Sometimes I hear a voice saying give up, you can’t continue your walk because your testimony died with Sydney. People will never see the goodness of God through your story because your ending wasn’t happy. It makes me furious somedays because I still catch myself believing this even though I know it’s not true. I’m tired, the spiritual battles in my life never ends. I still worry so deeply about the salvation of others that I love who are lost and making so many mistakes. The weight of burden I feel for them is as heavy as the burden of grief I carry from loosing Sydney. He is right about one thing, I can not continue my walk the way it was, but my testimony didn’t die that night..It shattered..and with every piece of brokenness there is testimony, a story to be told that may encourage or help give wisdom and discernment to others so they may avoid the mistakes I made. I have a testimony that can be told to Mothers of daughter’s, I have a testimony for teenagers, for youth leaders who have chosen to mentor teens, I have a testimony for parents who feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn, I have a testimony for those who walk beside a grieving parent, and I have a testimony for the grieving community, and most of all I have a testimony of my own and how God has transformed me and the way I think. In my weakness I found his strength. In my brokenness I found his faithfulness. In my darkness I found his light. In my inability he breathes into me. No matter what I’ve been through God continues to be everything I need. I have learned that he is enough but not enough meaning that because I know him I will never need him but enough because in every moment he provides what I need to survive. I’ve learned that while my cup runneth over in so many ways, there is a forever emptiness I am unable to carry on my own so he steps in and takes just enough of the burden to allow me to continue but not enough for me to take my eyes off of him and walk with ease. My need for him has allowed my relationship with him to grow deeper than it could have without it. I’m thankful that the lies Satan whispers about having plenty of time fall deaf on my ears..I live every single moment with the thought that I could in a matter of a second be standing before Jesus. I live every single moment trying to help others understand you may never get that last opportunity to confess your sin and repent. I don’t passively watch people turn away from or deny God..I speak up because it may be my last opportunity. I still believe with all that I am if Sydney could tell her friends and family anything it would be to stop living for the world, stop making excuses to live in sin, and choose now to live for Jesus because Heaven is worth it. Jesus doesn’t care where you’ve been as long as you are willing to leave there and obediently follow him. My testimony is continually growing and moving as long as he continues to breathe life into me, and I’m forever grateful to serve a God who loves me more than I can even imagine.
As the 5 yr mark slowly creeps up on me..my heart starts to beat faster and the anxiety begins to flare. How in the world is this possible. It still seems so unreal. There have even been days I’ve had to stop and voice to myself She was real, she was here, and this did really happen. How have I lived this long without her? How do I keep going? How does my heart continue to beat? I’m exhausted from missing her. In the first couple of years, I dealt with the trauma of loosing her, then slowly moved into a deep depression as I struggled with the loss of joy and happiness she infused into my life. Not many changes happened in the first two years, but as year 3 approached the “she would have’s” started as the kids her age began the next steps of life like graduating and going off to college. I tried as hard as I could to focus on the blessing it was to have her instead of the pain of not having her but as hard as I try the pain is simply impossible to diminish. I slowly learned how to manage and balance the weight I constantly carry around. I can promise you TIME DOES NOT HEAL but you do learn with time what makes it better and what makes it worse. Time teaches you that you survive despite the fact that you aren’t strong enough. Time teaches you that the pain doesn’t ease but you get use to carrying the weight. Time is our biggest enemy yet is also our best friend. Each day is another day we must live missing them but each day is also a day closer to seeing them again. It is time that helps you to process the trauma of what happened, and time that forces you to face the reality that they aren’t coming back. I remember in the beginning I thought I would never see the day when I thought about her without thinking about the accident but it was time that got me to the place where I remember her and all the things she’s did without thinking of the accident. The thing that makes time unable to heal is the fact that time can not take away the missing her part. It is the one thing that over the last 5 years hasn’t changed or even slightly eased. I miss not only everything about who she was but I miss all that she would have been and all she would have done. I’m 100 percent positive I will never conquer the missing her part so I am more than thankful for the people in our lives who continue to help us remember her and keep her memory alive. The memories of our last 3 months together are filled with some of the hardest moments I ever had with her but also some of the best. I’m blessed to know that by the time..”Time” takes me to the 5 years mark, my memories and Sydney’s post and writings will continue to remind me of her heart, where she put her trust, and the faithfulness of God. It was May 10th I made a call to a friend seeking some godly wisdom..May 12th (Mother’s Day that year) that we followed the push of the Holy Spirit and walked into a