Friday, January 31, 2014

The Lord is My Portion

The Lord has dealt so tenderly with my heart this morning. As I wrote in my journal - which is also a form of prayer for me - I wrote these words:

I'm jealous they get to hug their mom and sit with their mom. They get to talk to their mom and laugh with their mom. They get to miss their mom and then fulfill that longing with seeing her. I only get to miss my mom.

After I vented my feelings, I then asked Him to help me:

Father, I need you to work in my heart. I need you to go before me. I need you to fight for me - for my mind and my heart. Help me to be thankful.

And then "for some reason" this verse was recalled to my mind:

"The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup."
Psalm 16:5

I love to read commentaries and go deeper in my study of Scripture. My favorite website for doing this is found HERE. I can type in any verse in the search bar, and choose from a list of commentaries on the right side of the screen. And let me tell you, today's study rocked my heart.

As I am struggling with feelings of jealousy of what others have - their moms - the Lord spoke to me so graciously and tenderly. The commentary for Psalm 16:5 from the New John Gill Exposition is absolutely beautiful. I cannot write it any better myself, so here is an excerpt from it:

Speaking of PORTION:
"This is said by Christ as a priest, and in allusion to the Levitical priests, who had no inheritance in the land of Canaan with their brethren, but the Lord was their part and portion, and their inheritance, (Numbers 18:20) (Deuteronomy 18:1,2) ; and it expresses the strong love and affection Christ had for the Lord as his God, the delight and pleasure he had in him, and the satisfaction he had in the enjoyment of him and communion with him, and that it was his meat and drink to serve him, and to do his will."

Speaking of CUP:
"And assigns to me my cup, as of blessings, so of sorrows and sufferings, which being measured out, filled up, and put into his hand by his Father, he freely took it, (John 18:11)"

As I read those words I began to think of the Levites and how they were given no physical inheritance as the rest of the tribes of Israel were given. Instead, they were simply, but beautifully, told that the Lord was to be their inheritance. The Lord would provide for them. The Lord would be enough for them. I mean, really, how awesome and how marvelous is that?! But then I thought, I wonder if they were ever jealous of the other tribes? I'm sure they would have loved to have their own plot of land to call their own. Even Jesus himself said, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." - again this picture of no physical inheritance. But God was their portion.

It is so easy to look around and notice the things we don't have and to be jealous. We all long for something we don't have. For the Levites, I'm sure there were times when they wanted their own physical inheritance. And for me, it just so happens to be my mom. But just as the Lord told the Levites in Numbers 18:20, "You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the people of Israel." I feel Him telling me the same thing. "Jordan, even though you no longer have your mom physically with you, I am your portion."

When there is a hole in our heart of something we long for, that is the very place where God meets us and says, "I am your portion. Don't look at what I have given to others. This is the allotment I have given you, and I am enough to fill the places where you feel empty." 

The author of Psalm 73 is a man named Asaph. When he looked around at the world, he became envious of the prosperity of the wicked. But he then reminded himself in verse 26:

"My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever."

God is enough. He wants to fill the empty places. 

Also in Lamentations, the author begins chapter 3 with these words, "I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath..." And then he reminds himself:

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
"The Lord is my portion," says my soul,
"therefore I will hope in him."
Jeremiah 3:22-24

There are so many examples in Scripture of people who had the opportunity to be jealous and to feel short-changed by looking around at the prosperity of others. And to each of those individuals the Lord always reminded them that "I am your portion."

And today, the Lord has so graciously reminded me...


And God wants to say that to every single one of us! In the very place where we find ourselves saying, "I wish I had ____this____," we can hear Him say right back to us, "I am your portion."

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

Monday, January 27, 2014

Deep Waters

Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in the deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.
I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God.
Psalm 69:1-3

Time and time again, David, in the psalms, knows how to put into words exactly the way I am feeling. Today I feel like my soul is in so much anguish. I feel broken and crushed. I feel as though I have been stolen from.

I know I do not serve a cruel God. But I do live in a cruel world where sin runs rampant and Satan continuously steals, kills and destroys.

There is a very popular song out right now, and I'm sure many of you have heard it. It's called "Oceans" by Hillsong. It's a beautiful song with some beautiful truths throughout. One of my favorite lines that I have seen come to life is where it says, "Your grace abounds in deepest waters." I believe I am in some of those "deepest waters" right now, and I can tell you that yes, His grace does abound. But I would be lying if I said that I love these deep waters. I'm ready to get back to the shore. Selfishly, I want to be on dry land - where it's safe and firm and steady.

There is one part of this song that I want to point out. This has been weighing heavy on my heart for quite some time now. I am not setting out to try and burst anyone's bubble, but I do think we should be aware of the bold prayer set toward the end of the song. Sometimes it's so easy to get wrapped up in the emotion of a song or the great tune or the musical build-up as the song reaches its climax. And although our intentions may be pure, sometimes we lose sight of the words we are proclaiming. Do we realize that a song is merely a prayer put to music? If we took the instruments away and only had the words, would we really kneel down before God and offer these same heart cries?

Here is the part of the song that I'm afraid is sung all too flippantly by many. As you read, especially if you know the song, try to take the tune out of your head, and read it as though it were simply a prayer and not a song at all:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior

Now that is a bold prayer. A prayer that I am still afraid to pray. There is one line in particular that really makes me tremble...

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander.

Do we realize what we are saying? We are basically saying, "God, take me to a place that I would never dare venture on my own. Put me smack in the middle of a storm that I would never specifically ask for. Take me off this dry land, and put me in that deep ocean where the waves are so treacherous. Take me there so my faith can grow."

