Saturday, December 31, 2011

You are My Shepherd

If you have 3 and half minutes, and also are in need of encouragement, please listen to this song. (Pause the playlist on the bottom of the page.)God spoke to me this morning through this song, as I was driving to Bellingham. I have been wrestling with not being pregnant yet. It hasn't been that long, but long enough to be thinking, why am I not? I trust the Lord and his timing and he is so good. But I think even the battle of continually giving it over to the Lord is hard at times. Maybe I am not doing something right, but it's hard. I think even subconsciously it has been bothering me. Because I didn't feel stressed out. So i am wrestling with God and listening to this awesome CD a friend made for me. And I listened to the words of this song, and God gave me a picture. So let me set this up a bit. I keep thinking, well maybe God does not want us to have kids?? And then I can't stand the thought of that, and start to freak out. I think I have been looking at God as a taker, and not a giver. And I know that's not true, but it's part of the wrestling. I've thought, well it happened once, why could it not happen again? Or maybe when you experience a loss, it is just kind of the way your mind goes, all crazy. So I realized this morning that that is how I have viewed God recently. It's weird how fast things change. Because even a few weeks before, I had been feeling good, and encouraged and hopeful and blessed. But the enemy gets in there and wants to get a foothold. I keep saying to the Lord, "Lord, I need peace, from YOU! You are the only one. Help me!" I hate that Satan messes with us! So this morning I am listening to this song, belting at the top of my lungs, and this stuck out to me, "You are my shepherd in the wilderness, whom shall I fear? You are the God who goes before me, my rock and my shield...." and then I saw a picture of God on the road ahead of me, bent down on one knee, holding up a shield and fighting for me, protecting me! And I just got teary eyed. I felt so much love from God and was overwhelmed by that picture! He was ahead of me and fighting and has good things in store. He has proved himself faithful so many times. So many times! What is my problem? I have just been focused on the negative stuff, and it just spiraled me downward. It happens so fast. Rather than continually focusing on Jesus and thanking him for everything, for who He is, and for his love. I love that he continually brings us back. He is so patient and loving and gently brings us back. All we have to do is repent. So I repented. I told him I was sorry for looking at him in that way, that I know that is not who He is. He is a Giver, that is His nature. He is not a Taker. Just because we have lost one child does not mean that we are cursed. Now I know that we don't know what the future holds, but we know WHO holds it. He is in control. God holds the world in the palm of his hand. He knows every detail and has not forgotten us. He has not forgotten you.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Goodbye Olive Garden....Hello Young Life Staff

Only 3 short months after beginning, I worked my last shift at the Olive Garden today. It was weird. I have hardly been there. But the Lord opened a door for Brian and I with Young Life again. It was through sad circumstances, but the Associate Area Director position for North Whatcom County Young Life became available. I wasn't thinking about it, looking for it, or anything. It was almost like God blinded my eyes to it, until the right time. Maybe I would have overanalyzed it, or thought too much? haha Anyway, I had thought of plenty of other people who would be great in that position, but never once me. I was happy where I was, part-time Olive Garden, and volunteering with Young Life. So about a month ago, I was driving to meet my AD, and it wasn't until I was about a half a mile away from Ferndale Woods, that it hit me! Now I don't know if God slapped me up side the head, or just spoke to my heart, but it was as if Jesus said, "He is going to ask if you would consider staff again." and it didn't scare me, I didn't really think anything. Just.....ok. So the short version is that he did ask me, I asked what the job would entail, how it would look with kids, because we desire to have a family, etc. I started to get excited about the job. It is a perfect fit for me. Leading leaders. Loving on and encouraging them as leaders, and leading their own teams. I feel so blessed and loved on by the Lord. He knows me, He created me, and moved in my and Brian's heart to accept this position. Brian knew before I even got home. We talked and prayed. We just trust the Lord and what He has in store for us. It was not what I thought I would have wanted. I wanted to be a stay at home mom, and should have an 8 month old baby girl at home right now. But life does not always go as we plan. I have learned that we can't plan our lives on the "what if's". We don't know what is up ahead. We have to be obedient to where God is asking us to go now, and leave the details up to Him. And we felt clearly led to this and are excited. We are excited about raising our family in Young Life, if the Lord would allow. I am not going to lie though it is a struggle at times to leave the details to Him. We have a deep desire to have children, but we don't know what God's plan is, or his timing, which I KNOW is perfect, but it's hard to not let doubt creep in.. As I was thinking about where we are at right now, I read Jesus Calling yesterday which said, "TRUST ME WITH EVERY FIBER OF YOUR BEING!" I needed to hear that! I just have to trust God with everything that I have. And I am a mess many days, but I just continue to turn my eyes toward him. We want God to use us however he wants, because I know He has the best in store for us, whatever it is.

I am sad to leave Olive Garden though. My intention was to be there part-time for a long time, but God had other plans. I am thankful for all the relationships that he gave me at the OG. And we are still friends even though I don't work there. So this picture is my brother and sister and me on my last day! They have both been working there for 11 years, and will probably be there for many more.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

So much to say, but for now.....

I wanted to update our look on the blog. Nothing fancy, but just wanted a new look, for a new year. I love stars. Am obsessed with them actually, but I think it's ok. I see them EVERYWHERE! Esther is our little star and forever will be, and anything I see that has a star on it, i LOVE! So i wanted stars on our blog. Also we got family pictures taken at church and wanted to post that too. I feel like Brian and I don't take a ton of pictures so I was excited to have this one. I have so much going on in my brain right now. If you wonder where I've been, I have been kind of in my mind lately, so if you think of me, please pray! You know what that means, I end up trying to figure things out................and we all know how that goes! Not well. It has been a hard past few months. A lot has changed. I got a new job! I will write more later, I am ready for bed. :)

That's my BZ. Oh how I love him!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November 11

I know it is a day early, but I thought i would journal a little bit about what is on my heart today...about tomorrow. I stopped by Esther's grave today. A beautiful sunny day. I just wanted to say that I loved her and was sooooo thankful for her life. I was hanging out with my friend this morning and she told me that she remembered tomorrow. And she said how much I had grown in the last year. If you don't know what tomorrow is that's ok! It was the day of our 20 week appointment where we found out that Esther would probably not make it into this earthly world. I have a mix of emotions. So thankful for all God has done in our lives this past year, and in my life personally. Her gravestone says what the top page of this blog says, There is no foot too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world. That is so true, but even truer now than a year ago, you know? When time goes by, you realize the impact that a life has on the world. On my world. I thought about all the people that her life impacted, but realized, standing there this morning, that probably the biggest life she impacted was mine! I am a different person today. I know that she changed me, I knew that back then, but today I can see how different I am. I love God more. I love people more. I trust God more. I love life more. I appreciate little things. I realize what is important in life, and things that really don't matter at all. And I see God in every situation, good and bad. HE IS EVERYWHERE. Nothing takes him by surprise or catches him off guard, even though often times we are. He does not forget things, or forget about us. He is involved in every detail. Crappy things happen, but He is there. He promises He will be there. God does not lie. Do I believe that He is there? Yes, yes, yes. More now than ever before. I have so many thoughts about so many things. I went to a Jeremy Camp concert Sunday night, and it was absolutely incredible. So worshipful, and so real. He is completely spirit led as he sings and shares about his life. It was so awesome to hear! He lost his wife 10 years ago to cancer. He said that he had wanted to write a book, but it just wasn't time. Wasn't time. Wasn't time. I thought, that is me! So much of my story is still being written in my life. Through our loss of Esther, and as God is working things out in my life. I want to write a book. I have a title and everything. But it's just not time yet. I don't know when it will be, but I am excited that some day I will get our whole story out on paper even if only for myself. Jeremy did just write his book, and I bought it and i am excited to read it. He has so much depth to him, that I know came through walking the tough journey that he did. It changed who he was. And God is using him and his story to draw others to Himself. That's what God uses everything for! So He can be glorified. I know that I have more depth to me than I did before and I am so thankful for that. God wastes nothing. Not one single thing we go through does he waste. He is God and he uses everything. I have said this a lot the past few days with other things going on around me......"what satan means for evil, God can use for good." You can try Satan, but you don't win! You will never win! He can try to harm us here but when our hearts belong to Jesus, he will never win. God wins. God redeems, and in a totally supernatural way beyond our comprehension, can make bad things good. I love that about HIM! That is one of the most amazing things about God. Our minds cant comprehend HIM! And I am so glad.......he is too big.....there are no words......

