“My eyes are worn out from weeping; my stomach is churning, my insides are poured on the ground…” Lamentations 2:11
Today is the day. The day that marks two years since I lost my sister Debbie. The day that was supposed to be a weekend of joy with a surprised baby shower for Madelyn but instead a funeral with tears, heartache and questions. Today is the day I think of what it should’ve been and wonder why you left us so young? Today is the day our lives changed forever.
A lot of us have these days. The day of questions, uncertainty and sorrow. The day of when we lost someone we loved, the day of our unborn child’s birthday…. It hurts extra these days.
I know that God is sovereign, but I still don’t understand why we have to go through such tragedies. I remember listening to “It is Well” by Bethel Music - it was sung by two of our dear friends at Debbie’s funeral. I am not going to lie it was a hard song to hear. I couldn’t even sing it. It was not well with my soul! I was upset, hurt and angry. I didn’t understand…It was supposed to be a fun weekend! We were all supposed to be together celebrating Maddie. It wasn’t supposed to be like this! For many months it was hard for me to hear this song.
In September of 2015 a dear friend of mine left this world unexpectedly. I was asked to sing “It is Well” by Bethel Music at her funeral. It brought back a lot of the same questions and emotions from Debbie’s death. I remember listening to the song one day in my bedroom. The kids were napping and I was asking God why? How can this be well with my soul? I began to weep in my bedroom as I listened to the bridge.
Through it all. Through it all my eyes are on you. Through it all. Through it all. It is well. Through it all. Through it all my eyes are on you. And it is well with me.”
I don’t think that God necessarily says what has happened is good and I don’t think He even expects us to understand why. Honestly, I really don’t think I will ever know why. He calls us to fix our eyes on Him through all circumstances. He never said this journey of life would be easy but He told me He would never leave me, nor forsake me. He promised me that I would never be alone on this journey and that He would be with me THROUGH IT ALL. It is well with my soul because of Him and when we fix our eyes on Him, He lets us know it is well. Doesn’t mean we have to understand or we don’t have days that we weep with sorrow. To me it means we have a Savior that holds us closely and gives us hope for tomorrow. He helps me focus on the beautiful life Debbie lived. The many hearts she continues to touch with her story and her legacy she left us through her daughter, and so much more. Some days are harder then others but that is why I can now sing, “Even so, It is well.”
We love you so very much and think of you everyday. You will always have a very special place in our family’s heart. Thank you for loving me and for always making me feel like I was your “real” sister. Your hugs were tight with love and your smile was contagious. Your words were bold and true and you showed true bravery and courage. You loved Jesus with your whole heart and you invested in your daughter’s life even when it was extremely hard at times. You were a true example of someone who wasn’t going let their past take their future! I love you forever! I am so proud of the women and life you lived!
Love your Sister,
It took just one comment from a four year old that made me go overboard. It made me enter into a new obsession of looking at tall skinny girls that seemed to always look perfect on Instagram. I was already dealing with some insecurities about myself. After having my second child my face began to break out constantly. I never really had this problem, just the minor breakouts and now here I am in my late twenties and I felt like I was back in high school.
I began to pick at myself. First it was my breakouts, then it was stretch marks, my stomach and the list continued. I began playing this comparing game and wished I looked like “her” but then making excuses of why “she” looked a certain way and I didn’t. It was becoming a habit and it wasn’t healthy. It began to eat away at me. It wasn’t just how I looked anymore; I started not to like me. To be honest I didn’t even realize it was happening. I felt miserable and unsatisfied; it was because I was unhappy with myself.
It was one of those long mommy days…you know the days when you smell, have no make up on and pray that not one person comes to your door. Yep, one of those days! I had finally gotten the kids to bed and I was ready to just sit and watch TV. As I was laying in bed getting ready to put the TV on my husband looks at me and says, “You look beautiful.” I just looked at him and rolled my eyes and said, “Yeah, whatever.” Then he said, “You always look beautiful. You’re my girl.” All of sudden something clicked and I thought, “I am his girl.”
It is mind blowing how we can let our insecurities eat at us. It is like we view ourselves as something so insignificant. We are constantly comparing our lows to someone else's highs. I often wonder what would happen if I viewed myself the way my husband Dave views me. I know I am his girl and I know he believes in me. If only I looked in the mirror and saw what he sees.
In Psalms 139:13-14 says, "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mothers womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it.” (NLT).
