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Let Go & Let God!

In reading part of Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem tonight, one thing in particular struck me pretty hard:
“We cannot study this subject (referring to the living God) dispassionately! We must love all that God is, all that he says and all that he does.” Deuteronomy 6:5

Y’all, loving who God is is pretty easy, loving all God says is pretty difficult because of our sin nature & loving all He does can be very hard because of our lack of understanding God to the fullest, because we are finite & He is infinite! But that does not change the fact that we still must love all of who God is & trust Him in all things!

What are some ways you do not fully trust God as a believer in Christ? I will be searching my heart and working on any area I am struggling with, will you join me? Will you trust God with everything? Finances? Health? Future decisions? Your kids? Your lost family and friends? I can say that from the moment I actively chose to trust God with Jeff’s cancer was one of the most freeing moments of my life. Don’t let fear of the unknown and the chains of control keep you from living a passionate life for Christ!!

Let Go & Let God!

God Bless,

-A

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Cancer · Joy · Life · Single Mom · Sorrow · Trials · Trusting God · Widow

Better Is One Day….

Lately I have been listening to older worship songs. Most of them from the late 90s and early 2000s, not sure if that’s me holding on to my youth now that I’m 30 or what haha, but either way, that’s what I’ve been doing.

One of the songs that really stuck out to me was Better Is One Day (the version that was recently playing was Charlie Hall)… the chorus goes:

Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere
Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere
With the 3 month of Jeff’s passing yesterday & hearing this song along with others that talk about Heaven, it has been on my heart…  When I hear this song, I think of huge mansions on the most gorgeous beach (my happy place), the most delicious foods and drinks, puppies and dogs everywhere, friends and family laughing and playing sports and games, and simply relaxing with praises to God going on everywhere! Sounds pretty awesome to me! And what this song (which pulls from Psalm 84:10) is saying is that even my best fantasy of a perfect place could not compare to the awe and wonder we will see in Heaven! I cannot wait to get there one day, though I know my time on earth is not yet complete, until the Lord calls me home. With whatever time I have left here on earth, I am to be living out a life that glorifies God! This time here is so short, a blip in time compared to eternity with Christ in Heaven… so why not make the best of the time here?
These months have been hard, but a huge source of peace in my life comes from knowing there is a much greater place waiting for me, a place that Jeff is enjoying right now! He’s in the presence of the Almighty God, the Risen Savior! I’m a bit jealous, but my time will come! Oh until the day to see the Heaven we sing about! Better is one day… and I will one day get eternity there!!
God Bless,
-A
Cancer · Joy · Life · Single Mom · Sorrow · Trials · Trusting God · Widow

Three Months

Wow, THREE MONTHS. Life is moving so fast it feels like it has been so much longer, yet at the same time feels like it was just yesterday Jeff passed away. It especially feels like yesterday when memories flood uncontrollably. Like this morning, seeing in my head the moment he passed away. I remember it so clearly. I will go into more detail at a later time, because in this moment I’m afraid I’ll start crying again and I won’t be able to stop. When the memory came to mind, I quickly turned on my grief playlist, a group of Christian songs that help me to process the emotions. Some are sad, some are happy, all are about hope in Jesus. Because at the end of the day, that is what we have to hold onto. HOPE. I am so thankful each day that I am able to attain this hope because of the sacrifice Jesus made for me on the cross. Clinging to the cross today.

God Bless,

-A

 

Cancer · Joy · Life · Single Mom · Sorrow · Trials · Trusting God · Widow

August & September 2014

 

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AUGUST                                                                                                                                                 So the month of August was pretty steady, we didn’t have really any updates to give, Jeff had still been adjusting to chemo, but he was feeling well for the most part. About the only thing that stuck out to me was I had been doing 2 fantasy football drafts in the same night.

