Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Beauty For Ashes

Beauty For Ashes

This quote comes from one of my most favorite and comforting scriptures ever. Isaiah 61 - 

This little painting is one of my new favorites. 
I'm keeping her. She’s going in my room.

Isaiah is speaking about some of the things Christ will do. "he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives....To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness..."

This is my reminder that when we feel like our life is in ashes...when we feel like nothing will ever be ok again...when all we can see are the ashes of our burned up hopes and dreams. - That Christ can take our ashes and turn them into something beautiful. He can make our life beautiful again. 

I feel Him doing this for me. 

And I know that He can do this for everyone.

Isaiah 61: 1-3

1.The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
 2 .To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
 3. To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Trust Him

I’ve had these exact words on a giant chalk board 
in my room for the past five years. 

TRUST HIM.  You can do this.  p.s. You ARE doing this.

I needed to read them every morning 
and I needed to read them every night.  
Half the time I was bawling when I read them, 
but they still always helped.

I decided to create a painting that would be a little prettier and more permanent than my chalk board. {and I discovered a new palette that I love!}

This one is for anyone who needs to see these words daily as a reminder that they are already doing what they thought they could never do. 

And that when we trust Him... 
everything will always be ok. 
Actually, not just ok, but good. 

Even if we can’t imagine it right now.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Love Always Wins { My Widow Motto }

Love Always Wins
{my widow motto}

Something in her eyes told you she had known unimaginable loss...
but those eyes also told you she has known unimaginable love.
Overwhelmingly beautiful, empowering love.
and love is bigger than loss.
LOVE Always WINS. 

I wrote these words sometime in the first year after Brad died. I wanted to remember them . I needed to read them. Reading them helped me focus on the good.  I do know that love is bigger than loss, and that love will always win...  but I needed a reminder often. 

When I started painting a few years ago, I painted two paintings for my daughters, and then I decided to start on a painting for me. I knew I needed to give those words a home. A place that I would see often and read and re-read on hard days. This painting was an attempt to give those words a pretty backdrop. One that would be colorful and joyful. But mostly, I just needed to get those words out of my notebook and up, because they helped me. It was like I could feel Brad right there when I read them... reminding me that he was not far away and that our love is still stronger than anything that can physically happen to us. 
This painting will probably always be my favorite.  

Something happened when I was working on this painting. There are lots of tears on her.. but many of those were happy tears. While I worked on her I discovered that painting made me unbelievably happy and that this was what I was supposed to do. This was what I needed to do. So I love this girl. 
She brought a happy passion into my life that I am so grateful for. 

And I also love that she talks about the love Brad and I share. 

This print is for anyone who knows what loss feels like... 
knows the emptiness and the ache and the fear...
 and needs to be reminded that their love really can can carry them through.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Operation Serve To Heal - THANK YOU


Thank you for spreading the word about Operation Serve to Heal.
Thank you for joining in.
Thank you for your kind words on social media and for your love and support.

I wanted to give people the option of joining us on this day for a few reasons.

First, I wanted my little girls to see that people love and respect their daddy for his life and for his service to our country. I wanted them to see that people haven't forgotten him... and that they haven't forgotten them.  - That there are people from all over who stop on May 1st. They think of Brad and think of his family.  I know this. and I feel it.  and I am SO grateful for it.  {I wanted them to know it too.} I tell them. but this year they had a chance to SEE it on their own.

The girls were so little when Brad was killed. So they don't remember the outpouring of love. We no longer live near any of our Air Force friends. With the exception of family, everyone the girls know did not get the opportunity to know their Daddy.  So my hope for this day was first and foremost - these little girls. Helping them feel loved on this worst of all days.

When we did our day of service last year I was amazed at how those small little actions completely changed the way I view this day.  I realized that I don't need to feel like this day holds me hostage. That, no matter what happened on this day... I have a choice about how it will be from now on. I get to write the story for all the rest of my May 1st's.    That first year of service, I learned that this day could be bearable. That we could choose to focus on the blessing that Brad's life was instead of what we all lost that day. To be honest, we always try to focus on the blessings. but somehow adding an element of service, making it NOT about us... that was what changed it.

This year, because of all of you, we learned that not only can this day be bearable.... but it can be one of joy and gratitude.  I just want you to know that every single share and post about this day was noticed and appreciated.

