Somethings Not Right Here

My parents died in a plane crash [almost] 5 years ago. Every year, on the anniversary of their death, it’s hard, really hard to allow myself to accept the end of their life, the reality that they are not coming back. I always take time out of my day to stop, reflect and remember them and memories we have together. I want to remember. I want to remember the good but I also want to remember the pain of that phone call that first informed me of their death, the nightmare of the days and months following. I want to remember. I need to remember because it’s the depth of my pain [over their loss] that reminds me just how deep my love for them truly was. I want to remember. I want to feel the pain so I run to it and not away from it. It’s a bond that on those who have grieved can understand …

I hang onto truths of who Jesus is during these times of pain. Truths that are rooted deep are: Jesus died on the cross for my sins. Jesus is risen from the dead. Jesus saved me from hell. I can be with Jesus in eternity forever. I can have hope because of Jesus.

As a Christian, I ramble these truths off like I’m reading a magazine article with the latest celebrity gossip & it wasn’t until this year that I was really broken over that. It wasn’t until this year that I realized something is not right here. My parents die & my grief naturally takes me and draws me to a place wanting to miss them, even wanting to fully feel the pain of their absence. Jesus dies to save my sins and instead of grief, I feel…well, nothing. His death has always made me want to remember and reflect but in a distant, trivial kind of way. His death has never, until this year, made me want to grieve [my sin and his death] to the core. It’s not right. It just can’t be right because if it is, I’ve made idols out of my parents . I have to love him more. I have to.

 

Confession from a Dying Girl

I don’t have a terminal disease. I haven’t been given a set amount of years to live, yet I am dying. I’ve spent many years soaking up what this world has to offer, trying to deny or ignore the fact that this can’t last forever, I will some day die. Some day could be soon, maybe years from now or maybe, like my Great Grandma, it will be many years from now (see’s over 100 years old!). The point is this, every day we are one more breath away from our last and it’s insane that I ever tried to deny or ignore this fact. I’m a dying Christian girl with the hope of heaven and yet, I’m scared.
I’m a Christian. I don’t know what preconceived ideas you have about Christians, but for the sake of clarity let me define what that means to me. I am a Christ follower, which means I choose to believe what scripture says and live it out. I choose to let scripture trump my desires and when I don’t (I’m a hot mess even with Jesus), I have learned to confess and repent. Simply put, I’m ‘a hot mess riding the coattails of a perfect Savior. The last few years of my life have brought some major tragedy followed by major blessing. I’ve lost loved ones and gained loved ones. I’ve had my foundation shattered only to have it rebuilt on a stronger foundation, Jesus. The result is I went from being religious Christian to having a personal relationship with my Savior. So there it is, the major condensed version of how Jesus has changed my life. Jesus has changed my life radically, yet I still am scared of what it means to leave this world and be with him.
My parents died in a plane crash a few years ago, which shattered my foundation because my heart quickly realized we don’t live forever (I’m a smart cookie, huh? Major realizations happening here.). Hear me out, though, my head always knew we don’t live forever. You don’t have to be a Christian to get the fact that you are going to die, BUT my heart didn’t really want to believe and accept it. Do you really want to believe that some day you will leave everyone you love and everything you like? Does that really sound fun, exciting and better? If you are a Christian, you know the right answer is “yes, that does” but I’m not talking about the right answer, I’m talking about what your heart says. Does this make your heart beat with excitement or anxiety? Listen, this isn’t some “life after death” post. Quite frankly I’m not even close to being theoretical enough to write [or read] something like that. In fact, is theoretical even the right word to use? See what I mean? I ain’t got all the smarts, but I sure did grow into that honesty. No, this isn’t some “do you know where you are going after death” or “come to Jesus” post, but by all means do! Do come to Jesus. 😉 Rather this post is just a confession from a Christian girl.
I’m scared. I’m scared to leave my kids and I don’t want to leave my husband. How do I reconcile my love for my Savior and a desire to know and be with him with the down right [in a stomp my feet, heart aching kind of way] desire to not leave people I desperately love. Is it wrong that I love my kids and husband so much? No! It’s not wrong and it’s not too much. Is it even wrong for me to fear to leave them? Let me be careful here not to confuse scripture with personal opinion. Yes, scripture is clear that it is wrong to let fear run, rule and dictate every move we make. It’s wrong and quite frankly, it’s slavery to live that way. God did not give us a spirit of fear but of sound mind (2 Tim 1:7). However, does that mean we are never going to fear? No! Why? Because we aren’t the perfect Savior and this is the very reason we need a Savior. There is no possible way we can do this without him. We are going to fear but we can let scripture trump our fear. By letting scripture trump our fear, doesn’t mean all of a sudden we are going to feel better and your world will be neat and tidy again. In fact, you may not feel better and your world around you a complete wreck, and even still, Truth can trump fear. Let me paint a picture for you:
Your daughter is just learning to swim for the first time and she is terrified. I’m talking the type of terrified that she would rather miss out on all the fun happening in the pool just to stay away from facing her fear. But you, as her mother, knows that it will be ok because you are there to protect her. Not only will she be ok, but she is going to have way more fun if she would just get in. You are there, and you would never let anything happen to her, but you know her, you know her fears and you know why she has them. Because of that, you don’t want to force her into the water if she doesn’t want to, but you also don’t want her sitting on the side of the pool all day because you know that’s not best for her. She may not know she wants to be in the pool because her fear is too great to see what she really wants, but you are her mom, you know. God has gifted and equipped you to know her heart, so you ask her [again] to get in the pool only, this time, you ask her just to take a step. You meet her at her fear and comfort her by reminding her that she doesn’t have to jump in all of the way, she only needs to take a step and then you will come and hold her hand and be by her side until she is in all of the way in the pool. You do that because you know your daughter, you meet her at her fear because you love her and know to love her best is to help her see what’s best. She cautiously and carefully takes a step in the water, and you better believe she has her eyes on you and not the water because she wants to know, “are you really going to be there with your hand out ready to grab mine after I take the first step?”. You better believe I am, you think, as you keep your eyes locked on her, hoping your eyes speak what is loudly screaming in your heart … “trust me!”. She takes the first step and finds your hand and together you slowly, carefully, and fearfully walk all the way into that water and then … she smiles, she laughs and she wants to do it again only this time … herself.
This is it. This is how we, as Christians, navigate this life. It’s not about “snapping out of it (it being our fear)”. We can not snap out of it, we have to look up to see our Savior holding out his hand, asking us to take the first step (just a step), grabbing his hand (quite possibly with trembling), and walking with him all of the way into the water because, even though we fear what we don’t know, we trust Him. We trust he is who he says he is. But friends, it is scary and that’s ok. He knows his daughter. He knows why it’s scary for you and me. He created us to serve him and love him (Genesis 1:27), but he also knows we were created in sin and a world that is broken. He doesn’t expect us to do this without Jesus (John 3:16).
So [sigh] I’m a Christian girl who fears to die. It sounds painful to me to leave people I love because I know the pain it causes. I am currently walking out of this pain, but I’m willing to trust my Savior in the midst of the fear. So, with trembling I’ll grab my Savior’s hand because it’s out waiting for mine. If I look down at the water, I may run. Instead, I keep my eyes locked on His, making sure he will really still be there. He is where I find my courage not to kick up my heels and run the other direction. This is where I’d like to say with a little sauce and fighter attitude, “there ain’t nothin’ wussy about this kind of living.”
I guess this is what scripture means when it talks about storing up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20). Here is just another treasure to store …

