David Jeremiah wrote, "journalizing, memorializes the blessings of God" in his book, "When Your World Falls Apart, Seeing Past the Pain of the Present." My dear family and myself have recently experienced a terrible tragedy, resulting in the death of my precious daughter, Samantha. This is an unwanted journey, one of the most difficult walks that any parent can experience. It is riddled with extreme grief, profound disorientation, and beautiful graces from God. He holds me close. He has not forsaken me. Even though, my heart is shredded with sadness, I shed buckets of tears, I question my purpose now and I wander astray at times, I know I love God. He is real and present. I know what I know!!! And, I feel privileged to have the opportunity to share with you. I have learned that I am at my best when I walk with God, not against Him.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Just Do Today

Just recently, I received this text.

Prior to responding, I knelt down on my newly carpeted floor, closer to my bookcase, and took a look at the titles I had in my possession, staring at the spines that saved my soul. In my response, rather than just rattling off a few, I listed what I had learned, recalling the strength I gained from reading each story. It wasn't the first time I had been asked to reference something that I read. My little library has taken on a life of its own. After I lend each book out, I need to ensure they are returned so they can be checked out again and continue to touch those that read them.

While sharing my sentiments, I began to remember why I had such a book collection. It was the days following Samantha's accident that I spent reading. Craving stories of survival. I needed to hear from others that had experienced loss and how they found life, again. Real stories, about real people walking through real storms and HOW they did it. I remember telling myself, "If they can do this, so can I!" One woman had to bury two babies. I read her story and told myself if she could do two and still be beautiful, I certainly could do one!  

When I finished one book, I would get another. Back to the store, I was binging on books. Devouring the details of their story, gleaning wisdom from their experience, their survival gave me a sense of security.  I kept on reading, having been given the revelation that these were the people that made it. The souls that get lost in suffering are not the ones reflecting and writing words that help and heal. Each time I turned the last page, a new life had begun. These people had found peace, their pain now had purpose. I knew I could be one of them. A survivor, an overcomer, whatever you want to call it; I had the choice to reach out, grab hold of Christ and carry on. Just as they did.

