The Things God Teaches Us in the Dark

what-we-learn-in-the-dark

“I should’ve had all my babies in the summer,” I said jokingly to my friend. Only it wasn’t a joke. We were full into the flu season and I was trying to keep both boys healthy as we awaited the birth of our child- a girl. Trying and failing.

All of us caught colds in the final weeks before her arrival. Panic seized me as I imagined bringing our newborn home to a germ-infested house.

The fight against illness and seasonal elements was hard enough, but there was another battle waging. Another reason a winter baby gave me a sense of dread.

I remembered the months of depression that followed the birth of my first child, who was born in the middle of summer. Baby girl would arrive a few weeks before the official start of winter. The dreariness of the season always brought a gloomy mood with it, and on top of it we were adding newborn baby isolation.

A few weeks after our bout with illness, we brought our new girl home and the overcast weather swept in like clockwork. We weren’t supposed to take her into crowded places for a month.

The first few days I was too tired to care, but one afternoon I felt like the walls were closing in around me. Everything bothered me. I questioned my abilities as a mom and a wife, and at night when our newborn wouldn’t sleep, the tears came.

Sometimes when we go through difficult seasons of life, the lessons we learn stay with us. But most of them need repeating.

We humans are forgetful people. Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m sharing over at Purposeful Faith. You can read the rest of my post here.

 

When You Feel Like You’ve Lost Your Anchor, Remember This

One Thing to Remember During the Chaos of Change

The news that we would have to vacate our apartment came on a weekday while I was at work. At first, I was too shocked to even panic. I sat at my desk blinking in disbelief and then on the way home, it hit me.

My husband and I had moved cross-country a month earlier and were living in a temporary furnished apartment. Due to a mix-up about length of time we would need to stay, they had leased our place to someone else. Now we had until the following week to find a rental which would both allow pets and let us pay month-to-month while our previous home was still on the market.

The sheer weight of it all made it difficult to breathe. I knew finding the housing we needed during this time would be like finding a needle in a haystack.

When you make a life decision as monumental as leaving your childhood home and moving to a place where you know no one, you give it a lot of thought. You pray. You seek wise counsel from friends and family, and you pray some more.

We’d done all of these things and felt strong affirmation that God was leading us to make the move. So when trouble came, I questioned. Had we heard God wrong? Was all of this a huge mistake?

I longed for the familiarity of our couch, our bed and the soft glow of the lamp I used for late night reading. All of it was sitting on a cold concrete floor somewhere in storage.

But it wasn’t just the furnishings that were foreign to me. It was the culture. The people. I searched for a common ground but missed the slow drawl of my southern rooted friends. Now, after a month we were being uprooted yet again and my faith was faltering.

When you’re overwhelmed by the chaos of change, you have to hold on to the only One who is unchanging.

when you lose your anchor...

You may feel as though you’ve lost your anchor and wonder if any of your surroundings will ever feel like home. The distance between you and your loved ones may feel like a chasm that cuts straight into you soul.

But can I tell you something? Our God doesn’t change.

His love for you is the same today as it was before you were a glint in your mother’s eye.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 13:8 NIV

As I kept making the commute to work each day after our instruction to vacate, I saw the splendor of the snow-capped mountains. I noticed the vibrant colors of the leaves as the seasons changed from summer to fall.

Somehow I knew the God who created all of this for us to enjoy was going to get us through this mess.

A few days later, my husband got a call from our realtor. Her boss owned a property in the area we desired to live and was willing to rent it month-to-month. Oh, and the dogs were welcome.

It wasn’t the house we’d later make our home. The paint was chipping, the floors were dingy and it needed a lot of TLC. But it offered exactly what we needed- a place where we could stay together.

In the midst of hard times, you find it’s the little things that matter the most. And our steady, unchanging God provides them all.