Thank you, God, for Disney World

Thank you, God, for Disney World

I love how repetition allows us to understand and see new treasures that go easily missed otherwise. Recently, I realized a beautiful quality about my oldest that, if not for repetition, I would have missed. At least three times a week, we try to have time where we learn and implement one truth about God. We start and end our time together in prayer. At the end, I always allow each girl to take turns praying. It wasn’t until recently that I realized my oldest uses prayer as a time to thank God and nothing else. Her prayers go something like this, “thank you for Mommy and Daddy, thank you for Grammy and Pawpaw, thank you for Disney World, thank you for Sissy and Pax, thank you for the sky, thank you for the nature…” Once we start thanking God for underwear and poop, then I know it’s just about time to say “amen” 😉 I love that repetition allowed me to see something beautiful in my daughter, her thankfulness. She has taught me just how much I’m distracted by my anxiety and fear and worry that I’m robbed of thankfulness.

God, this world has robbed me of so much joy. Help me to find thankfulness for all you are again.

Death, 5 Years Later

Death, 5 Years Later

My parents died in a plane crash on June 24, 2011. In addition to my parents, were my two dogs, Ally and Brady, and brother, Austin. My brother and Brady survived and I am forever grateful. As you can imagine, there has been a lot of healing that had to take place from the crash, both physically and emotionally. My emotional healing has been somewhat long and grueling. The fact is a “tornado” named Death came through my life and my foundation, of all I knew, destroyed.

