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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

My Prayer for 8th grade

So, this morning you were up before I was, which isn't saying much.


You were already dressed and had your backpack loaded, your lunch packed, your football gear ready for practice.


You don't need me for much, these days, it seems...


And I know that is how this motherhood thing is supposed to go.


I look at you, all 6'1" of you, and know that you're just on loan to me....


and that even though you're just an 8th grader, my days of protecting you are coming to an end.


After all, you're bigger than me and stronger than me and probably already smarter than me...


Or at least you like to think so.


But it's a big scary world out there and us mamas get scared a lot of times, too.


Scared that you won't make a good decision or scared that you'll get your heart broken or scared that you'll need counseling for fifty years to undo all of the damage we've done in the past thirteen or eighteen years.


I watch you walk in that middle school with tears in my eyes...






And I don't even consider myself a sentimental Mom.


Because it seems like yesterday you were crying and sitting in Ms. Judy's lap. Like yesterday you were playing in Ms. Nora's room and teasing her and Ms. Charlene.




And it seems like yesterday that I was walking in that building, and I remember those teenage years as being hard.


Young man, you'll face things that I can't imagine.


I hope that I've given  you enough.


I hope  that you've seen me live Jesus enough to know that He is always enough. That He is always good, and that His way is the best way.


I hope that you've learned grace and learned that there is good in everybody, and that it's your job to look for the good even when no one else does.


I hope that I've taught you that material things don't matter, even though I know we love material things. That it's not just about your appearance on the outside, but how you present yourself to others.


I hope that you remember that being mean is ugly and that we didn't raise you to be ugly.


I hope that you're inspired in the classroom and that you work hard, even when you don't want to, because hard work makes you be accomplished.


I hope that I've loved you and your Daddy has loved you and your grandparents have loved you enough that love is what you are.... that it comes  natural to  you.


I hope that you know to enjoy every day that you have, because before we know it you'll be going to work and sitting at your desk thinking of how your own baby is starting school and be a mess...


just like me.  Your mama, always one hot mess.


Here's praying 8th grade is the best year ever. That you'll grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus as much as you grow in stature, and that you'll have favor with Him and with your teachers and with your peers. Here's hoping  that you laugh every day until your belly hurts about something, that you learn empathy and compassion and that you LIVE it, that you are you....


beautiful, growing up, you.


May you shine, my dear one.


And I'll just sit back and bask in it and remember just how blessed I am to be Caleb's mama.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Home to Cedar Branch: A Review


Katie has made a mistake and must face the consequences, but they may be more than she's willing to face. Her family torn apart, she moves home to Cedar Branch with her two teenagers, finding a job waiting tables at the Quaker Café.  Surrounded by the good people of Cedar Branch, she makes a go at a new life until her past hits her square in the face. The resulting turmoil puts not just Katie at risk.

This book is the second in the Quaker Café series, but could be read as a stand alone. Suspenseful enough to keep the reader on the edge of his or her seat, the novel is a delight for readers.

The interesting addition of an introduction into some of the beliefs of the Quaker faith helped add to the story. I was disappointed and somewhat surprised by some of the language used in the book.

I would recommend this book to those interested in suspense. I'd give this book 3.5 stars.


I received free access to this book through Netgalley.com and am posting this review on their website.  I receive no compensation from Amazon for using their link with the book information.
 
Professional Reader

Sunday, July 31, 2016

What I Learned this Summer

1. Emoji etiquette
I'm kind of late to the tech game, and don't know a whole lot about emojis.  I do think some of them are cute... but I'll admit that as I stare at some of them on the keyboard I have no idea what any of them represent! They've become a craze, though, and some are easily recognizable.. but I had not idea that emojis can be overused. And also, there is such a thing as an emoji expert. How can one get that job? Check out this clip for emoji etiquette!

