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When I Stopped Believing in God

It’s hard to believe that it’s been eight months since we lost our sweet Abby.  I still remember laying in bed the night she passed, unable to sleep and tossing and turning with emotions ranging from sadness, disbelief, anger, and shock.  The pain that I felt was unlike anything that I had experienced before and it was hard to believe that it would ever pass.

The days following her death felt like a terrible dream that I kept half-expecting myself to wake up from.  For the first time in my life, I felt completely disconnected from God.  It was like a black curtain had been hung over me and I couldn’t comprehend why, if He truly existed, would He allow this to happen?  I remember laying in the bed of a home that I was housesitting at the time, crying out loudly “Do you even exist, God? Are you even there?” It’s humbling to admit that as much as I didn’t want to say it out loud, I truly wondered if there was even a God.  Was everything I ever believed or experienced a lie?

The next day, as I was traveling to Miami to be with my family, I sat in the airport with the same questions still spinning in my mind.  Is there a God? Is He as close as I really once believed He was? The level of disconnect that I felt brought me to place of desperation.  I inwardly prayed, “Okay God, if you are real and if you are still present in this situation, I need you to prove it to me.”  I sat for a bit longer racking my brain of ways I could force God to prove himself to me.  “If you’re here, I want to see a red balloon today.”

It would be impossible considering I would be stuck either in an airport or on a plane all day. I knew better than to ever put God to the test, but I figured that I had nothing to lose that that point.

My travels went on as normal with delays and even a landing at the wrong airport.  By the time I actually arrived in Miami, it was after midnight.  My dad picked me up and we had a quiet drive back to my sister’s house. When I walked in, I was overwhelmed by the aroma of flowers overflowing in her living room.  A reminder that this wasn’t a dream.  I stood in silence as I looked at the flowers and photos of Abby that surrounded me.  I turned to my dad and sobbed into his chest.  The one thing we fought so hard for for the last eleven months was gone.  I remembered my request to see a red balloon and I thought to myself, “Figures it wouldn’t happen.”

After I had calmed down a bit, I went to go get ready for bed.  As I walked into my sister’s bathroom, I stood in complete shock as to what was in front of me.  Sitting on her counter was a red balloon.

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Have you ever heard the phrase, “it felt like a kiss from heaven?”  This was that for me.  The next day, I saw my sister for the first time since her daughter had passed.  There were no words to say, but I hugged her and my heart ached as I felt her tired and lifeless body.  She hardly had the strength to wrap her arms around me.  I told her the story of the red balloon and she just looked back blankly at me. Over the course of the next few days, she would sometimes walk outside to get away from everyone and everything.  I followed her out and we sat in silence, both unable to grasp the right words to say.  After a few minutes, she stared straight ahead and said, “I almost threw that red balloon away before you got here. But something told me not to.”

In that moment, I knew that the red balloon wasn’t for me.  It was for her.

Sometimes we are so afraid to ask the hard questions.  But if I hadn’t been unafraid to be completely honest before God, my sister might still be searching for her red balloon moment.

I still don’t understand why things happen the way that they do, but I am thankful that I have a God that welcomes my confusion and isn’t afraid of my questions.

“So now we come freely and boldly to where love is enthroned, to receive mercy’s kiss and discover the grace we urgently need to strengthen us in our time of weakness.” Hebrews 4, The Passion Translation

If you liked this post, you might also like I Stopped Believing in Prayer and I Don’t Want to Worship God

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Out of Hiding

 

One thing that I used to take pride in is my inclination towards independence.  My mother claims that I was her most difficult child to raise due to my desire to want to do everything myself.  Stop me from wearing my Dorothy inspired red-glittered shoes everywhere I went (including camping)? She dared not.

There’s a part of me that loves my independent spirit because it gave me the courage to do things and experience life differently than some of my peers.  It allowed me to try to go after my dreams at a young age and be unafraid to travel and wander alone.  However over time, it also became a form of self-defense.  A wall to keep people from getting too close.  Hurt me?  You can’t.  I’m independent and will move on just fine.  I remember when my boyfriend, who I was convinced was the love of my life, broke up with me.  Inside, I was devastated and felt like my world was being turned upside down, but I sat still and silent without showing any sort of emotion.  He seemed surprised by my lack of emotion and asked if I was even sad about this.  “I’ll be fine” I said.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is allow people to see our pain.  We live in a culture where everyone wants to be seen as “strong” and “self-sufficient” to the point where we neglect and avoid our feelings and emotional needs.

