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.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

My absolute favorite holiday of the year. I love reflecting on all of the things that the Lord has done for me and mine throughout the year. It’s a time when I get to spend time with all of my family. This year has been a lot different but in many ways the same.

There are a lot of things that I am thankful for this year. The Lord has been good to this family. But, in my mind, I think a lot about the one thing that has destroyed a part of me this year. Losing Chandler.

I have spent a lot of time with the Lord asking Him to help me try to carry on with reflecting on the good things and trying to reflect on the good that has come out of the bad. I love the devotional, “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. The last few days have really spoken to me. I want to share some of my favorites below:

“To protect your thankfulness, you must remember that you reside in a fallen world, where blessings and sorrows intermingle freely. A constant focus on adversity defeats many Christians. They walk through a day that is brimming with beauty and brightness, seeing only the grayness of their thoughts.” ~Sarah Young

“How precious are my children who remember to thank Me at all times? They can walk through the darkest days with Joy in their hearts because they know that the Light of My Presence is still shining on them.” ~Sarah Young

I love how this reminds me that even through my sorrow and pain, I can still be thankful. That has spoken volumes over me this month. One thing that I am truly grateful for are the people that God has placed in my life. My friends, family, co-workers have been so wonderful to me. I am thankful that God chose the exact people that would walk this journey with me. He knew exactly who I would need. For that I am thankful today.

I am very thankful that there are five, do you hear that? FIVE families who will sit down to dinner today with a loved one that they probably did not expect to be at their table this Thanksgiving. I rejoice with them today. A set of parents much like Greg and myself are with their precious 16 year old boy today with his new heart. Two little girls have their sweet Mama today, which was uncertain before she received her new liver. There are a set of parents cherishing their 2 year old baby girl today with her new liver. There are children sitting with their Fathers today because they have new kidneys. I am thankful that they are not walking the road that Greg and I are. And, I am thankful that we raised a child who would help many people in this way.

I am thankful for my husband, Greg. I am thankful that he tells me that he will fight for this family. It was so hard in the beginning. I think we both felt so alone in our grief. But, I am thankful today, that even though our grief is different, we stand together.

I am thankful for my girls, Alyssa and Sara. I am thankful for Alyssa’s laughter. Ask anybody around…. That is one laugh that is contagious. I am thankful that Sara is constant. You never have to wonder where you are with her. She grounds this family. She is very wise for her short 14 years.

I am so thankful for Chandler. I am grateful that God chose Greg and me to be his Dad and Mom. I am so grateful for the 17 ½ years that God blessed us with him. Despite the pain, I would do it over and over again. He changed my life and he changed it for the better. I am thankful that I have learned that he changed lives quite often and is still doing that today. I am thankful for that legacy he has left. It is still pouring out on others in their lives today. I am so thankful that I got to see his face when he walked across the stage at graduation this year. He was so proud of his accomplishment.  I am thankful that I see little glimpses of him all around me. But, I am most grateful that the Alpha and Omega, the Lord Himself is the one taking care of him now that I cannot.

And, that brings me to God. So thankful for Him. I am thankful that He is constant. That He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He never forsakes me. He doesn’t forget. He brings me strength when I am weak. He is Sovereign and He is faithful. He always takes what the Enemy means for evil and turns it for our good. He will rebuild the ruins here at my house. He will make beauty out of these ashes. He steadies me when He asks me to get out of the boat and walk on the water. And, most importantly, I am thankful that He gave His only Son so that I may see my son again. One day, our family will be complete again because of Him. Thank You Father.

I will close with the verse that I will carry around with me today and every day. It’s a reminder that I am still alive. I still have purpose here. I wish you each a wonderful Thanksgiving. Hold on to those that you love today. Bask in the small things. Slow down for just a minute and relish in the gifts and blessings that God has given you.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

~2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Happy Thanksgiving. May God pour out His blessings on you today.

Standing on His Promises, Brandi

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5 Long Months….

