Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Joy is Coming

This might be a long post because I'm not quite sure the direction all this is about to take. But I feel like my mind has so much to process. So here we go...

In all honesty, the past couple of years have been a serious fight for joy. I can't pinpoint exactly what has caused my heart to reach such a numb state, but I feel as though I have been merely scraping by. And I've hated it. It's like each day has become so mundane. There have been times when I've looked at myself with such disdain over the person I've become on the inside. Somehow I reached a point where the tiniest disappointments could send my mood into a downward spiral and ruin my day. This has been my hardest battle.

Through it all, I've never given up on the Lord. I have continued to seek His face, even in the driest seasons - even when I felt like I was praying to the ceiling - even when I felt like His Word just wasn't coming alive. It can be so easy to just give up when we don't feel Him anymore. And I think that's what I've been fighting for a while. I just haven't felt Him. But I know that what I believe is real. And not just what I believe, but I know that He is real, and that His Word is real. So when Deuteronomy 31:6 says, "He will not leave you or forsake you," my heart and my soul believe it.

These past couple of months I have experienced a wide range of emotions. And I am so thankful for the people God has placed in my life who have helped me through and encouraged me to allow myself the FREEDOM to experience those emotions. I've experienced anger, bitterness, confusion, frustration, deep sadness, and believe it or not, peace. I went a couple of weeks where I just couldn't pray anymore. I was physically, emotionally and spiritually spent. Praying for healing for my mom for almost a solid two years with seemingly no answer (or really the answer being the opposite of what I was praying for) was enough to do me in. I didn't want to put on a mask in approaching the Lord in prayer. So I didn't. But at the same time, I was so thankful to know there were countless others praying on my behalf. I depended on those prayers so heavily in a time when I couldn't pray myself.

A day came, however, when I knew I needed to confess my feelings to the Lord. So I did, and I was brutally honest with Him. I told Him I was angry. I told Him I felt like He wasn't listening, like He had turned a deaf ear toward us. I told Him I didn't understand and I felt like He didn't care. And amazingly, through this very prayer, I felt like I heard Him speak to me so clearly. I wrote the prayer in my journal, and as I was writing, His words interrupted me, and I felt led to write His words in the middle of my prayer.

I was asking Him to do a miracle in my mom's life, and He told me, "I want to do a miracle in your life, Jordan. In showing myself through one who hopes against hope." I continued to plead with Him, reminding Him that my Mom is His precious daughter. He interrupted again. "So are you." I also heard Him tell me, "I see you," and "I hear you." And then He gave me one last word...


I still was not fully convinced. But I believe that's when He really began working in my heart and showing me that my mom's battle with cancer wasn't just about her and her testimony, but it was also about doing a work in my life through all this. Was I happy with this? No. But He did slowly begin changing my heart.

I feel like the Lord has been consistently telling me one other thing these past couple of months. He knows this battle very well that I have been fighting for joy. He knows that my heart has felt numb. And I feel like He has been telling me that He had to take my mom for my heart to start feeling again. I feel like He has been telling me that
joy is coming through all this. Oh, I wish there were some other way. I really do. My heart is broken, and my spirit is crushed. So I must now trust that He will put me back together again. And He will work joy in the days to come.

I feel very hopeful in His promise. I can say that my heart no longer feels numb. I think the word for it now is tender. When a heart is broken into pieces, parts are exposed that have been hidden for years. I don't even know what all is in there. But
He knows. And he knows how to restore each part and put it all back together again.

I claimed Psalm 42 for myself on December 11, 2013, moments before finding out that the end of my mom's journey was nearer than we thought. The second part of verse 5 has really found a deep place in my spirit.

"Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God."

Joy is coming. I am confident that it is.

I know a lot of pain is also coming. I dread the pain that lies ahead. I started feeling it just last night. Reality is slowly beginning to sink in. When I think of her absence, my stomach burns, and I feel like the breath has been knocked out of me. She was my best friend. So much of my life was wrapped up in her. But I know joy is coming. Through tears and sorrow, I have to cling to this promise. I know in my mind that every tear will be worth it all. But my heart must follow.

I'll close with this song (I think Mom shared it on her blog a while back too).

Please continue to pray for our family and the days that lie ahead. We are so desperate for God's grace to continue to carry us.

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Sunday, December 29, 2013


Today was yet another day filled with His grace. I don't know why I'm so surprised at how good His grace is. His word promises that His grace is sufficient. But before my mom passed, I couldn't fathom how He was going to carry us through such a storm as this. But He is! It really has been incredible. My mind wants to keep wondering to the days ahead, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't fearful about the hard times to come. But then I must remind myself... Stay in today. His grace has been with me today, and when tomorrow comes, His grace will be there too.

