THIS MUNDANE MARRIAGE THING~
Back in 1985, the church we were married in always had the bridal party wait in the back stairwell after the ceremony. Once everyone was dismissed we then emerged for final pictures before the reception.
I will never forget those moments after I had just been pronounced his wife.
Hidden in that stairwell.
We couldn’t stop kissing and laughing and talking about how much fun our wedding was, and how we would do it all over again.
As I think about this, I recall a talk I had with my mom the last year she was alive. She told me that despite many ups and down through the years, it was like she and dad were honeymooners all over again. She passed away a few short months later. She was 62.
I can’t seem to get that off of my mind.
What if I only have a few short months left with my husband? What happened to that girl that was in the stairwell? The girl who couldn’t stop kissing. The girl who couldn’t stop smiling.
I get mad at the clothes laying on the floor in the bathroom. I get irritated when he leaves his coat flung everywhere~except on a hook just inside the front door. I want to strangle him when he walks across clean floors with dirty, wet shoes. I get hurt when life is weighing on him and he loses his patience with me or falls asleep while I’m talking to him. And sometimes I want to smother him with my pillow when he won’t stop snoring.
Stupid, petty things.
A lot can change in 34 years. Maybe your own marriage has changed. You find yourself saddened that the honeymoon seems to be over. The romance and spark has been replaced with irritability.
Your marriage has become mundane.
It doesn’t have to be this way, in fact, it never should be this way~no matter how old you are or how long you have been married.
Don’t waste another day upset over petty things, irritated or hurt because you lack an empathetic heart.
That boy you married is the man sitting next to you now.
That smile he had for you is still the same.
Maybe it’s just hidden.
Hidden in an old stairwell.
You can share that laughter again ~
If you choose to look for it by finding the good.
In the clothes on the floor~
because one day they might not be there. In the coat flung someplace different on a daily basis~
because even though he was busy, he ran errands for you.
In the wet shoe prints through the house~
because he shoveled all that snow.
In the lack of patience ~
because he’s working several jobs to pay the bills.
When he falls asleep~
because he’s getting up at 5 am to work those jobs.
When he’s snoring~
because his presence brings comfort and peace in the darkness of night.
He is your constant.
Your best friend.
There’s always, always something good if we choose to truly look for it. When we change our hearts towards our husbands and our hearts become thankful~
our marriages will look a whole lot different.
Every day can be like a honeymoon.
And you can be that girl
~kissing and laughing and saying~
I would do it all over again.
CAN GOD RESTORE WHAT IS SO BROKEN?
I could hear them screaming at each other upstairs.
Crying ensued followed by slamming doors and the words “I hate you!”.
This was a daily occurrence and one that broke my heart.
Teenage sisters living in the same room. One mirror. Three girls. Daily fights.
I didn’t have a sister.
I always wanted one.
This was not what I imagined when they were little.
I had this idea that they would grow up to be best friends. Sharing secrets and dreams. Doing each other’s hair, sharing outfits, actually wanting to be together.
I never imagined feeling exhausted before my day even began. I never imagined myself crying as they left for school every day or begging God to heal a relationship that I thought could never be healed.
I kid you not, it was something that went on almost every day for a year.
I truly believe they hated each other that year.
It was something I went to God about daily, begging Him to change hearts and restore what was broken. I have to admit, I didn’t have a whole lot of faith when I went to Him. I wasn’t sure He could restore what was SO broken.
But He could.
And He showed me it had nothing to do with me being some perfect parent and everything to do with Him being a perfect Savior. It had nothing to do with my prayers but everything to do with His promises. Yes He wanted me to go to Him in my despair. Yes He wanted me to lean on Him, have faith in Him, trust Him for the healing~
but when my flesh failed me, He did not.
Don’t ever stop praying mama, even after your prayers have been answered. It’s not the power of your prayers that will make a difference in your children’s lives it’s the power of the One who hears our prayers and answers.
And He will answer.
It might take years.
