I admit it, I’ve neglected this space for quite some time. It’s not because I intended too, my brain has just been busy with obligations that have kept me from sitting quietly to write about what matters most…. God and family.
I’m reading and spending time in the word daily, I am trying my best to lead my teenage daughter by example and ensure that she is as engaged in the youth group at church and keeping up with her studies. But there are still times when the cares of the world pull so heavily on me that I just collapse from the weight of it all.
Two weeks ago, I bought a house. It was time for us to put down some roots once again. We are officially, Alabamans and though that is not a name I ever thought I’d carry, I see God’s hand so clearly in bringing us here. You see God knows exactly what we need and where we need to be, if we have faith and lean wholly into Him. I’m learning to do that here.
While I can say that my job is a thorn in my side, I am grateful for it because it is a daily reminder of why I need to trust and consult God in everything. My life is more than a job or checking a box. My life is meant to be lived in submission to God, sanctified and holy.
I guess what I am trying to is that I am back and ready to serve.
I’m here. My daughter is here. We are embarking on a new year and a new life with one less, my son, her brother. Even though it’s been almost a year, it still feels fresh. An open wound still not ready to close. Though, I could sit here and cry and feel sorry for myself, because I could, but I would then be denying the power of Jesus Christ in the midst of midst of my sorrow. He has never forsaken or forgotten me, He has kept every single one of His promises.
God knows and knew what He was doing when He took my boy to be with Him. For a long time, it felt like I was being punished. I still feel that way at times. But, then I reflect on all of the blessings that I have received and continue to receive even in this season of loss, this grief. There are so many emotions right now, knowing that I will never see my boy grow up. He will in my heart and mind always be eleven.
As I look forward to this new year, I will never forget what happened in 2022, a part of me will be gone forever, but through it all, I am growing stronger day by day. And I have a loving Father, who is the same today, tomorrow and forever. That is a huge comfort to me. I can believe in Him, I can trust in Him and I can share the gospel and live faithfully until my natural death. While I wait to be reunited one day with Ethan. I will accept His continual refinement so that my life might be an example of His mercy and His grace. After all, diamonds are produced under pressure.
So, what are my plans for 2023, you may ask. Stay tuned, I have so much to share. But until then know this, I will shed the remnants of fear and scarcity, that have followed me for many years. My life is too full now for those two to have any place in it. That is why for 2023, I’m going to happily invest in both of my businesses and I will continue to study the scriptures so that I might be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks for the reason for the hope that is in me.
This is not a resolution but it is a commitment to grow outside of the fear and to walk in the victory of Christ. I hope that you will join me.
You all know that 2022, has been a heart crushing year for me. Unspeakable pain. But in midst of the worst pain, Jesus has held me. He has provided and protected us and held us up and when it was impossible for either of us to stand on our own, He carried us.
And when knew it was time for us to move, He sent us to the one place that I never would have chosen myself, Northern Alabama. After living here since August, I can emphatically say that I’m so glad that I didn’t choose. When I prayed and asked Him to place us where we could grow in the word and expand His kingdom, He answered my prayer and has turned to beauty what were ashes.
God has gifted us with friends, that are more like family, Emily is involved in so much with the youth group at church, that I’ve become her chauffeur. In fact, she just attended her first sleep away camp this past week. She was so impressed and truly enjoyed being there. I’ve linked the video from there last night here. https://youtu.be/r6KdR6vN71U
The classes and the Bible studies for the adults at church has been like attending Bible college and in late January something big is coming to us, so stay tuned for that announcement.
I guess the point of this post is to say that, though we may think we know what’s best for us, only God knows exactly what we need and when. So as we close out this year and ring in the new, I’m going to praise Him and glorify Him even more because I know and I remember from whence I came.
“The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
Everyone wants to be loved, it is our fundamental and most basic emotion that we need to endure this life. Lives absent of love are hard, difficult and incredibly lonely.
I was in my late thirties, married and pregnant with my first child, when the unthinkable happened. My mother, my sister in Christ and very best friend died. That was the first time, that I felt to my core the absence of love. It was the first time that I felt truly alone and inconsolable. On that day, I could not imagine how I could possibly live this life without the one person who knew me better than anyone, including my husband.
I forged ahead for my daughter. I put a bandaid over that chest wound and busied myself with preparation of becoming a mother. I was fine. I functioned convincingly, until the next worst thing happened. Ethan had his first seizure at my dad’s wedding. I was forever changed that day. I left my body in anguish that day, hearing every voice around me, but incapable of responding. I only returned, when I heard the paramedic say, “your son needs you, please snap out of it!” He was right, Ethan needed me from that day forward. I became Ethan’s person and he became mine.