church Sydney said she felt God called her to attend. Confession-Sydney had told me she felt called to go there about 6 months prior and I said NO and left absolutely no room for discussion because selfishly I didn’t want to go to a new church or a small church. I think back now and wonder what blessings my stubbornness and control stole from me in those 6 months because what followed in the next 2 months couldn’t have happened without us surrendering and trusting God to work and BELIEVING that living obediently to the scriptures was our missing piece. What a blessing to have witnessed something I can find no other words for then Agape. The ultimate, incomparable and unconditionally love God has for humankind. The next couple of months will be as impossible as they’ve always been but I know the cure to my impossibility and I will do in the next couple of months exactly what I did 5 years ago just two short months before she died..I will surrender and trust God to work but this time when I fall backwards I’m not hesitant, I’m not making sure he’s behind me, I don’t have to ask him “are you sure you going to catch me” I know without a shadow of a doubt he will be there because he hasn’t left my side. I hope you see me Sydney! I hope you see me living out the truth we were studying. You don’t need it now, but so many others still do. I love you and promise to continue using “time” to work for God, hoping to see him do for others what he did for you and for me.
This day 5 yrs ago is a perfect example of mine and Sydney’s relationship. It was filled from sun up to sun down and I was with her the entire time. I helped her with her make up and had previously convinced her that I could do her hair better than a salon😳 Even though I was stressed it wouldn’t look good enough, we still laughed and smiled the entire time. Most 16 year olds would make sure they shook their mom at some point before the dance or at least after. Not my girl😊She… had me chaperone and when they weren’t dancing she would skip over to me to stand next to me until the next song, and I sat with them at IHOP after. She never made me feel like she didn’t want me there in fact it was just the opposite. I’m thankful God allowed me to have these memories and this very special day with this amazing girl. Thank you Sydney Lisa Jeter for loving your momma so well. It was a gift to be included, a gift to be able to smile and laugh with you and a gift to do your hair and makeup. You looked beautiful as always!! My #missablekindofgirl
A little bit of our story and the things I’ve learned from my journey
Last week I had to drive pass Sydney’s first accident site a few times. I don’t do it often but every time I do the memories flood my mind. Looking back obviously gives such a different perspective. I remember feeling so very thankful and blessed but it was impossible for me to understand what I was really spared. I remember that day and how I professed God’s faithfulness for watching over my daughter. I shouted out to the world how blessed we were that after a horrible car accident Sydney walked away without a scratch. My exact comment “I’m so blessed she is ok! Thank you God” The pictures still sit on my Facebook and Instagram and even on Sydney’s Instagram where she posted and said God was watching over her. To this day every time someone I know has an accident I see them thank God for protecting them or they will say they had a guardian angel protecting them. I’m not saying that those things aren’t blessings from God because they definitely are but unfortunately I learned from experience, how confusing it is to attach God’s faithfulness to circumstances in our lives. You see just 48 hours after I posted a picture of my daughter’s totaled car with my comment. She was in another accident (a passenger this time) and instead of shouting how blessed I was..I was sitting on the side of the road in complete shock and incapable of believing what the detective was saying to me. The next day I was faced with writing an obituary for my beautiful 16 year old daughter. I can’t explain how polar opposite those two moments felt but I can say that God truly open my eyes to the confusion our witness gives to others. We live in a broken world. A world set apart from the garden of eden where God’s protection surrounded us at all times. For those who only know of The Lord and haven’t studied his word. When they are faced with tragedy or suffering it is so easy to become confused and believe somehow God caused their tragedy or they tend to question their faith or possibly his faithfulness. I can completely understand now why this happens. I listen to Christian radio and hear over and over again how someone was in a trying time in their life and when they requested prayer God provided their needs and “faithfully” answered their prayers. I’m happy their circumstances changed but I can’t help but think of those who also prayed and did not receive the outcome they needed or desired. It breaks my heart that the message those people hear is that God wasn’t faithful to them. That is NOT who God is. You see even Jesus prayed to his father and cried out asking for the cup to pass but we have victory and a savior because God was FAITHFUL and Jesus was obedient to follow his father’s will even when it wasn’t the answer he desired. Jesus set the perfect example of prayer when he said not my will but yours be done. If we put that one sentence on every prayer we prayed we would see that God’s faithfulness isn’t about answering prayers to make our lives upon earth easier or better and that prayer should be about voicing our hearts to God but should also be a willingness to accept his will over our desires and trusting that he will then carry us through. His faithfulness is about giving us mercy for disobeying his commands and sending his son to provide a sacrifice of grace and if we accept his gift he