I John 3:18

All original content copyright Jessica Nicole Schafer, 2007-2016.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Thankful Tension.

I can still remember the calmness inside when I was singing to my sweet little boy who had just turned three only weeks before. I remember knowing that He was going to take care of her, that she would be okay, that I’d be okay, that we’d all be okay. That He was here…among us. It was something I can’t describe in mere words. I’d prayed for that forever….I remember even releasing that deep breath (ever done that?) that just let go of the fear I had concerning Her. I knew He’d handle it. And not even minutes later, we got the phone call that would unleash a living hell that lasted day after day….even to now. I felt betrayed by Him. (I fully believe we belong to a God who has broad enough shoulders for ALL of our emotions, desires, feelings…etc.)

Fast forward to now, almost four years later. SO VERY much has happened to our family…..more than you’d care to read about. So many tears, so much heartache…doubt, fear, worry, even more grief, and sorrow. We’ve been hit with so many things from outward, it’s seemed like one long nightmare. (And I have many loved ones who have also gone through hell recently, how my heart aches for them…) And finally…again….a few weeks ago I had that comfort and peace, in knowing we were going to be okay. I felt hope again….it had come in tiny little waves, probably a handful of times over the past few years…but this time was different. I had that same inner peace, happiness…calmness that I’d had that night we got the most horrible phone call ever. I was ready to laugh again, to trust again, to stop being so afraid. And not even a day after that “sense of peace and closeness” from God…..it has been as though hell was unleashed again. Many things have been popping up…worries, doubts, fears, questions, frustrations, tears. And I found myself resenting this God again….the One who keeps stripping away at my soul. The One who has left me alone so many times…..I found myself shaking my fist at Him again. Really? Again? Now? More of the same nightmare? Why?? Why does my heart keep getting stripped away? Why are people I love having to hurt so much?

All those emotions welled up again….at Him. Some days, I am just so angry at Him. Some days, I wonder if He’ll show up…

And as horrible as that sounds, I’m SO THANKFUL for these things I feel. I’m thankful I CAN wrestle with Him. I’m thankful I can cry out AT Him, be frustrated with Him, question Him, doubt Him…….I’m thankful I can grab onto Him, and not let go until I get some peace, until I get some prayers answered.

I used to feel guilty for that. I used to think I was horrible for crying out to Him, because I’d been told “be grateful, thankful, shut up, get in line, other people have it worse, your problems aren’t that bad, get over losing your Momma, quit complaining…”blah, blah, blah. And true, some people do have “it worse”….but we can’t minimalize our own agony. We ALL have hurts. To ignore pain, to ignore ANY of our issues, with ourselves, or within our marriages, and to push things under the rugs of our lives will ONLY make everything worse….because all secrets will come back to haunt us if we don’t handle them. Don’t be na├»ve, whatever cheap remedy we think is “fixing” our issues that we’re keeping from all those around us won’t last….the only way through is THROUGH. Ya can’t go around reality.

Today, the one thing I know to be true is this; a God I can’t cry out to, or even complain to when life is so brutal, is NOT a God worth hanging onto.

If this God who loves us as much as we TRULY believe He does, if this God who created us in HIS very image really does care for us…….WHY would we EVER IN A MILLION YEARS believe that He’d want us to push our broken hearts aside and ignore our pain?? Why do we choose to make up our own false reasons about our hurt, or someone else’s hurt? Why do we create these false stories that shut up the oppressed, only to appease our false sense of “faith”?

That isn’t the Gospel.

The Gospel isn’t afraid to look at tears. The Gospel isn’t afraid to comfort somebody beaten up by life, by other people. The Gospel isn’t afraid to be around somebody who has a negative attitude, who is angry, who is hurt. The Gospel doesn’t cover up the truth, it drags it out into the light, exposing all that is dark. The Gospel doesn’t shut up the oppressed. When it does, it stops being the Gospel.
Isn’t that what it’s supposed to be for? The oppressed? And oppressed by what?
Sometimes, we become the oppressors of others in our silence, in our actions and inactions, in our hatred, in our judgments, in our “false stories” (thanks to my husband for these ideas) about others, and ourselves. We become our own “anti-Christs”…in more ways than we even care to learn about.

I think sometimes we mistake motivational speaking as the Gospel.
And it’s not.
The Gospel is summed up in one word; LOVE….in one man; JESUS.

I think we need to be careful with our false doctrines that we hold so dear. The Gospel is big enough to accept us all, and all of each of us.

All of our brokenness, all of our weakness, all of our hurt, despair, sorrow, grief, and tears.

Have we learned nothing of a Saviour born into poverty? A Saviour who went to the poor, the broken, the sad, the depressed, the sorrowful…….have we forgotten the Gospel Story that much?

Anyway…..I guess I am thankful, still, as I’ve mentioned in years past….for hurting. I hope for pain to stop, for myself, for my sweet loved one (you know who you are). I hope for the grief to end. Until then, I will be thankful that God is big enough to understand my hurt and become the “suffering servant” (thanks again, My Love) to each of our own hearts. He is big enough to handle the truth of your life, the things we keep away from others…pretending that all is well. What was it Emily Dickinson said?... “I like a look of agony, because I know it’s true…”

The Gospel is a true story….one of LOVE. Love takes on everyone, and love would never shut out the cry of any person who was oppressed by anything.

Be love for one another.

“And He said to him, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’…..” Matthew 22:37-39

And oh, by the way… I often wonder if this God gives me these very real, very calm, very peaceful and hopeful reminders of Him just before these horrible storms to let me know that no, it ISN’T okay….but that He is with me, even as I hang onto Him and keep wrestling with him, being persistent in asking Him to show up and answer my cries.

I am convinced that He will wait with me until He does.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Talk is Cheap.

“Maybe, sorta, kinda, if I really had to say
Something good is on its way…
And we’re gonna pull through, we’re gonna pull through.”
*Over the Rhine*

Life can offer so much heartache.

Through the times it has handed us grief, tears, frustration, loss, and sorrow, you have been the kind of husband who always offered hope, broad shoulders, and comfort. You have reminded me I wasn’t alone. You have carried my grief. You have shared in my sorrows. You’ve reminded me how much God loves me…and ironically, you’ve hardly used any words at all. You’ve simply loved me…….every single moment.

