Monday, March 30, 2009

Two Years

Sitting in rocking chairs, we discussed everything from the wedding to our future children's names. We rocked and talked for six hours that night. It was our very first date, and we were naive enough to think that everything before us would be the fairy tale we expected.

Life with Brian has been one of the most amazing gifts I have ever been given. I have had a best friend each and every day for the past two years, and without him, I honestly do not know what would have happened. We have faced some very joyous occasions, yet God had more tragic situations in store for us than even I can explain. Our lives are so different now than what we had planned that Friday night at Opry Mills a little over two years ago.

It wouldn't have been reasonable for us to talk about losing our loved ones including both of his parents, having a miscarriage, leaving our jobs, expecting a little boy who will be named after his late father, and making some of the most unforgettable memories of a lifetime in just two, short years.

Tomorrow, we will celebrate two years of marriage. It actually is hard to believe. It is still hard to imagine that we are married. It is still difficult to know that God made this man for me. It is incredible that this is where God has decided for us to go. This path, this journey, this anniversary is a culmination of what I can only say has been the learning experience of a lifetime.

We have rocked day in and day out waiting for the fairy tale... But that's not what life is. It is an amazing gift that is often packaged with heartache and pain. We've opened that gift and experienced first hand what life can be. It is a blessing to be able share these times with you, but there is no one I'd rather have in my life than my husband. He has made the bitter times sweet, and the hard times have been an opportunity for the two of us to cling to the One who put us together.

Happy Anniversary, Brian.
To Heaven and Back. That's my life with you.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Getting What I Deserved

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

It was my freshman year at Western Kentucky University. I was awkward, clumsy, and looking for friends that I hadn't made just yet. Those are what you could see on the outside. Inside, I was busy trying to pass classes that I realized I definitely wasn't prepared for, and honestly, I couldn't believe I had even been accepted into this collegiate school. Soon, I became lazy and thought that if this "university path" wasn't easy that I didn't necessarily have to make an effort. I would miss classes left and right and was ultimately shocked when this next incident occured.

It was Finals Week. I studied. Some. If some means not at all, then that would be what I did. I walked into my Western Civilization class (you know, the one I hadn't been to in weeks), and I took my usual back-of-the-class seat. We all pulled out our little blue examination books and began what I can only describe as the most horrifying test I've ever taken. It was like I was in Kindergarten trying to read chapter books. I had NO idea what to say, and I knew that writing anything would make me more of a fool than I already was. But I did. And I failed the class.

Life lessons aren't the easiest to come by. It took me years to understand what I had done, not only to my transcript, but to myself. I had failed at something. Don't get me wrong, failing isn't failing when you've actually tried. I had made NO attempt at passing that class. Nevertheless, I failed the class because I had failed myself, my parents, and my God.

I heard it said this week that we, as Christians, are not called to understand; we are called to OBEY. When I ran the statement over in my head, it was like another Western Civ. test was being pushed right in front of me. Not because I hadn't studied, but because I never realized that my downfall in most situations is that I give up. If it gets too hard, I just give in.

I am the exact same way with God. When things get difficult in my life, I often find myself blaming God for what He isn't doing. If I cannot understand what is going on around me, then I want to completely rid myself of the situation. I end up doubting that God truly is God, and I expect more from Him the next time around. But where I've gone wrong is that I haven't done anything in regards to proving that I am His child. Just like with wanting to pass that class, I made no effort to make the grade. I just wanted the A and didn't do what it took to get it.

It is an easy thing to say that we love the Lord. It is even easier to love Him when things are good. What happens when we are faced with circumstances that are not ones we would have chosen? Do you, like me, often bail and forget to fall on your knees in prayer? There are so many things I don't understand... I wish I could tell you that life with the Lord is an easy one. It isn't. It, too, is a test. My faith is tested daily, and I don't always pass with an A. I know, though, that all the Lord asks of me is my obedience.

With my failed college course, I had the obedience of a child. I had everything I'd ever wanted: parents that believed in me, were willing to pay for my tuition, and knew what I was capable of. I had a Father that knew I would fail because I wasn't willing to obey. Yet, He gave me a second opportunity to do so. I took the same class the following semester and worked harder than I had at anything. I left that particular course with an A, one I truly deserved because I had obeyed...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Kind of Son I Hope to Have

I have imagined for eight, long months what my son will be like. I have envisioned his smile, pictured his nose, imagined his hair, and thought about his character. I have learned that he is a night owl and does not enjoy sitting still. He has energy like no one I know, and he is big, healthy, and strong. That is about all I know. However, I cannot help but wonder what he will really be like when he arrives. I cannot fathom what he may be like as a little boy running around in the backyard with his daddy, and I cannot wait to see, if the Lord allows, what he'll be when he grows up to be an adult. But this past week, I was honored to watch a young man be the kind of son I hope to one day have.

He was handsome. He dressed in his brightly-colored shirts and ties, and he stood tall in front of a group of innumerous people. He smiled with grace and dignity. His piercing, blue eyes, filled with tears as he often looked straight into mine.