So lets talk about football for a moment…. For those who do not know me or did not know Jeff… we were a household of 5 passions… God, Family, Game Nights with friends, Baseball and Football. Each year as football season would roll around, our house instantly got crazier and often filled with tension. You see, especially in the football world, Jeff and I had NOTHING in common. When it came to college, he was a die hard Texas A&M fan, and I am a die hard University of Texas fan, and though they are no longer still in the same conference, the rivalry still runs deep between these two teams. When it comes to NFL, He was an all out Green Bay Packers fan (just having to type that out made me feel a little yucky) & I am an all out Houston Texans fan as well as carry family loyalties to the Denver Broncos. Our high schools didn’t even like each other, but at least we could back the hometown team together. So for half the year in our home, there was always lots of trash talk, yelling at games, compromising with how to watch the games, many games watched separately, it was a madhouse!!! So as I was looking back at posts from August and seeing all the football excitement, there is a little bit of a relief, but also oh so many things I will miss. I for one am glad to have the stinkin’ Green Bay & A&M stickers off my car, out of my closet (don’t even get me started) & out of the constant conversations. Now let me say now, Jacob is free to choose whatever teams he wants to root for… however… I will not be supporting monetarily unless its for my teams & I will not bend over backward either. I will miss doing fantasy football together, I will miss just the enjoyment of the sport of football together, I will miss going to the local high school games together & just his excitement (sometimes I’ll miss it) for the game. Oh how he loved football.

SEPTEMBER                                                                                                                                            So one of the really cool things that happened was that as I got into my car (I think this was even back when we were still in the hospital if I recall), and on the radio was our local Christian station, I didn’t hear all of what they were saying, but I heard them ask people to call and tell their story about the peace the passes understanding. This phrase had been something Jeff & I had been saying over and over again. I felt the Lord spur my heart to call in and tell them about our journey with Jeff’s cancer & how we felt God’s hand on everything. So I did just that! Well as it turns out, it was a contest for tickets to see Big Daddy Weave!!! Fast forward to September  21st and it was time for the concert! We took our friends Sarah & Edmundo with us & let me just say, that was one of the most Spirit-filled amazing concerts I have ever been to! You felt the Holy Spirit just flood the room! It was amazing! And the fact that we were there all because I was faithful to follow the Lord in calling in and telling our testimony made it that much better! This has been something over the last 3 years that has been a life lesson! Listening to the Holy Spirit is so key for Christians y’all! Sometime He hits you in the face with what He wants you to do, and sometimes you have to be very quite and in tune with God to hear it.

God Bless,

-A

Cancer · Joy · Life · Single Mom · Sorrow · Trials · Trusting God · Widow

The Day I Became A “Mom”

Today is the 2nd anniversary of the day I adopted my son. As I go through the more of the months, we will eventually come to this story, but I wanted to take a moment to celebrate!

I know that I was put in Jeff & Jacob’s life to be Jacob’s mom, as a stepmom I never felt like I didn’t have full responsibility to take care of, support (financially & emotionally) and love him… he was my son. But what this step meant to me, was no one could take him away from me (oh how that is such a beautiful picture of God), there no longer was an instinctive tug at Jacob’s heart that he didn’t have a “mom” in his life, he could now feel free to call me mom (& sometimes he does and sometimes he still calls me Mamie), and logistically with paperwork, insurances, etc. there was no need to put in the word “step”.

Happy Adoption Anniversary Jacob! I love you so much!!!

adopt

God Bless,

-A

Cancer · Joy · Life · Single Mom · Sorrow · Trials · Trusting God · Widow

Birthdays, VBS & Widow’s Emotions

What a crazy AWESOME weekend that just passed!!! With this being the first birthday without Jeff, I wasn’t sure what my emotions would do. As expected they’ve been nothing short of unpredictable since Jeff’s home going. Life has been crazy busy between prepping for Vacation Bible School and my birthday and just life in general, why would I expect this weekend to be anything less?

Let me start by saying, I have the BEST best friend a girl could ask for. Christina and I have known each other since we were little girls, but when my family moved, we lost touch (you know.. because this was before MySpace, Facebook, E-Mail, own phones, etc.), it wasn’t until after high school that we reconnected through Emily, and we picked right back up where we left off! I had the blessing of being her Maid of Honor & before my wedding date was ridiculously bumped up and we decided to forego a traditional wedding party & let Jacob & my mom walk the isle, Christina was going to be my Matron of Honor. She still was was, she planned the wedding with me & helped me get ready, and even though she wasn’t standing at my side in the church, she was still my MOH. I love you Christina!!!

Birthday                                                                                                                                             Jeff’s mom took Jacob out and got me birthday gifts during their alone time, and when I went to pick him up for birthday breakfast, they gave them to me! My son who knows me so well, picked out beautiful flowers, the movie The Sandlot (a shared favorite of ours), an Amazon gift card & a sweet card he picked out himself and signed! Jeff’s parents got me a sweet card and gift card as well. Then we headed off to breakfast which I was super excited for because for the last month I had been doing the Advocare 24 day challenge and had been eating super healthy.. but for my birthday, I splurged since the challenge was now over and we went out for pancakes and french toast! After breakfast he showed me how well he’s now riding his bike (he’s been working so hard on it & I couldn’t be more proud!) & then I left him with Jeff’s parents again and ran off to get things ready for my birthday celebration.

