I really didn’t want to go.

I texted my associate minister early yesterday morning to see if he would send me notes from his Sunday School lesson and explained that I just didn’t think I was up for being around people but I hated to miss his last lesson on the power of the Holy Spirit.

After a brief texting conversation, though, I decided being in church was exactly what I needed.

Tim, on the other hand, needed some time at home……………….alone…………………grief speaks differently to different people, and I do think it’s so important to listen.

I slipped into the service at the last minute and tucked myself between two friends.

Life is safer between friends who walk the road of grief with you, and I felt safe.

As worship began, I could feel my lip begin to quiver and tears begin to fall.

Singing songs with the lyrics,

I’ll stand
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the one who gave it all
I’ll stand
My soul Lord to you surrendered
All I am is yours

reminded me that this thing called “life” really isn’t about me.

Dana passed me a pack of Kleenex, and I felt I had been given permission to abandon more than my life.

Tears flowed freely now.

Our children’s minister led the elementary kids in the reciting of the Beatitudes.

It was so sweet, and I kept thinking,

“Nick would have been right there at that age…………….saying each verse with the biggest grin.”

 Really, all my kids would have………………where has the time gone?

The sermon began, and I could tell this was right where I was supposed to be.

Living Generationally was the title of his message.

Four church members from different generations of life joined our minister up front.

The beauty of this visual overwhelmed me.

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God longs for us to pass down to the next generation the things we have learned about Him, about life, about love…………….and he longs for us to reach out to those who’ve walked this life ahead of us in order to learn more about what it means to follow Him.

I felt God whispering that Nick, even in his death, is still passing things on to those who walk this road of life after him.

During the sermon, my phone buzzed, and I looked down to see a message from one of Nick’s childhood friends.

It simply said,

“Love and miss you! Praying for you all today! I hope you know that Nick is still in my heart and is still my hero.”

I felt a smile begin to form on my face.

“Still my hero……”

Yes,

Nick still matters.

He lives generationally even in his death……………and shouldn’t we all have this kind of life goal?

As the service ended, I could feel myself longing for special prayer.

I made my way to Ben, and the next few moments I can’t really remember except that I felt free to weep…………….to let it all out…………….

I do remember feeling arms come around me from the back and hearing the words, “I love you, Tammy Nischan.” Looking back, I saw Leslie, our children’s minister holding on to me, crying too.  I felt enveloped in all kinds of love and support in that moment.  I knew I would be okay.

And then Ben’s prayer washed peace over my soul.

Returning to my seat, Vicki and Dana slipped the Kleenex pack back to me.  My friends have a way of making me laugh even when I’m crying.

As I sat there watching a young man get baptized, I looked down at my Kleenex and realized they were being held in a Spiderman package.

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Spiderman.

A hero.

Nick.

A hero.

Don’t we all need some sort of hero?????

When I pulled back into our driveway, I stayed in the car a while to reply to some messages.  I messaged Melissa to her know how much it meant to hear from her and how I smiled when I read that Nick was still her hero.  I told her I was holding a Spiderman Kleenex package in my hand at the very same time and didn’t even realize it in that moment.

She immediately replied, “Oh my gosh! I”m wearing a Spiderman t-shirt right now!!!”

Here I sat in Grayson, Kentucky, in my car as Melissa sat in a cafeteria at Campbellsville University and somehow God was using a Kleenex package and Facebook message to remind us both that He sees us, He knows our hearts, He knows what we need……………………….

Why wouldn’t He pour this much specific love on His children?

I asked Melissa to please send me a picture and asked for permission to share it here:

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Of course she added two thumbs up!!

I have been such a mess for a while now, but yesterday God brought together so many little things (a powerful sermon, a loving children’s minister, contents of a friend’s purse, the choice of words in a Facebook message and a t-shirt) to remind me that there is not one detail of life in which He is not intimately involved.

He knows our needs and He cares.

Today, I want to thank you all for praying for our family.

Please don’t stop.

But I also want you to walk through life with your eyes wide open………………………..

God may be using the things in your purse or pocket, the words you speak, or the clothes you are wearing to bless another person’s life today………………..or He may be using someone else’s to bless yours.

