Come Sit On Our Couch – a marriage devotional

Editor’s Note: This is a guest submission by Bhreagh Rowe. An awesome marriage devotional! 

I think the biggest thing I struggle with is feeling like a crazy person. I literally feel like I am the only person in the world who cries every time I see a baby born on TV, or when Sassy comes over that hill in Homeward Bound or loses it on every time my 4 year old hits that stupid fork on the table and makes another dent. What about when the paper boy throws the paper at the end of my driveway and I can’t NOT not drive over it because its right in my way, or that one dad at my kid’s school who literally takes the stroller out to push his 3 year old the 40 feet to the door. I know, I’m crazy.

There are very few times that I have felt normal or accepted and almost everyone of those times included a cup of tea, a cozy blanket, a comfy couch, a good cry and that one(or two) people who just get me and what I am going through. I can probably count on one hand the amount of times this has happened in my adult life but nevertheless when it happens, it’s beautiful.

Being a mom and wife was the life goal but when the wife and the mom thing fell into my lap I had this feeling of “k, cool, what next?”. I didn’t feel that instant fireworks and crazy attraction to my husband when we first meant and when they placed that little slippery baby into my hands I was more concerned about the pain of what was going on down “there” then those sweet blue eyes. All this to say, it didn’t come easy, naturally or without a lot of bumps and when I say bumps I mean like Everest sized mountains.

So, here I am almost 7 years into wifing and I’m just finally starting to figure a few things out I am not really sure if there was a defining moment that caused this change but I do know there was a big old slap in the face.

There are four people in my marriage, God, me, Daniel and Iris. I know I know, your like “Bhreagh, that’s kinda weird” and 3 years ago I would be like “I know right”.

Whose Iris you may asked? Well Iris is our counsellor, our “don’t pull that crap with me I’m gonna call you out and tell you how it really is” kinda counsellor.

Yes, we have a marriage counsellor.

Iris told me at one of our very first sessions that I wasn’t that great of a wife or a mom and that Daniel was a bit of a jerk (I mean it’s paraphrased a bit but you get the idea right?).

She was totally right.

Our marriage SUCKED before Iris. I mean, we made it look good and all but really we were struggling. We were struggling because we didn’t connect well with each other, we were struggling because we were stressed, we were in competition with each other, we had no mentors or role models, we had hurts, we suffered alone and then we decided to have a few kids cause, why not right?

Remember when I said I always feel like a crazy person? Well during those first 3 (or 4 – 5) years of marriage we went at it alone. We would fight and feel like we were the only people to fight, we struggled and felt like we were the only people who struggled, we were bad parents and felt like the only people who ever made bad parenting choices. We felt like crazy people because no one sat us down on the couch, made us feel like the normal people we are and offered some tissue to go with that cup of tea.

I’m scratching the surface here but do you see where I am going with this right?

Marriage is hard.

Being a family is hard.

Parenting is (SO) hard.

Iris saved us. Well, my husband who was wise enough to seek God, connect us with Iris and then made me go saved us. Iris made me feel crazy because I was. She made me face the hard stuff that was making me crazy and then, with a whole lot of tea and tissues, sat us on her couch and helped us learn the way. Without her even knowing, she opened a huge door for our marriage and family, pushed us through (while we were completely unwilling to go ourselves) and saved us.

So friend, come sit on our couch, I have lots of different types of tea and I am usually out of tissues but have rolls and rolls of toilet paper that you can use to wipe the tears or wipe the face of your spouse after you throw the tea at him in anger (disclaimer – I have never thrown tea at him but there was a tambourine incident) and hear this;

You are a little crazy.

But there is absolutely nothing that you have gone through, you have done, or you have experienced in your marriage and family that will shock or surprise me.

Nothing.

I know your thinking there is something but trust me, I did it or I get it.

We are all imperfect human beings trying to live, love and co-exist with another imperfect human being who, more than likely, is the COMPLETE opposite of you all while raising little humans who yell, scream and freak out out whenever I take that stupid fork away from him. We find ourselves in this big pressure cooker of life and if we don’t stop, sit on that couch and get ourselves some tools for the tool belt it will explode.

