Suffering Is Not Meaningless

This week in my Bible study, the teaching leader was talking about crisis and suffering in our lives. She said, “God takes us to places we don’t want to go to help us achieve what our heart really wants….to trust Him more. True faith is believing God and courageously acting on His Word.” She also mentioned a chapter in John Piper’s book, “Don’t Waste Your Life” called Don’t Waste Your Suffering. I have read this book and led some teens through the book study….it is excellent! But her mention of this made me think of the following post that my daughter, Katie wrote three weeks after Greg passed away. She speaks such Truth and it is a great reminder for all of us. The song at the end with the John Piper segment is amazing and I have listened to it many times over the last three years. I pray it brings you courage and Hope today in whatever crisis or suffering you may currently be experiencing!

Trusting His Plan,

Today, instead of sharing my own writing, I am sharing a post that my daughter, Katie, posted on her blog. She has been able to express so beautifully some of the things that have just been too painful for me to share. I am so very thankful for all three of my children! They are such blessings to me, especially during this time of grief and sadness. I love you Katie, Emilie and Jacob!

Heartache, Soul-Tears, and the Gospel

Posted on November 14, 2013by Kathryn1209

It’s been a little over three weeks since I lost my dad. On the one hand, it seems like just yesterday that I was walking in the door, going to give him a hug and a kiss. On the other hand, it seems like an eternity. My days go seemingly quick, as I’m busy with school, work, and friends. But the nights? Sometimes the nights are hard. Sometimes the nights are horribly, painfully hard.

In the quiet hours, that’s when the darkness seems to creep in. Flashbacks come, images burned in my brain that I just can’t seem to erase. I walk through the ICU hallway in my mind, down to that horrible room filled with machines, lights, beeping, whirring. I can still hear the sobbing, see the tears, feel the cruel heartbreak lacing the very air. I breathe it in. It consumes me, consumes all of us. My voice plays over in my mind, choking out my final words to my dying father. “I love you, Dad. You were the best I could have ever asked for. Thank you. I love you, I love you, I love you.” I hear the deafening silence following his unresponsiveness. I watch as my mom, sister, brother, grandparents, aunt, uncle, cousins, and friends all enter that ominous hallway, taking their turns to say their last words. I lay my head against Dad’s chest, his heart beating slower and slower. I hold his hand, squeezing, desperately trying to cling to every last bit of life. I stare at my family’s faces. I see my mom, watching the love of her life take his last breaths. I see my siblings, bawling as life fades. I see my family, surrounding a son, brother, and uncle that they love. I hear the voice of a fourteen year old boy with his hand on his dad’s chest and tears in his eyes say, “Mom, his heart stopped beating.” The room goes cold. A numb ache consumes me. Just like that, life is snatched away.

Nighttime. Darkness. Scenes replay, flashbacks come. The stomach churns, a nauseous, gut-wrenching grief. A knife, stabbed deep. Salty tears burn and the wounded heart aches. Grief, pain, death- they are no respecter of persons. Yet, in a way, I welcome it. Not that I would ever choose this for myself, but this soul-searing hurt… maybe this is what it feels to be human. To know helplessness and brokenness, to desperately hope that there’s something outside of me, something bigger than myself. The pain reminds me of just how tragic sin is and death reeks of something absurdly unnatural. It tears at my very soul, screaming, “this is not the way life was intended to be! It’s not right!” And it’s not. Nothing is right about cancer or death and it certainly is not the way life was meant to be lived. Pain reminds me of that truth. Pain leads to desperation; a dark, overwhelming desperation that crushes all of humanity. Soul-wringing hurt reminds me that I and the rest of humanity are on level ground, a battle ground littered with broken hearts, crushed dreams, and desperate souls. It is only once I begin to grasp this desperation that I can truly appreciate the hope offered in the Gospel.

During Dad’s battle with cancer, whenever I would get frustrated or question why, he would always tell me, “Katie, we don’t get to choose.” He’s right, we don’t get to choose. This is the portion dealt me. I do, however, get to choose how to receive it; fists clenched tight in stubborn ingratitude, or hands open, trustingly receiving whatever the Lord gives? I choose the latter. I choose to embrace the pain, to let it cut deep, to fully hurt. I choose to cry soul-tearing sobs and to breathe in heartbreak. However, I also choose to look up, to let grace kiss my tears away, to let the soul-mender heal, and to hope again. May this be my heart’s cry: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)

This is a song that the Lord has been using to truly speak to my heart and soul. Refuse to ignore the pain. Embrace it and worship God in the midst of it.

Sweet Memories

So thankful for sweet memories on this hard day.