Tomorrow will be 5 months since our world fell apart and Chandler passed away. I have been thinking that it seems like it was yesterday but again it seems like forever. I feel like it has been so long since I have seen his face, kissed him, talked to him. I miss him just as much as I did the day he passed.

I also have realized that I am a completely different person than I was 5 months ago. It blows me away sometimes. I am not the same. Nor, will I ever be. There are good sides to that and there are bad. There is a HUGE hole in my heart that longs for my child.

I know I have probably written this before but Chandler passed away on Saturday, June 22nd around 4:00 pm. Since we decided to honor his decision to be an organ donor, we got to stay with him until Sunday evening. It seems like I sat with him a very long time on Sunday. Even though I know he wasn’t there. That was just his body. I stood guard over him like a protective Mama Bear. I couldn’t leave. I knew those were the last moments that I would see him.

I remember sitting by his bed, holding his hand. I remember crying out to God begging Him to help me. Begging him to not let my heart grow bitter and angry toward Him. I prayed with everything in me on Saturday that a miracle would happen. I pleaded. I reminded God as if He didn’t know that He raised Lazarus from the dead. He could raise Chandler also. He chose not to do that. He did heal him. He just healed him by taking him home.

After Chandler died, we merely existed. We still do most days. I cried out constantly for God to help me. There were so many nights that I just laid in bed crying and begging God to come quickly. I needed Him. You see, in those moments, He was all I had. In the middle of the night, He was it. I know I could have called anyone and they would have ran to me. But, I didn’t. I called out to God.

For weeks to follow I did not work. I did not go back to work until mid-August. Day in and day out I searched for God. I prayed, I read His Word, I listened to praise and worship music. I read every book I could find on Christian grief and how to live after losing a child. As soon as daylight would hit, I found myself on my porch. I spent a lot of time with the Lord there.

And, things have changed in my soul. I am so thankful because I could have very easily went the other way. He heard my cry and He did not allow my heart to grow cold. I begged Him to search my heart and show me anything that I needed to fix. Over time, He did. I got to a point that I could hear Him and know the things that needed to be changed.

I placed a lot of blame on others. I don’t want to share who, but it was more than one person and it was worse than I ever realized. I had to own that. These people were very, very close to me. And, I blamed them for Chandler’s death. I blamed myself. I put the blame on so many. But, never God. I feel like that is a true blessing. I think I didn’t blame Him because I knew He was all I had. But, I also knew that I had no other choice but to deal with my blame. It was eating my heart away. I haven’t even begin to sit down and apologize face to face with the people that I have blamed for something that was not their fault. I am sure so many of them have never known that I even blamed them. After a lot of time, God helped to heal my heart of all of that. It was a lot of “yuck” and I had to get rid of it. Praise God, He walked me through it. And, one day, when it is right, I will apologize and explain myself to everyone that I have blamed for Chandler’s death.

I also learned the true meaning of things that I have went around saying since I have had children that I didn’t understand therefore I could not really mean it. I used to walk around and say that my children were the Lord’s. That He had entrusted them to me. They are on loan to me. We go on with our baby dedications and we really do want to raise our children on this principle. And, don’t get me wrong. IT IS TRUE! Our children are entrusted to us from the Lord to raise and He allows us to borrow them. I just didn’t really understand that until Chandler passed away.

You see, we as parents, are never ready to give those borrowed gifts back. We never even think of it. Parents die before their children. That’s the circle of life. But, for some of us, it just doesn’t happen that way. And, that is when I truly realized the three beautiful gifts that I had been given.

Now, it was my turn to trust. God had trusted me with Chandler and now I had to step out and trust Him. I know that Chandler is with God now. But, I have to step out every day and trust Him with Chandler. I truly know the meaning of God entrusting and gifting us with our children. It has changed me.

It has created a bond between me and the Lord that can never be broken. I search His promises. I love Him now more than I ever have. I am growing and He is standing right beside me. He comforts me and fulfills His promises to me every day.

