May 20, 2011

Is There No One to Intercede?

Gifts of the Holy Spirit
I've recently taken issue with the concept of intercession as a spiritual gift. Now, before you get upset with me for saying this, please hear me out. I do believe that some us are graced with a special anointing for intercession.

Perhaps we've had the pleasure of sitting under a brilliant intercessor and have vicariously learned from them, or perhaps we are just naturally bent toward spending hours of time in prayer.

Being one of these people graced with a supernatural inclination toward intercession, I totally understand why I always score high in intercession as one of my spiritual gifts. However, just because there are those of us who are, by way of personality, more inclined toward intercession, I do not believe this makes it a gift of the Spirit.

First of all, there is no mention of this "gift" in any of Paul's lists of spiritual gifts. Second, there are multiple places in his writings where he mentions intercession, and he never talks about it as if it is a gift. In fact, he insists that it is the assignment of every believer.

Worship as Intercession
1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NKJV)
"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires ALL men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."

In another place, Paul speaks to all believers and says, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." (Romans 8:26)

In the passages prior to this verse, Paul is describing the labor of hope and faith. He is describing the struggle we as believers go through as we wait for the promises of Jesus to come to bear in our lives and the lives of those we love and pray for. In this verse, he describes our weakness as not knowing how to pray.

Groans that Words Cannot Express
Have you every sat in agony, wondering what to pray for the one you love who is suffering beyond imagination? Have you ever seen the tyranny of the enemy over someone's life and not known how to pray? This is the solution...Paul declares that when we are at a loss, the Spirit steps in and takes over for us in our job as intercessors.

Now, perhaps you're squirming a little bit because you thought you were off the hook. Or perhaps you're just not feeling're just not seeing how this pertains to you quite yet. Let me show you one more verse. My goal is to awaken your soul to the truth your spirit already are an intercessor.

You don't have to become one. You don't have to learn all the right postures for prayer, and you don't have to spend hours on your knees crying out to God with words you cannot express. (Though you can if you want to.) Remember, it says the Spirit will do all of that for you when you don't know how to pray.

Let the truth wash over you today:

You are an intercessor.

Here's how I know that for sure:

"Therefore [Jesus] is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ALWAYS LIVES TO make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:25, NKJV)

Did you catch that? It says that Jesus LIVES to intercede on behalf of the lost. Paul told Timothy that God's WILL, His good and perfect WILL, is that EVERY man (woman & child) would come to salvation AND to knowledge (experience) of the truth!

Paul said this because he had an encounter with the One who LIVES to intercede for all men (women & children). Paul knows that Jesus intercedes. He followed the example of the One his heart burned for, and he exhorted his followers to do the same.

Tearful Intercession
I'm sure some of you are shaking in your boots, thinking that you have to suddenly become burdened by the problems of the whole world, and you're may even be a little irritated with me (or in denial) for pointing this out. I don't want to leave you here holding a burden too heavy for you to carry.

To that end, I will show you how simple it is to intercede. First, we learn a lesson from Job, who is angry at his friends for the way they have failed to support him in his darkest hour.

If you've ever read Job, you've probably been a bit confused about his friends. They seem to know what they're talking about. Much of what they have to say seems to hold wisdom, and it seems as though Job is just a little hard headed. You've probably thought, "If Job would just listen to them he would be all right."

I know this, because I used to see it this way, too. However, do you know what God had to say about it? The truth of what He says is a little obscured thanks to these pesky things called chapter headings that can sometimes diminish the impact of the flow of Scripture.

Job's Friends
In Job 36 & 37, Elihu is talking to Job, appealing to him to see things his way. The minute Elihu stops talking, God steps in with this question, "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?"

Although many of us have been taught that God is rebuking Job in this passage, I would argue that though He clearly does have something to say to Job, His sharpest rebuke is actually directed at Job's three friends. Here is the full text of 38:1-2:

"Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm. He said: 'Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.'"

Yes, I can totally see how one could interpret that Job was in trouble here with God, but I beg to differ. God was not angry with Job, not ever! He loved Job passionately, and until we begin to read this book with the view of God's passionate love for Job, we will never fully understand God's love for us.

