Posted in advice, Beatitudes, christian living, depression and anxiety, divorce, grief, mental health, military, service, and veterans, motherhood, parenting, Podcast Show Notes, prayer, recovery, relationships, spiritual practices

Comfort in the Mourning: Beatitude #2

If we are born into this world we will, at some point, experience the exquisite pang of loss. We will weep for what was and mourn what will never be again. This world, it seems is the perfect training ground for grief and sadness.

But Jesus, in his sermon on the mount, as found in Matthew chapter 5, tells his followers, “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

He doesn’t elaborate on this point, or frankly, any of the points he’s making in this exact moment of his discourse. He leaves it plain and simple. Essentially what he’s saying is, “The people who mourn will be happier than those that don’t because they’ll be comforted.”

Well, that seems odd, doesn’t it? Because like I said, if life teaches us anything, it’s that we’re all going to mourn at some point. So, what makes this statement so poignant?

This week, Brandy explores this brief beatitude by looking further into Jesus’ own suffering, the mission he was prophetically called to when he stepped into humankind as a man, and the mission of his second coming.

We’ll be looking at Matthew 5:5, John 11:32-38a, Isaiah 61:1-3, and 2 Corinthians 1:3.

The fact is, we are not alone in our suffering and grief. We have a God who can relate to our pain and has stepped into it with us.

Listen to this week’s episode to find out how well he can relate to us and what he promises us as our future with him unfurls.

Listen to the full episode here

Follow us on social media:
Facebook
Instagram
Pinterest

You can also Email Us!

Special thanks to James Swanson and James Page for their contribution to our theme song, The Long Road Home, written by Brandy J. Goebel. Copyright 2018.

This episode was recorded, edited, and produced at 4G’s Studios in Sandy, Oregon, home of Bigfoot…. We have a hotel to prove it. 2019. All rights reserved.

Posted in christian living, depression and anxiety, divorce, friendship, grief, identity, Marriage and Dating, mental health, parenting, Podcast Show Notes, recovery, relationships

Show Notes – “Coming Out: I Had An Affair”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery;’
but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
– Matthew 5:27-28

Adultery. 

Not a very pretty word is it? But there it is. In black and white. You can sugar-coat it and call it something different, but it’s all the same ugly sin.

This week, we dive headlong into our own journey of adultery and the grace and redemption that God provided. Eight years have passed since the news came out that shook our world to its core.

We invite you to step into this conversation with us because we hear, on a near daily basis of so many other marriages that are struggling with their own battles of infidelity. We want to bring hope and encouragement to those of you currently walking this path and in next week’s episode, we want to provide some common pitfalls to avoid or overcome that oftentimes lead to an affair.

Listen to the full episode here

If you are struggling in your own marriage, please listen. Please reach out. To us. A pastor. A counselor. There is grace. There is healing. There is a new beginning available to you and your marriage. You are not alone.

Read the full transcript here

Here are the links to many of the tools I used in my own recovery process:

“Breaking Free” Beth Moore
“When Godly People do Ungodly Things” Beth Moore
“David: A Man After God’s Own Heart” Beth Moore
“The Genesis Process”

Previous episodes can be found here on Google Play!

We can also be found in Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes), Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Spotify and pretty much any podcast app. Please share with your friends, neighbors, people you love, and people you love to hate because everybody needs a little encouragement and grace.

Our social media links:

Facebook
Instagram
Pinterest

To become a Patreon supporter and receive some cool rewards click here!

Special shout-out to our friend, Phil who has recently become a Patreon supporter! We appreciate your encouragement and kindness!

Alright…Love God. Love People. Pray hard.

 

Posted in advice, grief, motherhood, parenting, relationships

I Laughed So Hard Until I cried

“Even in laughter the heart may be in pain.
                And the end of joy may be grief.”               
– Proverbs 14:13

Life is short, isn’t it?

Some days may slog on for eternity, but really, if you look back over your life, it’s gone pretty quickly. I remember when Prince was proclaiming we’re going to party like it’s 1999. And honestly, it just doesn’t seem that long ago.

But the fact is, our time here is brief. Maybe even briefer than we know.

In the past year, I have become acquainted with three separate families who have all had a child who’s been seriously injured in horrendous car accidents. These are good, Christian families with good, Christian kids. They weren’t drinking and driving. They weren’t doing anything “bad.” They were just at the wrong place, at the wrong time and life suddenly and irrevocably changed.