When Your Grief is for Someone Still Living {Rays in the Storm Series}

rays in the storm series

Hey friends. Today we conclude our Rays in the Storm series and I want to offer a heartfelt thanks to everyone who has contributed, commented, read, shared and truly made this a series a blessing. We couldn’t have done this without you! I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to write for this final post. We’ve talked about many different types of loss, but there’s one we haven’t touched on. So today, it’s my prayer that I address a delicate but very real topic in a sincere, sensitive way.

When Your Grief is for Someone Still Living

My friend’s words left me nearly speechless. I’d never been able to articulate exactly how I felt, but she just had.

“It’s like you’re mourning a person who’s still alive,” she said, lying on the bed with her face propped up against her hand.

Yes, that’s exactly what it was. What it still is.

Even after I left the weekend conference we were attending and came home, I continued to ponder her words. Those words that described a relationship with a loved one who battles addiction. An addiction that consumes their life. An addiction which consumes their soul.

When you love a lost soul you grieve for the life they could have had, for relationships severed in a way you’re not sure will ever be repaired. Only the person is still living.

And the grief is perpetual. There is no closure, no final conversation. But sometimes the fear creeps in and you wonder. You wonder if the brief exchange you have via text will be the last. You wonder if what they said was true, or a cover up for something they thought best to hide.

grief for the living

They’re living in a way which eventually leads to death, whether physical or spiritual.

When we grieve the Spirit, there’s always a slow death taking place, whether we realize it or not. We separate ourselves from the living God who loves us and desires an intimate relationship with us. But can the Spirit have a close relationship with someone who knowingly causes him pain?

As I sat on my sofa mulling over these things on an afternoon in late October, I realized how loss affects us all in different ways. But in one shape or form, we all experience it.

The question is how will it shape us? Will it embitter us and distance us from God or will it fuel our passion for him and make us love him more? Will it add depth and color to our story or extinguish it completely?

For much of my life, I did the former and was bitter. I used circumstances in my life as an excuse to run from God and proclaimed everyone in the church was a hypocrite.

But you know what? The person who throws this label around is often the biggest hypocrite of all.

We’re hypocrites because we think we’re better. We think we’ve got our stuff together, but the truth of the matter is we’re all beggars.

We’re all beggars in need of God’s grace and mercy, and it’s only by his divine love that our lives are made significant.

Is there someone in your life who’s hurt you? Is the loss and the pain so deep you can barely articulate it? I get it. I’ve been there, and I still walk through it. I won’t make excuses for that person or say they deserve anything from you.

You have permission to create healthy boundaries. You have permission to grieve for the relationship you could have had.

But can I tell you something else? You can’t fix it. And I think this is the part that often causes us the most grief because we want to so badly, but we can’t.

We have to let it go.

When we grieve for the living, our greatest hope comes in surrendering them to the Father.

There’s only one person who can fix a broken soul, and he’s not of this world. But we have to allow him to do it. And the person who’s broken has to make that choice.

Tomorrow, when the temptation comes to pick the burden back up, we will have to release it again. Every day, for as long as we live.

Will it be easy? No. But there are burdens in this life we were never made to carry. Let’s give them to the Father can handle the weight.

Let’s give them to the One who bore the weight already.

The Goodness of God During Loss {Rays in the Storm Series}

rays in the storm series

It is a pleasure to introduce you to my friend Karina Allen as we continue our Rays in the Storm series. Karina’s writing exudes the love of her Savior as she proclaims the truth of the Gospel message. She conveys her message in an honest and easy-to-understand way, and I know you will be blessed by her words today.

The Goodness of God During Loss

Loss of any kind is difficult. It takes time to process and heal. It takes time to see the good that God can bring out of it.

I’ve lost people in my life through death and them moving away. Each situation is hard in its own way. I’ve lost jobs and dreams have slipped through my hands. Loss comes in many shapes and sizes.

Loss is loss. No one loss is greater than the next. No one person’s loss is greater than that of another. All of them require perspective and all of them require grieving. Losses, no matter how seeming large or small, should be mourned because on the other side, there will be a new normal.

