Stop the Ride….I Wanna Get Off!

If there’s one thing I knew about my son Joe, it’s that he was a roller coaster junkie.  The wilder and faster the better, as far as he was concerned.  Same goes for my fearless daughter.  The first time she rode Space Mountain at the age of 5, she laughed when it was over and wanted to go again.  It’s no surprise, though.  They came by their love of roller coasters naturally.  Since my first loop-de-loop at Kansas City’s Worlds of Fun, there’s never been a roller coaster I wouldn’t at least try.  (Although I’m learning my advancing age doesn’t always tolerate the bumps, jerks, and speed like it used to.)

Last summer, the kids and I enjoyed a day of thrill rides at Knott’s Berry Farm.  We had already scoped out which rides were the craziest, had the longest lines, and gave us the most bang for our buck.  It was a glorious day of beautiful California weather, poor nutrition, and all the screaming our lungs could take. (OK, so that was mostly just me.)  A running joke became my line of “Is it too late to get off?” after we were strapped in for what was sure to be another wild ride.  And my non-sympathetic children would just laugh and say, “Yep! Too bad, Mom!”  We left the park that day feeling exhausted, exhilarated, and extremely blessed for that time together as a family.  Life seemed good.  More than good.

But less than two months later, I was forced to ride a roller coaster I didn’t want to be on.  There was no line to wait in, because frankly, no one ever chooses to be on the “ride” of losing a child.  As if that’s not enough, life has lately been throwing in all kinds of drops, climbs, twists, turns, and loop-de-loops.  I feel I’ve been holding on white-knuckled for far too long.  Parts of it are occasionally thrilling, but most of it is downright….well, crappy, for lack of a better word.  And you can’t always prepare yourself for what might jolt you back into the reality of what’s been lost.

Last night was one of those jolts.  I popped into Joe’s room to hunt down a tissue box.  Unsuccessful, I turned to leave when my eyes met the open closet as it had so many times before.  The shirts were hanging as they have been, all cattywampus on the hangers (that boy never could seem to hang a shirt properly).  But that didn’t matter anymore.  I simply longed for Joe to wear those shirts again.  Looking over to the desk, the computer begged for Joe’s fingers to be on the keys, playing Minecraft much longer than he should be.  And then the bed…perfectly made, with no one to sleep under its covers.  How I longed to tiptoe over to that bed, see Joe’s sweet face sound asleep, and pray over him as I used to!  It was too much.  Too much pain.  Too much longing.  Too much emptiness in that room.  In that wave of grief, my mouth opened and out came the words that weigh on my heart far too often:

“Stop the ride, God.  I wanna get off. I’m DONE. Done with living without my boy.  I’m ready for him to come back home.”

Logically, my brain knows Joe can’t come home.  But it didn’t stop my heart from wanting it more than anything else in the whole world.  I’d love to say God spoke to me in this moment.  Whispered to my heart.  But not this time.  There was silence.

Painful, aching silence. 

I imagine Jesus felt like getting off the roller coaster, too.  In fact, the night before He died, He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane for His Father to stop the ride so He could exit.  “Dad.  I’m done.  I can’t do what you want me to do.  Let’s forget this whole dying business. Tell me there’s another way this can all go down.”  (OK, so I may have paraphrased that passage, but that’s the gist.)  And you know how God responded?  Me neither.  That’s because all four Gospels make no mention of God saying, “OK. Son.  I can see you’ve had enough.  You’re done.  I’ll find another way.”  Because He didn’t. Truth be told, there is no record of God responding.  Maybe He did and we just weren’t privy to that conversation.  But maybe…maybe there was silence.  You see, the part I failed to mention earlier was possibly the most important part of the prayer:  “yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)  Jesus submitted to the will of His Father over His own.  He wouldn’t get off the ride unless God said He could.  And God didn’t.  So Jesus had His answer:  He had to stay on, no matter how painful it would be.

I don’t know about you, but I am beyond grateful He did.  Thankful he continued on the path His Father chose for Him.  Because if He hadn’t, we’d be lost.  With no hope.  No eternal future.  No promise of being in the glorious presence of God someday. No chance to see those we loved so dearly again.  Like my sweet boy and countless others I loved.

