Thursday, July 26, 2012

the one who loves me well

with seven little words he hit the brakes on this heavy-hearted locomotive barreling full speed ahead.  

he didn't realize their impact.  or maybe the impact that was prevented by breathing them over me.

on day 3 it had already been a long week.  i have this habit of squeezing too much living into too little time.  sometimes it works out okay.  other times it overwhelms and paralyzes me.

yesterday i was feeling overwhelmed.  a house in need of a haz-mat crew, deadlines at work, yard sale prep to tackle, tiny ones working through their 'stuff',  grocery shopping to  be done, emails to return...

as i rinsed another dish in the sink and wearily brushed the hair back out of my face he sensed me racing forward at an unhealthy speed.  he knows this pattern of behavior all too well.  i voiced my concern.

i better get busy if i want this house to at least be presentable when your mom gets here tomorrow.  i would hate for her to see how terrible of a housekeeper i really am.

and then his words.  the ones filled with freedom.  the ones filled with grace.  the ones that were love spoken out loud.

honey - you do much more important things.

he said them in passing...moving right past the dish-filled sink.  never giving them a disdainful look.  never giving them a look at all.

this pressure i feel...i put it on myself.  the pressure to mother well, perform my job well, clean my house well.  it never comes from him...ever.

next week we celebrate our anniversary and there are dozens of reasons i could give you for marrying this best friend of mine.  there are dozens of qualities that make me fall in love with him over and over again each day.  but today i am most grateful that he lets me focus on the important.  

when i am counseling a friend in crisis, trashing the kitchen to prepare a meal for someone else, reading a book, inviting extra kids over to give other mommies a break, sifting through scripture, painting a picture, making playdough with the kids, writing a blog post...
he never looks at the floor that goes unmopped or the clothes that haven't been put away or the pile of junk that has taken up permanent residence on the kitchen counter...

he looks at me.   

he sees the heart-work that i do and proclaims it important.  and i remember that it is.  my burdens are lifted.
in this way he loves me so very well.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

blog therapy

::warning :: 
this post has been birthed from a very difficult day so please excuse the unedited, schizophrenic quality it has to it.

maybe none of us sleeps well when daddy is away.  
i'm trying to find some good reason why this day has been a downward spiral since i stepped out of the shower.

now that the two tiny terrors {who i love dearly with all my heart} are down for their nap, it is time for some blog therapy.  there are dozens of tasks staring at me as i sit here on my kitchen stool but none are more important than writing through this funk that i am in at the moment.  my blood isn't still boiling but it is definitely on know what i'm sayin'?

as my fingers hit the keyboard my blood pressure immediately begins to drop.  the fog in my mind begins to clear.  that tense jaw softens and my scowl is replaced with a hint of a smile.  
one time a dentist observed evidence that perhaps i grind my teeth at night.  
no...i grind my teeth during the day.  
but now my lips have parted and my entire being begins to relax...

why are some parenting days so hard?  

i did my extra-early rising this morning to try and get a head start on my early risers.  i did.  i got a whole 15 minutes to myself to mentally prepare for the day.  and their morning greeting was actually precious {unlike the rest of the behavior that has followed}.  i heard the door creak open while i was in the shower...

2 sleepy-eyed little monkeys shuffled in...
mommy - when you get out of the shower can you get back in the bed and cuddle with us for a little bit?

how can you deny a request like that.
sure guys...i would love to.  give me just a minute.

in that minute they found something more interesting to move on to.  my kids actually play together really is an amazing gift.  i was happy to see them occupied so i moved forward with my morning plans...not bringing up the 'cuddle time' again.

i won't bore you with the details of what has brought me to this place of mommy mental meltdown but i will tell you that it has involved an unplanned mopping of the kitchen floor after carrot juice was thrown across the room, listening to tiny voices call me a 'meanie' and 'poopy head', being hit in the back of the head with a shoe while driving, enduring a public power struggle face-off with a 4 year old {oh yes - i won}, and scraping poop remnants off the walls, bookshelves, really don't want the details of that one.  your blood pressure is just going up reading that, isn't it?  or maybe you are laughing with relief that it is me and not

i don't have much to offer you today in this post.  i am selfishly doing this writing mainly for myself.  i'm too tired and my nerves are too frazzled to wrap everything up and tie it with a literary bow.  but there are 2 things that have happened that i think are important so i wanted to share...

