Mustard Seed Faith

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“Because of your little faith, He told them ” For I say if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will tell this mountain, move from here to there and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” However this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting.” Matthew 17: 20-21

I am reading through the Bible in a year with a group of ladies from #the4500, whom I talked about in my last blog post. Honestly, I didn’t want to read through a plan, especially a year long with anyone. I was determined I was just going to do my own thing, in my own time. The Lord made it clear to me that because of the season I am in, I don’t need to do anything on my own and I need the accountability. Today is day 29 out of 365 days. I’ve missed 2 nights so far, but am caught up at the moment.

Friday night (1/25) one of the readings took us into Matthew, where we read about the mustard seed. It’s a passage I have read 100 plus times over my years of growing up in church. I’ve heard multiple sermons on this passage. I’ve had people quote it to me in different seasons of life over the years. It’s not unfamiliar with this passage in any way, shape or form. However, as I read it the passage was kick in the tail for me. I think I read those two verses multiple times before I continued on to finish reading the rest of the passages for the night.

As I shared in my last post, I am in a difficult season. It’s a desert I haven’t been in, in a good long while. I don’t like desert seasons. I don’t like feeling the way I feel. Really, who does? If I am going to be completely transparent with you, I told the Lord while praying “I don’t know that I have the faith of a grain of sand at the moment.” (Why lie to the Lord when praying, because He knows what you are thinking and feeling anyway)? The Lord reminded me the mustard seed is tiny, yet a great tree grows from it. The tree is strong, even though it came from something so tiny and seemingly insignificant.

I have NO clue as to what lies ahead on several fronts. I know what I hope and pray for. I know the story I hope to write at the end of this season. I also know it’s hard to want to pray, stay in The Word and go to church, especially when you feel the Lord is being completely silent, but it’s the only way to survive this type of season. I know I have to lean in and dig in. If I try to walk through this season independently and attempt to temporarily shelf my faith, I won’t make it. I guess technically, I would eventually get to the other side, but what will I have accomplished in the meantime? If I don’t pray, if I don’t stay in The Word and I don’t go to church, how do I learn? How do I grow? Where does my support and encouragement come from? None of this is fun. None of this feels good. I’d rather stay on the mountain tops, but I am not a better or stronger person if I live there.

I’ve also had a large number of people who tell me I needed to walk some things from my past and walk this current season because I will have a story to tell. I’ll be able to look at someone else sitting in my shoes and tell them about my “But God” story. I get where they are coming from, but honestly, I would love to coast and have life be a little more vanilla. At some point, on the other side of this, I do hope something I’ve walked or something I’ve learned can be a point of hope for someone else. I do hope I can help someone else walk through a tough season. Even better, I would love to be able to walk alongside someone else and help them avoid some of the things I’ve walked.

There are so many hokey, christianese things I could insert here and make myself sound super spiritually mature, but I won’t go there. It doesn’t help me or anyone else for that matter. This current season is hard. My faith doesn’t always look the way it needs to look. Sometimes having the faith of a mustard seed seems like attempting to have the faith the size of Mt. Everest. Be ok with knowing you don’t have a perfect faith all the time. Those who look like they do are just better actors than the rest of us.

Like I said in the last post, if you are struggling, please know you are not alone. Pick up the phone or shoot me an email. If not me, then reach out to someone you trust. I’m grateful for the women who are surrounding me right now. On the hardest days, their prayers and encouragement keep me going.

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Forward?

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Honestly, I don’t get this word and right now it absolutely terrifies me. Let me back up just a little bit. I am blessed to be a part of online tribe called #the4500. We are a group of rejects the Lord brought together in a way I never could have imagined or asked for. We all applied to be a part of a book launch and were rejected. Then, we were turned around and added to another launch team. As we worked together on this book launch, something started happening. It’s not something I have ever seen or experienced on other launches. Women began to ask for prayers. They began to share their lives. Once the launch was over, the conversations and relationships didn’t come to an end. We moved our group over to a private Facebook page.

