...Say to this mountain

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MOVE

and it 

Will Move 

Matthew 17:20

This is a blog for the broken-hearted - raw, unfiltered, and real. It is a place of hope and inspiration - stories of God's intimate reach, even in the darkest places. 

 
  • Jenny Muscatell

Updated: Jan 14


Eyes rest hidden behind lashes gently shut. My mind drifts to a time before. The wind rushes through dried brown branches and the leaves twirl their circle dances to the ground. I can smell the scent of Autumn. The sun glows bright white, not the white that shines a golden warmth, but a shade that warns winter is upon us – a shade that prompts one more deep breath. My heart begs, time please be still, wait… just one more embrace.

I can hear the crunch of dead brown beneath my moving feet. It crackles with each step. The rake’s wooden handle stings my blister-filled hands. I have piles to go. It doesn’t matter. The comfort of the air drowns out the call of aching muscles and oozing sores. I see glimpses of sky through the branches of a sturdy Maple billowing overhead. Everything feels different. Where did time go?

The answer plunges deep. It’s gone. Just like that. Pangs of regret shudder my insides. I hear it again. It’s gone. Yesterday is gone. You missed it.

I finish my piles and squish them into lawn bags. The growth of the end of season grass has slowed to the point of needing its final lawnmower trim just last week. The barn stores summer’s remnants high on its shelves and the home is ready for its coming season – I, however, am not. I usually do this job with Thale. It seems the year made other plans.


*** When the unexpected strikes and you are forced to pick up pieces of life and death, faced with the reality of time not captured, where do you begin? This was a question I repeatedly asked myself after my husband, Thale, died. I worried about EVERYTHING. I worried about how I would help the children, how I would maintain the home, how I would get through it myself. I worried about every decision I made...was it the right one? Did I do enough? I worried about things I had no control over - from the simple to the horrifying. From how I would dress him for his funeral to what would happen to his body in autopsy. I worried so much I worried about worrying. I worried about how I would ever stop worrying. One day a bible verse spoke to me in a deeper way than it ever had before. It was the day I realized I only needed to worry about my next breath.


Matthew 6:34 NIV tells us, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself, Each day has enough trouble of its own. "


That is a truth I closed in a mason jar to capture its firefly glow. This was a day I let His words hold me. This was a moment I realized one day and one step were just too big. It was the day Jesus reminded me it was perfectly okay to simply take one breath at a time.


Lord, Thank you that you hold our broken hearts. Thank you that even when darkness is all around, your light is always there to guide the way. Thank you for reminding us that you will walk through it with us and that you will not leave us alone. Thank you for reminding us we do not have to worry. Thank you for holding us in your warm embrace and reassuring us that we must only take one day at a time, one step at a time, and sometimes simply one breath at a time. We pray for your closeness as we inhale and as we exhale. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.


Just a breath, one... then another.








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  • Jenny Muscatell

The Fight Scavenger Hunt 1.3 - Guest Blog by Chrissy L. Whitten.

I am forever grateful to Kelli Marone, NILMDTS photographer (Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep). She went above and beyond the call of volunteering. When we spoke to our photographer to get to know her beforehand, she knew we were leery about having pictures done during and after Lilian passed away. Kelli was gracious enough to come take candid pictures of Lilian’s baby dedication at the hospital just in case we made the final decision to not do pictures at the end of her journey.


For anyone facing this fate, I promise you that it will not feel completely right while your heart is breaking and the tears won't stop flowing. Find a way to say yes if a NILMDTS photographer or hospital staff member is available to take pictures while your baby is passing and after. The pictures are hard at times to look at, but there are many moments where I praise God I have them. They are proof she really was here.


I remember having to leave the hospital after the doctor directly informed us that we were starting to do things to Lilian Grace, instead of for her. This had been my line since we sat down with the team from the very beginning—keeping it close to their hearts and decisions since. I had been heard! It felt surreal that we had been walking right beside her progress, then suddenly fell behind in a nanosecond.



It truly doesn't take long for things to drastically stop from going to the positive and reversing to the negative. Her heart defects, weight gain, and infection finding its way to her heart shortened her journey.


The photographs I have in books display God's strength and unconditional love for us. Our love for our Warrior Princess overflows through the paper as we say our final goodbyes. Tears freely flow as I type this, remembering that day like it just happened. I can still hear my voice trying to sing notes to songs for her while hearing my husband and myself letting out our pain and sorrows. I still wish this on no one.


Cherish your moments while you hold on to what you have and let go of what you do not. If you can take pictures in this life, take them. I know I get teased a lot about the crazy amount I take, but I love looking back no matter the circumstances to remember and cherish.

If you are a photographer and can spare some time and share your gift, consider signing up to be an NILMDTS photographer volunteer. Being able to give a priceless gift to parents posting their babies is magical and sacred.


As we keep moving forward, I hope you are getting some valuable information for yourself or others in your life. Now click here to discover what the fourth entry (1.4) in The Fight Scavenger Hunt holds for you! Don't forget to look around this host site to get to know them and learn what they are about. Before you go, make sure to write down a picture that brings back good memories of joy. You will email your response along with the other four responses to chrissylwhitten@gmail.com when you finish reading all five entries over the web. Capturing memories matters, but living in the moment is the good stuff.