number one - earlier today as i opened the back door of my van to retrieve a crying, fitful lucy i braced for impact {this was shortly after the shoe to the head and the name calling so you can understand my hesitation}.  rather than resisting me she climbed right into my open arms and nuzzled her head on my shoulder.  

maybe the kids knew what they needed when they asked for that cuddle time this morning.  i should not have been so quick to dismiss it.  

sometimes these days get moving so fast and furious that i forget my kids are still little and still need that...still need me...just me.  sometimes they need that cuddly, giggly part of me more than they need to be fed a perfect healthy breakfast or to be neatly dressed or to be driven to camp on time. naptime plan?  nothing...just time to actually look each other in the eyes and find what's hiding there.

and number two - God in his infinite wisdom and love gave me an unexpected 3 hours of sifting through His word yesterday.  He must have known my spirit would need all the fortification i could get for what was ahead.  there is one verse in particular that imprinted itself on my heart and i have been clinging to it all day.  i think it's made the difference between overcoming and being overcome.  i hope it blesses you too...

in repentance and rest is your salvation.
in quietness and trust is your strength.
isaiah 30:15

ah...thank you for that therapy session...i feel so much better now...

Friday, July 20, 2012

the pink room

when we moved into our house last year I was plagued for the first 6 months by the ‘pink room’.  

it was formerly a dreamy little girls room but we had decided to repurpose it as an office/sewing/craft room {btw - the sewing and craft part is kinda on the DL…I don't have a ‘golf room’ or a ‘hunting room’ or a ‘workout room’ to offer joey so boldly stepping in and claiming a sewing room is not acceptable…you have to ease your way into these things}.  

so…the office.  uggghhh…the office.  my original intentions were good.  i bought a can of creamy paint.  i had a preliminary layout in mind using existing furniture and odds and ends.  One thing got me derailed…the wall decals.  Those blasted wall decals!  

Of all the concessions we asked for in our closing on that house I never knew that the real dealbreaker should have been those decals.  Item #1 should have read – seller will remove all wall decals with no trace of oogy-gooey sticky mess.  

sure…they were cute...brown polka dots all over the pink wall.  i started with my finger…hmmm…not working.  well…treat them like wallpaper – a little fabric softener solution sprayed on…hmmm…not working.  ok – pull out the scraper…nope.  sandpaper?  still gooey.   goo-gone?  wire brushes?  aaarrrggghhh…as my blook pressure went up i decided to give up. i couldn't stand to mess with it any longer…too difficult…too frustrating…i had no idea of the next course of action.  

turn off the lights.  close the door.  

there it sat…looming at the end of the dark hallway.  i would occasionally peer in...boxes piled haphazardly in the middle of the floor waiting for the perimeter to be painted so things could get put in their proper places.  but no progress.  we kept piling.  

don’t have a place for something?   put it in the office.  
won’t fit anywhere else?  put it in the office.  
another hand-me-down piece of furniture that needs a little TLC?  put it in the office.  
too many toys in the playroom?  toss some in the office

every single thing that i didn't want to think about...went in the office.

it got worse and worse until one day...i couldn’t open the door.  and then I couldn’t even stand the sight of the door standing there as a bleak reminder of the mess on the other side - the mess i would eventually have to deal with.  the mess i didn’t have the strength to face right now.  

so I avoided it.  I tried to forget (but didn’t really).  i dodged into the other rooms along the hallway…the ones that were complete.  the ones that were neat and tidy and comfortable.  the ones that didn’t require anymore work.  i had already done enough work…i should enjoy those places.  

the other one would have to wait.  

then one night…right before joey was headed out of town I asked for 30 minutes…just 30 minutes…

to begin

 we had to begin.  

door open.  lights on.  skin crawls…what a mess.  where to begin?  
just begin
boxes opened…trash removed…things in their places…furniture moved…items organized…this feels good.  cleaning out.  knowing what you’re up against.  knowing you can change it {with help}.  knowing it won’t be like that forever.  knowing that even with the biggest messes there is the hope of a clean, fully operational room.  

a clean, fully operational heart…

i am smack-dab in the middle of what i am calling 'operation organization'.  it may take me years but i'm taking on my home one messy closet at a time...trying my best not to get overwhelmed.  

as i sort through my junk i am reminded of the 'operation organization' that is underway in my heart.  over the years i have cleaned out so many dark corners and filthy rooms.  no heart stays clean long in this world.  there are messes made all the time - death, broken families, addictions, sickness, abuse, betrayal...the list is endless.  decisions we make and situations we face bring the dirt and grime inside of us where it sits waiting to be cleaned out.  

cleaning is exhausting.  it takes time and energy and asking for help.  some stains are so set-in that you have to get down on your hands and knees and scrub them...hard.

i have done so much cleaning in my heart that sometimes i feel like i can't pick up that mop one more time...but there is always work to do.  the scriptures warn us against focusing on cleaning up our outward behaviors and appearance while remaining filthy on the inside.

sometimes i am carrying around a mess as big as that pink room inside of me and i can't bear to open the door.  then i am reminded that i must simply begin.  the work ahead of me may be great but to begin all i have to do is ask for help...

the words of a mighty {yet weak} king show me how...