“This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your promise gives me life.” Psalm 119:50

Always Trusting His Plan,

Reading Goal Update: What Have You Been Reading Lately?

It’s been a long time since I posted an update on my reading goal for the year, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading! My goal at the beginning of the year was to read at least one book a month or twelve books total. I surpassed that goal early in the year; I have read 19 books so far this year! I guess I’ll aim higher next year.🙂

My last update was for March and April. Here’s what I read in May, June and July.

In May I read two books:

Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson was a book that I was really excited to read, but I must say it wasn’t as good as I was expecting. I had heard so many great reviews about this book, so I was a bit disappointed. I don’t mean that it was bad…it’s just that I was expecting a five-star and I gave it three stars on Goodreads. Although it wasn’t all that I had hoped for, I still gleaned some good thoughts from it. Here’s the description from Amazon:

Do you ever long for days full of joy and energy—days that bring out the best version of you rather than leave you exhausted? Do you sometimes catch yourself wishing life was more impactful and fulfilling? In a world that’s moving so fast, it’s easy to lose your sense of purpose. So now is the time to make each moment of your ordinary, everyday, beautiful existence count. It’s time to own your life.
Sally Clarkson’s Own Your Life is a breath of fresh air into the life and soul of a busy woman. Like a faithful friend, Sally journeys with you to explore what it means to live meaningfully, follow God truly, and bring much-needed order to your chaos. Each page offers deeply personal, authentic, and practical guidance to help you build an intentional life. Discover what it means to own your life, and dare to trust God’s hands as He richly shapes your character, family, work, and soul.

Running Free by Kate Allatt is about a young woman who suffered a massive stroke which resulted in a condition called “locked-in syndrome”, a condition in which she remained for several months. Although I didn’t think the writing itself was so great, I did find it fascinating and heart-breaking to imagine what it must be like to be “locked in” your own body, unable to communicate with the world around you. I gave this book three stars on Goodreads.

Can you imagine being trapped inside your own body? Able to see and hear everything going on around you but unable to move or speak – the blink of an eye your only way of communicating. Fell-runner and fun-loving mother-of-three Kate Allatt’s life was torn apart when what appeared to be a stress-related headache exploded into a massive brainstem stroke leading to locked-in syndrome. Totally paralysed, she became a prisoner inside her own body. Doctors warned her family she would never walk, talk or swallow or lead a normal life again. But they didn’t know Kate. The words no and never were not in her vocabulary. With the help of her best friends and family she drew on every ounce of her runner’s stamina and determination to make a recovery that amazed medical experts. Using a letter chart, Kate blinked the words “I will walk again”. Soon she was moving her thumb and communicating with the world via Facebook. Eight months after her stroke, Kate said goodbye to nurses, walked out of hospital and returned home to learn how to run again. This is the story of her incredible journey. (from Amazon)

In June, I read two more books:

Five Days At Memorial by Sheri Fink is a nonfiction book about five days in a New Orleans hospital during the time of hurricane Katrina. I found this book very interesting from a medical point of view. As a nurse myself, I can’t even imagine trying to care for patients in such horrendous circumstances. Although I really enjoyed the premise of the book and being able to take a peek into such a catastrophic event, I felt like the author was way too detailed and sometimes seemed to repeat some things. She also jumped around a bit in the story, making it difficult to follow at times. For these reasons, I gave the book three stars. (I probably would have given it 3.5 stars, but I don’t think you can give 1/2 stars on Goodreads.🙂 )

Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink’s landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina – and her suspenseful portrayal of the quest for truth and justice.
In the tradition of the best investigative journalism, physician and reporter Sheri Fink reconstructs 5 days at Memorial Medical Center and draws the reader into the lives of those who struggled mightily to survive and to maintain life amid chaos.
After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths.
Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of health care rationing.
In a voice at once involving and fair, masterful and intimate, Fink exposes the hidden dilemmas of end-of-life care and reveals just how ill-prepared we are in America for the impact of large-scale disasters—and how we can do better. A remarkable book, engrossing from start to finish, Five Days at Memorial radically transforms your understanding of human nature in crisis. (from Amazon)

Book number two for June was The Lake House by Kate Morton. This was my first book by this author and I really enjoyed it. The story is a mystery that takes place in England. It’s told from the vantage point of two different time periods, so it jumps back and forth in time. It’s a long book, just over 600 pages. For some reason it took me a little while to really get into the story, but once I did it moved pretty quickly. I rated it four stars on Goodreads.

Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories.
One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. He is never found, and the family is torn apart, the house abandoned.
Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as a novelist. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old Edevane estate—now crumbling and covered with vines. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever. (from Amazon)

July was my best month for reading…I read four books!