So find yourself an Iris.

Then find yourself a good cup of tea, a roll of toilet paper and a comfy couch to breathe out the crazy and breathe in the grace.

Friend, I really hope we can sit on the couch together someday and laugh at all the crazy but for now just know that you don’t have to do crazy alone.

 

Bhreagh is a Jesus follower, wife to Daniel, mom to Maverick and Asher and Salvation Army Officer in Mississauga ON (Canada). She’s a horrible cook, compulsive scheduler, closet reality TV watcher with a heart for the family. Bhreagh’s passion is to see families understand their purpose and live out their God given adventure with as much grace as possible. In her spare time she likes to separate lightsaber fights, attempt to grow veggies in her garden and have date nights by the fire with her husband. 
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Joyfully Abandoned – a devotional

Editor’s note: This is a guest submission by Ann Grace. She has shared her story before – most recently here. Today’s devotional may be hard to get through as it’s very emotional, but powerful. Thank you, Ann.

Is it even possible to be joyful in the midst of feeling abandoned? My life has been filled with my share of feeling abandoned and lonely but these days, I’m once again experiencing it again. My husband of 1 year has left us. No contact. No “I love you”.

Nothing. It’s been almost two weeks of pure grief not knowing whether he will come back or file for divorce. I’m angry. I’m confused and just plain heartbroken. You know, I look back and can say that being widowed at 31 was easier than this! During these hard days, I’m finding rest in my Savior’s arms. I never thought in a million years that I’d have to experience such grief again. The sad part is watching our 5 children relive their “Dad” leaving them. Oh, how my heart aches for their lack of understanding in this fragile situation. Is there joy to experience in this valley of the shadow of death?

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:6–9

After reading this scripture, I’m comforted to know that joy and grief go hand in and. A great example that came to my mind is of my own experiences of child birth. Right now, I am 7 months pregnant and am dreading in some way the day I have to actually go through labor but am joyful knowing that it will all be worth it once I see the beautiful boy the Lord has blessed me with. I can’t see the it now, but I rest knowing it’s coming!

Whatever situation you are in, I know its tough. It’s hard to stay focused on the Lord and trust Him with all your heart… It’s hard to feel comforted by what feels like an “invisible God” when you just need desperately a strong embrace… I know its easier to be upset and fall into a pity party for ourselves but God doesn’t want us to stay there. Of course, He’s not shocked by our emotions and reactions in our trials but we must remember that dwelling on them no longer produces joy. Joy doesn’t have to be smiles and laughter though…It’s ok to have tears, righteous anger and passionate conversations with our Savior. In fact, our Lord wants us to come boldly to His throne and tell Him how we feel and what we are struggling with. But, then He wants us to surrender them ALL, not some, not most, but ALL at His feet. Geez, that’s the hard part. I should know, but I’m telling you, fear and worry will only grow if we choose to hold on to them. They will destroy us! As believers in Christ, we must remember that the Lord is in control of our lives and He promises to carry our burdens on His shoulders while giving us rest. And boy do I need
rest!

“ Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

I pray that we surrender our lives to our Heavenly Father today and let him be our Savior. You may not know how to let go of your fears and pain but simply praying and asking the Lord’s help is the first step. It may take some time to actually change our habits of wanting to worry but don’t give up! The Lord is faithful and He will not abandon us. Hevwill be our husband, lover and father if we let Him.

He will hold us close and carry us when all we hear is silence.

Psalm 68:5 ESV
“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.”
So when you feel beat down and abandoned, trust Christ with your heart and life and He will, in His perfect timing, make everything new.

“And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new’ And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’” Revelation 21:5 ESV

 I am not a blogger, professional writer, photographer or foodie. I’m simply a mother of five (soon to be six) who has walked a road of grief after losing a husband and baby. I continue to encounter a Lord who is faithful. My desire is for others to know Him like I do and let Him be glorified in all I do say and do.
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After the Storm – devotional

Editor’s Note: I thought I would just jump back right into posting devo’s! I have closed submissions for the time being – and you’ll be getting a fresh devotional to read every Monday morning for this fall!

