Our minds were reeling with the news of Justin’s accident. The sheriff’s office patiently walked us through our next steps as we tried to process this horrific loss. They asked us if we had any clergy that could come and be with us. I called a friend and incoherently told her that we needed to get ahold of one of our pastors.
I was trying to look at our current plight as an “adventure”. In actuality, my 10-year old world was topsy-turvy. Our family of five was living in a cheap motel all crammed together and irritable after being abruptly evicted from a rental home. The days […]
It was our first Sunday back to church since the accident. We purposefully sat near the back in case we needed to make a quick getaway. My senses were heightened as I watched people with a new set of eyes. I numbly observed my brother’s and sister’s in the Lord smiling and joyously clapping as they worshipped the Lord in song. The lump in my throat prohibited me from any singing that day; the only worship I had to offer was one of brokenness and tears. In my grief-stricken state, I silently wondered if I would ever feel the joy of the Lord again.
I excused myself to the restroom while skillfully avoiding our greeting time. I got myself into the bathroom and ran into a dear sister in the Lord. She greeted me with a kind “hello” and I fell into her arms and sobbed on her shoulder. She patiently held me tight allowing me to weep; the Lord met me there with sweet Penny that day. Finally, I sat back down next to my family armed with a handful of kleenex and inhaled deeply. I couldn’t help but glance down the row and remember that just a few Sunday’s ago our dear Justin was sitting right beside me. Once the service ended, we made a beeline for the door. I felt like I had just run an emotional marathon.
In those first few months, I had many sweet friends sending me messages of prayer and encouragement. A Scripture that I repeatedly received was Psalm 30:5b: “Weeping endures for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” I pondered this truth and wondered when my “morning” would come. I found a beautiful chapter answering this question in the book, “Suffering and the Sovereignty of God“. The chapter is entitled, “Waiting for the Morning during the Long Night of Weeping. (I have linked to a free download for this book, it is quite worth the read). I found comfort and relief as I related to this statement:
“It is faith in our good and sovereign God that enables us to wait until the morning. But we must never forget that often the night is long and the weeping uncontrollable.” Dustin Shramek
Yesterday, seven months later, I realized that I am seeing a glimmer of the morning light. It was almost breakfast time and I was just sitting down to my first cup of coffee. Randomly, I started singing a song of praise. Our six-year-old Luke said, “Oh Mommy, that song sound really good.” I think I said something like, “Oh honey, do you like that song?”. The day went on and I didn’t think much about it. It was a few hours later and unbeknownst to me, Luke was standing at our bedroom door, I happened to be singing that same song. Again Luke said, “Oh Mommy, that song sounds so good!”. Now it clicked, I was singing songs of praise with a joyful heart! The more I thought about it, the more I rejoiced. Luke took such delight in my song (definitely not because of my singing voice), but because to his little heart it was like the first signs of Spring, it represented life and hope!
My circumstances have not changed; I will not see Justin again until I am with him in Heaven. But, I have a God who is the author and giver of grace. In His grace, I have hope.
Forever clinging to Him,
It was an early Sunday morning when we were awakened by the doorbell ringing. Tim went down and answered the door, both of us were thinking that Justin must have locked himself out of the house. I stood at the top of the stairs waiting to hear his voice; instead, what I heard was Tim inviting the Sherriff’s deputies inside our home.
As the unthinkable news of Justin’s death reached our ears, our three little boys made their way down the stairs, still in their cozy jammies with sleep in their eyes. While the deputies were talking to us, I kept trying to smile through the tears and reassure our boys that everything was somehow going to be okay.
Justin left behind four siblings; Sarah, Sammy, Luke, and Joshua. As my mind was trying to come to terms with our new reality, my heart broke all over again as I thought of my children. I ached for their loss and the pain that they would experience. Suddenly my world came crashing down as I realized that for 20+ years, I had done everything in my power to provide them with an emotionally safe, trauma-free, stable environment. In the blink of an eye, the “trauma-free” environment I worked so hars to protect was gone.
There was no “fix” for the pain that they would endure; this would be something that they would have to walk through and learn to trust in the goodness of the Lord minute by minute, day by day. My heart hurt for the loss of my son, for the loss of their big brother, for the loss of their carefreeness, and for the pain in their hearts that I could not take away.
Sometimes as Mamas, we unknowingly set up little kingdoms here on earth. At the time it didn’t seem like a kingdom; safety, stability, etc are all good things. In my understanding, I wanted these things for my children for their good. And while these things are “good”, they can also become an idol, an idol of control. Because when my little kingdom of trauma-free, stability, and safety was torn away, I was devastated. Cognitively, I understood that God was ultimately in control of all things, but somewhere along the way, there was a disconnect. The Lord gently uncovered the deepest recesses of my heart revealing a posture that said all of my children’s well-being depended on me. I was wrong, no one has that kind of power but God. He sovereignly reigns supreme and He has the final say what will be the best for the children that he blessed me with.
To my limited understanding, it’s so upside that the exact opposite of my worst fear is happening. What I thought would destroy our children is actually cultivating a depth, an empathy, and a compassion for others that ease does not produce. In no way do I diminish their suffering and grief, it is real and we face it together every day. But God, in his kindness and goodness truly works everything together for good to those who love him. To him be all the glory and praise.
Forever being kept in His grace,
I was in despair. My weight was completely out of control and I had no idea how in the world I was going to climb out of a very deep pit. My body physically hurt, I was exhausted, and very discouraged. One morning, I woke […]
Today, I opened my journal to its first entry dated April 3, 2017. It read, “But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8) Please help me to trust you when I don’t see or understand your plans.”
I had no way of knowing or even anticipating the loss of Justin. Yet, the Lord in his kindness was preparing my heart to trust him in such a time as this. For several years, I have been quite taken that the Lord reigns sovereign over all. I have said many times over that I find great safety in his sovereignty.
In those early days and weeks of grief, I was hurt and angry that the Lord didn’t answer my prayer the way I wanted him to. You see, I had a horrible feeling all day and into the night about Justin’s plans for the evening. I talked to Justin that afternoon and asked him to please be safe. I prayed and asked the Lord to please keep him safe. As I lay in wait for him to get home that night, I continued to pray. It was while trying to calm myself in the wee hours of the morning by reciting Scripture, I knew in my heart that Justin was not the kind of safe that I had asked for. My fears were confirmed by the ringing of our doorbell early the next morning.
I walked about numbly while a whirlwind of activity took place around me. I cried out to the Lord in my distress. I asked him to help me get to each next minute as I felt like I was being swallowed up by the most intense pain that I have ever felt. And now still, my most consistent prayer; Oh please, Lord, please, be near.
After the memorial service, we made a quick trip to California as I deeply desired to walk along the oceanside; seeing the vastness of the ocean has always reminded me of how big God is and how small I am. I could feel in my heart that I was harboring resentment towards the Lord. As I walked up and down the shore, I poured my heart out to the Lord. Finally, I stopped at a quiet spot and gazed at the enormity of the sea. It was there that the Lord reminded me of his conversation with Job. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?…” I then remembered releasing Justin to the Lord when he was just a newborn baby and very sick. All throughout his life we have declared that he belonged to the Lord. And he did, he was not mine, he was the Lord’s. The Lord gently and kindly put me in my rightful place as a good Father does. He is the Potter, I am the clay.
His sovereign reign is a sweet and bitter providence even when I don’t understand his plan. The Lord continues to sustain our little family every day. He is indeed close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. He can be trusted for He is faithful. A song that has blessed me 100 times over is A Sweet and Bitter Providence. I have shared the link below.
Continuing to trust in His care and grace,