has promised and eternity of peace alongside him and all the other believers in heaven. Do not judge God’s faithfulness on circumstances in this life, his faithfulness reaches far beyond this world and into the lives of every believer regardless of how our prayers are answered here on earth. His faithfulness isn’t judged by whether Sydney survived that 2nd accident his faithfulness made it possible for her to live beyond this life. His faithfulness provides the only hope a grieving parent has..that this world is not the end, but rather the journey to it. His faithfulness provides the path back to the garden where we may rest for eternity in perfect peace and love. As I wake to face each day living a life I am not strong enough to live. I survive it because I know this is temporary and when I’ve made it to the end of my journey I will not only see my sweet girl again but he has promised that we will never be separated again. Now that should be what we think of when we think about, ponder, or desire answers to explain God’s faithfulness just as with every prayer we should end it with not my will but yours be done!
This year was the 5th Memorial Game the girls soccer team has done for my daughter, and this is also the first year that there isn’t a girl on the field or a Coach out there that actually knew Sydney. It cannot be an easy task to try and memorialize someone you didn’t know however these girls never cease to amaze me. I want people to see the beauty of the soccer community, the beauty of being part of a team, and how these girls continue to carry a teammate they never even knew. This started with Jeter’s original teammates wanting to honor someone they would miss, but seeing it pass through the hands from captain to captain and even coach to coach has been remarkable. I believe that every sports program works hard to win games, but I believe a program has won so much more when you have taught your team compassion, empathy, and that sometimes you are entrusted with not only carrying your teammates on the field but also carrying their Legacy and passion for the game. I enjoyed getting to sit down and visit with them hear what positions they play and get to know them a little as they also sat and listened to stories hoping to get to know Sydney from her prior teammates. There are not words to express my thankfulness and appreciation for the soccer parents who were responsible for putting this together, the parents who I got to meet and get to know, the 2017-2018 Lady Tiger soccer Coaches and team for continuing to Play For Jeter and allowing us to continue to be part of your family, the Alumni and their families who continue to fill my heart with so much love. Continuing to be a part of their lives is a beautiful and priceless gift. #PlayForJeter
I want so badly to feel like I know who I am, but no matter how hard I look or how hard I try..the me that is there..I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know this pain..the unending ache that is unexplainable but ever so present and all consuming. The me that lost her daughter..NO I don’t want to know her even though I am her..It is so hard to learn to love the you..you don’t want to be.. yet that you needs more love than ever before…..I long to be who I once was..the me that was whole unbroken and incapable of understanding a pain like this..the me who wasn’t crushed by the weight of grief..the me that didn’t have to grasp for air or feel a constant ache inside my chest..the me that felt in control and stable..so how do I balance the desire to feel like I know who I am..I don’t..I wake up every day and let the ache remind me that I need God..let the missing remind me to continue making memories..let the feeling of not being loved remind me to love someone..and to let the feeling of not being in control remind me that God is..so today as I miss her more than I ever thought possible I am also reminded of how blessed I was to have her but even more blessed to know I will see her again. My journey may include darkness but I am holding tightly to the light of Life John 8:12
Please know that as I share my vulnerable journey not all my thoughts and actions are righteous or appropriate. I am sharing so that others can see the struggle and how the spirit of God continues to walk me through the waters to a place of repentance and even understanding as he protects me from the snares of Satan. So as I walk through the shadow of the valley of death I catch myself often thinking I didn’t deserve the suffering I am forced to endure. I loved my daughter and loved spending time with her. I did not toss her off onto others so that I could go and do things she or Cameron could not attend. I never bought or did things for myself if it meant that they may not have something they wanted or needed. I wove them into every part of our life. I never needed “my time” or a date night I simply didn’t want to miss any opportunity to enjoy them as I knew I was only guaranteed for them to be in my house for 18 yrs. Yet I never turned my back or ran from the hard moments of parenting. If I felt it was for their good and they didn’t agree I let them hate me for that moment even if it meant that I cried. So as I watch the people around me and see the news daily I find myself angry that they get to have their children specifically daughters and I don’t. They will experience weddings and grand babies and lunches or shopping dates with their grown daughter where the conversation isn’t about mean girls or stupid boys but instead about real life..they will experience their daughter growing from a teenager into a young women when they chose to throw away so many opportunities to live life with them years before. They saw their child as a responsibility but when I looked upon my daughter I valued her and cherished the gift she was..how could I possibly deserve to be the one to loose my child?
