What better place to start for my first blog than the very reason I have decided (or surrendered) to doing one…. It has been 1,000 days today since Arvid took his last breath on this earth. ONE THOUSAND. I can’t really wrap my mind around it to be honest. That is 32 months. 143 weeks. 240,000 hours. 1,440,000 minutes that I have not held his hand or kissed his lips. Time that has been filled with so many BEAUTIFUL moments…our oldest and his wife becoming home owners. The homecoming of our daughter who we had prayed for God to restore back to Him for over 7 years. Our family’s first mission trip (Swaziland) to fulfill our promise to Arvid to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth. The births of our grand daughters…no words! Our youngest, Grayson, living one of his and his daddy’s dreams of winning the State Championship in baseball and coming so close two years in a row in football. So many more moments that he wouldn’t be in the pictures taken or the memories created…not physically any way but trust me he was there in our thoughts and in our hearts and always will be.
I think I have experienced as many emotions as the minutes that have ticked off the clock…some all at the same time. The first year was filled with many tears but also a supernatural strength and anointing that led to many opportunities to share our story and witness what only God could have done. I was in awe that God would use us to reveal to others that He is The Hope and be witness to the life change He miraculously did in many lives. Maybe it was because I knew the “first” would be so difficult or maybe it was because God had picked me up and carried me all along, but somewhere into the “seconds” I began to feel lost. And so very tired. Confused. Disconnected. Forgotten. Lonely. Unimportant. It was like I had lost my voice. I had lost my confidence and courage. It was as if I had lost my “super powers” (that super that God adds to our natural).
Now let me say this..I NEVER lost my hope. I NEVER doubted my faith or my God. Some where along the way it began to feel that our story no longer mattered and that I was supposed to “move on” and let the past be in the past. I stopped sharing out of fear I no longer could make a difference or that my story could help someone else as it had before. I shifted from living this bold, courageous life that God had so beautifully empowered me to live out after Arvid and I surrendered our will and trusted His, and began to start listening to the whispers of this world and slowly allowed that self doubt to be like Kryptonite in this chapter of my story. How many times have we heard it said that, “In time, someone else’s tragedy will be the headline and they will forget about yours”? The sad thing is that social media, the press, news broadcast, gossip magazines and well, let’s be honest, humans have made that statement true in many ways in the world we live in today. People thrive off of other’s tragedy. They won’t miss one single post about each and every detail of what someone is facing as they battle cancer, battle ALS, or the sudden or not so sudden loss of a child…tears shed, prayers lifted, money donated, events attended, text sent, food cooked, funerals attended. So many wonderful, much-needed and appreciated acts of kindness and love. But what do we do when we’re in the “seconds” or now in the “thirds” after we were the ones in the midst of that tragedy and your army is now few and many have moved on?
PLEASE HEAR ME…I am not writing one single word to gain sympathy. I cross my heart. I am writing this because God has been whispering something so, so sweet into the crevices of my soul these past few months, weeks and days as I have cried out to Him to know what am I supposed to do now…He reminded me of what I already knew. Truth that was deep inside of me that had been buried under layers of grief, doubt and lies from the enemy. Truth that He is good when I am not. He is faithful when I am not. HE IS ALL I NEED. As I read a blog yesterday from one of the key women who had given me so much hope and strength during my most difficult days during Arvid’s battle with ALS, it was like God flipped the light on! Like a really bright light that would light up a city! See, Bo Stern is a woman who God so intricately placed in my life at a time I needed her most. I have never met her but let me tell you, if I ever have the honor, I know we would become instant friends. I am sure we would sit and talk for hours on end because our lives have so many things in common that at times, was hard to believe. See God used her story to help me continue living out our story. There were times when I would read her blog that I would have sworn she had some how read my mind…or at least my journal. God used her story to help teach me that He sees me. Her story helped place concrete around the foundation God had been laying in my soul that HE is enough even if…Her husband was a pastor in Bend, Oregon that had been diagnosed with ALS around the same time Arvid was. They had chosen to allow God to use their battle to reveal God’s glory. She was and is a woman after God’s own heart even after Steve lost his battle. She has and still is sharing her story, even as she walks through the “seconds”. Because she knows that her story matters and that HE IS ENOUGH EVEN IF! Her story matters to this widow who needed to read words from another widow who gets “it”. Who is living “it”. That knows grief and joy can actually consume you all at the same time. That struggles with some of the same things that I do. Even after the “tragedy” her story matters. And you know what God whispered in those deep crevices of my soul? “Your story STILL matters too and I am still enough, even though Arvid was not healed this side of heaven”. See it’s when we walk out our lives in faith knowing God is enough, even if our worst nightmare weaves its way into the pages of our story, that He will use that very thing the enemy meant for harm and use it for the saving of many lives. It’s when we share our story that He will reach all the way from Bend, Oregon to Decatur, Alabama to give a woman, that wasn’t sure she had the strength to care for her husband in midst of his battle with ALS, and fill her with hope and courage that burst up out of the ground and poured out in a supernatural way. In ways that allowed her to, not only take care of him until he took his last breath, but also pour out onto others what had been so beautifully given to her. So here I am…once again. With a renewed spirit anchored in His truth. Sharing my story in hopes that God will use it to breathe hope and courage into someone like He did me, show you that your story matters and to anchor you in the truth that He is enough, EVEN IF!
“As for you, you intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20