Saturday, December 5, 2015

Gift of inexpressible joy

1 Peter 1:8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy~

Decorating for Chritsmas while missing a child puts the "bitter" in bittersweet. I never really understood that word until it became the only word I could find to describe this time of year for us. I love Christmas, I can't think of a sweeter reason in life to celebrate than the birth of Jesus. The bitter part comes in when I have to celebrate and decorate for it without my oldest son here.
As I try to decorate my house for the 6th time since Jackson has been in Heaven , I can't help but wonder, why is it still so hard? Why do I put myself through this? Even when I can't put my finger on my funky mood, it's always there this time of year, the Jacskson size hole in my heart and life. Every subconscious part of me screams "you are gonna have to go down memory lane when you start decorating!" And that is so hard beyond words. BUT, it's also beautiful at the same time. I get to travel back to when my marriage was new, life was so simple and we had one sweet baby boy. We had the world at our feet, just like every new family starting out.
As I go through old photos, I  also notice the lack of actual "Joy" on my face in those old photos. I loved Christmas because it was a holiday that just happend to be Jesus's birthday. So, while I had my husband and a growing family , I wasn't whole, I didn't SEE Jesus. Life now is a series of crazy emotions: loneliness, JOY,  sadness, thankfulness, pain, JOY, love, fear, and JOY. 
While it hurts me to my core to decorate, celebrate and recall a former life, and grieve for the life I didn't get, I will decorate. I will do it with a joy and a sadness that I never knew could co exist so perfectly. I will cry from the pain of missing my Jackson and my heart will burst with the joy of thankfulness for my other children and a marriage that is 10 times stronger this Christmas than it was when I thought I had it all. Now, I SEE what I was unable to see before, I SEE the love of a savior sent to feel every emotion I feel and still choose the cross. I SEE and feel the love that Jesus has for me and I will celebrate knowing that One sweet day there will be no more tears and my family will be whole. Until then, I will press on and I will decorate!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Reflecting on "Then & Now"

Luke 18:1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up

Have you ever noticed the "Then & Now" option on the Time Hop app? Its really neat, it will show you a photo from your facebook timeline from the past and then give you the option to post a new one so you can see them side by side, or , "Then & Now". 
There are obvious problems for me with that when a photo of Jackson pop's up. I don't have a "Now" to post of Jackson, all we will ever have is "then" as far as photo's. That is the strangest most foreign feeling, even 5 years after he went to Heaven.  knew I was supposed to write a "Then & Now" post, but I was not sure what way it would    go, as I type I'm starting to SEE it unfold. That's usually how this writing thing works for me, I try hard to be a vessel, but its not alwayseasy, and I'm not always obedient. Please don't get me wrong, I LOVE opening timehop and seeing my boy. It makes my day to see him in living color, the heartbreak comes when the app asks me if I want to post a "Now" photo. I would love nothing more in this world, but its not happening. There are times that I have to just wallow in it for a while, the fact that I can't post those type of things for Jackson. Usually though, the Lord sustains me when I allow Him to. He always reminds me that Jackson's "now" is far greater than any earthy photo or moment I could ever imagine, I need to be focusing on my "Now", I am the one who has not made it to eternity yet. 
What does my present photo look like, spiritually I mean. Am I doing all I can to help others and be the light I am called to be? Am I pointing people to the cross? 

 My "Then"

