Running to the Father

Month ago, I wrote about going through a time of being shaken.  In case you wondered—that time is still going on, and the shaking grows worse.  Sometimes I wonder if I am going to survive.  I find myself crying often.  I don’t even wear eye makeup anymore.  What is the point?  It will just get cried off.

So, what is to be done?  That’s just the thing—the circumstances are ones that I have no control over.  None.  They involve loved ones and their choices, and their illnesses.  So, I pray, I grieve, I speak truth and love into situations, hoping to comfort and encourage, and bless. I serve, I give, but I have absolutely no control. 

None whatsoever.  I know that I am facing the reality that I will lose people I love here on this earth.  I know that I am facing others ruining and wrecking their lives here on this earth.

So what is to be done?  Do I rail at God—hoping my anger, and my ire will motivate Him to move!!

Do I rail at the circumstances, hoping my anger will change the circumstances?

Do I pray, and pray, and pray, hoping my prayers will change the circumstances?  Yes—this is what I opt to do.  What I am finding, is that my prayers are not changing the circumstances—but I am changing.

I am changing from anger to acceptance.  I am changing from despair to hope.  Not hope that everything will turn out the way I want it to turn out—but hope that God will prevail over the darkness.  It is a hope that persists in spite of the circumstances.  It is a hope that is quiet and deep and stays.

It’s source is from God—so it is an immovable hope—or as Bill Sweeney, fellow blogger said, “An Unshakeable Hope.”   One of the blogs that Bill wrote, that I read this morning, is “One Day At A Time.”  Bill was diagnosed with ALS and had it for over 20 years before he passed away over a year ago.  I find the words of those who have suffered here on this earth and finished their races well—comfort me during my own suffering.   So here is the link to this blog:  https://unshakablehope.com/2013/07/29/one-day-at-a-time-2/          I hope it helps you as it did me.

May you be encouraged!!

The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future

Every year, our family puts up our Christmas Tree.  We get out the boxes of decorations–they are in red tubs with green lids, and each ornament is nestled in its original boxes—I am bragging about this area of my organization, as it is the only area I can brag about. 🙂  We make hot cocoa, have some cookies, and decorate our tree.

I love decorating the tree.  We usually buy an ornament to commemorate a vacation we took, or a special trip we took and so decorating the tree is a walk down memory lane.  We talk about the trip or remember the people who gave us the baby ornament, or any ornament we put up on our tree. 

After Sean died, this usually wonderful tradition of decorating the tree became a tradition that led to grief.  Every ornament became a memory with his memory attached.  “Remember, we got this ornament when we took the trip to Florida and we went to Disney World?”   Then I would remember how Sean wanted to go to Florida to Disney World so badly.  There were T.V. shows on the Travel Channel highlighting the Disney Parks, and he would watch them over and over again.

“Mom, can we go to the Disney Parks?”  “Well, Sean, you can pray about anything, so you can pray that we go to the Disney Parks.”   In my mind, I didn’t know how this would ever happen, it seemed unlikely to say the least, but when Julia, my daughter told me all she wanted In the whole world was a baby sister, (she was 5 at the time), I told her the same thing—”well Julia, you can pray about anything, so pray for God to give you a baby sister.”  I was thinking we could look into adoption.  Instead I found myself pregnant at the age of 45, giving birth to a baby girl at the age of 46. 

Sure enough, shortly after my son started praying to go to the Disney Parks, my sister-in-law called my husband and she wanted to plan a family trip with our families and their parents to go to the Disney Parks.  (Their parents had a time share that we used the points from to book timeshares in Orlando, and my sister-in-law knew the websites to get the best deals on the Disney tickets—and so we found ourselves down in Florida—in the Disney Parks!!)  We had a blast!!  Sean had a blast!!

 Looking at the ornaments–led to all those memories, which led to grief, but it also led to remembering the answered prayers as well. This helped us stand in the reality that God exists, and He loves us, He listens to us, He cares for us.    

