Author: beauty4ashes728

Welcome to my blog! Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Amy and I'm 32 years old. The most important thing you can know about me is that I am a Christian. I wear that title unashamed. Jesus gave His life for me, and apart from Him I am absolutely nothing. I am a wife to my very best friend and a proud (and tired) mama of sweet, energetic little boys. My husband is also in youth ministry, which means we get the privilege of spending a lot of time with some pretty awesome teenagers! I hope that as you read this blog you will find hope and healing for your own lives. I also hope that through my words, the Lord will prove himself faithful to you just as He continues to do for me.

The God of Miracles

My tiny little miracle, Isaac.

(Above: My little Isaac, our tiniest miracle)

Have you ever prayed for a miracle?

Me too.

God is always faithful to answer those prayers, but it’s taken me some time to understand why He doesn’t always deliver like I want Him to at times. Sometimes not at ALL like I ask Him. Maybe even sometimes in ways that seem to be the polar opposite of what I ask.

Recently, I took some time and read through all four of the gospels. When I started, I really just wanted to soak up all I could about the person of Jesus. The way He lived, loved, obeyed, sacrificed…everything. Along the way, my eyes have been specifically drawn to all the miracles Jesus did and the motive behind all of them.

What was the motive? The soul.

Not the physical body.

Not to just say, “Hey, look what I can do!” (Even though He did draw attention and give glory to God.)

Every, single miracle mirrored a deeper, more substantial problem–a problem of the soul.

When Jesus gave the blind their sight, it pointed more toward eyes that are blind to the truth of the gospel. He wasn’t just concerned with vision, but the ability to see and understand The Lord for who He really is. So that they might believe.

When demons were cast out, Jesus demonstrated that He can free our souls from anything that holds us captive and enslaves us. Most importantly, sin. He wants to free the captive soul.

When the sick were healed, it was to bring glory to God and to point the lost world around Him (who were eye witnesses to these miracles) toward salvation. Not to be a downer, but every sick body ever healed still eventually died. That’s because Jesus’ end game is not the physical body, but the soul which will live forever.

Then there were the times He raised the dead to life. These are the ones that get me because this is the exact miracle I prayed for a few months ago when we begged for the miracle of a heart beat. This is the prayer that didn’t get answered like I wanted.

But God…He’s graciously shown me that He did answer that prayer. He did give our son the gift of life, just not here. His tiny life has made a global, eternal impact for the kingdom of God through this blog. Isn’t that ultimately better?

See, when Jesus raised the dead, people put their faith in Him. Their souls were raised from death to life, not just their bodies. Eventually, when those same bodies still experienced physical death, their souls still lived. That miracle is only possible because of Jesus’ work on the cross–the ultimate miracle. Allowing the soul to live eternally is a much greater gift of life than any temporary, physical resurrection on this earth. It doesn’t even compare.

Since I have studied this, I’ve thought back to some other prayers I’ve prayed before. Some miracles I’ve begged for in tears. I’ve realized they were all so short-sighted. Oh they were heart felt, and I wanted them. But the motive was all wrong. They were wanting a temporary fix to an eternal problem. They weren’t focused on the end-game, the soul.

If you ever doubt that God still does miracles, rest assured. He does them every day. Some you might be praying for may seem small and some a bigger deal, but God will always answer your prayer for them. Will the answer look a little different than what you’ve asked for? Maybe. Probably. But He will always answer with the end-game in mind–that you (or someone else) may believe in Him and your soul might be secure in Him.

Amy

Come quickly, Lord Jesus

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

That’s a thought that has crossed my mind more than just a time or two lately.

All the school shootings. Gun law arguments. Threats that are leaving parents afraid to send their kids to school. This person has cancer. That family is going through divorce. Sin has blazed its destructive path everywhere you look.

And on a much more personal scale, I’ve had some pretty difficult days the last month or two. Tough ones. The pain of losing a child is unlike any other that I have experienced, and I’m convinced it will not be matched by anything I may have yet to experience in my lifetime. The reality of the loss is always there, and there isn’t a day that goes by when he’s not thought about.

I’ve come to refer to Collier quite often as my missing piece, because well, that’s exactly what it feels like. It’s like putting a puzzle together only to get almost completely finished and realize you’re missing one piece. The whole picture is there, but without the last piece it’s just not the same.