This is a guest submission by Heather Ream. This is somewhat of a follow-up to Heather’s previous post about her mom here. Thank you for sharing, Heather!


My mom has been living in a nursing home now for a little over a year. Most of the time, she’s stable. I’m blessed to be able to write that. Praise you, Lord. Most of the time, she’s stable.


Sometimes, she has a short series of days that culminate with a episode of psychosis. First, she’ll refuse all medication. The staff cannot force her to take her pills, and only some of her medicine is available in an injectible form. Next, she might suffer with insomnia that night and may or may not sleep. By the next morning, she will refuse food or a change of clothes. She will adamantly proclaim that she is dying along with a list of other delusional thoughts.

Eventually, when the staff has done all they can, the doctor will be called and Mom will be given an injection of a strong, calming drug. It’s only then that she will be able to sleep, and the cycle will be broken…this time.

I usually receive a phone call from a nurse early on the second day informing me of what’s happened. Each one of them is compassionate, and they carefully explain to me everything they did to try to help or cajole my mother. Often, they are embarrassed and frustrated they couldn’t do more. However, this is our reality. My mom has a serious mental illness compounded by dementia.

After Mom’s had a tough run of days, my next visit usually consists of straightening her room and putting everything back in order. Her room is cleaned regularly, but it is impossible to keep up with the chaos when Mom’s having a crisis.

Last week, after her most recent difficult day, my husband and I brought her a burger and fries to enjoy while I started the cleanup. Socks and clothes were strewn around her bed and underneath it. Her shoes lay in a jumbled mess. A patriotic sign had fallen off the wall and landed in the corner.

But the medicine had finally done its job. She finished her meal without complaint and let me change her into pajamas. The nurse and I helped her into bed, and she fell asleep almost immediately. After I tidied her room, I wet a washcloth with warm water and wiped the sleepies out of her eyes – another task she had refused the nurses.

Another storm, another mess that needed to be cleaned up. The tears came as I thought of us, our roles reversed. How many times had my mother wiped my face or hands as I slept soundly, after a meal? How many mismatched socks did she gather from my bedroom floor, careful not to wake me during her early morning chore time before work?

Am I really helping her, Lord? Is this all that’s left? My heart is breaking, I prayed. I thought of our Jesus, chiding the disciples in the boat as the storm raged around them.

“Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” he asked. (Mark 4:40, NIV)

My heart swelled as I remembered all the Lord had done for my family the past year. True, this was a hard day. But tomorrow would be easier.

As I stroked my mother’s hair back into place with my hand, I contemplated the countless Godly mothers all over the world, all throughout history. They were the dear ones who had cleaned up innumerable storms the same way my mother had done for her children. I thought of us, the daughters, once their students and now the experts. What a beautiful gift, to be numbered among those multitudes.


Storms will always come, my friends, but have faith! Sometimes, what seems like a deluge is merely a torrential downpour of love, from our Heavenly parent.

Heather Ream is an emerging writer from Knoxville, Tennessee. The Lord
blessed her with an incredible husband, Ben, and a joyful desire to serve
others in her community. You can follow her East Tennessee adventures at
www.runningtowardthefire.blogspot.com

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It’s Time to Be Kind to Ourselves

its time to be kind

Editor’s Note: This is a guest VIDEO devotional by Betsy Pendergrass. I’m so excited to share it with you today! 

The scripture Betsy is talking about today is right below. I always like to see the scripture in writing, too 🙂

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12: 30-31 (ESV)
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Balancing Motherhood

devotional diva

Balancing Motherhood

Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Tiah Lewis. Devotional Diva Moms, do you ever relate to that feeling of not getting enough done in a day? I certainly do! Be encouraged today. 

“It’s Bigger Than Your Accomplishments”-Balancing Motherhood

Many of times I would find myself asking, what have I accomplished today? Sound familiar? Have you ever felt that way? Often we are moving so fast in our lives with daily schedules, kid drop offs, meetings, kids sports, the list goes on, only to feel at the end of the day that we have not accomplished anything and are still holding the same list of To Do Items we started with at the beginning of the week!

