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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

 

 

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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

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Expectant Waiting: CV Lay-Off Day: 19

Around the nine-month mark, after Tim and I started dating, it became apparent that I was one lovesick girl. Each night, after he dropped me off at my apartment, I would go to my bedroom, lay on my bed, and cry my eyes out. I hated for him to leave, and I could hardly wait to see him again. I know it sounds dramatic, but I was head over heels. Each night, I poured out my heart to the Lord, saying, “Lord, I just want to marry that man.”

That’s when I discovered Lord Psalm 40:1, “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.”  I took that Scripture as my own and held on to it until our union was complete on January 14, 1995. 

Many years down the road, I would learn a different kind of waiting. When we lost our dear Justin, I learned what it meant to wait for the Lord’s comfort. Up until that point, I’d spent the majority of my Christian life soothing my inner turmoil myself. I usually went for the instant gratification to escape the pain of suffering. My typical (and destructive) go-to was food. But, all of that changed when I made a promise to Justin only six days before he would die. 

Now, I faced the deepest pain of my life, and food was no longer an option for my coping mechanism. At first, when fresh waves of grief poured in, I’d find myself standing in front of the pantry looking for something, anything to soothe my ache. It was there, in the throes of grief, that the Lord revealed the unbelief in my heart. When all was said and done, I wasn’t sure if the Lord would come and deliver me from my pain. What if I waited for Him, and He really didn’t care? Would He alleviate my suffering? 

I needn’t have worried; because every single time, the Lord faithfully revealed Himself to me and sustained me with His presence. 

Slowly, I learned to walk away from the kitchen (with my flesh screaming) and head for my Bible. His Word was/is the sweetest healing balm that I have ever tasted; in it, He comforted me, corrected me, and refreshed my weary soul. 

Today, amid COVID-19 and my husband’s lay-off, again, I wait for the Lord. I wait for His wisdom, provision, and His tender care. I am confident that the Lord will not withhold Himself from His children. 

One day, we will testify of His goodness together and say, “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.”

Until tomorrow,

Missy

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Family Matters CV: Lay-off Day: 17

This evening, right around dinner time (it’s always dinner time for us, isn’t it?) the tension was a bit thick in our home. It felt like I spent at least half of the day disciplining my boys, and putting out fires. Two of my sons (who I just corrected) were jumping on the trampoline and saw me through the kitchen window. They smiled big and waved, and that’s when I realized that I was clenching my teeth. 

In hopes of the lightning the mood, I gathered seven or eight votive candles leftover from Thanksgiving and had Sarah line the table with them. Then, I cranked up our favorite City Alight album, “Only a Holy God,” and set the table with our fancy black plastic plate. Ha!

The boys were still quietly bickering as we finished up our grilled chicken and baked potatoes. Suddenly, I had an idea, we were going to encourage one another! So, we focused on one person at a time and then went around the table and shared one (or several) different ways that we saw God’s giftings in them. Strategically, we started with the child who had the most challenging day and then love-bombed him.  

After our time together tonight, I made a few observations:

  1. Two of my boys who have been complaining a lot also had a tough time sharing encouragement about one another. As their Mama, this grieves my heart, and I plan to make it a matter of prayer.  
  2. After an hour of going around the table, our mood shifted considerably. What would happen if we began the first ten minutes of our day praising God together as a family? I have a feeling that my help with our problem mentioned in number one. 
  3. When Justin and Sarah were little, we used to do stuff like this all the time. Getting back to the basics is a gift and necessary. 
  4. We all need encouragement. By the end of the evening, Tim, Sarah, and I were all choked up. It’s been a rough few weeks or few years…

You know, right before Tim was laid-off, I felt like we were finally finding our rhythm again. Now, here we are adjusting to yet another new normal with no sure timeline of how long all of this will last.

With all of these things in mind, I remember Psalm 62:8, “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” 

Even when we don’t understand, we take the posture of King David and trust in the Lord. And then, we pour out our hearts to the Lord, which means we can tell Him everything. I am so grateful that it’s not up to me to figure this all out, but instead, I  take refuge in Him and wait for Him to move. How great is our God!

Until tomorrow,

Missy 

 

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Ten Things I am Thankful for Today| CV Lay-off Day:16

Sometimes, when we are in the midst of a storm, it’s easy to become weighed down with discouragement. At the beginning of April, my sister began choosing one thing that she was thankful for each day and then shared it on social media. Isn’t that a great idea? I loved it so much that I thought I’d put my own little spin on it. 

Today, I am sharing ten things I am thankful for; I’d love to read your list, too!

  1. I am thankful for the God of my salvation. Before I knew His name, He loved me. He pulled me from a dark and hopeless place and gave me a new heart. He has walked with me through my darkest days and continually blesses me with the sweetness of His presence. 
  2.  I am thankful for my husband. I am grateful that we can experience both laughter and sorrow together; our bond is stronger because of it. Also, I adore him. 
  3. I am thankful for my children. Spending each day with them is my favorite; they never cease to make me smile. 
  4. I am thankful for faithful friends who text or call to check on me just because they thought of me. 
  5. I am thankful for our home and the fact that we finally painted over the walls, ugly brown walls that were driving me crazy. 
  6. I am thankful for scrambled eggs and coffee
  7. I am thankful for the morning sun and the birds that call our yard their home. 
  8. I am thankful for words that capture a moment in time to be remembered for years to come.
  9. I am thankful for my morning walks, vitamins, and water that help my body to function with strength and endurance.
  10. I am thankful for Lindt 90% dark chocolate; it is indeed a gift from God. 

