Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”

Luke 24: 36-39
The disciples were a wreck.

These guys were reeling from guilt….

For leaving Jesus in His ULTIMATE time of need…

For sleeping while Jesus was sweating blood…

For so many things.

On top of that, they were devastated with the death of their Friend.

Upon hearing the news trickle in about Jesus being spotted, ALIVE, they obviously had their doubts.

This band of brothers had one thing in common now….

They each had a broken heart.

Jesus loves them so very much, these men who abandoned Him, that He invites them to just…

Touch Him…

To trace His scars with their fingers…

To remember that He is the same Jesus who probably sang campfire songs with them after a good meal, and laughed at all of the inside jokes I’m sure that they had. 😊

Sometimes we need to be invited to “touch” Jesus…

To remember who He was during the sun,

So that we remember who He is in the dark.

Jesus told His disciples to handle Him…

“Touch these wounds of mine. Put your hand in that cavity in my side where I was speared.”

“Let me PROVE who I am to you!!”
He gently relieved their doubts.
And when they departed from His presence, they were strengthened.
I’ve had my moments, this past year, of “handling” Jesus.

You see, I couldn’t understand why I had to go from challenge to challenge,

From trauma to trauma, for such a long time.

And this last tragedy was and is JUST AWFUL.

I thought I knew what it was like to live with a broken heart before this.

But I had NO IDEA of the amount of pain a person could live with.

That I could actually SURVIVE under the weight of this…

Was just insane!
I had QUESTIONS.
I had DOUBTS.
But this verse encouraged me to KEEP TALKING TO HIM.

Friends,
This is a HUGE thing!! Please don’t miss it!
When you stop talking to Jesus,

Especially when you are in your darkest moments,

You can quickly create a chasm between you and God.
A GREAT DIVIDE.
And I knew enough to know I had to keep my line of communication open with Him.
I was invited to HANDLE Jesus.
And handle Him, I did.

In fact, I might have “man-handled” God, just a little bit. 😊
But I searched His scars…
I hunted to find the trail of His tears...
I “GROPED” at God, feeling for all the wounds of my Savior.
Why?
Because His wounds comfort me in the midst of MY wounds.

I understood in no uncertain terms that if Jesus experienced incomparable pain in His life,

I’d better be ready to experience great heartbreak, too.

If you have questions for God,

If you can’t see His goodness in the middle of your pain,

Remember that He is a God who wants to invite you IN!

Jesus is holy, but that doesn’t mean He doesn’t get what it’s like to be human.

He cried to His Father to release Him from what He ultimately came to do, so He understands.

He wants to take you on a journey that leads you to a place of NOT needing answers to your questions…

A place where there are no doubts.

Jesus is asking ALL of us to lay our hands on Him.

To HANDLE Him…

And then…

To come away…

Whole.

Handle Me

My wedding day was nothing short of exactly what I wanted it to be.

It was beautiful… it was romantic.

It was in the lower room of a restaurant and looked like a cave, with rustic sconces on the walls, which provided just enough light to see.

It was a dark place with a little light.

I had no idea just how REAL of a metaphor that would be for the rest of my marriage.

But anyhow, it started off as a beautiful day.

A beautiful start to a marriage.

He looked at me with such love, that he was a magnet pulling me closer and closer to him down that little aisle, clinging to my dad’s arm.

I could have tried to resist, but it wouldn’t have ever worked for me. I would have always ended up loving him. He drew me to him with some kind of magical force.

That was the day I was most adored by my husband.

The day that I was a bride.

Most of the days after that, I was simply a wife.

I wasn’t really ever a bride again.

Not to him, at least.

And I thought that after Jeremy passed away I was certainly not a bride, and I was not a wife anymore, either.

On our wedding day, I was soaked in compliments, and I felt beautiful that day.

He adored me, and I was adorned with beautiful jewelry, with a beautiful dress,

And I felt beautiful.

But I am still a bride.

Still fully adored and still fully adorned.

I gave you expensive clothing of fine linen and silk, beautifully embroidered, and sandals made of fine goatskin leather. I gave you lovely jewelry, bracelets come beautiful necklaces, a ring for your nose, earrings for your ears, and a lovely crown for your head. And so you were adorned with gold and silver. Your clothes were made of fine linen and were beautifully embroidered. You ate the finest foods – choice flour, honey, and olive oil – and became more beautiful than ever. You looked like a Queen, and so you were!

Ezekiel 16:10-13 NLT

But this Groom is different.

He adores me every day.

And I am always adorned in his grace and mercy.

I am always a bride and I am always a wife.

As with any bride and groom there is still conflict.

There is still heartbreak.

And there is still pain.

