Monday, April 11, 2016

Press On

This morning I woke up with a heavy heart, missing my mom. I hadn't picked up Jesus Calling since January. My sister would read it to us & my mom during those last 3 weeks. It and My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers were the 2 devotionals my mom read everyday.

I decided to pick mine up this morning instead of my usual study. I also decided that instead of using homework & bible study homework as my quiet time, I would start reading through Philippians. Today's Jesus Calling spoke about not looking back or forward, but how to enjoy abundant life in His presence today & the best way to handle unwanted situations is to thank Him for them. Yes. Thank Him. Even when it hurts. Ouch. To rejoice for today.

But then the scripture reference...was the exact scripture I read at my mom's service. Phil 3:13-14. I snapped this picture & realized later that it had green in it. I wore green (her favorite color) at my mom's service. I have no idea where the green came from.  

A year ago today, I had just arrived in Costa Rica for my first mission trip which is the coffee cup I grabbed this morning. Getting on the plane to CR was a huge test for me. My mom was in the hospital with a very serious infection and I heard Him clearly tell me, "you get on that plane." I had waffled back & forth if I would actually go on the trip. My mom insisted I go, but I feared if something would happen while I was gone. My friend/pastor assured me that we'd be close to the airport & if I needed to fly back, they'd get me on a plane asap.

It was a last minute decision if I would meet the rest of the group at the airport. My mom never wanted our lives to stop because of her illness, but let's get real- it's hard living "normal life" (whatever that is) when you think your mom could die. She said one of the things she always wanted to do was go on an international mission trip & she didn't want me to miss out. She wanted to live the experience through me...but yet I thought about what if something happens & I'm in another country.

I knew it was a test. A test, that I trusted God enough to get on that plane. That He had it handled. I'll never forget when I came into Houston Friday evening and went to MD Anderson to see my mom. She had just taken a shower, hair still wet. She loved & almost always showered before she went to bed. She had a light blue nightgown on that went to her ankles. She was sitting in a chair with her laptop in her lap. My brother on the couch next to her. She had the biggest smile. She looked like nothing was wrong. Like she was well. Healthy. She had just spent 5 days in the hospital. I'll never forget her sweet smile & face beaming when we walked into her room.

The best part was my friend/pastor told the rest of our group how well my mom doing, even after having Ebola. Hahaha! She had e.coli. but it gave us all a good laugh!

The next morning, my dad and Allen drove us all to the airport and saw us off. While waiting to board the plane, I got a text saying they were discharging my mom that day. Home.

I boarded that plane and looked out the window in awe of Him. The trip to Costa Rica was unforgettable experience. One I'll never forget and one that stirred my heart in so many ways.

Actually last April was an unbelievable month for me. So many good things. I spent less than 10 days at home. I went to Costa Rica then Galveston then Marble Falls/Fredricksburg and spent lots of time in Houston for Easter & my mom's birthday.

When they say so much can change in a year, they aren't kidding. This April doesn't have fun, exciting trips. And it will be first time I physically won't be able to celebrate with my mom on her birthday.

I want to be sad and I am but what better place to have a birthday than Heaven? I am certain calories don't count there.

While I am incredibly sad and at times the grief feels so heavy, I am so thankful for glimpses of His glory like this morning. For His faithfulness. For how He takes every detail into account. For how He loves us- even when I question or doubt His sovereignty and goodness. For the promise of Heaven because of His sacrifice on the Cross.

Took this picture at the base of La Paz waterfalls in Costa Rica

That this world is only temporary. Praise the Lord. We are only here for a short time, a vapor, a mist.

Learning to live after a loss is like learning to walk again. One of the last conversations my mom had with me was about how to go on after she goes home. Homeward to Christ Jesus. I often play over in my head her telling me, "Nancy, it's time to stand on your own two feet." She told me how I can and I will go on. That my faith is strong & it would only get stronger through this. That she's carried me for 33 years and given me the tools to carry on the rest of the way.

I told her well that's all easy & good for you to say...

Over Easter, I told my dad I was going to get him an "easy button" - do you remember those from the Staples commercial? Ha! Sadly, there's no such thing but what we do have is the hope of heaven. That we can press on towards the goal/prize. Which as believers, heaven is our goal/prize.

There's nothing that should and can compare to that. No more pain, no more suffering. No bad hair days.