The morning of May 1st I still found it a little hard to get up and face the day. I was laying in bed talking to the girls and just... revisiting in my head.  Watching the clock for the time his jet went down. the time they came and knocked on my door....telling Ty... all the heartbreaks of that day. I still don't know how to keep those thoughts at bay...   But my phone lit up and I saw a tag on Instagram of a daring girl and her friend with their #operationservetoheal tags in hand, ready to serve.   It brought me to tears and helped me get out of bed.

That happened all day.
{the gratitude, and the tears}
Happy tears on May 1st are welcome.

My beautiful friends surprised me and cleaned and organized my kitchen {yikes! That is love!}

I got to watch my girls run happily to clean up trash in the community.  Loved ones joined in and served in honor of Brad. Others served in honor of someone they loved. Complete strangers joined in. And we were overwhelmed.

Our beautiful Hermana Funk is experiencing the joy of service every day as she serves the people of Mexico.

I can't even put into words the gift you gave our family that day.

You helped us change the worst day of our lives into something with a sacred purpose.

We are so grateful.    {thank you again}

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Operation Serve To Heal

Join us May 1st for 
Operation Serve To Heal

May 1st will mark 7 years since losing Brad.   Last year we added some small acts of service to what we normally do on this day {you can read more about that here}

We found that something special happened when we focused on serving others instead of focusing on what we lost.

We will be serving in honor of 
Major. Brad "Gyro" Funk.  
He is our Hero. {husand, father, best friend} 
He continues to be our inspiration.  

We would love to have you join us this year.
Serve in honor of someone YOU love... and see what happens.
We want to hear your story.. who you chose to serve for and how that service impacted your day.

Snap a pic of what you chose to do and add the hashtag

You can also tag @jenniferfunkdesigns on instagram.

This discovery of how powerful and healing service can be has been a little miracle for our family and brought us purpose and joy on a normally very difficult day.

My sweet cousin in law is helping us spread the word about our special day.
Visit her website  Landeelu.com   to see a beautiful little video of the girls explaining Operation Serve To Heal  created by @maddeeshawfilms {thanks Maddee!!!} and to download a darling printable that you can give out on Friday with an explaination of the significance of this day.

For the first time ever we are actually looking forward to May 1st. 
 We hope you will join us.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Building a Cathedral

Tomorrow is my amazing sister's birthday. I’ve been wanting to write about her for a while - and this week seemed like a fitting time.

Last August I had just started painting (or, more accurately, started daring to tell people that I was holed up in my basement playing with paint.) I told her that I was going to paint her something for her birthday -but she would get it late.  I wanted her opinion about what quote to add to it. I wanted it to be something that would make her happy every time she saw it. - So she figured out a great quote and I got to work.  But, I already knew what I wanted to put on it.... It wouldn’t really make sense for it to be front and center on the painting, I didn’t want her to have to explain it to everyone,  but I KNEW it needed to be in there somewhere. Maybe even hidden, so you had to look to find it... Maybe she would be the only one who knew it was there... but I wanted her to read it everyday....

So fast forward to November, my birthday. My birthday is on Veterans day, so it’s kindof a doozy each year. She knows it’s always very bittersweet so that morning my sweet sister brought over a beautiful necklace with a bird on it wrapped up with a copy of this story.....

"It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.
Inside I’m thinking, ‘Can’t you see I’m on the phone?’ Obviously not; no one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.
I’m invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie t his? Can you open this? Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, ‘What time is it?’ I’m a satellite guide to answer, ‘What number is the Disney Channel?’ I’m a car to order, ‘Right around 5:30, please.’
I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude – but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She’s going, she’s going, she’s gone!
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England .. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, ‘I brought you this.’ It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe .
I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: ‘To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.’
In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals we have no record of their names.
These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, ‘Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.’ And the workman replied, ‘Because God sees.’
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, ‘I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make everyday, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.’
At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.
The writer of the book went so far a s to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
When I really think about it, I don’t want my child to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, ‘My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.’ That would mean I’d built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, ‘You’re gonna love it there.’
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women."

And at the bottom of the story she had written 

“God sees. and Brad sees.

And it was the most perfect gift.

I don't identify with every single line of the story, and Kalani and I probably have differences in exactly what we relate to about it. But I always love the reminder that "God sees" 
Every trial we have. Every tear we have cried. Every worry. Every fear.  Every single thing we have felt. I know my Savior sees this. And not only does He see, but He has the power to lift me up and carry me and heal the broken parts of me - and of all of us.  
When I began to read the story she had given me I started to cry - because THAT was the story that I had been thinking of when I started Kalani’s painting. And that phrase - 
with admiration for the greatness 
of what you are building when no one sees.
had always reminded me of my sweet, supermom, super everything sister.
It was the phrase that I had already started to sneak into her painting. 