And because of the way you have loved me, I have been able to remember His love for me. Because of how you have acted, always out of love and never obligation…….I will forever be thankful. I only hope I am almost as wonderful to you as you always have been to me. I love you, Love. I don’t know why some things in life come so hard…but I’m so glad that loving you comes easy. I guess I just wanted to remind you of that.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Trapped in Time.

I sit here watching my sweet son work on his science lesson. He is reading about pandas. He starts telling me all sorts of facts about pandas and other animals. I notice something that I hadn’t ever thought of before. I’m listening to his little sweet voice, and just taking in the way he pronounces his words, the excitement in his voice. He just turned 7, (goodness….where does the time disappear to?) and I realize he won’t sound like this anymore. I began to think of the way his voice sounded last year, two years ago…..and even further, trying to remember the sound of it when he first started talking. It sends chills down my spine to think that I can’t exactly remember. Sure, I can watch a home video and hear that voice again, but it will still be somewhat distorted from being recorded. The time has passed. He won’t be sounding like that anymore. In a few short years, he will be speaking to me in a voice that is deeper, more mature. He will be turning into a young man sooner than I ever could’ve imagined. Try as I may, I can’t go back. Neither can I go forward. All I can do is be present, be here…in this time, in this moment.

Whatever life is handing you, whatever you are living out today, LIVE it. If it’s happiness, abundance, love, joy…..live those things. Laugh until you cry, take care of others in your abundance, love so fiercely that you feel as if your heart may explode, savor the joy. Yet in your happiness, remember those around you who are hurting, be there for them, encourage them, cry with them, help carry their burdens. If what you’re going through today is grief, drought, heartache, sadness…..live those things. Let yourself grieve, allow others to take care of you, let your heart literally ache, because often- that is what it takes to heal. Cry as much as you need to, and don’t feel guilty about it…there are times in life when all we can do is offer tears and grief, and that is perfectly acceptable. Allow others to carry your burdens with you.

Whatever we are living through today will pass…time is both a blessing and a curse.

Not everything we endure happens to teach us some grand lesson . When we are experiencing pain and loss, it doesn’t mean God may be trying “tell us something”. It just may be happening, and the best thing we can do is LIVE through it. The key word being LIVE.

Don’t ignore your tears, nor your laughter. LIVE them.

Tomorrow, he may sound different. I will always remember yesterday’s voice. But today, I can LIVE it with him. I can listen to him, love him, cry with and for him, learn from him, teach him, LIVE with him.

I think that pleases Him, for us to live…….whether we are living out tears or laughter…….He is with us. Either crying with us, or laughing with us. Either way, let’s LIVE each today for what it’s worth, because we can't escape the time that has us trapped.

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven…” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Fake Smile, or an Honest Tear?

When did we start equating happiness, optimism, and distancing ourselves with those hurting as Godliness?? This is absolutely not Good News. We are to speak up for the oppressed and hurting ones, to be a voice for them when they don't have one. To often sacrifice a "good mood" for another person's tears. Shutting a person out of our lives simply because they are hurting, mourning, pessimistic, or heaven forbid, depressed, will not do a single thing to bring about the Kingdom. For the life of me I can't understand how we have confused turning our hearts from the hurting ones as love.

I remember reading that we are to "let all that we do be done in love". I remember reading stories of people hurting, crying out, and wailing for love, healing, and restoration. I remember reading that we are to "bear one another's burdens". I remember reading of a Saviour who wept. I remember Him accepting the oppressed.
If we have a problem with people hurting, and being honest and faithful enough to talk about their hurt, instead of pasting on a fake smile to appease the masses of christians around them.....then following a Man who was crucified may not be what we really want to do.

After all, what is more important? Him, His children? Or the ability to shut out the cries of the oppressed so we can always wear a smile on our faces...and never have to feel an honest, human, God- given emotion?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Whispering Love.

"For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another." Galatians 5:13-15

It is such a freeing thing to grasp the idea that His will for us is to love, always. Not a corruption of love, not a twisted love, but the love mentioned above. Love never tears down, it builds up. Love doesn't condemn, it embraces. Love doesn't insist upon a certain theology or doctrine. It doesn't demand it's own way.

As I look back at the days I've been given, something fascinates me about love. I've never, not once, experienced love shown to me by cold doctrines, shallow faith, or judgments cast upon me from those who "know better" than others. I've not once experienced His love when someone is shouting at me, "Do this, do that". I haven't seen love when someone shamed another in their hurting.

The times I have seen Him, love, have been when a friend is crying from a broken heart. When someone chose to comfort another, rather than judge them. When someone whispered hope to a broken heart, rather than condemning them.

I remember seeing Him when my closest friends cried with me after losing my Momma. I see love when I get a postcard reminding me I am being prayed for. I know real love when I think of Her. I see love when my husband teaches. I feel love when I'm with my whole family.

I don't remember ever seeing real love, the kind that is pure, selfless, compassionate, and faithful when someone was shouting from the rooftops that their way was the only true way. On the contrary....everytime I've experienced times like that, I've seen a distortion of love. And everytime I hope and pray that the real thing will win out, for His sake...for your sake...for our sake.

Because as absolutely true as it is that there ARE other wills at work on this earth.....His will, the one of LOVE is also at work. My hope for my son is for Him to always recognize what real love is, and choose to do it. Even when that choice seems unpopular, or goes against some system's set of beliefs. I hope he grows up to be a man who is loving, loyal, honorable, and who constantly whispers hope, peace, and comfort to those around him, even when the opposite is being shouted back at him. I hope he will be a man who helps the oppressed. I hope he can look back on his days and recognize love, when he's truly seen Him. I hope he knows how truly loved he is in a world that can be riddled with grief. In other words, I hope this sweet boy grows up to be just like his Daddy.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Since The Deep Sadness, our family has been visited by tragedy upon tragedy. Even though God could have changed things but didn't, we are left here handling the grief. Yet I have still been comforted by knowing that he has been here with us all along. Even though we have felt His absence...we have also felt His presence.

