Not Alone

photo 3Yesterday, on Caleb’s third birthday, I heard from many friends. A few texts and emails, many “likes” and comments on my facebook posts. Thank you. It was more than I expected. Waking up to a few emails from friends saying they were praying for me and remembering me was so comforting. I’m not alone.

Jack has been sick for a few days with congestion and a cough. His deep scratchy voice is both cute and sad. But it made for a strange day. I didn’t have any plans for Caleb’s birthday, but I didn’t picture sitting in the doctor’s office with Jack and watching more Cat in the Hat episodes than I can count.

As I thought of Caleb throughout the day, I found myself often with tears streaming down my face. At one point in the morning Jack came over, put his arms up for me to hold him, then he patted my back. He saw my sadness and he was comforting me.

photoAfter a too-short-nap-from-coughing and a few more Cat in the Hats, I decided we’d drive out to the cemetery to visit Caleb’s grave and maybe Jack would nap in the car. He didn’t. I devised a headrest iPad holder from headbands so Jack could watch a show on the drive (it didn’t cross my mind until we were on the road that the headbands might not be “safe”… so far so good). At the cemetery I told Jack I was going to leave him in the car for a minute (it’s a small cemetery, folks. I’d be about 15 steps away from the car). But Jack said no and wanted to come with me.

I’ve told Jack here and there about Caleb but I never know how much he really understands. So I took this moment to explain: Mommy had a baby before you but he died and he lives in heaven. Jack was nodding and responding “oh, yeah, baby.” Mommy is sad because I wish Caleb was here too. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a brother to play with? “No, no, no” while shaking his head. Haha! If you could see Jack saying “no” which sounds more like “mo”, you’d appreciate the cuteness. The boy is smart. He knows having an older brother means he wouldn’t have all of Mommy & Daddy’s attention.

photo 2Despite the messages from so many friends, there was a loneliness I felt today. I’ve talked about it before… a loneliness that reminds me someone is missing. A loneliness that reminds me that Jesus is the only One who can give me peace and comfort. No matter the circumstances we are each walking through, only in Jesus can we find what we need.

“Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

NOT a Diet Book

When I was on bed rest several friends, acquaintances, even strangers – very nice strangers – signed up to bring dinner over. It was wonderful! One of these nice strangers has become a friend from my Bible study. She had brought Greek food, and while I’m not a very adventurous eater, I loved it! Last week I was thinking I should make what she had made us, but my knowledge of Greek food is so little I didn’t even know what to google (I guess you could say “it’s all Greek to me!” Ha!)

So I emailed my friend explaining my conundrum and she promised to bring recipes to Bible study. (My friend will remain nameless just in case she’s not this nice to everyone). Bible study mornings can be kind of busy for me between making sure Jack is taken care of in the nursery and practicing music with the band. This particular morning my friend had to leave early so she hands me a bag and says “I’ll email you about the book.”

I open the bag after study and pull out The South Beach Diet book. Most people may think a diet book… what is she trying to tell me?! Which is why I received an email from her later with the subject line “I did NOT give you a diet book!” I wasn’t offended. Not only did she buy me a cookbook with the recipes I wanted, but she went through and flagged her family’s favorite meals! She’s pretty amazing.

It was like a strange giveaway at bible study that week because I also received a reminder card to hang in the shower about breast self-exams to prevent breast cancer. [Other weeks I’ve received a gingham print children’s chair with “Jackson” embroidered on it, as well as a small bag with “Jack” embroidered which has come in handy to tote around Jack’s toys and food! Both passed down to us from an older Jackson and Jack. It’s so great!]


Oh yeah, and it was also a great lesson… praising God even in the midst of our suffering. When you’re going through a hard time, it’s like you have a checklist: talk to friends, read self-help book, eventually pray … But praise God. Thank God even for the hard time you’re going through. It doesn’t seem natural.

When we fix our eyes on the Author of our faith, the Sustainer of the universe, Creator of the world, Lover of our souls, we realize He does have a plan and as much as we dislike what is currently happening we can trust Him. This horrible thing in our life didn’t surprise the Lord. It hasn’t caught Him off guard. It has been woven into His perfect plan, with perfect timing, in our life and He will work all things together for us who love Him and are called to His purpose (Romans 8:28). I wonder what bible study will be like tomorrow!

Top 9 Lessons from College

As Graduation Season is upon us, I realized that last week marked nine years since I’ve graduated from college.  I thought this would be a great time to look back on the Top 9 Lessons I learned in college. 

9. Get Dressed For Class. This one I learned by hearing about my cousin at a different university, who shall go unnamed in order to protect his identity.  It was freshman year, he woke up late for class, and decided to rush to class instead of putting on real clothes.  In addition to his pajama pants and t-shirt, he added a robe, slippers, and cowboy hat. I think this only happened once (I hope).   Needless to say, it wasn’t until after he changed his ways that he met his wife.