For me, this was a frustrating and daunting feeling, until I experienced a shift in my mindset. I want to share how my perspective changed on how I now define accomplishments in my day to day life.

I too myself had an exhausting list of to do’s when I would start my week. It included my normal school/daycare drop offs, laundry, cleaning house, preparing meals, running errands, practice drop offs, doctor visits, you name it. Many days felt like a blur and included the same mundane activities day in day out.
Then I began asking myself to define accomplishments. Well of course the standard definition is: something that has been achieved successfully and that’s when it hit me! I was accomplishing great things every day! I was spending quality time with my daughters, making memories, and listening to their gibberish unclear chatter, realizing I was there in the moment watching their vocabulary increase by the minute. I accomplished talking with my oldest daughter about how she felt about going into middle school, and any fears or worries she may have, and we know how it can be difficult to pull information out of a middle schooler. I was there to pray with her, ease her worries and anxieties and to provide comfort. And I managed to sneak in lunch dates with my husband when forcing him to break away from his work computer so that we could just catch up and chat about our ever-changing lives, just he and I.
Now ask yourself whose measure of accomplishments are we attempting to live up to? Could it be the false expectations of others of a mother, especially one blessed to stay at home with her children? Yes the expectations are false! One’s work day isn’t an 8-hour shift and all our tasks will not get completed during this time. We work countless “overtime” hours late into the evenings and even early morning hours. Now go ahead, give yourself credit, I’ll wait! You are accomplishing many great things every day. I am very thankful that in these moments I was able to stop and smell the roses. I realized that I was living in my accomplishments right where I was supposed to be without worry about the day or weeks to come. Here are some encouraging words about worrying.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34) NIV.”

Be blessed and go out and accomplish great things today! 


Tiah Lewis is a stay at home mom and author. She enjoys being a wife and mom to her four beautiful girls. The recommitment of her life to Jesus Christ began four years ago and she hasn’t stopped being in awe by the power of the living word and her desire to share it with the world. Follow Tiah: @Tiahlewisauthor

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Life is Chaos

Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Monica Braun. Love this mom life devotional! Thanks, Monica!

Life is chaos.

I am a working mother to a 15-month-old, my son named Danny.  I am pregnant, and expecting in July. Let’s just say that our lives are a little, um, messy.

The kitchen is usually disheveled. Dishes and sippy cups are consistently piled in the sink. The dishwasher is full on most days from making dinner and cleaning it up and doing it all over again the next evening. 

The leftovers from my grandma’s pasta recipe that I made are dripping all over the oven and the delicious red sauce is oozing all over little Danny’s face.

There are permanent crumbs on the floor, which resemble dried pasta. They seem to be painted on the carpet under the highchair where Danny eats.

When he is not in his high chair, he is crawling on the floor trying to eat his leftover dinner.

He must have really liked that pasta.

As such, sweeping and vacuuming have been added to the never-ending to-do list.

And the pacifier. As soon as I give it to him to appease him, he swiftly throws it on the floor, forcing me to make several trips to the sink every day to sanitize it. It seems as though what is ‘pacifying’ him is making a game out of his ‘pacifier.’

I remind myself that he is not trying to make me run laps around my house on purpose.  

Not to mention the new baby gear scattered all around the house

as we prepare and welcome home another little bundle of joy. The new baby bottles, pacifiers, and breast pump parts are scattered on the counter, waiting to be washed and used for baby number two. 

And then there is the laundry that needs to be washed. All. The. Time.

The list of chores makes me want to throw in my dishtowel, crawl upstairs in bed, and forget the chaos that ensues around me.

I feel helpless, overwhelmed, frustrated.

And that friend who texted me last week? I forgot to call her back because I was so busy.

How I miss the long conversations over wine that we used to have.

It seems like no matter how much we clean the house or try to check off our never-ending to-do lists, we just cannot catch up. Ever.

Is this a cruel cycle of events? Like a video game determined for us to fail at the end?