We don’t always get to chose what this roller coaster of life does or where it goes.  We don’t know when it will end.  But we do have the assurance that God can be trusted and knows what He’s doing.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

~Proverbs 3:5-6

When life gets full of twists and turns and loop-de-loops, let’s hang on to our Father and the words He has given us: I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.” (Psalm 63:8)  Maybe our white knuckles can relax a bit, because we can trust in the Operator to take us where He’s planned for us to go on this side of eternity.  We can also trust Him to bring us back to the safety of His loving arms, where the ride all began.

Thinking back on my prayer, I knew asking God for Joe to come home wasn’t very accurate.  Joe is home.  So it’s not really me that’s waiting for him to come home.  It’s him waiting for me.   












Lessons from a Cactus

I’m a girl who was raised in the Midwest – rural Nebraska to be exact.  I grew up with scenery that included corn fields and silos and flat land for as far as the eye could see.  So it’s no wonder that even after living in the desert for nearly 15 years, I’m still fascinated with its landscape.  Some people don’t think there’s much beauty to behold in a desert, but I absolutely love it.  Especially when it’s springtime….little flowers of purple and yellow dot the sides of hiking trails, things seem (remotely) green, and there’s a buzzing of insects all around. (OK, so that part I could live without.)

There’s no shortage of trails to hike around the Valley and now that spring break is here, I had some time to try out a new trail.  Normally I’m not one to take photographs when I hike, but finding myself particularly drawn to the enormity of the Saguaro cacti on the trail, I channeled my inner tourist.  Every 100 feet or so, I’d find myself whipping out my phone for another breathtaking shot.

Now, you may not have time to research the Saguaro like I did (this is how you know I’m on spring break), so let me enlighten you on some amazing facts.  The Saguaro is the largest kind of cactus there is and it only grows in the Sonoran Desert.  (If you’re not from Arizona, think tall spiky green cactus with arms.)  They can live up to 200 years old and grow to a height of between 40-60 ft.  They grow incredibly slowly, only gaining 1-1.5 inches in the first 8 years.  It’s not until they’re 35 years old that they’ll even produce the beautiful white flowers that open up in mid-April.  And it takes nearly 100 years for the Saguaro to grow its first arm.  So, the more arms, the older the cactus is.  Are you fascinated yet?

Looking up at one of these majestic plants seems like it would be awe-inspiring.  But if you’ve ever been close enough to a Saguaro, you’ll notice it often has several holes bored through the flesh from where various birds and desert creatures have made their homes.  The base of the cactus has been eaten away from wild javelina and jackrabbits.  Occasional wildfires char the base as well.  Not only that, but the skin of the cactus is subject to sunburn and frostbite.  So how is it, after all a cactus has gone through, that it is still able to keep standing?

Because of what’s inside.

Internally, the cactus is strong.  There are long shafts of wooden ribs that run through the length of the cactus that are banded together.  You can imagine my delight, then, when I discovered how strong that wood is, right?  Wrong.  Turns out the wood is described as “lightweight” and “soft”.  That was slightly disappointing to discover.  And here I thought this was going to be the perfect analogy of how God is strong just like the inside of a cactus!  I nearly scrapped the entire blog post when I learned that.  But God put a familiar verse on my heart just then :

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am GENTLE and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden LIGHT.” ~ Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

OK, so maybe God IS like the inside of a cactus…just not the way I thought. And if God is like the inside, I can’t help but think how much I’m like the outside.  Full of holes.  Burned.  Eaten up by the troubles of this world.

I think we all can relate to that, can’t we?  We’ve all gone through trials in life, whether big or small, and if we’re blessed, we have good friends and family who come to our side to see us through and share words of comfort with us to let us know we’re not alone. Words like, “God is with you.”  Or “He’s right beside you.”  And while those are perfectly accurate truths about God that do bring comfort, they stop short of the most wonderful, crucial truth I am discovering:

God isn’t just with me.  God is IN me. 

