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The Time I Didn’t Wait (CV Lay-off Week:10

Last week, we found out that Tim’s furlough was extended again, this time, until July 31st. Naturally, we wonder how many more extensions are in our future and what that looks like for our family. 

Psalm 27:14 is such a word to remember in the waiting. It says, “Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD.” 

Often times, when we think about the word, wait, we might get the idea that it’s a passive act. On the contrary, when we wait upon the Lord, it is an action. The Hebrew definition for wait means: to look for, hope, expect. When we wait for the Lord, we place our confidence in Him with hopeful expectation.

The time I didn’t wait

Last year, I wrote about a time that I didn’t wait on the Lord. Summer was quickly approaching; our daughter, Sarah, was away working at a camp for the season, and Justin was a few weeks launching out on his own. Tim’s new position at work would require some travel, and it would be me at home with our three youngest boys. I decided that I needed to do something for myself. 

I thought, why not start a furniture business? So, I began acquiring great vintage pieces to paint and market. I jumped in with both feet, and soon our garage was filled with treasures. But, every time I prayed about it, I sensed the Lord saying, “No, wait.” Still, I continued to paint and collect more pieces. I prayed about it again, and I received the same response, “No, wait.” 

Well, one morning, I woke up and said to myself, “What am I waiting for? Maybe God didn’t say no; I probably heard Him wrong.” That day, I created my Facebook business page, took countless pictures, and began listing my furniture. I was pleased with myself.

Friend, the VERY next day, we lost Justin. 

God said, “No, wait.” for a reason. He knew what I would be facing, and a furniture business would not at all fit into my journey. 

I share this story because lately, when my anxiety peaks, I’ve found myself thinking, “Hmm, maybe I need to start a side-hustle.” But, I learned a valuable lesson with my short-lived furniture business; no matter how bad I want to feel in control, it is always better to wait on the Lord. If He tells me to start a new business, now that’s a whole different story, isn’t it? 

So, for now, I wait upon Him.

You might be asking, what does waiting look like? How do we wait upon the Lord? Psalm 37:5 gives us some great insight on the matter. It says, “Commit your ways to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.”

The word commit means- to roll, to roll away, roll down. 

Do you see it? It’s a similar picture of 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all our anxieties upon the Lord because he cares for you.” In our waiting, we are pushing, rolling all of the cares, questions, and concerns upon the Lord as we wait upon Him to act. Indeed, there is nothing passive about waiting. 

If you are in a season of waiting like me, set your gaze on Jesus, Friend. Take courage in the wait, stand firm with confidence; the Lord is faithful, and He will bring His plans to fruition. 

Until tomorrow,

Missy

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD.        Psalm 27:14

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Hoping in the Shadows CV Lay-off Week 8

The first year after we lost Justin, we walked through a series of trials that left my head spinning. The air conditioner stopped working mid-summer; our car broke down, the garage door malfunctioned, and the fridge was leaking. My final tipping point was when I walked into the garage and found a pool of water coming from our water heater. I walked right back into the house, locked myself in the bathroom, and cried, “How long, O’ Lord, will you forget me forever?” (Psalm 13:1a)

Earlier today, as I was shampooing the carpet, I remembered how, in my early days of grief, my mind played in a continuous loop. Oh, how I wished. I wished I would have stopped Justin from going to the lake. I wished I could have somehow known it was my last good-bye, and I love you. I wished I could take away my children’s pain. I wished with all of my heart that I could change our reality. 

Lately, a similar train of thought has been running through my mind. Tim’s furlough began almost eight weeks ago. Today, the travel industry is down by 96% from this time last year. The possibility of him returning to work at the end of June seems very unlikely. I long for normalcy, for Tim to be back in his home office on a call helping a client. I wish for a different reality.

I don’t know about you, but when I am in the eye of the storm, I get a sinking feeling the Lord has forgotten me or worst yet, He doesn’t care. Amid such tumultuous thoughts, my best defense and refuge is reading the Word. There, in the Scripture, my mind is renewed in the truth, and I remember His character. When the sky is dark, and we know not what to do, the Word is our sustenance and our compass to right our thoughts.  

Today, I went to Psalm 27 and listened to verse 14 over and over again. It says, “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD.”  When I looked at the STRONGS Concordance, I noticed that vs. 14 read, “Wait patiently for the Lord at the beginning of the verse and then again at the end.

Wait patiently means to wait, to look, to hope.

Dear friend, instead of wishing away our problems, the Word instructs us to wait for the Lord, look to the Lord, and to hope in the Lord. It is not a one time practice, but a minute by minute reliance upon Him.  And in our waiting, He sustains us with His unfailing love by the power of His Spirit. In this truth, we can be of good courage.   

Until tomorrow,

Missy

A prayer in the waiting

Dear Lord, you are ever so patient, you know my frailty, and remember that I am but from dust. In my distress, please help me to wait patiently for you. I know not what to do, but my eyes are on you.  I love you, O’ God, my strength. 

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Pilgrimage of Trust

A few nights ago, I found an old journal from the year 1991. My first entry included the details of a God orchestrated event that still leaves me in awe today. I, at eighteen years old, was a young Believer; and unlike the majority of my peers, I had no plans for the future. For months, I sought the Lord each night, asking Him to show me my next steps. His answer would come the day after I graduated from high school.

