Wednesday, September 15, 2010

As of late...

In the last few days I've felt led to share a little of what God has been doing in my life through my blog. Not that many even still check this site as I have not been a great or even good blogger over the last year or more. Even still I felt the need to write and this is my chosen outlet.

Let me first start off by saying I am still incredibly thankful for God's grace in my life and in the life of the kids since Jason's death. When I look back at His faithfulness to me, I simply have to praise His name. I have no other choice.

Over the last couple of months I have had many good days with rough days being the minority rather than majority. There are still many days filled with great sadness over the loss of sweet Jason, but so many of my days are filled with JOY as well. God's

I would be withholding the complete truth if I left it at that. About two months ago, I began to deal with fear again. Fear of the future. Fear of how I was going to raise these precious gifts God has given me without Jason. Fear of how I could possibly meet their many needs - their spiritual, emotional and even their short and long term financial needs. I assume the fear was brought on by the start of the new school year and all the demands that come with that. I could almost feel as if I was suffocating at certain moments during the day with the weight of it all. It was as if the enemy was trying to paralyze me. Just FYI...he didn't win, but he certainly didn't give up without a fight.

If those specific fears weren't enough I then began to fear the obvious...what if something happened to me. What if the kids not only had their daddy on this earth, but what if God takes me from their life as well. I would be lying if I said this was the first time I have ever experienced this fear since Jason's death. This time it seemed to take hold of my every thought. When I was alone I would just sit and cry at the very thought of my sweet kids not having either parent on this earth. I was in total God's word we are commanded to cast out every vain imagination. I was not doing that. Nor was I taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ.

Once again, I began to experience some minor health issues. Those issues only escalated those fears that there was something was really wrong with me thus I could be dying. My very close friends find it quite comical that I can convince myself I have some horrible disease and even though I laugh with them, it is in the quietness of my heart I am totally gripped with fear...too many "what ifs" flood my mind.

I would also be hiding the complete truth if I told you I have only been like this since Jason's death. I was convinced while living in Naples that I was dying of a heart attack on a couple of occasions and if I were being really honest, I would have to admit that we confirmed my pregnancy with Jon Brent because I went to the ER with chest pain. Yes, I might should seek some professional help with all of this, but I get it honestly. My sweet granddaddy who lived well into his 80s before meeting Jesus also had to fight this same battle. :)I say all that to say, I do believe that because of Jason's death this stronghold in my life has intensified greatly.

So...where is my faith in all of this? Glad you asked! You would think after seeing God's faithfulness the last 2 1/2 years that I wouldn't begin to doubt Him now?!? Make no mistake our enemy knows our weaknesses and is seeking to destroy us IF we allow him.

One day last week while I was at work I received an email from my dad. He was simply passing along a caringbridge site of a lady about my age who is the mom to 5 beautiful little girls...she is fighting AML a relapse after a bone marrow transplant. I clicked on the link very reluctantly because I knew just from the little bit of information that he provided in his message that my heart would be broken when I began to read of her battle. I was right. I sat in my office for a few minutes after reading just a few journal entries and cried silently hoping no one would walk in to see the tears puddling on my desk. Thankfully I glanced at the time and realized it was time for me to make the mail run that I do daily at work. I was so very thankful that I could escape to my car and cry freely. I hurt so deeply for this family and as I thought of the pain they were enduring, I felt hopeless. This wasn't the only family I was hurting for as right now I am praying for so many who are having to walk down such dark roads right now. It was just at that moment this sweet mom to 5 who was battling AML pushed my emotions over the edge. I cried out to my Lord...please, come quickly and take all of this pain away from so many.

Right there in the quietness of my car the Father whispered, Be Still and Know that I am God. And as God often does in my life, He used music to minister to my hurting heart. The silence became deafening so I turned on my radio. The very song on the radio was "My Help Comes From the Lord" by The appropriate at that very moment of despair.

When sorrows come and hope seems gone
You're the rock I rest upon
When waters rise and I can't breathe
You're the love that rescues me

Out of the darkness I lift up my eyes
Unto the hills I feel my faith rise

Maker of heaven giver of life
You are my strength my song in the night
My refuge my shelter now and forevermore
My help comes from the Lord

All of the sudden the tears of great anguish turned back to tears of hopefulness and trust. Isn't our God so good like that!?!

