Deep Grief and Fought-after Joy

In the past three months I’ve been to five funerals. While four of the five of those funerals were for patients of mine, and one could say “you knew they would pass away,” it doesn’t change the fact that I grieve their loss. My four patients were all patients I had since I started my job in hospice. That means that for almost three years, I’ve spent many days a week with them…bathing them, assisting them with eating, taking them outside the second the weather warmed up, painting their nails, shaving their whiskers, giving them hugs, holding their hands, being their companion, re-assuring them that they are safe, making them comfortable, and offering them a listening ear. So of course, they had become very dear to me. And then within the course of three months, each of the four passed away. Worst of all, however, I lost my grandma smack dab in the middle of it all. It was unexpected. I found out on a Saturday night that she wasn’t doing well. I planned to drive up that next morning, but early that morning I received a text from my dad that said she was in her Savior’s arms.

Grief. Deep, deep grief. I feel like I’ve been drowning in it lately.

I’ve cried with my patient’s spouses, children, grandchildren, and siblings. There have been countless days when I would just fight that lump in my throat until I could get in my car and weep. I’ve suddenly started sobbing in the middle of a random conversation with my husband. But for the most part, I’ve felt the need to hide my grief from most of the world, to “put on my big girl pants”, and move on. I felt that people were expecting me to still be me: the smiling, happy, hospice Heather. And so I’ve been in this confusing place of feeling deep grief inside, but needing to remain happy on the outside.

I tried that for weeks and weeks. And poor Andrew had to deal with an exhausted, emotionally unstable wife (side note: He is just the greatest…so loving, comforting, and always able to make me laugh).

One day, though, as I was driving to work, I was praying about the day. I can tend to pray almost the same thing each day. But that day I stopped in the middle of praying and just blurted out, “God, I don’t know if I can handle this grief anymore! My heart is so heavy and I feel completely unable to appear happy today.” That’s when I remembered this sweet promise in Nehemiah 8: “The joy of the LORD is your strength.” It hit me like a ton of rocks. The JOY of the LORD. And the Psalmists says in Psalm 16:11 “In Your presence there is fullness of JOY!” So I said, “Holy Spirit, I desperately need you today. I need your joy. I admit that on my own I am completely incapable of having true joy. Would you please fill me up today with your joy?” 

Each day since then, I’ve been reminded to pray that. As I go throughout my day I am much more aware of my dependency on the Holy Spirit for His joy. And you know what? He gives it abundantly. And you know what else? I’ve found it over and over in the gospel. When I’m reminded of my helplessness before God (that I was dead in my sin) and that through Christ’s perfect life, agonizing death, and glorious resurrection I can have life and life eternal, I find great joy. It reminds me that I am more loved by God than I dare imagine, that I am His child, and that He is my great Comforter. He longs for me to run to Him with my grief. His word says “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). 

With all of this, I’ve been more mindful of heaven. I’ve had this ever-increasing hope for that day when I will be in the presence of my Savior. Just the thought of being face-to-face with God gives me profound joy. I envision falling on my face when I get just a glimpse of His glory. As I’ve been thinking about heaven, it’s caused me to think more about my time here on earth. If heaven is what I long for, then does that show in how I live each day? Am I bringing the hope of the gospel with me to each patient and their family, my family, my co-workers, the people at the gym, the barista at Starbucks, and the cashier at Target? Do they see joy in me that can only be from God? As I’ve been reading and studying I’ve been hit again and again with the reality that we are here for one purpose: to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. I struggle to do this faithfully every single day, but God is so gracious, and has been growing in me a deeper love for His glory.

I feel so strongly that He has called me to hospice (for the time being) and because of that, I know He will equip me. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. But I know that He will be with me and it is through Him that I am able to have joy. This joy is a gift from God, but it is also a joy I have to relentlessly fight for. I find it as I remind myself over and over of the gospel, as I pray and ask the Holy Spirit to fill me with joy, and as I read God’s word.

