Rise Up

This past week has been full of tears as I have reflected on the 34 years of memories that I have with my dear sister, Melody. She fought a 3 year battle with breast cancer and it took her life last Sunday.Who she was as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend speaks volumes to the brave and beautiful warrior spirit that God had placed within her.

As I was watching television with my husband last Friday night, the song “Rise Up” by Andra Day began playing at the end of one of our favorite shows. I had never heard it before but something in me needed to hear it. I did not know what was to come within the next two days but it’s like God gave me an opportunity to be prepared through this song.

I listened to it non stop before I found out about my sister, on the flight home as I let the sad news sink deeply into my heart, and throughout the following week as funeral plans were made. And I can’t get past the meaning of the words.

You’re broken down and tired
Of living life on a merry-go-round
And you can’t find the fighter
But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out
And move mountains
We gonna walk it out
And move mountains

And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
And I’ll rise up
High like the waves
I’ll rise up
In spite of the ache
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousands times again
For you

When the silence isn’t quiet
And it feels like it’s getting hard to breathe
And I know you feel like dying
But I promise we’ll take the world to it’s feet
And move mountains
We gonna walk it out
And move mountains

And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
For you

All we need, all we need is hope
And for that we have each other
And for that we have each other
We will rise
We will rise
We’ll rise, ohh ohhh
We’ll rise

Melody has risen up PERMANENTLY. She is alive and well in the presence of our Savior, Jesus Christ. No more falling down for my sweet sister ever again. How grateful I am for this truth. The lyrics are also a call to action for the rest of us here on this very lost and desolate place called earth. We have a mandate to rise up against all odds and testify to the goodness of God no matter what. We have an opportunity in the middle of pain and loss to stand tall on the foundation of God’s unfailing love. To speak out above the noise of chaos in a voice that resonates with hope.

So, I write this from a place of honor for my sister and the legacy of faith she left for others to follow. There is no other option than to rise up. I will not let earthly sorrow keep me from having a heavenly perspective.

Until we meet again, my lovely sister… #riseup

(photo credit: Sunrise Yabucoa, Puerto Rico via photopin (license))

There is Hope

Life has come crashing down. And your life has flown away.

I don’t have the words but my heart knows what to say.

I don’t have the words but my voice knows what to sing.

I don’t have the words but my soul knows what to feel.

Despite the pain, this is what I do have:

HOPE. Always. Because of you, sister, I will never question it again.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13

#thereishope

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/33859208@N00/2354408182">Snowy Post</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">(license)</a>

Christmas is a time of joy and hope. It’s an occasion when everyone is willing to go the extra mile to help others. Most of the world is incessantly smiling and overwhelming excitement fills the air.

However, a sense of anxiety and pain comes with this season as well. There’s a knowing that I can’t stop the radio station from playing 24 hours of holiday music. To them, it’s ratings. To me, it’s reminders of good times that are gone forever. I feel like they are just trying to force the Christmas spirit into me!

I’m just trying to find a balance. How can the two worlds coincide with one another? Can joy and hope really be found in the middle of anxiety and pain? Can I remember the old times with fondness while enduring the agony of present hardships yet looking to the future with expectancy?

I don’t know. It’s hard. Does anyone ever really get to a place where they are truly ok with whatever life throws at them? Truly at peace with the forgotten yesterdays, here-then-gone todays, and quickly approaching tomorrows?

I’m not sure I know how to do that. But what I am trying to do is keep an eternal perspective through it all.  If we could really know how long we have on this earth, would we even want to know? Eventually, hopelessness would set in and the sense of urgency that beckons us to live each day like it matters would be gone because of our known expiration date. Knowledge isn’t always power.

Actually, I’m realizing more and more that the less I know, the happier I am. Oh, being aware is vital to living a responsible life, don’t get me wrong. But when it comes to enjoying my life, there’s only so much I really want to know.

Trust is a battle. And I’m in the thick of it at this moment. To really trust in the One who is good despite the whirlwind of despair that surrounds my life right now is difficult. To really trust that He sees it all and hasn’t overlooked me or forgotten about me despite what my eyes are telling me is just plain excruciating.

Yep, I’m in a battle alright. A battle that won’t end this side of heaven. And every single day I have to choose to look up instead of right in front of me at the wreckage. Did you know that none of us make it out alive anyways? The thing is, that doesn’t depress me. It’s the living in this fallen world that is so darn depressing.

