Saturday, February 15, 2014

Counting it Joy

So the other day I was driving into work like I do 10 days a week, (Yes I know there are only 7 days) and I was going in extra early to help out third shift (I work 1st).  On the drive I suddenly started to feel led to begin really speaking about some Bible verses in James.  
James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 
Well in the last 5 plus years of my life I have come to know when I can hear God telling me to do something. I am certain He somehow wants me to share out loud, but since this is my only avenue I am going to share here.
Count it pure joy really???  I am thinking that at first glance this has got to be a joke or something.  There is no way I can count some of the things that have happened as pure joy!  Specifically there is no way I can ever count it pure joy that I am 30 and living with one of my children in Heaven.  There is no way God is talking to me with these verses.  Kinda like, "Hello God you have the wrong person here!"  The truth is He does not have the wrong person here at all.
Ethin left this world in 2009, but when that happened he became whole and healthy and that is something to be joyful about.  And if we really read the rest of these verses all that is said in them is also true.  Having and losing Ethin tested every fiber of my faith!  It tested every bit of my relationship God and it made me question whether or not Jesus ever really came and died for me or anyone else.  I questioned my whole life and my entire belief system.
Thankfully when we question God's existence or His authority He will show you truth.  Once I was shown His truth I came back into my faith very slowly and warily as I was skeptical.  However I came to understand that I was angry at God when I needed to be angry with satan.  As my anger shifted and eventually subsided I began to live again.  Very slowly, but it happened.  
Then I began to be fully alive in Him and living in this world with a truth to share.  This is where the testing of my faith produced perseverance.  It did not happen over night and I believe it will always be happening in a small way.  However perseverance did take almost 5 years for me to be writing this message to you telling you that my faith is matured and it is not lacking.  
God used so many trials that satan put in my life to bring me to Him.  He loves us so much that He uses everything!  He then uses us to help others too.  I am not saying I am perfect or mature, (Many would argue I am not mature) but I am saying my faith is mature and unwavering and that is an area that we all should want to persevere to.  My faith stands strong in a God that I know loves me and wants me.  He has plans for me and needed me to mature in Him and keep my faith in Him to get to where I am going; to follow His will for my life!  
Oh friends I know that there are trials that we face that it is so hard to not be angry with God, blame Him, or even just throw our hands up.....But count it Joy find the joy in the trials you are facing.  I am telling you that if it is a trial God is standing there ready to walk through it with you and carry you if need be.  Find the joy in all things!  Even if it is years later there is joy in it all.

With a Joyful Heart,

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Dear God It's Me Again.....Week 6 2014

Dear God, It's me again........It's OK He loves that it is you AGAIN!

Did you pray today? I ask my kids this question daily. Seems simple enough and seems none would forget. My children like myself and many others forget to pray. However there comes a point for me that it is beyond prayer and became me talking to my Father. My oldest daughter has hit this point. She also has hit the point where her life becomes busy and she forgets to pray to Him.

Prayer is our way to communicate with God. It is right to give Him thanks and praise; when we pray are we praying this way? Are we thanking Him for the blessings we have or are we to busy asking Him for what we do not? When we pray are we asking His will or simply telling Him our will? Praying is far more than just asking for the things and outcomes we want.

Keeping a prayer list is always handy. This helps you to take the focus of yourself and onto others when praying. Start your list with the simple stuff. I always try to remember when I am praying to ask for God's will not my own. That whatever the answer I will glorify Him. Always thank Him for the day you had.

My challenge to you this week is to start a paryer list. As you add to your prayer list as prayers are answered put a date by them so you can also see God's mercy and grace through your prayers! God is good all the time and all the time God is good!

With a Praying Heart,


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Here is Why

I can hardly believe that a month of me blogging and sharing this journey is almost done.  Recently I have had a few people ask why I am doing this or what has inspired me to share again what this journey has been like for me.  So I thought I would share a little bit more of the journey I have been on and why I am looking back and sharing as I move forward.

First of all I am doing this for the simple fact that I know God is asking me to do so.  Not only do I know this is His desire for me, but it is His desire for others to grow in Him through the words He places in my heart to share.  The other reason for doing this is for others to see God's unconditional love, mercy, and grace.  If I went through all of what I have and continue to feel the tremors of the earthquake satan put in my life, but can still walk firmly in Jesus than maybe that will give just one other person hope.  Maybe I was feeling the need to do this because God has plans to use it to help another grieving parent to rely on Him fully.  There is a lot of maybe's, but ultimately I felt in my heart God pulling and talking to me and so here I am almost five years from the earthquake standing firm and strong.