Living through losing her, in the terrible way it all happened, I have written how it brought me to see the sorrowful side of God. The past few years, He has so chosen to continue to show that same side of Himself. My thoughts and ideas on God have been challenged, changed, shattered, mangled, stretched, and strengthened. There is a place a daughter gets to when she loses her Mother at a young age. I never expected it. But yet, here I am. If God can so choose to cause such deep, great, life-changing loss in our lives.....if He is THAT powerful, then He can be powerful enough to bring comfort, and hope. He can carry this lifelong grief with us. He can even so choose to give us many new, wonderful blessings. Losing her has left a huge gap in my soul that can never be filled until we meet again. However, though it has opened up my eyes to see how great and awful life can be, and it has affirmed my deepest fears....it somehow has reminded me that if He is THAT big....He can cause just as many great and wonderful things, as well.

This emptiness in my soul has given me wings to take flight. Because I know wherever I go, she is with me.

I have a tiny piece of faith, tattered and torn.....I have an even tinier shred of hope that has somehow remained, amidst all this pain. I believe it has been kept safe for these moments in my life. Instead of asking God, "Will you?"....I am now saying, "I know you will!!!". Because I can't ignore the part of Him that has kept me sane and alive. I have to believe, for my sake, my family's sake, my friend's sake, and even His...that He is about to pick up the broken pieces He has shattered...and piece together new and beautiful pictures of restoration.

I have always said to ignore deep grief is to ignore Him. "For if He causes grief, then he will have compassion according to His abundant lovingkindness." Lamentations 3:32

These words have been stuck in my head for days...

"He'd begun to wake up in the morning with something besides dread in his heart. Not happiness exactly, not eagerness for the new day, but a kind of urge to be eager, a longing to be happy." ~Jon Hassler~

"Do you dare? Why not? Think of your loved one as blessing your effort, smiling through the veil that separates life from death, cheering you on---'Go ahead. Give it a try. I dare you. You know I'd love to have you succeed. And you may. This is the time!'..." ~Martha Whitmore Hickman~

"'Why not' is a slogan for an interesting life." ~Mason Cooley~

*"You who have shown me many troubles and distresses will revive me again, and will bring me up again from the depths of the earth." Psalm 71:20

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The God Who Takes...and Gives.

This God who loves me, who created me, who gives me breath everyday, has allowed me to see a side of Him that I never would have tried to get to know on my own. He has allowed tragedy after tragedy to surround me, and there have been many nights I grappled with wondering if He was even "there". There have been nights I cried silently, wondering as Job once did, "What is my strength that I should wait? And what is my end that I should endure?" (Job 6:11). I never would have understood why a person would speak those words, until the past three and a half years. Day after day, week after week, there have been so many different things I have given to Him to take care of.....and nothing. Minute after minute, hour after hour, through bitter, sad, broken tears I have cried out, "Why?". I know there is no answer, regardless of all the nice, tidy religious suggestions one may try to push on someone who is hurting...all I have come to know is to just keep going. Even when grief is all He gives, keep going. Even when silence is all He gives,keep going. Even when He takes.....keep going. Even when He could change it all in a second but doesn't...keep going. "Shall we accept good from God, and not accept adversity?" (Job2:10)

I have come to know through tears, loneliness, and grief over the past many moons of darkness that one thing is certain; this is God's doings. I can't change that. And He knows my heart well enough to know that the anger I have towards Him is out of the love I have for Him. The doubt I have in Him is out of the belief I have in Him. He alone brought on these dark days...He alone can change them. I will continue to wrestle, and feel each pain for what it's worth until He answers....just as those we read of in the Bible did....I can't let go of Him, because I believe He has been here beside me through it all. And if I believe that,then I believe He has felt it all. And if I believe that, then I must believe that He can change things. I have learned that my great grief is, indeed, great faith.

My family has many things hanging in the balance right now. So much can change, for the better. But because of the past few years, I have some issues with trusting that things will get better. (Because I think there is MUCH to be said of our theology/faith/hope changing due to life's happenings. If we blindly ignore the bad, we will surely miss Him in it. If we only smile when hell is all around, we negate the beauty of hurting, and become like unfeeling robots. I canNOT look at His life, and the way He created us, and believe that that is the way we are to live....it goes directly against the heart of the Gospel.) Because I have become so familiar with the darkness around me, it's been tough for me to get to re-know this God who gives. Yes, I've seen Him as the God who takes for a while now...but I am seeing glimpses again of the Giver.

I guess I'm walking a fine line. I am *almost* at a point where I can say, "What if He actually DOES answer these deep prayers I've been crying for years?". Almost. That is a big step. A different place. A place that is still quite unfamiliar to me. There's so much He's taken, things we've longed for, prayed for. I am beginning to wonder if He may, just maybe, give again. Restore again. Much like Job, I guess. Job didn't get his loved ones back, but He did get a new family. So there's this great tension of living with reality, but accepting new gifts. Still carrying love and grief for what was, but getting to love and and accept new gifts, as well.

Maybe that's where I am right now. I am still in this cold darkness, where He has placed me...but my empty hand is reaching out, and it is warm...and I think I may feel the Hand of the Giver, once again.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A VERY happy and sappy love story…….but a true one.

When I was a little girl,
I often fantasized about
A picture perfect family for me.

To be married to the greatest
Man, who loved me so truly,
My own handsome prince charming.

I looked, I waited, I prayed,
I often gave up that dream,
And convinced myself there was no such man.

I forgot my worth,
I forgot what love was,
I gave up on my wonderful plan.

Still, I needed someone
to share in this life,
To laugh with me, cry with me, love me.

A man who would be
Always faithful and true,
A wonderful husband, he’d always be.

Somehow, and I just
Don’t know why,
God made my whole dream come true.

He sent a man who
Was better than any prince,
An amazing love….He sent me YOU.

When I’ve needed to
Cry, you’ve held me…
My burdens you’ve always helped carry.

When I’ve laughed,
It’s been so much sweeter,
I’m so glad we decided to marry!!

When I often forget
Who I am in Him,
You remind me of His grace.

When I picture in my
Head what love is,
It’s always your handsome face.

You’ve made all the
Happy days much brighter,
Because you’re here, there is more joy.

You’ve made the
Sad days seem a little less heavy…
Oh Em Gee, you’re my favorite boy!!!

I don’t deserve
To call you mine,
In fact, I often feel unworthy of

This love you give me,
I’m so grateful for you,
Happy 8th Anniversary, My Love!!

It’s always been you, it will always be you.

Life has handed us despair, grief, anger, love, happiness, doubt, worry, stress, bliss, laughter, joy, and tears.

