When Your Scars Bleed

If grief were a person…. It’d be you.

Grief would be handsome.

Grief would be strong.

Grief would be full of life.

Grief would be you.

Some days when your memory is just too strong I jump in my red SUV and drive. Then I drive some more. Sometimes I blast Worship music and sing to the Heavens that is now your home. But sometimes I listen to our songs. Sometimes I listen to bad rap music and I force myself to let the anger out. Sometimes I just drive and cry. Today was one of those days. I could feel you in the passenger seat. I could feel your presence. Your overwhelming, undeniable, all-consuming presence. I wanted so badly to reach out and touch your face. To feel your strong hands and arms around me. But then I force myself to shake away the thoughts that will inevitably send me into a dark spiral of emotions.

It’s been 3.5 years. Yet some days it feels like yesterday. Every time I feel strong and steady in my new life I’m knocked down with triggers of you, us, our life, the good and bad. It is literally all consuming. I still… after 3.5 years wake up looking for you… reaching for you. Sometimes I wear your deodorant to bed just to smell you near. That is so weird, I know, I know. But loss and grief make you do weird things.

I’ve grown a lot these last 3 years. I wonder if you’d even recognize the woman I am. Almost every big decision I’ve made since you’ve been gone, I see your face. I wonder if you’d be proud. I wonder so many things. I wonder when I will be able to let you go. I wonder when your memory will fade so much so that I can truly allow someone else in. I wonder. I wonder so many things.

I feel selfish. I see other’s lives move on. Marriages, babies, family vacations, and in some ways I feel so stuck in the past. I know where my mind goes isn’t healthy at times. But this journey is just that- a journey. Some days I get it right and I’m strong and can inspire others to be strong during life’s tragedies. But then there are the days I’m crumbling inside. The days I take out my grief box and I delve in. “Missing you comes in waves, and tonight I’m drowning”. Some days I have to allow myself to drown in you.

My scars are bleeding. My heart is throbbing with pain and love. My mind is jumbled with confusion and frustration, anger, but acceptance. Grief is literally a million emotions and thoughts mangled together. It changes you. Sometimes I’m thankful for the change. Other times I hate who I’ve become because I’ve forced myself to be cold and uncaring.

Tonight I’m drowning. Tonight my scars are bleeding.

I know I’ll see you again. But I want “again” to be right now. I want to hit your chest with my small fists. I want to run into your strong arms. I want to scream into your ears. I just simply want you. I want to go back in time and change so many things. All we needed was a little more time to get things right. I could see us flourishing. But we ended too soon and I will never understand that part. But I have to force myself to choose every day to accept it.

I know God has an amazing plan for my life. A plan that somehow had to include all of this. It had to include all of the scars I carry.

I remember July 4, 2012 like it was yesterday. The day I met you. That morning I woke up from a dream crying. I dreamt I was a mother. I dreamt of a little blonde haired, blue eyed girl, holding me and whispering in my ear that she loved me. That was the day a seed was planted and I had an overwhelming desire to be a mother. Looking back on that dream, it was our baby girl holding me and whispering “I Love You”. God gave me that dream, I have no doubt.

Now she’s 4 years old, vivacious, full of life and creativity. She’s a part of you, but without you.

She doesn’t remember anything about you.

It’s like a whole other life I lived. A life that only I remember. It’s so surreal. Tonight I’m drowning in you. Drowning in your songs, drowning in your words, drowning in your pictures, drowning in you.

I know tomorrow will be better. It always is. But tonight I’ll let my scars bleed.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9. This scripture gives me so much peace. God is with me on my good days and my bad days. He is with me on the days I get it right and the days I fall down and allow myself to feel the pain of your absence. He is my rock, my strength, my salvation.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll get it right.

I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.

The Power of Making Your Bed


Charles Duhgg wrote the following quote in his book, The Power of Habit, “Making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater since of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget.”

Making your bed is described as a ‘keystone habit’.

Did you make your bed today?

To be honest I hadn’t in days.

I laid in the darkness, only a slight sliver of what resembled sunlight peeked through the heather grey blinds that blanketed the windows. I covered my face deeper into my new plush pillows. I grabbed my yellow blanket and snuggled into its softness. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to face the day just yet. I didn’t want to play the juggler in the circus act of my current life. “Welcome to Jessica’s Circus”, I whispered under my breath as I forced the comfy yellow blanket off me and hopped off my gigantic King sized bed. Before I even had a chance to relieve my bladder in silence two little footsteps came bouncing across the hall and entered my room, “Mommy!”

…A new day has dawned. Whether I’m prepared for it or not. Whether my mental capacity is coherent enough to tackle the day of cartoon watching, a dozen snack trips to the pantry, in between work calls, quotes, and video chat meetings for work… The days are long but the weeks have been short. If that even makes sense.

Disclosure: I am beyond thankful to have had the ability to work from home and not skip a beat in my household income with the COVID-19 fiasco attacking our country. I am so blessed. BUT.

But, I am a person who thrives on routines, and excelling at tasks and goals. Whether that is health and fitness goals, spiritual peacefulness, accomplishments at work, all while feeling connected to my daughter and making sure I’m taking the time to play with her and be fully present. You know what I have excelled at the last 7 weeks or so? Eating snacks. Yep. I should have a gold trophy shipped to me for successfully walking to the refrigerator and eating. Insert laughing gif. But for real. The struggle has been REAL.

The other day I had to force myself to do the bare minimum just to get through the day. My mind and emotions were blurry, unclear and confusing. I couldn’t seem to catch a grip on the day I was in. I fell to my knees and cried out to the Lord. I know He hears my cries. I know He can see my heart. I know He knows I mean well in all areas of my life but I’m failing in all the areas I’m trying so hard in. I can hear Him sweetly telling me, “stop trying so hard, surrender, give all of those anxious burdens and fears to me, My daughter”. Why is this so hard?

