Can we please get to the good part? We are tired. Once again you have forced the world to grieve and we are tired. Recession and racism are at an all-time high. We are tired. At the same time disease and natural disasters are taking over the world. We are tired. In less than 9 months our culture has lost Kobe Bryant, Naya Rivera, Andre Harrell, John Lewis, Little Richard, and now Chadwick Boseman. In all of this calamity, we looked to these people for a break of entertainment, great music, or leadership. Now they are gone as well. The sad part is I omitted several names on that list for the sake of brevity. We are tired. You didn’t care about race or political beliefs. 2020, you have been an equal opportunity supply of grief and pain to anyone breathing. I never thought I would have anything in common with the current President, but you made it happen. We both have buried siblings this year. You hit everyone!
2020 I don’t hate you, but you seem to hate us. You keep hurting us. Yet, I still have an ounce of hope left for you. You must have some purpose. I feel it’s appropriate to quote the late Chad Boseman.
“Sometimes you need to feel the pain and sting of defeat to activate the real passion and purpose that God predestined inside of you.”
– Chadwick Boseman
2020, we have all felt the pain and defeat of this year so I am holding on to the hope that you are the year of activation!
The one who created and controls 2020… To the one that could stop all this pain the world is facing, I have some questions for you. 2020 couldn’t answer so I’m hoping you can. Why? What are you trying to get us to see or do? What lesson are we not learning? I guess I’m just trying to say what is happening? The world is hurt, angry, confused, divided, and in pain. This world is grieving…
I’m only going to ask of you one thing that to others may be too simple. Please have mercy on us because we are tired. In order to make it another day of 2020, we need your love, peace, grace, and most of all, your mercy! Our broken hearts are in your hands and we desperately need to heal without the worry of another blow.
You told us to be anxious for nothing, but in everything give thanks.
Despite the horror we’ve experienced in 2020 God I thank you that you have kept us this far. I know you will carry us through. I thank you that you are still God and still in control. We have no idea what you are doing in this season but we set our hope on you! We trust you!
This is the hope and the faith that I have in you. In Jesus name,
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Today makes six months since my sister passed away. I’m going to try and be as transparent as possible today. This is the longest that I have ever been away from her and the forever part of grief is starting to kick in. Some days I have no idea how I have made it this far. Other days I know it was nothing, but the grace of God that gave me the strength to make it. And then there were dark days where I was mad at God for making seem so strong. The word strong has been like a curse word to me at times. It just does not seem like the appropriate word to use to describe me. I have a strong feeling that it’s because I am the exact opposite.
I am weak.
Those have been the most powerful words that I could utter within the last 6 months. About a month before Kayla died I decided that since God was going to break my heart and take my sister, everything that I felt was His problem. I was going to leave all of my feelings and emotions to Him because this was His doing. In order to do that I had to be vulnerable enough to say “I am weak.” I knew that was something only He could fix. I knew that His word said that in my weakness, His strength was made perfect. The word of God also teaches that God increases strength to those that have no might. In any other situation, I would not be ok with not being strong, but I knew that this journey had nothing to do with being strong. This journey does not require your strength, but it does require endurance.
Grief + Hope=Endurance
My family and I realized yesterday that we have made it through some really hard times in the past year. This conversation made me go back to my original question on why I should be grieving with hope. Maybe that’s what this is all about. This whole journey is about endurance, not strength. Let me just put this out there boldly- telling someone to be strong will not help them grieve. All that does is make them feel worse for feeling weak. Instead, try telling them that they can make it. Because they can. I hear you saying, “But don’t I need to be strong in order to endure?” No! Focus on being humble and submitted to God enough to say “I’m weak and need your strength.” The bible encourages us to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. He comes with the strength so that you can endure.
Warning: I’m about to say something that will mess up someone’s favorite bible verse. Now there is a famous saying in the church that goes “The race is not given to the swift nor the strong, but to those that endure until the end.” While that may be true, it’s not in the bible. The saying comes from two scripture put together. Here’s what the bible actually says about the race, or in our case the journey, and endurance.
11 I returned and saw under the sun that—
The race is not to the swift,
Nor the battle to the strong,
Nor bread to the wise,
Nor riches to men of understanding,
Nor favor to men of skill;
But time and chance happen to them all.
-Ecclesiastes 9:11 NKJV
But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
-Matthew 24:13 NKJV
These two scriptures still bless me although they are not what I was taught for years.
Ecclesiastes 9:11 teaches me that:
My race or journey of grief didn’t happen to me only. My family and I are not being punished by God through grief. It was just our time and chance to go through it.
No amount of strength, wisdom, understanding, or skill can make this any less painful or help me avoid it.
Matthew 24:13 just encourages me to endure. In other words, just keep going.
