Refined by Fire

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego could have abandoned their faith and it would have totally been understandable. Yet, these three men remained faithful, even though they had to go through the fire. Only after they were in the fire did they see His hand through it all. Here is what I experienced when walking through the fire: the intense fire of losing my mom. 

You will not be the same. 

Death had a way of stripping me of my busy life. My motivation dwindled and I felt like I wasted a whole year of my life. 

You will not act the same.

Most days felt impossible to find joy. I searched so hard for anything to bring me any kind of joy that I had in my life before death. Lots of mistakes were made which combined grief with regret and anger. So many things went through my head and it was easier to not care about what I did than have any sort of accountability. 

You will search for familiarity in all of the wrong ways.

I searched for this in old, destructive habits and past relationships. I would do anything that brought me back to the time periods when I had my mom. But, there are so many other ways to find familiarity. Living out her characteristics that I admire. Cooking the foods that she loved. Reading the books she passed down to me. Talking to her friends on the phone. Hanging out with my grandma more. Finding things in an antique store that looks like something she would buy. 

Your memory will suck, too.

This was one of the hardest things to accept. I barely remember this past year at all. My friends would talk about something that we did a week ago and I wouldn’t remember if I was there or not. Pretending that I remembered things became normal. I felt like I was living someone else’s life. 

Your motivation will be zero.

Not just motivation to work or go to class- but very simple things. Motivation to wash my face or go to lunch with a friend. Motivation to journal or listen to music. Motivation to prepare healthy foods or drink water. Motivation to pray and worship. Motivation to drive to the grocery store or clean my room. I had to learn how to ask for help for the most simple tasks.

Your faith will be completely rocked.

For the longest time, I felt completely disconnected from Christ. When conversations would include him, I would get angry. I stopped going to church. I would occasionally pray, but my prayers never felt answered. It was painful. As much of a chore that it seems to stay connected to Him, He was there. I know this now. When I reflect, I see His Hand in everything. He was stripping me. He was recreating me. He was letting me experience steep lows. He knew what He was doing. It sounds crazy, but I am so completely thankful for it now. 

Your health will suffer.

I lost a lot of weight after losing my mom. My hair started falling out. My face was constantly dry and breaking out. I was constantly dehydrated. I was exhausted all of the time but could never sleep. I was always sick.  Doctors prescribed me all sorts of medication in the highest doses- from Ativan and Xanax to Vyvanse and Anti-Depressants. Going from never taking any medication at all to having multiple doctors shoving pills down my throat took such a toll on my body and mind. I quickly became extremely dependent on these medications. I would cry to my friends about how awful I felt and I constantly felt like I was living outside of my body. I had friends crucify me for what I was doing and would tell me to just “stop”- and I had other friends who lovingly helped me, comforted me, and checked in on me. Most importantly I had friends who prayed over me and for me. Gratefully, I walked through this hard part of life. Drug-free. Healthy. Sleeping. Active. Thank you, Jesus!

People will not understand and that is okay.

For some reason, I would get overly frustrated when people would over-compensate to try and understand my grief. On the flipside, I would get just as frustrated when people were not sympathetic at all. I wanted a break, but I also did not want to be treated differently. I didn’t want to be treated like I was fragile, but I was. Even the people in my life who have been through the same kind of trauma cannot completely understand my experience, because it is deeply personal and unique.

You will unintentionally hurt others.

I would hurt others because I was hurting so badly. I was mad when people were happy or when they would talk about their family. My words were used very poorly. My actions were extremely complacent. 

Anger is hidden in all areas of your life. 

I became extremely irritable. I would snap on people at the smallest things. Forgiveness was hard for me, even for little things. I was constantly on edge. Tense. I was completely unenjoyable to be around. 

Every dynamic of your life will change.

Every. Single. Aspect. It happens so fast that you don’t even have time to process what is changing in your life. You don’t have time to adjust. You just have to keep going and learn as you go along. 

Your friendships will change.