And because God has given me YOU to share this life with, the laughs have been longer, and the hurts have been much softer.

Eight years…it may seem like a long time…but when it comes to loving you, it’s not anywhere close to the number of years it would take to show you just how much I love you.

Happy Anniversary, My Love. You are such a reminder that true love does, indeed exist, and that God answers prayers.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Three and a half years. It’s been that long since we lost Her. My Momma.

Has the grief left? No, not at all. (I refuse to believe that “one day” it won’t hurt that I don’t have my Momma here. I don’t see our God as one who sees the need to blot out the memories of our loved ones……if that were so, then what is the point of loving one another now??) Yes, I have laughed since then. I’ve laughed so much that my stomach burned with joy. I’ve felt immense love so much that there are no words to describe- from my amazing husband, son, Daddy, sister, friends, etc. I’ve also still cried. Cried bitter, angry, sad, lonely tears for her.

I’ve mentioned before how many people see grief as something that needs “12 steps” to recover from. Another danger for people experiencing grief is that others see it as a weakness…and will then treat them as a project that needs fixin’. We grow our whole lives being told, “Be strong” when Jesus overcame death with weakness. We say, “Do it yourself!”…when we learn that apart from Him we can do nothing. “Don’t cry”….yet He says he keeps our tears in a bottle. “Don’t depend on anyone”…when we learn from Him to “bear one another’s burdens”.

Grief IS A WEAKNESS. However, what makes us think that being weak is wrong?? We erroneously equate weakness for sin. And it’s not. Sin is making a choice to do the absolute wrong thing. Is grief wrong? NO. Then WHY on earth do we treat hurting people as though they need to “overcome” their grief? Why do we treat them as though they’re stuck in some dark sin? Why on earth do we say things like, “I’ll pray that God gives you strength to get over this, and smile and be happy, even though your loved one is now buried six feet under, and you’ll spend the rest of your life without them”... Sounds ridiculous when you read that out loud, huh?? But let me tell you…..I’ve heard things just like that before, and all too often somebody needing hope whispered to their broken spirit is condescendingly told, “I’ll pray for you”.

Grief brings to the surface an intimate side of us. When we long to have our loved ones back, we are vulnerable. We hurt, and sometimes we have to talk about it. We cry, and sometimes need someone to cry with us. We are often weak from hurting, and the hurt is all we CAN feel. We feel great loss, because great love is there. Weakness is something He was all too familiar with. Heaven help us for ever thinking that as Believers, it is our god-given duty to “be strong” when parts of our very being are dead. Forgive us for belittling those amidst their pain, when bearing their burdens is truly what mirrors Him.

When did we become so arrogant in our faith that we think our grief is something we need to overcome? When Jesus, Himself, missed someone he loved so much, that he brought him back FROM THE DEAD.

I am often appalled at the way we silence someone else’s tears. It sickens me, really. We call them crybabies, we say they just need to get to a “more mature” point, we say we’ll pray they can stop being so sensitive…..when Jesus said we are supposed to be like CHILDREN. What’s the FIRST thing a child does when they are hurting? THEY C R Y!!! They seek comfort. They seek someone’s lap to sit on while they hurt. They want to know they’re not alone. They complain out of their pain. They express a basic, God-given need that we grown-ups often forget….the need for one another. They are honest…so much that they acknowledge the pain within, don’t understand it, but know they need others to lean on. And what do we do? We are there for them (hopefully). But somehow we see grown-ups acting like children, having the audacity to shed a tear because a loved one was ripped out of their lives…..and we tell them to “build a bridge and get over it”. We see someone living with grief that’s too hard to even speak of…..and we choose to ignore them, finding every reason in the book to excuse our unloving responses. God forgive us. Forgive us for only wanting to see Your good side, and ignoring Your sorrowful side.

This God who loves us is not a big fluffy, pink marshmallow of a man who wants nothing for us but rainbows, laughs, riches, and self-righteousness.

He is a paradox. Though He comforts….He causes grief. Though He catches our tears….He causes crying. Though He gives…..he takes away. Though He is present…..He is often absent.

Our tears, our hurts, our broken hearts, our grief…….are all precious to Him. Just as our laughter, joy, prosperity, and smiles may be used to further His Kingdom….. so will our cries, sadness, poverty, broken hearts, and grief. If Jesus’ story is true, then we HAVE to get to a point to live as though we believe this.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Not My Home.

As my family eyes a potential move to a faraway place, I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. I’ve never been out of the southwest, barring one trip to Ohio years ago. I’ve been thinking about that word, “home”. What does it mean? The past three and a half years have redefined home for me. I can’t drive down 15th street in Frederick, Oklahoma, and go visit my Momma and Daddy at “home”. I won’t find them there. Momma is not in a place where I can see her anymore. Daddy is at home with Nonna, in Texas. And my heart rejoices in that for him. We’ve been praying for peace and healing for him for so long, and we are thankful for this new phase in his life, and thankful for Nonna, who’s been a huge blessing to our family in more ways than she knows. That’s another story, for another time.


As many people know, “The Wizard of Oz” is my all-time favorite movie. I have a pretty good collection of memorabilia from that movie, and the books. It’s sort of poetic, how much I love that movie, and how I identify with Dorothy.

I’ve written about my story, probably so much that people don’t care to hear, but I can’t apologize for that. (I believe with my whole heart that sharing our stories with one another provides comfort, healing, and is another way to spread the Good News….after all, isn’t the whole Bible a collection of stories?) And for all the sadness, tears, grief, sorrow, hopelessness….many times that is all I’ve had to offer. And if I’ve learned ANYTHING over the past few years, it is that that is okay. It is actually a VERY good thing. In fact, if I were to withhold what God is putting me through….it would not be fair to me, or you. As hard as the truth is sometimes, it’s just that, the truth. My husband mentioned recently how he was oddly comforted by the words of Jesus, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”…..that hits home for me as well. Sometimes I need to know that someone else is hurting and crying out for comfort…..sometimes knowing I wasn’t alone was the ONLY thing that kept me going through the very long days and nights that drew out the latter days of my twenties. It’s comforting to know that I’m “safe” to hurt, mourn, cry, have sorrow, “feel”….because He allows that……we are safe in our sorrow with Him. In fact, shouldn’t I offer my whole self to Him, rather than withhold those most honest parts, such as grief and sorrow?? That is why I share these hard things….because I know there are others hurting silently…..you are not alone.

