“Child, you have used the plane crash as evidence that I’m not all that good, but if that was true”

“Child, you have used the plane crash as evidence that I’m not all that good, but if that was true”

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My Daughter,

My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Come to me, you weary one, and I will give you rest  (Matthew 11:28). After your parent’s death, you’ve made a living off of being the “strong one”. You found courage in your own strength and ability. Child, I created you to be strong, don’t you know that (Ephesians 6:10)? I created you and knit you together in Kimberly Dawn Hatch’s womb. I, too, knit your mom together. She was created for you, by Me.  I wanted the best for you, and I gave you parents that would train you in the way you should go (Proverbs 22:6) so that you could have the true Bread of Life (John 6).

You hurt and you think it was I that hurt you. I know this is how you feel but I also know what’s in your heart. You may think you don’t have faith in my ability but you do. I just need to show you how much faith you have, in Me, like I showed my disciples in John 5. They were in a fearful situation, they saw me and yet vocally doubted and questioned my ability. You see, I knew they had faith, they just didn’t know it yet so I revealed to them just how deep their faith in me ran. You’ve fallen into this trap of believing you need to work out your faith but you don’t. You do not have to work out your faith because it’s already done and sealed, and I’m going to teach you how to trust me more because I desire you. When you focus on the plane crash, you see the destruction of all the beauty that once was, and that’s excruciating (this is no surprise to me). This is just like my people, the Israelites, when I was leading them out of slavery into the Promised Land (Exodus). When the Israelites took their eyes off of all the good I was doing, they only saw how I didn’t provide and missed my goodness (Exodus 16). When you only see the destruction of  what once was, you miss the joy of a family I lavished on you and, in doing so, miss the gift of their life. Their life and unity in marriage was a provision for you, and if I provided for you then, will I not again?!  Maria, claim Isaiah 43: 19 because it’s yours for the taking: “Behold! I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Child, you have used the plane crash as evidence that I’m not all that good, but if that was true, then my words wouldn’t be true. This is what I know of my daughter, Maria, she knows the Bible is true and therefore, doubting my goodness can’t hold true. I just need to help show you for yourself just how deep your faith runs. Don’t twist this into meaning you need to somehow prove your faith to me because I already know my daughter’s heart. It is you that doesn’t quite see it yet. I am doing a new thing in you, Maria. There are nothing and no one that could snatch you from my hand because you are mine. Your salvation was finished on the cross (John 19:30) so there is nothing more you can do to add or take away from it. All I ask from you is to believe me (John 6:29). Will you believe that I will finish the good work I started in you until completion (Philippians 1:6)?

Jesus loves you (John 3:16),

The Bread of Life (John 6)

 

Grief, from a different angle.

Grief, from a different angle.

something-has-died

When people think about loss and grief, they tend to think about death. When things die, we grieve. Last year, my eyes were opened to the reality that grief is unfortunately a much broader term, a much more inclusive hardship than I had realized.

Sometimes, the loss of a relationship – even the change of a relationship – can be something we mourn and grieve. Even if the person stays with us in the life, and even with us in relationship.

Sometimes we have to let go of our expectations and desires for relationships. Sometimes it’s our husband, or a child, a parent, a sibling, a best friend. We have hopes and expectations of these people who are in our lives, and often we’re unaware that we even have these expectations.

It is when we see that those hopeful expectations are not being met that we realize what is happening.

Not until we are let down, hurt, abused, mistreated, offended, or disappointed again do we come to the realization that the relationship might never be what we had hoped for, what God had intended it to be. It is then that we experience real loss. Real grief, even without death, in the truest form.

  • You might be a wife, submitting to the reality of your difficult marriage, so much less than what you had dreamed it would be, but unwilling to consider divorce because of your beliefs. Maybe you feel stuck, and you grieve your loss every day as you move through it.
  • You might be a mom, letting go of a relationship with a daughter that you can’t seem to reconcile because something has become between you two. Maybe this flawed and broken world has left her unwilling for restoration and it’s breaking your heart.
  • You might be a daughter, realizing that you’ll never quite receive the unconditional love, support, and approval that you always thought you had from your father. Maybe he cares for you, but it’s conditional. Maybe he has left you, or hurt you. Maybe he doesn’t approve of the decisions that he’s made. Maybe you never met him at all.
  • You might have become estranged from a sibling because you can’t see eye to eye on something important. Maybe one of you didn’t make the choice to love each other without condition when things get hard. Maybe one of you took distance, and you are unable to close the gap.

Whatever it looks like, it’s clear something has died. It will never be what we long for, what we wanted, what God intended for us, and what seems right.

And so we mourn.

We mourn the approval, the emotional proximity, the unconditional acceptance, the unwavering support, the love-me-even-at-my-worst kind of love, the picture of what it should have been.

We may go numb, we may cry out, we may shut down, we may fall into a depression, we may hate ourselves for whatever we did to contribute to the brokenness, we may place blame, we may ball in a heap on the floor.

