i'm still unpacking it all.
i saw myself raise my hands in praise of Him when i thought it would be ok to leave them at my side all my life said the recovering baptist. God was speaking right to me. He was teaching me. i said NO to the fear. NO to the cycle of grief trying to creep back into my life. NO to self-pity while playing the role of temporary single mom for 14 months. NO to Satan trying his damndest to crush me in these last 10 months since ken has been in afghanistan.
i also saw other women experience the love and grace and forgiveness and the wholeness of who Jesus is and who He has called them to be. i was taught to not live in yesterday, and to not put off until tomorrow what i can do now, today, NOW through Jesus Christ's power.
i'm still unpacking it all.
most of you that read my blog know that Angie's blog was one of the only resources i had in Greece for 6 months after Matthew's death before the Navy finally got us the hell out of dodge. what you don't know is just how close i came to being dead. to joining my son in heaven.
i had meticulously planned out how i would do it. there were HUGE concrete barricades in front of the american entry into the base. i decided i would go full speed ahead and drive my car into those barricades letting either the impact of the crash, or the bullets from the security forces, send me to heaven. just to hold my son again.
i planned it for late march 2009 about 2.5 months after we lost matthew. then one of ken's seabees committed suicide on base the same week i planned on taking my own life. i thought that would be too much for ken to handle so i would wait just a little bit; maybe early April?
a few times we went to talk with our chaplain and when he asked me if i had suicidal thoughts, i lied.
i started attending a bible study in february 2009, a month after we lost matthew, that our chaplain's wife, kristie, hosted. it was a beth moore. i had been a not-always-walking-closely-with-Jesus christian for 21 years and had never done one of her studies. fruits of the spirit.amazing, but i did it half-ass. one night after bible study, kristie, our chaplain's wife, sat me down on her computer to show me Angie's blog and wrote down the blog address for me. i drove home and i read it all in the next 2 days. i wept.
i planned a trip to germany for us to get away from it all the last week of march 2009. the truth is i never intended on taking that trip with Ken. in my plan, i would have already been gone from this earth when our plane was scheduled to leave. but that troubled man who worked for Ken took his own life a few days before we were going to leave.
we went to Germany, and it was some good, and some awful. we had one of the biggest fights we've ever had that losing a child creates, in the parking lot of our hotel. i remember thinking, i should have just done it already, i should not be here in this moment, fighting with him.
i had even prayed for ken's next wife to be sweet and loving and to embrace this amazing Godly man i was married to. something i was never fully able to do up until we lost our son.
when i was at that beth moore bible study the first week of april 2009, when Angie Smith and her family were approaching the first anniversary of the death of their 4th daughter, audrey caroline, i read her words and was in awe of her authenticity. thousands of miles away on what felt like a deserted island, i felt connected to this woman. maybe if she was getting through a year without her daughter, i could get through a year without matthew?
instead of killing myself, i made one of the best decisions i have ever made. i promised God in a very angry but honest voice, i would not do anything to harm myself. BUT i told Him i would never, ever do any more work for Him. no ministry. no serving. no sharing.
nothing. i would just exist.
i had already failed and been kicked out of ministry as a Young Life team leader at the end of college because i was sleeping with my boyfriend and getting drunk instead of telling my high school girls about God's grace and mercy and love...so clearly, i had NO business doing His business.
i have followed Angie's blog, read her first book "i will carry you" and really, finally learned that Jesus STILL LOVES ME through her writing.
HE HAS NEVER STOPPED LOVING ME.
not when my parents divorced. not when i was disgraced from ministry. not when i suffered 8 years with anorexia/bulimia. not when i walked away from Him and lived my selfish, sinful life for 5 years. not when i buried my son. and not now.
he loved this broken girl, ME, and it was Angie's writing that got me to pick up my bible again. through her writing i heard Jesus whisper, don't just read what she says...read what I SAY.
through the bible, i learned He didn't take Matthew...he received him. i learned He didn't take my child to punish me for all my life's mistakes. and i learned to laugh and have joy again after digging through the ashes of burying our child. it wasn't perfect, far from it. but it was a blessing. all of it...the good, the bad and the ugly. and their was a lot of ugly.
this weekend i didn't just get to hear, for the first time, Angie speak the words i had read on her blog. i watched the holy spirit move in her, speaking like i have never seen in a speaker before. and. i. just. wept. loudly. ugly, ugly, ugly face tears.