This last year has forced me to come to terms with just how my desire to be independent was actually destroying me.  When my niece, Abby, was born and the emotional rollercoaster of her life began, my first inclination was to pull away from my friends.  I felt afraid, confused, and overall just a mess.  I avoided my friend’s phone calls and attempts to hang out and used the excuse “I’m just going through a lot and I need to be alone.”

 Translation: I’m not as strong as I thought I was and I don’t want you to actually see me.

Being seen is scary.  Allowing another person to really see you – the good, the bad, the mess ups, the irrational fears, the mood swings, the failures and the brokenness can leave you feeling exposed.  It’s laying yourself out and saying, “This is me. This is what I have to offer. Take it or leave it.”  It’s allowing that other person to make a decision as to whether they are going to embrace it or walk away.  I finally had to come to a point where I realized that taking the risk to be seen would be less scary than living in hiding for the rest of my life.  A friend once said to me, “You can take a risk to be loved and I can’t guarantee that you will receive it.  But I can guarantee that you will never be loved if you don’t take the risk.”

I took the risk. Thankfully, I have a beautiful group of friends that have the ability to see every part of me and take me as is.  Being seen made me realize that my failures and shortcomings only made up a small part of me and that I was actually so much more than my mistakes.

Once I allowed myself to come out of hiding, that’s when I began to find myself.

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Will I Ever Forgive God?

Yesterday started out like every other Sunday for me.  Sleep in, enjoy a lazy morning, and then begin getting ready for church.  As I was going about my morning, I checked Facebook and clicked on the “On This Day” notification where it showed me everything I posted on the same day in years past.  Most days, it will make me cringe, laugh, or feel some sort of nostalgia.  Yesterday, it made me angry.

A year ago yesterday, I posted this photo:

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This is a photo of my sister and brother-in-law getting to hold their daughter, Abby, for only the second time in her two months of life.  Given her fragility and the ventilator, they were unable to have contact with her other than touching her through her NICU bed.  I remember crying when I received the photos and the hope that filled my heart as I realized that she might actually get the miracle we had been praying for.

It’s been almost six months since Abby left us.  A day hasn’t passed when I haven’t wondered why she didn’t get her miracle.  What could we have done differently?

When I saw this photo yesterday, the same one that once gave me hope and renewed my faith, I quickly clicked off of Facebook and went about my morning.  Within minutes,  everything was frustrating me.  My hair. My clothes. My body. The fact that I was having to go to church.  My roommate, who can always sense when anything is even slightly off with me, was convinced she had done something to upset me. I assured her that it wasn’t her and that I truely had no idea why I was so upset.

Once we got to church, we stood in the back as the worship played and I kept thinking about the photo of my sister holding her baby who is now gone.  The eight months of Abby’s life kept playing over and over in my head. All the highs when we thought she was making progress, as well as the lows when we thought we would lose her.  I replayed the day I received the phone call from my mom letting me know that we lost her. The moments and days that followed her death as we all tried to navigate our way in a world that looked vastly different than it did just days before.  As I unsuccessfully tried to stop myself from crying, I looked at my roommate and said, “I am so angry Abby is gone.  I’m so angry that my sister had to lose her child.”

The rest of the day went on as I tried to almost will myself to not feel angry anymore. I felt so much shame and guilt over the fact that I still feel anger towards God for not healing her.  Isn’t this the part where I can hold my head high like a good Christian and say that my heart is healed and whole again? The part where the paralyzing fear of losing someone else I love finally ceases?

I took a long drive late last night and I finally cried for the first time in a few months.  I realized that it’s okay that I feel angry.  It’s okay that I feel confused. It’s okay to feel at peace with God one moment and upset in the next.  A piece of my heart was taken from me when Abby left and just like any other wound, it needs time to fully heal.