There are days when it seems as though the past few years have aged me a good fifty years. There are days when it’s still hard to wake up, because the first things I remember are the tragedies that have happened to my family. There are days when all I can do is drink coffee, and make it through what seems like endless hours of despair. Nights when tears just flow as I lay next to my husband. Tears of grief, anger, despair, worry, doubt. Days when I fear what may happen to our family, not out of some neurotic mindset, but because of what already HAS happened. Yet, there are good days. There are days when I can just sort of “feel” (for lack of a better word) that my Momma is here alongside me, missing us just as we’re missing her. Days when I feel hopeful, as small as that hope may be, that something good is coming our way. Days when I look at my son, and I’m so proud of his accomplishments at only 6 years old. Days when I cry tears of joy for the sweet moments God’s given me amidst the sorrow. Days when I want to “sing of His mercy that leads me through valleys of sorrow to rivers of joy….”.

What has life reminded me lately? Home isn’t a place I can see, it isn’t the town I grew up in. It’s not the town my husband and I started our lives together. It isn’t the house I grew up in, that I still picture my Momma living in on many days. It isn’t where we may move to in a few weeks.

There is a beautiful picture I have hanging in our home that reads, “HOME IS WHERE THEY LOVE YOU”.

That’s just it. Right there. Those simple words. But who are “they”? They are my family, my close friends. Home is my Momma. Home is who my Momma is now with. Home is East Texas, near a beautiful lake, where my Daddy and Nonna live. Home is where my sister resides, in a suburb of Kansas City. Home is in my best friend’s homes. Home is Kansas where my in-laws live. Home is where My Love, our offspring, and myself reside…..whether that’s a one bedroom apartment given to us from friends to shelter us from life, a beautiful home rented to us from other selfless friends, or a small apartment in Pasadena, California. Home is, indeed where they love me. I can only hope that no matter where life takes us, I will lavishly give that love back that’s been given to me. God’s been showing me how to redefine home. Home is more than a house, more than a town, more than a country. Home is with my husband, who has always been loving, inspiring, loyal, encouraging, comforting, and often put up with more than he deserves. Home is in my sweet little baby boy’s eyes, as he continues to grow everyday.

I identify so much with that little girl who is longing for a place to call home, a place to belong, to fit in…a place where she is loved. In the end, she ultimately finds she’s been there all along…that home is where they love her the most….

And I can assure you, there’s no place like home.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Overwhelmed in the Thought.

The night before the day that we’re all to celebrate the muthas…..I didn’t get much rest. I think my eyes didn’t close until around 3:00a.m. For some reason, one thought entered my mind, and it is still screaming at me. Don’t know why it’s taken three and a half years…..but it has. There I was, winding down for the night with my husband. Attempting to keep my mind off of the elephant in the room, and enjoy my husband’s birthday weekend as well…..
And it hit me like 87 thousand bricks…

She’s not coming back, my Momma.

She’s not going to be here when I turn 35, 40, 45, etc. She’s not going to see the rest of the children we have, they’ll never hear her contagious laugh. She won’t be here again, on this side of eternity, anyway. For the rest of my days here, her absence is permanent. Now I already knew that. It’s been hard enough trudging through the past few years without her, never having her to call and ask important Mommy questions….never celebrating birthdays and holidays with her, never having her to call when something amazing happens….I already knew. But for some reason that night, it really started to resonate….it’s permanent. And no matter what I try to say to make myself “deal” with it….it doesn’t take away the fact that it hurts like hell, it’s not fair, and it’s permanent.

Usually when some big tragedy or revelation happen, I (which I’m sure many people do as well) have so many ways to cope. I think we are kinda sorta made that way. We can talk ourselves through what we need to say, feel, or do. We can try to look at the bright side. We can keep ourselves busy. We can focus on something completely different. And some of us even ignore what needs to be dealt with. These mechanisms may work fine sometimes in life, they may help for a season. For me, I write. I don’t take grief lightly, and I have made it a point to try to help others as much as I know how in their sorrow. And sometimes it helps, to just get it all out. To just cry. To tell my husband I just need a hug. To eat some chocolate.

And then there are nights like that night. Where no words will help. No hug will heal. No amount of tears will relieve the pain. No amount of writing will soften the blow. On these nights, when the world seems silent….when God, Himself seems to be somewhere off in the distance…I believe with my whole heart I’m not “supposed” to cope. I’m not supposed to find some bright spot. I’m not supposed to make myself busy with life. I’m not supposed to pretend to be happy about something so dark.

And sweet you, neither are you.
Some moments in life, we’re supposed to be broken, needy children who have no answers. Sometimes we’re supposed to be souls carrying cracked hearts, drowning in our tears from the pain of missing our loved ones. Sometimes we’re supposed to be needy people who have nothing to offer but broken hearts full of questions that angrily, or even bitterly cry out, “WHY?!?!”…..

Because if we’re all-knowing people, full of answers, full of smiles, full of rainbows, sunshine, kittens, puppies, unicorns………if we’re a people who don’t need the love and comfort of a Saviour, who never need one another for love and support…..that is what we will pass on to those looking to us for answers; that simply ignoring one another’s pain, including our own, is the answer…and how sad to pass that on to another human being. If we don’t need one another, what’s the point??

…..and what was the point of a Man on a cross?

If we are people full of certainy and hands overflowing from an abundance of answers about life…then we can never come to Him like a child (which He mentions in that thing called His Word…) who often has nothing to offer but questions about the world, eyes full of tears from life’s hurts, and the faith of simply coming to Him, without a single thing to offer.
I’ve noticed that about our son.

He wants us most when he’s sick. He needs us most when he’s hurting. He needs us most when he’s angry, even at us! He cries for us when he’s upset and doesn’t understand why bad things have to happen. He simply comes to us with all of his hurt, sadness, wounds, and sickness…..but he still comes knowing we are here for him, he knows we are here.
Sometimes, that is the only way I can come to Him. As a child with nothing but questions, hurt, sadness, despair, doubt, worry, tears…..even anger at HIM. But I still go…because it’s all I know to do—as my husband has said before, “We still go even then, because we know He is our only hope.” He is indeed, especially when looking at something as dark, sad, and lonely as death.

