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
This is one of Sydney Lisa Jeter writings..I had a hard time with this one for a while not because my faith gauge wasn’t full because I would say it was overflowing. The problem I had was when she says what do you want from Jesus today? Do you believe he is able to do this? Well what I want from Jesus is my child back and then thinking about the next questions brought all kind of emotions because I do believe it’s possible but I don’t believe it will happen. So wrestling with… this one has been hard, until I stopped looking at it from an earthly view, because the truth is..giving me my child back is exactly what Jesus has already come and conquered. His purpose was ultimately to reunite us with God but does that not give me exactly what I desire? Maybe not on this earth, but this earth is temporary and Jesus’s gift is eternal. It takes time to wrestle with feelings and truth as they often do not coincide. The waiting is hard and hurts but never the less the answer to Do I believe that he is able to do this, as a Christian Disciple, is not yes..but he already did. God has truly blessed me with these writings. It is like she’s leading me in a bible study ❤️Love you Syd! You truly are a #missablekindofgirl
Sydney and I got to sit and really study many scriptures in the last couple of months of her life. Seeing the word of God come to life in her was the gift I cherish most, and digging deep into the meaning is one of the things I so desperately miss doing with her. I still dig deep and study and God never fails to provide me with something new and today, as I sit searching for peace and encouragement God provided exactly what I needed. I know Sydney’s mission statement was to h…elp others who felt unworthy believe that they were loved. So this is definitely a scripture I would have loved to watch come to life in her and see how she would have shared it with the world. It’s something I truly needed to see. I not only needed to see the example set before me, but the love Jesus had for his followers. As a follower of Jesus (a disciple) he is my example, In John 13:15 Jesus says that he is our example and we should do for others as he has done for us. In John 17 when Jesus prays to his father, he asks to protect his disciples from the evil one🙏🏻He chose to pray this knowing in just a few hours he is going to be betrayed, arrested, beaten and ultimately crucified. He is not sending selfish prayers but instead concerned with their protection knowing what he is about to endure, but in these verses he not only prays for them but he prays for ALL who will believe in him through their message. Wow!! Jesus himself prayed for ME! As he was about to face the hardest moments of his life he is asking God to protect his disciples and all, present and future, believers from evil and to unify us in his absence. He knew how hard it was going to be in this world with out him. I can’t help but think about how serious Jesus felt about prayer and what it meant to him and then to think I was someone he prayed for. The son of God himself prayed for me. It gives me the push I need to keep going, the reminder of his unfailing love, and the example I’m suppose to strive to be. So for all those following Jesus who may be struggling, and need prayer. I hope you find strength, peace and encouragement knowing Jesus himself covered you in prayer and I hope it makes you feel as loved as it made me feel!!
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!
I love this day! I wait for it every year because I know this day I will be flooded with some of the best memories with Sydney. She started the day working with her Daddy, went fishing as a family in the middle and then she and I were off to a concert. When I see the pictures they come to life for me and I can literally feel the joy and happiness we had that day. So thankful God allowed me so many amazing memories in this one day.
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.
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.