We are a group of ladies who come from different walks of life, from all over the US. We come from different denominations and different ends of the political spectrum. The one common thread is that we love the Lord and want to see each other be successful and loved. Over the past several years this group has walked ladies through the mountain tops and valleys of life. I’ve watched as ladies have jumped into help total strangers in other states solely based on the stranger’s relationship to #the4500. I’ve watched as our group has rallied through the beginning and ending of relationships. I’ve watched as our group has rallied around ladies in our group and their families through illness and absolute tragedies. I LOVE #the4500 and what they have come to mean to me over the past couple of years!!!

One thing this group has encouraged over the past several years was to pray and ask the Lord to give us a word of the year. Given we are all in different places in our walks, the Lord isn’t going to have us all on the same word. In 2017 my word was Restore. 2018 the word was Courage. For 2019 it’s Forward. If you know me in real life, you have to realize, given my current circumstances that this word seems like a cruel joke.

On December 17th, I was called into a meeting at the church expecting one conversation only to be told that due to budget cuts I was being let go. Yep, the Lord gave me my word late October/ early November and I was let go in December. I had plans and dreams for my position at the church. It was complete and total shock. When you are a strict Type A personality, who is planner, likes structure and routine, this feels like a punch in the gut and knocks you on your tail. When you were not only staff, but an active member of church, it makes church hard. Church is weird and awkward because I don’t know what I “should” be doing and honestly, I don’t know what to say or do. I am beyond grateful for worship ministry because it’s the one place I still feel connected and gives me place of semi normalcy.

There is another, more private area of life that is topsy turvy right now and it is only adding to my anxiety over what life looks like right now. I feel like I have entered into a nightmare of the Twilight Zone. Every time I think about the word the Lord gave me, I just don’t get it. I don’t understand it at all. When it feels like I am taking 100 steps backwards, I don’t get how any of this moves me forward. Yes, I know the saying about how a sling shot has to be pulled way back in order to project an object forward. Y’all this is about to do me in.

My nickname growing up was “The Major’s Daughter” and right now, my emotions are all over the place. A Major sees an issue, creates a plan of attack and goes in. There are times in life when I can absolutely do that, but right now I don’t know which way is up. As I pray and trust me when I say I have prayed harder and more fervently than I have since we walked the road of miscarriages and fertility issues. The only thing I am getting back from the Lord is “Take the small steps.” In one area I know what that looks like, but not overly convinced it will work. In another area I have zero clue as to what a small step looks like. This post has a very different tone than what I typically post, but I also know others need to know that life isn’t always a tiptoe through Tulips. Life hits low valleys. Life takes long, unwanted detours through the desert. It’s ok to admit that you are struggling. It’s ok to say “I just don’t know.”

A while back our pastor commented in a sermon, “You can’t logic your way through things.” While I get where he is coming from, it’s the only way I am walking right now. If I allow my heart and emotions to dictate life, I’d be in a corner somewhere uncontrollably crying. While I don’t really “feel” like it, I “know” the Lord is in control. I “know” none of what is happening in life right now took Him by surprise. I “know” the Lord has a plan in all of this. Right now, I would really like a billboard or a letter laying out what is coming down the road and what I need to do to get there. This whole taking each day by faith and being patient is a huge struggle for me. I want to know that 2019 will end on a high note. I want to know the Lord will open a door for me. I want to know all of my relationships will be in tact and stronger come December. I want to know that while I am in a desert place, that by year’s end I will understand why I’ve walked what I’m walking. I am honestly, not so patiently waiting for the “But God” in this whole mess.

If you are in a similar place, please know you are not alone. If you are in a similar place, please reach out to me or someone you trust. Please find at least 2 people to walk alongside you, pray with you and over you. If one of those people is a therapist, then great! There is no shame in walking into a therapist office, especially in a time like this. All I am asking is that you please do not walk this alone.

A Saturday Tale

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My Saturday was eventful to say the least. It was also a great reminder of what’s important in life. It was a day of hanging out with some of the people I love the most. A football celebration, followed by a huge “Thank you Lord” moment.

Saturday morning started with a Birthday brunch for one of the best friends a girl could ask for. A group of us gathered at another friend’s home and hosted a brunch for the birthday girl. It was a mix of people. Some of us have been friends for a little over 17 years. Some are newer friends, but those friendships are still just as valued. We ate. We talked. We reminisced and there was plenty of laughter. When you have been friends that long, there are plenty of stories that will make you laugh good, deep belly laughs.