Most days I feel like my thoughts are so jumbled and escaping the world is the greatest idea ever. I'm an introvert by default anyway so closing myself off to others is a-okay with me. And I just thought the whole dealing with the cancer part was hard.

But I know it won't be hard forever. This is a season. This is where God uses the broken parts of my life and restores them. Where God refines me.

Where God shows up on a Monday morning. The overflow of His presence. His presence is where He gives strength for the journey.

In the beginning of Philippians 3, Paul is explaining how there is no confidence in the flesh. He also says that he considers all things a loss, compared to surpassing worth of knowing Christ. All things. That he wants to know Christ in such a way- even participating in his suffering, "becoming like him in his death." He hasn't attained the prize yet but he will press onto it because he knows the greatest prize is to be in the presence or heavenward with Christ Jesus.

Paul wrote this from a prison cell. I'm writing this from my couch.

I want to understand. I want to be bitter. I want to crawl into a hole most days.

I also want to do this season well. I want to grieve well. I want to love well. And I want to serve Him well. Because I know He waste nothing and I don't want to miss out on Him while I'm attending my own posh pity-party...from my couch.

Paul said ALL things. It's in the dark places where we see God meet us like never before. And from the looks of my track record, He sure knows how to turn a test into a testimony. 

Understanding is putting my confidence in the flesh, but trusting is putting my confidence in Him. Trusting that He has it handled. He handled it over 2000 years ago.

I don't have to understand to trust. I probably don't even need to understand for His ways are higher.

Whatever prison cell you're sitting in, know He is faithful. There's not a place He'll take you that He hasn't already stood.

That He will finish what He started.

It's just up to me if I want to press on towards the goal to win the prize regardless of the weight I carry...when I know His burden is light.

And when His goodness is like heaven to me on a weary Monday morning, I stand on my own two feet and press on, rejoicing for great is thy faithfulness.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
-Philippians 3:7-14

Thursday, February 11, 2016

the woman who gave me life

There are so many things to say and yet I'm almost at a loss for words. But I also don't want to forget the goodness in which Christ lavished on us so here goes...

Thursday, January 28th in the wee hours of the morning, my loving mother and Brady's Mimi peacefully in her sleep went home to be with Jesus. Tomorrow will be two weeks, a whole two weeks. In ways it feels like she's been gone for so long, yet feels like it was yesterday.

My sister woke me at 5am and said through tears, "Nancy, she's gone." I'll never forget that moment. Hours before we had been in my mom's office area, laughing between our tears as we scanned photos of my mom, listening to sad depressing songs mixed in with funny upbeat songs.

Thursday morning as a new day broke through...darkness to light, we sat with my mom. Tears filled our eyes as we missed her instantly. Yet, we knew that mom was in in the presence of our heavenly Father and what glory, oh sweet glory she was experiencing.

Nothing can compare to the glory that will be revealed. {Romans 8:18}

My mom loved the Lord with all her heart, mind, and soul. Her most favorite thing to do was worship. She listened to her worship music everyday as she got ready. You could hear it streaming from her bathroom every single time she got ready. There would be times in the hospital where the room would be filled with talking and then all of a sudden you'd see mom with her phone and music streaming out of it...her eyes closed, singing.

We played worship music non-stop by our bedside during those 3 weeks she was home on hospice. It was a comfort for her, but also for us. Now my dad keeps the worship going in the bathroom as my he gets ready each day. And for me at home, worship music is never too far from where I am.

I find it so strange that whenever you experience such a devastating loss, that while your world stops, the world around you just keeps going, keeps spinning. In one way, it's good because it forces you to put one foot in front of the other but in another way you're trying to comprehend how does your world go on?

I remember telling Allen before my mom even passed..."how do you go on without your mom? There hasn't been a day in my life that I haven't had my mom."

But you do.

It's what my mom would want - she even told me "you will go on and yes, it will be hard but you'll do it and your faith will be stronger because of it. And you'll be better because of it."

I told her, "that's easy for you to say!" 

But just like always...momma knows best and all. She knew me better than I knew myself. She was my biggest cheerleader. She believed in me and always pushed me to go after my dreams. She saw things in me that I never saw in myself. I remember her telling me from a very young age, that God would use me to do great things for the Kingdom. I really had no idea what that even meant, until now. She was my counselor and best friend.

Thursday as the sun came up, I crawled in bed with her and had coffee with her one last time. We always loved our coffee time together. Due to the disease, my mom had stopped drinking coffee months ago, but she always asked me if I wanted to stop at Starbucks whenever we were out.  