I leave with you with a wonderful verse that has spoken volumes over my soul:

“When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer.”

~Lamentations 3:23 – The Message

I am so glad that I have taken this much needed time with my precious Father. It has shown me the things that He has for me to do. I am currently doing an online Bible study and this paragraph from the book sums it up perfectly:

“A confident woman asks God to birth ministry through her burdens by meeting her needs and then she looks for ways to join Him in meeting the needs of others who are going through something similar. She knows God can use her brokenness to do something beautiful, because the cracks allow His light to shine through and His Living Water to pour out.”

~Renee Swope – A Confident Heart

I know now that God wants me to help people through this tragedy in my own life. He wants me to show others that there is hope. He is there. And, He isn’t going anywhere. Wherever He calls me, I will go.

Chandler, I know that you are well taken care of. I miss you more than words could ever say. I feel connected to you through our Heavenly Father. He calms my soul and lets me know that you are fine. I love you so much. And, I cannot wait until the day that you are standing there waiting for me when it is my time to join you. I love you to the moon and back a million times. Until then baby boy…..

Blessings, Brandi

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Friends…

I have been thinking a lot about friends. I have been so blessed in my life with really, really good friends. But, sometimes certain friends are in your life for only a season. And, they serve their purpose and you just drift apart. And, that’s ok. No hard feelings. You just move on.

Then, there are times when God places people in your life that you know without a doubt that you will be friends with for your entire life. Death would have to take you away from that friend. You know the friends I am talking about. The one’s that you may not talk to for a year and when you talk, you pick right back up where you left off like you hadn’t missed a beat.

Then, there are friends that God sends you out of nowhere that are the most unlikely people. Someone that you would have never, ever met if you hadn’t been going through the circumstance that you are in. God has placed someone special in my life like that now. I just hate that it had to be because we both lost a child. I never want anyone to have to be in that club. But, she has been a true blessing to me. I feel like there is hope after talking with her.

I have been blessed with all of these. I am one lucky girl.

I have three friends that I want to tell you about. Their names are Lorie, Stacie, and Michelle. We have known each other for years. Our kids were so little when we met. I became friends with these girls quickly. Our friendship reminds me of David and Jonathan in the Bible. In 1 Samuel 18:1 it tells us that “Jonathan and David became one in spirit.” Then, it goes on to say in verse 3 that “Jonathan made a covenant with David.”

This reminds me of my three friends because I feel like back in those early days when our children were little that we made a silent covenant. We agreed that we would raise these kids together. We would watch out for the other’s kids and treat them as if they were our own. We have stuck to that covenant through the years. We have laughed over them, cried over them, prayed over them. And, we did it together. Of course, the kids grew older and did their own things and sometimes there were times where we didn’t get to talk often. But, I knew that if I needed them, they would be there.

I had been in touch with Lorie for about 1 ½ years regularly when Chandler passed away. I had been in touch off and on with Michelle and Stacie as well during the last year. We had graduation invitations and college acceptance letters to talk about. We even have grandbabies!!!! Our babies were growing up. Then, Lorie started having kids again! J Her babies can play with the grandbabies now and we can start our covenant all over again!

But, I want to say…. On June 22nd, my life was total chaos. Lorie was with me right from the start because she had my girls. I looked up at one point and I witnessed these three friends walking down the hall together straight to me right when it mattered most. Right, when my world was falling apart. We went in to see Chandler together. We cried. We were devastated and heartbroken. Chandler was just as much theirs as he was mine. They had helped me raise him. They grieve as if they have lost a child just like I grieve. They try and keep it from me but I know. I know because I know how I would feel if it had been one of theirs.

God blesses us with these special people in our lives who come along beside us and help us. The saying is true that “It takes a village to raise a child,” No words could ever express how thankful and how grateful I am to have them in my life. I thank God for them every day.

