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Well Hello Again! It has been WAY TO LONG since I have shared anything here so I thought this would be a good time to let you know what we've been up to. Oh and Happy March!! I know many of you are enjoying a rather cold day or should I say DAYS. Here in Austin it is dreary and cold, I think the weather forgot this is the South and that we usually have some warmer temps by now!!
Well the last 5 months seemed to be a blur and a frenzy of activity. One of my biggest challenges and the thing that keeps me on my knees the most is single parenting. Oh my goodness it is the hardest thing I have ever done! I could not take one step or move a muscle in the right direction if I did not have the incredible strength of my BIG, loving, capable and very wise God, who when I'm plugged into Him (by spending time in His word and prayer) gives me His strength and wisdom to parent well and by His grace I think Jackson and Bethany are growing and developing into sweet, kind, respectful, God pleasing and people loving kids. Also, God continues to LOVE on me by so many of you who support, pray and encourage us! I cannot say enough how grateful I am for that!!
I can hardly believe but Jackson is almost 12 and I just went to an Open House for Middle School, WHOA!! How in the world did this happen?? I promise he was a chubby cheeked two-year old JUST yesterday!! Y'all pray for me, my Mom's heart can hardly take it. It is happening WAY. TO. FAST!! Jackson is still enjoying football, he plays mostly quarterback and has a great arm. I LOVE that Todd was able to have some years teaching him his love of the game and few pointers on throwing and catching. Can I also just say that one way God has filled in the gap in Jackson's life is through his coaches. We have been beyond blessed by the coaches God has placed in Jackson's life. They are great teachers, leaders and have been a BIG source of encouragement and exactly the right fit for my boy. God is SO GOOD!! Jackson has grown into a humble and kind leader and also overcame a BIG fear when he gave a speech in front of his peers at the beginning of the school year to run for Student Council President. He was elected!! My heart is so proud of him for overcoming his fears and I know his Dad would be over the top proud of him as well. He is more of an introvert so this really is a BIG DEAL!!
One of Jackson's favorite moments of the Fall was going to his first ever Dallas Cowboys game, OH YES we are... BIG COWBOY fans! (Actually Jackson is a fan of most sports and most afternoons after school you can find him having a snack in front of the TV watching, Sports Center =)
As I shared the game with my son I couldn't help but think about the biggest Cowboy fan I think I have ever known. Todd had jokingly said that he learned about the Cowboys before he learned about Jesus. Oh MY!! To say Todd was a BIG Fan was an understatement! My heart wished he could be sharing that moment with his son. Nonetheless Jackson and I had a great time and the BEST part was, our tickets and parking passes were a gift from a friend's brother and was just one more way God has shown us His goodness and love!
Then there is my little princess Bethany Grace, oh my is that girl a little comedian, who can be quite dramatic but most of all has the kindest most gentle heart! She just turned 7 and thanks to her Nana and Aunt Shelley had the Ultimate American Doll Experience. WOW that place is something!! Her JOY is still abounding and she teaches me so much by her love and hope in God! Her personality, humor and the way she loves on people reminds me a lot of Todd which is so cool!
SO with three and a half years under my belt on this road of widowhood I can say that I am settling into my new life. My old life which was turned upside down and quickly became anything but normal or had any semblance of my old life is starting to become a bit more right side up. These "new shoes" I had to choose to walk in are starting to fit better but it has definitely taken a lot of wear and I've encountered many blisters along the way. I am figuring out some new things about myself and can say with a confidence that there is PURPOSE in the pain and loss. The biggest difference I see is that with each passing day my heart that was once throbbing in pain and pulverized in a million tiny pieces, by God's healing and with the passing of time is beginning to feel a bit like it once did, it is becoming healthy and whole again which seems crazy and hard to believe I once couldn't stop the tears even if I wanted to. I still have hard days and I may always have moments or days when I miss my old life. It was sweet, secure and seemed like it just made sense. I realize that my heart will always have a slight ache and longing for Todd and my old life but as new memories are created my heart is storing up those alongside the precious old ones of the past. I have realized just how much my life with Todd has molded and shaped me into the person I am today. I am a better women, mother, friend, lover of Jesus and people because of the profound impact and example Todd had on my life.
One widower recently said that his loss has forever marked and changed him in many ways but he is choosing to "Live On." I like that and by God's grace I am too!
I had often wondered if it was possible for a heart who had loved the same man for 24 years, the man who was her high school sweetheart, the one she had grown up with and was her soul mate, COULD LOVE AGAIN? I had many well-meaning people say, "you are so young, you will love again or Todd would want you to find love again and move on." I could barely breathe let alone think about THAT! Yet I find myself writing this with a heart full of love and affection for a godly, kind, sweet, thoughtful and wonderful man. One who has been a sweet gift from God. He has blessed my heart and life in ways I wasn't sure was even possible. So for those of you who have wondered... after such a terrible loss, "can I love again?" I would say, YES! God is still writing this part of my story and we are trusting Him and seeking His will every step of the way.
I am currently working on compiling some of my blog posts along with other stories and life experiences into a book. I find that my time seems to be flying by way to fast and there are definitely NOT ENOUGH hours in the day to get it all done! My goal is to have it completed this year, oh BOY did I just write that?!
Thank you to those who have reached out here or on Facebook. I cherish your words of encouragement and prayers most of all! Please stay in touch!
I cling to this promise with Hope and Expectation... "I am still confident of this, that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!" Psalm 27:13
May the goodness of the Lord continue to shine forth as you and I Live For More,
We can live 3 weeks without food We can live 3 days without water
We can live 3 minutes without air
But I believe we can only truly live seconds without HOPE. This is another truth the last 3 years of walking this hard road through widowhood, singleness and single parenting has taught me!
I am not saying that I have not felt hopeless for longer than seconds because the last three years has proven that one heart can certainly experience every negative emotion, from despair to sheer agony, to loneliness to incredible physical and emotional pain, fear and disappointment you get the picture. Sometimes lasting for days, weeks and months. At times I wondered would I ever have anything to smile over again? Would I emerge this terrible season with any trace of the LOVE, JOY and HOPE that I once had in abundance in my old life?
Yet the past three years every time I think I just can't do this, there is more here than I can bear! I even have pity parties and feel really sorry for myself. BUT then GOD reminds me that there was PURPOSE in my PAIN, loss, loneliness, being single again, being a single Mom etc... Not to say it isn't okay to have a sad day or two. Or even a pity party. I just know it doesn't make me feel any better and I don't want to stay there!
I can't tell you how many people I talk to who share how hopeless they feel on a regular basis. I have encountered many precious people who have so much anxiety and depression. It is not just people who have lost loved ones or who are single people. It is successful people, married people, pretty people, even godly people, it really can and does affect everybody. We are living in a fallen, broken world full of pain and suffering and many of us are grasping for something to find HOPE in.
SO is you are finding yourself in a "hopeless" situation today. Take heart, you're not alone. God hasn't forgotten you. He LOVES you!. He desires to be your HOPE. Here are just a few verses and ideas that have helped me focus on the positive and remember that I am not without HOPE as a child of the King of Kings and the Prince of Peace.
Also I wanted to point out that there is a difference between a wish which leaves the outcome to chance AND Hope which is a strong and confident expectation and dependence on a loving God.
If God truly loves me and His word says that He works ALL things together for MY good and HIS glory (Romans 8:28) then I can trust and have faith that being stuck in the pit of despair isn't it! And believe me being in the pit of despair is truly the PITS!! After the HARD and even excruciating road I have walked I STILL believe that God is worthy to trust and is dependable even on my hardest day, He has a proven tack record of faithfulness in my life! The amount of HOPE I have isn't dependent on my circumstances but on the HOPE I can only find when I walk daily with a loving God and by trusting in His promises even when life doesn't make sense.
My biggest source of encouragement before losing Todd and now more than ever is Gods Holy Word. It is what keeps my heart and mind focused on Him and His eternal perspective. It is truly a lamp to my feet and light to my path!
~Romans 15:13"May the God of HOPE fill you with all Joy and Peace as you trust Him, so that you may overflow Hope by the Power of the Holy Spirit!" I literally pray this over and over again. I know that God knows His words and promises but when I pray them back to him and memorize and meditate on them it lines my heart and mind up with His. Oh how my mind can go to the crazy, "what if" places and the dark places in my mind. I bet I'm not alone in this.
~Psalm 33:20, "We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and shield." Oh how I cannot imagine if I did not have his help and protection. Sometimes my own thoughts and fears are my biggest enemies. Again I am reminded that God has allowed all this to happen in my life but he never said I had to walk this road alone or without his help and protections. Oh how grateful I am for those truths!!
~Lamentations 3:25, "The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks Him." As I have walked with the Lord and have developed some deep faith roots especially as life's trials have threatened to take me down I have learned that I can run after many things. I can seek happiness in relationships, physical fitness, worldly achievements, financial security etc... but the only times I truly have a HOPE that cannot be taken away is when I am pursuing my Father and His purposes. And I'm not saying that all those things I mentioned or I desire are bad. I just have to make sure to be seeking Him and His will first.
~ Proverbs 13:12, "Hope deferred makes the heart-sick, but when the desire comes it's a tree of life!
Well who wants to wait for something you prayed and hoped for. Certainly NOT me but another thing I have learned is that when I have certain desires that I believe to be from the Lord they are worth waiting for!! God's timing is perfect and why would I settle for anything other than his very best. I know that when the desire is based in His will and His timing it will be a LIFE giving and amazing thing!