I’ll never be able to sing “How Great Thou Art” again without thinking of one of my patients that passed. He was a very favorite of mine. His love for Christ radiated from him every day. He loved to sing and worship His Savior. He was such a beautiful picture to me of someone who found their joy in Christ. I received the call that he had passed and immediately jumped in my car to go help with post-mortem cares (and mostly to be there for his family as I had become very close with them). I practically ran through the nursing home and down the hallway, tears streaming down my face. I took a deep breath before I walked into his room, trying to compose myself in order to comfort his family. When I walked in, his wife ran to hug me and exclaimed, “He’s home, Heather! He’s home!” She then told me the story I will never forget. Moments before he passed, his family stood around His bed and sang “How Great Thou Art.” They reached the final verse and sang, “When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation, and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.” As they sang these words, my patient smiled and took his last breath. Then they finished the verse and sang, “Then I shall bow in humble adoration, and there proclaim, ‘My God how great Thou art!’” They sang these last few words as their loved one was actually doing just that: bowing in adoration of His God…face to face.

Lastly, I don’t want anyone to think that finding joy is easy. It’s not. What has changed for me is the realization that both my grief and my joy are meant to bring me closer to God. My confidence is in the truth that one day, I will cease to struggle with grief because in His presence there is fullness of joy forevermore.



// Fall Birthday Hike //

Happy Thursday, friends!

It’s that time of year…sweater weather, pumpkin flavored everything, hot cocoa, colorful leaves, refreshing air, and tall boots 🙂

Fall has always been my favorite time of year. And September has always been the best month. It just so happens that my birthday is in the month of September.

This year was my golden birthday. I turned 22 (I apologize if Taylor Swift’s song is in your head all day). Andrew asked me what I wanted to do this year.

My answer? Taylor’s Falls. I had never been there, but the girls in youth group have been telling me about it for a year now. It was time we saw what all the excitement was about!

And

Oh.

My.

Word.

It was BREATHTAKING.

So we celebrate the day well by hiking and enjoying God’s incredible artwork.

And you know me, it had to be documented in photos. So the big camera came along with us.

*Some photos were taken by the one and only Mr. Andrew Ross. 🙂

If you haven’t been to Taylor’s Falls, it’s time. Trust me.

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– Remembering Our Day –

It’s20140718_ROSS_126 that time of year again…WEDDING TIME. It’s crazy to think that last year I was counting down the days until July 18! Since it is that time of year, I wanted to share some of the specials parts of our big day. We wanted to keep our day as simple as possible. Partly because the simpler it was, the more loved ones we could have come. We felt like photography was crucial. It’s what you have to remember the day. So we chose Anna Nesseth Photography…& that was such a wonderful decision! She was incredible! I would really urge you to consider finding a good photographer. It’s so important! All these photos are taken by Anna Nesseth Photography…all the credit goes to her!

I N V I T A T I O N S

I made our invitations and had Office Max print them. As well as “thank you” cards we placed on the tables for each guest at the reception.

These are our invitations. I made them on my computer. Bought paper. & Brought it all to Office Max and they printed/cut them all for me. It was SUPER cheap and I think the simplicity was perfect!

These are our invitations. I made them on my computer. Bought paper. & Brought it all to Office Max and they printed/cut them all for me. It was SUPER cheap and I think the simplicity was perfect!

D E C O R A T I O N S

Then there’s decorations. Which is a big part of the wedding. But again, simple was the theme. Here are some pictures of the different decorations we did. Pinterest has so many good ideas and there are so many things you can DIY.

Remembering our loved ones.

Remembering our loved ones.

Of course, the #hashtag

Of course, the #hashtag

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T H E  W A R D R O B E

And then most of us girls love this next aspect of the wedding. The wardrobe. It was so fun to pick out the dress with my family & friends. You’ve heard the expression, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” I had each aspect of that in my wardrobe. OLD = a necklace from my Grandma. NEW = my dress. BORROWED = my Mother-in-Law’s veil. BLUE = my Grandpa passed away before my wedding and I saved one of his blue flannel shirts with the purpose of incorporating it into my wedding. I had the florist wrap it around my bouquet.

My dress is from David's Bridal. The hanger is one I had custom made on Etsy.

My dress is from David’s Bridal. The hanger is one I had custom made on Etsy.

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T O M S.

T O M S.