He believed in prayer. He began sending emails as soon as he received the call that his 48-year-old mother had passed. He knew that the only things he truly needed were the prayers of saints and his heavenly Father. He stopped often throughout the week to pray; it was so encouraging and humbling to see his love for God.

He laughed wholeheartedly. He told stories of days past and recollected on the many memories with his mom. He joked about her quirky attitude and her stubborn ways. He grinned as he found things she had kept for years that he had given her.

He wept. I don't know many who didn't, but as he preached his mother's funeral, tears welled up in his eyes. He wasn't just crying because she was gone, he was devastated over all the lost family members in the chapel. He wasn't afraid to grieve or to show that he loved her by the teardrops streaming down his face.

He was strong. Oh, I cannot explain this fully, but imagine having just lost your grandfather, a baby, and father in less than two years and facing the death of your mother as well. He was so amazing in her absence. He held his sister, and he brought loving words to each of the 400+ people who entered the funeral home doors.

He remembered it all. He wore bright colors because his mother always loved them. He wanted the room filled with beautiful arrangements because she adored them. He asked for certain songs and particular people to be included in the funeral on her behalf. He recollected her favorite foods, endearing ways, and fascinating personality. It was if he hadn't forgotten a single day he'd had with her.

I wish I could spend days explaining how this man is exactly how I hope my soon-to-arrive son is, but I pray this is enough:

Elijah, when you find yourself looking for someone to be like or a person to model your life after, choose Jesus, and if that's too hard to do, sweet boy, look no further than your daddy. He'll lead you to Jesus, and he'll make sure you see who He longs to be like, his Lord. He loves you more than you know, and He longs to see you saved. Yes, your daddy is exactly the kind of son I hope you are, and I know his momma was proud to have.

In Memory of Brian's Momma and Elijah's Nana,
Cindy J. Johnson
April 9, 1960 - March 9, 2009

Monday, March 9, 2009

It's Not About Me...

There comes a point in life when you realize that life isn't all about you. Your feelings aren't as important as what God is busy doing. He has every situation in the palm of His hand, and I must say that I'm completely grateful for that. I'd soon to make a mess of things if He didn't, and somehow, I still manage to do that most of the time.

It's easy for me to share my feelings. I've never been one to hide what I think or to lock in any emotions, but that's because life, in my little world, has always been about me. I'm here to tell you, it's not.

I'm blessed beyond speaking. I have found myself wondering why things aren't exactly as I'd have them, and that's me again throwing myself a tantrum in the middle of the crowd. If I take a step back and see what God has done, I'd be hushed. Completely silenced.

God has turned my world upside down, and though I'm not always thrilled with His changes, I've learned that His decisions for me are far beyond what I'd have for myself. He changed my heart inside and out when He saved me almost 15 years ago next month. He changed my feelings inside out when He decided that the man I'd met and served with on a Jamaica mission trip would be my husband. He changed my emotions when He blessed me with a child in the womb. He's changed my job status, my church home, my personality, and my friends, and I am so honored that He has chosen me to change anything at all.

I cannot imagine where I'd be if He'd left me in control. The roads I would have travelled would not be near as fulfilling as these I'm on today. Though there are hardships and heartbreaks along the way, I am thankful that God has chosen this path for me. I'm not in control. I'm not in the driver's seat. I'm merely a woman learning that it's not all about me, and it's time I take a few steps back...

I realize that God wants us to be open. As Christians, we tend to expect everything to be perfect in our God-centered worlds. I'll admit to thinking that God should just hand me everything I ask of Him because I'm following Him. I want to be honest with you, as open and clear as I can, there are days in this self-centered woman's life that I believe it's okay to feel down and tell you all about it. What does that say, though, about my God?!

It says that I'm human... I doubt Him. I beg Him for more. I pray less. I don't open my Bible. It's says that I have a long way to go on this walk with my Lord. What it doesn't say is that God is any less God. He is still the same, tomorrow, yesterday, and TODAY. No matter where I find myself, no matter how rough the road, no matter who's reading and who isn't, my God is still God. And He's good. All the time.

I have become the problem. I have become so wrapped up in what I have and also the things I don't, that I've let my emotions (pregnancy ones or not) run wild. I've become too open by sharing my opinions without truly realizing who He is...

Please know that what I mean to say is that I am blessed. I have more than I could ever work to deserve. I have been given the greatest gift in Christ, my Savior. I have friends who love me and family that adores me. I have a child in Heaven and one on the way. I have a bed to sleep in and a roof over my head. I have food on my table, and I have more clothes than I could ever wear. And, life, well, it gets hard but that's only because I'm too busy thinking about me, worrying about me, and praising me. See the problem? It's NOT about me, and until I figure that out, you're going to find insecurity after disappointment and more complaints. That's what I'm learning though, through the eyes of my husband, the movements of an unborn child, and through the gentle touch of a loving God, that this life has and never will be about me. It's really all about HIM.