To A Wild Rose: Straight from the Heart of Emma Jane

Today as we continue our series, To A Wild Rose, I want you to meet my friend Emma.  I’ve known this curly-headed, inspiring brunette since she was 5 years old, and I’ve watched her grow into a young woman who challenges my heart to love strong and always stay careful of complacency. Her mother,who shined so bright in Jesus, went to her eternal home in 2011, and Emma continues Jamie’s legacy by singing of the Love that endures forever.  Emma is big sis to four little sisters, completing her senior year of high school, is quite the musical gal (sings, plays piano and ukulele, songwriter, etc..) and is in prayer as she chooses the direction for her life this next year.  Read the words from the heart of a courageous young lady.  

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Those of you who know me are well acquainted with my thought-pattern or lack thereof. It’s mildly hilarious considering how hard I try to be a writer.  All I ask is that you read to the end. I promise it’ll make sense (hopefully).

I am not a gardener for sure, but I have always loved plants. Cacti especially. Momma was never a gardener either….. I was blessed with a jack-of-all-trades for a dad. Most every year, we had a gigantic garden. Even though I complained about working it, I loved every minute I spent with my parents out in the sweltering heat. I learned a lot about plants over those summers in the dirt from my daddy. I love how God gives us real-life examples of aspects of our walk with Him.

Roots are extremely important to a plant. They are the source of life.

They soak up all the goodness that the plant needs to flourish, and they offer protection. A tree with deep roots is going to be harder to blow over than a tree with immature, weak roots.

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In June, I was uprooted from my comfortable home and thrown out into a new church, new school, new life. These past six months have revealed my strengths and weakness like no other trial in my entire life. I have spent days and nights crying out to God, in desperation when I see all that I am missing out on. I have spent long evenings, dancing on the dock in front of a glorious sunset, praising my Creator for this great love He lavishes upon me. I have been taking care of my roots, so to speak. Through this trial, I have been seeking God. It is not always easy, In fact, it’s never easy. I constantly pray that God instills a desire for deeper roots. Through all of this, I am reminded of how easy it is to fall into “surfacey Christianity.” We go to church, post inspirational Jesus quotes, and try to be decent people. Beloved, we are so deceived! Relationship with God is so much more than these. When God draws us, He woos us with His love. He courts us, and calls us into this divine covenant with Him where we offer ourselves, ugly, broken, hurt, and confused.

Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called His children – 1 John 3:1

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This love is my comfort. This love is my hope. I feel like I spend way too much time missing things that often I fail to appreciate and love the present. In the midst of my hurt and confusion, God is God, and He is GOOD. He wants more than anything for us to be pulled deeper into a loving relationship with Him. So spend some time with Him today. Let your roots go deep, so you can withstand the crazy stuff life throws at us.

He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit – Jeremiah 17:8

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tears & smiles — guest post

The following is a guest post from my niece Abigail McBride.  The best word I can use to describe Abby is real. She is purely authentic and shares her love with a pure vulnerability. Because of that quality she is one of the most inspiring, strong women I have the privilege of knowing.  When I falter in my faith, I see clearly the strength of my God by seeing His light transparently in her life.. I do not take it lightly that she gives us the opportunity to peer into her soul, and I’m so grateful for a heart that desires to share a message of hope for those of you who might be reading and can find encouragement for your own grieving heart.  

 

Funeral home.

Burial.

Memorial service arrangements.

These are things no 20 year old should have to hear, especially when it’s referring to her husband.

But I did. I heard them, deep down in my soul. I heard the phone call, telling me that I needed to get to the hospital. I heard them tell me that he didn’t make it. I heard them tell me that they had done everything they could. I heard them ask me if I was ready to see him. I heard Liam fussing in the background because he was hungry. But I didn’t feel much of anything. Numbness. The kind that takes over your mind body and soul, trying to desperately shield you from the reality of what you’re facing.