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T H E  F L OW E R S

Then there’s flowers. So I had hoped to give good recommendations for every vendor I used for the wedding. But this was the one very stressful part of the wedding. The plan was to be simple and inexpensive. We went to a florist who seemed WONDERFUL at the consultation. She was able to figure out exactly what I was picturing and we left feeling super excited. She gave us an estimate that was affordable so we had no concerns. Long story short, she totally forgot about us and when we called to check in on everything she had no recollection of us. I had to re-tell her everything and she was VERY rude and unprofessional. She gave us a new estimate that was much more. We thought we were back on track and didn’t worry about it again. Then Andrew picked up the flowers on the wedding day and had to write a check….which was more than $100 over what the estimate had been. The colors of the flowers in my bouquet were off from what I had asked as well as other aspects that were different. ANYWAY. It was frustrating, but in the span of things, it was such a small detail. I learned that you have to just not worry about those details because the day is about SO MUCH MORE than all of that. My advice, though, is to really choose well when it comes to the florist. My bouquet was very beautiful though!

My Grandpa's shirt.

My Grandpa’s shirt.

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H A I R

I am so blessed to have a insanely talented hair stylist for a sister. She did my hair and I absolutely loved it. 20140718_ROSS_034

B R I D A L  P A R T Y

Choosing your Bridal Party is another decision you have to make. This was a tough one. I ended up just choosing one person. I had my eldest sister, Jenny & Andrew chose his brother, Nathan. I’m so glad we did this. It was simple and meaningful. 20140718_ROSS_169 20140718_ROSS_178 20140718_ROSS_182 20140718_ROSS_192

F I R S T  L O O K

Some people dream of having their groom not see them until they walk down the aisle. And to be honest, that was my dream most of my life. BUT the more we thought about it, the more we realized it can be so special to have a First Look. Your groom gets to see you and you get to see your groom without everybody there. Andrew and I got to spend a few minutes of our day just alone, soaking up the moment. It was one of the highlights of the day. Either way is great…whatever works for you! 🙂 20140718_ROSS_058 20140718_ROSS_063 20140718_ROSS_067 20140718_ROSS_073

 

T H E  C E R E M O N Y

Mine and Andrew’s main wish was to make our wedding a worship ceremony. We truly believe that marriage should be centered around Christ. That each of us need to find our satisfaction in Christ and not each other. And we both feel that the Gospel is the most important thing, and so we wanted it to be the central theme of our wedding. Because of that we had a time of praise and worship. We sang some of our favorite worship songs and it was such a special part of the wedding. 20140718_ROSS_294 20140718_ROSS_320 20140718_ROSS_247 20140718_ROSS_306 20140718_ROSS_311

U N I T Y  C E R E M O N Y

For our unity ceremony we chose sand. The purpose of the unity ceremony is to symbolize two becoming one. Andrew and I chose sand because once you mix the different sands together, you cannot separate them. We chose three different colors of sand. Blue to represent Andrew, purple to represent myself, and grey to represent God. It was another reminder that our marriage should be centered around God.

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T H E  R E C E P T I O N

Our reception FLEW by. It was so fun and not long enough! Haha. Again, because of our hopes to make our day “simple,” we didn’t do a meal. If we had we would have either spent an arm and a leg or not been able to invite many people. People, it costs SO STINKING MUCH for a meal. It’s great if that is what you don’t want to do. But please PLEASE please don’t feel like you have to. We ended up having our whole day be later so that people could eat before they came and then we had cakes for them to chose from. And when I say cakes…I mean CAKES. We were so blessed to have so many talented ladies make BEAUTIFUL cakes. And then we served salty snacks for people as well. I have heard so many people say how fun that was. So I would honestly recommend thinking of having a cake reception. It can be so fun and is so much cheaper.

Here are some photos from our reception…

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TO  G O D  B E  T H E  G L O R Y

And here are some of my favorite photos from our shoot before the wedding…

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Just Hold My Hand

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As I sat there beside her bed, the only sound I could hear was the hiss and hum of the oxygen machine. I glanced at the few photos she had of her grandkids and began to wonder what I could do to make this new patient feel comforted. As I sat there, I felt her hand slowly grab mine. And as she squeezed it, she opened her eyes, turned to look at me, and whispered “just hold my hand honey…that’s all I need.” I could feel that lump in my throat start to swell as I fought back tears. You see, this is my job. This is my INCREDIBLE job. I get paid for this.