So I am pondering my daughter today, what her life means and will continue to mean as we live out our lives here on earth, however long that may be. I cherish each day, and am grateful for a new perspective. To not live in the future, but to live in today. What does God have for me today?? There is so much contentment in that. So much excitement. When we think too far ahead, there is fear, questions, wonder. How do we know what even tomorrow will bring? I want to live today the best way I can, and ask God to illuminate the path for me.

Friday, October 21, 2011


I love God. I love him more and more every day. I sit in my house and am so thankful to have a house. To have a wood burning fireplace as the wind blows and the rain comes down. I appreciate our house so much. All the love, blood, sweat and tears (literally) that were put into the building of this house. It is a gift! And I thank the Lord everyday. Thinking about gifts..........I read the post of a friend who just lost her 4th baby in the womb. I was SO encouraged by her post. If you want to read it go to She was so encouraging just one short week after her loss. But she said from day one, that Elliot was a gift from the Lord. That is really the way I feel about Esther. She was a gift to us! Even though we didn't get to have her here with us, she is ours and we will see her again. She is ours, she is with Jesus and we know Jesus, so we will see her again! She was a gift....every baby conceived is a gift. We don't know how long they will be with us. And it is not as if they are not a gift just because they didn't take a breath on this earth. Or that they were not created for a purpose. EVERY baby conceived is for a purpose. And as I read April's post I was just overwhelmed with that. That she has 4 babies in heaven waiting for her, each one had a purpose for being created! God does not make mistakes! Oh what grief and sadness as she doesn't get to love them and raise them here, but the joy of knowing where they are and that all of us mom's who have lost our precious children, will rejoice with them one day! As we experience the grief though, it is hard to think of the gift that came, and then was gone, which caused the grief and pain. But God's ways are not our ways.......His thoughts are not our thoughts. We don't know why he allows the things he does, but we know he LOVES us and has GOOD plans for us. They may not be what I think are good plans, (most of the time are not:)) but i TRUST him and that is that. So I thank Him for his blessings, ALL of them. Esther and that we had her. I have pictures on my wall, and a scrapbook of her short life. We talk about her often and we thank God for her! Jesus Calling said it today ----------October 21 "The best response to losses or thwarted hopes is praise: The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Remember that all good things ------your possessions, your family and friends, your health and abilities, your time -----are gifts from ME. Instead of feeling entitled to all these blessings, respond to them with gratitude. Be prepared to let go of anything I take from you, but never let go of My hand!"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Love to pray

After my Grammie died, I found one of her devotionals called Love to Pray, by Alvin VanderGriend. I really have wanted a deeper prayer life, for a long time, but just wasn't sure how to get there. Anyone know what I'm saying? As with many other things of hers, I cherish, absolutely treasure anything of hers that she wrote in. I love her handwriting. It is so beautiful. She wrote notes, and scriptures all over this devotional. My Grammie LOVED the scriptures. She was so faith-filled and trusted in Jesus. And clung to His Word.
Anyway, i opened it up last week and started from day one. Friendship with God. I am just taking it day by day, and really trying to soak up what Alvin shares about prayer. Day 2, says that prayer starts with God. This has been such a good reminder for me about what prayer really is. He shares "For years I believed that my prayers started with me. I had to think them up. I had to get God's attention. Not surprisingly, with this frame of mind, prayer was often a chore." Oh man! I have been there. And so many people that I know, i think struggle for this same reason. So he goes on to say, "I learned that I was wrong. Prayer doesn't start with us. Prayer starts with God. That's the radical idea that changed my prayer life. God is the initiator. He moves us to pray. He gives us prayer ideas. He holds out the promises we claim in prayer. When we pray, we are God's instruments." Wow! We are God's instruments. I know this stuff, but i don't think i really know it. It really is beginning to transform even these past few days! And for me, in order to do this, I have to be I can hear from God. What he wants me to pray. What he lays on my heart. How he moves me to pray. As i let him initiate. Isn't this incredible? So my prayer is, "Lord help me to know what you want me to pray." Prayer is powerful. In Exodus, Joshua and the army went out to fight the Amelakites, and Moses went up on a hillside to pray. I love that! When his hands were in the air, they were winning, when they were down, the enemy was winning. What an awesome example of what God does when we pray! When we lift up praying hands, the powers of darkness are pushed back. I have felt this in my own life, in my own battle. I think of the times especially in this past year, that I have literally felt the prayers of God's people for us. As God was accomplishing his purposes. The day we went in to the hospital to give birth Esther, December 20th. A day that I don't think I could have made it through without the prayers of so many of you. In the months after that, as we tried to move forward. Being at a place in life that I wasn't prepared for. Death, and then more death. March 25th, losing my Grammie, and then 2 days later losing my step aunt Cheryl. God!? What is going on? How do we go on and get through stuff like that? God was holding us up, as the prayers of his people continued. And then this past month as I was able to share about our story for the first time, at Women's Weekend up at Malibu Young Life Camp. I was prepared, and yet not, which I guess is good. I was as ready as I was going to be, but then I got there and was so overwhelmed. Not just from the story I was going to share, in the context of "Handling Life's Disappointments," but from the disappointments represented in the room by each woman who was there. I felt insecure, I felt burdened. Who am I to share about disappointment? I don't know what these women have been through. Those burdens are not mine to carry, they are God's. I knew the enemy was attacking me and oh did I feel it. I felt the battle. And yet, as I was battling, I know i had people praying for me. A few specific people back home who I had asked to be my warriors, and my team who was up at camp. I felt more nerves than usual as I was getting ready for the seminar, and yet when I began to speak, a calm came over me and I knew Jesus was there with me. By the next day, before the 2nd seminar, I was so tired. My head was aching and my body and mind were just exhausted. I thought, how can I do this again? I was in the battle. I just said, Jesus you are my strength, I am going and doing this and I need you to show up! And he did. Of course he did, because he always does. I do have a story about disappointment, the greatest in my life, and the cool part is, we all do, but GOD IS THE VICTOR, if we believe in Jesus Christ and have given our lives to him! That is the amazing part of each of our story's. In the account in Exodus, Joshua overcame the Amalekite army, and in our lives, we overcome the enemy as we lift up our hands to the throne of the Lord. I am so grateful for this. This encourages me to pray. To love to pray. To want to pray more, and to get quiet and hear what God is saying. That's where the power is, and that is where things in life will change. When we pray, God works. He doesn't need us, but he "chooses to move in response to prayer." This is what I read today in Love to Pray, and am praying that God reveals more of himself to me as I seek to know him more. I know he wants us to know him more, and that he will answer that prayer. I am excited to see what he has to share with me.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Hello! Wow i just realized that it has been over 2 months since I wrote last. Oh my.....i can't really catch up but i will just start from here. So much has happened this summer, it has been busy and wonderful and exhausting all at the same time. But most recently I just got a job! I realized recently that I needed to do something. That it was time for a job. Just part- time. So through some searching and talking and praying, the Lord opened the door for me to go back and work at the Olive Garden! I worked there a little over 6 years ago, for 5 years. I love the Olive Garden for one, and it is a great place to work. I can work part-time, or whenever really. It is flexible and i can make great money. I am excited to be in the world again too. Loving on my co team members, and hopefully bringing some encouragement and "positive energy" as people call it. And it is so fun that my bro and sis work there too, so it is a family affair. And no my family doesn't own stock...........although we should. haha. So i have been training the past 3 days. I LOVE LOVE food. If you know me, then that is not a surprise. And my fellow trainees have been laughing at me at how excited I get about food and wine. But really the right pairing makes a HUGE difference in the taste of your meal! I am so serious. So anyway i am looking forward to be in the working world. God is good. I am looking forward to whatever he has in store! I start serving on my own next weekend so feel free to come in and see me at the "OG"!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Amazed and exhausted

I love Young Life Camp. Have I mentioned that?! We had an incredible week. The pictures below just give you a glimpse of what we did. It still always amazes me at how much is packed into 7 days.