Regardless of what type of loss I have faced in my life, there have been some aspects the Lord has been reinforcing to me. I’m beginning to lean on what I know to be true of God, whether or not I feel it’s true. His Word is our firm foundation. He is solid and true and unwavering.

God is good.

“You are good and do good; Teach me Your statutes.” Psalm 119:68

God cannot do anything other than what is good. It goes against His nature. It’s who He is. He is the kindest Father there could ever be. He wants the best for us. He is willing to go to great lengths to lavish us with His very best. The losses in our lives may surprise us. But, they do not surprise Him. And before there was ever a loss in our lives, the Lord had already made a way to redeem it.

God is faithful.

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13

This is one of my absolute favorite verses in Scripture! It takes all of the weight off of us. It is God who carries the burden of establishing promises and fulfilling them. His actions are completely not dependent on what I contribute to a circumstance or how my emotions play a part. I can be as faithful or as faithless as I want to be. He does not change. He stays committed to us because we are His beloved daughters and because he honors His Word.

2 Timothy 2-13

God is a provider.

“You have been a refuge for the poor,
a refuge for the needy in their distress,
a shelter from the storm
and a shade from the heat.
For the breath of the ruthless
is like a storm driving against a wall” Isaiah 25:4

Name an aspect of life and I need God to show up there with His limitless provision. I need Him to provide in my finances and to give me wisdom and discernment. I need Him to provide healing and hope and peace and power and comfort and strength and purpose. That is just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on and on but that doesn’t deter Him. He can handle all of my needs. Not only can He handle them, He delights to do so. That is what fathers do. They know the needs of their children and they meet them. The size of the need is irrelevant to God. We ask in Jesus’ name, with a pure heart and He willingly extends provision.

Trust in His goodness.
Trust in His faithfulness.
Trust in His provision.

Your God is for you. He loves you without measure. Even in the midst of the most devastating loss, He is with you. In fact, He is holding you, whispering words of peace and hope. Hold onto Him and His promises. They are as sure as the rising of the sun.

Share a loss that you have walked through. How did God meet you there?


Karina's headshot

Karina is devoted to helping women live out their unique calling and building authentic community through practical application of Scripture in an approachable, winsome manner. You can connect with Karina at her blog, monthly at incourage.me and purposefulfaith.com or @karina268 on Twitter. She is featured in Dawn Camp’s most recent release, ‘The Gift Of Friendship’.

How God Uses Our Story {Rays in the Storm Series}

rays in the storm series

As we close week two of our Rays in the Storm series, I am honored to introduce you to a dear friend, Lisa Appelo. I was introduced to Lisa through mutual blogging friends, and am always encouraged by her message of hope in a God who is unchanging. If there’s anything I’ve learned from Lisa’s words, it’s that God is always faithful, even in the midst of tragedy. I hope you’ll give her a warm welcome as she shares her thoughts on how loss can bring us together.

When Loss Creates a Kindred Connection

I didn’t know her but I could not forget her story. We had several mutual friends in our not-so-big town and her story spread quickly in conversations, prayer chains and between moms at play group.

Friends said her family had been especially close-knit and I knew they were active in their church and the community. But over the holiday weekend there had been a terrible car accident, and her husband and two of her four children had been killed.

As her story replayed in my thoughts over the next few months, I prayed for her and her two remaining children. I could not fathom the pain, the layers of grief, the sheer weight of her loss.

How does someone recover from such a loss, I wondered? I could only wonder — that kind of pain was completely foreign to me.

Two years passed and our family moved away to another town when my husband was offered his dream job. And as happens with these kinds of things and the passage of time, her story became a tender memory.

Until our paths crossed in the wake of my own unexpected loss.

My husband, the man who’d been my first and only date and my high school sweetheart, had died in his sleep. We had been a close-knit family, active in our church and in our community. He had been an incredible father.