Six months ago, Andrew and I had just moved to the area and I had been looking for a job. My previous job was as a CNA/Medication Passer. I had enjoyed that job, but was having doubts that I should continue on as a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant). Ever since I can remember, though, my dream was to be a nurse. As a little girl I was set on it. Then I started passing out when I would go to medical appointments. I’m not just talking about getting queasy while having blood drawn. I mean, I passed out when the eye doctor put eye drops in my eyes. Yeah, it was that bad. So my hopes and dreams to be a nurse were shattered. I majored in music my one year at college, but felt uncertain that music was my calling. I came home from college, got my CNA, and started working. I enjoyed it, but still didn’t feel like it was the right fit. My family, friends, and co-workers all encouraged me that I should continue in health care, but I just wasn’t sure. When moving here, I applied to secretarial jobs, nanny positions, as well as a few other odd jobs. When I didn’t get hired for any of those, I started looking for CNA jobs. Through a series of events, I ended up interviewing for a job with St. Croix Hospice. After my interview, I felt so much excitement. At the same time, however, I started really thinking about whether or not I could handle working for hospice. I mean, I didn’t know much about it. When I heard the word “hospice” all I thought of was death and dying. Was I really applying for a job where that was the main theme? As I continued to think about it, though, I started feeling like this really was what I wanted to do. I wish I could explain it, but it was just this overwhelming feeling that it was where I was supposed to be. When I got the job, I was so overjoyed.

That was six months ago. During these six months, I have continued to feel more and more that this is where I am supposed to be. I have had so many patients who have blessed my life. I’ve learned so many things from them. Here are a few of the lessons I have learned.

LESSON ONE | J O Y

Recently one of my very favorite patients passed away. She was possibly the most positive person I’ve ever known. She found joy in EVERYTHING. This woman would greet me every visit with the BIGGEST smile and say, “Ohhhhhh hello! Isn’t it just a beautiful day?” Or, “Don’t I have the BEST view?” (Which was honestly 3 ordinary houses and a few trees). If I was ever having a bad day, I would end up leaving our visits with an entirely different outlook on life. After a while I even started thinking her view was beautiful too! I miss her quite a bit, but am so grateful for the lesson of joy she taught me.

LESSON TWO | F R I E N D S H I P

One of my patients intimidated me so much when I started. He was very grouchy and refused my visits. Every week I would dread going to see him. Weeks went by and something changed. I discovered he just needed a friend. I also discovered he likes card games. I taught him “King In the Corner” and for six months now, once a week, I sit with this man and we play round after round of the game. It went from being this visit I absolutely dreaded to one I look forward to each week. I look forward to seeing his smile when I walk in the door. I always love the big hug he gives me as I say goodbye. My absolute favorite moments are those when he laughs and I can see a twinkle in his eye. I didn’t do anything special…he did. He taught me that sometimes people who come across grumpy just simply need a friend.

LESSON THREE | L O V E

I had one patient who passed away shortly after he started on hospice. During that short time, though, him and his wife made a huge impact on me. They were so loving. One day while I was in their home my patient looked at me and said, “You know, you’re part of the family now.” I looked at his wife and saw she had tears running down her cheeks. She stretched out her arms, gave me a hug, and whispered in my ear, “It’s true, honey. You are.” It’s moments like these that make me feel overwhelmed. I feel so incredibly blessed to have this job.

LESSON FOUR | COMPANIONSHIP

I have a patient that I have the privilege of seeing three times a week. I always look forward to our visits. This patient has memory loss and does not speak full sentences. But oh, she has the sweetest soul. After seeing her so frequently for these past months, I honestly believe she remembers who I am. When I walk up to her I give her a big smile and say, “Hello, sweet-pea!” She gives me a huge smile in return. Then she reaches out her hands, puts them on my head, and pulls me close to give me a kiss on the forehead. It makes my heart skip a beat each time she does this. I love just sitting with her for as long as I can…laughing and making silly faces at each other. Simply enjoying spending that one-on-one time that we both so very much love.

I could keep going. There have been so many more special moments I’ve experienced in this short time, but I just wanted to give you a glimpse. I want everyone to know what hospice truly is. It’s not about death and dying. It’s about so much more. At St. Croix, we say “finding joy in the journey.” It’s about making the last part of your life a truly wonderful part of your life. I love that my job is to spend one-on-one time with people. To bring them JOY. To be their FRIEND. To show them they are LOVED. To be their COMPANION. To be a COMFORT.  Both to them and their loved ones. Hospice (*cough *cough especially St. Croix Hospice…and no I’m not getting paid to write this) is a blessing to so many people. I have heard many people say how glad they are that their loved one had hospice at the end of their life. 