So when I find myself today feeling hopeless I am reminded that in Christ I am never without HOPE. I am grateful that this life on earth isn't it but while I am here living amongst the chaos and pain I must choose to have an eternal perspective and ask God to give me His HOPE! Will you do the same?
If you find yourself today without hope will you surrender your hopes, desires to the only one who can truly satisfy and give you eternal Hope??
May the God of HOPE fill you with all Joy and Peace as you Trust Him and LIVE FOR MORE today,
It is hard to believe but August 13th marked the three-year anniversary of Todd's relocation to Heaven. August 21st would have been our 21st wedding anniversary and the kids started school on August 26th. Jackson has begun 5th grade and Bethany the 1st. BOY am I glad August is now behind me. My heart remembers those incredible events in my life as if they were yesterday so needless to say August can be a tough month to say the least!!
SO am I just surviving or am I thriving?? That is a great question...
So was this anniversary different? Did I experience the difficulty I experienced the previous years? Yes and No. It is funny how in loss and grief you never truly know what to expect. You prepare your heart and mind for the worse and often times it isn't as bad as you had thought. I've learned that the anticipation of the event is greater than the event itself. I credit that to a loving God who has brought people and distractions into my life to help me get through those hard days and also the passing of time is helping and God continues to heal my heart more and more every day. For some the three-year mark may be much harder. One thing I know to be true is that we all experience and process loss and grief so differently and your timetable of healing may not be like mine. I have learned to be patient with myself but sometimes wish I'd to never have to feel sadness or pain again. Which as we all know is an unrealistic expectation. I've decided it's okay and I just take it when it comes. It doesn't last as long anymore which I am so thankful for!
ON August 13th I was driving home from a wonderful vacation in North Carolina and it was the last leg of a VERY long drive so I was definitely physically wore out but felt a sense of accomplishment as I had just driven almost 22 hours all by myself, WHOA!! I mean I had my kids in the car and broke my drive into 3 days but still it was a total of 22 hours that me, myself and I drove!! As I drove that day I prayed, praised God for all He had taken me through and given me the past three years. Of course I shed some tears over sweet memories that I couldn't help but remember of my old life, one that now seemed a lifetime ago. I have learned so much in my three years of being a widow, single Mom, single women and now a women who has more than survived.
Life as a single parent has kept me super busy so it has been way too long since I have shared my heart here. So with that said, I thought I would take the next few weeks to share some of the life lessons, truths and things I have learned as I have walked this incredibly DIFFICULT yet AMAZING journey through pain, loss, grief and incredible growth!!
SO thank you in advance for going on this journey with me.
I wasn't sure after losing Todd that I'd make it through the first month let alone the first year and certainly NOT 3 YEARS!! So WHOA, I can't believe it! Praise God! Has it really been THREE YEARS??!!
The first thing that comes to mind that I have learned and experienced is what God's faithfulness truly means and looks like. Before losing Todd I had always said that God was faithful. I felt as though my faith had been tested when walking with Todd through Cancer, losing my sister Carla in 2001, years of infertility and struggling through the adoption journey and planting a church in Austin. All these things tested my faith and caused me to depend deeper on my faithful God. BUT no amount of faith, trust and strength can prepare you for the sudden and tragic death of your husband, father to your children, pastor and spiritual leader. Or could it??
What does to be faithful mean anyway?
The Hebrew root from which the words translated "faithful" and "faithfulness" in the Old Testament are derived means to prop or stay or support.
So with that said...
Would I still see and experience Gods consistent support? Was he still worthy to be trusted?
Would my belief in a loving God still hold true and strong?
Did I truly have an unwavering belief and faith or would this be the straw that broke the camels back and the one thing my faith and Gods support could not carry me through?
Would GOD show up again and see me through my darkest hour, days and months?? After all Todd and I were suppose to grow old together and live out our dream of planting a church and seeing it grow to fruition and raise up Jackson and Bethany together. Right??
Well I can say now without doubt or hesitation YES!! God has been OVER THE TOP...FAITHFUL!!!
My faith in a sovereign God has gone through perhaps the biggest personal test BUT what has been incredible is that in my pain and loss God met me there and has been the one true and constant support!
God has also used so many family and friends old and new to call, text, pray, bring meals, provide finances, give books, send cards, say more and more prayers, visit us, take us on trips, help me organize my house, give hugs, lots of love and on and on!! Not to mention how well my children have adjusted. The teachers, coaches, friends and families who have been given to my kids as an encouragers, cheerleaders, role models and father figures. Those who have watched, encouraged, picked up and just loved me and my kids so well has been a HUGE blessing and one of the big ways God has shown himself so faithful in our lives. So many have truly been the hands and feet of Jesus! I am beyond blessed by the LOVE and support shown. If you have played a part, THANK YOU does not seem enough!! May God BLESS you!
I still am AMAZED and grateful that I have the privilege to be a stay at home Mom. It still is the hardest but most rewarding job I have ever had. Especially as I walk this road alone. I am still writing and speaking BUT my primary job is to love, raise, train and provide a loving, godly home for Jackson and Bethany. Most days I still can't get over that incredible provision and the blessing that is my life!
Psalm 33:4, For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.
Deuteronomy 7:9, Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God,keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments."
Lamentation 3:22-23, Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
Hebrews 10:23. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful."
As you reflect on your life and the valley of death or difficulty you may be walking through right now. May I ask, what are you placing your faith in? Who or what are you trusting? Are they faithful?? If not, will you trust in the ONE who will always prove faithful even in your darkest hour and biggest struggle??
Praying that you and I can continue to Live For More as we trust in a Faithful God,
I was feeling a bit raw and on the verge of tears all day yesterday. It was not a bad day by any stretch. I was out enjoying the gorgeous weather, it was 76 and a perfectly sunny day, I even enjoyed a nice lunch outside which was a real treat. Yet my heart seemed a bit heavy I brushed it off to my hormones and my impending time of the month. I had also not slept well the past several nights so chalked some of the "feelings" up to that as well. However I felt as though I could burst into tears at any moment, I was just feeling so sad. BUT as most evenings around here are, it was filled with the kids activities, homework, dinner, then the bedtime routine. SO even though I felt like the dam of tears was about to break at any moment there just wasn't ever an opportunity to let it go and in my exhaustion at the end of the day I was asleep once I hit the pillow. SO this morning when I woke up I felt okay and did my usual morning routine, time with the Lord (praying and reading) and then I finished up my Refresh talk, got my kids ready for school but realized as I snapped at Bethany my heart was not quite right. As I said goodbye to my kids then closed the door it was as if a Tidal Wave or Tsunami of pain hit me without warning... the dam broke and the tears began to flow and flow and flow. I was sobbing and could not stop! I had not cried like that is a very long time. I know it's only been 30 months ( 2 years and 6 months to be exact) which some days seems like an eternity but today the ache in my heart was so tangible and fresh as if it happened yesterday. What once had been a gaping wound had started to heal. I could even see a scar begin to form but for some reason today it was if it was cut open all over again. What was it that caused such a rush of pain??
Maybe it was that I had the sweetest dream about Todd the other night. We were in college and had broken up but were getting back together. He was so handsome and alive. He loved me and embraced me in a way that seemed so real! I realized that I still miss that so much. I think I always will but for some reason today it seemed especially hard. Walking this life without Todd has proven difficult most days but today feels down right agonizing! I thought I was all healed my scar was even fading but I guess like with any loss it never fully goes away. There will always be memories, things that will cause me to stop and remember. Some things make me smile and even laugh now quite often but as I looked at some old scrapbooks and photo albums from college and our first years of marriage I was reminded of a really sweet and wonderful time in my life. Today those memories made my heart ache for the life and love I had. Oh how I wish I could go back even just for a moment...
Then there is all the evidence of new love around me, whether it is people adding, "in a relationship" or "got engaged" to their statuses. Or those who have found love at last and are finally walking down the aisle. I really am very happy for all of those friends and am excited for their new found happiness. Love can be a beautiful and wonderful thing but for some it is a painful reminder of a huge void of a love that is no more. I felt that big void more so in the first year or so after losing Todd. I even struggled with jealousy over others happiness but lately that all had gotten easier so again today the tears of pain and incredible ache in my heart caught me off guard.
Then there is the whole "going out/dating" with other men which I believe has been a fairly good experience and totally healthy. I don't think God is calling me to be single the rest of my life and it is a desire of my heart to remarry BUT it has stirred up a lot of emotions. I had it so good and sweet with Todd. He knew me so well, loved and cared for me flaws and all. We had survived the awkward first dates, getting to know each other, the growing pains in dating and marriage and accepted each other for who God made us. We made each other better. I know that relationships like that still exist it is just so different and a bit scary 20 years later! Starting over again is just plain hard and the world is a much different place! Not to mention a possible blending of families, making sure spiritual and moral beliefs line up and on and on...I do wish God would just drop the perfect man on my doorstep. He could totally do that I know, lol!
I have gone back and forth today whether to share this here. It was therapeutic just writing it out and the thought had crossed my mind that I could "not" publish it. It is definitely very raw and transparent but I think it's important to share especially for those who are walking this very difficult road called grief. I need you to know that even though the more time passes and the more my heart and your heart heals, there ares still going to be days when a tidal wave of grief may hit. There are things for all of us that are triggers. SO expect it and embrace it. God uses our tears as a way to help cleanse and heal. He also uses our pain and loss to minister and comfort others who are walking the road behind us.
Even though my heart began this day so heavy. With every tear I have shed and with every word said, written, and prayed over me has been like healing salve to my aching heart. So thank you to those who loved me through today with your words and prayers. They mean more than you know! That's another thing. People don't expect you to always have an answer to their pain or hurt. A prayer or just being there to listen, a shoulder to cry on have been some of the biggest blessings for me.
