My life forever changed one cold December morning when I received a phone call that no parent wants to get. I was told that there had been a house fire in the early morning hours, and that my 16-year-old daughter never made it out of the house. This fire happened at her dad's home.
ShockI couldn't believe what I was hearing. I didn't want to believe it. I felt as if my whole world came to a sudden halt that day. I was in shock. It took days before I could grasp the reality that my daughter was gone and that I would never see her again.
Emotional Roller Coaster
So many thoughts flooded my mind. The things left unsaid, the "if only's," and questions like, "why my daughter?" I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster that was never going to stop.
The pain was overwhelming. My daughter was really gone and I had to go on this journey without her.
Comfort From AboveI knew I couldn't deal with this in my own strength. I needed God more than ever. I needed his comfort and strength to get me through this darkest time of my life. And he was there, giving me the comfort and strength I needed to move on.
He gave me peace in the midst of my sorrow. It has been almost six years since that tragic day. I have come a long way in my journey through grief.
Learning to LiveI still have my ups and downs. I don't know if we ever really stop grieving. I think we just learn how to live with it. I still have a long way to go on this journey, but I don't have to go through it alone. God will be there with me through it all.
I try not to dwell on what I have lost, but to be thankful for the time we had. God can use all that we have endured to reach out to others with hope and encouragement, so that we may never have to walk this journey alone:
There is no wound that God cannot heal, no pain so great that he cannot comfort you, no sorrow too deep that he cannot understand. God is our refuge through the journey!
2 Corinthians 1:3-6
I wanted to share a bit about how the mercy of God has changed my life. The more I grow in Christ, the more I can see how amazing his love is and the greatness of his grace.
I was led to Christ when I was 14 years old. I am 42 now, but a lifetime of alcohol use and abuse separated me from God for more than 20 years. Looking back over that time I see that, even though I was not acknowledging God, he was watching over me.
He Waited Patiently for MeHe never left me, not for a moment. He waited patiently for me to come back to him. At 35, I did find my way back to God through a 12 step recovery program that addressed my alcoholism. By his grace and great mercy, he forgave me for the time I had spent apart from him. Jesus accepted me just as I am.
Since that time, I have been on a spiritual journey. One day a few years ago, I received a Bible passage in an email from a devotional that I subscribe to, and it said, "We are saved by God's grace through our faith in Jesus Christ." I now know that to be Ephesians 2:8, but at the time, I had never seen it before.
Tasting God's MercyThe verse stood out to me. I pondered it. I feel God sent it to me to bring me close to his Son. I had never gotten to know Christ and his love for me. I had never enjoyed the rest and peace that comes from living in his light. I had never before tasted his mercy.
Today, I find great joy getting to know Jesus better. The more I read the Bible, study, pray, and fellowship with other believers, the more I realize what he has done for me.
This was his sacrifice for me: Jesus, God's only Son, died for me so that I might have life and have it to the fullest.
Now, that is God's mercy!
Jennifer's FaithA couple of years ago I thought I met the perfect guy for me. I have always been intrigued by the "bad boy" persona. Well, I found out the hard way that being around someone like that takes a toll on everything in your life including your faith.
I Needed a ChangeBefore long I barely knew who I was. I rarely prayed anymore or even attended church. My life was on a spiral. It was during this time I was arrested. My boyfriend at the time thought alternative smoking habits were okay, even if illegal.
While sitting in my holding cell at the jail, I realized unless I wanted this to be my life, I needed a change.
Letting God Back InIt was then that I opened up my mind and heart and let God back in. Since that time I have met the love of my life, my best friend in the whole world. He and I just celebrated four months of wedded bliss and we look forward to much more happiness together in our future.
I have God back in my life. I am able to have visits with my son now and help to raise my other son. Even though there is a lot of drama in my life, I trust God with how things are. I made a 180 degree turn from sin and now I am happy to say my faith is stronger because God is in my life.
Faith is the GlueThe only way my best friend and I were able to meet was by faith. The only way I am able to be the best mom I can be is by faith also. Faith is the glue that keeps my whits about me.
My faith allows me to sleep at night, knowing that God gave his Son as the greatest gift of all time. God had Jesus open his arms in a hug that would last forever, and then die on the cross for me and for all who believe in him. Because of this I have my sins forgiven and can live eternal life with him.
And if anytime in my life someone does test my faith—like so many that have faced death or persecution for their faith—I will say a resounding, yes! I am a Christian woman and yes, I do have a Christ-centered marriage and family. My heart is set on Christ and I don't want it any other way.