Safety or Sanctity

Standard

“Heavenly Father, thank you for this day. It was a good day… And thank you, God, for healing my daddy. In your name I pray. Amen.”

Cole prayed this prayer at the supper table Monday night.

As soon as his prayer ended, he burst into tears. With chubby little hands, he covered his eyes and sobbed. We rushed to him and held him, assuring him that indeed God did HEAL his daddy! That Daddy is healthy now and how it is something to be happy about! That he was right to thank and praise God!!

He understood but said it still makes him sad to think about.

Me too.

(My healthy, 39 year old husband, Stevie-P, suffered a major heart attack on May 1, 2016. If you’re a Facebook friend, you’re well aware of our journey. But if you only follow my blog, this is brand new information. I’ll tell more of the story one day…)

The next day as we drove to get Abbie from school, he asked me, “How did the doctors know Daddy had a heart attack?” and if they had to cut his heart open to fix it.

I explained how they ran tests and took pictures of Daddy’s heart to see it was, indeed, a heart attack. Then, they used one of his veins like a tunnel to get to his heart where they put a tiny “straw” inside for the blood to flow through. He seemed to understand but I could still see the wheels turning.

When I asked why he’s thinking about Daddy’s heart so much lately, he again told me he didn’t want to talk about it anymore because it makes him sad.

Again, me too.

I have no idea where his thoughts are stemming from or what is running through that cute little head of his, but I know my heart breaks every time he asks such things. He’s just 4 years old.

Watching My Love have a heart attack, racing him to the hospital with our babies in tow, was one of the scariest moments of my life– and probably theirs. I wish I could forget about it, too.

I desperately want my children to be protected from such grown-up issues and worries, from stress and fear, especially when they’re off my watch. But this morning as I prayed for Cole’s heart to be cleansed of these fears and his mind renewed of these thoughts, the Lord whispered this…

You spend more time praying for your people’s protection than you do their perfection. Pray, instead, for them to become more like Me.

Sigh…

I do pray 24-7 for my people’s protection from just about everything. From harm, injury, fear, danger, rejection, temptation, sin. It’s what Momma’s do. I so want my people to have safe, happy lives, but if they’re always safe and happy, how will they learn to trust God? How will they become more like Him? How will they learn to seek Him when it’s hard? How will they know He is able to overcome all things; that nothing is beyond Him?

I hate Satan and sin, and I hate the sickness and evil this world is infested with. But my people live here in the thick of it. Despite my attempts, they will be faced with all the things I want to keep from them.

If I’ve learned anything from this season, it’s that I can change Nothing. I cannot change the fact that my children witnessed their daddy’s heart attack. I cannot change the fact their Grandpa moved to Heaven without saying goodbye. I cannot change what their futures hold, but I can guide them to trust The One who holds their future.

I can share the glorious hope we have because of Jesus. I can tell them how He overcame sin and death and rose from the grave, and how one day we will, too. I can show them how to live anchored to that hope, no matter what storm rages around them.

I can’t stop the situations they will face, but I can pray for those situations to draw them closer to Christ. To help them love and trust Him more. To make them look more like Him.

Yes, I can still ask God for their safety, but like Jesus prayed, I must also ask for their sanctity.

❤️Jessie

“I have given them Your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by Your truth; teach them Your word, which is truth.” ~Jesus
John‬ ‭17‬:‭14-17‬ (NLT)

“This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭6:19‬ ‭(NLT‬‬)

Slacker-Moms, Unite!

Standard

I’m such a slacker-mom.

Every year about two weeks before school starts, I murmur things about getting back in our “school night routine” and bedtime. How it will help us all function better when school starts. Make our mornings run smoother. Make the madness easier. But have I ever actually done said murmurings? No I have not. And why?

Because I enjoy freedom.

As much as I know going to bed earlier and getting up at ungodly hours FOR NO REAL REASON will lessen the hellaciousness of the first week back, I just can’t bring myself to believe it enough to give up my current luxuries. BOTH of my children have spent the entire summer sleeping well past 9am. Do you know how that translates?

QUIET. PEACE. HOT COFFEE. UNINTERRUPTED READING. LOUNGING IN MY PJS UNTIL THE DAY REALLY BEGINS.

Why on earth would I willingly throw away the last two weeks of such bliss?

