All My Life You Have Been Faithful

We sang one of my favorite songs at church Sunday – “Goodness of God” – but the enemy whispered seeds of doubt at my favorite line: “All my life you have been faithful; All my life you have been so, so good.” I know it was the enemy because it was in the form of a question meant to cause me to question God’s sovereignty and faithfulness. Here’s what he said: “How can you sing ‘All my life you have been faithful’ when your husband took his own life and you had to raise your kids by yourself? How can you sing of the ‘goodness’ of God when that happened to you?”

Well my friends, let me tell you. I can sing “All my life you have been faithful” because the promise isn’t that there won’t be darkest days but that he will be faithful and true on ALL the days – bright or dark and everything in between.

“All my life you have been faithful” means to me all the ways God has guided my life, even when I wasn’t the most faithful to him.

“All my life you have been faithful” starts with the amazing parents I was born to and being raised in a Christian home. To this day they top the list of some of my favorite people and are such a blessing, giving me and my sister and our families so much love. They give it their all and are one of the first and biggest blessings of my life.

“All my life you have been faithful” means looking back and seeing God guiding my steps even when I made decisions without Him. I didn’t ask Him – aka pray – about where to go to college, what career to study, who and when to marry or when to have children, etc. I made my own decisions, yet even in my rebellion, he was faithful, guiding and blessing over and over again.

“All my life you have been faithful” means during the worst thing that could happen to me and my sons, God took care of us, spiritually, physically, financially – in all the ways – preparing and providing resources we didn’t deserve when I thought there would be none and providing friends and comfort that I didn’t feel worthy of and certainly didn’t deserve. My testimony is that “God will never leave you nor forsake you” is more than just a Bible verse. “Husband to the husbandless and father to the fatherless” is more than just a Bible verse.

“All my life you have been faithful” means in the small and seemingly mundane – the rainbows, the sunrise, someone paying for your coffee in the drive thru, the friendships, even the gift of music to hear and sing, food that tastes so good and flowers that smell good … He is so faithful to give and give and give some more, but sometimes we don’t see it or appreciate it for what it is – God’s gift to us. Every time something good happens, thank God. I often thank God for a clearing in the traffic line that allows me to get out of my congested neighborhood each morning! Thank you Lord for an opening in the traffic so I can safely keep moving.

“All my life you have been faithful” is also a future promise because I’ve still got life left to live and I don’t know what that future holds. We’re in a fallen world so it’s sure to hold more disappoints, hurts, sadness and pain, and I pray those things are minimal because I don’t want to experience them. But if and when I do, God will continue to be faithful just like he always has.

My Niece Ava

Friends see me post pictures of cute little blonde-haired Ava or see us bringing her with us into church and ask “Who is this sweet little girl?” “This is my niece Ava,” I proudly say. But there’s a little more to it than that.

Ava, almost 3 and starting dance

See, Ava is the daughter of John’s sister. (If you’re new around here, John is my late husband and my boys’ dad. He died in 2010.) So technically Ava and I are not blood related. She is first cousin to my sons who are her blood relatives, but blood isn’t what matters here. What matters here is family, and family is more than blood.

See, when John died 12 years ago, his family and I stayed family. His mom is still my mother-in-law, and she’s my boys’ Granny. Ava’s mom Lindsay is still my sister-in-law and the boys’ aunt, and her husband is their uncle. We choose to continue to be family even though we are missing the one who brought us together as family in the first place. We all experienced his loss, and there’s no benefit to losing each other too.

The boys with Aunt Lindsay

I’m thankful that we’ve stayed as close as we have and the boys have a close relationship with their aunt and uncle. And I’m so very thankful that I get to have close relationship with Ava. I was blessed with three nephews growing up and we are all very close, and I view Ava with the same love and care as I do my nephews. I’m thankful her mom and dad ask us to watch her from time to time and let us take her to church. It’s adorable that she calls me “Mimi,” for what we reason we don’t know. Last time she was at our house she cried after she left because she wanted to stay the night with Mimi. She is so smart and full of personality, and it’s a blessing to be her “Mimi.” They’ve been so supportive of my marriage to Lynn too, welcoming him into our little hodgepodge of a family. Reality is I view Lindsay as more of a sister than a sister-in-law; she’s been in my life since she was like 13 and I was only 18. Plus we’ve gone through hard stuff together over these years.

Holding newborn Ava in the hospital

I know too how much John loved babies and how much he would’ve loved Ava. I’m sorry he’s not here to experience her life. But he would be happy that his family has stayed a family and that the boys and I have stayed close to his mom and sister and now his niece.

We Almost Went to the World Series

We almost went to the World Series. Not just the Atlanta Braves but we … as in me and Finn and Caden and Lynn.

When they won game four and only needed to win one more game to take the series I thought certainly they’ll win one of the next three games; the odds are in their favor.

So I pitched the idea out loud in the living room: “If the Braves go to World Series we should go.” My two lifelong Braves fans were immediately onboard. They’ve been to at least one Braves baseball each year of their lives … except 2020 when baseball didn’t let us come.

The World Series, though, was within our reach. It’s being played in Texas, and they’re distancing people and selling a reduced number of tickets — crazy expensive tickets but once-in-a-lifetime this-opportunity-may-never-come-again tickets.