Don’t miss Him.

He’s there.

Even in the deepest valley.

He is there.

Nick’s favorite verse seems so appropriate today,

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.

Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,

for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

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It’s early on Thanksgiving morning,

and our house is filled with sleeping people.

In just a few minutes, though, the hustle and bustle of gathering supplies and heading toward Mamaw and Papaw’s will shove silence out the door and replace it with conversations about “not forgetting this” or “remembering that.”

This is my 50th Thanksgiving on this planet.

In some ways, it seems like so many and yet this year everything seems new.

I’m not sure if it’s the changes in everyone around me or if it’s just me who is going through some sort of metamorphosis; but whatever the case, I feel different today.

I feel super aware of all the things I consider blessings in my life.

I wrestled all night.

Every time I moved a bit, I could hear Tim snoring; and I found myself feeling incredibly thankful for simple things like the sound of his breath moving in and out.

I found myself praying for my kids in ways I’d never prayed for…………………….thanking God for their current struggles because I know these are the very things that will draw each of them closer to Him…………………in time.

I found myself wondering what I would be like today if I had never faced a Thanksgiving dinner with empty chairs; and in that moment I found myself giving thanks for the honor of loving human beings who were taken from me way before I was ready to let them go.

I don’t have time to write a lot this morning, but I had to get up and share one thought today and this is it:

As you gather with loved ones over the next couple of days to celebrate this annual day of Thanksgiving,

take a minute to set down your fork.

No one has to know what you’re doing.

You can even pick up your glass and take a drink as you do this; but while your fork is down, look around the table.

Soak in every face.

Listen to every voice.

Silently give thanks for life and laughter and love.

And if there are faces absent and voices missing,

give thanks for them too and how they’ve helped make you who you are today.

My phone just buzzed as I was typing, and I glanced over to see this pic:

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Our friends are at the Macy’s Parade this morning and

just sent this message to let us know they are thinking of us and of Nick.

 I’m already feeling overwhelmed with thanksgiving,

and I haven’t even had a chance to set down my fork.

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
Zeph. 3:17
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I Thess. 5:18
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.
And be thankful.
Col. 3:15
Happy Thanksgiving from the Nischan house to yours!

scrabble edited smaller

Scrabble makes it seem so easy.

The creating of words.

The building of a story.

The crossing over of things like love and hope.

————————————–

Social Media makes it look easy too.

Smiles everywhere.

People feeling so blessed and thankful.

My Facebook wall is no different………………..I share the highs and spare the world my lows.

Even though my heart does overflow with many reasons to say “thank you”,

 it’s also very heavy……………

And every time I try to blog, I’m reminded of the heaviness.

I sit at my computer and quickly realize there’s no hiding on a white screen.

It’s not easy to form words into sentences when you’re doing your best to just get ornaments on your tree.

And that’s where I’m at these days…………………

knowing words like

peace

believe

joy

and

love

all overlap and intertwine and matter,

but struggling to make them come together in a way that makes sense.

So what do I do when I can’t write, when I can’t form words into sentences?

I do what I can.

I clean out a closet

or take more pictures

or move a piece of furniture

or write a paper for class

or even try to decorate my tree.

Something.

Anything.

Because sometimes Scrabble and Social Media are the only places to see things like love and hope come together when everywhere else they seem so far apart.

—————————————————

Maybe moving my fingers across the keyboard will be enough to release me.

Maybe just typing out the line,

Life is hard,”

will soften the rough edges.

————————————–

The Rubbermaid container filled with mangled Christmas memories seemed to overflow with reminders………………

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joy ornament edited

love stocking edited

 

peace horizontal edited

I hung them one by one.

Alone, they were just words.

But on the tree…………

in the glimmering lights…………

they spoke to me.

As I placed them on the branches, I felt them speaking……………………..

“Do what we do, Tammy………………….just hang on.”

And something washed over me with each ornament I added.

I held on to each one for a minute.

I thought about what they really meant…………………

Believe – to feel sure of, to accept as true.

I believe the Christmas story.

