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View From My Window CV Lay-off Day: 39

When I was a young girl, I often sat in the backseat of our car and gazed out the window. I wondered about other people’s lives in the car traveling down the road next to me. In 15 seconds, imagined what their homes might be like, how many kids they had, and contemplated what problems they might from day-to-day. 

Last week, a friend invited me to a new Facebook group called View From My Window.” The group compiles more than two million people from all over the world. The idea behind the group is to help people know that they are not alone. The members share a picture with a view from their window; they include the country they’re in and the date the photo was taken. Often, an individual will share a little of their story with their picture-these are my favorite posts to read. 

It’s been quite a journey looking through another’s lens, and getting a glimpse of what life is like in diverse places that I will likely never visit. I am gobstruck by the fact that the entire world is on hold, sheltering in place; it’s unprecedented for our time. 

Recently, I read a Brazillian woman’s post. She wrote that she is sheltering in place with her ill 88-year-old mother as her two daughters, who are both young doctors,  work in a COVID-19 ward. She added, “My heart is tight, but I’m trying to be strong.” I wish I could hug that woman.

Yesterday, my heart ached when I read Carol’s story. She shared that she and her husband are now empty nesters after losing their seventeen-year-old daughter in a car accident last year. She shared how she felt relief that the rest of the world slowed their cadence, mirroring her new reality. At last look, more than ten thousand people showered Carol with condolences and well-wishes. Her pain did not go unnoticed. 

A few days ago, a man posted a picture of his backyard. Old buckets and plywood laid strewn throughout the dirt, and weeds had attached themselves to the rickety wooden fence. I cannot remember his caption except that his sarcasm and whit made me smile. His post hit a nerve, and person after person shared their relief that they weren’t the only ones with less than the ideal view. I do remember one older woman commenting, “Look at all of your lovely wooden flower boxes, looks like you’ve got work to do.” That made me laugh out loud. 

A few days ago, I received a thoughtful message from a woman I’ve never met. Mia wrote that her son was killed almost two years ago in a tragic mishap. She wrote to encourage me to keep telling my story and added, “It’s making a difference.” The thing is, we all have a story to tell. For the Christian, ours is a story filled with redemption and hope, and we’re selfish not to share it. 

Today, I finally took of the view from my front window. At first glance, you might notice the baseball-sized hole in the bottom right corner panel, thanks to our resident slugger. But, if you look a little further, you’ll see the large dirt field. It was empty this morning, but for the last week, plows and tractors have filled the air with their deep hum from morning to dusk. The farmers have been busy plowing the land for their next cotton crop. We’ve had dust for days, but it’s worth it because once the cotton takes root, and the bushes begin the bloom, the sea of green and white is a sight to behold!

In many ways, I can see how my view resembles my current circumstances. Much liked our cracked window, so am I in my grief-stricken state. And, like the plowed-up field, the process of healing includes the uprooting of my heart.

J.R. Miller once wrote,

“Sorrow offtimes is God’s plow. We dread pain and shrink from it. It seems destructive and ruinous. The plow tears its way, with is keen, sharp blade, through our hearts-and we say we are being destroyed! When the process is completed, and we look upon the garden with its sweet flowers, growing-we see that only blessing, enrichment, and beauty are the result. We complain of our suffering, but we cannot afford to have suffering taken away.” The Work of the Plow” (Grace Gems)

That last line, “we cannot afford to have suffering taken away,” I get it! Because it’s been here, in my most profound hurt that the Lord has pulled me close to Himself. In my “ruin,” I have tasted and sees that He is good, even when it hurts.20200428_181420_0000.png

Until tomorrow,

Missy

 

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Seeing God’s Faithfulness in my Journey to Wellness

One Sunday evening, thirty-three months ago, I made my promise to my son Justin to get healthy. Six days later, we lost him in a car accident.

Around our first Christmas without him, I started to feel sorry for myself. My friends were posting pictures of delicious holiday foods, and I longed for that familiar comfort. But, after years and years of going through various diet cycles, I knew those specific edibles were off-limits to me. Because when it comes to sugar, my self-control vanishes.