However God does amazing things when you seek him for peace and comfort. He continually opens my eyes in a new way and shows me a picture so different than the one I’m seeing. Every feeling I struggle with above comes from a comparison of me as a parent to someone else as a parent. It is a very self focused view. Oh how humbling it was the day I sat wailing to God about these things. As always in a gentle way the spirit nudged me with the question If you compared your parenting to mine would you still feel like you deserved to keep her? If you compared your love of her to Jesus’s love of her would you still feel you deserved something different? I wish at that moment I would have felt humbled but I didn’t instead I wanted to scream even more simply because I knew I was wrong and being wrong never feels good but as I pray and fight through, God continues to reveal my entitlement but more importantly that when I take my focus off of his glory his kingdom and the over abundant love he pours out and instead start comparing my life to the world. I lose balance, lose focus and become angry and bitter. If I take a moment and imagine myself looking at The Holy God himself I could never ever say “I didn’t deserve something” because if I got what I deserved I would never have had her to begin with and I wouldn’t have the hope of ever seeing her or living in perfect peace again. I am humbled by his love and gentle redirection when I need it. I’m so undeserving yet he continues to pursue and love me anyway.
Comparing myself to people of the world or being better than other people is not what being a disciple or Christian is all about. It is about comparing ourselves to Christ and waking up every day obediently following the word of God regardless of our circumstances or how hard it may be. The only comparison we should be doing is comparing our lives to Jesus. When we do that our humanness becomes prevalent and for me all entitlement disappears and I understood the grace he has given and the sacrifice he made. It doesn’t take away the pain of losing Sydney or the ache of missing her every second but it gives me peace and the strength I need to endure it while I’m waiting.
I do not speak about the pain and suffering I’ve experienced as a way of wallowing or whining. Actually it’s just the opposite. It takes courage to face it and even greater courage to continue sharing a journey that isn’t full of happiness and joy yet when we share we not only help others in a similar place know they aren’t alone, and their feelings aren’t wrong. We help those around them by sharing what helps and what hurts. Pointing out the promises of God to others when tears make them blurry. We take control of the pain instead of letting the pain take control of us. I might be down one day and another grieving mother chooses to share exactly what I need to hear and I may do the same for them one day. What if we choose to not speak or not share. What if the disciples choose to not speak or share? I may not be able to stop the pain I feel on a daily basis but I’m determined to find the good in it. I refuse to allow Satan to smugly laugh or smile while I suffer instead I’m determined to make him fight as hard as I am..Spiritual warfare is real and never ends but God said I have an army fighting for me in the spiritual world if they are willing to fight for me shouldn’t I be willing to fight on my side. I can either let this pain destroy me or mold me..one gives power to Satan and the other glorifies God. I can hear Sydney cheering me on. I know I still have so many battles to face as I live this life missing her every second of everyday but I faithfully believe without a shadow of a doubt that when I get to heaven I will be thankful I remained obedient in my suffering.
Sydney posted this 4 years ago early in the morning before we headed out for the beach. She wanted nothing more than to share Gods love with others and encourage the people around her. We have continued to go to the beach every year on this day. Its a trip that yes may be filled with some heartache but the memories and love that flood us are worth the pain. For the past 3 years Kristi’s boys have helped Cameron fill this day with adventure and fun. I’m still so thankful she posted this. It continues to encourage me and reminds me of how happy she was walking with God❤️