It did in my situation and there are still moments where those old days flare their ugly head and the deceiver tries to convince those girls that some things never change.
God is faithful. He is more powerful. His Spirit continually reminds them to think on what is true and good and righteous. To love like He loves and forgive as He forgives.
He softens their hearts and He reminds them Who their hearts belong to.
So go to Him mama. He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother (or sister)~~
but it’s a beautiful thing when that sister is also a best friend.
A MOTHER WORRIED ABOUT HER CHILD, A CHILD WORRIED ABOUT HER MOTHER.
Many tears have been shed this week.
How easy it is to pen the words~
Trust in the Lord at all times~
until those times fall heavy upon your own shoulders.
My daughter’s son has been extremely sick this week. The hardest part is watching the pain precious Gabe has been in. It is heartbreaking. The sad thing is, we can’t figure out why. It’s scary when your child asks if you will please give him a shot so he will feel better. What toddler voluntarily asks for a shot? Worry has crept into every single minute of every single day. One sleepless night after another and despite an ER visit, every day
the pain continues. A mother, worried about her child.
My sweet friend has been in the hospital. She has been like a grandma to me, and like me~she was also a pastor’s wife. I can’t tell you how often she has blessed my life with words of encouragement and wisdom, with stories that had me laughing and crying. She’s a treasure to me. Her daughter has been by her side continually. What seemed like a cautious ER visit turned into the very real possibility that sweet Dorothy would be seeing Jesus very soon. So many tears have been shed. Watching your mother in so much pain, struggling to breathe and not knowing if each breath will be her last. One sleepless night after another. A child, worried about her mother.
Heartache, trials and pain are no respecter of people or age.
Today I do not know the outcome or have answers for either, but this I know~
My almighty Father does.
I’m not going to pretend it’s simple or easy to trust Him through this, it’s been hard. But I know how very much He loves my daughter, He loves Dorothy’s daughter and most important~
how very much He loves my grandson and my friend. Jeremiah 31:3
So every day, every minute I ask Him to hold them. To allow them to feel the peace of His comforting arms around them. Isaiah 26:3, 2 Corinthians 1:3
I don’t try to hide my tears. They have been flowing and that’s okay, because I know that my Savior wept. John 11:35
He understands sadness. He understands my tears. I will cling to Him in His goodness and hold tight to His promises. 2 Peter 1:4
Whatever you are going through right now, no matter how deep or how dark or how painful it is~ you are not alone. Micah 7:8
He is with you!
He is with you!!
He is with you!!!
He will never ever leave. Hebrews 13:5
You don’t have to be afraid of evil tidings. Fix your eyes on Jesus and trust in Him. Psalms 112:7, Proverbs 3:5-6
And when you feel the trust won’t come, when the worry overwhelms you and the fear grips your heart~ cry out to Him~
“Jesus I believe, help my unbelief.”
Let faith whisper to your soul the very words of your Father~
“I am with you.
Nothing can separate you from my love.
everything is possible.”
A mother, worried about her child.
A child, worried about her mother.
A Father tenderly holding them both.
Psalm 103:4, Revelation 21:3-4
“And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
*** I wrote this on Wednesday. On Friday my sweet friend Dorothy took her last breath and was immediately in the presence of Jesus. I’m so thankful God gave me the precious gift of her friendship. She will be so missed.
Thankfully,my grandson has turned the corner and we are finally starting to see our precious Gabe almost back to normal.
THIS~ HELPLESS, OUT OF CONTROL, MOM OF ADULTS~ PHASE.
Lately It seems as if I see more and more articles about the mom life and how hard it is.
How fast it goes.
I’ve read encouragement about everything from babies to teenagers and even advice as they leave for college or their happily ever after with the love of their lives.
There are so many tough transitions through all these phases, but I rarely read about this new phase.
This helpless, out of control, mom of adults phase.