The things that used to be important in friendships changed drastically for me. Being carefree, making memories, and being spontaneous were always things I treasured in friendships. However, after the loss, doing things became a lot harder. I felt guilty for having fun. I needed time to process. I started to value friends who would sit with me for hours and just talk. Or who would visit my family with me. I became a lot more sentimental. I needed to be cared for and naturally, I gravitated to these types of people. I learned so much. I learned how to have a healthy balance of different types of people in my life and I value each of them so much. 

You will feel hollow.

Like there is nothing inside of your body. Your chest will feel empty. Your appetite goes away, so there is nothing in your stomach. Your eyes sink. All of it.

Your house will not feel like home. 

Going home was so hard. There was always an emptiness about it. I would cry so much at the thought of going home. Something that used to be filled with so much love and laughter… gone. We all walked around like ghosts. 

You will not know how to accept kind words.

At one point, I had over 400 unread text messages in my inbox. I became overwhelmed. I was so appreciative of people caring about me- but I just didn’t know how to respond. I needed encouragement and love, but the only things I felt was sadness and bitterness for so long. I didn’t want another text message about how “this was all a part of God’s plan”- BUT I needed it. And even if I never responded to your text or call, know that I am more appreciative of it now than ever. Thank you. 

You will feel like you are letting everyone around you down.

I felt so useless. I couldn’t do anything. Hanging out with friends literally felt like a chore. I didn’t have the energy to carry on any sort of conversation. I felt like I had to entertain people. I usually have a pretty outgoing, go-with-the-flow personality, but I felt like a burden. In my head, I felt like people wanted to watch me grow through this experience, but I constantly thought I was digressing. Looking back, I know my friends and family just wanted to be there for me. They didn’t expect me to constantly be making them laugh. I know this now, I wish I knew it then. 

You will constantly think about what could have been.

This was probably the worst of it all. There are so many times that I wondered what it would be like if my mom was here, or the advice that she could give me in certain situations. It made me mad that some amazing people in my life would never know her. Then I would think about other things, like her helping me plan my wedding, or being a grandma, or traveling together. So many thoughts. This hurts the deepest. 

You feel like it will never end.

I constantly thought “Will this feeling ever go away? Will I be like this forever? Will I ever be able to have deep relationships again? Will my memory get better? Will I ever not need sleeping medication? Will I be able to eat again? Will I ever have joy again? Will getting out of bed stop feeling like a chore? Will my relationship with Christ ever grow?” It fades. I think about the crazy amount of strength it took to deal with loss, changes in family dynamics, school work, a job, failing relationships and friendships, guilt, sadness, mistakes, and going through many “firsts” without my mom. 

Listen, there are so many things in this life that can be considered a loss. It doesn’t have to be the unexpected death of a family member. It can be missed opportunities. Sickness. Lost friendships. Life as once known. Graduating from school. Moving to a new place. Divorce. So many things. There are things that will happen in this life that seem extremely unfair. You will compare your life to others. You will be angry. You will feel stuck. 

I want to share with you the very last part of 1 Peter 1:4-7 

“… and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

REFINED BY FIRE. 

Gold is purified with fire. It is actually the best way to completely purify gold and when finished, you have 24-karat gold. Biblically, we are compared to gold. The fire is refining us. It is stripping us of our impurities. What is left is our faith which will withstand any test. Any fire. Our faith is refined and purified. Unlike gold on earth, which will perish, our faith will be of great worth in heaven. The fire comes so we can see the genuineness of our faith. 

Romans 8:37 says this: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

We do not only overcome, but we are insanely victorious. Not only will we win in the end, but the Bible tells us that our trials will last “for a little while”- we have a power within us to conquer our trials now. Satan lacks the ability to take this power away from us. The Holy Spirit empowers us with His strength. We will always be victorious. Our faith stands firm, even when it feels so far away. Know the Word. Know what it says about fighting battles. Know deeply in your heart that your fight will be won. On the darkest days, during the heaviest night, when it feels hard to breathe, and when joy feels impossible- believe what God promises. Rest in it. The valley will not last forever. I’ve lived it and I can attest to it. Joy will be found in the morning. 