School starts Monday and yes, I’m sure I will loathe myself when my alarm rings at 5:30am. But this final weekend of summer will be enjoyed. It’s rainy and dreary and perfect sleeping-in weather. My kids deserve to enjoy these final days of lazy unstructured freedom and fellow slacker-moms, so do we. So. Do. We.

Happy last weekend of Summer! 🏖🌦🛌

A Chance for Glory

Standard

“…The evil prince of this world approaches. He has no power over me, but I will freely do what The Father requires of me so the world will know that I love The Father. Come, let’s be going.”
~John 14:30-31

Sometimes the hard places of suffering feel like an evil doing of the enemy. However, I’m learning on this journey that God’s sovereignty covers even the darkest moments.

Jesus’ words in John 14:30-31 give me hope today. He said this to his disciples in the upper room during their last supper together, just hours before Roman soldiers would lead him away to be tried and crucified.

He was preparing their hearts for what they would soon endure, for the sudden loss they were about to suffer. He knew they would be shocked and feel attacked. Like something had been stolen from them. Like they had been wronged. Like God had somehow messed up.

Look at what he chose to say to them about their eminent situation.

“…the evil prince of this world approaches…”

Yes, guys. Satan is real and he’s here, seeking to steal and kill all I’ve done in you. And he wants to destroy all I desire to do through you. But I do not fear him and neither should you.

“He has no power over me…”

Satan has no authority over what is about to go down. He’s not calling the shots of what happens to me or how I will respond. Remember that.

“…but I will freely do what The Father requires of me…”

This suffering, this hard place I’m about to walk through is God’s plan, not Satan’s. It’s His task for me. I will choose to see it as such and complete it with His power.

“…so the world will know that I love The Father.”

I’m choosing to face this unbearably agonizing thing because it will bring glory to The Father. It will prove Who I am in Him and the love He has for the world.

“Come, let’s be going.”

I want you to go through this hard place with me. Even though it’s looming, we’re not backing down in fear. Let’s go to it, face it head-on. Watch how I handle it and follow my lead.

At first, the disciples didn’t do a hot job heeding His words. They hid. Doubted Him. Denied Him. But slowly, as the haze of shock lifted, they came around. They began to remember all He had taught them and the pieces came together. They recognized the tools He left them and began using them to stand firm and spread The Gospel. And aren’t we thankful?!

I needed this reminder today. I needed to remember I do not have to fear the enemy or anything that comes my way because The Father is bigger. He’s The Man with The Plan and He wants to accomplish things through me, too.

Jesus’ words also echo a truth I’ve tucked away…

“You have not handed me over to the enemy, but have given me open ground in which to maneuver.”
~Psalm 31:8

Suffering, trials, impossible situations are not a sign that God has let me go. They are a chance for glory. Opportunities He gives me to respond.

To look Fear in the eye and tell him, you’ve got no power here!

To see this hard place for what it is, a gift from The Father where I have the freedom to choose my actions.

To offer my suffering as an instrument for His glory, a living testimony of God’s power and love.

To stand firm and face it head-on in the strength of The Holy Spirit.

I’m so thankful for God’s Word! To read words so powerful, they transform my perspective even though they were spoken 2,000+ years ago.

I pray His words reach your dark place, too. Whatever mess you’re facing today, choose to see it for what it truly is.

~Jessie

5 Things To Do for Father’s Day

Standard
5 Things To Do for Father’s Day

A sweet friend sent a much-needed message today. She assured me and a few other girls we’re on her mind and in her prayers as we live through our “Year of Firsts” without our daddies.

If you’ve lost a loved one, you know exactly what that means. First holidays without Daddy’s laughter, first birthdays without the threat of a “birthday spanking,” and tomorrow, my first Father’s Day without him.

Y’all have to know, The Last Thing I want to do is make this blog all about Daddy or Death or Grief, but that’s my life right now. Three years ago when God led me to begin sharing the no-makeup-or-coffee version of my life, He knew this season was coming. He knew what my reality would be today and He asked that I be painfully honest about it. Only He knows why.

The biggest part of me wants to stay quiet; don’t make anyone sad on a happy day. But for many of us, God’s showing me tomorrow may not be so happy.

In the weeks immediately following Daddy’s move to Heaven, I made note of some very specific thoughts that crossed my mind. I’ve held on to them ever since, waiting for the day The Spirit would nudge me to share them.

I’m feeling nudged today.