“I will trust
Here in the mystery
I will trust
In You completely

Awake my soul to sing
With Your breath in me
I will worship
You taught my feet
To dance upon disappointment
And I, I will worship” -Heroes by Amanda Cook

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A Singles Guide for Surviving Valentines Day

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, which means many will be finding themselves in line at the local market.  Some will be buying cheap, heart-shaped chocolates paired with flowers while others will be browsing the Ben and Jerry’s flavor options while waiting for their Prozac to be refilled.

I’ve experience Valentine’s Day as both single and in a relationship.  I was once both one year, starting the day off in a relationship, only to break up with him halfway through (what can I say, I like to make sure I’m not easily forgotten).  All around, Valentine’s Day has its own set of problems for the singles and non singles alike; but since I am single now, I thought I would reach out to my fellow man and offer some words of advice to help get you through this holiday!

Avoid alcohol. They say that hindsight is 20/20 and I’m here to help pass along some wisdom acquired by my own a friend’s experience. In years past,  V-Day prep would begin on the evening of the 13th. My friend I liked to prepare by either drinking an entire bottle of wine or bottom shelf vodka, depending on the status of my bank account.  Plus drinking ensures that I would most likely sleep in until 12pm, which helped me out by missing half of Valentine’s Day! Most sane people pair a good bottle of wine with an expensive cheese or hor dourves, but I preferred to pair it with Ryan Gosling movies (trust me when I say that there is no other person you would rather get drunk with than Ryan Gosling on Valentine’s Day weekend).

Now this may sound like your dream V Day weekend, but trust me when I say that that you don’t want to be waking up with a hangover and a text from your ex saying “Are you ok? You called me a thousand times.” Girl, you are not Adele and you can’t wipe your tears of embarrassment with your 20 Grammys and millions of dollars! So just do yourself a favor and pass on the wine, avoid Ryan Gosling movies, and read a good book like The Holy Bible. Stay away from the Songs of Solomon though. Maybe stick with something like Leviticus.

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Bottomless Mimosas. Wait, didn’t I just tell you not to drink? Yes, I did.  But let’s face it, if you’re strong enough NOT to drink on Valentine’s Day then you really don’t need any advice from this blog. With that said, I highly recommend grabbing brunch with a bunch of your fellow single girlfriends and keep those bottomless mimosas flowing! There’s no heartache that a room full of estrogen and champagne can’t fix!

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Invest in a body pillow. Rumor has it that it also helps to have a body pillow handy so you can fall asleep wrapped up in it pretending it’s not a pillow, but an actual human body. Like I said, that’s just a rumor that I have NO experience with WHATSOEVER.

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Kiss your pity party goodbye.  Seriously, if you’re embarrassed about your lack of love in your life, the only thing more embarrassing is being that person who constantly talks or posts on social media about hating it! Do you really expect your prince charming to see that and say, “Well, I saw her posting about how much she hates love, flowers, couples, romance, the Son of God, and sunshine and that’s when I knew that I couldn’t live without her!” Don’t be that person. Get out, throw those ringless hands in the air and rock that confidence I know you have!

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There you have it! I hope from the bottom of my single heart that you end up having an amazing Valentine’s Day full of mimosas, ice-cream, and love. Xoxo.

If you liked this post, you might also like 20 Things I Wish I Knew In My Early 20’s and Single People are the Worst!

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I Stopped Believing in Prayer

It was late October and just a few weeks after my niece passed away.  After I returned back to Redding from the funeral, my roommate and I had just one month to find a new place to live.  Day after day we searched for apartments and houses and before we knew it, we had just over a week before we had to have our stuff out of our apartment.  It was stressful and frustrating as each place we felt had potential continued to fall through for various reasons.

We had just gotten news, once again, that the place we wanted was no longer available.  I called a close friend and began sharing with her how I felt overwhelmed at the thought of being homeless and I was considering paying a visit to findmeasugardaddy.com to see if some lonely millionaire needed company.

“Ok, I am going to get off the phone right now and pray and see what God says” she replied.

I left out a little laugh and thought “well what good is that?”

The thought came and went to quickly and naturally that I almost missed it.  I hung up the phone and I thought about what had just happened in my heart when she mentioned prayer.  As I sat in my car I said out loud, “God, I stopped believing you hear my prayers.”

