Joy In The Mourning by Trish

 

 

Monday, November 21st is a day forever etched in my mind. It is the date my mom was promoted to her heavenly home. I traveled to Iowa on November 13th to be there the following day to celebrate her birthday with her in the hospital. Mom had been sick for one year without definite answers for the complicated health issues she had been experiencing and without a root cause there was no real strategy. That is until it was towards the end of her physical body saying, “that’s it, I’m tired”. On her birthday Mom was coherent but her body was exhausted and there was no real depth to conversation only short statements back and forth and a constant request for water to drink. The day following her birthday her team of doctors asked to meet with me before I flew back home to Orlando. After much assessment, research and aggressive treatment it was determined that although we now had answers to our questions, there was no hope for rehabilitation and with that we were given just days to spend time with our mom before she would transition to heaven. When those words were spoken, my mom instantly sat up in her bed, looked me in the eyes and said,  “I’m going to die… at least I got to go to your wedding.” The only thing I could do was bury my head in her pillow and sob. With a team of medical professionals standing around I cared nothing about what I must have looked like weeping in my mom’s pillow. I was just told I would have to let go of the most important person in my life. My mom never shed a tear, instead she looked at me and said, “Call your brother and let him know. It’s time to call the family in.”  She then began spewing out plans faster than I could write, her wishes for her funeral, the pallbearers, the colors were to be purple and pink because she said us kids made her feel like royalty. She wanted our pastor to sing In Christ Alone  and for my uncle Walt to sing also. I can’t explain what happened other than a surge of supernatural strength and grace as I asked what she wanted to wear and any other details not to be missed.

That evening my pastors met me at the hospital and when PJ, my little brother, arrived we told him together that mom was preparing for heaven and we only had days. There were tears but in that moment we all lifted our hands and began to worship. We turned the music up louder and sang without shame of the goodness of our God. His presence filled the room and strangely enough all was well. We began to pray together and my pastor shared scripture. It was a moment in time when heaven met earth in a tangible way right there at the University of Iowa Hospitals.

In the days to come I felt as though I was being carried, like grace had swept me off my feet and guided me through every moment of each day. While she was still in ICU I would pull my chair as close to my mom at night as I could get and sleep next to her. Many times I would awake in the night due to routine visits from the nursing staff and it would not be uncommon for my mom to ask EVERY nurse on duty if they knew Jesus. One night when she asked the nurse she replied, “Yes.” Mom said to her, “Good, just know that He has a great plan for your life. Would you mind if I pray for you?” The nurse said she could and I saw tears stream down her face uncontrollably as Mom declared blessing over her. Other moments included us just staring at each other and as tears would roll down my face she would just look at me, smile and say, “Trisha, it’s okay, I’m going to be with Jesus.”  She was so courageous and she anxiously welcomed her new transition with so much peace. She was at such peace that she instructed the doctors to take her off all medications and anything that provided her assistance with her health. Supernaturally, she was being sustained by the healing power of Christ. Once while my brother and I were in a meeting with the team of doctors, one spoke up and said, “We can’t understand how she is not in any pain?” Instantly another physician spoke up said, “The ONLY thing I can attribute it to is her faith”. Without hesitation my brother and I both declared that was EXACTLY the reason.

Every morning we would do devotions and thank God for another day and somehow that prayer meant more to me than ever before because for the first time, I was counting the days we’d be given. There were lots of prayers, smiles, hugs and I love yous . Minutes turned to hours and hours to days and before we knew it the clock had run out and Mom stepped into her eternal home. When my sister woke me up at around 11:00 pm November 21st and said Mom’s chest was no longer moving I embraced my new reality, she was gone. My brother led us in prayer right there in her room and all we could do was thank God for the journey and that this was not a forever goodbye just a  “see you later”. The doctor who confirmed her passing was one of the physicians Mom believed salvation for. His words to us were,  “If anyone could make me believe in God, it was this woman.” I never saw my mom more alive than when her physical body was dying.

Today, life is very different for me. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her and shed tears. The pain is real but the grace is greater. You never get over losing someone but you do get through it.

While I would not want to walk through this scenario again in the same way as with my mom, I can honestly say I’m grateful for the journey. I walked with my mom through the valley of the shadow of death and there was no fear because death was just that, a shadow. For the believer, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Death did not win and sickness did not prevail.

I can testify that God is close to brokenhearted. He binds up our wounds and His strength is made perfect in our weakness. We may not understand our circumstances but we can trust that God ALWAYS has our best interest at heart. He is a GOOD, GOOD Father!

My mom was just on loan to us here on earth; she belonged to Christ. While she would be the first to admit she was not perfect, she was the greatest mom I could have been given. While my heart is still hurting, I find strength and healing in knowing she imparted in me all that I need to carry out God’s assignment on my life AND one day I will be reunited with her in heaven!  The greatest way for me to honor my mom is to apply the Godly wisdom she instilled in me. I can still hear her words of wisdom echo in my ear, her laugh in my thoughts and her strength in my heartbeat. Most importantly I can feel God’s presence as close to me as my next breath and His love so tangible.