And are we supposed to win this game?

Life is messy. Relationships are messy. We are inherently flawed.

Before I throw in my dishtowel, I consider that we are not supposed to do it all or have it all together. If that were the case, would we need God?

Jesus said, “Come to me all ye that are burdened and heavy laden and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28.

Jesus is our refuge and our rock. He wants to take all of the burdens from us, big and small. So, instead of trying to control our messy lives, we should try to surrender it to Him.

Now, this doesn’t mean that we should sit lazily on the couch as the leftover pasta dinner dries on the floor, but it does take the pressure off of having to be perfect.

Jesus doesn’t want us to be perfect. He doesn’t want our lives to be wrapped up in a tidy little box with a bow on top. He wants us to embrace the chaos of life: the joys, the sorrows, the unpredictable turn of events. He wants us to be present in these moments as we trust in Him. Because this is life, and life is messy. Along with our house. 

As we embrace the chaos, joy abounds.

So when I have an urge to clean sporadically or feel guilty about an unanswered text from a friend, I try to shrug it off, embrace the chaos, and hold on during this wild ride called life.

No matter where the ride leads us next, Jesus will be there to help us land safely. We cannot lose the game with Him by our side. Victory has already been won for us.



Monica Braun has a bachelor’s degree in English from Michigan State University and a master’s in education from Aquinas College. She teaches High School English in Racine, Wisconsin, and is an aspiring writer. She has one son and is expecting another! She is a follower of Jesus Christ. (picture is attached below).Facebook: @embracingjesus Twitter: @monicambraun 

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Daddys Home

daddys home

Daddy’s Home

(Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Holly McConnell. I can’t say I didn’t relate to Holly’s mom life devotional, Daddy’s Home. It is such a sigh of relief when my husband is actually home from work!)

 

It’s that sigh of relief when you hear the garage door open and the kids start jumping up and down or when he texts and says, “be home soon”. It’s a moment like no other. Your partner, your love, your friend, your help…he’s home.

 

To me, it’s a wonderful feeling, not only because he’s off work,  but he’s home!!!

 

Vaughn’s job has always been challenging for me. When we didn’t have children it wasn’t as bad. He would work 8:00-5:00 most days and it was a normal schedule. After Wade, his work changed. It’s a great thing! He has moved up in the company and deserves every promotion he has worked for. He is a hard worker and dedicated to his job. However, this requires more hours and more stress.
He works hard! He travels out of town most weeks and is gone two, sometimes three days a week.  I know I’m not the only one out there….right? I know there are men and women who work shift work, are on call, who work straight days, who sacrifice holidays, and time with their children. I wish I could wave my magic wand and all the mommy’s and daddy’s could be home together all the time. I wish it was that simple…However, it’s not reality.

 

Before having Wade, I read the book Power of a Praying Wife and did the study (Editor’s Note: Devotional Diva affiliate link). If you haven’t read it and you are married or soon will be…go get yourself a copy. It put things into perspective for my prayer life for Vaughn. I knew I needed to pray for him, but this laid it out so beautifully and took you through how to pray for your husband fully and completely. It opened my eyes! Two kids later, I struggle. I focus more on them sometimes. But, I pray for my husband. I pray for him to have wisdom and strength to get through his work day. I pray for him to be kind and respectful. I pray for him to give advice and be a mentor for younger and older employees. I pray he is an example of Christ while he is at work. I pray for him to strive in his job daily,to make wise decisions, and to be a light for those who might not know Jesus. I pray! I pray! I pray! I pray for my husband.

 

Something I have been doing lately is praying with scripture. God gave us a guide book, a life book…use it!!!

 

Psalms 90:17
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yet establish the work of our hands.
Prayer–Jesus, may the favor of our God be upon my husband. Please bless and establish the work of his hands and heart each day.
Ephesians 4:1-2
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one in love.

Prayer–God, Please help my husband to live in accordance to you will. Please allow him to be humble, gentle, allow him to have patience in stressful times, allow him to love people as you have asked us to.

I grumble a lot..ummm I do, about his work schedule.

