Thursday, June 23

Joy for Mourning

I just finished reading the book Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs. It was an incredible read that I would highly recommend to any young woman.  There were many moments throughout the book that spoke to me.  You know those moments that are so meaningful you tap and hold your finger down to start the process of highlighting it?  Ah, the generation of Kindle users...  Yeah, those kind of moments.
Today I finished and it wasn't until after reading her Epilogue that I started to cry.   For reasons unbeknownst to me, I have recently been uber struggling with emotions in regards to missing my dad.  It could be that Father's Day recently passed, or just that I am immersed in time spent with my own children right now and it makes me think of moments I shared with him. Whatever the reason, the emotions have bubbled up from the depths of my "safe place" where I had given them to the Lord years ago.  

In her book she writes about looking for all of the lovely things that live in the ordinary all around us.  This is something I think we all try to do when we are feeling optimistic and happy... It's not until we are in the valley that we stray from this way of thinking.  This life was not meant to be all sunshine and rainbows.  The bible says in 1 Peter 2:21 "To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps."  There are many times in the bible that tell us, we WILL suffer.  Looking back on my life, there have been more moments than I care to dig up where suffering was at it's worst.
The suicide of my dad was a defining moment in my life.  If you've read this blog for very long you've watched me journey through it all.  I'm not that private of a person and sharing my thoughts and emotions through writing has been a form of therapy for me.  Looking back on the darkness that clouded my life in the months after his death I am amazed that I made it to where I am writing this today.  I am by no means a finished product, just like Annie Downs I am unfinished, but I am loved.  I may not have my daddy here in the flesh to tell me he loves me or that he is proud of me.  I know he would be.  But I have the ONE Father that truly matters.  My Heavenly Father who CHOSE me.   
I write this today to encourage you.  We all walk through dark valleys.  We live in a world corrupted with sin and darkness, how could we not find suffering?  There is a bright beacon of light that shines for those who seek it, however.  The light that promises us hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future." Christ died so that we COULD have that hope.  We could have the promise of life everlasting where there will be no more suffering and no more tears.  Oh how I long to be surrounded by the faces of angels as that promise becomes a reality.  
Annie talks about singing a song to God through each season of our lives and boy do I know the power that comes from music.  She references the song We Dance by Bethel Music in her epilogue so of course I looked it up.  It's one I had heard before, but the bridge caught my attention, and this is where the tears started to flow; 
And I will lock eyes with the One who's ransomed me, the One who gave me joy for mourning. 
And I will lock eyes with the One who's chosen me, the One who set my feet to dancing.
Yeah... Looking back I can see how God sustained me, lifted me into a season of joy with the birth of our two precious babes (both born on the 14th, the date my dad took his own life), and how He continues to hold and sustain me as I walk through this season of change I am currently in.  He gave me joy for mourning.  
So while I have peace and this beautiful promise of hope, it is still okay to be sad.  I realize this.  Random fits of silent crying and breath that hitches in your throat as you hold back a sob during a Father's Day video at church are totally understandable.  He was my daddy and I miss him.  And for right now, I will relish this emotion that has surfaced, cry the tears I need to cry, and continue to run to my Father in Heaven who sustains me through each of life's valleys.  I pray this for you, too dear friend.

post signature

Summer Lovin'

Ahh Summer.  The time of year every teacher relishes.  I am no different.  Flash back to the end of this last school year and I was a complete zombie;  no energy, no desire to do anything but plop myself on the couch with a big-o-glass of wine. I was running on fumes and had nothing left in reserves.

My last week of school was pure insanity.  Not only was I having to completely pack up my classroom to prepare for leaving my school of 5 years for a brand new school in the Fall, but that Monday we got the phone call that Josh's grandmother had passed away.  I had previously scheduled a trip to Colorado for that Friday to visit my childhood best friend who just had a baby and the funeral ended up being on that very day.  God always has plans we know nothing about, and they don't always go hand in hand with our plans.  So that Thursday, after a rushed morning packing my classroom into the bed of the truck, I said my goodbyes to my classroom and coworkers, plopped our family in the truck and headed to East Texas. 
First day in my Kinder classroom vs. last day in my classroom... Lots of changes!
We made it just in time for the viewing and enjoyed the evening with family we hadn't seen in years.  The next day was a tough one.  Saying goodbyes to family members is never easy.  Singing at their funeral is just plain impossible.  It is an honor to be asked, and I will always say yes, but I can never make it through the song without shedding a tear.  This was the fourth funeral I have sung at and it just doesn't get easier.  
When you're 4 and bored... you plank.  (at the viewing)

That evening we packed the family back up and headed home so I could get a full night's sleep before flying out the next morning.  My weekend trip to Colorado was nothing short of incredible.  I saw God's hand everywhere I looked and in every single situation.  Conversations with complete strangers, my best friend, and new friends made were all centered around Christ... I came home feeling refreshed, renewed and encouraged.  I love the friendships God holds onto - you know, the ones where you don't see each other for years and then instantly pick right back up where you left off.  That's the kind of relationship I have with Ashley.  Meeting her daughter, Olivia, was pure bliss.  A little bundle of perfection, just like her momma.  I am thanking God for  our friendship and for His hand being ALL over that weekend away.  
Mani Pedi with Ashley!
Red Rocks with my girls!
I ended my trip with an incredible visit with one of my other "Dads" whom I've known all my life. How I will cherish this time we spent together!
Since returning from Colorado I've been THOROUGHLY enjoying being a mommy and indulging in some pure laziness.  I've earned it! We've spent time swimming, crafting, lounging and exploring the city around us.  Just being with my sweet babies everyday has been a blessing in itself.  The afternoon cat naps are definitely a perk, though.  

We don't have HUGE plans for this Summer as we are preparing to sell our home and begin building a new one!  More on that later, though...  Here are some of my favorite pictures from the past two weeks.  I cannot wait to see what the next few have in store as we hunker down and really get into Summer mode!  

Lunches at Daddy's office

Play dates in the park

Callie's first pet, Swimma.

Ice cream dates (Melt Ice Cream)

Swim parties with friends

Lazy jammie days with the kids

Father's day!

Movies with the family - Kellan's first movie - Finding Dori

Lunch dates with Daddy
Stay tuned for more summer fun and a new update to my Birthday Chalkboard DIY!
  post signature