Finding Joy Through My Tears

This blog is to share my journey with God through the heartache and pain of losing my son, Chandler. An outlet for me of sorts. Follow me on my road of grief to healing through the Lord.

Even In The Fire You Are Faithful….

I know it’s been a while again… I have been just resting with God. He has been showing me things that I have needed to hear from Him. You know, that’s why I love Him so. He amazes me every second of every day. He shows me things through prayer and His Word that I need right at the very second that I need it. I love that. No one on this earth could do that for us. And, when He shows me, it’s not just once. It is in His Word, I feel Him washing it over my soul while crying out to Him. I see it in devotionals that I happen to pick up. I hear it in songs that I listen to. I am sure that is His way of letting me know for sure that it is from Him and it is what I need. I love that. I love Him.

I am amazed that I can barely function on day to day tasks but I am remembering His teachings from years ago. Remembering bits of sermons, bible studies, devotionals that I have heard along the way. And, I must say… I never in a million years thought I would need those things heard along the way for my own personal life. I always thought these bits of information would be something that maybe I could use to help someone else someday. Boy, was I wrong. So wrong.

I almost cannot believe the way that I used to think before June 22nd. I never in a million years thought my family could be touched by ANY kind of tragedy. Yes, we would have rough times but it wouldn’t be anything serious. I would have never, ever dreamed that my son would die much less by his own hands with a gun. An accidental shooting. That never, ever occurred to me. Not once. Those are things that happen to other people. Not my family.

But, it did. It has been very, very hard to say the following sentence. My son, Chandler died on June 22nd from an accidental gunshot wound to his precious head. It was not repairable. I have wanted to say things like, “Since this happened, when this happened, all this stuff with Chandler.” Not for one moment did I want to say, “My son, Chandler died.” That has been the hardest thing for me. I guess I felt like if I didn’t say it out loud then it wasn’t true. But, it is true.

God reminded me the other day of a study that I actually led at my previous church by Beth Moore. It was a study on Daniel. I remembered watching and studying the DVD teaching about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Up until this time I only remembered these three from Sunday school as a child. But, there is rich teaching in their story. You will find it in Daniel 3.

You see, they lived in Babylon and their king at the time made a huge idol for the people to worship. Everyone in the kingdom were required to bow down and worship this false god when they heard the sounds of all kinds of various music. These three and Daniel served the living God. They were not going to have any part in worshiping this idol. Of course, they were told on and the king summoned Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to his courts.

He asked them flat out…. “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold that I set up?” Long story short, here is their response:

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O King. BUT EVEN IF HE DOES NOT, we want you to know, O King that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

I have to say wow to that! I would hope that when I was faced with being thrown into a fiery furnace heated 7x its normal heat that I would have the faith to stand right up and say those words. Nevertheless, they were thrown into the furnace. Then, something happens.

The king said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

Here is the point that I learned from Beth Moore in this study:

1)    We can be delivered FROM the fire. I prayed and begged God that this be the case with Chandler. I wanted him to be miraculously healed. For him to wake up and the physicians be stunned. A miracle. That did not happen to him.

2)    We can be delivered through the fire. I have found myself in this place. I survived the loss of my child. I survived and he did not. And, every second I have found that God walks with me. He is WALKING WITH ME THROUGH THIS FIRE.

3)    We can be delivered by the fire into His arms. That is what happened to Chandler. He was delivered straight to the arms of God. His faith was perfected on Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 7:22pm. Straight to the arms of His creator.

This has spoken volumes to me over the past week. Chandler was awake for this the entire time. He went straight to the presence of the King of Kings. And, that makes this Mama’s heart feel better.

Sometimes, God doesn’t deliver us in the way that he thought He would. And, He never promised that He would. He did promise me this. He will walk with me through the fire and through the valley of the shadow of death. And, He is true to His promises.

This does not just apply to my situation. This could apply to an illness that you are facing. This could apply to your broken marriage. This could apply to your unruly teenager that you don’t know what to do with. There are so many scenarios in life that these same concepts apply to. Search your heart today. Let God speak these truths over your life like He has mine.