That’s my ten, what are you thankful for today?

Until tomorrow,

Missy

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”            Psalm 136:1 

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When Fear Comes Knocking CV Lay-Off Day: 15

Over the last two and a half years, I have struggled through gigantic waves of fear and anxiety. Not too long ago, I was waiting for my daughter to get home from work. I had dinner on the table when I realized she hadn’t made it back yet. I called her to see if she was running late; her phone went to voicemail. A few minutes later, I sent her a text asking if everything was okay. 

By this time, I served dinner, and the boys were full of conversation about the day. Though I appeared calm on the outside, my insides were in complete panic mode. If you know the story of losing Justin, you understand my train of thought. 

As I sat at the dinner table, I was not present, but imagining every worst-case scenario. As the minutes ticked by, a lump sat in my throat like cement. Finally, I whispered to my husband, 

“I am freaking out right now. Sarah’s not home, and she’s not answering her phone.” 

My tears began to spill, and as he reached over, I leaned into him. Just saying the words helped me to breathe. Sarah called me a few minutes later, and my world began turning again. As it turns out, our dear girl was talking to a friend after work, lost track of time, and forgot her phone in the car. 

After experiencing such a tragedy, it was natural for my thoughts to take the pathway that they did. But because I don’t want to live on fears teeter-totter, I must exercise the apostle Paul’s instruction when he said, “We take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5b)

So, what do I do the next time a dark cloud of fear ambushes me?

First, I pray. I tell the Lord exactly what I am afraid of; in this case, I might have prayed, Lord, I am so scared that something has happened to Sarah. Please help me not to fear, but to trust you. 

Second, I go to the Word. In times of great distress, I most often turn to the Psalms or the book of Isaiah. I go there because the Psalms and Isaiah point to our natural inclination to fear. The best thing I can do when I am in full-panic mode is to renew my mind in the truth. The Spirit of God ministers to me in the deepest recesses of my heart and soothes my distress with His peace. 

Lastly, I talk about it, usually with my husband. The more in the open that I can share my fears and worries, the less of a hold they have on me. Tim speaks truth to my heart and helps me to spot the lies from the enemy; how I love that man. 

I am nowhere near the end of this journey; it’s only just begun. But, I am writing this post because of our current climate with COVID-19. The unknown is frightening, and fear lurks waiting to consume us. 

Instead of inundating ourselves with every nuance of the virus, endless unemployment facts, and the 10,000 different opinions on social media, let’s anchor ourselves with the Word of God and put into practice Philippians 4:8:

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” 

Dear friend, let’s stay alert and guard our minds; this is a battle worth fighting. 

Until tomorrow,

Missy

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Operation Keep Mama Sane: CV Lay-off Day:13

It was meltdown central at my house today. Tears were abundant, emotions ran high, and this mama right here was on the verge of losing her ever-loving mind! 

I have a feeling I’m not the only one experiencing this craziness.

In all seriousness, it was a tough day. We started off on a good trajectory, but with each outburst, my patience dwindled, and I grew more irritable.

You know the old saying, “You can catch more flies with honey”? Well, there’s a Proverb that says it even better, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

I feel like I need to plaster that verse all over my house, right. Ultimately, I need the Spirit to give me the grace to respond with gentleness instead of reacting out of my irritation.

Because on our very worst days, I want to point my boys to the Lord who is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” (Psalm 103:8) Yes, that entails appropriate discipline, and it also means I need to make adjustments given our circumstances.

I learned the saying, “improvise, adapt, and overcome from my husband, who served in the Air Force. I think it’s time I improvise with a new plan for our week to adapt to our “Stay-at-Home” order. Hopefully, together we can overcome serious cranky grapes!

So, to boost morale around here, I think it’s time we lighten things up and have a little fun. Here are ten ideas I’d like to implement over the coming days.  I’ll let you know how it goes, the good, the bad, and the ugly. 🙂 


Operation Keep Mama Sane:

  1. Suprise the boys and set up our long folding tables on the back porch and enjoy lunch with a different view
  2. I found a sidewalk chalk recipe that looks super easy. We have cute silicone fish-shaped molds that should work perfectly. You can also use empty toilet paper rolls for bigger pieces. 
  3. Walk our neighborhood as a family 
  4. Visit the cemetery. I know that sounds a bit bleak, but the boys love it there, and it’s part of our new normal.
  5. Make a large sign to hang over our garage to cheer our neighbors on their daily walks
  6. Play a round of laser tag in the dark 
  7. Have a jumping contest on the trampoline, who will last the longest? That oughta wear them out!
  8. Play charades 
  9. Spend an evening around the firepit
  10. Make cards for Grandma and Nana

What about you? What seems to be working (or not) at your house? 

Listen, we’re all in this together, and there is much grace to be had. Mama, take heart; God sees you. He understands how your discouragement and exhaustion. Friend, it won’t always be this way, He will see us through.  

Until tomorrow,

Missy