Psalm 30:5 ” …but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

I want to thank everyone who has loved and supported and prayed for me and my family this past year. The toughest year. A year I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Your faith, my faith, and our God is constant. He was there. I am so grateful for each and every one of you. 

 

The Process

**disclaimer: this has no central message, a lot of grammatical errors, and sometimes doesn’t make that much sense.  **

The shock effect has not completely worn off, but it has removed itself just enough for horrible flashbacks that come with the emotional journey of losing my mom. I often will be in the middle of a conversation with someone when a vivid picture floods my vision, seeing my mom in the hospital room and feeling like I did not do enough to save her life. You see, a year ago on this day, we moved my mom to hospice. I remember having to sit in a small room with doctors and nurses and being asked to make a decision about how we were going to go about caring for my mom. We had the option to let the doctors perform an operation on her that would most likely be unsuccessful, or move her to hospice and make her comfortable. It was horrible making that kind of decision for someone because they are unable to make that decision for themselves. Those conversations with the nurses constantly ring in my ear, and I always wonder what would have happened if we had “fought harder.” The word “unbearable” does not carry enough weight to describe how badly I wish I could go back in time and change things. By this time, I feel like a part of me should have moved on from that chapter of my life, or, at the very least, be making an impact of some kind in honor of my mom. Every day I wake up and I think the way I feel or the heaviness in my chest won’t be there, but it seems to be quite the opposite. 

Overcoming is such a praised thing. People write books and speeches and make beautiful music about the struggles they have overcome or the hardships they have been through. But it is not so often that people talk about things while they are going through them. I think we feel like we can only talk about things when we know the lesson that comes out of it or when we are on the other side of it. 

The truth is, writing helps me heal. I haven’t allowed myself to write because I feel like the weight of what I have to say won’t have an impact because I haven’t overcome it yet. Or I don’t have anything wise to say yet, or I haven’t gotten the lesson that needs to be learned. I haven’t done anything spectacular with my grief or struggles. I haven’t been able to help others or love others well so much like I felt like would have happened by now. 

But this is my blog, and my space, and my place to allow myself to heal and grow without proof-reading or apologizing. And I want you to know that if you are reading this, YOU ARE ALLOWED TO TAKE UP SPACE. I am allowed to take up space in this world and so are you. You don’t have to have it all figured out to feel worthy to speak. Or to just be. You don’t need an explanation to express yourself. Sometimes you just need to feel. The longer you feel unworthy of your words or being honest with yourself, you prolong the process of growth and healing.

I want to document my process so when I see the final product, I can pinpoint what highs and what lows got me to where I am. You deserve to do the same, in whatever way you feel necessary. Every day that you are trying, expressing, and being honest, is a day you have overcome. There is not a final destination for overcoming, and that’s why it is a verb- you are constantly in the process.

So here is this post, completely unedited and completely not proof-read, because that’s just how life is sometimes. Thanks for reading and allowing me to ramble and get my thoughts in writing and for allowing a little piece of me to “overcome” through this. 

Just Not Today

The angry thunder bolts, runs through the ground with its electricity and you can feel the tingling in your skin right down to the very bones that keep you steady in the storm. You close your eyes to hear the rumbling through the sky while imagining the dark clouds rippling in your ceiling. Just when you feel ready to try again, the thunder yells courageously, and you lie on the floor, telling yourself you’ll try again tomorrow when weather conditions permit.

The storm decided what your day was going to look like. Your head tells you that the storm is what is preventing you from living and you seem to have convinced yourself of this. You wake up the next day with every intention of living, doing what you told yourself you needed to do, but it is still storming. You crawl back in bed, almost too naturally, and close your eyes, telling yourself you’ll try again tomorrow when weather conditions permit. 

But what if the storm lasts for days, or weeks, or months. You get used to the routine of waking up to the storm, that it becomes routine to get back into bed and tell yourself that when circumstances change, you will do something. Anything. Everything. Just not today.

