Friday, February 26, 2010

To Feel

To feel is so much more than what we can touch, but it incorporates the deepest part of our hearts, our emotions. I had a bit of a surprise evening tonight. I had all these great plans to enjoy a few of my favorite things, from a warm bubble bath to dinner from my favorite restaurant and a couple of fun/feel good movies. It didn't turn out exactly the way I would have planned, but it wasn't bad. It started with a tremendous headache that was lingering throughout the day and got progressively worse in the last 30 minutes of my work day. So I rested for a while when I got home and then proceeded to press through because I was not going to miss out on a movie night that I'm sure I won't enjoy again for a while. And of course I didn't make it to my favorite restaurant because my head hurt so badly, but I enjoyed a scrumptious steak from another place closer to home. The first movie was great, wonderful, fun, and uplifting (0ddly enough, despite the setting)... and then there was the second movie...

I rented "Across the Universe" (first movie) and "Love Happens" (second movie). "Love Happens" wasn't bad, but as a friend I have to forewarn you... if you've lost a loved one recently, especially unexpectedly or tragecially then I do not recommend watching this movie unless you're willing to let the grief floodgates open. It was not what I was expecting, and I'm not one to walk away from a movie. I realize I could have or maybe should have, but I have this thing about missing out on something deeper, a "message" so to speak. You see, I'm one of those people that truly believes God speaks to us at any time, in any moment, through any outlet... including secular movies and music. Maybe it's just me, but I know God has spoken to me, has taught me lessons, and has moved in my heart despite the junk and unreality of it all (movies & music that is).

I'm much further in the grieving process than I was nearly two years ago when my nephew died, but I'm not gonna lie and say I'm "fixed" or I've made it through to the other side fully. I don't know when that will be or what it will look like, but I do know God is still doing a mighty work in this heart and therefore as long as the tears come up I will cry them. I will cry for my nephew, all the while knowing he is in a better place. I realize I'm not crying for him, but rather crying for those of us left behind. I don't say that to have a pity party or to have anyone feel sorry for me. I say that because I think it is so important in any stage of grief (no matter how far along you are) to be honest with yourself, with God, and with others. So friends... tonight, this is where I am. I realize joy comes with the morning and I'll feel that tomorrow. There's no shame in grief, only grace.

P.S. If you know of someone who has lost a loved one recently or suddenly I would recommend you watch "Love Happens"... I think it serves as a tool to better understand where the grieving person is coming from and for a season where they are "at." But don't call me to watch it with you, not sure you'll like what you see from me ; )

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Surrendering A Dream...

Tonight I give you one of the deepest dreams of my heart. I've hit a crossroad, carrying a load I can no longer bear... so I surrender. Out of the deepest part of me, something held on to for the longest time I bring to the cross. I now tuck it away into your heart to carry for as long as you deem necessary. I trust you, with all that I have, with all that I hope, dream, and love... I trust YOU! For this life has taken a different path than expected, one less traveled, but full of expectancy, grace, mercy, forgivness, joy, and love. Thank you that in this season this is not a dream I have to fight for, but rather one I can lay down, walk away from and trust in your timing. Give me hope and patience Lord as I await the outcome. Help me to learn to lay it down each day for as long as it takes.

Thank you for what you've done, what you're doing, and what you will do... Amen!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Woman Truly After God's Heart

I entered my sister, Cheryl, into a contest for Woman of Faith this evening. In order to help launch her new book, Sheila Walsh, is having a contest to find a woman who has truly trusted God with all she has despite facing unsurmountable odds. I should hearing something by next Friday, March 5... until then I wanted to share what I wrote (and my Dad did all the editting), so if Cheryl isn't chosen at least the whole world will know how incredibly awesome this lady is and it is truly an honor to not only call her my sister, but my best friend!

My sister, Cheryl, has always inspired me with her faith and rock solid trust in the Lord. Indeed, Psalm 11:1, “In the Lord I put my trust.” could be her motto. During my own darkest days several years ago, she consistently took me before the Lord in her prayers, and I know helped shape my life forever. When Cheryl married her husband Bill, she knew his heart for adventure and the unexpected and knew that somewhere down the road it would impact her life. In 2006, just five months after the birth of their daughter, Avery, Bill and Cheryl uprooted their lives and moved from Dallas, Texas to Colorado Springs, Colorado. My sister had never lived anywhere other than Dallas her entire life; but, while leaving behind family and all she knew was heartbreaking, she was excited and trusting in the adventure that was set before their small family.