Overnight, I was suddenly a widow and single mom to seven kids. I was neck deep in pain and paperwork and the perplexity of helping my children navigate this tragedy.

I had a hundred worries in those first weeks. Would we be okay? How would my kids handle this? How was I going to single parent my boys just coming of age or help my teenage daughter through the loss of her dad? What about my 4- and 6-year-olds? What did my future hold?

Her bereavement card was one of the first I received. She had handwritten a short note and included a Publix gift card.

My story had spread quickly in conversations, prayer chains and between mutual friends and out of the enormity of her grief, she had reached out to me.

Her simple kindness met my questions in ways that other cards and hugs could not. It was a small gesture that offered me huge hope.

When Loss Creates Kindred Connection

She got it. She was a young widow. She had suffered unexpected loss and she was navigating children through tragedy and grief. Though her story was different than mine – in many ways harder and more complex — our losses created a kindred connection.

Her card and gift were a welcome gift. Welcome to the club of those who have suffered loss and are still breathing.

Her card and gift whispered that there was hope and there would be life again.

Her card and gift offered the encouragement and answers to my hundred questions that few others could.

God can use our story to strengthen another in her story. If she out of the unfathomable loss of her story could extend comfort to me in ours, we would be okay.

“God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.” (2 Corinthians 1:3b-4)


Lisa Appelo closeup

 

Lisa Appelo is a single mom to 7 and unexpected widow, crazy in love with Christ. She writes about God’s faithfulness and gives hope and encouragement for the hard, the good and the places in between. She’s written 100 Days with Christ and you can get your free copy at www.TrueandFaithful.net. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.

 

When Hope Makes Us Brave {Rays in the Storm Series}

rays in the storm series

As we continue our Rays in the Storm series, I am glad to be welcoming my friend Christy Mobley back to the blog. Christy’s heart for hospitality and encouragement have blessed me more times than I can count, and her loving spirit shines through in her writing. What I love about her style is her ability to cut through any pretense and fluff and get straight to the heart of the matter. I hope you’ll give her a warm welcome as she shares a very personal story with us today.

When Hope Makes Us Brave

In my 33 years of married life my husband and I have lost a baby, both my parents, too many precious friends to count, numerous pets and a job position that changed the trajectory of our lives. In each instance there was hope, because God is hope and He has always been in our midst.

When Abby asked me to write on the subject of loss, I had many choices but when it came time to putting words on paper the decision fell hard.

Today, my thoughts turn to someone I didn’t know personally but whose testimony God used to bring me peace of mind and awake a gift I didn’t know I had.

On August 6, 2011 my husband and I waited in a condo near the military base where my son was to arrive home the next day from a tour of duty in Iraq. Our nerves were already on pins and needles when the program we were watching was interrupted for a special news report.

A Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan killing 22 Navy Seals, 3 Air Force special ops. and everyone else on board.

Our son was already in route home but my heart ached for those families who wouldn’t see their solider boy’s homecoming.

In the days that followed personal stories about this group of the fallen brave started popping up all over the news. This was a historical event as it would mark the first time in U.S. history that the world would get a glimpse into the personal lives of these mysterious, superhuman, covert warriors, always kept in the shadows and known to us only as Navy Seals.

On our trek from Hurlburt Field back to Tampa, I heard a story on the radio of one such super hero, Aaron Vaughn, told by his grandmother to a Fox News reporter.

After a few minutes of questions about why her grandson became a Seal and what he was like as a child, the reporter came to a couple of questions that struck a nerve and pierced my heart.

“Did Aaron ever say he was afraid to die? Was he ever scared he would be killed on a mission?”

This sweet-tempered woman answered with a gentle but firm, “No.” And then with conviction in her voice went on to tell the reporter, her grandson knew there was a risk of death with every mission, and his bravery came from his hope.

He knew where he was going when he died.

When Hope Makes Us Brave

I was always the mom who sweated it out every day her son was overseas, and spent sleepless nights praying for his safety.

