Friday, February 13, 2009

Through the Fire

Every once in a while, I'll hear a song that speaks so deeply to me. This is one of those. Our praise team at church did this song a short while ago. I've been singing it in my head ever since and letting the words sink in. Here's the video from our church service. Watch it with me and then let the words sink in.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Jael's Story: Video Testimony

Our church recently finished a sermon series on Encouragement. We were asked to share our testimony about Jael's story during the week in which our pastor was talking about "Encouraged by Triumphing Over Tough Times." This is the video we shared. You can also listen to the podcast of the entire sermon here. We hope that you find encouragement in this video, whether you are currently going through a tough time or have already been through one. May He comfort and encourage you as you watch.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Kristen's Story

Today I want to introduce you to Tonya and her daughter Kristen. Tonya sent me a link to a beautiful post she wrote about Kristen and how much her life has been changed through her.

For those of you who are in the dark days just following the death of a child and the pain is still very sharp, please be encouraged by her story that healing will come and life will go on, but no matter how much time passes, you will never forget your child. Her story is a beautiful tribute to how much we can be changed in such a short time.

Thank you Tonya for sharing Kristen's Story!

Monday, July 14, 2008

From Procession to Procession

I had seen many funeral processions in my life. I had been a part of many funeral processions in my life. Even so, I had never been the one in that car. You know the one. The first in line behind the hearse. The one that is supposed to be a distinguished place of honor. And then, I was. My husband and I were to be exact.

I can remember sitting in the car and watching the Funeral Director carry the casket to the hearse (which was just a Suburban). It was so wrong. There should be six or more pallbearers carrying the casket, but it was just her. One woman was strong enough to carry the casket with our sweet Jael. She opened the back of the Suburban and slid her little casket in. She closed the hatch and walked to the driver's side. It seemed so unreal. So unfair. So un-normal.

We turned our headlights on. We put the sticker in the windshield. We waited. For a moment, life stood still. And I liked it. Everyone was waiting on her, on Jael. Finally, it felt like the world had stopped moving to recognize this little life that was so important to us. Then, the procession started.

We crept along, as we should. The police escort made it feel like we were distinguished. It made it feel like she was important enough for everyone to get out of the way. It made it feel like everyone else should stop what they were doing and watch as this child's body was transported to it's resting place.

Except that they didn't stop. They kept driving. Not everyone, some pulled over. Some stopped to watch. But there were those who just kept on doing. It made me so mad. How could the world continue on when my world was crashing in? Didn't they know what had just happened? Didn't they understand that a mother and father should never have to be in that car? Didn't they recognize that this procession was important? I wanted the entire world to stop with me. To mourn with me.

I have since developed a new respect for processions. When I see one, I immediately begin to pray. I pray for the people in that car. Most of the time, I know not the names of the people or the circumstances that have placed them in that car, but I pray just the same. I take a moment for my world to stop and recognize them, if even just in my prayers.

There is another procession that I plan to take part in someday. A heavenly procession. A procession where, if there were cars involved, I would hope to be in the distinguished car of honor. You see, I want there to be a procession awaiting me in heaven. One filled with people I have loved. One filled with people of which their names I do not even know. People who have come to their heavenly home before me because they were touched by Jael. People who have become dear friends with Jael in heaven. People my daughter has been waiting to introduce me to.

I hope that it is one extraordinary procession. I hope it goes on for miles and miles and people stop to recognize. Not recognize me though. Christ. To recognize that this procession is all because of Him. That we are there because of His sacrifice.

One triumphal procession. With music. And when we reach the destination, I want a celebration like no other. Not a casket to bury. Not tears to shed. Not little chairs and a tent to sit under. I want the biggest party ever seen. Not a sad soul in sight. Not a single soul going about their own lives. All souls singing praise to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who has brought us together for such a celebration as only He can do!

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing." 2 Cor. 2:14-15

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Abijah's Story

There are many women God has placed in my life who have experienced the pain of losing a child. I don't believe that is by accident. He has given us each other to walk through life together. It is my desire to share some of their stories here on Healing Hope from time to time. My prayer is that God will use their stories to provide hope and healing in the life of others. Today, I share with you the story of Abijah and his mother Chandra. This is my dear nephew and sister-in-law. I love them both more than they know. May you be blessed through her willingness to share this testimony.