On November 1, 2007, a year-and-a-half after moving to Colorado, Cheryl gave birth to her second child, a very healthy boy named Billy Jr. She and her husband had just finished renovating a home a few months before and were excited to get the newest addition to their family settled in. Avery was ecstatic at having a baby brother and was so gentle and loving toward him. There was constant laughter in their home as she ran around making Billy Jr. laugh and he in turn would make her laugh, always in awe of what his big sister could do. Then, on the morning of March 29, 2008, just 5 months after the birth of Billy Jr. everything tragically changed and for a season, the laughter seemed to cease. On that morning, as Cheryl went to get her son up for the day, she discovered her beautiful baby was not breathing. After desperately trying to revive their son, Bill and Cheryl gave him to paramedics who rushed to the nearby hospital. With prayerful hope, they learned only minutes later that little Billy did not make it. Billy Jr. died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and the lives of my sister, her husband, daughter and so many family and friends were changed forever.

Trusting God and his guidance, Cheryl found the strength to write and deliver the eulogy at her son’s memorial service. Her words were a deeply powerful testament of an abiding faith in God as well as a moving eulogy for the all-too-short life of Billy Jr. After the memorial, the family packed up as much as they could, left their life in Colorado and moved back to Dallas to be closer to family as they worked through their grief. Almost immediately God spoke to Cheryl in regard to the death of her son. He promised an unexplainable peace that would take months to come to pass. In the midst of the grieving process, Cheryl and Bill felt called into a ministry to work with other families suffering the same loss as they had. On the day that would have been Billy Jr’s first birthday, Cheryl and Bill launched a nonprofit organization in his name, and that organization has become SIDS America ( Through SIDS America, they have been able to help numerous grieving parents across the United States with financial aid and have started support groups as well.

In the midst of overwhelming grief, God called Cheryl to something greater than herself. That something would require her to invest fully and trust God to use her husband and her to minister to others. Cheryl’s faith sustained her confidence that God never leaves us lost. I have watched as this amazing woman has stepped up, not back, and through her sorrow has found a deeper sense of love, compassion, hope, and faithfulness.

Nearly two years have passed since Billy Jr. died and as we approach that memorable date, we also celebrate his little brother’s first birthday. Baby Nathan entered our world on March 25, 2009. Cheryl, Bill, and Avery found a new sense of healing in the gift and blessing of Nathan. He is by no means a replacement for Baby Billy, but a miraculous affirmation of God’s boundless love. Cheryl has faced the greatest loss a parent could ever endure, but instead of succumbing to despair and giving up, she has chosen to press on and fight the good fight. She has chosen a life directed by God and you see it manifested through her, her husband, her daughter, and most recently her son. The spirit by which Cheryl has chosen to travel this life’s journey reflects so well the words of Lamentations 3: 22-23, “Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” She is truly a Woman of Faith.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


I've spent a lot of time over the last week thinking about what my next blog should be or what I wanted to write about. So much to process and that I desire to discuss right now, but sometimes you just have to wait for the "perfect" timing. I kinda feel like God has been pulling sneak attacks on me lately... in a good way. It's actually been absolutely divine, being tapped on the shoulder, spoken to when I least expect it or even before I ask. He's good like that. The biggest thing I've been processing lately is what is my next step... in life that is. This quote here hangs out on my desk and is daily reminder of the journey ahead.

So true... in fact, I'm walking one out now. My graduate studies seemed like more than a thousand miles away (more like a thousand years) and yet here I am about to dive into the last session of classes/tests and gearing up for my practicum which begins in June and runs through November. And we've talked about this many a time before in other blogs, but what a journey it has been. Which gets me to my title... "Unstoppable"

Have you been watching the Winter Olympics? I don't have television at home so I can only catch it if I'm at other people's homes or babysitting. What I've paid special attention to this time around are the stories behind the athletes. They are more than just athletes, they are people like you and me. They face obstacles, they get hurt, they fear that their dreams might be over or unable to obtain but then... then, they get back up, brush themselves off and fight to live out the dream that is laid before them. I love it, makes my heart ooze with joy! I even downloaded Rascal Flatts' song "Unstoppable" that the Olympics have been using for this year. What a great and inspiring song! It's become my own little motivational theme song as I push through these final few months and find the strength that God has placed in me to accomplish this long time dream of mine.

The crazy thing of it all is that people told me a couple years ago that I was incredibly strong and I couldn't see it, I didn't believe them. Sometimes I wish I had, it may have saved some relationships, but now that I do I've learned to believe in my abilities, to believe in the goal set before me and trust that I can't do it alone, but with God nothing is impossible.

