Seven weeks ago, my heart broke in a way I never thought possible. And I know every person in my family can say the same. We lost someone very precious to us, too suddenly and too soon. Without warning, without ease. We were all in disbelief.

In the days thereafter, we all thought we were just dreaming – this couldn’t be true. We’ll wake up soon…  and so will she.

But she didn’t. She couldn’t. No matter how much we begged, no matter how much we pleaded. We couldn’t turn back time, we couldn’t bring her back, no matter how much we wished we could. But if tears could pour life back into the dead, her heart would have been beating with a fierce and vibrant pound.

Now that some time has passed, it’s still hard to believe. We visit her resting place often, but it still doesn’t feel real.

And I don’t quite know how to put it all into words. Partly because it’s so hard, and partly because I know I will never be able to write anything worthy enough of her beauty and her life. But I also know I won’t be able to write anything else until I try.

For now, I will tell you this: In spite of how harshly our hearts have been shattered, I know I need God – our one true healer, our ultimate comforter – to help me piece things back together. Psalm 147:3 promises that “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Our hearts are definitely broken, and our souls deeply wounded. But I still have my faith. It may have cowered in the shadow of grief and despair, but it’s there. And I know that faith even as small as a mustard seed will move mountains. Even mountains made from broken hearts. (Matthew 17:20)

Mother's DayThis post made me laugh. I do not at all take offense to my aunt forgetting to greet me a Happy Mother’s Day because, most of the time, I forget that I’m a celebrant myself. Most people I meet tell me that I don’t look like a mom, and even though I spend 24/7 with my daughter (literally!), it isn’t something that “hits” me often. Motherhood to me is something that just IS, and something that feels like it always should have been… if that makes sense at all. Extraordinary yet completely normal all at once.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you beautiful mothers out there. Extraordinary, and rightfully so.

Wasn’t it just yesterday, I was holding my tiny daughter in my arms while she cooed softly with eyes wide open and small smiles?

And wasn’t it just the day before that, I could feel her hiccups inside my belly, drumming with the beat of my heart?

And now here she is, walking and wandering on her own, sitting herself up in a chair across from me, and babbling conversation at me while we have lunch.

When did running errands with my tiny tot turn into dates with my daughter?

Every parent tells you, from the moment you’ve announced your pregnancy, that it will all go by in a flash. And it really, truly does. Our daughter is only two years old, but I feel like the time has passed with a blink of our eyes. The next thing I’ll know, she’ll be five and going to kindergarten. Or 15 and giving me a run for my money, raising a teenage girl. Every step she takes and every day that passes, she becomes more independent. Even now at just two, she’s growing up right before my eyes.

So for now, I will enjoy every day to its fullest. I will have as many dates with my daughter as I can, even when she’s ready for actual dates with boys (which may take a long time, according to her father). There’s nothing we can do to stop or slow down time, as much as we desire to. All we can do is enjoy the time we’re given and make memories, so make them every day. Hold your children for as long as you can, for as long as they’ll let you. Stay with them an extra minute or two after they’ve fallen asleep, and memorize the peace on their faces as they dream. Really listen to their laughter, and smile when they smile. Let their youth keep you young, while you give wisdom as they grow. Teach them, love them, and make lots of beautiful, wonderful memories… before you blink again, and they’re having children of their own.

I hope that in the midst of hunting for eggs and taking pictures with the Easter bunny in our Sunday’s finest, the true meaning of Easter isn’t lost on us. It is the foundation of our faith – the day Jesus had risen from the dead, just as he said. Though he was sinless, the son of God took on the sins of the world. His sinless blood was shed to wash away our sins, so that we may have eternal life with the Father in heaven. He died so that we may LIVE.

This morning, I cried tears of thanksgiving and of wonder. I cried because God loves me so much, he sent his son to die for me as the payment of all my sins, just so I could be with him forever after my time on earth. Little, old me. Who am I to have that much love thrust upon me? I am undeserving, I am unworthy, I am small.

And that is why He is called grace. He is called mercy and love… Majesty and King of all creation. He is more than our minds could ever conceive… And He is here with us. He is real, He lives, He loves.

It is my prayer that just as I have come to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior, that all the world may too. I pray that whoever reads this sole entry understands that every story I write comes from love, which all comes from God. And that this – this Lenten season and Easter day – this is the greatest love story of all time, and He is the author of our lives.

(Reposted from 2011)

I am thankful for every breath and every blessing. I am thankful for each new morning and every rest at night. I am thankful for all the beautiful things God created.

I am thankful that in exactly one month, my husband will be home with his family after a 6-month deployment. I am thankful for all the men and women who serve all over the world to protect us and our rights as Americans. I am thankful for God’s protection over all of them.

I am thankful for the health and happiness of our daughter, who continues to amaze us with her joy and spirit every day. I am thankful that she is well taken care of, not only by me and my husband, but by our families as well. I am thankful for all the love showered unto her, and I pray that God continues to show her His love through the people in her life.