Thank you so much for praying for our time at Malibu. God moved in the hearts of so many of our kids as they were drawn closer to Him. Four of them gave their heart and life to Jesus for the first time!! We had an amazing speaker who presented the Gospel in a fresh way, and by the end of the week God helped put it altogether as kids realized what Jesus did for them. It is incredible to me that some of the kids have never ever heard the Good News of Jesus Christ! That Jesus took on their sin and died the death they should have died; so that they could have abundant life. Here on earth and forever with God in Eternity! For some kids, it just blew them away. That is why I love Young Life Camp. They present Jesus in a way that kids can understand. For whatever reason it had never clicked before. The messages as well as the community of believers up there serving them; dancing in the rain, jumping in the pool with their clothes on, and playing together changed many of their hearts. Several of the girls mentioned that it was so cool to just be playing games together, and hanging out doing what would otherwise be known as stupid stuff, and having fun! They realized that they don't have to party or get into trouble to have fun. In fact they understood how destructive that was, and actually took away from their life. Jesus wanted to give them real life! At a later time I will post some of their cardboard testimonies. So you can see the things that high school students are going through. Maybe you know, but maybe you have no idea. On the bus ride home we asked the kids if they wanted to, to take a piece of paper and write their testimony in just a few words; on one side, who they were before Jesus, and on the other side who they are now after experiencing Jesus. Several other leaders and I teared up as we read them. SO real. SO authentic. High School students are crying out for "real life." They want it. They know its what they were created for and yet they have so many things against them back home. Friends, families, name it. They wanted to stay at Malibu, not because of anything other than the community up there. And that is the way it was supposed to be, and will be in Heaven. If they can cling tightly to Christ they will not waver. I can't describe it, I am overwhelmed by the love of Jesus and how he met them there. And the ones who weren't ready that is OK. Jesus will NOT stop pursuing them..........I love that. Please continue to pray for these kids as they enter back into what we now call the "fake life" I love that too........

Well I need to get to work. I promised them I would upload my pictures to Facebook. And that is not an easy task for me! Blessings~ Mo

I love love this picture! My girls with the boys in the background.

Partying at club

Kicking it after Pool Olympics

The amazing scenery at Malibu

LHS leaders -Myself and Scott Sahagian and my bro Kyle. If we look tired, its because we are!!! This is the last night.:)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


In exactly 11 hours we will be taking off for Young Life's Malibu Club for 7 days of crazy fun. I love Young Life is like nothing else. It is the most amazing camp that is put on for high school kids. To experience what they mean to the Creator of the Universe, and to hear about the one true God who wants to have a personal relationship with each one of them, through Jesus Christ. This news will change their lives! The design of camp is awesome - 3 delicious meals a day, eating like kings and queens - not usual "camp" food, in a resort like setting, having the best week of their life. I can't wait. I have taken hundreds of kids to camp over the years and there has never been one person who has gone, that did not have the time of their life! If you read this blog, I would ask you to take a moment to pray for each of the kids who are going. There will be over 300 kids at camp our week, but 100 from our area in North Whatcom County, and 25 from Lynden High School. I can't name them all, but God knows where each one is at and wants to meet them there. Pray as the Holy Spirit leads you. Thank you!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Long pictures

So i feel so bad that I have not posted pictures of our house yet. We have been in our new house for about 2 months now. It is such a gift from the Lord. I love it so much and am so grateful to God! Here are a few pictures of the finished product. I am still decorating. But here are the interior pictures. When that is complete I will post more pictures!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I meet with some amazing women every Tuesday morning at 6 am. I am inspired and enouraged by them all the time. In life. These are some of the people who loved on me and Brian in our darkest hour. They didn't know what to do, but they did what they could do and I love them! They were there and that is all that they needed to do. Wow! I am humbled and blessed by how God used them and so many others in our life. He truly does provide for us and give us EVERYTHING we need.

We talked a lot this morning about why bad things happen. I think that is a question we will never fully have answered here on earth with our human minds. Why does He stop some bad things from happening, but not others? He has the power to do ANYTHING. And yet sometimes He chooses to allow some crappy things in life. I know that He shows us himself through those dark times, and yet the Why question still isn't answered. I found peace when i decided to stop asking why we lost Esther. That question still comes up at least a couple times a week. Just pops up, and then again I realize I don't know, but God does and i must rest in that. It is hard. So hard though! But God is God. I am not God. I don't understand His ways, but this I know. That He loves me and wants the best for me, and is working His best out in my life, THROUGHOUT my life. The good and the bad. That is hard to grasp?? The good, the bad, the ugly He is working it all out. But yet we process and we wrestle and that is good. I don't think it matters what we do or feel, what questions we ask, the pain we feel, the anger, the long as we are turned to Christ and bringing all that to Him. He already knows anyway, and He gets it. He knows the pain we are in, and yet His grace covers us. It is unexplainable. But in Psalm 91 we read this morning, from the message version, He says it so well. I think this is a theme for life.

"If you'll hold on to me for dear life," says GOD, "I'll get you out of any trouble. I'll give you the best of care if you'll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I'll answer, be at your side in bad times; I'll rescue you, then throw you a party. I'll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!" last paragrah of Psalm 91

I believe that the key is to hold on to Jesus for dear life, and sometimes thats what it feels like! Like we will drown if we let go. He gives us the best care - but we still have hurt and pain - and yet He is giving us the best care. But, the big but in this is that we trust him. Get to know HIM. This is so awesome. Because He doesn't ask us to be perfect and do it all right, and not ever make a mistake (which i used to think) He asks us to simply trust Him.....IN HIM. The only thing that we have to do is trust. And at times that is so hard, but even if we are looking His way, and we are angry, and sad, and disappointed, yet looking His way, I believe that is trust. We are to have faith as a mustard seed. A mustard seed is really small. He takes our mustard seed and grows it and uses the hard times, and our clinging to him and increases our trust and our faith in him. This is what He has done throughout my life. It is a God thing. All i do is turn to Him. My cousin said once when i was having a rough time about 8 years ago, that if we are clinging to him just by a fingernail, we are still clinging!! We are still facing him, even if all we feel we can do is turn and stare. Nothing else. I thing that is all Jesus wants us to do. Is to face Him, and let Him do what needs to be done to get us through. Let him do the hard work. I think that is what the equipping us is. He equips us for what He calls us to. He doesn't equip us ahead of time. Giving us what we need, the moment we need it. Equipping, grace for the moment, it all seems the same to me. It is how God shows up in the blackest time. In a time we think we will never make it through. But we can get through, if we hang on to Him for dear life. Get to know him and trust him. HE WILL ANSWER!!!!! Because he says he will, and God does not lie. And the last part............"I'll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!" Eternity with HIM. Oh that sounds lovely.......... I can. not. wait.

Monday, June 27, 2011

My heart breaks......

My heart hurts for other moms who have just recently lost their babies. I have only heard of a few losses of babies since losing Esther, and then these two suddenly and tragic as they all are. I drove by the cemetary and gazed over at Esther's spot last week, like normal, and noticed that there was a new little person buried right next to her. This intrigued me and saddened me at the same time. I could hardly even stand it and wanted to go back and look at who it was. His name was Carter Kimmel. And he was a twin. I googled his name because I wanted to know if I knew the family. I don't think i do, but it is crazy how i can immediately identify with the pain. Yes each person is different, and each loss is different. But that initial pain, and sadness, and heartbrokenness was right there again. And this boy was a twin to Cohen. Being a twin, that piles the sadness on even more! I hope to get to meet their mom sometime......

