Several months ago, I grabbed some tickets to see a very special band Tenth Avenue North. For those who don’t know the story. Their song By your side was the last song playing in the car the night Sydney met Jesus. I hadn’t ever heard of the band prior to that but I immediately had to go listen. I cannot tell you the peace and comfort the words brought me, and then I came across Hold my heart and that song literally described my heart. Music was the tool God used to help me survive. The words to these songs were the truth I needed to be reminded of. Music somehow made me feel connected to God and heaven, which connected me to Sydney. I also know that God specifically chose this band to be a part of my journey. I had no idea when I got the tickets that this would end up being the last tour they would do as Tenth Avenue North. I can’t explain to you in a post all the ways God worked all around us the past several years through them. God is so good and these guys were so amazing. We got to sit on the bus and have coffee with them and just talk to them. There were only 6 of us. We got to share a little of Sydney’s story with them and thank them for the music they created and the sacrifice they make to be away from their family. We got to ask them about their lives and where they find encouragement when times get tough for them. I had 3 Play For Jeter bracelets with me and after the small group got through talking, I asked them if they would want to wear one of Sydney’s bands for my picture. They all said of course❤️These little small things mean so much. They actually kept them on throughout the concert. I know it’s just a bracelet but seeing it on someone’s arm never fails to make me smile. I always feel like Sydney is there with me but I couldn’t help but feel God gave her the opportunity to be there with them. Thank you God! My cup runneth over. Wishing them lots of luck on their next chapters and some much needed family time. Here are some pictures and videos from the night. Yes Mike personally made our coffee, yes he stood in our chairs, yes he played both songs By your Side and Hold my heart. #PlayForJeter #missablekindofgirl #tenthavenuenorth #noshametantour
I’m not sure if anyone else has done this but I think a lot about the moment Sydney met Jesus which in a few short hours will be exactly 5 yrs ago. I can only imagine the peace he brought to her after being thrashed around. It’s a blessing for me to know that she didn’t have long before the accident began and she was standing present before The Lord perfectly new with not one single injury. Healed in a way we think and try to understand but can not. Her life upon earth may have ended at that moment but her real life was just beginning. As much as I’d like to think she stayed around the accident watching us, worried about us and how we would make it, like the movies would show..I know she didn’t. Instead she was standing with The Prince of Peace, she was not holding on to Bible versus..she was experiencing him personally. Can you imagine the amount of love she felt at that moment. Anyone who knew Sydney knew all she ever wanted in this life was to be loved. She loved others so deeply because that’s how she wanted to be loved and at this moment she would no longer have to try and get that from broken people who were incapable of providing it. No more heartbreak or heartache because God’s love is perfect. Her hearts desire truly standing right before her offering his hand however I’m sure she probably talked him into giving her a piggyback ride💞I find peace in knowing she is free from the pain and heartache of this world and at the same time ache to the depths of my soul because I want so badly to share in these moments as I know her smile and laughter would be far greater than what she experienced here. So thankful for God’s promises and the sacrifice of Jesus. I can’t wait to join her and sit as she tells me the real story of when she met Jesus because I’m positive my imagination and thoughts can not come close to the truth of her actual experience but I find peace knowing it wouldn’t be less than my imagination but instead abundantly more!
1..2..3..4..and now we have arrived at the 5th year. It’s seems unreal I don’t know where the last 5 yrs went. That of course doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel the emptiness and heartache every single day of those 5 yrs. it just means my mind and heart haven’t, can’t, won’t allow me to grasp the reality of 5 yrs because I know it’s impossible for me to have survived it. I wish I could share what I’ve learned the last 5 years but it is impossible to know without going through it and one of the many things that hasn’t changed since that day is that I still wouldn’t wish this suffering on anyone..literally no one. The sad part is that I’m positive without knowing this kind of pain and suffering I would not know God’s grace, and mercy the way that I do. I would not appreciate the sacrifice of Jesus and the gift of life after death without it being my only hope to see her again and the one thing I could not do for my child. It can only come through him. It’s easy to read the scriptures and say you believe it but when it’s your life and you face everyday with your child not here, no longer breathing, smiling, or laughing it is no longer something you read and say yes I believe it, instead it becomes a part of your heart beat and a part of your breathing. It’s the only hope of righting the wrong you feel. A gift of mercy and grace we don’t deserve and couldn’t earn. Even though it’s not really that we have been wronged because we are entitled to and deserve nothing more than death and permanent separation but we were made in the image of God and so we will never be okay being separated from those we love just as God was not okay being separated from us. Without facing the weakness I’ve experienced through loosing Sydney I would never have experienced the strength and power of the Holy Spirit carrying me through what I was incapable of surviving. When Sydney was here and I told her I wouldn’t make it if anything ever happened to her. I meant it, Just like those who haven’t lost a child look at me and say I couldn’t do that..they mean it but I’m not stronger than you or who I was when I said I couldn’t make it, but my God is. Being weak and broken allowed me to not only see that God could use me regardless but that he desired and continues to invited me to join him. The love I feel knowing God still choose me and wanted me in the shape I am in..again something I would have never experienced without being on this journey. I have heard many say that they would not take their child out of heaven or they wouldn’t want to have to give up the relationship they have with God now. Here is the moment many who think my walk is so strong will no doubt see my flesh because I’m one selfish person..I would without hesitation snatch Sydney back from heaven without even thinking and if she complained I would probably get my feelings hurt that she would rather be there then with me and I’m positive I would tell her she needed to quit complaining. I would be completely okay with going back to just knowing God through reading the Bible. I would NOT choose to endure this suffering to know God the way I do..but I am in awe and thankful that God’s mercy covers me and every bit of my flesh and despite me wanting him to have allowed something different or me not wanting to learn all this the hard way..He still allowed me to experience him in ways I never could have, regardless of my flesh. He didn’t hold back blessings or my experiences because of my unwillingness to agree with him because even though my heart wouldn’t choose ANY of this I still trust him and believe in his Sovereignty and have surrendered to and follow him and his word. I am the child to an amazing father whose love is beyond this world’s comprehension16 yrs 9 months and 24 days was not near enough but I’ll cherish the memories while I’m waiting for the day I’m reunited!