"You find your faith has been lost and shaken
You take back what's been taken
Get on your knees and dig down deep
You can do what you think is impossible
Keep on believing, don't give in
It'll come and make you whole again
It always will, it always does
Love is unstoppable."
~ Rascal Flatts, Unstoppable, 2009

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Spirit Within Her

Have I told you I volunteer at Children's Medical Center (CMC) Dallas twice a month? Well, I do... and I love it. And I'll be honest, with my crazy busy and weary schedule there are some times when I don't feel like going, but boy does God meet me there... everytime, without fail! And this past weekend was no different, in fact I think the encounter I had just served to further confirm a peace that I've had growing slowly in my heart for about a month now. Two of my duties while at Children's are to sit with kids who are unable to leave their rooms or to help out the Child Life Department in the Playrooms on one of the floors in the C tower. Lately there has been a great need for sitting so I've grown accustomed to that more often than not. This past Sunday (Valentine's Day to be exact) I had the privilege and honor of sitting with an 11-year-old girl who exuded the love of Christ and such a beautiful spirit. The details I carry I'm unable to share with you, but I can share that she lost her mom on February 7. So heartbreaking, especially for a young child, but this young girl doesn't miss a beat. She is fully aware of all her surroundings, doesn't hesitate to call you out or to ask questions when she doesn't know who you are or what you're doing in her room. She also isn't afraid to ask for what she wants, I admire that tremendously. We talked for the majority of the time I had with her (only an hour) about her mom and about one of the last interactions she had with her. We talked about how her grandmother cares for her and her younger brother and how she and her grandmother are trying to be positive so that her brother's spirits remain high. She talked about missing her mom, but that she was glad she wasn't hurting anymore. We laughed and talked about how her mom was probably in Heaven at that moment dancing, singing, and running with Jesus. I wish I had known her, she sounds like a remarkable woman and most definitely has a remarkable daughter.

Things look so different through the eyes of a child. Things are just more simple and in the 7 1/2 months I've spent volunteering at Children's, my perspective has change immensely. These kids have helped change my heart and grievances that I've held so tightly onto that more often than not only bring sin and bondage than freedom. I see how incredibly blessed I am through the eyes and perspectives of each one of the kiddoes I encounter at the hospital and I hope that they realize how much they've changed my life. The timing of everything has been perfect and as I embark on a 2 month hiatus from my position at Children's I look forward to returning in May and seeing how else God is going to use this amazing opportunity to change my life. I'm not the same person I was a year ago, in fact I'm not even the same person I was a month ago. This has been a tremendous growing pain and I look forward to seeing where it ultimately takes me.

I pray that I too would have a spirit within me that exudes with peace and the love of Christ that clearly shines through that young girl.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pressing On...

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect,
but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called
me heavenward in Christ Jesus." ~ Philippians 3:12-14

Distraction, party of one? Yep, that would be me as of lately. Man, when the enemy wants to throw you off course he pulls out every dirty trick in the book. In the last two weeks I've found myself distracted by jealousy, condemnation, exhaustion, iPhone games... you name it, I think I've stumbled upon it. But in the late night of last Saturday I heard the ever so familiar voice of my King speaking truth and love over this tired heart. You see, God has placed an amazing call on my life... we all have one, for some it is known at birth, for others it takes years to find where it is He has destined for you to go. I fall in the latter category. I've mentioned this before, but it took me 3 years after applying for graduate school to finally enroll and now having completed nearly 2 years of my 2.5 year program, I can't believe how quickly time flies. It has been such a wonderful journey, one that has been confirmed time and time again that I am indeed doing the right thing.

So I press on, battered, bruised, tearful, blood dripping, and exhausted... I press on to the goal, the prize set before me. And the thing of it is, it's not even about me or what I can do, but rather who He is and what He is going to do through me. Once I finish this portion of my journey that's when the real adventure begins. I cannot even fathom the doors that will open as God directs me along the path He has laid out. I get giddy with the thought of the clients, the families that I'll be working with once I'm licensed. But again, it's not about me, for without God none of this would be possible. I thank the Lord that despite the distractions I've faced along this journey, I know I can place my complete trust in Him and walk this out with no fear. With 84 days left until my big departmental exam, which will determine whether or not I graduate, all I have left (and all I've ever had) is hope and faith. My God is an awesome God, one who is faithful and true... one who gives and takes away, but never leaves us lost and never stops loving us.

If everything comes down to love
Then just what am I afraid of
When I call out Your name
Something inside awakes in my soul
How quickly I forget I'm Yours

I'm not my own
I've been carried by You
All my life

Everything rides on hope now
Everything rides on faith somehow
When the world has broken me down
Your love sets me free

~ Hope Now, Addison Road, 2008