Don't get me wrong. This is a good prayer. A prayer that I'm sure God is very pleased with. He loves to hear His children say, "Take me to a place where I am desperate for you. I want more of you." And I believe when He hears that prayer, He will act. He wants to give us more of Himself. He wants us to depend on Him more than we depend on ourselves.

I just think we need to realize what we are asking for when we sing this song. We need to ask ourselves, "Where are the places that I would never wander on my own?" For me, I would have never wandered to this place where my mom was taken by cancer. Never. Never in a million lifetimes. But that's the type of thing we are asking for when we sing those words in our congregations or in the car or in the shower. I'm not saying it's always going to be that drastic. But those deep waters could be anything...

Losing a job.
Failing a class.
A stark disagreement with your spouse.
Getting a speeding ticket when money is tight.
A "fender bender.
A breakup.
Moving away from family and friends.
A car accident.
Death of a loved one.

If you had a list of options in front of you - of various trials that you could pick from to come into your life - the one that you would never pick, that you would say, "I could never handle that one," - that's what you're asking for when you sing the words, "Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander."

Please know my heart. I'm not trying to be a "Debbie Downer." I just think we need to be keenly aware of the words we sing (aka the prayers we pray) whether we are alone at home or in a congregation with hundreds of other people.

And with all that being said, I do not think this is a prayer we should shy away from. Because yes, the waters may be deep - deeper than our feet would ever wander - but God is always good. He will never drop you off in those deep waters and abandon you. He will be right there with you. He will uphold you. He is sovereign over all the waters, and His word tells us:

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and through the rivers,
they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through the fire
you shall not be burned,
and the flames shall not consume you.
Isaiah 43:2

So yes, even though it's a bold, scary prayer, we should still pray it. Ultimately, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain - the nearness of God, the comfort of God, the promises of God, the grace of God, we will grow in our faith, we will know Him like we've never known Him before.

I feel like I am preaching to myself. These are the very words I need to hear, yet I am having such a hard time holding onto. Jordan, in these deep waters, you have nothing to lose. You have everything to gain. Even though you've lost your momma, it's only for a short while in comparison to eternity. You will see her again. But while you're still here, God is near. He will comfort you. He will uphold you. He will restore you. He will bring good from this. He loves you. Oh, He loves you.

May we not shy away from the deep waters life will bring. As much as I long to be on dry land right now, I have to keep telling myself that God is near. As much as I feel like the waters are going to overtake me, they will not.

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

Friday, January 24, 2014

Allow Me to Introduce Myself

So I stole this idea from my sister-in-law, Jenna, who has also been blogging through this journey we are on. She recently wrote a post titled "ALL ABOUT ME" and shared with her readers, well... all about her! I realize many of you who have been reading and following along have either jumped over from MY MOM'S BLOG, from KELLY'S KORNER, maybe you accidentally found me through a Google search, and then there are those who do know me in "real life," but maybe you've never heard my story from beginning to now. So that's what I'm venturing to do today! So here we go...

Hello, my name is Jordan.

Quick fact: I am a thrill seeker just like my momma.
This picture is from my first sky diving jump!

I was born in Texas, and lived there until we moved to Arkansas when I was 8 years old - which is where I claim "home."

Here's a couple pictures of "little me" from the early years...

Me and my beautiful mom!

Once a thrill seeker, always a thrill seeker.

Couldn't resist posting the glamour shot!
I thought I was so cool in that bedazzled jean jacket.

My dad died of AIDS when I was just 5 years old in 1993. This has always been part of my testimony and has never been very difficult for me to say because I was so young when it happened. I've never known any different. And really, my only memories come from home videos. But he was a great dad!

 My mom married Tony Pate in 1994, and he has been my dad for 20 years of my life.

I also gained two awesome step-siblings! Here was our family in 1994:
Mom, Tony, Chris, me, Bryan and Alesha

And this is our family as of 2012

I couldn't imagine anyone better to step in and raise me. Tony has been such a rock for our family, and he is always giving, giving, giving of himself to provide for us and take care of us. To me, when I say "Tony" it's just like saying "Dad" because he has filled that role for me so perfectly.

I love you, Tony!

I committed my life to the Lord when I was 12 years old on November 15, 2000. I remember it like it was yesterday. I had been struggling with doubt about my salvation, basing it on a decision I had made when I was 7 years old - realizing I really had no idea what I was doing at the time. It was a Wednesday night, and I remember so vividly talking to my parents about it and praying with them, nailing down this very important decision. That was the most important day of my life. I acknowledged Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I have done nothing good to earn my salvation. It is only by His sacrifice and His grace that I can call myself a child of the one true God. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I would love to share more with you! Just shoot me an email sometime at

I went to college at the University of Central Arkansas and graduated in 2010 with a bachelor's degree in Family and Consumer Science (as I've mentioned before, this is just a fancy way of saying Home Economics or my "MRS degree"). I now have an incredible job working in student ministry at First Baptist Church in Bentonville, Arkansas. Our ministry is called Studio 412 (taken from 1 Timothy 4:12), and my official title is "Youth Girl's Associate" - I work with 7th - 12th grade girls planning events and investing in teenage girls' lives - it really is the best job! Here's a picture of our youth group at camp last summer...

Since working at Studio 412, I met the love of my life - David.

He was one of our interns in 2011, and yes, that would make me his boss for the summer. I knew the moment I saw him that I was going to have to guard myself. I had already heard so many great things about him leading up to the day we finally met in person. His older sister was one of my close friends in college, and I had heard her brag about him quite a bit - but never thought anything of it because she was talking about her younger brother. Then the day came that I was working at Studio 412 looking for summer interns, and the guy who recommended David spoke very highly of him. Before ever seeing David in person, he already had a grand reputation that preceded him. So when this tall, handsome blonde guy walked into our youth building... I knew I was in trouble.