When I got up from the floor after that prayer time, I immediately had the urge to make my bed.

So I made my bed.

Then I put a load of laundry into the washer. Then I built mini houses out of blocks with my daughter. Then I sat in my home office and returned clients phone calls and submitted the paperwork I needed to for that day. I even logged onto my Continued Education Training and started my Exam that had an upcoming due date. I was able to successfully complete 4 courses that day.

The Power of Making Your Bed.

Now obviously I’m not saying that making your bed releases some sort of magical powers within the atmosphere. But it does kick start your mind into productive thoughts. Thoughts lead to actions. Actions lead to productivity. Before you know it your days “To Do” list has dwindled significantly.

In these last few weeks’ potential new idols have risen in my personal life; the idol of food, the idol of T.V or mind-numbing entertainment, and honestly the idol of just being lazy. My days went from 90 to nothing virtually overnight—like so many of yours did too. It was nice to slow down. For a few days at least. But with my type of personality if I’m not setting and reaching new goals I get sedentary in my mind and how my time is spent drastically changes. I don’t like it.

I don’t like spending my time outside of the Will of God. My soul feels unsettled. I know when I’m not living to glorify my Heavenly Father and my heart aches in streams of poison. It’s so easy to get off track. Just think about it… it can be so difficult to cultivate healthy eating habits (for most of us anyway). It can take months and for some years to truly get a grip in this area—but it can only take a few days and weeks to spiral back into unhealthy habits. Addicts of alcohol or forms of drugs can spend years going around the same old mountain, years of rehab and counseling, finally life is back on track. Then they have a bad day and that bottle or high is calling their name again. What they spent years getting out of took seconds for the enemy to ensnare them in again.

Same goes for almost every area in our lives. Honing in on our unique gifts, talents and creativeness feeds our souls. Imagine your, “Best Self Days”, what if every day you woke up and you were naturally “Your Best Self”? Like without even trying…

Want to know a TRUTH? Jesus made that possible. Literally all we have to do is invite HIM into every area of our day, big or small. Invite HIM into every dark crevice of our minds. Invite HIM into every hidden area of our hearts. You know… the areas that we pretend don’t exist, our little secrets that we don’t mention to our best friends, spouses, or even counselors? Well guess what? God already knows those areas you try to hide. He is already there. He already accepts YOU as you are and where you are.

How unbelievably beautiful is that? But it takes us making the decision. It takes us to begin to hate the areas of our lives that hold us back from being our best, truest, purist selves. Ask yourself what those areas are? Is it too much self-doubt? Addiction or idolatry of some sort? Hidden sexual sin? Self-pity? Jealousy of others? Un-forgiveness? What is holding you back from the life the Lord has planned for you? It’s not enough to just hate the behavior. We have to discover the root of the behavior. Why do we do the unhealthy and life-sucking things we do? Why do we keep ending up in these same cycles of behavior that continue to keep us from living our absolute best lives the Lord has intended for us to live?

If you noticed no-where have I said mastering this mindset will protect you from life’s hurts or tragedies. Because it won’t. Jesus Himself warns us in John 16:33, “… In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

We can’t control the bad things that may come our way in this life. We can’t control the decisions of others that may have a negative effect on our life. We can’t always control what happens around us or to us, but we can control how we react.

We have to learn to ‘control the controllable’.

What are you in charge of in your life and throughout your day? Your thoughts, your actions, your mood, your attitude toward others, your work ethic, how you choose to react to situations and people, surrendering to the Lord, what you decide to put into your body- which is the temple of the holy spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). These are all things I can control.

At times I am so overwhelmed inside because I am trying to control everything around me. I am stressing myself out trying to control things that will never, ever be in my control. I forget the power of baby steps into positive thinking and relinquishing control.

Control the controllable.

For me… Every day it starts with making my bed. I pray blessings over my day as I straighten the sheets over my king-sized mattress. I ask the Lord to take captive of any thoughts that are not from Him or glorify Him.  As I move my grey velvet comforter back into place, I ask the Lord to give me His creativeness over my work and patience in my parenting toward my daughter. With each fancy throw pillow I set into place, I begin to bind the enemy for any tricks or schemes he may throw my way in an attempt to deter my walk with the Lord. Finally, as I roll my Aztec printed blanket in front of my decorative pillows, I ask the Lord to continue to remind me that I am His and that I am not in control of everything- He is.

Who knew something as simple as making the bed could become so powerful?

Did you make your bed today?

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24.

And for all of those things I simply cannot control I will continue to repeat…

I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.



Dear Cody…



Dear Cody,

I wanted to wish you Happy 3 years in the Heavens. I often daydream about what you could possibly be doing. Are you sitting at the throne of God? Are you in awe of the majesty and power that surround you? Are you dancing in worship, letting your radiant spirit shine? Or maybe, just maybe you’re on a pier on a beautiful heavenly lake with a fishing pole in your hand.

I wonder if you’ve met my Uncle Billy who joined you in Heaven almost 2 years to the day you went? Do you remember me telling you about him? He was my uncle who baptized me when I was a young girl. He was the one I’d wake up in the middle of the night and pray for throughout the years. You never got to meet him on this side of glory, but maybe you are friends now?

I wonder if you ever think of me or our life? I wonder what your capacity for earthly memories are? I wonder if you remember your life here at all? I wonder if you’d be proud of me?

Baby Abby is growing so beautifully. She has your laugh. Your deep belly giggle, and grin full of comic mischief. She has asked so many questions about you. “My daddy who held me when I was a baby?”, she’ll say. She asks to see pictures of you often. I’ll swipe through years of electronic photos of our life. She sees the ones with me in a white dress and she’ll gasp in excitement, “Mommie, you look like a Princess! Did you and my daddy get married!?”