When I looked at the birthday girl and some of the other ladies in the room, I was reminded how blessed I am to have such and incredible tribe. These are women with whom we have ridded the crazy roller coaster of life together. These are women who have laughed, cried and prayed together. These are women who truly want to see each other succeed. There is no competition or oneupmanship in this group. These are also the women who are not afraid to speak truth in love when needed. They are there when you fall and ready to help you get back up, brush you off and take off again. These are the type of women I pray all of you have in your lives. These are the women we need in our lives.

I came home from this beautiful celebration to watch my favorite football game of the season. Whether you have known me since childhood, or just a short time, most of you know I am a die hard Alabama fan. Yesterday was Iron Bowl Saturday, where we take on the Auburn Tigers. While I relished and celebrated our big cross state rivalry win, that wasn’t my favorite part of watching the game.

My boys are pee wee football players and have inherited mommy’s love of football. Watching them watch the game, especially my youngest, was so much fun. I love how they were trying to coach the players and telling them what to do. I have no idea where they learned that… Every time Bama scored a touchdown my boys were jumping up and down, high fiving each other and me. The looks on their faces were priceless.

They showed me their “victory dances” at every TD. I also watched their precious hearts as one of the Bama boys targeted an Auburn player and that player went down. They kept cheering him to get up and then clapped when the Auburn player was finally able to walk off the field. My boys are uber competitive, but they also have huge hearts.

Towards the end of the game my husband and mother left to run over to her place, so my husband could fix something for her. On the way home, they were involved in a hit and run. A guy ran a light, pulling in front of my husband, causing my husband to t-bone the other car. The guy got out of his car and talked with my husband. When he admitted that he didn’t have insurance, my husband called Metro Police. At this point, the other guy got in his car and left. Thankfully, my husband and mother walked away and the van is drivable, although a little dinged up. I know this could have been so much worse, but grateful it wasn’t.

Both my husband and mother spend a lot of their time on the roads for work. Honestly, one my biggest fears is having a state trooper or local officer knock on my door and tell me one of them was in an accident and didn’t make it. I know this sounds extreme and overly dramatic, but the level of carelessness on the roads these days has reached a level of ridiculousness. When my husband called last night, my heart sank. While gratefully, it wasn’t the phone call I feared the most, it was a reminder of what “could” be. I was thrilled to have them both walk back through our front door last night. My husband may not have overly appreciated the extra long hug from me, but I was relieved to know I was going to crawl into bed last night and have him by my side.

I share all of this because yesterday was a truly of day of reminders. I was reminded how blessed I am to have an incredible group of friends who are my tribe. They are women I pray I never take for granted. Even in the celebration of a football victory celebration, I saw the compassion and tenderness of my sons. I also hope and pray they will eventually look back on Saturday football games, both the ones they play and the ones we watch together and remember the feeling of togetherness and the fun times in these games. I am grateful my husband and mother walked away from the accident last night. I’m grateful for insurance who will cover the cost of repairing my van and grateful I’m not standing by their beds in ICU or planning funerals. I’m grateful for my family. I’m grateful last night ended in hugs and “I’ll see you tomorrow.” I’m grateful I was able to sit side by side with my husband in church this morning.

Y’all, look around you. Look at your tribe and your family. If you have them, thank the Lord for them. There are times when these people may drive you nuts, but these are your people. The Lord entrusted them to you. In the crazy roller coaster of life, these are the people who will ride it with you and not jump off. Hug your people a little tighter. Let them know you love them and appreciate them.

Why Vulnerability?

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“You can’t get to courage without rumbling through vulnerability.”

“Own our story can be hard, but not nearly as difficult spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky, but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy- the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

Both quotes are by Brene Brown.

Y’all, it seems the word vulnerability has been a reoccurring theme in life as of late. So many conversations from people in different areas of my life are bringing up this word. I’m a part of a wonderful church staff. Earlier this week we had small group conversations around this word. Honestly, at the moment, it’s probably one of my least favorite words. It’s a word that means going below the surface. It’s a word that requires allowing others to see past the mask and the walls. It’s allowing others to see us at our weakest. Vulnerability means letting people into the darkest recesses we swore only the Lord would ever see. It means letting people you trust speak into those places. It means being seen on a level we aren’t really sure we want to be seen.

