“a time to weep and a time to laugh,

    a time to mourn and a time to dance,”

– Ecclesiastes 3:4

The first time I grieved for my mother wasn’t on the day that she died. The first time I grieved wasn’t even the first time she told me about her cancer. It was the first time I sat at my God’s feet the following Sunday morning. I sank to my knees and cried into the carpet of the sanctuary. I grieved the life I had known where my mother wasn’t sick, and would never know again. I begged for her life and gave all the reasons I could think of for why God should rescue my mama from cancer.

The year that followed came with a lot of ups and downs. Memories became so much sweeter and more intentional. I watched her play games with my children that she didn’t have the energy for. I watched her go on walks with them when every step was a painful one. And I watched her slowly be able to do less and less. I grieved in my heart of each transition. When she could no longer drive, the first time I pushed her in a wheelchair, the first time I helped her stand up, the last time she laid down. 

I remember her telling a joke and laughing and crying the next moment because I wondered if it would be the last time she would make me laugh. Laughing and crying are a daily part of our life, sometimes we go through seasons where we have more of one than the other.

Laughing and crying are outward expressions of our hearts. It is an overflow of what is inside. When the pain or the joy become so much we can’t contain them, they spill out of us. When our heart spills out of us it is a good measure for where we are currently in our spiritual walk. It is an expression of all the things that God has been working in us. What makes us laugh shows us how closely our personal joy reflects the things that makes God joyful.

When we enjoy watching people fail, hurt others, etc. out heart is furthest from God. When we laugh and rejoice when others succeed, create something new, etc. our hearts are closer to God’s. 

How close is your heart to God’s?

“You have kept count of my tossings;
    put my tears in your bottle.
    Are they not in your book?”

-Psalms 56:8

It is important to know that the expressions of our heart matter to God. He counts our tears, he hears the cries of our hearts and understands them when words can’t express them. 

  • Psalm 34:18, Mathew 5:4, Psalm 40:1

On July 22 my father had a stroke and colapsed in our home. What followed was 5 days in the Icu, 15 days in the hospital followed by ten days in rehab. He came home just in time to hold my moms hand as she died and was welcomed into the arms of her savior on August 27, 2024.

I remember holding my father’s arm as he took one of his first steps after his stroke, learning to walk again as he went. My mother was at home in too much pain to be by his side. My father and I talked together about all the uncertainties laid out ahead of us. And I felt God ministering to my heart saying that this season had been coming for me my entire life. From the day I was born this season was in my future . When I was a child taking my own first steps I didn’t worry I would have to help my father learn to walk again someday. When my mother put bandaids on scraped knees, I didn’t worry about the day I would have to bandage my mother’s cancer wounds. I never feared for it, because I didn’t know it was coming. God did know it was coming and He was leading and guiding us from the beginning to prepare a way to survive and even triumph in the hardest season of our lives. 

What makes it possible to make it through a season like that is to begin preparing your heart before the season comes. Since we can’t see the future the only way to do that is to sit at Jesus feet so He can work on what needs to be worked on. He knows what’s coming, He is not afraid, and He is ready to work.

Mourning and dancing are outward expressions of what we are feeling or what is appropriate for the occasion.

One of my favorite stories of my mom was when she was serving as a missionary in Africa. There was a day where she did not feel like going to church. Keep in mind church for her was walking an hour in the desert to sit on a hard bench in sweltering heat. Church also lasts closer to 3-4 hours there, so it was a long commitment. But she decided to be strong and go to church anyway.

She arrived at church and looked at the people around her. They were tired too, they work back breaking jobs to barely make ends meet. They were hungrier than she was, in fact many of them hadn’t eaten that very day. They didn’t get to sit on a bench because the bench was reserved for the missionary family, they had to sit on the ground or on rocks. They were hot, and they didn’t have things at home to help them cool off after their long day. They were smiling and praising their savior with overflowing love in their heart. And that day she prayed a prayer that changed her life, “God, fix my want to”. She didn’t want to tolerate going to God’s house to praise Him, she wanted Him to help her WANT to even when it was hard.

That prayer has grown and now I pray it all the time, and ask my children to pray it with me, “God fix my want to, so that I want what you want.”