Friday, July 13, 2012

friday faves :: food finds

in an effort to not be 'that person' i put some restrictions on my pinterest use several months ago.  i do love pinterest but i have had to be really disciplined with myself about how i use it.  all you 'pinners' know what i'm talking hop on there to get a recipe off of one of your boards and then 2 hours later your family is starving, your eyes are glazed over and you can't even remember what you got on there for in the first place {but you do have dozens of great new ideas that you will probably never actually use!}.  my solution has been to limit myself to only what i can actually see when the page is pulled scrolling down!  this week i was lucky enough to find this little gem of a recipe right on the top of the page at dinner time.  i happened to have most of the ingredients on hand so i pinned and then proceeded to cook right away {amazing...that never happens!}.  here is a link to the original recipe over at sprouted kitchen {and my modified recipe is below}.
:: roasted zucchini and goat cheese enchiladas ::
~ 2-3 large zucchini {sliced and cut into fourths}
~ olive oil 
~ salt and pepper to taste
~ 2 cloves garlic {diced}
~ 1/2 of a red onion {sliced thin}
~15 oz. black beans {rinsed and drained}
~ 8 oz. fresh mushrooms {sliced}
~ 5 oz. goat cheese
~ 12 oz. red enchilada sauce {i didn't have this so i actually used a small jar of harry and david pepper and onion relish that i happened to have in my pantry...i pureed it in my blender with a little bit of water and it was yummy...i think i might try making my own sauce next time}
~ avocado {for slicing to serve on the side}
~ tortillas {i LOVE the raw tortillas by tortilla land that we get at costco...5 simple ingredients and so deliciously fresh tasting...just make sure you cook them first}
// toss the zucchini slices with 1-2 t. olive oil and garlic.  place them in one layer on a baking sheet/pan and roast in the oven at 425 for about 20 minutes {stirring/flipping halfway through}.

meanwhile - saute' onion and mushrooms with 1-2 t. olive oil for about 6 minutes.  add black beans and saute' for another couple of minutes.  

stir zucchini and onion mixture together in a bowl with 4 oz. of goat cheese {save a little to sprinkle on top}.

spread a very thin layer of the enchilada sauce in your baking dish.  cook tortillas {if using raw} and then fill each one with some of the mixture.  place rolled up tortillas in dish side-by-side.  pour remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with remaining goat cheese.  bake for 15-20 minutes.  serve with avocado slices. //

and one more food find if you're looking for something really simple.
trader joe's harvest grains blend
there are so many things you can do with this little ingredient.  and if you don't have a trader joe's nearby danica's daily gives you an idea for making your own blend.

this week i made a 
:: harvest grain tomato salad ::
1 pkg. harvest grains blend
2 c. diced tomatoes {i used a combination of the cherry tomatoes from my garden and some yellow heirloom tomatoes i picked up at the store but anything you like will work}
fresh basil 
1/3 c. orange muscat champagne vinegar {also from trader joe's}
avocado {diced}

// cook grains according to instructions.  remove from heat and stir in tomatoes, basil, and vinegar.  just before serving dice up some avocado to toss on top.  {this recipe made enough for us to have left overs a couple of times so i cut up fresh avocado each time} //

share links to some of your favorite food finds with us!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

the things we bow down to...

idol :: a person or thing that is greatly admired or loved; something used as an object of worship

it's the second part of that definition that gets us into trouble, isn't it?  there are many people and things that i love and admire in this world...and that's great.  when they become so important to me that i believe i couldn't live without them, and therefore put them on a throne, i find myself bowing down to a king that will never be a completely perfect ruler of my life.  that place must be reserved for the only crown-wearing One who has always proven faithful since the beginning of time.

