Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve 2014 Roundup -

Hey y'all!! 

I hope you are enjoying your New Year's Eve safe and sound, bright and merry!! It has rained all day today, and still our neighbors are having fun shooting off some fireworks. In the rain. Haha. I guess Southerners don't ever do well with someone telling them what to do with their firepower. Hahaha. 

So I thought I'd do what I did last year - run through the top 7 posts on the blog from 2014! 


The Top Seven Posts of 2014. (with #1 being the most popular!) 

1. Smoochiekins & The Boyfriend!  (still one of my favorite stories to re-read, Happy 1st Anniversary, you two!! Love you (three) SO much!!) 

2. No Sleep - One of the hardest things to write, but one of the most honest things I've ever written.

3. Prayers for Wade Williams - The hardest of the hard. How we miss him!! 

4. The Smoochiekins - Gosh, I love her. "Epitome" HAHHAAA.

5. Miss Elise - She is so very missed. I continue to remember her faithfulness & love in my life. 

6. My Project 52 {12} - An extremely happy day (Smoochiekins is in 3 of these top posts! haha). 

7. Today I am 26 - Thankful for this life I have!! 


And I wanted to share my favorite top 7 posts from 2014. Things that I wrote in my head for weeks or months, and finally had the courage to spill out, or memories that just begged to be written down and laughed over. I'm more and more convinced that God is working to encourage me by reminding me of what He's done in me and through the words that I read later on. Months, years later - I'm amazed and in awe of the blessings that rest on me, and how God has carried and led us this year. 

My Top Seven Favorite Posts of 2014 

1. In The Presence of My Savior (This story holds great sorrow & great mercies & love) 

2. No Sleep (The real, raw, me - writing honestly is my favorite)  

3. These Are The Cherished Times  (still hits me hard, and still brings me peace)

4. When Pain Strips You Down (honest, real, raw words about grief)

5. Keep Me By You  (Memories & Truth) 

6. Miss Elise  (She is so missed in my life, and very much loved) 

7. Five Minute Friday: Garden - (So thankful for my friends & their loving grace in my life!) 


My two favorite New Year's Eve songs:

1. "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" by Zooey Deschanel & Joseph Gordon Levitt

2. "Happy New Year" by Steven Curtis Chapman


And last but not least - all 52 pictures of my Project 52 for 2014 in a music slideshow!! Enjoy!!

"As another chapter ends, and another one begins, slowly now we turn the page....
the Story's being told, and the best is yet to come. 
So Happy New Year, Happy New Year, another chance to catch a glimpse of what is coming true. 
So Happy New Year, Happy New Year, the God Who made everything is remaking everything, 
the God Who made everything, He says "I'm making ALL THINGS NEW. So Happy New Year." 
~ Steven Curtis Chapman ~

"I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year, with Thee, O Father, as my harbor, 
Thee, O Son, at my helm, Thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails." ~ The Valley of Vision 

Happy New Year of 2015, beloved friends!! May you enter it with peace and joy.

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~

Saturday, December 27, 2014

My Project 52 {Week 52} -

{Week 52} Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2014 ~ Sweet Christmas figurines that Mama sets out each year. 

Wow, that was post 52 of my Project 52 for 2014!! The last post!! I loved how it challenged me and made me think differently. I will be starting it up again in 2015!! It also helps me to look at each week separately. 

This has been a long year. Aren't they all, though? These figurines remind me I'm Home. What better way to end the year than dwelling on the blessings of my home here, and the Home that awaits us. 

I hope your year is sweetly drawing to a close, and you enjoy these last few days of 2014! 

With love,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014!! -

~ The Fambrough Family 2014 ~ 

Merry Christmas, y'all!! 

I read this Scripture this morning at breakfast aloud to my family, and I barely made it through the first few lines before the tears started rolling. It's been a hard year, and our hearts are with so many grieving today. But this. This is JOY

"For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder. 
And His name will be called 
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, 
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice,
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this." 
~ Isaiah 9:6-7 ~ 

With love always, Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

My Project 52 {Week 50 & 51} -

{Week 50} December 10, 2014 ~ A seagull enjoying the warm sun on its back on a cold evening by the Halifax River. 

{Week 51} Sunset over the palms. Last night's Christmas shopping trip with Mama. iPod photo.

Hope y'all are enjoying the last few days of December & have a very Merry Christmas!! 