I think what I want to remind myself and anyone else who  may need it is this, everything is a choice on Earth even if you don't realize it, it IS a choice. When I get down and I just know I can't get up, I look at my family and friends and I can't help but to give thanks for what I do have "Now". I can not say how important it is that when you are in the pit of grief that you remain intentional on who surrounds you. It is imperative that you allow God's people to share your burden. I am thankful everyday, even in my grief, for my God loving family and friends. 
I will miss Jackson until my very last breath, and after that, guess what? I will SEE him again. Am I happy and have this outlook all the time, ummm, no. In fact I am crying as I type these words, I held it together today but it was a hard day, and we all have those. There are times that I scream and stomp and throw a fit, life is just so stinking hard. I have to make a choice to focus on right now and let the petty stuff go.  
                                                                                                                            My "Now"
So,  as look at myself on timehop, I realize that there is no physical photo in existence that could show the change in me over my grief process, no "then & now" can show what Jesus did in me. I went to hell and back in 5 years and no physical feature can show that, until my last breath I will continue praying that the Lord will continue to show me how to focus on Eternity and my present time. I need people to SEE that while I was not able to move in my grief, God worked. He is always at work. When Jackson left this world God moved people into my life that would mold my family and become part of my family. They were the hands and feet and still are! I am blessed beyond measure for the famliy God gave me, blood or not, they are beyond any family I could ask for. 
My then and now is completely different, because I allowed Him, He showed my family grace beyond measure. While the Jackson size hole in my heart will be there all of my earthly days,the Lord never left my family without hope! I want to remind myself and anyone else reading to try to intentionally love on someone, you never know the pain they may be carrying. Looks are deceiving and its so important to always remember to love your neighbor, the burden they carry may just be dragging them down to a place they feel they can't escape. Today may be the "Now" that they need you to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Reach out. Be intentional. I am challenging myself to continue to be intentional in my effort to love in my sorrow. THIS IS NOT HOW IT ENDS. 
Lord hold on to us, keep reminding us that this pain is just a season and it will end. Heal our busted hearts and remind us to pray for the hurting. Show us your intentions for us are always good even in the hurt. Lord and help us see that our "Then & Now" will be such a change that we won't even recognize ourselves when we reach glory! 

"Busted Heart (Hold On To Me)"

Winter has come back again
Feels like the season won't end
My faith is tired tonight,
And I won't try to pretend,
I've got it all figured out,
That I don't have any doubts,
I've got a busted heart
I need You now
Yeah I need You now

Hold on to me
Hold on to me
Don't let me lose my way
Hold on to me

I am the wandering son
Enough is never enough
I keep chasing the wind
Instead of chasing Your love
I'm screaming out Your name,
Don't let me fall on my face
I've got a busted heart
I'm in need of a change
Yeah, I'm desperate for grace

Hold on to me (Hold on to me)
Hold on to me
Don't let me lose my way (Don't let me lose my way)
Hold on to me

Broke Your heart a thousand times
But You've never left my side
You have always been here
For me

You never let me go
You never let me go
Don't ever let me go

Hold on to me (Hold on to me)
Hold on to me
Don't let me lose my way (Don't let me lose my way)
Hold on to me

Winter will come to an end
Soon the season will end
I surrender tonight
You meet me right where I am

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Catching a glimpse of Heaven

“If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.” 
― Randy AlcornHeaven

I read a book a few years ago by Randy Alcorn called 'Heaven'. I honestly can't say how much his book helped me SEE and be excited about what awaits us in Heaven. I have mentioned before that having a child in Heaven made me all the more thirsty to know everything I can about it. 

I always thought of Heaven as, I don't know....boring? I mean, I knew I wanted to be there to be with Jesus but I just could not picture it. That is where this book came in, it gave me new perspective based on scripture, we need to know what awaits us so we can be excited and prepared! Who goes to Disney not prepared, after all its the greatest place on Earth right? How much more should we prepare for Heaven?

I rarely ever dream about Jackson, I have dreamed maybe 5 times since he left this Earth and I remember them vividly. But it's been at least a year since my last dream.
 A few weeks ago I found myself alone outside (that never happens) I was lying on the Trampoline just soaking up the sun and the quiet for the moment. I was just talking to God and thanking him for the warmth of the sun and I started wondering what Jackson was doing that moment in Heaven. I got the most beautiful vision of Jackson and Amy (my sister who is also in Heaven). They were very VERY high on a cliff of sorts laughing with several others. I could hear music, but it was not harps, they were jamming! Below them was a body of water so clear that I could see everything in it, every fish, every color. It was more clear than any water I could have ever seen. Then he took off running and jumped head first into the water from that cliff with my sister clapping and laughing while he swam to the bank where a big fat yellow dog was waiting for him and wagging his tail. 
I know it was probably my imagination, but what if it was a little gift from God to say "He is having a blast waiting for you !". That was a more beautiful vision than any dream I have ever had unconsciously, it was perfection. They were beautiful and joyful and having a blast ! 