I love the NLT version because of the last sentence, “Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it.” Too often we never truly find out how marvelous we really are because we are too busy trying to be like someone else. I can’t even begin to imagine what would happen if I truly figured out how marvelous I was. If I looked in the mirror and saw all the delicate, complex parts that God sees. If I truly believed that He knitted me into this special being so that one day I could change a life through a blog that, most times in my eyes, seems pointless and insignificant. If only I totally forgot about my insecurities and let God take all of me for His glory. If only I didn’t let my insecurities stop me from something so much greater…
The next day I opened my bible app to read the verse of the day. It is funny how God works. It was Song of Songs 4:1, “You are beautiful, my darling, beautiful beyond words…” Yes God, I certainly am.
Written by Guest Writer, Stephanie Hulett
Some of the hardest seasons of my life have been when I have had to wait for something. Whether I was waiting for an answer, waiting for direction or waiting for something to change, it was difficult. I didn't like feeling stuck and it was frustrating to me to be put on hold. My waiting consumed my thoughts and I even lost sight of the important things. I ended up losing my focus.
Hebrews 12:2 tells us... "to FIX our eyes on Jesus, He began and finished the race of life and endured the cross."
Matthew 20:28 tells us... "He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life..."
While Jesus was in the waiting he was "a waiter." He lived his life serving and loving others. He didn't let the wait stop Him from living and doing what He was called to do. He continued to live His purpose by serving and caring for others. He was not consumed by the waiting season but was driven by loving others. We can be strong and courageous in the wait by fixing our eyes on Jesus and serving others.
In the waiting season there can be times of silence. We can feel abandoned or forgotten by God. Our minds become our enemy as it fills with doubt and fear. It is like being in the waiting room at a hospital when we are waiting to hear news about a loved one. The clock seems to have stopped ticking and time stands still. It seems like forever until we hear something.
God tells us to FILL the silence... fill it with music, encouraging sermons, laughter, positive people, uplifting books, and of course Gods Word. We can be strong and courageous in our waiting if we fill the silence with thoughts of faith and joy.
Philippians 4:8-9 tells us “... if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise."
Lastly, in the Bible, the word wait is interchanged with the word hope. We can change our perspective about our waiting if we see it as a season of hope. Hope in the One who calls you His beloved. Hope in the One who knows your name. Hope in the One who saved your soul. We can turn it into a season of expectation, anticipation and possibilities. We can be strong and courageous in our seasons of waiting if we turn our wait into hope.
Psalm 27:14 tells us... “Hope (wait on) in the Lord! Be strong! Let your heart take courage! Hope (wait on) in the Lord!”
Isaiah 40:31 says... “but those who hope in (wait on) the Lord will renew their strength; they will fly up on wings like eagles; they will run and not be tired; they will walk and not be weary.”
I pray that while you wait, God would continually remind you to focus on others as your thoughts and minds are filled with the expectancy of a new day. Be strong and courageous!!
I recently started running again. I am using an app to help me train for a 5k and I always find that the middle part of the run is the hardest. At the beginning I have energy and I am ready for what is ahead. As I progress with the run the more tired I become.
I am realizing that our life is a lot like going on a run. Every journey we go on has a beginning, middle and end. The middle is defined as the center of something. We aren’t closer to the one side or the other, we are at equal distances. I believe, in life the middle is always the hardest. I want to share 6 things that God has shown me through Mark 6:45-48 that has strengthened and helped me get through my “middles” in life.
At once, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and start back across to Bethsaida. But he stayed until he had sent the crowds away. Then he told them goodbye and went up on the side of the mountain to pray. Later in the evening he was still there by himself, and the boat was somewhere in the middle of the lake. He could see that the disciples were struggling hard, because they were rowing against the wind. Not long before morning, Jesus came toward them. He was walking on the water and was about to pass the boat.” Mark 6:45-48 (CEV)
1. Jesus often calls us on the journey with little detail.
It says that “Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and start back across to Bethsaida.” Jesus told the disciples enough information for them to get into the boat and go. He didn’t give them all the details because they probably would not have gone if they knew a storm was coming. I believe God only gives us certain details because we can’t handle all the details. I know that if I knew about all the uncertainty and hardships of the middle areas I may have planned my journey a little differently or may have not gone at all.
2. We need to train before we get to our middle
I just started running about a week ago (haven’t ran in 5 years!). So If I told you I was going to run a marathon tomorrow you would probably think I was crazy! It takes marathon runners months of training to be able to run a marathon. Even with all the training they say that most runners suffer from leg cramping, dizziness and much more. Just like a trained marathon runner the disciples were trained in something: fishing. They had years of experience and they knew what to do during a storm. But the Bible says they were still struggling.
