“Dear Maria”… a letter from Mom

“Dear Maria”… a letter from Mom

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I came across this card last week. It was written for me while I was in a different season of my life. A season full of horrific choices I made. A season where I decided if I was really (and I mean really) follow Jesus or if I was done. As Mom sat writing this letter, she was doing so with the intention of being my cheerleader to keep running the race (Hebrews 12:1). As Mom sat writing this letter, Jesus knew it would serve a purpose for more … for a time such at this, amputation of a loved one (s). Here I share with you something personal from my Mom to her daughter, but please don’t miss the point. You see, my mom loved me well. I even just told my husband the other day, “I think I forgot the details of just how amazing mom was”, but friends, her love for me only went as far as her love for Jesus and he’s taking it from here now.

Ok Baby Girl, 

You can do this! I know you inside and out (second to God who created your inner more being (Psalm 139)), and we both know you can do this and do it for His glory and it be for your good (Romans 8). Read Jeremiah 1:5 and know He created you and I get to be here to encourage you. We walk by faith and not by sight. We are His children, his warriors and you, my lovely daughter, are in His army. This is just more training ground BUT it is also a time to laugh, play, enjoy and experience great things. Embrace all (good, bad, happy, sad) that He has for you in these moments. He has you in them and you are safe to praise Him in the midst of it all. He is good and He is great and He, sweet child, is ALL about you! He is all about your heart, your thoughts, your feelings, and your future. Remember He is omni present and you have His promise to always be with you. My heart as well is for you always, every moment of every day. I love you will all that I am and am here for you every moment I can be. You are always with this family in all that we do just as we are with you in all you do. What God has created no man nor anything can separate us from it (Matthew 19). We are inseparable as we are inseparable from our God. Continuously tell yourself truth and refuse to listen to any lies. 

I am already making plans for the Labor Day weekend at the lake. 

I love you honey pumpkin pie, 

Momma  

 

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Jeremiah 1:5

“For five years my life looked like so much darkness with bursts of light mixed in.”

“For five years my life looked like so much darkness with bursts of light mixed in.”

My name is Audra and this is my story of grief. 

229074_1037722581284_4019_n Dad.  He was my best friend.  He had such a natural way about him that made his presence comfortable, easy, and loving. My relationship with him was one of laughter, song, life, faith-building and nourishment.  He was the best person I knew.  He was my person.

 When I lost him, it was like I went into a thick, dark, unknown woods to look for him and became lost myself.  I would try to go down one trail and it would lead me to thorns. I’d go down another and it would lead to thistles. Then I’d try to go down another trail and it would lead me to fruit, water, and light. There’d be a Man (Jesus) there with a smile of love and acceptance. It would become a place I’d never want to leave. But, alas, I’d wander into the darkness of the woods and begin searching again. 

 For five years my life looked like that analogy- so much darkness with bursts of light mixed in. I got into the rhythm of finding anything that would help me feel anything but my true pain, all of which would fall short.   I’d then run back to faith, to my Jesus.  I would then push him away and go back into my unhealthy grief. 

 Somewhere within that fifth year of grief, God started to prod me to see a counselor. My pain had become overpowering. The first two months were extremely hard. My river of tears had been frozen for years. As I faced the pain and began to look it in the face, that river started to thaw. I began to feel again. I began to cry. I began my healthy journey of grief. 

 It’s been seven years since my dad died. His death has become a part of me. This grief will always be woven within me. I’ve just recently been able to think back on the life I had before the storm with joy instead of pain. This is not done, though. But it’s so much more bearable. 

 My friends, Jesus has brought me out of darkness and into His light. He was always waiting in that forest for me.  He was always ready for me to eat from His fruit, drink from His water, envelope me in His light. I still struggle, but I struggle with Jesus. I still fall to my knees in grief at the thought of not experiencing my dad’s delight in his grandchildren or that he will never meet my husband, John. I can’t bear the thought of wishing him back in this broken world, so instead I’ll look forward to my future and cling to the hope of seeing him again. Because that hope is enough. 