For those of you blessed to celebrate with your daddies this Father’s Day, here are 5 thoughts to consider.

1. Hug and kiss him. Every. Time. You. See. Him. Rushed or not. Convenient or not. Just like our days, hugs and kisses are numbered.

2. Take pictures not just OF him, but WITH him. And be silly. Don’t worry about looking good, just be happy. And smile. A lot. You’ll be so glad to have both your faces in the same frame one day.

3. Don’t worry about proving you’re a grown-up or that you’ve got it all together– Ask your dad for his opinion and advice. Doesn’t mean you have to take it, but at least you’ll know what he would’ve said or done when he’s no longer there to ask.

4. Revert to your childhood. Take advantage of a sweet moment and really look at him. Hold his hand. Touch his cheek. Climb in his lap, even. He may think you’re crazy but he won’t mind. And neither will you.

5. Tell him what he did right. Tell him the good things that stand out in your memory. Recount the Big Things but also the little things. Write him a letter and tell him what you remember about his character; the Good you saw him doing when he thought you weren’t looking.

The greatest need of every man’s heart is Respect; that is the gift he wants most from you. These five things may seem trivial but they will pour respect all over your dad, whether you see it or not. You will reap blessings, too.

Maybe someone out there is thinking, “But Jessie, you don’t know MY dad.”

To that I say: No, I don’t. But I know The Heavenly Father. And He has lavished His unfailing love on us, loved us first, forgiven us and desires our love in return. And one of the ways we love Him is by loving and honoring the earthly father He has given us.

Biblical “love” is an action. Hesed, the Hebrew word for Love, is described as “a completely undeserved kindness and generosity.” Hesed is faithful and reliable. It “intervenes on behalf of loved ones and comes to their rescue.”

This is how The Father loves us and how we should love one another. Including our dads.

Do these five things whether you want to or not, whether you think your dad deserves it or not. Make an effort. Even if he hangs up on you there will be peace on your end knowing you took action to love him.

I give glory to God for the foresight to love my Daddy well and not take his love for granted (not too much, anyway), and yet I still feel I could’ve done more. Our life together was and is precious to me; I pray he knew that.

Regardless our age, only us girls who’ve lost our daddies know the gaping hole that’s left once he’s gone. Trust me, you will never regret any action you take to love your daddy.

And neither will he.
~Jessie

And this is the promise: that if you honor your father and mother, yours will be a long life, full of blessing.”

~Ephesians 6:3

Don’t Forget to Remember

Standard

image

Daddy’s birthday was last week and I’m not gonna fake it– it was incredibly hard for me.

If you’ve lost a loved one, maybe you can relate.

Momma and I decided it best to spend the day doing things Daddy would’ve wanted to do, which means we ate a big steak and an even bigger chocolate cake. We spent time together, laughed, sang Happy Birthday and cried a little. Truly a bittersweet blend of hope and hurt.

Honestly, I didn’t expect it to be as hard as it was, but as the day ticked along my heart echoed some familiar words:

“Do this in remembrance of me.”

I usually reserve those words for The Lord’s Supper, but as we baked a chocolate cake I heard, “Do THIS in remembrance of me…”

As we ate steak and told stories to the kids I heard, “Do THIS in remembrance of me…”

As I attempted to answer my preschooler’s questions about heaven I heard, “Do THIS in remembrance of me…”

And once again, I Got It.

Jesus knew His disciples had some tough days ahead. Days of sorrow and confusion. Days of anger and regret. Days when a tangible reminder of Him would be the sweetest blessing.

Surely breaking the bread and sipping the wine became a sort of healing for them. A time to gather together specifically to remember their beloved Friend and Lord. A way to reconnect with Him and recount His many teachings and miracles. Maybe even to remember funny stories and good times shared around a camp fire.

Yes, Jesus wanted them to remember Him, His words, and His love, but not just for their own comfort.

He wanted them to pass it on.

Spending the day talking about Daddy, remembering his love and life was certainly comforting for me, but as we celebrated him I realized how important my remembering is for others.

In my opinion, Daddy was The Best. At Everything. The way he loved God and others, his generosity, work ethic and drive… I desperately want my kids to remember just how amazing a man he was. I want them to have his example to follow, use his standard as a guide. I want them to hear so many stories and see so many pictures they feel like he’s still around.

