8:28 

When people hear about what 2015 looked like for me and my family I usually get one response. “Oh my gosh. You lost both of them? So close to each other. I’m sorry.” The shock of all that I’ve been through is one thing but the thing that continues to shock me is that I am still here. Today has officially been a year since my dad left this world. 
When I was younger I remember sitting in the various apartments that my mom brother and I shared. Every night my mom would come home tired from working. We would get our homework done as she would make dinner for us. After eating together at the table, yes we had nightly family meals, we would get ready for bed and my mom would read us a devotional. Before we prayed she would pull out these different color cards that had verses on them that we memorized as a family. 
“Ok guys,” she would start, “what does Romans 8:28 say?” 
“For we know that all things work together for good, for those who love God.”
Those who love God. 
Do I love Him? Like really love Him?
Last year has taught me that I do. Beyond the cute go to church with your family, post worship lyrics, and read the latest christian books type of love; I have found that my roots go deep. I have found that they go farther than the “if I don’t get my way then I am leaving.” Nothing in 2015 went my way. My favorite job, I lost. my best friend; she moved. my mind couldn’t be trusted. Anxiety attacks, nightmares, depression, the whole nine yards. And then November 9th, 2015 hit and boom my dad; dead. 54 hours later my grandpa died too. 
Life was winning 2,000 to 0. I was losing and it felt like I was constantly being kicked in the teeth. but something within me, something peered from the deep sorrows of depression and the chaos of anxiety and told me, there is something more. 
All things Work together for good
All things.
Not just some things. 
All.
Before my dad passed away I remember telling my mom that I knew without a doubt that God could heal him on this earth but I also wasn’t going to put all of my eggs in that basket. For some that may sound like I did not fully trust in God’s ability to heal my dad. Some may look at me and say, Shame on you, you should of prayed harder, agreed with the Bible more, fasted more etc. But truth be told I did fully believe God could and would heal him. In fact I believe my dad got the ultimate healing. The healing of the body soul and mind. The healing that never gets re injured or reminded about the reasons they felt hurt in the first place. I knew that even in the hurt and pain, that this situation fell under the umbrella of all things. All things in my life would make me better if I allowed them. All things that happen to me can positively affect the world around me if I spoke from the right perspective. All things would be made good because I loved Him and more importantly, He loves me. All things. 

When my mom was having us remember verses as children she may not have realized the full picture of what would spark in my life, but as I look back I see that this verse has been a core belief in my mind. Even in the hardest days I have known that God would work something good out of it for me. One of the good things that sparked from losing my dad and my grandpa was me seeking help with anxiety that I faced on a daily basis. From those hard dark months I became so hopeless that I couldn’t hide the fears that paralyzed me anymore. grief has a way of knocking your hands off of the things you tirelessly try to suppress. So I gave in. I chose to be weak, but in reality I found how strong God in me was. 
For we know.
How do you know something? 

How do you really truly know? 

Through reading? maybe. 

But the things you truly know are the things you have experienced or keep experiencing.

 I kept experiencing grief last year, but by some miracle I made it through. Was it my strength? Not at all. It couldn’t have been. I felt like an unpredictable ball of fear and turmoil. One night I woke up out of a dead sleep because my heart was racing so fast. I put on my Apple Watch to check my pulse and the numbers read 187 bmp. 187. I rarely reach that when I am running. But this was a regular thing for me during this time. Anxiety attacks and lack of motivation were real demons that I fought relentlessly. Why? During this time I didn’t know. But as I look back I see that everyday I didn’t think I would make it to the next day, I would pray begging God to just take me too. Yet I was still on Earth. Because of Him. He is the one that orders my footsteps. And He stayed with me through it all. He brought friends to my side, songs to my mind, and pictures to my eyes. He was constantly reminded me of His presence. And because of this dark time I can now say I know. 
My story about my dad has been something that has gone beyond me. It has carefully found it’s way to other ears of sons and daughters hurting with pain from the choices their parents have made. It has found it’s way into the hearts and minds of those wondering if things will ever change. It has found it’s way and nestled a seed of hope for those hurting souls. Not because of me, but because of God. He has made the good come through this mess. He will continue to make good come from the messes we humans make. That’s why I can not be paralyzed because of an election, diagnoses, lost job or relationship. 
2015 was a hard year. But even in the lose I have found the things I gained. An even closer relationship with my best friend. Freedom to think and speak up and work and live without anxiety. Happiness in life. Joy in the mourning. And most importantly hope for the future where I will get to praise my God with my dad by my side.
Dear Sojourner,
Come to know that all things will work together for the good of those who love God. He has you. He loves you. Trust Him. 
Love Mo

The Journey: Separation Anxiety

“Mom?”