I remember walking in, getting the news. And the only thing I could say was “No”. No this isn’t real. No this isn’t happening. No, no, no. Because, you see. We had plans. Great big beautiful plans. Plans for us, for our house, for our children, for life. But in an instant it was like our plans had never been dreamed. They were just a memory. MY plans. MY life. MY future. And it was all gone. In just an instant.

I walked in and saw him, laying there. He looked so childlike, so innocent and so completely peaceful. I was jealous. I walked in and knelt beside his bed and wrapped my arms around him. I can’t describe what came next, I was immediately calm. I breathed him in. Tracing my fingers over his face. He was with Jesus. I knew that. He was happy. I knew that. He was whole. I knew that. He was complete. I knew that. And somewhere deep inside me I heard a voice say “Abigail, don’t push God away. He is the only one who can get you through this.” Call me crazy, but I know that was from Jonathan. Because in life, he always pushed me closer to Christ. So why wouldn’t, in death, he do the same?

Am I telling you that I haven’t yelled at God? That I haven’t screamed into my pillow in complete despair? Am I telling you that I heard that voice and said “okay God, I’m good. You’re right. I’m fine. This isn’t so bad. This doesn’t hurt like hell. I’m okay with this.” No. It hurts. More than anything, it has completely shaken me to the core. I want MY plans to go back to the way I wanted them. The way WE planned them. I look into my son’s face and I see a little boy who won’t remember his daddy. He won’t remember the bond they had, how he would scream with delight when he saw Jonathan walk through the door. He won’t remember their bedtime stories, their nightly prayers, or going on walks outside. He won’t remember the pride and joy that Jonathan had for him, the look of complete love that he had every time he got to say “this is my son, Liam”. But I remember, and I can’t wait to tell Liam. He loved this little boy so tenderly and strongly at the same time.

I have chosen to put my future in Gods hands. I know his plan is greater than I can imagine. I know he cries when I cry and his heart hurts as mine does. I know he wants his very best for me. I know that he gave me Jonathan for a reason. And now, he’s gone for a reason. I don’t know what that reason is. I know he sees Liam and that he’s going to provide for him. In every area. We don’t always understand why life happens the way it does. And it hurts. It’s incredibly hard to be human. It’s hard to love someone and then have them taken away. It’s hard knowing that you’re going have to explain to a little boy one day why his Daddy isn’t here.

My comfort is found in God. And in remembering Jonathan as a man of God, my best friend, my love, the father of my son. A man who accepted me for who I was. A man who had a servants heart. A man who loved like Jesus did. Jonathan set my standards so high. I know how a man should treat his wife. I know how a man should love his family. I know how a man should treat his children. I know how a man should work. But most of all, I know how a man should love God fiercely. I will continue to thank God for giving me Jonathan, even if it was just for a little while.

I’m not here to preach to you about how when you follow God that it’s going to be a rose garden. It just not that way. There are trials. Trials that make you want to run and hide. But I can tell you this in full confidence. MY God will carry you through. MY God will give you strength you never knew was possible. He gathers up the broken pieces and creates something beautiful, not perfect, and not what you had before. Something different, something  that you look at and say “Only God could have done this.” Because, truly. Only he can take the broken and make it whole. The wounded and make them well. The tears and make them smiles.

I can smile because I know that Jonathan is whole and with Jesus. I can smile because he loved me and Liam. I can smile because Jesus promises me that one day I will see Jonathan again. Until that day, I can smile knowing that more than anything, that’s what Jonathan wanted for me.

 

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28, (ESV)

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Dear Liam

Dear Liam,

I’m pretty sure you know how special you are to me. Since the day you were born, and I had the beautiful opportunity to meet you in your first few moments of taking in the world I’ve treasured you. Maybe it’s your sweet, gentle nature like your dad, and maybe your expressions and eyebrows that say it all just like your mom. Maybe, it’s just you! You are such a special, unique little man! I love you!