It was very difficult to continue with this tradition of decorating the tree.  We celebrated our first Christmas without Sean a mere 3 months after we lost him.  We were still in a state of shock.  My husband and I thought we needed to continue with our traditions, that the children needed these things to bring the past into our present and our future.  Even though it felt like everything had changed, some things remained the same.   God’s love remained the same.  We have found that each year, there is more of a blessing in the remembering, than grief.  It has helped to bring Sean into our present and will help bring him into our future.

 Just writing this story, I am remembering Julia praying for a baby sister, and God answered!!  God does not always answer these types of prayers—as my nieces who were only daughters will attest—but He did for Julia.  Perhaps because He knew that Julia and all of us would need this baby in the days to come, (our baby was 6 years old when her brother died.) She would bring us God’s comfort and love in her hugs and kisses and declarations that, “Sean is in heaven, and we are going to heaven too, we will see him again.”

Christmas is celebrating that God left heaven and came down to earth in the form of a baby.  “Immanuel” means “God is with us.”   In John 1: 1,14, we find this concept of : The Word is God and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  

In Romans 8:31, it says, “If God is for us, who is against us?”  In other words–it doesn’t matter who is against us, because God is so big and great, we are covered by Him.

Romans 8: 38, 39 also says– nothing can separate us from His love.

I am here to bear witness to these truths.  God is With Us.  God is For Us.  Nothing—not death nor life, nor any created thing can separate us from His love.   Not losing a child, or the grief that this loss brings, or any other problem in the entire world can separate us from His love.

If you are having trouble believing this, I want you to think about how much you love your children, and you are a mere human being. If you and I can love with such passion as imperfect human beings, imagine how a perfect, infinite being who considers us His children—loves us.  It is not so hard to imagine when we think of it in those terms—is it?

However, God’s thoughts are greater than my thoughts, and His ways are greater than my ways.  Sometimes, (ok—many times), I question God and what He is doing in my life.  I questioned Him many times for taking my son.  I have come to the realization that God is not upset with my questions, but sometimes His only answer is to wait on Him, and trust Him, even if I don’t know the answers, I can trust Him, I can trust His love, I can trust that He is for my family, He is for me.

You can trust that God is for you, He is for your family.  You can trust in His love.  He is “Immanuel”—God is with us—He is with us in our joy, in our grief and in our lives!!  So Be encouraged!!

That Guy

Tonight, our family watched a movie together.  It was an action-adventure movie, where against unbelievable odds, the good guy saves the day.  At some point during the movie, I turned to my husband, and said, “You’re that guy—the guy that is good in a crisis, who saves the day.”

Once, when my husband and I were out for dinner, a woman seated near us, fainted and was laying on the floor.  The waiters and waitresses ran to her aid but didn’t know what to do.  My husband is a Firefighter/EMT.  He had gone outside to grab a sweater, and when he came in, he was faced with this crisis. (I had told the waiters and waitresses that my husband would help.) He calmly went over to the woman, knelt beside her, and took her pulse.  By this time, she was awake, and he started asking her questions to assess her health history.   By the time the paramedics arrived, he calmly gave them her vitals and history and they then took her away.

It seemed to me that my husband’s presence calmed everyone down in the room, and I was filled with admiration for my husband.

Many years before, when we were standing in a lobby of a theatre with open candles around the perimeter, I saw a young woman back into the flame, and her hair caught on fire.  My husband moved like lightening — extinguishing the fire with his bare hands, saving the girl, and possibly the theatre.  He acted like it was no big deal. But it seemed like a big deal to me.

There are many men and women like my husband—they are good in a crisis, and they serve others with their skill sets all the time.

The day of our son’s accident, my husband heard his pager go off, stating that there was a motor vehicle/bike accident.  He was out of his chair like a shot, going to help.  It was our son.

At the funeral of our son, my husband spoke about the fact that the ambulance was changing shifts, and so they were only 1 minute away from the accident.  He was also struck by the fact that the paramedic instructors had just finished a class in our town, and they came to the scene of the accident.  My husband personally knew these people and thought highly of their skills.  