My heart had been so broken and let down after we lost Abby.  It was 11 months of constant and continual prayer for her healing.  Most nights, I would wake up just to roll over and my first thought would be, “Lord, please heal Abby.”

For eleven months, there wasn’t a moment where I wasn’t praying. When we lost Abby, I lost belief in prayer.

I began to think back over the weeks that had passed since Abby had passed.  It’s not that I had stopped praying, but I stopped believing that my prayers would do anything. Prayer, in my heart, became almost like a wish. I would say the things I wanted to say and ask the things I wanted to ask and just hope that maybe, maybe God will get around to hearing them if I’m lucky.

As I sat in my car outside my apartment, I closed my eyes.  I knew that I had a choice to make.  I could continue on my life with the belief that my prayers don’t matter; viewing my chances of having my prayers answered in the same way I viewed winning the lottery. That would be the easy choice. Or, I could look at the defeat I was facing in the eyes and say, “You do not have a say anymore.”

Do I still have moments when I feel afraid that my prayers aren’t being heard? Absolutely. But I refuse to allow defeat come between me and my maker any longer.

Sharing is my love language! Like this post? Share on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever else you’d like!

If you like this post, you might also like I Don’t Want to Worship God and Miracles Don’t Exist

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Valentine's Day Part 1: The One That Got Away

I’m in the process of redoing my blog and I came across this post. It made me laugh and thought I’d re-share, since Valentines Day is right around the corner

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In case you haven’t heard or noticed the red and pink cut out hearts and overpriced boxes of chocolates at your neighborhood store, Valentines Day is just around the corner.

A day where love is celebrated and Prozac prescriptions are refilled simultaneously.

I love Valentines Day so much. Actually, I love the awkwardness of Valentines Day.  I love the sad and angry singles, the oblivious and annoying newlyweds, and everything in between.  I love it so much that I decided to post a blog every day this week documenting my random thoughts and/or memories on the holiday.

Growing up, Valentines Day was always very stressful.  It was a day that needed weeks of preparation.  First, I had to pick out the absolute best Valentine’s Day card that would be passed out to every classmate during the mandatory VD party. Second, after choosing the best set of cards (my awkward and…

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A Single’s Guide for Surviving Christmas

Ahh, Christmas.  Laughter, Christmas carols, Mariah Carey, couples getting engaged, and mistletoe that you won’t be getting kissed under but you’ll rather become the butt of some joke at a holiday Christmas party when you realize you’re standing under it with your boss. I love the holidays!

Being single, the holidays can be mixed with emotions especially when after the holiday parties, your family and friends go home with their significant others while you stay with mom and dad watching Love Actually and eating leftover cranberry bliss bars for the 8th time. I decided that I don’t want my single friends to have to suffer through another holiday season alone, so I put together my top 5 pieces of advice to help get you through!  So let’s raise a glass of *spiked* eggnog and begin!

