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.
Turn on the television and chances are good that you’ll find a show with a father who is ignorant, incapable or simply a joke. Hollywood has a knack for making a mockery of one of the most important and influential roles any man can have. And we, as consumers, have quickly adapted and assumed that the men in our lives truly are incapable of most any task and are hardly worth listening to.
It’s sad, really.
We have gone from the adage “Father knows best” to the attitude “Fathers don’t even matter.” We have relegated the role of Father as merely an afterthought. As if the contribution of sperm and a little DNA were all that men have to offer in their role as Parent.
What would happen if we actually paid heed to the wisdom of these men, who’ve provided food, shelter, and clothing to us? What would happen if we stopped to reflect on the messages they’ve sent us, often without any words at all? What would happen if we, for a brief moment, paused to listen to their silence, to hear what they hear?
This week, Matt and I sat down and shared some of the lessons our dads have each taught us. My own dad has been gone now for over 20 years, taken by a sudden heart attack in the middle of the night. We lived a couple states away at the time and the phone call I received from my mom at 3:00 a.m. is one I won’t soon forget. My dad’s death shook me to my core and honestly, nothing’s quite been the same ever since.
I only had 23 years with my dad. But those 23 years counted because he made them count. He invested in my brother and I and the boys he led in Scouts. He invested in the kids he taught at our high school and in our church’s Sunday School. He invested in his wife, my mom. He invested in his relationship with the God who saved him. And he lived that all out in front of us every day. He sometimes fell, but he was never too proud to admit his own shortcomings.
I could spend hundreds of pages writing down the lessons he taught me in those short years. He was a good, flawed, passionate man who loved God, his wife, and his kids.
Matt’s dad is still around, for which we are super grateful!
He, too, has loved God and his wife and kids well. He has shown himself to be loyal and disciplined and compassionate, a rock in the storm. And while he’s been a good model for Matt to look to, he’s also been a second dad to me. He’s shown his grace and love in a million ways over the years.
Matt and I recognize that we are exceedingly fortunate to have both been raised by godly, loving men, who were committed to their families. We understand that not everyone is that fortunate.
That being said, because we were both blessed to have a couple of good eggs for dads, we wanted to share with you some of the wisdom they shared with us.
Of course, the list could go on and on. This is just a fraction of the lessons our dads have taught us over the years. And I’m sure, as we continue to reflect on the men who helped raise and shape us and the ways they impacted our lives, more and more lessons will reveal themselves.
Driving home from dance class with my daughter tonight, we were talking about the importance of valuing people in our lives. She’s worried that she takes us, her mom, dad, and brother, for granted. She does. We all do. That’s what happens when you have someone in your life who’s just always there. They start to blend in with your surroundings. You don’t always notice the ways they add value to your life on a daily basis.
Until they’re gone.
Suddenly, those smiles, the hugs, the laughter, the sage advice, and the off-color jokes, all crystalize and you understand how valuable and sacred that love is. It all comes into super sharp focus and all you want is one more chance to say “I love you.”
As you listen to this week’s episode, I trust that you will not only be challenged by some of the lessons we’re passing on, but also that you would consider the men in your own life, whether they’re your father or a father-figure, and the ways they have shaped and molded you. Would you take the time to put into words the value they’ve added to your life? Would you share that with them?
Dads are really important. And not just because they’re the best at telling Dad Jokes. Dads have a lot to offer if we give them half a chance.
Tell your dad you love him. I know he’d like to hear it.
So many girls dream of the day they will one day become a mother. They envision their little dolls come to life. Cooing, crying, snuggled in tight. Finally, when the time comes and they’re ready to make this dream into a reality, it doesn’t always end up quite the way they’d planned.
The road to motherhood can be a difficult one at best, riddled with infertility, loss, confusion, isolation, and depression.
This week we present a 2-part conversation with Lisa Page and her own harrowing journey.
Years of miscarriages and stillbirths, hope-filled expectations and shattered dreams, Lisa has felt every high and every low a woman can feel as she longed to finally bring a living baby home from the hospital.
Tune in to hear how God used this suffering to draw Lisa into a deeper, more grace-filled relationship with Him. Hear how she learned to cope with the well-intentioned and often painful words of condolence that she received.
Mostly, find hope as you listen to one woman’s journey as she learned that all the plans we make take a back seat to the sovereignty and goodness of God.
“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
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.
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.
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.
“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.
He wasn’t a perfect man. Nor was she a perfect woman.
When they got married in December of 1968, they were just a couple of young college kids. With nary a penny in their pockets and a baby on the way, they set out to make a life together.