After our son had been airlifted to the hospital, the doctor who worked on Sean had previously been in Afghanistan as a combat surgeon.

These details meant something to my husband—these were his kind of people—people who serve others.  My husband saw the hand of God in the service of these people.  He saw God’s lovingkindness in the service of these people.  He saw God Himself, through the acts of these people.

When we were at the hospital with Sean, we were on the pediatric floor, and we were surrounded by nurses and doctors who took care of our son and showed compassion to us and to our other children.  We saw God’s lovingkindness through them.

When our country experienced 9/11—we also witnessed men and women, running into buildings while others were running out.  They ran in to save, they ran into to serve.  We saw God’s face in their faces.

It is easy to look at the bad, and dismiss God and dismiss His existence, His power and His love. 

It is not so easy to look at the good—the good in people—especially when there is a crisis—and dismiss God—dismiss His existence, His power and His love.  For what other reason do we have to act as we do—except that we bear His image.

If we as humans, can act so nobly—just think what that means about the One who made us, and loves us.

For my husband and I—all these things—all these people—combined with experiencing God’s loving presence and strength— testified to us of God’s goodness, God’s grace and God’s love. 

So the next time you see a good guy or gal working to save the day or a moment, or a child—remember the One who made them, the One Who saves us all—and thank them for bearing God’s image to you—and Thank God for making them!

Let us be encouraged!

Grief

We are approaching the anniversary of my son’s passing.  My son Sean died 8 years ago.  His accident was on September 16th, and he was declared dead on September 17, 2013.

I want to talk about a difficult subject—the subject of coming along side someone in grief.

When Sean died, others sought to come along side of us and help us—and there was a great outpouring of service and love and help.

But there was also silence from those we “expected” help from.  My mom told me a story, that helped me understand.  You see, my mom’s sister lost 2 of her children and her husband within a 6-month space of time.  My mom said that at times she was so overwhelmed in her own grief that it was hard to help her sister in her grief.  She did help her sister—but it wasn’t easy.

This has helped me to understand that I and my husband and children weren’t the only ones who were grieving when Sean died.  Others needed grace in their grieving as well. They may have been grieving Sean or they may have been grieving something else going on in their own lives.

Also, I came to realize that no one—not my husband, not my other children, not my extended family, no friend—could ever meet my deepest needs—only God could do that.  

That is not to say that others do not have a role to play in helping others who are grieving.

Right now, there is a family who has lost their dad.  Another friend and I have been trying to organize others to help them.  This friend frequently tells me with great passion: “We are apart of the body of Christ, we are His hands and His feet, and God wants us to move and help others.”

She is absolutely right. 

My mom and my Aunt, (who lost her family members), came most frequently to help with–well everything. Other family members also came to help.

After Sean died, a neighbor down the street from us, a sister in Christ, organized meals for us for 2 months—and people from all the churches in my town signed up to bring us a meal.

People came right after Sean died and cleaned our house.

A couple friend, (in the Pastorate), meet with us for over a year, once a week, and provided grief counseling, and friendship.

My best friends took my children on excursions and spent time with me.

All amazing things.

I also experienced rejection, conflicts, loss of friendship, and silence from others.

In reading others’ blogs—the good, the bad and the ugly are all typical and normal things to experience to those who have lost a loved one.

Grief—suffering—these are difficult, difficult things.  Grace, kindness and gentleness with oneself and with others are needed during these times.  Mostly, and above all else—God’s sustaining spirit is what is needed and is available to each of us, for the asking.

One of the worst things for my spirit, was to hang onto bitterness and unforgiveness.  God has frequently pried my hands off these ugly things I was hanging onto and told me with grace and gentleness that He had something better for me to hang onto—Him!! 

In saying this—I do not want to minimize the hurt that is felt by the grieving party, over the lack of caring they may be experiencing.  I understand the hurt.  I too, have felt the hurt.

Rather, I want to give a way for the hurt party to understand that they are not alone—others have walked the same path and have found freedom from the hurt in forgiveness and in the presence of God.