2. The making of sponges
I read a book set in Tarpon Springs, Florida, where the sponge docks were a key location, and that got me thinking about sponges. I guess because I mainly purchase synthetic sponges to wash my dishes... but sponges are real, live things. I feel like I should have known this because of SpongeBob Squarepants, but... I mean, they are created... but there are also REAL sponges harvested from the sea.  And they are high quality.

3. Peppers are a fruit. I feel like I should have known this as Paul Griffith's grand-daughter.

4. Natural Bridge, Kentucky has more than one trail. See Our Summer of Hiking for more.

5. There's nothing like being outside to clear your mind. The more time on the lake I spent, the more time in the hills breathing in the fresh air as I avoided tree roots in the path, the better I felt. This summer has rejuvenated me.

6. It doesn't matter how much you're ready, losing somebody hurts. My Papaw had been sick for several years, and hadn't been able to get out and do things that he wanted to do. It was hard to see him in the nursing home bed the last few months, knowing that he'd rather be at home watching his TV, or better yet, out on his tractor... but even knowing that, and knowing he was ready to go, it still hurts. A month later, and I still catch myself wanting to walk over to the nursing home during Caleb's football practice to peek in on him. I thank God for the time that I got to spend with him, though, and am reminded that I mourn with hope and that we should live each day to the fullest.

7. The beach does make some things better. As I sat at the ocean's edge and contemplated life, how big God was and how very small I was the week after Papaw died, I knew that in His infinite wisdom He has a plan for all things, and that while I may not see them working out now, I will eventually.

8. Teenagers are fun. I knew that, but was reminded of it this summer as I watched Caleb and Lauren Green laugh and joke. Tonight on my walk, Lauren was in the hammock and Caleb was standing in the yard dancing, and it was pure joy for me to watch.

9. I am too old to tube on the lake...
I learned this when my cousin's inner tube came unplugged, causing Wallace and I to flip head over heels and hit the water... hard.
I've been head over heels for him for years now, but this brought all new meaning to it.

10. Family is the most important thing. Spending time with my Clemons Clan gang, my Griffith family at Green River or at my cousin's baby shower welcoming Baby Scarlette, or the Bates/Bowling group on Twin Cedar Road this summer has been like balm to my soul. Hearing Melody laugh and seeing her begin to toddle, or listening to Will talk, or just holding Wallace's hand as we rode around Hollybush... well, knowing you belong is comforting. Having someone who knows you, who gets you, who lets you just be you, is invaluable. God made us for relationships, but too often we humans mess them up. May I continue to grow in grace and love, and continue to appreciate these gifts that have been loaned to me for this time.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Our Summer of HIking

So if you know me you know I don't care much for exercise, but I've been trying to be more active. I do love the outside, minus the bugs and the Kentucky humidity...

But nature is gorgeous and I'm amazed and in awe when I'm out in the woods.

So naturally, because I'm such an outdoors girl and love to move so much, Wallace and I decided to take up hiking. I've lived an hour from the Gorge all my life, and have never really spent much time there. Oh, sure there's been the requisite trip to Natural Bridge most summers, and we spent a lot of time at the picnic shelter and in the creek there when I was young feeding ducks with Mamaw Na, but I'd never really hiked...

because, you know.  Bugs and snakes and sweat...

So, anyway, we researched a little bit and found a site that had 10 top hikes in the Gorge, and we set out to go see them... because Kentucky is beautiful and it's something we can do together (and we have limited cell service, which is a plus for me!)

We had hopes to get them all accomplished this summer, but then got sidetracked at Natural Bridge because who knew there was more than one trail there???

And also, rain and humidity and hot weather because who wants to die hiking in 90+ degrees?

