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.

New Website

Hey all! I just wanted to take a minute and let you know that I have moved my blog over to an actual website! YAY!

I am so excited about it but the only downside is that I couldn’t take my content with me.

So, if you would like to see my new website and follow my blogs there, please visit:

http://www.branditrent.com

Thanks!

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Peace

I know it has been a long time. I haven’t been in the best of places. But, this morning, I feel God has asked me to be transparent. He has asked me to come back to what He has asked me to do. And, for whatever reason, it is to blog. To be transparent and share my heart with the whole world. It overwhelms me. I am in no way a role model. I cannot advise anyone on anything at this time in my life. However, He isn’t asking me to. He is asking me to be transparent to those who may see this blog.

In my quiet time this morning, I felt His prompting as I poured my heart out to Him in my prayer journal. My struggles. Honest, raw, full of emotions struggles. I felt Him lay on my heart to share this on my blog. I will be honest here. I had to ask, why in the world would You want me to do something so vulnerable and weak? His response….. Do it. So, I will. My prayer this morning, word for word:

Father, I do not have peace. I thought I did but I don’t think I do. I want to have peace but how do I get there? I do know that it starts with You. It is You in the middle. It is You in the end. How do I have peace in the midst of this gut wrenching grief? Peace in the death of my son.

What does that look like? What is Your will? How can I glorify You? I feel like I am under huge weights of crushing pain. Father, I feel my grief is getting worse. But, I also know that I’ve taken my eyes off of You. Father, I just feel like people do not want to hear about my grief and my struggles anymore. I feel like I should be moving on. So, I keep my grief to myself. I only share with Greg. He understands my crushing pain.

Father, I want to begin my journey of finding peace. With you. God, I know that You have my boy. I know that You are taking care of him. However, I still have seeds of doubt whirling around in my mind from time to time.

Father, I must confess, I feel like I am irritated, almost angry at Chandler. How could I possibly be mad at him? This brings a sense of guilt and shame that I could ever harbor such feelings. How could I, his mother, be irritated/angry with him?

Father, I feel immense guilt if I even sense a twinge of my former self returning. How could I ever do anything the same before June 22, 2013?

Father, I need You to guide my heart. To heal these broken places, to make beauty out of these dreadful ashes. Father, I need Your peace. Your peace that surpasses all understanding.

Father, I can’t even seem to even come close to learning how to live without Chandler. I put on a good show…. And, that is exactly what it is, a show. But, Father, I know if my closest friends can see through my “show” that You most certainly can.

Reality hits. I have not had Chandler in almost two years. TWO YEARS. I haven’t heard his voice, his laughter. Father, I miss our talks. The early Saturday morning calls or visits to my room to talk for hours. I haven’t heard what was going on in his life. His joys, his good, his hard. I haven’t heard the burdens that he was carrying for various others and situations. I know that he doesn’t have all this now. It’s perfection. Eternal perfection. But, Father, this earthly Mom misses our talks. Two years.

Father, Your Word says that time is but a vapor. Just a blink of an eye. A split second. But, for me, two years…. Feels like an eternity plus for this earthly Mom. Father, help me to see time as You do. I know that one day I will completely understand how short this life truly is compared to eternity.

Father, I pray that You will embed my focus on eternity. Down in the very marrow of my bones. Father, help me to focus on the fact that this isn’t my home. Help me to understand and accept that this wasn’t Chandler’s home. That it’s not Alyssa’s home. Sara’s home. Greg’s home. My home. Or, anyone else’s home that knows You and has salvation through your Son, Jesus.

Peace, Father. Please help me find it.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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From Greg: My New Year Hallelujah

This morning, I have been sitting in the recliner, in the early morning quietness. Before everyone wakes up and the day starts full force.

I have been thinking on the last two years of my life. I am thinking of all the heartache and pain. The death and despair that has plagued not only my family but friends as well. So much death, sickness, heartache. It brings tears to my eyes. I wonder how I have made it this far. There in the quietness, I knew the answer. The only reason I have made it this far is God. And, God alone.

I will be the first to tell you that I have struggled in my relationship with God since I lost my son. I find it very difficult to pray. And, even more difficult to attend church as I should. I will admit that I have watched my Bible sit on the shelf for a very long time.

I could not seem to find comfort anywhere from my grief. Chandler was my child. He was my only son. He was supposed to carry on the Trent name. It seemed hopeless that I could find comfort in any of this. This was not supposed to be. This is not how Brandi and I planned. I had so many dreams for him.

