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!
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.
As I sit with July coming at me full speed I find myself desiring her encouragement. The kind of encouragement I’m looking for is anything she highlighted or wrote which is built on truth and is linked to an overflow of love from her heart. As I start opening drawers and opening her bibles praying to find something that will speak to me God never fails to give me just that. Finding this treasure reminds me to stay focused on God leaving NO room for doubt. I am continually blown away by her wisdom and the scriptures that spoke to her and now to me. As I continue to press into him he continues to bless me and remind me that he is near and that she IS with him. I have learned so much on this journey and I continue to share with others so they may learn from my experience without having to go through it..There is one thing that I believe is the greatest lesson and that is..the importance of teaching your children no matter what age that God is always the answer..he is always the only answer. He is the only reason I have any hope of seeing my precious girl again and that hope is the only reason I continue to fight each day. The peace of knowing she believed and loved God is the biggest blessing of all. If growing your family’s relationship with God isn’t your number one priority..CHANGE IT..I don’t care if your children are infants, toddlers, elementary age, teenagers, college students, newly married or grown adults raising their own family..It is not too late..don’t waste another minute on things that can’t survive beyond this world. Give them the only thing that secures an eternity with them. Make sure their foundation is built on God because it will be the only that will matter at the end of this life.