Our family looked a whole lot different ten years ago.
Ten years ago my life was a whole lot smaller - humanly speaking, then it is now. It was me and my two sweet boys living this life together! Three years before this picture was taken our world was devastated by the sudden loss of these little guys daddy and my husband Preston. It was a dark and painful time. One rocked by paralyzing pain, where the hurt was often overwhelming, the days seemed to last forever and no matter how sunny the days were, inside me there was a loss that was physically and emotionally crushing. Doesn't that make ya wanna keep on reading!? Well, please do because within the pain and loss there is so much hope and so many stories of incredible joy, peace and growth.
You do not know what will happen tomorrow, but you can absolutely know that you will never ever walk through any dark valley alone when you belong to Jesus. I cried deep heavy sobs, but not once did I feel abandoned by Him. He is the good shepherd who is fully trustworthy. He takes our grief and He loves and comforts us, He encourages through His word and the church. He moulds His sheep, much like a potter does to clay. He gently takes our grief and gives it purpose, (if we let Him) and He creates something that is so incredibly beautiful, made in His image, and designed for His purposes.
"The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble." Psalm 9:9
For those that are His sheep, who don't know the way of grief and pain we have a guide and protector and we can walk in confidence because He walks before us and leads us and prepares a table in the presence of our enemies. We have nothing to fear because he is near. And while we journey we discover Gods sweet goodness and the greatest gift you will ever know - Jesus, for to know Him and be loved by Him is unlike anything this world has to offer.
You can read all about our grief journey at my original blog here and watch here. And please please, if you or someone you know needs hope during grief please read it and send it on and be encouraged!
Today we are more
So so much good came from our journey. Even the first week Preston passed away, the story of how he died (helping someone) was picked up by all the local news stations and we were able to share who He was and what He lived for! We had a small amount of insurance and later me and the boys traveled across the United States to share our story with Life Happens and Farmers insurance to encourage other insurance agents to help people like me and my boys! God gave us those gifts so we could give to others, knowing it would bring us healing. And it did ten fold.
Single parenting was certainly a journey, though also full of some of the most precious memories I have! I loved getting to be so close with these boys, and the bond we formed is a treasure. And I was overwhelmed and thankful seeing how all the people in our family and communities loved on us. I will never be able to repay them for how good they were to us!!
When the boys were 2 and 4 I met KEVIN! A man so strong and so brave and not afraid of a widow with baggage and two energetic boys! The first time my oldest met him he asked him to wipe his bum on the potty! I still wish I could have seen Kevins face when he asked!
We got married in a sweet summer wedding and He has been such a gift to us, including adding two more little guys into our family! While our journey has been one of many mountains and valleys and floods (being honest) we have been married six years and all glory goes to God for the work he has done in our life. We are practicing everyday to look vertically to Christ and trying to abide in Him. We are a work in progress but the goodness of God and his mercies have weaved their way into our hearts and we will never look away.
Not one of us will walk through life without our world being shaken, but don't fear what you can't see and waste thoughts consumed by all the what ifs. Replace those thoughts with learning and meditating on who Jesus is and be consumed by worshiping Him in those fearful times. Take it from one who has lived in both head spaces - worship certainly wins and brings freedom from fear.
Enjoy every moment with those you love, being grateful and kind and again, more grateful and kind - you will never look back and regret that.
And do not wait for the future to arrive before you know Jesus, not just His name, but Him! In the days leading up to Prestons death, God prepared me so beautifully. I had memorized verses that were very needed in the moment and days of devastation and pain. Had I not known his word I honestly can't imagine what thoughts I would have replaced it with. I had pain - yes! But I had such a confidence that I would be more than ok because I knew who was leading me.
It is so easy to fear the unknown, to fear loss, but you cannot imagine how sweet the peace and goodness of God is in times of pain.