Elizabeth's Library

Three years have passed since Samantha's accident, my book collection has grown and so has my strength. Like those that I learned from, I am able to see the purpose past my pain. God has given me glimpses of what He wants from me. Letting me taste a tidbit of sweetness in tragedy as I occasionally am called to sit and share with others suffering. Allowing me to touch the truth that He teaches in 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
For awhile now, I have known that the tide was turning. My time of receiving was receding and my time of sharing, swelling. More tragedy has taken place. Now, I am the experienced one. People have begun approaching me wanting to lean into what I have learned about loss and how to find life again.  "That is one thing I could never get over.", "I would never recover." are sobering statements I hear too often. How do you do it? Where does your strength come from? are common questions. 
Just the other day, I sat sharing with someone under a great amount of stress. She told me her story, looked at me with eyes of trust, as if to say, " I know you will understand, you have earned your stripes." It was real, she had run out of answers, with no way to fix the situation and she was ready to receive. I knew her emotion and shared with her my strength, my Savior. Then again, the very same day, later in the afternoon, while at work a client stopped by. She followed me into the stock room. I knew her situation and she knew mine. She stared at me with fixed eyes, without coercion she confessed her continuing struggles. It was illness this time. She was suffering in a physical kind of way; again I shared the truths of my testimony. When I have listened to someone grabbling with caustic circumstances, who don't know what I've "been through", then somehow they become aware of my experience, their entire stance softens. Their shoulders once rigid, give way. If I speak, I have their attention. Their reaction says you have some serious stripes; they want to hear what I have to say. None of these encounters inflate me, they serve to show me that struggle can begin a conversation to further the Kingdom.
For the past few months, there has been an underlying confusion to all that I do. Every time I start something, I cause myself to stop. I paralyze myself by asking, "Is this what I am suppose to be doing?" This quest of trying to find out what I'm suppose to do with the rest of my life is exhausting. Brooke has recently left for college, Samantha lives in heaven. Allowing most of my life pattern to be rewritten. Some days, honestly all I want to do is work full time and collect a check. Reclaiming a career I gave up, traveling and escaping. That would be the easiest. The next day, I want to return to school, earn another degree and relive a dream I failed to persue. That sounds like a good plan but, I'm afraid my ability to remember will be an issue. On top of that, I ask, "Is that what I'm really suppose to do ?" My thoughts are all over the place. Day after day, uncertainty eclipses all that I am doing. Feeling like I'm on the game board of LIFE and it's my turn to roll the dice.
There's a crossroad before me. Which path am I suppose to choose.  There are days, my thoughts are short and scattered about my next step.  On other days, like the one I mentioned above, I have complete clarity as to my calling. It's a supernatural sensation of completeness that I receive when I serve another by sharing what I know. Then life gets going again and I get confused. While my brain bullies my being, I feel like my hands have been following my heart. As I  pray for and create the website for my new ministry. I don't know for sure if it is what I'm suppose to do but, I've been doing it! For reasons you can read about, I called it, "Just Do Today."
I'm leaving the place of my pasts posts, where intense pain presided. Those writings helped me realize how God was weaving Himself in and through my grief. The healing process has happened. I'm in a new place, not quite sure about how to proceed, nor where it will take me. Occasionally, the lens of my life twists into sharp focus, allowing me to see the fullness of God's plan for my life. Gifted with the ability to separate myself from my pain and see it for something else. Oh, I don't like that it is there, that I had to go through something so terrible and live with it everyday it but, I know the experience and outcome can be used for the greater good. The even more miraculous part is I know, I'm the one in receipt of the gift when I share. The light shines bright for me when I engage in His Holy work. With this God given knowledge I feel ready and willing to share. As another has said, "The greatest ability is availability."
By reading or listening to the words of others, I have been given life again.  Whether the characters were written about in the Bible or are followers of Christ in the present century their written words have served me well. These people pierced by pain, weren't authors or speakers to begin with but, they took the time to sit down and record their testimonies. Then, their words were made available to the world. Publicly, they speak about their experience and silently they share by putting pen to paper. Due to reasons I don't really like, I realize my life experience looks like those that sit on my bookshelf. Now, the next step for me is to do as they did. Share. Publicly proclaim who worked for me, not what worked for me.  How arriving at this place of peace happens and allowing the experience to pour hope into another's heart.  By sharing "Samantha's Story" I hope to do the same for someone else. 
P.S. - After writing these blogs, mentally and emotionally I always end of where God wants me, in harmony with Him. Upon completion of this one I have no doubt about my next step. The die have been cast and I will follow the path of those that preceded me. Extending my experience out into the world. Scripture has instructed me to do so:
Jesus tells the man,“Return home and tell how much God has done for you.”
Luke 8:39
And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
Mark 5:19
Please join me on the next leg of my journey as I continue to create a space (or a site) that allows me to interact on a different level than before. A public platform to reach out and to offer my experience to others. 
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was on him; and with his stripes we are healed. 
Isaiah 53:5


Unknown said...

I love this aunt Liz ! You write beautifully and you are such a strong woman. I look up to you so much . Love you to the moon and back . Keep up this great work ! Xoxoxo

Carrie Daws said...

This is so encouraging, so full of confidence (even in those moments when you're not sure which step is next). I'm so excited for you!! And I'm so thankful that you are inviting us on your journey. I cannot wait to see what all God does with it! :)

Unknown said...

Liz, I am so proud of you. God is faithful, and your heart to share that will continue to bless others as He continues to guide you and strengthen you. Your testimony is His story of grace and healing. Your willingness to surrender to Him and follow his leading is so inspiring and will grow the Kingdom mightily and bring hope to those who need to know it. I love you lady! Your writing is beautiful and touches the deep places of my soul. Keep penning His truth in you.