Another young couple in our church is on vacation in Mexico. Yesterday at church a gal told me right away that they had been 5 months pregnant with twins and had gone into premature labor. They lost one baby and she had gone into surgery to try to save the other baby. But i found out today they lost both of the babies. In Mexico. Alone. And the pain was right there. I wanted to cry for her because i know that pain, and yet she mourns 2 losses. I am so so sad for her. I have been burdened for them since i found out. My mom talked to her mom today and they just cried. Grandmothers grieving doubly, for their children who are in pain, and their own loss of their grandbabies. Can't imagine.....and yet i can. Don't know what to do.......and yet all we can do is pray. God is the same God. The One who met us in our darkest hour, i trust met them in their darkest hour, and will continue to do so. He is in control even though it is an awful thing to have to go through. As i have pondered this, I know God had every detail in His hands. The pain is there, no doubt, but so is HE! With them, comforting them and holding them up when they don't know what to do. God is faithful! And i trust Him. And I pray his grace and mercy and comfort comes over them like a warm blanket. In a way ONLY He can. I know this because He did this for us and proved always! I am so thankful we have the Lord to carry us through dark valleys. I have said before, we can't imagine other people's pain, because it is not our pain, and God does not give us the grace for someone else's trials. He gives us the grace to walk through whatever comes our way! I have never been more thankful for the grace of God until we lost our baby girl. I am doing well today, by the grace of GOD! And that is it....

Please pray for these 2 families. That God would be EVERYTHING that they need. God Bless~ Monica

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Hello everyone - I am back after a bit of a hiatus. I have loved blogging, but then I was so busy getting our house ready, puttying holes, cleaning, landscaping, cleaning, and more cleaning, and I was just exhausted!! We have been in our house for 3 weeks today. I absolutely love it. I don't like to leave.......ever:) I should post some pictures soon. I am trying to get up the motivation to go outside in the rain...go figure its raining......and plant some flowers. Brian is a machine, seriously, he is out digging trenches for sprinklers, pouring footings for the shop, grading the yard, etc. I guess that is a man for you.....go go go and get it done! i love that about him. Whereas for me, i would rather stay inside and decorate my house......

I just felt the desire to write today. I have been doing well spiritually, emotionally, and so on. Mother's Day was hard. Harder than i thought it would be. When i am good, i forget what it feels like to be sad. So as Mother's Day approached i had been feeling good. And when i am sad, that does not mean i am not good. I am just sad. So I had received some very special cards and emails from friends and family, and I just cried! Because everything was so true! I am a mother, but my daughter who made me a mother is not here for me to love. My mom got a book from her cousin called Motherless Daughters. This was my moms first mothers day without Grammie, and she was so sad. And in my mind, when she told me that title, i must have switched it around, because i thought she said, Daughterless Mothers. And i thought, that is me!! It sometimes doesn't feel like i am a mom, because my baby isn't here. Such a strange feeling at times. And i do want to have kids to love, but just don't feel ready yet. Part of me is scared. But its funny because as the events of this past year have happened, it has made me feel and see how much control WE DON'T HAVE! We really don't, and when we trust our lives to Christ, we are telling him that HE has control. So I am not scared in a way, but then I am. And on the other hand the world is ending May 21st right?! Which i would be more than happy to be in Heaven now, but I know thats not the end of the world, because no one knows the day or hour in which Christ will return! Darn it......... Im partially kidding, but partially not. I really am ready to go to Heaven. More and more I am seeing that things of the earth will not ever satisfy the longing in our soul. When i am at peace with that, then I don't look to people or things, but only to God. Then we are disappointed less and less because we know that only God can satisfy our deepest longing and desire. When we look to him, we are not disappointed. I do believe God has a wonderful hope and future for all of us. I just think that it looks different than what we think we want or expect. There is a song by Laura Story called Blessings. It is amazing. She talks about the hard things that come in life, and maybe that is the blessing. What if it takes those things to bring about the blessing? I have been pondering that a lot. Because i know that God does use all that stuff in our lives to draw us closer to him. Life isn't about being easy and happy all the time. I used to thing that when i was younger. If something bad happened i thought i had maybe done something wrong. Or was being punished for something. Through these past years God has shown me that bad things happen. Across the board. Not to just Christians, or to non-Christians or to people who deserve something. Or to people who are good and have done everything right and followed God. How could this happen to them, they are such great people?! Sin is universal and touches us all in some way or another. Pain touches us all. We do not have immunity just because we are Christians. In Heaven, we will have immunity! (Sorry i watch the Biggest Loser:)) All things will be as they were supposed to be. No pain, no sorrow, no bad relationships! We will have the ultimate relationship with God! WOW! And others, perfect, and free from our sinful natures. I can't wait!

That also motivates me everyday. I want to go where God leads me. We don't know how much time we, or anyone else have on this earth. I want to be a good steward with the time God has given me. I have been resting and healing and enjoying my new house, and processing A LOT. But at the same time, I feel a burden for the high school kids that i have been called to reach. Two girls at Young Life club last week accepted Christ. They chose to follow Jesus, but it comes at a cost. It is hard, especially in the world we live in today, where everything is telling them another message. I am excited to meet with them and help them learn what that means. It is an honor to get to do that with High School girls! i can't even explain it. I LOVE to help others understand who Jesus is and how much he LOVES THEM! For some, it is something they have never heard.

Well, my coffee is done, and my plants are not going to plant themselves, so i will go for now. May God Bless You richly today. HE IS SO GOOD!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Jesus is All the World to Me

This is Grammie's favorite song. She wants all her kids and grandkids and great grandkids - well anyone who is able to sing it at her funeral - to do so. I have listened to it over and over, and I love the words. This showed who Jesus was to Grammie. He was her faithful friend. What a testimony of her faith and the faithfulness of Jesus to us!

You can pause the playlist at the bottom of my page to listen to this song--

Sunday, April 3, 2011

He has set eternity in our hearts.....

The events of this past week have left me in many ways at a loss for words, and on the other hand my brain is overflowing with thoughts. Thoughts about life, God and wouldn't you know it, many other things. Yesterday I went to the funeral of my step aunt Cheryl Bratt. It was beautiful. She was such a servant of Jesus. Her soul's desire was to be obedient to Christ, whatever he asked, and to know Him more. Everywhere she went she loved on people and shared Christ with them. That was evident by all who attended her service. She died on Monday suddenly after a short illness. It doesn't make sense to me, so tragic. And yet, nothing is circumstancial in the life of a believer. God is Sovereign. And I think of the day today being April 3rd. Esther was due today. I feel the normal sadness that I do everyday, but in a way, because God IS Sovereign, I kind of feel different about today. Yes, in the first trimester we planned on having a baby this day, but then things changed. God's plan was different. He was to take her straight to Heaven at 26 weeks. So her story was not to involve being born and living on this earth. So strangely, today doesn't feel as bad as I thought it would. And i don't want to make it into something its not. It also could be that I have experienced more death in the past weeks that has distracted me and made me even more focused on eternity. I am thankful that God gave her to us for the short time that He did, and we will get to spend eternity with her! This life is so fleeting. I woke up this morning and opened my Bible to Ecclesiastes 3. This chapter has left me with so much peace as I try to make sense of life......and death. And this is what I have come up with. I don't understand............and I never will. And really that is just fine with me. My view of God is bigger because I will not understand. But HE is in charge and He is good. Period. His ways are higher than ours, and His thoughts are not our thoughts, therefore we will not be able to comprehend. In Ecclesiastes 3:11, God speaks through Solomon and says, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." I will NEVER be satisfied with earthly pleasures and pursuits, because God has created me and set eternity in my heart. I believe he has used the loss in my life to make me care less and less about earthly things. God is everything. I will not be satisfied with anything else. And its interesting as I read Ecc. 3:1-8. I love it because it reminds me of Grammie. She always said, there is a time to come and a time to go. Ecc. 3 says: "There is a time for everything. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. " I used to think that life should be all good and happy; and when it wasn't, I just thought something was wrong, and I just lived in a funk until I was happy again. I have now experienced the "dance" as I have heard it called, of mourning and joy. The two can coexist and through this season I have experienced that. I feel the sadness and the breaking hearts for my family who lost their mom, and for the sadness I feel of losing my Grammie, and still grieving for Esther, and yet I feel hopeful, and joyful. That HAS to come from God. I think that is the reward we experience from Jesus as we press in through the pain. We mourn, and we grieve and we question, but we are still turned to Christ and look to Him. He is our only Hope. HE knows that we are in pain, and we should be. When we love, and then lose, we hurt, dare I say, experience agony! Don't mask it or hide it or pretend we aren't in pain. The pastor shared yesterday, and we also have talked about this in Griefshare, there are more psalms about lament and mourning than there are about praise! What does that tell us? Be free to mourn, and grieve and cry out to God. That is the ticket I think. He is there with us in our pain. In His word, God tells us that we will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world! There it is. Its not that God has led us to believe that things are going to be good all the time, and then its not, so crap! now what? No. He tells us we will have trouble. But the bottom line is, "Take heart! (Exclamation point, i love that.) He has overcome the world. Praise the Lord!