I Will Praise You In This Storm
by Chandra, Abijah's Mother

On December 22, 2006 my whole life changed. That was the day I heard some of the most awful words a mother could ever hear, "I'm not seeing a heartbeat". What happened next all happened so fast and is still in slow motion every time I think about it.

I was given a small percentage that he (the doctor) was wrong. I had blood drawn. The levels went down. I didn't spot. My hopes went up. I started spotting. My heart sank. I clung to the hope and knowledge that my Savior could do anything. I knew in my heart, that if it was His will, He would put a heartbeat where the doctor had found none. He had done it before (that's another story).

His will was to take my third born child home to Him. On January 12, 2007 I gave birth to a child I will never know. I will never have a face (except in my dreams) to envision.

I did take my little baby (which unfortunately looked like a mass of tissue) and swaddled him in a blue corduroy blanket. I know that may seem odd to some, but he was my baby. I couldn't discard him like he was nothing. How these arms still long for him and this heart aches for him, but the peace that God provides has been my foundation.

There is a song that spoke to me throughout my "storm" and it still continues to speak to me, for in everything my life here on earth may endure, I will always Praise Him in the storms of life.

Praise You In This Storm
words by Mark Hall/music by Mark Hall and Bernie Herms
I was sure by now, God, that You would have reached down,
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it's still raining
as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.
And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You
and raised me up again
my strength is almost gone how can I carry on
if I can't find You
and as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away
I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth
I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth

This is my story. Abijah's journal has become my prayer journal because, through his short life, I learned more how to fully rely on God and have faith in His will and not my own. I made a promise to God. That promise was that if through my loss I could be able to minister to others that He use me for whatever He wanted. So, God please use me.

You can read more about Abijah and Chandra's Journey over at her blog.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Burden to Bear

A few months after Jael's death, Nathan and I took our youth group to their summer conference. One of the evening sessions was all about the journey to the Cross. Students were asked to write down things that they needed to let go of and go nail them to some wooden crosses that were around the room.

It was amazing to hear the sound of the hammering of those nails coming from all around the room. The idea that we were only a small fraction of the people whose sins held Christ to that cross was so overwhelming. The weight of that burden would have been too much for me to bear.

But then it got me thinking about the weight of the burden that I had to bear. There were so many times that I thought it was too heavy also, but God strengthened me to go on. He held me up. It is so hard to fathom that He loves us that much.

I prayed so hard for God to heal my child. I wanted her healthy no matter what. I was in no way prepared to sacrifice her, to lay her down at His throne. I wanted her here with me. I knew she would be better off there, but I wanted her here. I had no power to heal her. I had no control.

It occurred to me, that if I were God, there was no way that I would have let her die. If I had the power to heal my daughter, I would have, in a heartbeat.

He had the power to heal His son. He was in complete control. Yet, He allowed his death. He did not take away the burden. It became real to me just how much He loved me to do that. I couldn't think of anyone that I would have loved enough to keep me from healing my daughter if I had been able.

In our devotional time with the kids after that session, it was so clear to Nathan and I that we needed to be transparent with these kids. We couldn't pretend that we had it all together. We had to let them in. We had to share how much pain and suffering we had been through and how heavy the burden really was. But in all that sharing, we also realized that as heavy as the burden was, we would carry it again if we were ever asked to. He loved us enough to allow His son to die. We had to love Him enough to lay our daughter down at His throne.

Though the burden may be heavy, it is never as heavy as the burden that Christ bore on that cross. He will always give us the strength to make it through. He will always be faithful to fulfill His promises.

Thank you, Lord that you are a selfless and faithful God. You willingly sacrificed your Son for us. I will never understand why it had to be done that way, but I will forever be grateful that it was. Thank you for helping me to understand a little more of Your sacrifice through my daughter.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Three-Year Temper Tantrum

I was having my quiet time and Bible study on March 28, 2005 and God spoke to me in a way that I still remember three years later. I wasn't even really listening to Him at that point, but I heard Him and I understood Him.