Yes, the Lord has been completely faithful and nothing but good to me. He has carried me and strengthened me in ways that can only be credited to Him. He is piecing my heart back together bit by bit every day and restoring joy within me. Without Him, I would be a total mess. I am grateful for every single thing He has done in me. But, I am still painfully aware that our family is incomplete and will be that way until everything is made new and right when Christ returns.

So why, Lord, are we still here? Why does He linger? Why, with all of the pain and suffering everywhere, has He not yet fulfilled His promise to return?

Because of what His Word says:

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (1 Peter 3:9)

This verse is the answer. He lingers because He’s being patient with you. He doesn’t want to be a part of your life. He wants to be your life. And so He waits for you to make that change and surrender all of you, not part of you.

He waits for your family member. The one who you’ve prayed for over and over and over and over. The one who seems to drift farther away instead of closer to God. He waits because He wants that one who is dear to you to experience real life. He waits because He hears your prayers for them, and He is being patient to answer them.

He waits for your coworker. The one who works beside you everyday and whom you know has zero interest in anything “religious.” After all, churches are full of hypocrites, right? So why would she want anything to do with that? He waits for her to come to true repentance, and He waits for you to tell her how to have it instead of keeping quiet out of fear of rejection.

He waits for the one who is searching every wrong place for purpose. He knows he’s searching, and Who he’s really searching for. And so He waits.

He waits for all the ones who have been hurt by life’s circumstances. It’s those very circumstances that He knows will lead straight to the cross if they’ll follow Him there.

He waits for the trouble-maker kids. He waits for those who are “too far gone.” He waits for criminals, murderers, politicians, atheists, adulterers, liars, and school shooters. He waits for all those who have been written off by society. Because He loves them and Has a plan for them, too.

He waits for everyone who has not yet come to repentance, and everyone means every one (even though there are those who never will).

When I stop and remind myself to think this way, it makes the waiting a little more bearable, the painful days easier to persevere, and my perspective to be more eternity-focused. It helps me live differently.

There’s work still to do. God is still drawing hearts to Him. He’s still transforming us more into His likeness through our trials and suffering. And there are so very many people who still need the good news of the gospel. I love the way Kathie Lee Gifford expressed the urgency to share after the passing of Billy Graham. “If you had the cure for cancer, wouldn’t you tell everyone you know? There is a malignancy of the soul, and we have the cure. His name is Jesus.” (paraphrased)

So, come quickly Lord Jesus, but keep lingering, too. And help me not to grow weary, but  to keep living with eternity in mind.

Amy

Faith and Fear

I’ve got to admit, 2018 is getting off to an exciting start. Mostly, because of this…

About a month ago, I had a sneaky suspicion that I might be pregnant, but I dismissed the idea for one main reason. I didn’t feel ready to be pregnant again after losing Collier only five months ago. The very thought of another baby so soon honestly scared me. We had already decided that if I became pregnant sooner than later we would be okay with it. After all, there was no reason to stress about it since we know Who is in control of life and death. But knowing it was now a real possibility changed things a little. After a week or two rocked along, my body let me know that something was definitely going on inside. On December 8th, while we were away for our anniversary, I decided to find out if my suspicions were true. Within just a few minutes, I found myself staring at two, very distinct, positive pregnancy tests.

Surprise, surprise! Cue all the emotions….only this time, multiply them times 1000.

Because pregnancy after loss is different. Every. single. thing. is filtered through the lens of what could happen instead of just the excitement of it all. There’s no longer a mindset of “if I can just make it past the first trimester.” Because, as we’ve experienced, things can make a major turn even in the sixth month. There is no such thing as a “safe zone” anymore.

I also find myself being caught between two extremes. Wanting to be excited, but afraid to let myself get carried away just yet. Still grieving for one baby, while trying to feel excited about another. Feeling all the discomforts, but trying to tell the Lord “thank you” for each one instead of grumbling (By the way, you will not find me complaining!) And the major one..wanting to trust God with the future, and feeling afraid.

Fear. Such a joy-robber. It sneaks in at moments of weakness and tries it’s hardest to consume our thoughts, leaving us powerless and crippled. It whispers “what if” in our ears and sits back to watch as we let our minds obsess with worry. It comes at us like a big, scary monster and makes our God seem small and weak in comparison.