I am going to bed now a little less heavy hearted. Grateful that God once again comforted me with His big unfailing love. I still have much to be grateful for and those are the things I will focus on. I have made it through a difficult day but tomorrow is a new day and I am hopeful it will be brighter!
"Jesus is Better", a worship song that has been my prayer and anthem and I hope it will minister to you too...
In all my sorrows, JESUS is BETTER... Make my heart believe!
In every victory, JESUS is BETTER... Make my heart believe!
Than any comfort, JESUS is BETTER... Make my heart believe!
More than all riches, JESUS is BETTER... Make my heart believe!
Our souls declaring, JESUS is BETTER... Make my heart believe!
Our souls eternal, JESUS is BETTER... Make my heart believe!
God help me to believe, JESUS is BETTER so that I can continue to Live For More!
For some reason today was a sad day for me not sure why exactly I guess just one of those days. So after a good cry I decided instead of sitting in my pity and sadness that I would write and here's what came out.
- I am thankful for God's constant love and presence in my life, without it I would not be able to make it!
- I am thankful for God's word, it is new every morning and helps keep me on the straight and right path. It fills my spiritual cup! Last week I began waking at 5:30 am to spend an hour in my Bible and to pray before my kids wake up. It has been an act of obedience but a sacrifice too as I LOVE to sleep in!!!
- I am thankful for Jesus who died on the cross for my sins, so I can live a life that pleases Him. I fail often but by His grace I am still righteous and keep going!
- I am thankful for my health. I am reminded daily by many who I love whose bodies are cancer ridden or have other illness with bodies that are failing them.
- I am thankful for my church, Wells Branch Community Church. I took a year away to heal my heart but came back to open arms and hearts and have never felt more at home. They are truly a people who are LIVING FOR MORE!
- I am thankful for my family who love me unconditionally! For my children who give me so many reasons to keep going and smiling as I do it!
- I am thankful for my home, it is a bit big for just three of us but I continue to have the opportunity to use it as a place for ministry and is one of the biggest reasons I have stayed.
- I am thankful for financial provision so that I have the great privilege to be a stay at home Mom, God has provided for all our needs above and beyond!
- I am thankful to get to volunteer at the school and love on the precious kiddos there.
- I am thankful for dear friends old and new who continue to walk life out with me, pray for me and just simply love me.
- I am thankful for the many opportunities I have had to share my story, it is a calling and I do not take it lightly.
- I am thankful that I get the incredible privilege to teach God's word to women in my community at Refresh Women's Bible Study, which began just three weeks ago. I am thankful for each heart that is present and is learning to love God more.
- I am thankful for answered prayer. I marvel sometimes at just how God answers my prayers.
- I am thankful for really small things like a great gym with amazing classes that motivate and encourage me to take care of my physical body.
- I am thankful to live on a street with such great neighbors who have great kids that my kids have the opportunity to be outside playing with.
- I am thankful for the forgiveness of my loving Father who even though I mess up again and again He always forgives me, always!!
- I am thankful for second chances.
- I am thankful that I have suffered and will continue.
- I am thankful that when I am weak Jesus is strong.
- I am thankful for new beginnings
- I am thankful for the what is yet to come...
It has been 26 months since Todd was called home. My life looks noticeabley different. I have to be honest I still miss a lot of my "old life", some things are still hard, maybe they always will be. YET I am super excited about the things God is doing in my "new life."
If you are like me finding yourself in a sad, lonely or hard place today. Will you write a list of thanks? It really does help shift your focus. I can dwell on what I don't have or what I have lost or I can choose to dwell on all that I have to be thankful for! I was reminded of so many things I am thankful for as I wrote my list, too many too mention here.
What will you choose to focus on this month of Thanksgiving? I am challenging myself to be grateful for one new thing everyday but to not stop after the month is over. I hope you will join me! I have so much to be thankful for and when I focus on those things I can Live For More!
Thank you for reading and for giving me another reason to be thankful,
Isn't that a question we often ask our selves? It is one I know I have thought and often asked myself. Over 300 churches in Austin are participating in the Explore God campaign. You can visit www.exploregod.com to find out more. Anyway, we are asking some great question each week then the pastors of all the participating churches are unpacking the question.
So far we have addressed:
1. Does life have a purpose?
2. Is there really a God?
3. Why does God allow pain and suffering?
So this past Sunday Chris Plekenpol the pastor of my church, Wells Branch Community Church asked me to share my pain resume as part of the message, "why does God allow pain and suffering?"
My Pain Resume
-Parents Divorced at age 10
-Future husband cancer at age 18
-Infertility for 8 years (25-33)
-Sister died at age 31
-Failed adoption at age 37
-Fight for adoption of Bethany at 38
-Planted WBCC at 38
-Husband died at 41
Although my pain resume reflects much pain and suffering I can still sit here and say, God is good, He is faithful, He is a God who has purpose in my pain. Chris nailed in on the head when he said, "Suffering provides a platform for Gods glory to be displayed."
When Todd passed away one of his dear friends who spoke at the funeral looked at me and said, "Cassi you will have a platform as a result of this." I had no idea what he was talking about.
SO fast forward 23 months later and I think I am beginning to understand what he was talking about. God is using my story my "pain resume" as a platform for His glory to be displayed. WHOA! Speaking, writing and not to mention the day-to-day personal interactions and relationships have been a HUGE part of my platform and as I have shared my life and story. I have heard from so many who have been touched and the cool thing is, it has helped my healing process also. I am not wasting the pain... God has turned my pain into my passion.
As I was preparing to share this past Sunday and thought about all I have walked through I could look at back at each pain or struggle in my life and remember how the Lord had used that pain and suffering.
Some of which I was able to share last Sunday which you can listen to at this link: http://wellsbranchchurch.com/sermon-audio/
(click on "Why does God allow pain and suffering?")
I did not have much time to share so I wanted to give a few more verses and nuggets of truth here. I hope you will take time to listen as it was one of the best messages on pain and suffering I have heard. Chris nailed it at the end so be sure and listen all the way through.
-Parents Divorced at age 10
God called me to himself when I was 10 and I asked Jesus to come into my heart and life after my parents divorced, which was the BEST decision I would ever make! (John 3:16) Plus my family size grew which is more people to love and have family drama with, ha!!
-Future husband cancer at age 18
My dependence on Christ became stronger as I learned how to walk the hard road of cancer with Todd and learned how to love someone who has an illness you cannot make better but can only pray and be there physically and emotionally for support. I know prayer is a HUGE part of healing and walking with God but remember I was only 18 and still growing my faith roots at this point, boy did this one test just what I put my faith in... BIG TIME!! Todd was only given a 35% chance to survive!!!
-Infertility for 8 years (25-33)
This one lasted the longest and definitely was one of the most challenging. We had dated for 6 years then were married for a while and were working with kids as God has called us into student ministries. Everyone in our lives were having children many even their second and third ones. People stopped asking us about having kids. We loved them and desperately wanted kids of our own BUT Gods timing was not our timing. One BIG thing God taught me during that time was Proverbs 19:21, "Many are the plans in a man's heart but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." Our plan was to have children two years or so after we were married but as the Lord would purpose it, Jackson Todd came into the world 6 weeks shy of our 10 year wedding anniversary!! BUT he was totally worth the wait. =)
-Sister died at age 31
Carla's passing was the first time I had lost anyone really close to me and although I always felt that since she had a chronic illness and had spent most of her life sick she was not going to outlive me. However the finality of her death and no more visits with her or phone calls to talk about our crazy family or just her HUGE love and support really rocked my world! I found myself crying and crying and missing and missing her more than I thought I would. After all she had really suffered in this life and now was in Heaven with a glorified body and was feeling no pain but my heart ached and longed to see and be with my sister again. God gave us such a special and very close relationship one that was hard to get over. I realized one day months after Carla's passing that I was missing Gods peace. While praying and crying out to God I looked in my Bible and found, Isaiah 26:3, "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." My heart was not focusing on God but on my pain and loss. Pain and suffering can sometimes skew our perspective of God and who He is. I had to readjust my thinking and with time began to experience Gods peace again This was a lesson I had learned from my previous pain and suffering... I just needed a gentle reminder.
-Failed adoption at age 37
This was one of our worst fears come true, we had agreed to parent a baby that a young women in our church was placing for adoption. The church had even had a big shower for us and our nursery was all ready, our hearts and home were ready to welcome our baby boy, Travis Isaiah. Then a week before he was to be born the birth mother changed her mind. Even though we had not laid eyes on him we had already made plans in our hearts and life for what our lives would be like with our new son and so it was like a death. We had to grieve another loss. I remember sitting in BSF shortly after and the teaching leader saying, "Often times God uses difficult circumstances to accomplish His will but it is on the other side of that difficult circumstance we see the goodness and His glory." At the moment of hearing that I was not on the other side but I knew God was going to use it and boy did He! 6 months later we got a phone call on a Tuesday about a baby girl who had been born and needed a family to adopt her she was just waiting at the hospital so we left the next day, Wednesday and met her on Thursday and brought her home on a Friday! Talk about wild and crazy and God doing more than would had ever asked or imagined!!
-Fight for adoption of Bethany at 38
After the 6 month waiting period and one week before our final court date to make our daughter a Wortham forever I got a call from our attorney saying the birth father had surfaced. So after another 4 and half months of me worrying but ultimately trusting God. Todd and I placed our baby Bethany on the altar and like Abraham when he lay Isaac and trusted what God was asking Him to do we to trusted and asked God to provide a ram. We believed in our heart that God had given us this miracle baby and it was not a mistake. We also claimed James 1:2-4.