The things that make us weep and mourn are things like losing a beloved mother. The things that make us laugh and dance, are things like getting something we want or going to do something fun.

But what if my tears were spent for the minutes that those around me have to live without Jesus? What if my rejoicing was saved for when God calls me to walk through the Valley of the shadow of death?


  • Romans 12:15-18, 2 Samuel 12:15-23, 2 Corinthians 3:18

How do we change our want to? How do we learn to want what God wants? Some of that requires cutting out what we know He doesn’t want, like sin in our life. What if we treated our hears like a garden. Garden’s need different things at different times. Sometimes we need to pick out the stones in our hearts to make room for God’s roots to grow. Sometimes we need to build up walls to defend ourselves from the attacks of the enemy. 

Sometimes we need to bring people into our journey to help us, sometimes we need to go to a secluded place to hear directly from God. 

What we will always need, is to fall deeper in love with our Creator. He wants to be the master gardener of our hearts and lives and when we go deeper and deeper into a relationship with Him, and give more and more control over to Him, the less we have to do. The more we want to do what He wants. The more He guides us so we don’t have so many impossible choices in front of us. The more we are loved by God and the more we can love others. 

    “a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,”

    – Ecclesiastes 3:5-6

    There was a season of my mom’s life when she needed money. My parents were on the verge of being kicked out of their house because they were behind on the rent. My mother had a friend who had a good deal of money, he owned a lot of land. She planned to ask this friend to borrow money, so that we wouldn’t lose our home. This friend wasn’t a christian but a kind person. As she was driving to her friend’s home God whispered to her heart, “So you have been too afraid to tell your friend about Me, but you aren’t too afraid to ask him for money?” She arrived at her friend’s house and talked to him about Jesus, she didn’t ask him for one penny and didn’t mention their financial struggles.

    Days later an envelope was on their porch with the exact amount of money needed to pay the rent. Following God often times require things that don’t make sense, but bring the results only He can bring.

    I remember when my family was working on adopting in Kenya, Africa. They had decided they wanted to adopt 2 children. They met and had chosen a boy, Ross, and a girl named Eva. But when they submitted the paperwork the government told them they were only allowed to take 1 child. So my parents had to make the impossible decision on which one to take home. God told them to adopt Ross.

    Eva had walked a hard road, as all precious orphans do. Eva had clinical depression because she had been adopted by a family and then sent back to the orphanage. She never smiled or laughed or even played. Her precious young heart had been broken into a million pieces. When my parents made this difficult decision I grieved heavily, we all did. I demanded answers from my Heavenly Father. I demanded to know why he wanted Eva to be abandoned once again. I buffeted as hard as any storm against His decision. He spoke clearly and audibly to me for the first time.

    “Abbey, She’s not yours.”

    I was dumbfounded. But also a peace came over me like a warm blanket. I will never forget what that felt like. I didn’t get the answer to why God told me, “she’s not yours,” until a couple of years later. We were at a court hearing for our adoption of Ross and I saw a little girl that looked just like Eva, and it was her! We introduced ourselves to her parents and we got to see Eva smile, laugh, and play. Her parents told us that they are both trained child psychologists and were able to help Eva out of her depression. She also had a big brother who adored her and they loved playing together.

    Eva wasn’t mine or my parents. She belonged to someone else. Maybe you are holding onto something that isn’t yours too. I continually have to ask myself as I walk this life “was I meant to carry this?”

    I think there is a good chance if you think for a moment, you will know what that thing is for you. Likely it is glaring in your mind, but letting go of it seems too painful.

    I promise you, if you hold onto it, despite God asking you to let it go, He might let you keep it… and what would be the consequences of that?

    Gideon from the Bible is one of my heroes. He faced an enormous foe with only 22,000 soldiers behind him. God said that’s too many. So those that were afraid ran away, 12,ooo to be exact. God still said there was too many. God seperated them out until only 300 remained. Only then was Gideon able to defeat the enemy with the help of God. 

    It is well, is waiting for you on the other side of surrender. Holding onto whatever you are holding onto is likely keeping you from being at peace. 

    Will you give it to God?