So, I got the idea to start an Instagram account to keep myself accountable to my promise. Do you know what I never expected? Freedom. Although I prayed to be free from my enslavement to food, I’m not sure that I thought freedom was possible. Food and I go way back; I remember finding creative ways to sneak and consume sugary treats as early as four and five years old. As a parent, I see that some of that is typical behavior. However, over the years, sugar became all that I wanted; it was my comfort.

Since I eliminated sugar before we lost Justin, it wasn’t an option for comfort after we lost him. I see it as one of God’s kindest gifts to me; because it forced me to turn to Him in my most profound anguish. Initially, It was scary, kind of like how you feel when the GPS suddenly disconnects when you’re in the middle of nowhere. Well, in the same way, this was a road I’d never traveled. Would God meet in my pain? And, how could I possibly feel the enormity of such loss without reverting to my former ways of coping?

I needn’t have worried; God is who He says He is.

Day after day, the Lord has met me with His Word.  He led me to Scripture’s like John 7:37-38, “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'”

He’s comforted me with Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

He’s reassured me with 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

He’s upheld me with His promise of one day in Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And today, He gives me hope with Psalm 27:13, “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

Weightloss

The losing weight part of my journey is slow. I have often wished I could be one of those people who loses 100 pounds in a year. But, my body likes to drop weight in seemingly minuscule increments, and I *think* I am okay with that. Because I am learning that it’s not about a perfect eating plan or the best exercise regimen, though both have much value. Ultimately, it’s about my heart. God wants me to love Him with my whole heart. While He shapes and transforms my inner self, my desires to please Him follow suit, albeit slower than I’d like.

King David’s words in Psalm 34:18, “Oh, Taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge on Him!” have been proven true in my deepest despair, and I am forever grateful.

Hope

Friend, we all have a story and a different set of life circumstances. If you are in a place where you feel stuck and defeated, please don’t lose hope. God is all about do-overs, even if it’s ten in one day! If I can walk this road, so can you. God always hears the cries of His children, and He will never leave you to figure it out for yourself. He will guide you with His Word just as He does me.

Do you need support in your journey? Message me, let’s talk.

Upheld in His grace,20200424_130851_0000.png

Missy

 

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Forget Not, Even When It Hurts CV Lay-Off Day:35

My heart has been in my throat most of the day, and it took me until dinner to pinpoint my angst. I miss Justin. I still find it nearly impossible to understand that he is gone fully. This morning as I walked, I was grateful for the empty sidewalks that gave me the freedom to allow fresh tears to drop without inhibition.
I guess in hindsight, that should have clued me that this might be a tough day. But, the thing about grief is that, sometimes, it’s sneaky. It clouds your mind with countless unintelligible thoughts while stealthy depleting your energy reserve. And, grief, coupled with the added stress of Tim’s now extended lay-off, has me feeling a smidge undone.
One of the most impactful lessons I am learning since losing Justin is how to lament and simultaneously remember God’s character. In my “before,” I did not want to sit in my heavy emotions and wait for God to comfort me. Instead, I skipped the lament and eased my ache on my own terms. But, after losing my boy, the previous coping practices that I honed so well were inadequate in the face of such anguish.
Today, I am learning how to express my guttural moanings with my eyes fixed on the Lord. It’s like practicing Psalm 62:8, “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts before him; God is a refuge for us.” while remembering who God is as described in Psalm 103:1-5

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.

The term “forget not” in verse two means- to forget, ignore, wither, to cease to care.
Oh, friend, this is a good word for the pilgrim walking through the trials and hardship. When the weightiness of grief rests upon our hearts, and despondency whispers our name, and let us resist the urge to stop caring. Instead, let us run to our Savior and yield to the perfect Comforter. His tender balm reaches down to the deepest crevices of our hearts, heals another layer of our broken hearts.
Even when it hurts, let us not forget not His benefits; He is always faithful.
Grieving with hope,
Missy

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An Update CV Lay-Off Day: 33

Today, we got word that Tim’s company extended his furlough. Initially, their goal was to bring everyone back on May 14th; now, they are hoping for June 30th. The travel industry has taken a hard hit, so this turn of events is not shocking. Even still, it is not the news we were hoping to receive.