So, our plan is to finish up this list during the fall on weekends when there isn't volleyball or SMS football or UK football.
  1. Indian Staircase and Indian Arch (3.5 miles – unmarked – difficult) *to be completed at a later date
  2. Whittleton Arch (2.5 miles – easy)
This one actually doubles on our to do list because it connects the Natural Bridge to the Gorge. On June 28, Wallace and I walked 7.1 miles- parked and walked Lakeside Trail at Natural Bridge, up to Hemlock Lodge, around to Whittleton Campground, and then followed Whittleton Trail to Hwy 15, and went to the overpass looking at the Mountain Parkway at Slade Hill. On our way back, we sidetracked to Whittleton Arch, which is one of the prettiest arches I've seen. Lots of huge rock formations along the way. (And, of course, we then celebrated our hike with some Miguel's Pizza!).



3. Double Arch, Star Gap Arch, Arch of Triumph (5.6 miles – unmarked – moderate) *to be completed at a later date
    4. Gray’s Arch (4.0 miles – easy)
June 6, 2016- Wallace, Caleb, Lauren Green and I hit the trail for this one in the afternoon after summer practice. It was a nice 75 degrees, so not too hot. Beautiful scenery, even though I struggle with looking at my feet and missing out on what was around me because I'm a clutz and I was afraid I'd trip. One time, though, about a mile into our walk, I looked over and saw that we were on top of the ridge line and it was gorgeous. We walked and stayed on the trail and did pretty good until we were about 3 miles in. We came upon a staircase and Caleb said "God told me to take that." Which was quickly followed by "This is the staircase to Heaven because I feel like I'm dying." (Noone has ever said Caleb isn't dramatic). Then, halfway up the staircase, "If this doesn't lead to where we are, I'm going to be mad." At the top of said staircase, Wallace decided that we had taken a wrong turn, so back down we went. We made it to Gray's Arch, and it was beautiful. Truly beautiful. We climbed up directly underneath the rock and ran into a friendly snake (as friendly as snakes can be) who let us just proceed on our way... except there was nowhere to go. So, after being convinced that we were lost and needed a helicopter to come pick us up, we backtracked to the staircase and decided that maybe Caleb had been right. I've never seen him so relieved to see the car...

5. Auxier Ridge & Courthouse Rock (5.0 miles- moderate) *to be completed at a later date
6. Natural Bridge & Laurel Ridge Trail (3.0 miles – easy)
5-30-16 We were more familiar with this one, obviously. After dropping Caleb and Lauren Green off to ride the skylift up to meet us, Wallace, Helen and I parked at the parking lot closest to the swimming pool and I may or may not have commiserated on how I missed the paddleboats (because y'all know how much I would have used them!) Again, no surprises here, because I had hiked up to the bridge... but at the top there was a family who were singing from the Sound of Music and How Great Thou Art and as I looked around it was just fitting. We made our way to the skylift and met up with the kiddos, and then headed over to Lookout Point. I honestly don't know that I have ever walked that trail, and it was awesome to look across and see the view of the bridge. Then we followed the trail on to Lover's Leap, and again the views were awesome. We hiked back to the bridge, and followed the trail to Balanced Rock, another trail I had never been on before. After what seemed like a million steps, we met up with Papaw William, Greg, Regina, and Will and had lunch at the lodge. Great family day!


When we walked at Natural Bridge, Caleb was given a map that showed ten trails around Natural Bridge. I'm pretty sure the only one that I had ever walked was the original trail... so we decided that we'd conquer all of those trails, too. We did 3/10 on this hike.
June 14- We completed two more, walking Battleship Rock Trail and Rock Garden Trail for a hike that was about 3.5 miles. We traveled up Needle's Eye Staircase, which was erected in the 1930s and has a fitting name. We were also pleasantly surprised to find ourselves below the skylift. We had often seen people underneath as we rode up but didn't know their was a trail.
And we rewarded ourselves with Miguel's Pizza!
 
June 19- Wallace and I hit the trails and walked to Henson's Arch, near Whittleton Campground. We didn't climb down the sinkhole because a couple we met on the trail said they had just seen a copperhead that snuck back into the leaves, but it was beautiful.
We then rode the skylift up to the Bridge to hike down Hood's Branch Trail. I was not reassured when the lady selling tickets at the lift told us that the trail was more wooded so we'd be more likely to see snakes, and when she asked if we had on boots it worried me even more. Wallace was not reassured when she asked what model of car we drove and then wrote it down... but it was a nice hike and we finished it quicker than we had thought we would. It truly was a walk through the woods, with some lovely footbridges and a trek over rocks and fallen logs.
 