I believe in the power of Jesus’ name.

Joy – a feeling of great happiness.

I hesitate with this one.

I remember Psalm 126:6

Those who go out weeping,

carrying seed to sow,

will return with songs of joy,

carrying sheaves with them.

I have shed many tears, this I know.

And I do try so hard to carry seed to sow.

Today, I hang this word trusting in a harvest.

Today, the promise of sheaves has to be enough.

Love – an intense feeling of deep attraction.

This one’s easy.

I love God.

I love people.

I love life.

Peace – freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility.

My fingers lock as I hold it.

Why am I struggling so?

I remember a verse that helped me realize it may not just be me………..

Psalm 34:14

Seek peace and pursue it.

It sounds like peace may be something that enjoys hiding…………..even running.

I must seek peace.

I must pursue it.

I choose a branch.

I speak the word out loud as I wrap it around the evergreen.

Peace

Just hearing it helps.

I feel something wash over me as I step back.

I examine all the ornaments in place, and I imagine them whispering,

Just hang on.

Nothing’s changed, really.

Life is still hard.

But I’m not the same woman who reached into the tub in search of ornaments.

I found something there.

I found joy and peace.

And isn’t that just like God to hide treasures in a Rubbermaid container?

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,

so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

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We had walked all over the farm, capturing engagement pics from so many angles.

It had been such a fun morning……………….

light conversation about every day life mixed with

heavy conversation about the seriousness of a marriage commitment.

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As our time together came to an end, I snapped this picture………

the pile of props had caught my attention for some reason, and it wasn’t until yesterday that I realized why.

I needed this picture as a reminder that even when I think I’ve gathered everything…………….

I need to take time to be absolutely sure.

______________________________

After loading my car, we hugged and said good-bye.

I headed home, thinking all my treasures were with me.

I didn’t give much thought to my camera supplies until yesterday morning when I wanted to change the lens.

It was only then that I realized something very valuable was missing.

One of my most precious lenses had carelessly been left behind.

My casual search through the house turned a little frantic as I came to grips with the fact that what I considered a treasure was lost…………………..who knows where……………..on a farm half an hour away.

My husband, who truly deserves a medal, offered to head toward the country with only a visual of where I had walked while doing the photo shoot.

“Here’s the driveway,” I said as I placed a set of keys on the table.

“Here’s the house,” I represented with a notebook.

The creek and barn showed up as ink pens and earrings.

Tim took this little bit of knowledge and headed out.

As I finished getting ready for church, I anxiously awaited an update.

Eventually, a text arrived,

and I could tell the hunt was more difficult than we had even imagined it would be.

Tim typed these words,

“Can you send some pics you took so I can get an idea of which direction to walk?”

I sat down at my computer and started snapping photos of different moments from the photo shoot.

It was so strange looking at my work as part of a mystery he was trying to solve.

As I looked at one particular series of photographs, I remembered exactly where I was when I changed lenses.

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I texted Tim this picture.

He immediately began walking along the edge of the creek until he came to the trees that matched the ones in the background.

It wasn’t long until I received another message from him that simply said,
“Found it!!!”

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Safely nestled under a leaf that must have blown over it in the night, my lens lay waiting………….

protected from the frost and dew by a blanket of nature.

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If my lens could talk, I’m sure it would share a scary story of night sounds and unbearably cold temperatures.

I’m sure it would talk about feelings of being left behind, forgotten………………

I’m confident it would speak of second-guessing its worth as it was crawled over by all kinds of little bugs throughout the dark night.

But I’m also sure it would eventually share about the incredible feeling of peace that overcame it as a blowing leaf arrived just in time.

Protection

Covering

Warmth

Shelter

Comfort

At some point in the night, the wind had delivered much-needed protection and everything had changed for my lens.

As I held my lens in my hands later in the afternoon, I felt a connection with it I had never felt before.

There was something so powerful about knowing we had both been saved by the moving of the wind……………

Like my camera lens and probably just like you, I have felt the despair of feeling abandoned.

I have felt helpless, frightened, alone.

I’ve also experienced moments of great relief as the wind has blown and sent just what I needed to survive a scary night or a terrifying day.