It was a very cold morning in Houston. Frost even on the ground. But the skies were so clear and blue and the sun warm. And STILL, not a breeze to be felt.

My beautiful mom looked as peaceful as she did the night before when I kissed her goodnight...just a few short hours prior.

As I look back on the days before her passing, I realize just how much God loves us. How He doesn't miss a single detail. How even though our prayers were answered differently than we had hoped, He is STILL good. Even that morning as I sat with her, the peace He gave us was almost tangible.

Of course, we were devastated by the fact that our mom physically would not be here, but at the same time we all felt relieved that she was free. That our prayers had been answered. His perfect will done.

Who are we to say we that we need more time with her? Or why didn't you heal her here?

I'll be honest and say I did question through this and I did wonder, ask, and why?

Because I am STILL of the flesh, but the flesh is not where I fight my battles. Thankfully, I don't fight any of my battles...that's why He has given me His spirit. For me to be STILL so He can fight for me.

And that's where we win. When we realize death doesn't mean defeat. For my mom as a believer of Christ, she won the ultimate victory. To be reunited with Jesus.

Praise be to God.

One of the very first things my mom told us after she said she'll fight this but either way...if she's healed here or healed in Heaven - she wins! Sucks for us here if she goes but she wins! I think we even told her, geez thanks mom!

But she's right. And while it does suck here for us, we have to know that she won and there is no greater place to be than in the presence our of Father.

I mean I can't even imagine what it must be like to worship Him in heavenly places. I know how great it is here on earth, but that is nothing compared to what my mom is currently experiencing. I'm almost jealous and it only makes me more excited to be reunited with her one day.

I've thought a lot about death lately. And one thing that really gets me is why we view it as such a sad thing. I realize we're human and selfish and we want our family members here with us, but at the same time His word tells us, we shouldn't love this life even unto death. And death is simply a fact of life. It's unavoidable. 

We should want to be with Him, more than anything in this world.

When I think about my mom, I don't think about her dead- but alive! More alive than ever! Just the other day when I was crying, Brady (who just turned 4) said "mom, it's okay because now Mimi can walk without help and play, and she's all better."

I thought he is only 4 and gets it and he's so right. My mom isn't sick anymore. She hated being sick and not being able to do like she did before. My mom was always doing, cleaning, cooking, going, and doing some more. She made me look lazy most days, ha!

"Your glory God is what our hearts long be overcome by Your presence, Lord." 

Thursday, January 28th will forever be etched in my mind, but not because of death. Yes, it's when my mom left her earthly home but when I focus on things that are eternal- it was my mom's home going. Back to where she belongs.

He loves my mom more than any of us here on earth did and I have to know that His love is enough. He loves me just the same and because of that love, we have the promise of heaven.

January 6th, when they told us we would go home on hospice my mom told us, "don't question what kind of love that is, if He chooses to take me home. Because that's the ultimate love..."

So that Thursday morning as we grieved for my mom, we also rejoiced for the great love He has lavished upon on us through this journey and continues to to this very moment.

He has been SO good to us through it all. Even the hard places. Even on that Thursday morning when our world stopped.

We miss her terribly, but we know our troubles here are momentary. We know because of His great love we will get to see her again and oh what a glorious day that will be.

My mom would never want us to remember her because of her death, but rather because of the beautiful soul and life she had here on earth. The life that God granted her in the first place. She was our mother, friend, and Mimi but she was His. Daughter of the one true King.

He just graciously entrusted her to be my mother here. And for that I can't help but lift my hands in praise & thanksgiving for such a precious gift. Out of all the girls in the world, He picked Rhonda Lee Meador to be my mom. And what an amazing mom she was.

I treasure those final 3 weeks at home with her. The talk she gave me about how to go on, just like her to still be guiding us as she is dying. Always thinking about us, rather than herself. Always offering loving advice, even things we'd rather not hear but she knew we needed to hear them.

So much of who I am is because of her and her faithfulness to Christ. Years ago, I gave her a wall hanging that says, "Everything I am or will be, I owe to my mother." She has it displayed on her dresser. I had no idea how much truth was in that sign until now.

It was evident last Saturday at my mom's celebration service how loved she was. My mom didn't have many requests for her service, actually she didn't have one thing planned (other than she wanted to be cremated and no flowery, sad funeral speeches, ha!). Death never scared my mom and she wanted us to focus on life- the life she lived so well & the fact that she would never really die thanks to the Cross.

