Offering of Thanks

Offering of Thanks

Heavenly Father,

I spend a lot of time in fear and pain. Today I’m actively choosing to thank you for your faithfulness (as fearful and unnatural as it may feel). Here is my offering back to you … just a warm up list of all the ways you provided for me personally during a grievous loss. Please keep opening my eyes to more of your faithfulness. Help me to let go of pride and arrogance in thinking the “little things” aren’t really from you or that they don’t really matter. Instead I ask you to open my eyes to see them as personal, intimate ways you are seeing and loving me, your daughter (Psalm 139). I ask that you keep opening my eyes up to thankfulness in everything. You say you can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

 

 

Offering

  1. birds chirping
  2. kids screaming, arguing and laughing … life in my home!
  3. the smell of fresh flowers on my kitchen table
  4. a blanket of green, from all of the trees, in my backyard
  5. fresh brewed coffee
  6. sunshine beaming in my kitchen window
  7. the stillness outside after a thunderous storm
  8. kids playing quietly while I write my thanks to you
  9. a loving, tender husband & partner
  10. my children, new life
  11. intimacy (verse loss of relationship) with God through (to date) the most terrible time of my life
  12. surrounded by women who loved the Lord and continued to help lift my head when I no longer had the strength (Philippians 4:13-14)
  13. the life of my siblings still here
  14. restored relationships
  15. ability to not have to work during that time to free up more time to be with Brother
  16. not having to worry about finances on top of grieving my parents
  17. Austin and Brady surviving the plane crash, the life that shot through our veins to remind us you are still here
  18. you never left us (Deuteronomy 31:8)
  19. you are restoring devastation, even still (Isaiah 61:4)
  20. sunshine to remind me of your presence
  21. a quiet place to be with you while Austin was in rehab
  22. girlfriends to fellowship with that know the pain of losing a good mom who was a good friend
  23. peace knowing mom and dad are in Paradise and it is well with their souls (Luke 23:43)
  24. because of their dwelling, it can be well with my soul. I can grieve them in a good way.
  25. my grief comes from a place of deep love & I’m forever grateful
  26. I get to grieve a dad! I got to have an earthly father … something I gave up on as a child but you didn’t. Your gift giving is rich!
  27. training from my parents for this very day (without them even realizing it). Thank you for lighting a fire in them to be so laser-focused on training up their kids in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6)
  28. a marriage that has depth … depth of love as he’s seen me at my worst and loved me through it, stuck with me through it and still, to this day, would choose me again. Thank you for his life and keeping it here with me.
  29. a passion for your word that was ignited during all of this
  30. a passion and drive to know you fully…
  31. and a brand new awareness that I didn’t fully know you yet (Psalm 119:18)
  32. their death brought me new life with you … any doubt or question is removed and I know where I’ll be when I die (Revelation 7).
  33. you ancient words that are still true and relevant and continue to bring life to my dry bones (Proverbs 30:5)
  34. consistency in you in a time that was full of chaos, change, fear, pain (Hebrews 13:8)
  35. when fear overwhelmed & doubt flooded my mind & questions of the future, I could rest because I know your promises are true. My God is sovereign and works all things out for the good of those who love him … regardless of how I feel about that (Romans 8:28, Isaiah 55:9)
  36. I have a rich heritage in you and, because of this, I can look forward with hope (Isaiah 61, Revelation)

 

 

 

 

