Monthly Archives: November 2014

On this day last year 11/12/13…

On this day last year (11/12/13), God moved in my heart and spoke very clearly to me about the kind of leader I was and needed to be. I wrote a blog about it later that week, which I have re-posted below.

I have been reflecting on all that God has done this year though, and I praise Him for His faithfulness to me and my family. It’s hard to be a grieving leader, but as A.W. Tower has said, “Before God can use you mightily, He has to wound you deeply.” Well, I have been wounded and now I pray God continues to use me for His glory…however He sees fit. Here was my post from last year:

Tuesday’s date was 11/12/13…an unique date for sure. It was a date some people found interesting or perhaps didn’t even notice, and a date many will probably forget. For me, 11/12/13 took on a new meaning though. For me 11/12/13 is a date I won’t forget. I won’t forget it, not because of its unique sequence, but rather because of some things God spoke to my heart.

It’s been a little over 2 months since Trey went to be with the Lord. Things have not gotten easier or harder…things have just changed. Emily and I and our children are learning to live with a broken heart. We are all trying to figure out the new normal. I know some people think I’m healing nicely, and I’m sure there are others who think I should heal faster, but the Lord is healing us in His time. Emily and I know things will never be the same, but we know that God will keep strengthening us and helping us move forward.

Our faith has never been stronger!!! I say it again, our faith is strong. Yes, we have wrestled with living what we know to be true at times, and getting the mind and the heart on the same page can be a challenge, but all in all, I think we are doing as well as can be expected. God continues to show Himself faithful to us and teach us what it means to truly trust Him. We are learning to trust Him deeply with our pain.

I have had some difficult, but meaningful conversations this week though. What’s interesting is that as a result of some of the conversations I have had, God really began moving in my heart. It’s hard to describe, but Tuesday was a turning point for me…a turning point that is difficult to even describe. I’m just learning daily how to live through the pain. One thing I’m realizing is that it is hard having a broken heart, but still having to be a spiritual leader. It’s hard to help people with their grief, when I still have a mountain of my own to deal with…but God has called and equipped me to pastor and shepherd people, and He is showing and teaching me how to do this more faithfully. I’m very grateful for God’s overwhelming, carrying grace. He reminded me this week that I am in the palm of His hand and He will see me through. I’m just discovering that God often uses hard things to speak to and change me…and I guess in a strange way, I am even learning to appreciate the hard things.

The challenge for me will be balancing it all…balancing my emotions; attitude; responses; thoughts; goals; desires; etc. I have to lead my wife…my children…my extended family…the church God has called me to…and on and on. The only way I will be able to do that effectively is by letting the Lord lead me. I know He is walking me! I know that all I really have to do is please Him! I know that no matter what, He is in control and He will provide all I need, in order for me to be who I need to be.

So…He spoke all that into my heart this Tuesday…that and much more. I needed it. I needed to be reminded that while others don’t know my heart, He does. He is walking with me. He is so good and so faithful. He understand my pain. He weeps and rejoices with me. He truly is the shepherd of MY soul. As the Psalmist said, “I love you oh Lord my strength!” And boy do I love the Lord.

One final thing…when Trey breathed his last breath and stepped into eternity with His Savior, I thought I was somewhat prepared for that. Emily and I had talked about the reality and possibility of his death many times. We talked to our kids about it. We wanted no one blind-sided. Well, all I can tell you is this: NOTHING, absolutely nothing can prepare you for such an event. Watching your precious child breathe their final breaths, even with the hope of heaven in your heart, may be the most heart wrenching experience in the world. While those moments shook our family to the core, what we have discovered is that God is everything He says He is and provides everything He said He would provide. He was with us in those moments…and most importantly, He was with Trey and carried Trey safely into His arms. Emily and I have been weak at times, and perhaps that is all you have seen of us…but in those moments of weakness, GOD HAS BEEN STRONG!!! When we struggle to breathe, He breathes for us. When we don’t want to get up, He lifts our head. When pressure and stress rises, He gives peace. So, we may not have handled everything perfectly…in fact, I know we haven’t, but I know this, in the midst of our darkest hours, our God has been 100% faithful to us. He has been perfect, because He is perfect. He has been patient with us and carried us along…and He will see us ALL THE WAY HOME!

We hope our journey has been nothing but an encouragement to you. We have tried to be real and honest and always point to the Lord. As I said though, I know we’ve messed up at times along the way, and if our journey and the way we have handled our journey has caused you to stumble in any way, I am sorry. We have only always ever wanted to point to Jesus through this journey…and I pray we have.