I thought crying babies who wouldn’t sleep was hard. I thought their first day of school and kindergarten graduation was hard. I thought their first crush, their first heartbreak, their college prep, senior trip and last summer at home was hard.
When they went to college I cried my eyes out. When they got married I wasn’t quite ready.
But once they leave~
really leave and are on their own~
no one tells you how incredibly hard that is.
It’s hard because you feel like you no longer have any control whatsoever.
They don’t live under your roof.
You can’t protect them.
And just as it was so very hard when they were little and sick and crying, this is even harder. I’m sure all of you moms have faced one of these situations.
Suddenly they’re no longer tucked in upstairs, they’re hundreds of miles from home.
They don’t have a cough or a tummy ache, they have cancer.
They aren’t having a bad dream, they’re living a bad dream.
They didn’t have an adolescent boy break their heart. They had a husband break their marriage.
They didn’t lose their favorite baby doll. They lost a child.
There are no band aids and kisses that can heal that pain. Mama rocking them to sleep doesn’t make all the bad go away.
And this~ this is agonizing.
It’s in our mom DNA to make that pain go away. To make everything better. To whisper words of comfort. To hold them and sing lullabies. To fix every boo boo and dry every tear.
That’s what we’re supposed to do~
but we can’t.
No one ever warned me what a mother’s heart goes through.
Sleepless nights that don’t go away, no matter their age. They’re still your baby, and if they’re crying you are crying and your heart is shattered.
So what then? What does a mama do when all seems so hopeless. When all control is lost and we can’t do what a mama is supposed to do?
We realize that it was never really us to begin with.
It was God in us.
God in the touch of a mother’s hand. God in the whispers of her heart. God in the softness of her arms. God in the reassurance of her words.
God has never left them and He never will. He is the one who will be there now. Continuing to do all these things that we no longer can.
He will hold them. He will comfort them. He will whisper to their hearts. He will sing lullabies to their souls. They will never be alone. He will watch over them and wrap His loving arms around them. Trust Him that he will continue to do what He has been doing through you all along mama.
It isn’t easy. It’s very, very hard. We as mothers would take that pain and heart ache for our children a thousand times over if we could. But we can’t.
So now it’s time to give that pain and all the shattered pieces to Jesus.
Place that child in His tender, loving arms and watch Him do miracles that mamas do, but no longer can.
You know in your mama heart how deep your love for your children is. Hold on to that knowledge
His love is infinitely deeper than ours could ever be.
YOUR ‘NO’ MIGHT BE GOD’S ‘YES’
2 minute read
I can remember sitting in Cobo arena with my parents.
Thousands of people were there to hear one man speak. I was probably only in 7th or 8th grade but I can vividly remember looking at that crowd and thinking how amazingly beautiful it would be if I were in that man’s shoes, reaching and encouraging thousands for the Lord. I prayed that someday, somehow I could glorify Jesus that way.
I finished high school with a longing in my heart to be a teacher. I enrolled in college with a major in elementary education. I loved teaching and I loved children. I just knew God placed that desire within me and I prayed that someday that desire would be fulfilled.
I got married and we started a family. Since grade school I had dreamt of becoming an author and publishing a book. I started with a course on children’s writing. I had so many thoughts in my head that I wanted my pen to tell. I prayed that someday, when my children were grown and my life was less busy God would allow me that dream.
In each instance I asked God~
Would You allow this for me? Could You? But as the years went by~
I thought His answer to each of these was no.
I have never gotten to reach or encourage thousands of people in an arena.
I never was an elementary school teacher. I never wrote or published a book.
I married a pastor and eventually we moved to a small town in the thumb of MI. No huge crowds. No large arenas. A pastor’s wife at a tiny church of less than 100.
The years went by. I raised my children and watched and prayed as each left our little home and then one day...
as I sat and listened to the broken heart of a woman seeking counsel, God whispered to my own heart to begin something new.
That was this.
The beginning of Holding Hope.
And so, yesterday as I thanked Him for this beautiful privilege He has allowed me~
He showed me.
and He did.