Long story short, I kept my distance from him while we worked together. But as summer came to a close, I began to let loose a little bit. I couldn't contain this girly, flirty side of me any longer. And then I caught wind that.... David was also interested in me! He moved back to school and began calling and texting and pursued a relationship with me. We dated long distance for 7 months. He came back and interned again the summer of 2012 - so imagine that situation! I'm his boss again, but this time we are dating! Ha! He proposed on August 6th as soon as the summer was over, and we were married a short 3 months later on November 3, 2012.

At the end of his first summer, we went sky diving!
(this was my second jump - his first jump)

I might as well throw in a picture from my third jump
(I'm only slightly addicted), and this was his second.

 He is my dream come true, the love of my life and my best friend!

My mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in February of 2012. She fought a hard battle, and she fought it well - never skipping a moment to speak of God's goodness and faithfulness.

And now for the most recent part of my story...

My mom died on December 26, 2013. Those words feel like someone else's vomit coming right out of my own mouth. I will not apologize for the graphic nature of that last sentence. That's exactly how I feel. It is the most repulsive thing that I will ever say, and it is part of my story now.

She has only been gone for 4 weeks now. The first couple of weeks almost seemed too easy. I had moments where I felt like, "I think I can handle this." But I realize now that those first couple of weeks I was living in a state of relief. I was relieved to know that my mom was no longer sick, no longer suffering, no longer fighting this battle of what food sounded good and trying to choke it down, no longer feeling nauseous, no longer in any pain. I've been so relieved and so thankful to know she is finally seeing Jesus face-to-face.

Don't get me wrong, I am still relieved and still thankful for all those things. I would still never ask her to come back to this broken world. But now, I am becoming more and more overwhelmed with the fact that my mom is gone. There are moments when my body feels like it could literally collapse from missing her so deeply. I've had some of my ugliest moments these past couple of days. The silliest things put me over the edge. My emotions are so fragile. Sometimes I feel like I'm going insane. Sometimes I feel like I can't breathe.

This is where I am today. It's been a long journey, and it's been filled with some twists and turns I have never expected. But through it all I can still say that God is good, and I trust Him with every ounce of my being.

So, for those of you who have never met me...

This is me, and this is my story.

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

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

January Family First

We accomplished our "Family First" for January tonight and tried a new restaurant together. We went to the new Mediterranean restaurant in Bentonville called Tazikis. And it is mmm, mmm good! And well, confession... Dave and I have eaten there before... and so has Bryan... but it was Tony and Jenna's first time and our first time there as a family, so, close enough! But seriously, it's really good, and I highly recommend the grilled lamb gyro - yum!

Tony, Hudson, Jenna, Rhett (almost hidden by the white cards), Bryan and David

We also started Rick and Kay Warren's sermon series "How to Get Through What You're Going Through." We will be getting together every Tuesday night to continue the series. Their son died in April 2013, and they speak from their own experience about how they made it through such a dark season in their lives.

The gist of what we started tonight is that in the midst of trials and loss when your mind is full of so many questions and wanting to ask why, cling to what you know. He talked about three unchanging truths we can cling to:

1. Life doesn't make sense, but know we can have peace
because we know God is with us and God loves us.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned

and the flame shall not consume you.
Isaiah 43:2

2. Everything on earth is broken, but we can still have joy
because we know God is good and He has a greater plan.
And we know that for those who love God all things
work together for good, for those who are called
according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28

3. Life is a battle, but we can have hope because
we know there is more to the story.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed,
but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken;
struck down, but not destroyed... knowing that He who
raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring
us with you into His presence.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9,14

I would highly recommend this sermon series to anyone who is going through an extreme trial or difficult loss. Your spirit will be encouraged and blessed. I am so excited to continue doing this with my family, and I am so thankful to have this family to walk through life with.

God is good - even in this trial. He is good.

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

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Stay in Today

Well, I didn't do a very good job of "staying in today" when I wrote my last post as I struggled through the emotions of reality setting in. But I realize it's all part of the grieving process, and I am thankful to know that God knows my frame and remembers that I am dust (Ps. 103:14) when I have days like that.

I read this verse on Thursday, and I love it:

"You who have made me see many
troubles and calamities
will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
you will bring me up again.
You will increase my greatness
and comfort me again."
Psalm 71:20-21

The Psalms are so good. I've buried myself in them these past couple of months. So many of the emotions I am experiencing, David (author of most of the Psalms) so eloquently puts into words, and he claims such beautiful promises and truth. He will revive me again. He will bring me up again. He will comfort me again. It just doesn't get much better than that!

Here's a look at the past couple of days...

David surprised me on Thursday night, and we went and watched a symphony at the U of A. I've always wanted to see a symphony! It was a fun night night out with my love.

We celebrated Tony's birthday yesterday. Honestly, it could have been a totally crappy day - but we did our best to make it a good one. David and I went over to Tony's house around 11am and brought him his favorite birthday cake for a late breakfast - Tony is a rare breed who loves his dessert for breakfast, and heck, it's his birthday so he can do what he wants! His mom used to always make him this cake for his birthday, but she is now in the nursing home, so I decided to give the recipe a try. I was a little nervous about it because Grandma's cooking has always been pretty darn good, but thankfully, I think it turned out to be a success!

Devil's food cake with the yummiest fluffy white homemade icing!
Delicious, if I do say so myself!