Vulnerability requires a great deal of trust. When you are not a trusting person, that makes it ten times harder. Vulnerability means allowing people to hear your story in its entirety. It means acknowledging you aren’t as perfect as you like to pretend you are. It’s laying your soul bare and knowing the person sitting in front of you can either honor your trust or completely betray you.

Life happens and throws us curve-balls. Sometimes life hands us situations where shame and guilt come into play. Many of us have stories we wish we didn’t have. Many of us have walked things we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies. They are things we wish we could permanently block from our minds. The only way to move forward and away from our past is to take the leap of faith into vulnerability. It is probably one of the hardest things we can do.

The question then is, who can we trust? I’ll be honest, I’m grateful for a small group women in my life. Two are friends I’ve had for roughly 17 years. We’ve walked single-hood to engagement, weddings, marriage, miscarriages, children and everything in between. There is another friend with whom I work and I can’t begin to tell you how many raw conversations and tears have fallen in her office. I also have two more seasoned ladies whom I love and adore. They are two of my biggest prayer warriors. You see, I know I am blessed to have these women in my life. They have given me a safe place to land and a place to let down my guard. The Lord knew I’m not a trusting person and He graciously placed these 5 women in my life.

Do you have people like this in your life? Do you have at least one person like this in your life? If not, I urge you to pray and ask the Lord to lead you to that person. Even if you don’t have trauma in your past, we all need at least one person with whom we can be 100% ourselves. We need at least one person with whom the mask can come off and the walls can come down. If you do have trauma in your past, then these are the people who can walk by your side on the hard days. These are the people who will pray you through those days and help you get to the other side.

Vulnerability may also be taking the step of walking into a therapist office. Y’all therapy is hard. It can be extremely humbling, but I think most people need to sit in a therapist office at least once or twice in life. Sometimes it may be for a check up and process some of the smaller things in life. Other times there are a larger issues that need to be addressed. It may be getting to the root of why you struggle with vulnerability.

Vulnerability may be allowing others to step and do something for you. I get the majority of us don’t need to go that far, but to allow someone to bring you a meal or take your children for a few hours can be huge, especially when you are hurting. Vulnerability is really allowing those you trust the most to step in when and where you need it the most. It may make you feel weak, but allowing others to love on you will put you closer to where you need to be.

We may not realize it, but vulnerability can affect all areas of our lives. If we stay shut off from the world and walk through it with only shallow relationships, we miss out on the beauty of the world and the richness of those around us. Vulnerability in the right places allows us to live our lives to the fullest. It means we’re allowing the Lord into those places and allowing Him to place others to be His hands and feet in our lives.

 

 

 

 

Hidden Value

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Sometimes when driving down the road the most random thoughts enter my brain. Then I sit and probably way over think whatever it is that has popped up in my head. This is one of those posts.

My husband and I closed on our house a little over 3 years and really aren’t  looking to go anywhere else anytime soon. We realize at some point we will probably outgrow our little house and need to give our kids some breathing room, especially the boys, as they grow into teenagers. That being said, it’s still fun to look at random postings as they pop up on social media or to look up properties as we see them. While on a run I passed a house I have passed more times than I can count. The front of the property is gorgeous. There is a gate, so you can’t walk up and look around. From the road I can see the house, a greenhouse and a pond. There is a “For Sale” sign in front of it. I knew it would be listed for way beyond what my husband and I could ever afford, but still wanted to know the listing price.

After watching countless seasons of “House Hunters” and “Property Brothers” I thought I had a good guess as to what the house would be worth. Y’all, I was so far off it wasn’t even funny. My estimate was roughly half a million. When I went into Zillow the house was listed at $1.5 Million! I about fell out of my chair. While I knew the house had value, I could only see it’s partial potential from my view on the road. I couldn’t see anything else the home had to offer. I couldn’t see the square footage of the house. I couldn’t see all of the acreage that comes with the house, nor could I see the Olympic size pool behind the house.

As I was driving and thinking about this house, I started to think about people in general. How many people do we write off as not having much to offer? How many times do we look at another person and know they have some skills, but fail to look farther than we can see and fail to see their full potential? I wonder how many people make it to the end of their lives without ever reaching their full potential because not one person in their lives took the time see what it was or to give them a chance?