For the last few days, I have been camping out in Ephesians 6:10-20. Today, verse 10 especially caught my attention.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”

I like what my ESV note has to say about vs. 10: “Because Christians cannot stand on their own against superhuman powers, they must rely on the strength of the Lord’s own might, which he supplies chiefly through prayer.” 

Would you know that I woke up feeling extremely vulnerable? I had 10,000 thoughts coursing through my mind before I got my first sip of coffee, and that’s just not right. On my walk this morning, I knew it was going to be a Psalm 91 kind of day, and immediately pulled it up on my audio Bible app and played it on repeat.

And you know what I realized? Psalm 91 and Ephesians 6 pair together beautifully. Read those two back to back, and you’ll see just what I mean. I might add, all of this happened before I knew about Tim’s employment situation.

In this, I see the hand of God; He was so kind as to prepare my mind to take refuge in Him and prompt me to pray. Since I have my boys at home, my prayers are often short sentences scattered throughout the day, but God hears every one of them.

I will add, for a good part of the morning, I waited to feel strengthened. But, sometimes, God’s strength does not become evident until you are square in the middle of the storm.  I don’t have any more answers than I did yesterday, but nevertheless, my heart is settled with His peace. And for that, I am thankful.

Until tomorrow,

Missy

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When Mama Loses It CV Lay-Off Day:32

When I was a new mom, I promised myself that I would not use the term, “shut-up” when disciplining my children. And then, one day, I took Justin and Sarah to ROSS; they were probably around six and four years old at the time. As I turned for a quick second, Justin and Sarah decided that it would be fun to hide in the middle of the racks of clothing. When I turned back around, they were gone. My heart dropped as I called their names until I heard a familiar giggle. In the blink of an eye, my fear turned to anger. I grabbed my purse, took their little hands, and marched them directly out of the store and to the car. As I worked to buckle them in their seats, they began to protest and whine. I slammed their door, got in the driver’s seat, and shocked all of us when I yelled, “SHUT-UP!”

I was devastated. I did exactly what I didn’t want to do; I lost my temper and used the very phrase that I had worked so hard to avoid. Once we were almost home, I apologized to Justin and Sarah and asked them to forgive me, to which they readily offered me grace.

When our daughter was nine, the Lord added to our number, and our third child was born. After Sammy, we had two more boys, Luke and Josh. Let me just say, having three boys back to back is much different than having one boy and one girl. My boys’ energy is off the charts; they wrestle, they’re loud, and I’m not even shocked when another something gets mysteriously broken. Although I have been a mother for twenty-three years, I still face some of the same challenges that I did as a young mom. 

My husband and I often say that this parenting gig is not for the faint of heart; it’s the hardest and most rewarding job you could ever have. At this time, two of my sons are struggling with anger rooted in the loss of their big brother. It’s quite a challenge to deal simultaneously with discipline and grief. The best thing I can do is pray and ask God for wisdom beyond my years and for eyes to see how to best minister to their little hearts.

Sadly, I lose my patience more times than I care to admit, and “shut-up” still erupts from my lips before I can stop it. In such times, the apostle Paul’s words deeply minister to my weary soul, 

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

Isn’t that a beautiful truth? We boast in our weakness, for there, His strength is made perfect. Now that’s a good word. 

Until tomorrow,

Missy

p.s. Dear Mama, if you are feeling discouraged and worn out, here’s one of my favorite songs by Andrew Peterson, “Be Kind to Yourself.” I hope you love it as much as I do. 

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When We Don’t Understand CV Lay-Off Day:30

About a year ago, as I was scrolling through Facebook, I read a headline from a social news site about someone’s child dying. I made the mistake of reading through the comments, and I’ll never forget the woman who wrote, “Well, I pray for God’s protection over my children every day.” I thought about writing back, “Well, so do I, but sometimes God has a different plan.”

The day we lost Justin, I prayed for him and his safety. I asked the Lord to protect him. When the sheriff’s deputies arrived at our door early Sunday morning, I was dumbfounded. When the shock wore off, I was hurt and confused. 