~ Jean Marie ~ 

One year ago today -

Today a member of my family made a quick and insensitive comment in the midst of a discussion about a friend's cancer treatment. My immediate reaction was tears. All is talked about and forgiven now, we don't stay mad long in this house....but all it takes is one real, raw look at my memories of cancer and these past few years of having our dearest friends ripped away from us for it to be the most sensitive of topics for me. 

I cried my eyes out for a half hour because the ache hurt so much. 

And I've found it hard to recover from that conversation today because all the memories came rushing back.
So vividly that it makes my whole self ache with sadness & pain. 

I really do not believe that loss gets any easier. I just think that some memories fade. 

Today was 1 year since I visited Elise in the hospital and spent several hours holding her hand and talking with her. Hours I'd never trade for anything in the world, not even for a picture of us together. The words and truth and love she spoke into me from that hospital bed carried me through that Christmas, and this year. And I miss that I can't talk to her more. She was a loving & a consoling friend. 

The night before I went to see her, I wrote THIS. I barely made it through reading that tonight without bawling for the 5th time today. I believe that God blesses me the most of anyone reading things on this blog, because He was the One that allowed me to write it, and knew I would need it. It's everything I needed to be reminded of tonight. 

And these - oh, all these precious memories that mean so much. I miss you, Elise. So very, very much. 

You blessed me more than you will ever know that day, one year ago. I love you always. And I'll see you soon. 

~ Jean Marie ~

Saturday, December 6, 2014

My Project 52 {Week 49} -

{Week 49} November 30, 2014 

This girl deserves two Project 52's in a row for flying 18 hours roundtrip to come to FL to see us and spend Thanksgiving with us. Our beloved Sadie Beth, looking gorgeous last Sunday when we went out to the refuge to take a few pictures and see some dolphins!! 

Her laughter & smile are so contagious. She's such a laid back person to be around, and a favorite friend. 

Love you, Sadie Beth!! You are so very lovely.

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

My Becs is 21 -

Today was Becs' 21st Birthday!!! 

She invited me to celebrate with her family and eat (tons of) delicious food and watch Elf!! I wouldn't have said no in a million years, not to mention she told me it wasn't up for debate. ;) We had a wonderfully fun time, now I'm stuffed like it's Thanksgiving 2.0, and sleepy. 

When I'm feeling sad or discouraged, I don't need to look any further than my Instagram feed,
which is filled with pictures like these, reminders of the special and true gift of Becca Elizabeth in my life. 

I love her so very much!! Here are a few of our memories: 

Mumford & Sons in St. Augustine, September 2013, one of my favorite pics of us. 

Shot with my GoPro - 
Right after Becs ran through the paint war and just before John Fogarty (YES) and Mumford and Sons took the stage, where we'd sing, dance, jump, and clap (and totally freak out) for 2 hours with 27,000 other people on Francis Field. One of the craziest and coolest experiences ever. 
Eating some of the best ribs in the South together. We love good food with a passion, y'all. {2014}

And we also believe in advertising that you should buy local honey. 
And laugh hysterically at each other for hours at Barberville. {November 2014}

We've been friends for six years, and it's been a wonderful, close, honest, gloriously good ride.
I'm grateful for her, and for all the ways she pours grace, understanding, and laughter into my life.
She is always there to listen, fuel my fires & also put out those fires when they are unnecessary.
She is loving & forgiving. She prays for me, and knows I'll do the same for her at the drop of a hat.
We are besties. We are music-twins. We are walking these roads of life together, and it is pretty darn wonderful to do that. 

We also believe in adventures on THE coldest days of the year, singing at the drop of a hat, being as dramatic as humanly possible,
and whining about exercising the whole time we are walking. Haha. {November 2014}

She's also my model for my photography. And my peaceful & dreamy muse. She's amazing & lovely. 

And she's one of my dearest friends I've ever been blessed & honored to know. 
And I was just a tad excited to spend time with her on her birthday,
hug her approximately 24 times, laugh with her, try to play banjo with her, talk with her,
and watch her be her real, honest, sassy, sweet, adorable, wonderful, loving self. 

I love you, Becs. Thanks for being such an amazing & mercy-filled friend. Happy 21st!!! 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

My Project 52 {Week 48} -

{Week 48} November 28, 2014 ~ New Smyrna Beach, FL 

I love this picture. I love so many things about it, but I also love it for the reasons that I can't explain. I told Sadie Beth "I love photography more when I have a connection to it that doesn't make sense. Photography makes more sense to me when it doesn't make sense.". Which makes sense to my brain, but sounds rather confusing to everyone else. Haha. 