But, my son knows where he is going when he dies.

Vaughn’s hope made me brave.

During the seven hour car ride home, his story stirred sweet memories of the last few moments with my dad as he passed from this life to the next.

My dad knew where he was going as he died.

Vaughn’s story brought me peace.

When I arrived back in Tampa, my heart still full with bittersweet emotion, I penned my first and favorite blog post, Another Homecoming—a tribute to my father, a World War 2 veteran, and all the brave men and women who defend our country.

I had never been interested in writing, blogging or stringing two sentences together for an email, but Aaron Vaughn’s hope gave breath to a gift.

Through one person’s testimony of faith in Jesus and life eternal, God enveloped millions of listeners with his grace,

including this one.

God does indeed work in mysterious ways…all of which I’m thankful.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into the living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3 NIV


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Christy is a girly girl who chases tennis balls for recreation and at the end of the day does her best thinking in the tub.

She’s also a wife, mother, mother-in-law, mentor, and Life Purpose Coach. Her passion is to encourage women to move forward and press on, seeking God in the midst of life’s struggles.

You can find Christy at her blog, Joying in the Journey, on Twitter, and Facebook.

Expect An Answer {Rays in the Storm Series}

rays in the storm series

Sometimes when catastrophe hits, I freeze up. I can’t think, I can barely breathe, and my prayers feel feeble and numb. Lifting up words to the Almighty takes every physical effort I have, and all I have the ability to mutter is, “Help.”

But you know what? It’s enough. Even murmuring a verse God planted in your heart for such a time as this can do wonders. Simply speak. Say the words you don’t feel the strength to utter.

And afterwards, watch. I think we often forget that last part. Today I have the honor of sharing over at Remade Ministries about what God taught me in the midst of those tearful prayers. We’d love to have you join the discussion by clicking here.

When Loss Invades {Rays in the Storm Series}

rays in the storm series

To kick off our Rays in the Storm series, I am thrilled to welcome my friend Christine Duncan to the blog. One of the things I love about Christine’s writing is her bravery. She tackles tough topics and gives her readers the only hope that withstands the most turbulent storms of this life: Christ. She has been a source of continual encouragement to me over the past year, and I know her word will encourage you as well.

When Loss Invades

I had been robbed again.

It was the third time that week.

Invaded, and as usual, I never saw it coming.

And quite frankly, I needed it to stop.

The losses were stacking up and I was feeling it acutely.

Because the same thing had happened the week before, and the week before that, and well… I could go on.

When losses pile up around us, we tend to forget what we have gained.

Or maybe that we have gained anything at all.

I was not even up against an ordinary thief. And I know some of you might be wondering what I had done to encourage being robbed over and over.

My own body, my brain, takes it upon itself to rob me. I have lived with Dysthymic Disorder for nearly 30 years, or chronic depression as some would know it. And I can’t begin to list the things I lose to it, week by week.

Sometimes they’re small things. Robbed of the ability to recall a name. Sometimes sentences in front of me don’t make any sense. It’s pizza again for dinner because I’ve been robbed of the notion of how to cook or put separate ingredients together. A simple walk to the mailbox too big to accomplish, my reasoning, and energy, and strength sapped from me while I wasn’t looking.

It all gets stolen from my day in random, unknowing little slips.

But other days.

All too often my Dysthymia steals important things, and I’m down for the count.

A good friend’s wedding day taken from me, because of an unexplainable anxiety attack. A restful getaway much saved for by my sweet hubby, about to be sabotaged by my moods and my brain. Misfiring neurotransmitters taking over and stealing away joy, romance, rest, and even hope.

Often robbed of communication, left with stumbling, angry words for no reason. Big tasks that I can normally pull off no problem, suddenly wrenched from my brain, and the body retracts from itself, and energy is zapped, and despair put in the place where reason used to rule.