I have not thought of Heaven as "boring" since I read Randy's book, but I had never had my own revelation of how awesome it will be until I got that little vision. Think about it for a moment, the same God that gave us that craving for adrenaline also created Heaven. Why would He make it boring for us? That feeling you get when you are on space mountain, our God gave an engineer the idea for that ride. Our God gave us the craving for excitement, please don't doubt that He would prepare for us a dull place. Its going to be awesome, beyond what we can comprehend because we are human and full of doubt and limits. Heaven won't hold these boundaries and we just may be able to cliff dive into water so clear we can't fathom it. We may be able to hitch a ride on a dinosaur, why not? My God knows no limits, don't put him in a box. Ask Him to show you and you may be amazed. 

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. ~C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Five years later

Romans 16:20 
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

I usually really try to refrain from over sharing about my thoughts and what my personal suffering entails. I refrain because its hard for me to write (or say) and I'm sure it would be very hard to read such things for someone who has not been here. That being said, I am going to share some moments that may be a little more in depth and hard to read. I had this all written out and then I thought, "Lord how can my suffering and hard moments bring glory to you, I can't publish that!" Needless to say, He wanted me to share. I can't understand the ways that my words may be used, but he knows.......

The entire month of May is just really hard for me. This May marks 5 years since Jackson went to Heaven, Mothers day, my birthday, and it's the month my sister went to Heaven 19 years ago. This month brings with it lots of darkness and very bad  memories. 
There are some parts of "child loss" ( I HATE THAT PHRASE) that can't be shared with those who are not in this horrendous situation. It's too much, I mean, I live it and it's too much. I will however attempt to soften the feelings into words. If you know me at all you know that is very hard, I am a very raw and honest person so bare with me. 

Yesterday My 3 year old fell asleep at like 5pm. I knew he needed to wake up or he would never be able to sleep later. I literally HATE waking my kids up, I know what it will do to me. Every time I put my hand on my children's chest the first thing I feel is their beautiful hearts beating, that is not my intention, it is part of me now. I touch them to wake them or cuddle them and I feel their hearts and remember touching Jackson and not feeling his heart beat. The memories started flooding in of saying goodbye to Jackson, and it was just the last straw in the month of May landslide. I just got angry. What mother can't touch her other children without thinking of such a horrible moment? In that moment I felt the truth come over me. God knew, He knew I was being pushed and reminded by Satan's attack. He knew that I would not be able to stand against it, so He crushed it. As quickly as the darkness draped me sitting on the couch crying over my sleeping baby man, Jesus stepped in and the light met the dark. He stepped in and crushed Satan's schemes against my family 5 years ago when I asked him to, and He has not left my side since. He continues to show me His love and his presence even when I don't ask. 

He show's me himself through people, prayer, songs and scripture. I can't adequately describe how God has used my friends to combat darkness even 5 years later. There are not words to describe the love given to me from such amazing women. It absolutely matters in this spiritual battle who is in your army. I am fighting in the Lords army along side of some of the most amazing women. Five years ago I made a very conscience choice to surround myself with those who would build me up and point me to the cross. That was the best choice I made. I tell my daughter often that she must "Be a friend to have friends". Choose who you want to be in battle beside, it makes all the difference.  I love you all so much. Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus. I am in awe of Him because of you.
***The photos posted on this blog are just SOME of the love I have been shown this month.

The point in me sharing such a private moment is really beyond me, I can't imagine God's ways to use this but I know He will. He presses me to share and I get no rest until I do it. 

"He Knows" Jeremy Camp

All the bitter weary ways
Endless striving day by day
You barely have the strength to pray
In the valley low

And how hard your fight has been
How deep the pain within
Wounds that no one else has seen
Hurts too much to show

All the doubt you're standing in between
And all the weight that brings you to your knees

He knows
He knows
Every hurt and every sting
He has walked the suffering

He knows
He knows
Let your burdens come undone
Lift your eyes up to the one
Who knows
He knows
He knows

We may faint and we may sink
Feel the pain and near the brink
But the dark begins to shrink
When you find the one who knows

The chains of doubt that held you in between
one by one are starting to break free


Every time you feel forsaken
Every time that you feel alone
He is near to the brokenhearted
Every tear
He knows
He know

Monday, April 6, 2015

Joyful in the sorrow

Lamentations 3:22-23
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Joyful in the sorrow: 