Father, I stop now to just thank You. Father, thank You that no matter what, You will not leave me. Thank you for walking with us no matter where we are in the fire or what is going to happen to us. You know. Thank You Lord for standing by me as I have survived the loss of my child. And, he has gained a perfected faith and is with You now. Father, love on him extra tight tonight and let him know how much his Mama loves him and misses him. And, please tell him…. We will be together again. In Your Name, Amen.

Advertisements
4 Comments »

Walking on the Water….

Well, once again it has been a while since I have written anything. I have just had to take a break. Sometimes, I have to be in solitude. Sometimes, in our pain, we have to retreat to just being alone. I retreat away from everyone just to be alone with my Father. I have to let Him tend to my wounds. They are so raw and open right now.

God has been leading me to read and just soak in the story in Matthew about how Jesus walked on the water.  He was leading me to really think about storms. You see, Jesus had the disciples to go ahead and get in the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side. Then, it tells us that after they left, Jesus went up to the mountainside to pray. Jesus needed to detach Himself from everyone and go find a place to pray and spend time with His Father.

I do not want to miss that one verse. It says, “With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed alone, late into the night.” ~ The Message

I don’t think we should miss that. We need to do this frequently. A lot of us like to use the term “quiet time”. That is the time each day that we take away from the rest of the world and just get still and quiet. Praying, reading God’s Word, and listening to what He has to say to us.

I make emphasis of this because of this one thing. I woke up on Saturday, June 22nd and had no idea the storm that was coming in my life that day. I had no idea when I woke up that Chandler would be gone by the end of the night. I was not prepared at all. I had been lacking in my quiet time. I had not been on top of my spiritual welfare. And, all I can say, is this. Thank God for his grace. Without it, I wouldn’t have made it past the initial phone call.

We have to be prepared for the storms that are going to come in our lives. They are coming, whether we like it or not. And, most of the time, we have no idea when they will hit. I looked up the definition of storm in the dictionary. Here is what I found:

Storm –

  • a sudden occurrence of something in large amounts
  • a serious disturbance of any element of nature
  • a disturbed or agitated state: a sudden of violent commotion

That is exactly what happened to my world when Chandler died. It was a violent commotion in my heart, my soul, and commotion invading everything around me. I was disturbed and the emotions were pouring out in large amounts. It was a disturbance of nature. Parents do not bury their children. It isn’t natural.

So, I was thrown in the midst of a storm that I had no idea was coming and I wasn’t at all prepared for it. I love the words from a song that Hillsong United sings. The song is called Oceans. It says:

You called me out upon the waters, the great unknown, where feet may fail

And, there I find You in the mystery, in oceans deep, my faith will stand

I will call upon Your name, and keep my eyes above the waves

When oceans rise, my soul will rest in your embrace

For I am Yours, and You are mine

I found myself right in the middle of the fiercest storm that I have ever been in my entire life. And, just like Peter, I just wanted to get to Jesus. I knew in that very moment that I was going to have to get out of the boat and walk to Him. I knew the waves were uncontrollable and I could easily sink.

But, I had to go with what I knew. I stepped out. And, honestly, I could not hardly keep my head above water. I knew I had to keep my eyes focused on Jesus and nothing else. But, it is so hard in the middle of our fiercest storms. You want to take your eyes off Jesus and run. You want to get away so that you can tell yourself that this storm is NOT happening to you. But, it is. I was reminded of that every time I stepped into that hospital room. So, I focused in on Jesus. I found myself living out the words of the song, Oceans once again. It says:

Spirit lead me when my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wonder

That my faith would be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior

I had to step out and focus on the One that had my son in His arms. Chandler was standing in His Presence. I cannot tell you how much peace that brings to a Mother’s soul to know that her child is with the Alpha, the Omega, The Beginning, The End. I just have to stop and praise You Father. Thank You.