So many times we reach the middle of our journey and we have no training to rely on. My inability to run a marathon tomorrow is like a person trying to make it through the middle without any training. We never read our bible, never spend time with God and we expect to get through the middle with little to no difficulty. The middle is a hard place, but learning to lean on your experience and training while you go through the middle will ensure you reach the destination God has for you!
3. Our faith is tested in the middle.
In the middle we are most vulnerable. It is the time when the devil comes to steal and destroy the destination God has for us. This is the time we have to put into practice what Gods word says. I encourage you to surround yourself with people that will help you get through your middle situation because the devil will do anything to get you to go back to your previous shore.
It says the disciples were rowing against the wind… I am going to take a guess here and say the wind was pulling them in the opposite direction of were Jesus said He would meet them. They kept their eyes on the destination ahead. It was tough but they focused on were Jesus called them to go. So when your faith is being tested remember where God called you and focus on your destination.
4. Jesus may be silent but He is still Present.
It said that Jesus went up to the side of the mountain to pray. I believe that he was preparing for the destination ahead of them. When God is silent I believe it is because he is preparing our destination. In His silence I believe we learn the most about ourselves. In those times, I have seen my strengths, my fears and also my weaknesses come through. Its provided me an opportunity to work on being more like Him.
5. One more stride and you are closer to the destination.
I use an app when I run and it tells me when I am halfway done with the workout. So I know that with just one more stride I am closer to the end. Many times when we are in the middle we simply give up. We are so caught up in the hardship of the middle that we forget we are only one more stride away from being closer to the destination God has for us!
6. He’s got it under control. So stop Worrying!
When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water, they thought he was a ghost, and they started screaming. All of them saw him and were terrified. But at the same time he said, “Don’t worry! I am Jesus. Don’t be afraid.” He then got into the boat with them, and the wind died down. The disciples were completely confused. Their minds were closed, and they could not understand the true meaning of the loaves of bread.” Mark 6:49-52 (CEV)
If you continue reading Mark 6 you will find that when they reached their destination people were waiting for Jesus. Their next destination was full of miracles and a huge part of Jesus’ ministry. The middle prepared the disciples for this destination. They realized that He was truly the Son of God. So remember Mark 6, “Don’t worry! I am Jesus. Don’t be afraid.” God gives us middles to prepare us for the destination.
We were having a great time at our community pool with my kids when my 4 year old son, Landon started having his third melt down of the week. I forgot his new swim noodle and he was devastated! Usually I can just explain the situation and he will go on playing, but not today. He couldn’t control his anger. He started screaming, crying and hitting. It got to the point were I had to start packing up to leave. Not sure how I was going to get to the car with a 1 year old, a screaming 4 year old and all our swim gear, I began to pray about what to do because he was not going to follow me to the car. At that moment a lizard come out from the bushes and I said to my son, “Well if you don’t come with me you will have to sleep at the pool with the lizard.” He looked at me, then the lizard. Then, with a little fear in his eyes, he began to follow me out of the pool.
The next day I called my mom and started talking to her about my frustrations and how I just didn’t know what else to do. I knew that all the changes in our life were affecting him but I knew that I needed to get him out of this habit of reacting with anger. As my mom was listening she said, “Have you prayed about what to do with Landon when he gets upsets? God says that he has equipped us with everything we need.”
2 Timothy 3:16 (NLT), “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.”
So I got off the phone with my mom and I began to pray and search God’s word. As I read and prayed God gave me James 1:19-20 and from the verse I wrote a three step process for Landon to do when he gets upset & angry. I even found a story in James 3 about how anger affects us and rewrote it so Landon would understand it and I even added pictures and youtube videos.
As I was getting ready to print out the document to go over with Landon, God nudge on my heart and reminded me that this is also something I am dealing with. He was right… I do deal with anger. I find myself going from 0-100 with my kids or my husband and it was something I have been waiting to change in my life. So I rewrote the title from “Landon’s Memory Verse About Anger” to “Landon & Mommy’s Memory Verse About Anger.”
This plan has helped Landon and me with anger. Landon & I still become angry at times but we are learning how to respond correctly. Every time we start to feel angry we go through our three steps and it helps us refocus and respond correctly.
Today, I want to encourage you to pray and search Gods word for your answer. Whether it is a situation with your child, your husband, a friend, your workplace or even an area in yourself, God has given us everything we need for every situation.
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:3 (NLT)
We recently moved to sunny Florida and to be honest there aren’t many days that are not beautiful!
We were eating breakfast one day and and my son, Landon, looked at me and said, “Mom, it’s a beautiful day!”
“Yes, Landon, it is a beautiful day” as I responded and looked out the window.