When I think about my own kids I see their value, but wonder what else they have to offer? What are their talents and skill sets that have yet to be discovered? At the end of May they participated in a cheer/ football clinic. The son I thought would do ok, ended up shocking me. The child I thought would excel, was the one who did ok. In my own mind, I saw potential in a completely different area for my one son and never imagined that he could do what I saw him do on the field that week. I am now really looking forward to football this fall to watch him grow and develop.

As a parent I don’t need to write off a certain activity because I don’t think my child can excel. I need to be open to letting my kids explore multiple activities and see where their hearts, talents and skill sets take them. I don’t want my kids to miss out because I or another adult in their lives failed to pay attention and miss their full potential in whatever the activity may be.

I also don’t want to be the person to write off someone else because I can’t see them for who they truly are and only look at them on a surface level. In a society where we tend to only see what a person puts on social media, it’s easy to pass judgement on what we think a person may or may not have to offer. How many people have surprised others by what they’ve done, not because they weren’t capable of doing whatever, but we didn’t see them as someone who could do it?

The flip side of this coin is, how often do we hide our own worth? We know what we are capable of, but are content, or too scared to come out of our bubbles? It is often times easier to sit back and let the world go by than to let others in to see our true worth. This has been a struggle for me over the past year. I know I am capable of doing so much more than I am, but have let the fear of being seen prevent me from taking any steps. Even in times when we’ve been given a shot at doing something, how many times do we second guess every little thing? I am a huge over-thinker and a recovering people pleaser (blog post on this coming soon). Even though I desire to do more, as long as those above me are happy with what I am doing, it’s easy to coast.

Remember: When a person shows even a little potential, take the time to see what else may be below the surface. I think most people would shock us if given the opportunity. Also, don’t be afraid to let others see your real worth.

Love Your People Well

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Y’all it has been a long hard road since last June. That week started out with me heading to MI to celebrate my niece graduating from high school and her acceptance to college. The weekend ended with my MIL being diagnosed with cancer. Talk about highs to lows in a matter of days. This would only be the beginning of health issues and death. I shared in my last blog post about a season of death. Well, that season has been extended by the death of an adult child of a dear friend.

When things like this happen, especially with as hard as this season has hit, it causes you take a step back and take stock of life. It causes you to really evaluate who you are, where you and the relationships with the people around you. Y’all please love your people well. I have been reminded of my former pastor’s statement “There is nothing so certain as death and nothing so uncertain as the time.” You never know when the Lord is going to call you or someone you love home. Again, love your people well.

Life can get crazy busy. I am looking at the calendar for the month of May. It is crazy busy for us. We celebrate the birthdays of two of our children. There is Mothers Day and the anniversary of our engagement. Add to that all of the end year stuff/ activities for church and school and by the end I am so ready for a vacation. What if? What if you gave yourself the permission to say “No” to certain things? What if you took a step back to make sure you had time to really be with your spouse,children and friends?

I’ll be honest, I am a people pleaser in recovery. (This is so difficult for me to say and a whole blog post for down the road). I don’t like people to be upset or angry with me, so I struggle to say that tiny two letter word “No.” As I look back at all that has transpired since last June, will I really be upset when my time comes that I said “No” to others and “Yes” to my family? Will I regret staying busy over choosing to grab lunch with a friend or spending time with my husband and children? Do I want my kids to say “Mommy loved us, but she was so busy with other things that she wasn’t there for us?

The end of the school year is almost here. Summer is knocking on our door. I’ll be honest, I’m saying “No” to a lot this summer. My kids will attend VBS at our church. We will go to MI and visit my sister and that side of my family. My youngest will go to preschool day camp. Other than that, we are going to enjoy a slower summer. My husband and I will still have to work, but we are going to take time to breathe this summer. My kids will be a top priority. We will enjoy some much needed family time. I also plan on getting together with my girlfriends. Time for dinners and play-dates will be made. There will also be plenty of what my kids call “home days.” I will say “Yes” to the ice cream truck. I will say “Yes” to turning on the sprinkler for my kids and their friends. I will say “Yes” to trips to the park, the art museum and the library.

