Mom and Dad

Where is the joy?

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On June 16th, 2012, I wrote this:

Dear Mom and Dad,

The mornings are the hardest.

Every morning as we wake up, we are reminded again that you are gone. The realization of losing you is paralyzing and it feels like our lives will forever be filled with sadness.  I wonder where the joy is.

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5”

Despite the sorrow and despite the heartache, I know that joy will come.  I know because it’s a promise from God’s Word. And right now that’s all we have.  All we have is our memories of you and of the faith that you lived. You lived the promises of God’s Word and you would continually remind us of God’s love and of the joy that we can find only through Him.

We looked through your purse today Mom. It was good. And it was horrible. Jim found a note that you had written:

“God who began will finish. My daughter made a remark on her blog the other day. She said something about how she has a penchant for not finishing things. I never really considered that as a trait of hers, but what I found odd, was the next day the Lord led me to these verses in His Word.  “God who began this good work in me WILL finish it.” Period. What good work will that be? I’m not doing anything for Him right now. But I think I’m getting “works” mixed up with His good work. HE SAID HE WILL FINISH!”

Mom, you wrote this last fall and it now brings us great comfort.  The only thing that can bring us joy now is to cling to the love of God and to remember that good work that He has done and is doing in you and Dad’s life. We know that one morning, probably a very long time from now, we will wake up and find joy in the morning. Find joy in the love of our Savior and of the legacy you both have left for us.

It’s amazing how grief and joy can live intertwined in our lives after experiencing a loss. God did not leave us on that day and neither did His joy. But I think sometimes we can miss joy.

On Monday we went fishing and it wasn’t the best weather so we were the only ones there. Until two older people came over to where we were. They had their two grandchildren with them and as I saw them, the first thing I thought was, “why.” That should be mom and dad with Angel and Caleb.

But if I would have allowed myself to sit in that thought, I would have missed the joy of seeing Angel and Caleb fish and swim in the freezing cold lake and bury themselves in sand. I would have missed the joy of sitting in peaceful silence on the side of the lake with Pat. It is not easy, choosing joy, but it is something I know I can do with God’s help.

As I look back over the past six years, there has been a lot of grief, but there has been so much joy too! Even days after we found them, there was joy in the celebration of their life and encouragement and love from family and friends.

There is joy in seeing Angel and Caleb grow up and being able to tell them all about their Papa and Grandma Susie. There is joy in seeing my dad in Caleb. There is joy in laughing at the memories of mom and dad. There is joy in making new memories with my siblings and baby blue eyes Cleo. There is joy in the anticipation of our first grand-baby.

There is joy in knowing that mom and dad are with Jesus.

I wonder if part of the meaning of Psalm 30:5 is that in this life there will be weeping. So much weeping and pain and questions and grief. But in the morning – when we leave this world and join Jesus in heaven – there will be nothing but joy!

Oh, I can’t wait. What a wonderful promise to cling to!  And so that is what I will do. When I don’t see or feel the joy I will trust in God’s word and know that my joy is in Jesus and the many gifts He has given to us.

God of even this day

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This day. Six years ago.

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012.

I never could have imagined a heartbreak so painful or a grief so profound. The questions. The worry. And when the answers came, they of course, weren’t the answers we wanted or prayed for.

But God was still there. Even on that day.

He’s been there every day since.

2,190 days.

Every day I’ve doubted. Every day I’ve cried out in anger and confusion. Every day my heart has ached to see mom and dad one more time. Every day we’ve laughed at a memory. Every day we’ve made new memories. Every single day.

He’s been there through the joy and the sorrow. Through the healing and the pain. The seasons change and time goes on. And He’s still the God of every day.

Do you have a day? A day you dread. A day that brings painful memories. A day that reminds you of failure.

God is the God of even that day.

On this day, June 12th, I look to Him. My tears of grief are mixed with tears of joy knowing that I can put my hope and trust in the God who walks with me each and every day.

A guide to Christmas gift giving

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Surprisingly, I am finished with my Christmas shopping. However, most years I’m the Christmas Eve 10:00 pm shopper and so I thought I’d provide some insight into successful gift giving.

Mom and Dad were the best gift givers. And when I say “best” I mean the worst. But the memories we have of those Christmas’s together are the best.