And then, like anyone who grieves, we are forced to move on.

And what we move on to is the one who loves us more. Unconditionally. Unwaveringly. At our worst. In the pit. He sees and knows us to the core, and loves us even still.

And His love, it keeps on loving. Our hopes, our expectations, are fulfilled and then out done. Every. Single. Time.

His love endures forever. | Palms 136:26

 

Bio:

Taylor Monaco is a work from home mom of two little ones. She started the Fresh Lens blog (www.thefreshlens.com) as an outlet for her love of photography and the word of God. On the Fresh Lens, she seeks to give others a fresh look into His biblical truth because she knows that in Him, we see things quite indifferently.

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Knowing Jesus in Grief

Knowing Jesus in Grief

Jesus Wept (John 11:35)

The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35, “Jesus wept”. I find this verse fascinating because it “blows the lid” off the idea that Jesus came to conquer death and was unemotional about the whole thing, or that he was somehow so eternally minded and 13015523_477290579147727_9211636762972567866_nsaw the bigger picture that he was un-phased by death. It’s also amazing that the passage that records “Jesus wept” was recorded at the loss of his friend, Lazarus. I guess, I would think these words would be suited better for when he was on the cross or when his friend, Judas, betrayed him. Although weeping had to have also happend at these times, the scripture that records it is here, in John 11, at the loss of his friend.

If you are like me, you read those words and translate it to mean, “Jesus was kind of sad so he shed a few tears”, except that’s not true because that’s not even the definition of weeping. Webster defines weeping as, “expressing deep sorrow for … by shedding tears, to pour forth (tears) from the eyes, to express passion (as grief) by shedding tears”. Jesus didn’t have a few tears over Lazarus’ death,The Great I Am was pouring forth tears, expressing passion in his grief. But this beauty of Jesus doesn’t stop at the reality that he grieved over his friend …

Jesus wept even though he knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead John 11: 11 records. In fact, Jesus went to Bethany, where Lazarus died, just to raise him from the dead (John 11:4, 17).  Jesus knew Lazarus wasn’t going to die but live. Do you understand what these verses are revealing about Jesus? Jesus wept because of death, even though life was coming for Lazarus, is still painful. Christians often miss this and miss out on loving a grieving person well because they fail to understand that one simple, yet impactful, reality: death is painful for the ones left behind even if life awaits for the ones who died.

Jesus’ response to someone’s pain of grief is the perfect example of how to love well in the midst of someone experiencing loss. Jesus showed “all his cards” to those who looked at him as the Messiah. He let people in to see that he, even as the Messiah, weeps for us (John 11:36). Jesus didn’t try to be “tough” but showed compassion. Jesus wasn’t arrogant as if these people were missing who he is and what he came to do, he saw their pain and felt it. Why do we try to do anything different for our friends and loved ones grieving? Weep with them and let them feel the depth of their pain because it’s there that their faith takes deeper root.

If you want to get a little guts about you, feel their pain and then go to your Father in Heaven, and be on your knees for them in prayer. When Moses parted the Red Sea, in Exodus, he had to keep his arms lifted in the air or else the sea would collide together again and the Israelites would. I can only imagine that this process got long, tiring, emotionally wearing, and nearly impossible for Moses to do alone. If it wasn’t for Mose’s friends, Hur and Aaron (Exodus 17:12), who came and held up Moses’ arms (one on each side) so he could continue to do the work God had for him. Your grieving friend needs you to be the lifter of their hands while God lifts their head. You cannot “part the waters” for them. This is where God has them and it’s not for you to try and figure out why, but as God lifts their head, you be the lifter of their arms. Be willing to be tired and weary, speak the truth in love, and hold up your brother or sister’s arms.

“These last few days I’ve allowed myself to think about you a lot…about the life I once had that included you.”

“These last few days I’ve allowed myself to think about you a lot…about the life I once had that included you.”

momI lost my Mom to Heaven three and a half years ago.  She was a great mom, one that made lots of mistakes, but one that was humble and willing to ask for forgiveness.  She was a Jesus lover, follower, and worshiper.  God’s creation brought tears to her eyes.  She cried in awe of His goodness.  She spoke truth when it was hard to hear and she always, always loved unconditionally.  She taught me about God, though it wasn’t until my adult years that I could see how she modeled what it looked like to love Him.

The last six years of her life she became my best friend.  We worked together, laughed and cried together, and she mentored and counseled me as I learned how to be a wife and a mother.  I miss her.

Sometimes when I miss her I write to her.

Mom,  

A new wave of grief is washing over me this week.  Being in your presence, and talking with you is what I deeply desire.  These last few days I’ve allowed myself to think about you a lot.  I’ve been thinking about all of the things I miss about you, about the life I once had that included you.  I don’t often spend much time thinking on those things anymore, it seems better to focus on what is, and work on what’s coming.