My first book was Audacious by Beth Moore. This was a quick read but, like all of Beth’s books, had a powerful message! One of my favorite quotes from this book is “He (Jesus) does not dispense grace with an eyedropper. He drenches us with it. He does not offer bare existence. He extends life abounding in blessing, power, passion, and purpose. If people told you God was stingy, they didn’t know their Bible.” Isn’t that a great quote?? I gave this book four stars.

Thirty years in the making, Audacious is a deep dive into the message that has compelled Beth Moore to serve women around the globe. Glancing over the years of ministry behind her and strengthening her resolve to the call before her, she came to the realization that her vision for women was incomplete. It lacked something they were aching for. Something Jesus was longing for. Beth identifies that missing link by digging through Scripture, unearthing life experiences, and spotlighting a turning point with the capacity to infuse any life with holy passion and purpose. What was missing? Well, let’s just say, it’s audacious and it’s for all of us. And it’s the path to the life you were born to live. (from Amazon)

My second book in July was The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore. I enjoyed this book…nothing amazing, just a light, interesting, quick-reading novel. I gave it a Goodreads rating of three stars.

Emmalee Bullard and her new baby are on their own. Or so she thinks, until Leona Lane, the older seamstress who sat by her side at the local shirt factory where both women worked as collar makers, insists Emmalee come and live with her. Just as Emmalee prepares to escape her hardscrabble life in Red Chert holler, Leona dies tragically. Grief-stricken, Emmalee decides she’ll make Leona’s burying dress, but there are plenty of people who don’t think the unmarried Emmalee should design a dress for a Christian woman – or care for a child on her own. But with every stitch, Emmalee struggles to do what is right for her daughter and to honor Leona the best way she can, finding unlikely support among an indomitable group of seamstresses and the town’s funeral director. In a moving tale exploring Southern spirit and camaraderie among working women, a young mother will compel a town to become a community. (from Amazon)

Book number three was Nobody’s Cuter Than You by Melanie Shankle. This was a cute, funny book about the friendships of women. I have read one other book by this same author…Sparkly Green Earrings…and I liked it too! I love Melanie’s sense of humor and found myself often laughing out loud! Definitely a fun book! If I could have, I would have given this book four stars. But again, Goodreads doesn’t allow half stars and I reserve five stars for books I really, really love!

There is nothing as precious in life as a friend who knows you and loves you in spite of yourself. Yet over the last couple of decades, we’ve substituted the joy of real friendship with cheap imitations. We settle for “community” on Facebook and Twitter and a series of text messages that allow us to communicate with someone without the commitment. We like each other’s beautifully filtered photos on Instagram and delude ourselves into believing we have a community. But real friendship requires effort. It’s showing up, laughing loud, and crying hard. It’s forgiving and loving and giving the benefit of the doubt. It’s making a casserole, doing a carpool pickup, and making sure she knows those cute shoes are 50 percent off. Written in the same comedic style as the New York Times bestsellers Sparkly Green Earrings and The Antelope in the Living Room, Nobody’s Cuter than You is a laugh-out-loud look at the special bond that exists between friends and a poignant celebration of all the extraordinary people God had the good sense to bring into our lives at exactly the right moments. From the friendships we develop over a lifetime to the ones that wounded us and the ones that taught us to love better, Melanie Shankle reveals the influence our friends have on who we were, who we are, and who we will become. And on a day when our jeans feel too tight, our chins have decided to embrace hormone-related acne reminiscent of our teen years, and our kids have tested the limits of our sanity, they are the ones who will look at us and say, “Nobody’s cuter than you!” (from Amazon)

My last book for July was Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews. This is a very short book about time management. Even though it was short, it had some great ideas and quotes. This is my favorite quote: “Think ahead, break down your goals into bite-size chunks, incorporate them into your schedule today and over time, you’ll accomplish what you’ve set out to do. But it’s not enough to simply ask yourself what things you’d like to accomplish next week, next year, or in ten years (although those are certainly important). Instead, ask yourself what kind of person you want to be. Where do you want to make a difference? How do you want to be known and remembered? What kind of legacy do you want to leave? The answers to these questions reveal your true priorities.” Even if I had not gotten anything else out of the book, it was worth it for this one quote! I gave it three stars on Goodreads. (FYI..I think this book is only available in Kindle form.)

So, those are the books I have read over the last few months. If you’ve read any of these, I’d love to hear your thoughts about them. And as always, if you have any book recommendations I’d love to hear them! Happy Reading!

Trusting His Plan,

Where Has The Time Gone??