Early that morning, I received a phone call from my pastor, asking me if I would like to be a summer intern with a ministry based in Mexico. My job, he said, would be to help church groups coming from the states build houses for families in need in the heart of Mexico. If I were to agree to go, I would need to be ready to leave in three days. When I inquired about the financial aspect of the summer, I was dumbfounded when my pastor told me that our church was paying for everything. 

Without a doubt, I knew this opportunity was my long-awaited answer. Three days later, I was on my first plane ride donned in my blue jean overalls and a straw hat with a big floral bow attached to the side. And that right there was where the cuteness ended because the rest of the summer was one of the most exacting experiences I have ever faced.

From the beginning, I was in way over my head, and I knew it. On our first day of training at the job site, someone asked me to bring them a 2×4. I remember the look on their face when I wondered aloud how you could tell the difference between a 2×4 and say, a 6×8? Ha! I had no previous construction experience, and deciphering a blueprint was, at best, laughable. One of the natives, Felipe, who worked for the ministry, took pity on me and invited into his family’s home for the weekend and patiently taught me the basic principles of framing. Thanks to Felipe, I’ll never forget the carpentry term, “California Corner.” 

Throughout my ten-week long internship, I cried many tears, and I was exhausted. But I learned what it meant to be in a constant posture of dependence upon God. I was indeed “pressed on every side, but not crushed…” (2 Corinthians 4:8) No matter how badly I wanted to pack up and go home, the Lord faithfully gave me the strength to face another day. In hindsight, my lack of experience and knowledge mattered little. Ultimately, God did not send me to Mexico to teach grown men how to build houses. He sent me to Mexico to teach me how to trust Him.

One night after we lost Justin, I stole away in my bedroom to gather my thoughts. My eyes were full of tears, and my mind was going in circles as I tried to understand God’s plan. At that moment, God reminded me of my Mexico experience and how I learned to trust Him on that long and hard road. In the same way, I knew I could trust Him at that moment, even though I would likely never understand. 

Today, I am lifting my shield of faith and drawing upon my experiences of the Lord’s tender care. I don’t know what our future holds, but I know that I can trust Him to see us through.  

Until tomorrow,

Missy

“Trust in him at all times, oh people, pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” Psalm 62:8

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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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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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For God So Loved the World CV Lay-Off Day: 20

A few nights ago, Tim and I went on a mini-date. We took a long drive, mobile ordered Chipotle (my favorite!), and then sat in our truck and ate our meal square in the middle of a parking lot. It was absolutely delightful. Somehow, we got to talking about when I was first invited to church.

If my memory serves me correctly, I was a freshman in high school, and I was spending the night at my friend Tami’s house. One of her family friends went to a little church across town, and she asked me if I would like to come along with her, to which I promptly responded, “No, thank-you.” At the time, I couldn’t imagine anything more boring than going to church. However, when she mentioned a group of cute boys who were in the youth group, I was quickly persuaded.

Experiencing Church 

I don’t remember if we first went to a youth group meeting or attended a Sunday morning service. But, my friend Tami didn’t lie, there were a lot of cute boys, and they kept my interest initially. But, I was most surprised by the kindness of the people around me. Couples and families were smiling and happy to be at church. Their warmth spilled over to me, and I felt like I belonged. 

Each Sunday, as the pastor preached, I stared at the purple banner that hung behind him on the wall. It read, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son.” John 3:16 I wasn’t sure what all of that meant, but by this point, I loved going to church. I wished the music would never end, and each Sunday, I left the people’s faces radiant faces etched in my mind. 

My First Bible

Somewhere along the way, I received my first Bible. It was a dark brown hardback, and all of Jesus’ words were in red letters. I remember not knowing how to navigate through the pages. Someone patiently explained that there were different books of the Bible and then showed me how to find the chapter and then the verse. One day, I looked up John 3:16 on my own and discovered the second part, “that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” 

An Invitation 

Finally, one night at youth group, the pastor invited anyone who would like to learn more about following Jesus to come to the back of the church to find out more. Well, one of the boys who I had my eyes on, stood up and walked back. I was curious about what he was doing, and I followed him. When I did, the pastor spotted me and asked me if I’d like to talk. I said, “Sure,” and then he shared the Gospel with me. He told me that Jesus loved me and that He died for my sin. He asked if there was any reason why I didn’t want to follow Jesus? I said, “No, no reason at all. I want to follow Jesus.” We prayed together, and I walked out of the church, a brand new Christian, full of hope. 

Loved

That little body of Believers loved me well. Even though I lived across town, they transported me to and from church Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. They invited me into their homes to share meals around their tables, and they nurtured my faith with patience.

Today, I am still in contact with many of the people from my first church family. In fact, to my surprise, several of them were present Justin’s memorial service. I am forever grateful for each of them.

The Gospel

Perhaps what I remember the most about that time in my life is the simplicity of the Gospel. Sometimes, I think we get too caught up in over complicating things. When I placed my faith in Christ, I hardly knew how to read the Bible. I had absolutely no understanding of theology, and I was a hot mess, but none of that mattered. He would see to my sanctification; I needed only to believe. 

The Scripture says, 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” And, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:16, 3:36)

I invite you to investigate the simple but profound realities of the Gospel.  Do you have any questions? Please feel free to send me a message and ask away. 

Until tomorrow, 

Missy