How do you go from writing about true love’s kiss to trashcan maggots? Well, you don’t. I’ve just given you two images that are wholly juxtaposed. (I think Josh would be proud of my word choice here.) However, both are part of my current reality.
Last night, we shared goodnight kisses and this morning, on trash day, I went to pull back the trashcan and it was covered in the grossest things . . . maggots. I kind went a little nuts over it, and while Josh took his morning nap, I grabbed the hose, soap and rinsed the can over and over until it was completely clear of every single disgusting creepy-crawly creature.
You see, in our current situation, a portable commode has become more common (for Josh not everyone else) and this means a lot of bags of "you-know-what" have to be tossed away. Over the past couple weeks, our trashcan has started attracting flies in a whole new way and they are growing their evil fly army. (I know dramatic). But alas, no more!!*
As I stood in the driveway this morning using as much soap as possible to rid the can of this grossness, white soap suds flowed from the can and down the street. Eventually, the trashcan became as clean as a trashcan like this can become. During the process, I began to think about how God cleanses us, making us as white as snow. It seemed a bit abstract at the time but also made sense. This was the verse in my mind.
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” – Isaiah 1:18
While a soapy trashcan is not really like snow or wool (or even remotely as cute) the idea of cleansing still fits. I still find it entertaining how God's truth shows up in the most unexpected places and times.
Much like this project, God is in the process of clearing out the gross garbage and extra "yuck" in our lives. To us, the things in life we struggle with (or sins) may not look like nasty maggots, but to a Holy God it probably does, and He has much better things in mind for our lives.
The really great news is that through God’s abundant grace we are made whole and clean. Through Christ's forgiveness, we find hope and through the cross there is renewal.
In this ridiculous task of cleaning the trashcan, I am once again grateful that God loves me in my messiness. And offers so much more for our lives if we are willing to take that step.
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." - 1 John 1:9
*As for an update, the clean trashcan is now inside the garage where I hope it doesn’t royally stink and also remains clear of flies and their grossness.
Tonight, I can easily see why true love’s kiss is always the solution at the end of many epic stories. Kneeling beside the bed next to my love – like I do every night – I thought, “If only the love I feel for you could zap away your tumor.” My next thought was, “This must be how the idea of true love’s kiss as a solution came to be.” If only it were that simple.
Much like any fairy tale, it never is. There are a bazillion obstacles, duels, evils to overcome, and more before even getting to the end. Then, when it seems like there is no answer, there’s the epic “kiss.”
As for us, we're still a bit lost in the forest, waiting to see what's next and clinging to hope as we endure and continue to grow in character.
Even though I know a goodnight kiss won’t cure my husband, it is still one of my favorite parts of our day. I say, “Goodnight my friend” he answers back “Goodnight," we share a simple kiss, some I love yous, and for the next several minutes we laugh and smile at each other a little more as Josh starts to fall asleep then opens his eyes ever so slightly to see if I’m still there looking at him. Tonight, I said,"Maybe I should go do the dishes, I think I'm distracting you," which made him laugh even more. It’s all-around adorable I have to admit. We are that crazy mushy couple even still.
As we continue to rest in the middle of this season, we cling to a hope and love that is bigger than all of this. It’s not found in true love’s kiss but rather in God’s great love for each of us. This love goes beyond the love I feel for my spouse each day. It is a love that encapsulates each good and hard moment. This love lingers longer than expected and is the type of love that can really sweep us off our feet in unimaginable ways. Of course, in writing this, I wonder if it may sound silly or impractical to think of God’s love in such romanticized gestures, but surely not. Maybe, in fact, we often underplay the gift of God’s true love.
It’s easy to breeze past verses like John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Or 1 John 16:13a, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”
And even the ever-popular John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
Yet still, even with so many reminders, we may not always trust and believe in such grand love – especially in hard and challenging times. I admit there are moments when I still lose sight of this and times when I doubt what God’s doing, but he never stops surprising me and reminding me of his love in refreshing ways.
For the past month, the first part of Romans 5:5 has been written on my kitchen wall ". . . and hope does not disappoint.” This, of course, builds from several verses before it that highlight the process God is taking us through as Christians. As a friend highlighted for me, the starting and ending point is God's love with hope nestled right in the middle. When reflecting on this verse recently, I found myself captivated by the action, “because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Right in the middle of hope, we find God’s true love being poured out in our hearts – into the core of who we are. This love is being poured out no matter what kind of heart we have – a happy heart, hurting heart, a healthy, sick, tired, confused or hopeful heart. I imagine it like a gushing waterfall or stream that just keeps going - pouring out over and over. Wow! God's love is true and good.
How simply beautiful and refreshing.
Thank you! as always for your love, encouragement and prayers. We are still moving day by day and enjoying the good moments together and trusting God with the rest. Prayers for continued wisdom, restful nights and even extra amounts of grace and strength on the not so easy days are appreciated.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. – Romans 5:1-5
In April of 2019, we learned that Josh had a large brain tumor, a glioblastoma, in the middle of his brain. At the age of 41, this was quite the surprise. Josh sadly passed away after a short battle on September 30, 2019.
View his obituary
These past months, we've navigated the complexities of treatment, and hospice care and learned that there wasn't really treatment and that in Josh's case, the tumor was inoperable.
We're sharing our hearts and experience as we navigate this unexpected turn and God's goodness in the middle of it. We hope to encourage others by sharing our story.
Thank you for following along with our journey even in grief.
Feel free to message us.
If you'd like to donate to medical expenses, here's a link or you can email us questions
More about Josh & Jenn
Jenn Brown is the author of this site, a loving wife and communications guru.
Josh Brown most recently served on staff at Fellowship Bible Church in NWA as a Springdale Community Pastor. We've served in ministry in Missouri, Texas, Virginia and Nevada.
Cancer has been big part of our story. Josh has battled cancer three times already with the first to being non-Hodgkins lymphoma at ages 15 and 25 and the third thyroid cancer last year and a GBM, brain tumor this year.
Jenn's mom, Carol passed away from breast cancer 21 years ago and her father also went through treatments for Chronic Leukemia (CLL) in 2017 and is doing well now.
Friends & Family
We have been so encouraged by friends and family. Thank you for the practical ways you are caring for us! We love you all! This is just few photo highlights of some meaningful moments.