In 1973, they added another in their ranks. I came along and made our family an even number. By this point, Dad was teaching social studies and coaching. The easy days of youthful ambition were a thing of the past; the horizon was a sea of adult responsibilities.
In all honesty, my childhood was pretty charmed. For most of it, we lived in one house, across from the local golf course. I had two friends nearby, Mike and Jesse and we spent countless hours riding our bikes, retrieving lost golf balls, building forts and exploring the woods. Meanwhile, Mom and Dad were just that…Mom and Dad.
They both worked full time. They both made every effort to come to our games or plays. They cheered hard at our every success. They put food on the table and clothes on our backs. It was, for the most part, a very stable home full of love. We knew what to expect as kids and our parents were consistent.
But every now and then, one of them would come home after a hard day at work. They both worked at local schools and saw the best and worst of the families they crossed paths with. And of course, school was and continues to be, fraught with politics and pressure.
I remember Dad coming home one day. It was in the fall, a chilly afternoon. Mom had come home exhausted and I, like any self-respecting young teenager conveniently only cared about my own existence, so didn’t seek to lighten her load any. When Dad walked through the door, it was clear that his day had been markedly better than hers.
He barely even kissed her on the cheek before she said, “You’re taking me to dinner tonight. I don’t care where. I’m not cooking.”
Mind you, we lived on a budget. Dinners out were a rare treat. I stood there, slack-jawed, waiting for Dad to respond with a loud voice, listing all the reasons we couldn’t afford to go out. In retrospect, I don’t think he’d ever done that before, but I’d also never seen my mom so adamantly put her foot down over a meal. Anything seemed possible.
Dad looked at her and said, “Okay. Where do you want to go? Brandy, get your coat.”
That was the moment I think when I really knew how deeply my parents loved each other.
It was such an easy exchange. No drama. No tears. No need for explanation. Just a simple need expressed and a gentle response of understanding. We grabbed our coats and headed out the door.
I asked Dad about it later. For some reason, the whole thing had taken me by such surprise. I asked why he was so quick to say yes. He turned to me and said, “If a dinner out every now and then is going to make your mom happy, I’m happy to do that. She doesn’t ask for much.” And then he went back to puttering.
It didn’t take much at all to make Mom happy that night. It took her husband, making the small effort to hear her words and know her heart and respond with a loving ‘yes’. That’s all.
And not only did we leave the restaurant that night, full of good food and laughter on our lips, not only did Mom feel valued and loved, but I walked away with an amazing picture of what love looks like.
As a child, it was an important moment that showed me how tenderly my dad honored his wife. That one simple act spoke volumes.
He wasn’t perfect. Nor was she. But they loved each other and they loved us. That love was displayed in a million different little ways and I’m forever grateful that my childhood was built on a foundation that they built together.
[Pictured: Jim and Teresa Page; circa 1995. Ogden, Utah.]
These statistics come from the following sources: http://www.healthway.com; “The Most Common Reasons Marriages Fail According to Divorce Lawyers”; Sager, Jeanne; Sept. 20, 2017
http://www.wf-lawyers.com/divorce-statistics-and-facts/ Wilkinson and Finkbeiner Family Law Attorneys, California
* During the average marriage vows (approx. 2 minutes), 9 divorces happen.
* One divorce in America every 13 seconds = 277 every hour or 6,646 every day or 46,523 every week or 2,419,196 every year
* On average, every divorce cost American taxpayers $30,000 in government assistance
* 50% of all marriages end in divorce or separation
* The divorce rate is declining slightly, but the rate of marriage is is declining even more
* Every re-marriage increases your chance of divorce by no less than 10%
* The years of marriage that are at greatest risk for divorce are years 1, 5-8, and 20-25.
From a recent national study (as quoted by Wilkinson and Finkbeiner) the 8 top reasons people cite for getting divorced are:
1 – Lack of commitment (73%)
2 – They argue too much (56%) – arguing about money at least once a week can increase your chances of divorce by as much as 30%
3 – Infidelity (56%) – addiction to pornography was cited as a major contributing factor
4 – Married too young (46%) – loss of virginity before the age of 18 increases your chances of divorce. Likewise, couples who live together before marriage increase their odds of divorce by as much as 40%.
5 – Unrealistic expectations (45%)
6 – Lack of equality in the relationship (44%)
7 – Lack of marriage preparation (41%)
8 – Abuse (25%)
“Every unrealistic expectation is a resentment waiting to happen.”
– Father Richard Rohr
Heuertz, Christopher L. The Scared Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2017