-Planted WBCC at 38
Church planting is a whole BIG scary leap of faith as you trust God when you feel that He has clearly called you to something so much bigger than yourself but at every turn you are facing some sort of opposition! People think you are crazy as you are trying to be intentional in relationships but they feel like you are asking them to join your cult. Especially in Austin where 85% of the people here are unchurched. Todd was just a little too friendly for some folks. God gave Todd the spiritual battle cry of "Live For More" than this world has to offer during the initial church planting stages and also, "In the community for the community" which was our way of loving on people and serving people in our community with the life changing reality of Jesus Christ. The church still lives by both of these today.
-Husband died at 41
So as I have walked this road of widowhood a little over 2 years now and am rounding the corner to the other side of grief. I can say that this by far has been my life's greatest pain and suffering. It has trumped anything else I have walked through. All the other pain and suffering I had the Lord of course but I also had Todd (all but my parent's divorce) to walk through it with me as well. His incredibly loving presence with his great BIG hugs, or when he would prayer with me, cry with me, make me laugh and so on! Boy how I still miss all of that!! There have been many verses and nuggets of truth I have learned from walking this road. I will share a few and the others will most definitely be in my books, I promise. There are just far too many to list here and besides that I know you are ready to listen to that message. ;)
Initially I could not help but think of Proverbs 3:5&6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." Here was the time in my life where the world was watching to see if I really believed what I shared in all those Bible studies and claimed to believe. I did not understand God's ways in Todd's sudden death but I chose to TRUST nonetheless and chose also to NOT lean on my own understanding because it fails me every time!
I LOVE, LOVE Isaiah 41:10,
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. And can I just say after you husband dies you are not sure you will breathe again let alone stand on your own two feet!
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. 4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you...
As I said earlier this is only a sampling of a few favorite verses and if you are new to my blog I have shared many other verses that hit me or God used at specific times in my life in other posts. I would love for you to take a read and experience a part of my story. I had an amazing life with an amazing man but I have not always lived a charmed life and I do believe the BEST is yet to come. What about you??
We all have a pain resume.... How will you use your pain resume as a platform to glorify God?
I don't want to waste the pain so even though it's not easy, I choose to Live For More,
I went to bed last feeling heavy-hearted and even after praying and having a good night sleep I woke up feeling the same way. Then I realized today is the 13th. Today marks 22 months since my love went to his heavenly home. The thirteenth of the month does not always hit me like a ton on bricks but my counselor told me that subconsciously my mind may remember that day and some months the emotions will come back in a strong and powerful way. As I was going to bed last night I thought, "Will there every be a day when I don't think about Todd?? Will there ever come a time when I don't miss him so much??!!" Oh how my heart was intertwined with his. I thought, "I missed my sister Carla a lot when she passed away but I don't remember after 22 months still feeling this way." But then I thought, "I didn't see Carla every day at the end of her life and we weren't married!! Todd and I were pretty much inseparable." We did everything together as a team. We lived, loved and served right along side one other and were rarely apart! Oh God I have so much going on and I praise you for a full life yet my heart in this moment is hurting. It guess I am still not quite healed and I JUST MISS MY HUSBAND!! With Father Day's coming up that day is a glaring reminder that my children have no earthly father and then I will be traveling to Haiti next week for the first mission trip without Todd, so maybe that has a part to play in my sadness today. Part of me is excited and part of me is nervous about celebrating Todd's birthday (June 21st) in Haiti. I could not think of a better way to celebrate his life and legacy there as it was a place he loved BUT my heart screams something is missing... YES HE IS!! I really am tired of having days like these in all honesty, yet I have grace with myself as I know it is part of the journey and one only I can go through. My schedule is full today so there won't be time to dwell on this too much which is good, I am glad to be having a good cry now. It does help my heart to share and I know that many of you reading are having a good cry with me! So THANK YOU for reading and most of all for your prayers! I really need them today!!
In my "Streams in the Desert" devotional I read, "My peace I give you!" John 14:27. Rest is not some holy feeling that comes upon is in church. It is state of calm rising from a heart deeply and firmly established in God."
Oh how I needed that this morning and really all day, everyday. I do not have my Jesus loving, over the top love to encourage my days here on earth any longer BUT I do have Gods word's and I love that John 14:27 in its entirety says this,
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. This was Jesus final legacy and parting gift to us! WOW!!!
Thank you Jesus for the gift of your ULTIMATE PEACE. I believe you see and know my broken, troubled heart. You are here collecting my tears as they fall from my cheeks and will continue to walk with me each and every step of the way! Please help me and all those reading this who are hurting to experience your PEACE and presence in a new and fresh way!
It is hard some days but I am choosing to Live For More,
Well the kids and I have officially survived another school year. More than survived really. I mean life for the most part seems more "normal." I have settled in to the fact that I am a single Mom raising my two kids without their father. Do I like it, NOT really!! I still miss just about everything about Todd. Loneliness is still there and at times almost seems to consume me, and just when I think I can't take it God sends a gentle wind of encouragement or a reminder that this isn't it! This isn't as good as it gets! Then I smile and think of all the unknown adventures that lie ahead. It at times can still be awkward when for the first time someone realizes that I am a widow. Like the second to the last dance class Bethany had, I was chatting with a Mom who I had spoken to quite a bit over the year and she was asking me about the dance team. I said, "I think it will just be too hard and too much commitment for me as a single Mom," she said, "oh I didn't know you were a single Mom", I said, "well I am a widow." Talk about a conversation killer. She just looked at me with sadness in her eyes and thankfully it was the end of class but I think she was speechless. Then just two weeks ago at the end of our time working with students at my son's school. I was visiting with the other volunteer as we were leaving and talking about summer plans. I mentioned that I was traveling to Haiti and how I had been twice before with my husband. I said, "I don't know if you know this but I am a widow," She said, "oh my goodness I had no idea! Oh you are so young!" Then she said, "well at least you are not sitting at home." I said, well I did that some the first year." She left speechless. SO I still have those moments when my I am made very aware of my loss, it is kind of strange because it almost catches me by surprise! There is no escaping what has happened to me and how my life, my kids lives and countless others have been effected by Todd's loss. As I have met other widows or chatted with them on Facebook or through the blog, I think one the biggest thing that I am learning is how differently people handle their loss and grief. We all have a choice to make in how we cope or handle our loss. I continually think, "I am not the only one who has lost!" Yet the reminders are still everywhere and knowing that fact does not minimize the pain or the fear of what lies ahead! Yet through it all I am choosing to LIVE and TRUST a God whose ways are not my ways!! Todd lived life with reckless abandonment to Christ so I am reminded of his encouragement and example all those years to Live For More!!
Jackson finished his third grade year very strong!! He made the A honor roll all year! He set a goal for perfect attendance and no tardies and Praise GOD he did it!! As a side note my kids and I have taken a whole food supplement for the past 6 years called Juice Plus and we have been incredibly healthy with very little sickness. Jackson has not had even a cold in over a year, which can I say is pretty remarkable!! So as we wrapped up Jackson's 3rd grade year and Bethany finished pre-K. It is hard to believe she will start Kinder in the Fall!! The year ended on a high note. We were blessed by the kid's schools and the over the top love and encouragement and commitment by their teachers, coaches etc...
We celebrated the end of the school year with a camping trip to the Guadalupe River. The kids and I had a great time as we celebrated the successful completion of another school year with family and friends!! As I think about embarking on the second summer without Todd. I am especially grateful that by God's grace and incredible provision I still have the privilege of being a stay at home Mom. So for us our summer will be filled with LOTS of swimming as both my kids are on the swim team which equals about 18 hours a week!! They will each attend one camp. We have plans to visit new sites in and around Austin. Lots of great kids friendly movies are coming out, we love watching a good movie! We have also added a pop up camper to our family so we will be heading out to discover more of the beautiful outdoors this summer! WE are EXCITED!! Oh and did I mention I am headed back to Haiti! It will be my third trip but my first without Todd!! More about that to come!
A really cool activity the kids and started doing last week from Focus on the Family's, Thriving Family magazine. It's a fun, Bible based activity you can do with your kids over the next 60 days. You can visit www.thriving family.com to print this map (around the world in 60 days) an itinerary, passports and each day you visit a different country and learn fun facts about that country. The first day we visited New Zealand and learned there are 7 sheep for every one person. We read from Matt. 18:12-14, and learned that God cares so much about us He comes to find us when we wander away from Him! My kids are looking forward to "traveling" around the world this summer! Will you join us?
What are you and your family planning on doing this summer?? I'd love to hear from you! I am always looking for creative and fun ideas.
As the summer is well under way I am enjoying not so early mornings and the slower pace of the day. I am hopeful to write more while still balancing my time with kids and spending sweet time in Gods presence through His word and prayer! I hope you find the warmth of the summer sun a welcome friend and the light and love of Christ to be a even warmer comfort! John 8:12, When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light ofthe world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Happy Summer and I pray you will Live For More,
As we recently celebrated Mother's Day I could not help but think about what a difference a year makes. Last Mother's Day I was actually at Disney World with my kids which I thought would be a great place to getaway and celebrate life and motherhood. It was truly magical and we over all had a great time yet my heart thought of Todd almost every moment. I thought of how he would love to see the kids enjoying such a fun and wonderful place and how since he was really just a big kid at heart he would so enjoy everything as well! I was reminded of the way he helped me parent the kids and when we were in crowds he would carry Bethany as her little legs would get tired. Would have been a BIG help in Disney!! I unfortunately could not carry her very far, so thank goodness they had strollers to rent. =) It had only been 10 months at that point so I still longed and even ached for Todd. As I celebrated that Mother's Day my heart was heavy. I was missing his love and admiration and how he never let a Mother's Day go by without telling me what an incredible job I was doing and he regularly told me that Jackson and Bethany had the best Mom! So then I realized I had to change my perspective. Although it was not easy, I decided to remember and focus on all the years and celebrations we did share and didn't allow myself a pity party because after all I was in the happiest place on earth, lol!! So fast forward to this year and can I say, "THANK YOU GOD" for allowing me to make it through another year! My mother in law came into town and we watched Jackson play his last football game of the season and then celebrated my mother in law on Saturday night at one of our favorite places, County Line.