Many people marvel at how I’ve survived burying my 14-year-old son.  They say, “You’re so strong!” or “I could never be as strong as you!”  Oh, friends.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  Yes, prayers have sustained me, music has spoken to my heart, hugs have brought me comfort.  But God IN me is the reason I’m still standing.  He is my day-to-day survival strategy.

It’s ironic how living in the desert is often about survival. You often hear of hikers who get have to get rescued because they didn’t bring enough water to last the trip.  Every desert dweller knows the key is always having enough water.  Even the Saguaro knows this.  It survives because it has a long taproot that goes down into the ground two to three feet. And it has extensive roots that branch outward to collect as much water as it can. I’m learning that I need that same root system for my life.  That long taproot delves into God’s Word and time spent in prayer.  The other roots reach out to our family and friends for love, support, and comfort. This is how we survive through any tragedy, great or small.

God faithfully promises to lead us beside quiet waters and refresh our souls.  But unlike the cactus adding to its weight when filled with water, our souls become lighter with God’s living water because He has promised that His burden is light.  Our burdens become lighter, too, when we spend time in His presence.  They will never fully go away – we aren’t promised that.  But they are easier to carry when we know the Lord dwells in us.

I’m not sure about you, but knowing that realization –  and TRULY believing it – makes me stand a whole lot taller.  It puts fear in its place. It gives me joy on my saddest days, hope in my despair, comfort for my sorrow, and purpose for my pain. It empowers me to know that I have a living God who makes me, a plain girl from rural Nebraska, HIS dwelling place.

“Or do you not realize about yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?” – 2 Corinthians 13:5

I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” – Galatians 2:20




The Rocks in My Shoes

Last Saturday morning was an Arizonan hiker’s dream…not too hot, not too cold.  Clouds to block the sun and a slight breeze.  If there’s one thing you should know about hiking in Phoenix, it’s this: trails are ROCKY.  (And have an ample water supply…so, I suppose two things.)  Sometimes the rocks are small; sometimes they’re big; and sometimes they’re boulders.  But invariably, no matter how snug I put on my hiking boots, a tiny little rock or two will end up in my shoe.  It’s like the Murphy’s law of hiking.  And Saturday was no exception.

For the record, I didn’t start off with a rock in my shoe.    In fact, the first few minutes on the trail were really quite pleasant.  But once that rock (okay, so “rock” might be an exaggeration…a small piece of gravel, perhaps) found its way into my hiking boot, I began to step right on it.  And it HURT.  I tried to shift my foot around and move the rock. I really didn’t want to stop on the trail, untie the shoe, dump out the rock and retie.  Plus, there was no place to sit down – not until I reached the top of the mountain.  I had no choice but to keep going. Soon after, I felt a second tiny rock join the first one.  More shaking my foot.  More shifting my toes around to adjust the rocks.  More realization that those rocks weren’t going anywhere.  As I continued to walk, I began to get seriously annoyed.  How did these rocks get there?  Why my shoe?  Hadn’t I stayed on the trail? The journey to the top was hard enough without these rocks!

Grief is a lot like those rocks in my shoe.

Life started off just fine…it was pleasant in the beginning.  I had lots of energy and optimistic goals.  But then rocks began to creep in as the journey continued…small rocks like job changes and parenting frustrations and living on a tight budget. But there were big rocks, too. Miscarriages.  Divorce.  The death of my precious son. When they came, I didn’t have any warning.  Those rocks hit me all at once.  I don’t even know how I found myself where I was, when I had stayed on the path, had my shoes on tight, and even had Christian music playing through my earbuds.  It was painful. And many days, it still is.  A lot of days, I just want to sit down.  Stop moving.  Take the rocks out and give up.  Except I can’t.  I have to keep moving forward, constantly aware of the pain – sometimes easier, sometimes harder, but always there.  Sometimes it’s so hard, I have to stop.  And cry.  And take deep breaths.  And pray God will give the strength I need to keep going.  Miraculously, He always does.

Don’t think I haven’t pleaded with God to take away the rocks in my shoe.  More and more I identify with Paul when he begged God to take away the thorn from his side.  But I am learning to understand God’s and Paul’s responses even more with each passing day.

“‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Sometimes the rocks would shift enough so I could barely feel it.  Those moments of refreshment are a gift from God and I’m learning not to feel guilty for laughing and loving life some days. I’m thankful for those God has put on the path with me.  For those who share the pain they’ve also walked through, and for those who give me encouraging words and daily hope.  For those who willingly walk alongside me and listen to my stories of the rocks and how they just really hurt sometimes.  For those who cry with me and laugh with me and listen to me and love me through the pain as we journey together.  What a privilege it has become for me to walk alongside others with rocks in their shoes and encourage them as well.  It’s the buddy system at its finest…the way God intended it to be.

In case you’re wondering, I did eventually make it to the top.  Rocks and all. And the relief I felt when I took off those shoes?  Well, you can imagine it was glorious.  As I sat down to look back on the trail I had come along and the beauty all around me, I closed my eyes and imagined the day when Jesus will take off my dusty old hiking boots.  He’ll shake all those painful rocks out and smile at me and say the words I pray to hear:  “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  And then?  I’ll run barefoot on the rockless streets of gold.




Today I placed the last school picture of my son into the frame his grandmother had given him when he was in Kindergarten.  I can remember when there was just one photo in that frame and it seemed like a lifetime until it would be filled with pictures.  The years went by and more pictures were added.  I loved looking at that frame and seeing how my sweet boy had grown each year.  I’d read the familiar verse each time from Jeremiah 29:11 and pray about the plans God had for Joseph.  I couldn’t wait to see what God was going to do with his life!  And then September 5th happened.

The plan was left incomplete. Unfinished.

It is a difficult thing to accept that your child is no longer a part of your present.   But it’s an equally difficult thing to accept that your child will not be a part of your future. I had plans for my child, as I’m sure all parents do.  Joe was smart, driven, hard-working and I knew those traits would serve him well in his career someday.  I longed to see him graduate and tell him how proud I was of him, knowing all the sacrifice it took to get to that moment.  I imagined the day I would dance with him at his wedding and invite a new daughter into the family.  I dreamed about the day I would hold his son or daughter for the first time and beam with pride as a grandmother.  All of those are wonderful things to dream about getting to do.  But the harsh reality is this:

Those were MY plans.  Not God’s.

That is a hard truth to come to grips with.  One that I struggle with on a daily basis.  One I have questioned God about more times than I care to admit.  And one that requires a most extraordinary amount of faith and trust in a still-loving and faithful God.

I’m reminded of that each time I visit the cemetery.  Buried next to Joe is little Hannah Grace who died at 2 days old.  Just a few spots down is another little girl who died of cancer before she turned 6.  Andrew is nearby and didn’t make it to his 14th birthday.  All seemingly too young and leaving a life unfinished.  So many plans left undone.  I have so many questions for these families who have walked the road I’m now on.  I want to hear their stories and about the plans they had for their child, like I did. My heart quickly becomes burdened with so many emotions.

But in those moments of doubt and guilt and pain and grief, God has reminded me of these important truths:

  • Joe was never really mine.  He was on loan from God and I was blessed enough to be his mother while he lived on earth.
  • God sees the big picture.  HE has the plan, not me with my limited perspective.
  • Joe’s life was exactly as long as God meant it to be.  There is nothing I could have done to extend it, even by a second.

Job 14:5 confirms this when he says, “You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer.” (NLT)   Even David declared in the Psalms, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”  (Ps. 139:16 NLT) It is on days I doubt God’s plan that I need to hear these words the most.

God did have a plan for Joe.  And even though it wasn’t what I would have chosen, it was still the most beautiful plan ever imagined.  It’s the same plan He has for you and me.  It’s one full of hope and a future that began from the beginning of the world and was completed when Christ breathed the words, “It is finished.”  Because the plan of sacrifice, redemption and love was complete.

Each day I tell myself the words I’d always tell Joe when he didn’t want to get out of bed: “If God woke you up today, He’s not finished with you.”  And as much as it seems like it was Joe’s journey that was left unfinished, it’s really those of us still here on this earth who aren’t done.  Joe finished the race.  His victory was won.  His plan complete.