Keep praying for our family. We are healing. We are learning and adjusting to the new normal. And most importantly, we are experiencing a closeness to the Lord and each other like never before.

“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who trust in Him.” -Nahum 1:7

We Still Struggle, but it’s Okay!

I used to absolutely love this time of the year. From October to January, I have always loved everything about the fall and winter seasons. That has all changed now. Everything has changed. It is not that I go around moping or sad all the time, it is just not the same without Trey. In all that we do as a family, there is just always something missing. Behind our smiles, there is always some level of pain, and in our laughter, there is always some heartache. It is just life as we know it and we are still having to learn how to adjust to the new normal every single day.

We recently had our Fall Festival at the church. Trey loved dressing up for our church’s annual festival. This year was particularly hard. We saw many of Trey’s friends dressed up in their costumes and playing the games, and Emily and I could not help but wonder what Trey would be wearing and doing. We are also currently signing kids up for our Upward Basketball program. Trey desperately wanted to play Upward and for me to be his coach. He was so looking forward to that. I also recently baptized two of Trey’s friends, one of which was a little girl Trey had a crush on. I will never forget him telling me about his crush on this sweet little girl in the hospital. And of course, Thanksgiving and Christmas are all approaching as well. I do not know of another child who loved Christmas more than Trey. So, it is just hard all the way around…for all of us.

I know that Trey is not missing out on anything. He lacks nothing in the presence of God. I also know that when we see him again, it will be as if we were never apart. But, the in between phase is what is so hard. Truly, everything has changed so much, and our struggle remains. Those who have experienced loss know what I am talking about too. I think of several of our dear friends going through exactly what we are. I think of other friends getting ready to face what we are going through. This fallen world is just so hard, and with every heartache, it makes me long for the New Heaven and the New Earth.

Today, I am reminded of two things: 1.) Life in a fallen world is not pleasant! The Bible says that this world is not our home and that Christians are “aliens and strangers” in it. The pains and heartaches of this world are to serve as reminders that we are made for eternity. For those of us who are in Christ, this is good news…GREAT NEWS! One day, we will be with the Lord forever and forever. So today, if you are a Christian and you are suffering…just remember, this fallen world does not have the final say…God does, and the best is yet to come. I heard someone say it like this one time: “For the Christian, this world is as bad as it will ever get, but for the non-Christian, this world is as good it will ever get;” 2.) In the fallen world, God has promised to be with us! I love that one of God’s promises for His children is to never leave or forsake them. Today, if you are hurting like me, just know that you are not alone…God is with you!  We simply must look to Him and ask Him to carry our burdens. There are times I feel like no one understands my pain, my fears, my hurts, but then I am reminded that Jesus does. Jesus knows rejection, suffering, and pain in the greatest of all ways, and the BIble says that He weeps with us. God had the effects of sin more than we do, and when He sees His children suffer or hurt, He grieves. One day though, He will make it all right and restore all things in the final New Heaven and New Earth (Revelation 21). I, for one, cannot wait for that day.

Let me end with one final thing. The other day, a man walked up to me and said, “I hear you and Emily are really struggling.” I said, “No more than usual, but we are making it by the grace of God every day.” My answer was obviously not what he was looking for because he proceeded to tell me why I should not be struggling. I listened and really did not try to correct him because I have just learned with some, there is really no point. I did say, “Brother, I appreciate your concern, but as long as we are on this earth, we will have hurts and pains. As long as Emily and I are alive, we will grieve the loss of our son. But, we grieve with hope. We weep with trust in our Savior. We will get up each day and continue to get up each day and trust God with our pain. So, we will probably keep struggling, but as the Apostle Paul said, ‘We have been struck down, but not destroyed.'”

I think some Christians feel like people who struggle are somehow not walking with the Lord as they should, or that there is a deficiency in their faith.  I actually feel the opposite. The Bible teachers that “in our weakness, HE is strong.” Yes, Emily and I and our family continue to struggle, and we are okay with that. Yes, we have good days…yes, we are making new memories…yes, we are continuing to move forward, but we are still struggling…and for us, that is okay. The struggle makes us depend on the Lord. The struggle keeps us focused on eternity. The struggle reminds us God is in control and is our only source of true joy. The struggle is real, but it is okay…and because God is God and He is good, we will be okay.

Keep praying for us as you think about us…pray we keep making much of Jesus in our struggle!

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