The storm starts to become all you know and you find comfort in it. You have a credible reason to stay in bed because there is no use in going outside. It is dangerous. It could hurt you. You imagine every possible scenario that could happen if you walked into the dark, cloudy, loud, ruthless storm. Staying in bed is comforting because you know it is safe and warm. You might not be living, but you are comfortable. And that is what matters to you at this moment. 

When the storm turns into a light drizzle and the clouds start to disappear and a spotlight of bright sun beams through your closed curtains, you get hopeful. But you’ve stayed in bed for so long that your legs forget how to move when you try to reach for the floor. So you tell yourself that a drizzle isn’t worth getting out of bed for. You’ll work on getting your legs to work tomorrow when the sky is worth going outside for. You tell yourself you’ll try again tomorrow when weather conditions permit.

Finally, you wake up and find it hard to open your eyes. The sun is shining brightly through your half-closed curtains. You scrunch your face as you turn away from the sunshine. Your eyes start to water because they aren’t used to looking at the sun and it hurts. You never thought your eyes would forget how to look at the light, so you close them again and wait for another storm. You tell yourself you’ll try again tomorrow when weather conditions permit.

We Will Not Be Home For Christmas, Mom.

The countless Hallmark movies,

decorating the tree, 

You and this precious family.

This year is a reminder

of everything we are missing

Her

And the carols we will not be singing

The brick in our throats

When we try to go through the motions

But you will not be here.

Opening presents with picture frames of you

We cannot find the words

This is completely new.

Be gentle,

We do not even know what we are going through.

A word does not exist

For that knot in our stomach

When your name is brought up casually

Because you are not casual

You are extraordinary. 

We saved a spot for you at our dinner table

But our conversation was dull

Because of your absence

And laughter seems like a chore

You were always the one to ask the questions that mattered

You were the one to remember the details

Traditions 

They were kept because you taught us their importance

And in this season, loving others well was your primary mission.

Whether it is the gift of quality time

or lunch

or gifts

You knew everyone’s needs so personally

and that is what made you extraordinary. 

We will not be able to be home this year for Christmas, Mom.

But you already knew that

Because you are watching from paradise

We are homesick

Because you are home

And we are not

We are patiently waiting for the reuniting

You are so worth it

And missed

And we love you.

Your first Christmas in Heaven

The contradiction of this being your best Christmas 

And ours being the most excruciating

But a presence that is missed

is a presence that was well-loved

well-thought-of

well-cherished

well-lived

well-remembered.

 

Not What I Was Planning

1:45 a.m.

If you are wondering why I am up this late (or early), on a school night, in the wee hours before my 8 a.m. exam, I will explain why.

A couple of months ago, I was told I have insomnia. I could go into all the detail about my struggles with this frustrating and discouraging diagnosis, but that will come in another post. 

Just know this- a lot of prayer has been surrounding this problem. I have asked God that if He chose not to heal me now, that He would at least reveal things to me in the restless late hours or to open my eyes to something that would only be revealed to me in my fatigue. 

1:53 a.m.

This past summer changed my life in obvious ways. If you don’t really know much about my family’s story, you can read about it here.

After my mom suffered her heart attack and the word cancer became deafening, I quickly changed what my life was supposed to look like in those months to come. All of a sudden, school work became unimportant. My involvement became unimportant. My social life became unimportant. Not in a way where “unimportant” meant neglected, either. Unimportant in a way where something finally clicked and I realized that these activities in my life were completely habitual. I realized that I was about to step out of normalcy and routine and into the unknown. 

So what matter’s most in the “unknown?”

Love. Patience. Soul. 

2:06 a.m.

Sitting in a hospital room teaches a person a lot about time- or the lack there of. Morning becomes dinner time and the evening is constantly interrupted by beeps and clanks. Tangibly, all my family had was each other to hold onto. We no longer had our busy schedules to keep us distracted. We were forced to face the reality of being present.

Being present with someone who is terminally ill is extremely emotionally demanding. It can feel isolating and draining. Sometimes we crave the normalcy in those times.  Sometimes, we forget to place value on the present. 