Monday, March 28, 2011

She was the best

Thursday just after midnight, Jesus came to take my Grammie home to be with Him forever. She had not been feeling well, and had been in the hospital for a week. They did a procedure to try to help her and basically her body rejected it. She went only a few days later. It was time. She was 91 years young. It was an amazing time though that evening, with all her kids and grandkids gathered around her; singing her favorite hymns, praying, sharing our favorite memories with her, and reciting Psalm 23, her favorite. It was beautiful. She mouthed along when she could, for as long as she could. The death I have experienced this past half and a year has been hard, but beautiful. But I watched as death took over Grammie's frail little body. I have said in an earlier post that though some thought death to be evil and senseless, I did not agree, but God is in control and allows death. While I do believe that, I do agree now that death is the ultimate evil to our physical bodies. I watched as it had its way with Grammie. It was not meant to be, but because of sin we will all die a physical death. The amazing part is that as Jesus followers, we will not die a spiritual death. Jesus came to take Grammie's hand, stood in the gap so that she never had to "see" death. He came and took her to Heaven. That's what Jesus did for us. He took on death, so that we didn't have to. But we HAVE to die physically in order to get to Eternity! And she was so looking forward to this. My cousin had described this scene to me the next day and it made perfect sense. Because you see Grammie had seen Jesus. Earlier in the day, she sat straight up in her bed, eyes closed. My aunt Mary asked her, what do you see? Jesus, she said. And the angels? Mary asked. They are behind Him, Grammie replied. Wow! I assumed maybe she saw a vision of Heaven, but I believe now, that she saw Jesus, He was coming for her. About 10 hours later He came to take her to be with her Savior! What a Grand entrance!

Grammie was the best. I don't even know where to start. She was there with us when we came out of the womb, as she helped my mom for 4 months straight when we were born. She was there when we were sick. We spent Tuesdays after school and piano lessons together. Enjoyed tomato soup with rice, and Nesquick cold cocoa, or tea anytime we wanted! We sat with her outside on her burnt red picnic table and cried when it was time to leave. She told us, there was a time to come, and a time to go. And we could come back next time. She loved each of us so much. Her kids and grandkids, and great grandkids. She loved each of us the same. We were her "sweeties" and her "buddy boys". My cousin Trisha said when she was little she thought her name was Trisha Alice Bovenkamp Sweetie. Isn't that precious!? I never felt condemned or judged, only loved ALWAYS. She was so full of grace everywhere she went. She didn't even have to say anything! She was with us when we told her we were pregnant at 10 weeks. She was so excited. She was with us at 20 weeks when we told her our baby would probably not survive. She just came and sat next to me and hugged me and told me she was so sorry. She was so faithful! She had a hard life filled with her share of pain and loss, and she did not waiver! God was always her strength, He was until the end. He was her best friend. She leaves an amazing legacy. Most of her family has trusted Jesus with their lives, because of the solid foundation that she laid. As we sat by her bed and prayed, I thanked the Lord for her beautiful feet that brought Good News wherever they went. She wiggled her toes, as my sister and I held her precious little feet for the last time. What new meaning that verse takes on for me now! I will share more later I'm sure, she made such an impact in my life, I am so grateful. I Love you Grammie!

She was the best...............

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Life, God and other things.........

I am learning a lot about myself, my heart, God, life and other things. They say that grief reveals a lot about who we are in our deepest heart. For me, this has been dealing with some ugly stuff. Real, honest, yet ugly. I say grief, and building a house reveals who i am in my core! As i think back last week painting, and it not turning out the way I wanted it to, I threw my brush at Brian and said, "YOU do it!" Well I didn't literally throw it, but you know what I mean. I was just frustrated! At the same time, I love it, because I want to work on those things. To be refined. When things are roses, we just don't always get down to the nitty gritty of who we truly are. We maybe wouldn't even see that part of us. So its sad, and ugly and good all at the same time. I have learned that I don't grieve perfectly. But also that no one does! This has brought me back to a time in my life when I had tried to be the "perfect" Christian. I was a leader of young girls, I thought I had to have it altogether. To show them what a good Christian looked like. ha! Oh man, the Lord used a series of events in my life to show me that is not what it is about, and I was knocked off my pedestal thank goodness. I realized during that time, that a Christian wasn't to live a perfect sinless life, but to accept the grace and love and forgiveness from Christ that He offers to us, because HE is perfect and sinless, and paid the price for my imperfection. All i am to do is accept that free gift, by confessing, accepting forgiveness and moving on. Wow - you think that being raised in the church I would have understood that concept, and yet I lived my life like i needed to be perfect. I read this morning in Galatians that "If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily." Whoa was that a wake up call for me when i read that back then. It was like I was smacked in the head. His death would have been for nothing, if I was required to be perfect. And I knew that was not the case. And here in grief I find myself trying to do it right. It was hard for me at Griefshare last week, when I realized that I had been sitting in my crap. Yes I felt all those things but I was just sitting there and wallowing. I read in Jesus Calling today, what Jesus Calling focuses on and that is trust and thankfulness. Trust is the channel through which his peace flows through us. Fear blocks His flow of Strength through us. Thankfulness lifts us above our circumstances. I think that to say that something is unfair, as I was feeling last week, really is telling God that He doesn't know what is right, that he made a mistake. My cousin texted me some truth which was good.......and true, but i really didn't want to hear it at that moment. I needed to repent of this. At first I felt fear that I messed up and sinned against God, but then I was reminded that He loves me and forgives me, and it is done. As far as the east is from the west. Gone. I don't need to be upset with myself, but just receive forgiveness and move on.

Some have said that death is senseless and not supposed to be. I think that death is just a part of life. Because of sin, we will all die. To say that death is evil, would say that God is not in control and as big as He is or that it somehow slipped by Him. I don't believe that at all. I do think however, that the enemy wants to mess with us when we are in a weakened state, and many times that weakened state can happen when we experience a death or any loss really. We talked about this a lot this weekend with my Young Life peeps. When we are in ministry or doing something that matters, and will make a difference eternally, Satan will do whatever he can to attack that. So we all shared different ways that we have felt that attack. I don't think Esther's death was the attack, but I feel like the fight I have been in since could be the attack. Satan would want to take me out, and make me doubt and wonder and question God and think that God is not fair, and he would want me to stay there. But the important thing is that i don't stay there! I can sit in the mud puddle for a bit, and we are all allowed to, but we cant stay there forever, or as they put it in Griefshare, you will be "stuck" in grief. And Satan would want me to be stuck. Because when I am stuck then His spirit is not flowing through me, I am not peaceful, and i don't see the power that Christ has, and will have nothing to offer others.

So this relates to my experience several years back, because I see that there have still been remnants if you will, of this mindset in not wanting to mess up. But I am learning through this process that, Monica, you have and you will mess up. But its not about me and my goodness, but its about the goodness of God. He will help me out of the pit. And I also can expect ups and downs. I will have good days and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks probably for a long while. I have been fearful thinking of April 3rd which was Esther's due date. I don't know why i feel anxious, like something awful is going to happen. I told that to the Lord this morning, and just need to take one day at a time, and not assume that anything is going to happen. His grace is sufficient for me day by day, and that day has not come yet. But he will be there for me on that day, as he has been EVERY other day.

I was also able to hang out with a new friend this weekend for the second time. The Lord brought us together several months back. Her and her husband also experienced the same exact situation with their daughter who had Turner's Syndrome, but passed away 3 weeks before Esther. It has been SUCH a blessing to be able to go through this process together. We know that it was not by accident, but with God nothing ever is. We are able to encourage each other and share our hearts, which are so similar, and know that we absolutely KNOW what the other is going through. Ours is an interesting situation, one that not everyone can understand. I have been so thankful for her and her wisdom and love and care and understanding. It has been hugely healing for me to spend time with her.