 I used to blame God for what happened to my dad but as the years have gone by, I have realized that He would never wish this pain upon anyone. It’s the result of the sin in this world that my dad passed away. God is using the ashes of dad’s death to form something beautiful.  If you have experienced loss and you’re in the depth of your grief, please know that the unconditional love and peace of God is healing and freeing.

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14611095_10210484697411678_1207847882707491071_n A little about Audra~Hey y’all! My name is Audra Arnold. I’m a wife to my husband, a lover of all things birds and a nanny to three adorable boys (I love my job). Most of all, I’m a daughter of Jesus. If you would like to continue to follow my story or would like to get in contact with me, feel free to add any of my media links that are listed below. Thanks for taking the time to read my post!

Connect with me over at:
Facebook:   www.facebook.com/audrageiser
Instagram: www.instagram.com/ _audruh
E-mail:   audey4@gmail.com

Reflections on Grief (Post 2)

Reflections on Grief (Post 2)

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Journal Entry from June 22, 2011

(two days before the plane crash)

Oh God, 

I have been so ungrateful and humbled about this pregnancy, this life growing inside of me. Father, forgive me for my lack of thanks and indulging in my fear about something happening to my baby. I deeply miss who I once was with you. You truly have lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, you set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand (Psalm 40:2). Help me get back to this kind of thanks. 

I can’t wait for my week at the lake with the family! I will get some quiet time away with just you and me, to refocus. It is going to be the best time with you! I love you deeply. I can tell you have my heart … now. 

Love, 

Maria 

 

My Reflection

It makes my heart so sad to think back on the excitement and anticipation for the week that was planned to be spent at the lake house with my family. Five years later, and I still don’t have a clear understanding of why. I don’t know that a clear understanding would make it hurt less, so instead of reflecting on my feelings and trying to make sense of something so painful; instead of a failed attempt at being positive and thinking positive, I’m going to go back to what I know is true. This is an exercise I’ve had to do often in the last five years so I open up scripture and write out truth regardless of how I feel …

Romans 8:28 “…in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” 

Thank you, God, for pursuing me up until the day of the crash to love you and desire you more. I know you work all things out for the good of those who love you, so thank you for giving me a desire to love you so you can work this out for my good.

Isaiah 61:3 “…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”

John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” 

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

Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” 

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 

John 21 “…Simon son of John, do you love me more than these? ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’ Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’ The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.’

Lord, I am learning that you know my heart better than I know my heart. You know if I love you, if I trust you, if I have fully given you my heart. Death is terrible and not what you designed or intend, and yet, you are somehow going to work it for my good. Help my eyes be drawn to your good when my heart is naturally drawn to see what is bad because I’m so easily swayed by my feelings. Waiting with great expectation that you will continue your good work in me until you call me home (2 Corinthians 1:10).

Thank you to my friends who have been the lifter of my arms when I have had no energy to open up the Bible and read truth. I never knew just how much we need each other until this. You were (and are) my Aaron and Hur (Exodus 17).

“After my losses, everything I was sure to be true about God came into question, and that’s really painful when you’ve been a Christian for over 10 years.”

“After my losses, everything I was sure to be true about God came into question, and that’s really painful when you’ve been a Christian for over 10 years.”

“It was too perfect to last,’ so I am tempted to say of our marriage. But it can be meant in two ways. It may be grimly pessimistic – as if God no sooner saw two of His creatures happy than He stopped it (‘None of that here!’). As if He were like the Hostess at the sherry-party who separates two guests the moment they show signs of having got into a real conversation. But it could also mean ‘This had reached its proper perfection. This had become what it had in it to be. Therefore of course it would not be prolonged.’ As if God said, ‘Good; you have mastered that exercise. I am very pleased with it. And now you are ready to go on to the next.”

This quote by C.S. Lewis from his book, A Grief Observed, is a perfect summary of my journey with the Lord through my grief.

After my losses, everything I was sure to be true about God came into question, and that’s really painful when you’ve been a Christian for over 10 years. Often times I asked God, “what was the point of loving them so much only for it all to be taken away in an instant?”. In my pain, I spoke the language of someone pained and say things like, “I would’ve guarded myself against loving them that much had I known” and “you let me love them and you tricked me”. In my pain, I began to believe God wanted to rip the “rug” out from under me to teach me a lesson that he alone is God and I should not love anyone else more than him.