We had an out of box celebration service for my mom and while she wasn't physically there, she was very much there. Her spirit will never leave us. I can still hear that familiar voice guiding me and letting me know, "it will be hard, but you'll get through it."

Oh how we miss her! How I miss sitting next to her bed reading scripture to her, praying over her, kissing her, smelling her hair, looking at her sweet & soft hands, and telling her, "mom, we'll be okay!" The truth is we are alright and we will be alright. I know she would be so proud of my dad, oh my dad- he has held so steadfast to his faith, never wavering. She would be so proud of my brothers and my sister, how we've come together for each other.  The hugs a little longer & tighter, phone calls more frequent - just like she's always wanted. 

I hope I never forget the day she went home and how God truly held us in the palm of His hand. It was beautiful and peaceful. Yes, it was hard but even in the hard He is STILL good. Before they took my mom, my dad asked if we could have a few last minutes alone with her. Just him and his kids...I hadn't finished reading Mark out loud with mom so I asked if I could finish reading the last 2 chapters. Afterwards, I prayed one last time over my mom and for us. It was quiet and about mid-way through the prayer I began to hear song birds outside the window. Loud and clear. So much I got choked up and stopped praying, thinking of how He even takes care of the birds and how when we're STILL we notice Him and all His glory.

And if you know my mom she absolutely LOVED birds! Her office is decorated with birds & one of her guest rooms also we call the "bird room."

Mom, I know you're flying high...FREE as a bird. Soaring on wings of eagles. We miss you more than words can even express but so thankful you taught us to say, "whatever my is well, well with my soul!" 

To the woman who gave me life, I owe all that I am to you. You taught me how to courageous, how to be brave, how to see the good in life, and how to love. How to take care of my family by cooking, cleaning, and taking pride in my home. That this life isn't about things but about the ones we've been entrusted too. How to be a wife and mother. How to live with no regrets. How to write. You taught me how to stand on my own two feet, which I thought I'd never be able to do. You taught us kids the importance of marriage. You lived your faith out as an example for us and you poured your life into us. You taught me that no matter what- you never take your eyes off Jesus. He is where our help comes from and for that I am able to stand today...2 weeks after you've gone home.

I can't imagine the celebration you are having in the presence of our King! What wonder of love...

Memorial video played during my mom's service. The Love Story was written by my mom on her and my dad's 25th wedding anniversary and read by me and my sister. The end portion where my mom is talking is audio I recorded shortly after we were told we were to go home on hospice. It truly displays the very heart of my mom. So blessed to call her my mom.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Beautifully in over my head

There are things in this life that happen that are just hard.

I am often asked, "How are you?" If you know me, I am hardly ever at a loss for words. I am a Meador through and through. I am talker. I love to talk & share what's on my heart.

But lately, I've been almost at a lost for words. It is hard to put into words how I am or what I feel. The fact that I can't wrap my head around or form thoughts to convey how I feel is hard. For me anyway.

Normally my response to the question above is "I'm okay. But it's hard, so hard."

The truth is I am okay and I will be okay. Yes this is hard, but I'd be a fool to think I'd walk this earth without hard times.

The hard in life are the places where I find out where my strength comes from. It is the place where He refines. The place where sweet worship takes place. The place where trust builds.

It's during the hard that I've been given the precious gift of praying with and over my mom. To share in the goodness of God. I can chose to look at her frail body and see death or I can look at it and see how much life she's given to all of us. Because it is so much. She is the one who gave me life and poured her life into each of us kids.

Her body represents the sacrifice that Jesus took for us. He died so we could live and live life to the fullest. For her to die, would be to gain in the supernatural. She gains everlasting life in the presence of her Maker. Heaven is what every believer strives for and while I selfishly want her her with us for many more years, I have to trust God's ways are higher and better.

To think God loves my mom more than we do is almost unfathomable. But the reality is He does and my mom was His before she was ours. He graciously lent her to us for the last 56 years and I can't help but me forever grateful for such a gift.

She has given me and my siblings such life. She has raised us into strong, independent individuals. She has loved us so well. She has loved my dad and in return taught us what marriage should look like. She has lifted us up when we were sad, when life was hard, and when we wanted to give up. So to be able to return that to her now really is a treasured gift. 