40 years after the quiet prayer of a shy girl in the midst of thousands, He answered.
He didn’t answer in the way I expected.
No, I don’t get up in an arena and talk to thousands. From my very small town in the Midwest, God chose to use social media as His platform instead. Holding Hope.
No, I never taught in a school. God brought me to a church where, for a long time I was the only teacher for the children there. For 25 years He has allowed me to fulfill that dream and today I teach along side my own children in that very same church. And no, I have never published or even written a book, but every week God allows this pen to write the stories He puts in my heart.
Don’t give up. Wherever you might be right now, whatever your prayer, whatever your dream~ God has your answer. It might not come tomorrow or next week or next year. It might take 40 years, but He will answer.
Hold on to that hope.
You might be a student, sitting in a classroom wondering if God could ever use you to reach and encourage others.
You might be a mama, sitting in the middle of babies and bottles and diapers with a “someday” dream tucked away in your heart.
You might be a grandmother who hasn’t even realized that God has already answered your prayers.
He has always been faithful, even in my unfaithfulness.
My no was His yes.
Search your heart for His yes and when you find it, you will find so many more answers to the prayers you have whispered through the years.
Prayers you may have forgotten~
but He never did,
and He never will.
Don't ever let Him become just a nonessential habit.
A check list.
Let His love break you to the point that nothing in this world compares.
Determine that each day you will not talk to others until you talk to Him.
When you speak to Him in public, or in private, may you never forget that you are speaking to the King of Kings~ your Almighty Father.
Focus on that thought every single time you hear the words "let's pray".
That every thought, every word, every action and every reaction is all abandoned to Him and His glory.
Let His love be blinding in its brilliance as it shines from your heart.
Let Him be so real to you that you can hear His voice in every decision, that you can feel His presence no matter where you are that you can feel His peace no matter what you are going through.
Be addicted to Him and Him only.
Let thoughts of the cross and His love for you bring you to your knees.
Worship Him incessantly.
Praise Him endlessly.
Pray to Him continually.
Don't ever take His grace for granted.
Let His mercy move you and His Word always awe you.
Be so consumed with Christ that thankfulness is always in your thoughts and on your lips.
Always have the selfless heart of the Servant your Savior was.
See the world through the eyes of your Savior as He suffered on the cross for your sins and mine.
Don't ever get used to it.
Let it be renewed in your heart every minute of every day.
What does Love require?
It required everything.
And that’s exactly what He gave.
Make Him your Everything.
HOW TO HOLD ON TO HOPE
December 2019 did not end the way I had anticipated.
My heart was tremendously heavy for loved ones, neighbors and even people on social media that I have never met. People going through horrible heartache and trials. I couldn’t shake the sadness I felt for each of them. Prayers were spoken continually for what seemed like hopeless situations.
And with the sadness, I looked to a season for happiness instead of my Savior.
I wrapped presents.
I made cookies.
I went to parties.
I ate too much junk food.
I stayed up too late.
I struggled with perfectionism.
I watched too many Hallmark movies while I neglected much needed time with God.
And yet, at the stroke of midnight a new decade was ushered in, whether Charisse was ready for it or not.
In the quietness of my bedroom as these words pour out of me, God begins whispering His words into my heart.
New Years resolutions?
My flesh has already failed my resolve, but praise God He tells me that my flesh does not have to prevail~
as long as He is my hope. Psalm 73:26
He is telling me that I don’t have to be ready. I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to have my life in order as I step into this new decade, because~
CHRIST IS MY PERFECTION.
And that’s what Holding Hope is all about.
No matter what you feel, no matter what you are going through at this very moment~
the very first week of this new decade~
You can hold onto hope.
If your heart is screaming right now~ “How?... How do I hold on to hope?”
The only answer I have for you is this~
Call out to Him.
Read His words of hope, written just for you.
Ask others to go to Him on your behalf.
Even if you mess up every single day or your future looks grim~ keep calling out to Him.