as i continue to work through a study by kelly minter called no other gods: confronting our modern-day idols i keep uncovering important morsels of truth in a fresh and honest way.  as much as i have read about and studied the subject of idols over the years it is still something i struggle with...something we all struggle with.  in my own life i have found that the things i bow down to change.  just when i think i have been freed from one tight grasp something else grabs hold of me - my achievements, my relationships, my money, my husband, my children, my security...these are only some of the 'counterfeit gods' that have stolen my attention and affections in an unhealthy way. it's particularly tricky when the things we worship are good things...but they can never be the ultimate thing.

if you're wondering what you may be idolizing in your own life just consider the thing or person that consumes most of your thoughts.  what is your 'go to' thought, particularly when you are feeling weak?  is there some situation that you believe if it does or does not change your life will be ruined?  is there something that you deeply fear will be taken from you?  or maybe there is something you deeply fear will never be given to you in the first place.

this week i reread the familiar story of abraham and isaac in genesis 22:1-18.  i encourage you to read it for yourself but here's the nutshell version:
a man waits a lifetime for the son he's always dreamed of.  when that son arrives the father's world begins to shift and center around the boy.  one day the father is asked by God to do the unthinkable - sacrifice his child.  instead of climbing a mountain and presenting the traditional animal sacrifice the father is asked to lay his own flesh and blood on the altar to be slaughtered.

in reading back through this familiar account a couple of things struck me...
first of all - abraham's true obedience to God was indicated by his willingness to give the most important thing.  he withheld nothing from God.  i guarantee you abraham was not skipping up that mountain humming a jolly tune as he escorted his son to his death.  more likely he felt sick to his stomach and questioned whether or not his body and soul would stand up to the weight of his grief.  he was surely in a place of complete and utter weakness and despair...which is exactly where he met a strength and power he had never fully known before.  i can say the same for my own life.  what about you?  is there one thing or one situation that you say - 'anything but that, Lord.  you can have every piece of my life but that one thing i must hold on to.'  if so, you can be sure...that's what he wants most...because that's what's keeping you from Him.

secondly, i was really challenged by verses 17 and 18...
i will certainly bless you.  i will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore.  your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies.  and through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed - all because you have obeyed me.
i love that last part - 
all because you have obeyed me. 

in case you don't know the rest of the story...abraham did just as God had instructed.  he got as far as tying the boy up and raising a knife above his body before God intervened.  again - i can't imagine what abraham must have been feeling...heart racing, tears falling, maybe even that awful suffocating panic attack feeling.  in that moment an angel of the Lord appeared to abraham and told him to stop.  when abraham looked up he saw a ram caught in a bush nearby and realized that God himself had provided the sacrifice that would free isaac...that would give him his son back.  sometimes the jesus storybook bible says it best...
and as they sat there on the mountaintop watching the embers of the fire die in the cool night air, the stars above them sparkling in the velvet sky, God helped abraham and isaac understand something.  God wanted his people to live, not die.  He wanted to rescue his people, not punish them.  but they must trust him.
getting rid of idols in our life is ultimately about trusting God.  trusting Him to be everything we could ever need.  trusting Him to care for us better than anyone or anything else ever could.  trusting Him to give and withhold, to take away and pour out when He deems it best for us {even though it may bring us temporary pain}.

and when we trust...we obey.
and when we obey...we are blessed.
and not only that...but, as with abraham, generation after generation will be blessed because of our obedience...because of our trust.  wow.

i leave you with a prayer that could have very well been the prayer of abraham's heart.  today i make it my own...
Father, i want to know thee, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys.  i cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and i do not try to hide from thee the terror of the parting.  i come trembling, but i do come.  please root from my heart all those things which i have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that thou may enter and dwell there without a rival.  then shall thou make the place of thy feet glorious.  then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. 
{a.w. tozer}
{good morning girls link-up}

Monday, July 9, 2012

the good morning revolution

are you an early riser?

i'm not a morning person by nature...more of a night owl, actually.

having kids has caused me to shift my natural schedule.  i hope this doesn't come across the wrong way but...
i don't like waking up to my kids.

i like waking up to quiet, to my own thoughts, to words of truth and peace before the wild day begins.  
i like for my kids to wake up to a mama who's ready for them...not a mama who rolls over, looks blurry-eyed at them, and wishes they would go crawl back in the bed for just 10 more minutes so i could at least put my contacts in and splash water on my face before being bombarded with requests.

the trouble with trying to be the first one up in my house is that i have two little people who are early risers and typically make their morning appearance by 6:30am.  for me...that means an alarm set sometime in the 5:00 hour if i want to be guaranteed that my feet will hit the floor first.

although i don't do them with complete regularity i have found 2 simple practices that totally change the trajectory of my days {as a mama and otherwise}...are you ready?