Bryan and Jenna and the boys came over for dinner last night. Jenna and I prepared my mom's famous brisket meal for Tony's birthday. Every Sunday our family gathered for lunch after church, and my mom made brisket, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, green beans and rolls - some downright good home cooking right there - and she was the best at all of it! So again, it was a little intimidating to tackle such a meal - we had some big shoes to fill. But Jenna and I high-fived as we dug into our plates and realized we had almost hit the nail right on the head. We made a great team!

The cooks! I love my sister-in-law so much and am so thankful
to have this friend by my side through all of these hard times.

Mom's famous brisket meal. We think she was up in heaven watching us cook and probably laughing at all the silly questions we had and wished we could have asked her. She always made things look so simple!

Jenna, Bryan, me and Tony (David took the picture for us)

Me and the birthday guy! Happy Birthday Tony!

Hudson helped Tony open all of his gifts. Here they are
opening an old picture of G-ma and G-pa.

We gave Tony lots of old pictures of him and my
mom to place around the house and his office.

At this point, I would like to take a moment to ask for you to pray for Tony's assistant Staci. Staci and Tony have worked together for over 10 years, and yesterday morning (on Tony's birthday), Staci lost her precious momma. They were very close, as were me and my mom, and my heart goes out to her as I am all too familiar with the feelings Staci now faces. Please pray for the comfort, grace and strength that only God can give. I also ask that you would pray for them as they both juggle going back to work and dealing with the emotions of losing the one's they loved so dearly.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I have got to remember to stay in today. I love this passage from Matthew 6, from Jesus' mouth himself:

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on... Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?... Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

If my God cares for the birds of the air and gives them everything they need, I should know that He will take care of me and give me exactly what I need. I love how that passage ends with the words, "Sufficient for the day is its own trouble" - a perfect segue to the promise we see in 2 Corinthians 12:9 - "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." His grace is sufficient for today. Remember this, Jordan. His grace is sufficient for you today. Only stay in today.

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

Friday, January 17, 2014

I Will Always Miss Her

Oh man, too bad I can't title another post "Roller Coaster"... If I did, I'm sure I would have another 100 posts with this same title, because I've taken a sharp turn since my last post. Reality... really... stinks.

We had our first youth service this past Wednesday night. The last time we all met together was back in December - we were out for 2 weeks because of the holidays, but on top of that we've had a ton of snow and ice, so it seems like forever since we've been together like this. It was really great to finally be back with all our students. The first Wednesday of every month we have an event called FUEL - we bring in a band and a speaker every month. Our speaker for the past two years has been ED NEWTON, and he has become like family to us! I'm going to put a little plug out there for him - and this is totally free. If you are looking for someone to speak at an upcoming event, Ed is your guy! He is very engaging and so full of the Holy Spirit and Scripture. Book Ed. Seriously.

At Fuel this month, we talked about the "Reality of Heaven" because of recent events happening with my mom. We played the first half of her memorial video again. I had a harder time watching it at Fuel than I did at her Celebration Service. Something about hearing her spoken of in past tense from a stage in front of hundreds of people, makes all this more real. More real and yet so wrong feeling. Hearing the words, "Janet went to be with the Lord on December 26th," to me is like What?! No! That's not really her you're talking about.

So Wednesday (although really good and such a blessing to hear even more how my mom has impacted other peoples' lives) was like a catalyst for this terrible reality to sink in more.


I'm only 25 years old. In one sense it's like yes, I'm an adult. I am married. I have a job. I pay bills. I cook, and I clean my house (which really isn't my house, but we're living in it for a couple years like long-term house sitting and a huge blessing - I'll have to get into that at another time), I have a budget, I do laundry for two people... I do all these things that adults do. But then in another sense...

I am only 25.

If I live the average life span, I could easily have another 50 years ahead of me. I've only lived maybe a third of my life, and the rest will be without my mom. This isn't just a short season for me.


Missing someone is a terrible feeling. It's like this constant aching feeling in your heart that can only be filled with seeing that very person. I think about when my husband and I first started dating. We lived 4 hours away from each other, and at times it felt like he was on the other side of the world. I hated telling him goodbye each time he had to go back to school. I missed him. But I always had the hope that I would see him in two weeks. Sure enough, two weeks would pass, and that longing to see him was fulfilled. And then I would miss him again. And then I would see him again - longing fulfilled. I think everyone can relate to this feeling. We've all missed someone in our lifetime whether that be a best friend, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your family, a pet, anyone. And when you finally get to see that person again, it's like an explosion of joy and you get fueled up a little bit until the next time you get to see them. A boost to keep you going.

But now I have this feeling of missing my mom. This aching feeling that can only be filled with seeing her again. And when I realize that I am only 25, and she has only been gone for 3 weeks,
50 years feels absolutely and completely unbearable. None of this short term waiting. No explosion of joy to fuel me up until I see her again. No boost to keep me going.

That longing to see her will never be fulfilled so long as I am on this earth. I will always miss her. Yes, I know, "It will get better with time," "It won't hurt so much." Great. But nothing will ever change the fact that I will always miss her. Right now it feels like a gaping wound in my heart that keeps getting ripped further and further open. Gruesome, I know. But it's how I feel.

I even think about back to when I so longed to get married and meet "the one." Struggling with singleness and loneliness. But I always had hope that God would bring me my husband and that longing would be fulfilled. But how do you bear with a longing that you know will not be fulfilled so long as you are on this earth???
I want to see my mom.
I want to hug my mom.
I want to pick up my phone and call her.
I want to laugh with my mom again.
Knowing that you have these specific longings that will not be fulfilled is so miserable.