  1. Deactivate your Facebook.  My Facebook feed averages about sixteen-hundred generic engagement photos around this time. It’s just one photo after the other of a man on one knee in front of the Christmas tree, a photo of a newly adorned hand (with bad lighting) in front of Christmas lights, a happy couple holding champagne glasses with the caption “He put a ring on it. He must have liked it😉.” It only took one day of these types of posts for me to vomit all over my keyboard.  Granted, I’m still unsure if the vomit was due to these posts or the entire chocolate rum cake I committed myself to. But better safe than sorry, so I deactivated the FB! For the sake of your computer and liver, I advise you do the same!tumblr_inline_mh64ez9Evf1rwvk4w
  2. Drink a lot.  No, no, no! I know that you think I just gave you permission to drown your sorrows in vodka cranberries, but I am actually referring to water! The way I see it, if I have to listen to all my newly engaged friends talk excessively about their new fiance, I want to at least be properly hydrated. It also gives me the excuse of having to use the restroom every half hour where I can be free for a blissful two minutes! (Also, vodka cranberries don’t necessarily hurt the situation).tumblr_ncbcs6IFSP1saxwc2o1_400
  3. Become a Vegan. The only thing that people will harass you with questions about more than your relationship status is the fact that you no longer ingest eggs.  Who cares if you’re a vegan or not, just politely decline the cheese platter at every holiday gathering with the explanation that you’ve just decided to be better and more self-righteous than every other person there and voila! Your relationship status officially bores them and now they want to know about your protein intake.  No one has to know that you secretly ate an entire block of brie cheese in your bed last night after you drank an entire bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon because you logged onto your facebook only to be bombarded with fifteen-hundred engagement announcements.  NO ONE HAS TO KNOW. anigif_enhanced-24955-1448919657-2
  4. Take advantage of Amazon Prime.  Families on a budget seem to forget that because you are a 29 year old single female, you don’t have a significant other who can make up for the lack of gifts. This can make the holiday season feel somewhat depressing when you see photos of your friend’s new Michael Kohrs bags and watches and new cars and diamonds and concert tickets and fitbits and and and (you get the point).  This can be easily solved using Amazon Prime! Amazon has everything you could possibly need to help add excitement to your own life this holiday season! My go-to purchases are wine, chocolate, paper towels (because eating cake in bed is messy), and some sort of diet product for when I decide it’s time to attempt to lose ten pounds in a week. I order each thing separately so that it’s like Christmas every time I come home. tumblr_mxrxdifYtV1sdty8jo1_500
  5. Start a Fitspo instagram.  I haven’t tried this one yet, but I feel that it could be helpful since girls with fitness Instagrams are always bragging about how they are in a happy and committed relationship with things like peanut butter and sleeping. I feel that I can really give myself to that type of relationship, especially if in return I get arms like Michelle Obama.giphy

 

So there you have it,  my single comrades!  May your holiday season be filled with wine-induced laughter, netflix binges, and cuddling up with your chocolate cake!

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If you liked this post, you may also like 20 Things I Learned in My Early 20’s and 10 Things to Never, Ever Say to a Single Person.

 

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The Year My World Fell Apart and Other 2015 Musings

Life is many things.  Talk to any number of people and each will give you a different as to what life means to them.

Exciting.

Disappointing.

Confusing.

An adventure.

Sad.

Life is many things. But one thing is for certain, it is never boring. I recently saw a meme floating around the internet that said, “Life is looking both ways before crossing the street only to be hit by an airplane.”

I think we can all attest to that.

The first word that comes to mind when I reflect on 2015 is heartbreaking.  2015 hurt a lot.  It’s not an exaggeration to say that since my niece passed in September, I have yet to have a day where I haven’t cried.  Some days I might cry all day, only moving from my bed to the couch. Other days, I’ll be going about my day just fine when it will just hit me and I’ll find myself hiding in the restroom at work trying to pull myself together.

2015 was hard.  But behind the tears, grief, and heartache, it was also beautiful. I’ve learned many things and this is where I share them with you.

  1. I learned to trust my instincts.  Have you ever met a new person and you get this sense that something isn’t quite right? For me, that happened a few times this year.  I didn’t listen to that check inside and found myself on the other side of the relationship hurt.  Instincts are there for a reason. Learn to listen.
  2. I learned after watching the What Do You Mean music video that it is possible to be physically attracted to Justin Bieber and that it feels as wrong as it sounds. I’ll understand if this confession leads to you unfollow me.
  3. I learned that grief makes you do strange things.  It made me walk from my sister’s house to the beach alone, crying and sweating.  It made me walk right into the ocean with all my clothes on, not caring how ridiculous I looked because I just wanted to feel something, anything other than what I was feeling. Grief made me stop at a green light without realizing what I was doing, only to just sit there in shock, unable to move even after I realized that I was sitting at a standstill at a green light.  Grief is hard, and it’s weird.
  4. I learned that even if you are the girl that has been doomed to eternal singledom that finding true love still is possible. This life lesson is brought to you by Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux. Thank you, you beautiful love birds you.
  5. I learned that sometimes, your prayers don’t get answered.
  6. I learned that even when your prayers don’t get answered, God is still close.  The days following my niece’s death, I felt as though everything I thought I knew about God was destroyed.  My world shattered God didn’t come through the way we wanted.  I wondered if He even existed. On my way to Miami for the funeral, I sat in the airport and in my heart asked God to prove to me that He exists and as a test of his existence, I wanted him to show me a red balloon that day.  When I got to my sister’s house, I walked into her bathroom and sitting on the counter was a red balloon.
  7. I learned that death brings healing.  Sitting bedside to my poppa, watching him take his last breaths was one of the most excruciating and painful experiences of my life.  Yet there was a presence and a peace that I had never felt before.  As painful as it was for me, I could feel his spirit finally being at peace.  In a strange way, his death brought healing to the pain I was feeling after losing my niece not even two months prior.  The presence of God was so strong in those moments of death; and even though I couldn’t explain in, it was as if I finally knew He was close again.
  8. I learned that 95% of what we stress and worry about has absolutely no meaning.  After losing people you love, you realize that everything else is not nearly as important as you once thought.
  9. I learned that Israeli massage therapists have no regard for personal modesty.  None.
  10. I learned that in the hard times, you’ll be hurt by the people you expected to stand by you and they didn’t.  You’ll also be amazed at the people who stepped up and stood by your side no matter how hard your process became. No matter how sad, depressed, or hopeless you felt, they were there.

