The God of All My Days

When times are good, be happy;
    but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one
    as well as the other.

Ecclesiastes 7:14

When my husband died, my daughter was in fifth grade, and my son was in second.

Last night, we had Open House at school. Micah is now entering fifth grade, and it seems a little surreal.

Three years ago in November, I remember walking my daughter down the wing of the school that held her group of classrooms and their teachers, just one week after their dad was killed in a car accident. I remember what the one male teacher said to me that morning: “We’ll take really good care of Macy, okay?”

I probably mumbled some sort of thanks to him. I was still in a great deal of shock, but I remember being so thankful for blessing both of my kids with loving teachers.

I wouldn’t repeat that year again for all the money in the world!

Almost everything I remember about that time was so so painful.

When you think about it…

It was just “one day”, but the aftershocks from it are still breaking things in each of us, even now.

But it was one day.

We’ve had a lifetime of really great days, but all it takes is one doozy of a bad one to make you feel as though things just aren’t fair.

But then I think of these verses:

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

2 A time to be born,
    And a time to die;
A time to plant,
    And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
    And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
    And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
    And a time to laugh;
a time to mourn,
    And a time to dance;

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

A season can be defined as “a fixed time”. And it’s interesting that the scripture says that there is a season “to everything”. Meaning, there are seasons for trees, flowers, and fruits….basically to ALL of creation….

Including us.

When our circumstances seem so painfully random, we are comforted by the fact that seasons always do one thing:

THEY CHANGE!

This may be your time for things you counted on, trusted in….

To break apart.

Well, then your time to rebuild is coming.

This may be your time to birth something beautiful, or

Maybe it is time to really begin to say goodbye.

This may be your time to mourn, but your time for dancing…

Is COMING!

Blessed be the Lord,
Who daily loads us with benefits,

Psalm 68:19

No matter what pain gets delivered to our doors, make sure you open ALL the packages! There are God-given benefits lying within them,

Each and every day!

Because of the depth of the painful “bad”, I can truly appreciate the beauty of the “good”.And it forces me to SAVOR that!

To really TASTE it!!

You know, Team Clark( that’s what I call my tiny family, which makes Macy roll her eyes 🙄🤣) is famous for taking little day trips to places that are just a couple of hours away. I used to think we would never have any actual “fun times” anymore…that we would somehow be soured to it by Jeremy’s death. But I was surprised to discover how very much we each valued those times….and could count on those memories to comfort us when it’s our “time to weep” once again.

Maybe because we’ve known great sadness, we can also open ourselves up for great joy!

And that’s the beauty of trusting and believing the God of ALL of my days…

when things seem unfair and so very out of our contol, we can choose to remember…

It was ALWAYS in HIS.

Priceless Scriptures For The Grieving Heart

Two months ago, my father died. Having already lost my husband in a car crash, I was broken for a second time by grief in the last two years.

We lost him kind of suddenly, meaning we only had a day or two to absorb the knowledge that he would probably die very soon.

Losing my dad wasn’t really shocking to me…

It’s kind of just the natural order of things….

Children burying parents is terribly sad, but also terribly, and awfully,

Normal.

So, it wasn’t the loss of my dad itself that punched me in the proverbial gut….

It was the ADDED loss….

It was losing the two most important and influential men in my life within two years.

Thankfully, though, I have some very useful experience with grief.

What I mean is….

I knew where to go.

And I’d like to show YOU where you can go too, when your heart is broken by loss, illness, or just plain old sorrow.

Let’s just jump right in!!

“God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”

Numbers 23:19

God is not a liar!

In fact, everything that happens to Jesus on that cross in the four Gospels was predicted in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, CENTURIES earlier!

And the book of Luke says, “For no word from God will ever fail.”

So, He means what He says, and He DOES what He says!

What all of this means for the griever, is that every promise that He makes to those qualified for it,

HE.

WILL.

KEEP.

We really can count on Him, because

He does not lie!!

20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

1 John 3:20

Wow, this verse!!!

Let me just say that it is absolutely legitimate to be a mature believer, and still struggle with your emotions. It is acceptable to be undone by pain and STILL have an unshakable faith in Jesus!

Just read the words of the psalmist David in Psalm 88, if you’re still not sure.

Having faith doesn’t ever mean that you don’t have any burning questions. Having faith means you know where to take them.

This verse in 1 John addresses our fickle hearts just as they are.

I’ll be very honest and tell you that weddings and other people’s anniversaries are really difficult for me.

It’s really painful for me to see the joy in others’ anniversaries, ever-increasing in numbers….

Especially when ours is frozen at a frail eleven.

It HURTS.

Just like birthdays, Christmases, etc….

What makes all of this worse is when you begin to judge yourself too harshly…

When you begin to ask yourself, “What is WRONG with me? Am I even a Christian??”

Feelings aren’t always spiritual deficits, but sometimes that’s a very difficult truth to grasp.

We need PERMISSION and GRACE to

FEEL.

And the Word gives us that!

This scripture reminds me that feelings are fleeting, but God knows my SOUL. He KNOWS me better than I do.

And boy, is that a comfort!

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Matthew 7:11

Yes. We are all evil at our very core, as per Genesis chapter 3.

But we have our moments when we love deeply, and we often love others WELL.

But since the Word says that God IS love,

He must be way better at it than any of us are!

So, if that’s true, and we know it is( go read the first part again!🤣), then He only and always wants the very best for each of us.

And for reasons you may never fully know right now, your future doesn’t look the way you thought it should.