The inspiration I am not sure is all that inspirational.  Clearly I have the scarlet letter of losing a child and knowing the rest of my Earthly life will always have an ache for Ethin.  However there is inspiration beyond that.  I lost my son and lost myself including my relationships with so many people and most importantly Jesus.  Yet here I am years later........You see it is possible to be so hurt that it seems you may never step out from the darkness and then one day you realize you are living in His light again.  My Father and Creator is my inspiration and the hope that my words will help others.

The looking back part of doing this again has been the hardest.  It has at times even been painful.  Today after work I was talking with some office ladies and I teared up just a little when I talked a little bit about finding out Ethin was going to be born with half a heart.  It was so weird as I am not even sure these poor ladies knew I had another child outside of the J Triplets.  As quick as the hurt was stinging my heart it was gone and we continued to talk.  I suppose I have a bit of explaining to do so they understand.......The hardest part is the understanding for me and for me to relay to others.

So the other day I was looking back at some original things I had wrote after Ethin had been gone for a few months and I was in so much pain.  When I look back I so badly want to reach my hand out to the mother who wrote those words and embrace her (myself) and tell her that it is going to be so different, but she will survive.  I survived!  My hope is in Him and through Him I have survived.  So many people thought I was not going to make it this far, but not only did I make it, but I am living a good and meaningful life.

If someone would have told me five years ago that I would have a good life I would have told them that they were crazy.  I would have cried and been so angry that they did not understand.  In the time since Ethin was born and died I have grown.  I have overcome obstacles and I have faced trials, but I am standing on this side of the fence telling you that God carried me the whole way.  So when you think to ask me why I am doing this why I am sharing the feelings and the life I am living it is to not only remember Ethin and know others think of him still too, but it is to bring people closer to the man that saved me; Jesus.

Standing Beyond the Earthquake,

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

January 29, 2014

1 Peter 3:3-4
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

Beauty is a funny thing. Most people view beauty as the way you look on the outside. We need to get past that way of thinking. Understand that our Father does not create ugly. We are all beautiful, but God views our beauty from the inside. So on the outside you have a few wrinkles, pimples, or maybe a few stray hairs. On the inside that is where your true beauty lies. That is also where God sees you best and sees Himself in you.

The devil is constantly calling us. He uses whatever he can to draw us away from God. It is the world that allows such a way of thinking that we can physically look at someone and decide if they are beautiful or not. satan fills us with doubt when he makes us believe that we are ugly and unlovable. Friends, our Father created us in His sight. Like any parent He sees the good in us all the time and loves us unconditionally. He sees us as beautiful from the inside out. God does not care what we look like on the outside, rather who we are on the inside!

My challenge for you this week is to let go of something that you use to physically enhance yourself. If it is makeup, a hair straightener, heels, certain cothes, ect. For one week withhold from making yourself appear prettier on the outside and work at something that changes your heart on the inside! Let your true beauty shine through!

With No Makeup,


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Day Late Sorry!!!

January 22, 2014

Being the Woman God Calls Me to Be

Romans 12:9-21

God has made it clear how we are to act/be and you can find verses throughout the Bible that state these points. I am referring to the verses in Romans today as that is what we used in our reolution at the beginning of the year. If you read through the verses in Romans it seems simple enough, but really let's admit that walking in His light and in His commands is not always easy. So please understand and know now that God knows we will stumble that is why He sent us Jesus. He sent us a Savior knowing we needed one!

The verses in Roman are spelled out pretty clearly when broken down. I would encourage you to break them down into pieces and study them this week. I am going to focus on just a few things about being the woman and person God calls us to be!

Our Father is all knowing! Which in my very personal opinion makes Him much smarter than I could ever be. He has plans for us and all we have to do is be willing to be open to His plans rather than our own ideas. Part of His plans is for us to be Christ-like. Practice certain things daily; love, hospitality, prayer, joy, peace, longsuffering, and so on. Ultimately if it is good than it is the way God commands us to be!

I am not saying it is easy to follow God's way of how we are to act, but we can certainly put our best foot forward! In the next week pick out one and really focus at doing that one thing. After you have mastered that one thing then try another. Before you know it you will be practicing all of them!

With Much Joy,


Tuesday, January 21, 2014


I am not sure why I feel so inclined to share this......

So the weeks and now the years following Ethin's death I learned a lot of things.  Some of what I learned took no time at all while other bits of what I learned have taken me this much time.  The biggest things I have learned I have learned the hard way.  

It has always been said that people do not know what to say or do following the death of a child.  This is a true statement.  However another true statement is that people will never know what to say years later.  I am going to indulge in some "Do's & Don't's"  Someone gave me a list once (Which I shared) and they are good, but I have some more......

