Saturday, January 23, 2010


Oh, my friends! I have to tell you . . . I am SO in awe of my life. . . but WAY more than that . . . I am SO in awe of God! I have to tell you that there is a growing amazement with all that happens in my life these days and with that, a continued and growing awareness of ALL that God is!

I have gone back to choir at our church. I was in choir when Chad died and tried to go back to it three months after – but it was just too painful. Too much like trying to pretend that life was the same. Too many songs that reminded me of him. Too many questions that I was wrestling with while ‘pretending’ that I was alright. It was just too difficult.

I have found it to be a breath of fresh air this time around. It is worship smack dab in the middle of the week (Wednesday night rehearsals.) I love worship. I love how no matter how I feel at the point of entering into worship . . . my needs at that moment are ALWAYS ministered to by the power of the Holy Spirit.

On top of all of that . . . I am being given the opportunity to sing some of the solo’s that were so precious to me before Chad died. Tomorrow I get to sing a solo called ‘Saved.’ The truth is . . . this was Chad’s favorite song that the choir sang. He LOVED it! The truth also is . . . I can barely contain myself as I sing it! You see – Somehow – through all that I have been through these past two years – I have found such amazement in the fact that YES, I am SAVED! Jesus gave HIS life for ME . . . so that I can live in salvation. So that I can know forgiveness. So that I can anticipate Heaven! But friends . . . what I have discovered at such a deep, deep level is that salvation is only the very beginning of what God wants to be to me. Salvation is only scratching the surface.

At one point in the song the lyric says, “You’re my Glory and the Lifter of my head, Strong Deliverer . . . You’ll fight my battles in my stead.” I want to absolutely jump out of my skin! FRIENDS!!!!!! God wants to be SO MUCH MORE to you than just a ticket into Heaven. Oh . . . don’t get me wrong . . . that is the first step toward SO much more. But friends . . . he wants to be the very foundation of EVERY part of your life. He wants to be the Glory and the Lifter of your head! He wants to fight your battles. He wants to be the cocoon that you crawl into on the days when you don’t know which way is up. He wants to be the wisdom in your job and the favor with your boss. He wants to be the peace in your home and the calm of emotions between you and your spouse . . . or you and your children . . . or whomever. God wants to be ‘relationship’ with you.

I have found, through the horrible trials of my life, that God is so much more than I ever dreamed He could be. How is that? I loved God SO much before. But now . . . now there is just an amazement. If salvation is the first step – the surface – then I believe one of the sweet, sweet gifts that I am finding FAR beneath the surface of ALL that God is, is that He truly is my Sustainer. I have found true surrender. I can do NOTHING on my own. I am SO very far from being all that God wants me to be. In fact, I am learning the gift of just letting go. I don’t want to control my life. My life is NOT my own – I would so much rather it be God’s. I would so much rather let Him be all that He wants to be in my life. He wants to be my sustainer, my deliverer, the glory and lifter of my head. My strong tower!

I have been to the valley of the shadow of death and the truth is that I did not find peace in the valley until I truly surrendered my will and ALL that was wrapped up in it (the questions, dreams, plans, hopes) and just let God be God. The truth is that somewhere along my journey I figured out that I could spend the rest of my life asking ‘why?’ Or, I could truly learn to surrender to the sovereignty of who God is. I could learn to let go . . . and truly let God. I could learn to be still . . . and know. Really? I will never know the ‘why?’ I HAD to choose to surrender my will . . . to His.

Maybe this is the place that Paul had come to when he penned Philippians 4 . . . that he had learned to be content in EVERY situation because he had learned the he could do anything with the help of Christ who gave him strength. Paul had learned that no matter what . . . he could just throw up his arms and trust the sovereignty of who God is! That no matter what he faced – he had Christ – Salvation . . . and SO MUCH MORE!!!!!!

Lord, may we know the fullness of ALL that You long to be in us and for us. Lord, may we learn to truly surrender. Thank You for Salvation. Thank You that we can surrender . . . and be content.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy 111 Day!

Did you know that today is 111 day? It is January 11th. I know – it means nothing to most of you – but to us, it is a special day. You see, Chad’s badge number was 111, and after he died it was our ‘sign.’ We saw 111’s everywhere and it always felt like Chad was just giving us a squeeze or saying ‘hi.’ I will never forget the Sunday after Chad died. Our pastor asked me to have my CD available to purchase after the two Sunday services at our church. (At that time I only had my first solo album Gratitude recorded.) Between the two services we sold 111 CD’s. Coincidence? I think NOT! It just felt like Chad was saying, “Babe, I’m still taking care of you . . . don’t worry.” You may think that is ridiculous – I probably would have BEFORE I lost the (first) love of my life. But now? Now I believe. Hebrews 12:1 tells us that there is a ‘great cloud of witnesses that has gone on before to cheer us on.’ I believe that Chad is more a part of our lives now than when he was on Earth. He is cheering us on AND . . . has a direct link to God. Hmmmmm . . . . something to think about.