I know healing and restoration will come with time. But right now I'm in a season where "with time," things are actually getting harder and more grueling.

I usually try to add some encouragement to my posts... but right now, let me just sulk for a moment. I'll end with this little song by one of my favorites, Ben Rector. It's a cute song filled with a lot of truth called "Life Keeps Moving On" - CLICK HERE (I can't embed it for some reason).

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

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Glimpse of Joy

I was anxious about going to church on Sunday. It was the first time in 5 weeks that I was in our youth building with students. I would be lying if I didn't say I felt completely awkward at first. Interacting with adults is one thing, but I realize students don't always know what to say (and I do not expect them to by any means), but this was where my awkwardness was springing from. It's very obvious that there is a massively large pink elephant in the room, and I know it is hard for students to feel comfortable addressing the issue. So I just felt so awkward.

Okay, I'm going to interject a little message to our students right here:

Hey Studio 412 peeps! I want to say THANK YOU to all who have been praying for me and my family during this time. Thank you for all the prayers you lifted up for my Mom. God heard (and still hears) every single one! Janet is healed in the presence of our sweet Savior, and God is marching through the wilderness with me and my family. 
I want you all to hear from my lips (or I guess in this case "read from my fingers") that it is okay to talk about Janet. It is okay to say that you miss her. It is okay to share funny stories about her. It is okay to share how she impacted you. I want to laugh with you. I want to remember with you. And I'm sure at times, I may even cry with you.
I just want you to know, that I'm okay. Please don't be afraid of me. That may sound super silly, but I don't want you to be afraid or feel awkward around me (well, actually, I know and many of you know as well, I just flat out am an awkward person, and I've embraced the awkwardness, we've all embraced the awkwardness) - okay so yeah, you can feel awkward with me.... but don't be afraid to come say hi! I love you guys. I really do. I miss your smiling faces. Let's just be real together. Let's talk about that big pink elephant that's sitting on my head, and let's keep moving forward.
Love you guys! I'll be seeing you around :)

Alright, so Sunday actually ended up being a really great day. I think the Lord came and strengthened my feet and my heart and kept whispering in my ear, "I'm right here with you."

We also kicked off a brand new part of our ministry on Sunday night. We started Home Groups for our 9th-12th grade students. We meet in homes for a time of fellowship and Bible study two Sunday nights a month, and David and I have the privilege of hosting some really awesome freshmen guys and gals. We had 19 students on Sunday, and it was so fun! John and Kristy Kalinowski are our support family, and I feel like we make a great team! I meant to take a picture of everyone, but I'll take one next time and show you our fantastic group.

I feel like the past two days God has given me a glimpse at the joy that lies ahead. I think I experienced for the first time in a long time, JOY. I know joy isn't just a feeling - it's a choice, and it's a gift - but can I just say, it felt so good! I know there is so much joy ahead. I also know there are still some really hard days ahead. My emotions are still so raw and so fragile, but I have hope. I have so much hope. Hope in my Savior. Hope that this is not the end and that I get to see my mom again. I am so thankful for hope.

I love these verses I read this morning:

O God, when you went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness,
the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain,
before God, the One of Sinai,
before God, the God of Israel.
Rain in abundance, O God, you shed it abroad;
you restored your inheritance as it languished;
your flock found a dwelling in it;
in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.
Psalm 68:7-10

Just as God marched through the wilderness with the Israelites, He is marching through the wilderness with me and with my family right now. He will bring rain in abundance. We will find our dwelling place with Him. Oh, this is so good!

My husband chopped a bunch of firewood and took it over to Tony's house on Saturday - what a great husband and son-in-law he is! I'm so proud of him :)

Hudson wanted to help unload the firewood too. He's such a good helper!

And then Hudson gave me a ride on his "dig"

Disclaimer: that is GRAPE JUICE on the table :)
David started school yesterday! He already has a bachelor's degree in Biology. So he is taking two more prerequisites so he can start nursing school in May or June of this year. We are so excited about this new step! So we celebrated with streamers and grape juice last night.

I taped this picture in the front of my Bible. My mom is SO beautiful!
I miss her smile, and I miss her laugh with all my heart.

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

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Leap Back in Time

This post is really for me. For my own reminiscing and processing.
So I'll just go ahead and say...

Welcome. Welcome to my thoughts. I wanted to jump back today - way back to about 3 years ago before this journey with my mom and cancer began. It's so crazy and awesome to be able to look back and see how the Lord was strategically working and secretly preparing me for the road ahead.

Let's go back to 2010 - the year I graduated college. I attended the University of Central Arkansas and graduated with a bachelors degree in Family and Consumer Science (a fancy way of saying Home Economics.... or my "MRS" degree.... or just everything wife and mom related). A couple years prior, I felt the Lord leading me in the direction of youth ministry and working with teenage girls. When I graduated, I already knew I would not be pursuing a job that directly used my degree. I knew the exact kind of job I wanted - to work at a church in youth ministry investing in girls' lives. And I also knew that I did not want to move back to my home town. I loved central Arkansas and all my friends there, and I did not want to leave.

The funny thing is, this very position I knew I so deeply desired, was about to open up at my home church in NW Arkansas. One of my dear friends, Jessica, was currently in the position, but was soon to be married and moving to Texas. A couple people had mentioned the idea to me - "You should work at the Studio!" - a few teenagers, my mom and a couple of her friends. I actually reached the point where I was annoyed at talking about it. I even told my mom one day, "Mom, I know you would love for me to move back and work at the church, but I really don't want to, so I'd rather not talk about it anymore. Sorry." I'm not normally a snobby, rude little girl, but I kind of let that one slip, and I felt bad saying it, but I still meant it.