Her little mind is so sharp and full of curiosity. At first the questions evoked an explosion of sad emotion throughout my soul… but now I can smile and enjoy telling her about you when she asks. She knows you loved her. She knows you didn’t choose to leave her. She knows you’re with Jesus. She knows Jesus lives in her heart, so she immediately says you live there too.

Your memory is so sacred to us. No matter where life takes us, we Love you.

I can close my eyes and remember my head on your chest. I can still hear your heart beating with life. I can see the light in your deep blue eyes. I can see the Love you had for Jesus and people shining out of you. I feel your arms around me. It used to be so hard to allow myself to remember you, to truly remember you. But grief is so beautiful when we allow God to lead us into healing. I grieve still, but I am so thankful for the memories. I’m thankful for our life, even though it was only for a few short years. I am thankful for where the Lord has brought Abby and I. He has taken care of us every step of the way. He has led an amazing man into our life. It’s weird to say this, but I know you would like him. He is a man after God’s heart. He prays for Abby and I daily. He has been an answer to so many of my prayers.

I want to thank you for showing me what Love is. I think back to that young innocent 23-year old girl who laid eyes on you and knew you were going to be in my life. I had no clue of the heartache and devastation ahead. But I do know the truth of Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I have learned to be intentional in healing and grieving. I cry out to the Lord in my grieving. He does not forsake us. He does not leave any stone unturned.

My favorite “winks” from Heaven as I like to call them, are when someone who was touched by your life and testimony comes to me and shares the difference you made in their life. One gentleman in-particular comes to mind. He stopped me at church one day and with tears in his eyes told me he learned what true freedom in worship to the Lord was because of you. He could raise his hands to our Heavenly Father without embarrassment because of how you couldn’t contain your worship. You helped so many men struggling with addiction. You may have fallen in your life, but you never gave up. You always mustered strength and faith and kept walking. That is admirable. You taught me about God’s Grace. I didn’t have a revelation of that kind of Love prior to you. I will forever be thankful for the season of “us”.

I remember 3 years ago today talking with you on our front porch. Abby’s baby body was spread across my lap as she was fighting sleep. I was tired. You looked in my eyes and were concerned. I remember telling you, “I feel like I’m grieving and I have no idea why.” All I wanted to do was cry and sleep, which was abnormal. You sweetly told me to go rest. We had plans that day and I chose to sleep instead of spend time with you. I woke up a few hours later and felt so burdened spiritually. My heart was already aching before the tragedy happened. I often think about this. How could I have known devastation was looming? The Lord doesn’t give us a spirit of fear, but I believe when our spirits are in tune with Christ, we can feel things not of this world.

I want you to know I forgive you. I’ve learned harboring unforgiveness, especially for someone who is no longer on this earth, is dreadful. The Lord showed me my anger and unforgiveness was debilitating areas in my life.

I forgive myself. This one was hard. I forgive myself for being angry when you didn’t come home that night. I had no idea where you were, and I was mad at you. You texted me and told me you were checking the fishing lines one more time and then headed inside. But you never came back. Hours pass and I go out to the pier, I yelled and yelled for you but you never answered. Fog blanketed the dark lake. The silence was deafening.  I stopped searching and I was mad at you. You weren’t here, and I was mad at you. I was mad for so many things I never said to you. I was mad at myself more than anything for not being emotionally present your last day on this earth. But the Lord has walked me through healing and forgiving.


One small word that is loaded with emotion and meaning. A word that feels tangible at times. A word that has been my greatest enemy these past 3 years. A word that has become my greatest friend when I need to hide from the world and allow myself to “feel” the trauma and loss.

Though we may never fully grasp death or heaven on this side of glory we have to learn to accept it. I vowed to allow the hurt to change me in a way that glorifies God.

You’re the lucky one… Basking in glory… praising with the Angels…Giving everyone in Heaven your famous “Cody Hugs”… Living your best life…


I will see you again one day.




“I Sat with My Anger Long Enough, Until She Told Me Her Real Name Was Grief”

anger blog

I came across the above words written by C.S. Lewis a few weeks ago and it hit me. Hard.
As many know, there are five common stages of grief.


These are just the common stages. They don’t necessarily hit in this order and the stages can be repeated.
I have been extremely intentional in my healing process. I have a few select people I allow in my grief moments and days. This healing journey is beautiful and exhausting. I’m learning that it may never be over. And that’s okay. The WORST thing you can tell a grieving soul is “get over it”, “move on”. Move on to what? Pretend your life hasn’t tasted tragedy? Pretend your emotional war wounds don’t exist and burst with pain every once in a while? Pretend your Love for the lost one doesn’t still exist? No. Moving forward is the correct notion. Move forward with the aching pain. Move forward with the Love you still carry. Move forward with your new scars and appreciation for Life and Love. Move forward in the most-healthy way you know how to do.

After years of pursuing healing, the one stage of grief I seem to get stuck in is, Anger. I’ve heard so many times throughout the last two years, “you’ve handled yourself with such grace”, “The Lord is so proud of you”, “Cody is so proud of you”. But no one sees my heart. No one knows the thoughts in my mind. No one can see my midnight hours—struggling on the battle-field of my own mind while getting lost in the darkness of suffocating anger.

“I sat with my anger long enough, until she told me her real name was grief.” C.S. Lewis

These words stroked a nerve.

I’ve known Anger is a main stage in grief. I’ve followed the stages. I completed the stages thoroughly, or at least in my mind I did. But I keep revisiting Anger. I have experienced intense Anger at Cody since he’s passed. Anger at him for fishing that night. Anger at him for traveling so much for work when we only had a few short years together. Anger at him for not being here with me. Anger at him for not being here to watch Abby grow into a beautiful little girl. Anger at him for unresolved things in our marriage. Anger at him for unfulfilled promises.

