A Love That Conquers All by Trish

 

This month will mark two years since my mother’s transition to heaven. Some days it feels like it was just yesterday but most days it feels like it was an eternity ago. I still have vivid memories of her final days and the interactions, words exchanged and precious moments shared.

It was an urge or unction to be with her when she celebrated her birthday on November 14thof 2016 and I arrived at the University of Iowa hospital the day prior. She was pretty weak and groggy when I arrived and although her body was exhausted, she perked up when she saw me walk in her room. As we celebrated her birthday in the hospital, two of her grandsons sang to her “Happy Birthday” and she mustered up strength to smile and give hugs. I didn’t know that life would hit me hard two days following when a team of doctors and specialists surrounded her bed and said there was nothing more to be done. I don’t know if it was denial or ignorance, but I then asked what my options were for her home health care, or a facility.  It took them saying it twice as they were carefully trying to tell me she wouldn’t be leaving the hospital and we only had days left. My mom looked at me and said, “I’m going to die, aren’t I?” I nodded my head and then buried it in her pillow next to her face as she said, “At least I was able to go to your wedding.” I cried using the pillow to muffle the noise but when I lifted my head up, a supernatural strength and grace empowered me for what would be her last seven days. When I asked what her goal was for her remaining days, she said, “I want to be here for Jeremiah’s (my nephew) birthday,” which was November 20thand on November 21stshe took her last natural breath.

 

The days following November 21, 2016 has had its share of ups and downs. I found myself as a new bride, stepmom and now a daughter missing the only person who has known me since my life began. My mom was a single parent and so I felt this immense void when the one person who provided andprotected was gone. When days were tough, she was there, when days were good, she was there. No matter what, she was always there and now, well, she was gone. I had to adjust to a new normal.

Although I missed her dearly most of what I was dealing with came from external sources. I was having to balance many things at one time.  There were days I felt as though my back was against a wall with so much pressure pinning me there. I wasn’t depressed or emotionally weak, I was grieving.

Yet in the midst of all of that I would feel a strength on the inside of me pushing me to do what was necessary day by day. It was that same type of strength I felt come in the hospital room the day the doctors delivered their report.

You see it’s a strength that doesn’t make sense. It’s a strength that surpasses the natural and enables you to do what is uncommon.  Though I may have felt weak, God’s strength was being perfected in me as I leaned on Him.

My mom was not a perfect person she had flaws and frailties just like each one of us. Yet, she had this incredible and undeniable faith that even astounded the doctors as she transitioned. That faith, that strength and that hope can only be found in Christ and she shared that gift with us from the time we were born and testified of it until her last day on earth. In her final days, I saw love perfected in her. I saw love conquer so much of what she struggled with even in her physical being. I saw love surround her with such a peace that it filled the atmosphere and drove away all fear.

Two years later and I miss her just as much. The memories are so dear and I long for the day when I get to see her again. But until then I lean on the love that carries me and will see me (and you) through.

This love that encompasses such a strength is only found in the person of Jesus Christ. He is not a character we read about to children during bedtime story hour. This person, holy person of Jesus Christ came to redeem us and reunite our heart to the Father. The immense love He has for us will strengthen us in our time of weakness, give us hope when there is none to be found and conquer every battle we face. This love will chase us down when we want to run and hide. This love will break every barrier around our heart and not allow the pain we experience to harden it.  This love will bring healing to the very core of what you thought would destroy you. This love will hold you when you’re broken and will restore what you thought was lost forever.

You may feel pain and experience loss or hurt but lean on the love that is waiting for you found in Jesus. This love will conquer all.