If you are grieving right now, I am praying for you!!  I would appreciate your prayers for my family and myself.  Thank you!

The Safest Place To Be

I started my “Encouragement from Katie” blogsite a little over 2 years ago.  I have written some stories detailing  the times when I have relied on God’s strength and guidance in my parenting, and that is the purpose of this blog—to encourage young moms to look to God for the answers and strength in their mothering role.   However, there were times when I did not do this.  There were times I was angry, frustrated, fearful, or anxious and I acted out those emotions.  I remember a time when I expressed fear, and then anger, in the space of a heartbeat.

At the time, I was a mom with just 4 children (I would have a fifth- 7 years later); their ages were: 8 years, 4 years, 3 years and 11 months old.  It was time for our church’s VBS and I was helping with it.  I dropped off my 11-month-old with a friend, who also had an 11-month old baby.  She watched our babies while I took the 3 older children to VBS.  At the end of VBS, I loaded up the children in our mini van and ran back in the church to grab something I had forgotten.  Then— I came back out to the van, got in and drove off.  I parked at my friend’s home and went in to get my baby.  I came back out and noticed that my four-year-old was not in the van.  I thought he had gotten out and was wandering around the neighborhood.  I started calling for him, yelling his name one minute, and crying his name in the next.

My friend’s husband looked at me in amazement—I seemed like a woman gone berserk—yelling, then crying, then yelling, then crying.    I was demanding that we call the police and the fire department.  He said, “Why don’t we call the church first, maybe he’s at the church?”   “No”, I snapped back, “I put him in the van, he must have gotten out at your house, and he’s wandering around the neighborhood.”  

“Well”, he said, “let’s just call the church first.”  Eventually, I agreed, and we called the church.  Yes, my child was at the church.  He had gotten out to use the bathroom, and I had not noticed when I got into the van.  Even now, when I remember that story, my heart starts pounding and the adrenaline starts rushing through my body at the terror I experienced when I thought my child was lost.

Why do I recount this story?  Because—this is what life is like isn’t it?  Life is going along, and then something that we don’t expect happens—and how do we react?  I don’t and haven’t always reacted well.  The first thing I thought of, in the situation I just recounted, wasn’t God; I did not call out to Him to save my child.  I tried to deal with the situation myself—and in relying on my own resources—I vacillated between terror and anger. 

Perhaps, you can relate.  Perhaps you too, try to deal with your life situations with your own resources, not turning to the Lord.

I have just recounted one story, yet, over the past 29 years of being a mother—my life is filled with many stories, many moments.  

I have seen that being a mother has taken everything I have and more.  It has brought out my worst self, and my best self.  Like most mothers—I would willingly lay down my life for my children—-yet get annoyed with them for the smallest of offenses. 

Fortunately, I have a Father who is the most patient of teachers, and He continues to give me lessons on how to love, until I learn.  He is the most consistent, faithful, love-motivated teacher there is.  His goal—to make me Holy, (whole), like Him.   I came to Him broken, and He—He is fixing me.  He is teaching me to love, like He loves.

It does not happen overnight, or in a month or in years—it takes a lifetime—it takes believing God and acting out what He shows me to do.   

Just recently, I had another incident where I reacted from emotion.  I thought I was beyond doing such things, but I am never beyond those things, because I will always need God.  Whenever I think, “I’ve got this.”  Life will throw me a curve-ball, and I will realize once again, “No I don’t have this, and God, please—HELP!! 

Being a mom, has taught me how amazing God’s grace truly is, as I am continually leaning into Him to just take the next step, when my strength has given out.  If that’s what you are learning as well—you are in a good place—you are in your Father’s hands—the safest place to be.

So Be Encouraged!!

God’s Faithfulness — Unshakable Hope

A month before Bill went to heaven, he sent me an email.  The top line read: “If I go home: Don’t think for a minute that God failed us!  You know how faithful God has been.”  He continued with a list of things that I needed to take care of (his book, his funeral, etc.), […]

God’s Faithfulness — Unshakable Hope

I read this blog tonight, and was so impressed with this woman’s story–what an encouragement to God’s faithfulness. I hope it encourages you as it has encouraged me.