I won’t do any of this perfectly, but I will make more of an effort than I have in the past. I have several friends and family members who are hurting because of this season of death. I pray the Lord will use me to be His hands and feet and love on them. I pray that I can be the ear or the shoulder they need in this time. I pray that I can be the one who just sits there because there are no words to be spoken. Sometimes I think when people we love are hurting that is what they need the most. They just need us to sit there. They don’t need our words, even though they may be well intentioned. Sometimes the silence is more healing than the noise. They need to know they are loved. With the friend who said her final goodbyes to her son last week, all I could tell her was that she and her family are loved.

Side note on dealing with grieving loved ones and friends:
1) Tell them they are loved.
2) Let them know you are OK with the tears.
3) Let them know they have permissions to have hard days.
4) Let them know it’s OK to laugh and smile on the good days.
5) Call or text them and let them know you are praying for them.
6) Call or text and ask them to join you for coffee, lunch, or a movie.
7) Don’t give them trite responses to their grief.
8) Remind them as long as what they are doing is not causing self-harm there is no wrong or right way to grieve.
9) Remind them there is NO timeline on their grief.
10) Remind them grief is not a straight line and the emotions will cycle.

If you are in a season of grief or things are smooth sailing, love your people well and reach out and connect to those you love most.

Death, Grief and Legacy

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It’s been a season of loss. There have been tears shed as well as laughter over shared memories of the past. I tend to keep my emotions to close to me and try to only release them when I am alone or with my husband. Given all that’s transpired, I haven’t done a great job at concealing anything. A part of me knows that showing emotion and not attempting to be stoic around others isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Almost two weeks ago, on a Wednesday night, I completely fell apart. Let me back up just a little. Back in November, we lost my MIL to cancer. My husband and children still struggle with her loss, especially my daughter. At the end of January, I lost a sweet friend to brain cancer. Just shy of 2 weeks after that I walked into my office and learned a friend from church lost her husband. I had only met the husband a couple of times, but hurt for her and her children. Then I lost my beloved college president and my high school choral director within a week of each other. It was on that Wednesday that I learned about my choral director.

I thought I was doing ok. I made it through work. Went home and came back to church, even though I seriously contemplated staying home. I attended my ladies Bible study that night and headed to choir. I was holding back the emotion pretty well, until we started singing. You see I love music and it speaks to the very depths of my soul. There are times when the Lord uses the music more than the sermon to speak to me. (My senior pastor is really a great preacher and I love his solid, exegetical preaching). We rehearsed the first song and I was great. A couple lines into the second song, I was attempting to blink back the tears. By the end of that song, I couldn’t read the music in my hands. Since I was sitting on the back row, I couldn’t just slide out. What did I do? I pulled my hair down over my glasses and didn’t make eye contact with anyone. As soon as rehearsal was over and our worship pastor prayed, I bolted.

I was hoping to make it back to the safety of my van before anyone realized that I was crying. That didn’t happen. I reached the back door at the same time as a friend. She looked at me and hugged me, which only made the tears flow harder. In between the tears I shared what had happened. She hugged me tighter, told me she would be praying for me and we walked to the parking lot together. Later, I would receive a text message and a FB message from a couple other ladies who saw the tears. I won’t lie, I was angry with myself and frustrated that these 3 ladies saw it. On the other hand, it was a great reminder that I go to an amazing church and have been blessed with some incredible friends. Church “should” be the one place we can fall apart. Right? I feel like being on staff I should be able to hide the bad and pretend that all is well, even when it isn’t. If someone on church staff is falling apart, then it must mean that we struggle with our faith and in life, so wouldn’t that set a terrible example for everyone else? I get how stupid that sounds. We are not immune from life’s curveballs or fastballs. We struggle like everyone else. Tears will fall and we have people who love us and will come alongside us, IF we allow them. That is a whole other blog post for me. Death and grief suck.