My hope and my future rests in the words of Scripture, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)  

Until then, there’s still work to be done.






Living Brokenhearted

Nearly four years ago, I walked into a room at a local church, signed my name to the roster, and sat down at an empty table.  I didn’t know anyone, which was the way I preferred it to be.  I didn’t even really want to be there, but deep down I knew I needed to be.  DivorceCare class.  It was one of those surreal moments you find yourself in and completely overwhelmed by.  This was a class for other people. Surely not me.

I was still in a great deal of shock over what had transpired just weeks prior.  As I sat at the table looking around at the weary, distraught faces around me, my eyes wandered to the whiteboard in the front of the room.  The instructor had written a Bible verse on the board.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18

I wasn’t sure how I had lived over 37 years of life not knowing that verse.  Tears immediately began to fill my eyes, because if there ever was a description of me, this was it.   Brokenhearted.  Crushed in spirit.

That verse became very personal to me over the years.  It not only brought me comfort, but it was a verse I often shared with others who were going through challenging times.  And now recently, that passage has come back into the light and is one I cling to in the wake of my son’s death.  But for a different reason now than before.

You see, while I had my Bible open to this very verse the other week, my eyes locked in on “brokenhearted” and “crushed in spirit”, as it had so many times.  I closed my eyes and whispered, “God.  I am so weary from being these things far too often.”  And in the stillness, God whispered back, “This verse isn’t about you.  Look what I am doing!”  Huh?  I opened my eyes and read with fresh eyes….


It was like being hit with a spiritual 2 x 4.  This passage was not about my current emotional state, but about God and HIS action.  HIS movement towards me.  HIS love and desire to save me.

How many times times have we had the spotlight on ourselves and our suffering instead of what God is doing in the midst of it?   If you’re anything like me, it’s far too often.  Even when my heart is broken for those around me – and there are so many walking through the darkest of valleys- I tend to focus on their state of grief and sadness.

But, friends, let me encourage you today as much as I encourage myself with these words.  We have a God who sees our broken hearts,  our crushed spirits.  And He doesn’t sit by idly.  He moves closer.  Our hearts are broken.  There is no doubt of that.  But that’s not the end of our story.  God loves us so incredibly much that sent HIS Son to save us, so that by His grace, we will not have to live brokenhearted forever.  Our hearts will be made whole again in the presence of our Savior.  Eternally.

So do not read the words of the psalmist and weep.  Read them and rejoice!

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”




There are a handful of words I love to say just for the sake of hearing them.  Words that make me feel smart when they roll off my tongue.  Like onomatopoeia.  Monotonous.  Discombobulate. Octogenarian. Antidisestablishmentarianism.  But my favorite, as of late, isn’t quite as long as that.  It’s….


I don’t get to use that word much in my current profession of being a Kindergarten teacher.  However, it’s one I’ve found to be particularly relevant when it comes to describing how I’m walking through this journey of grief.  To most outside observers, it would appear that I’m surviving just fine.  But there is an inner struggle between polar opposite feelings on a daily, sometimes hourly basis.

Sadness and joy.   Anxiety and peace.  Despair and hope.

There is overwhelming sadness when I look at the empty passenger seat beside me as I’m driving, wishing there was once again a 14-year-old boy constantly changing the radio station.  And yet, there is overwhelming joy when I think about that same boy singing with the saints around the throne of God.  There’s anxiety each morning when I wake up and wonder how I’ll even get dressed and survive another day.  But as I manage a class of 20 Kindergartners with calmness and patience, I can feel God’s spirit of peace present.  Then there’s the long term.  I don’t know how long I’ll have to live on this earth before I’ll see my son again.  And some days, it almost feels disparaging.  Almost.  But then God fills me with hope and longing for the coming of His Son again like I never have felt before.

I’ve joined a small handful of Facebook groups for grieving parents – some are Christian, some are not.  Let me tell you, there is a marked difference between these two groups that come down to one word:


For the nonbeliever, hope is minimal at best.  There’s an abundance anger, sadness, despair, grief, and hopelessness.  The believer also experiences some of those feelings to a degree.  But for those who are in Christ, hopelessness is not part of the equation.  If there was no  hope that one day I would see Joseph again, I surely would not be able to walk through this life.  It’s hope that puts my feet on the floor to walk through another day.  How true it is when Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God,and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

Hope is not merely a wish.  It’s believing in the promises of God as absolute truth.