1. I adore the light. The echoes and sun flares and bursts of light. 
2. I love the way Sadie Beth is holding her hair and bracing against the 45 degree cold wind. 
3. I love the old house for sale on the left
4. I love the wave gate for the beach, and the soft sand sign on the right.
5. I love Sadie Beth's skirt blowing into the light.
6. I love that Sadie Beth is turning into the sunset, as if the warmth will warm her up right away.
7. And the obvious reason, as pointed out by herself, was that Sadie Beth was IN the picture, thus being my favorite. ;) 

But this is the reason I love photography. That on days when perhaps work or life doesn't make sense ... that emotion and memories do, and the snapshot of that will bring back those good memories to mind. And I won't have a hundred reasons why, I'll just remember that I loved it, and we loved it together, and it will seem wild and free and completely my own moment. 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sadie Beth is HERE!!! -


I spent all last week crying my eyes out because we were going to be alone for Thanksgiving. Like, I cried myself to sleep several nights and was just devastated we would be without friends or family to celebrate with.

Little did I know that my parents were going to surprise Kimberly and I. This evening I was playing Christmas music on the piano and my parents walk in (from their "errands"), and I hear a voice say "Happy Thanksgiving!!!". I turned from the piano and see my dear friend Sadie Beth, who flew all the way from England to celebrate Thanksgiving with us!!!! 

I stared at her, stared back at Mom, back at her, back at Mom, back at her, my mouth open in shock. Then I gasped and screamed and promptly burst into tears and cried for the next 5 minutes in her embrace. 

I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT BELIEVE THIS. I was SOOOO surprised!!!!! SO amazing. 

And then we took this grainy picture and told the whole world she was here.

So many happy tears. We haven't seen each other in 2.5 years!!! 

And suddenly Thanksgiving means family, friends & joy again. 

Happy Thanksgiving, one and all!!! 

With love always, 
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Happy 22nd Birthday, Tricia! -

Sunday night I texted Tricia and asked her if she'd like to have a little "date" before her birthday on Tuesday. So yesterday I drove up to Ormond Beach, picked her up, and we walked the beach in the beautiful setting sunlight, and watched the wetsuit clad surfers in the water. 

We also drove up to Palm Coast that night to watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as a movie night at Gabe & Leah's with a bunch of people in our gang (yes, we are old fashioned kids at heart), and sang along loudly and dramatically to 80's music as we drove to and from the beach. How I love times with her. 

{Ipod Selfwe at the beach!}

Ormond Beach, FL 

Honestly I don't even remember what we talked about, because we kept interrupting ourselves by singing and laughing hysterically.
 Hahaha. I love time with her so very much. She truly is one of my dearest friends. 

"I've haaaadd the time of my liiiiiiffe, and I've neverrrr felt this waaay beforeeee." Hahahahhaa!! 

Tricia is a rain or shine, mountain or valley, day or night, dark or light, up or down, every emotion between extreme joy and utter sadness sort of friend. She is an incredible listener and empathizer. She is often the person I write or call when I'm so upset I can't think or do life anymore. She's been my calm and peace and Truth speaker on so many occasions. She has been grace and mercy to me. 

As I wrote last year: "She is honestly one of the most empathetic, amazing, caring,
 loving, genuine, true, brave, compassionate and deep people I've ever known." 

Moon jelly!! ..... dead moon jelly. 

More dead moon jelly pic because of the gorgeous light and incredible bokeh. 

Such beauty we live with every day!! 

"I love every time with you, every laugh with you, every adventure with you. And I've been blessed to have you comfort me through many a cry with you too. Thank you for being the real Tricia & allowing me to do the same. You are an amazing, wonderful, special friend, and I love you so very much." 

Us. Us wonderful, crazy, hysterical, two. 

"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, "What! You too? I thought I was the only one." ~ C.S. Lewis

"Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top..."

"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~ E.E. Cummings 

Tricia, it's hard to really put into words how much you mean to me. I've tried and been successful many other times (here, and here), but for now all I can think of is that I would have driven NINE hours for all the laughter and joy we shared yesterday. I'm SO grateful and thankful for you. 

I'm truly thankful for every conversation we've ever had, including the apologies we've uttered for sometimes saying the wrong things, the hugs that mean it's alright, and the desire to be better, be more, be as real as possible with each other. I appreciate your friendship more than I can say. 

