These five words capture the story of my life from childhood until my present reality. God is sovereign. God is grace. God is truth. God is my rest. God is my hope.
My childhood is filled with delightful memories. I was blessed to grow up in a Godly, loving and fun home. My parents served the Lord in our church and Christian school. They modeled the Gospel for me and countless others every.single.day. My siblings and I were taught to love the Lord, His Word, family and people. At the age of four, my mom took God’s Word and lovingly showed me my need for a Savior. She witnessed the night I confessed my sin and called on Jesus to save my soul. My mom became my role model and hero as she taught me valuable life skills. Her joy for Jesus was contagious and spilled over into every area of my life. My childhood was sheer joy.
In college, I met grace in the man of my teenage dreams. Jason and I were married as college seniors in 1999. We began serving the Lord together in our local church and Christian school. Through the next several years, God added three children into our home- Evan, Lauryn, and Lynsey Grace. God continued to pour grace into our lives through His Word, our church, our family and friends. His Truth sustained us as we walked through various “small” trials.
In 2010, God clearly moved our family to Greenville, SC. We left family, friends, familiarity, ministry and comfort behind in Raleigh, NC. Little did we know, that we were entering a new season of understanding God’s grace, truth, hope and rest. God was writing our story in ways we were yet to understand.
In October of 2011, a phone call from my mom revealed a new struggle for our family. Mom was sick. I could hear it in her voice . . . the anxiety, fear and questions. This was the beginning of an intense 10- month struggle with anxiety and physical issues which included many doctor visits, prescriptions, emotional needs and counseling. My mom had never struggled in any way previously with anxiety or depression.
I had counted on Mom to help me with the pregnancy and beginning adjustments to parenting 5 children. She was my best friend. She was my mentor. She was an awesome grandma. She had always been with me in the other hard spots of life.
But God had different plans. Mom was unable to function in these roles during my pregnancy and the following months. In His grace, God provided help through other friends and church family. He met each need in my life. As I spent many weeks of pregnancy rest on the couch, God was continually strengthening my faith in Him through His Word, others, our church and new experiences of His grace and provision. Not only was I striving to rest physically but God was teaching me to rest my soul in Him alone.
Elysabeth Joy and Elliot Joseph arrived safely and healthy in March 2012. God clearly manifested His answers to our prayers in the delivery and early weeks of adjustment. God had so much to teach me about daily grace as I adjusted to parenting five children under age 9! Learning to hear God’s voice above the noise (and my house was extremely noisy!!!) became priority for me. I was leaning in hard to hear and recognize His daily whispers of grace in my crazy, chaotic, changing life!
In July 2012, Mom called me . . . and her voice was different once again. This time she spoke with confidence, joy, and thankfulness. The anxiety and fear were completely gone! She had been freed! I had my mom back! God had miraculously healed and answered our many prayers for Mom!
From July 2012 through November 2012, our lives were spent rejoicing in the goodness of God to heal my mom and our Meme. Our family was beginning to settle into a new comfortable routine as a family of seven. Mom was heavily involved in our lives once again. Our family gathered with my siblings and their families to spend Thanksgiving with Mom and Dad in their new home in GA. Thanksgiving 2012 will forever hold a special place in my heart. The memories are so special, sweet and sacred to me. God had taught me much about trusting in His truth and running to Him for rest, hope, and grace. I rejoiced that the difficult trial with Mom was over! My heart sighed with relief that our lives would return to a “comfortable” place once again.
In December 2012, my parents traveled to SC to spend Christmas with us. Within minutes of their arrival at my door, I knew something was wrong! Dad confirmed my worst fears . . . Mom had again entered into a new season of intense anxiety, fears, physical problems and was headed into depression.
Over the next ten weeks, I watched my mom spiral downward into a dark and torturous hole of depression. Dad lovingly took care of her and sought to get physical, mental, and spiritual help for her. No counseling, no drugs, and no doctor offered relief from her depression and serious physical condition. Mom began to lose hope that she would ever win the battle with depression. We really all felt at a loss as to how to best help her. This season of helplessness pushed me deeper into Jesus and His truth.
On February 21, 2013, my life changed forever with another phone call. My hands tremble even as I write these next words. My brother called me and his words were, “She’s gone.”
Mom made a decision that forever changed my life and the lives of countless others. Under the influence of prescription drugs, she chose to end her own life. Suicide.
These past few years, I have been on a grief journey unlike anything I ever dreamed I would experience. Not only have I been on a wild, exhausting, and painful journey of grief, but I have been on a new journey of faith. I have questioned and doubted it all—the existence of God, the truth of His Word, the hope of Heaven, and my purpose in this world. I have sought Biblical counseling, attended a Griefshare support group, studied Scripture, devoured Christian books on suffering, explored numerous blogs on grief, and cried more tears than you can imagine.
But God is so incredibly faithful to redeem broken things and make all things beautiful in His time! Although my story is one of hard, messy and ugly, I am finding true beauty in the Gospel- Jesus Christ! He is amazing Grace. He is complete Truth. He is eternal Hope. He is satisfying Rest.
Where once doubt, fear, and questions pummeled my soul, a new exhilarating joy, confidence, and peace has moved inside! The pain and loss remains within my heart but a steadfast trust in the sovereignty of God anchors me to His Word as absolute truth for my life. I am leaning in daily to hear His whispers of grace which flow freely from His loving heart. And my soul is at rest . . . in Jesus Christ.
God’s Word has sustained me in the darkest valley and proved that every word can be trusted. I have seen His cross from many different angles. And I wholeheartedly believe He died for me . . . and that He understands the depths of suffering. His love is incomprehensible!
God has birthed a strong desire in my heart to minister to the suffering, grieving, and questioning heart. I am praying that God will bring Himself much glory as I honestly and openly share my journey of grief and the rich truths that God has used to sustain me in my suffering. May God whisper His grace into your heart, my friend.