Even if your heart has been deeply wounded by others,
or maybe wounded over the heartache of others~
Keep calling out to Him.
He assures us that His mercies are new EVERY morning and so is His faithfulness.
His faithfulness is not contingent on our faithfulness.
His comfort, peace and joy are not contingent on our worthiness.
His love is not contingent on our love and His forgiveness, grace and mercy are not contingent on our perfection.
Today I whisper His name.
Over and over and over I whisper it.
I whisper it for others.
I whisper it for myself.
I whisper it for you.
And my heart rests in knowing that 2020 will be perfect.
Not because of anything Charisse has done, but because of EVERYTHING Christ has done for me~
and for you.
There are no hopeless situations because He is my God of all Hope~
And I will forever hold on to that.
1 Corinthians 2:9
STEP THROUGH THAT DOOR
I want to linger here a little longer.
Perhaps it’s because I realize
each year seems to pass more quickly than the last.
Time is fleeting.
I want to linger in the Christmas magic.
I don’t want it to be over already.
I want to linger in the childlike wonder of my grandchildren. I want to linger in the sounds of their tiny little voices as they tell me all about their moments and their days. I want to linger as they hand me Christmas pictures they drew. I want to linger in their snuggles, before they are too old to want to snuggle anymore.
Just like I wanted to linger when my own children were that age.
Yes, I want to linger, but I know I can’t.
Where did the year go?
No, I don’t want 2019 to end.
But I hold out my hand, I ask God to take it and I step through the door of 2020.
This is Gods plan.
Not to look back.
Not to hold on to the past, but to look forward to the future.
As hard as it was at times to watch my children grow up and out of the childlike wonder Christmas held for them, I look at them now, and the glow of Christmas still lights up their eyes. The smile on their faces on Christmas morning still takes me back and the pride I have for the adults they’ve become still brings tears.
And I can see it. I can see all of the same things in my grand babies eyes~
and it’s magical.
I can see a future wrapped up in Jesus. And that brings tears.
They were being naughty the other day.
I was trying to get them to calm down and behave, so I turned on a Christmas movie.
It didn’t have the desired effect I was hoping for.
Naughtiness still ensued.
Jumping on the couch. Doing somersaults on the floor. Asking a thousand times how many more days until they could open their presents.
So I asked the one who was misbehaving most~“Clara, are you paying attention to the movie?”
She looked at me and nodded, so I asked~“Then what’s the best way to spread Christmas cheer?”
(If you’ve seen the movie you know the answer- ‘singing loud for all to hear’.)
Suddenly the room got very quiet. The other grandchildren were sure she would get it wrong.
In the softest, sweetest voice she answered~
And she meant it.
No questions. No hesitating.
It’s a future of moments like this that I can’t wait to unwrap.
It’s hard to let go of the past. It’s hard to see our babies become adults. But the sweetness the years bring when those years are wrapped up in Jesus is a future that’s filled with hope and love. Joy and excitement. Peace. Philippians 4:7
Yes I will step through the door of 2020 and spread that Christmas cheer. I may want to linger still, but I will look ahead to a future wrapped up in the excitement and joy that only Jesus can bring.
Clara got it so right.
The door of new beginnings.
The door of possibilities.
The door of joy and peace.
The door that only Jesus can open.
Look ahead. Take His hand and step through that door with me.
Happy New Year dear friends!
COMING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
While my kids were away at college, one of my favorite things about Christmas was when they arrived home.
I missed them so much.
Before they had cell phones, we had to call their dorm phones. While they were in class I would leave them messages filled with all their favorite Christmas songs. I’d put the receiver next to my CD player and record “I’ll be home for Christmas” on their answering machine.
I will never forget the first year my youngest came back home. We were all so excited as we waited at the airport. It was snowing outside and Christmas was just waiting for her back in our small hometown. Just like a scene from Its A Wonderful Life.
As we watched the terminal at the airport, I finally spotted her.
