These are God’s things.

This picture. I took it at Marcy’s house on May 19, 2019 when Cacy and Brian stopped by to see us as they drove out to Durham Town to camp. I remember distinctly looking at the photo on my phone screen and contemplating if I should send it to my mom’s phone. But, she was in such a sad place and said she wished she was with us that I didn’t want to send it to her and it come across as “Here we are all together, but you can’t be with us because you’re not feeling well.” That could make her feel left out and even more sad, so I decided not to send it for fear of upsetting her. I would just show it to her tomorrow when I went to visit her. 

Well, that visit never happened. The “tomorrow” I had planned was the worst day of my life. And I have to be in the right frame of mind and heart or this photo can haunt me. It actually makes my stomach hurt to look at it too long.

What if she had seen the precious faces of her grandkids who think she is awesome and fun and loving? What if this photo would have been just the encouragment she needed to push through her pain and confusion? What if she would have realized how many people love her just the way she is and, besides, who else will send the birthday cards and buy the popsicles for their visits or let them have too many sweets?

But I didn’t send it.

But what if I did send it and the outcome of her life was the same? Then what? Would it haunt me in other ways? What if you had not sent her that photo and driven her into more of a depressed state? What if you had waited to just go see her instead of showing her a photo of the grandkids that she didn’t feel good enough to be around?

What I’ve learned as I have walked through grief (there is not an actual end) and have since been close to others who also are walking through grief of their own is that we all have “What if” questions that threaten to take us down. We all wish we could go back and have another chance to say how we feel about our loved one, to make a different decision surrounding the circumstances of our loved one’s death. 

I am reminded during these downward spiral of thoughts of what Josh once told me as we were laying in bed and I was spewing out my feelings and questions about my mom. 

“These are God’s things, Kristy.”

And they were.  And they are still. Sometimes I think I have made amazing progress and I have let all of the “what ifs” go and then something triggers an onslaught of them. I take a deep breath and remember that these are God’s things. I won’t know all I think I want to know. I am not God. My decisions aren’t paramount. My power is no power at all. But God is God. His power is unlimited. His abilities aren’t thwarted by me. 

I trust He is not overwhelmed with all the “things” He has to do and all the people He has to keep up with. So I will keep casting all my cares upon the Lord because He cares for me (I Peter 5:7). And He cares for you, too. Trust Him with all the things.

Reflective

If you had told me five years ago that I would be sitting in Charlotte, NC and hanging out with my dog, going to a gym three days a week, and my kids would be in a real school and not at home with me, I would not have believed you. Afterall, five years ago I didn’t like dogs. 

They say five years is about how long it takes for a place to feel like home. I remember scoffing at those words, thinking surely it won’t take me that long. I mean, how hard can it be? I am a friendly person.

a-hem. Excuse me while I eat crow.

Five years is actually pretty gracious. For me anyway. For here. For this season of life. 

But here we are almost five years in Charlotte and all of those things are true about my life—the dog, the gym, the school. I had a meeting with Ruby’s School Guidance Counselor about her Senior classes, so I have been a bit reflective as I consider that my own child is going to be a senior in high school. I remembered that she was only starting 7th grade when we moved here. She turned 13 not too terribly long after we moved here and now we are considering colleges.

Indeed, life has ticked on at its own pace.

Coinciding with my reflectiveness on life, I have been in Corinthians and 2 Corinthians 2:14 says, “But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” I remember reading this several years back and thinking how I didn’t feel like I was triumphing here in Charlotte, but was comforted that even though it didn’t feel like triumphant living, God was leading me in triumph. His Word says so. 

A few days later I was in chapter 6 of 2 Corinthians and found “2017” written in the margin of chapter 6, verse 10, “as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” Sorrow most definitely marked my days and nights here. Yet God graciously taught me to be joyful too. You can have joy in sorrow. I knew that in theory before moving here; I walked it out in those first few years. 

I thought back on how a group of my close friends from Georgia drove here during their Thanksgiving Break to love on me and see our new place. I needed that encouragement. I thought back on the many evenings Josh and I would sit quietly together after dinner. We didn’t want to overwhelm each other with all that we were actually feeling. We did from time to time, but we also could see in each other a breaking point. These days strengthened our marriage—not because we relied on each other for rescue or cast all our cares on each other, but because we took them consistently to the Lord, and we were fully aware that He was the only one who could shoulder these cares of ours. I thought back on how I gave in and got a dog because I wanted the kids to be happy about something and enjoy living here. I thought back on our floundering to find a place in church. I remember Sundays being the most dreaded day of the week; this couldn’t have been more opposite for us as a family. I remember needing my GPS for absolutely everywhere I wanted to go. I remember not knowing where the closest Target was and not having a close Publix to get groceries from. I remember Mack turning double digits and Molly getting her first guitar and teaching herself how to play in those lonely days.

So now I reflect on our years here with great fondness. It has been a time of deepening my walk with the Lord. “You don’t know He is all you need until He is all you have.” they say…and in a sense this was true for me in Charlotte. He really met me right where I found myself and was to me all that I needed Him to be.

So when I got to 2 Corinthians 9:18, “And God is able to make ALL grace ABOUND to you, so that ALWAYS having ALL sufficiency in EVERYTHING, you may have an ABUNDANCE for EVERY good deed….You will be enriched in EVERYTHING for ALL liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God,” I was able to say AMEN. He has been more than I could have imagined and met my every need and so many wants. And I can genuinely say, “Thanks be to God for indescribable gift!” (2 Cor 9:15). He is the giver of the gift, and He is the gift. 

We haven’t been here five years quite yet, but I love looking back and seeing how the Lord has walked us every step of the way. He is good. He is trustworthy. He is able to supply our every need. And I just wanted to thank Him for all He has done for us and been to us in this season.

HOMECOMING 2021

Well, I am figuring God is letting the kids know that things that are super fun and traditions that they thought they would be a part of but can’t be because of covid restrictions are just not as important as they once thought. And who am I to doubt a good God and His ways? So we daily entrust ourselves to Him as we grapple with disappointments or crushed expectations. And then we make the best of a tough situation and have a great time along the way.

Homecoming 2021 was held this morning. No dance or date. No basketball game or pep rally. No big crowds in the gym. BUT there was a parade. If we have learned anything through this global pandemic, it’s how to bring back the parade!

Josh and Molly hung out most of the morning together. They are so cute.

I am proud that Molly got chosen by her peers to represent her Sophomore class mostly because I think she is friendly to all of the students and loves people. I love how God made her! She is a light!

Let me tell you who I am also proud of….Ruby. She is such a good older sister to Molly. She keeps her grounded in ways she may need to be grounded. She uses her wisdom and discernment and shares it with Molly often. AND she wrote Molly a sweet note and left it in the bathroom for her to find this morning when she got up (she got to come in to school later than the others). It made my heart swell with pride and love for Ruby when I found out she did that for Molly. Always encouraging and loving on her sister. They have such a gift in each other, and I am sure they will realize it the older they get.

Sweet Ruby videoing Josh and Molly in the parade. LOVE HER!

So it was fun! And it was cold! And it was a great memory, a bright spot on a dreary day in a dreary season. We are choosing to be grateful and celebrate the good! I hope you are doing the same wherever you are.