I have mentioned before that the change in seasons does very dark things to my spirit, and it seems it has an effect of most parents who are living without a child here on Earth. I'm not sure if its just the internal signal that we are marching on without our child (an essential part of our very being), or if it's just the constant reminder that while time is moving, at times we just can't. I think it must be both. At times like these I struggle to remember who I was "before" Jacksons accident. Who was that woman anyway? 
I know I have mentioned that I would love to time travel, knowing what I know now so that I would KNOW how intentional I need to be at loving my sweet boy. I know that will never happen but it does not keep me from wishing. Wishing I could remember every word we said to each other, or even to just know who I was back then. Was I a good mother to Jackson, did he know that he was my world? Oh time machine where are you! I suppose if I can't have a time machine I will just settle for a "timehop" on occasion.  I opened my "timehop" app yesterday knowing it would be a hard one since it was Easter. The photo that came up was from 6 years ago and it looked like strangers staring back at me. It was our family alright, but not our family, if that makes sense. It was Josh and I with Jackson and Jenna Claire. Now obviously our family has gone through tragic changes and it is not and will never be complete on this side of eternity. We now live here while Jackson lives in Heaven and since have been blessed with another child. But that's not the obvious change I'm referring to. This was subtle, not even noticed by anyone else I'm sure. We were all smiling holding Easter baskets. I was smiling with my sweet boy standing in front of me, but something was off. 
When I compared it to the one taken yesterday I would have thought we would look, less whole without Jackson, but we didn't. We looked HOPEFUL, and the realization of that made me feel guilty initially. I know guilt is not the reaction God intended, he showed me himself in the new photo. He showed me his mercy and his sacrifice in my face. He showed me his peace filling our lives with the knowledge that this is not the end of our story. It does not make the void of Jackson in our lives easier, but it gives us renewed hope. Today may be the day, the day we are all reunited. We have that hope in Christ and without His resurrection we would be lost, for eternity. Everyday I pray it will be the day my family will be together again, but without Christ that would not be possible. He alone is my rock, he is not done with me yet and so we press on. As off and as wrong as I feel right now, my story is not over, this is only a pass through. Only Jackson is home, we are still trying to get there. This is NOT our home. 

"In the midst of deep sorrow

I see your light is breaking through

The dark night will not over take me

I am pressing into you

Lord you fight my every battle

And I will not fear"

His glory was evident to me from one photo to the next. He knew I was struggling with the seasons and missing my boy terribly, He knew my heart without me telling Him. He saw me changing the flowers at the cemetery and He felt me fighting the pressing pain in my chest that threatens to open. That kind of pain that comes only with seeing your child's name on a headstone in a cemetery. He was with me. He see's me trying to maintain some type of "normalcy" when I am screaming inside.  You may believe in coincidence but I believe in my Jesus. He used a silly app called"timehop" to show me that He is living in me even when I can't feel him. He wanted to remind me how far we have come, more, how close we are to eternity, how much He loves us and does not want to see us suffer. He showed me himself in my own face and in my husbands face, there is joy where there should be none. There is joy in the midst of the pain. SEE if for yourself below. There is power in the name of Jesus, call on him and see if I am wrong. 

I will continue to seek out Joy in the midst of sorrow. I may not do it well, but I never have to do it alone. As the body we do it together. We have to seek Him or we will never stand in this evil world, we were never made to stand alone and I do NOT. 
Thank you for praying us through these times of deep pain. 

Kari Jobe:  
"When I walk through deep waters
I know that you will be with me
When I'm standing in the fire
I will not be overcome
Through the valley of the shadow
Oh I will not fear

I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me

In the midst of deep sorrow
I see your light is breaking through
The dark night will not over take me
I am pressing into you
Lord you fight my every battle
And I will not fear

You amaze me
Redeem me
You call me as your own
You're my strength
You're my defender
You're my refuge in the storm
Through these trials
You have always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul"

Monday, February 2, 2015

Dear Nationwide

~James 5:11
We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy. ~

For anyone who has read any of my thoughts in the past, this blog will be a tad different from my others, this is more of a heart felt rant from a broken and offended mother of a child in Heaven. Though Nationwide will never read my words and are oblivious to the pain their thoughtless commercial caused (google nationwide superbowl commercial) , it's TO them, but it's FOR all the parents like me whose child left this world way to soon due to "Accident". 
God bless us all and help us fight the feelings of guilt and live only for the day we SEE what it all meant, the day the Lord holds us and says "you did nothing wrong, my plan is my plan." Please know that He Is the Great "I AM." He has always been and will always will be, he knew our children's names even while we dug through baby books trying to find the perfect name, he knew the hairs on their heads and he loved them like only our maker can love. With God, there are no surprises. He sustains the broken. He sustains me, even now when I'm hurt and angry. 