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My heart breaks that your daddy left this world last week. I wish you could have known him, and presently enjoy the amazing man that he is. But, he’s in heaven now, and I know his desire is for us to join him there one day. It hurts so deep, and we miss him so, so, so much already. But, then I think about how you can know him. Through the eyes of us who loved and saw him love you.
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One of my favorite memories is the day your mom and dad were married. It was so beautiful. I don’t always cry at weddings, but this one I did. They truly had found the one “that their soul loved.” We had so much fun celebrating. It also showed me a lot about your dad when they went to leave for their honeymoon with their car painted up, and cans tied to the back, and your mom saying to your dad “move over, I want to drive!” Your dad with his big grin happily moved over, beaming over his new wife that he loved every spark and shine of in every way! We laughed and laughed over that memory together afterwards. Your mommy is so full of life, and she loves to take the drivers seat! Your daddy began showing her that he was a loving protector by serving her with joy.  That’s what a strong man does, and your dad was one of the strongest-hearted men ever.  I think you will be, too.

I love how he always cradled you in his arms with that little smile always on his face

I love how attentive he was when others were holding you. He carefully watched to make sure you were happy, safe, and comfortable.

I love how much your mommy and daddy laughed together. The kind of belly-laugh that is contagious.
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I love how your mommy smiled more and more each day as she was married to your daddy. Her happy heart was bursting out more each moment that she lived with his love.

I love how much your mommy could trust your daddy. He loved her without judgement, and she had no fear of being herself.

I love how your daddy loves beautiful things.

I love how hard he worked with your mommy to make your home beautiful.

I love how your daddy always wanted to help. On one of his only summer days off of work he came with friends and your mommy to enjoy a day swimming at the creek. He saw that I was painting at Nannas, and he quickly changed his plans and grabbed a paintbrush. We fought briar bushes, and mosquitoes and he never complained — in fact he showed me that he had just as much fun serving as he would’ve relaxing. He made me laugh, too.

I love how the night you were born he was there every second. Every second. He was stroking your mommys hair, and holding her hand. For hours he wouldn’t leave her side. In fact, in one moment I saw him quickly place your mommys hand in Aunt Moriahs hand to run to the potty! That was the only time I saw him leave her side. He wanted to be with her, and experience it all. He was so excited to meet you! When you arrived his smile lit up the room. His son. The wonderful Mr Liam.

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What a gift that Jonathan McBride is your daddy! What a gift that was given to this world through The Love of Jonathan and Abigail McBride in YOU! What a gift that he was able to look into your eyes and fall in love with the specialness of you! I’m so grateful.

You are loved, Liam. So very much, straight from the start, completely from a big heart and forever.

beautiful roads

Think I am ready to start writing again.  I’m so thankful for many of you encouraging me to do so, and your kind words mean so much.  I’m grateful.  I’m working on my classes presently, cat snuggled at my feet, coffee in hand, and I’m reflective of the past week…. Seems like the right time to start.  🙂

It’s been a tough week.  It’s been a beautiful week.  It has been all that is in between tough and beautiful.  It’s been a week full of the great joys watching children laughingly running with the clouds, teenagers teasing and their passion for life, and then it’s been a sad week grieving a holiday with the loss of loved ones whose presence was not there.  Emotions rising and falling over the days that have passed as I look over my shoulder, yet the Light that faces me as I walk ahead.

IMG_2242While having a chat with my mom this morning, she stated a simple, but life-altering truth… She said, “If we aren’t thankful for what we have, then there will never be joy for us.”  Can we be grateful for all the bits that our lives hold today?  My ups and downs… my past roads…. my pain… my falls… my days of delight… All part of the journey that has led me to today, and all part of the same journey that leads me into tomorrow.

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We wake up, and we face each day with the tools in our belt given to us on our journey for this day.  We can be thankful for them, and the experience that provided each one.  We can embrace the opportunity to take the next “right steps,” and we can believe the Love given when we stumble.  How beautiful that we have only to look out the window, and see gifts to help us breathe.  Rest, my friend.  If your day holds a celebratory dance, enjoy!  If your day has a bit of fog and messy rain… reach out, and be loved.  Life is precious.  You are precious.

“Gratitude is a continual celebration of life.”

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