But Psalm 84:11 says,”No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

No.

Good.

Thing.

Only the good stuff is on its way! Now, the good things God promises are not WORLDLY good things.

They are peace, wisdom, truth, endurance, faith, gentleness, humility, etc…

The stuff that MATTERS!!!

The older you get, the more valuable all of those things truly are.

Here’s one more major truth to safely slip in your pocket:

God may not have CAUSED this,

But…

HE WILL USE THIS!

11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 

Luke 11:11,12

The VERY BEST fathers do their VERY BEST to give their kids the VERY BEST.

And God is no different!

We really can trust Him to give us what is

Good.

These scriptures really just scratch the surface of all the treasured promises His Word holds for those with a broken heart.

And here’s the thing:

Most of us don’t have the choice of whether or not we suffer.

But ALL of us have the choice of whether or not we will

Suffer

WELL.

In The Same Boat

For [the Servant of God] grew up before Him like a tender plant, and like a root out of dry ground; He has no form or comeliness [royal, kingly pomp], that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him.

He was despised and rejected and forsaken by men, a Man of sorrows and pains, and acquainted with grief and sickness; and like One from Whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or have any esteem for Him.

Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy].

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.

Isaiah 53:2-5 ampc

I’m a member of several groups on Facebook designed for Stroke Survivors. I love the people in those groups….many have it much worse than I do.

Sometimes it’s incredibly comforting to know I’m not alone.

After losing my husband in a brutal car accident,  I  scoured the stroke groups, looking for other relatively young people who had also lost spouses. But I couldn’t find any.

Although I know that’s really a GOOD thing, it made me feel extremely alone.

No one can know how difficult EVERYTHING is after many strokes….

Or how taxing it is to help children with homework, break up sibling fights, or comfort your babies who have so much trauma to work through…

Or how painful it is to actively strive to heal from YEARS of trauma, or to miss the only person you’ve ever loved….

AND make dinner every night,  keep a decently clean house, and all the other “regular things” most people need to do daily.

In fact, after writing all of those things, I  need a little nap!🤣🤣

That little boat in the picture?

It’s the perfect way to describe how it feels most days.

I just want someone who knows my pain!

Anytime I feel this empty place in my heart, the place for a best friend who’s been where you are….

I read Isaiah 53.

In it, my Best Friend seems to stand up….in order to

STAND OUT in the crowd….

Reminding me that He was

Rejected…

Mocked…

Afflicted by UNIMAGINABLE PAIN…

Hated…

Betrayed…

Slandered…

Deeply insulted….

Abandoned…

Unappreciated…

Degraded…

Oh, and MURDERED!

Sigh.

That’s quite the list.

No one’s list of wrongs will EVER be Jesus’s list.

I can never say that I am alone in this pain, heartbreak, illness, betrayal, slander, assault, and loneliness.

And the crazy thing is Jesus endured ALL of it in order to win our love, our adoration, our allegiance….

To win US!

My little boat might be overtaken by the waves,

And it might feel really really lonely,

But that’s okay.

The Maker of oceans is WITH me.

He’s so much better than a Facebook group!

Isaiah 53 says He is no stranger to grief,

But He also bears

MY grief,

My tears,

My stress,

My fears,

My worries,

And my broken heart.

He’s here,

In this little boat…

WITH me.

Looking For A Who

Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Isaiah 41:10NKJV

Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

John 16:22

And the Lord , He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”

Deuteronomy 31:8

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort, According to Your word to Your servant.

Psalms 119:76

You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.

Psalms 32:7,8

He shall cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

Psalms 91:4

Give ear, O Lord , to my prayer; And attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, for You will answer me.

Psalms 86:6‭-‬7

I went through a really difficult season since my husband was killed in a terrible car accident.

Well, I guess I’m STILL in a difficult season, but its different now.

Now, I’m just kind of sad.

That’s easier than being confused, and to be quite honest, being angry.

You see, I had so many “why ‘s” surrounding my husband’s death.

I have known about Jesus for my entire life, so I’m not especially proud of all the questions I had for God.

During my time in a group called Griefshare, a life preserver was thrown out for me, and I grabbed on tightly. Someone stated that it was crucial to him that he keep his line of communication with the Lord

OPEN…

That we should tell him we’re angry if we’re angry…

That it doesn’t matter what you say, as long as you’re saying it to Him. And since I had never been down this road, I was willing to listen to any and all tried and true wisdom I could get my hands on.

Long story short…

I TALKED to Him.

ALOT.

I asked Him all my questions.

I confessed all my anger,

And all my disappointment.

But I never stopped talking to Him.

And I discovered that the One who created the shoulder had the two very best and broadest ones ever made.

Big enough to handle my doubts,

Strong enough to carry my regrets,

And sturdy enough to take on my anger.

Even though I had so many “why’s” for Jesus,

He always gave me simply a “who”, instead.

With every why,

He was faithful to show up for them….

Because He ALWAYS shows up for

Me.

And somewhere along the way, I didn’t feel this starving need in my bones for answers, anymore.

I didn’t need to understand His decisions

In order to continue

To know Him more…

To love Him more…

To TRUST Him more.

A REASON can inform me,

But it can never hold me close,

Or truly give me any peace.

Not like my Savior can!

Knowing the reason for my pain …

Knowing the reason for my tears…

Well, knowing the reason will never be enough

To wipe my tears away.

A REASON can’t do that.

But a PERSON

CAN.

And He WILL.

Handle Me

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.

ALWAYS A Bride

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

The “Beige” Book of Ruth

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.

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.