Last week, my daughter and I were in St. Louis visiting my sister.  We went to a nearby park to get some exercise and preliminarily (now THAT’S a fun word too…) burn off New Year’s Eve calories.  It was thrilling for us desert folk to see so many leaves on the ground, albeit brown and dead.  I loved seeing Ella’s face as she crunched through those leaves in her boots.  And as she grabbed a handful of them and flung them into the air, I couldn’t help but think of that word:  dichotomous.  Here we were surrounded by dead leaves and bare trees…and yet experiencing joy in the midst of it.

That sums up the journey of grief.  We are surrounded by it.  We walk in the midst of it every day.  But there are moments of joy in the journey.  Moments where we take what’s been given us and throw our hands up to the sky in praise to our Creator, knowing the leaves won’t always be brown.  The trees won’t always be bare.  New life is around the corner.  We rejoice in that truth.  That promise.  That HOPE.



I’ve been trying to figure out for a while now how exactly I feel about the end of 2016.  I don’t think anyone who knows me would disagree that 2016 wasn’t my best year.  Not by a long shot.  As I reflect back, though, 2016 wasn’t all bad either.  There were a lot of happy memories:  Joe’s 8th grade graduation, a summer full of swimming in the backyard, family game nights, an unforgettable day of riding crazy roller coasters in California with my two kids.  So while it’s true that the last few months of this year have been extremely challenging and emotionally exhausting, 2016 does have something that 2017 does not:  memories of my sweet boy alive.  I guess it’s no wonder then, with just a few short hours to go until a new calendar year begins, that part of me wants to hang on to this year and not let go.

A friend asked me yesterday if I had any New Year’s resolutions.  To be honest, I hadn’t really thought about it all; it’s been years since I’ve made any.  So to answer the question, I wittingly replied, “To survive.” Because that’s what every day, every hour feels like:  survival.  But then, as God always does in His perfect timing, He brought something to my mind that I had forgotten.  Something He knew I wasn’t ready to mentally handle or process until now.

You see, the day we met the director at the funeral home was the day Joe’s body had arrived there.  I had already spent three agonizing days without him.  Towards the end of our meeting I had an overwhelming feeling of wanting to be near him one last time.  The director graciously set up a private room for us to be in, even though he explained Joe’s body would be covered with a quilt.  I didn’t care.  Every fiber of my being was longing to be next to him.  As I walked into that empty parlor room, I knew I had done a thousand hard things in my life…but this one would just about top the list.  I forced my feet to keep moving until I crossed the room.  Kneeling on the floor beside Joe’s body, I laid a hand on top of the quilt.  Tears began to pour down my face.  I can’t share everything I felt, thought or said in those next few minutes.  But as I was on my knees, crying out to God for strength to bear this terrible burden, I looked up.  There on the wall above where Joe’s body lay was a simple wooden cross.  I stared at that cross for a long time.  Something was welling up inside me…a deep conviction of what God was going to do with me through this tragedy.  All of a sudden that deep sadness was gone.  And in its place was a fierceness to be bold in my love for the God who had brought my baby to his eternal home.  Right then and there, I spoke words aloud to God that I would not stop declaring what He had done in my life.  I would not quit making His name known.  I would be confident to step out in faith.  Because I knew that was the best way to honor the life Joe led.

I left that room…..resolved.  

So perhaps I do have a New Year’s resolution after all.  And not just one for 2017, but for the rest of my days:  to live a life passionately for Christ until I am reunited with all those who have gone before.  And now that I think about, it’s ironic that my resolution just happens to be the chorus of one of Joe’s favorite Toby Mac songs.

‘Til the wheels fall off

‘Til the spotlight fades

I will lift your banner high

I will lift your banner high.

And ’til the walls crash in

For the rest of my days

I’ll lay it all on the line

‘Till the day I die.

Colossians 1:

24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.