* At Natural Bridge we still have two trails to finish up. One is a 7 miler, and the other is just 0.5 mile
7. Silvermine Arch & Hidden Arch (5.1 miles – moderate) * to be completed at a later date
8. Turtle Back Arch & Rock Bridge (4.0 miles – unmarked – moderate) * to be completed at a later date
9. Rock Bridge Loop (1.5 miles – unmarked – easy)
This was the first one Wallace and I decided to do, on a spontaneous drive through the Gorge. Creation Falls is beautiful. An easy hike until we started back up the hill =)
We hope to do this one again with Caleb and Will and let them hang out at the swimming hole.
10. Chimney Top Rock, Princess Arch, & Half Moon Arch (1.8 miles – easy) * to be completed at a later date

Plus, driving through the Gorge I saw several other trails that I wanted to do... including one to Copperas Falls.
Eastern Kentucky... it's beautiful! We have it right at our fingertips. Get out and explore!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Change of Heart: A Review And a Giveaway!


Twenty years ago I visited Amish country in Pennsylvania and became fascinated. I have loved Amish fiction every since.

For fans of Amish fiction, Good writes an easy to read story that brings likeable characters into play, causing the reader to hope for love even in the midst of their trials.

Lydia is the "good" big sister, watching over the family and making sure that everyone else is doing what they need to do. When her sister leaves with an Englisher, she finds herself struggling with how to convince her to come back to the family.

Caleb doesn't appreciate Lydia's sister distracting his brother from med school, so he is an unlikely ally for Lydia. However, there's just something about him.

As her Mammi has surgery, her family faces the flu, and tragedy occurs, Lydia must try to stay true to herself even as she struggles with finding Caleb attractive.

I would give this book four stars and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Amish fiction and a good lighthearted romance. The book was well-written, easy to follow, and the characters were likeable and well-developed.


About the Book

Lydia Esh’s younger sister Emma is running wild during Rumschpringe, causing the family major heartaches. Although it means risking her reputation, her job as a schoolteacher, and her courtship with Jakob Zook, Lydia attends parties to watch over Emma and protect her sister’s virtue.
When Emma begins a relationship with Kyle, an Englischer, Lydia teams up with Kyle’s older brother, Caleb, to keep the couple apart. As Lydia and Caleb spend time together keeping an eye on their siblings, Lydia falls for this forbidden love. Will she stay true to her faith even if it means giving up the man she loves?
About the Author

Rachel J. Good, inspirational author, writes life-changing, heartfelt novels of faith, hope, and forgiveness. She is the author of Amish romances in the Sisters & Friends series. She grew up near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the setting for her novels. A former teacher and librarian, she completed her MA from Vermont College while raising five children. She is presently an MFA student in Writing and Illustration at Hollins University. In addition to having more than 2200 articles and 30 books in print or forthcoming under several pseudonyms, she also juggles freelance editing and illustration careers. To buy the Amish Quilts Coloring Book: http://amzn.to/1T35q5p  Visit Rachel at:
Website: www.racheljgood.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/racheljgoodnovels/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RachelJGood1
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14661177.Rachel_J_Good
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/racheljgood1/