I love the sun, the birds chirping in the early morning hours and spring is coming! Praise the Lord.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The cloud

I feel like I am in a battle. Even though it is hard and exhausting, i am encouraged because I know who wins. God always wins. There really is no other alternative when we go through life and pain and grief. As believers, well anyone really, we have only two things we can do in respect to God; we can move toward Him or we can move away from Him. If we move toward Him, or even just look His way, we have hope. If we choose the other way, away from God, there is nothing. No peace, no hope for anything. Just struggling on our own, with no hope for this life, or eternity. Our hope lies in Jesus, and looking to Him for anything and everything. This has been a hard week or so, for me. I can't totally put into words where i am at but this is sort of what I feel. Streams in the Desert on March 14 said,

"Do not be afraid to enter the cloud descending on your life, for God is in it.

And the other side is radiant with His glory. "Do not be surprised at the painful trial

you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.

But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ." (1 Peter 4:12-13)

When you feel the most forsaken and lonely, God is near.

He is in the darkest cloud. Forge ahead into the darkness without flinching,

knowing that under the shelter of the cloud, God is waiting for you.

This has spoken to me this week, because I feel a heaviness, a sadness, a confusion, a fogginess that I haven't felt for several months. I was doing good, I really was, I felt clarity and peace and joy, and I thought I had gotten through the hardest part of grief. The initial intense pain. Now I don't feel that, i feel in a funk, I cry because I don't know how I feel. I am genuinely excited about our house and have been busy working on that, but as we get ready to move in, in a few weeks, it is also blaringly obvious the there is someone who should be with us, but is not. I feel like I am trying to be ok, to feel good, but trying feels hard. The littlest things that people ask me to do, feel huge and overwhelming, and they shouldn't be. It feels cruel to me, everyone having babies and being pregnant around me and I couldn't have my baby. And yet, i know God is NOT cruel. That is not who He is, not in His character. So needless to say I feel a darkness over me, but what has encouraged me even as I write this, is that God is in this. He is waiting for me, and wants to teach me things about himself through this. Not just getting to the other side and being ok. Its about the journey, not the destination. That is life! God has to be in this, otherwise we would just experience loss and suffering, but for what??? To just live a mediocre life after loss, and not experience life to the full? So what, if we lose something or someone we love, then thats that, and now we live with our suffering and damaged broken self forever?? There has to be more. God is more. He wants to give us himself, and yet so often we don't experience Him until we have lost. I am not open to Him the way I am when I have lost. God has something for each of us in our losses, whatever they are, or else I don't believe we would experience them! Because He is good. Are the things that happen in life good? Nope. But He is. I think of the song. Blessed Be The Name of The Lord. The is a part of the song that says,

He gives and takes away,

He gives and takes away,

My heart will choose to say,

Blessed Be Your Name.

Those are easy words to say, until something has been taken from us. Then we know what it means to CHOOSE to say Blessed Be Your Name. It is a choice. As i have said alot in this post, I feel............and I do feel, but I also choose Jesus. I choose to say Blessed Be Your Name, even though this sucks! Because He is my HOPE. My only hope.

Only a few people even ask me how I am anymore. And I understand. I have been doing good. I think people think that I am just back to normal. But I am not normal, I don't feel normal. It's weird because it is hard to describe how I feel right now. I am reading Jerry Sittser's book, A Grace Disguised. I feel like he puts so much of what I am feeling into words. He talks about our identity's and trying to find who we are after we experience a loss. We are never who we once were, but that doesn't mean that we can't have high expectations for our life after loss. Yes, if we have expectations that include our lost loved one, then we will surely be disappointed. But we can have high expectations for our future that are equally as good, but just different. The scenery of our life is different, but it can still be beautiful, if we change our focus. That is what I feel I am working through now. Accepting that what my dream was for having Esther as my daughter here on earth, is no longer. But even with our loss of Esther, God is still good, and has good in store for us, it will just be different than we expected. I know that with God, when one dream dies, another dream is brought forth, and one which we never imagined. That is who God is, and if I wait expectantly for Him, and Him alone, He will show up. And I know that what He has for us, is what He planned in advance. His great and precious promises...............

Thursday, March 10, 2011

We've made some headway on the house

Here is just a peak at what the house looks like at this point. It will look different tomorrow too, because we will be painting the accent walls. I am looking forward to that! It is looking more and more like a house everyday. :) I was very pleased with how the inside of the house, the ceilings and walls turned out. I was so nervous because I didn't know what it was going to look like! But it looks better than i could have imagined. The outside too! I love it.

My honey is so awesome. He works so hard and has done an amazing job on our house!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

As for God, HIS way is perfect...

As i opened up my devotional today, I had written this in big letters on March 10th last year, "As for God ---HIS WAY IS PERFECT!" Thank you God, I trust you!!! So confident, with exclamation points and all caps. I know this is true, and yet it doesn't mean that i am not confused and sad. In Griefshare we talk about the tangled web of emotions that comes with grief. All normal and natural things that we will feel as we grieve. On the first night, we did an exercise where we write the emotions we felt the strongest and then numbered them in order from 1 being the strongest, and so on. Last week, which has been about a month and a half since we started Griefshare, we looked at our list again and to see if any emotions had changed, or gone away, or just lessened in intensity. It was interesting to see on my list, that the sorrow and sadness had lessened, but the confusion and jealousy had increased. Those last two were at the bottom of my list, and now i feel that they are on the top. I know God is in control and has a plan, but I still feel those emotions, and it seems more often now. I hear of more people being pregnant and I can't help but wonder. I know God makes babies, and is in charge of every precious little life and how long they live. All our days are ordained by God and I know that. BUT, why could my precious little life, Esther, not live? It just seems that everywhere around me, people are pregnant and having healthy babies. And I feel confused at times, and jealous that it seems that everyone else gets their babies and I didn't get mine. To have here, and raise and love. I have felt so sad these past few days, because there is a longing in my heart that I didn't have before, because of Esther, and she is not here to love. One second I am confident in her purpose here and her length of life, and God's purpose for her, and the next second I am not. And I wonder and I long for her. I would be 8 months pregnant now, probably feeling miserable, but I would love it.

So I just have to get this all out. I know God knows where I am at, and can handle me. I am thankful that he blares in my face this truth and I believe it, and will probably have to repeat it to myself all day. As for God His WAY IS PERFECT. (Psalm 18:30) Although I don't understand His ways, He is perfect, and I know that He loves me and Brian and He has a plan for GOOD, and not for EVIL, plans to prosper and not to harm us, plans for a HOPE and a FUTURE. (Jeremiah 29:11) I know these things are true and I do have hope and am looking forward to the future, whatever is in store. But today I am sad, and I miss Esther. :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

2 years

On Feb. 28, Brian and I celebrated our 2 year anniversary. Have I mentioned how thankful I am for him? He is amazing. I came home after a long day which ended with Young Life Club. He had beautiful flowers and the sweetest card for me. He would probably rather not spend money on flowers that die, but he knows I LOVE them and so he does it for me. He is so wonderful. It has been fun and a learning experience loving each other in the love language that speaks the loudest to each of us. Its easy to love others in our own love language, but it takes being intentional and often times working at it, to love in the language that speaks to the other person. My love language is words of affirmation. But i also LOVE flowers. I write Brian notes and cards, and he knows that is the way I speak. I don't do it so that he does it for me, but he has learned over these 2 years that is my language and how I feel most loved. He on the other hand could care less about cards, but i do it anyway. And I work hard to love him the way that he needs to be loved. Because I love him and respect him so much and I want him to know it! His love language is physical touch, and not sure what else. But he likes to have the house picked up, loves it when i make his lunches and make dinner. So not sure what language that is???? Acts of Service I guess!!