 

 
In My 2011, Joplin, MO encountered a catastrophic tornado that is known to be one of the deadliest tornados. I’ve never forgotten when I watched, on the news, the devastating effects this tornado left on the town. Others were moved to action as they went to Joplin to help survivors clean up and rebuild from the destruction, my mom being one. I remember getting pictures sent over text along with stories of people she met, prayed, and cried with while she was there. What was once a news story started to become very personal to me as I watched my mom go from watching a news story to leaving her home to be with and help people in Joplin. My mom spent her last days among dirt and rubble and hurting souls. I loved her for that, but little did I know I was about to be alone

 

 

 

A day after she came home from Joplin, I faced my own personal “tornado” named Death. The effects this tornado left were excruciating: the death of Mom and Dad, family gatherings, family traditions, mom’s home-cooked meals, the dogs barking and being annoying, a home, a future with them, a life I knew and loved so much. This tornado was terrible and hit without warning on June 24, 2011. There I was, standing among the wreckage left from this tornado feeling alone, lost and hopeless. I was terrified. I was terrified that my foundation could never be rebuilt and I would never be happy again, but like he did for those in Joplin, God provided through my husband, family, and friends. These people love the Lord and, because of that, were able to love me well by carrying me when I could hardly move (sometimes literally), provided shelter when I desperately needed rest, allowed me to cry, grieve, and just be a flat out wreck when I didn’t want to face another day of this pain. For lack of better word, they helped me clean up the wreckage to make room for God to rebuild my foundation. I thought that everything I knew about God was destroyed in this tornado, but instead, everything I knew about God was being renewed and restored to a right view of God. In a terrifying time of life, I am finally learning that God is kind, loving, and for me.

 

 

 

After 5 years, my wreckage is cleaned up, my foundation is firm but my house is still being built. Each new stage of the building process brings a twinge of grief and pain as I’m reminded of my parent’s absence and the reality that life will never be blissful and carefree like it once was. I may not be able to ever live life carefreely but I’m beginning to wonder if that’s ever how God intended me to live. This world is temporary and even though living carefreely isn’t possible, living freely is and I’m learning that’s the best way to live … free!

 

 

 

“They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”

Isaiah 61:4

 

 

 

Picture: Mom in Joplin, MO in June 2011

What Anxiety Taught Me

What Anxiety Taught Me

“Long, I am woman who speaks but one language, the language of the fall – discontentment and self-condemnation, the critical eye and the never satisfied.” Ann Voskamp speaks my language in her book One Thousand Gifts. A language of the fall I know all too well and have been guilty of speaking often is anxiety.
I was born into chaos, which resulted in anxiety. Anxiety and fear are as natural as breathing is to me. In fact, in some weird way, I find comfort in chaos because peace represents “the calm before the storm”. As a result, I’ve trained myself to expect the worse as a way of protecting myself from pain. You may be asking yourself, “how can you protect yourself from pain?” and that’s a good question. I don’t really know because, quite frankly, there is no way to truly protect yourself from pain even if you prepare for it in advance. I tried and it always failed. In fact, after years of living in fear and with anxiety, I’ve finally discovered the key that may just get me out of this bondage, this way of living I know all too well.
Gratitude. You see it plastered all over social media about having gratitude, be joyful, choose joy. It sounds so simple and even appealing but it’s not simple and the action of getting there isn’t always appealing, especially if you are someone living with anxiety. Think of the most recent time you had anxiety or felt anxious. For me, it’s my health. I constantly fear tragedy happening to my body like it did my parents. Like me, your anxiety may be a result of tragic life experiences which makes dealing with anxiety tricky because there is truth and validity to why you are anxious. Now that you’ve thought of the most recent time you were anxious, think about how this anxiety manifested in you. For me, I become sad, preoccupied and overwhelmed by it. In fact, every good thing that happens is always tainted with this anxiety and fear I’m facing at the moment, so my joy is deflated and the moment it gets filled up, I deflate it again as a way of protection. I’m a slave to my anxiety. I’ve spent years in this cage, fighting to get out, desperately seeking for answers and help. Bottom line, anxiety leaves you feeling fearful and desperately alone so how can we get out of, what seems like, this never ending battle? Gratitude. Let me expose anxiety for what it really is…a thief that steals your gratitude for everything around you. Think about how much we miss when we are so focused on that which we are anxious about … the beauty of the sky, birds chirping, another day, freedom, health, laughter and the list goes on. Maybe I’m just the only one like this, but when I am anxious about something I miss (sometimes willingly) the beauty and joy around me. The thing about anxiety is you can’t will your way out, but you can have gratitude for everything beautiful and wonderful around you. It’s gratitude that will help you find your way out, that will make your blurred vision of thankfulness clear again. We can live life in the “what if” or we can live in the “even if” and have gratitude for what is here now. It seems simple but it’s a choice, an active one, which makes it hard because you are going against your natural tendency to live out of anxiety.
Today, let’s choose gratitude by opening our eyes and looking around at all that is beautiful and wonderful as a smile.