 

It can be hard some days when he doesn’t get home till 7:00 and he left at 6:00 a.m. or earlier. But, I need to remember that God has blessed us and allows Vaughn to work. This job has allowed me to be a part time stay at home mom.. and truthfully I’m mostly just a stay at home mom. It’s the biggest blessing God and Vaughn could have gave me as a mom and wife.

 

So, I’m going to try to grumble less and pray more and remember that God hears my prayers. He hears my heart and my desires. He knows how much I love Vaughn and how much I want him home so we can be complete again. But, I’m also going to pray for myself that God would take this grumbling and negativity that I have sometimes towards his work schedule. I pray that I would speak kindness, have understanding, and love. And I pray that Satan would flee because you know…he’s the one placing those thoughts in my head. So, NOT TODAY SATAN!!! And not tomorrow either…pray for those husbands…and tell them to pray for you too!!

 

Holly McConnell is from Northeast Tennessee where she resides with her husband and two kids. She serves in her church as the women’s ministry leader and assistant youth director. She writes weekly on her blog at www.honestmom87.com about connecting scripture and words from God to mom life, adventures, and battles that she personally faces. Instagram @hollymcconnell87

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime. If you’d like to join our email list to receive new posts, please follow this link.
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Why I am saying ‘Just Because’ a lot more these days

Why I am saying ‘Just Because’ a lot more these days…

(Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by veteran Diva Rachel Myers. Love Rachel’s ‘just because’ outlook in this season of her life! Be encouraged by this devotional.)

My husband and I recently took the kiddos up to NYC for the day. We did not have any grand Broadway tickets, fancy dinner, nor high-end shopping spree in mind (well… it might have been in my mind, but that’s the only place it was). We simply gathered the kiddos into the car on any empty Saturday morning and headed from the Philly Suburbs up to NYC… ‘Just Because.’

My family is doing a lot more ‘Just Becauses’ lately. I used to be very good about taking the kiddos places when they were younger. As my kiddos have gotten older, school, church, sports, dance, and electronics have crept into our daily lives and we tend to have less family outings.

Yet, last year my world stopped in May as my 100% healthy, bursting with life 73-year-old dad turned gravely ill within 24 hours, suffered dearly and took his last breath 3 months later due to a rare version of the Shingles Virus. Dad was my pillar of support, beloved best friend, moral compass and best babysitter ever. Since my mom has Alzheimer’s, I was honored to be the one by dad’s side every single day of his battle. Dad and I had a bond like no other, and I truly believe that God blessed us both with the gift of those 3 months to help us each endure the impending loss.

Prior to becoming ill, dad would jump at any opportunity to go on an adventure no matter how great or small. After he worked tirelessly to provide for his family, he had just a moment to relish retirement. Dad was willing to book any next vacation just as quickly as he would throw on his brown loafers when asked to grab a quick ice cream with the grandkiddos. Once dad fell ill, he never could use his body nor mind, again. He never left a hospital nor rehab facility, and he most certainly had no more outings.

It is so hard to not take things for granted. It’s human nature. I preach to my own kiddos that they take so much for granted as I look around their rooms, backyard, lunch boxes, schools, churches and more! Yet, I too, take so, so, so much for granted. I get annoyed when my K-cup machine water vessel is blinking, and I must walk all the way over to the facet to refill before my freshly brewed coffee can arrive in my cup within 60 seconds. Yet, I watched dad lose his ability of mind to make coffee, hands to refill water, legs to walk, and mouth to swallow. Dad was just one of the hundreds of patients that I came across during his battle in the hospitals and continue to encounter as I walk the halls of mom’s long-term care living facility. Both dad and mom are not the only ones enduring a state of without.

I continually refer to the experience of dad’s illness as ‘game-changing’. It has made an imprint on me and I am forever changed. I WISH I could walk a life where I continually feel so blessed and grateful for every breath, moment and thought that I take. I WISH I could be that perfect mom that so thankful that she has 2 darling, healthy kiddos even though they are in a moment of bickering and driving me crazy.