There is so much value in stillness.

In love.

In quality time.

In detachment. 

These things are important for our souls… and for the souls of others. 

In the fast-paced moments, remember to take the time to step out of normalcy.

Take the time to be present with others. Each moment we have with them is a special gift.

2:20 a.m.

I’m not going to pretend to understand why God allows certain things to happen. I’m not going to pretend that I’m not angry that my mom was not healed on earth or that night after night it feels like my prayers for sleep are not answered. But Jesus laid this on my heart… and from one insomniac to another… I hope you grasp the real and raw concept of presence like I was able to tonight. 

Unspoken Broken

Unspoken broken.

What does that look like?

What does it look like to try and live with a shattered heart.

Let me tell you what it feels like from over here. It’s people saying “I’m so proud of you- you are handling this so well.” “You are going to come out stronger.” “You are taking the right path in this journey.” 

Reality: The more I pray, the more I have felt completely abandoned by my Savior. Where is He in the darkest depths of the night when my body is numb? Where is He in the middle of the crowd when I feel like I might actually lose it “this time.” How long, Lord, must I keep praying and you keep ignoring me. Christ… why do I feel hollow and weak and unable to keep up with everyone else. 

Then I was honest with God. I did not tidy my prayers, put them in a pretty box with a bow on top. I ugly prayed. And cried. And screamed. 

My conviction was rooted in my honesty. To God, myself, and others. 

And today.

Today I accepted the imperfection of my grievance process. I have built so much pressure to walk this journey completely perfectly; to model the way for a good, clean Christian grievance.  It’s not a clean break. And I have cracked. And I have fallen. And I’ve broken.

Now, I am allowing myself to be the spoken broken I’ve been afraid to speak.

I am not afraid of broken things.

When You Just Can’t Get Out of Bed

“Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.” James 1:12

Last year, I went through a break-up that brought me closer to God than I could have ever imagined. After the healing process, I ran to my mentor and friend Katie Bulmer and said “I need God to break my heart again. That’s when I felt closest to Him. I need that again.” And I prayed for it. I literally prayed to God to break my heart. Little did I know that my heart would break in a way that feels completely unreal and unwelcomed.

Two weeks ago, I lost my best friend- my mom. Although I have a joy and peace that she is dancing in the gates of heaven, my heart feels like it is being crushed every second of every day. I have been stretched emotionally, mentally, and spiritually these past six months far more than I could have ever asked for. Trying to live life normally does not exist, because life is not normal anymore. This time, being close to God has not come so easily. It has been something I have had to fight for. Quite frankly, the cracks in my heart have been filled with anything but Jesus. They have been filled with bitterness and guilt. 

Grieving is authentically hard. Jumping right back into school after such a life-change is very tough to endure. Mourning makes you feel like a ghost of yourself.  

I do not have much to offer in this season of life right now. I do, however, intend to finish this race with my eyes set on the cross. I choose to stick it out. The Bible instructs us to not let our hearts wander off. I will find more comfort and strength in Him than I will ever find in the world. I have my faith and a secure foundation. Jesus will not fail me, leave me hanging, or forget about me. He cares about my heart so much and will not let it be hardened if I stay close to him. Scripture provides a guide for a time such as this: 

“When troubles come and all these awful things happen to you, in future days you will come back to God, your God, and listen obediently to what he says. God, your God, is above all a compassionate God. In the end he will not abandon you, he won’t bring you to ruin.” Deuteronomy 4: 29-31

Seek Him with your whole heart, in the good times and in the hard times. 

 

 

The Goodness of God in Suffering

Just a few months ago, my and my family’s life was radically turned upside down. If you read my blog post Life, Interrupted, you know exactly what I am talking about.

But if you are not sure, let me catch you up. Five months ago, I was walking in late to a meeting about an upcoming mission trip I was about to embark on with some of my best friends. As I was walking into the door, my mom called me. The only words I vividly remember hearing were “collapsed” “tumors” and “emergency room.” I ran to the bathroom (“straight out of a movie” type scene), called my best friend and we sat on the church bathroom floor and cried together. 