We sang these words at church this morning:

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

What precious words those are! I will continue to lean on His arms through this trial. He hasn't failed me yet!

We had my mom's visitation tonight, and WOW! The outpouring of love was simply incredible. The line of people was completely steady from 4:00-7:30pm. And I believe that was just a tiny glimpse of the impact my mom has had on the world around her. What a testimony. She lived her life well. Thank you to everyone who came out tonight. It was such a blessing to all of us!!

Mom's Celebration Service will be live streamed tomorrow (12/30/13) at 10 AM CST. I am posting the link below. Please join us if you're able!

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Friday, December 27, 2013

Rise Up, Take Courage

My momma has been rejoicing in heaven for a day and a half now. It's so strange to think that she's really gone. I don't know if it's really sunk in yet. But for now I am thankful that today has been a good day. I do not want to fret about the days ahead. I am thankful His grace has been sufficient for today.

Gosh, my mom was such an amazing example of faith. There aren't words to accurately describe who she was and how she lived her life. (And can I just say it's so strange to speak about her in past tense?!) But she glorified the Lord until her final breath. And even after her final breath she delivered a challenge to me. The shirt she was wearing when she passed was from a Mom's retreat we held at our church last year, and on it were written the words, "Rise up, take courage." How appropriate. In the weeks leading up to her passing, I felt as though my heart was melting within me. I depended on her so much. I felt like I just followed along in her shadow, letting her take the lead in everything we did together, letting her handle conversations with people we ran into while running errands, sitting beside her at all the women's luncheons that I was vicariously invited to through her... She was always the "Chatty Cathy" while I've always been a little more reserved. But now with her gone, I feel as though it's my turn to stand up. To rise up. To be courageous. I no longer have her shadow to hide in. People who once looked to her will now look to me. I feel so honored to be her daughter. I feel honored to carry her legacy inside of me. I feel honored that I carry even some of her physical traits. I love that our feet and legs are identical. I love that we both have that silly thing called "hitchhikers thumb." And although we could never really see it for ourselves, I love that my face resembles hers. I want to make her proud. I want to be just like her. So I'll take the challenge to "Rise up, take courage."

I think I will always find myself asking, "What would Mom do in this situation?" "How would she respond?" She was the most positive person I've ever met. She did her best to never take anything for granted. If I was ever bummed about something, she would immediately begin reminding me and listing all the blessings in my life - and although in the moment I would be very annoyed with her, I'm so thankful she did this. She was also such a prayer warrior - in the grandest of circumstances and even in the tiniest details. If I ever lost anything and searched and searched for it to no avail, she would always ask, "Have you prayed and asked God to help you find it?" And sure enough, God would always help me find what I was looking for.

She was such a precious gift. Twenty-five years was not near long enough with her. But I thank God he let me have her. If I had the choice, I would go back and take the same twenty-five years with her again over a lifetime with anyone else to fill that role. She is a jewel. Oh, how I wish to see her and hug her one more time. My heart aches to be in heaven. I am so excited for that day. But until then I will continue to rise up and take courage and make my mom proud.

"Today is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Thursday, December 26, 2013

My Mom, My Best Friend

I lost my best friend today. My precious Momma is no longer sick. She is walking with our Savior and living in the presence of Jesus this very moment.

It all seems so surreal right now. I am thankful the Lord was gracious to give us a heads up before this all took place. A month and a half ago we learned that her disease was, indeed, terminal. From that moment on we all became very intentional with our time with her. It's sad to think that's what it takes to be sure we take the time to let our loved ones know just how much we really love them. But I'm so thankful God allowed us to do that.

Two and a half weeks ago was when she had a heart attack. The words "this is the beginning of the end" immediately started flashing through my head as I drove her to the emergency room, but I didn't say that to anyone until my brother called. He said he had just told Jenna he felt like this was "the beginning of the end." I think that was God's way of preparing us that the "end" really was near.

These past two weeks, I spent every single waking moment right by her side. There was nowhere else I would have rather been. I'm thankful to have a job that allowed me to take as much time as I needed. I can honestly say I have no regrets about her last days. I kissed her, hugged her, stared at her, sat by her, told her I love her and stayed as close as I could. I told her how much I would miss her. I told her everything I loved doing with her. I told her we would all be okay. Every night I left I told her, "You are my sunshine." A few times I sang the whole song to her - it's been "our song" ever since I was a little girl.