Countless doctors, a big from North Carolina to Georgia, with the bright eyed belief that I would find the answers that would take the seizures and autism away. I read, I researched, I consulted. He would improve and then he would slide back. Always following those seizures. I hate seizures.
With every setback I forged ahead, determined that the ship would turn for my Ethan. He was my focus. Eventually my body broke down, autoimmunity moved into my once healthy body. One month later, it became too much for husband to bear, so with a simple text, he wanted out. For nine months, we occupied the same house. He filed for divorce, I accepted without a fight. Why? Because it never should have been. A divorce was the relief that I needed to fight for my son and to nurture my daughter without the demands of a counterfeit marriage.
Life became harder, but then it would get better. Ethan would do well and just when I thought we had cleared a hurdle, there would be something. But we always rebounded. Always. But then one day, we didn’t. Ethan died. And once again, that deep gut wrenching hurt absence of love came back. How could this have happened? Countless ambulance rides, two life threatening weeks in the hospital. But we always turned it around. Until we didn’t. Why Lord, why?
I still think about that day and wonder why or what I could have done. I know that even if God gave me an answer, what comfort would it give me? Ethan isn’t coming back. I have to go to him.
So, when I prayed and asked for direction for Emily and I, He led us to northern Alabama. The one place I never expected to live but now can’t imagine living anywhere else.
While I still don’t understand why my life had to go this way, I can say that my soul is no longer wandering, because I have finally found my home.
It’s hard to believe that we have been here for three weeks. So much has happened in such a short time that it’s impossible to not see God’s hand in this move. We have visited three churches of Christ, since we have been here and have already made good friends. Through these friendships, we have been able to connect with the homeschooling community. Emily is enrolled in piano, will start tennis lessons after Labor Day and will also get to participate in Fall planting at my sister in Christ’s home next month. Needless the say, as I sit here typing out this post, tears are streaming down my face as I reflect on how good God is and has been since we made this move. Though it was extremely hard in the preparation, I am appreciative that Huntsville, is woven into our journey to heaven.
Today has been busy, following worship this morning, we were invited to the home of a family from church for lunch. Not only was the meal delicious, but everything on our plates came from their backyard. Even the kombucha that was served with our meal was homemade. The meal was followed by a tour of their homestead, and if that was not enough, they gifted us with more wonderful vegetables to take home. The one surprise at lunch was the rabbit. I’ve always been hesitant about eating rabbit, but decided today that I would expand my horizons. So, I ate it with gratitude and to my surprise it was quite tasty.
If I had to put a cap on my day, it was that I was able to leave my daughter at the church building this evening after Bible study for her first youth event. She had a great time and made some new friends. She was the primary driver for this move, because I wanted to have her surrounded by other children her age, growing in Christ. God has taken us from isolated to invited and welcomed.
With all of this wonderful happening to us, my heart still aches because Ethan is not here with us to experience this too. In fact, I feel guilty that we are able to live this life without him. It seems so unfair. In fact, I still can’t comprehend that my life is so radically different now. That God would have me go on without my heartbeat, my precious boy. It still hurts so deeply.
Though, I don’t understand, I will cling to my Lord and Savior, trusting that one day I will see Ethan again as he should have always been, whole and well.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15&16
There is so much to share that I don’t even know where to begin. My daughter and I embarked upon a journey that relocated us from the state that we had grown to call home to a place that seemed so foreign when God placed it on my heart. Probably like many of the early Americans when they left family to travel out west to set up a new homestead.
But here it’s different or maybe I am different. I am different. Or perhaps, it’s the relatability or the way we were welcomed into church on Sunday as though they had been waiting for us to arrive. Or maybe it’s just the door that opened because He knows exactly what we need and when we need it. Whatever that, it is, I am grateful that we can now call, Alabama our home. ❤️
Being a native of North Carolina, I would never have thought I could live in Alabama. Truth be told I felt the same way about Georgia.
Thank you, Alabama for welcoming us with open arms.
It’s been four months since my precious son left this life and there isn’t one day that I don’t think of him. It’s not possible for me to forget the joy that he brought into my life. He made me a warrior, a fighter, he made me brave.
I try to stay busy, because sitting with my thoughts for too long is too hard. I have to pack, but it seems like I barely get started before I stop. I know that it needs to be done, but for some reason, I can find a million distractions. I wonder if it’s because part of me feels like packing makes his death final or is just a reminder that this next journey doesn’t include him.
I know that God has him. There is no doubt in my mind that he is healed and happy. I’m just sad that it didn’t happen for me to see. Sometimes, I find myself calling him to come and give me a hug, I just want to hold him and snuggle. But he doesn’t come. Maybe he doesn’t miss me in the way that I miss him.
I still wonder why he had to leave and I know that I may never get the answers that I am seeking. I guess I just want to know why I had to go through another hurt so deep that breathing hurts. But God doesn’t owe me an explanation so I’ll accept that His grace is sufficient.