Yet, I can say for sure that I look at life oh so differently now. I know that dad is in Heaven and wants me to live this life to the absolute fullest and embrace all of God’s great gifts. So, the ‘Just Because’ outings are happening a lot more in this household these days. Every time I take my kiddos somewhere ‘Just Because,’ I know that I am honoring my dad and feel so very grateful that I have the mental, physical, financial, and spiritual ability to do so.

So, NYC baby… Here we come!!!! We snapped a quick family selfie in front the Hudson, let my youngest run in the water fountain, grabbed embarrassingly, huge, street vendor pretzels, headed to Central Park, purchased pounds of candy from Dylan’s Candy Store, and wrapped up with a delicious dinner at the famous Angelo’s Pizza. All of this… ‘Just Because.’

I bet that this special NYC memory would not have been made prior to the death of my dad. I would have let that Saturday go, and got a few extra loads of laundry finished. I now thank God every day for the ‘just Becauses’. I make an intentional effort to fill our lives with special blessings and more importantly have fun in the simplest of moments, as it is the ultimate way to honor my beloved dad and praise God for His great glory.

I transitioned from Corporate America to stay home with my kiddos, and recently received my Masters in Education to teach at my church PreK. I suffered the horrific loss of my beloved dad this past year, and continue to walk the journey of caring for my mom with Alzheimer’s. Despite my difficult times, I feel more connected to the Lord than ever. I feel called to find my purpose, make a difference, and foster a sense of community in God’s love that will lead, inspire and nurture myself as well as others. Dealing with the loss of a parent, caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, navigating through long-term care living facilities, raising a Christ based family within the everyday community, and deciding if I want to go to Barre or Yoga are just a few of the pieces of the puzzle in my life right now.

 

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime. If you’d like to join our email list to receive new posts, please follow this link.

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Working it Out

Working It Out

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Lois Robinson. This is a great testimony of faith and following God’s lead!]

I got married at a young age – 18 to be exact. My husband, who was the pastor’s son, and I had been dating for a couple of years and we knew that we were following God’s plan for our lives. We were planning to get married one year later but felt God pushing us to bring the date one year closer. My parents were not happy about this change, but we agreed to go forward with the plans.

Our wedding day turned out to be perfect and we were so thrilled to be joined together. We visited Paris, France for our honeymoon and when we returned to Long Island, NY, we moved into our little one bedroom rental house.

We visited my parents a few days later to give them gifts that we had brought back from our trip and left. If I had known what was about to unfold perhaps I might have done things a bit differently.

A couple days after, I received a call from my sister telling me that our dad had passed away. He had collapsed and had a heart attack. I was in total shock as my father had no known sickness or disease other than the fact that he was overweight.

When I was finally able to get the pictures from my wedding, I cherished them more than ever because they are the last pictures I have of my father. If my husband and I had waited the extra year like we had originally planned, I wouldn’t have had him to walk me down the aisle.
A year later I got pregnant and my husband’s mother became very sick with cancer. We were frequently visiting the hospital and praying for her healing but God called her home and she didn’t get to see her expected grandchild.

It was at this point that my husband became really burdened about his calling in life. He wanted God’s direction and wanted to be totally sure before stepping forward. Everyone expected him to be a pastor but he wanted God to direct him in this. He went to work one day and a stranger began to speak to my husband about things he could not have known. This brought a change and my husband took this as God’s way of speaking to him.

My husband began to assist his father in the ministry by preaching when his father was ill. There were days when his father could not get out of bed.

We had two young children at this time. Our first child was a boy and our second was a girl. We were happy and had been married for 5 years now. The state of Pennsylvania had become our home as the cost of living on Long Island had become very high.

It was only a couple of months later that my husband’s father passed away and we were to bury another parent. Our lives had seemed to turn upside down and filled with grief with the passing of our parents.
Yet, God was working to prepare my husband and I for the calling He had placed on our lives. In 2010 our lives changed yet again as my husband became the pastor of the church and it is here that we serve His people. No one could have known what the future held but God was preparing us and holding us for “such a time as this.”As my 30th birthday approaches, I look back and see that God had called us long before we realized it. He gave us the strength to withstand it all: the trials, the grief while raising our young family. God will also give you the strength to bring you through whatever you have to face in this life.