My daughter may remember some things because she had 8 years with him, but my son is only three. How much will he remember? My brother and his wife haven’t had children yet; the only way they will know him is through us.

Yes, I really get it now. I understand why Jesus said Remember.

I grasp the urgency the disciples felt to share The Good News. I feel their passion for others to know The Most Amazing Man Ever to Walk the Earth.

I understand how telling of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection became their life’s mission. Why they preached and wrote letters to spread the word. Why some died trying.

They knew The Truth in human form. They physically saw Him in action– healing, walking on water, raising the dead. They witnessed Victory in all its forms and they were changed. Never the same. And they wanted that for others. For us.

I am SO glad they didn’t forget to remember.

Since Daddy moved to heaven, there are so many things I want to remember and say. Things I want to write and share with the world. Not because Daddy was perfect but because he taught me so much. I want his legacy to live on, his life to continue impacting others for good.

So if I talk about Jesus and Daddy a lot, this is why. They’ve both changed my life.

And if you’re ever around Momma or me, never hesitate to mention his name or share a memory. Those of us who grieve are delighted that you remember our loved ones, too! It actually hurts more when you avoid the topic or pretend nothing has happened.

Same goes for Jesus, especially now during the Resurrection season. Don’t be afraid to speak His Name, tell His tales or share His love. Nothing hurts Him more than when we forget to remember.

So glad I get that now.

~Jessie

P.S. Great thanks to our friend Heather for making that awesome cowboy cake! So kind of you to celebrate with Jake and Callie since they couldn’t be with us. Momma and I thank you for remembering.❤️

“Then Jesus and the others arrived, and at the proper time all sat down together at the table; and He said, ‘I have looked forward to this hour with deep longing, anxious to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won’t eat it again until what it represents has occurred in the Kingdom of God.’

Then He took a glass of wine, and when He had given thanks for it, He said, ‘Take this and share it among yourselves. For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come.’

Then He took a loaf of bread; and when He had thanked God for it, He broke it apart and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, given for you. Eat it in remembrance of me.’

After supper He gave them another glass of wine, saying, ‘This wine is the token of God’s new agreement to save you—an agreement sealed with the blood I shall pour out to purchase back your souls.'”~ Luke 22:14-20

 

Happy Birthday, To You…

Standard

image

Today we are celebrating!

Daddy may be in heaven, but he is still loved and treasured and adored here on earth. Always will be. It’s how his legacy will live on.

He would be 61 years young today.

I want to share Momma’s thoughts on this day. How she is able to find joy on the toughest of days amazes me. It’s proof “the joy of the Lord” really can be our strength if we let it.

Today Momma writes…

Our family has a tradition for birthdays– you are king or queen for the day. You call the shots, from what we eat to where we go, what we do. And most importantly, you control the remote. It’s fun seeing the reactions to what is chosen.

Today, our family will celebrate Doug’s birthday.

He was the greatest man who ever lived, in my opinion. He was kind, gentle, wise and strong; a velvet hammer, so to speak. He was jovial but knew when to be tough. He always chose to see the best in people even when things didn’t go his way. I could count on one hand people he didn’t like, but even then I would have to really think of who it could be.

He was a storyteller. It didn’t matter who you were, your status in life or whether he knew you or not. He had a story to share and he had a way of making you want to hear it!

He didn’t idolize people, never put anyone on a pedestal. I remember him saying, “They put their pants on same as me, one leg at a time.” He didn’t care who you were, he’d walk right up to you if he had something to say.

He also got things done, never idle. He knew the value of hard work and believed nothing is ever handed to you. He could do just about anything or fix anything. It might not be perfect but he would figure it out, one way or another.
In the 42 years we were together I never heard the words “I can’t” come out of his mouth. Wait, I take that back. “I can’t carry a tune in a bucket” was his reply to singing.

But to me hearing him sing Amazing Grace was beautiful.

Most importantly, he loved God and he loved his family unconditionally. He said it and he showed it. He spoiled all of us to a fault, even his cattle.

So today we will celebrate by eating a big steak and chocolate cake in honor of our Patriarch. He would probably watch golf or Lonesome Dove, oy vey…

We look forward to that day when we are reunited. You will forever be in our hearts. We will always love you, Douglas Allen Cole!

~Debra

And to that, I say Amen. 

~Jessie

“The good people who live honest lives will be a blessing to their children.” ~Proverbs 20:7 (NCV)