This conversation happened everyday for the rest of the week. Then one day we were sitting and eating breakfast and Landon looks at me and says, “Mom, it’s a beautiful day!” I looked outside and saw clouds, wet rain and nothing too beautiful. I didn’t want to discourage my 4 year old so I just kinda ignored the comment and went on eating my breakfast.
As I continued to eat my breakfast God spoke to me and said, “Landon isn’t wrong. It is a beautiful day.”
And we know that God uses everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brother and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.” Romans 8:28-30 (NLT)
I have had a hard time with this verse lately. I know God is sovereign and I know there is supposed to be beauty in everything but I have been having a hard time finding the good in some circumstances in my life. I lost my sister in law in May of 2014 and I have been struggling with the good in this situation. It seems that there have been nothing but heartache and unanswered questions through all of this.
My son Landon taught me something on that rainy day. He taught me that even if our day or our circumstance isn't good that doesn’t mean beauty can’t come out of it. We have a choice every day to see the beauty in our circumstances. I will never understand why our family lost Debbie and will never understand the circumstances that happened because of it; none of it was good. It is painful and we miss her every day, but through this situation God gave me something. It was hard for me to find, but I choose to focus on what I now realize instead of the pain. The most beautiful thing that I have realized through this whole situation is that God NEVER changes! He is always with us and nothing can separate me from Him. That alone makes everyday a Beautiful Day!
And I am convinced that NOTHING can EVER separate us from GOD’S LOVE! Neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow-not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s LOVE!” Romans 8:38 (NLT)
Part 3: Jonathans
I remember coming home from a very long week in New York after Debbie’s funereal to a freshly mowed lawn, mulched flower beds, hundred of cards, goodie baskets and so much more! More then ever did I need the love and support from my family & friends.
Months later I still received texts, continued help with my children and more. I can’t ever begin to describe how grateful & loved we felt during this past year.
This year I found out who the Jonathans & Sauls are in my life. You are probably wondering what I mean by that?
King David had two people in his life. The first person was Saul. Saul was in David’s life for one reason He wanted something. Sauls only want something from you that will benefit them. Often in your lowest times the Sauls will try to take advantage of you or take what you have for themselves or they leave and find someone else. Sauls are takers. They do not give of themselves (unless for personal gain) and their motive is not to have you become the person God wants you to be.
Proverbs 13:20 (NLT), “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.”
1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV), “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.””
The second person King David had in his life was Jonathan. Charlotte Gambill describes Jonathan’s perfectly.
“Jonathan-type friends are the ones who are secure to serve. They are fulfilled in playing their part and have no desire to be the whole. They are confident in what they bring, and they happily celebrate what you bring. They are sent by God to be on your side, to join your journey and enhance your adventure. They have skills and wisdom, but even better than that, they have the same spirit.” (Miracle in the Middle, pg 185)
Jonathans are the ones that want whats best for you. They want to be apart of your life no matter what role they are playing. They see the calling on your life and want to help you get there.
Proverbs 27:9(CEV) “The sweet smell of incense can make you feel good, but true friendship is better still.”
So many times we miss out on the Jonathans in our lives because we are upset that the Sauls didn’t show up. Other times we miss out on the Jonathans because we don’t like the correction or wisdom they give us. We prefer to stay comfy with the Sauls and never grow and never fully reach our full potential. We end up stuck in a moment and the Sauls in our lives want us to stay there. So many times we would prefer a kiss from our enemy instead of correction from a friend.
Proverbs 27:5-6 (CEV), “A truly good friend will openly correct you. You can trust a friend who corrects you, but kisses from an enemy are nothing but lies.”
I can’t begin to thank the many Jonathans in my life. Each one of them played such an important role in my life, especially this year. Some gave me strength when I was weak, encouragement and love when I needed it most. Other Jonathans spoke into my life and helped me reached my current destination. They prayed for me and my family and continued to check on me! I love all the Jonathans in my life and they will always have a special place in my heart.
Who are the Jonathans in your life? God has placed them there for a reason. Don’t miss out on the Jonathans because they will have an invaluable contribution in conquering your biggest devastations.
Part Two: Anchors
As I look back in the last year or so I have realized that there were several items that my family & I had established in our lives before May of 2014. Some of them I didn’t even realized we established while others we made sure we did establish.
My husband and I have several Anchors that we talked through and have established in our lives. You may be asking: Well, what are “Anchors”? Anchors are items that stay firm in our journey. They are the foundations of our lives. They don’t change no matter what the circumstance may be.
Hebrews 6:19 says (NIV), “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm & secure.”