You, my beautiful friend, are stunningly gorgeous, and wonderfully treasured. Jesus loves you more than all of us combined
and more than we can ever dream or imagine are the joyful gifts He has in store for us.

You complain so little, and praise Jesus for so much.You have dreams, and sometimes it's hard
waiting for the fulfillment of those, but you parent so well and live as Cody's wife so well. 

I'm amazed and encouraged and inspired by you. 

And I'm drawn closer to Jesus through you.You are a shimmering light in my life, a reminder that God truly cares about relationships and friendships and building His church into a beautiful community that reaches out and cares well and loves deeply. 

You listen to me more than most, and understand better than many. You've heard more of my heart
than most will hear because you have won the rights to those places by true compassion and mercy. 

"We are mirrors whose brightness is wholly derived from the sun that shines upon us." ~ C.S. Lewis

I love you, my dearest Tricia. Life is so much better with you in it. I hope we shall always be friends. 

Happy 22nd Birthday!!!! 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~

Saturday, November 22, 2014

My Project 52 {Week 47} -

{Week 47} - November 22, 2014

This week has been a very difficult and sad week of missing people. Grief comes calling in unexpected places and in unwelcome ways, and it all hit hard this week. It's so hard missing so many people so much, all at once. There have been many tears this past week.

But thankfully the week is over, and now - rest. 

And soon - Thanksgiving. May our hearts fill up and overflow with thanksgiving to the One Who gives us all in love. 

~ Jean Marie ~ 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

My Project 52 {Week 46} -

{Week 46} - Sunday, November 9, 2014. The beautiful sunset at Ben & Emily's. 

"In silence the three of them looked at the sunset, and thought about God."
~ Maud Hart Lovelace ~ "Betsy, Tacy, and Tib" (one of my all-time favorite book series)

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

My Project 52 {Week 45} -

{Week 45} November 2, 2014 ~ Barberville Pioneer Settlement ~ Jamboree 2014

One of my most favorite people (and one of my best friends) on this planet we call Home. 
So grateful for her friendship and love in my life. It is a happy friend that finds a Shannon in life. 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

My Project 52 {Week 44} -

{Week 44} October 28, 2014 

Last week my parents and I went on our Annual Autumn Trip to Georgia & TN!! We had such a wonderful time. We were driving through the mountains of TN, and had to pull over beside this lake....I found this lovely walkway, and actually hiked up around the mountain a bit before coming back. 

It was such a sweet time away with my parents. I love them so much, and I love Autumn!! 
Grateful for times like these. And for pictures to remind me of the memories and the Autumn hues. :) 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

My Project 52 {Week 43} -

{Week 43} October 22, 2014

This past Wednesday I went over to Emily & Ben's house, and shot Phoenix Dahlia's newborn pictures!! 
She is the most precious, sweet, nearly-identical-to-Georgia, kissable, darling baby girl. I am head over heels. :) 

This is one of my very favorites!! Sweet Nixie girl. How we love you. 
For more sneak peeks - check out my FB Photography page: JemmiePhotography!! 

I came home and felt like I have THE best job in the world. I love newborn sessions and I love newborns, haha. Right now I have so many bookings for maternity, newborn sessions, and now family pictures! It's definitely in the holiday season now. ;) I'm so busy, but loving it! 

Enjoy your Autumn. It is rushing by so quickly! 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~

Monday, October 20, 2014

Lucy Mae's 4th Birthday -

Today was Lucy Mae's 4th birthday!!! In the morning, there were snuggles and kisses and singing. 

Midday, there were kisses and chasing lizards (all her) and hugs. 

And tonight after I got home from walking the bridge, there was joyful barking that I was home, 
followed by more (you guessed it) snuggles, kisses, and lovin'. I love this dog. 

Thanks, Kim, for taking this one of us!! Lucy Mae ONLY wanted to kiss me. Not vice versa. 
Hence her face in this picture. 

Today I tried to take her outside extra times so she could pounce and tunnel through the Mondo grass to hunt lizards. It really is her favorite thing to do outside, and it's the cutest thing to watch her. :) She's virtually impossible to get a picture of though, because she leaps by, or she's way under the blades of grass. ;) Spot the doxie.....

I really wanted some updated portraits of her, so I had her sit and stay for me, and I just love this one. 
She's such a pretty and interested dog. 