These young, bright, vivacious, healthy and active young people on the cusp of becoming independent have been brought to a place where they are fighting to relearn what they used to take for granted. And their parents are right there beside them, learning just how insignificant their efforts to protect their children have been.

I have watched these stories unfold as moms and dads are sharing the victories and the pain as they watch their children fight to live and then relearn how to walk. I hear their sorrow as they recall the bittersweet memories of their child on the basketball court, running and jumping with elegance and grace.

These are parents that never expected to be sitting up all night in their child’s hospital room, nurses and doctors speaking in hushed voices as the machines that are pumping life into their child hum and whir. They’re parents who, when their baby was taking their first uncertain steps, clinging to the coffee table, were making plans and sharing dreams about what their little lives would hold. They never imagined this is where they’d be 16 years later. Wondering, will my baby even live?

I spent yesterday in town running errands. Sometimes I really appreciate the time to do these simple chores on my own. I turn on a podcast or music, I pray, I people watch. It’s nice to have the time to just think.

But yesterday, my son, Evan wanted to join me. He’s 18, getting ready to venture out into life on his own before long and I was happy to have him by my side yesterday, not because I asked him for help, but because he just wanted to tag along. I figure I might as well take advantage of those moments while I can because they’re coming to an end.

We spent several hours in town, first in a local big-box store then on to get groceries. It truly wasn’t a remarkable trip except for this: the laughter that we shared.

We laughed so hard in Costco, as we sat stuck in an oversized lounge chair, sure that an employee was going to come and tell us to kindly remove ourselves from the store and never come back. We annoyed other customers who also wanted to take a seat in this, the comfiest of chairs, but we simply refused to move. We were having too much fun.

We laughed about everything. We talked about nothing. We shared a moment. That’s all it was.

My to-do list for the week is a mile long and seems to be growing by the hour. There was a part of me yesterday that really wanted to just blast through the errands and then move on to the work that’s piling up on my desk.

But then I remembered these parents whose lives are forever changed because they almost lost their child to a tragic event. And I remembered those parents I know whose children don’t even have the opportunity to relearn what once came so easily because their kids are gone. They don’t get to hear their voice or hug them close ever again.

And I embraced the moment to spend a few hours with this man-child of mine, who’s taller and stronger than me, but whom I will always and forever see as the little toddler just learning how to step out on his own. I cherished our time together to be silly, to laugh hard, to make memories and create inside jokes.

We don’t know what tomorrow or even the rest of today holds. We don’t know when our time is up when God will say, “It’s time to come home,” so we have to make the moments count.

Every chance, every day…. Be present. Say, “I love you.” Hug them hard.

Grief and pain are guaranteed. They may even be just around the corner. So hang on to the present and give thanks to the God who loves us in and through every storm life brings our way.

With love,
Brandy

Posted in advice, christian living, depression and anxiety, friendship, grief, Marriage and Dating, mental health, recovery, relationships

Picture (Im)perfect

It was a quiet conversation.

The two of us sat across the dining room table from one another, working on a jigsaw puzzle of a tiger lurking in the trees. Our voices were calm. We even laughed a little bit as we shared memories of our dating years and talked about where our relationship was currently: broken and on the edge of divorce.

We were less than 3 years into our marriage.

High school sweethearts, we’d met through our drama department our Junior year when Matt’s family relocated to our little town. We’d noticed each other immediately. His shaggy, bleach blond hair and dimpled cheeks shone like a beacon home for me.

It wasn’t until a year later that we’d begun dating and then, only after our friends Jimmy and Joy forced us to have a face-to-face conversation about how we liked each other instead of simply telling everyone else. It proved to be an off-again-on-again kind of relationship for a few years, but once we decided that we meant it when we said, ‘I love you,’ it stuck and wedding preparations were soon underway.

On June 24, 1995, before friends, family, God and one homeless lady who joined the festivities, we gave our vows and celebrated the start of our lives together. We danced, we toasted, we tossed the bouquet and garter. A week later, we loaded all my earthly possessions into the bed of a truck and the trailer we towed behind and drove the 12 hours to our first home together in Ogden, Utah.

wedding photo Matt and Brandy(Matt and I, exhausted from all the photos we took after the ceremony.
June 24, 1995. Welches, Oregon)

Pulling in well after dark, it was hard for me to really see what our new town looked like, but walking through the door of our little house-turned-tri-plex, I was overjoyed. It had great charm and it was OURS! Unpacking and decorating was a thrill. As a kid, I’d only ever lived in three homes and two of those were before I was 5, so I’d never known what it was like to actually move. It felt a little bit like playing house.

