Jackson Five Friday: Facing Hard Things

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Hey Friends,

It’s been a tough week for millions of Texans and I’m not sure any of us can get our heads around the magnitude of the destruction.  And some families are mourning not just the loss of things, but loss of life.  I know the heartache is just unbearable.  These poor people think back to their life before Harvey, which was just last week, but then have to somehow grapple with their new reality.

I talked to my mom today and told her about a sweet and unexpected story that I heard just this morning.  A mom from my older sons’ school told me that she had shared the post of my mother’s poem with her own widowed mother, and how it spoke to her. Sorrow knits hearts together.  It’s an odd sort of club.

Sadly, my mom is a star member of the club.  In February 1999, she lost her sister to cancer, and then, in November, her husband to a sudden and massive heart attack.  In January 2002, my mom’s brother took his own life after struggling with depression.  In July of 2002, her son was killed in a small plane crash.  In March of 2004, her father died of cancer.  So yes, I’m familiar with grief as well.  In five short years I lost my aunt, my dad, my uncle, my brother and my grandfather.  But truly, my mom was at the center of it all, and amazingly, she trusted God and His plan every step of the way.  It wasn’t a life she would ever choose, obviously, but she held onto her faith with the tightest grip she could.

When we were chatting this morning, she told me that her advice for the hurting is always the same: (1) Look to the future; and (2) Count your blessings.

Certainly, as Christians, we do not mourn like those without hope, but have the promise of a great reunion.  John 14: 2 says, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?”

My mom said that when she has felt discouraged, that she focuses on spending eternity with Jesus and the loved ones she has lost.  She looks anxiously ahead to what awaits, but she also looks back on her life and counts up all her blessings.  My mom has an uncanny ability to recite hymns.  She doesn’t even need the tune.  She can just effortlessly say the words.

I wonder how many times in her life she has turned to these words by Johnson Oatman?

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,

Praying tonight for my incredible mom, giving thanks for the salt and light she’s given to this world.  Praying too for all of those engulfed by grief.  Praise God that this life isn’t all there is.

With Love,


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