________________________________________________________

I’m sure I haven’t always appreciated the value of the leaves in my life………………….

the friend

the verse

the hug

the book

……………….like I should have.

___________________________

Looking back, though, I can think of so many times when God changed the wind just enough to cover me………..

time and time again………………………….

exactly when I needed it.

Bible studies

Sermons

Cards

Phone calls

Text messages

Sunrises

Sunsets

All sorts of things have arrived just in time………………..

and reminded me that I’m never alone…….

no matter how dark the sky may seem or how brutal the cold may feel.

My camera lens has reminded me that God truly is a wind changer………………..

and sometimes all He needs to send with the breeze is one fallen leaf.

Jehovah-Roi, My Protector

Jehovah -Jireh, My Provider

Jehovah -Shalom, My Peace

Jehovah – Nissi, My Banner

Jehovah – El Elohim, My Strong Protector

Jehovah Shammah, My Abiding Presence

Jehovah Magen, My Shield

Jehovah Azar, My Helper

Jehovah Machaceh, My Refuge

Jehovah Nacham, My Comforter

Today, you may be fully aware of His Presence in your life or you may be just like me on so many days when I need a little reminder of just how quickly He can change the wind and at the same time change my entire life.

Wherever this Monday finds you, know that God doesn’t have to do any searching to find you there.

He is with you (Emmanuel)………………even in the darkness, even in the cold.

You are His treasure.

No what you’re facing, you’re going to be okay.

Close your eyes.

Feel the moving of the breeze.

It’s bringing just what you need.

I don’t know a lot, but I do know this………………..

He’s got you covered.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge;

his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Psalm 91:4

(So excited about your upcoming marriage, Chuck and Kelli! Love you both!!)

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When You Wake Up Feeling Scared

November 14th, 2015

/ / / / / / / / /

 

Paris

Baghdad

Mexico

Japan

Beirut

The headlines are filled with terrorist attacks and natural disasters this morning.

——————————————————-

Last night, our television was glued to the breaking news in Paris.

As I prepared to leave for a middle school lock-in at our church, I was filled with a sense of dread and fear.

The juxtaposition of these two events overwhelmed me.

Choosing board games seemed so wrong as people on the other side of the world had no choice but to hide as men with weapons roamed their streets.

I could feel welts begin to pop up on my chin…………..my bodies way of handling stress the past few years.

What could I do??

A mom in a little town in Kentucky……….overwhelmed for people in a country oceans away.

As I walked to my car late last night, I glanced up toward the sky.

The stars seemed to sparkle, and I remembered moments almost seven years ago when these celestial creations seemed to almost speak to me.

After Nick died in November of 2008, I would often stand on our deck and just look up, wondering if he could see me.

Wondering if he knew that even though I was moving forward, my heart was standing so very still.

That’s exactly how I felt last night.

I was moving forward……..toward a church lock-in,

but my heart was frozen…..

stuck……..

in Paris.

This beautiful city where my son and daughter-in-law spent time this summer.

This place where my daughter-in-law made new friends during her month of studying abroad.

This place where a big part of her heart always stays.

I found myself whispering those very words again,

“Are you there?”

Last night, though, I wasn’t asking Nick about his presence.

I was talking to the Creator of the universe.

I was speaking to Him who first spoke life into existence.

“Are you there?”

Deep inside, I know He is……………………….but sometimes I wonder.

I trust and I doubt.

I feel brave and I feel terrified.

I’m confident and I’m insecure.

I feel certain and I feel unsure.

I stay calm and I become panicked.

I know peace and I know turmoil.

I walk by faith, yet I stumble with every step.

Last night, I came back home at 1 a.m. after several fun games and lots of laughter, leaving college girls to man the still-very-awake middle school crew.

Every once in a while, I take advantage of my age………………

and last night was one of those nights.

I just needed a bed, a safe place to lay my head.

I woke up early this morning in spite of the late night, and my heart immediately filled with thoughts of France.

I knew it was pointless to try to go back to sleep, so I made my way through the darkness of the morning and began reading more news stories……………….

wondering how in the world the whole world is supposed to wake up and face today?

