Choosing to See the One Who Sees Me

Keep your eyes on Jesus…

Five words that have the power to change everything. Five words that call us to do something so simple, yet, somehow, we still find a way to complicate even the simplicity of this command. Five words that I should keep stored in the forefront of my ever wandering mind.

“In this world, there will be trouble. But, take heart, I have overcome the world.”

Trouble finds all of us… financial trouble, relationship trouble, family trouble, grief, loss, unemployment… even car trouble, home repairs, and taxes can cause us a lot of strife when we aren’t prepared for it. Life and all that comes with it can be overwhelming and frustrating at times. Personally, in my life, these past few years have been filled with some really hard seasons; ones that leave me feeling like I’m drowning in an ocean of troubles. When a person is dealing with a great physical loss, all the little stuff that piles on can feel like an avalanche.

In church this past Sunday, the pastor mentioned that Christmas isn’t always a happy time for people… he listed several different things that people could potentially be dealing with. One of my kids looked over at me and said, “we are literally dealing with all of those things.” We both just kind of giggled. What else can a mom really do when she knows her child isn’t unscathed by the hardships of life? It’s either laugh or cry, and crying during the Christmas Eve service would have just been awkward for everyone. (Although, I did cry at the end of the service. We will get to that.)

Lately, I have felt so incredibly lonely. Waiting for that friend to reach out or that family member to call. Scrolling through social media and seeing Christiano’s friends living their best lives – finding the one, getting engaged or married, landing their dream job, traveling the world or just simply experiencing joy. It’s both weird and beautiful to see. The mother in me yearns for all I will never get to see Christiano experience, but the heart in me rejoices for each friend who finds happiness in the midst of the grief I know they will forever feel. Christiano really was that special… special enough to be forever missed by anyone who ever knew him, and, while that brings me the deepest sense of joy, it still hurts when I feel like we, his family, are forgotten. We are the ones left behind to dwell among the the shattered pieces of a broken family. It’s frustrating because we didn’t choose to be broken. Day after day, wives decide they don’t love their husbands anymore. Husbands walk out on their wives, and children are either abandoned or forced to be tossed back and forth from house to house. That’s the brokenness Chris and I both experienced as children and were always determined to never let that happen to us. Admittedly, this has not always been easy. Grief changes people individually and changes the family unit as a whole, too. Through the journey of grief and all that it exposes, we now realize that, although we choose daily to fight for our marriage and family, it is God’s grace alone that holds us together – even now.

But, we know that our brokenness can be too much a burden for some. We really do understand. There are days that I’d like to avoid my life and all that comes with it. But, as hard as I work to understand why people would turn away, avoid, defer, and ignore or why friends stop calling, stop texting, stop supporting, understanding it doesn’t change the fact that it really hurts. Maybe that’s why I truly appreciate the outlet of Facebook & Instagram. When someone comments on a picture of our family, I’m reminded that there are people out there who are thinking of us and praying for us, even when some of the ones we once held closest don’t bother to take the time.

I don’t write this to hurt anyone. I write it because, with each passing day, God is reminding me to fix my eyes only on Jesus. It’s when I keep my eyes on Him that I know my feelings aren’t the end all-be all. It’s in this place I find my rest and my loneliness falls away. They say that tragedy will make you or break you. I don’t agree with that. I think everything we go through in life presents us with an opportunity to either draw close to the One who can heal us or isolate ourselves from Him. As nice as it would be to have an unending supply of supportive friends and family members, those people still couldn’t do for me what Jesus can do.

I know how lonely it can feel to want deeper connections… and, in a perfect world, it would be so nice to have those connections along with a solid relationship with Christ. But, people can’t fix what’s broken in you. People can’t fill the voids or right all the wrongs. People can’t rescue your lost soul or pay the infinite price for your life. Only Jesus can, and only Jesus has.

Jesus understand what it feels like to be abandoned by the people He loves. He knows what it’s like to experience every trouble known to man and suffer undeservingly. Keeping our eyes on Jesus will empower us to love others even when they leave us. It will enable us to turn the other cheek when they hurt us. It will cause us to give of ourselves even when we feel disregarded. It will allow us to serve even the people by whom we feel the most used.

So in this season of uncertainty, in the times I feel the most alone, and on the days my grief is too heavy to bear – I will choose to keep my eyes on Jesus.

And, on the days full of smiles and laughter, and when I’m surrounded by love and overflowing with joy – I’ll keep my eyes on Jesus then, too.

Everyday – through it all – I will choose to see the One who ALWAYS sees me.