As a side note, I have to share what an incredible example and huge encouragement my sweet mother in law has been. She has been a second mother to me since I was 16 and has always embraced me as her own. I am grateful for her continued love, wisdom and support!! I am beyond blessed by her!
Then Sunday came and my kids came into my room that morning and served me my coffee and the following homemade goodies. What a wonderful surprise and treat!
Then the day just got better and better as I worshiped at church and then we headed to my Mom's in the Hill Country for lunch! I have to say my Mom has become one of my biggest supporters and encouragers and I could not have made it without her these past 21 months. She is one of my best friends and has been a true example of love and sacrifice!! I am grateful to God for my Mom and the incredible blessing she is to me and my kids!
The day ended and my heart was SO full of LOVE for and from my kids and family and for once that seemed to be enough, WHOA!! I had thought about Todd but was truly full of JOY. WOW, maybe I have turned a corner, maybe just maybe. I do know for sure that I am a little further down the road, HALLELUJIAH!!! I am continually reminded that I am not the only one walking life as a single Mom nor as a widow. I still have hard days and not so much because Todd is gone but just because life is hard. We live in a fallen, broken world and raising kids this day and age is harder than ever. I so admire the single Mom's who have gone before me and have done it well! They give me hope. If you are a single Mom or Dad out there I want you to know you are doing a good job! God loves you and believes in you!! He chose YOU to be your child's Mom or Dad and no one else!!
I had the privilege of sharing on a Sunday from the front with Todd in May of 2011 when he asked me to share a message on "Being a godly mother." What was interesting as I thought back on this message was at the time I was happily married to Todd enjoying life as a Mom who had a very hands on husband and Daddy. I remember thinking, "we have a lot of single Moms in our church so I have to keep them in mind and offer some hope and encouragement for them too" I also remember that I stopped and thanked God for allowing to have a wonderful husband to help me parent our children and that I did not have to do it alone! I never would have imagined that 10 weeks later I would be a single parent and raising my kids alone. As I listened to this message again I was reminded of the sweet relationship Todd and I had. It also hit me that this message was now a gift to me. It was meant for many who were there that day but for me now and perhaps you too it is a gift for today! God knew what my future held. He knows yours too. I hope you can take the time to listen.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen youand help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Thank you for walking this journey with me, I pray we can all Live For More,
Well I have officially survived 19 months walking in these new shoes on what has been described as a marathon journey through widowhood. Not sure what mile marker I am at by now but some days I feel like my heart and emotions are rounding the corner to the finish line and then other days it's as if I am just beginning or am closer to the starting line anyway which can I say is NO FUN!! The kids and I celebrated Spring Break two weeks ago at the incredible Topsail Sate Park in beautiful Florida with my Dad and family. It was our second Spring Break without Todd. Dad asked me about 8 months ago if we wanted to go and I am so glad we said, "yes!" It was a wonderful time exploring such a gorgeous part of Gods creation. It is an area known as the Emerald Coast and now I know why. The water is truly an emerald color, not sure my pictures even do it justice but take my word, IT IS!! The sand on the beach looks as white as sugar and then the park we camped at had these incredibly tall pine trees and miles of trails and gorgeous areas to explore! Could not have asked for a better place to enjoy a little R&R and take a break from the day-to-day wild and crazy life I call single parenting two very active and involved kids and create NEW memories!!
As I spent time on the beach one morning listening to a podcast on singleness I realized I am in a unique situation as a single and that I am no longer married but yet I have two children who I must love, nurture, train and provide for so my time and devotion is still very much divided. I do not have an earthly husband or love to give my time and devotion to so I was reminded that I can continue to use this season to seek Gods presence, love and joy. I continue to ask him where he wants me serving Him and for his help in making ministry possible as I certainly don't want to use widowhood as an excuse to sit on the side lines. Of course I have to be very sensitive to my kids and their needs. So here is what I feel like the Lord is telling me. That I keep writing and share my heart which I pray will continue to minister to many. Although some weeks it is really hard to find the time to write. I continue to get asked to speak and share my life which has given me a platform to share more of Gods story! It has blessed me in more ways that i ever imagined and I believe is helping me heal but my biggest prayer is that it brings true encouragement to those who hear and is drawing them closer to God!! It is also one of the reasons I am writing here less, I am in major prep mode right now as I prepare for a retreat in less than two weeks!!
I feel disciplship is still so important so I try to maintain a few of those relationships with other women as well. During this season I am having to get creative with what that looks like =) As much as I don't really like the idea of being the "older" women, I am realizing that it isn't a negative thing but something the Lord allows us to become as we mature in him. It is important that I am encouraging and teaching the younger generation. Which reminds me... Just the other night Jackson asked me if I would start writing questions for him from BSF and Genesis, so with the help of the "green sheet" and my notes I will be giving him homework and we will be doing BSF together and then I am praying about the right timing for joining an evening study where he can attend BSF with me again. =) I am also praying about going back to Haiti this summer to the village that Todd and I went as missionaries two times before. They all knew and loved Todd and I think it could be a big blessing for me to go back and share my heart and let them see how God has been working in mighty ways in our lives since Todd's death. I pray it would be healing and bring some closure and comfort for all as well.
Loneliness has set in BIG time and as I share honestly my heart and life here I'd ask that you'd pray for that! I stay so busy as to not have time to think about it but in the quiet of some days and nights there is no escaping it!! It can hit me hard like a wave crashing on the shore. I had a dream right after Spring Break. It was one where Todd felt and seemed soo real. I could touch him, smell him and everything about it seemed so totally present! I remember telling him to not leave my sight as I didn't want this to end, I didn't want to live without him! He just smiled at me and held me! I woke up and began to cry and cry. I asked the Lord to make it not hurt so bad, I told him I thought I was better and wasn't sure why I was feeling so raw and hurt all over again! I guess when you have such an intense, deep love one that spans most of your life it will be with you and still catch you off guard sometime... the missing part of it anyway! What I love about the LORD is how he knows exactly what I need at the exact moment I need it. SO that night as I read my Bible which is something I have chosen to read before bed each night. I decided awhile back that I want HIS word to be the last thing I'd like to have on my heart and mind.
(Here is what I read the night after my dream), Psalm 126 and the verse that leapt out from the page was vs. 5, "those who sow in TEARS will reap with songs of JOY."
I don't know if that hits anybody else walking through a difficult time where the tears seems to never stop flowing? They have definitely slowed down a bit for me but they can still flow like a river and I wonder will my tear ducts ever dry out. Anybody else think that?? So what I believe God was telling me through this Psalm is that even though I am sowing in TEARS, NOW, He is promising me that I will reap in JOY LATER! Oh I can't tell you how much I needed to hear that!! Especially on a day when my heart was so heavy and sad where the tears flowed and flowed!! I have heard other verses about how there will be pain in the night but joy comes in the morning but for whatever reason this one resonated with me more than any other!! The idea of faith, trust, love, hope being sown into my life and heart through my loss which produces tears and then as I mature and grow through this situation I will reap or gather a harvest of JOY. OH WOW, I do want that!! I believe it will be worth the wait and even the pain I must continue to walk through. What about you?? What might God be taking you through now as you sow in tears only to mature you to reap with the harvest song of JOY?
The JOY, unwavering faith and trust my kids display is still a great source of encouragement to me! Allow me to share something I learned from Bethany recently... The prayer she sings before every meal is: "Oh the Lord is good to me and so I thank the LORD for giving me the things I need, the sun and the rain and the apple trees! Oh the LORD is GOOD to Me! The other night after she was done she said, "Momma, God is good!" On my worst day I am reminded that my God is good to me! My son has JOY in playing football and in going to school and most things in his life too! Just this morning I was walking in the gym after having a really hard emotional day yesterday and I said, "good morning" to the man who folds towels and he stopped and said, "you always look so happy when you come in!' My response was, "I am happy because I have a healthy body that allows me to exercise!" I am learning that even though I am walking down a road I did not plan and seems very dark and lonely at times, I can still say, "God is good!" I believe with all my heart even on my worse day I can praise God for at least one thing... What about you??
Because of His JOY I Live For More,
As I prepared my heart and mind for the one year anniversary of my loves entrance into Heaven I had spent the two days before August 13th alone praying, reading, reflecting. I spent many hours rereading the cards, letters, messages that hundreds of family and friends sent me over the year. God impressed several things upon my heart which I will share later but as I arrived home from my time away I drove up to my house and driveway and it was lined with white balloons. There were white balloons hanging from the trees that had words on them. Things that Todd's life had meant to so many people. How his life impacted theirs. Things like: lived with no regrets, contagious, loved others, loved first, bold and fearless, taught me to Live For More, Jesus lover, great friend, teacher, husband, father and much more!! As I read these I was again reminded of just how much my amazing husband truly lived for eternal things. He invested in lives because of the love and sacrifice that was shown to him by His first love, Jesus! His impact on those lives was still effecting their lives and many more.