Later that week, I would drive home from college to spend a week in the hospital with my family. It was then confirmed that my mom had stage four colon cancer. 

Fast forward to June 2017. My mom had been in alternative treatments for her cancer, rotating between chemotherapy and natural remedies for the past four months. Right when things were under control, we found out she had blood clots all over her body. This would create a spiral of unwanted and unwelcomed hurdles for her body and the doctors to overcome.

We took a family road trip to Wyoming in the midst of all of this. A week after we got back, my mom landed in the hospital again- only this time she would suffer a heart attack and a stroke. However, there was nothing we could do for either because of her blood clots. With lots of pain medicine and prayers, we sat with her through a 14-hour heart attack. A week later, she was put into hospice care.

A lot of pain, sleepless nights, anxiety, and a cloud of sadness has swept over us, no doubt. This is by far the most difficult season of life we have ever gone through. The Bible shares a similar story of human suffering in the book of Job. The majority of the 42 chapters are about human suffering, but God’s sovereignty prevails in the end. Let me give you the rundown of Job’s life.

Written like a narrative, we have an inside look on a heavenly court debate between God and Satan. Satan approaches the Lord after roaming about on the Earth and the Lord speaks to him.

“Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on Earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8 NIV)

Satan debates with God, saying that if He took everything away from his faithful servant, Job would curse his name. God knew that Job was totally devoted to Him. He told Satan he could take everything from him, but not lay a finger on him.

Satan did just that. Job’s cattle were stolen. His servants were murdered. His sons and daughters died because of a collapsed house. He suffered from misery. He had agonizing sores all over his body, unending pain, and a total loss of dignity. He even longed for death. 

He questions the same thing we tend to question a lot —why do bad things happen to good people? Job was inherently good. He had riches but still put God first. Like us, Job can only see our small, earthly view of suffering- he had no idea of God’s greater intention.

“Why does God bother giving light to the miserable, why bother keeping bitter people alive, those who want in the worst way to die, and can’t, who can’t imagine anything better than death, who count the day of their death and burial the happiest day of their life? What’s the point of life when it doesn’t make sense, when God blocks all the roads to meaning?” Job 3:20-23 MSG

Much like Job, I have cried out to God asking what we have done to deserve this. I have begged to see tangible miracles, yet He stays quiet. I prayed in the Father’s name to have my mom completely healed. I have pleaded with God asking for her to be healthy enough to watch my little sister graduate high school, help me pick out my wedding dress one day, or buy an RV with my dad and hit the road when they retire like they had always planned.

“But he stands alone (singular and sovereign), and who can oppose him? He does whatever He pleases. He carries out his decree against me, and many such plans He still has in store. That is why I am terrified before him; when I think of all this, I fear him. God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me. Yet I am not silenced by the darkness, by the thick darkness that covers my face.” Job 23:12-17 NIV

Job did not feel silenced because of the dark times he was walking through. He communicated his distress and misery to God. He had a fervent fear for the Lord, like we are called to have. We are able to see the bigger picture that Job was never able to see. The truth is this: we see a tiny crack compared to the things God sees. He sees from the very beginning to the very end. If we knew all of the facts, we would always choose God’s way. Sometimes God ordains innocent suffering. He does this for many reasons:

  1. Our own strengthening: “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NIV 
  2. Patient endurance to help others“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 NIV
  3. To bring God glory“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” John 9:1-3 NIV

Job was prepared to DIE trusting in the name of God. It is true that sometimes we cannot trust God with our whole heart until our circumstances lead us into painful places. This is when we learn to lean not on our own understanding. THIS is how we obtain spiritual endurance much like Job did. Suffering also reveals the weakness of the things we usually lean on (friends, Netflix, food, alcohol, isolation).

We are brought to the end of ourselves through suffering.

God finally confronts Job in chapter 38, saying “Where were you when I laid the Earth’s foundation?” Job 38:4 NIV. 

After waiting 37 chapters for this moment, Job responded much how I would have.