On a physical level, constant loss begins to wear you down. Insomnia flares. Phantom pain settles in. Limbs feel like they will always weigh a ton and a half. Common colds can feel life-threatening.

On an emotional level, you see the loss now every day, whether you’re having an episode or not. Emotions either run high, or disappear completely. Enter the zombie. You feel exhausted just trying to look normal to friends and colleagues. You don’t want pity or coddling. You just want to make it through.

But on the spiritual level. I want to give us hope and good news!

Maybe this would be where the loss would invade everything the most severely. But instead, this is where it stops. The loss can end here. Because we live within the One who ended loss on the Cross.

I can say with absolute certainty that we serve a gracious and loving God who cares about our loss.

Christine Duncan Guest Post Meme

A good God. I hope I can make this clear.

“You, O LORD, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your loving-kindness and Your truth will continually preserve me!”
Psalm 40:11

We serve a God who understands loss, and knows that when we are filled up with all of His grace, and His mercies, and His goodness, loss cannot lodge itself inside us for good.

“For I am the LORD your God, Who upholds you, who says to you, ‘do not fear, I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

The King of the eternal life supplies us with life support.

For the weary. For the downtrodden. For the suffering.

And His loving kindness lifts where loss wanted to put us down.

And His goodness and faithfulness restores where the rugs of life were yanked out from under us.

And His never-ending grace is our complete gain.

He becomes my life-force. Depression has to bow to Him. Hardship has to bow to Him. Mental health must bow to Him.

Loss must submit to the Giver.

His grace pulls at our loss and gives space for new health. In Him. His grace at every turn supplies space for holy joy that cannot be quenched. In Him. The Word says that He delights in us, because He rescues us. I say amen and hallelujah.

Be my Gracious Rescuer, Oh Lord.

And restore what was lost.

You don’t have to have what I have to understand these feelings. Your thief might be loss of another kind. A battle of another kind. A circumstance of another kind.

Whatever the loss, we give it to the Gracious Rescuer. The Grace-filled Restorer of our faith.

And when loss appears to invade everything, rest assured that our everything lives fully in Him.

And it’s there that every loss can become our blessed gain.

 

Christine Duncan Bio Pic

Christine Duncan is a mom, wife, and Canuck with a passion for blogging.

Precepts & Life Preservers is where she has tried to build a safe place for believers to find solace from their own oceans or battles with depression while celebrating the faithfulness of the one true Life Preserver.

You can also find her hanging with her family, her Nikon, and the ladies at WIMM Canada.

Finding Hope in the Ruins {Rays in the Storm Series}

rays in the storm series

I’ll never forget the sight of it. This church was in ruins, but you could still feel the Spirit of life within its walls. Even with a missing roof and the bare bones of its foundation left, it was beautiful.

My husband and I stood in the center of this place where people once worshipped. There wasn’t much left but a frame, but worship was still in the atmosphere. The cannon fire which brought down its walls couldn’t stifle the hope these men and women held onto when life crumbled around them.

Even though they had no place left to gather and praise the name of the Lord, his name didn’t change. Savior, Counselor, Prince of Peace: He still remained all of these things in the midst of their suffering.

Do you ever wonder whether the first disciples would have followed Jesus if they knew what lay ahead? If they could see the persecution they would face, the torture and the ridicule, do you think they would have said, “No thanks?”

I’d like to think they would have said, “yes,” but I also believe God only gives us small glimpses of what lay ahead because he knows our tendencies to doubt, to try to hide and question. His plans for us are ultimately for good, but we often have to walk through trials to arrive at the place he has for us.

Those periods of trouble can do one of two things: they can cause us to run from God or push into Him. They can make us bitter, believing we know what is best, or they can lead to a deeper faith. I haven’t always made the better decision, and there were times in my life when the hurt and pain caused me to distance myself from the One who loved me the most. There were times when instead of expressing my anger and frustration to God, I avoided Him altogether.