This past Friday night I attended a women's conference where Priscilla Shirer was the speaker. I was more than excited to hear what God was going to teach me through this conference. I was not disappointed. With each session I was convinced that her words, which were from God, were meant for just for me. I knew there were 1,500 plus in attendance, but I just knew He had moved mountains just for me to hear from Him. :)

I wish I could write everything He taught me over the 2 day conference, but you're probably already asleep now so I'll be brief. In a nutshell, let me just use the word of God to sum it up...
Isaiah 43:18-19
"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."

Through His word it was if He was shouting to me...Stephanie, I am doing a new thing in your life! Don't miss it by staying held captive by the anguish and pain you have experienced in the past. Don't miss it by fearing the new thing I want to do in your life! I don't believe this verse is saying to forget the pain as God has used that pain greatly, but rather for me not to dwell there.

I can't wait to see all that God has in store for me as well as in the life of my kids. I am sure the enemy will try again to gain a foothold in my life. My prayer is that I would not allow him to hold me there rather to keep looking to the One who has been an ever present help in all of my times of need...He has been so incredibly faithful to meet my every need and then some. May I continually rest in His goodness and love for me.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Letter to Jason

(I know I have been a terrible blogger and honestly not sure if/when I will blog again, but this day I felt led. A couple of different individuals have encouraged me to write a letter to Jason since his death...I have never been able to do it until now and even now after re-reading it there is so much more I want to say, but this is a good start. It did provide great therapy while writing. Thanks for letting me share.)

Dear Jason,
Two years ago today you left this fallen world for a place that I can really only dream and imagine. I have to admit to you that I have been somewhat jealous of the thought that you met Jesus before me! I know, I know…selfish of me to speak such. I have tried to imagine what it was like when you stepped into His presence. I have played out in my head you describing all that you saw and experienced over and over. Of course all of it is based on what I believe heaven will be like…I am confident it is so much more than I can even imagine.

To say the words ‘I miss you’ doesn’t really describe what kind of void your departure on this earth left in me. I remember the night I left the hospital of your initial diagnosis of leukemia. I remember thinking in my mind, ‘what if God doesn’t heal Jason?’ What would life be like without you here? I would not let my mind go there that particular night, yet as we both went through the process of fighting the disease it was as if the Lord was preparing my heart that His healing might come in heaven and not on this earth. Even still I couldn’t grasp how life would be without you by my side.

July 9, 2008, I arrived that morning to help you shower and dress for the day. Do you remember me meeting you in the hall of your parents entrance hall? Do you remember how we stood embracing each other for a few minutes? I remember hugging your frail and weak body so tightly and telling you how incredibly proud I was of you. I remember telling you how much I loved you and how incredibly thankful I was to be your wife. Jason, I had no idea that when I left there that day what would transpire just a few hours later. I assure you had I known, taking the kids swimming would have not been on my list of things to do that day. I have beat myself over and over for leaving you for the afternoon, but honestly I thought I was doing the right thing in spending some time with them as well.

During those last few days of your life at FGH your family and mine clung to each other and to our Lord in a way that I really can’t describe. We hurt so much knowing that your hours on this earth were limited, yet, can I tell you that our Lord met us there in that hospital in a way I have never experienced before? Jason, you would have been amazed and totally overwhelmed at the love and support that was shown to our family in those last days. I kept thinking to myself…”I wish Jason could see how much he is loved.” Obviously there were moments of total brokenness over the fact that we knew your time on earth was coming to an end, but there were also moments of joy. Joy, you ask?  Yes, our brothers provided some entertainment and a little comic relief. Oh, and your dad confessed to you while you were unconscious that you were always his favorite! Brad was standing right there when he did it! I am certain that some of your former co-workers in the Intensive Care Unit thought were certifiably crazy! I know you aren’t surprised by that.

And then July 12th came…a day of great beginnings for you yet a day that right now brings me such sadness. There are lots of things that happened that day that thankfully the Lord has helped me to forget, but there are also some things about that day that will forever be with me. I remember the kids coming to see you one last time. I remember how it was the last time the 5 of us were together. It was one of the saddest times of my life, but it was also a precious time as well. Later that day, I remember looking out the big window in your room on the 6th floor of FGH…by the way, they placed you in a room for the last hours of your life that had an incredible view! Sadly we never got that great view during your many inpatient stays while battling leukemia. Anyway, back to looking out the window…the sun was setting and the sky was breathtaking. As I held on to your hand, I remember looking out the window and thinking as the sun is setting in the sky so is the sun setting on our life together on this earth. I remember thinking how I wished I could stop it from setting, but I couldn’t. God had bigger and greater things in store for you. Your total and complete healing came a little before 11:00 p.m. that night.