Who Will Intercede?
That being said, I would like to bring us to an earlier part of Job to illustrate the simplicity of our call as intercession for the lost:

I am going to go out on a limb here, as I might truly offend you right now. I don't mean to, but I really want you to see what I see hidden in plain sight in the Scripture. Here goes...I'm going to mix translations for a minute here. There are elements of this verse in the NKJV and the NIV that I want to tie together...

Job 16:20-21 (my paraphrase) "My friends scorn me, my eyes pour out tears to God. Oh, that one might plead for a man with God as a man pleads for his friend."

Job is crying out for an intercessor. This passage is filled with court language...Job is basically looking for a public defender to stand between him and God. This is the very thing that the lost of this world need...someone to stand on earth and say, "He's with me."

Jesus as Intercessor
I would argue that this is the model Jesus set forth, and the final evidence I offer is found in two passages, one in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament. In addition to evidence, these two passages actually give us the keys to becoming the intercessors Jesus is looking for upon the earth on behalf of the lost. In fact, many of you who have written yourself as intercessors probably already walk in this calling without even knowing that you're doing it.

Isaiah 59:14-19 "Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. So truth fails, and he who departs [flees, runs] from evil makes himself a prey. Then the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no intercessor; therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him; and his own righteousness, it sustained Him. For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garment of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak. According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay, fury to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies; the coastlands He will fully repay. So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him."

Remember from my earlier posts about God's wrath, here, here, and here, that His wrath is bent on the enemy of your soul, not on you or any other human being!

I'm sure for many of you this passage from Isaiah is sounding of bells of familiarity. Here is it's New Testament counterpart. I'm hoping this one will finalize in your mind your destiny as an intercessor for the lost and broken:

Armor of God
Ephesians 6:10-18 (NKJV)
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age; against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, TO STAND. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; PRAYING ALWAYS with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints..."

God has invited every one of us to dress ourselves up in His garments, plus He's added a few items to our arsenal...the belt of truth (no longer fallen in the street), faith, the word of God, shoes of peace, AND intercession. And He promises that as we resist the devil in intercession (rather than departing from him), the devil will eventually flee from us. And unlike him, who can only intimidate and distract us, we can actually demolish his strongholds.

The Power to Demolish Strongholds
Now that you know who you are called to be, I encourage you this week to make one simple change in your prayer life. Rather than praying your soul's prayers for the hurting and broken people in your life, intercede for them...when their name comes to mind, bring their face up with their name and hand them over to the Spirit of God.

The Spirit, who is groaning without words on their behalf, will eventually return to you the words of the Lord for that person. Then you will have something you can pray with confidence that all of heaven is working on behalf of the one you pray for. This is true intercession...not a burden, but a delightful exchange between you and the Spirit of God, knowing that He knows exactly what they need. When the time is right for you to act (in word or deed) on their behalf, He will tell you what to do. Until He gives you this clear direction, rest in confident faith that by you bringing them to His attention, He is taking care of the rest.

In Peace & Joy,

May 16, 2011

The ALL of God

This past week has been full of victory on many fronts. Though we have some finishing touches to make, every living space in our home is beautifully in order. No longer are we "moving in." I am now confident that the order and beauty will provide the sanctuary we've been longing for in our home.

Also on a physical front, just a few short weeks ago I was healed of chronic neck and head pain. I stood for prayer in church when head trauma was called out, primarily considering my car accident as the source of said trauma. I did have a neck injury which had yet to resolve completely from the car accident.

However, once the vice grip around my head was lifted off by prayer and a prophetic act from the man behind me, I realized that the headaches had been with me far, far longer than the car accident. Though it is hard for me to know for sure, it's quite possible I've lived with a chronic low-grade headache for at least fifteen years.

Healed of Chronic Pain
There is no way to describe to you the feeling of waking up the next morning, expecting normal, only to find that a big part of what has been "normal" for so long is now actually really normal. Chronic pain is NEVER normal. Having been healed this past year from several chronic pain issues other than these headaches, I just have to say that again. Chronic pain is NEVER normal.