Besides I guess none of us gets to leave this planet without some amount of sorrow. Just seems that I have had enough for two lifetimes. Maybe there is a lesson in that for me to learn. I guess, I need to figure it out, because I am tired of walking through sorrow and having grief as a constant companion.
Perhaps, I’ll wake up one day and grief will be gone and if she is, I pray that I am ready for the day.
Where do I belong? Where should we go? Should we just buy an RV and travel from state to state? Those are questions, I ask myself almost daily. You see when Ethan was alive, we knew. We knew where we had to be and when. But now, we’re nomads. Anchored only to the belief that, if we live faithfully we will be reunited with our Ethan someday.
When I show up online, people see the bright shiny Angela doing her best to serve and inspire. What they don’t see is the pain, that still permeates my heart. Though it’s been nearly four months, I am still not okay that he is gone. I will likely never be.
I guess what I struggle so deeply with is the not knowing. Why he had to go and not me? Why am I still here to mourn the sweetest, purest heart that I was blessed to nurture and care for? What lessons does God want me to know? Why do I still not have the faith of Job? Why do I still not know where I belong?
I started the “75 Hard Challenge” on May 9, and knock on wood, I’ve been able to meet the challenge so far. But one of the things that I am learning or I guess I have had to face is the me looking back at me in the mirror. Truth is, this is a mental challenge and it has brought forth some hard truths. Number one, I am not in control, God is and He is the ultimate decision maker. For me to think otherwise is arrogant and rebellious. Two, He loves me and has only the best plan laid out for me as long as I listen to his voice and step out of the drivers seat and sit in the passengers seat where I belong.
Three, Job was not blessed abundantly because he did not sin, but because he never wavered in his belief that God was the giver of all that he had and that He would provide and was worthy of praise, no matter the circumstances. He just trusted and believed, even when he lost all of his children in one day! He grieved but did not stop trusting God. That is the lesson, right?
Just like Job, I may never know why God has allowed me to experience so much grief over the years. But what I do know is that, God has a plan for me, not one of evil, but a future and a hope. I just have to believe that He will and to live my life according to will and to seek His counsel daily.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” I Peter 5:10
What occupies your mind? Does your work align with your values and beliefs?
I spent nearly 24 years of my life trading my time for a paycheck. In that time, I sacrificed what was most important, not because i wanted to, but because I thought that I had no choice. Ultimately, my only son died as a result of choices that I thought we right, but later learned that they were wrong, it was a hazard of the profession that I had chosen.
Since my son’s death I have had many sleepless nights and more time to study the Bible and to remember what my purpose is here on this earth. I have had the opportunity to speak to my sisters in Christ about maintaining their physical health and the best gift was witnessing my daughter commit her life to Christ through baptism into his kingdom. Acts 2:38.
We only get one life and in the grand scheme of it all, it is short. So while there is still breath in my body, I will heed the advice of King Solomon, who penned, “ The end of the matter, all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13&14
Sure, I celebrated Christmas as a child with my family. I have the fondest memories of Nana(my mother’s mother) coming over first thing in the morning to open gifts and have breakfast with us. I remember waking up before the sun came up just to see what was under the tree for me and to make sure that my brothers didn’t receive more than I did. Oh and of course there was Christmas dinner at my other grandmother’s house every Christmas evening, until we moved to Florida. So many beautiful memories are tied to that holiday. But when I shifted from child to adult, the real celebration was my mother’s birthday. She was actually born on December 25.
It’s been thirteen years since her death and the idea of celebrating another commercial holiday without her is just not something I am looking forward to. If you’ve read this far, you’re probably saying to yourself, what about your children, don’t you want to make the holiday special for them? Of course I would, but what made this holiday special for me and for others is the joy of family. They don’t have that. There is no family nearby to celebrate with. Not even close friends. There are no gifts from their grandfather, uncles or cousins to put under the tree. It is once again just us.
If I were to decorate the tree and plan out the day, the only people that would be present would be just us three. There will no gifts or invitations to celebrate the day. Always us. While I could create traditions of our own, what would be the point? Their only memories of the day they don’t have to celebrate would be of their mom stretching herself and running herself ragged just to place a few gifts under the tree. What would be different then about that day than any other day of the year?
So yes, we will create a new tradition and that it will always include spending time together, traveling and perhaps doing something that we have not done previously. It might even be a day of watching family movies and cooking and eating family meals that we prepared together. But it will not be spending like crazy on a day that has absolutely nothing to do with my salvation or theirs.
I will never criticize anyone for celebrating Christmas, because it is certainly a personal choice. But as for us, we will abstain and do something else. We will rejoice and be glad that Jesus came to earth and died on the cross for our sins and rose from the grave so that we might have salvation. And that is worth celebrating!