It brings me peace to know where Chandler is but please know that the storm still rages on in our lives. We battle it every day. I would much rather have Chandler here with me. God knows that. So, he extends His open arms and embraces me. He is applying treatment to my wounds.

I keep thinking what in the world would Chandler want me to say to everyone on this blog? What would he want me to tell you? From where he is sitting right now in heaven. What would he want you all to know? And, this is what I think he would want you to know:

Sometimes, in our storms, we choose to separate ourselves from God. We tend to stay right in the boat. Never moving. That is NOT what God wants from us. I am sure each and everyone of you that read this blog are: going through a storm right now, you know someone who is going through a storm right now, or you are getting ready to go through a storm and just do not know it yet. I want to say to you, DO NOT wait another second. Do not allow the storms of this world keep you from knowing and having a relationship with God. Tomorrow is not promised. You can have SALVATION and a RELATIONSHIP with the God that walks on water TODAY. What if Chandler had waited? We think we have all this time. We do not. We are not promised another second.

Take your storm to the only one that can calm it. God may not stop the storm completely but He will keep the waves from overtaking you. He will be there and we can walk straight to Him if we keep our eyes on Him.

Father, thank You for taking me away to quiet places and speaking words of healing over me. Thank You for treating my brokenness. My heart is absolutely in pieces. Father, I do not understand why Chandler had to be the one, but I understand and trust that You do. Father, I just pray that anyone who reads this brings their storms straight to You. Father, I know You will be there waiting. I love You. Thank You Father for Your grace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Leave a comment »

Bittersweet…..

Image

So, I have had two decent, good days in a row. That is something that I haven’t experienced since the morning of June 22, 2013. The morning that I woke up and everything was good. My family was in tact. Until, that phone call that absolutely changed my entire life.

I have been struggling since then with a fear that I have never known. I have literally had to look up to God and ask Him, “How am I supposed to live? How can I possibly get through this pain? Why Chandler? Why did this happen to us?”

Fear has snuck in like something silent in the night and has absolutely taken over my life. I was talking to one of my besties (I like that word!) on Friday and she looked me dead in the eye and said, “Brandi, fear is not of the Lord. And, if it’s not of the Lord, then who is it from?” That is an age old question and answer that I have known all my life but in this case it’s like I have completely forgotten my roots. I have forgotten what I know to be true.

I have even embedded in my mind somehow that I cannot sit and cry all the time because that shows weakness. That shows that I am headed down the path to destruction and I am going to be destroyed by Chandler’s death. But, I can’t be destroyed. I have a husband and two wonderful girls that need me. My emotions are out of control. I can’t seem to get a hold on this. As you can already see I am an order kind of girl. I am not used to not being in control of my own situations and feelings. This is new territory for this girl. 

I knew that God was wanting me to hear something from Him. I just couldn’t listen. I was ignoring Him. And, that same bestie told me that she had heard the best talk show on Focus on the Family from a guy that had lost his daughter and I should pull it up online and listen to it. I truly wasn’t going to… (Sorry DM!) But, I came in and didn’t have anything else to do so I pulled it up and started listening to it. It was a guy named Grove Norwood.

He talked of forgiveness. He talked of allowing God to use ALL things for good. And, then he said this… He said he was standing on the lake where he was alone with God, lamenting and complaining to Him about losing his precious girl. He said with fists swinging in the air that there was absolutely nothing good that could come from this. He then started walking back to his home and he stopped. He looked up to the heavens and he said this, “God, do a greater good, not little, make it so big that I could actually look back one day and say all of this was worthwhile. If you can please do that for me, please allow me to live to see it.” WOW! I sat stunned.

That has stirred in my heart for a couple of weeks now. Then, last night, I was listening to a sermon that Rick Warren was teaching on being Transformed by Trouble. He lost his son in the spring of this year. He broke down Romans 8:28 in his sermon and again I was floored by what the Lord had to say to me through this pastor. Look at how he broke this verse down:

We know = We don’t guess, we know. That gives us confidence in difficult times.

that God causes = A grand designer – God planned us, he planned who our parents would be, who are children would be, he planned every, single thing about us.

everything = the good, the bad, our mistakes, sins and hurts

to work together = God causes everything to work together for our good

for those who love the Lord and who are called according to His purpose = those who know the Lord, accepted Him as their Lord and Savior and who follow Him.

