It was like I woke up from a long dream — somehow in the wake of burying two sons in two years, I had resigned myself to holding a tight grip on fear of the future. The bubble of “everything will work out” philosophy that got me through my early twenties was popped the day my world ended when our boys died.
I’ve learned in the last two years a few things that I hoped I would never have to learn through experience. But I have also learned a few other things that have taught me how to fight to choose joy in the face of suffering.
One of those lessons had to do with dreaming again. We quickly realized that our two living children had experienced just as much heart ache as we had in the loss of our sons. And part of our healing process has been to navigate this road together as a family to begin to dream again.
Here are the 10 ways we are dreaming together as a family in 2016:
- Committing ourselves to loving life. If I asked you, “Do you love your life?” would you answer me honestly? I think many of us are semi-content with our lives, but I would venture to say that few of us love our lives in a committed, intentional way. This year, we are committing ourselves to love life together as a family.
- To dream God-sized dreams with our kids. Growing up, there was so much focus on me finding my “purpose” but no one every taught me how to do it as a parent. Our family’s heart is to release families into God-sized dreams together. We want to see strong marriages full of power and families living life together with purpose. We have purposed 2016 to going after these dreams together as a family. I will post more about this in a few weeks when we can share our announcement of where God is taking us in 2016!
- To be living examples of the Spirit of Adoption. This is something that God has been speaking to our family for years but this year, He has been consistently reminding us of an urgency in this area. James writes that the basis of faith is caring for widows and orphans in their distress. We have purposed our family to living intentionally in the reality of the spirit of adoption in 2016. For us this means adopting from Uganda.
- To invest all we have into empowering one another in our marriage. One day after our son Montgomery died, I looked up at Josh and just knew he was having a hard day. We were having such a hard time figuring out how to just survive that we were not living. I looked at him and asked him if he felt empowered in his life. When he told me no, I knew we needed to change our lives and our marriage. As a wife, I want to be my husband’s greatest cheerleader. In this last season of our lives, grief has made me realize that I haven’t done my part in making him feel empowered. Sometimes going after our dreams means fostering the dreams of others. When was the last time I asked my husband what his dreams were? I will be writing more about marriage ministries in the weeks to come especially for those couples who have faced trauma like we have. Statistics show that 80% of marriages fail after losing a child. We found out quickly that we needed to fight for our marriage and our family in battle of losing our sons. And fight we have.
- To become the best versions of ourselves and take care of and treat our bodies as audacious displays of God’s redemptive glory. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of the usual weight loss resolutions in the new year. They make me feel so un-empowered and like I’ve somehow not lived life to the fullest in the year before because I didn’t have everything right. This year we have purposed to treat ourselves well and for us that starts with becoming intentional again with what we feed ourselves and our family and learning to love ourselves in a healthy way. I want a smaller waist, and Josh wants bigger guns, but our perspective and how we approach our body goals has changed. God is superb at redemption, and He is doing it in us even now.
- To make adventure priority with our kids. Each year, Josh and I have a date where we categorize our lives and dream up goals for the new year. There’s nothing wrong with this, but we have noticed how we often put our family life in a separate category than the rest of our lives and goals. Now, we are seeing God change our hearts to being intentional about including our family in our goals. We want to bring our kids on our adventures. And in doing so, we have noticed that this process refreshes us instead of draining us. Everyday can be an adventure. We are purposing to savor every day that God graces us with.
- To choose Joy in suffering and daily ask The Holy Spirit to come to us as our Comforter. There were days after our sons died that I just didn’t know what to do. I had kids to take care of, a business to run with my husband, I was homeschooling our kids, and I was giving my best attempt at writing my second book. One day, when I didn’t know anything else to pray, I just put my hands out and said, “Holy Spirit, would you please just come and be my Comforter today?” Being intentional about my healing in the grief of losing sons has made our house a safe place for our kids and has taught them that God is always for us. In times when I thought about quitting, I looked down at my two living children and I knew they were watching. They were watching how I chose to handle suffering. As their parents we have purposed ourselves to have hearts that are unoffended in the mystery of battles lost, in the questions of “why”, and in the fog of hope deferred.
- To intentionally call out beauty from the ashes of others. We are launching our new ministry, Those Who Dream in the new year for family missions and marriage healing ministries. From the moment Beau died, I heard God whisper over and over, “beauty will rise”. In the grief that happened with not one but two of our kids dying, we had many people who just didn’t know what to say. And to be honest, most of those that did say something, were spewing bad theology and their own ideas of how God would “let” this happen. Very few people were equipped to handle our pain. We are purposing our family to be those who intentionally call out beauty from the ashes of others. I’m excited to share more about our new ministry, Those Who Dream, in the days ahead.
- To daily speak destiny over our kids. As I have journeyed with my kids in parenthood for the last 5 years, I have noticed the impact of the words I speak over my children. Words had such an impact on my life growing up, and most of the time they were negative. I have had to spend my entire adult life, reversing those lies spoken over me and eclipsing them with what God says about me. This year, we have purposed ourselves to speaking destiny over our kids. As parents, we are the greatest prophets to our children. And our words have power. What are you prophesying over your kids?
- To ask Jesus to walk around our house. Our entire lives revolve around our home. Our home is a church, a school, a business center, a writing office, a sanctuary, a resting place, and so much more. Sometimes the busyness of life can distract us from finding His presence in the ordinary, the everyday, the normal done-again routines of life. This year we are purposing ourselves to ask Jesus to walk around our home. Mother Teresa said, “If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.” We desire to see families walking in the fullness of God’s heart for the world. What dreams is He is speaking to you about the new year? Are you dreaming God-sized dreams with your family? If so, we’d love to hear from you!