 

Fast forward this grief journey to today and I have a new understanding and certainty of what I am to do with this loss and who Jesus is to me, Maria. 2 Corinthians 1: 4 makes it very clear what the purpose for these losses were for me, “…who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” and I have been comforted by him, in the most tender and intimate of ways. Through the most darkest days of my life (to date), I got know Jesus in the way that his word became real to me, and I got to experience (first hand) just how true his words are, which is intimate. Instead of just telling you it was intimate, I’m going to share with you through one of my journal entries …

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Maria,

You believed me to be a tyrant King who is going to show you that it’s my way or the highway. You translated your losses to be a personal attack on you. You took my very words, in Romans, that say I work all things for the good of those who love me, to mean somehow your parents’ death was good for you. Death isn’t good. Your parents’ death was not good. Death is not what was intended when I created this world (Genesis). Your parents’ death wasn’t good for you, Maria, but I am going to work for your good and those do not hold the same meaning. Trust me, Child, because I died for you and I know…In Matthew 26, you see that I was in such great sorrow over my death that my sorrow felt like physical death. I get it and I get what this pain means for you. I knew what these losses were going to do to you and, child, I can handle it. I can handle your hurt, pain, and questions. I created you in your mama’s womb and I know your innermost places (Psalm 139). There is nothing you can do or say that will hurt or offend me so bad that I’ll leave you (Hebrews 13). I know this is painful and I hate it for you. I hate it for you so much that I died on the cross so you will never have to experience this again when you get to come home to me (Revelation 21). I needed you to see me in my true form, so you could know me and I could then heal the most broken areas of your heart, to heal the broken beliefs because you have three little ones I have given you to disciple. Your parents came home to me because “this had reached its proper perfection. This had become what it had in it to be.”

I grieve again but this time, I grieve not for my parents but to see Him more because I’ve missed so much of Him. I’ve missed so much of his love for me because I didn’t know it quite yet. I didn’t know He loved me like this, in such a personal way. My parents’ death amputated me, but it’s been His love that has changed me. I’ll never be the same and it’s marked by the night I heard “Maria, your parents are dead” …

 

 

5 Ways We Survived 2 Weeks of Hand Foot and Mouth

Tis the season of colds, flus, and hand food and mouth (and all together the mamas cringe). My little dude got it first and shared the love with his sisters, so we spent 2 weeks cooped up in our house. The kids were miserable and antsy to get out of the house, so mama scoured Pinterest and found some things we could do to help survive 2 weeks of hand foot and mouth (and can I just say, thank goodness for Pinterest). I sure hope you and your little ones don’t get it but if you do, have no fear because this blog post is here!

 

1) I loaded the kids in the car, headed to our favorite dinner location, 800 Degrees, and picked up some Xisco Pops (don’t worry, I kept the kids in the car)! They have some new fall flavors out and the girls loved them (“mmm pumpkin. I love pumpkin, Mom” … straight from the mouth of babes).

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2) You guys, this made me think of something my mom would do with me as a kid so this one was special. Out of complete desperation, I was thinking of something (anything) we could make into a party, so we had a tea tasting party and it was a blast! I got out my mom’s fine china, we tasted different types of teas, and ended up talking about my mom and I got to share more about her life. It will be a treasured memory.

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3) We tried new snacks. I’m not one to just whip something up (and it turn out) but this did! So let’s talk about it, eh?! I made the most amazing cashew dip and the girls enjoyed dipping their apples in it. I’ll share the recipe in a later post, ok? ok! and you guys, don’t you kindof want to sing “when I dip, you dip, we dip”? No? Just me?

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4) We made play dough! Thank you Pinterest. You can check out the recipe we used here.

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5) We painted pumpkins. I love this because it’s so simple, yet the kids think it’s the best thing in the world. Quite frankly,  I enjoy painting pumpkins more than carving them. Out of all the activities, this one held their interest the most (well, minus any of the food activities).

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Here’s to hoping you will never have to use these activities for hand foot and mouth, but instead simply for having some fun and making memories with your kids!