But if I’m honest the one I’m most angry with is, myself. I am stricken with gut-wrenching guilt about that day that changed everything. I wasn’t soft. I wasn’t nice. I wasn’t a loving wife. I was angry that day and I never even told him why. I was exhausted and felt the weight of grief before the tragedy even happened. I’m angry at myself for being mad at him when he didn’t come home that night. I’m angry for not looking harder. I’m angry at myself for not calling 911 sooner. I’m angry at myself for not having the voice I needed in certain seasons of our marriage.

I have cried in Anger toward God. I have yelled and screamed toward heaven as my fists hit the floor. I have strained my voice from screaming. The screams end in a pool of hot tears.

God knows each tear.

Psalm 56:8 tells us, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”

My tears are not lost. Your tears are not lost.

I can’t wrap my mind around this fact. The Lord has a bottle of all the tears I’ve ever cried? He knows each tear that has ever fallen down my face? And your face? What Love and intimacy from our, Savior?

This vicious, yet breathtakingly beautiful grief journey reminds me of a racecar on a track. Going around and around. Fast. Breaking for an oil change and tire change. Then off again at full speed. People cheering on the outside, waving their hands in approval. But they can’t see inside of the car. They can’t see the sweat dripping off the racer’s brow. They can’t feel his heart beating with fear and excitement. They don’t see what’s happening behind the wheel. They only see the outside. I only see what you choose to show on the outside. You only see what I choose to show on the outside. We won’t always see one another’s brokenness. We won’t always see one another’s fears and sadness. People have told me that I seemed to not have even skipped a beat in life after my husband passed away. That is far from the truth. The joy of the Lord is real. The peace of the Lord is real. Without those two gifts I would have gladly chose a life marinating in self-pity, darkness, and depression. Because that’s the easy thing to do. Choosing anger is the easy thing to do.

I have broken my anger down. I have asked for a revelation of the root of my anger… anger that extends past this particular trauma. The root has been fear or sadness. My fears and sadness manifest into anger. Of course that makes sense to me. I don’t want to feel vulnerable in facing fears and admitting an ongoing season of sadness, so I become angry. Anger itself is not bad. Anger is a God-given emotion that when expressed in a healthy manner during a justified season is okay. Like Ecclesiastes teaches us, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-14.

Undealt with anger is what’s dangerous. I have been treading on this danger line. The unresolved anger in previous tragedies and my marriage bleeds into my current season and relationships. I have felt my emotions snap at the littlest discomfort and unmet expectations. Maybe you can relate? If so, we need to keep in mind it’s not fair for the people in our lives who care about us. It’s up to us to be intentional in our own healing and strive to seek the Lord through each stage of grief and emotions. We may not be able to control what happens around us, or even to us. We can’t control how other people view us or treat us. What we can control is our reactions. There is freedom in thinking before we act and speak. There is freedom when we bring our hurts and disappointments to the throne of God rather than at the feet of a friend who may innocently encourage or justify the hurt, anger or gossip.

Once again, The Lord continues to use these unwanted emotions in this desperate season from a turned up-side down life and somehow manifests it for His Glory. I’m thankful for this season of anger and raw moments of questioning the Lords plan over my life. It has brought me closer in my spiritual walk. It has again, re-directed my anger and negative perspective to aim higher and remember that no matter what happens He’s got my daughter and I covered with His feathers and tucked under His wings. (Psalm 91:4)

Through the moments of anger and fleshly confusion I will mentally reside on the words of Isaiah 26:3, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.

I Don’t Want To Forget


Photo by Jennifer Willard Photography

“I can’t wait to be on the other side of this.”

These were words that escaped my lips 2 years ago.

When the grief, the pain, the loss was all so fresh, so deep and still bleeding. A few weeks ago, I lay in bed clinging to the phone as I poured my heart out to a friend. I remember being so ridden with guilt for almost forgetting where I had been. How can life seem so ‘normal’ now? I had a disappointing day at work and was fuming with emotion. It hit me, how can I allow something so miniscule to steal my hard worked for joy? My life was in shambles not that long ago and look how far the Lord has brought me. How could I forget so easily? How could I allow myself to get worked up over nothing when my heart has known immeasurable destruction?

I made a vow in that moment, I don’t want to forget.

It’s in the valley’s we get to know the heart of our Savior. It’s when, our lives as we know it have been obliterated that we feel the sweet presence of Jesus intervene in a supernatural way.

I close my eyes and remember the hard days. The days of not knowing what happened to my person. The days of gut-wrenching grief and screams to God. The days of packing brown boxes to move across town. The days of rocking my baby girl to sleep as I cried silently in desperation to the Lord because I had no idea what I was doing. The days of seeing hope and sunlight only to be pushed back in the dark tunnel of grief and depression.

I want to remember these days. It keeps me humble. It keeps my heart centered on Christ and His overwhelming goodness. It reminds me of how weak I am, and how unbelievably strong my Jesus is. It reminds me to surrender my heart and mind daily to Him. It reminds me to let go and cease striving.

“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 of weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

These have become some of my favorite words in the entire Bible. I speak them often. I recite them before I have spoken at events. These words put Christ at the forefront of my insufficiencies. They murder my need to please and smother my perfectionist nature. They welcome my weaknesses so that Jesus can shine His power and receive the glory He so desperately deserves.

During my many months of grief and trauma counseling I begun to imagine grief in different ways. I often allow my mind to visit one illustration in-particular. Grief is this beautiful box. The box is blue and has colorful sequins displayed on it. The box has light dispersing from it. Inside the box are my memories. My favorite pictures from my old life, or songs that resonate memories, or maybe it’s words forever captured on paper that had been handwritten to me. This box is filled with beautiful memories. The box contains sad memories too. Harsh words, ‘I love you’s’ left unsaid. It is filled with the infamous ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’s’. It is filled with regrets and gut-wrenching guilt. I put this box in a safe place. Maybe tuck it under my bed or put it away on the top of a shelf. I hide the box. I don’t want to see it every day. My heart can’t take it.