I am so thrilled that I found my place. That I know where I am supposed to be. Doing what I am supposed to be doing. I don’t claim to have any special talents or skills. I just love what I am doing. I’m so thankful I didn’t give up on being an Aide. I can’t imagine doing anything else right now. I love that I can be the one to hold her hand when that’s all she needs.

Be Jesus, My Glory, My Soul Satisfy

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Comparison. Discontentment. Whatever word you use, it’s something I believe we all struggle with. I know I do. I have always struggled with it and have tried to fight it for years. These past few months I’ve really been fighting with discontentment. I find myself looking at Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest and thoughts such as “I wish I could look like this” or “I wish I could create things like that” quickly flood my mind. I see pictures from mommas with their little ones and start wishing I was a momma. Funny thing is, before I started dating Andrew, all I wished for was to be dating him. As soon as we were dating, I just couldn’t wait to be engaged. And then of course, once we were engaged I just wanted to be married. All of this is obviously natural, but the problem is that I thought in each of those phases, that the next phase would bring me complete satisfaction. That I wouldn’t want anything else once I was in that next phase. Well, here I am. I’ve been a girlfriend, a fiancé, and now a wife. And I’m already dreaming about being a momma.

So why is it that I struggle so much with this? Why do we all struggle with this? I believe it’s something deeper than just being discontent. I know that my real struggle is being satisfied in Christ. The truth is, trying to be satisfied in anything else (a relationship, a job, a phase of life, or your abilities) can never fulfill you. And I’ve heard this truth my whole life. Yet, I so easily forget it. I am so prone to look to earthly pleasures, and they’re not all bad things, but they’re not Christ. Christ, the all-fulfilling, all-satisfying One. The One who has paid the ultimate sacrifice to give us the one thing we need: redemption. Isaiah 53:4-6 says this, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Christ, the perfect One, took our iniquity (our sin) and endured the wrath of God that you and I deserve. Then in return, He gives us salvation. He grants us forgiveness. Because of what Christ did on the cross, we can have eternal life. You see, because of this exchange, we are offered all that we need. We are given the ultimate gift of redemption and right standing with God. In Christ we find our complete satisfaction.

But what does this look like in our day-to-day lives? I know for myself, it’s something I have to remind myself of everyday. By spending time alone with God each day, filling my heart with His Word and praying. Praying that God would give me grace in looking to Him for satisfaction. That He would remind me when I start to look to other people or other things for that satisfaction. Often times it takes that idol in my life to fail in some way, for me to realize I’m not looking to Christ. It takes having a disagreement with my husband or a blow to my pride to wake me up. Praise God for His abundant mercy and grace, though, in forgiving us for our weaknesses. What a Savior we have. I fail Him daily, yet He loves me still. Psalm 73:26 is a beautiful promise of this. The Psalmist writes, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

I don’t write any of this to say that I’ve got this down. By no means. I daily struggle with this. I believe we all do to some degree or another. As I’ve really been struggling with this lately, however, I have been thinking more and more about what a beautiful truth it is that Christ satisfies. We have the answer. We know the truth. I pray that you and I would look to the cross and to our Savior daily. And that it would be in Him that we find our satisfaction.

The added chorus to this well known hymn is such a sweet reminder to me. Here is the song:

Another song that reminds me of these truth is this:

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” – John Piper

How Sweet the Gospel Sounds…

“When Satan tempts me to despair,

And tells me of the guilt within,

Upward I look, and see Him there

Who made an end to all my sin.

Because the sinless Savior died,

My sinful soul is counted free;

For God the just is satisfied

To look on Him and pardon me

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Praise the One,

Risen Son of God!”