Grief Plus Hope looks like Grace
In the month of July, I could not bring myself to make a post. I was worn out. The entire month of June I did my best to celebrate Kayla. Once I finished her celebration on her birthday, June 25th, I needed a break. And instead of doing things for other people, I took that break. During that time I gave myself the grace to cry more, to sleep more, to laugh more, and most importantly to love myself more. The first step was to release me from my own pressures to post every month. This started as a place for me to heal and if someone else was blessed, it was an extra special bonus. Somewhere in the process, it flipped and became all about blessing others only. I love that God is able to put purpose to my pain, but I refuse to cause me unnecessary stress because I’m ignoring my mental and physical health.
Giving myself the grace to grieve required me to be humble enough to say that I am weak again. James 4:6 reads: But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Now if God who is all-powerful and all-knowing can give me grace why can’t I give myself grace? I decided while in the middle of my grace month that after July I would still apply grace daily. Grieve comes in waves and sometimes the waves hit differently. Our emotions, willingness to do things, temperance, and mental capacity may change for that wave. That does not mean I’ve messed my journey and I’m a failure. That’s the blessing about this journey- I can always get back on track with grace and hope.
I pray that something you read today helped you go a little further in your journey. If you do not know the God that I speak of and would like to invite Him your heart do not hesitate to reach out in the comment section or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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The word essential has been embedded in the world’s vocabulary over the past 2-3 months. It has been used mainly to describe which occupations are absolutely necessary during this time of a deadly pandemic. These jobs must be of vital importance to the wellbeing or upkeep of the most critical needs of society. Everything that was not deemed essential had to either shut down or run remotely from each employee’s home. As a teacher, I found myself in this category which gave me time to think about what else should be deemed as essential. Hope was the only answer for three major reasons: I had nothing left, I had to overcome, and I wanted to please God.
I had to nothing left…
After my sister died, many people surrounded me with love. All the sympathy and love in the world could not fix the void I felt. What I didn’t know was that I should’ve enjoyed it because the sympathy love wouldn’t last long. I was quickly met with two heartbreaks back to back. The heartbreak came from people who knew how fragile my heart was and to me, it seemed like they enjoyed seeing me down. So now within a month, I had lost my sister and almost everyone that claimed they loved me. I felt like I literally had nothing and no one. The only choice in front of me was to have hope. Hope was of vital importance to my wellbeing. I would not have functioned without it. And I had to get back up and at least function.
As I began to function again, I could hear my sister’s voice saying, “Fight back!” My weapon of choice once again was hope. I had to have hope that God allowed all of that to happen for a reason. I had to have hope that I was strong enough to push past this pain. Shortly after the double heartbreaks, the quarantine began and I really found my hope. Without the quarantine, I would have been forced to be around those that tried to break me about twice a week. My hope is in the fact that God’s timing is perfect and this quarantine gave me time to recover. I will be honest and say that some days I wish those moments would not have happened, but I’m so grateful and thankful to God that He allowed it. I’m becoming stronger each day because of it. Without hope, I would not be able to say that.
I had to overcome…
While reading this some may wonder “Why did you decide to share this and why now? What do you get out of this? Are you trying to embarrass someone?”
The short answer to this is – It’s time to overcome! Please understand that I hate no one! In fact, I praise God for every single person that has been a factor to my heartbreak in 2020! They were an instrumental part of my growth and I thank them for it!
The more biblical answer is quite simple as well. The Bible tells us in Revelations 12:11 that we overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. This was my testimony of the most trying months of my life. I’ll admit that for weeks I felt like those that hurt me, along with the devil and depression, had power over me. I couldn’t defend myself properly in either of the heartbreaking situations and I felt defeated. I had to overcome the dark thoughts I was feeling! The only way I knew how was to add the hope that comes from my covenant with Jesus Christ (the lamb). Then once I had the strength to function again, I had to tell the testimony. My testimony is short and sweet- I made it out and I’m stronger because of it! This is not about anything other than defeating the devil and God getting to glory.
Lastly, I wanted to please God…
Pleasing God is the ultimate goal of life for a believer. It is what we aim to do at all times although we may fall short sometimes. Hebrews 11:6 says “And it is impossible to please God without faith…” Everyone in the Christian faith loves to talk about faith. And it’s all because we want to please God. But there’s one thing we are missing from the equation. Hope! You can’t have faith without hope. It’s essential! Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” So in order for me to please God, I must have faith. And faith is the confidence in what I hope for. I have to have hope!
Hope is essential in order to please God and overcome your situation. I pray that you find the strength to get your hope back. It is vital for you to live a healthy and prosperous life! The ‘My Hope is Essential’ phrase is more than something catchy for a t-shirt. It’s a lifestyle. With every breath I take, I have to add hope in order to not crumble. I want to encourage those that are going through any type of heartbreak to find hope in something and then overcome! It may take a second to find the hope, but when you do, hold on to it and fight for your life back! Then tell someone else! Don’t be afraid or ashamed. Your story could be the thing that helps someone else overcome.