Tomorrow . . . is my baby girl’s birthday. Abbi will be 14! Wow! Tonight we are having a birthday dinner with all six kid’s and my new in-laws (who are WONDERFUL grandparents to my kids.) I have to tell you that as I was getting dinner ready and thinking about wrapping her presents . . . I was just overcome with grief. Ug! I want to ask ‘will this ever end?’ But, I know the answer to that question is ‘no.’ The grief will never end. Practice held me and let me cry. It doesn’t seem to be bothering Abbi – but it just doesn’t seem fair to my mama’s heart that she has to celebrate her birthday without her daddy here! So, I mourn once again for my child . . . and some days . . . Chad’s death still pierces me . . . and all days . . . it just doesn’t make sense.

That being said, I have some exciting news. If you have followed my blog for long, you may remember that I have felt the stirring to write a book. I had hoped to have it written and released by now, but on the heels of writing and recording an album that was VERY emotional . . . I just needed a break. Not to mention the fact that I got married and moved! So, I have been feeling the pressure to get back to writing – but not feeling the ‘stirring’ AT ALL! Friends – I don’t know if you have noticed, but I am not a ‘daily’ blogger . . . or even a ‘weekly’ blogger. I just can’t see the sense in writing if there is nothing ‘stirring.’ I figure if YOU are going to take your precious time to read what little ol’ me has to say, then it better be something profound or moving. So, I wait for that ‘stirring’ to hit.

I have just been waiting to feel that ‘stirring’ to begin writing the book again. Beginning to worry . . . and praying it would come. Well friends – last week it hit and I am so excited to take the process back up and write the book. Know what? I am also very excited that I took the time off that I did . . . because I sense God taking this book in an awesome direction that I think will have a profound impact on many people. Originally, the book was going to be about a man. It was going to tell the story of Chad, and I, our life together and all that God did for us after his death. Today though, I really feel that the primary focus (while still telling our story) will be on ALL that God took me through after Chad died and God’s amazing faithfulness. It WILL be the journey of my grief . . . told in and through my journals from the year following his passing. As I read my journals now . . . they are profound. They are like modern-day Psalms and as I share them in concert or through counseling others who are experiencing grief – they really seem to touch lives. So . . . the process is taking off. I am so thankful for the ‘stirring’ and so truly desperate for God to speak through me. I don’t want anyone to see me . . . I want God to be exalted and glorified! So as I leave you on this 111 day . . . I think I will leave you with a short entry from two years ago today . . . . This one really isn’t that profound . . . but it IS a window into where I was at three months into my journey.

January 11th, 2008
Today is 111 day. Chad Michael – I miss you so much! We just had spiritual emphasis at church – you would be so excited! I just can’t believe how much I miss you. My heart and spirit are pierced with grief. The kids got new furniture today – you would love it! My dearest love . . . I can’t breathe without you! I miss you!

Blessings All!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

In Awe!

Friends . . . I am absolutely in AWE of my life! My goodness. Today I would like to take you on a journey back in time. My prayer is that by giving you a glimpse into one particular part of my journey, that you will be encouraged for your journey. I know that SO many of you who read this blog are hurting. So many of you have lost and are grieving.

I want you to know that two years ago today, I thought my life was over. Two years ago today I could NOT see a future. Two years ago today I did not WANT to see a future.

One year ago today . . . I met Practice. One year ago today . . . we went on our first date and the beginning of the rest of my life happened. The truth is, though, that the beginning of the rest of my life was happening LONG before one year ago today.

And today, friends? Today . . . I am the happiest woman in the world . . . absolutely in awe of all that God has done . . . but . . . we will get to that in a moment.

I want to share with you my journal entry from January 2, 2008. I remember HATING the ‘New Years’ holiday that year. Everyone talking about all the good from 2007 and ‘looking forward’ to a new year! I hated it! HATED IT!!!!!! I didn’t want to live! I didn’t want a new year! I didn’t want life to keep moving forward when ALL I wanted was my old life back! Here, friends, is my journal ~

January 2, 2008

Purposeless. We have turned the corner on a new year and I feel lost. Purposeless. My purpose and hopes and dreams and prayers were wrapped up in the joy of my marriage and all we felt called to. Now, I am lost!

God – please nuzzle me in. Please give me signs that You are still working on my behalf. I need big and awesome signs right now – not to lay down a fleece. How do I go back to the activities of life? Please give me hope, vision, strength.