When she saw me she didn’t say a word.
She just hugged me and cried.
She cried and cried and wouldn’t let go.
(If you knew my youngest, you would know that’s not like her at all.) She didn’t care who was watching or where she was, she just knew that in my arms she was home.
In that moment I didn’t think twice about holding her and comforting her. I was so happy she was in my arms. I didn’t think about all the good things she had done as a daughter, and I didn’t have a checklist of all the bad things.
She is my daughter and I love her unconditionally.
You are God’s daughter.
God isn’t keeping a checklist of every good thing you’ve done and every bad thing you’ve done, and then deciding how much He will love you based on that list.
God’s love is unconditional.
God’s love is Christmas.
Wrapped up in a manger.
That gift was all for you.
God’s love is Jesus.
He is leaving you messages of hope and love, mercy and grace. Forgiveness.
They are the sounds of Christmas.
Don’t worry about where you are.
Don’t worry about who is watching.
You don’t have to say a word.
He hears your heart.
He misses you.
It doesn’t matter what you have done~
His arms are open and waiting.
Fall into them dear daughter.
Fall into them and cry.
Fall into them and laugh.
Fall into that love and live.
Once you do, you will realize that the peace and comfort He gives is home. Home in His arms.
A home that will always be there for you.
Christmas is in your Father’s arms.
Come home this Christmas.
TUCKED AWAY IN A MAMA’S HEART~
“But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”
There are so many emotions tucked away in a mama’s heart. The older she gets, the more that heart fills~
It fills with all the precious memories of days gone by. It fills with the pictures of tiny faces declaring their love. It fills with thoughts of arms once full, that now are empty.
It fills with wonder at why she wanted time to go by so quickly and stop~
all at once.
There are happy emotions and there are sad. There is the knowing at how life can turn out, and having to watch her children make decisions that she knows will have consequences. Choices that she made herself. Warnings that she wants to give because she has lived it.
There are pleas to the Father to hold them close and not let go. To protect them and give them hearts that are always listening for His gentle whispers of love.
Each step in a mama’s life is a new journey. As she looks into the face of her tiny baby child for the first time, she suddenly realizes how loved she truly was by her own mama. But until she takes that next step, she doesn’t understand her mama’s heart today, this very moment, and all the emotions it contains.
Someday she will.
Someday she will be looking into the tiny eyes of her children’s children and a flood of yesterdays will rush over her as a flood of tomorrow’s take their place.
And she will know so much of what those tomorrow’s hold because she has a heart of wisdom from days gone by.
Her children may wonder and worry as each new step is taken in this journey of motherhood. But dear daughter, she has lived it and breathed it. She has witnessed your future up until this point.
Like footprints in the snow, she is leaving a path for you to follow. With age she has realized more and more that the farther away those steps take her from the days she held you in her arms, the closer her steps are to her Savior. There is a sweetness that comes with each step. A peace and a comfort she longs for you to have.
Because she is no longer making her own footprints, she is walking in His.
She trusts in the path He is leaving her. She knows she no longer has to make her own way, but can blindly follow the leading of a Father who knows what is best.
Walk behind her in her wisdom,
Walk beside her in her age.
And just as you grasped her hands so tightly as you took your very first steps, don’t let go~
No matter how old you are~
Hold on to her hand now as she leads you forward
He is leading her as she is holding His.
Ponder the path you are leaving for your children and your children’s children. ❤️
Psalm 33:21, 56:3-4,
My name is Charisse Goforth. My husband is Pastor Mike Goforth of Calvary Baptist Church of Caseville. God has laid it on my heart to start a Facebook page and blog just for women. There are so many ladies who are hurting or feel alone. Many who don't know where to turn, or just need a little encouragement and advice. Help with spouses or children. Maybe encouragement in their walk with God or help with forgiveness and sorrow. I also want it to be a page that uplifts our souls, to share in our joys and the goodness that only comes from a loving Savior. I pray this page will be all that and more and give God all the glory!