection.
 
I have held it. I have kissed it and loved it.
 
I have counted perfection's fingers and toes and shed my tears over it.
 
I have given perfection a heartbreaking farewell and then...I buried it.
 
Physically, I buried perfection in the Earth. Symbolically, I buried the image of perfection to protect it.
 
This perfection needed to be protected from shallow opinions of harsh critics. Perfection needs to be protected from a world that may not be kind to him. Perfection is hidden under the wings of his mother.
 
But today, I received an incredible gift. A gift that will allow me to share my glimpse of perfection with you. A gift that will allow me to share my son with you.
 
 Barrett's pictures are sacred to me. The ones from the hospital didn't turn out well, and I only have two beautiful images that my mother thought to capture at the funeral home. They are a treasure to me. I keep them with me at all times. And, for the most part, I keep them to myself, only sharing them with people I truly trust who first ask to see them. Protecting these images are how I protect my son.
 
Keeping them sacred allow me to protect his beautiful image from people who may not be so kind. I have no intentions of ever publically sharing his photographs. They are my sacred treasure that I selfishly hoard for myself and those I am closest to.
 
Yesterday, a beautiful person that I met through a common love of babywearing reached out offering to do a portrait of Barrett. Tears. Immediate tears.
 
I haven't even shared with her yet that I had been thinking of having that done for awhile, but the problem is finding someone willing and who I trust with his image. I absolutely feel like her reaching out was a God thing for sure.
 
This amazing, kind, beautiful, amazingly talented person created an indescribable gift for me. This portrait of Barrett is one that I can share. One that I can hang on the wall beside his sisters. Another image to carry with me.
 
Since receiving the digital image this morning, I have caught myself just staring. Not only did she give me the gift of incredible artwork, but she gave me the gift of being able to share my son.
 
So, for the first time ever, I am sharing him with you. My angel. My little piece of heaven. My only baby boy. My son. My perfection.
 
 
JoyLynn is also the author of Carried Away, an incredible book displaying her talent of creating fun scenes with her son and woven wraps--a favorite book in our house!
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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Confession

I need to make a confession. Or two. Or three.

I fail a lot. I let people down. 

I confess that I struggle daily. 

Most recently, I have struggled with God. They say that there are stages of grief. I agree with that. Though, grief is its own monster, and it doesn't always go in the order that they say it will and it's not guaranteed that you won't revisit some of the stages a hundred times like a song stuck on repeat. 

I've had a tight grip on something that I've refused to let go of. I've clenched it tight until my knuckles turned a permanent white. Bitterness.

I want to let it go, because I am exhausted by the amount of energy it requires to carry it with me. But I'm scared to let it go. The bitterness allows me to feel something. And since losing Barrett, I've experienced so many moments of "numbness" that the thought of letting go of any feeling at all is quite terrifying.

This bitterness has roots. These roots are deep in my heart. They started growing the day he died. WHY? A root grew. WHY ME? Then another. WHY MY SON? Another root. 

A holiday passes without him. A root grows.

I look around and see how blessed I am. I realize how thankful I am. Shouldn't my thankfulness outweigh the bitterness and make it disappear? Another root. I am bitter because I am bitter.

And over two years, this bitterness has formed a solid system within me. Between Barrett's death and other events that year, I have clung to it because it is familiar. Familiarity is "safe". 

I've been wrestling with God over it. God wanting me to surrender it and me clinging to it like a safety net.

But what good has come from me clinging to bitterness? None. I should have been clinging to God.

This is not news to me. I've known all along what I should do. But I'm stubborn and I fought God over it. I ran and hid away with my bitterness. But you can't hide from God and at each turn, He has been working on me.

And so, little by little, root by root, one finger at a time, I'm letting it go. And I'm giving it away. I'm tired of running. Tired of hiding. Tired of clinging to the wrong truth.

Confession number two. Barrett's death rocked my world. It shattered my fairy tale views of the world. His death has forever altered everything about me. How I think. How I feel. My hopes, my dreams, my fears. 

Along with that has come severe anxiety. About everything. I hide it well, but it eats away at me. I've wrestled with God over this too. What do I do? How can I ease this and let go?

And you see, God has been giving me an answer all along. But it's been an answer that I didn't want. It is pushing me out of my comfort zone. 

I'll discuss this more in a later blog, but I felt an immense relief and weight lifted off of my shoulders when I finally said "Ok God. I will try".

But for now, my point is, I am broken. I am a mess. I make a lot of mistakes along the way.

But my Jesus has been with me every step of the way. I don't know where I would be if not for that truth.

It's ok to be broken. It's ok to be a mess. Just lay it down.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas in Heaven

My Dearest Baby Boy,
 
I love you so much. I have learned to live here and now in the present, but there is that piece of me that will always be with you. Christmas is hard. Instead of picking out flowers or a Christmas decoration for your grave, I should be wrapping hot wheels and dump trucks alongside Barbie dolls and Minnie Mouse. I long to see you chasing Audrey with your baby sister and fighting over who gets to sit in Momma's lap. Christmas is so exciting with your sisters, but at the same time, it is incredibly hard without you. I wish there was a grief blueprint to follow, but there isn't. To say it is at times confusing would be an understatement. Sometimes I don't know what I feel, but it feels good to just "feel". I love you. I miss you. I want you here. Merry Christmas Baby boy.
 
Love, Momma
 
Thank you to a new dear friend for sharing this video:
 
 
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