Thursday, August 24, 2006

If there is such a thing...

I personally don't believe there could be a point in someone's life where they get 'faith overload'. I know in my life, I have had a deep-rooted faith since the age of four, and I feel like I am just now- nearly 30 years later beginning to understand what faith is all about. I am not a theologian or one who reads and studies as much as I can about religious or faith-based topics, but I do spend time reading my Bible each week (notice I didn't even type 'each day'...I don't always get into the Bible like I should).
I try to read a daily devotional- if nothing else to get my thoughts jump-started on a topic that may make me question my faith or lead me to a deeper understading of my faith because of the truth it contains. I pray everyday, and I am constantly asking for God's strength and guidance in my life. That is something I will need from now until I step foot into eternity!
My thoughts the past few days have been focused on different questions and answers I have found in life because of this faith that I claim. My faith is based on a personal relationship I have with Jesus, God's Son. I believe He died on a cross and paid the penalty for my sins, and now that I have asked for forgivenenss of my sins, I have received the free gift of eternal life with God in a place He is preparing called Heaven.
It's not something I have earned, it's not something that has made me perfect (just ask Chip!), and although it was a simple thing on my part, to put my belief in God, it has not always been easy.
That is sort of the basis of what Chip and I will be sharing with the people of our church this Sunday morning. We will be speaking with our Pastor about how a person can have 'Hope in the Hard Times'. Chip and I have the privilege of sharing the life and death of Teagan and some of the challenges we have faced as a result of grief, trauma and the ongoing struggles we now live with as a result of someone else's bad choice in life.
In thinking of what it is that I have to say, and in response to many of the comments and emails I receive each week, I am first of all, amazed as I look back on all that God has led me through in life. I realize that I have lived through some of life's biggest hurts (that of losing a beautiful little girl- full of potential and love) and had the security and routine of my life pulled out from under me. Many of you know that life can be stressful enough- without any 'added' challenges thrown in most of the time. The day to day things in life can wear us thin. Marriage and kids and jobs and money and inlaws =) and bosses =) and even the checkout lady at Wal-Mart can or the people in the car in front of us on the freeway...all of these can create stress or tension or discouragement or depression or self pity or worry or just ongoing hurt. These things, all on their own, can zap the fun out of life in a hurry. Or little by little, but it turns into a big thing after awhile.
I had a lot of that stuff going on in my life even before the incident on July 29, 2001 that created the greatest pain of my life to date. Chip and I had only 6 months earlier, found our daughter, Wyndham blue and not breathing- she was 3 weeks old and weighed about 5 and a half pounds. She was airlifted to Hurley Hospital in Flint, MI and hooked up to life support. There are a lot of details that I could go into, but the short version is that we were able to bring her home after five days in the ICU. She needed close attention afterwards and some medication, but she was alright. At that time, we were thanking God for how He had spared Wyndham's life, and when we got home to our other kids, we realized that a lot of the 'big concerns' in our lives suddenly didn't seem so big. We were overjoyed to just be together and have our life back to 'normal'.
Then, almost exactly six months to the day later, all three of my kids plus Chip, were airlifted to the same hospital- all listed in critical condition. Wyndham was even admitted to the very same bed that she had had on her previous stay. It was eerie. It was unbelievable. It still chokes me up when I picture the scene in my mind. I couldn't believe that the God I had fallen to my knees for asking Him to give me Wyndham back, was now allowing me to go through this pain- only to the greatest extent I could imagine.
One would expect in that situation, that the reality of my life would overwhelm me and that I wouldn't stand a chance at ever becoming 'whole' in life again. That's what I would think too...and it was happening TO ME. But do you know what? God was there, just as He had been in my life, since the young age of four when I invited Him in. I remembered so often wanting to give God all of me, but feeling like what I had to offer would still never be enough- even if it was all of me. I can tell you that in those moments of my life, when I didn't want to live through the next moment because it hurt so bad, or I didn't want the next update from the doctor- because what he would say would rip out whatever bit of hope I was clinging to at that time, when I didn't want to think, breathe, eat, sleep, feel, hurt, or even begin to know what to do next, in those very moments God was there. And He was real to me. More real than He had ever been in my life before. Even when things were at their best in my life- I had never experienced God as I did when things were at their very worst. I remember telling God that I couldn't make sense of what was happening, that maybe I didn't even want to make sense of it, but that I would do one thing in the midst of it. I would trust Him.
That is all I have done from that moment on in my life. I have trusted Him when things didn't seem worth living for. I have trusted Him when I was overwhelmed with worry and grief and despair in life. I have trusted that somehow He could make sense of it for me...maybe not even fully, but enough of a way so that I could find reason for living and finding hope in life once again.
My belief is that an individual can have 'Hope in the Hard Times' first and foremost through a faith in God. I don't know how people get through life's hardships without faith. I suppose that is why there are so many people in this world messed up in the wrong things. Like alcohol and drugs and addictions to shopping and sex and work and a host of other things that people think are gonna bring them change and happiness in life. Those things leave people empty and wanting more. I believe that the pain of those situations in a person's life is the very thing that could drive them to faith in God.
When you realize that nothing tangible in life brings peace and happiness- no matter how good or wonderful it may be- when you realize that there is nothing you can do on your own to bring inner comfort and peace, I believe that is where you find God. And when you surrender your life to Him and live each day dependant on Him as your source of comfort and strength and joy, then you will experience freedom from any trial or hurt that life may bring your way. That is how you find hope in the hard times.
Now I suppose I can go print this out and read from it on Sunday morning when I get to share this amazing reality with the people of my church. I only hope that it makes a little bit of sense.