For "dessert", I put 4 candles in a piece of Mama's pumpkin pie, and we all sang "Happy Birthday" to Lucy Mae, it was hilarious. We kept laughing at her expressions. I think she liked it. :) The minute I blew out the candles, she lunged for the crust. Hahaahaha. So Daddy gave her a piece of the crust, and I gave her a swipe of the filling. ;) She loved it, of course. Then she got a special dog bone, and I ate the pie. Haha. 

She really is one of the greatest joys in my life. Day in, day out, she loves to be with me. 
She comforts me and curls up beside me to take naps, she races around the house playing hide and seek with me, and suffers through waltzing with me to various music genres. 

She hates baths, so she lies outside the bathroom door when I take them, because she is concerned about me. 

She currently loves everyone.....except the dog that belongs to Wilbur, the ex NFL player that lives down the street.
What is up with that?? We don't get it. 

She is incredibly smart and is getting just a hint of white on her muzzle, which is just TOO MUCH, because she's only 4, and I want her to live forever. She's such a special, hilarious, wonderful part of our lives.

Happy 4th Birthday, baby. I'm so glad you are ours. 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

My Project 52 {Week 42} -

{Week 42} iPod Touch picture 

I've been so busy with pictures and my photography business that when I'm not shooting a session, I don't pick my camera up as quickly. Nothing will ever replace my camera or my love for film/digital photography, but for on the go, the iPod Touch is incredibly helpful. :) 

It is Autumn here. These are fall leaves on our lawn one afternoon from our 5 Chinese Tallow trees.
I'm so glad we have these, because it's so wonderful and fun to watch them change and fall. 

Oh, and those are my coral flats. ;) 

Happy Autumn, wherever y'all are!! 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

My Project 52 {39,40,41} -

Week 39 - Rain sprinkling on the Indian River at sunset. At a maternity session. - September 26, 2014

Week 40 - Jasmine & Phillip's wedding day in Texas!!! One week ago today - SUCH an amazing, joyful day. Oct. 4, 2014 

Week 41 - This is the gorgeous late summer light I get to work with at photography sessions. So blessed. October 9, 2014 

So I had a lot to catch up on!!! 

These have been quite the fast 3 weeks!! But full of wonderful photo opportunities and many times of fellowship, friendship and joy. I'm left thankful. Autumn is quickly coming, and I'm enjoying the thought of that.

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Friday, October 10, 2014

When pain strips you down -

Today was not a good day. It was a hard day. 

About 4pm, I said "Enough of this!" and went to the beach. I never regret time outdoors. It is never time wasted. I came away feeling as though finally my feet were on firmer ground after walking on the hard packed sand and running through the waves. 

There is no better Earthly place for me than the beach. It hears sorrows no one else will hear, it touches me in ways no one else can move, it carries the tears that drop into the sea, down into the depths of Christ's never ending love. Here is where He is. Here is where I know Home is. Here is where I return. Here is where peace usually finds me and doesn't let go.

{All pictures are iPod Touch pictures, taken today}

"I wanna sink my feet, down in security. Unmoved by changing tides, and shadows' shifting lines.
I'm tired of getting worn, let me wake with the morn, once again be reborn, and think about 
Eternity a little more."  ~ Jillian Edwards 

Today was full of good news and bad news, and it was a lot at once. Plus it's been a week of hard anniversaries. 

From the minute my feet hit the sand, I felt the shattered pieces of today and this week fall into the open.
I walked in the waves and on the sand and felt the breath spill out of me. Today was too much, all at once. 

I can't say who I was thinking of when I realized that I was sad. But I was ... sad. Underneath, I feel quite sure that I've been sad all week. I did something new this year called "Distract yourself with everything possible and pretend it never happened.". It works great until suddenly you realize it totally did happen and everything hits you like a bomb exploding, and then you can't move because you think your heart is going to be crushed with all the sadness all at once. Stupid move. 

I think when you have so many people stripped away from you, you feel less like you,
and Home feels less like Home. The beach will always and forever until I die be Home to me. 

When I was driving home from the beach, I was trying to figure all this out in my mind. 
And I finally came close enough to where I think it makes sense. To me anyways. 

When you lose someone, or many someones, and your heart is stricken with grief, you feel as though pain has stripped you down to the bare basics of what you can understand. In those bare basics are the normal emotions: joy, sorrow, anger, fear, pain, laughter, peace, etc. But instead of finding just one, your heart feels many of them at once, and doesn't know how to sort any of it out. 