Marriages start off simply being about love, but when the rubber meets the road, it becomes ALL ABOUT COMMITMENT.

It becomes all about commitment once pain is involved.

The pain happens when expectations are not met. In my opinion that is where most pain and disappointment in ANY relationship finds its root.

In unmet expectations.

I could never perfectly meet my earthly husband’s expectations.

Neither could he meet mine.

NO HUMAN CAN!!

But, after praying for miraculous changes in my husband’s life, making necessary spiritual changes in MINE…

My OTHER Husband did something I wasn’t expecting.

He permitted Jeremy to die a catastrophic death, instead of changing his heart.

NOW, I am very well aware of how much that one act was probably the ONLY way I would still be alive today.

That’s almost too sobering and scary for me to think about, so I try to push that out of my mind, but it is still true.

If relationships are all about commitment, maybe you can try to imagine how that kind of “hit” to my heart caused such deep disappointment in me towards God, my truest Husband.

It caused a huge rift between us, because of unmet expectations.

I expected a specific type of miracle.
And He GAVE me one!

But it didnt look the way I wanted it to.

I wanted Jeremy CHANGED.

Changed, but still ALIVE.

But God knows the ENTIRE story!

Why??

Because He wrote it!!

He knew what was coming, and gave me HIS VERY BEST!!

I realize all of that now.

But it took the better part of a year to accept this, and to figuratively say “yes” to THIS.

But it was a very rocky year for God and me.

In my first round of Griefshare(I am going through the process again, because the grief was too raw the first time around), there was a clip from a video that stuck out to me.

It addresses all the questions we have for God when He permits someone essential in our life to die.

It was specifically talking about the love relationship between us and our “Groom”.
One of authors said that she felt like God asked her each morning during this tough time….

“Do you still love me?”

“Are you going to walk away from me?”

“Please. Let’s stay together”.

ULTIMATE challenge of commitment!

These are lyrics to a song by J.J. Heller, that she must have unknowingly written just for me.

When you can’t feel a thing
After too many stings
When you forget about grace
The world is a lonely place

Stay with me, you’ll be surprised
There’s a world of color beyond black and white
Open your eyes, let in the light
You’ll see when you stay with me

When you can’t hear a thing
There are no words to sing
You keep your heart where it’s safe
But the world is a silent place

Stay with me and you’ll be surprised
There’s a world of color beyond black and white
Open your eyes, let in the light
You’ll see when you stay with me

Hold on
Be strong
Believe in love

Stay with me, you’ll be surprised
There’s a world of color beyond black and white
Open your eyes, let in the light
You’ll see when you stay with me

There’s a world of color beyond black and white
Open your eyes, let in the light
You’ll see when you stay with me.

So, I haven’t “arrived” yet, at any place of closure or complete healing.

That might take alot of years.

But I’m committed to THIS Groom…

I’m trusting His plan for our family.

I’m trusting He’s always given His very best to me….

And has INCREDIBLE plans for my life!!!!

And I’m not going

ANYWHERE.

I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.

Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.
Great is His faithfulness;

His mercies begin afresh each morning .

I say to myself, the Lord is my inheritance;

Therefore, I will hope in Him!
Lamentations 3:20-24

ALWAYS A Bride

Blessed be he of the Lord, who has not forsaken His kindness to the living and the dead!”

Ruth 2:20

Lesson for today:

NEVER DISCOUNT A BOOK OF THE BIBLE!!

Yes.

Some are pretty short.

Some of them are about women. (Oh no!!😲😂)

Some are insanely LONG,

And some are kind of complicated!

It’s funny how some of the books kind of fly under the radar…

Like Ruth.

I mean,

It’s no Genesis…

A page turner from creation to that crazy flood!

AND it’s no Exodus, with the Red Sea action packed thriller!

It’s also no Joshua, Daniel, the four Gospels, Acts, or Revelation!

In the book of Ruth, there are no huge miracles to be found.

No water turned to wine…

No feeding of 5,000 with the equivalent of a box of lunchables and a juice box…

Nothing really noteworthy happens here.

Until….

You take a closer look.

Naomi was a widow who lost more than most of us can even fathom.

A husband and her two precious sons.

Her given name meant “pleasant”.

Back then, your name meant EVERYTHING.

It defined who you were, and who you would become.

After she lost her husband and sons, she surrendered to the pain,

And gave herself

A new name…

Mara….

Which meant Bitterness.

First of all, let me just say…

We don’t get to choose our name!

Just as we don’t get to choose our stories!

GOD decides who we are,

And only HE chooses our narrative.

I’ve been so disappointed with His answer to all my prayers…

They felt like one giant”NO!”

But that wasn’t the case.

It wasn’t a “Wow!” kind of yes.