I accused God, saying, “Lord, I asked you to protect Justin, and you didn’t. Why didn’t you protect him?” His response is the most gentle rebuke I have ever received. He reminded me of Job 38:4-5,

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements-surely, you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?”

The Lord so kindly put me in my rightful place. He is the Creator, and I am His created one. God does not answer to me; I answer to Him. I would have never chosen to lose my son, and I doubt I’ll ever understand why his allotted days were only twenty years. But, I trust that God is who He says He is, and ways are higher and thoughts are higher than mine. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

On the night of the accident, as I lay waiting and praying for Justin to get home, I began quoting Scripture to soothe my anxious thoughts. As I recited Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the LORD with all of your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” the Lord caused a pause in my spirit. I immediately knew something was terribly wrong. It would be a good while down the road before I understood what that pause was all about.

I simply could not wrap my mind around the “why” of losing Justin. I would cry, “Why, Lord, why did he have to die?” One night, as I asked yet again, “Why?” the Lord brought to mind the night of the accident as I lay in bed praying. I remembered how He impressed Proverbs 3:5 upon my heart, and then, I finally got it. It was like He was saying, “Missy, trust in me with all of your heart. Don’t try to understand why; trust Me.” That settled it for me and gave me rest in my soul.  

Today, I have more questions, but I also have hindsight. Now, I know that I don’t have to have to understand God’s plan to trust Him. He is who He says He is, and He is always faithful. 

Until tomorrow,

Missy

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Hope that Surpasses Fear CV Lay-0ff Day:28

Christmas was in the rearview mirror, and the new year was only a few days away. My social media newsfeed contained post after post laced with excitement for 2020. I, on the other hand, felt complete dread. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get excited about a fresh new year. 

Things came to a fever-pitch one evening as I was preparing dinner for my family. As I stood with my back to my boys grating cheese at my kitchen counter, tears ran down my cheeks. I felt so anxious, I could hardly speak. No matter how hard I tried, I could not shake the feeling that another tragedy was imminent. 

Just as I turned to retrieve a bowl form the island, Psalm 23:4 sprung to my mind, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.” I knew, without a doubt, the Lord was speaking to me. 

Instant relief ran through my entire body, and God’s peace settled upon my heart. A mini-movie played through my mind of all the ways that the Lord cared me for since losing Justin. I remembered the way He drew near and comforted me with His presence, and soothed my shattered heart with His healing balm. I thought to myself, even if 2020 held more trials and heartache, I would be okay because the Lord Himself would be with me. 

Today, almost four months later, I am circling back around to that same truth. Because, sometimes, the unknown future feels like a long and dark hallway, and it is frightening. But, the truth is, no matter what trial we might be facing, we won’t face it alone. The Good Shepherd will be with us, and He will sustain us once again. 

Until tomorrow,

Missy

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Tender Mercies in the Morning CV Lay-Off Day: 26

This morning, the birds serenaded me out of bed extra early. Grabbing my Bible and journal, I crept downstairs. After opening the blinds by my favorite blue chair, I headed to the kitchen for my first cup of coffee. None of this is ordinary, because 99% of the time, Tim wakes up first.

I had just a few minutes in the Word before I heard movement upstairs. Soon, our resident early riser, Luke, joined me. As he snuggled in next to me in my chair, his little hand started caressing the onion skin pages of my Bible that lay open on my lap. With his raspy morning voice, he began asking me questions about the Bible and what I was reading. After answering him, I asked him if he’d like me to read Psalm 18 aloud. With the shake of his head yes, I told him,

“This is a Psalm from King David.”
“King David? Who was he?” he asked.
“Remember David; he’s the one who fought Goliath?” I replied
“Oh, yeah.”
“Well, this is a Psalm he wrote. ”
“David, Luke David,” he said.
“Right, we named you after King David, Luke.”
“Why?”
“Because David was a man after God’s own heart, and that’s what we are praying for you.”

As I proceeded to read Psalm 18, he let out a contented sigh and snuggled in a little closer. There it was, that was the reason I awoke so early. It was for that sweet connection. Because a short while later that morning, Luke’s beta fish (who he talked to every night) died. And then to make matters worse, his turtle bit him drawing blood.