He knows I have some serious beef with him about the past few years. He knows my feelings, my hurt, my anger. He knows the injustices done. He knows the reason I cry like I did that Saturday night. And He is still my Father, our Father…..who is carrying around our hurt with us. He loves us that much…..to not cast us away when all we know to do is hurt. His love is that B I G that it doesn’t run away when we question why He causes us to grieve. Heaven forbid we ever make another soul feel stupid for hurting. Heaven forbid we abandon our friends in their deep sorrows. Heaven forbid we ever silence a crying, grieving heart, whether it’s a two-year-old who scraped his knee, or a thirty-year-old who needs her Momma. Heaven forbid we ever get to a point where we think He only offers smiles and giggles, and not sadness and tears. If so, we may have totally missed what happened those dark hours when there was nothing BUT sadness, grief, blood, and tears.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Shut Up Already!

I've written about my own grief for over three years. I've talked about how way too often (not always, but often enough) people ignore grief, as if ignoring it will make the grief disappear.....or better yet my own experience has been that others see someone hurting and ignore their pain, hoping to shut them up. This thinking runs rampant throughout American churches, as well.

“It is hard to have patience with people who say, ‘There is no death’, or ‘Death doesn’t matter.’ There is death. And whatever is matters. And whatever happens has consequences, and it and they are irrevocable and irreversible. You might as well say that birth doesn’t matter. I look up at the night sky. Is anything more certain than that in all those vast times and spaces, if I were allowed to search them, I should nowhere find her face, her voice, her touch? She died. She is dead. Is the word so difficult to learn?” -C.S. Lewis in “A Grief Observed”

Lewis makes some great points in the above quote. 1) Death IS real, and it DOES matter. 2) It has consequences that can't be changed. 3) Talking as if it doesn't matter is equal to saying our own lives don't matter.

Each event in life brings on changes....some make things worse, some will make life much better. Either way, changes make us think of our loved ones who are gone. If I'm sad, if more tragedy happens, I find myself reaching out for Momma. If I'm lonely, discouraged, I find myself wanting to call her and just cry and let it all out....because she is definitely the one person who would listen and care in more ways than even I understand. She's my Momma. I'm a Momma...I know if my son is hurting, I hurt doubly so.

Again, I will say, I write for those out there who are grieving fiercely for their loved one(s)...for those who have been made to feel stupid by others for talking about their pain...for those who are carrying this burden alone...I've been there. I know others have been there. And many, MANY times, I have cried out, spoken out, poured out my very heart to people only to find that I've been pouring my very soul into a bottomless pit that spews out nothing but empty words, and makes me feel like I'm "less than" for actually STILL talking about hurting and grieving-three years after the Deep Sadness happened. But that is NOT the case with God. That's not the case with many others, either.

I get it. I get that some don't like to hear about the hurt death causes. I get that some feel uneasy when a person speaks of their hurts. I get that some want me to "get over it already!!"....which yes, I have been told...I get that hearing about pain is NOT EASY...it costs us something. It costs us something, deep within, when we CHOOSE to hurt with those around us who are hurting.

And each and every time I think about the uneasiness of carrying other's burdens, of listening to another person's pain....of the cost it is to us, be it our time, our words, even our tears...I think of Him...I think of a cross....I think of a Saviour who hears us. I think of my husband who carries this burden with me. My two best friends in the world who never cease to pray for me when I let them know out of nowhere, that I'm just having a hard day. I think of those dear people I know who carry around open wounds that many people silence with their heartless words, and sometimes by even quoting a select Bible verse to make them feel justified in their heartlessness!!

I have grown SO ENTIRELY WEARY of having to defend my faith, my grief, my tears, my fear, my broken heart. Is it not enough that I’ve gone through all of the hell of the past three years, which has been much more than losing Her, that I have to now defend my hurts?? Is it not enough that I cry over that, but have to tiptoe around what I say to others?? Is it not enough that I carry a heart that’s cracked in half, a spirit that’s been wounded by those who claim to be the “faithful” ones, that I have to now become silent for fear of being told again and again to “shut up already!”??? It frustrates me, to say the least. It HURTS me. YET, what hurts me EVEN MORE is knowing that this happens to other people every. Single. day. THAT is what I will spend my days forever trying to change.

So for whatever reason, be it stubbornness, or mercy…..I can’t stop. I can’t stop thinking of the people I know (and don’t know) who are hurting beyond words…..and have been told by people, namely the church, how they “should be” dealing with their grief, and how they should just sit down, shut up, smile, and move on.
You, the one hurting…..your broken heart is precious to Him. Your tears are caught by Him. Your deep grief, your broken heart, it is NOT a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it’s a sign of FAITH. For when we are true to the hurt that He, Himself hands us…..we’d be nothing less than human (created in His image) if we cried out to Him. When we truly offer Him, and one another our ENTIRE selves…..we are being nothing BUT honest.
We are being nothing but vulnerable, needy, and broken children who need comfort from our Heavenly Father……….I ask you, what kind of a parent would turn away such a heart???

And if we agree that we should NEVER turn a heart away like that…..then I ask W H Y do we treat one another this way?!?!?

It needs to end.

Find someone who’s hurting, and comfort them. Find someone who’s crying, and cry with them. Find someone who’s depressed and love on them. Find someone who’s alone and be with them. Find someone who’s been betrayed and be faithful to them. Find someone who’s grieving, and grieve with them. Are these not MORE ways to share the gospel???

If we don’t truly grasp the deep pain that death brings, the sting of the grave, the absence of a loved one, then how on earth can we pretend to understand the entire Easter event?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Overflow.







These words have been running through my mind. It doesn’t matter what bookstore you’re in, what denomination you claim (if any), your age, your ethnicity, what political party you’re affiliated with, nobody quite knows how to answer the questions that loom when these things happen. I’m quite certain you can walk into any bookstore and find countless people’s opinions on these subjects. Be cautious if you ever read an author claiming to have all the answers to these things.

In spite of having no answers, one thing is sure; they DO happen. From the abandoned child left in a dumpster, to the mother who murders herself and her children, to the untimely death of a loved one, to the spirit broken by hate-filled words, to the orphaned child crying in the night…….suffering happens.