I can hardly believe that we are well into the month of August! Did your summer seem to go by as quickly as mine?? I haven’t put up a blog post in quite a while and several people have asked how we are doing and what we’ve been up to. So here’s a quick recap of the highlights of our summer.

For those of you that have been following my kidney stone saga, you know that I ended up in the ER in Charlotte, NC the beginning of April. A CT scan showed “several good size stones”. I must have passed the smaller stones and seemed to be doing okay for several weeks, until the pain hit again and I was back in the ER the day afer Memorial Day. It was determined that I had a stone that was too big to pass, so I had surgery to have it removed. It took me a few days to get back to “normal”, but have felt great since! Not the start to summer that I had planned….but then again we don’t always get to plan.🙂

I had the opportunity to go with a friend to see Christine Caine and Kari Jobe in their Living Unashamed tour. Christine is such a powerful and inspirational speaker. And I love, love, love Kari Jobe’s music! It was a great night!

This summer Katie again worked at Winshape Camps, but this time she worked at the new location in Cohutta Springs. This camp is only for high school girls. On one of Katie’s off weekends Emilie, Jacob and I went up to visit her and then we stayed a couple of nights in Chattanooga. That was the closest thing to a family vacation that we were able to get this summer!

Cohutta Springs is beautiful!!







Closing Ceremony

Point Park in Chattanooga












Starbucks on Lookout Mountain

Starbucks on Lookout Mountain

We enjoyed Raccoon Mountain Caverns

We enjoyed Raccoon Mountain Caverns

A trip to Chattanooga is not complete without a stop at Clumpies!

A trip to Chattanooga is not complete without a stop at Clumpies!

Katie started her new job at Point University! She’s staying really busy, but seems to be enjoying it.

We kept my 18 month old nephew for 10 days! It was a lot of fun and, as I was quickly reminded, a lot of work! He did great and it was a joy to have him with us. Somehow I managed to get ZERO pictures.😦

Jake spent 2 weeks at Winshape Camps again this year and had a great time, as usual! Unfortunately, I didn’t get any good pictures of him. This was his last year to be able to go, but he is already talking about wanting to return as a camp counselor!

I spent a couple of nights in Blue Ridge with some friends and we had a fun, relaxing get-away!



I went with my discipleship group to see Hillsong United and Lauren Daigle. Unfortunately, because of having to wait forever to get into the parking lot, we missed Lauren Daigle. And the weather was horrible and we were drenched before we ever got to our seats. But it was still fun and Hillsong was great!

Before we got out of the car and got drenched!

Before we got out of the car and got drenched!


Emilie’s 21st birthday was in June, but we celebrated in July with a trip to Hilton Head!

Lunch at the Salty Dog








So, that’s what we’ve been up to! Hope your summer has been a good one! And now, here we are already in August! Next week Emilie begins classes at West Georgia and Jake will be back at Point University! I’m looking forward to a little more routine and a lot cooler weather!!

Trusting His Plan,

Real Faith Is “Though-Faith”

This morning in my time with the Lord, I listened to a commentary on Psalm 46. The pastor mentioned that real faith is not “if-faith”, but “though-faith.” I’ve been pondering this statement all morning long. Real faith is not the kind of faith that says, “If you do this, I’ll believe” or “If this happens, I’ll trust” or “If this never happens to me, I’ll trust that You are a good God.” No, real faith says, “I’ll trust you even though……”. Even though things didn’t go like I wanted, even though my heart is broken, even though things are hard and make no sense. Even though there is pain and evil and hardship in this world.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear THOUGH the earth gives way,
THOUGH mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
THOUGH its waters roar and foam,
THOUGH the mountains tremble at its swelling. Ps 46:1-3

Later during the day this blog post that I wrote one year ago today popped up in my facebook feed. And wouldn’t you know, the post is all about Faith! And a year later, I’m still traveling a road that is leading me through unknown, unfamiliar, unwelcome and often scary territory. And a year later, my companion is still Faith….and Faith is proving to be just the Companion that I need to get me through this journey!

Who Is Your Travel Companion?
03 JUN 2015

For the last 18 months or so, I have felt lost. Like I’m wandering aimlessly, not really knowing where I’m going. I’m traveling a road I don’t want to travel….a road that is leading me through a place I don’t know and I am not comfortable with; unfamiliar territory that is often lonely and frightening. And the really hard part is this: I don’t even know where this road is taking me. I don’t know the purpose in taking this road, this journey.

