By Jennifer Carson
In loving memory of Braden Alec Carson, born into heaven August 3, 1999

Life is not always easy. That’s no news flash to most of us, especially if you are reading this newsletter. Chances are you are walking through one of the greatest trials in your life. There are days when it seems impossible to get out of bed. The grief is so heavy and physically draining. There is no energy. There is no will to keep going. Every step is monumental. The simple tasks in life are suddenly torture to complete. What happened? How does it consume our lives so completely?

Grief is a topic not discussed much in our culture. Because of that, when we are thrown into it we don’t know how to handle it. We don’t know what is normal. We don’t know what is acceptable. So many times we don’t want to feel the pain and/or make others feel uncomfortable, so we stuff it. It scares us. It overwhelms us. Somehow, someway we must find a way to take another step (even if it is a tiny one). If we stop, we will never reach our place of healing.

My family and I went to Colorado last month for our summer vacation. We stayed up in the mountains. It was absolutely beautiful and cool! One of our favorite activities to do as a family is four wheeling. Where we stayed was a VERY rocky road which wound up the side of the mountain to a breathtaking waterfall. One afternoon, the four of us took off, hoping (with confident expectation) to reach the top. It was the rockiest road I have EVER been on. My four year old daughter kept saying, “Mommy, please can we turn around and go back?” She was miserable the entire way. It was thirty solid minutes of jarring. There were other roads that turned off with less bumps, but we knew they didn’t lead to the top.

We eventually leveled out and completed our mission of reaching the waterfall. My husband and son climbed to the top, as my daughter and I sat down about half way up. We were right on the edge, able to look down and see the gushing water. It was incredible. It was majestic and so powerful. I thought about Jesus. It reminded me of Him. He is so powerful and so mighty. As I reflected on Him, He spoke to my heart with this message… “That rocky road you just came up is like your life over the past year. It has been a VERY DIFFICULT journey with devastating bumps along the way. You always had the option of turning around and going back or taking a road that didn’t appear to be so painful, but you kept moving”. So many times I’ve wanted to quit and give up. The pain of processing and growing has been unbearable at times. But He has continually given me just what I need to take the next step. He continued,”If you would have given up today, just think what you would have missed. It’s the same in life. I have a plan and yes, often the road is rocky, but if you will continue to put one foot in front of the other, I will continue to lead you. If you keep going, you will eventually make it to the top. You will understand and My glory will be revealed to you”. He once again gave me the encouragement I needed to take another step.

We don’t always know where our pain is leading, nor do we understand why things happen the way they do. But God does. He promises us if we trust in Him with all our heart and don’t try to lean on our own understanding, if we acknowledge Him in all we do then He will direct our steps (Proverbs 3:5-6). He is faithful. He is loving. He wants the best for our lives, which is to know Him more intimately. Unfortunately, that often only happens through our heartaches. I pray you will receive His compassion and love through His Son Jesus. I pray you will draw close to Him so He will draw close to you. He will never push. He waits patiently until you open the door and invite Him in. He is waiting to envelope you with His loving arms. Won’t you invite Him in today?