But I purposefully allow myself days and moments to look at this beautiful box. I allow myself to pick it up and touch it. I hold it close to me. Some days I allow myself to actually open the box. I delve in and touch the memories. I may cry–sweet tears or ugly cry with mascara running down my cheeks. I may laugh and laugh until my belly hurts. Sometimes I allow my baby girl to visit the box with me. I tell her about her daddy. I let her listen to his favorite songs. I show her pictures of him holding her. She refers to him as “my daddy who held me like a baby”. That is all she will ever see of him on this side of glory. My heart aches with unspoken grief of the loss she has experienced without even knowing it. I have to keep reminding myself that the Lord will cover all of her needs. I have to trust Him with her.

I’m learning grief will always be a part of my life. Grief isn’t always dark and grueling, it can be surprisingly beautiful if we allow the Lord to use our grief for His glory. Grief has taught me compassion and patience for others. It has opened my heart to a new realm of love and understanding of life. Grief has reminded me how short our lives are and reiterates the urgency to be eternally minded and heaven bound.

It hurts to go back.

But I don’t want to ever forget the hurt.

No matter the amazing blessings and sunshine the Lord allows to enter our lives, I don’t want to forget where I came from. No matter how normal life feels again, there is something so pure in being broken before the throne, with nothing to offer but your praise and shattered heart. God shows up and intricately re-creates the brokenness into a sculpture we could have never built or imagined for ourselves.

But it starts with surrender.

It requires trust.

The Lord keeps reminding me how easy it is to praise Him when life is rolling along, but what escapes your lips when life resembles heartache, broken dreams, and unmet expectations? Do you lay down and give up mentally, emotionally, spiritually? Or do you rise-up and praise Him even when the pain is suffocating and the confusion looms from every direction?

Maybe you have been through a season of devastation and grief but you’re finding yourself on the other side. Praise God for the new season. But never, ever forget what He’s brought you through. Or maybe you’re still in the season of darkness. Praise God for this season too. Allow yourself to cease striving and draw close to the Creator. He will carry you through. He will make beauty from the ash. It may not be on our timing and it may not look like what we had in mind, but that is why He is God, and we are not.

“The Lord is my strong defender; he is the one who has saved me. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will sing about his greatness.” Exodus 15:2

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

I Trust my God. I Trust my God. I Trust my God.


“Hold Me All Day”

Hold Me All Day

Photo by Jennifer Willard Photography

“I got a baby, and her name is Abby, and I Love her so much, so much,” I sing in a whisper to my 2-year old daughter while leaning over her crib. With her eyes still closed she purses her lips in a slight grin. Her mouth opens as she faintly repeats, “so much, so much…” Her eyes pop open as she exclaims “Hold me all day, Mama!”

This is our sweet morning time routine. Me singing silly made up tunes, her ‘pretending’ to be asleep, and then bellows charming demands like, “hold me all day”.

It’s these precious, seemingly insignificant moments that literally makes my world go around.

The innocence my baby girl exudes. The happy spirit-filled energy that escapes her in the early hours of morning. I wished I could swoop her up and tell her “I will hold you all day, baby girl”. She wraps her little arms around my neck and tells me “no leaving Abby, Mama”. I hold her to me and whisper in her ear, “I will never ever leave you… unless I’m with Jesus”.

I can’t promise her I will always be here. I refuse to make that promise. She’ll repeat my words, “with Jesus, Mama?” I explain I would never choose to leave her, unless Jesus decides He needs me with Him. She grins and again utters her delightful demand of “hold me all day!”

These last two days her requests have been granted as I’ve held her sick body close to me. I’ve been praying down her high fever with doses of Tylenol around the clock. A big red bowl that resembles a hardhat has become our bed buddy. (The emergency vomit bucket)

Yet my sweet girl still manages to awake from her bouts of sleep with a grin and immediately reaches for me and asks to be in my arms. My heart breaks with that helpless parental feeling when your child is sick beyond your means of a quick healing. But selfishly I have been soaking up the extra snuggles and sweetness. Knowing that one day way too soon she won’t need me like this. I pray she always knows she will never be too old for my arms to hold.

I can’t help but wonder how much different our daily lives as adults would be if we ran to our heavenly daddy with such urgency and excitement and requested that He, “hold us all day”, regardless of our circumstances.

Isaiah 49:16 tells us we are “engraved on the palms of His hands”. We are constantly on our Savior’s mind and heart. He is always yearning for us to look His way and simply invite Him into our day. He wants to be a part of all our moments, big ones and what we consider trivial moments.

There are so many times throughout the day I’ll be busy accomplishing a house chore and I can hear little footsteps running through the hall yelling my second name—“Mama, Mama, Mama”. She’ll find me at the stove stirring a pot of pasta or leaning over the sink washing dishes. She will be so excited to show me a toy she’s playing with or show me her fake makeup she just applied. The look on her face is beaming with accomplishment, “I did it, Mama, I did it”. She wants to share her little moments with me, her parent. She wants me to be included in her playtime. She desires my interaction. How selfish and utterly hurtful would it be if every time she came to me I refused to look her way, or I pushed her aside and told her I didn’t have time right now? Sadly, that happens. I’m sure more times than most parents would like to admit. But guess what? Our Heavenly Daddy never responds to us this way. He would never turn a blind eye and reply, “I’m too busy for your nonsense”.  No. That would never be His response.

Instead His Word instructs us with this, “…Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 18:2-4. What do most children do? They excitedly RUN to their Mother and Father in pursuance of their attention. This is what God wants us to do. He is not a forceful God. He is a God with a perfect Will in line for our lives, but we have to open our hearts and minds to Him and what He desires for us. He does not force it. He patiently waits for our invitation.