Our first 2 years in Ogden were full of college for Matt and work for me. We had little to no money but learned how to make the most of instant mashed potatoes, Kool-Aid, and pancakes. When time allowed, we’d pack a picnic basket and head to a local park. When time was tight or the weather didn’t cooperate, picnics happened on our living room floor. By working at the college’s theater, which also had touring companies coming through, we had the opportunity to see and be a part of some wonderful shows and performances, including Ballet West, Christopher Parkening, and Sundance Film Festival.

Matt and Brandy hiking(Me and Matt hiking in Ogden, Utah. circa 1996.)

It all seemed pretty good. We had our friends, we had our little nest. We had each other.
But lurking underneath was a dissatisfaction growing inside me.

Growing up, what I wanted most in life was to be a wife and mom. Here I was, on the path. Step 1: Get Married. Check. Step 2: Have babies. Not happening.

I’d wanted to get pregnant from the beginning. Matt wanted to wait until he was done with school. Tension was growing, while my belly was not. Health issues from earlier had me worried that fertility might be a problem. Meanwhile, I was seeing people everywhere both getting pregnant and also having abortions. It was heart-wrenching.

Then my world came crashing down in the most unexpected way. My dad, at the age of 48, died of a massive heart attack. He’d been my rock. We shared a love of oldies music, fly fishing and ‘puttering’. And suddenly, in the blink of an eye, everything changed.

Dad and I painting trailer(Me and my dad painting the trailer that carried all my belongings to
my new home and life with Matt. 1995)

The week or so that followed is a blur. Matt and I went back to Oregon, we buried and memorialized my dad. My mom, brother and I sat silently together, numb and unsure. Eventually, though, the regular flow of life had to return to normal. Matt returned to Utah, where he was chin-deep in school and work. I stayed behind with my mom, unwilling to leave her side.

Life was untethered and I didn’t know how we were going to survive.

When I finally returned to Utah – I’m not even sure how long I’d been gone – I was restless and anxious. I jumped everytime the phone rang. I couldn’t concentrate. I hated to hear about anyone else’s struggles or problems because it all seemed so petty. I lost any compassion I’d had. And I was angry at Matt.

He hadn’t ‘performed’ the way I wanted him to in the wake of my dad’s death. He shed few tears and in my mind, felt distant and emotionally unavailable. What I then saw as a character flaw, I now know to be a strength. Even though I wanted Matt to mourn with me, what I needed most was for him to be strong and hold me up. He did both. But he did them quietly. I was too lost in my own chaos to even recognize what was happening around me.

Within a few months, I got pregnant and soon thereafter, miscarried.

Devastation. Again.

I was at a complete loss. I didn’t want to be in Utah anymore. I wanted to be with my family and friends back home. I wanted my dad and my baby and I wanted my husband to do more than he was capable of doing for me.

So there we sat. A jigsaw puzzle between us. One thousand pieces of a perfectly destroyed image. And it was our task to put those pieces together, to recreate the picture on the front of the box, the picture that looked so seamless and perfect.

We worked for hours and as we worked, we talked. We reminisced about the day we first met. We laughed about our awkward beginning. We recalled our first kiss and so many kisses after. We talked about our fears and our hurts, our disappointments. We talked at length about the possibility of divorce.

As we talked, the pieces in our fingers began to come together. The edges were formed and soon, the inside picture grew, little by little.

We talked about how much we’d grown up with each other in the 10 years since we’d met. How we’d shared so much of ourselves with each other that we’d never shared with anyone else. We’d already invested so much of ourselves into one another, the thought of having to start over with someone else seemed daunting, at best. After all, despite the struggles we’d endured, we were best friends. We loved each other.

We always would.

Before we knew it, the final piece of the puzzle was set in place revealing not a seamless image, but a complete image. Where the pieces had been cut, there were crevasses as they joined together. It wasn’t smooth as a photograph. But it was whole. And together. What sat between us was a picture, not of a tiger stalking its prey, but a picture of how two separate people with their own brokenness can come together and form a beautiful union.

We weren’t perfect, but we were together.

 

[Wedding photos by Eileen Hunt]