The truth is, He’s not small or weak at all. God is strong, but He knows there will be times in our lives when we are weak and are tempted to let fear control us. Just turn on the TV and watch the news for five minutes. Read stories in your news feed. Listen to conversations around you when you’re in groups of people. There are plenty of things going on everyday that can make us give way to fear and worry. Thankfully, God doesn’t leave us to wrestle with our fears all alone. He gave us weapons. Weapons I intend to keep using these next few months…

HIS WORD. It’s not a coincidence that there are 365 different times throughout Scripture when God addresses our fear. If you didn’t catch it, that’s one “do not fear” for every single day of the year. Why? Because He knows that fear is a normal, human response. Let’s not forget that God made himself like us. He walked the earth, too, and experienced everything just as we do. His words, however, are truth and remind us that there’s not a real need to fear. The things that happen in our lives are no surprise to Him, and He is in control of it all, whether we feel like He is or not. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9).” His Word calms our fears and fixes our minds on truth.

PRAYER. I read the quote below about prayer several years ago and have never forgotten it. I think it sums up the power of prayer better than anything I could say:

“I strongly suspect that if we saw all the difference even the tiniest of our prayers make, and all the people those little prayers were destined to affect, and all the consequences of those prayers down through the centuries, we would be so paralyzed with awe at the power of prayer that we would be unable to get up off our knees for the rest of our lives.” -Peter Kreeft

If we’re afraid, we can pray and tell Him. He’s big enough to handle all our fears and powerful enough to overcome them. (Disclaimer: We can also tell the author of our fear, the enemy, to go back where he came from!)

HIS PRESENCE. I know I’ve said it before, but how I wish I could put into words for you how strong, close, and intimate I have experienced God’s presence since losing Collier! It has been His greatest gift to me. If what I’ve felt is only a tiny fraction of what heaven will be like, no wonder it’s the greatest place we could imagine! I believe God’s very presence is the most powerful thing He gives us to overcome our fear. The presence of the all-powerful God with us. Surely, there is nothing better. When we worship Him and spend time with Him, we remind ourselves how awesome He really is. Our focus becomes centered on His power, His perfection, His plan for our lives, His love for us, His mercy, His faithfulness and all of His other steadfast attributes. When we’re focused on Him, somehow our fears seem a whole lot smaller. Our faith becomes bigger than our fear.

So if you wonder what I’m going to be doing all the way until August, I’m going to be using my weapons.  I refuse to let fear consume me and steal my joy. “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You (Psalm 56:3).”

-Amy, mama of FOUR precious babies

2017: A Year of Renewed Hope

 

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It’s pretty quiet in our house right now. It’s 10:46 pm on Christmas night. My kids have crashed in their beds after a full day of opening presents, playing with their cousin, and stuffing way too much Christmas candy in their mouths. (I’m actually surprised one of them hasn’t wandered into my bedroom, unable to sleep because of a stomach ache!) My husband is dozing off beside me. Everything is silent. Everything except my mind of course, which is racing away and keeping me from sleeping. Anyone else know this struggle?

Tonight, I’ve found myself reflecting back over all that has transpired this year. On January 1, 2017, I remember having hopeful expectations for what the new year might bring. I’m not talking about new year’s resolutions. I don’t make those because I know I won’t keep them! What I’m referring to is an eager expectation, the excitement of thinking how the year might turn out. There’s something about a brand new year, a clean slate, that gives us a glimmer of hope. A hope that things can be different, and maybe an improvement, from the previous year.

However, 2017 turned out to be a pretty tough one for our family. Really, really tough. Three months into the year, we lost my husband’s first cousin to suicide, and the family has wrestled ever since with losing someone irreplaceable and dearly loved in such a traumatic way. I watched his mother that day as she wept over her son, and I thought to myself, “Lord, I hope I never have to know the pain of losing a child.” Little did I know then that just a few months later, I would feel a similar sting as we buried our sweet Collier unexpectedly. Not exactly the kind of year someone hopes for on January 1st, is it? But my mind has been going back to these verses:

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, the Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for Him.” (Lamentations 3:21-24)

 There is peace that washes over me when I read these verses cannot be described. I remember the day I read them after Collier passed. I was sitting in my chair reading when God magnified these familiar words on the page for me. Reading them gave me chills and, at the very same time, I felt like a warm blanket had been draped around my shoulders. He knew I needed them that day. He knew we would ALL need them at one time or another. Especially in years like 2017.