My List..............
Talk with me about my child even if it has been years.  I still want to talk about him, he is still my child, and I need to share him still!  Ask me about him.  If the timing is such that I can not talk about it I will say so.  If it tears me up that is OK.  It is OK, because I loved him so much.  Besides those tears are God's way of helping wash my eyes.....
On his birthday just let me know you are there.  I do not need anything elaborate it is his birthday not mine, but it is a super hard day.  However do not get offended if you offer to be there with me and I tell you that I would rather just be alone.  
On his death day.....This is a tough one.....First of all be patient with me, hug me, let me cry, and let me be alone if I make it clear I need that for a few moments.  On this day I typically do not want to be all alone all day.  
When the weather is nice and it seems that God is wrapping His arms around us with the warm sunlight offer to go to the cemetery with me.  
Take pictures that make you think of my son and share them with me.  It always makes me smile when other people think of him when I am not around.
For me personally please do not tell me that you are sorry.  Truth is I know you are sorry, but so am I.  Also truth is I heard sorry so much I just can not hear it again.  Oh and naturally when one says sorry the other says it's OK I forgive you......This is not your fault to be sorry for nor mine to forgive you.  

Here's an afterthought of what I went through right away.....By the way this was awful!   Right after Ethin died and I mean immediately from the time I got the call until about three weeks later I was surrounded.  I was surrounded by everyone that cared and wanted me to be OK.  However rather than everyone slowly stepping back I seriously can not tell you how bad it was that one day everyone was around and then the next day seriously there was no one!  So my advice is coordinate with others that are surrounding the bereaved parents so that they are not suddenly all alone.  Weird as it sounds I am telling you it happened to me.  It was like one moment I could not even think with all the mother hens over me and the next I was so alone I was afraid to move!   

The list of the ones I received shortly after Ethin passed away are below.  Hoping this helps you if you know someone who lost a child recently or even years from now.


DO: accept the simple fact that it is not possible for you to say things that will make the bereaved parent feel better. This acceptance will enable you to stop when you become tempted to utter clichés that you have heard all of your life that are intended to comfort, but in reality they don't accomplish this. Do know that when you make the initial call, the bereaved parent does not expect you to be able to take their hurt away, or to fully understand the depth of their despair and pain.

DON'T: say "I know how you feel" unless you, yourself, have experienced the loss of a child. Though it is possible for you to empathize with them, the death of their child cannot be compared to the loss of your parents, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, grandfather, grandmother or dog. This is not to say you haven't experienced pain with these losses, but they are different losses. Bereaved parents have trouble accepting "I know how you feel" from anyone other than another bereaved parent.

DO: feel free to touch them, to hug and cry with them if these expressions are appropriate to your relationship with the parent. Tell them that you care about their pain and that you are sorry their child died. A simple hug can say more than a thousand words.

DON'T: think you are complimenting them by telling them "how well" they're doing a few months down the road. They're not doing well. Their child has died and inside they feel they are dying too. You would feel the same if it were your child. You may feel more comfortable dealing with them if they're "doing well", but trying to rush them through the grief process doesn't work and it angers them to sense that you don't understand their pain, the length and depth of it, and are expecting more from them then they're capable of early in their grief.

DO: tell them that you don't understand the WHY of it either. Those "Why's" especially the unanswerable ones, are difficult for many parents to deal with. They need to be able to ask WHY, and to have time to accept there might never be an answer.

DON'T: impose "shoulds" or "should nots". There are no rules and regulations, nor are there right and wrong ways to grieve. There is your way and my way, and though they may be totally different, neither is wrong. Society, over the years has tried to impose its own rules, rules often drawn to make it easier for society to cope with the threat of someone else's loss. You may think you know exactly how you would react if your child should die, but you would be amazed to find that the rules that once seemed so appropriate no longer apply. There are as many ways of expressing grief as there are people expressing it..

DO: mention their child by name. It is comforting for bereaved parents to know that others remember their child, too. Some people avoid mentioning the child's name for fear it will remind the parent of their loss. For a long time the parents can think of nothing but their loss, so that shouldn't be a worry for you. If tears come, then they needed to cry, and the tears may be tears of gratitude that you have given them the opportunity to share their child with you. If you have a good memory of their child, share it. It will make their day. A parent's greatest fear is that no one will remember their child, and if the child's name is never mentioned, or the subject avoided, it is a natural conclusion. Why should you , whose children are alive, have the right to reminisce about the past, while those, whose child is dead, are denied that right? Memories are all that parents have left and those memories did not die with their child.

DON'T: turn away if you unexpectedly come upon the parents. Most parents are aware you have chosen not to "see" them. Can you imagine going to the grocery store, as painful as that already is, and having several people pretend they don't see you? Can you imagine how distressing this would be? Why not, instead, approach them openly, tell them that you have been thinking of them and ask them how they are doing. Acknowledge their loss, don't pretend it didn't happen

DO: reassure the parents they did everything they could for their child, both emotionally and medically. Many feel failure and guilt because they weren't able to keep their child from harm. Small omissions or commissions loom large. It is important that you not add to these feelings of guilt by suggesting that the care given the child either at home, at the hospital or wherever, was inadequate. This only adds to their burden.