So in the midst of a joyful moment, you settle on that emotion and knowledge. "This is joy! I will be joyful, for this is joy!" and when you are sad "I'm so sad. I need some space to cry because I am wounded." and when you are angry "I need to get out and run. I need to work this out! I'm angry!", and so forth. 

In those moments, you intentionally pick that emotion and stick with it. It's a choosing, in that time. "This is joy, I can know joy and sorrow together, this is good." or "I will have joy in my heart, and yet allow myself tears. Tears bring healing", and so on. 

And that is how Biblical grief works. That is how the human mind processes and heals your heart. 
That is how we live well in a broken world. It is a "both, and" world for us. 

And it's easier to identify those in others. Perhaps in a party setting, we can SEE joy. We feel it, we express it, we laugh and rejoice and know it. We are comfortable being IN that joy, and we are joyful to know others in that joy. We find the joyful face in the room, and we revel in it. 

There may be real conversations that involve sadness, and perhaps tears and sorrow in the midst of that joyful party, but overwhelmingly, joy will most often pervade and overcome that sadness. Because we have chosen JOY in that moment, and it is what we are going with. We won't let it go easily. 

It's much easier to BE in that emotion, to LIVE IN that moment of emotion, to KNOW others in that emotion, to SEE that emotion for all the God-given blessing that it is. We understand it, we live in it, we enjoy it, we crave the simplicity of knowing just that one pure knowledge of uncomplicated understanding. 

And honestly, it's easier to see it worn on the sleeve of the one without so much sorrow in their lives. 
Because me. Me? Me I don't understand so much. I'm struggling to remember what I wore last Sunday for church, yet I can remember in vivid detail what I wore for a funeral 2.5 years ago. I'm struggling to understand every loss. I'm struggling to hold myself in, and yet, let myself open to grieve too. 

On a beach alone, with the only person ahead, far ahead, and others behind, I still kept swiveling to see if anyone would not understand my tears. I'm so quick to stop myself from grieving in public that I haven't given myself enough space for it. And it makes it hurt all the more. I need to grieve. 

And oh, if we could have had it any other way! And oh, if we could all have gone to the brighter shores of Heaven together it would not ache so!! And oh, if our prayers for healing could have been for this world and oh, if we had not had to say so many goodbyes or seen so many funerals. 

These years. These years have been indescribably hard. Hard that a 5 minute explanation from a question of "Where are you in life?" won't answer. Hard in a way that leaves you crying in some part of someone's house because you can't answer a question you don't know yourself. 

All I know is that joy and sorrow are more intertwined than I ever would have believed. 
And that if I were to really tell you the honest, whole, real, unfiltered truth: is that I am indescribably sad. 

I am incredibly sad. 

I am unbearably wounded. 

I am unforgettably grieved. 

I am impossibly broken. 

I am unwillingly shattered. 

& I am irreplaceably longing for Heaven. 

This depth of pain: it can't be fixed or made better this side of Heaven. It can only be eased by the Lord's peace. 

 Never has a quote better summed up my heart than this by C.S. Lewis - 
"We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; 
we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be." 

Because I have felt the sobs breaking from my throat in the night, I have held the shaking shoulders tight against mine, and pressed their heads onto my shoulders to cry, I have walked more valleys than I could have imagined and felt more sorrow than I believed I could bear.

I have known so much grief and pain. And I have known that God is good in the midst of it.
I have never not known Him to carry me through it. 

But fear does say: "Enough. Please please please, Jesus. Enough. I can't lose anyone else." 

Trust hears the words echo from time and eternity: "It is finished." 

"Now the daylight flees, now the ground beneath quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two, dead are raised to life - "Finished!!" The victory cry!" ~ The Getty's 

A dear friend shared this quote on FB tonight, and I was in tears at the sight of it, as all these words
tumbled around in my head. This is what I hold to, when rejoicing is so far from me. 

"Cast yourself on Him, and perseveringly depend even when you cannot rejoicingly hope." 
~ C.H. Spurgeon ~ 

This. Tonight. Amid the tears. This is what I can do: I can cast myself on Him, and I can perseveringly depend. 

I can dependI can abide. He is with me, He will not forsake me, He will shepherd me in my sorrow. 

And I will wake with the morn, thinking about Eternity even more than the day before. 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~