We need them to remind us we can still have hope in God’s great love. We simply cannot wrap our minds around the magnitude of His love. According to scripture, it surpasses our knowledge (Eph. 3). His love is so unlike our own. It pursued us, while we were His enemies, and purchased our salvation. It’s a love that refuses to leave us in our mess. No matter how broken, battered, and bruised we are, He is mighty to save!  While He doesn’t promise to shield us from all hurt, He does promise that because of His great love, those painful things will be redeemed by making us more like Him. After all, being molded into His likeness is the goal! Romans 5:3-5 assures us that “we can glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint or put us to shame because God’s love has been poured out on us into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

We need to be reminded to hope in God’s faithfulness. The character of God is steadfast. He never changes, nor will He ever be anything other than simply who He is–faithful. What does God’s faithfulness mean for us, in terms of hope? It means that God will never leave us or forsake us (Deut. 31:6). He will walk through difficult waters with us, but not let them sweep over us (Isaiah 43:2). He will always keep His promises (Hebrews 6:13-15). He is faithful to hear our prayers and deliver us from trouble (Psalm 34:17). In a world where so many things are constantly changing, we can place our hope in the only One who never will.

We can have renewed hope as we wait for Him. I’m not going to lie…If I knew that this life was all there is, I would completely lose all hope. All the pain that life can bring– loss, disappointment, broken relationships, disease, divorce, wayward children, senseless acts of violence—it can be almost too much for our hearts to handle sometimes. However, all hope is not lost. The Bible speaks of a future hope waiting for us. The author of a devotional I have writes, “Biblical hope is more than wishful thinking. There is nothing uncertain about biblical hope. It is certain but not yet realized. We haven’t experienced it yet, but there is no question that it will happen. Hope is like a memory of the future— a God-secured, God-infused, God-glorifying future (Nancy Guthrie, The One Year Book of Hope).” [Sidenote: Whoever anonymously mailed this book to me, you will never know how much you have ministered to me this year! Thank you a million times!!!]

Thankfully, because of the work Christ did on the cross and through the power of His resurrection, the story doesn’t end here in our broken world! One day, all of our waiting will pay off as the promises of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 become reality. Jesus will return as He said He would, and with a loud voice will command the dead in Christ to rise! I can’t even put into words what that does for my heart as a mother and a believer! Life at that point will only be just beginning. That’s a hope worth clinging to!

Until then, we can hope in Him, our portion. Jesus is enough for us. Period. When our joy and our hope are rooted securely in Him and nowhere else, we do not have to fear what the future might bring. Nothing can shake us when our foundation is secure in Him. Whatever happens, He is strong enough to handle. Every need we have, He can fully satisfy. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 73:26).”

Has it been a difficult year? Absolutely. But I’m deeming 2017 as “The Year of Renewed Hope.” Moths and locusts came to destroy (Joel 2:25), “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, the Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for Him.”

–Amy

Better, not bitter

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(FYI: This is the one and only tattoo I have ever wanted or will get. But I don’t regret it!)

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve taken the time to sit down and write. I’ve had so many thoughts swirling around in my mind, but it’s been hard to sort them out to make sense of them all. Not to mention, this time of year is full of things to keep someone busy. Fun things, some of my most favorite things, that leave little room for sitting down quietly with my thoughts.

And, in case you’ve been wondering, the day has finally come. Tomorrow, November 5th, was supposed to be our due date.  There’s a lot of things I could say in reference to this long-awaited day, but I’ll keep it simple. It’s bittersweet. Bitter, because it’s a reminder of what could have been. Sweet, because of what has been gained through loss.

It’s got me thinking back to the events of the past several months. I can still remember exactly how I felt that day, how kind people were, and different comments people said in effort to bring us comfort. Prayers that were offered, meals that were cooked, hugs that were given, and one question that people have continued asking that has blown us away every single time.

How have you been able to face this with such faith? You two are amazing!