Typically, these two things together would have ruined his day. Because since losing Justin, little losses are expressed in considerable ways. But this time, while he was initially quite distraught, the day was not lost. To my surprise, after a short time, he moved on and enjoyed the rest of the morning.

My prayers are being answered right before my eyes. I am witnessing the Lord healing my little boy’s heart. And on this Monday, that gives me every reason to smile.

Until tomorrow,

Missy

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-24 ESV

 

 

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Quarantined Easter CV Lay-Off Day: 24

Tomorrow is Easter, and like most everyone else in America, we won’t be gathering together with our church family.

Since COVID-19, we’ve tried as a family to preserve our Sunday mornings for a time of worship. Although I don’t make the boys wear their Sunday clothes, I do get myself put together, and then we all meet in the living room. Our church sends out the bulletin ahead of time, and Tim prints them for us to follow along. Together, we read through the liturgy, and then, watch our pastor’s sermon on Youtube.

As we listen to the sermon, the two youngest boys become restless just like they do on a typical Sunday morning at church. I give them crayons and paper, and promise that they can enjoy Sarah’s homemade delicacies as soon as the sermon ends-that usually sees them through.

It is not at all the same as gathering together under one building. I miss lifting our voices as one in songs of worship. I miss joyfully partaking of communion and then feasting together on the Word of God.  Nevertheless, I am very thankful for the refreshment the Spirit provides.

Since losing Justin, my extroverted self has become more of an introvert. I’m not sure all of the ins and outs of that transformation, except that I have very much come to appreciate solitude. With that said, I dearly long to be gathered together with the Body in our beautiful sanctuary where the sunbeams shine brilliantly through the windows. I yearn to hear the warm chatter of the saints who are happy to be in the house of the Lord joyfully breaking bread and worshipping together.

For me, the weeks are long. We live in a small rural town, and sometimes it feels like we’re in the middle of nowhere. But, on Sunday mornings, when we gather together as a Body, my family and I are known, and it reminds us that we are not alone.

Tomorrow, we’ll make the best of it, and the six of us will gather once again in our living room and celebrate our risen Savior. I sure am eager for the day when we’ll gather together again as one.

Until then, I will leave you with this blessing that we receive from our pastor each Sunday,

The Lord bless you and keep you;
 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

Until tomorrow,

Missy

 

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Waiting for One Day CV Lay-Off Day:22

It’s been officially three weeks since Tim was laid-off. I keep reminding my brain that we’re not on vacation. A little bit of normalcy finally kicked in this week, and we’re holding a loose schedule. I am happy to report that the bickering between my boys has even improved, praise be to God!

I was surprised by the fresh waves of grief that came rolling in this week. Yesterday, they hit so hard that I put myself to bed early. It’s been two years and eight months without Justin, and I can still hardly believe he’s gone.

We’d been in our house one year to the day that we lost Justin. But, there are still traces of him everywhere. Like the way he’d stand in our doorway at night with his hands on his sides, telling us about a girl he liked or a funny story from work.

I remember him half-asleep, sitting in the overstuffed recliner in his bedroom, reading a big fat theological book before he went to bed. In the mornings, my heart rejoiced when I’d see his Tabletalk magazine and Bible laying open on his bed bookmarked to where he’d left off.

What I’d give to have his music pumping through the house again; I wouldn’t even get annoyed at him for using the walls as drums.

I miss his peculiarities, like the way he washed his pillowcase every other day and how he stole my baby wipes on a nightly basis to wipe down his tennis shoes. I smile when I think about the way he’d tote around a gallon size jug of water-guzzling it here or there throughout the day.

I know this for certain, all of the late-night conversations, stupid jokes, endless quoting of baseball statistics, obnoxious political rants, a new song I just had to hear, they were all worth it.

What I’d give for just one more hug.

Justin’s faith has been made sight, and I am waiting for my one day. Because one day,

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be nor more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev 21:4)

Come soon, Lord Jesus.

Until tomorrow,

Missy