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.
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!
I remember the day I stood face to face w/my faith..face to face w/my belief in the word..the day I had to answer the question Is God alone enough..just days before Sydney and I were discussing this very subject. I assured her that as long as she had God the rest didn’t matter. Honestly at the time I was thinking that if you had God then everything else in life would fall into place. I was encouraging her to trust that if God was asking her to remove people from her life that even if he didn’t replace them, as long as she had God she had all she needed. So she began putting space between the relationships she felt didn’t honor God. Some she knew would die completely but some she felt she could still hold onto as long as she was wearing the amour of God when she was with them. If she was keeping the relationship her sole desire was to bring them into a relationship with God alongside her. She purposely and strategically thought about how when and where she would hang out with them. She decided one on one would be better than the usual group atmosphere as it was easier to protect herself and keep her focus on God. She made sure the environment she hung out with them in was a safe place for her..she invited them to her house and asked me to help her continue to honor God even when the get together wasn’t a bible study and the person didn’t know God. So the day I stood face to face with not only my faith and belief but death and a separation I could never have even imagined was 7/11/13 not 7/10/13 because yes Sydney took her last breathe on 7/10/13 but it wasn’t until 3am on 7/11/13 when I was told my daughter didn’t make it and it was 7/11/13 when I sat at my kitchen table wondering how I could survive..scared I would never feel joy and happiness again..the day the question started roaring through my mind “Is God alone enough?” I knew what the right answer was and began to realize the real question roaring through my mind was.. Did I BELIEVE God alone was enough. Before this moment in my life I had not ever had to truly answer this question..Don’t get me wrong I surely thought I had answered it I thought I had stepped out in faith but I was whole unbroken and strong. I had never faced a moment where I didn’t feel I was sort of in control. I’ve never been a materialistic person. The things that made me happy we’re people not things. I had all I needed in my life..life was not perfect..it was not a fairy tale..but my family was taking our issues to God and solving them with the word of God..so I felt at peace protected and was watching God sweep Sydney off her feet. The love and light that shined through her was nothing I had ever seen before. Sidenote: (For all those moms who want your daughters to be loved..stop teaching them they need to find this love from the world or a man..the love that will change their life is simply the LOVE OF GOD ALONE..but they can’t believe it, if you don’t believe it) I’ve always said your faith grows not in reading the word but instead when you experience God, when you live out the word when you see and feel God working in and around your life and there was no doubt God was everywhere we turned. So that day I sat there with Sydney it was easy for me to tell her God alone is enough because I had never stood face to face with the reality of it..I had never had to stand before the Giant with only a stone and I had never had to step into the burning fire trusting and believing that God would fulfill his promise and bring me out alive or walk into the raging Red Sea trusting God to separate the waters and I had never had to face a day without one of the most precious gifts I had ever received. She was everything I dreamed of and then a million times more..I continually asked God how..how was I suppose to survive when he took one of the best pieces of me..the question continued to roar in my head “Is God alone enough?”..thinking continually on my moments with Sydney knowing whole heartedly I did believe it..I believed it when I told her and I believed it now because his word says it..and if his word says it then it is truth..My relationship with God changed at that moment b/c starting this day I could not move without him..my baby was gone and the devastation was all consuming..I didn’t want to spend a day away from her and certainly not years..but I survive because of God and God alone..I survive because I know God is real because I can’t survive this yet I am..I survive because my faith and belief are REAL..I survive because it may be years but it won’t be eternity..I have seen the beauty brought out of the ashes..I have seen God bring good from the bad..He continues to allow Sydney’s life to touch people he continues to allow her to share wisdom truth and her testimony with people and she’s not even here..the beauty that comes from the ashes wont make it right and it will NEVER be ok..but it is real..it is a gift..It is Gods way of reminding me of his faithfulness..reminding me that HE ALONE IS ENOUGH. My life continues to change and be a challenge but I face each day knowing I can silence the roaring question..I may not have battled a giant or faced hungry lions but I have faced death and just as God was with them and brought them through it he is with me and brings me through it..mine is not a short fight..one throw of a stone and I won..it’s a long journey but I’m thankful I don’t live in circumstances but instead I live in truth and that truth gives me hope for something more than the circumstances I face in this life. That truth reminds me this life is temporary therefore this pain and suffering will not last forever. That truth is the reason I continue.