This brings me to the topic that's really on my heart little word that makes a big difference. Here's what the Bible says about it:

He Heals All Our Diseases
Psalm 103:2-3 (NIV)
"Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not ALL His benefits--who forgives ALL your sins and heals ALL your diseases."

Revelation 21:5a (NASB)
"He who sits on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making ALL things new."

Hebrews 2:8 (NASB)
"'You have put ALL things in subjection under [the son of man's] feet.' For in subjecting ALL things to him, he left nothing that is not subject to him. But we do not yet see ALL things subjected to him."

ALL sins are forgiven!!

ALL diseases are healed!!!

ALL aches and pains were paid for!!

ALL things are being made new!!

Jesus said on the cross, "It is finished!" What was finished??? His death on the cross covered the debt mankind owed to God for subjecting creation to the frustration of sin and death. His resurrection put everything right, including the oppression, depression, and repression that comes from chronic pain and suffering for no purpose. This final verse in Hebrews begs a serious question...

Paid In Full
If Jesus finished the work on the cross; if God placed ALL things in subjection under His feet, why have we not yet seen ALL things subjected to Jesus???

I propose that you and I play a significant role. Of course, we won't walk in the fullness of our destiny without a revelation of His love for us, for mankind, and for the earth. Of course, we won't have a revelation of His LOVE without His Holy Spirit helping us understand. Of course, without Him we can only offer sacrifices instead of obedience.

Yet, I encourage you to run to Him with your inadequacy in His call upon your life and ask Him for the one thing that will change everything and make this one little word yours for the taking....Ask Him for a revelation of His love for you.

His love for me has transformed my life. My heart is healed, my mind is healed, my body is healed, my marriage is healed, and my home is in order. This is all because I now understand that He loves me completely and fully. He loves me beyond words. And because He loves me, I know He will patiently teach me ALL things.
Transformation of Life
In fact, I know that He will teach me how to be like Jesus, who healed EVERY person He prayed for, who transformed EVERY person who received His love for them, and whose very inheritance is ALL the nations of the earth (Psalm 82:8).

My prayer for you today is that you will turn your face toward the One who loves you beyond words and that this encounter with Him will transform every atom of your being, so that you too will receive the breadth and width of the one word, ALL, and see how it includes you and every hope and dream you've ever had.


May 7, 2011

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Deep Storage
So, I'm working on sorting through my deep storage stuff. I have been working (or not working) on this project for about four weeks now. This is my final push. I have to get it done by Monday, as my friend is coming back to help me decorate before my parents come next Saturday (so excited for them to be here!!!).

I am sorting through every box one at a time. Over the years, I have haphazardly thrown photos in with old cards, craft supplies in with memorabilia, and school notebooks in with my journals. Several weeks ago, I tackled one of the biggies...

I went through all my journals and sorted them in order by date. I know that sounds kind of anal, but since I plan to use them for writing projects in the future, it will serve me in the future to have them in good order.

My Office
My office is filled with boxes, some half-filled and some overflowing. Each category has its own box...craft supplies, homeschooling supplies, Orion's keepsakes, Zara's keepsakes, wedding and anniversary get the idea.

I've come across some wonderful mementos, like my kids' baby books and photos...lots of photos...and letters exchanged between Eric and me when we were dating...and then the one that pierced my heart and made me sob...a memorial program for my dearest mentor and friend, Queenie Hammond.

You've got to know that this was deep into my deep storage, both literally and figuratively. Who knew that one little piece of paper with a simple statement "I'm not going to die, honey, I'm going to Heaven like a shooting star!" could set off a string of memories and emotions so fresh that it was like yesterday.

Memorial Program
Anyway, some of you understand, because you knew her and you knew her impact on my life. There is no one like Queenie, yet I aspire to love the way she loved and to do all the things she called forth from within me. She was one who could truly inspire greatness within a person just with a look, a touch, or a carefully spoken word. I am so blessed to have been one of her "kids."