We have been by her bedside since she came home from the hospital on January 7th. The day before when we were told hospice was the only available option left we gathered around mom's bed. All piled in bed with her and she told us it would be hard, the holidays would be the hardest but that we'd get through it and it would get better. She also told us this isn't the end. So like her to speak wisdom to us and assure us that no matter what happens, we'd be okay. So much of who we are is because of her and what a gift she's given us. 

When we think of death we often think of sadness and darkness, but really for a believer it means none of those things. Of course, we'll be incredibly sad if she goes but just like the song says, "there's no sorrow that heaven can't heal." And what JOY to know she is in the presence of our God- that is a praise report all in itself!

Jesus already conquered death on the Cross. And there is nothing on this earth that we will walk that we can't overcome with His help.

The hard places is where He meets us. It's where He shines His goodness and mercy on  us. It's where we have no choice but to be still and trust.

I only thought I trusted Him with my mom's life...but when you have no other option to hand over your best friend, your person, the one who you call for everything & even just for no reason at learn you really didn't trust Him like you thought you did.

Trust is like a bridge that allows us to cross over into a new place in our relationship with Christ. A place that no matter what we know He will come through. Life is a forward motion of actively believing and trusting. That bridge builds as we continue to trust and move forward regardless of what may be on the other side.

We have no idea what it means to trust Him with everything. I mean everything. The little things sure, but the big things we tend to hold a tight grip on them. I remember when my mom was first diagnosed and she told us, "this is where the rubber meets the road concerning our faith." Boy, was she right!

It's one thing to say it...than actually do it. When standing knee-deep in the hard, we can either allow Him to take over or we can try to do it ourselves. We can let His truth over take  us or we can let our circumstances drown us in our despair. 

I love how He knows when we need humbling. That He knows us so well and knows what we need in order to keep building that bridge. To fully relish control over to Him. 

There really are no words to describe this journey other than hard. And I'm not sure hard at times even does it justice. The emotional roller coaster, the what if's, the unknowns, the doubt, the no sleep, the wondering. It's like a vacuum, life at a stand still.

BUT...there is also such much goodness in the hard. So much!

I've never felt closer to the Lord. I've got to spend the last month with my brothers & sisters under one roof like when we were kids. I've got to hold my mom and tell her all the things I love about her and her the same to me. I've had countless opportunities to pray over her, hold her hand, and just sit and be with her. And she has cracked us up time & time again with her jokes. We never knew she was so funny! I've seen neighbors offer such kindness by bringing by food. Family & friends come to offer love to my mom. My friends have loved me so well from afar & I know when I return home, they will continue to be there for me. I learned just how amazing of a husband I have and just how much he'd move heaven & earth to make me happy.

I've learned that in the hard is where the good lies. While I'd never wish this upon anyone, I am very grateful for the way it has changed and challenged me. And the way God will continue to change me and use this hard place for His glory. I feel honored He'd use my mom and family in such a way. We've grown closer to each other & grown in our faith. We've spent time reading Mark out loud with mom, reading scriptures together, praying over mom together, and as our close family friend told me what she sees here with us & my mom is something so beautiful.

Sometimes it's in the hard and most uncomfortable of situations where we learn to let go. To fully trust. To fully know He is in control even when life feels so out of control.

I know there is purpose in all of this and I don't want to waste it with what ifs, doubts, and wondering. If I say He is King over all then I have to believe and trust that even THIS - is for good.

And that He is good.

If there is where He wants me to be, then this is where I'll be. Fully trusting.

Whether I sink or swim it makes no difference...when I'm beautifully in over my head. 

When we are forced into the hard places, we have no choice but to let go and let Him. We have no choice in the outcome or how it happens. But we do have the choice to trust Him...I'm talking about fully trust Him. To be the bridge maker. 

I know He is good and that this hard place won't last forever. I'm sure I'll look back on this time and want this time back so while it is hard...I want to be fully here. Present in the hard. In the now. Fully trusting.

Knowing that the hard is where heaven meets the earth for me and that no matter the outcome...I'll be okay. We'll be okay. And actually better than before because of it because that's just the kind of God we serve. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

It makes no sense but this is grace...

During my drive home last night, I had to pull over at a rest stop to catch my breath. Sometimes when we walk through what seems to be a dark road, really isn't so dark when we shift our eyes on the things that are unseen, rather than what is seen.

We live with our eyes. We judge based on what we see. We see things from our viewpoint. We see things for what they are, rather than for why they are. I believe there is always purpose & refinement in the valleys.