Guest Post from Rachel J. Good

Hi, I’m Rachel J. Good, inspirational author of heartfelt tales of faith, hope, and forgiveness.
I’m excited to launch the first book in my Sisters & Friends Amish series, Change of Heart. Although I’ve been writing for many years and have about 30 books out now, this is my first inspirational novel. I’m busy editing book 2, Buried Secrets, and writing book 3, Gift from Above. And I’m planning the next three books in the series.
I’ve been asked how I came to write Amish novels. For that, I have to credit my agent Mary Sue Seymour, who suggested it to me. I loved the idea because I’d lived near Lancaster, PA, and had always been interested in the Amish. Although Mary Sue went to heaven a few months ago, just before the book launched, I feel her presence in my life as I write. She believed in me as a writer and encouraged me to work on this novel, which she quickly sold.
Lydia’s story in Change of Heart has several connections with my real life. The first is that I’m the oldest in my family and have two sisters, and so does Lydia. We both feel responsible our younger sisters. Lydia’s younger sister, Emma, gets in trouble during Rumschpringe. (And no, her wild sister doesn’t resemble either of my two younger sisters.)
The second connection with my life is the spiritual lesson Lydia learns in the book. I wanted Lydia’s journey to be not only a struggle between faith and love, but also a personal inner journey from self-righteousness to seeing with God’s loving eyes.
Oftentimes, goodness and spirituality can be a source of pride, and it can also be used to justify being judgmental. Lydia’s sister Emma points this out to her, but in my case, it was my young daughter who piped up, when I was complaining about someone at church, and said, “She sounds just like you, Mommy.” Ouch!
That day I came face to face with the truth that often what I criticize most in another person is often a flaw or a sin I’m overlooking in myself. As Matthew 7:3 (NIV) says: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” I wanted Lydia’s story to reflect that truth.
The Amish try to avoid the sin of hochmut (pride), but Lydia, without realizing it, is secretly proud of her own spirituality. It often saddens me that, as Christians, we spend more time criticizing others outside the faith or with different lifestyles or beliefs, but very little time examining our own unloving and judgmental behavior. I’d like to see us become more like Jesus, who ate with the “publicans and sinners,” and showed love to everyone, instead of condemning them.
Lydia is also forced to choose between staying in her faith or leaving it for love. I, too, faced a similar challenge many years ago, so I wrote those scenes from my heart. I hope Lydia’s story touches hearts, and that readers come away reassured that although we can’t always see the larger picture, God can, and He’s working out a wonderful plan for us. Our present circumstances might seem dark, but He knows the final results. We need to trust Him even during the challenging times, because “all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28).

Blog Stops

July 14: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations
July 15: Bigreadersite
July 16: Blossoms and Blessings
July 17: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS
July 18: Bukwurmzzz
July 19: Christian Bookaholic
July 20: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner
July 21: Singing Librarian Books
July 22: Quiet Quilter
July 23: Texas Book-aholic
July 24: A Greater Yes
July 24: Carpe Diem
July 25: Red Headed Book Lady
July 25: Cassandra M’s Place
July 26: His Grace is Sufficient
July 27: cherylbbookblog

GIVEAWAY!!!
To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away lots of fun prizes, including copies of her books and even a box of Whoopie Pies from Bird-in-Hand Bakery. Click here to enter: https://promosimple.com/ps/9ed1

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Dance and Be Glad: A Review And a Giveaway!


Mike is a doctor whose brother's untimely death has left his raising his niece alone.

Jill is a dance instructor who lost her husband in the military, leaving her and her young daughter to face life alone.

The two were high school sweethearts, except Jill's father didn't approve. Now, years and life circumstances later, the two meet again.

As these two are trying to adapt to their new lives in their new roles as single parents, the complication of a relationship may be the last thing that they want... but the thing they need most.

And isn't that just how life is? The beauty of life is that we find ourselves working through different phases at the same time.

I loved the plot of this book, as there is nothing better than high school sweethearts finding each other. The characters are really sweet as well, and I really, really wanted things to work out for this couple as well as their kiddos. It's always a plus when you like the characters you are reading about.

