Remember...

In response to yesterday's post, which so many of you sweetly supported me through with your kind words, I wanted to offer encouragement in these times as we have been shown grace and mercy in being alive and with our families tonight. 

Remember...

to tell your family you love them... whenever you can. 
to kiss your spouse goodnight and before they leave in the morning. 
to never, ever hold grudges, because you might not get a chance to make it right. 
to always forgive... and forget. 
to love with a sacrificial love beyond measure, and don't only reserve it for people you like. 
to tell people you appreciate them, and thank them for things they've done. 
to enjoy the simple things in life, and prioritize what really matters. 
to slow down.
to laugh loudly.
to surrender your worries about what might happen into joy over what you do have. 

Remember...

to trust that God will never, ever leave you or forsake you.
that Jesus will walk with you through every step of your battlefield.
that God is faithful.
that God will never give you more than you can handle. 
that God loves you, God answers prayer, and God's plan for you is good. 
that if you love God, Heaven is next, whenever that may be. 
that God knew you before you were born, and your life is for His glory.
that God knows the desire of your hear. 

Remember...

that there are many beautiful, kind and courageous people in this world. 
to treat others the way you want to be treated.
to use your life to make a difference, instead of hiding away in fear.
bad things happen to good people. 
Jesus understands pain, and God's grace is sufficient. 
when you walk with God, you are never alone. 
that every thing, good and perfect, in our lives came from God. 
that we are nothing without Him who created us. 
that God loves you. 

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Praising God in these storms

I may not have children yet, but I understand all too well the pain from the loss of a young child taken unexpectedly. I don't need to have children of my own to comprehend the unfathomable grief that bestows itself during the seemingly infinite time of numbing shock (which inhibits all normal day-to-day functioning)  when personal tragedy has struck.

My heart aches for the families from today's horror in Connecticut because I know what it's like to kiss your family goodbye one moment, and have them ripped from your life the next. To exist only supernaturally when you hear the words for the first time, "They didn't make it," and to lose all sense of rational ability except by being carried from one place to the next by the sheer grace of God. I know what it's like to come home to a house that was once full of warmth and life and love, only to have it be transformed overnight into just a blank interior. I know what it's like to set foot for the first time into a ten year old's bedroom whose bed was left unmade as he hurriedly left for school that morning, and see all of his prized trophies neatly arranged on his shelves, and his dirty clothes in piles on the floor knowing he'll never be home to pick them up. To sit on his bed and sob, staring aimlessly at what will never be again. 

I know what it's like to step into a mother's bedroom where we sat so many nights growing up watching movies, talking about life and boys and friends and school, and to have it be nothing more than an empty shell of what once was. I know what it's like to try and search feverishly over her clothes for the smell of her perfume; for any reminder that will bring her back, even for only a second, so that you can temporarily escape what your new reality is. I know what it's like to have presents wrapped which were never given, even though thought and time was put into your selections. I know what it's like to have to endure each and every holiday and birthday, time and time again, year after year, without reprieve; feeling as though you can finally move on with your life, only to be forced to remember the truth of your circumstances over and over and over and over. I know what it's like to want to call the person you love with news of such a horrible tragedy, only to remember that the horrible tragedy was them.

I know what it's like to desperately want answers, but realizing you'll never have them, and to make a choice, a determined and deliberate choice, that you're going to choose to live a purposeful life instead of being mad at God, mad at the world, and succumbing to debilitating bitterness.

For those families affected by the tragedies that have faced our nation this week, I'm so sorry you have to endure this process-- this aching, unfathomable process. I would never wish tragedy and sudden loss on anyone in this whole world because I am still struggling with the fact that it is in mine. 

Regardless of what type of loss one suffers, whether a senseless act of violence or careless negligence while driving, loss is loss. Nothing-- no matter how hard you try or how much denial and depression you're in-- will bring them back. It's so easy to try and find something or someone to blame-- as if that makes coping with it so much easier. The fact is, I've learned through the loss of my mom and 10 year old brother that nothing we have is ours. This life is not our own; our families are not our own. Everything that we have comes from God, and everything we have is purposed for something to His glory. This world is not our home, and the things we have were given to us by Him. We can try to protect those we love from danger or avoid circumstances because of fear, but if God calls someone when He does, He's doing so for his purpose. I can only imagine that when we have children, having to "let go," if God's plan for us is that, will be more difficult than I could even try and understand. In fact, I hope that we never have to experience that. However, I never thought I would be able to fathom the loss of any of my family members, let alone my mom and brother, and yet that experience is part of my story. God had a purpose in it and it was His purpose that they came "home" when they did. Is God behind acts of violence? Absolutely not. But as someone said earlier, "When those acts of violence have occurred, God is comforting those whom he knit in their mothers' womb protected from evil with Him in Heaven." 

It's important in these times to remember, "Blessed be the name of the Lord." 

In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say, blessed by your name

You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Sometimes, praising the Lord in storms and in grief can be almost unbearable. But even if that's so, we have to. He promises to comfort those who cry out to Him, and to restore what was taken. I can speak with ultimate authority that while I will never understand this side of eternity why my mom and brother died in a senseless tragedy, God has been faithful and blessed my life beyond measure because of his compassion and kindness. He rescued me from an empty path and restored my soul unto Him. And not just me, but everyone who calls upon His name. When loss happened to me, the insurmountable comfort I received through Jesus was that he gave me peace that surpassed understanding because I begged for it, and hope and assurance that I would see my family again in Heaven. That I know is true. 

Nothing can bring back the children and loved ones that were gone all too soon from this Earth in the senseless acts of violence this week, but God WILL meet those families and carry them. Pray blessings of peace and prosperity over the rest of their days, as the enemy will try to continue to try and take more than he already has. He will try and steal their joy, their lives, their marriages, their peace, their prosperity and anything else on this Earth that he can. Pray PROTECTION for these families from the enemies and God's covering and blessing on the remainder of their lives. 

We cannot live in fear of these kinds of tragedies. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and of sound mind." After my mom and Chase died, I had an absolutely crippling fear of driving, travel and icy conditions that deeply hurt our early months of marriage. It wasn't until I fully surrendered that fear over to the Lord and believed in His purpose, plan and provision in my life, that I could heal from what happened to us and surrender our future to Him entirely-- good or bad. 

I have no idea what safety looks like for our future, and for the family we plan to have. But what I do know is that we cannot let the enemy succeed in gripping our lives with fear. What we have is bestowed to us by God to raise, to steward and to use for His glory while we're here on Earth. This is not our home, and our only calling and purpose is to be the hands and feet of Jesus for all of our days. 

I praise God for his grace and mercy that this time around, I can go home to my family and hold them and kiss them and tell them I love them. But I ache for those who can't because I fully understand with all brokeness in my heart what that feels like.

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