Last night, one news commentator said,

“The world as we knew it has forever changed.”

What do we do with this kind of news?

What do we do when we look at the night sky and wonder if God is there?

What do we do when we wake up and fear is the first emotion that runs through our body?

Psalm 56:3-4 is a verse I have clung to for years.

I’m a woman who battles anxiety almost every day.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you…………In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?

Sometimes it feels like God is so unreachable, so very unaware…………….

Sometimes it feels like we’re on our own,

facing evil at every turn.

In moments like these, I’m so thankful for verses like the ones above.

In times of unsettling reality, I need words to settle me down.

This morning, I woke up feeling scared.

Darkness filled my bedroom and my heart.

I did the only thing I could do in that moment……………

I stumbled through the darkness and eventually found my way to Him.

Isn’t that just how He works??

He leads us through the darkest valleys……………

and says, “fear no evil.”

I have to remember that He doesn’t say there will be no evil……………….

He simply says, “Do not fear it.”

So, today, if you find yourself waking up filled with fear,

stumble toward Him.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

“Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.”

John 14:27


Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Phil. 4:6-7

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 

II Tim. 1:7

The sun has risen since I began writing this morning.

I have to remember……………

God is as faithful as the dawning of this new day.

The world as we know it may have changed forever last night,

but God is still God.

He is still on His throne.

Malachi 3:6 says,

I the LORD do not change.

Lean on those words today.

Acknowledge Him.

Press on, even if you stumble all the way.

He is there………….just ahead……………as faithful as the rising sun.

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Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”

Hosea 6:3

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Saturday evening I watched my son Nick’s best friend marry the love of his life.

The wedding was perfect in every possible way.

Love filled the air and Tim, along with Nick’s photograph, stood in Nick’s place as best man.

The view was overwhelming and beautiful all at the same time.

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So many layers of love on one stage.

Bride for groom

Groom for bride

Family for family

Friend for friend

Father for daughter

Daughter for father

Father for son

Son for father

Best friend for best friend

This was a night for celebrating love…………..and life.

My grieving heart was strong,

because I knew Nick was there.

In his own special way, he wasn’t missing this moment.

It was just me that was missing him.

I thought of Mary, treasuring up things in her heart, and I wanted this moment to last forever.

This moment where Nick was invited back into life in such a real way………….a way that made being his mom feel touchable again, feel real, feel validated.

On the outside, I smiled.

On the inside, I wrestled with the question every grieving mom wrestles with daily…….

Why?

It’s a question with no good answer, so over time I’ve learned to shut it down as soon as it begins dancing through my head………….

even though I’ve never found a way to get this three-letter word out of my heart.

Why?

I watched Brandon sing to his bride, and the smile on his face washed over me…………………..Nick was smiling too.  I just knew it.

Don’t we all want this kind of joy for our friends?

I watched Angie dance with Brandon, and the smile on her face washed over me………………….I smiled too.

Don’t we all want this kind of joy for our friends?

The evening ended, and I crawled in bed certain that I had been hit by a large boulder.

My body felt the ache of grief while my heart overflowed with the beauty of love.

This is my life.

Every single day.

Ache in pain and overflow with love

I’m getting used to it, but sometimes the layers of life get the best of me…………and Sunday it all came crashing in.

Sometimes a wave brings an unexpected seashell,

but for me a seashell brought an unexpected wave.

My friend had no idea what kind of power she held in her hands.

To her, a Ziploc bag carried a few beach memories she wanted to share.

To me, her Ziploc bag carried the essence of my existence.

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She reached in and pulled out a large, dark-brown sea bean in the shape of a heart.

Look what I found for you!

Her words almost echoed in my head as I imagined the journey of this ocean treasure.

I’d never heard of such a thing……………..

When I got home, I looked up the definition of this object I had never seen before.

“Drift seeds (also sea beans) and drift fruits are seeds and fruits adapted for long distance dispersal by water. Most are produced by tropical trees, and they can be found on distant beaches after drifting thousands of miles through ocean currents.”