Let me give you a little background. I had a very protected and blessed life. I can't remember anything bad happening to me growing up. No illness. No death. No abuse. Nothing bad. I truly was spoiled. Not rotten, just spoiled.

When the first and only really bad thing to happen in my life happened when I was 24-years-old, it hit hard! I got used to things going my way. I enjoyed things going my way. This was totally new and I was unprepared.

When the doctor told us that our baby potentially had a fatal defect and would not live outside the womb, the walls of my world came crumbling in around me. I never thought that I was exempt from bad things, I just took God's protection for granted. I was in His Word. I prayed. I was growing spiritually. You just don't grow through normalcy the way you grow through adversity. I was totally unprepared for how much I truly needed Him.

The next 20 weeks of our pregnancy, I poured my heart out to God. I spent time with Him every day. I communed with Him all day, every day. I knew Him in a way I had never known Him before. I had so much peace in the midst of such turmoil and such uncertainty. I was seeking Him. I desperately needed Him. The problem was that I wanted Him on my terms. I wanted Him because He could heal her, and He was the only one who could. I wanted Him because I knew that there was no other way that I could make it through.

I experienced Him with such closeness that I decided I didn't ever want to go back to not "knowing Him". I wanted to continue that closeness and grow it until the day that I was looking at Him face-to-face.

Then He chose not to heal her. He chose to do things His way. He let me down, or so I thought. Jael was born. She died. I searched for Him. He didn't answer, or so I thought. I wanted His comfort. He didn't give it, or so I thought. This continued for 3 years, until that day.

In those three years, God had already blessed us with two healthy daughters. Things were going my way again. I didn't realize how mad I was at Him. I didn't realize that I was choosing to ignore Him. I didn't realize that I had believed Satan's lies. I didn't realize that I had given bitterness a root, and it was flourishing. Time passes quickly when we allow Satan a stronghold. As long as I was focused on the here and now, I didn't notice the absence of Him, or so I thought.

I spent time in His Word. I wanted to hear from Him. I just didn't want to hear what He wanted to tell me. I wanted answers, not Him.

Our second-born daughter was almost two-years-old, smack dab in the terrible twos and very "strong-willed" as some would say. We could not find any discipline that would work for this girl. She laughed at spankings. We physically had to hold her in "time-out". It was exhausting. We finally put a baby-gate on the door to her bedroom and removed all toy-type things. Whenever she would throw a tantrum, we would put her in her room and put the gate on the doorway. She could still see us, but she couldn't get out. All that was required of her was that she stop screaming, tell us sorry (in an almost two-year-old way), and we would come get her and comfort her.

This particular morning, she had one of those episodes. I can't even remember what it was about now, I just remember allowing her to get me very flustered. I put her in her room, but was so flustered that I forgot to put the gate up. I realized this a few minutes later, but wanted to see what she would do. She screamed in that room longer than I ever remember her screaming. I kept thinking come on child, quit screaming, I am right here waiting for you to stop crying. I want to hold you. I want to talk to you. I want to tell you that I am disciplining you for your benefit. It was killing me to hear her scream and not run in there to comfort her. She didn't realize that the gate was not up. She was waiting for me to come get her.

It was in my quiet time that afternoon that God reminded me of my daughter's tantrum that morning. You see, I had been throwing a tantrum myself. A three-year long one. I was screaming at God. I was refusing to listen to Him. He was wanting to comfort me.

I felt Him telling me that all this time, the gate was not even on the door. I didn't have to wait for Him. He was waiting for me. All I had to do was stop screaming, talk to Him, and walk into His open arms. No gate involved. It was all for my benefit. He was right there waiting to comfort me the whole time, and my screaming pained Him the same way my daughter's screaming pained me.

That was the day that I quit screaming at God, I told Him I was sorry, and I ran as fast as I could back into His arms. There were still strongholds to break, and issues to deal with, but I was ready to do things His way again. No more temper-tantrums.