At 2:55 in the afternoon, my mom called me and talked about the story of my birth. One day I will likely share that because it has some really cool God stories in it!!!!

So several months ago, when we knew that there was no way Jeff would be up for throwing me a 30th birthday party, or if he even would still be with us, I tasked Christina with planning it. Let me just say… she did not disappoint! I was so blessed to have a wonderful group of friends come out to celebrate my life! I was totally expecting my emotions to possibly drag me down and miss Jeff incredibly in the midst of the party. It’s My Party by Leslie Gore comes to mind. HOWEVER, I was so overwhelmed by the love and fun we had that I did not once during the party get those feelings! It was the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!!! Christina, Emily & Steven planned a video/picture scavenger hunt that was so much fun! (Your’s is coming next year Christina!) Oh the memories we made! The cake & cupcakes Katrina made were to die for! Still eating on it 🙂 One of my oldest friends Shannon even made it out, we aren’t even entirely sure when the last time we saw each other was, but its been at least 10 years! 

BIRTHDAY

After everyone had left, Christina helped me put stuff in my car and we ended up standing outside talking for 3 hours about everything under the sun (even baskets… bahahaaha)!! Oh how we needed that time together, its been at least a year since we got to talk like that! It was at this point that I finally had those emotions I was anticipating. We cried it out and talked about how we missed Jeff (and oh how he would have loved this party!!). I finally got to slow down and process and grieve the first birthday without Jeff, but rejoice in how wonderful it was anyhow!

When I got home, I discovered during my party my parents had come in town, TP-ed my apartment and left! At first, the exhausted mom in me thought “ugg, I’m going to have to clean this mess”, but then all I could do was laugh! It was the best birthday prank ever & it showed how much my parents love me more than any gift ever could! For those who don’t know, my dad was a youth pastor for 20 years when I was growing up. I’ve probably been doing TP pranks since I could walk! A good prank is a love language in our family!! BUT on top of it, they left 30 gorgeous roses, a sweet card & a box of old photos that have soooo many wonderful memories!!! Some of those will be coming!!!

TP

My 30s started off pretty dang well y’all!!!

VBS Rehearsal                                                                                                                                            Oh I am so sore, but so worth it & I’m just going to let God give me miracle healing, energy & endurance this week! VBS is going to be awesome!!! Running on little sleep and getting myself up to church, running to eat lunch and then back up to the church for final rehearsal yesterday was a bit tiring, but I survived!! I want to just stop for a moment and thank our fearless (and sometimes…. most of the time… crazy) director Lisa! It is my joy and privilege to to work/dance/praise alongside you on Sundays as well as for VBS! Your hard work is so appreciated and I love you to pieces!!! One of my friends and co-leaders Stefanie also shares my birthday, so it’s always fun to be sang to by our wonderful team each year! Because no matter what, our birthdays fall at VBS time and I love it!!! I am so ready for this week and can’t wait to share it with everyone!!!

More Birthday                                                                                                                                             So then I rushed home to clean up and cook lasagna because I had promised a friend I would make it for his birthday which is the day after mine. Oh how I love this sweet family & was so glad Ben, Leslie & the kids made it over! Plus it was extra motivation to do much needed clean up of the apartment. I even paid Jacob $2 for cleaning up all the TP from my parents! We laughed, we loved on each other, we ate & y’all!!! I couldn’t find the recipe card, but ended up making it from memory and it tasted so good! This is a huge thing for me, because it is one of the ways I honor Jeff’s memory… by making it to the best of my ability & keeping the recipe a secreteven from Jacob…. he won’t be getting that probably until he gets married… or at least turns 18. I still need more taste testers for those who want to come  have friend time and eat food!!!!

So THAT was my birthday weekend! I think I said in a previous blog that my 20s were not the best decade, I plan to make 30s the best ever! And it’s off to a great start!!!