As I went to slept that night my heart was at peace I slept well and then woke up at 9AM! I couldn't believe that I slept in on the morning of this first anniversary. Shouldn't I be restless or sad?? I immediately had many thoughts come to my mind so I decided to share the following with my Facebook friends:
Good Morning Friends! Can you believe I just woke up?? All I can say is that time alone with the Lord this weekend did my heart and soul good!! I have a bit of a heavy heart this morning which I think is only natural but on top of that a peace that I know can only come from resting in the arms of Jesus and knowing I am exactly where He wants me to be. I woke up feeling like a butterfly who has just emerged from her cocoon. Although I don't really know how that feels I have only heard that the struggle inside the cocoon is very great and painful yet is the part of the process that allows the butterfly to emerge strong and beautiful and all that God intended her to be. I think that represents how I feel today this one year anniversary after losing my best friend, true love, Daddy to my children, spiritual leader and my pastor. I now realize that even thought the pain is not gone it is better. I will make it!! My kids are still amazing me everyday with all they remember their Daddy teaching them and loving them. Their joy is like NO other, except maybe Todd's =)
Sometimes I think What will people say of me When I'm only just a memory When I'm home where my soul belongs
Was I love When no one else would show up Was I Jesus to the least of those Was my worship more than just a song
I want to live like that And give it all I have So that everything I say and do Points to You
If love is who I am Then this is where I'll stand Recklessly abandoned Never holding back
I want to live like that I want to live like that
Am I proof That You are who you say You are That grace can really change a heart Do I live like Your love is true
People pass And even if they don't know my name Is there evidence that I've been changed When they see me, do they see You
I want to live like that And give it all I have So that everything I say and do Points to You
If love is who I am Then this is where I'll stand Recklessly abandoned Never holding back
I want to live like that I want to live like that I want to show the world the love You gave for me I'm longing for the world to know the glory of the King
I want to live like that And give it all I have So that everything I say and do Points to You
If love is who I am Then this is where I'll stand Recklessly abandoned Never holding back
I want to live like that I want to live like that
All I keep thinking was HE WAS ALL THAT! Will people be able to say the same thing about me?? What about you?
SO as Todd shared this with the Carthage Church (the church that housed us outside of Joplin last August 13th), I will leave it with you: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward" Colossians 3:23-24 and as God would have it unbeknownst to Todd, he would receive his reward later that day.
I love you all!! Live For More!!
My first birthday since losing Todd recently passed. As I celebrated with two dear friends in Napa, CA I could not have asked for a better day. What I mean is all things considered with my new adjusted life I celebrated in a place I had always dreamed of going and was surrounded by Gods beauty and enjoyed something different and unlike anything I had ever done with Todd. The trip began in San Francisco which was such a cool town not only in temperature (Texas was close to 100 degrees when I left) but also in architecture, people and food. Then we spent a few days in Napa Valley and oh how gorgeous that place was!! At times I felt like I was in a movie, I couldn't believe how picturesque the whole area was! We ended the trip on my birthday touring some very quaint, off the beaten path wineries. It was the perfect day! I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent that day and even though I was celebrating my birthday without my love which usually was made extra special by him I was not sad. I had moments where I thought of him but as I enjoyed the sights, sounds and tastes I chose in those moments to savor and be grateful for the gift I was being given, instead of my obvious loss. So that night we found a great pizza place to have dinner. For dessert a brownie sundae with a candle in it was served. My friends sang Happy Birthday to me and then after the song was finished, they said, "make a wish" and it was in that moment it hit me, my deep and profound loss!! My immediate thought was, " I want Todd!" I wish for Todd, I want my old life back!! Oh God, what can I wish for now? My sweet friends hugged me and then said something to make me laugh. I had a little cry but I didn't want to ruin a beautiful day with my tears and sadness.
As I reflected later that night about the day and my birthday "wish". I began to long for my old life and wished to go back in time. In that moment I wished that "making a wish" didn't have to be a part of birthdays. What is a wish really anyway? I looked it up and the definition is: "Feel or express a strong desire or hope for something that is not easily attainable; want something that cannot or probably will not happen." In the past I might have made wished or hoped for things like, my sister to be healed, to have a baby, direction for where to start our church or other things that may have seemed unattainable to the world but with my faith in God were totally attainable. But now what I had wished and hoped for with Todd even the "not easily attainable" was truly and in this life on earth unattainable, that reality hit me afresh all over again! What I had wanted with Todd was now gone forever. So now as I sit here without my true love I realize once again I have a choice to make. My focus has to shift. As a believer and follower of Christ I must give my hopes and dreams over completely to God. I must remember that he knew before I was even born and that my life would be this way. This was part of His plan.
Today my wishes have become sincere and earnest prayers for direction and guidance in my new life. I can if I let myself camp on all the dreams that died with Todd on August 13, 2011 OR I can look to a sovereign God who continually whispers in my ear how much He loves me and through His word and past track record of faithfulness in my life, I am once again reminded that even though He allowed something that to the worlds eyes, mine included seems so unfair, He is God and I can trust him, even when I don't understand! I have lost much but have also gained much!! So as I get closer to the one year anniversary of Todds homecoming I think about all the ways my life has been radically changed. Yes it has been filled with more sadness, deep sorrow and intense pain but there has been joy too. YES God has been with me each and every step, every moment of every day.
For those of you who are new to my blog, thanks for taking the time to read as this has been a place I have used to share my heart and life as I have walked down the hardest road I have ever experienced in my 42 years of life. It has and will continue to be part of my healing process. This was not the first time I lost someone close to me but definitely the most difficult loss. Todd was my high school sweetheart, my best friend, husband for 18 years, my spiritual leader, the Daddy to my children and the pastor of my church. No wonder I feel like half my heart has been amputated!! Thank you to those who have followed my grief journey thus far and as I come to the end of my first year of widowhood, being a single Mom and living with my new identity. I am seeking God more than ever for my future and asking him what is His vision for me and my kids? Thank you for reading, praying and supporting my family. It means more to me than word can express!
Please continue to pray for me especially in the next few weeks as I take time to get away by myself and press into God and ask some tough questions. I am praying for great wisdom and discernment in areas of life, ministry, parenting and over all direction for our future.
I love you all and so does HE! "Since you were precious in My sight, you have been honored and I have loved you." Isaiah 43:4
God is forever stripping me of the things I want....to show me He is what I need. This hit me like a ton of bricks!! My life has been changed forever, from what I had wished or wanted it to be. I now ask God to make this my heart cry so that He will be all I need!
Live For More!!
After struggling to fall asleep Thursday night, I think I laid in bed for an hour until after midnight and then once I was good and asleep I heard a little voice come through my door saying, "Mommy I pee peed in my bed", it was 1 AM and I was forced to get up and change my wet child and her bed. I got back in bed several minutes later only to realize I was now WIDE awake!! Ugh!!! 30 minutes later with the help of more Melatonin I was finally back to sleep. Then about two hours later my sweet boy came in my room, woke me up out of my deep sleep with, "Mommy I had a nightmare, can I sleep with you?" I didn't even have the capacity or words to ask what he had dreamed about but only enough energy to say "yes." He crawled into my bed and back to much desired sleep I went. UNTIL, my dear 14 year old Chihuahua decided to start barking at 6AM!! Are you kidding me, the dog NEVER wakes up that early!! I ignored her and then drifted back to a nice sleep where I began to dream I was somewhere with lots of people and was surrounded by friends and as I was walking into this room full of people my eyes immediately saw Todd! He came up to me looking amazingly healthy and handsome and said, "I have missed you so much!!" I immediately began to cry and said, "me too" then he kissed me not once but twice and then gave me a hug that seemed as real as his kiss. I cried some more as he held me not believing my eyes. It felt like that moment lasted a lifetime then as quick as the man of my dreams, my love appeared, he was gone as I was awoken yet again by my yapping dog!! As I opened my eyes and realized I had just been visited by my sweetheart, I began to cry. Oh my goodness I miss him so, words cannot describe just how much!!. Just when I think I am getting better something like that happens and I am painfully reminded of the HUGE and ENORMOUS hole his LOVE, LIFE, ENCOURAGEMENT had brought me. The peace and comfort and security I felt knowing he was my god given spiritual leader. As with so many moments of grief they are short lived and as the alarm goes off I must then wipe my very tired eyes and put on my Mommy hat and get the kids up, fed and ready for swim practice. My kids are thriving and I am surviving I have come to realize but continue to be grateful that I have their activities and joy for life to help me get through hard days. Later that morning I stumbled upon the following Psalm:
But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. —Psalm 10:14
God definitely see and knows much grief intimately, He has it in his hand and I cannot express enough gratitude for the way He has provided for my fatherless children and has taken a personal role in fathering them!! In that moment I find comfort.
Then as the roller coaster of emotion takes me yet on another dip and turn I was later faced with the reality of facing Jackson's first birthday without Todd. We always celebrated birthdays in our home with very large elaborate not expensive just creative, fun celebrations that were most always Todd's doing. Todd was the party planner, the creative one and I began to get sad yet again just wishing I could get hear his great ideas for the party. I have been reminded often of his words of faith and belief in my abilities as a Mom. He continually praised me as a Mom and THEN I remembered I had hung an old note he written me on my bulletin board so I pulled it down and read it...
You are truly the greatest woman I have ever known. If the scriptures were still being written I know I would find your name and story among the pages. Your adjustment to church planting and wrangling the kids in unbelievable. I so appreciate you. I feel that Jackson and Bethany have the greatest Mom in the world. Know that I pray for you daily.