As I close out this article I’m reminded of the lyrics to “Reckless Love.”  Read the lyrics or listen to this version of the song and be reminded of a love that conquers all and allows you to move forward in life  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjIsfyBzywg

 

Reckless Love -Songwriters: Caleb Culver / Cory Asbury / Ran Jackson

Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me
You have been so, so good to me
Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me
You have been so, so kind to me

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me
You have been so, so kind to me

And oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me

Photo credit: Freepik

Treasure What You Have by Sonya

It is so easy to take for granted what you have and forgot to be thankful over the big and small things! I find we overlook the things and we have a hard time with being content. After being in Ghana, Africa this summer I realized how much we have and how little they have and how to be thankful for our everyday things. ​

God is so good that He gives us more than we need each and every day and treasuring that as a gift from Him is so important. Seeing the people in Africa truly have a heart of gratitude of what they have and be so thankful for what God has provided each day opened my eyes to being so thankful and not complain about what we don’t have.  When I looked around at the villages we served in and noticing that these kids had no toys to play with but the rocks and sticks on the ground and they were completely content and joyful. It made me think, are we that joy filled to treasure what God gives us, not asking for more, but being thankful for what we have each day? The people in Ghana were thankful every day for the one meal, for the same clothes on their backs that they wear over and over again and their mud hut that didn’t have air conditioning or electricity in their 100 degree temperatures.  It was a wakeup call for me to make me realize to appreciate the big and small things and not take things for granted. ​

Jesus said to him, “if you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come, follow me.” Matthew 19:21. This verse sums it up to let go of the earthly things and treasure what is important and what we have which is Jesus and our treasure in heaven. Wow treasure in heaven, that is the greatest gift we should be thankful for and not allowing the things of this world to distract us from that.  God showed me that in Ghana where the people in this one village lived that out and fully trusted God for their everyday needs! They don’t have medicine close by if they get sick and easy access to transportation or food, but they had Jesus and to them they have everything. Do we find our treasure in Jesus alone?  Because He is the only one worth everything to us and to have our treasure in heaven should be our greatest gift. I have this plaque in my home that reads, “Every day is a gift from God that is why it is called the present.” God is our treasure and our Gift and that is all we will ever need! AMEN!!!!

 

Photo Credit: Freepik

The Testing of Our Faith by Kenika

 

‘God wants you to understand that it is a life of faith, not a life of sentimental enjoyment of His blessings. Faith by its very nature must be tried, and the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character has to be cleared in our own minds.  Faith in the Bible is faith in God against everything that contradicts Him – I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do. ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him’ – this is the most sublime utterance of faith in the whole of the Bible.” 

(Excerpt from My Utmost for His Highest-Oswald Chambers Scripture Reference Matthew 17:20)

In life there are highs and lows that are completely unavoidable. Whether you’re the richest, most influential person in the world, or the poorest of the poor.  The smartest person in the room, or the least educated in your community.  Peaks and valleys will always be the guiding trajectory in our lives.  Even if we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and have acknowledged our own sin, depravity and desperate need of Him, life isn’t guaranteed to get better as a result.   Eternity certainly promises to be better, but not necessarily life on earth.  Wouldn’t that be a much better sell when we evangelize to unbelievers? “Come to Jesus, you’ll be rich!” “Give Jesus a chance, you won’t have any problems ever again!” “I’m offering you Jesus, a ‘get out of trouble free card’!” But we do a huge disservice to people when we don’t tell them what faith really is.  I read the excerpt above and made the conclusion that I couldn’t have said it better myself! Especially the part about what faith in God really is. That it’s not just for enjoyment of His blessings, but for the “Yet will I trust Him” kind of seasons we will inevitably go through.

It’s easy to love God when everything is going right, we all know that.  But remaining true to God no matter what He does or doesn’t do, is a struggle for a lot of people.  It’s hard to get excited about the thought that He has the power “slay” us through punishment or even take our life, but still having to trust Him.  However, instead of embracing a sense of hopeless, we should see that as an opportunity for sovereign hopefulness. What I mean by that is whether things are going better than they ever have before, or if you can’t see your way out, real faith in God says, “I trust you no matter what.” He’s so good, and He’s so God, that we let Him have His way regardless. He’s so omniscient, He’s so powerful, that we let go and allow Him to show us His plan. It sounds very romantic right? But super difficult in application. The best thing for us to do is to quiet ourselves in His presence, stop telling Him what He needs to do for us and allow our hearts to be ministered to with what He is to us.  Let us change our prayers from “Give me this, help me with that, change this” to “Yet will I trust you.”  It’s only then that the testing of our faith can allow God the opportunity to reveal Himself to us, which is far better than anything we could ever think to ask for anyway.

Photo Credit: Freepik