As a pastors wife, mom of 3 young kids, student, and blogger, I certainly have a busy schedule! I am passionate about helping other Christian women improve their marriage and family relationships which is why I started my blog called Loftforum: Living Our Faith Together.

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Glad You’re Here (I Guess)

Glad You’re Here (I Guess)

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Heather Ream. I really resonated with this devotional because my mother also had to care for my grandmother before she was put in a nursing home. It is hard work. Thanks for sharing your story, Heather!]

I’m big on boundaries.  Growing up in poverty with a single parent in a dysfunctional household demanded it.  My home is neat to the point of severity.  I have a highly edited contacts list – few people reside there.  I follow a strict diet to maintain my weight and health.  My social calendar is sparsely populated so that I may rest after work, and it is scheduled months in advance.   And nothing – nothing –  makes me stamp my (somewhat) dainty Southern foot harder than an uninvited guest.  Unless, of course, it’s an uninvited guest I fear will never leave.

Sweet sisters, I’m sure it’s obvious that my routine rigidity is borne from the lack of control I felt as a child.  It haunts me to this day, and I continually struggle with trying to out-equip the Lord.  It’s not that I don’t trust the Lord – I do!  (Well, some of the time.  I just want to make sure that in case He forgets about me, I’m prepared.)

I am painfully aware that one of our most cherished duties as Christians is to show love, patience, and largesse in our homes, even when it’s inconvenient or comes at a difficult time.  After all, Peter exhorts us to

“offer hospitality without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9, NIV).”

Without. Grumbling.  Impossible for me!

However, all things are possible with God, even the things we wish weren’t possible.

Recently, my mother was diagnosed with vascular dementia following a series of mini-strokes.  We knew something was wrong, yet it was still a shock to hear this from her doctors.  She has rapidly declined, and my husband and I began the long process of enrolling her in a program that would help pay for a nursing home.

She was unable to continue living independently, and we could not afford 24-hour home care for her, so that left only one choice – she had to move in with us while we awaited approval, a process that could take months.

She had to move into our small house filled with delicate figurines and hospital corners, every item carefully chosen and crafted to be efficient and lovely.  Mom has never been one who radiates the delicate side of femininity, so I dreaded the inevitable destruction of my home and the complete upheaval of my household, further compounded by her illness.

I am not a gardener.  I find no pleasure in it.  The family who lived in our home previously must have been master horticulturists, however.  Despite my deliberate attempts to remove the bounty they planted, once the warm Tennessee spring begins, a bumper crop of sunny daffodils and vibrant gladioli appear.  A stubborn magenta rose vine grows up the latticework no matter how many times I lop off the plant.  Each time I do, I’m fascinated (and irritated) by the healthy green stalk that re-appears.

I am reminded that I have been treating my spiritual life the same way – ignoring the beauty and growth that exists in a situation that our Lord gives to me, and instead choosing to recklessly shear in a manner that I think is best for me.  It would be so much easier (and much more obedient!) to learn to co-exist in a new way.  Isn’t that the heart of hospitality? 

Becoming Mom’s caretaker has indeed cut me to my proverbial quick, and my house now stays messy and cluttered.  The paperwork, doctors’ appointments, bathroom emergencies, constant reassurances, and food management seem never-ending.  However, I am still standing – both physically on my feet and spiritually on His Word.  I pray our Lord will use this time with my mom to prune my impatience and self-isolation, so that I can focus on the joy of serving Him through serving others in my home. I must remember that the process of sanctification is not easy, but He is the cultivator, and I am the seedling.  It’s true that I will never be a prize-winning specimen, but perhaps I will not become choked with weeds.

Precious Lord, may I snip my brightest buds to send away with others, as a parting gift.

Heather Ream is an emerging writer from Knoxville, Tennessee.  She is happily married to Ben and enjoys serving her church and community.  You are welcome to drop by anytime.

 

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