Monday, July 10, 2006

Going home...

As I continue to move through this month of July, I am amazed at how much my life, my thoughts and my memories are still affected by Teagan and the events of July 29th, 2001. It became even clearer and more pronounced as Chip and I revisited Gaylord and some of the sights and friends in our life from that very day and time. We went back to Gaylord and Johannesburg to enjoy a wedding and have a good time, and yet I was struck by how strongly I felt Teagan's presence and God's peace all over again. I am not one to outwardly express my deep inner emotions, but I was keenly aware of them and they touched me in a powerful way the last couple of days.
Instead of shedding tears and expressing myself in person, here I am pouring those feelings out in word. Maybe they won't even make sense. Maybe they won't mean anything to you- but I believe that tears are like that sometimes. They don't always fall at the appropriate moment, or even make sense at times. They are simply an extension of what's in our hearts.
I am beginning to realize that life may not be as random as I think it is somedays. When I wrote about being at the particular place where our paths crossed with that of unbelievable circumstance on July 29th, 2001, I never believed that was "random". I don't believe God "put" us in that place either, but I do believe He "allowed" those events to occur- for whatever reason, I don't quite know. I believe that He is able to make sense out of what happened- maybe not in my lifetime and I may not understand fully- but I trust that He can make something beautiful out of something ugly, hurtful and painful- if I allow Him to do so. It's not easy or simple to do- to hand Him your hurt and brokeness. But I am finding that it's true.
As we drove around various spots in town and I saw some of the very places where I experienced the greatest pain and heartache of my life, I was filled with peace and warmth. I sometimes expect the worst in life- which is one of the things that drives my husband nuts about me- but that's just how I am. He says I'm negative at times- I say I'm realistic. We didn't intend to turn back time and revisit old memories, but I couldn't stop my mind from playing some of them out. We drove out to the wedding reception on Saturday night, on the very road we drove out to the restaurant where Teagan was killed. We stopped there and talked with the family that owns the Old Depot- who have loved and supported all of us the past several years. They deserved the best and we wish them continued success with their business. We still love them, their meals, and of course, Karen's pies.
We sat in the auditorium for the wedding and for Sunday church service, the very place where we had a celebration service for the life of Teagan and a time of reflection and closure for our family on her death. I have sat in those seats probably a hundred times since the day of Teagan's memorial service, but this weekend, going back, felt so different. The memories were so vivid. Like I said, I could almost "feel" her at times. It was a good feeling. It made her "real" to me all over again. Not that I had forgotten her, but that her memory and her life still matter and impact me and probably more people than I realize at times.
As I sat in that place yesterday, reliving memories, feeling close to Teagan and sensing God's presence, I sort of glimpsed the future and my thoughts turned to Heaven. I've said it here before, I think about Heaven more then the average person probably does. I recommend the book, Heaven, Your Real Home by Joni Erickson Tada, for some depth and insight on this subject. I believe that what some people see in me is simply the reflection of joy that I get when my thoughts are so focused on the hereafter. When I'm at "my best", it is simply my mind looking ahead to what awaits me in the future. It makes my heart race and something good wells up inside me and makes all the pain and hurt of daily living pale in comparison to the glory of Heaven.
So, I sat there in church and it brought a smile to my face. I closed my eyes and imagined Teagan smiling down from Heaven. I felt her spirit and realized once again, that she's really not that far away from me. That she's in the very place where my heart longs to be!
I sat there thinking of another family, who longs to be in the place where I sat. The Cerak family is working tirelessly and with great hope and anticpation to bring their daughter, Whitney back home with them. I couldn't help but pray for them and hurt with them and this longing in their heart to be back home in Gaylord. I understand that ache- as I felt it for many hours and days while me and my family recovered at Hurley Hospital in Flint, nearly five years ago. Some of the days spent there felt like an eternity. I've learned firsthand how overwhelming it can be to sit in hospitals and rehab centers- even though those places are doing so much good for the persons in need of thier care- they can zap the life out of the people who are watching and waiting for the day they can return home. It is no easy task to wait for and watch healing take place.
I sat in "their seats" yesterday. I realized that I was "home"- where they long to be. I imagined the welcome and joy they will feel on their return. I imagined the peace they will feel in their hearts. It was another glimpse of Heaven for me.
My heart is overflowing with the peace and contentment I feel right now. Going back to the place where the biggest hurt touched my life thus far, made me realize that I'm on my way "home". It's really not that far away, and when I get there, it will make the heartache of my journey worth every tear I've shed and every ache my heart has held through the years. I look forward and can't wait for the day, when I'm truly home! That thought is what carries me through my hardships and gives me reason to rejoice in life- even when it isn't fair or easy somedays. I know that Heaven will be worth it. I know Teagan is cheering me homeward, and God is carrying me through. I am learning that the events of my life- the ones that probably aren't so random afterall- are stepping stones for me on my way home.

