Hearts, Hiking and Healing

Before we go any further in this 31 day journey and before I share more about what home-schooling looks like for us now, I want to share with you how important my grandfather is to me so that you can gain a better perspective of why this time was so hard for me.

To do that, I want to take you to my favorite chapter (chapter 6) of my book that I released in May of this year.  The chapter title is called Keys, Tea and Herons, and here is a glimpse of the relationship I had with my grandfather and also a beautiful example of how God prepared me for this difficult time.

            Toward the end of June, Adam and I traveled to Arkansas for the weekend to visit my parents. The weather was beautiful, and since we had free babysitters, we decided to take advantage of that and hit some hiking trails, alone.

As I climbed up the hill, my mouth was quiet, but my thoughts were loud. God was speaking to me, and my heart was hurting. I was thinking about my granddaddy—how he is the most special man in the world to me. He had walked me down the aisle when I married Adam, on the arm opposite my dad’s. That’s how important he is to me.

I was remembering how he and my grandmother would introduce me to their friends. With a glimmer in their eyes and pride in their voice, they introduced me as “our sweet granddaughter, Julie.” It made me beam inside.

In a nutshell, he had the keys to my heart. I thought back on how I would go to him when life was falling apart for me. He was so strong and always fully capable of handling it all. The Lord whispered to me that one day, I would lose that man’s presence here on earth. Just the thought of losing him made me break into sobs. Losing my grandmother had been hard enough, but I still had a piece of her as long as I had him. Together, their love was part of my identity. Who I was centered around them. What would I do when that was gone?

I remember Adam looking back at me as we climbed up a rocky hill and tears were streaming down my cheeks. I was hoping we had packed some tissues.

“What’s wrong?” he quietly asked, walking over to me.

I could barely speak.

The only phrase I could sputter out between my lip quivering and my nose running was, “I feel like Granddaddy has always had the keys to my heart. And now Jesus wants them.”

Yes, Jesus wanted my world to center around Him.

I’ve heard it said that we all have a God-sized hole in our heart that only He can fill. When we try and fill that with anything else, we get the early illusion of being full, but as with eating carbs, that energy quickly fades.

Even though I had a relatively quiet, uneventful childhood, grounded in Grace, I had tried to fill my God-size hole with other things, too.

I had filled my longing to be loved unconditionally and completely accepted, with my grandparents. With my grandmother already with Jesus, the filling of that hole now fell solely to Granddaddy. As he was growing older, he would no longer pour out enough to fill that space. This precious man that God used in wonderful ways during my childhood could not fill this hole forever. At this crossroads of life, literally as Adam and I hiked up the rocky hill, God asked me to turn it all over to Him.

I could be thankful for the memories, though. Because of that man, I wasn’t the young girl always looking for male attention because she never had any at home. I knew my granddaddy loved me, and that was all that mattered. Even when I met Adam, I wasn’t looking to him to make me feel loved and accepted. That hole was already full. And for the time, it was good. But now, times were changing.

The question the Lord was asking that day on the hike was: Was I willing to let go of Granddaddy’s hand and trust and embrace the Lord’s hand over my life? Could I hand over the key to my heart to my King?

Did I trust that He is perfectly capable of holding my tears, hearing my cries, understanding my hurts, and helping me through them?

As we descended back down the hill, I decided to fully trust in the fact that I am God’s child first. His banner over me is love. He sings love songs over me. He delights in me. He wants me to bring my sorrows, burdens, mess-ups, fears, worries, joys, and victories to Him and talk with Him about it, just as I did with my granddad. He will drop everything to listen to me, as soon as I call. I am the most important person in the world to Him. And when I spend time in prayer with Him—it’s as if life’s struggles pause. When life feels stacked against me, I can go to Him and be loved, renewed, and ready to face whatever troubles I had left behind.

He holds the power to heal my wounds and fills my gaping holes to overflowing, if I will let Him.

I don’t think I’ve been hiking since that weekend. This, my friends, was one of the hardest truths for me to accept.

And just think: I wouldn’t have learned it if it hadn’t been for the trunk of secrets that God unearthed.

We’ll pick up more of the story tomorrow! I hope you’ll join me!


This post is apart of a series called 31 stories of hope for every homeschooler. To see the entire series, click HERE.

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