 

thank you,

your daughter

Dear Fatherless Friend

Open Letter to my Mom

Open Letter to my Mom

Mom,

When you and Dad died, I wanted to die myself. I mean to die in the most literal sense of the word. I didn’t want to live life without you. I knew things would get better, and I would laugh again, but the time it would take to get to that place sounded painful and exhausting. Instead, I preferred the “just take me home now, Lord” mindset.You always parented me with a heavenly perspective, challenging me to think, act, and behave in a way that aligns with the Word of God. When you died I had to decide if what you taught me was how I wanted to live. I chose Jesus because you made it so perfectly clear that Jesus is the only way, truth, and life (John 14:6). What a gift to have a mom that makes truth clear for her children. Thank you.I went on to experience healing from the pain of your absence. Jesus showed himself so tender and personal. He healed the brokenness and hurt in me that existed long before you died. He walked with me through the painful, ugly, skin crawling things I had done. As I began to confess, I quickly learned that he loves me. I’m not talking about in the trivial way I used to say it but not really believe it. Now when His word tells me that in spite of my sin, he offers me a double portion instead of shame, I believe it (Isaiah 61:7). I’ve learned that He hurts when I hurt. He knows every detail of the pain your absence causes me, and it hurts him because he loves me.This was just the beginning of the healing road. Recently I studied the entire book of Revelation. I went into the study excited to hear about Heaven, and what I can look forward to with you someday. As I studied about Heaven, I started getting excited and hopeful to be there, with you, someday. Then I felt God interrupted with the question, “Am I enough?” I couldn’t stop thinking about this question and what my answer may be. Is God alone enough to make Heaven worth it for me? I wanted to say, “I don’t know”, and move on, but He wanted more. He wanted me to be honest, raw, and truthful. The truth was that at that time, I didn’t love him enough for Heaven to be worth it for me.What I really wanted was to be with you Mom, more than anything in the world, more than I wanted Jesus. I wanted to be with you in a place with no more death, pain or suffering (Revelation 21:4). This is what I truly wanted, to be with you in perfection. You are what made Heaven a desire for me. Though I was religious for many years, I knew that I needed to want Heaven because of Jesus too. I know that Heaven is supposed to be great because of Jesus, because of God. I need Him to be the bigger reason I want Heaven. Studying the book of Revelation made me realize I didn’t think He was enough for me. I wanted Him to be, I knew He should be, but He wasn’t. It felt like a betrayal to you Mom, if I wanted Him more than you. You’re my mom, my person. I was afraid it would hurt you if I wanted Him more. I was afraid it would hurt me if I wanted Him more. I wondered if it was even possible to want Him more. I wanted to tuck these thoughts away, ignore them, and go on believing that it would all work out when I get to Heaven, but I couldn’t. He is showing me there is more to know about Him. He wants all of me, every part of me … the good, bad, ugly, and fearful parts of Maria. With great uncertainty and fear, I once again chose to trust and allow Him to show my heart that He is enough.Taking this vulnerable step in my relationship with Him was one of the most painful steps I’ve ever taken. In a way, it felt like I was losing you all over again. I knew I had to completely let you go in yet another way, in order to walk deeper with Him. I couldn’t do it, it felt wrong. Everything about taking this step felt painful, terrifying like my heart was being torn in two.God has remained faithful through some pretty terrible stuff thus far, so I am choosing to stay willing … He meets me there. He is patient with me. He didn’t rush me out of my broken beliefs about Him. He let me be where I was, broken hearted in my broken belief. I’m learning to love Him more than even you Mom. I feel naked in this new way of thinking. It feels weird to work at wanting Him more and loving Him more. He is turning out to be so different than the God that I had created in my mind. He’s not a religious tyrant, but a loving Savior. He’s not an angry captain, but a faithful King. He’s not a judgmental juror, but a just Judge. He isn’t an arrogant winner, but a kind Protector. He is Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11). It turns out that He is nothing I thought, and everything I never knew I wanted and desperately needed.I used to say that your death brought me life, but I was wrong. Your death allowed me to see more clearly the One that died to give me life, Jesus. I once chose Jesus because you did, but now I want Jesus because of Jesus. I miss you, Mom. In honor of Mother’s Day, I give you the gift you always wanted most for your children: I’m learning to want Jesus more than I want you.
Thank you for teaching me to move toward Jesus. Your mothering is impacting the generations behind you. Well done good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:23). I love being your daughter,
Maria

 

 

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.

 

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.