This book is the second in a series, but could be read as a read-alone. And this author is fabulous. I received this book free in exchange for an honest review through Celebrate Lit, as well as the first book in the series, and when I couldn't get the version to work on my Kindle, she emailed me several times to get me a book that did work. That means a lot to me!  You can visit the author page at this link to purchase both of these books, as well as others by Wardwell: http://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Wardwell/e/B00T17KNGE/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1469279085&sr=8-1

The only thing I didn't like about this book is that the flow wasn't great all the time. There were times when it would switch to the past, when Mike and Jill were in high school, and it would take me a few minutes to figure out who was talking and when it was set.

I'd give this book 3.5 stars and would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves light, easy to read romances.




About the Book

Jillian Matthews is a widowed mom and owner of a dance studio in a small farming community. When her husband died nine years ago in the desert of the Middle East, a piece of her died as well and she lost all joy in the day to day blessings. Tiny dancers and her daughter, Katie, are her main focus until an old flame, Michael Emerson, waltzes back into her life, awakening things she thought dead and gone.
Dr. Michael Emerson told himself he was happy with his bachelorhood after a messy divorce. He thought his life as an ER doctor and yearly missions work left  no room for a wife and family. When tragedy strikes and he is left with an unforeseen situation, he must evaluate his life and make some major changes.
About the Author

am an independently published author of Christian romance.
I wear many hats from one day to the next. I am a devoted wife, basketball and dance mother, teacher, taxi service, friend, caregiver, daughter, sister, and now, published author. Seeing all that is enough to make my head spin. But more importantly, I am the Daughter of the Most High King.
I was raised in and still reside in a little farm town in Mid- Michigan called Corunna. It’s quiet and simple, just the way I like it. If I can’t live out in the country among the corn fields and trees then living in this small town works for me.  My husband and I have been together since high school and have 3 children, all of whom we homeschool. It has been quite the journey, but I couldn’t ask for a better life.
I decided to give writing a try because I needed something to occupy my down time, but after reading my first draft of my first book, What God Brings Together, I then understood that God had a much bigger plan.  God does not give His children a desire just so that it can go to waste. I never anticipated the journey God would put me on through writing, but I am excited to see what He has in mind for the future.
I have always felt a call to reach out to women and mothers, to encourage them in their lives. So naturally, all my stories revolve around women who are mothers: single mothers, widowed mothers, young mothers, married mothers, and even women who have a mother’s heart but no children of her own.
My greatest hope is that each story touches your heart, gives you hope, or just gives you a moment away from the chaos of life. Lord, knows we have earned it.

Guest Post from Melissa Wardwell

When I wrote the first book in this series, “What God Brings Together”, it wasn’t supposed to become a series. It has seemed to have a mind of its own and is spiraling into other books.
You met Dr. Michael Emerson in the first book as the third wheel to Emma and Ryan’s crazy triangle. As soon as I finished it and read through it one last time, Mike’s character begged to have his own story. I felt bad giving such a nice guy a sad ending. So an idea formed for a story focused on him but it took me a while to decide on who his other half would be. I was sitting in front of the dance studio two of my kids attend, and it hit me. A Dance teacher and studio owner. From there the story went out of control- in a good way. The dance studio is the actual studio my kids dance at, and much of the descriptions of the location are the same as the space. The town is even the real town this studio is in. It is such a quiet place and I love it.
I live in the area this series takes place. The county has a funny name as it is a Native American name – Shiawassee. It is nothing but small towns and farm land. New Lothrop, the main location for this story, has a population of approx. 600. I spend many hours there because of dance and I have grown to love the quiet little farm town.
I like to bring light to actual business in some of my work, so when I chose to write in Infinity Dance Company I had to include the location. There is also a neat little coffee shop that I talk about in this book that is also an actual coffee shop.
I am all about promoting local business, so if I can plug a cool business in my books, I will.
You will see a bit more of another character from the first book, Tiffany, and you’ll get some insight into her story as well but you won’t get the full picture until the release of “I Know the Plans” which is set to come out no later than next spring – hopefully. I also introduce a new character in “Dance and Be Glad” whose story is heartbreaking but you won’t know much more until book four “Redeemed Through Grace” comes out in 2018.
“Dance and Be Glad” is about finding joy in the middle of uncertainty and the scary moments in life. We can let the sudden changes bring us down or we can look at them as an opportunity to learn something new. I have witnessed a lot of tragedy and sudden losses in my personal life to learn that God still has me in His hands even when I feel like my world is crumbling. My prayer is that each reader can have a similar revelation.