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But as much as I tried to run from Him, He was always there. Waiting for me to come back. Waiting for me to lay my burdens down at the feet of the One who knows all things.

Over the years, what he’s taught me is this: The source of our hope will fade like sinking sand if it isn’t Christ alone. Anything which isn’t based on Him and his eternal love for us will turn to ashes one day, and basing our lives on temporal things will only lead to frustration and heartache.

Over the next three weeks, some of my favorite writers will gather around the table with us. We’re going to talk about pain and loss, but we’re also going to talk about the hope which is present through it all. We’re going to talk about how the love of Christ sustains us and keeps us steady during times when we struggle to catch our breath, and how he’s shown up in places we’d never expect.

Will you join us? We’d love to have you join the discussion, so grab a chair and a cup of coffee. We can’t wait to see what God has in store for us.

Hope for the Deepest Why {Renewal Through Christ Series}

renewal series

This week as we continue our Renewal Through Christ series, I am thrilled to introduce my friend, Angela Parlin. Angela’s writing is transparent, authentic and real. She makes her readers feel comfortable being themselves without the facade of being perfect or having it all together. Her heart for Christ is evident though her words as she seeks Him and invites you to do the same.

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Angela Parlin is Dan’s wife and mom to three rowdy boys and one sweet girl. She loves to spend days at the beach, being with her people, devouring books, and organizing closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com or on Twitter.

Today Angela will be talking about the fourth aspect of renewal we will be exploring together: the renewal of hope.

Hope for the Deepest Why

Sometimes life pulls us away from our hope. We get busy. We’re distracted. We’re extremely forgetful. Trials and difficulties abound, and our hope gets lost in the middle.

Other times, we lose hope because we’re wading through dark seasons, through the deepest whys.

I remember one such season. We were in the middle of a move, living in an apartment until our new house was finished. We had just left the church we called home for a decade. We had to say goodbye to our dogs. And then my young, healthy friend ended up with cancer.

I remember sitting in the driver’s seat of my car. My husband called and said her fight was over.

It was the day before Valentine’s Day.

I scratched hows and whys on black and white pages, in blood red ink mixed with tears. How wide and deep was this why.

Only four months earlier, she’d given birth to her third son. That’s when they found the reason for the extreme pain this pregnancy. We sat in shock on the sidelines, limping along beside our friends who traveled this terminal road. And then they worked their way to the end of things. So quickly. Too soon.

The day before Valentine’s this year, I pulled an old journal out of the cabinet. The one with the desperate words and water stains. It’s been six years, I realized.

Reading through, I remembered that season when everything felt so fragile. So easy to lose. I knew she was going to be with Jesus, and that it was better there by far. But my Mommy-mind struggled to accept it.

I remembered the way my hope wavered. How I felt lost sometimes. I’d stare at my son, who attended preschool with hers, and imagine it was him, losing me.

I also remembered the way she led me back to hope.

Hope

She knew how wide and deep the whys. She knew how firm the answer.

When we gathered in a packed auditorium to celebrate her thirty short years, she’d left us a gift. A list of songs to sing. Strings of familiar words she’d chosen specifically, to point us toward our Hope.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.

Because He lives, all fear is gone.

Because I know, Who holds the future.

Life is worth the living, just because He lives.

It didn’t all come together for me right there. I struggled for a long time to trust God’s plan, especially when thirty-year-old Mamas have to leave three little tinies behind.

I have to admit, Because He Lives, wasn’t the answer I was looking for. What did I want? Maybe a fairy tale to hold onto, to escape into. Certainly for this whole horrid event to rewind and play out differently.

But this was the truth, and it still is, so over these years, I’ve held on to it. On the mountains, in the valleys, in the wide open spaces, and all the trails along the way.

We hope in Jesus…Because He lives.

“And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead…in Christ shall all be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:19-22, NLT

 

*Linking up with Kelly Balarie & Friends and Meredith Bernard to encourage and be encouraged. Come join us.