Here I stood, having sat through a powerful lesson on the power of the Holy Spirit, feeling quite empty and weak……….holding in my hand a seed of love that had drifted from who knows where onto the very beach where my friend stood…………….and she was now handing it to me.

Isn’t God’s love just like that????

We don’t know exactly where it starts or how it ends up at our feet, but there it is…………….

just when we need it.

Whispering, “I see you and I care.”

Without much of a pause, she pulled out yet another gift from the depths of the ocean.

A shell that was actually layers and layers and layers of shell growth.

She said, “Isn’t this cool?  Look at all the layers……….I thought you could find something to say about this on your blog.”

I held it in my hands,

and I saw me.

I saw all the layers of my life flash through my mind.

Layers few realize exist.

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The juggling of school and work and home.

The struggles of parenting that wear on my heart every single day.

We walked from our Sunday school room to the building where we would worship; and as we walked, my heart beat loudly in my chest.

I could feel my lip shaking.

I could feel my eyes filling with tears, and part of me tried to force it all down.

But the Ziploc bag in my hand filled with so much love overwhelmed me; and before I could think about the consequences of my next move, I spoke the words we all need to speak from time to time,

“I need prayer.”

There it was.

The truth was out on the table.

And once it had been served, there was no taking it back.

I should have known that tears would follow.

I should have known that opening this door meant walking through it.

Before I could even realize what was happening,

it all began to pour out.

Tears and words

All the mom-stuff buried inside of me was dumped in front of a couple of mom-friends,

and it felt so good to know I wasn’t alone in that moment.

It felt so good to just admit that I was weak……………..and my smile was fake…………..and my heart was aching.

Life is so complicated, and the layers of pain can get the best of me sometimes.

It felt so good to peel some layers back and let the real me out.

The me who feels confused, inadequate, overwhelmed, hurt, used, broken.

I’ve given my pain to God time and time again.

I trust Him with it all.

But His answer seems to remain the same…………….

“My grace is sufficient for you,  for power is perfected in weakness.”

II. Cor. 12:9

So, what do I do today with all my weakness?

My feelings of being not quite enough every where I turn.

I guess I do what Paul did…………………

I find joy in my inability to walk alone.

I find strength in my need for Someone to lean on.

I find contentment in the struggle to hold a Ziploc bag filled with shells while not being able to hold back my very own tears.

Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

II Cor. 12:10-11

If you feel weak today, know that somewhere drifting in the sea is a bean of love……………..traveling towards you………………..waiting to show up just when you need it most.

If the contents of a Ziploc bag can be so powerful,

just imagine what God can do for you today.

He truly longs to be your joy and your strength no matter what you are facing.

Trust Him.

He is there.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

Psalm 28:7

Brandon and Abby, we love you so much!

Thank you for allowing Tim and Nick to share in your day in such a significant way.

Thank you for reminding this grieving mom that her son still matters and is  loved so deeply.  We love you so much!

Jennifer, thank you for my gifts from the sea.

Thank you for reminding me that love is there………….always.

Janel and Jennifer, thank you for being the shoulders I needed on a rough Sunday morning.

Thank you for reminding me that even when I am weak, God is still so very strong!

Forever praising Him………………………….

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When Life Gets Messy

November 5th, 2015

 

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I’ll never forget this day.

Carelessly, I moved from one room to the next,

forgetting about this small can beside my feet…………….

As the paint ran across the floor, I remember thinking,

“How ironic…..the very thing I’m using to make a room more attractive has now become my mess.”

It seemed to grow as I tried scooping it back into the container, running down the edges as quickly as I poured.

Messes.

They’re so easy to make but so hard to clean up.

One thing I know for sure after fifty years of living is this…..

no matter how hard I try…………

life gets messy even when I’m trying to make it more beautiful.

I wish I knew what to do when paper towels aren’t enough.

I wish I had an easy solution for cleaning up a spill that sticks and stains.

The truth is, there’s no easy way to “unspill.”

Scoop

Swipe

Smear

Scrub

Scoop

Swipe

Smear

Scrub

It takes work to undo what’s already done.

Sometimes, no matter how hard we scrub, no matter how hard we work,

it never seems to be enough to remove the evidence of a mess.