Last night, our last night with her, couldn't have been more perfect. As she lay there in her bed sleeping, my family and I gathered around her bed and prayed that the Lord would come quickly. She's been waiting for this moment with much anticipation for the past two weeks. She's been more than ready. Impatient actually! So we asked the Author of life to look upon His sweet daughter with compassion and take her into His arms. In the quiet of her room we sang "Amazing Grace" - one of her favorite songs. And before we left the room, I knelt beside her one last time and sang in her ear those sweet words:

You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make me happy
When skies are gray
You'll never know, Mom
How much I love you
Please don't take
My sunshine away

I don't even know how to describe how today has been. I am so thankful for my family. I don't know if we are all walking around in shock or a massive bubble of grace. Or maybe a little of both. I know the hardest days are to come - after her Celebration Service when we have to get back to daily life. But for now I will simply take it a day at a time.

There's already a huge hole in my heart that no one can ever fill. Only Jesus. I miss her so much. I love her with all my heart. All I can ask for is your prayers. This is going to be a long journey with lots of ups and downs. I am thankful that His grace is sufficient. We are all going to so desperately need it.

"Today is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Just Doesn't "Feel Like Christmas"

"It just doesn't feel like Christmas." I've found myself saying this phrase a few times over the past two weeks. Many of you know my mom has been fighting a battle with ovarian cancer for the past two years, and now her battle is coming to an end. Not because she's lost, but because she is winning and gets to go home and walk with Jesus soon. She has victory in Him. So this Christmas season has been a little...well, a lot different for us.

So, what makes Christmas "feel like Christmas?"
- cold weather
- sing-along Christmas songs
- putting up the Christmas tree
- buying and wrapping presents
- seeing presents under the tree
- spending time with family
- watching Christmas movies
- sitting by the fire

These are typically the things that make Christmas.... Christmas. No matter how much we may say that Christ is the center, He still gets put on the back burner. And in an effort to solidify our claim that Christ is indeed the focus, we might pull out our Bible on Christmas morning, read about the birth of Christ and pray before we tear into all the pretty wrappings under the tree.

This year has been a reality check for our family. All those things that make Christmas "feel like Christmas" really haven't mattered this year. For the first time I have truly seen just how meaningless and futile all the hustle and bustle really is. Fretting over that perfect gift or panicking over the last-minute ones. Getting the ribbons and bows on your tree just right. Being the most creative or "Pinterest-worthy" with your gift wrapping.


What does matter....is hope. When all the glitz and glamor are stripped away, it may seem like there is nothing left to celebrate. Somehow Jesus has become an afterthought, or a thought only saved for the Christmas Eve service at church, and then it's back to gingerbread houses, Christmas movies and candy canes. But what if all those things are taken away from you? What if your only reason to rejoice really is the birth of our Savior? Can you really rejoice in that? No presents. No stockings. No traditions. Just Jesus. 

This is basically what our family is experiencing this Christmas season - just Jesus.
These past two weeks we have been watching and waiting for my mom to enter her final days and final moments. What do you buy someone who will no longer be here in just a few short moments? It's an odd question. But the answer is easy. It's nothing. You don't buy them anything because you realize they are leaving this earth - going to another home where they can't take anything with them. This is ultimately the reality for all of us.


This earth is not our home. Nothing here can satisfy us. Nothing can bring us joy. Nothing can fill the hole in our hearts that is a Jesus-shaped puzzle piece.

So while this Christmas has been drastically different from any other I've experienced, I realize more than ever how thankful I am for Jesus. For the hope He gives us. For His peace and His grace. For without these things, there would be no reason to wake up each morning. And there would also be no Christmas morning.

Yes, I am losing my mom. Very soon. Much sooner than I would have ever imagined. But I still have so much to gain. Jesus has so much in store this Christmas. It's what He wants to give us every Christmas and everyday of our lives, but somehow we become too busy, too frantic and too distracted to hear or see Him.

My husband and I have still managed to find time to buy each other a few gifts. But this year I had to really rack my brain to come up with a short wish list. Because more than that new book and some new bath products, what I really want is peace. I want joy. I want hope. I want to know that everything will be okay. That all this really does work for my good and His glory. Those things can't be bought. And those are the things that Jesus wants to give us! That's why He came! That's what Christmas is really about.

So what SHOULD make Christmas "feel like Christmas?"
- rejoicing in the fact that we have a reason to hope.
- rejoicing because He gives us peace.
- rejoicing because He satisfies our hearts.
- rejoicing in the birth of Jesus.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying family time, putting up the Christmas tree and opening presents. But I hope for myself, and for you, that these will no longer be the things that make Christmas feel like Christmas. Jesus is what makes Christmas feel like Christmas - in the hope, joy, peace and salvation He brings.