“You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

God saw me this past Sunday, when at the end of the Christmas Eve service I was given the most precious gift by a beautiful  person. God used someone I least expected to bless me in a unique way, and, when she handed me the gift, she said ‘this is from God to you.’ So, that’s when I did get to cry. God knew just what I needed this Christmas. I needed to be reminded that my boy is still with me and still thought about by other people besides me.

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So, whether mountain highs and valley lows, Jesus is my forever constant, and He alone is the One in Whom my soul finds rest.

“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:2-3‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Waiting Isn’t Stopping

As we come upon the very last month of 2017, I find myself extremely reflective. This year has been a whirlwind – truly weird, for lack of a better word, in every way. There’s been a crazy amount unexpected highs and and so many unusual lows.

Life changed dramatically for me, personally, this year… new job, new purpose, and new daily grinds, a new season altogether. In October of 2016, I started taking my sweet little nephew for a few overnights throughout the week. He has been such a blessing and the reason behind lots of my happy days. Actually, I’m picking him up tomorrow and can’t wait! He’s at such a fun and busy age. He keeps us all on our toes, for sure, and has become a priority for all of us. I also began a new job at the end of 2016 at Saint Raphael Academy. What a blessing that’s been! The people are amazing, and they’ve been so, so, good to me. In 2017, Chris turned 40 & Gabriella graduated high school and started college. Chris and I were installed as youth directors at our church. He was brought on staff full time and I part time. I’ve been working two jobs since July, and woah has that been a testing of my faith and character! We also went down to ONE car this summer to save some money, and I feel like I spend more time in the car than in my house! Just last night, Chris lost his grandmother. She was 104 and left an amazing legacy. 2017 has been a ride, that’s for sure. I spoke at quite a few churches in the first part of 2017, and I was having the time of my life. There is nothing in the world like doing what God called you to do! Whatever that may be…

I’m realizing more and more that while His call can seem unconventional, it is also unchanging. Through every season of highs and lows His plan for us is sacred, and He is patient in bringing it to pass. I, on the other hand, am not as patient. I’m human and full of insecurities. I’m not immovable, but I’m held in His arms, and while I’m unsure, I am fully confident in His perfect love.

From the Ruins is a part of my very heartbeat. I didn’t understand it when everything seemed to slow down. I couldn’t grasp why the vision wasn’t coming to pass. I didn’t get why what once seemed to be moving so rapidly had stopped so abruptly. Again I’m reminded that, while I can be confident in His plan for me, I won’t always understand His methods or His timing. He’s working things out in me, and this season has revealed just how much of me needs work!

I’ve missed Christiano terribly in this season. I think while I’m ministering to hurting people and being used to share our story, I can, at least, see a purpose in my pain. But, in the stillness, I often wonder if good will ever come out of this. My heart cries for God to be glorified completely in my life and in my son’s death and resurrection. Sometimes the fog is so thick, especially in the season of waiting.

However, I’m so sure, so certain – even in this time of uncertainty, that God is working it all out. There is a peace that passes my understanding and quiets the chaos within me. A peace that knows I’m right where I need to be – for such a time is this. God has continued to use me in ways I can’t often see until much later. He’s continued to keep me disciplined and consistent in this shaky time.

And, somehow, I’m excited for what’s next… because waiting isn’t stopping.

In just a few weeks, I’ll be saying goodbye to Saint Raphael’s. On January 2nd, I will be brought on full time at Faith Christian Center. God knew this was coming and that other things had to take a back seat while I was working two jobs and partnering with my husband to run a home and a youth ministry.

However, I’m feeling such a divine shift in my momentum. I’m excited about all that’s coming down the pike! I’ve picked up my book again, and I’ve got a new fervor to get it done. “I may be weak, but Your spirits strong in me. My flesh may fail, but, my God, You never will.” When I am weak HE is strong in ME! And, on that note, I want to share what’s on my heart for Project Stand in The Gap. There are two families on my heart this year. Both without at least one parent this Christmas. One with multiple children and one with just one. Will you stand in the gap with me again this Christmas and give to these families? One thing my heart can never ever shy away from – even in the craziness of life and grieving – is helping those in need. It’s who I am because of God who is in me. I’d love to bless these two families with an amazing Christmas. If you would like to get involved, please head over to my website and donate. Here is the link:

https://squareup.com/store/from-the-ruins/item/stand-in-the-gap-a-christmas-project

Also, if you know a family experiencing grief this Christmas, please let me know. Last year, we were able to bless eight families with a beautiful Christmas. Let’s do this again!