He has also brought back friends that I haven’t been able to see for a very long time. My friend, Kisha. She has walked right by my side during my grief for Chandler. She even spends the night with me sometimes! I also get to talk frequently with a wonderful high school friend, Chris.

And, Donna…. My sweet, precious friend. I fully remember asking Lorie to call her immediately. She got there as quick as she could. I will never forget the look of heartbreak on her face when she came back to see Chandler. But, she grabbed my hand and looked me straight in the eye. And, she spoke truth over me. She said, “The entire way here the Lord kept saying to me that what the enemy means for evil, God will work it out for good.” How ironic that He had been speaking the same words over me while sitting bedside with Chandler. She confirmed His message.

They all have stood by me in ways that I have never known. God blesses us with friendships. Who is that special someone in your life? For me, God has blessed me with many.

That is how we get through life. We have God and then we have our girls.

I just wanted you each to know: Lorie, Stacie, Michelle, Donna, Kisha, and Chris that I love you very much. Thank you for loving my Chandler the way you did. Thank you for praying with me when we didn’t know what else to do. And, most of all…. Lorie, Stacie, and Michelle. Thank you for being Chandler’s Mom when you all had him. Thank you for loving him. Thank you for putting band aids on his little scrapes and scratches. For tucking him in at night with your kids. For bathing him and feeding him. Thank you for being his Mom too.

Blessings, Brandi

 

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Spirit Fall…

I have been sitting here this evening really missing my boy. I miss seeing him, talking to him. I miss every, single thing about him. It has been a rough few days for me. Just thinking about him a lot. I absolutely dread the holidays coming up. I don’t know what to expect. I don’t know how we will feel. My heart is unsettled, sad, depressed. I just miss Chandler so.

So, I grabbed my laptop and was heading straight for Candy Crush when I just knew I needed to stop. I needed to listen to praise and worship. So, I grabbed my headphones and went to listen to some praise and worship music from the church that Chandler loved.

It moved my soul and within minutes I was lifting my hands in praise. Before, I knew it, I was praying that the Holy Spirit would just fall on me. Like the song says, Like a rushing wind, light the fire again. Come and breathe Your breath on me. Oh, how I long for the Holy Spirit to breathe His breath on me. It brings more comfort than I have ever known. It lets me know that I am not alone in this struggle. I have someone with me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. He never leaves me…Not for a moment.

Then, I heard the song, Rescue. It says “You are the source of life – I can’t be left behind – No one else will do – I will take hold of you. I need You Jesus, come to my rescue, where else can I go – There’s no other name by which I am saved, Capture me with grace. I love that.

When someone is in this much pain, no one else will do but God Himself. There is no where else that I can go. I just praised Him. Thanked Him. I put my trust in Him. This world has nothing for me. I will follow Him.

Then, I moved on “Waiting Here for You”. I expect Him and wait on Him. He comes faithfully, right on time. So many nights, I go to bed with Chandler’s hoodie and another t-shirt that I have of his. It smells just like him. It has also seen a lot of my tears over the months. I hold on to that hoodie and I cry, sob, scream in it. And, then I hold it as tight as I can and I pray for God to meet me here. He does. He assures me that He is taking very good care of Chandler. And, that he is fine.

He also lets me know that it is ok to just let it out. So, I grieve with God. Who better knows my situation? He lost His Son too. These nights are hard. I remember God’s promise that “What we sow in tears we will reap with joy.”  

That’s the secret. We have to praise Him no matter the circumstance. No matter how much pain is in the offering. We lift our hands high in praise and we expect Him to meet us where we are. No matter where that is in our lives.

I love the Lord. I have never loved the Lord more than I do this minute. I am so fortunate because so many people that have suffered a devastating loss like mine turn away from the Lord. I prayed from the very beginning that God would not allow me to turn from Him. He has been faithful. I absolutely love Him. My heart overflows.

Where would I be without Him?