Today I overcome by the words of my testimony. Someone else may overcome by reading these words. I challenge you to overcome this week. Share your testimony of how you have #OvercomeWithHope. Feel free to do it in the comments or on your own social media! You never know who is waiting to hear your story so they can find hope. I would love to read your testimony so make sure you use the hashtag #OvercomeWithHope
God Bless you!
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Today makes 4 months of my grief journey with hope. This month is particularly special in the journey because June is Kayla’s birthday month. On June 25 she will have her first heavenly birthday and I am determined to not be miserable. When saying that my mind immediately goes back to a conversation I had with my mother hours before Kayla died. At this point, we knew she would pass within the next 12-24 hours. I said “I don’t know what’s next for us, but February and June will not be awful months for us the rest of our lives. I will not be miserable!” The opposite of misery is joy.
For June, Grief + Hope = Joy.
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:3 NLT
While joy is a source that God provides, I have to choose to accept the provision. I choose to have joy this month. There are some things in our lives that we have no control over. But with grief, you have options. They are limited yet available. The options are misery or joy! What’s your pick?
I could feel sad that I’m usually planning Kayla’s party and arguing with her about her birthday outfit this time of year. Or I could allow my source of hope, God, fill me with joy knowing that Kayla is the happiest she could ever be in heaven. With that joy, I can find new ways to celebrate my sister. With that joy, I can be happy about Kayla’s first heavenly birthday in her new body! Many people warned me about the first days with grief, the first birthday or holiday without your loved one. I’ll be honest and say I was worried about emotions overtaking me and depression having its way again. But having hope literally shifts my perspective and pulls on my creativity. So when adding hope this month my mind went into overdrive! Who says I can’t still throw her a party?
Hope looks like a Celebration
My family and I have decided that each day from June 5 until June 25 we are going to celebrate Kayla by doing something she loved or that reminds us of her.
We would like for you to join in on the fun the week leading up to Kayla’s Birthday! I am happy to declare the week of June 18- June 25 Kayla Week! It would mean the world to me to see those who support me on this journey and/or who loved my sister to celebrate with me!
Kayla Week goes as follows:
June 18: Selfie Day
Post a selfie that you had with Kayla or someone near and dear to your heart!
June 19: Treat Day
Kayla loved her snacks and sweet treats. Find something sweet to eat in her memory.
June 20: Shoe Day
If you knew Kayla, then you knew she was serious about her shoes specifically, Converse. Post a picture of you in your favorite pair of shoes.
June 21: Be Bright Day
Wear something yellow or extra bright!
June 22: Dance Day
If music was playing, Kayla was dancing no matter what genre! Have a dance in Kayla’s honor.
June 23: Movie Day
Kayla loved to go to the movie theater. Watch your favorite movie!
June 24: Smile Day
Do something to make someone else smile!
And finally the big day – June 25th Celebration Day
Our family is celebrating at our neighborhood lake with a balloon release in honor of Kayla. Although we can’t invite everyone who loved Kayla. We ask that you release balloons or visit a river or lake that day. Kayla loved the water and her favorite thing to do on vacation was to sit on the dock and watch the ocean.
If you plan on participating any days of the Kayla Week please post your pictures and video to social media using the hashtags #KaylaWeek and #GriefPlusHope
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Grief + Hope does not equal sadness
This week I missed my sister like crazy! I grieved but I was never sad! At first, I found this strange but then I had to ask myself why does my grieving have to equate to sadness or tears especially if I’m adding hope.
I feel someone asking, “ What if all I have is grief? I can’t find hope today!”
Well, let’s just look at the word grief. When researching things I don’t understand I will always search two places: the Bible and the dictionary.
According to the dictionary grief is:
1a: deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement
his grief over his son’s death
b: a cause of such suffering
life’s joys and griefs
I hear you as you are reading saying “Wait! Suffering does sound like sadness.”
Now let’s look at the Bible for suffering:
“In his kindness, God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.”
1 Peter 5:10 NLT
3 things are promised to you through 1 Peter 5:10
Your suffering will be removed “So after you have suffered a little while…”
Your spirit will be restored “He will restore, support, and strengthen you…”
Your structure will be rebuilt “And He will place you on a firm foundation.”
My hope is attached to the fact that I won’t be disappointed.
I had a moment this week in prayer where I asked God, “Am I living in this bubble of hope that one day is going to pop? Will my hope let me fall?” That same day I was in an amazing virtual bible study of the book of Romans and this scripture came up.
“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Romans 5:5 NKJV
Because of God’s love, your hope will not disappoint you! If you are trying to add hope to your grief I encourage you to accept God’s love for you! He loves us so much that He gave us the Holy Spirit as a comforter. He is ready to lavish and pour His love on us! It’s just up to us to receive it and rest in His comfort.
Accepting His Love
If you don’t know this love of God that I write about and would like to ask Jesus to come into your heart, please don’t hesitate to email me at email@example.com. I would be honored to introduce you to my Savior and the keeper of my soul!
God Bless you!
Remember to grieve with hope.