but Jesus wasn't done there.
i didn't even know the speakers did book signings before i arrived to the WOF conference. Jesus gave me an opportunity to meet her and have her sign her new book i purchased, "mended." then i said something like this to her, shaking, balling, and kind of hyperventilating:
"thank you for being obedient, brave and faithful to hear God's calling on your life to write your precious Audrey's story. i was stuck in Crete, Greece for 6 months after we unexpectedly lost our 5-day old son born at 28 weeks. i made a plan to kill myself and found your blog. you, wait, (raising my hand up to heaven, (thank you Jesus for giving me this opportunity to meet this sweet woman and tell her this,) your daughter, and your words, and your obedience, and your bravery that Jesus gave you, literally saved. my. life."
i wasn't freaking out that i was meeting the person Angie Smith. i was freaking out because i had to go back to those dark, awful days some 3+ years ago and remember and relive that. i had to tell her what Jesus did through her. trust me, if you were given an opportunity to meet someone that Jesus used in your life, so powerfully, like he used this woman, you would have either 1) thrown up on her or 2) passed out crashing into the pretty sign with her beautiful picture. i prayed it wouldn't come to this.
i went on to tell her how God had brought joy to my life again through my 2 daughters and husband who loved the Lord and who I adored. and i told her that Satan has tried his hardest to instill fear into me these last 10 months that ken has been in afghanistan. fear, fear, fear. i asked her to pray and she said she would and i believed her. she said she would pray for my husband serving in afghanistan. she cried. i cried. i told her i emailed her and she said she would read it. then she asked me to give her a hug. my body was physically trembling as i hugged her.
and that folks, was the holy spirit.
while i was talking to her i thought maybe i dug my nails into her arm because i just wanted to make sure she understood what she meant to me, to my journey with Jesus. but a friend's picture below proves i just pointed and shook my finger at her. :) oh good. i did NOT want to leave fingernail marks on this beautiful girl!!
i forgot my cute shoes and cutesy stationery to write her my note. and with all the shaking and finger-pointing, i forgot to give her the 3-page note i wrote that morning on tattered mini-notebook paper shoved into a "Quality Inn" envelope (see it in my left hand?). i wrote it because i didn't think i could get words out when i met her. and i didn't. Jesus did. i gave the note to her bodyguard and he said he would give it to her. it's ok if he didn't, because Jesus said to her what i wanted to.
the gracious love, heartfelt concern, and precious personality that comes through Angie's writing is NOT who she is in person. it's much, much better.
because Jesus in her life is better.
oh and meeting ken davis, christine caine, and the members of selah rocked. i don't know how it happened. christine is a GREEK (really?) australian and 'in your face.' i immediately loved her and told her that when i met her. i wasn't embarassed at all when i said "calamari" to her and she corrected me "kala mara" (good morning in Greek). yeah, not one of my finest moments.
ken davis had us all laughing (and almost peeing my pants). as he signed the book i was buying, i told him it was for my hubby in afghanistan and he said his daddy was a POW and ken should enjoy that part. and the main speaker (and talented singer) sheila walsh telling us, on that large, public platform, how she was in a psychiatrist's office 5 days before, could not have been any more real. any more authentic. it ministered to me in ways no one else could.
we can be messy. things can be messy. it doesn't mean God isn't working in your life. and newsflash, until we reach heaven, we will be a mess. but His grace is sufficient.
Jesus showed up in my life this weekend more than He ever has in my life. i can't even put it into words. i'll try to over the next several blog posts.
i learned how to use the "tweeter" this weekend with Kim's gracious help. i tweeted this, this morning for myself and all the women who attended WOF:
let us not live in the yesterday of the awesomeness of WOF but go out and
DO what He has called us to do TODAY with His Power.
DO what He has called us to do TODAY with His Power.
did i mention emmitt smith was there supporting his beautiful wife Pat who spoke (and ROCKED the house?) i had never heard her story and it SO, SO, SO moved me.
but don't worry honey, as you are sitting over there in afghanistan thinking Jesus made it possible for me to meet emmitt, He did not. God tells us He knows what we can handle and He won't give us any more than that. i would have passed out if i had met mr. smith and/or his wife said the devoted cowboys fan. but i got a picture honey. he's the blur on the front side row, on the end. :)