#1 - night before prep :: sometimes this means getting a jumpstart on breakfast {we don't do frozen waffles or over-processed cereals around here anymore so meals take a little extra time}.  other times it means having morning activities laid out and ready for the kids.  on a work day it means having my clothes picked out and my bag packed. and occasionally {like today} it means having a detailed schedule {plus all necessary materials} for our pre-lunch day.

#2 - morning retreat :: i say 'retreat' because i usually do withdraw into my closet or some other quiet little corner where i can be sure i won't be heard and interrupted.  i don't put any expectations on this time because i don't want to be frustrated or disappointed if i don't get to complete whatever i had planned.  instead i trust that God will give me the the time and the truth that i need for that matter how long or short, how simple or how in-depth.  i often start with reading a beautifully-written page from jesus calling by sarah young {because i know those are chock full of biblical wisdom and short enough for me to at least get through one}.  i take time to pray and  if i have some extra minutes i read some of my you version bible reading plan {an awesome app you might want to check out} or some other book that i am in the middle of {i usually have 2 or  3 going at once}
this morning i miraculously had over an hour to myself so i was able to really dig back into a study by kelly minter that i have been slowly working through.  in case you didn't get your own morning retreat today...let me share a little bit of mine.  if you're not familiar with the story of the rich young ruler you can find it in Mark 10:17-31.  here are a few of kelly's words in response to this...
...i was especially moved by this verse: 'Jesus looked at him and loved him' (v.21).  when the Lord tells us to part with our idols - or offer them up to Him -He is looking at us and loving us.  He sees that our idols are in the way.  He also knows that He has the power to turn whatever we parted with into a hundred fold in this lifetime, while also granting us eternal life.  He can do this not because we make it possible, but because all things are possible with Him.
amen sister...that's good stuff. 

if you feel a little nudge to start making your mornings really good i would say - go for it!  the minutes of sleep you may sacrifice will be multiplied and given back to you in quality and quantity.  and the cool thing is...there is a 'good morning revolution' going on right now. i have a handful of girlfriends who encourage me personally in this journey and there are virtual communities popping up everywhere that can help to get you started.  check these out...
:: she reads truth ::
:: hello mornings ::
:: good morning girls ::

how do you make your mornings good?

please comment below or message me if you would like to join my little community of morning encouragers.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

a saturday short...

there are some days i can’t get out of the door fast enough to ‘run errands’ {a.k.a. escape the madness and have a few uninterrupted moments to myself while actually doing something productive}.  

other days I linger.  
the grocery list sits on the counter while i...

:: scoop up and cuddle little monkeys who use my body like a jungle gym
:: watch a well-rested daddy take care and time to teach and play and coach...and maybe even learn something himself
:: listen to silly giggles and wild roars...quiet whispers and boisterous songs 
:: peek in on sibling adventures where imaginations carry them away
:: pay close enough attention to see the differences in the way he loves paints and a brush while she loves a ball and bat 
:: smile…feeling so full of family…of home   

...and I never once watch the clock…because even time can’t steal some moments away...

Friday, July 6, 2012

friday faves :: from best apps for the smoothest smoothie

remember 'friday faves'?  

you thought i forgot, didn't you?  the truth schedule has been so completely out of whack the past month that most of the time i don't know what day it is.  i feared that i might compose a 'friday fave' on a tuesday and lose all credibility with i just bagged it for a while.

in an effort to make up for lost time i am going to load you up with favorite things today...enjoy!  {and share a few of yours with me too if you don't mind}

:: favorite new ipad app for the kids ::
interactive alphabet - abc flashcards   by:piikea  
cost: $2.99
both my 4 year old and 2 1/2 year old love this one.  every letter is interactive.  like the apple that you can actually take bites out of...
or the xylophone that you can actually play...
i used to only download free apps but i've realized that it's totally worth a couple of dollars here and there for the really good ones {and you don't have to deal with the annoying pop-up ads}!  has anyone tried any of the other apps by piikea?

