Over the passed year I have neglected my blog. I originally started this blog to share some thoughts and messages the Lord laid on my heart as I sought hard after him. As I embarked on a journey in 2013 the messages became fewer and fewer as I entered a very hard year in my life and found myself not able to hear the voice of the Lord.
Living at Hope House and working with girls who had been rescued from sex trafficking here in South Florida was an amazing and unique opportunity that I was thrilled to be given. I quickly came to learn that every good opportunity comes with its challenges and this one came with just that. Working with this population is very difficult. You go into each day not knowing what your day will look like. Some days were beautiful with the girls, we enjoyed activities and had wonderful conversations. Then you wake up the next day and BAM it was a whole different story. I learned more than I can share about the issue of human trafficking and the impact it has on young girls. Most importantly though I learned a lot about myself. I don’t regret a second of working with the girls at Hope House and it is by far the hardest but yet most rewarding thing I have ever done.
In April of 2013 I lost a very close member of my family, my Mimi. Mimi is my Mothers Step-Mom but she was more than that to us. She embraced us and loved us as deeply and genuinely as any member of our family. I was blessed with two equally as wonderful grandmothers on my Mothers side and I always viewed her as that; as does everyone in our family. Mimi was in many ways a best friend, to everyone! She had that kind of character. She loved deeply, she cared deeply, she had a spirit about her that most never even get to encounter. Mimi was battling Pancreatic Cancer since December 2010. We all knew the day would come where Mimi would have to leave us for Jesus, but I honestly didn’t let that truth hit my heart because I couldn’t bare to think of doing life without her. Every day that goes by something reminds me of her and puts a smile on my face. We are blessed to have such a beautiful guardian angel watching over us now.
Just 3 short months after Mimi passed, at the end of July, I received the heart breaking and life changing news that my Dad had been diagnosed with ALS or more commonly known as Lou Gehrigs Disease. It is a horrible disease that basically takes over your muscles and stops them from working. It is extremely fatal because it eventually will keep you from breathing and there is no cure for the disease. My Dad had some muscular issues in his feet and legs since about November of 2012 but they were treating him and thought the issue was under control. After battling the issue for so many months and realizing it was only getting worse and worse, they finally ran more test and came to the conclusion that it was a rapid case of ALS. His options were slim and we basically were told he didn’t have but a few more months to live. I quickly flew up to Tennessee to spend a week with my Dad. I was beyond blessed to have a wonderful boyfriend who joined me and supported me through the whole journey even though we had only been dating for a little longer than 2 months. After spending a wonderful week with my Dad I said Good-bye not knowing that would be the last time I see him. One week later I got the news that he had passed. My world was shattered again, it was too soon, I thought I had months left with him! Within 3 weeks of officially being diagnosed my Dad had left us for Jesus. The pain is so indescribable. For those of you who know me even a little or have read my first blog entry you know I didn’t have the best relationship with my Dad growing up. The Lord had answered my prayers for restoration and forgiveness and I am thankful I was given that.
Now you would think loosing 2 close family members within a few short months would be enough, it gets worse! In November my Dad’s mother, Mema passed away. She had several health issues and had been sick for awhile. She lived in an assisted living facility and had been in and out of the hospital for years. She was a fighter though! At 81 years old she went to be with Jesus and her Son. The passing of my Dad took a huge toll on her. Even though she has health problems, I am convinced she actually died of a broken heart. By this point I had become so numb to the grieving process that I didn’t even know how to think about loosing another person. Mema was extremely close to us growing up. I called her every day after school, I spent months with her during the summers in Wilmington, NC and she moved in with us when I was 13 years old. She was apart of every aspect of my childhood and never missed a single moment of me growing up. She spoiled us rotten and was everything a grandmother should be; kind, loving, generous, nurturing, and fun!
There were other little battles throughout my year such as nose surgeries, job changes, moving out of Hope House, and knee injuries but all of those seem like pinches compared to the blow of loosing not 1, not 2 but 3 of my closest family members. Needless to say, I haven’t been listening to God much lately. I have been sitting in silence, in shock and in utter confusion as to what to say or do from here. Reading scripture became too hard to do and I had no words left to pray.
So why did I tell you this? Was it so you would feel sorry for me and my family? Or to justify why I haven’t been writing what God is doing in my life?
No. I tell you this because now that 2013 is over and my year of hell as ended I had a choice going into 2014. Am I going to allow myself to continue sitting there before the Lord dazed and confused as to what just happened over the past 365 days? Am I going to wallow in self pity because my life is such a mess? Am I going to be miserable and allow my heartache to stop me from continuing a beautiful life here on earth with the Lord? You see I realized somewhere in between all that mess that I have a choice in my life. Stuff is going to happen, people are going to disappointment, people are going to pass away, life is not going to be roses and butterflies all the time; but I have a choice. I can choose sorrow or joy.
And I choose Joy.
Nehemiah 8:10 “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepare, This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength”
You see life is full of choices. We are given circumstances daily, rather good or bad, and we have choices in them.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
I belong to Christ Jesus. I want to be in His will. So I will be thankful in all circumstances and I will call upon the Joy of the Lord for my strength. I will not let my circumstances of 2013 effect my circumstances of 2014. Instead I am going to expect God to do great things this year and look for them daily. I will approach all difficulties this year with this attitude and I will cultivate for myself a spirit of thankfulness and joy. I will read scripture even if the words on the pages don’t seem to jump out at me and I will pray even if I don’t know what to say. I have faith that as I seek him he will show himself to me again.
You may not have lost family members last year or you may not of had a hard year at all or maybe you did. But my hope & prayer is that you can learn from my year and tuck this away in your back pocket because someday your circumstances may get difficult and you will be faced with the same choice. Sorrow or Joy?
I’d choose Joy, it’s worth it!!