As you can see, 2015 was a hard year.  I learned a lot of lessons that I would have preferred to have never had to learn, but I know that in the end, God is faithful to redeem. My process from 2015 will probably bleed into 2016 and that’s ok.  Unlike previous years, I’m not interested in running full speed into 2016 with goals and aspirations in mind.  I’m only interested in finding the girl that survived 2015 and allowing her to sift through the rubble and find the treasures that the journey left behind for her.

I’m only interested in moving forward.

Goodbye 2015.  You will forever hold the memories and the final breaths of two people I very dearly loved. You’ll forever be the year where I learned that anything outside of love is only a waste of time; and for that, I am forever grateful.

 If you liked this post, you might also like Miracles Don’t Exist and I Don’t Want to Worship God.

I Don’t Want to Worship God

I never expected it to happen.

But yet when I saw the phone call from my mom come up on my phone, I knew. I got up and left work and began shaking before I could even make it to the car. I’ve never felt such shock, anger, disbelief, and grief all at once.

It wasn’t true.

This is a dream.

I shouldn’t have been driving because I was shaking to the point on not being able to keep my hands on the wheel.  The only words that could come out of my mouth were, “Are you kidding me?” over and over.

This was a sick joke.  God, all powerful and mighty, seemed to sit at a distance as my family began to unravel. I walked into my apartment and began hyperventilating and pacing back and forth.  I couldn’t breath. I couldn’t think straight.  I didn’t know who to call or where to go.  Over and over, I just kept yelling, “Are you kidding me, God? You are seriously going to let this happen right now? After everything we’ve done? You’re just going to sit there and let this happen?”

Over and over, the thought that God’s not real kept coming at me.  As I was crying out, I remembered a sermon from Bill Johnson where he shared a story from when his dad died.  In the must of grief and confusion, he decided to worship God because never again will he be able to offer a sacrifice of worship from a place of such brokenness and confusion.

That story kept coming to my mind as I thought, “I don’t want to worship you, God.  I feel like I hate everything about you right now.”

That’s the thing about worshipping God in the midst of disappointment and grief.  When you’re not in the middle of it, it sounds romantic, but living it out requires sacrifice and humility.

I knelt on my bedroom floor, body shaking and vision blurry, and I forced myself to bow before Him.  I’ve never experienced such a tension, in the spiritual and physical realm, but I knew that I didn’t want to give the enemy any room to make a place in my heart. I laid shaking.  At the core of my being, I knew that there was something that I’m not understanding on this side of Heaven.  That’s the thing about pursing God in the midst of disappointment and grief.  In theory, it reads romantically.  But living it out requires great sacrifice and humility.

Since Abby passed, my heart has been torn.  I don’t understand why God didn’t heal her here on earth. I never will.  I don’t want to just begin saying all the things expected of a Christian to say like, “God is good” because I don’t honestly feel like He is good. Not right now. So I’m in this tension of allowing myself to express and experience my feelings without stuffing them away, but not allowing them to necessarily be the truth in my life.

I feel angry.

I feel sad.

I feel betrayed.

I feel confused.