17 comments:

Suzelle said...

Your words just take my breath away.

Jackie Carl said...

Jody,
Thank you for your post today.
You amaze me w/ your outlook.
Sincerely,
Jackie Carl

Cris said...

Very beautifully written.

CathyVal said...

This was an amazing post! I can not say I have ever experienced anything like your story but I am so impressed with your outlook on it. This post has just touched me greatly and I will keep you in my prayers!!

Adrienne said...

Wow Jody, you are an amazing woman.What a beautiful entry.

Janna said...

Jody, a came across your site a short time ago after reading a post you left on the Laura VanRyn blog. I am very touched by your life story and by your amazing faith that you live by each day.

Your faith reminds me of the faith of the family of a dear friend of mine, who was murdered back in August 2004. Jason Allen, along with his fiance Lindsay Cutshall, were shot to death on an isolated beach in California. They were Christian camp counselors who lived amazing lives, dedicated to serving others and serving God. I had never met anyone like them before... and then, one day, they were gone. Even though this tragedy completely broke my heart into a million tiny pieces, I have seen God do tremendously good things through this tragedy. It is so sweet to see Him turn this tragedy into triumph. And He has done that in your situation too. You have no idea how powerful your story is... it really changes people's perspective on life and faith... and I greatly admire you and your family for firmly believing in God's sovereignty in the midst of your life's worst heartbreak. I love what you said...

"I don't believe God 'put' us in that place either, but I do believe He 'allowed' those events to occur- for whatever reason, I don't quite know. I believe that He is able to make sense out of what happened- maybe not in my lifetime and I may not understand fully- but I trust that He can make something beautiful out of something ugly, hurtful and painful- if I allow Him to do so. It's not easy or simple to do- to hand Him your hurt and brokeness. But I am finding that it's true."

That is so true... we don't know why God allows things to happen but He can definitely change tragedy into triumph and bring sweetness to a heartbreaking situation.

shawnna said...

thank you for sharing this today Jody

Lori Smith said...

Hi Jody! I came across your blog today afterseeing you post on Melody Ross's. I am bawling right now & cant even see the screen or keyboard. My son Jaxon passed away from cancer at 3 on Sept 24,2002. Your post today made me want to hug you. WOW! I Don't have a blog but you can email me @ loribobsmith@hotmail.com. I think you are a truely gifted writer & person. I too think of Heaven daily and long for home. I long for the day I can hold Jaxon in my arms again. God bless you & your family.

Rob DeForge said...

Hello,

Very strange coming across your blog post today. I am from Gaylord, and know Chip from hockey back at the Sportsplex, as I announce for Gaylord Blue Devil hockey. It was just 2 short days ago, we were sitting around with my wifes sisters, as one of them are pregnent, and they were discussing names, and your daughters name came up as being a beautiful and interesting name. Just strange, 2 days later to run across your post. I have a blog site for my side business, RD Sports Photo, and in the search function for blogs, just typed in Gaylord and came across this. Just funny how things work sometimes.

Carrie said...

Perspective. It's amazing what a bit of perspective can do for your spirit. Thank you for refocusing my spirit today. Hugs, Jody -

patterns of ink said...

Perhaps wondering is our love language to God. Perhaps wonder is our most un-tampered-with form of worship. Perhaps we never "know God" better than when we are dizzied by the thought of eternity and the expanse of space; when our hearts ache with an unanswered "why?" Perhaps when we feel most lost, most orphaned, and when his face is most inscrutable...perhaps it is then that crying "Abba, Father" turns His holy ear.

Anonymous said...

Jody, I found your blog because it was a link on Carrie's blog...I am a friend of hers. I think you and Chip have amazing strength and faith. I read your words and find comfort in them, and also realize how lucky I am to be a mom. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. You make such a difference in this life--you and your family make it better.

Aimee

KathyG said...

Thank you for your post today Jody. It is very touching.

Kathy

Anonymous said...

Your words are truly inspirational. I linked to your website and blog from Whitney's. Thank you for sharing.

Didn't know if you had heard of the Pearl Family...
http://www.alexandmatt.com/journal/

Thank you again for sharing.

Michelle Sanders said...

Touching. God Bless!

Anonymous said...

Jody, I am new to your blog...wishing you a good day...

Your words are loving and tender...you are in my prayers.

Love from a mom in mt zion, il

manababies said...

*sigh* I'm so glad I read this blog entry. All too often I tend to forget about the big picture and what is truly important in life. Your words touch so many people, as you see in your comment. Thank you so much.