8. Do Not Take Classes With Your Best Friends. As fun as it sounds, taking classes with your best friends makes it too easy to convince each other to order Papa Johns and watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang instead of going to English class.  Or you’ll go to English class and pass a notebook between the few of your friends, each writing one line of a poem or story, and trying really hard not to laugh out loud. In my case, you’ll never get in trouble because the professor only calls on people with interesting names… so “Kristin” and “Debbie” didn’t get called on all semester, while “Cassandra” and “Petrit” were called on each week. 

7. Tips for Sleeping in Class. Sometimes it’s inevitable. Classes from 6-9pm are rarely a good choice due to their length and boring-ness.  But if you’re going to fall asleep, sit in the back row, or at least behind someone larger than you.  Don’t wear a ribbed sweater and then put your head on your arm (you’ll wake up with lines on your face, trust me). Don’t drool, or at least figure out a system to catch your drool instead of waking up with a pool on your desk.

6. Find a Church. I was only one hour away from home and often came back on weekends to see family, and my boyfriend-now-husband, and go to church.  But when I stayed at school on the weekends I had a hard time finding a church I liked.  I tried new churches almost every week but I didn’t like the music, or the preaching, or that there wasn’t anyone my age.  Looking back I should have just picked a church that teaches the Bible and planted myself there.  I ended up finding a church I loved my senior year of college.  I became a leader of the youth group and really had a great time being involved. I only wish I had found it earlier.

5. Find a Bible Study. My freshman year there was a girls Bible study that met in my dorm. My roommate and I went, often ordering Papa Johns and watching Who Wants To Be A Millionaire when it ended (that show was new then!). That Bible study group lasted all four years of college.  Those women became good friends. We would add a few and lose a few each year, but we helped each other stay focused on God, and many of us remain in contact still.

4. Do Not Join a Fraternity or Sorority. It’s not the stereotypes of partying and drinking that concern me. In fact I was in a sorority and had a lot of fun while I was part of it. I made some good friends, was involved in every intramural sport with them, developed my leadership skills, etc.  But one day God revealed to me things about the sorority that didn’t honor Him.  It’s a secret society, so you don’t know anything about the rituals or initiation until you’re already committed. Further, if something was good, you’d think it wouldn’t be a secret.  Many of the ceremonies seemed to mock Christian rituals, even though the sorority posed as a “Christian organization,” even reciting a Psalm and praying each week at meetings. It wasn’t just the particular sorority I was in. I talked to people in other sororities at other colleges throughout the years and they had very similar ceremonies and rituals as mine.  I know this isn’t a topic you hear discussed much, so maybe you’re surprised or think I’m crazy.  If you want to know more of my experience, send me a message and I’ll talk to you in more details.  But in summary, although my experience in the sorority was good, God clearly directed me that I shouldn’t be involved and to leave so I did.

3. Stand Up For What You Believe. I went to a Christian university so you’d assume that most students would have similar Christian beliefs, and that certainly professors would uphold and teach Christian beliefs as taught in the Bible.  Not the case.  I had one Theology class about the Scienfitic World that taught opposing views from God’s Word.  I was surprised, but it caused me to study each topic on my own to find research supporting Christian perspectives.  I often disagreed vocally with the professor in class and I wrote papers contrary to what he taught but supported by research I found. When you stand up for what is right, whether it’s disagreeing with a professor or helping a student who is being bullied, God sees what you are doing and will reward you.

2. Don’t Drink. Believe it or not, it’s possible to make it through college without drinking alcohol (or doing drugs or having sex). When I was 16, I decided I would never drink. As my friends in high school began drinking, I would attend the parties but refuse the drinks.  “No thanks” became so ingrained in my mind that it just continued into college.  I went to parties, I hung out with people who drank, I was around alcohol, but I stood strong in my decision not to drink. As time went on, people stopped asking me if I wanted a drink because they already knew the answer.  I didn’t want any substance to have any control over my mind and body. I’ve seen enough people drinking to know that nothing good comes from alcohol, but there are plenty of bad decisions people make while drinking. As the years went on I spent less time at parties and less time with people who drank because I didn’t like being around alcohol.  I had a lot of fun in college and didn’t miss out on anything. Weigh the pros and the cons and realize you don’t need to drink to fit in or have fun. In fact, you’ll be saving yourself from a lot of destruction if you choose to avoid alcohol.

1. Read the Bible Every Day. Nothing will keep you grounded in truth like the Word of God. Even if you only read a little bit each day, I guarantee you it will be one of the best decisions you ever make.  The Bible is God’s voice directing your path, comforting your concerns, and giving you peace in uncertain circumstances.

When I look back on college, these Top 9 often cross my mind. I’m sure there’s more I could add… like pray for a good roommate and good friends.  I don’t remember praying that but God certainly blessed me by giving me great friends who are still great friends today.