26 comments:

linda t said...

Thank you for trusting Him... for letting Him use you through such difficult times.
I am praying you continue to hear His voice as He leads you through this life... as you surrender to His plan...
Jody, I am blown away as I read what God is choosing to do in and through you! wow...

Bless you!

SP said...

Wow! Jody, I have been reading your blog for a few weeks now and I am so encouraged by you. You have been thru so much in your lifetime but you still have faith in God. I too have faith in God as my personal Lord and Savior! He is an awesome God. You have been an encouragement to me especially today in your writing. We do need to remember that the most important things in our lives are intangible. Keep on writing girl! I'll keep on reading! I will pray for you and Chip on Sunday morning...that you will speak the words God has given you and that someone there that day will be totally encouraged!

aimee said...

I, too, will pray for you and Chip on Sunday. Reading your blog just now made me think of Caedman's Call's song, "This World has Nothing for Me." Have you heard it? The first two lines of the chorus are: "This world has nothing for me and this world has everything. Everything that I could want and nothing that I need." I listen to that song when I need a reminder that only having God and our Savior in my life will make me truly happy and at peace.
Once again, you are an amazing inspiration...

annette said...

Jody, you are such a blessing to me and to so many others I am sure.

I have been dealing with the loss of a dear young friend who was killed April 26th in the van from Taylor U....this loss has made a change in my families life and so has your nitty. gritty. I have grown closer to my Lord through knowing you...wow I am so thankful for you. I too will be praying for you and Chip for Sunday ...your words will provide a great deal of healing for many.

I often feel I am intruding into your life reading Nitty. gritty so I am learning to widen my horizons...thank you.
~love~

Carrie said...

Hey Jody! I appreciate your comments when you have time to read...which sounds about as often as I have time to post, so it seems to work out well! You spoke to me more today (through this post) than you can imagine, because I'm definitely going through a hard time that I cannot blog about until I'm through it. I can definitely speak to feeling God though. When my 7-year old cousin Kurt Prusakiewicz was killed, (in Gaylord, same time of year as Teagan but in 1997 from an ATV accident) my uncle came to Christ. He swears that this is true, and will tell anyone that will listen that the only way he made it through was because he could feel God's presence in a tangible way through that ordeal. I know that I have the same feeling sometimes. And sometimes, we can't feel that God is there, but we know that He is here with us. He doesn't so much cause our lousy circumstances, but rather uses them to shape us into the creation that we are supposed to be. Thanks new friend; you are much appreciated!

stacy said...

Jody, I will be praying for you on Sunday as well as everyday. I have just started reading your blog and today's post...wow, so true. I have also been through a lot in my 35 years, not even close to the same type of things but horrible non-the-less. I believe that I would never have had the relationship that I have with God if my circumstances were different. Keep the faith.

Jennifer R said...

Hi Jody,

You know, this is just what I needed to hear today. Thanks and I'll be praying for you.

Jennifer

Rachelle said...

thanks for your words.
i really needed to hear
them today. i will keep
you in my prayers :)

Laurie Young said...

Jody...WOW! I am so thankful that I stumbled onto your blog...(I found you at Carrie Colbert's site). I check on here everyday, love the pix and the strength in Christ that radiates from our blog. I am floored at how faithful you are...when most folks would have called it a day. God Bless You this day, and your beautiful family...Keep your chin up.

Laurie Young again said...

I meant to say YOUR blog!! well anyway!!

Peace!!

sarah said...

I too found you through Carrie Colbert's blog (and I think I found her's through Ali Edwards). :)

I just have to tell you that your faith is so inspiring...that YOU are so inspiring. Thank you for sharing your story...I think, I know, it will be helpful to a lot of people.

God bless.

Sheila said...

WOW - thanks for being willing to be SO transparent! :) You are a blessing :) Will your church be taping you and Chip, and is there any way those of us who can't make it could get a copy and hear you?? That would be awesome :) You continue to be an inspiration! :)

Anonymous said...

Jody;
Been reading Nitty Gritty for about a month now..usually read your updates while @ work but this morning before going on to Nitty Gritty I found a quote on a website that really hit me, so i copied it and pinned it to my bulletin board..went to lunch & got back to get the Nitty Gritty updates..and read your faith blog..wanted to share this quote with you...it makes me smile...
You are an awesome person...all the way around!
"If you have the Faith the size of a Mustard Seed, then nothing shall be impossible to you"
Molly

rose said...

jody,
you seem like a beautiful person. i have a friend who's child is dying and your words help so much - i will share them...thank you..
my heart aches for your losss as i read about precious teegan.
as you say -total surrender to Him + trust in Him = peace in our hearts.
i pray you continue to feel Jesus' nearness and the comfort of His spirit.
xo

shawnna said...

with tear filled eyes i say THANK YOU --

shea ... said...

