Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Remembering scars as we face an unknown future...

None of us knows what the future holds. We can plan, we can prepare, we can take control of our finances and set aside time and energy for tasks we have to accomplish and we can set goals and pour all of our energy into reaching them and making them our reality. But the fact remains that none of us knows what the next moment, hour, day, week or year holds for us. Sometimes we are heading down one path when life suddenly takes us on a u-turn. Sometimes we feel like we have it planned out perfectly, and then life throws us the unexpected.

I have been thinking and praying for a young woman I've never met for a month now. October 1st, 2011 was the date that Samantha and her fiance, Chad, had chosen and dreamed and prepared for and been excited about for months. Tragically, less than 36 hours before their wedding day arrived, Chad along with Samantha's brother who was to be a groomsman in their wedding, were killed when the best man lost control of the SUV they were riding in and the vehicle crashed. I learned of this tragedy because Chip's golf club was to be the reception site for their wedding celebration. The families and communities were stunned and filled with sorrow at such a tragic event. I could only imagine how Samantha felt then, and now- one month later.

The dress that she so carefully selected and had fitted, I imagine just hung there bringing more tears as she looked at in light of her pain. Rather than be the dress of her dreams, it now represents shattered dreams and probably brings a flood of tears at a simple glance of it.

I have prayed and prayed for God to pour out His peace and comfort and mercy at this time when no person, no thing, no act can bring a comfort to her hurting heart and the hearts of the family and friends that surround her.

They are broken, grieving, scarred and hurting.

It got me thinking about the time in our lives when we too felt such sorrow, sadness and pain in our lives. I pulled out the above picture of Chip, which was taken about a week after our inital tragedy at the Old Depot- this was August 2001- the place was Hurley Hospital, Flint, Michigan. I had never seen Chip so wounded and scarred before. Just days earlier we were a happy, thriving family of 5 with a big, bright future ahead of us. We had no plans to be side-tracked by death, fractured ribs, brain injuries, internal trauma, muscle and nerve damage and hearts that would hold their own wounds from sorrow and loss.

Our life took a u-turn and we found ourselves in a world we never imagined or dreamed.

* * * * *

In my morning devotional today I read {and shared on my FB status} these words:

"It is God's presence that gives us true comfort, not the absence of affliction". There is such power and truth in that statement. Read it through once more, and let it sink in.

Do you believe that?

If you don't, do you believe that it could be true in your life somehow- sometime?

It can.

I am actually grateful to have the few photos that my mom snapped while we were "at our worst" physically and emotionally from our time in ICU. Seeing the pictures and scars and how tremendous our injuries were gives me a reality check. When I think back to this time in our lives I can still remember how much it "hurt". In every sense of the word. I have never felt more pain than during that time of our lives. But during those same long days and sleepless, painful nights and all the healing that had to take place to even be functional again, we both felt an overwhelming peace and comfort in our hearts that we had never experienced before. We never felt it when life was going splendid.

We felt it when our hearts and bodies were torn and we literally had our lives shattered by pain and grief.

God was there.

He never let us go.

In fact, He helped carry us when we had no strength of our own to keep us going. He held us together when we felt like falling apart and giving up. He poured out His mercy in our lives as we needed to draw on Him to be able to extend grace and forgiveness to the one who had brought us so much pain. He gave us Hope for our future and even laid it on my heart to want joy in life again.

I clicked through and pulled out a few pictures of how we look now. Our scars have healed quite nicely, with the exception of Wyndham's disabilities and ongoing needs. We have added 4 kids to our family since our tragedy struck. We have smiled and laughed again. We have known happiness, peace, comfort and joy.

But not because we had some supernatural abilities. But because of His power and strength that helped us move on. We have a future ahead of us that is filled with unknowns and unexpected events yet to come. I know that we can face them with peace and even with excitement, because we have seen the way God has already worked in our lives and we know that He will see us through whatever else may come our way.

I am so glad that God spared Chip's life and Brock's life and Wyndham's life and even my life, because through our scars and pain we have come to understand His healing powers that much more. We have learned firsthand that God doesn't abandon us when our hearts are torn and laid open with grief, but instead, that is the time when He gently picked us up and gave us new eyes to see Him and we felt His embrace like no other. His comfort was real then. I have faith and trust that it will be real as we walk forward too.

He is a God who loves, who protects, who turns mourning into dancing again.

My prayer is for this Samantha, to know this same grace, love, mercy and healing. And maybe one day she will look back or recall shattered, broken dreams- not with heartache and pain- but with the reality that God was big enough and gracious enough to turn it all into something beautiful that she never could have dreamed.

Maybe you are facing a future that scares you or maybe you are recalling a past filled with pain and "scars" of your own. My prayer for you is that you will call out to God and give your hurts and uncertainties to Him. He will never let you down and more likely than not, you will find that His plan blows you away. Our scars may always be with us to a certain degree...but our future is bright always. Because He is our eternity!


Karen said...

My heart aches for both your story and for the story of the women who lost her fiance and brother together. Many prayers being sent for comfort for all.

Vicky said...

So beautifully said. I have read your words and followed your journey for years now. And while I have always been able to sympathize with you, I could never say I knew how you felt. I still don't, as I haven't faced loss and tragedy as as you have, but I do face a very uncertain future. Today, your words resonate deeply with me, and I want to thank you for your uplifting message and for sharing your devotional! Saying a prayer for Samantha today and praying He meets her right where she needs him to!

jsprik said...