Sometimes I wonder how and why God made men and women sooooo different and yet meant for us to be together! But I realize that it is what grows us. To work at loving each other, putting the other's needs before our own, really being unselfish, communicating together (often times mis-communicating:). What other platform would the Lord use in our lives to refine us this much!!!?? Our relationship is not perfect by any means, however we have made the committment to always talk about an issue. Right then. To work it out and not stew about it or begin to let it take root in our hearts. So we do that.....we'll hash it out, do what we need to do, and then it is over. We also don't play games......none of this silent treatment crap......i soooo hate that, and yet in my humanness I do have that tendency at times! But the Lord has helped me in that area while striving to love Brian well and not play childish games with him. We are not children in that respect......(even though he would admit he is just a big kid, but in a good way!) Wow i wasn't planning on going on like this, but I guess I have just learned a lot in 2 short years.

So the flower story isnt over yet................... after about 15 minutes since getting home and plopping in the chair, he asks me to go into the bedroom and grab the rice bag for him. We love our rice bags in our home. And I love him and want to serve him :), so i go to get it, and there sits a dozen roses on our bed for me! He is so tricky. Apparently the first flowers were the decoy. But i must say they were beautiful! He totally surprised me. Have I mentioned how awesome he is?......................I am so blessed.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Our story for His glory

Our story for His glory. This is a phrase that has popped into my head several times this past week. And at the most odd times. I won’t say, but it may or may not involve the bathroom. :) It came to my mind again this morning while I was still laying in bed. Our life is not our own. It is not about us. And because I have heard this so many times, I wonder what God is preparing us for. When I think about our new house, I think how nice it will be when we get in, and can just enjoy being together. Warm in our cozy house. Just each other. Comfortable and happy. And I would be lying if I didn’t say that I wanted to be comfortable and happy. But God’s glory really does trump all that. Happiness seems so fickle. I just think how lame that would be to just live in our new house and exist. For what?? Without Jesus, this life is pretty meaningless. That is why I have a hard time understanding how people don’t believe in God or Jesus or anything. What do they think we are here for? To just live and then die and then nothing? No wonder why people want to just live life and be happy. If this is all there is, no eternity, then this would be the goal. But it’s not. And joy, true joy comes from doing what God has laid out for us in this life. Following his path wherever he leads. Being obedient to his call, because when we are living out what he has called us to do, that is when we find true joy. He knows us, and he wants what’s best for us. I think this is a huge thing. As I talk to people, young girls that God has put in my life, even friends, I think that trust in God for what he has in store for us is a hard thing. Does God really have the best in mind for me? And most often we question it, because God’s best usually isn’t what I have in mind as my best or what I think I want in life. And we know that. Isn’t that right?? I struggled with that for a long time, before I gave my life wholeheartedly to the Lord. I was raised in an amazing Christian home, and accepted Christ when I was in fourth grade, and again and again every time I had the opportunity after that. Sound familiar to anyone?! But I had to wrestle through what it meant to really trust the Lord with my WHOLE LIFE and give him everything, before I finally gave it all up when I was 23. And I understand. I remember it vividly – I was in my room, spending time with God, and wrestling with my singleness, crying, as I gave him control. I told him I wanted what he wanted for me even if that included being single my whole life. It is not an easy thing! There is a lot of fear in releasing our own desires and giving the Lord the wheel. That is an analogy used in Young Life. Are we at the wheel and driving the car, with Jesus in the passenger seat, or have we given Jesus the steering wheel? Because there is a big difference. A lot of us go through life in the drivers’ seat but think that we have given control to Jesus. And I think it is a very normal thing. In this world we are taught to be strong and take care of ourselves and make our own way. But that is not God’s way. Everything about God’s way is so different because it doesn’t involve us making anything happen, it involves us letting go and letting God lead us. Giving up the control. The two are so very different, but isn’t it interesting how the evil one can twist it to have us thinking that God is in control. If we are in the driver’s seat, God is not. It’s simple.

In Jesus Calling today, this truth is affirmed. He leads us, step by step. He asks us to hold his hand and let him guide us. “Your future looks uncertain and feels flimsy – even precarious. That is how it should be. Secret things belong to the Lord, and future things are secret things. When you try to figure out the future, you are grasping at things that are Mine. This like all forms of worry, is an act of rebellion: doubting My promises to care for you.” I love this! And then he goes on to say that whenever you find yourself worrying about the future, repent and return to Me. How simple. It just takes obedience. So, many times throughout the days and weeks, I have to do that. I am not trying to figure out the future as much now, but I do wonder. I think that is why He keeps speaking to me in simple words. This life is all about Him and what He wants to do through us. Our story, for His glory. It changes every single thing that we do. And anything that happens to us. When we look at it in light of God’s glory, it makes all things bearable, and we even will experience joy in the middle of it. And nothing touches us that Jesus doesn’t know about. That His loving hand hasn’t allowed. This is a weird thought at times, but I believe that God is Sovereign and bigger than we can comprehend. I am glad, I don’t want to comprehend all the things of God, because if I could, he wouldn’t be a God worth that much would he? And yet we try to figure things out……….. I am thankful that when we do that, He simply says, repent and return to Me. No guilt, no condemnation, no less love for us than he had before, just repent and return to Me. Now that is the God I serve!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Another House Update

I have been able to spend time out there on Saturdays working with my dad putting up the soffit in the front entry and the back porch area. It looks awesome! Brian got all the siding done and we are ready for paint. So that is exciting. I am curious if the weather will hold up, probably not. We will see. The inside in ready for drywall. I believe they will be starting that this week. It is time to start getting samples of paint and figuring out what we want inside. I have a pretty good idea, it is just that paint never looks the same on the walls, that it does on the sample! What the heck?! Oh well, so we will figure it out as we go. I am looking forward to seeing the end product. I feel like I now have a pretty good visual in my head........I think. But the process has been fun. I am enjoying it now. The first picture is looking into the kitchen/nook and then the living room to the right. I love how it is all open. That way, when I am doing dishes, I am not all by myself! The soffit boards you see on the ceiling in the front porch, I stained many of them. It feels good to look at that and know that I had a part in making it happen. We've had a fun crew working on staining the shakes that will go on the front back and sides of the house. We do it in shifts. We could only do about 2 hours max at a time because we feel as though we are being asphyxiated (sp?) Even with the doors open! So thanks to my mom, and sister, and Yodes (Katie Yoder) for helping make our house happen!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Special Days

Shortly after we lost Esther, I told Brian that there were so many bad dates that I will forever remember because of what all had happened - Nov. 11, Dec. 20, Dec. 27. He said that there were so many good dates to remember too. Today is one of those dates. It's Brians' 41st birthday today! He is known as BZ, Big Z, Z, baby, and Slappy. It was also the Daytona 500 today and if you know him, you know my husband is a huge Nascar fan. So we spent the day at his friends' house in Mt. Vernon in "Guytown". That is basically the man cave in their house that any guy would love, with a HUGE TV. I felt privileged that I was allowed down there. :) We had a great day eating a lot of food I shouldn't have eaten, and watching the race - it is what he loves. I am so grateful for my honey. He is the best thing ever!

Another special day was Valentine's Day. We had Young Life on the actual day, so the weekend before he got an idea up his sleeve. I had NO clue. He talked to the heating guy and made sure our fireplace was all ready to go. We had planned on going to a movie that night, and so he asked if i wanted to get dinner before. I said sure! I love to go out to eat. So I came home and got ready, while he finished some stuff up. He called 3 times to make sure i was ready to go. He takes about 3 minutes to get ready, so i really didn't think much of it; he wanted me to be ready when he got there so we could leave right away. We headed towards Bellingham and he said he wanted to stop by our house and make sure the job shack was locked. That seemed like a good thing, so we stopped there. But then when we got there he said he wanted to check something in the house and he wanted me to come too. I was like, seriously?? I didn't think anything of it though, and walked in. He had the fireplace going, and had run into town and picked up Pho (Vietnamese food) takeout for dinner, and had flowers on the picnic table he had brought in for our romantic dinner in our new house! That seriously was the sweetest thing he has ever done. Another special day.

In a week from Monday, we will celebrate our 2nd anniversary. I can't believe it has been 2 years. It has been the best, even with the heartache we have experienced recently with losing Esther. I think that the hard things in life can either pull you apart or draw you together. We are definitely stronger and more together than we have ever been. I tell him often that I love him more today than I did yesterday or even the day got married. It's a weird thought, to think that you love someone probably the least you ever will on your wedding day! We grow, and love grows as we experience life together and with God at the center. The good, the bad and the ugly. It's what makes us deeper, more compassionate people. I wouldn't have it any other way.