Our Family Christmas Letter from 2010

I recently came across this family Christmas letter I wrote in 2010. I thought I would share this letter with you all–as it encouraged me greatly–and I hope it will encourage you as well.

Christmas Letter 2010

Dear Friends and Family,

This year was in direct contrast with last year. Half of last year we spent in the hospital with my Dad, as we watched him slowly dying.

This year was filled with many blessings: family vacations, family weddings, milestones in business,  and kid’s accomplishments.

All these things are a reminder that life – she is a changing!! If we are ever in a place of despair, and we think this is all we will ever experience, time will prove us wrong.

In the midst of all this change, God does not— His love is ever constant, His forgiveness a gift He offers to all, and His power He gives to all who depend on Him.

Each Christmas season we celebrate Deity becoming human flesh, and dwelling among us. As we close out this yearly letter, I’d like to leave you with the words from an old Christmas carol, the 3rd verse of Hark the Herald Angels sing, (sometimes the old songs express it most beautifully):

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!

Hail the Son of Righteousness!

Light and life to all He brings

Ris’n with healing in His wings

Mild He lays His glory by

Born that man no more may die

Born to raise the sons of earth

Born to give them second birth

Hark! The herald angels sing,

Glory to the newborn King!”

Staying In The Moment

Our Family decorated our Christmas Tree this week.  Our son’s family came over, we made hot cocoa, with real whipping cream and marshmallows.  Some of us like both at the same time!!

This was the first year we had two Christmas trees—to hold all the decorations.

My grandchildren were excited and enthusiastic!!  Oh, what a joy they were to watch, as they decorated the tree!

Yet, this was one of the hardest years since my son Sean died, to stay in the moment, and stand in the joy of the moment.

Grief threatened every moment to overwhelm me, and some moments it did.  Some moments, I could not stop the tears from flowing.  

When I was putting up the ornaments with my family—I wanted to escape the pain and the grief so badly—I wanted to run away.  Instead, God presence was very tangible to me.  He told me He was with me and that He would not leave me.   He urged me to “Stay in the Moment”, and not escape. 

A song, called Keep Me In The Moment by Jeremy Camp—has become my mantra during this time to remind me of what the Holy Spirit has been whispering in my ear.  The Refrain to this song goes:

“Keep me in the moment,⁠ Help me live with my eyes wide open,⁠ ‘Cause I don’t wanna miss what you have for me..⁠ Singing oh Lord, show me what matters,⁠ Throw away what I’m chasing after,⁠ ‘Cause I don’t wanna miss what you have for me.”

I hope this message encourages you, and I hope this song will encourage you as it has encouraged me—to stay in the moment—so we don’t miss all that God has for us!!  Let’s Be Encouraged!!

Have you ever had one of those days????

Have you ever had one of those days when life seems so, so hard?  Circumstances seem as if they are about to engulf you and overpower you?  I’m sure you have—you are a human being—and contrary to popular opinion—everyone suffers at one point or another in this life.

When we are suffering, that is when we are most vulnerable to believing lies.  The lie I battle the most is that God doesn’t love me.  I find no proof of this in scripture.  Instead, God tells me:  “I am lovePerfect love casts out fear.  You can come to me with all your mistakes, and all your regrets and all your concerns, because I care for you.”

I think the reason, I can believe this lie, is because I will pray for something that I want very much, and that I know God wants as well, for instance Scripture tells us that God desires none to perish and all to come to repentance.   I may pray and pray for a particular person, and not “see” the answer to that prayer.  I can grow discouraged and downcast.

Then God, reminds me of prayers — that I saw answered after decades of praying.  God reminds me of His Word—which tells me that He loves me with an everlasting love.

God reminds me that my circumstances are temporaland He has eternity in store for me.  He has eternity in store for you as well. 