Blog Stops

July 13: Carpe Diem
July 14: Sue Stinnett
July 15: KarensKrayons
July 17: Petra’s Hope
July 17: Splashes of Joy
 July 24: Quiet Quilter
 
Giveaway!!!
 
To celebrate her tour, Melissa is giving away a wonderful package that includes a hand-crafted necklace. Click here to enter: https://promosimple.com/ps/9ec0
 

 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Solution

The cursor blinks on this white page, mocking me.

There's so much that I want to say, but I don't know how to formulate the words.

My world has been reeling the past three weeks. The highs and lows and I've gone through the motions.

Blessed to go on vacation, allowing me to forget the hurt in my heart...

or at least have it numbed a bit.

And then the terror in Dallas and Nice and Baton Rouge.

The pettiness and cattiness of this local wet/dry election.

The points made about the drug epidemic.

It's real, y'all. I see it every single day, and yet I'm helpless to stop it.

It seems that we are all helpless to stop it.

So it wrecks homes and separates families.

And sometimes it becomes a mockery, because isn't it easier to joke about something that to face it?

Our world is hurting. It doesn't matter where you're at. What you look like. What your job is. What color you are.

Life hurts.

I wish I didn't sound so jaded. I know in my mind that it's me trying to process this hurt... this sense of loss...

but it still seems senseless to me.

Let's be real, y'all.

I know the answer is Jesus.

I know that He is already victorious, and that He's going to wipe away every tear...

but sometimes my heart is still too heavy.

I wish that I could do something.

In this world you shall have trouble...

Because isn't that our first response? To do something? To act? To talk about it? To point fingers and blame someone else?

Take heart...

Even when you feel like your heart is broken. Even when you don't understand why good people get messed up doing bad things or why you don't understand why loved ones have to die even when they were ready to go. Even when you don't know what the answer is to the economic downturn in the place that you love. Even when you feel hopeless...

I have overcome the world.

Keep looking, keep clinging, even when you feel it slipping away. He's the Overcomer. He is in control...

So why doesn't He stop things?

Why doesn't He step in and make the shooting and the drugs and the hurtful words stop?

We aren't supposed to question Him...

but I've wondered this.

And I know others have, too.

I followed a post on Twitter yesterday for the hashtag Jesus Changes Everything.

Y'all, I believe that with all my heart. I've seen His change. Felt it. Two years ago when Grandma died He held me... and He's held me this year through the loss of Uncle Dennis and Papaw.

His work on the Cross has given me hope, so that I can take heart.

But there's a lot of people out there who don't know Him, and all they see is the evil. How can He just stand by and let it happen?

I don't pretend to be a Biblical scholar, and there are times when I hurt so bad I don't even want to open my Bible. I forget to pray. I get stubborn, even, and pout like a little kid...

But I know He sees me. And He sees every aching person. He's not ignoring it.

He's taking count of every single action against the innocent.

And He will repay.

It doesn't make it any easier.

So our job, as we work through this chaos and pain called life, is to be the light in the darkness. Salt of the earth. A city on the hill.

The example.

And sometimes, the world needs to see that we hurt, too...

It's ok to not be ok.

It's ok to be confused.

As long as we know that He is not the author of confusion.

And then, as we are that light, we love.

Love by accepting others.

It's a recurrent theme on this blog.

Love is stronger than fear.

Love is a verb.

Love is looking at the problem and trying to be a part of the solution.

And knowing that the ultimate solution is Him.

And His grace is sufficient, even in our chaos and confusion.

Lord Jesus, help us.

And all the weary people, questioning people, hurting people said...

Amen.