It wasn’t an eye-catching purple yes, or a bright fuscia yes.

Honestly , it was a tan or beige yes.

One of the lingering symptoms of my stroke is that I cannot see any neutral colors really well.

I can’t see the beige miracles, either.

But, friends, it doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

There is beauty in the basics.

There’s MAGIC in the mundane.

Provision in the midst of poverty.

There’s even hope in the hapless.

Don’t let your imagination define a miracle.

Naomi told her friends that she left her hometown “full”, but she was returning

“Empty.

But she didn’t see that Ruth

REMAINED!

Do you know what the name Ruth means??

It means

Friend.

She may have lost everybody else, but she still had a friend!

A decidedly beige miracle.

Ruth had a beige miracle, too.

Yes, she found a husband in Naomi’s town.

Beige.😊

But nice.

But she also became an integral part of the lineage to

Jesus Christ!!!

So.

Definitely ….

FUSCIA!!!!!!

There’s nothing beige about that.

Just as there is nothing run-of-the-mill

About Ruth.

There is nothing “beige” about what He is doing in each of our lives.

He has some AMAZING plans up His sleeve!

And I can’t wait to see what He will do with our beige little lives.

The “Beige” Book of Ruth

Vicki is my awesome older sister, by two years.

She was the first one to go to middle school,

First to suffer through high school (😊),

First to get a job,

And the first to get married.

I was never EVER jealous of her,

Because I would never want to be the “first” to try anything.

I have this pretty funny t-shirt that says,

” I’m a leader, NOT a follower. Except if we’re in a dark place….then screw it! You’re going first.”

😂😂😂

We are so blessed by those who have already BEEN to the place where we now find ourselves.

Sometimes these places are incredibly scary,

And often,

Just plain heartbreaking.

Two years ago, my church began implementing Griefshare.

It’s basically a support group for those who’ve lost a loved one through death.

I HATE going, initially.

Arms crossed, I pouted and sulked in my little chair for the first couple times.

And at first, I wasn’t sure why I felt that way…

But I guess I really didn’t want THIS to be my story.

I didn’t really expect this.

Tomorrow’s supposed to be “my day”.

I don’t have to be sad at EVERY holiday, do I???

I try.

I really do.

I try to think of how AMAZING my children are.

They totally are!

Macy and Micah are super compassionate kids, and both have a knack for sarcasm, for which I’d like to take credit.

And they both really and truly LOVE me.

Almost as much as I love them. It’s a huge competition around here…

“Who loves who more?”.

If I could let it stay right there, I’d be fine.

I could THINK about Mother’s Day without crying….

If I could….

If I could think about tomorrow WITHOUT thinking about one of the main reasons why I’m a mom in the FIRST PLACE….

If I could think about Mother’s day without thinking of their daddy,

That would be great.

But I can’t.

When I was in labor with Macy, he was my partner. His was the hand I squeezed through every contraction.

His was the face I saw, with tears flowing down his cheeks,

When he carried her over to my face so I could see my daughter for the very first time.

He said Macy had “strong legs”, because Jeremy noticed she was kicking wildly when they pulled her out of me.

He said she had fire.

And he was right.❤

I can’t think about Mother’s day without remembering how fast the contractions started to come immediately after church that Sunday, with our second child.

On the way home, Jeremy knew this baby was COMING!

And he said to me, a fellow “foodie “, “If we’re going right to the hospital, you KNOW they won’t let you eat.

….,Do you wanna get a sandwich?” 😂😂😂😂

I love that memory.❤

You didn’t mess with either one of us, when it came to food.

Well, just a few hours later, Jeremy was holding his brand new son.

He had so much joy that day.

He thanked me for the gift of his children.

I thanked him, too.

Every Mother’s day since my kids were born, Jeremy went

ALL OUT!!

He wrote letters to me, telling me I was a great mom, and how much he loved me.

He never failed to deliver on Mother’s day.

I wish I could stay in bed tomorrow….

I wish I didn’t have to feel the absence of his love tomorrow…

Or ANY day, really.

But I have to get out of bed..

I have two kids depending entirely on me to do so!

They will have gifts and letters…

And I will love them, as always.

But it will never be the same.

And that’s GOT to be okay with me.

Jeremy is gone.

But he left me with the VERY BEST PIECES OF HIS HEART!!

Macy and Micah.

And I will truly treasure his most extravagant gifts EVER!!

On this day, and on every day we have together..,

The three of us.

We might be sad tomorrow, but we will ALWAYS be grateful.

And we will ALWAYS be

Blessed.

For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.” So they worshiped the Lord there.

1 Samuel 1:27,28

Mother’s Day, Without Their Daddy