 

God Bless,

-A

Cancer · Joy · Life · Single Mom · Sorrow · Trials · Trusting God · Widow

Count It All Joy

Today is one of those days where I just kind of feel like things around me are swirling and it’s difficult just to keep up. I forgot to take important paperwork with me today so they could be sent off (some people know what I’m talking about, no need to go into detail… if you would like to pray for this unspoken request, I would love that!). I feel like I physically have just hit a wall (3 nights in a row of VBS praise team rehearsal on top of life will do that to you), but pressed on to get some things completed because the clutter and unfinished business is driving me nuts!!! So then I went to check the mail & got a notice that a bill payment did not go through (one I did not realized was linked to Jeff’s card that was cancelled… this is a bill that gets paid annually, so it’s just now coming up). BUT THEN… God IMMEDIATELY showed His mercy in the form of a note from my friend Andrea. Just a quick card in the mail wishing me a happy early birthday and telling me she was going to be praying extra hard for us this Father’s Day. As if I wasn’t already crying from the stress of seeing yet another hurdle to get over, now I’m crying tears of joy at the beauty of the Body of Christ.

So then as I’m working around my apartment, struggling to hold myself up to complete stuff, I just suddenly became overwhelmed… for no reason. (This is normal for widows if you didn’t know) I just started crying in my bathroom as I was trying to clean it up, wondering why I felt so helpless and needy and like I just couldn’t catch up no matter how hard I tried. It is such a crazy feeling to constantly be overwhelmed, because while Jeff was so sick and eventually on hospice, I didn’t feel this overwhelmed, I didn’t feel this helpless. Sure I had my moments, but it wasn’t just a constant feeling. Not like it is today. I realize now, it is because when in the midst of the craziness of the cancer battle at the end, we had constant help. Sometimes it was in the form of people dropping in, sometimes it was in the form of family & friends being just an emergency call away, at the end it was in the form of amazing nurses at our side, and in the immediate days after his passing, it was in the form of meals, visitors, prayers, loads of cards in the mail, calls, people offering to help, etc. And while I am still getting so much help, especially with places for Jacob to be this summer, you notice that you don’t get the daily check ups from many of people that were once there… and it’s not because they don’t love or care for us, it’s just easy to go back to normal life after a while. I guess I’ve done such a good job of handling life that people who are not immediately involved in it just don’t see it anymore.

This post is not for pity, nor is it begging for help (although if the Holy Spirit leads you to offer help, I will not turn it down), this is not to draw attention to my struggles, it is simply to be open and honest about what goes on in the life of a young widow, and to shed light on where the blessings from the Lord still come in the midst of the storm.

For ONE, the card I already mentioned previously.

TWO… on the facebook page of the singer Mandisa, she posted songs that speak to her in times of grief and asked others to share songs that speak to them in their time of grief. Some of mine are :

  1. I Am- Crowder
  2. Oceans- Hillsong UNITED
  3. Even If- MercyMe
  4. Thy Will- Hillary Scott
  5. Praise You In This Storm- Casting Crowns
  6. Good Good Father- Chris Tomlin

(Just to name a few)

Seeing the list from Mandisa and other people adding their favorites has greatly blessed me and of course God knew I would need these songs today!

THREE, family & friends who will let you just cry it out and tell them your struggles.

FOUR, the unconditional love of a dog (dogs are the best…especially my Tango).

FIVE, deacons who love on you and offer help in any way they can.

I could list many more, but these are the ways today in which the Lord has shown me that He is always here with me.

Yesterday a friend said she felt that because of all the prep with praise team, she felt like the devil was trying to get after her. So that’s when we are just going to praise harder, shine brighter for Jesus, show His love to everyone we meet, especially in this coming week at Vacation Bible School. We are an example of Christ’s love, and the devil hates that! So since he knows that he cannot pluck us from the Father’s hands (John 10:28), Satan tries to destroy our witness, he attacks us in hopes that it will rattle us and get us angry, make us doubt the goodness of God or the presence of God, anything he can do to make it look like we don’t believe what we know to be true.

So in a moment when I could just as easily go on facebook and blast about my horrible day, I choose joy and truth. Joy– no matter what life brings, I am saved by the grace of God, a God who will never leave me, nor forsake me, a God who sees all and knows the struggles I am dealing with. Truth– life is going to be hard at times, but I am still blessed and will always have the Holy Spirit to comfort me & will one day see the Heavenly Father face to face.

So if you are struggling, if you feel like you just can’t seem to get ahead, feeling like you keep running into brick wallsBrothers, Sisters, Friends… I feel you! Pray about it! Let people love on you! Let GOD love on you!

James 1:2-8
2 Count it all joy, my brothers,[a] when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

I’M COUNTING IT ALL JOY TODAY…. THE FATHER IS WORKING IN ME.

God Bless,

-A