Mom would always make us play games to get our gifts. We would moan and groan about it, but I think I can speak for my siblings when I say we actually thought it was pretty awesome. There was always Christmas trivia and a Christmas word search and often times a scavenger hunt of some kind. Whoever won would get to pick a present out of the present box – which was actually a laundry basket with unwrapped stuff they had collected over the year like toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap…that’s all I can remember that was actually useful. The rest was just a bunch of junk. The first couple years of our gift tradition, Mom and Dad would wrap the gifts in the basket. I remember the year Jim got a shower cap and panty hose. Best Christmas ever, right Jim? I think that was the same year they wrapped up the urn that held the remains of our family dog Ed.

We would also get cans of vegetables. Gee, thanks Mom and Dad. Although it’s a lot better than dead Ed. Of course we would eventually learn that they would carefully take the label off the can, put money inside the label and put the label back so you couldn’t tell it had been touched. Pretty sneaky!

The best gift? Mentos. That’s right, those disgusting candies. When Mom started doing the games, she would wrap the Mentos and they would be one of our “main” gifts. It turned into a joke that it was our favorite present and sure enough, we got a pack every year.

At the end of each game-gift party we would all sit there thinking, “Is that it?” Of course, every year Mom and Dad would then hand us a check or cash.

Our last Christmas together we decided to do a gift exchange. We all had to buy something that was a “favorite.” And then we did the white elephant gift exchange game. Turns out Mom and Dad each bought something that really was their favorite and that they actually wanted. So they went for their gifts and they were gifts that no one else would want. Dad’s was a handkerchief – he wore them when we was out with the horses. I can’t remember what Mom’s gift was but I do know they both ended up with their own gift in the end. I can still see Dad sitting in his chair giggling because he thought he and Mom were so sneaky.

On Sunday we had Christmas with my brother Tracy and his wife Patricia. We stuffed ourselves with amazing food and then had a little gift exchange. Tracy decided to carry on the tradition with their gifts to me and Pat.

I got this movie:

It had been opened and I could tell it was used. I was like, “Oh, thank you!” trying to mask my real thought of, “What the heck is this!” After a few awkward minutes, Tracy said, “Missy open it.” Of course, there was a gift card inside. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that! They did the same with Pat. They gave him an old pair of jeans. Hidden away in one of the pockets was another gift card.

My children are already teaching me how to give gifts. We let them go to the dollar store and pick out whatever they wanted for their aunts and uncles. Oh dear. For the last couple of years they’ve had this thing with Tracy that they want to get him the worst gift. I have no idea where this comes from. They truly do love their uncle Tracy. Last year they got him a big spider (he hates spiders) and some type of slime stuff.

This year Angel got him a different type of slime. It was pretty cool and he actually like it. And she was bummed. ?? Caleb was so excited for Tracy to open his gift. He kept saying, “You are going to hate it!” It was a Mr Potato head paper weight thing (I think). Mr P was dressed up like a scuba diver. It was really weird. Because of all of Caleb’s smack talk before opening presents, Tracy asked Patricia to video tape Caleb’s reaction when he opened the present.

Hahaha. Seriously, Caleb’s expression when Tracy says he likes it, is so funny!

Well anyway, that’s all the “wisdom” I have for you today.

Whatever you do decide to get your loved ones, remember that the most important gift you can give is your love and your time. I’ve learned not to take anyone for granted because in the blink of an eye, they could be gone. What I wouldn’t give for just one more Christmas with a pack of Mentos.

Cherish every moment and have a blessed Christmas!


Just get over it

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I’ve been thinking about grief and depression lately. Mostly because I am tired of it. I’m frustrated because it’s been three and a half years since mom and dad died and it still feels like yesterday. It still takes my breath away and reduces me to a big puddle of tears and sorrow.

Our life changed that day in June. I know I will never be the same. But seriously, why can’t I just get over it?

I’ve read God’s Word and I listen to music that draws my heart to God. I pray and ask Him to take away the darkness of grief and depression that seems to consume my life. I have so much to be thankful for. And I am thankful. But still, why can’t I just get over it?

Do you ever feel that way? Do you have a grief or sorrow that seems to consume you? You pray and beg God to take it from you or from a loved one but for some reason, He doesn’t?

Of course, God always provides hope, even through the questions and the why:

Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough; it’s all you need.

My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

We don’t know what Paul’s “handicap” was but the God-breathed words of Paul’s gives me encouragement and reminds me that through whatever we face, it’s in our weaknesses that God is strong.

God does give us more than we can handle! I have prayed so many times, “Jesus, I don’t have the strength!” He gently whispers to my heart, “I know my child, but I do.” Without this thorn of grief and depression, I know that I would not be fully relying on God in all things.

This week of Christmas can be hard. There are many who will be facing sorrow and pain this week. And so I pray with you that through your weakness you will feel the strength and love of God in your life.

His grace is enough; it’s all we need.