     I sang these lyrics on July 18 of this year. I was standing side by side with my groom. As I sang these lyrics I had one of the most unreal moments of my life. There was this feeling that I don’t have words to explain adequately. It was as if my soul was exploding…no, OVERFLOWING with extreme peace and joy. You see, for the months preceding this day I had been struggling with anxiety. Anxiety that produced many sleepless nights and long talks with Andrew and others. What was I anxious about? The wedding? Marriage? A new phase of life? That’s what you would think. But that just wasn’t it. Even though I had been a Christian since the age of five, I still had a lot of doubts. Those doubts escalated when I became engaged to Andrew. I started to worry that I wouldn’t make a very good wife for Andrew. The reason was because I felt distant from God, and when I looked at Andrew, I saw someone who had it all together in that area. This in turn, caused me to deal with the real issue…my doubts that God’s grace was sufficient. That my sin was covered by His blood and that He could truly love me even though I fail him every day. Lauren Daigle in her song “How Can it Be” captures what I felt perfectly. She sings “I am guilty, ashamed of what I’ve done, what I’ve become. These hands are dirty, I dare not lift them up to the Holy One…” I felt so unworthy of God’s grace. All these doubts and feelings of shame caused so much anxiety. Thankfully, I had Andrew, family, and close friends who continually prayed for me and pointed me to the Gospel. And that my friends, is the key word: Gospel. That is what it all boiled down to; I didn’t understand the Gospel. It wasn’t real to me. I began reading Romans as well as a book called “Gospel” by J.D. Greear. God used both of those as well as music to really bring the Gospel to life for me. Romans 8:1-4 says “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” It is passages like this that opened my eyes to see how crazy it is that I doubted the Gospel. Christ already took my sin, and He paid for it in full when he died on the cross. He took on Himself the wrath of God that I deserved. Because of that, He doesn’t see me the way I see myself. I have been redeemed and am counted free. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” This is so comforting to me. So, as I began to gain a better understanding of the Gospel the less severe my anxiety became. It wasn’t a quick process, and to be completely honest, I still do struggle some with this. But God is so gracious and has used so many circumstances, events, and people to point me to the truth. There have been quite a few songs that remind me of God’s redeeming love for me. I wish I could share them all, but that would be overwhelming. I’ll just share a few of my favorite lyrics.

In Christ Alone

Till on that cross as Jesus died,

The wrath of God was satisfied;

For ev’ry sin on Him was laid—

Here in the death of Christ I live.

In Tenderness

In tenderness he sought me, weary and sick with sin

And on His shoulders brought me, back to His fold again

While angels in His presence sang, until the courts of heaven rang.

Oh, the love that sought me!

Oh, the blood that bought me!

Oh, the grace that brought me to the fold of God

Grace that brought me to the fold of God.

He died for me while I was sinning, needy and poor and blind

He whispered to assure me: “I’ve found thee; thou art Mine”

I never heard a sweeter voice, it made my aching heart rejoice.

Upon His grace I’ll daily ponder, and sing anew His praise

With all adoring wonder, His blessings I retrace

It seems as if eternal days, are far too short to sing His praise.

Hallelujah, What a Savior

“Man of Sorrows!” what a name

For the Son of God, who came

Ruined sinners to reclaim.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,

In my place condemned He stood;

Sealed my pardon with His blood.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;

Spotless Lamb of God was He;

“Full atonement!” can it be?

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die;

“It is finished!” was His cry;

Now in Heav’n exalted high.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,

All His ransomed home to bring,

Then anew His song we’ll sing:

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

How Can it Be

I am guilty

Ashamed of what I’ve done, what I’ve become

These hands are dirty

I dare not lift them up to the Holy one

I’ve been hiding

Afraid I’ve let you down, inside I doubt

That You could love me

But in Your eyes there’s only grace now

You plead my cause

You right my wrongs

You break my chains

You overcome

You gave Your life

To give me mine

You say that I am free

How can it be?

Though I fall, You can make me new

From this death I will rise with You

Oh the grace reaching out for me

How can it be?

How can it be?

      And so when I reflect on the year of Twenty Fourteen I feel extreme joy, in that, my eyes were opened to the radical love my Savior has for me. That I, such a sinner, would be counted righteous in the eyes of God. God the just is satisfied, because Christ took my place on the cross. Twenty Fourteen was the year I married my best friend and started my life together with him. I stand amazed at how God has blessed me with a husband who daily points me to the Gospel and lives passionately for the Gospel. J. D. Greear says, “preach the Gospel to yourself daily.” And it’s true. It is incredible what happens when you remind yourself of the Gospel every day. Someone once said “How sweet the Gospel sounds to ears like mine” and that sums up what I feel completely. On July 18, when I sang those lyrics, they meant so much to me because of the journey I had been on those months beforehand. I am praising God for the peace that He brought me this year as my eyes were opened to the sweetness of the Gospel.

“Oh Praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the grave.”

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