God also reminds me that all things work together for good to those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.

If you want to be reminded of these same things, you can click on all the text written in blue ink, and you will be directed to the scriptures that remind us of these things.

I hope you are encouraged—I know I am!

Sean James Stanton

7 years ago, on September 16th, my 16 year old son Sean was riding his bike.  It was a beautiful, lovely September day.  He was hit by a vehicle.  My husband is a firefighter/first responder and he was paged to the accident, not knowing that it was Sean, but knowing it was Sean at the same time.

A friend of ours kept a journal of the events of that fateful day and the events that were to follow. She gave me copies of this journal recently and I am going to share some of her thoughts with you all, to give glory to the Lord who carried us through these days, and has been carrying us every day since.

“It’s been about 2 1/2 weeks since Sean Stanton got hit by a car while riding his bike and died the next day.  Of course, there are some moments about that week that I’ll never forget, but I want to record a few things because I know how time goes by and some of the details slip away.

Monday, September 16th about 6:10 pm Katie called and said, “Listen, Sean’s been hit by a car and is going to be life flighted to Hurley and I need to bring the girls over.”  She came over with the girls and then left to go to the hospital.  Rich called a few minutes later….I asked about Sean and he said, “It’s bad, it’s bad” and then gave the phone to Katie.  She told me that she got to see Sean and bent down to pray for him and was all bloody when she stood up.  She also begged me to spread the word to anyone/everyone to pray!  She said, “Pray specifically that he’ll live because he might not! (ugh!) and that he doesn’t have a head injury, that his neck isn’t broken, that he won’t be paralyzed and that he’ll have a full recovery.”

So, we prayed, emailed others to pray, etc.  While I was gone in the evening, LP called and talked to my husband… not good news….brain damage, internal bleeding and the Doctor at Hurley Medical Center, told them to prepare for the worst.  LP went to get the Stantons’ other kids so they could all be together.

So we tried to sleep but it was nearly impossible.  I texted them at midnight that I was thinking of them with a heavy but hopeful heart and Katie replied that” they were waiting to get test results to see if he is brain dead or not”  Oh, I can’t imagine how her night went.  I tried to sleep but got back up at 1pm and came out to the living room to pray…of course, I wanted God to choose to glorify Himself through healing Sean…stunning the medical world, etc.  I found out later Katie stayed up all night singing to Sean.  Oh, how hard that memory will be…but hopefully somehow precious as well.  Rich said he thinks he finally slept around 3 a.m. for a bit…in the room with Sean. 

Tues 9/17:  I took S & B to the children’s museum and while we there in the music room Katie texted @ 11:43am:  “He’s gone.”  I read it and gasped then covered my mouth and started to cry.  I think S asked, “Is it about Sean?”  and then after I nodded, “Did Sean die?”  I told her yes and that we had to go.  I dropped off B and came home and cried with my husband…he hugged me and I cried…although he was choked up, too.  Of course, we couldn’t eat and felt totally shocked…it was surreal…unbelievable and heartbreaking.  We felt utterly helpless as to how reach out to the Stantons…we assumed they’d be home later that night and we’d see them but we didn’t know that Sean was being sustained on life support so his organs could be donated.  After a long, sad, confusing day, (people were posting on Sean’s FB to keep praying…he’s still alive…ugh…it was awful.)

Finally I talked to LP, who called Katie to find out what was happening and then it was clear…yes, he’s gone but being sustained till the organ donor team could come.  Meanwhile, lots of email and fb messages going back and forth…..  Todd Wilson*, after I emailed him about Rich being so strong for his family, “I hope God never asks it of me.”

Wednesday, September 18, 2013—I had decided the night before, (after talking to LP again) that I would drive down and hope to see them.  They had been told 24-36 hours til the organ donor team would be in place.  She also said Rich and Katie had welcomed Sean’s friends to come and see him…Rich referred to it as a “living visitation”.  I guess most of Shepherd’s Cross Country team came down and many others.  The girl Sean liked came down and her mother posted on Sean’s fb page that they had their “1st and last kiss” – ugh—so sad.  So, I arrived at 10 and found Katie sitting by Sean’s bed with her sister.  We hugged and cried and then she introduced me to her sister and started telling me how things had gone the day before as far as people coming to see Sean, as well as just reminiscing and telling funny stories about Sean.