How can Chad really be dead? I just can’t fathom it – my God!!!!! My heart hurts so badly. The turn of this new year means returning to so many of the old . . . choir at church, bible study, etc . . . all without Chad. I mourn the old. Please help me to see the future – PLEASE God! I feel so lost!

Chad, how could I ever miss you more? My heart is broken. I would rather die than be without you! I cannot stop weeping! I feel so alone.

Oh, God! I miss Chad SO much. How can this be my life now? God, I feel so alone from you, too. Lord, please minister to my spirit! Please help me walk through this grief. There are SO many questions.

Can I be happy without a man and will You make me learn to be happy without one before You’ll bless me with one? I’ve never seen myself alone. All my hopes and dreams had Chad in them. I don’t want to be alone! Please don’t punish me! Please bring me a wonderful man. Please God – PLEASE!

I feel so alone! Please bring a daddy for my babies. Lord . . . how do I walk through all this pain?

Lord, somehow I know that You are holding me. Please help me! I am CHOOSING to trust You! I do love You, Lord. All I’ve ever wanted is to serve You. That is harder now. Please forgive me for questioning You. I am sorry this is so hard.

Oh, friends! I know that many of you are there today. I know that for many people . . . the turn of a new year is just a magnifying glass to their pain and problems. Please let me encourage you! Folks! I have said it before and will say it again . . . GOD IS GOOD! Whatever circumstances you are facing today – they DO NOT CHANGE WHO God is! God is STILL good even when you are facing a mountain of pain and ‘purposelessness.’ Even, and ESPECIALLY, when life seems hopeless.

So, here we are today . . . in my life . . . two short years later. Oh, who are we kidding? They were long, painful years! But here we are, none-the-less. January 2, 2010. I AM the happiest woman in the world today! God is a God of restoration and not only has He restored . . . but He has blessed, my friends!

There is an AWE about my life that I am coming to realize will never leave. I thought maybe it would wear off . . . but, it won’t. I am so thankful for every breath! I know what it is to ‘lose’ in an instant – to have life as you know it change, radically and horribly, in ONE HEARTBEAT, and because of that I am left in awe of every single breath.

There is not one thing about Practice that does not leave me in awe! The fact that he is breathing. The fact that he is warm. The fact that I get to look into his eyes, and snuggle with him. I get to touch him . . . and be touched! I get to be friends with him and build a life with him. I get to watch him learn my children and be living, breathing arms around them. Those arms around my children are an extension from Heaven . . . of that . . . I am convinced. When Practice hugs my babies, I know that Chad is smiling down from Heaven!

We had the MOST wonderful first Christmas together . . . and I KNOW that Chad was smiling down on us! His babies are happy. They are smiling and laughing and engaged in life again. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Chad picked Practice for his babies. I truly believe that when Practice hugs my babies, Chad does too. You see, friends, THAT is the miracle of how God works.

I can see, now, that I have a perspective that is different than most. You see, if I may be so blunt, I know that there are many who are walking away from their marriages. Many, even, who are throwing them away. It angers me! So many are choosing infidelity over faithfulness. Many are choosing to carry offense over forgiveness. Many are choosing an end . . . over the work to make it good again. Marriage IS NOT easy! This ‘blending’ thing is one of the hardest things I have ever done. It takes CONSTANT work and communication on Practice and my part. It can be exhausting. Know what? It is also absolutely wonderful. Why? Because it is a gift. It is an everyday, living and breathing, us being Jesus to one another . . . gift! It is eight people learning to work together as a whole. It is a mama and a daddy learning to serve one another as we serve Jesus and praying that these babies will see Jesus in everything we do. It is hard . . . and big . . . and scary, sometimes. But is it is also absolutely worth it. It is a miracle!

How in Heaven’s name did God find me a farmer? How in the world did he orchestrate two broken families . . . a hurting mama and her babies, and a hurting daddy and his babies . . . finding each other and becoming whole? I will tell you that one of the keys in all of this is that the mama and the daddy had figured out how to be whole in Christ . . . THAT was the starting place. But, if you only knew ALL of the intricate stories of the back-story of our lives that eventually led us to one another. You would say it is a miracle. I . . . would agree!

And so, I am in awe! I am in awe of a great big God who was . . . who is . . . and who always will be . . . ALL that He says! He is good. He is the Healer. He is Hope and a Future.

The beginning of the rest of my life began one year ago today. No, that’s not true. It really began at 12:55 p.m. on October 7th, 2007. The moment I hate! It felt WAY more like an ending than a beginning. But, friends, I believe that is the miracle of WHO God is! Please trust Him for YOUR new year! Please trust Him for your . . . miracle!