My kids are getting older.  It‘s painful to think of all that they have become when I think about how short a time some of them had with you, some of them you never got to meet.

I have no doubt that you would find them all so very special.  I try not to let myself go down the road of thinking what you would say or think of each of them.  It’s too painful, and though I never contemplated raising my kids without your influence, I know now it was never in God’s plans for you, for them, for me.  I’m trying to learn to not grieve too long for what was never mine to begin with.

I miss you being so excited with me about my kids.  I miss the comfort, consistency, and ease of our relationship.  I miss your wisdom.  I miss your words.  I miss your voice, your laugh, your friendship, and your unconditional love.  

As I grow closer to the Lord, I spend more time picturing your life in Heaven.  I like to imagine hearing the things you would say about Heaven and Jesus.  I picture your excitement as you meet and talk with so many others that you never met on earth but were inspired by.  I want to hear the details of your time there.

That’s one of the things I miss most about you Mom, your attention to detail, your desire for detail.  This is particularly one of the biggest losses for me in losing you.  We shared details…..  There are few people in my life now that are interested in the details.  I’m pretty sure it is by God’s design.  Though it causes me pain and tempts me down the road to lonely, it also drives me to Him as there is no one that knows and appreciates details like He does.

I get up really early in the morning now to spend time with the Lord. Sometimes it’s chilly in my house, so I put on my big fluffy robe that you bought for me, and I drink tea or coffee out of one of your mugs.  It reminds me of when I was a kid, when I woke I would find you in your own fluffy robe sitting on the couch praying and reading your Bible, sometimes crying like I do now too.  It makes me smile to think that my kids will have the same memories of me when they grow up.  I feel grown up, and like I understand you better now.  It also makes me laugh when I think about the fact that you would have water in your mug because you liked drinking from a mug but you didn’t really care for coffee or tea.  You were special, unlike any other in both deep ways, and silly ways too.

I’m still learning how to live without you.  I wonder will it always feel that way?  You never walked through losing someone you were close to like I was close to you.  I’m so happy for you to have not experienced that one hardship in this life, but it also feels strange for me to be walking through something so hard not having had your walk to model after.  

One late night, after we knew you had stage four cancer, I let myself imagine a little how different life would be without you if you didn’t make it.  It was terrifying and the worst thing I could imagine.  While I felt so twisted up with grief, worry, and disbelief, I heard God whisper to me, “I’ll make it beautiful.”  I believed Him but I wasn’t ready to surrender to the idea.  I still find myself learning how to surrender to the idea, but He was and is faithful.  He’s making it beautiful.

You always appreciated His beauty, and now I appreciate it too.  You’re life mattered.  He still uses your example to grow me every day. Thank you for being faithful to Him.  I love you Mom, forever.

Laura

 

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About Laura: I’m a daughter of the One True King. I’m a warrior in training for His Kingdom. I’m a sinner redeemed by Jesus. The only good you will find in me comes from Him, Jesus in me. Without Him, I’m just a mess… I’m also a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend.  My passion is to inspire women to desire change, to go, do, and be, the beautiful and powerful warrior daughters God created them to be.

 

a call to action for believers from a missionary not living in America…

a call to action for believers from a missionary not living in America…

I’ve been thinking a lot about politics and what’s going on in America right now. I’ve been thinking, “What would America look like if we were actually a Christian nation?” I know this is a shocker to many people who think we are a Christian nation, but we aren’t. What if this nation really was a nation full of Christ followers? How would that change the country? How would it change the world? Do we focus too much on politics and who should or shouldn’t be president rather then preaching the gospel? The answer is for sure yes. What if we shared the gospel everywhere? What if people understood not just the story of Christ, but what he means to them? What if people understood that His death not only washed away their sins, but also imparted His righteousness on them? Wouldn’t the gospel change our country more then political activism? Politics never helps everyone, the gospel does! The gospel is not impartial, it is for everyone! It is for Black, White, police, Muslims, LGBTQ, children, men, women, Hispanics, Asians, atheists, activists, Hindus, Mormans, etc.. The gospel is good news for everyone! If this is true, why do we look for answers elsewhere? I am not advocating not voting, I am asking, why are we, who follow Christ, not fulfilling the great commission and sharing the gospel like we should? Please let’s change this country for the good! Start sharing the gospel today, without restraint! 

 

Today we vote. We vote for where we land in our thinking, strong opinions, views, beliefs. We vote for something, against something, to defend something. Do it. Vote how you will vote but do everything you can to defend, reconcile, and restore unity among your Brother and Sister (in Christ) because, no matter who wins, we’ve got some major battle ground moving forward and if we think this election is the tip of the iceberg … boy oh boy are we in for it. Full armor, Brothers and Sisters (Ephesians 6). I’m not telling, I’m asking, begging, pleading because I need you on this one. I’m losing hope in us and I’m scared.

 

Armor Up,

Maria

 

Josh Howard who is a missionary living in Slovakia. To read more about him, what he does, and who he is  click here.