I am thankful for all the bad days I have, because even then, I have much to be thankful for.

Today is a day of thanks giving, but each and every day, God deserves our praise. In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Amidst today’s cooking and chaos, I hope we always remember what thanks giving truly means. And it is my prayer for you that every minute of the day, we may be thankful to God for all He has graciously given us. None more so than His own son, Jesus Christ, whom He gave to us in love to pay for our sins so that we may live eternally with Him in heaven. Thank you, God, for each and every blessing, each and every day. Amen.

I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.
–Psalm 86:12

The leaves are changing, pale yellow to red crimson. They fall and dance with the cooler winds until the ground is blanketed in color. The air is cool and crisp, and the sun’s heat seems further and further away. We’ve turned back the clocks and the days grow suddenly shorter, and I’ve found myself in the heart of autumn, still waiting for my husband.

As the end of my husband’s deployment draws nearer, so time seems to pass more slowly. Almost painfully slow in my anticipation. The temperatures drop, and I find myself longing for his warm embrace to combat the cold and my loneliness. I cloak myself in cozy sweaters and snuggle into thick blankets, and the image of my husband’s strong arms wrapped around me does little to warm my heart. I think it only makes me miss him more, if that were even impossible.

And then I remember that there is always someone I can turn to when I’m lonely. Someone who has never even left me. Someone I can count on any and every day.

God always has His arms wrapped around me. He has His arms wrapped around my husband, as well… and our daughter, and all those He calls His children. I may miss my husband’s warm embrace more often when autumn turns to winter, but in every season, I am held in God’s embrace. It may not physically make me warmer in the wintertime, but He warms my spirit in every season.

The Bible says for everything, there is a season (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Seasons will change every year, and sometimes we change with them. But our Heavenly Father remains the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). His love is never-changing, no matter how much the world around us changes. We will always be able to run to Him, and He will always be waiting for us with open arms. This deployment – and the sacrifices and the struggles that go with it – may only last for a season or two in our marriage… but God’s love is forever. In the good times and bad, during deployments and during the blissful times our spouses are home, we can always rely on our awesome God to hold us, comfort us, and strengthen us.

Whenever I find myself longing for my husband’s embrace, I remember that the Father holds me in His arms, and I find comfort in knowing He will never let me go. Wherever we are in the world, and wherever we are in our lives, God will hold our hand through it all. Every season may bring change, but the Father’s love is the same. Never-changing, never-failing. Forever.

For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
–Isaiah 41:13

***

Author’s Note: This post was featured on the Faith Deployed blog, as I announced earlier this week. I am still astounded and honored by the feedback I’ve received from this post, and I hope to be able to contribute even more to the Faith Deployed ministry in the future. God is so great, and I cannot ever thank Him enough for the opportunities He reveals to me to use my talents for His glory. And I am always thankful to you, my readers, who stick by me every Sunday and continue to spread the love. Blessings!

I am incredibly grateful and honored to have been blessed with an opportunity to contribute to the Faith Deployed ministry.

Faith Deployed provides daily encouragement to military wives, whether their husbands are deployed or at home. It’s a wonderful ministry led by Jocelyn Green, and it stemmed from two devotional books. I recently purchased the first of these books, and these women’s stories have really been helping me get through these last weeks of my husband’s deployment.

I contacted Jocelyn to learn more about Faith Deployed, and I told her about Sundays I’m In Love. She then invited me to contribute to the blog, and I was more than happy to. This is exactly what I’ve always prayed for – a greater opportunity to spread God’s word through my writing, through the gift He’s given me. To use my talents for His glory.

And then, of course, I immediately had writer’s block.

I had no idea what to write. But as I do with every Sunday post here, I prayed on it. I prayed for God to give me the words, to send inspiration, to plant a seed. I waited on Him… and as always, He led me.

I know that I have a talent for writing, but so many times, I just have no idea where a piece is going until it’s done… and the outcome oftentimes surprises me. That’s why I always say I hope my writing inspires you, the reader, as it inspires even myself – because most of the time, I feel like God is writing it all down for me.

You will find my guest post on the Faith Deployed blog this morning, and I will post it here myself this Sunday. It’s a simple piece of a big reminder that God always has us in His hands.

I am so thankful for this opportunity to encourage other military wives in their walks with God. Faith Deployed has been a great support to my spiritual growth, and it is truly a blessing to take part in this ministry.

To those who have come to Sundays I’m In Love from the Faith Deployed blog – Welcome! I gladly invite you to come by every Sunday for new love stories and more of God’s word.

May God bless you always,
Joanne

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
–1 Thessalonians 5:11

You are my only truth. You are all I know. My life, my love, my reality.

-Him

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I can’t wait for this moment. The end of another deployment. The end of a duty-bound separation. The end of the missing.

It’s like hitting “play” when your life has been on pause for the last six months. I just can’t wait to begin again.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
–Romans 12:12

1 John 4:19 "We love because he first loved us."

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