Oh, Father… How I love you. I can honestly say that I love You more now than I believe I ever have. I put everything I had, all my trust into You and You came through. You continue to come through every second of every day. Father, I want to thank You for coming quickly when I am alone and the way ahead is dark. I ask that the Holy Spirit fall on me. As the song says, Like a mighty wind, Father, Light my fire again. Come and breathe Your breath on me. Father, thank You for walking me through the valley. I adore You, I praise You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Standing on His Promises, Brandi

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Living in Our Grief

What I am writing about is very personal to me right now during this stage in my life. The subject has been an intense issue with me for some time now. And, that is guilt. I live with guilt for what seems like every second of every day.

I think it is normal for a person to have guilt in the devastating grief that I live with each day now. But, to what extent do I have to actually stand up and say enough is enough?

In this journey, I have encountered many people who have lost a child. It seems like we are initiated into this “club” that no one ever wants to be a member of. The main thing that I have found that has bothered me to the core of my soul is how guilt is so closely tied to grief. I see and have talked with parents that are in the very same place that they were the day that their child died. Whether it be 6 months, 2 years, or 25 years. And, I will be honest. That scares me to death. The thought of dealing with the pain that I am enduring now in 2o years makes me feel like there is no hope in finding joy. Joy that I know that Chandler would want for me. I know in my heart that he would want me to find a way to live again.

This has caused me to start seeking and praying. Asking God the hard questions of, “Is this it? God, is this where the road ends for me? Will I live with this excruciating pain for the rest of my time here on earth? If this is it, can you just go on and take me? Do I have to live in this?” He has whispered over me and shown me His Word which is truth. I am so thankful that He never delayed in coming to my side and helping me through this.

He has shown me that these feelings come from grief. And, it doesn’t always come in my situation. It can come from the loss of anyone that is very special to us. It can come from a divorce or broken relationship. It can come from the loss of a dream. It can come from anything that we experience in this world that breaks us. Infidelity of a spouse, a child who is destroying their lives right before your eyes and you are helpless to do anything about it. Any situation where you find yourself broken.

This is where we, as Christians, have to open our minds to TRUTH. I have been very naïve in thinking that Satan would give me a break right now with all that our family is going through. Not true. He plays dirty. And, we are foolish to think different. He will not wait until the playing field is fair. When we are able to get up and defend ourselves. God’s Word is truth. It tells us in John 10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” He doesn’t care about what we have just lost. He still wants us to be destroyed. I praise God that we have so many people that have rallied around my family to pray for our protection during this season. They pray for our family to have healthy grief. We could not go through each day without their intercessory prayers that keep us safe.  

I am trying to tread lightly on this subject because I in no way want to make light of another’s persons grief or loss. But, I do want to share what God has taught me about grief and guilt. Beth Moore said in one of her books, “Grief is not a stronghold. Lengthy life-draining despair is. Blocking the healing, restorative power of God places a believer in a painful, literally debilitating yoke of bondage.” I have found myself in the bondage of life-draining despair. It has only been 20 weeks since I lost Chandler so I don’t feel like I am at the lengthy part yet. But, I can see how I could get to the lengthy part very easily. However, I am in a debilitating state of grief with all kinds of guilt in it.

Sometimes we hang on to our grief as a way to hang on to the one or thing we have lost. Beth Moore also said, “Sometimes we wrestle with an unshakable feeling that we will betray our loved one if we even dare to be happy again.” The definition of guilt is “a bad feeling caused by knowing or thinking that you have done something bad or wrong”. I have been trying to find anything I can about guilt and I came across a song by Mandisa, called “Not Guilty”.

I pulled it up on YouTube and listened to it. When I listened to the words, the Lord spoke over my soul to where I could do nothing but cry and praise Him at the same time. I listened to the words and it made me think of what happened when Chandler saw Jesus face to face. When he actually looked Him in the eyes. I believe He said something like these words to Chandler:

I know you. I love you. I gave my life just to save you.

Love paid the price, for mercy. My verdict…. NOT GUILTY.

Welcome home my faithful servant.