So I guess I’m being real and giving you permission to feel whatever it is you need to feel to make it through this Christmas. The truth is still the truth no matter what we feel, isn’t it? God is still on the throne. Jesus is still the Savior of the world. Heaven is still our forever home.

So feel it. Then put on your gloves and fight for your right to live a joyful, hope-filled life. Don’t lay down and take it. You are armed and dangerous through the power of the Holy Spirit. This life is worth living because of the One who lives in you. And it ain’t over ’til He says it’s over.

I think I’m going to put on some Jingle Bell Rock…

 

Does Prayer Really Work?

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/97041449@N00/15481757322">Stockholm</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">(license)</a>

Praying can seem tedious at times. Like I’m not getting anywhere. Like I’m stuck in a cycle of asking, thanking, and then, waiting.

AGAIN with the waiting.

So many things in my external world have been contradictory to what I know on the inside of me lately. There are horrible things like cancer, addictions, and broken bones in the people I love. I pray and pray and pray. And nothing on the outside shows any sign of improvement.

And I cry. Not because I don’t believe that God will heal them. But because they don’t believe it. How can I blame them? It’s hard to believe when you can’t see any reason to believe. But faith isn’t about seeing, is it?

So, my answer to the ever-existing question, “Does prayer really work?” My answer, dear friends, is to simply keep praying. To stop would surely confirm the negative. But, to keep on praying, to keep on trusting, brings a surety into my life that nothing else can replace. Because the answer is never found in looking at our circumstances.

When I choose to look up instead of at the harrowing circumstances around me, my eyes get filled with light and my heart overflows with hope. The situations around me will change at some point. The healing will eventually come (even if I never see it this side of heaven.) But prayer is something that will always be a source of stability for me.

Because, really, it’s not about the things that change in front of me (good or bad). It’s about the God who never changes inside of me.

So be encouraged today: In whatever you are facing, God is with you. He wants you to come to Him. Because only He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

 

 

Restoring Christmas

photo credit: Need a Hand? via photopin (license)

Today I want to write about a ministry that is near and dear to my heart.

Komeo International Ministries house, feed, and clothe over 200 orphans in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Shanna and Jerome Crawford are the faces behind this amazing ministry. They not only provide for the physical needs of these children but they care for their emotional and spiritual needs as well by pointing them to the love of Jesus Christ.

This Christmas, Shanna and Jerome are leaving their home in Edmond, Oklahoma, to travel to Sierra Leone and bring Christmas to this country. Last year, the Ebola outbreak stole Christmas from the Sierra Leone children by bringing devastation to their land. So much was taken from this country and Komeo International Ministries is going above and beyond to bring restoration and joy back.

I would like to ask you to watch this short video ( Restoring Christmas KFOR News 4 ) and consider giving towards this worthy cause. Children are in need of sponsorship so that they can have an education, meals, and many more things in order to live a better life.

James 1:27- “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this:

to visit orphans and widows in their trouble,

and to keep oneself unspotted

from the world.”

 (Please visit Komeo International Ministries  to find out more about their child sponsorship program and the needs of the ministry.) Thanks!

Thankful for the Sleepless Nights

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I’m thankful for the horrible mistakes I’ve made, the countless times I’ve been hurt, and the battles I’ve fought and lost.

If not for the hard times, I’d never appreciate the good things God has done.

 

I’m thankful for the moments of humiliation, the hours of deep sorrow, and the longings unsatisfied by this world.

If not for the desperate times, I’d never recognize fulfillment in Christ.

 

I’m thankful for the struggles with depression, the events of emotional upheaval, and the cries in the night over unanswered prayers.

If not for the seemingly hopeless view, I’d never realize that Jesus is my Hope, the Anchor for my soul.

 

I’m thankful for the angry outbursts, the stubborn mindset, and the days I’ve wasted on harboring un-forgiveness.

If not for the hard hearted nature of my soul, I’d never allow the Holy Spirit to gently lead me to repentance.

 

But, most of all, I’m thankful for the dreams in my heart that seem impossible and unlikely and out of my reach.

Because those dreams represent the big plans that God has for me.

And if he has a different plan, I am grateful that His dreams for me are SO MUCH BETTER than mine.

 

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! What hard things are you thankful for today?

Remember, it’s all about perspective.

NaBloPoMo November 2015