DON'T: suggest to younger parents "but you can have other children". They may or may not be ale to have another child, but it is not appropriate for you offer comfort with the thought of another child. You see, they wanted this child

DO: show your concern, do be there over the months to come on a regular basis. Allow them to tell you how they feel, and listen when they tell you. Don't tell them what you think they should be feeling. Leave them free to express anger and guilt. If you know a certain time of day is particularly difficult, do try to plan your visits to coincide with that time. Do be patient. Allow them to grieve in their own way and at their own pace. Avoid judgments and try to be accepting of the different ways in which grief can be manifested. Remember, it is better to touch and cry than to stand back and offer clichés. When all is said and done, you will be remembered not only for having been there when the need was great, but also for having known the right thing to say and do.

DON'T: remind them that they should be grateful they have other children. Children are not interchangeable. Each has his own special place, and no one child can fill the void left by another's death. You need to be aware that for a while, the parents sometimes lose their ability to nurture their surviving children. You can help by giving these children a little extra attention until life at home is on a more even keel. Siblings often feel very much alone and bewildered when the structure of their family has fallen apart.

DO: allow the grieving parent to express their feelings, if they have that need. The pain involved in letting go, the anger, frustration and guilt are all a part of the normal grieving process, leaving them empty and without purpose for a long time. Allow them to tell you how they feel. Don't tell them how you think they should feel. They just need you to listen. You aren't expected to be able to take away the hurt or to have all the answers. Talking and crying about the loss are the first steps toward recovery for some. After they have cried and talked about their loss enough, they are then free to go on to the next step in the recovery process. Your willingness to listen helps them, and isn't that your ultimate goal? Encourage them to be patient with themselves when they grow discouraged with their slow progress.

DON'T: try to find something positive about their child's death. If there is anything positive about the death, the parents will have to find it in their own time. If you are tempted to point out such things as "closer family ties," or their child is "in a better place", or "it will make the marriage stronger", don't do it. Parents hear this time and time again. It doesn't help, and instead may cause bitterness. Many marriages do not make it through the loss of a child and closer family ties are not always the outcome.

DO: know that it is difficult for the newly bereaved to reach out to you for help. Grieving is emotionally and physically draining. Just getting through the day might take more energy then they have. Let the family know you are available to be with them if it would be comforting. Conversely, when you invite the parents over, be sure to give a specific date, instead of leaving the initiative up to them. Being at ease in large crowds may take time, so plan only small gatherings, leaving them free to leave whenever the moment is right for them. If the first invitation is refused, offer another at a specific date later on. Being at parties and with other people is not going to take their mind off their loss and make them have a good time. The thought of it may make them feel guilty and be an affront to them.

DON'T: rush in and remove their child's belongings, or change their room unless the parent specifically asks you to. It takes some parents many months before they are ready to change anything. It is their right to decide what they want to keep and what they would like to share with others. You may feel they will recover faster if they face this sad task immediately, but that is not necessarily the case. Leave them alone until the time is right for them, and then help them only if they ask you to. Don't make it an issue

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

God First

The next few weeks I want to break down what we resolved to do in week one of this 52 week long devotion. So bare with me for a few weeks as we dive further into God's word and we dive further into being firm in purpose for Him and make our faith in Him visible to others!

The first thing we resolved to do was to put God first in EVERYTHING! God wants to be first in our life all the time with nothing before Him. Deuteronomy 4:24 says, "For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” He wants you to put Him first. He wants you to Love Him with all your heart, all your mind, and with all your Strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5 & many others!) Besides what a great promise we find in Matthew 6:33; “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

When I really think about the verse in Matthew, and I put that into thought of my life, and what I have had or have, it is very clear to me that by putting God first the rest of my life seems to just fall perfectly into place according to His will and plan for my life. When I put God first I am being obedient and God rewards the obedient. Isaiah 1:19 says, “If you are willing and obedient you will eat the good things of the land.” You have to be willing to be obedient. It is a choice that we have to make to be obedient and put God first in all things!

I would like to challenge you this week to start your day with God first. I know life gets busy with work, family, and the everyday tasks of life, but I seriously think that if you can take 3 minutes every morning to just pray and ask God for His light, guidance, and strength that the day may seem to go a little easier. It is OK if you forget as God knows your heart, but just slip Him a few words and let Him know every day that He is your first thought. If you want the extra challenge go ahead and make Him the last thought before bed too and tell Him thanks for your day.  

With Love and God's Blessing,