See, this sweet sister of mine is an unusually amazing mother. She is actually an unusually amazing everything. She somehow manages to do everything and to do it well. I know that she works so hard at all she does, but  when someone notices something amazing she did she just shrugs it off and acts like everyone does that. 
She is wise beyond her years and I am so lucky I get her as a sister and  friend.  

I dropped this off to her on Mother's Day this year. 
(yes, it took me nine months...I'm not the fastest painter;)
Happy Birthday Kalani
(does it mean I’m a really bad sister if I don’t know how old you are??  - I would just go with 29...)
I love you. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

May 1st - A new day

May 1st is my least favorite day. This year I wanted to be a little more prepared.  I can always feel it coming and I struggle  for weeks before.

This year was a little different. Tyler had been out on her mission about 6 weeks. We were all still adjusting to her being gone and missing her. I knew that this year would be hard, partly because of that.

We have little rituals that help on that day. I always go to the temple. This helps me the most. We go as a family to the cemetery and do a balloon release. This has also been a good thing. The girls love sending letters up to daddy.

This year I wanted to add a little something different. I have some amazing widow friends who I get great ideas from all the time. I had seen online that some of them had gone around and done good deeds on anniversaries of difficult days. I LOVED that idea.  So, I started working on a plan for our upcoming horrible day.

We talked as a family {Sophie and Addie and I - our little family seems so small now... - side note - the other day while setting the table Addie said, "I wish there was still five of us." It broke my heart. But, I love that she knows that there really are five of us. That it seems like something is off because she's setting a place for only three.  I pray that each of my girls know that there are always five of us…but that we just don't all need a plate}

We talked about what we could do that would be special and meaningful on May 1st. We talked about how their amazing daddy went around doing good. I have saved countless emails and letters that people have sent telling stories about Brad. The common theme is that he served. He helped. He didn't wait to be asked, he just looked around and saw what needed to be done and got to work. And he was happy doing it. I feel so blessed to have been the recipient of so much of his goodness. He taught me more than I can put in words.  I am so grateful that the girls will get to read those stories and know this about their daddy.

I pitched them my idea about doing some good deeds. They were both excited. {although Sophie did express some concerns that I was going to "give away all our money" haha} They were excited about doing it for people they didn't know and having it be a surprise.

So we got to work. We printed up some cards that we could hand out with gift cards. For family night the girls wrote notes on the backs of those little cards.

After school on May 1st we got busy with our 
"Do a Good Deed Day" 
We went around buying food for people at the drive through and giving out gift cards… We talked about how doing something nice for someone else might help us not be so sad today. 

And I have to say 

It really was so fun.
 {& just so you know, fun and May 1st are words I never thought could ever belong in the same sentence.}   

The girls were so excited, watching the different cars behind us, knowing that they were going to get a  little surprise. They were giddy when we were driving away. Sophie loves to "spy" She's created her own spy club and loves being sneaky. She said this was like a "nice spy day" and she loved it. 

It sounds cliche, but choosing to do something besides think about our pain helped so much.
Other May 1st's I've just let myself be swallowed up in the pain of everything that I lost on this day.
Other May 1st's I have barely been able to function.

After reading about my widow friends doing this I knew it was something that could change this day for us.  I needed it to not be about me. It needed to be about something bigger.

Making it a day that we do good things in honor of Brad completely changed everything.

I was hesitant to post about what we did because - I don't know- It seemed strange to write about doing something for someone else. But, If my friends who did this wouldn't have posted about it, I probably would not have thought to do it on my own… so I decided to share.

This year our May 1st was completely different. 
There were still lots of tears shed. 
But some of those this year were happy…

Happy tears watching my girls be SO excited about giving gifts.
Happy tears knowing that Brad would be happy with what we did with this day.
Happy tears for all the family and friends who reach out and help. Our day was filled surprise treats dropped by the house, gifts on the porch and encouraging notes, texts and messages. Every note and like on facebook was noticed and appreciated. I am so grateful for people who let us know that they remember. It's funny the way it works out. We always seem to get so much more than we give.

This year our May 1st was transformed. 

I think we have a new tradition.

In honor of Major Brad Funk

{looks like the guest of honor showed up as well}

six years closer to you my boy
We Love You