I smiled through tears thinking of him and his great words of encouragement. I still have his words in many forms and I think he visited my dreams to assure me that he loved me still! God continues to shower me with his love and encouragement daily as well as in the prayers, messages, comments by the many, many friends and family some of which are reading this now. For that I say I thank you and I appreciate them more than you could ever know!
Because the Joy of the LORD is my Strength, I can Live For More!
Sweetheart, It is hard to believe 9 months has passed since you relocated to Heaven. I can only imagine the amazing party you are are having there. Jackson says you are probably playing football and I bet you are worshiping Jesus with Carla, Poppy and Granny and a whole slew of others!! Whatever you are doing I can only imagine it is better than any of us still here on earth can even believe or comprehend. I wish I could say that living without you has gotten easier but it hasn't! Or I guess that is not totally true as I am adjusting to my "new shoes" but they still don't feel completely comfortable, I guess they still need more wear and time traveled. They at time seems to be breaking in and that at other times the blisters are hurting and screaming at me to take them off!! I knew my heart was so intertwined with yours and that you meant the world to me but Babe I think that was a HUGE understatement!! I realize now more than ever how much with every part of my heart and soul I love you and have since I was 16! Oh how I long to talk to you, hug you, hear your voice in person and just ask for your opinion on just about everything. I could go on and on about how much I miss you and all the things we used to do together and even just the times we were doing absolutely nothing yet just knowing you were in the same house or room was a huge comfort and joy. Most of all I miss your voice of encouragement, you were my biggest cheerleader and I think the most encouraging person I have ever known!! I am grateful for the Podcasts of your messages which I have been listening to almost daily so in a way I am still be encouraged by you! Thanks for always making me look so good. You sang my praises throughout your messages and gave me many shout outs. One of my favorites is the one where you brought me on stage the day after our 17 year anniversary and told the church after Jesus I was the one you loved and adored most. Oh I think my heart skipped a beat when I heard that and in that moment was so grateful to have experienced such love and adoration!
Jackson and Bethany are doing incredible and people who do not know that they have lost their Dad are surprised when they find out. They both have an inner joy that I believe is largely in part to having a Daddy who loved them, spent time with them, made them laugh and loved Jesus and life the way you did! Jackson has taken an interest in books and loves to read about people and continues to work through chapter books. He has many of the passions you had which makes my heart happy. We are currently reading through the Chronicles of Narnina series together at night, it has become one of my favorite parts of the day. Jackson has begun his first phase of Orthodontics. He had an expander put in 2 weeks ago to expand his pallet that is in the shape of a V into the correct shape which is a U. Like we thought, all those years of thumb sucking finally caught up to him =) Also he will be getting partial braces soon and the crazy kid is actually excited!! He has been a trooper even thru turning his expander two times a day. Oh and football he still LOVES it and is almost done with his 3rd season of flag football and his team, NE Patriots is undefeated again! He continues to be a great big brother and loves and cares for Bethany in such sweet ways, he still complains about doing his chores but I know that is pretty typical for an 8 year old and for the most part is still such a rule follower, compliant, great kid!
Bethany is still so much fun, full of more energy than any child I have ever seen and pushes the boundaries and my buttons everyday BUT I cannot imagine life without my little princess who is in a dress phase and only wants to wear dresses even to soccer practice! She has been playing soccer and has really enjoyed it and actual has some skill for a 4 year old! You and I both thought she would be quite the athlete and I think she is definitely well on her way =) She also still adores “Bubba” and even told her friends the other day that she was going to marry him, lol! Both Jackson and Bethany have decided to try swim team so beginning next week they will be practicing swim 5 days a week. I am excited to see how they do. I am really hoping all that swimming will wear Bethany out!
I feel like I could go on and on about all that we have done and things I have survived. I miss being able to share all this with you!! The kids and I took a road trip to Tennessee for Spring Break and they were troopers. It was 14 long hours but we only stopped for gas and to potty twice, amazing I know!! We had a great time and created some new memories. You know how much I love family pictures so I decided to have some pictures taken of me and the kids. Can you believe it had been 3 years since the last time we took any professionally? Jackson actually chose his shirt so then our color was set and Bethany and I coordinated. I told them that all I wanted for Mother’s Day was for them to take some good pictures and told them if they listened to the photographer I would take them to Walmart after wards. Nothing like a good bribe to get them to cooperate, right??? Well it worked!! And the funny thing is that while we were driving to Walmart Jackson convinced Bethany to put their money together and buy a super hero toy that they could both enjoy, and Bethany actually agreed! Just goes to show you how much she loves her Bubba and how much you and Jackson rubbed off on her as she really does love super heroes too!! Oh and the pictures turned out great not because of how we looked necessarily although our kids are pretty darn cute but it was WHAT the pictures conveyed. They showed a widow finding hope and joy in life despite such a tremendous loss. It showed our children so full of life, love, joy and laughter. The way the photographer captured each shot with the light coming in was as if the light of Christ was with us and shining through each of us, it was truly a beautiful thing and made my Momma heart so happy! They also symbolize our new family, altered by God for His purpose and according to His plan. Still trying to swallow that part. These are pictures I will cherish forever!!
Anyway, sweetheart as I sit here in our home getting more used to the idea that you are not on a long trip and that you won’t be coming back through the door or show up unexpectedly at some of our favorite places. My new reality is beginning to feel more real. I am realizing that even though I think I am living in the here and now that I am actually still holding on to the past. I often feel like I am just going through the motions or that I am actress playing a role in someone else's life. I think if you were here you would say, “Cassi, God has a great plan in all this, He loves you and believes in you, I believe in you, and in spite of this devastating life circumstance you gotta keep living!”
So with that said, know that I heard you and I am trying to live a life that pleases and honors God and that focuses on eternal things but one that is also active in this present life. One that makes God look good. I am trying with His help to continue to raise our kids to be lovers of Christ and people. I am also desperately trying to figure out how I can Live For More when walking through this very difficult, lonely, dark season!! By God’s strength, grace and hope I know I can!
Still crazy in love with you and because you loved me, I can Live For More!
PS I am taking Jackson to see the the Avengers on Friday, I know it would have been a special night that you would have been so excited to take your boy to see, I hope he can enjoy it as much with me. Thanks for sharing so many fun passions with us, I am actually looking forward to seeing the movie too! =)
PSS Bethany still asks for you every couple of weeks. She even finds dandelions and blows on them on and wishes you would come back. It breaks my heart every time but am reminded that your death did not surprise God or catch him off guard. He created Bethany's heart and knows how much she loves and misses you. I continue to pray He will fill in the gaps and make this understandable to her heart and mine!!
A few of my favorite photos...
It has been 8 months since my love was taken up to Heaven and half my heart was taken from my body. It may seem odd to be counting down the months. I think back to the times in my life where I counted down days and months. The first time I remember counting the months was when I was counting down until my 16th birthday and to getting my driver license, then it was the months until summer after every year of college. Then once Todd and I were finally engaged and I was counting down the months and days to becoming Mrs. Todd Wortham and then also the time I was pregnant and was counting down the days, weeks and months until welcoming my precious baby into the world. So how ironic that I know am counting down the months since my life changed radically and so tragically. I think every day that passes I know I am one day closer to Heaven and I am one more day and now months down the road on my grief journey. So will this pain in my chest and sometimes my entire body some day go away? Will I always be this sad? I remember after my sister Carla passed away. I asked Todd the same question, "will I always be this sad", to which he stretched out his arms really big and said, "this is eternity" and then put his thumb and pointer finger about an inch apart and said, "and this is your life, so in the scheme of eternity, no you won't always be so sad". That was a comforting thought and he was right I was not always so sad over Carla. The biggest difference when I think back to that time in my life when my heart was hurting and missing my sweet sister and best friend was Todd. He was such a great listener to my heart that was hurting, he was a great shoulder to cry on, he made me laugh and laugh and was the one person who helped the most in my healing process. So as I sit here now suffering through the greatest loss and pain of my life I am alone, not completely I know. I have two precious children and supportive family and a bunch of amazing friends yet my heart is still lonely, longing for the one thing I can no longer have, TODD!!
Oh God please help my heart that aches with such intense pain! I don't understand or can even make sense of your plan for my life that includes living with out my perfect mate. I understand that your ways are not my ways and I only see a piece of the puzzle and you see and know the finished work. I can even hear Todd saying, "be patient and wait, God loves you and will teach you something amazing through this". I know and believe all that and God has proven so faithful to me in the past and I know He is and will continue to be consistent in character. But there are days like today when nothing can take the pain and the ache that is deep within my heart and soul. I know I must continue walking in these new shoes, I have blisters bad and I want to kick these uncomfortable things off. Oh God, please ease the pain! This is my new path and how I want to walk in your ways, seeking you with all my heart, trusting your plan and not constantly wishing I had my plan, my former life back!! I know God I can bring you my hurts, my broken dreams and all my honest emotions and deep pain. Please help me know how to handle this roller coaster of emotion!!
Even though I am still deeply wounded and am a long way from being healed I do feel as though God is using my pain and loss to minister to others and is teaching me a lot. His loves and grace DOES sustain!! He is showing me that He is still in control and that even though I DO NOT understand I can still TRUST HIM!! I am continually reminded of the 2 Corinthians 12:8, Paul is talking, Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me (a personal affliction). 9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong!! I know I am so weak, there are still days when I think I just can't do it and then I recall Paul and his thorn and remember, when I am weak, HE IS STRONG!! Oh God, that I may know your mighty strength and be a testimony that your power can be made perfect in my weakness!
By God's Strength and Power I can Live For More!