“I’m speechless, in awe- words fail me. I should never have opened my mouth! I’ve talked too much, way too much. I’m ready to shut up and listen.” Job 40:3-5 MSG

Through it all, Job did not curse God’s name ONCE. While he was on Earth, he never had an idea about the conversation between God and Satan. This is where we are given a true example of walking by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). 

Our human reasoning is inadequate! I can not think of a single reason for God putting my family through the trials we have been through these past five months and the much harder times to come. Much like Job, I have sleeplessness, a broken spirit, lack of peace (Job 3:26), and fractured plans (Job 17:11).

I believe with my whole heart that Jesus can and will heal my mom. My eyes have been shifted, however, to ask God to do whatever brings Him the most glory. I cannot see His intentions, but I will trust Him today, tomorrow, and for the rest of my life. This requires giving Him my everything, literally- my life, my worries, my time, my attitude, and the hardest- my family. 

He has a reasoning for your suffering. Most of the time, you will never get to see the bigger picture. But rest assured that in the midst of your anguish, His goodness will prevail.

Life, Interrupted

“Every time I look down and see you’re calling or have called, my heart does a happy dance. Sweet dreams to my wonderful daughter and love forever!”

This was the last text I received from my mom before my sister called me the next morning to tell me she had driven herself to the emergency room (yes, you read that correctly). Going in for what she thought was either a severe case of pneumonia or a broken rib, the nurse saw something else in the X-Rays.

A suspicious shadow.

Cancer is not something that happens to OUR family. Cancer is seen from afar. I have watched  other families go through this. I have prayed for other families going through this. My mom and I have fund-raised and walked hundreds of miles for OTHER people. Not her. Not OUR family.

Initially, I was breathless. Suffocating. The words “cancer” and “more than we thought” are words that tend to do that to you. The phone call from my sweet daddy left me speechless and sobbing. This was NOT my mom’s life. This was NOT our family’s life.

Take a step back. Gain perspective. Pray.

There is boundless uncertainty because I am human.

But GOD.

With God, there is boundless certainty. He is not confused. He is not surprised. Let me tell you what He IS. Caring. Loving. Unconditionally sovereign. Healing. Powerful. Faithful. Invincible. Greater. 

Isaiah 54:4-5 (NIV) “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by His wounds we are healed.

My faith has not been tampered with. My faith is unwavering. My faith is zealous. My faith gives me peace that surpasses all understanding. My faith gives me no room for Satan’s lies and schemes. My faith gives me a boldness to pray BIG prayers. My faith makes me confident that my prayers will be answered. My faith convicts me that this trial will be used for a greater good (Romans 8:28). My faith gives me hope that my family will glorify the King’s name through it all. My faith gives me belief that miracles are modern.

Dear Mom: I want you to know that you are tenacious and unyielding. Your faith surpasses any mountain that could be placed in front of you. We are in the valley, but your heart is still dancing with joy. I have watched you give the glory to God in the most minuscule victories, such as walking to the door or eating a bite of grits. Your sociable persona makes you want to visit with every friend that walks through the hospital door, even though your body is weak and tired. Answering nearly 100 texts daily for you is a testament to the kind of woman you are. The influence you have had in your community and beyond is unmatched. My favorite part of this journey is listening to people tell me how much you mean to them. How you have touched their lives. How you have been their light in the dark. Whole congregations and small groups and offices have prayed for you. People who have met you once or twice have fasted meal after meal for you. Your importance in this world and to this family is matchless. You live life with spunk, newness, and adventure every chance you get. You put your family first. You love the people you work with and your clients so well. The phone calls and video chats we have mean so much to me because you have become my best friend, the one I confide in, and the one I seek prayer  and encouragement from. I hope you know that you have loved me best. You have loved this family unceasingly. You have never given up. You are a fighter for what you are passionate about. You have raised strong and confident women through your example. We are strong through this because of you. I love you to the stars and back, Mom.

Genesis 50:20 (NIV) “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

This is just a small detour, not the destination.