So many times when we reach the difficult circumstances in our life that is when we discover how deep & established our Anchors truly are. Charlotte Gambill says in her book Miracle in the Middle, “Anchors of any type of commitment or vow deserve the time and space they require to ensure they are securely attached.” Anchors take time to establish and require you to be consistent. Trust me, it isn’t always easy and it can take work, but it is worth the reward when we establish those Anchors.
I love how Charlotte Gambill says this:
“Too often we add layers to our lives without underpinning foundations first. Anchors are foundation fixers. They are the concrete in the commitment, the nonnegotiable amongst all the navigation. Without anchors, we can’t hold our course and are doomed to a destiny of drift.”
So many times we add the layers to our lives before establishing a firm foundation. If our foundations aren't strong and we add layers to them, we will eventually begin to loose course. This is why it is so important to have strong, deep, foundations so when life's devastations hit we have an anchor that keeps us secure.
I want to share a few of the anchors that I believe helped our family get through one of our lives biggest devastations.
1. Faith - I am so thankful that I knew God’s word and have it established in my life. I can’t tell you how many times I read scriptures before I went to bed.
2. Family - There were several times that I wanted to quit, but I saw those two precious faces; Landon & Maddie. I knew that I had to get through and take care of myself for them!
3. Church - Never stop going to church. I am not going to lie, there were many days I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to get emotional, but I need(ed) my church family more than ever!
4. Marriage – With marriage comes a lot of other anchors. We communicated and had tough conversations when it wasn’t easy. We chose to invest in our marriage and talk through our life situations.
5. Attitude- Choose to have an attitude of thankfulness. Trust me, I know it isn’t always easy. You will have your rough days, but you have a choice to choose your attitude and you can get through your circumstance with a rotten one or a positive one.
If you don’t have anchors in your life I would encourage you to evaluate the anchors that you want for you and your family. Teach your children now how to find their own anchors. Established anchors in your marriage and your friendships. Commit to them and make sure they are securely attached so when life throws you a curve ball you are ready and standing on a firm foundation on the things that matter most to you!
Part one: Introduction
I have been blessed with a beautiful & wonderful life. But let’s be real…right in the mist of our beautiful, wonderful life major tragedies and hardships can hit instantly and change everything.
In May of 2014 my sister-in-law, Debbie, and her daughter Alissa were traveling to PA from NY to surprise me for my baby shower. About a half hour into their trip they got in a horrible car accident and Debbie went to heaven. In an insist, a happy and exciting weekend became one of the hardest and worsts years of mine and my families lives. I have never felt so helpless and weak in my life.
In the next four blogs, I want to share a huge part of my life and heart. I want to share four important aspects/life choices I believe that will help you and your family get through difficult times. I believe that not only will you get through them, but you will conquer lives biggest devastations.
My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever." Psalms 73:26
I cannot tell you how many times a week I start something and don’t finish or I go into a room and totally forget why I went in there! This was becoming more frequent and was driving me CRAZY! I was determined to figure out why this was happening…I was starting to get worried about my memory & health! Then one day as I got distracted it hit me! I am a mom of a 3 and 1 year old! Duh!
How many times do your answers in life get put on hold or how many times do we miss out on our miracle because of our distractions in life? There has been so many times I have allowed my distractions to have me miss out on my blessing.
I love the story in Luke 10 about the sisters Mary & Martha. They invited Jesus over for dinner and Martha was freaking out because Jesus was over! It was probably like having the Queen from England over! She was cleaning, cooking and making sure everything was perfect! Martha became upset because she was preparing everything for Jesus and her sister Mary was just sitting with Jesus. Martha says to Jesus, “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.” (Luke10:40 msg).
I love Jesus’ response to Martha. It wasn’t the response Martha was expecting. He said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” (Luke 10:41-41 msg).
Many times I am too focused on work or house stuff and I miss out on an opportunity with my kids or my family. Other times I have allowed distractions, like gossip, finances, and life’s uncertainty to distract me from my miracle or answer in my situation. I allow my distraction to take my focus off of what matters, HIM!
Not sure what you may be going through but don’t let the distraction of your life have you miss out on the “main dish.” Keep your eyes on Jesus, stop constantly cleaning the kitchen and stop fussing over things that don’t matter. He has it under control; He has your miracle waiting for you! Focus on Him and He will provide you with your answer!
Hello my name is Tiffany. I am a mom to two beautiful children, Landon & Madelyn and a wife to my Prince Charming, David. A few of my favorite things are Disney, the beach, sharpies & post its.
Moms Are World Changers