Run to Him as if you were a small child excited to show someone you look up to a new toy or karate move. He will gladly “Hold You All Day”. No matter how old we get, The Lord upholds us. Isaiah 46:4 tells us, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

So, invite Him into your day. Invite Him into your Monday morning blues, and your Friday afternoon impatience. Invite Him in when choosing what you allow your mind to dwell on, what you allow your eyes to see, and your ears to listen to. Invite Him in when you notice irritation in your tone of voice to your spouse or children or parent. Invite Him in when you are lacking motivation. Invite Him in and ask Him for His divine wisdom and His sovereign Will over your day. Simply ask Him to be a part of every moment of your day. I promise your mindstate will evolve from negativity to thankfulness.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.


“Where Did My Daddy Go?”


I watched as my husband held our daughters sleepy body against his chest. I watched as her head rested on his strong shoulder. His eyes said it all. Absolute adoration. Through my new mama exhaustion I sat up in the bed and took the sight in. I’m so glad I did. I never imagined that sight would be cut so short.

The last year and a half has been full of amazing spiritual revelations. The Lord is continuously walking me through healing that can only be done in His sovereignty. I have come to a place of acceptance… for myself.

But then I look down at my beautiful blue eyed, blonde haired baby girl and I lose my breath sometimes from the heartache.

Several weeks ago I was by myself in the line at Chick-Fil-A. In front of me were a gentleman and a young girl. I watched in a trance as this little girl took the man’s hand and began twirling. She looked up at him with such love as she giggled and sweetly repeated, “daddy, daddy”. His smile went from ear to ear. My heart started throbbing as I watched. The kind of throbbing that leads to tears. So there I was in the middle of the Chick-Fil-A line gulping down tears like a lunatic. I blinked as fast as I could so they wouldn’t fall. They fell anyway.

Grief happens so randomly and has no respect for your settings. I’ve learned to live with this.

Lately my grief surrounds my little girl. I have so many memories of being a daddy’s little girl growing up. I remember him teaching me how to do pushups and fight better than a boy. He taught me to ride my bike and then go-carts and 3-wheelers. He was the dad that was literally cleaning a shotgun when a boy came to pick me up for a date (let’s just say that date was short and the boy never asked me out again). My daddy taught me how to drive. He was there when I graduated high school and then college. He walked me down the aisle on my wedding day. All of these life long memories surrounding the man I get to call daddy, and I look down at my baby with fear that she will miss all of that.

I see my daughter watch other young children with their daddies. I see the wheels in her mind turning with questions. She is aware that something is missing. Then the dreaded day came. We were playing in her room, putting puzzles together, and building block towers. We were giggling and naming the pictures on the puzzles. All of a sudden she looked up with her piercing eyes and asked as clear as a cloudless day, “Mama, where did my daddy go?”

I stared in disbelief. I thought I had more time before I had to face this question. I was wrong.

How do you explain death to a 2.5 year old? After stuttering a few times I blurted out, “Daddy is in heaven”. How do you explain heaven?

She looked at me repeating the words daddy and heaven. She covered her face with her little hands and shouted “Noooo”. All she was hearing was that daddy isn’t here. The moment lasted less than a minute and of course being 2 she was on to the next attention grabbing thing. But this moment has set the tone for the weeks following. Every time we’re in the garage she will go to Cody’s tool bag and ask, “Is this my daddies?” I knew this time would come. The time of questioning. The time of searching for the right words and tone of voice. I feel selfish allowing this to engulf my thoughts sometimes… I mean there are so many children who grow up without parents or without both parents. It’s almost as if a home with both mom and dad are the rarity these days. I know I’m not the only parent who has the dreaded responsibility of trying to explain death and heaven to a young mind.

Still, I grieve with deep groaning’s from the soul. I grieve for my baby girl. I grieve for other fatherless children. I grieve for children who are growing up without their mothers. I grieve.

Just like any good parent I want to shield my child from any hurt. And when she hurts, I hurt.

Psalm 10:14 tells us, “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.”

When my protective mama-bear side surfaces I am reminded of the ultimate parental protector. Jesus. He doesn’t promise us a life of rainbows and butterflies. He doesn’t promise we won’t experience heartache and devastation. He just promises that we are never, ever alone. Ever. He is the daddy that trumps all human forms of the title daddy (or parent). I pray that Abby knows this with every fiber of her being and every inch of her heart from a very young age.

When we’re committed to seeking the Lord’s face in the midst of life’s chaos and triumphs we will not miss out on anything. When we put our hearts and minds in a place of daily surrender (sometimes minute to minute surrender) we are being guided exactly where the Lord wants us. Even if it means going through a season of devastation. I have to continue to believe that there is purpose in the pain and on the other side of grief there is joy unspeakable. I have to remain steadfast in hope that the Lord continues to choose to build beauty from all of the dark ashes floating around in the midst of our lives. I refuse to give up hope.

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy habitation.” Psalm 68:5

I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.


God Hasn’t Forgotten You

He hasn't forgotten you

My heart was heavy and my breathing labored as I made my way up the steep hill. I looked over at my friend who matched my steps. We caught our breath from the hill and begun our jog in the woods again. Our conversations went from laughter, to politics, to heaven, to the meaning of life. I looked at my friend and through tears uttered the words, “I feel like God has forgotten me.” I went on to describe how I had felt like a lost little girl as of late and how deep sadness had penetrated my soul.

Have you ever been through a season in life when you feel all alone and lost? A couple of weeks ago I was struggling a lot. Relentless grief and emotions had made their home in my mind and heart. It felt like the Lord was so far away. I could listen to worship music, read His Word and feel absolutely nothing. All I wanted to do was weep and complain about lost dreams and plans, or cry that my life is 100% not the way I had pictured it. I know my bitter heart and emotional head space were creating that distance between me and the Lord. Hebrews 13:5 tells us “… Be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.””