To learn about me and all things The Fight book and tour, please visit my website at www.chrissylwhitten.com for more. If you have just stumbled upon this scavenger hunt here, please go to the very first blog post, From Giving to Building on my website to start from the beginning.






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  • Jenny Muscatell

Updated: Jan 14


A Closer Look at the Book of Ruth (CSB)


It is known that there was a famine in the land - one that was hungry on its own accord, devouring anything in its path. The land was not safe, and lives would be lost. Naomi, and her daughter-in-law, Ruth, knew its destruction far too well. Naomi lost her husband, And Ruth her father-in-law, Ruth her husband, and Naomi her sons.


The battle raged on for years before the famine waved its victory flag. There was no viable choice. Its victims needed to leave the land. Naomi intended to return to her home town, and encouraged Ruth to do the same.


Ruth replied,

"...Don't plead with me to abandon you

or to return and not follow you.

For wherever you go, I will go,

and wherever you live, I will live,

your people will be my people,

and your God will be my God.

Where you die, I will die,

and there I will be buried.

May the Lord punish me,

and do so severely

if anything but death separates you and me.”


We often talk about Ruth's poetic selflessness, her devotion and desire to remain by Naomi's side, but often miss the tragic bond between the two.

They lived through devastation and hunger. Their family was torn apart. Together, they buried the loves of their lives. They grieved - deeply. Despite their grief, each wanted something better for the other. Both were determined to guard the other's well being. Both held a deep heart of gratitude with warm wishes for peace.

Though Naomi encouraged Ruth to return to her family, giving her a blessing to move forward in a new marriage, Ruth could not leave her. She understood what Naomi had been through. Who else could have loved the deceased more? Who else could have understood what the other was feeling? Who else could have seen what the two had seen?


Ruth felt this so strongly she vowed never to leave Naomi, even begging God to punish her severely if she were to break her vow.


Love, Sacrifice, and Survival is all they had known for years, and moving to a new land was not going to change it. Their compassion proved stronger than any hurt or sacrifice.

Naomi no longer had her sons in this life, but now would have a daughter, someone to love her, and help her through her grief. Ruth no longer had her husband, but would have her mother-in-law. Together, the could escape the cracks of oblivion, preventing each other from withering away.

When Naomi returned to her homeland, the community recognized her and identified her by her name. Naomi said, "Don't call me Naomi, call me Mara ... for the almighty has made me very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty..."


Imagine the sadness. All she had been through made her unrecognizable to herself. Others knew it was her, but she could no longer identify with the woman she used to be. Life changed her. She was empty - her self-report said “nothing's left.” But deep beneath the hurt- love, kindness, and compassion remained. She was broken, but not alone. Ruth was with her.


Searching for food and the need for survival was not a new concept for either, so Ruth, with Naomi's blessing, went to gather grain in a field belonging to Boaz. When he noticed her in the field, he asked the workers where she came from. They told him who she was, how she helped Naomi and wouldn't leave her side, and the story of all she had been through. They admired what they believed to be strength, noting she had been on her feet all day.


Boaz went to Ruth and told her she could stay and gather grain. He reassured her that he ordered his men not to touch her. He offered her drink when she was thirsty or needed to rest. Ruth’s response can steal a tear from even the hardest of hearts, "She fell face down, bowed to the ground and said to him, "why have I found favor with you, so that you notice me, although I am a foreigner?"


He answered, "Everything you have done for your mother-in-law since your husbands death has been fully reported to me: how you left your father and mother and your native land, and how you came to a people who you didn't previously know."


Ruth never had time to be broken. She had to keep moving, keep standing, keep pushing forward. There wasn't a moment for vulnerability. BUT THEN, HE NOTICED. His kindness washed over her and left her melted on the ground in a complete heap of gratitude.

Someone cared for her. She had forgotten how that felt. She had been in survival mode for so long. One could say she lost most everything, but not those things which mattered most. Not her love, not her ability to persevere, not her loyalty and compassion, not her hope. See it wasn't strength that kept her going. it was hope.


How else could she have risen to the laborious task of being on her feet in despair, searching for a way, hoping for food and a fresh start, hoping someone would show her favor? Imagine the relief when someone did. In one moment of grace, Boaz struck that exposed nerve of vulnerability with heartfelt kindness - in a moment she was seen, really seen.


She was beautiful no doubt. Tragic and battered from life's bitter lessons, yet lovely nonetheless. Her beauty was wrapped inside an innocent heart, one that should have burst with grief, yet didn't. Boaz saw it , and she fell to the ground. She bowed in humility. She had done all that was right, no matter the cost, and someone noticed and showed her grace.


He wasn't the only one. Naomi noticed too. She never stopped noticing. She said it early on, "you have shown kindness to the dead and to me," and she would note it again. She had a plan to provide Ruth with a life that would bless her, one she deserved, one full of harvest and goodness, one where the wells were full and not empty - a life that that would lead to a marriage with Boaz.

Lord,


Your grace is amazing and your mercies are new every morning. Forgive our blind eyes when we do not notice the needs of those around us. Please help us pause to see the hurt. Guide us to bless those in need. Help us to accept and not dismiss, to listen and not talk. Give us humble hearts full of compassion and guide us to make a change in this world.


In Jesus' name,

Amen.

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