Oh, how my heart broke into a million pieces. I left pretty quickly after you took your last breath as all I wanted at that moment was for your lifeless body to have life again, but I knew that couldn’t happen so the next thing I wanted was our sweet children. I know, I shouldn’t have woken them, but as was the case so many times in our life together, I was totally dictated at that moment by emotion!
Speaking of the kids…can I just tell you how awesome they are? Honestly, I don’t know how privy you are as to the ongoings on this earth now that your residence is with the King, so let me just tell you our kids are doing amazingly well.

Sweet Anna Lea is just that... so sweet and precious. Her love for you continues to grow even in your absence from her daily life. She relives so many of the special times the 2 of you had together…I love hearing her recall each and every memory. It always makes my heart smile even though often tears fall all at the same time. She misses you a lot. Daily she speaks of you. She asks lots of questions about heaven and what you are doing. I don’t pretend to know all the answers, but we have read a great book together about Heaven. You should read it! Ha! Anyway, the best thing about Anna Lea since your passing is that her faith in our Lord is growing by leaps and bounds. She loves the Lord much...I do want to believe that you are already aware of this!

Jon Brent is one fun little kid and as he did while you were on this earth he continues to bring much JOY to our family. I do have a bone to pick with you about him, though. He is somewhat (ha) OCD about certain things…you know he didn’t get that from me! God has used him to bring laughter on many a day where the pain was just too much. He still looks so much like you that sometimes it takes my breath away. He is so literal with everything. Oh, and he is quite the little dancer. Not sure where he got that, but I have a strong inclination that it came from my neighbor, who happens to be your brother! Oh! I almost forgot…I bought a house right next door to a house that Brad and Sherri bought! We have all thought many times how you would have loved that.

Not forgetting your Ally girl…she is something else. I laugh often and tell people that you would have been puzzled by her. She doesn’t quite fit the mold of the other two. She marches to a different beat altogether, but continues to make us all smile…and scratch our heads. She recognizes you in all the pictures plastered all over our home. Of course right now she thinks you are at the beach in heaven with Jesus.  Anna Lea makes a point daily to talk of you to Ally. She has made it a priority to make sure she knows what her daddy was like. She also looks a lot like you and for that I am most thankful.

So much has happened since your departure…birthdays,new house, Anna Lea and Sherri baptism, first days of school, birth of a sweet new nephew, anniversaries, me returning to work, Christmas, trips to Disney, trips to the beach, family gatherings, etc. Many of those special events/days have been incredibly tough because you weren’t here with us, but I can definitely say that our God has been SO incredibly faithful to all of us. He has provided for our every need. He has carried us when I thought there is no possible way we can go on. He has been so good to us and honestly I don’t deserve any of it.

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I have wished things could have been different and that God would have chosen to heal you here rather there, but that is just me speaking from my flesh. God was glorified in your death. Even some came to know Him personally because of it. Others returned to Him because of it. For those reasons your death was not in vain. I pray daily that He would continue to receive the all the glory and that He would continue to use our story in pointing others to Jesus.

I wish I could tell you that I have been a perfect mom to the kids and great manager of our finances…I know the thought of me managing the checkbook must make you roll your eyes!  I have failed at lots of things since your passing, but as you know His grace is always enough and covers me daily. Please don’t be upset that I don’t keep receipts or write down every expense in the check register… I promise I am doing the best I can! Haha!

There have been many days where I have just layed in bed praying that it all had been a really bad nightmare and that I am going to wake up to find that none of it happened, yet I quickly discover my true reality. It is those moments that I say aloud…’God, you are sovereign and I trust you.’ His peace is like no other.

I continue to be amazed at our God through all of this. You know I have always loved worship, but since your death I love it even more because when I participate in it I am getting to do the same thing you are doing in heaven! That thought blows my mind.
Jason, I love you so and still so proud that I had the opportunity to be your wife and the mother of your children. I will never get over that blessing. I so look forward to the day where we will all be reunited again. Until then…I’ll keep praising Jesus here while you praise Him there.

Loving and missing you more than I can say,