And I pray that one day I will have at least half as many "kids" who will feel the same about me as I feel about her when I'm dancing with Jesus on the streets of gold (which, you know, is exactly what she is doing right this minute).

There was one other thing I found which surprised envelope postmarked October 4, 1993 (the fall of the year I graduated high school). It was addressed to me in my own handwriting from Ellensburg High School (my alma mater), and it was still sealed!!!!

Inside was a strange lump of something in the middle. I opened it and was surprised to see little slips of papers with dreams/goals written on them. I was even more surprised to find that I had seen fulfilled at least half of the dreams in my life. There are several, of course, that don't matter to me anymore, and a few that I still hold dear to my heart.

California Driver's License
Here are the things I've accomplished/experienced in life:

  • Get my license (yep...did that when I was 17 in Washington, and now I'm also the proud owner of a California driver's license)
  • Lose 15 pounds (I did do this a couple of times between graduation and now)
  • Find an exercise program I can stick to (the best one for me is a loose one, I've discovered)
  • Get to heaven (well on my way there)
  • Be as intelligent as my Dad (definitely, though our "intelligence" is sometimes vastly different)
  • Marriage (15 years in June)
  • Have my own business (have been in business for myself steadily for almost four years)
  • Have two kids (check)
  • Go to New York (went in 1993, though I hope to return again)
  • Become better friends with my mom (she is one of my best friends now)
  • Ride an airplane (see note about going to New York in 1993; also been to Florida; would be happy to fly again!)
  • Get into driver's ed (yep...did that my senior year of high school)
  • Live at my Dad's (lived with him part time my senior an apartment above his business in a very cool old building on Main was awesome)
  • Go to Prom (I went with a video camera as my date...I was asked by someone, but I turned him down (one of only a few regrets I have)...but I think I had more fun than most of the people that went with dates in the long run...still a little sad)
  • Finish high school
  • Get my A.A./Finish College (I did not actually do this...I went two quarters at community college and then transferred to Central. I did graduate with a B.A.)
Go to Australia
Some of the things I have yet to do:
  • Go to Australia
  • Become better friends with my Dad
  • Have an awesome house (I do have an awesome house, but I would like to design an awesome house with my husband)
  • Go to Spain
  • Be a psychologist
  • Be a professional singer
  • Dance professionally
  • Write my own lyrics
  • Go to Jamaica
  • Have a beach house
Plantation House
And here are a few that I don't want to do anymore:
  • Be part of Lutheran Youth Encounter (though I do want to do mission work still)
  • Meet Julia Roberts (okay, now that I wrote this here, I think I would like to still meet her)
  • Live in a plantation house
  • Live in the south (too muggy)
  • Have my hair down to my butt
  • Meet Kiefer Sutherland
  • Have a '69 green metallic Mustang
  • Win the Lottery (I only ever bought one ticket)
Thanks for taking a trip with me down Memory Lane. Now it's time for me to return to my sorting project.


May 6, 2011

Washed Clean by the Words

"Mourning Dawned"
This morning dawned with the same familiar ache lodged in my guts. I cried because I wanted so desperately to see what I know was before hopes and dreams fulfilled by the One who planted them within my heart.

I wanted so desperately to be done with being desperate. I wanted to wake up without the heavy weight of sorrow dogging me for one more day, making it hard for me to move and live and have my being in the One who created me.

I did what I know to do. I called a friend, and I poured it out again at her feet and His in the same ragged breaths. Then I did what needed to be done. I did the budget. Actually, I did more than that. I tackled it with hope and made the changes necessary to reflect reality.

Once I swallowed reality...really accepted it as it is in this moment, I wrote down the reality I want to see and the date I hope to see it by. And then I walked away from my home and it's messy chaos reflecting the inner chaos that has reigned in my heart for the past several days. I went to an oasis in the form of a woman who has taken me under her wing in this strange new land.

Washed Clean
And I walked away from her with hope. Really, there are no words to describe the feeling of leaving a heavy load on the floor of a warm office, having been washed clean by the words and ministry of a friend who sees what lies beneath the surface of my words.