:: favorite book for 'good girls' like me ::
grace for the good girl
by: emily freeman
it's rockin' my world y'all...if this sounds like you check it out...
when bad girls perform to get their needs met, they get in trouble.  when good girls perform to get the same thing, we get praise.  that is why the hiding is so easy for us.  we work hard, we do right, and we try not to ruffle feathers.  and even if we do all that by the strength of our own selves, we tell ourselves it's okay.  it seems to work, therefore it's acceptable.  so we keep right on with life, and our masks mix with our personality and circumstance.  before we know it, we don't really know who we are, and nobody else does either.  {emily freeman}
:: new favorite red wine ::
trentatre rosso
does anyone else stand on the wine aisle staring at all the bottles with their intriguing labels and then close your eyes and pray that the random one you are about to pick up will not taste like vinegar?  you need to know that i am cheap when it comes to wine.  we don't drink it around our house very often but joey and i do enjoy an occasional glass with dinner so i usually try to keep it on hand.  this wine is probably considered inexpensive for most people but for us anything over 5 bucks is a splurge and this one is about 7...and well worth it.  the word joey and i both used to describe it - 'smooth'.  see what you think.  i found mine at trader joe's.

:: favorite new smoothie recipe ::
we drink a lot of smoothies around our house.  i like to experiment with different combinations of ingredients.  for the most part they are all good but every now and then i take a sip of one and think to myself that i should probably try marketing my new blend to smoothie king.  this was one of those.  delish!  and the kids slurped it down.
here are the ingredients:
12 oz bag of frozen strawberries
1 banana {it was all i had but you could always use 2}
large handful of fresh spinach
scoop of peanut butter {or almond butter}
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup 'green' juice {trader joe's green plant juice...don't let the name fool you - it's good...but you can omit it if you don't have it}
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1-2 T raw honey 
{you can add more or less juice depending on how thick or thin you want it...i like it a little thinner so the kids can easily get it through their straws}...enjoy!

:: hope your weekend is full of favorites ::

Monday, July 2, 2012

truth in death

here's a fun fact you may not know about me...

i fainted at my wedding.
i recovered quickly but it still makes for a good story.
my uncle bill took those pictures.  he also captured our wedding day on video and when i received the finished copy of the dvd there was a chapter on the menu entitled 'elizabeth's joy' was the entire fainting episode...i loved that.  i loved my uncle bill.
last week uncle bill died unexpectedly of a heart attack.  

he was 54 years old.  he was a devoted husband to my aunt kathy.  he was a loving father to my cousins rebecca, mary beth and tim.  he was a joyous grandfather to his first grandson, luke.  those are all bits of information that you could read in his obituary but there is a much greater story that God has written with his life and the lives of those he influenced during his time with us on this side of heaven.  that story could fill volumes because my uncle bill lived a full abundant life.  
i sat behind my aunt and my cousins at the funeral on saturday.  i listened to bill's youngest child - my cousin tim - lead worship during a service honoring the life of his father.  i sat in awe as he sang out these words of praise...

...blessed be Your name, when i'm found in the desert place
though i walk through the wilderness, blessed be Your name
every blessing You pour out i'll turn back to praise
when the darkness closes in, Lord, still i will say...
blessed be the name of the Lord... 

it was so significant to me to watch someone whose heart was clearly broken and grieving open his lips to praise the God who gives and takes away.  it was a beautiful picture of unshakable faith...a faith that he had seen lived out by his father...a gift left behind.

i wiped tears from my cheeks as my voice joined the voices of a room full of family and friends who took my cousin's lead in giving glory and honor to the One we can trust in life and in death...

in my weakness would You come?  help me stand up, help me run
to the shadow of Your wings and the comfort that it brings.
and i'll wait and be still.
and i'll know You are God, You are God.
i will love You and adore You.
i will trust You God.
i will sing in times of trouble
and i will trust You God.

i saw my aunt lift her arms in a gesture of surrender to the God who brings comfort to even the deepest pain.  i imagined her own fragile heart shattered into a million pieces as she faced the reality of life without her best friend...and i watched as she laid out all those tiny pieces on the altar of a God who promises to put them back together.  it was a beautiful picture of trust...the kind of trust that she and bill had lived out in their lives together...another precious gift left behind.

when i hugged my cousin tim after the service i looked at him and said - 'well done'.  he looked back and said - 'it wasn't me'...and i know that is true.

if we let him, God steps into our weakness...into our sorrow...into our darkness and pours out his Spirit full of strength and hope and light.  there is still pain.  there is still grieving to be done.  but i am so grateful to live in the legacy of a family who knows God's truth in death.  it is the same as His truth in life because He never changes...His promises remain the same {no matter how different we may be feeling}.

uncle bill's pastor said this of him...

he spent his life making and preserving memories with those he loved...but he always kept his eyes on eternity...

holding the memories of you, uncle bill...and looking ahead to our eternal reunion.