Do you ever feel that way? Like you’re on a road that you aren’t comfortable being on, but there’s no way to turn around and take another way? The only way to wherever you’re going is down this frightening, lonely, frustrating road. We all find ourselves on these roads at times in our lives. Maybe you’re like me, and the death of your spouse has put you on this road. Maybe it’s the death of a parent, or child. Maybe it’s a failed marriage or relationship that has you on this lonely road; or maybe the lack of a marriage or relationship. It could be difficult financial situations that has you on a road filled with hardship and frustration, or a physical condition that has put you there. Our lives are made of up many of these difficult, scary, lonely roads.

I believe that the only way to get safely to the end of these roads is to travel with a companion. That companion’s name is Faith. Faith to know that there is a purpose, there is a reason, there is an end. Faith to know that we are not alone and that Christ has already gone down this road ahead of us to prepare the way. Faith to know that even though the whole world may seem like it’s against us, He is for us. Faith to know that everything that happens to us is for our good and His glory. Now, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. I didn’t say that our companion’s name is Understanding. Because I don’t understand the purpose or reason for being on this road. Nor do I understand how traveling this road can be for my good. What I did say is that our companion’s name is Faith. Faith to believe all these things, even when I don’t understand them. Faith to believe that even if I never fully realize the purpose of my journey this side of Heaven, one day I will understand.

I was reminded of this in my time with the Lord this morning. I was reading Hebrews 11….often referred to as the “Hall of Faith”. I was reminded of how Abraham was called to travel a road that he knew nothing about and to go, not knowing where he was going. God called him to leave all that he knew and was familiar with. It wasn’t an easy road for Abraham…it was a long, difficult journey. But, Abraham was blessed for his faithfulness. I feel just like that. I’ve been called to leave a place that I never wanted to leave, a place that I loved and was comfortable with and secure in, to go to a place that I know nothing about. But just like Abraham, I am choosing to take Faith as my companion, trusting that the Lord is leading me into the land of promise! I pray that if you are one of the many who are on a road you’d rather not be on and you don’t even know where you’re going, that you will also choose to take Faith as your companion!

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise. Hebrews 11:8-9

Trusting His Plan,

A New Heaven And A New Earth…I Can’t Wait!!

I just love this time of the year when my home is surrounded by God’s beauty!! His handiwork is so amazing. So intricate. So colorful. So uplifting to my spirit. So unbelievably beautiful! But what’s even more amazing to me is that the beauty that we experience today is beauty that is found on a cursed earth. When sin entered the world, God put a curse on the earth. Things that we experience today are not the way He originally planned them. But yet, the trees, the flowers, the oceans, the mountains…..what beauty!








One day, the curse will be reversed and there will be a New Heaven and a New Earth. Everything will be PERFECT…just the way it was originally designed. No sin, no death, no decay. Only perfection!! Can you even imagine?? If the beauty that we experience today is that of a cursed earth, I cannot fathom what it will be like on the New Earth!! And I can’t wait!

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…” Rev 21:1

“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” Rev 22:20

Trusting His Plan,

Happy Birthday Greg!

Yesterday was Greg’s birthday. He would have been 52. We were sad that we couldn’t celebrate with him, but…we still chose to celebrate! The day that Greg came into this world is certainly a day worth celebrating. The world is a better place for Greg having been here….even if only for 49 short years. He impacted lives. He brought joy and laughter to those that knew him. He loved and was loved. He made a difference.

I thought all day yesterday about what to post and just couldn’t find any words other than what I had posted on Greg’s last two birthdays. Then I saw a post that Jacob wrote yesterday morning and decided that he said very beautifully what we all were feeling. So I thought it fitting that I share his words here.

Happy birthday Dad! Although happy will be hard for me on your birthday I will try my best because if I know anything about you it is that you would do anything for me to be happy. I love you Dad and I miss you more than I though possible. But I’m glad I have the opportunity to miss you. I’m so glad you were a good dad and that I get the chance I think back on all our memories with love. That is way more than a lot of kids get. Even though some people may call me unlucky for the hand I’ve been felt I consider myself blessed beyond measure! I’m not lucky because you’re gone but because I got to spend the first 14 years of my life with who I genuinely believe was one of the greatest men God has ever created. So today I choose not only happiness but thankfulness. Thankful for every second I had with you. I’m thankful for having a dad as awesome as you! Thank you Dad! I love and miss oh so much!
Your number one son,

For the last two years our family has gone to a Braves game to celebrate Greg’s birthday, but this year there wasn’t a game in town. We decided to just all go out to dinner and spend time together. Here are a few pictures from last night.


My niece, Amanda with her husband, Ryan and son, Zachary

My niece, Amanda with her husband, Ryan and son, Zachary

Greg's parents and sister

Greg’s parents and sister



Happy Birthday, Greg! We love and miss you more every day and can’t wait until we’re all together again!

Trusting His Plan,

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