Well, that summer (still 2010), I got to fulfill one of my biggest dreams... I went to Niger, West Africa for 2 months. I was BEYOND EXCITED for this opportunity. I couldn't wait to get over there and meet and minister to all the precious little children and make a big difference for Jesus! make a really long story short.... it was one of the most miserable two months of my entire life. I mean really.
It. Was. Awful.
I won't go into all the details, but I have never felt so lonely, so purposeless and so unloved in all my life. My heart ached to be home and to be with the ones I knew loved and cared for me. I missed hugging the people I loved. I missed familiarity. I missed true friendship. Oh, I couldn't wait to get back to the place I called home. I couldn't wait to hug my mom and Tony.

While there, I skyped my family every single day - they were my sanity. One day, I tried to skype my mom while she was at work, but she wasn't there. So Hutch answered. (You can read details about my job and who Hutch is here). In this conversation, Hutch briefly talked to me about working at the Studio for a short period upon returning home. I'm sure I almost interrupted him before he could finish with a resounding YES! Oh, how the Lord had worked in and changed my heart those couple of months after graduation while I was so far away from home.
He knew I needed to be home for what the next three years would hold.
He knew I needed to be with my family.
He knew I needed to be right by her side.
Thank you, Lord, for making me so miserable and confused while I was in Africa so that I would be eternally grateful and so excited to move back to my hometown to be with my mom and my family these past three years. There is no place I would rather be.

Jump ahead about a year to probably about May 2011 when my best friend, Jessica (a different Jessica than the one who worked at the Studio before me) also moved back home after getting her Master's Degree. Jessica and I went to high school together, but didn't become best friends until college. She was my roommate for two and a half years. We were attached at the hip, and quickly became known as "Jorsica."

 "Jorsica" our junior year of college


Jessica was my Maid of Honor - so blessed by her friendship!

Well, for some reason, Jessica and I, in our many conversations together, would always end up talking about our moms and how much we love them and how we couldn't imagine our lives without them. It was "bizarre" how often this same conversation would take place. Really, I can't tell you how many times we talked about how wonderful and awesome our moms are and how much we looked up to them and adored them. Let me say again, we talked about our moms a lot. And for some reason, around this same time, I would find myself stepping back and just staring at my mom a lot. This may sound super creepy, but bear with me. I would be standing right with my mom watching her and listening to her conversation with someone, and it's almost like I would step out of my body and just gaze at her, like I was soaking in every second and just adoring her - thinking, "My gosh, I love her so much. She is so beautiful and such a godly woman. I want to be just like her." And then there were other times when I would find myself "randomly" thinking/praying to God - "Oh, God, if you were to ever to do anything to me, I just ask that you would please not take my mom. Please don't take my mom from me." I really had these thoughts and prayers come to mind often! I'm not making this up. And I had no reason to be thinking such things. My mom was perfectly healthy. No signs of any sickness or disease. It really was so strange.

And then we roll ahead to about December 2011. My mom starts experiencing some pain in her abdomen. Nothing major, but painful enough to get it checked out. The doctors thought maybe it was just a kidney stone. Nothing serious. So we went on our usual yearly trip to Passion - a huge Christian conference in Atlanta, GA where some of our favorite bands and speakers lead thousands and thousands of college students in worship and teaching.

Here we are in January 2011 at Passion - I can't find a picture of us at the 2012 event (when we are thinking the issue is just a kidney stone)

Passion 2013. My mom and I loved attending these events together. We have both said it's the closest to heaven we think we can experience on earth. There is nothing like worshiping in a massive arena with 60,000 other people!

My dates from these pictures might be throwing some of you off. So let me restate the timeline:
December 2011 - pain in abdomen - might be kidney stone
January 2012 - go to Passion conference

...Now we are back home. She still has pain in her abdomen, and they continue to run tests to try and figure out what it is. Doctors came to the conclusion that it was her gallbladder, and decided it best to have it removed. About a week before her surgery she started experiencing severe pain in the other side of abdomen as well. Long story short, doctors said it was diverticulitis, put her on an antibiotic and called it good. You can read all the details about this on my mom's blog here.

The morning came for her surgery. It was supposed to be a routine outpatient surgery - no big deal. So I woke up that morning, spent my usual time with the Lord, and as I was wrapping up I realized I almost forgot to pray about my mom's surgery. And I remember so clearly these words went through my mind - you can't just assume everything is going to be okay. I mean, those words were so vivid in my mind. I stopped and prayed for her immediately.

I went to work, and that morning we were having a prayer meeting with some moms. I kept my phone near me in case Tony needed to call for any reason. And then my phone rang. It was Tony. And somehow, before I even answered, it's like I was almost expecting the bad news. I don't remember all that he told me. I just remember him saying there had been some complications with the surgery, and it might be more serious than we had originally thought and that I needed to head their way. I dropped what I was doing, left the meeting immediately, and Maegan drove me to the clinic. I remember sitting in silence in her passenger seat thinking "What is going on?!"

We walked in, found Tony, and he broke the news. The doctor went in with a scope to check the diverticulitis and found her intestines had adhered to her abdominal wall. The doctor wasn't even able to get to her gall bladder and said that she could tell that there was a cyst on one of her ovaries and she couldn't visualize the other one and that her ovary looked abnormal. So she closed her up and transported her to Mercy hospital to have some more tests run. She had some more blood work and a CT scan and then we WAITED, and WAITED for 24 hours.