So so true Jody, sometimes I feel like I am going to split in two from the pain of the loss of my son and when I cry so hard my body shakes, I can feel the arms of God around me, holding me together! He literally holds me up some days! God's grace is so amazing! I can't believe He extends it to someone as undeserving as me! but I am so very thankful!

Jo teraa said...

You speak so beautifully my dear friend. His plan is not always clear or understandable but if we trust it will come to fruition.
I feel his arms constantly carrying me even though I struggle. People with a past are more open to accepting his love, carrying a dream for a beautiful future.
I now too am glad the path I had to walk, it bought me to a wonderful place.... and indirectly in contact with someone who became the dearest friend I have ever had... Love you xxxx

Laurie and company said...

beautiful, Jody.
Thank you for sharing your ongoing journey with us.
You and your family are such a testament of God's grace in the light of pain and suffering.

those pictures of that time...unforgettable.
Hugs from Indy,

Heather @ we.are.the.holdens said...

You are an amazing family and I know it's all because of the Lord. You are an encouragement_ an inspiration and what you have experienced I can't even imagine. I am so thankful for the God of peace that comes in those times of unimaginable pain and helps us to get through. Oh, and I love your striped scarf in the picture above(coral color) I have the same one. :)

My name is Heather. said...

i have followed you for a few years now, and never commented. i admit, sometimes only skimming your posts. tonight, i needed to read the words you wrote. just over 2 months ago i lost my triplets. i gave birth to them at only 22 weeks, and while only living a brief hour and a half, i miss them terribly. i can't seem to get out of the limbo of feeling like i can't move on, and knowing i can't go back. i function for my 17 month old daughter and my husband, but some days i don't want to. i have never felt closer to Jesus, but at the same time, never felt so far away from Him. the only thing i look forward to is an eternity with them. i pray for your family, and i will now pray for samantha's. Someday, i hope i can feel the joy again.

Barbara Youngren said...

What a wonderful testimony for Who God Is and What He Has Done For You... and me... and all who know Him for who He is. Thank you for reminding me of this when things are going (from my perspective) well, because I know with certainty that there will be times that are dark. We have been through them before and we will be through them again, but God is Faithful, Strong, Never-changing, and True... to name just a few of His awesome attributes!

jenny said...

Beautiful post, Jody. I will pray for Samantha and Chad's family as well. God bless you and Chip and your precious children.

Kathy Jeffords said...

It's rare that I'm truly speechless, but I try and try to comment and just cannot find the appropriate words. I read your story on Casey's blog and then immediately came here. I couldn't NOT leave a comment, but nothing seems adequate. Thank you so much for sharing your story and your faith. God indeed has a plan. Reading your story this morning gave me chills, brought me to tears...and most of all, left me with a quiet, calm sense of peace. The power of His grace is just overwhelming. And I guess I found some words after all. Thank you, Jody.

Ashley said...

you. are. inspiring. thank you for your faith.

Anita said...

At a loss for words from your post. Praying for this young woman and the families that lost loved ones. Praying for your family as you seek to give HIM the honor and praise. Your facebook post is so true. Hold tight to His promises. His "peace that passes all understanding" is something we can't put into words. We must feel it with our hearts.

Karen said...

I found your blog through another blog and etc.
Very, very touching.
- Karen

Anonymous said...

Wow. Your story is such a powerful one. I am so grateful to "happen" upon your blog led here from one blog to another no doubt by God Himself. I too just lost a daughter very suddenly at 34 weeks of pregnancy. It felt like such a chance tragic event just as you describe feeling. Your story has helped me so much. Helped stabilize my faith in God. It took a big blow but my experience was similar to yours in that His presence was so strong through it all....

Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for giving me renewed hope renewed faith.... I will pray for the woman who lost her fiancée, I will pray for you My Name Is Heather
I can understand your pain! I feel so blessed to find you Jody right now at this time when I needed to hear your story the most. God is truly working through you!


Janna said...

I can't stop thinking about (and praying for) Samantha either. The accident happened less than a mile from my house... and not only did she lose her fiance and brother at the same time... her brother was her only sibling. She would have leaned on him for support in her grief over losing Chad... but Michael is gone too. I cannot imagine her level of grief. I've heard she hasn't been home yet. Too much pain for one sweet soul... I wish it would never have happened. So I pray, with all of my heart, that Samantha will turn to God to carry her through this... so she can experience that level of comfort and peace (that passes all understanding) that only He can provide! I have always been so inspired by your story Jody... and your strong faith that got you and Chip through the tragedy of losing Teagan and now dealing with Wyndham's disabilities that are a direct result of that accident. You have touched the lives of so many people. And even though I've never met you, I'm sad that you're leaving Michigan... but happy that you'll be closer to your family. :) That is a blessing.

I'll continue to read your blog and pray for your family.

God bless!

Susan said...

Yes Jody, I believe it, with all my heart.

I've walked it and experienced His comfort too.

And your testimony is such a beautiful witness to the faithfulness of our MIGHTY God!!!

Your story, your heart and your love for Jesus continues to bring glory and honor to God.

I thought of this scripture as I read this post:

"He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be astounded. They will put their trust in the LORD." PS 40:3-5

I am astounded, and so blessed by your story.

I'll pray for this precious young lady and the families too.