Lets start by understanding Websters definition of "Accident". 
noun: accident; plural noun: accidents
an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury.

First for those who don't know, we lost a child in a tragic accident (see def above). These are my thoughts on Nationwide Insurance's commercial during the super bowl last night. 
I honestly only watched the commercial one time. One time is all it took to make my blood boil. Honestly, I don't know what was worse, the commercial or all the comments and shares I have seen by all those perfect parents who feel like these "things" would not happen if we would WATCH OUR KIDS. "Raise awareness" they say. Awareness. Of what? that cars speed and kids get in the way?  Maybe one day I'll get the honor of meeting such parents, perfection must be hard to maintain in a fallen world but kudos to you for having your kids here due to your amazing parenting skills. Too bad i can't turn back the clock and take some pointers. 

After the anger and "how dare they!" wore off, the sadness hit me like a tidal wave. People think that we are bad parents, they do. Is that not what you saw on the commercial and on the shares of people praising the commercial? They think that we, who have kids in Heaven via Accidents were not watching our kids and an accident took their life because we are bad parents.

Nationwide says they are trying to raise awareness and give out a wake up call, I can't help but ponder a few things. Do you think the "bad" parents took notice and made like an immediate and  considerable change to their parenting style due to that commercial? Maybe, but I doubt it. Mostly that commercial just slapped the grief stricken parent in the face. Hard.
What qualifies someone as good parent anyway, those who have super power and can literally keep their kids safe 24/7? Those are the good ones, they have to be, you know why? Because their kids are still here, their kids get to catch cooties and grow up ! Wish I had been more like that.......a good parent. One who watched my child. 

Truth is None of us are perfect. NOT ONE OF US, and accidents happen ( again, see definition of "accident provided above). All kids make bad choices and yes we need to be there to guide those choices, but we can't be there 100% of the time. Its just not possible. Kids are curious, they are mischievous, they dis obey when we tell them not to run, they do. They are KIDS. Most kids have zero ability to make a "good" decision until they are like, what, 25? They will run into the street after a ball and even if you are watching and yelling they can still be hit by a car. It happens that fast, trust me. Kids hide when they are told not too and get themselves into a hard spot causing an accidental death, you can't SEE a hiding child, hence why its called HIDING and how is causes an ACCIDENT. Mischievous, remember? Kids take baths, they are dirty and parents are trying to do 4745950584 things and bathe them, they can drown in an inch of water, in literally the blink of eye that's all it takes to drown people. Did you know an adult can drown even when they can swim, what about a child then? Yep, its true. Can your child swim fully clothed in case they fall into a pool ?  Count with me 1,2,3,4,5 an accident can happen that fast. Did you blink? 

Fellow mom's and dad's who have kids in Heaven due to accidents. I'm talking to myself as much as I'm talking to you, I'm refusing to believe the lie Satan and society will have me believe, that I'm a bad parent because of our son's accident. These ACCIDENTS do not make us bad parents, judgmental people make bad parents. I love my son more than the air I breathe, obviously I would change the moment he went to Heaven, but I can't. I would gladly take his place but I can't. None of us can. While Nationwide spent millions of dollars making a commercial that  has slapped parents who have lost children in the face.  Countless other judgmental and hopefully well meaning parents have shared it with snarky heading's such as "watch your kids people!" and "Its great awareness to save a child!" yea, or not. Again, see the definition of "Accident" see the words "unexpected" and "unintentional". Those are key words. Are there no better choices to make commercials about? How about one concerning parents who intentionally hurt a child, abuse and neglect their child, smoking crack while pregnant, etc?? Or better yet, stick to selling insurance and not kicking heartbroken parents when they are already down.

We are NOT bad parents. Love to you all tonight and prayers for all the tidal waves of judgement passed either intentionally or non intentionally. Words hurt, no matter how much we don't want them too, we will always be tender. We are, after all, living without our child.