The doctor had told us initially she thought it might be ovarian cancer - I'll be honest, I had no idea what that meant. My life had been so wrapped up in this safe little bubble. I had heard of cancer, but apparently was too consumed in my safe little life to know just how serious and evil this thing called cancer really is.

The results finally came back, and I had to come to terms with the fact that the following statement was a reality in my life...

My mom has cancer.

No one ever expects to say those words. For those words to be their own reality.
But those words uninvitedly and unwillingly became my reality.

It is so strange to look back on all the events and thoughts leading up to that moment. How God sovereignly ordained my placement back at home. The frequent conversations I had with Jessica about our moms. My pleading with the Lord to not take my mom from me. The times I stared at her with such endearment and love. The voice that warned me, "You can't assume everything is going to be okay." It all led me to this very moment. I can't say I was prepared. Nothing can prepare you for when your feet are about to be knocked out from under you. I can only say He ordained it all. He led me home. He led me to my job. He led me to appreciate my mom for the woman she was. And for all that, I am so, so thankful.

Again, this post was really for my own remembering. I don't even know how to wrap it up. Thanks for bearing with me through all of this.

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

Friday, January 10, 2014

Roller Coaster

Yesterday and today have been quite the roller coaster. A roller coaster complete with ups, downs, twists, turns, loops, you name it. There's not a roller coaster on this planet that I don't love. But this one... I'd be okay to get off at any moment and never get back on.

Work was much harder for me yesterday. It's the first time I've interacted with anyone outside of my family, or Hutch and Maegan, and I had no idea just how hard it was going to be. When I was at work on Wednesday, it was almost too easy to be there. It was just me, Hutch and Maegan, and for the past couple of months that has been very normal. We had been getting used to being there without her. So this past Wednesday was not much different. Thursday was a different story. We had a meeting with a few ladies about a trip we have coming up this summer, and something about it just struck my heart in a way I wasn't expecting. It's like reality came tumbling down on me that life goes on even though she isn't here anymore. She isn't going to walk around the corner. She isn't going to have a part in planning this trip. She isn't going to be on this trip. It doesn't seem fair. I wish it could all just stop. It just seems so gross and stupid and wrong that we have to keep going.

A few people have asked me about what my job is, so I will answer that question here. I work at a church in NW Arkansas in the student ministry. My job title is the "Youth Girl's Associate." I work under our student pastor and am over the 7th-12th grade girls ministry - planning events, leading Bible studies, hanging out and investing in teenage girls lives. My mom was the "Student Ministry Assistant." And Hutch is the Student Pastor. We have been a very close team. I've known Hutch since I was only 11 years old (before I was in the youth ministry), and then he was my youth pastor all the way through from 7th-12th grade, I left for college for 4 years, and then I came back in 2010 and started working alongside him and my mom. We were like a little family. My mom was already working at the Studio (our student ministry is called Studio 412 - taken from 1 Timothy 4:12) when Hutch became the student pastor, and they worked together for 11 years. She is the only assistant he has ever known, and she was so much more than your typical "assistant." Did I mention she ran the place? She held the place together. She knew all the ins and outs. She was our sanity. Our team at Studio 412 was a very tightly knit bond.

 Hutch, me and Mom

To give you a little more of a glance at just how close my mom and I were... When I graduated college I moved back in with my parents until David and I got married. I lived with them for three years.
I lived with my mom.
I worked with my mom.
I ate lunch with my mom.
I ran errands with my mom.
I came home with my mom.
I went shopping with my mom.
I did everything with my mom.
Where Janet was, I was. I was her shadow. And I adored every second of it.

And now she is gone.

And this is why I'm having a hard time realizing "the show must go on." Work must go on. Planning and meetings must go on. Trips must go on. Life must go on. kjavpoiugriehqgrjk;aj (<-- that mumbo jumbo you see is the only way to express the groanings going on inside of me). Oh, it makes my stomach churn.

But I made it through yesterday - thank you, Lord.

Today, Maegan and I met up at the Studio to clean out my mom's office. Some may think, What?! Clean out her office? It's too soon. No. It's not. My mom is gone. Our Janet is gone, and the Studio is so different without her there. It is painful to look and see where she once sat and to know she will never sit there again. It's painful to look and see the couch where I sat so many days and ate lunch with her. We didn't clean it out in an attempt to forget. She cannot and will not be forgotten. Her mark will forever be in that building and on our hearts. This is a new season for Studio 412 - for our staff and for our students - and so it is time to make things new.

 Here she was just 5 weeks ago sitting at her desk - this was her last day at work.

Here we are (April 2012) on a Sunday in her office when we showed up at church color coordinating. This happened countless times without planning - something I loved accidentally doing with her all the time.

I had such a good day with Maegan today. We went through old pictures and reminisced about lots of wonderful memories. I think it was good for our souls and cleansing for our spirits to be able to do that together. I am so thankful for this dear friend of mine who has also become family.

Mom, me and Maegan

Here are a few pictures to wrap up these past two days...

Hutch and Maegan had us over for dinner last night - and Maegan knocked it out of the park with some yummy food! Here are the girls and some of the kiddos - Maegan, me and Jenna

Maegan and I went to a couple of flea markets today, and I scored on this awesome find! I've been looking for a bench to add to our dining room table and chairs and was so excited to finally get one!
Usually when I add something new to my house, it would only take me seconds to get things situated, take a picture and send it to my mom. She was my biggest fan and loved seeing all my newest projects and additions. My heart broke and literally felt like it fell to my toes when I couldn't send her this picture. So my new normal is to now send the pictures to Jenna and Maegan who know this heartache just as heavily as I do.