I was allowing life to frustrate me. I was not being content with what I have right in front of me. I struggle with always wanting more, or wanting to get to the next season of life without truly enjoying and embracing where the Lord has me right now. My expectations were not being met in areas of life so therefore I momentarily lost my joy. Do not allow unmet expectations to steal your joy and peace. Your unmet expectations are a part of God’s bigger plan for your life. His ways are always good and much higher than ours. My mouth can say these words but my heart does not recognize them when I allow self-pity in.

I know Gods truth. I know I am to trust Him. I mean that has been my mantra for the last year and a half—I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God. But can I be transparent… Some days I don’t. Some days my trust is on shaky ground. Some days I feel so heavy with hurt that I feel like there is no relief in sight. Some days I look around and see beautiful families. I see daddies who get to love their children and children who look up at them with irreplaceable adoration. I see smiling faces and hear laughter and joy exuding from families. I see all of this and I get jealous and resentful. I look at my daughter and beg God that she will never feel like she’s missing out. My heart literally feels as if it will burst out of my chest with hurt and anxiety over the uncertainty of our futures.

This is where my mind was during this particular run in the woods with my friend. My heart was desperate for relief or some kind of eternal comfort—the kind of comfort that only comes from the Holy Spirit.

The next morning I decided at the last minute to attend a Women’s Conference. I had a pulling in my spirit to go. Sitting through the conference I had an expectancy in my spirit. I didn’t want to feel distant from the Lord like I had been the last couple of weeks. When the conference ended I remember still feeling a bit empty. It was a joyful experience no doubt, but I was craving something deeper and more personal.

I left immediately following the conference. As I was walking through the parking lot I heard a voice saying my name. I turned to see the face of the woman who led worship at the end of the conference. She ran to me and introduced herself. “My name is Liz,” she said. “I know you don’t me, but I have followed your story and blog.” She went on to say how she has diligently prayed for me and my daughter during this season. Through tears she said—“I feel like the Lord has a word for you and I feel like I’m supposed to tell you that God hasn’t forgotten you. He hasn’t forgotten your daughter. The Lord has an amazing future for you both and this is just the beginning.”

….He hasn’t forgotten you.

The tears streamed down my cheeks. All I could say was thank you to this woman who ran after me in obedience to the Lord. She had no idea that I had spoken the words “I feel like God has forgotten me” to my friend just the day before. She had no idea the internal struggles I was having. But God knew. He spoke, she listened.

This five minute interaction in the parking lot was why I was supposed to be at the conference. This was the divine expectancy in my spirit I was sensing. I needed that personal word from the Holy Spirit. I needed that affirmation. Even though I already knew the truth that had been spoken I wasn’t receiving it on my own. God uses others to keep us lifted up and accountable to His truths and goodness. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 tell us “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”

Thank you, Liz for helping me up. Thank you for your obedience and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

To those reading this, maybe you’re in a season of feeling lost and deterred in life. Maybe you feel like life is passing you by. Maybe you feel like what you lack in life is magnified daily. Maybe your pride has been so thick that true healing seems impossible to reach… Remember it’s in these seasons that surrender is the most powerful and freeing. Let go and let God write His story for you.

Isaiah 42:5-9 speaks of Gods sovereignty, “Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other nor my praise to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.”

God Hasn’t Forgotten You.

I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.

Cease Striving


Photo by Chera Zwar

I walked quickly behind the frustrated cries of my daughter. I could see her ahead of me standing at a chain linked fence. Her little fingers intertwined through the fence with clinched fists. Her feet jumped up and down in an exasperated impatience. She began shaking the fence. I looked upon her with a half laugh, as well as awe of the strength that flooded out of her two year old body. She kept looking at me with confusion and almost anger. Then her hands pointed in front of her. What lay ahead was a kingdom for a toddler. A playground with many adventures awaited just beyond the fence. Just beyond her reach.

“Baby girl, we don’t have to climb over this high fence to get to the playground. Cease your striving,” I said calmly making my way to her.

As soon as those words left my mouth, I stopped walking. “Cease Striving”, I repeated. I turned to my friend who was next to me and I remembered those same words have been spoken over me these last few weeks.

Cease Striving.

What my daughter couldn’t see because of her limited view of the “bigger picture” was if she just continued walking straight, we would enter into an opening of the playground. All she saw was the playground but couldn’t get over the barrier. But she wasn’t supposed to ‘strive’ to get over the barrier—in this case being the chained linked fence. She just had to walk a little further and not get distracted by the sight of her hearts desire. She was supposed to trust me to lead her in the correct way to go, a way that caused no harm to her, or unnecessary striving. She was to just simply trust me.

In that moment, I felt the Lord pressing upon my spirit to cease striving in certain situations in my life. All I see is what is right in front of me. It’s a narrow view. I see something that I want, but there is this barrier in front of it and I want to climb the barrier. I want to kick it down. I want to scream. I want to jump up and down until God removes the barrier. I am spiritually throwing a temper tantrum. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this from time to time.)

When I pray… I hear the words ‘Cease Striving’. It’s not my barrier to kick down. God sees all. He has a view of the full picture. I pray, “Lord Your will be done, not mine. Let Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” But then I find myself striving in my own power to carry my burdens. I find myself so broken and on the verge of an emotional rage and deep sadness because life hasn’t gone the way I wanted. I feel knocked back on so many levels in life and I’m striving to regain what I think I need to survive. Reality check—Christ is the ONLY thing needed for survival on this side of heaven.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God…” ‘Be still’ is also translated into ‘cease striving’. The phrase ‘cease striving’ in Hebrew actually means “let your hands drop”, “let go”, or “relax”. I believe the Lord will not immerse Himself into a difficult situation in our lives until we let go of it.

Are you holding onto something the Lord is telling you to let go of? Maybe it’s something that has actually created great joy in your life. But now He’s asking you to let go of it. Some of us even hold onto things that have caused immeasurable pain and grief, but it has become so familiar to us, that we don’t want to let go of it for fear of change.