 

If you’re hurting today over the loss of a loved one, a dream or relationship…hold on to God because He’s holding onto you! So yes, while there is grief there is joy that comes in the morning AND in the mourning.

 

Photo Credit: Omar Galarza Photography

 

When Scripture Shines by Bombi

 

A few days into the New Year I woke up with a scripture on my mind. This doesn’t happen too often, so I knew this was significant. I have lots of silly dreams here and there and when I try to recall them in the morning, the majority of the details slip my mind and I’m left with a few pieces of it. I’ll turn to tell my husband about the dream but as I do, I can tell the details are already fading even as I’m speaking them out.

But this time it was different. This time it was more than a dream. It was like something was burned in my heart and my mind. I think what makes it stand out is to know that the pastor hadn’t brought up this passage on Sunday. I didn’t hear it from someone in recent conversation, and I didn’t read it in my Bible recently. It was just there and it wasn’t going anywhere.

As the days began to pass, the scripture was still fresh in my memory. I started to think, ͞Why that scripture?͟ Then I remembered something. It was a thing I thought I had gotten over a longtime ago, but if I think about it, this scripture happened to be the best medicine for the thing that had cut me to the core. The thing I love about scripture is that it’s very alive. It doesn’t expire. You can apply that same scripture today that you did twenty years ago, and it doesn’t lose its power or relevance.
Sometimes I like to look at different versions of the same scripture and see what perspective shines from it. This time when I looked up the amplified version, I felt like it was just so perfect. If you’ve stayed with me this long reading this, then let me finally let you in on the scripture, I’d like to share two versions of it. I hope it ministers to your heart when you need it the most like it has mine.

5 Let your character [your moral essence, your inner nature] be free from the love of money [shun greed—be financially ethical], being content with what you have; for He has said, ͞I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!͟Hebrews 13:5 (AMP) 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ͞Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.͟[a] Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

 

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This Is Your Year by Sonya

 

 

 

This is your year, 2017, to shine and show your light to others. But how do you do that when there are days where your light is dim and just can’t seem to shine? Do we let the struggles of this world and the challenges we face let us down? It is easy to just throw in the towel and extinguish the light that God has in us.

We can change that thinking and let 2017 be our best year yet! How can we change? By allowing God to work in us to change our minds and attitudes is what will help us through the trials we face. Each of us will have obstacles and challenges in life that we need to overcome but it is how we choose to handle it that makes the difference. Having the right mind and attitude will change the way we look at life and our self. We won’t let our past define who we are if we look to Jesus and what He did for us and that He will make our paths straight. “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” Proverbs 3:6. It is so easy to look at our shortcomings or our past mistakes but if we are held back by those things then they can rob us from fully being all that God wants us to be in this new year. We are our worst critics and we want to change and fix things that we have no control of. Allow God to do the fixing and fully focus on Him by allowing Him to work in us. “Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established. The Lord has made everything for its own purpose” Proverbs 16:3.

He has big plans for you in 2017 so don’t miss out by focusing on the past or things that aren’t working in your life. Choose the challenging path or unpopular path that God is leading you to because God created you and knows all about you and has your best interest in mind! Start today to make that change to growing spiritually by reading your bible, finding a mentor or devoting quiet time each day to God. This starts in your mind and attitude to want to make that first step and don’t put the blame on anyone else, but make the decision to serve God deeper this year. 2017 is your year so start believing God’s best for you! You can do it and begin to let your light shine!

 

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At Peace With Me by Kenika

 

It’s such a familiar scene. We’ve just ended one year and we’re at the beginning of another. Even though we experience this year after year, there are still many people who throw the last year out with claims of it’s horribleness and cruelty, and project with excitement what the next year will bring. I have to admit I’ve done the same thing for more years than what I would like to admit. Somewhere along the way, however, I realized that it isn’t the year itself that makes life good or bad, but life in and of itself presents us with triumphs and challenges. It doesn’t matter how things have been or what you thought they would be, it oftentimes is more about how you respond.

For this next transition I find myself desiring peace more than anything else. It’s easy to make a list of all that you want to accomplish, been there, done that. Or even better complain about what you didn’t get done the last year and make pledges to finish strong in the coming year, been there too. But what will prove to be most difficult is to decide to live in peace. To maintain peace throughout every trial, test, twist and unexpected turn life may throw. Choosing peace with life, the state of the world, the country or just with me. Learning to be at peace with all that I’ve accomplished and all that I have yet to accomplish. Just to be okay with who I currently am and with who I one day desire to be. Peace is a powerful thing. It provides calm in the midst of storms, and steadies your heart and mind when the pressure is on.
Instead of setting myself up to fail with plans that I don’t have control over anyway, I’m making a decision during this next transition to fight fervently to simply be at peace.

 

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