The other thing death does is cause us to look at the life of those who have passed and our own lives. There are beautiful things we see and there are some not so pretty things we see. I honestly didn’t have the best relationship with my MIL, but I have watched how her death has impacted my husband and children. My husband no longer has any living parents. We lost his father when I was half way through my pregnancy with our middle child. My husband has made the statement several times “I feel like an orphan.” I can’t imagine how that must feel. I have watched my children grieve their grandmother. It’s been a struggle for them to understand why she no longer comes to the house, why no cookies appeared at Christmas and why they can’t just pick up the phone and call heaven. I’ve struggled with how could I have attempted to have made things better with her. There is frustration, sadness and regret all balled up into her death.

My sweet friend Lea Anne was an avid runner. I loved the race pictures she posted, especially when her family was involved. She and I had several conversations about running a race together. This would have meant that one of us would have had to travel. We talked about how once she defeated cancer I would make the trek to Arkansas and run a race in celebration of her defeating that nasty disease. Neither race ever happened. I regret not making the time do what we talked about. My heart aches for her husband and 4 children. Cancer stole a young, active wife and mother. She loved her husband, children and life and now she’s gone. Every mile I run this year is in her memory. It won’t bring her back to her family and friends, but it’s a way to honor her memory.

I don’t even know where to begin with Dr. Potts. You see he wasn’t a typical college president. Judson is not your typical college. There are things about my college experience that would be seen the same as most every other college experience. Then, because of the uniqueness of Judson, it was extremely different. We are small school. Between December, April and June graduates, there were only 40 in my graduating class. Judson is a family and Dr. Potts was the head of that family. Dr. Potts may have technically only had 2 biological daughters, but he treated every girl who walked through the gates of Judson like a daughter.

Dr. Potts knew every student by name. He knew our majors and what extra curricular activities we participated in on campus. He knew our family members by name. He could call them by name even if we weren’t with him. Dr. Potts chose to eat in the dining hall with the students. When we were out walking on campus, it wasn’t unusual for him to jump in and walk with us. He truly had an open door policy. You see he wasn’t some illusive figure head at Judson, he was a part of everything on campus. Dr. Potts loved the Lord and loved to find ways for Judson Girls to serve the community of Marion. We weren’t some small private college who stayed within our gates. Dr. Potts made it a point to connect students and the community.

I counted it a privilege to return to Judson to be a part of the Judson Singers Alumni Choir and sing for Dr. Potts’ memorial service. As I sat there it was surreal to sit and listen to people referring to him in past tense. Honestly, I spent the entire weekend waiting for him to appear and his office doors to open. I sat and listened as people talked about the man, husband and father he was. There were some stories I heard that I had heard a hundred times. There were other stories, I had never heard before. I look at the legacy he left and what he instilled in all of his Judson Girls and I know lives are going to be forever impacted because he lived out what he believed.

The Wednesday of the week I headed to Judson, I received word my high school choral director passed away. Carroll High School and the city of Ozark lost a great man and a talented musician. There were three men who instilled a love of music into my life at a young age and Mr. Shirley was one of them. I had the privilege of being a part of Choral Club and musical theater productions under his choral direction. I won’t admit how long I have been out of high school, but I have loved seeing posts and pictures on social media of him leading the next generation. He was actively involved in the spring production when he became sick. Knowing what I know about him, I hate these students missed out on his leadership the weekend of the actual production. His death leaves a huge hole in the music back home. Mr. Shirley also left behind a wife, children and grandchildren. I can’t even begin to guess at how many students  walked through the doors of the choral room and the stage and we all feel his loss as well.

Yes, we grieve and cry. The only encouragement I find in all of this is that we can grieve with hope. You see, these wonderful people had a relationship with the Lord and they are now sitting at His feet. Because many of us share their faith, we know we will one day be reconnected with them. The reunion will be one of great joy. We will all be healthy, whole and will forever worship the Lord side by side. If you have never asked Christ to be your Lord and Savior, I am more than happy to walk through it with you. My former pastor, Bro. Jerry, used to say frequently from the pulpit “There is nothing so certain as death and nothing so uncertain as the time.” He is absolutely correct. I am grateful for my relationship with the Lord and pray those around me who don’t know Him as their personal Lord and Savior will come to a saving relationship with Him.

Please let the people in your family and inner circles know how much you love them. Tell them frequently because you never know when it will be their time or your time to go. My prayer other than people coming to Christ is that the people around us would be loved well.

If you have made it this far, thank you. If there is ever anything I can do, please don’t hesitate to ask! You are loved!