So we have already had some pretty special days. I can't forget though, that today, it has been exactly 2 months since we lost Esther. I can't believe it. I never thought I would feel the way I do today. I thought I would be in pain forever. But grief changes as you move through it, push through the pain as oppose to ignore it or stuff it, and begin to heal. I am a feeler, and I felt it and still do. I wear my emotions on my shirt sleeve and so there would have been no hope for me to stuff my pain. I am thankful for that. I do have hope, and I am thankful that God is using Esther's life in SO many ways; ways I know about and many ways I will never know about. I am healing and am grateful to My Healer. The Lord has also given us our house to look forward to. I am really excited about where we are with all of it. It has been so great being able to help work on it. We are getting ready for paint on the outside!! It is looking like we will be moving in around the first of April. We were looking forward to our new baby in the beginning of April, but God had other plans. I am thankful that we will be moving into our house around then, a little distraction is good. Like I had said in an earlier post, although in the beginning I felt a house seemed vain, I know it was part of what God would use to get us through this time. He is so good. He gets us through, always.
I will post some pictures of the progress soon!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Heaven is for Real

I read the most amazing book last night and this morning. In about 3 hours. If you know me I am not a huge book reader, however since losing Esther I think this is the 4th book I have finished. This book is incredible. It is called Heaven is For Real, by Todd Burpo, about his 4 yr old son who had a near death experience and was in Heaven! He unfolds details to his parents in the weeks and months and even years that followed. I don't want to give it away but it will change your life! I don't know what your view of God is, or has been, but it will make you love Him more, and fear death less. If you have lost children or other loved ones, it gives such a sweet picture of what Heaven will be like. Colton tells of things that He could not have known, that happened decades before, and of people He met there. It gave me such a sense of urgency. Heaven IS real, and we need to tell the world. Colton describes it from such a simple perspective, from that of a child. I have heard three different people tell me that they have read their devotionals with their children recently, and how much it spoke to them! I think God is trying to tell us thick headed adults whats up! Keep it simple. It isn't difficult. You make it difficult. If you are like me, I know I do that so often! Jesus talks about the little children coming to Him, and that we need to have faith like children! This book affirms that and warms me to the core. A-mazing! I was so encouraged after finishing that book today. I was about to explode! Then i read Jesus Calling and the devotional led me to 2 Corinthians 2:17 - which talks of us being new creations in Christ, the old is gone, the new has come! But then it goes on to say, "All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." I believe that Colton experienced this so that he could tell the world about Jesus! God knew his personality, that he is very blunt and he was just the person to share glimpses of what he saw. That is what we are all to do with what God has entrusted us in this life! Every experience. I looked up the definition of ambassador. I love that word. It means "an authorized messenger or representative." Is that not incredible? Jesus Christ has authorized us, you and me, to spread the message, to share with everyone the message of reconciliation. -God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. -He makes His appeal through us! So we are authorized to take that message to the world, and share what he does in our life and through our story. We are not in a hopeless situation. This life is only temporary. What we need to concern ourselves with, is sharing the message so that everyone will be made right with God, through accepting what Jesus Christ did on the cross. Accepting His gift to us through the death of his son, is what makes us right with God. NOTHING that we do on our own. I am reminded of my aunts poem that she wrote for Esther soon after we found out that she was sick. Although we asked for a miracle of healing, one of her lines in her poem stuck out to me then, as it does now.

Lord, there are throngs of those who need to see
Who live in pain brought on by sin’s desire.
Who’ve lost all hope that ever there could be
A rescuer to lift them from this mire.

There is a rescuer, His name is Jesus, and he uses us to tell His story to the world as we walk our own journeys. We long to show them hope, and love and peace. This world needs a lot more of all 3 of those.

So, i was pumped today, and went back to the high school for the first time by myself, to hang out with kids at lunchtime. It was awesome. The Lord poured out his grace and mercy and favor on me today. I asked him to, and he did. He is sooooo good like that. I got to talk to some girls about losing Esther, and I got to talk to some other girls about camp; and some boys about mohawks and faux-hawks (a shorter version of the mohawk). And I was affirmed in my core once again, that I was made for this. Yes that is Young Life's tagline, but i was. And we all were really. It doesn't matter how we do it, or what ministry we do it through, but we were made, created to be Christ's ambassadors. Heaven is for real, and God wants everyone to be do I. Let's get to work people.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Nothing is ours

Again, it was such a beautiful day yesterday that I went on a power walk! I was listening to my ipod and rockin out so i could keep up my speed. It is really hard to keep up when i am walking outside, after awhile i notice myself kind of lollygagging (sp?). So I was going to walk two times around the block, about 4 miles. At just near the end of my first time around the block, my ipod died! I was so annoyed at first, but then I though ok Lord, I am listening. It is really easy to put the headphones on and go, not realizing that God may have something to say to me. So i continued on my walk and told God I was listening. I do get distracted easily and so I started thanking God for his many blessings to turn my heart towards Him. I love that whenever we pray that is the first thing Brian thanks God for. And it is so true! He has blessed us so much. So I thanked Him for Esther, the gift that she was and is to us. I thanked Him for our house that we are building. In the beginning I really didn't care about our house that much, but I see now what a blessing it is. I was there yesterday staining, and when I was done I was all alone. The electrician and heating guys were done in there, so I walked around the house and just thanked God for it. I truly believe He is going to do amazing things. I just walked around each room and asked him to fill the house with His Spirit, and that everyone who comes into our home will feel the presence of God. That they will be changed by the Love that fills our home. High school kids would feel safe and loved, and any children that the Lord would choose to give us to raise there. So as i walked I thanked God for all those blessings, and realized that they were exactly that. Gifts from God. Blessings from Him. Everything we have is what HE chooses to give us. And as I thought about Esther I realized that she was not ours to begin with. I remember my parents telling us when we were young, that we weren't their children, but that God gave us to them to raise on earth. I hated hearing that at the time. I wanted to be with my parents forever! But it's so true. God gave her to us for a time, much shorter than I would have chosen, however He is using her life to glorify Himself. And He will use our house to glorify Himself. Nothing is ours. Not our money, our things, even our children. They are gifts from God to use and steward well to bring glory to Him during our time on earth! I feel so blessed as I remember Esther and honor her memory. It brings joy to my heart. We didn't get to raise her, but God did give her to us and we loved her and took care of her the best we could, for as long as we could, and God is taking care of her now and forever! Her dad and I and her family who loves her will join her there too someday, for forever. I love that God has changed my perspective through Esther's life. I feel like I see everything now in light of Eternity, and I am so thankful. She changed me into a better person. Thank you Esther! Your mommy loves you so much!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Esther's Grave

I have been looking for the right fake flowers to put by Esther's grave. I have always loved pink, but forever pink will remind me of Esther. I wanted to find something that could be by her grave and that would be so her, or at least what reminds me of her. Real flowers don't last long and with such crappy weather, we needed to find something durable. I glued all the flowers and ribbons to the pot so hopefully nothing will blow away! I hated driving by Babyland and seeing nothing by her grave. This will do until we get her gravestone made. I think we have made our final decision on what it will say. I just don't want to mess up on anything that is a memorial for her. That will be there forever to remember her! So i guess we have just taken our time as to have it perfect. We love her so much and want it to reflect that. I am excited to see the final result. But for now this will do--

I love the sunshine. It is amazing what it does to my spirit! Lifts me up. I know God knows what we need and loves to lavish HIS love on us. I pray you are blessed today as you look up! He will NEVER let you down. I was thinking about this a few days after we lost Esther. We were driving home and it was a cloudy day, but I could see the sun barely peeking through the clouds. I thought, you know what? Isn't that just like God? Even when it is cloudy, even when we can't see the sun at ALL, it is still there. It may be behind the clouds so our eyes can't see it, but we know its there. God is always there. Jesus His SON is always there, even when we can't see Him or feel Him. If the circumstances around us are dark and cloudy and depressing, HE IS THERE. The sun is always shining..........and the SON is always shining. Praise His Name!