We have no answers…..which makes it hard to handle. Which makes some people not handle these things at all. They just look away and shut the doors of their very souls on these hurting ones.

Then there’s grief. Twelve steps, no-- fourteen now? Which stage are we supposed to be in now….I’ve lost count. And when should it end? (does it?) We better not talk about grief, because we all know that makes people uncomfortable.

So still, people walk away….choosing to ignore the very REAL hurt they carry around….as well as the hurt of others.

Then there’s the flipside….there are those who forgive such heinous crimes. There are those who forgive even when they’re not asked for that forgiveness. There are those who have done horrible things, yet receive mercy. How can this be? They do NOT deserve it!!! LOOK at what they did?!?!? The evidence is there, they KNEW better….yet they still did it, over and over again. They knowingly hurt many people, they need to PAY!!!

For some, this is simply unacceptable. Heinous acts deserve to be punished. How DARE they be forgiven!!!

So they do what it takes to make people pay. They speak out. They hold rallies. They bomb places. They openly pray for the demise of these horrible people who’ve messed up tremendously.

This FASCINATES me. The culture we live in is fixated on making people pay, yet wanting a “get out of jail free” card for themselves. We do NOT like to see other people receive mercy, yet we BEG for it for ourselves. We do NOT offer grace freely….yet we pray for it and accept it so easily.

We don’t mess with talking about the things that don’t fit into our boxes.
And we like our boxes.

If you don’t fit, you’re not invited.

If you are going through something we can’t explain, please exit now.

If you are doing things we don’t approve of, sorry….no invitation.
Come back when you fit in.

And boy oh boy….do we LOVE telling people how wrong they are!!! How much they’ve messed up! We ADORE making sure everyone knows how this guy over here and that gal over there just cannot get it right. They really need to be prayed for…….until they look just. Like. Us.

Many of us have become mirrors of Job’s friends.

But here’s the thing with all the words that have been running through my mind. They can’t be explained. They don’t fit. They are M E S S Y. They overflow and spill out, getting everything dirty and messy. Then we have to take time out of our “spiritual” lives and actually spend our energy on cleaning it up. Grief. Death. Suffering. They touch every part of our lives, drowning us in tears, as the Psalms say. And mercy and forgiveness……they’re MUCH too big to fit in our boxes. We don’t deserve them. Ever. They can’t be contained…..but isn’t that the beauty in them?? Isn’t that the beauty in tears, in laughter…..that they always spill out?? That they touch us inside in a place that’s simply too strong for words?...

What do you want to be known for?? For the person who was against this, against that, who brought about vengeance!!!

Or do you want to be known for the person who cried with your friend who just found out her husband was unfaithful to her?

Do you want to be known for the one who rallied against those ignorant *insert political party here*!!

Or the one who took care of the family who was having a rough time and couldn’t pay their bills?

Do you want to be known for the one who preached and preached against this and against that!!!!

Or the one who preached love, mercy, and peace…..?

I think sometimes we spend an awful lot of energy playing judge and jury when we should be sitting in the witness stand for those who are hurting.

We like to demonize, yet we call it “evangelize”.

From what I’ve seen over the past few years, people don’t know what to do with hurting, suffering, death, poverty……..so they don’t try to understand it. And for the ones who do, they’re busy telling everyone else how they OUGHT to be behaving, how they OUGHT to be grieving, how they OUGHT to be mirroring them…….

From what I’ve seen, this culture, this “Christian” culture has become a place that’s not….so……Christian.

This shouldn’t be. Knowing there are views like this of the church should change us…..knowing the church has had a big hand in oppressing the already oppressed should bother us….does it?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Better than a Fairy Tale.

I realize it's Valentine's Day, and there are several camps of people out there. Some will go out of their way to express their love to their loved ones. Some don't really observe it at all. Some are single. All of these, I truly believe, can be great.

But if you know me, you know that YES, I'm going to talk about my husband. For going on a decade, my Love and I have been there for one another. We've been loving, faithful, encouraging, going through each phase of life hand in hand. I can't speak for other women, I can only speak for myself. For me, having this man be part of me for so long has been an experience that I wish every woman in the world could have. I wake up each day knowing he is mine. I wake up each day knowing he thinks (for some odd reason...) that I'm the MOST beautiful, perfect, amazing woman ever. He makes me believe in myself. I look forward to the day that his son grows into being a man just like his Daddy.

I have been in VERY bad relationships. I have to admit that, to my shame, it took me years to fully appreciate the fact that Darryl DID love me, and only me. It took me a while to understand that his heart belonged to ONLY me. That it always would. I had been broken down for so long, that I never thought I would experience love like this. But I have, I do, and I know it will continue.

There are happy marriages. There are happy, loving, amazing husbands and wives out there. Amidst a world of hurt and heartache, my husband reminds me of that everyday. He reminds me that L O V E is real....it's not just a fairy tale...in fact it is BETTER than any fairy tale ever imagined.

I am convinced I would be a different person, had I lived through the trauma of everything that has happened in the past three years without Darryl. I can't say how I'd be...but I cringe to think at how dark my soul would be. Because God gave this wonderful man to me, I have been comforted, loved, encouraged, and reminded of a Hope that never dies.

Yes, it's Valentine's Day. But with my husband, I can say each and everyday has been even better than Valentine's Day. He loves me. I love him. Every moment. To me, that is a pretty big deal.

I love you, Slim. So much. Thank you for always making me know how loved I am. I can only hope I do the same for you.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Absence.

I’ve got an awful lot on my mind…one of the very big things is missing my Momma an awful lot. Her birthday is February 7th. I wrote this in observance of just that. So, though I have a lifetime full of sorrow, frustration, darkness, and doubt to deal with, in many other areas of my life…..this is just for her.

You are missed, Momma. Every. Single. Moment.

The Absence.

Time will never heal
The pain I always feel
When I think of wanting you still here with me.

Every time I see another
Young lady out with her Mother
It brings on all sorts of feelings of jealousy.

Each time I have some news to share
You were the one who cared-
Whether things were really bad or really good…

I still reach for the phone
But I remember you’re not home,
Just to hear your voice again…I wish I could.

There are moments I see
Just a small glimpse in me
That remind me just a little bit of you…

I always wanted your blue eyes,
But now so many times I cry,
And there are still some moments that’s all I can do.