Now, look at this verse as a whole and you will see it in a whole new perspective:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” ~Romans 8:28

I was still sitting there last night thinking what in the world could be good about any of this? Well, today he answered my question. 

I received a call from Tennessee Donor Services this afternoon. I had talked with them a couple of weeks ago and it is time for us to write letters to the recipients of Chandler’s organs. I asked her to please check and see if all 5 of them were ok. I did not want to send a letter to cause any hurt to any family. Well, she called me back today and said she had some excellent news. All 5 of the recipients were doing absolutely amazing. No trouble. Nothing. She said that is rare that no one has had any issues at all.

Well, God has worked that out for the good. Praise the Lord, I am rejoicing with these families tonight and I am so thankful that parents have their 16 year old son with a brand new heart, that is a wonderful heart I might add, at home with them tonight. I am thankful that parents have their 2 year old with a new liver that they can hold. I am thankful that 2 little children have their Mom home with them tonight after she received the other part of Chandler’s liver. I am thankful that a man that received Chandler’s Kidney and Pancreas can see his children grow up and that they still have their Dad. I am also thankful for the 60 year old man that received Chandler’s other kidney. I am thankful that his family has now been given more time with him. Praise God. That is something good. I know that Chandler is looking down from heaven and he is so pleased that he could help these families. He was that way. It was his choice not mine to be an organ donor. That’s who he was.

I also thought of the lives that have been changed since his tragic death. Kids who are coming to know the Lord. Drastic movements in the kingdom for the glory of God. God turned that into good.

Even though my heart is as broken  as it was the day I said goodbye to Chandler, I will continue to get up and pursue joy. I will look for what God is doing and how he is turning this horrible tragedy into good. He will. Because I love Him, Chandler loved Him. I know that Chandler would want me pursuing joy with everything in me. So, that is what I will do.

I say to you tonight God, please continue to do BIG things. Please let me see it clearer than I have ever seen it before. And, God, allow me to look back one day and say that this pain was worthwhile. And, Father, let me live to see it. You are so wonderful to me Father. You have never left me nor forsaken me. Father, please continue to walk with me through the pain and the shadow of death. I love You. Make it big, Lord. I ask in Jesus’ name, Amen 

1 Comment »

A Word from Greg….

I know that you all have heard a lot from me and you know where I am. But, Greg hasn’t spoken out at all. He is a man that is quiet but humble. A man that I know loves God with all his heart and soul, he just doesn’t know how to right now. The difference between our grief makes us feel that we are mountains away from each other. But, thank God at the end of the day, the one thing that we share is the same. Chandler is still gone. And, we are both still setting around all of the broken pieces looking at each other knowing that neither one of us has the energy or the strength to even begin to try and pick them up. We are exhausted from grief. We recognize it. I’m positive our girls recognize it too. We want to be 100% for them because we know that they need us. Yet, we simply have a hard time making dinner. We assure them that this won’t last forever. This is just a phase of grief. And, while we are saying these very words, we are hoping with everything in us that it is true. Well, enough from me…. Here is Greg….

Broken but Restored…

God’s Word really does open up to us the mystery of the universe. It really does make us wiser than we could ever be without it. And, yet, having said this, it’s sad that we do not take more advantage of this wisdom that God has given us. It’s sad that we don’t think His thoughts. The thoughts He has given us through His Word and by actively living a life of prayer. We don’t require ourselves to look at life through the lens of His revelations. The thoughts we have when we step out and do the things that You have asked us to do. It is sad that we make ourselves out to be wiser that we are.