Whether you’re a grandparent, mom, dad, daughter, son, friend, brother, sister, cousin……………or any other type of relational being,

there will come a day when you forget the can is on the floor…….

The very container that holds something created for beauty will hit your foot, and you’ll find yourself on the floor too.

Scooping, swiping, smearing, scrubbing

Life can seem like three steps forward and ten steps backward so many days.

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I wonder, though, from God’s eyes just how messy our lives really look?

How does He see our spilling, scooping, swiping, smearing, scrubbing?

Is there music playing as He watches try to undo what’s done?

What if, from His view, the whole mess is a beautiful thing?

What if He sees the carelessness of our feet and smiles?

What if He sees our time on our knees as time well spent?

The pausing from our own attempts at creating beauty may just be the most beautiful part of our lives.

I’m slipping away from some of my messes for the next 48 hours……..with a friend who is slipping away from hers too.

We’re headed somewhere where firewood and flashlights will become our only source of heat and light.

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Bibles and journals

Hot dogs and marshmallows

Blankets and pillows

Coats and hats

No cans of paint……………

no electricity……………

I’m not sure what to expect as I begin to pack, but I do know this:

Being human isn’t easy,

and maybe a night in the woods is exactly what we both need.

Scoop

Swipe

Smear

Scrub

Life is definitely messy,

but maybe it’s in the bending down to try to clean it up that we will discover real beauty.

I have a feeling God is already there………….in the wilderness…………..waiting for us.

Come, let us bow down in worship,

let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;

Psalm 95:6

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This weekend, Nick’s childhood buddy and sidekick is getting married.

Nick should be standing beside Brandon on this big day;

but since he can’t, Brandon has asked Tim to stand in his place.

With their engagement happening on 7-11 in Nick’s memory and their wedding being set for 11-7,

Tim and I are overwhelmed with emotions this week as we reflect on the memories of these two boys together.

Sleepovers

Trampoline wrestling matches

Video game marathons

Movie nights

Walks to and from each other’s homes

Last night, we sifted through photographs trying to find a perfect one for the wedding display.

This picture made us both feel happy and feel sad at the very same time.

Life has changed so much for our family since that day,

but one thing I know for sure…………….

Nick is still smiling that same kind of smile, and he wants us to keep on smiling………………

for him.

I’ve found myself a little less full of words lately,

but my heart hasn’t been any less full of emotions and my mind hasn’t been any less full of thoughts.

This morning, as the sun rises and a new days begins,

I had to take a minute to share this memory and just a few thoughts on what it means to a parent when their child is remembered and honored in such a special way.

When your son is in Heaven and is asked to be the best man in a wedding,

it’s as if the whole world stops and says,

“We will never forget your boy and the part he played in our lives.”

Having your child included in conversations and events after they are gone is a gift that exceeds anything that could be wrapped in paper or placed in a gift bag.

Grieving parents have one burning passion……………….to keep their child’s memory alive.

Grieving parents want to know that all the love and memories and joy their child brought to the world has not faded away.

Grieving parents want to know that if their child were still here,

they would be right in the middle of so many happy days.

Grieving parents want to still feel like joy-filled parents,

because deep inside they wouldn’t trade their pain for a life without a reason for it.

Today if you have a friend who is grieving,

don’t be afraid to send them a note or give them a hug and just share a memory of their loved one that makes you smile.

Death may try to take away our loved ones, but it can never take away our precious memories.

O death, where is your sting?

I’m thankful today for Brandon and Abby and their desire to have Nick share in their special day in such a significant way.

I know Nick will show up.

He’s already been making himself known through hearts and pennies in extra-big ways this past week, and I am confident of this:

Heaven is real.

We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses.

The veil between this life and the next are incredibly thin.

Nick loved God so much.

If He could say one thing to you today, it would be this,

“Smile and believe.

Life is short.

Life is a gift.

Cherish every breath.”

You made me; you created me.

Now give me the sense to follow your commands.

May all who fear you find in me a cause for joy,

for I have put my hope in your word.

Psalm 119:73-74