Many moons have gone by,
The sun’s still in the sky,
Though I hate it, the world keeps spinning on.

Life has kept on going
My baby boy won’t stop growing
How I’d give anything to have you here back home.

Things are so different now
I can’t explain how
Your absence has left an emptiness that can’t be filled.

Though I see you in a dream,
And as happy as it seems,
Reality wakes me up to seeing it wasn’t real.

Still, some nights I pray
God will send you my way
Even though I can only see you while I sleep.

So here’s to you, my Mommy!
As we celebrate your birthday…
And next time we meet, we know it’ll be for keeps…

Your laugh, so happy and true,
Your eyes bluer than blue,
Your presence always made us all so glad.

You are missed so deeply,
Remembered so sweetly,
You’re the best Momma a girl ever had.

Jessica Nicole Schafer

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

For You, Our Friends.

In the blink of an eye, I can count 22 people VERY close to me who are deeply hurting. Whether it's family issues, marriage issues, job issues, spiritual issues, they are hurting. How I wish I could fix their problems. How I wish I could take away their pain. They know who they are. And God knows who they are, and also helps carry their pain.

I wanted to share this letter. This is for you, my friends whom Darryl and I love dearly. We are carrying your burdens with you, and thinking of you constantly. This was our Christmas letter this year. Some of you haven't received it yet, it will be coming soon! (My apologies, I left them behind on our Christmas trip, so that's why they're late. Better late than never, right?)

You are loved. You are not alone. We are hurting with and for you. I hope amidst your pain that knowing this brings you comfort, if even for a moment.

He is FOR…

The broken
The lonely
The abused
The bruised
The neglected
The hungry
The poor
The hopeless
The homeless
The despairing
The mourning
The forgotten
The cheated
The weary
The lame
The prodigal
The broken-hearted
The foreigner
The orphan
The widowed
The sick
He is for YOU.

Sometimes life gives us NOTHING BUT hurt….and ALL WE CAN OFFER is a broken heart. That is okay. That is acceptable….and believe it or not, it can even be an act of worship! He NEVER turns us away.

In fact….He is closely acquainted with all of those things.

Just as a mother holds a child who’s hurting, and hurts alongside him, wishing she could take away those hurts and carry them herself…how much MORE does He wish we’d come to Him so He could do that very thing??

Our tears, our hurt, our grief, and our broken-hearts are accepted in His Kingdom.....

The story of Christmas is a dark story, filled with scandal and heartbreak. It reminds us of the fact that even in our darkest hour of our darkest days….HE is with us. He is with you. Emmanuel.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

“Let all that you do be done in love.” I Corinthians 16:14

With love for you this Christmas season,
Darryl, Jessica, and Dylan Schafer

Friday, January 7, 2011

"Worth it" (and a little Volf)

While experiencing another day of, well LIFE, this hit me;

Not everybody grows up with a family that encourages them.

Not everybody grows up hearing, "You can be whatever you want to be!". Not everybody grows up being L O V E D. Of course, I already knew all of this, but it really resonated with me recently. For my sister and myself,(granted our lives weren't perfect,) I think it's perfectly safe to say, even speaking for her, that we grew up with a Momma and Daddy who thought the world of us, gave us everything they could, loved us beyond words, and encouraged us everyday we were growing up.

My sweet lil' boy has two parents who L O V E him incessantly. We try to show him daily our love for him, as well as God's love for him. I hope he grows up knowing his worth, that it is NOT bound up in ANYTHING here....but that his worth is in Him.

My husband loves me. He has reminded me this every. single. day. Sometimes by his words, yes. And the other times, by his very life. MOST times, by his life. By his breaths. In fact, if he were to never speak those words to me again, (which I very much need to hear, I'm just trying to make a point here...) I would still know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he loves me because of the way he HAS always LOVED me with his life since before we were even married. He reminds me in the way he holds me, hugs me, kisses me. He reminds me in the way he takes care of our family in EVERY way. He reminds me in how he carries my burdens with me. He reminds me that I'm worth "it". That I'm worth this whole life....that I'm worth living for day after day, year after year. That I'm worth his days. I only hope I remind him the same thing about himself.

If we grow up without knowing how loved, accepted, valuable we are....it echoes in our hearts throughout the rest of our lives....affecting not only ourselves, but those around us.

I guess I really just wanted to remind you of your worth.

Whoever you are, whatever you've been through, wherever you are tonight...you are loved.

No matter the times another person has torn you down, no matter the hurt you've been handed, no matter the mistakes you've made...your worth is indescribable.

No matter your successes, or your failures, you are worth it.

No matter the times life has scarred you beyond words....you are worth it.

No matter how broken you are, you are loved.

No matter how many things are going wrong in your life, or how many people have abandoned you, you are loved.

No matter how many people have been unfaithful to you, you are worth it.

No matter the burdens you carry, you are loved.

No matter the grief you walk around with day after day, you are worth it.

No matter how much you may not even believe these words, you are still loved, your worth is incomparable...you are worth "it". Believe it, dear reader.

And by the way, I wrote these words to myself tonight, as well. Sometimes life happens, or people happen....and both of those can destroy our humanity to the core. The past three years have undoubtedly done that to myself and my husband. I am hanging on to what I know to be true....even though circumstances don't change, some people don't change.....I have to remember what is T R U E, what is L O V E, because if I forget those things, evil wins.

My Love sent me these words the other day. He has no idea how much I needed to hear them. I want to share them with you. Those who know most of our story can appreciate how comforting the following is to my husband and myself. We have given our very lives over to serving Her, and will NEVER regret it, not for a minute. But for what we've lived through.....we have definitely been left scarred, hurt, and broken-hearted. Still, we will love Him, and His church, and serve them. Because we do not live for ourselves, we live for one another.....even those who hand out nothing but evil. As my husband always says, regardless of who we are, or the damaging things that people do, "We are still part of the same Body." I leave you with what he wrote me:

"So what will happen with the poison that spoils God's good gifts? God will either turn it into medicine or remove it completely. The gifts will remain--which are we ourselves and everything that surrounds us."

"For the God who resurrects, nothing is the end."

*Both quotes by Miroslav Volf*

Amen to Him resurrecting what man has poisoned. Maranatha.

THAT is my hope for this year, and the years to come...for your family, and for mine.