So we let our little hearts hope and dream of a grand World Series adventure, only to watch them lose game five … and then game six … and, last night, game seven.

So it’s still the year we didn’t see Braves baseball, and now the one when we were *this close* to going to the World Series.

The Man in My Life

I was checking out at Publix early one morning about 8 years ago I guess it was. Caden was in kindergarten and it was my day to bring the snack. I hadn’t prepared anything in advance so I ran to the grocery store after taking the boys to school then needed to go back and drop off the snack. That was the first time I ran into Lynn out in public somewhere. Lynn was the new music minister at my dad’s church so we’d met but that was about it. I see people I know at the grocery store all the time but this brief encounter stood out to me.

A few weeks later I saw him again at a UAH basketball game. The boys were meeting up with a family from church to watch the game and there he was, just a few rows behind us. I went and talked with him, sat with him a bit. It was nice.

You see, I was in (and trying to get out of) a toxic relationship and it wasn’t pretty. I was struggling and confused and hurting and so many things and yet each of these times I ran into Lynn I felt like God was putting him in my path for a reason. I even said to a few close friends that I feel like God is putting this man in my path to show me there’s a better way, there’s someone else. And honestly that scared me even more, but I just knew God was showing me something.

I saw him occasionally when I visited dad’s church and he was always so friendly, checking on how things were with my job, the boys, my church, always offering to pray for me and whatever was going on at the time. He’s an amazing pianist and one time when I was really, really low I asked him if he’d meet me at the church and play hymns so I could sing. I just wanted to sing and feel better. He did and it’s a sweet memory.

He kinda sorta asked me out that day, mentioning a movie coming out and saying we could see it together if I wanted. I ended up seeing the movie with a girl friend instead but we stayed in touch periodically.

Some time later our conversations turned more flirty and I invited him over one night after the boys went to bed and we sat in bag chairs in my driveway and talked. After an hour or so it was late and time for him to leave. I hugged him goodbye — near my trashcan of all places — and he kissed me. And then said he loved me. It kinda freaked me out. Like he’d known his feelings for me for a while and I wasn’t in the same place … yet.

So I backed off from a relationship but wanted to stay friends, and we did. A few years must have passed … the timeline is a little hazy …  but I knew I was still attracted to him and looked forward to seeing him when we visited dad’s church.

About 3 years ago we went out there for the church Thanksgiving meal and when it came time to find a seat I wanted to sit by Lynn and looked for a way to do that but there was no room near him. I was disappointed and really searched my heart for why it bothered me so much. I finally figured it out. It was quite simple really. I wanted to be the one that he saved a seat for, or that saved a seat for him, and I realized that as long as we were just friends I’d never have that right. So I got up the courage to tell him that and wondered if he felt the same. He did and we started dating.

My feelings were catching up to where his had been for a while and we were having a great time. But after about 6 or 7 months I had a moment that felt to me like what Peter experienced when he was walking on water and all the sudden looked down and realized “Oh my gosh I’m walking on water.” For me it was like “oh my gosh I’m in this amazing relationship with this really awesome guy and it’s freaking me out.” I started looking for reasons it wouldn’t work out and of course you find what you’re looking for. I ended it (which was really hard for me to do, by the way) and said let’s be friends, but I also knew I didn’t want to hurt him and being my friend might have been asking too much.

We did stay friends, with loose ties. My heart for him never changed I just pushed those feelings away and now, in addition to all the reasons I had looked for as to why this wouldn’t work, I now felt like I could never ever ask for another chance — for one, I was too risky for him to take a chance on, and two I couldn’t stand to hurt him again and decided I was too risky for *me* to take chance on.

So I stuffed my feelings and told myself don’t even think about it.

I did think about it though. All the time. When I missed him I’d text my friend all about it and sometimes had weak moments when I’d text him. Sometimes he’d reply and we’d have a good friendly conversation. Sometimes he didn’t reply at all and I thought well maybe he’s moved on, seeing someone else even, or maybe he’s still hurt by me and just let it go.

A few months ago though something changed. He left my dad’s church, on good terms, to do music at a different church. Reality hit me that I wouldn’t see him again unless we were intentional. It hurt my heart to think about. We talked on the phone about the change and I understood and supported completely but selfishly thought what do I do now?

Turns out what I did next was tell him the truth, how my feelings had never stopped and only been stuffed down and I wondered if he still felt the same. We cautiously rekindled our romance and it’s been a very good thing.

I tell all of that to say this, that I truly see this man as a gift that God has been trying to give me for a long time I just wasn’t a good at receiving it. I’ve told him this before, that he’s gift to me and one I don’t deserve. He loves the Lord. He is hilarious and keeps me smiling and laughing all the time. He is an amazingly talented pianist and singer. I could just sit and watch and hear him play for long stretches if it wouldn’t hurt his hands, lol. I hear anything with piano music and think he can play it! He’s sweet and a gentleman and a “man’s man” fixing lawn mowers and cars and taking care of his yard and even helped me with mine! He opens doors for me and walks me to my door or my car at the end of our dates. He’s a great dad to two daughters who adore him. In one phone call he can be my weatherman telling me what to prepare for and my sportscaster keeping me in the loop about our favorite sports and teams.

I don’t know the future of course but it looks bright, and I truly believe we’re on a path set into motion all those years ago with what seemed like chance encounters but what I knew then and really know now were really God moments.