I wrote these words for a sermon that I was working on right before Chandler passed away. Right now, I don’t look through the lens of God’s revelations at all. People that know me know that I say what’s on my mind. I don’t hold back from saying how I think and feel. But, since June 22nd I have been holding back. People do not know where I am or how I am doing. Well, I am ready to stop holding back right now.

The truth is I am a broken man. I am not the “tough man” that I used to be. I have changed. I find that the longer Chandler is gone the worse it gets for me. I’m weak. I’m vulnerable. I’m angry. I’m sad. My heart is crushed. I find myself asking all of the time, “My God, why did this happen to my family?” This was not supposed to happen to us.

I was the one that was supposed to protect my family. Brandi and I were the ones that were supposed to die first. We were not supposed to bury our child.

I ask, “What does this mean? Why is my only son dead?” Everyone keeps saying that the way we feel is normal but I keep asking, “How is any of this normal?” How can the death of your child be normal?

I am asking God right now, “Please help me find a way to look through Your eyes for understanding. Please help me understand. Father, I am broken.”

~Greg

I love that we are both on the same page with trying to be transparent. We don’t find ourselves on the same page much anymore.

God, help us to see things the way that You see them. Help us to lean on You with all of our brokenness. Father, help us. We have no words. Just come be with us now. Do not leave us. In Jesus’ Name…

1 Comment »

The Truth…. Well, The Truth Is Fear…

 

I have been asked by several people why I haven’t blogged anything in a few weeks. Well, my answer is because I do not have anything to say. I’m in a mess. And, no one wants or needs to hear about the mess that I have found myself in. But, I’ve decided that I have to tell the truth no matter who wants to hear it. I don’t want to hear the truth. I can hardly tolerate it.

The truth is…. I am living in complete and total fear. Complete darkness has taken over my life. Who wants to hear that from a person who calls themselves a Christian? A person who follows God and trusts Him completely. That’s not very inspirational to say the least.

Here is a little more truth… Over the last few weeks I have found myself in one of the darkest places that I have ever been in my entire life. I cannot think of another time in my life that I have felt so alone and so full of pain. I feel like I am completely out of control. Lots and lots of tears. I have resorted to out and out sobbing. One night it was so bad that I used an ENTIRE box of tissues. In one night! I do not sleep. I fall asleep but then I find myself dreaming about Chandler and I wake up. I average 3 hours top of sleep per night. That has been going on for the last week.

I have thought and thought about what in the world my problem is. I have God and I trust Him so what is wrong with me? I have somehow embedded it in my mind that to cry and show emotion is showing weakness. What? Where did that come from? Then I started just being quiet and letting God lead me… Lead me to where He wanted me to be. I saw something that caught my eye…

My whole, entire life I have been taught that Christianity is appropriate. We handle our business to ourselves and keep it tucked away in our homes. So, from the outside it looks like we have these perfect little Christian lives full of Sunday worship, Wednesday night Bible study, VBS, Team Kid, and every other program we can sink ourselves into. And, please don’t get me wrong. All these programs are wonderful and teach us to have fellowship, community and most of all disciple us in learning about God.

But, what about those of us who do not have a Christian appropriate life? The one’s whose story is out and everybody knows that bad things are going on with us. What do we do? We can’t hide all of our troubles in our little neat houses because we have been exposed. In my case, my son, Chandler died. And, he died in a horrible way. He was messing with a gun that he had no business handling. He didn’t even know how to manage a gun properly. And, in the heat of the moment, he shot himself and he died. As a matter of fact, 15 weeks ago today. So, what do I do? Everyone knows now that my Christian life isn’t appropriate.

 Well, all of that has been embedded in me so long that it has worked me into a complete and total spirit of fear. A dark hole so to speak. A violent wave of emotions that are most times unbearable. It has made me feel like I am losing my mind because I needed for others to see that even though I am in a horrible place that I am still a Jesus girl. That I still love and seek God.