Anyway, suddenly I realized that what I was crying out for last night and this morning were suddenly, freedom, light, LIFE!!!!

The enemies lies got the better of me for a couple of days, but they are set firmly beneath my feet today, and I am armed with wisdom and grace for myself that will protect me the next time he tries to steal my peace.

Back Float
Yes, peace....the lake. I have become one with the lake I was standing on the edge of yesterday. I am floating on my back, gazing up at the sky filled with fluffy clouds, resting in the embrace of a flow that carries me where it will without concern for the outcome.

I am at peace, knowing that my hopes and dreams are in line with His for my life. I can walk confidently, knowing that I am walking from glory to glory with Him at my side and that even the moments the enemy has meant for my destruction will be rewritten as a triumph in the Book He is writing for me.

Wide Open

This afternoon I wrote on an envelope on my table, "My soul aches."

I keep asking myself how can I feel awesome and heartsick all at the same time, and how I can just sit with it all, knowing that it's all going to come out the way I'm hoping for it seems that God must be working on the back of my tapestry right's tangled and filled with knots, yet it reflects a beauty of its own.

I wasn't really wanting to write about this, but tonight I was listening to Sara Groves' new CD, "Fireflies & Songs." She sings some wonderful songs on this album about real life...I started out listening to "Twice As Good," which is in keeping with my sentimental mood this week, reflecting on how good it is to walk through life with good friends.

I am one of the lucky ones...I have amazing friends, as I wrote about yesterday. I am truly blessed to have people in my life who celebrate my victories and cry with me in painful times. And yet there are moments when even those brief moments of sunlight seem to last only a few minutes in the scheme of a day.

A Brief Moment of Sunlight
My soul remained troubled this evening despite the encouragement of said good friends, so I turned to the One I always turn to when I'm Friend, my Hope, my Savior. His name is Jesus, and if you haven't met Him yet, you will one day, and you'll find that He is all that you have ever been searching for.

Anyway, as I was feeling His comfort wrap around me like a warm blanket, suddenly the song changed to "It's Me." I started out listening, and I ended up balling my eyes out through that song and the next one and into the next one. Finally, I came upon the one that spoke deep enough to penetrate and remind me of the prayer I pray for myself.

Wide Open
The song is called "Like A Lake."

I know this post is a little darker than usual. I do hope to leave you with hope. I sure have a good measure of it brewing within my spirit. It's just that my soul also carries a lot of pain. I'm walking slowly and carefully through this season in hopes of shedding some of it along the way, and I am confident of this, "that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion in Christ." (Philippians 1:6)

In Quietness & Trust is Your Strength
Here are the lyrics, so you can read along as you listen to the song:

So much hurt and preservation
Like a tendril round my soul
So much painful information
No clear way on how to hold it
And everything in me is tightening,
Curling in around this ache
I will lay my heart wide open
Like the surface of a lake
Wide open like a lake

Standing at this water’s edge
Looking in at God’s own heart
I have no idea where to begin
To swallow up the way things are
Everything in me is drawing in
Closing in around this pain
I will lay my heart wide open
Like the surface of a lake
Wide open like a lake

Bring the wind and bring the thunder
Bring the rain til I am tried
When it’s over bring me stillness
Let my face reflect the sky
And all the grace and all the wonder
All the peace that I can’t fake
Wide open like a lake

Everything in me is tightening
Curling in around this ache
I am fighting to stay open
I am fighting to stay open
Open, open, oh wide open
Open like a lake

May we all be wide open like a lake.


May 5, 2011

Forever Friends

So, did I mention that Echo is going to India??? I got news from her yesterday that a large donation was sent for her trip two days ago, and she has met her deadline for the halfway mark. She still needs $2,000.00 before sometime in July (details to follow in a later post), but the hurdle of half is met, AND furthermore, we know that God is on her side and will continue showing her his favor and grace for this trip.