And, as I imagined the Lord speaking to my son, God whispered over me, “This applies to you today.” And, I realized that these words are true to every believer today. Through His saving grace, we have been found NOT GUILTY. When we are faithful to confess and repent of our sins, God declares us not guilty.

We have to start living even in our grief. Life doesn’t stop when we lose someone or something dear to us. As long as we are breathing, we have purpose here. We have to stand on God’s truth and proclaim them. And, that requires action on our part. We have to declare His promises and walk forward. We need to be steadfast to allow the Lord to heal our wounds so that we can step out and help someone else when they are in a situation like the one we are in right now. We can help them not to get tied up in bondage.

The first step is giving whatever it is that is the source of our grief and guilt to our Father. I give my grief to Him many, many times a day. We need to study His promises in His Word for our situation. We need to step out and ask our prayer warrior friends to intercede for us. We have to get up each day and shake off the guilt. And, try our best to live. It doesn’t mean we are forgetting what we have lost. Not at all. I will never as long as I live forget my son. He is in my heart to stay. But, I am going to do exactly what he would do. He would be out trying to help someone that needs it. That’s just who he was.

Stand strong…. Live in your grief.

Blessings, Brandi

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Missing Places….

I have absolutely no idea what I am going to say in this post. I haven’t worked on it. Honestly, what I want to write about today is so fresh to me.

My heart is lonely this evening. Yesterday, was Halloween. I didn’t think much about it. But, it was another first. The first Halloween without Chandler.

I have been thinking a lot the last few days about the emptiness I feel in my heart. I can only describe it this way. A part of my heart that holds my children in it is split three different ways. I have a missing piece in my heart that is where Chandler belongs.

A lot of people will say that he is still in my heart. He is to some extent. But, my heart wants to mother him. I long to just mother him. I have had that longing since the second I knew I was pregnant with him. It’s not the same now. I have my two girls and I long to mother them. They have their place in the other two sections of my heart.

People want to say to just pour my energy into Alyssa and Sara. Use all of my energies in them. I can do that to some extent as well. They need me now more than ever. But, I still long to mother Chandler. That feeling hasn’t even eased one bit.

I remember when I sat bedside with Chandler on the day he passed away. I wanted to fix his injury. I wanted God to make it better, to heal him. I wanted to dress his wound, wash his face, and I wanted to make it all better just like I used to when he was a little boy. I would have been content to just have him stay in that hospital bed for the rest of my life and just let me take care of him the only way I knew how. But, that is the selfish part of me. I needed to mother him. I watched carefully as others came in to see him. I wanted to make sure they didn’t mess up his IV or the Ventilator. I wanted them to be careful when they held his hand and to watch out for his injured head.

I discussed with a friend today how I felt. I have never really spoken these words out loud. I had no words for how I have felt. She brought up a very valid point. She said it sounded like stories she had heard from people that have had a limb amputated. She described the way they had phantom pain. Pain that is so real in a limb that isn’t there. She said that they had said if they could just grab their hand and rub it or put it in warm water that it would make them feel so much better. But, they can’t grab on to something they don’t have.

That’s how I feel. I want to grab hold of Chandler and just hold him. The pain is intense and if I could just grab hold then I know the pain would ease off. But, I can’t. Because, he isn’t there. He is with the Lord.

I have talked to so many Mothers that have lost a child. I wonder if they feel this way. I wonder if they get stuck in their grief because of this need.  And, I wonder if they even know that this is why they are stuck.

I imagine that our heavenly Father feels the same way when we drift off and go our own way without Him. When He knows that we are just not there anymore. A part of him is missing. The part that wants to Father you. To take care of you and your wounds. I imagine that He watches all the others around us to make sure they are not trying to harm His child. He loves us that way you know.

He wants to take care of us. All we have to do is reach out.

I just had to lay out my heart before you this evening. I hope that it touches someone, somewhere. God is speaking. Are you listening?

Have a good evening…. ~Brandi

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Brandi Trent

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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.