So, I have been just praying today, asking God what to do. I feel like I am at an all-time peak in this darkness and something has to give. I begged him for help. And, He showed up. And, this is what He wants me to do:

  • Forget being appropriate. That is the first thing. He has asked me to be 100% transparent. Others need to see that in their situations in life it is ok that we are not living an appropriate life. We are human. It is very hard to be transparent when you have it embedded deep in your soul that Christians cannot show signs of weakness. We are more than conquerors. The Bible clearly says that. BUT, we cannot forget that we are merely humans and our victories come through the Lord. Not from our silly mentality that we have to pretend that everything is ok.
  • The second thing he reminded me of today is that I need to remember that Jesus was a Carpenter. Yes, He is the King of Kings but He was also a Carpenter. He faced all the challenges that we face. He knows exactly how we feel. He has been there. He was one of us who went to work and bad things happened to. He was a simple, working Carpenter.
  • He also wanted to remind me that He has been where I am. He lost a child. A son. Just like me. It broke His heart. He needs me to know that. And, I think about when Jesus was on the cross and He died. The Bible says that the moment He died, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.” I cannot help but think that God shook the earth and split the rocks just from the sheer grief that he felt at that very moment. I felt that way when Chandler passed away. As a matter of fact, several people told me that I kept saying that I just wanted to start running and never stop. The grief is more than us appropriate Christians can bare. It truly is. We all need to be reminded that God knows about grief from personal experience.

In these reminders, He also wanted me to call out to my friends, those that know me and know our story. To reach out and ask for your prayers. To pray for protection for my family so that the enemy has no choice but to stay away from us. See, we are weak right now. I have allowed the enemy to spit lies all through me. So much so, that I am walking in constant fear. Fear of everything. God wants me to ask others, you all, to minister to me right now. Encourage me and pray for my family. It takes a lot sometimes to boldly step out and ask the entire body of Christ to pray for you, minister to you, and especially encourage you that it is ok to grieve for a lost child. It doesn’t make me any less a Christian.

God wants me to be transparent to you. If that’s what He wants, then that’s what I am going to do. Even though I am desperate, afraid, filled with grief and hurt, and I am walking in fear that is not of God, I still love Him. I still want to follow Him. I still believe Him. And, it’s ok that you know that my life isn’t appropriate. It’s not great at all right now. But, I still have Jesus and I am still going to follow Him.

I want to leave you today with the words of a song by Fred Hammond that I have listenened to constantly since June 22nd. I feel like Fred Hammond is transparent too. Because, His words tell the exact story of my heart:

I’ve lost some joy, I’ve lost some time – Now it feels like I will lose my mind                                           

Journeyed long and lost my way – And, now it feels like I’ve lost is all I say

Searching here and over there for what I’ve lost – Where is it – I don’t know

But, I will find a way to lift up my hands – And, I will find a way to worship You Lord

And, though my heart is broke, I’ll find a way to give You praise

I will find a way to love You more

I’ve lost so much down through the years – It seems that all I find here lately is a face so full of tears

I search each dark and empty place – The peace I used to know, somehow I have misplaced

Searching here and over there for the things I’ve lost – I don’t have them anymore

But I will find a way to lift up my hands – And, I will find a way to worship You Lord

And, though my heart is broke, I’ll find a way to give You praise

I will find a way to love You more

I am so thankful that Fred Hammond stepped out and decided to be transparent. That He answered that call. What a blessing it has been to me and countless others I am sure.

 I hope that you all don’t mind for me being so transparent and I hope that you will continue to lift us up in prayer and pray for our protection. We are down. But, we still love God. We know that joy will come in time if we just hold on.

Blessings, Brandi

 

 

 

 

 

8 Comments »

Brandi Trent

my journey to finding god in the midst of grief

all our lemmony things

for when life hands you lemons

Urban Hallelujah

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord

Dose Dependent Ministries

Faith, Food, Family: Real Life, Well Lived

Ephesians 5:16

Redeeming the time...

Finding Joy Through My Tears

This blog is to share my journey with God through the heartache and pain of losing my son, Chandler. An outlet for me of sorts. Follow me on my road of grief to healing through the Lord.