No, we are not. But I want to give you our honest, heart-felt response to this question and statement. From the very moment we received our gut-wrenching news, my husband and I had a choice to make. We could get bitter or better. We could shake our fists at God in anger, demanding that He give us an explanation, or we could accept our circumstances and allow Him to turn a mess into a message. We chose the latter, and He has been doing exactly that. Not because we are “amazing people” but because Christ in us is our hope and our joy.

If you read Hebrews 11, you get to take a walk through what modern church people refer to as the “Hall of Faith.” I’ve been doing some reading through this list of spiritual heroes and have come to a few conclusions. Mainly, they weren’t heroes at all. They were ordinary people who allowed God to be their strength and use their weaknesses for His purpose and fame.

There’s Abraham and Sarah. A couple who faced years upon years of infertility, which was a badge of scorn in those days. They trusted God. He gave them a son, and made Abraham the father of many nations. They chose better over bitter.

Then you have Joseph. Sold by his own flesh and blood as a result of jealousy, he became favored by Potiphar and put in charge over much. When his family (who had sold him) needed food during famine, they had to come to come him, swallow their pride, and ask for help. Here’s what he said: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives (Gen. 50:20).” He chose better over bitter.

Take Rahab. She was a prostitute and had every opportunity to become bitter after years of being used and abused by men who did not love her. Yet God used her to help His people. She’s included in the lineage of Jesus. (Joshua 2)

In Judges, we find one of my favorites, Gideon. I love his story. I loved teaching it to kids last year at VBS and seeing their faces light up with wonder at what God can do. Long story short, the angel of the Lord appeared to him while he was hiding and called him a mighty warrior. He basically says, I think you’ve got the wrong guy! I guess I love him because he voiced his doubts and questions; it makes me feel better about my own! He had endured, along with his people, years of being oppressed by the Midianite people, a big group of barbaric bullies. He was a little bitter, but he trusted the Lord, and God used him to defeat the entire Midianite people with only 300 men. Thank God He chose not to be bitter anymore! What a powerful testimony his life had a part in! (Judges 6-7)

I could go on and on with other examples from the Bible. But I know a few people personally that I’ve seen make this same choice.

There’s the man we met this week during lunch. He owns a local restaurant and had to leave his country in 1996 because he wasn’t free be a Christian there. He left everything to follow Jesus. Instead of pouting about what he lost, he uses his business now as a ministry. Before we left that day, he placed his hands on my son’s head and prayed that he would grow up to love Jesus, too. Better over bitter.

I think of some of my closest friends. One has taken a life of low self-worth and turned it into a life of reaching out to teenagers just like her. Her house is literally a safe haven for so many kids from broken homes. She is a mother to many who aren’t biologically hers, all because she chose to allow the painful places of her life to minister to others.

I think of another friend who has just taken in a stepson who has a laundry list of physical disabilities. His condition requires constant attention, endless energy, and never-ending unconditional love. And she gives it freely instead of grumbling that her life is just too hard. She could get bitter that she has “no life” (and I’m sure she gets frustrated and exhausted) but she keeps pouring love out on that sweet boy anyway. Better over bitter.

I think of another friend who went through years of wanting another baby and finally had one. She didn’t get bitter, and that child is the biggest ray of sunshine you’ll ever meet. Her smile will brighten anyone’s day.

All these people are just like you and me, the ones from the Bible and my friends. Each one of us faced, at some point, with difficult and overwhelming circumstances that have had every reason to make us turn bitter. Yours may not be the loss of a child like mine is, and I pray it never ever will be. But it might be infertility. Or a child who, after all your effort, decides to go astray and the waiting for him/her to return to God is about to kill you. Maybe it’s illness, or loss of a life-long dream. Maybe it’s loneliness or living with a husband who’s first love is not God and second love is not you.

It could be any number of things, but I can tell you this: it’s not a matter of if you will face something, it’s when. At some point, if you haven’t already, you’ll be faced with the choice to get bitter or better. We all have this same choice everyday. Will you allow life circumstances to cause hardness to build in your heart or let God take what little, messed up offering you have and reshape it into something beautiful? He wants to– I promise.

I pray that the testimony of my life and yours can be the same words as Joseph: what was intended for harm, God used for good and used it to save many. 