As you must be able to imagine, I am beside myself at His swift response (at least for my prayers). I do not want to diminish the long and agonizing wait Echo has endured for this half of the money, but how much do you want to bet that Echo is not going to struggle quite as much in this last half of this portion of her race? He is so faithful.

Once again, if you want to help Echo go to India, you can click here,
and search by ID#2630486.

Now, I want to abruptly and sharply change topics. I want to talk about comfort!

Well, perhaps it's not a huge leap from honoring Echo to honoring some other friends. I have some really great friends, and being so far away from "home," I have been pining a bit for them today. Now, I'm going to mention some by name. These are a few of my most special friends.

If you're reading this and you're my friend and you're not on this list, please understand that I do not value you any more or less. You are also one of my many high-quality friends, and I am grateful for your love and the way you speak into my life and pray for me and read my blogs and everything else that you do for me.

It's just that I had these three special ladies strongly on my heart all day, and I need to let them know how much I love and adore them. They have especially stood out in my life as the epitome of God's nature as Comforter!!

Kittens: Forever Friends
First, Alana! You can read her blog here: Fragrant Devotion

I first met Alana in church. I was new...she had been there awhile. I saw her and thought, "I need to know her." She saw me, and she and another bosom friend invited me to join their women's group. I accepted the invitation, and it changed my life. What started out as a buoy in a raging sea eventually amounted to a full rescue at sea.

Alana is what she calls a "high-quality" friend. She is in my corner all the time, but she always tells me the truth. She loves me, and I love her, and that makes it all right for her to tell me the hard things. I trust that she gets me...she can read between the lines when my soul is gushing without thought for what God or anyone else might think.

She always knows just how to say what she has to say without cutting me too deeply, and it's okay with her if I don't always agree. The best part is, she doesn't know how truly great she is. I am graced with the most humble and gracious of friends in Alana.
Forever Friends
Next, there's Sarah. Sarah and I met in a different Bible study. One thing I love about Sarah is her laugh...especially when I'm the one who has elicited it. Her laugh is quick and comes with a grain of though she was just not expecting to find anything funny at the moment. I love that!!! I know that seems superficial, but it's not...I consider it a high honor to make her laugh, and I do it often.

We've had a long history of late-night talks...we rode to Bible study together a lot and sat for hours in her driveway talking deeply of life, love, and God. Even after that ended, we hung out late at night at Shari's weekly for months, leading right up to my move.

Even now, when I talk with her on the phone, if I close my eyes I can picture our booth (we nearly always seemed to be seated at the same booth). I can be transported  right back there with her. We've cried together, seen visions for each other, for sure laughed together, and definitely have prayed together.

She has a way of disagreeing with me that seems more like an invitation to agree...I love that the most about her. She always surprises me with the way she sees things...the way she hears God. And she has the most incredible visual imagination I've ever known to exist.

She's living in my old house now, and there is nothing that makes me happier than one of my favorite people living in one of my favorite houses, especially since she coveted the opportunity to live there just because I had lived there first...that is such a high honor!
Forever Friends
Third, there is Jodi. She is the friend I was talking about earlier...the one who formed the women's group I attended with Alana. Jodi is the best listener. It took me awhile to get used to being listened to so well. Sometimes it still catches me off guard.

I start thinking, surely she has gotten lost in all my ramblings by now, but then I'll take a breath and let her say something. And of course, I'm blown away by the depth of wisdom and insight that comes from her lips; I'm struck by how keenly she was listening to me.

I have quite possibly missed Jodi the most, since we had fewer opportunities to visit before I left Washington. She is an inspiration as a mother, enduring with great joy and patience (yes, I mean that, Jodi) some of the toughest struggles a mother can face. She is an inspiration as a wife and as a working woman. Most importantly she is an inspiration as a friend.

Jodi has always had the ability to call me higher...reaching out to the greatness that dwells within me and encouraging me to exceed even my own highest expectations.

Guys, I miss you so much, and I love you in a thousand different ways!! Thanks for being you!

I love you guys!

P.S. For photo credits, please click captions.
Some of them will truly add to your experience.