PS A God sized Hug came in the form of a letter Jackson brought home from school today, you can read it below:
In case you could not read it, my favorite part is when he says, "I love you with all my heart". Then he ends with "I am going to tell you again" I Love You. Thank you God for my precious son whose love for me reminds me of how his Daddy loved me! I really needed to hear that today!! You are still good! Amen
- his HUGE wrap me up tight hugs,
- his smile, his hand in mine, his kiss
- his laugh
- him laughing and playing with our kids
- the way he would pray for me when I was tired, hurting or discouraged or just because he could sense I needed it.
- his spiritual leadership and wisdom
- his voice telling me, "I love you" or "your beautiful" , "your a great Mom" and his voice of encouragement and praise which came so naturally and often.
- the way he could make me laugh, I spent so much of my days laughing and smiling at his words, body language and just the way he lived and loved!
- the way he could take anything that was too serious and make it funny or a joke just to ease the tension and pressure.
- his way of helping me have the proper perspective especially if I was making a big deal about something that was really not a big deal!
- his phone calls, texts, emails
- his smell, his hands, his eyes and then everything I thought I could never miss like his snoring! What I would give to hear it again as I try to sleep in bed at night.
I could go on and on about all things things I miss! As I try desperately to make these "new shoes" fit right or be more comfortable the simple truth is that there NOT!! It has been 7 months and I still long, yearn and ache for my Todd. For how our life was! I just want to go back in time, I miss EVERYTHING about our old life!! I so long to see Todd again. My kids miss him, our family, our church miss him. I am feeling so weak!! I am reminded that my strength is not in myself, PRAISE GOD!! I would definitely be in a puddle on the floor but even still there are days like the past few where my heart seems to be saying or more like screaming, I can't do it!! I don't want to do it!! I did not want my life to be this way...
I have heard it said that grief is like running a marathon and if that's the case, I feel as though I am several miles down the road but I suffered an injury. I am hurting, the pain of the race is getting to me. I know in my mind I can do it or with God's help I can. But days like today my heart is crying out for the pain to stop, my body is weak and is waging against my spirit that is saying, you can do it! Focus on ME, find comfort in Me!! I have read, prayed and still the tears come. Oh God please help me, I know you are there, I know you have a plan and I do trust you but today my heart is tired and I am overwhelmed by my emotions. Please, please take the pain away! I MISS him so much!! I can't even begin to describe how bad this hurts!! I have so many precious friends that tell me often to call when I am feeling low or sad and I so wish that would help. On days like today I NEED TODD!! Life has moved on and my kids are growing and even thriving, our church has grown and moved on, family and friends celebrate new life, new marriages. I am truly joyful for all that, yet my heartache is a constant reminder that this life is hard and painful, and that my race is going to be a battle to the finish line! I am also reminded often that this isn't it! This is not as good as it gets, Hallelujah!! This is not where I belong. I know this sounds crazy but I haven't wanted Heaven as bad as I do now. When life was going good and is sweet I thought I want to stick around awhile and then once those closest to me started go on to Heaven I have been thinking more and more, "I think I am ready" Of course that is my human in great pain flesh talking but in my spirit I know God is not through with me yet. Philippians 1:6 "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" There IS still work to be done in this city and I am trying hard to be a vessel for God's work and His glory and I can smile knowing that this is not my home!!
Father, please help my heart to believe and feel what I know to be true. You are there, you are walking this with me, at times even carrying me when I cannot walk on my own. I may feel lonely but I am not alone. Help me to know and feel especially right now that you are here! Please give me supernatural comfort! And Father for those reading this, that they too may experience your love, comfort and strength and healing today! I do love and trust you with all my heart!!
Because of His great Comfort I can LIVE For MORE!!
PS On a lighter note... below is the link to an amazing tribute video of Todd's life, may it challenge you to Live For More!
Oh how my life which seemed to be more focused and filled with love and light seems at times now to be surrounded by darkness! The daily reminders of my new life that my heart continues to fight against as I navigate through life as a widow and single Mom, me a widow I am only 41 years old!! People I thought became widows much older in life and then I am reminded that I do know of widows that are even younger so I am not the only one walking in the valley of the shadow of death. Many are walking this hard, lonely, dark road of loss and grief! I am now a part of a select group that has way too many members each wishing that they were not a part of this difficult group. I had a busy weekend celebrating a friend who if getting married in two weeks. There was lots of laughter, food, presents and fun and in those moments I felt a bit normal and was reminded that as much as I feel like my life has stopped and even though I really don't want to celebrate anything new without Todd, the rest of the world does not operate under that thinking and is moving on. Couples continue to meet, fall in love and get married. My kids continue to grow and even celebrate birthdays. All of those things are such painful reminders of what I have lost! So how do I live in my new adjusted life? Do I let the darkness of the sorrow and this time of overwhelming grief and emotion overtake me?? I have a choice to make to either allow the darkness to overtake and consume me or walk through it with the hope that light is on the other side! I daily pray and ask God's opinion and wisdom and then praise Him for His response. He is so patient and loving to share His word with me. As I cried through the better half of my day yesterday and prayed before closing me eyes last night to have a better day I awoke this morning feeling different, not so sad! Had my situation changed? Oh how I wish!! I am definitely past the point of thinking I will wake up out of this nightmare. I am fully aware that this is my new and very real life! Not what I had planned for my life but it is God's sovereign plan. Romans 11:33 says, "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgements (decisions) and his paths beyond tracing out"! Gods decisions are too deep for human minds to understand , comprehend and follow. I do chose to have faith in God's plan... the plan that allowed the love of my life to be taken from me and our children, sometimes this is easier said that done I assure you!
So as I opened my Bible this morning to find some hope for the day the verse I read was, Isaiah 42:16b, "I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth." what a wonderful verse! God doesn't have me in the darkness to stay there but His word tells me that He WILL TURN my darkness into LIGHT and he will make my ROUGH places SMOOTH!! Oh how I needed to hear that this morning! I have often felt like this rough place may last forever, like my heart and my emotions may not recover from THIS ONE!! God is telling me that it will get better, my darkness will turn to light again and this rough spot will not last but at some point, hopefully SOON, it will be smooth... WOW!! I don't know how many other people need to hear that it isn't always going to be this way, but I sure do!
Dear God, thank you for loving me enough to give me your word that encourages and challenges me each and every day! Help me today as I begin another busy week trying desperately to see the light and not just all the darkness. I need you more than ever! I desire to be an encouragement to others who may be walking in a dark valley uncertain of how to walk in the light. Use my story and even this blog to draw others to YOU! I love you!!
Psalm 23:4 "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for YOU are WITH ME, your rod and your staff, they COMFORT me!" So if you are walking through your darkest valley, know that JESUS (the good shepherd) is with YOU! His rod and staff will be used to protect you for your enemies (which sometimes can be your own mind and thinking) and most of all His presence will bring you COMFORT!
Because of His great love and light I can LIVE FOR MORE!!
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Today marks 5 months since you left us and went home to Heaven. I still have a hard time believing it! I have managed to survive our anniversary, the first day of school, attending Jackson's football games alone, purchasing a new car, Halloween, Thanksgiving and now Christmas. I guess I am adjusting okay but still find it hard to believe you are gone. After all you were my superhero and my forever love which means you were supposed to be invincible and you a I were going to grow old, very old together! I definitely would not choose to parent alone, it actually really stinks BIG TIME and has been one of my biggest adjustments as you were such a GREAT, hands on Daddy (probably didn't tell you that enough) but God is filling in the gaps and between family and friends the kids are adjusting and being well taken care of.
I took the kids on a cruise with your Mom, Shelley and Jeff for Christmas. They had a really good time and I managed to enjoy it too. It was definitely different vacationing and definitely celebrating Christmas without you but God gave us good weather, good food and we were able to build some fun new memories. Bethany continues to make us all laugh, she definitely has your sense of humor and Jackson tried snorkeling in Cozumel and loved it! I know can you believe it? Our cautious son, I think he is gaining more courage which is so fun to watch. The turquoise blue water and the tropical fish of Cozumel were incredible. As I was there I was reminded of our trip 18 months earlier to celebrate my 40th birthday and what a great time we had. Those will be memories I treasure the rest of my life.
I miss you more than you will ever know but I am seeking the Lord as my husband and spiritual leader. Thank you for your great example as a husband, friend, daddy, pastor and neighbor. Your life and legacy has touched more than you ever knew here on earth and oh how God is being glorified!
As we get ready to welcome a new year, I am trying desperately to get to the other side of grief and am reminded of God's faithfulness. I think back to when we had just experienced the pain of the failed adoption of Travis Isaiah and our hearts were broken and hurting and I was sitting in BSF and the teaching leader said, "often times God uses difficult circumstances to accomplish His will but it's on the other side of that difficulty that we see His goodness, His glory and His purpose". At that point in time we were not on the other side of that difficulty but just beginning the grieving process and God had in His plan to bring us a surprise blessing in Bethany Grace only 6 months later! I am still not on the "other side" but oh how I wish I was! I am trusting God this year to bring His goodness, His glory and in time even His purposes. At times I may fail sweetheart, but know that I paid attention and learned from you how to stay faithful to God and how to persevere under pressure. I know too that God loves me and is walking with me through this!
Until I see you again in Heaven, I continue to LIVE FOR MORE! Cassi
PS Jackson went into your office last night, (we have kept the door closed and only go in there every once in awhile) he said, "it still smells like him, I don't have a smell but daddy does it is a random good smell and I like it. Made me smile and tear up a bit too. Oh what I'd give to smell that as Jackson said, "random smell" again!!