Amy

I have a question…

I have a question. A personal and somewhat confrontational question that might tempt you to roll your eyes and stop reading right now. While I can’t keep you from doing just that, I still have to ask,

Who is Jesus to you?

If I were to sit down with you, here on my couch, with coffee in hand (always) and ask you about your view of God and His Son, I wonder what you would tell me. Maybe you would be offended by the question itself, but if you could be totally gut-honest, what would be your answer?

Maybe Jesus, to you, is just a good, moral example to read about in a history book. Maybe He is someone whom you seem to only pray to in times of crisis, or maybe He is your closest friend. Maybe you bring Him your sorrows and greatest joys, instead of only the unfair moments in life. Is God someone or something that is a nice thought, but seems to be more of a made-up fairy tale? Perhaps He is a bit more harsh, like a ‘cosmic cop’ who is waiting to punish you if you make a mistake. Is He a taker–someone who has taken away from you that which you cared for deeply? Is He more like Santa Clause, someone you bring your wish list to at certain times and wonder if you’ve been good enough to receive what you’ve asked for? Maybe you struggle to even believe He exists, and if so, does He really have time to care about you?

If there is anything these last two months have given me, it is the gift of sight. Collier’s life and death, though painful, have given me some of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received from the Lord. Particularly, His nearness and the ability to see Him, in part, for who He really is. While I miss my baby boy and am still wrestling through the uncomfortable process of grief, I find thankfulness growing in my heart daily that Jesus is continually opening my eyes to all that He is. He continues to prove every day that He is…

My Shepherd. Do you ever wonder why Psalm 23 has become the most commonly read Scripture at funerals? It’s because in times of despair, we who are left to grieve need to be reminded that there is One who is walking through the valley with us. And He doesn’t walk with us as One who doesn’t understand. He’s been there. God knows what it’s like to watch His only Son die a cruel and undeserved death. Jesus knows what it’s like to actually experience death itself, and He promises that when it’s sting touches our lives He will be with us in the midst. He doesn’t abandon us. He is there, walking beside us and removing any fear or doubt that tries to creep into our hearts. In the middle of the valley of the shadow, He gives us all we need–faith, peace, comfort, joy, and the assurance of His presence. These are not things that can be manufactured. They are gifts that we receive from Him at the moment we need them. Every single thing we need in the middle of heartache, our Shepherd gives us freely because He cares.



My Comforter. I’ve spent a lot more time reading my Bible lately. That’s because nothing else comforts like the Word of God. I’ve been more drawn to the few moments throughout the Bible where we get glimpses of mothers grieving for sons. Hannah grieved over conceiving Samuel. Mary watched as Jesus was crucified and it pierced her soul (Luke 2:35). And then there are a few verses about the widow of Nain. On His way into the city, Jesus notices this grieving mother in a funeral procession for her only son. Does He walk on by? No. He draws near to her. His response to her is one of my favorite moments in Scripture. “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, Don’t cry (Luke 7:13).” His heart went out to her. He saw her pain, and it broke His heart. And He comforted her with His presence and two simple words spoken with great compassion, “don’t cry.”  Who is Jesus in the middle of grief? He is a compassionate comforter. He has been this Comforter for me and He can be for you too.

My Savior. If you were to tell me who Jesus is to you, how I wish that you would say He is your Savior. And if you can’t say that now, I pray you will. Did you know that death and separation from God were never supposed to be a part of your life? God knew how much those things would hurt us, here and beyond the grave. He doesn’t want that for you or me. That’s why He made a way of escape. He used the very thing that hurts us most to bring you salvation and victory. He conquered death by death. He allowed His sinless Son to take on the punishment you deserve so that you won’t have to be hurt by all that sin and death brought into this world anymore. This is His gift to you. He won’t make you reach out and take this gift, but He wants you to and so do I.

See the picture above? I dreaded the day Collier’s headstone came in for weeks. Mostly because there is nothing right about seeing your child’s name engraved on a symbol of death. However, seeing it didn’t bother me nearly as much as I had anticipated. Why? Because I know that death does not have the final say over my life or my son’s. My Savior alone speaks the final word, and His words are life. Yes, I grieve but not without hope.

So who is Jesus to you? I hope that God will give you the gift of sight, too. He wants you to see Him as Shepherd, Comforter, Savior and so much more.