This  is where the really powerful memories became etched on my heart—seeing Katie and her mom weeping together, holding each other with really no words, seeing M & D just sobbing as the reality would hit them afresh and then Rich strong, comforting, rock solid– reminding them of God’s sovereignty while heart broken himself….wow.  He reminded them that God could have made Sean or the driver, (a believer—which was so comforting for them I think.) go a little faster or a little slower but for them both to be there at that exact moment was basically a divine appointment.  Rich reminded us all, (as he spoke to his sons), that our tears are for ourselves and that Sean is in a better place.

I went to Sean’s bedside and held his hand and arm and looked at his face thanking God for the 16+ years that we all had him and for his sweet spirit and kind heart.

Katie said that morning as we sat by Sean’s bed that they knew he was already in heaven but I’m sure they, like me feel thankful for those bedside moments…seeing Sean still warm and still breathing, although not on his own…it was far more peaceful and comforting than seeing him in the casket.  I know that’s the whole point of a viewing…seeing that the person—their soul and spirit—is gone and that what you see is merely a ‘shell’… this earthly tent.  JC wrote something about this on facebook and mentioned that his dad reminded him that people think about us as “having’ a soul but in reality we are the soul and we have a body.  Anyway, I just felt thankful for every moment that I shared with the Stantons by Sean’s side that morning.  I told them how very generous it was for them to share Sean and those moments in the hospital with anyone who wanted to come.  Even while I was there one of them was on the phone with someone from MP who wanted to know if people could still come or if they wanted people to stop coming and they said if people want to come tell them to come.  WOW!

Then my dear friend wrote this in a letter, when she shared this journal with me:

We are praying for your whole family as you remember, hurt, and grieve together on a deeper level this week.  I’m guessing it never really gets any easier to go on without Sean.  We love you guys and are thankful for your friendship and are humbled as we watch you move forward in life with such deep wounds and pain.  Watching you “keep on keeping on” in your faith after losing Sean.. well, it’s a gift to those around you to see you “suffering well”  (reference is from a Piper article I read a while back…actually it was written by another guy Marshall Segal, who writes for DesiringGod.org…”Few things fortify the soul against Satan’s deception like watching another Christian suffer with persevering faith.  When we watch others walk through the valley of the shadow of death with purpose and joy in God, through ups and downs, their faithfulness and endurance inspire fresh hopefulness and vigilance.”  It’s a great article and of course, made me think of you both.)  One of the most powerful images I carry with me, (that I didn’t write about in this journal entry) is of you guys singing with hands held high In praise to our loving Father at Sean’s funeral…Praise you in the Storm.”  It is seared in my heart and mind…witnessing your faith…trusting God despite the horrendous circumstance that you were facing.

I’m so sorry Sean is gone….so sorry you didn’t get to watch him continue to mature into adulthood and see him become an Uncle, (a doting Uncle I’m sure) to your precious grandkids or become a dad himself one day.  He certainly would’ve been an amazing husband and father!!  He was one of the warmest souls I have ever known.

This is me – Katie—speaking now—what a precious gift my friend has given to us by sharing with us this journal—by continuing to show her love and concern.  One of the ways that God ministered to us then and now– is through His body of believers—people who came along besides us and helped us and ministered to us. I wrote my own version of these events in my blog, “The Gift of Grace”, where I talk about God’s presence which sustained us and still sustains us.

I wanted you all—people I have met and people I have not—to know that God is real.  He is real.  He is love– even during the worst times of your life.  I am praying for all of you reading this blog, right now, that you will know God and be filled up with His love which has no end. I am praying that you will be encouraged!

*I used Todd Wilson’s full name as he is a public person, as a Christian author and speaker.