“Monique? What’s wrong?!”

“I-my stomach hurts. I need to come home.”

” It’s just your nerves. You can’t miss the first day of school.”

“But mom I can’t-I- I need to come home. It’s -it’s more than nerves. I think I’m sick”

“Sigh. You have to stay. You can’t keep doing this.”

“I’m not trying to..I just can’t stay today…”

Up until high school this was a all too normal  phone call my mom would recieve every first day of school. It would start the night before and would end with me in tears not wanting to stay at school. I would be excited for school all summer but for some reason walking into the first class after being outside in the crisp morning air would make me realize that I was stuck. But more than stuck I was away from my MOM. My mind would flood with anxious thoughts of anything and everything ranging from what if I never see her again because something happens to her or what if she chooses not to pick me up. As a child I was scared that I would lose the one who I loved more than myself. This thought plagued haunted me constantly. Going to friends’ houses to spend the night weren’t a norm because I simply missed my mom. There were several times I would go to my aunts house for the summer and within a couple of days I was too sick to stay and she’d have to take me home days early. When I got home it was like my stomach got a dose of the right medicine and things were fine. 

Fear of Separation. To be apart. 

Looking back now I realize that a huge part of why I was so anxious when I wasn’t around my mom for long period of time was a combination of being a mommas girl and fear of being abandoned. Though I was very young when I lived near my dad I believe that a part of me emotionally knew that I had already lost one parent and I had to hold on for dear life or else the other one could be snatched from me too. This caused anxiety that leaked into so many other relationships besides the one with my mom. 

I was listening to Pastor Steven Furticks message, You Had to Be There. He was talking about 1 Kings 17 and how there was a drought sent but God sent Elijah to a brook where He sustained him for a time. God even sent Ravens to feed him, pretty cool right?! I would encourage you to read it. As you read it you will see that God allows the brook that He provided for Elijah to dry up. Pastor Steven then says that  God allowed the brook to dry up because Elijah was obedient to what God had for him and it was time for God to move him to the next step. 

Anxiety: a feeling of worry, fear, nervousness. Anxiety is something that plagues so many people. It can come in small doses that most people can relate to or it can come in dooming mind sets that you can’t shake. Do you think people in the Bible dealt with anxiety? Fear?

Two chapters later we find Elijah in a very different light. 

So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.” Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” (‭1 Kings‬ ‭19‬:‭2-4‬ NLT)

What happened? What happened to the obedient prophet who saw God’s provision. I didn’t even mention but in chapter 18 we find Elijah totally obliterating the idols that the people were believing in. So he was victorious, saw God’s provision more than once but ran.  away. 

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. (‭1 John‬ ‭4‬:‭18‬ NLT)
Too often we lose sight of our sustainer. We forget that God is not a human and believe that He separates himself from us if a circumstance arises that is hard, challenging, or scary. We forget. We believe that because we can’t feel Him, He has separated himself from us, thus creating anxiety that we are alone, abandoned, neglected, punished. We believe the lies that tell us we are worthless, always a mess, too much to handle and God has punished us by separating His love from our hearts. 

But I found a truth that blew my mind. 

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (‭Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭38-39‬ NLT)

I will end with this. In the book Breaking Free by Beth Moore she talks about how one of the definitions of God’s unfailing  love is a love that is evoked by small babies. She goes on to talk about how when she became a mother her children unlocked a love in her she never experienced. This next truth sealed the fact that I never have to be anxious about the one who loves me more than I will ever fully know will never abandon me. She says, “I once heard a Christian child psychologist explain then necessity of some conflict and power struggle with teenagers. He explained that a certain amount of difficulty most naturally arise as children began to become young adults and parents would never be able to help them out of the nest and onto independence. He commented if the bond we had with them as infants did not change we would never be able to let them go. All our lives God retains the strong feelings towards us that infant evoke and their parents because he never has to let us go! He’s not rearing us to leave home! God is ruining us to come home!”

This journey of choosing to see ourselves the way God does has already proven to be hard but when we choose to align our minds with the truth that He will not leave us we no longer have to believe that from punishment separation will come. We can believe that He is with us every step of the way. 

Dear sojourners,

Don’t give up. You are great. You are loved. You are worth it. Simply because you are alive and breathing. That means there’s still a good purpose for you here on the Earth and God is with you. He wants you to accomplish all that He has for you so that you can finally go home and be with Him. What a beautiful picture of our amazing Daddy. 

Keep traveling friends 

Mo Go