My flesh cannot understand the letting go of something good, especially after walking through a season of great loss. My flesh doesn’t want to let go of anything resembling goodness. It scares me. But then I hear the Holy Spirit whisper, “Trust me, Jess…For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

This scripture tells us that the Lord does have a plan for each of our lives. And it is a good plan. But it gives no indication of what that plan actually is. I don’t know about you, but I am a planner. I have never been ‘a go with the flow’ kind of gal. My flesh screams in agony when my plans are disrupted, when I feel a loss of control. I literally can have an emotional meltdown inside. Trusting God is one of the HARDEST tasks in my walk with Him. Lately I feel as if I’m fumbling around in the dark searching for a light switch and there is NO light switch, only the Lord whispering to keep putting one foot in front of the other and follow Him.

I love the words of Dwight L. Moody, “Let God have your life; He can do more with it than you can.”

I know I have to follow Him. In my mind there is no other option. I may sit down in a slumber and squall for a minute or two, or a week or two, or sometimes even a month or two… but eventually I know I will always get back up and walk toward that still small voice wooing me to Him once again. I’m so thankful He never leaves or forsakes us in our midnight hour.

Just like me lovingly taking my daughters hand to lead her in the way that she should go to achieve her heart’s desire (getting to the playground), The Lord never stops leading us in the way that we should go.

I no longer want to strive at this fence with clenched fists.

I don’t want to strive in my own power to heal from my past. I don’t want to keep touching my open wounds, hurting them even more. The Lord is my healer, my helper, my calm in the middle of a storm.

My desire is to cease striving.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.”

Cease Striving. Let your hands drop.

I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.

But Aren’t I Enough?


Photo By Charles Evans

My face buried in my hands, my cheeks burned from the streams of hot tears rolling down as the sobs escaped uncontrollably and out of nowhere. My body ached from the emotions released. A million thoughts bombarding my mind at once… Memories of a life that could have been. So many memories of being on my face in prayer for that life. A life that seemed so far away. The tears keep rolling at thoughts of the future… just mere thoughts though—because I have no clue about the future. But then who really does? We can all make plans, but our tomorrows ultimately aren’t ours to decide.

Fears are overwhelming me. Fears of never having the deep desires of my heart met. Desires that were fulfilled for a short time and then vanished into thin air as if that life were a dream. I opened my mouth in between the deep cries, words of gibberish escaped. I have no idea what to pray, but my spirit does. I just talk to my God. I talk in anger, I talk in transparency, I talk in sadness, I talk in thankfulness… I just talk. And then my spirit hears a faint whisper… “But Aren’t I Enough?”

My sobs stop immediately. I rise to my knees from my crumbled position on the floor in my prayer area. I lift my head up as if aiming to the Heavens. I repeat the question I just felt pressed upon my spirit—“But Aren’t I Enough?”

Before another thought swarmed my flooded mind, the word “Yes” flowed freely.

“Yes, Lord, YOU are enough”, I whispered. “You are more than enough.” As these whispers left my lips I pictured a daddy leading his child. A good daddy would never leave his child to fend for themselves. How much more can we depend on our Heavenly daddy to lead us?

I continued to pray. Words began to come to my mind… fear, anger, grief, sadness, confusion, un-loveable, rejected, impatience, unworthy, unclean… all of these words that have defined my emotions for a long time. These words are not true but hold power when we don’t strike them down with the truth of God’s Word. It doesn’t matter what words the enemy throws at us. When we make the decision to believe them is when we give our power away.

I’ve been giving my power away.

I recently had the opportunity to speak at a 3 day women’s ministry event. During a pivotal moment in the weekend a young woman testified that the Lord revealed something profound to her. She stated that she realized she needed to Love Christ more than her children, more than her husband.


I cannot get that revelation out of my mind. When she spoke this truth, her words pierced with a supernatural power. How many of us love our children more than Jesus? Our spouses?

After experiencing deep loss, I have gone through a season of not trusting God with my baby girl. That sounds ridiculous as I read it out loud right now. How could I not trust Him with her? He created her. But I was inflicted with deep fear of losing her after losing my husband, her daddy. I didn’t want her out of my sight. I wanted to keep her all to myself all of the time. It was unhealthy. I have definitely come a long way in overcoming those fears. But that fear can still creep up and paralyzes me out of nowhere.

Fear is the opposite of trust… the opposite of love.

1 John 4:18 tell us, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…”

When we surrender every faucet of our lives to Christ, it frees us up to trust in a supernatural manner.

In my moment of disheveled tears and transparency before the throne in my prayer area—I begun to see how I have allowed fear to slither in nearly every area of my life like the slimy snake it is. I have lost sight of the throne. I have lost sight of truth. I have been so focused on something I think I want or think I deserve and my eyes fell off of the One who those things would derive from in the first place. The Lord gave me a vision of a huge rock. On this rock I built a house. I built a family, a career, I have titles. I have ‘purpose’. On this rock my entire earthly life is built so beautifully. But a storm comes and knocks down everything I built on that rock.

All that’s left is The Rock.

“Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:4

“The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2

When our lives don’t work out how we want them to, when our lives seem to be falling apart, when we are disappointed, fearful, impatient, … The Rock still remains, unshaken, unmoved, acting as our shield.

Christ is the ONLY steadfast thing in our lives. He is the only constant and true centerfold. Everything in our lives should ultimately point to glorifying Him. Every relationship, every position we hold, every place we enter we represent Christ. If He is all we had, all we could depend upon and trust in… Isn’t that enough?

“But Aren’t I Enough?”

Ephesians 1:3 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

In Him we already have more than enough… everything else in this life, every other relationship, our children, significant others, our titles, careers, nice homes, beauty, handsomeness, earthly riches… EVERYTHING else is ‘extra’ and less than essential for the journey to our forever home in Heaven.


“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:3

I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.