Time and time again I'm reminded that faith is about what is unseen. When I walked through depression, I had to find a place to see what was unseen. What God wanted me to see. To see this world through His lens. His viewpoint.

Inside out. Not as the world sees things, but as He does.

His Word is where I go to see from His viewpoint. His ways are higher. His thoughts are wilder. His truth and promises...those are the things I want to fill my heart, head, and spirit with. Not the things that darkness brings - doubt, fear, worry, anger.

It makes no sense but this is grace. I (with Brady) spend a lot of time on the road driving back & forth from Houston. There are times I dread the drive, mostly because it's hard...watching someone you love suffer is hard. But I can also tell you while it's hard, the grace that flows from my heavenly Father far out weighs the hard. Every single drive I've made He has met me. During my 3 & half drives He shows himself every.single.time. I remember one night I drove home & made it to my house after midnight as I got out of the car, I heard the most beautiful song birds singing in the night. I was in awe & just stood there listening, thinking how faithful He is. That same night the moon was so bright on my way home. Like a beacon of hope, guiding me. 

This world is dark but there is also so much light. What I love is how God can pierce through the dark. There's no darkness He can't shine through. There's no fear, terror, shadow, death or storm that His light can't meet us or guide us through. Today I was talking to a friend who said Nancy there's a bunch of birds out my window, just having a field day like they feel His presence too. Y'all...even the birds don't worry about tomorrow. I've often wished for my life to go back to normal (whatever that is) before cancer invaded it, but had it not...I wouldn't have the chance to be still & seek refuge in Him. In the shadow of his wings. I wouldn't have all these hours spent driving, talking & worshipping Him. 

I wouldn't know how important the light is in the dark.

Last night I learned I'll always follow Him into the dark, no matter the cost...because the dark is where He shines the brightest. And where He is there is no darkness. Only peace. Only light. Only grace. 

There is no place He'll take me that His grace won't cover me. There's no amount of darkness that He can't undo.

I wouldn't wish cancer upon anyone- it's ugly, hard, & hurts...but the reality is we live in a dark, fallen world. Cancer seems to be everywhere. Thankfully that's not where it ends...that's not where He ends. Even cancer isn't so dark when you have Him as your guide. It makes no sense but this is grace...I know you're with me here in this place. Here now.

"Fix my eyes on the things that I can't see now and all I see is the glory of Your name..."

So I don't have to see things happening to know He isn't working on my behalf. Because the real truth of the matter is He is always working, hearing me, filling me, and guiding me.

And in the quiet & stillness of the night is when I am able to hear & see Him because "faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." {Hebrews 11:1}

The unseen.

Right before I left Houston, my mom and I discussed about being in both camps...we say we believe our God is bigger than this cancer, yet we don't live like it. We waffle back & forth. We believe man over His truth & promises. We want to take what we SEE and believe that...but we know that's not how faith works. As I talked with Allen about this, he said what's the point of having faith if you aren't going to believe in that faith? Faith is an action. A journey.

It's up to us what we do with the faith we've been given. It's also up to us what we do with and in the dark places of our lives. We can use it to seek and find Him to fuel our light or we can let the dark overcome & our light go out.

I'm so thankful He already overcame the dark. And I'm so thankful that the way He cares for the birds...He cares & loves me that much more. These drives are just pure goodness...even in the dark because He is good, so so good.

May His light break forth like the dawn...

Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. -Isaiah 58:8

"There is ALWAYS a song to be sung. Even after the longest, darkest night, the Son will always rise." -Steffany Gretzinger

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pure Joy {Photos by B}

This evening as I was cooking dinner I noticed the sun streaming down outside the kitchen window. It has been raining for days here. I shouted to my little family, the sun is out...let's go outside! Sunshine is so good for the soul & I didn't want to miss it.

Of course, B was the first to run to the front door. I grabbed the camera while daddy took over dinner & we headed out across the street, through the neighbor's yard, and to the field behind their house.

There are lots of things I wish I could change about our house. Mostly are all cosmetic and in the big scheme of things (life) really don't matter. And right now in this season, they are things that aren't a priority.

Staying home with B takes priority over shiny new counter tops and the like. My mama always said, no one will remember what kind of car you drove, but they'll always remember what kind of kids you had (raised).