I have a question…

I have a question. A personal and somewhat confrontational question that might tempt you to roll your eyes and stop reading right now. While I can’t keep you from doing just that, I still have to ask,

Who is Jesus to you?

If I were to sit down with you, here on my couch, with coffee in hand (always) and ask you about your view of God and His Son, I wonder what you would tell me. Maybe you would be offended by the question itself, but if you could be totally gut-honest, what would be your answer?

Maybe Jesus, to you, is just a good, moral example to read about in a history book. Maybe He is someone whom you seem to only pray to in times of crisis, or maybe He is your closest friend. Maybe you bring Him your sorrows and greatest joys, instead of only the unfair moments in life. Is God someone or something that is a nice thought, but seems to be more of a made-up fairy tale? Perhaps He is a bit more harsh, like a ‘cosmic cop’ who is waiting to punish you if you make a mistake. Is He a taker–someone who has taken away from you that which you cared for deeply? Is He more like Santa Clause, someone you bring your wish list to at certain times and wonder if you’ve been good enough to receive what you’ve asked for? Maybe you struggle to even believe He exists, and if so, does He really have time to care about you?

If there is anything these last two months have given me, it is the gift of sight. Collier’s life and death, though painful, have given me some of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received from the Lord. Particularly, His nearness and the ability to see Him, in part, for who He really is. While I miss my baby boy and am still wrestling through the uncomfortable process of grief, I find thankfulness growing in my heart daily that Jesus is continually opening my eyes to all that He is. He continues to prove every day that He is…

My Shepherd. Do you ever wonder why Psalm 23 has become the most commonly read Scripture at funerals? It’s because in times of despair, we who are left to grieve need to be reminded that there is One who is walking through the valley with us. And He doesn’t walk with us as One who doesn’t understand. He’s been there. God knows what it’s like to watch His only Son die a cruel and undeserved death. Jesus knows what it’s like to actually experience death itself, and He promises that when it’s sting touches our lives He will be with us in the midst. He doesn’t abandon us. He is there, walking beside us and removing any fear or doubt that tries to creep into our hearts. In the middle of the valley of the shadow, He gives us all we need–faith, peace, comfort, joy, and the assurance of His presence. These are not things that can be manufactured. They are gifts that we receive from Him at the moment we need them. Every single thing we need in the middle of heartache, our Shepherd gives us freely because He cares.

My Comforter. I’ve spent a lot more time reading my Bible lately. That’s because nothing else comforts like the Word of God. I’ve been more drawn to the few moments throughout the Bible where we get glimpses of mothers grieving for sons. Hannah grieved over conceiving Samuel. Mary watched as Jesus was crucified and it pierced her soul (Luke 2:35). And then there are a few verses about the widow of Nain. On His way into the city, Jesus notices this grieving mother in a funeral procession for her only son. Does He walk on by? No. He draws near to her. His response to her is one of my favorite moments in Scripture. “When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, Don’t cry (Luke 7:13).” His heart went out to her. He saw her pain, and it broke His heart. And He comforted her with His presence and two simple words spoken with great compassion, “don’t cry.”  Who is Jesus in the middle of grief? He is a compassionate comforter. He has been this Comforter for me and He can be for you too.

My Savior. If you were to tell me who Jesus is to you, how I wish that you would say He is your Savior. And if you can’t say that now, I pray you will. Did you know that death and separation from God were never supposed to be a part of your life? God knew how much those things would hurt us, here and beyond the grave. He doesn’t want that for you or me. That’s why He made a way of escape. He used the very thing that hurts us most to bring you salvation and victory. He conquered death by death. He allowed His sinless Son to take on the punishment you deserve so that you won’t have to be hurt by all that sin and death brought into this world anymore. This is His gift to you. He won’t make you reach out and take this gift, but He wants you to and so do I.

See the picture above? I dreaded the day Collier’s headstone came in for weeks. Mostly because there is nothing right about seeing your child’s name engraved on a symbol of death. However, seeing it didn’t bother me nearly as much as I had anticipated. Why? Because I know that death does not have the final say over my life or my son’s. My Savior alone speaks the final word, and His words are life. Yes, I grieve but not without hope.

So who is Jesus to you? I hope that God will give you the gift of sight, too. He wants you to see Him as Shepherd, Comforter, Savior and so much more.