I guess this is one of those life defining moments where I get to choose where I want to go from here.  I can either partner with bitterness, or I can partner with the truth.

Right now, I don’t feel like God is good. But I’m giving Him permission to prove me wrong.

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If you liked this post, you might also like Miracles Don’t Exist.

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To the Mother of a Sick Child

Life throws us through different seasons and experiences that as a child, it never even crossed your mind that you may have to face.  Little girls often dream of being moms as they “play house” and they tote their baby dolls around as they care, console, and feed it as if it were really a baby.  Nap times and bed times are given as they are gently placed in their little toy cribs and a sense of urgency comes over them as it’s “feeding time” approaches. We cook and bake for our babies in our toy kitchens that reek of plastic and our future dreams all at once. Our make-believe husbands are likely a rendition of our dad or the prince on our favorite Disney movie…which is essentially the same thing.  We fall in love with our little toy baby and our make believe husband and we live in a world where the sun never sets and the flowers never wither.  We continue to give all our free time to this little plastic, $15.99 doll that has been entrusted to us.  Even before our sense of logic has fully kicked in, we just know that our lives were meant to care for the lives of others.

Suddenly, those little girls grow up and gone are the days when life is just pretend.  The little girls turn into big girls who have their very own kitchens and big girl beds.  Prince Charming may have eventually came around except you don’t exactly live in a palace and birds don’t come to your window each morning to braid your hair. Despite a few detail changes, your life still blossoms into the dream life you experienced as a child, especially when it comes time to have a child of your own.

But what happens when your little girl dreams fully come to fruition, your very own baby arrives into your life and the baby you’ve prepared your entire life for is sick?  What happens when you spend hours in labor only to have your baby taken from you and given into the care of dozens of nurses and doctors that you have yet to meet? You see, this part of life was never displayed for us in Cinderella.

For the last five months, I’ve had to watch my sister live this scenario out.  In her daughter’s 5 months of life, she’s had to watch the baby she’s always dreamed of fight for her life on a daily basis.  Every day I watch her not only care for her toddler, but also travel to the NICU each day to see her precious baby, I am reminded of the power of motherhood.  There are sadly many who are walking or have walked in her shoes, and this is what I would say to each one of them.

1.  It’s not your fault.  You didn’t do anything wrong. You don’t have any “hidden sin” or curse over your life that has caused your baby to have to go through this.  In a way, that would probably make it easier if you could trace it back to something you did wouldn’t it?  As you begin to recount every second of your pregnancy and try to comb through every food you ate, word you spoke, or move you made, remind yourself that you did the best that you could.  Give yourself the grace that you deserve.

2.  This isn’t God’s will.  I can’t think of anything less comforting than being told that it’s God’s will for your child to be sick and suffering.  I am sure that you have lost count of the number of people who tried to encourage you by saying that this is “God’s will” for you to go through this but hear me when I say that there is no other person who hurts more than you in this moment than God.  When Jesus walked the earth, He assured us that he came to give us all life and life to the FULL.  That applies to your baby too.

3.  It’s ok to be angry.  Life isn’t fair.  A child having to suffer isn’t fair. It’s infuriating.  A mother having to watch her child suffer isn’t fair.  It’s infuriating.  Don’t allow guilt and shame to rear their ugly heads in your heart and make you feel as though your feelings of confusion and anger make you any less holy. God’s love and grace can handle your questions and your anger.

4. It’s going to be ok.  Right now, your heart feel so beaten down and broken.  Every day you wake up praying, pleading, and hoping that today is the day your baby gets  miracle and every day that passes where that isn’t the case, your heart aches a little more.  Nobody knows what the future holds and I wish with everything in me that I could snap my fingers and give you your miracle.  But I know that you are so immersed and covered in the goodness of God right now.  It’s okay if it doesn’t feel that way. Just know that it’s the truth.  There will be a day when you will feel His sweet presence once again.

5. You’re a hero.  God painted a beautiful picture when he decided to send his son to be sacrificed.  He knew that of all the things we experience in life, the suffering of a child is far beyond any other pain.  You are a living example of the love of God.  Every day you fight for your baby, you prove that there is nothing that love cannot conquer.

To the mother of a sick child, you are loved. You are seen.  You are going to be okay.

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