Yet, I often find myself counting down the days until a new season comes. The season of school, going back to work, and doing more things. It's no secret staying home as been tough for me, but worth it. it's the refiner's fire, if you will. We often have to say no to things now because I don't work. But as time goes on, I realize things mean nothing. We can't take them with us and they only satisfy us for a short while.

Today I was reminded that this season right here, at home spending each day with a strong-willed, full of life almost 4 year old will soon come to an end and I will miss it more than I ever can imagine. And I will miss his sweet little toddler face and the wonder that comes with it.

Honestly, I can't believe I've been home now for almost 4 years with my sweet boy. It has gone by in a blink of an eye. & it is precious, precious time I will never get back.

There is no amount of money or things or shiny, new counter tops that can bring the kind of joy I experienced today. Joy like this is only through a God who graciously gives us more than any thing could ever give us. When I think of storing up treasures, this is what I think of.

As we went out into the field, our neighbor came out and greeted us. We talked for awhile and Brady kept interrupting her. He couldn't wait to tell her about his dad, and his tractors, and how he can climb a fence really he climbed the fence to the top.

He talked and walked around then came back and talked some more. He even noticed his shadow and followed it around, going up & down the run-off ditch. We laughed & she commented on how she can't believe how big he's gotten (she sees him just about everyday) and how she can't believe he will be 4 years old in December.

She told me about how when her kids were at home she would put them to bed at 7PM so she could have "her time." I told her I understood that - ha!

Afterwards, Brady and I walked around snapping pictures. I had to bribe him so he would let me take his picture. Like most kids, he wants to be doing whatever it is we are doing. He loves to help in the kitchen, working on any & everything. He is a busy body and loves a good project.

So I told him let me take your picture and then I'll let you take mine. Yeah, sometimes I don't think things all the way through before speaking. Haha!!

The sun was absolutely beautiful!

It was his turn to use the camera and so I showed him how to hold it and what button to push. Well, he just kept on snapping and snapping and snapping.

He would say, "oh you did so good!" "oh you look so great mommy!" "okay now look at me!" "okay now look pretty like a princess!" "oh good job mommy!" and the words of affirmation just went on & on. I told him you're going to make mommy cry!

I said okay, now let's see how you did! Y'all I about burst with joy.
Not because these photos are perfect but because they are treasures for me and my soul. Yet, they are perfect because of what they represent. The joy that comes with being this sweet boys mom. 
Raising and shaping his tender sweet heart and soul is my priority. God picked me over every other girl out there, to be his mom. Even when it at times it seems so mundane at times, I know this season will be over before I know it and all I'll have left are the memories. And photographs.

So often I am the one behind the camera taking his picture. He always looks adorable, cute, and perfect. So photogenic.

While I see myself as not so perfect, or cute, or skinny enough - that boy sees me as absolutely perfect. He loves me through every single flaw. Just last week, I had on a skirt with a green Army type vest and maroon chucks and he said when I picked him up from school, "mom, you look awesome! I really like your outfit."

After he took the pictures, I let him look at the pictures he took. He was so proud of his handiwork! And so was I. I really was surprised at how well he did, like a pro (for a 3 year old). We even took a selfie to document our teamwork :)

But more than that, I am so thankful for the light that shines on through my sweet boy. And for the joy that comes with it. I know there is no greater joy than being his mom.

And today, this evening I loved my home more than ever because of those whom I share it with. I was humbled by the sheer fact that it's the light that draws us out in life. We are the light.

So I cherish my humble abode and the kitchen window where I catch the sun streaming over the field across the street. And the outdated counter tops because it's where a certain boy loves to climb up to help me cook or bake. And it's where our heart is- molding, shaping, and teaching a boy that love is more important than things. That joy comes where the light shines. And that no matter how dark this world may get or be, we are the light shining for all to see so shine bright sweet boy! I hope you spark joy all the days of your life!

Today was a beautiful reminder of God's faithfulness and goodness. And one day we'll look back on these photos and be reminded of just how good God has and continues to be to us. And the joy that a simple evening of taking pictures brought. Pure, unspeakable joy.

Mommy photo session by Brady, age 3 years old.

"Life is all about which lens you chose to see is the viewfinder of God's lens."

The funny thing was before bed tonight I heard him talking to daddy, asking about this week (if daddy had to work tomorrow, what school he was going to tomorrow, etc) and he asks, "when are we going to have a dad's day?" AB said, "well today was a daddy day!" He said, "no, a day without mommy." :)