Jody....through your immensely painful circumstances, you have made the decision to let your life speak of God's grace, mercy and LOVE...you are a wise and Godly woman! I want you to know how you have blessed my life through your honesty and faith, and your willingness to share it all...I pray that you feel God's hand all over your life..today and everyday!!! your family is precious!...because He Lives, we can all face tomorrow......

Cris said...

That was beautiful Jody. And yes, it made perfect sense. I really love reading your blog. It sometimes helps me to put things back into perspective. And other times it gives me a good laugh.

On Sunday, just remember to speak from your heart and let the Holy Spirit guide you and I think you and Chip will do wonderfully.

God Bless you both.

Rosie said...

Jody, Your Testimony inspires me. We are not from the exact same religion but we are from the same place in our hearts. I have just begun my blog and I worry about what to say, not wanting to sound too preachy, however, your strong testimoy and faith in our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ inspires me to be brave and keep going. Mostly day to day stuff, but if I need to I may share a bit deeper. Keep going!!!r

Anonymous said...

Jody, you are so eloquent in sharing your thoughts and feelings! While we may not have gone through similar circumstances that you have with your family...many of us have had a "crisis of faith" where we would question "where is God in this?" (fill in the blank for whatever circumstance). We wonder "does He hear us, why doesn't He answer my prayers?" I think I've been reading your blog long enough to know that you definately have questioned many times but have found that God has always been there despite all that is happening. We might know why thing happen as they do as we can't see the "big picture". We live in a sin-filled, fallen world that is clouded and not perfect.
I have read scripture and it's in there that it's said..."it's not 'if' trouble comes but "when" trouble comes" We are to expect it! I believe it was the Apostle Paul who talks alot about that. I can so agree with you that I have to wonder "why"!! But I have to trust that God will bring good out of a very bad thing. We might not know until we're with Him what the purpose was. I know that I have to cling to Him and trust. Blessings to you and Chip as you continue to share your journey with so many! I just wish I could meet you one day....and even have you speak at my church!

StefyB said...

Thanks Jody,
I've a defferent belief as I'm Buddist, but I appreciate so much the way you follow your faith.
A belief is not something to take for granted but something to live to improve our everyday life, to afford every event, good or bad and to give life (and death,) the right value.
So, I hope you don't mind even if my prayers are differents as I add your dd in my morning chanting.

Anonymous said...

i wish i had a mama like you...

Tammy said...

Hiya Jody~
As usual, your blog has deepened my thoughts and made me see life differently. I will be praying for you and Chip on Sunday. If you publically speak like you blog, everything will go just FINE! =) You are such an inspiration...I know you hear that all the time but what else can I say!? Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, your faith and your life.
God bless you and yours~
Tammy in Michigan

lindey said...

goodness...i've done a lot of reading here across the past few days. i have to make myself stop so i can something-anything done around here.

i can totally attest to the fact that pain and sadness and tragic circumstances often force us to our knees, which is where we should be & stay & where we are blessed the most.

i lost my little brother in september of 2004 just before his 21st birthday.

i've had God in my life since i can remember. always gone to church. was baptised at age 12 & have always prayed.

but never, never have i felt God in my life like i did when matt died so tragically almost 2 years ago. it literally brought me to my knees & sometimes it was the only place i could bear to be.

i am so thankful for my faith in my Jesus and i am so thankfull that you are able to experience his love too. even more, i am blessed & others are blessed reading your sincere words here.

i can only imagine how proud teagan must be that her momma! i know your attitude about life and your thoughts and actions make her proud.

thank you for sharing & i'll be thinking of & praying for you & chip sunday morning.

stephanie said...

you are an amazing girl!

annette said...

Jody, I will be praying for the two of you for Sunday....it would be wonderful if you could share your talk with all of us...I do not know how that could take place but I would feel blessed to get to see and hear the two of you...~love~

Anonymous said...

I don't believe you can appreciate how many people you are touching and encouraging with your words. Yes, it is not your message, I know you say. It is truly the message of a Savior who cares so deeply for us. It is the message of the cross, the message of grace, the message of resurrection power. It is THE message BUT it is THE MESSAGE WITH SKIN ON, and that is why it is so powerful. Your unique and authentic voice, refined in the extreme heat of deep sorrow and a "walk through the valley" makes it a voice that is true and pure with all adornment and dross burned away. Just this week I had occasion to share a message of hope with two women and I shared with them your Thursday post (one through my translation into spanish as I work in ministry in Mexico). Your message of Hope in Hard Times will be used by God in a powerful way. Continue telling your story. Thank you for your generosity and for allowing us to glimpse into your life and heart and witness what God is teaching you and us through you.