Okay, this might not seem like a big deal to... 99% of Americans, but my husband and I finally decided to crawl out from under the rock we have been living under and join the 21st century. Yes, we bought an Apple TV. Woohoo! Up until now our only source of entertainment has been our DVD player with no remote. Wah-wah. We feel so up-to-date now.

Lots going on. Lots of emotions. I realize this is all normal. All part of the process. But can I be honest and say this is a really stinky process!
But I still don't doubt that joy is indeed coming, and that He is working all this out for our good and His glory.

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

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Mom's Memorial Video

Didn't mean to do two posts in a row, but I just wanted to give you the direct link to watch the video we played at Mom's Celebration Service.

Click here to watch!

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

Back to Work

I went to work yesterday and today. I can't really count yesterday because I was only there for about an hour and a half. But I was there. I didn't really feel anything. I didn't feel sad. I didn't feel angry. I didn't feel happy or okay. I was just... there. That was yesterday. Today was a good day. A good, busy day. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for me about this. I think the Lord gave me extra grace today. I can say I truly enjoyed being there.

I know the Lord was gracious in leading up to these days. The last few months of my mom's life, her body declined pretty quickly. She wasn't able to be at work very often. It was a really hard process to watch, and it was almost miserable being there without her, knowing she was sick at home, but looking back now, I know God was preparing Hutch (my boss/student pastor) and I for these very days without her. We've already had to learn how to manage things that she normally took care of, and so today I can say I am thankful for those difficult days. I was so angry and confused while it was happening, but now I can see the purpose behind it. If she had been feeling well and was working until her final day, our worlds would be even more upside down and shattered than they already are. He was preparing us for such a time as this.

I started grief counseling yesterday. I went today, will go again tomorrow, and three times next week. My first two sessions have been good so far. A good outlet to help me process even more. I was able to recognize a potential speed bump today - the Lord helped me realize it. I'm so thankful for this opportunity, and I look forward to continuing on in the sessions.

There is a sermon series that Rick Warren and his wife recently did after they lost their son. It is called "How to Get Through What You're Going Through." Tony and I had talked about getting together as a family and listening to them one night a week. The Lord confirmed that's exactly what we need to do when my counselor mentioned the very same sermon series. I love when He works like that! You can find the sermon series here. (You will have to scroll down in the column on the right - make sure the "all" tab is selected.)

I've had a couple of breakdowns between yesterday and today. My heart is very tender, and it's crazy how the emotion will overwhelm you unexpectedly. I ran into a "trigger" today, something that would seem so small and insignificant to others, but was a big deal to me and hard to swallow - just another reality check that yes, this is really happening. She's gone.

There was an instant today (I don't even remember what it was now), but my immediate response was that I wanted to pick up my phone and text my mom, but was quickly met with the realization that I can't. Those moments are so disheartening and leave such an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Everyday brings new emotions, new thoughts, new experiences and new mercies. I'm so thankful for His mercy. He is all that is carrying us through.

"For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory; 
my mighty rock, my refuge is God. 
Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us."
Psalm 62:58

 My husband and I after our date at Olive Garden on Monday - I love him for the great man he is and the support he has been to me during this time.

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

Monday, January 6, 2014


I finally allowed myself to be sad. Since the day my mom went Home, I've been very busy and very surrounded by people - which has been good, but I've found it to be odd how "okay" I have been. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for the "okay"-ness, fully relating it to God's grace, but I haven't allowed myself the time or the solitude to grieve. Since church was cancelled yesterday and our offices are closed today due to snow and strangely arctic temperatures, I decided this would be a good time to stop being so busy and preoccupied, and allow myself to remember.

I took time to remember my sweet momma, my best friend. I scrolled through old pictures of us on Facebook, thinking back to when things were "normal," before she was diagnosed and I thought she would be by my side forever. She was so full of life. She was adventurous. She loved seeking a good thrill. One of my favorite things to do with her was going to Six Flags in Arlington, Texas. Oh man, those of you who knew my mom know how much she loved roller coasters. And she knew that place like the back of her hand. I can picture her muscular, little bow-legged body speed walking, weaving back and forth through the crowds so we could enjoy as many rides as possible from open to close. A day at Six Flags was serious business, and she knew how to do it well.

 This is from my senior year in high school (2006) when we went with my best friend Jennifer and our moms - such a fun trip!

Here we are waiting in line for a ride - this was probably my sophomore or junior year of college. Bryan and Jenna were only dating at the time. And this was a terrible season for me when I used to color my hair out of a box... really bad idea.

This was my last trip to Six Flags with my mom just this past summer. I think most people might be sad to push their mom around in a wheelchair, but I actually loved it! Why? Well, for selfish reasons really... having a wheelchair meant waiting in no lines because we entered through the exit and got to sit wherever we wanted! And did I mention we never had to wait in line?! We rode every ride in less than two hours. So really, it was a dream come true for me and my mom!

Another favorite memory with my mom was when my brother and I both graduated college, and the three of us went sky diving together. What? YES. My mom jumped out of an airplane with us. I mean really, do you see why I love her so much???

 Pre-jump sporting those fashionable goggles and hitch-hikers thumbs

Post-jump. One of my favorite pictures of the three of us.

My heart misses her so much. 

It has felt good to finally allow myself to simply be sad and miss my mom. But even in the sadness, my heart still rejoices. I am thankful to know that I do "not grieve as others do who have no hope." (1 Thessalonians 4:13). This is not the end! We will not be separated forever. I so look forward to the day when we will be reunited in the presence of our Savior. My heart aches and longs for that day more than ever before!
Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Come quickly.

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