I have found myself wanting answers to all of these questions that I have. I am now realizing that I more than likely will not get these answers until I am with my boy again. It isn’t my first choice, but I am learning how to accept this. I have no other choice. I, also realize that I am not alone in my struggles. There are other people out there who are struggling with finding their own way. Struggling to find the answers that they seek. Struggling to find the comfort they so desperately need.

What amazes me the most is that there are some out there who think that it has been long enough and that I need to just put my best foot forward and move on. They think I should be over losing my son by now. How can I forget my 17 year old boy who just graduated high school? He had such a bright future ahead of him.

I can still function. Although, there have been times that his death has consumed me. I have two girls here that need me. They need guidance and help navigating the cruelness of this world. They need me to show them love and grace. They are our responsibility. I have a family that looks to me to be the strong person of this family. And, you know, by the grace of God, I am.

Through his grace, I have realized that I am nothing without God. I cannot stand. I cannot be the man, the husband, the father that I need to be. Last night, Brandi and I were talking about a book that she has been reading. It is called, “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn. She told me these staggering statistics and it has completely consumed my mind. The book says:

3 people die every second

180 every minute

11,000 per hour

More than 250,000 people everyday go to either heaven or hell.

Wow. What are we as Christians doing? Why are we just sitting around in our judgmental, legalistic ways passing judgment on others? We pass out these impossible tasks for others and then tell them that their failures will lead them to hell. All these rules.

When, in fact, all they need to do is know Jesus. To know the good news. That Christ came to this earth to live a perfect life to deliver us, who are failures from eternal death. Through His death on the cross and His resurrection, we will live with him forever in Heaven.

I am not making a New Year’s resolution. I am doing a New Year’s Hallelujah. I am going to love big. Three simple words in the bible that we would all benefit to remember. Love is kind.

God has placed me in a wonderful school where I can love the kids there. I can show them mercy and grace. I can extend it to the people I meet in my every day walk. I can share with my friends and family that are hurting the solution to their struggles. I want to love big in 2015.

I am not going to force or try and scare others to come to church. I’m not going to give them a big set of rules for them to follow. I am going to share Jesus. His love. And, I am going to just simply ask them to give Jesus a try. I am going to explain my relationship with Jesus to them and tell them how He has worked in my life. I will tell them that being a Christian isn’t some elaborate ritual. I will tell them that being a Christian is just allowing Jesus in your heart and your life.

I am going to show love to every race, creed, color, sexuality. I am going to show love to the unlovable. Why don’t you join me in being a beacon of light to others in this dark world? I guarantee if we all pull together as a community and share Jesus, we will see churches begin to fill back up.

Happy New Year Hallelujah and God Bless…

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Sovereign…..

Today has just been one of those days…. I have known this day was coming for several weeks now. These days are a frequent fixture in my life every so often since I lost Chandler. Those days where you just can’t hold it in anymore. You just have to let it out. For those of you that have seen me let it out, it isn’t pretty. It is a gut-wrenching cry of grief from the lowest depth of my soul. It almost feels like it comes from the pit of my stomach.
Don’t get me wrong. I cry all the time. Here and there. On my way to work, while I’m in the shower, when I’m alone in my room. Sometimes, Greg and I cry together. Sometimes, he cries and I hold his hand. Sometimes, I cry and I just lean into him and his arm just holds me until I feel I can breathe again. I have always known that he has the most amazing arms…. They just envelop me completely. I am very aware of his strong arms now. They make me feel safe. They make me feel like everything is going to be ok. Somehow. Someway.
Today, I’m at the point where I am asking God… Are You still Sovereign? Are You still Sovereign even though my circumstances haven’t changed? I am here, Chandler isn’t. He is gone. Are you still Sovereign when you take a child from his Mother? A Mother who begged and pleaded for a miracle. A Mother who has spent 17 ½ years nurturing, loving this child. A mother who has lain awake at night and prayed protection over him. Prayed that he would be safe. Prayed for his future wife. Prayed for his future children. Are You still Sovereign when not only is my son gone but all my dreams for the future are gone as well? Why am I looking at a picture of him instead of holding his face in my hands? I have asked God if he realized that my need to love and nurture him, be his mother hasn’t eased one little bit. It is as strong as it was the day he died. I long to mother him.
Today, I am asking God… Are You still Sovereign when I feel like everything around me is turmoil? Mass confusion? Are You still Sovereign when it’s always something? When everything is wrong? Are You still Sovereign when I don’t understand which way You are leading me? When I don’t hear from You? When I am begging for instruction, and nothing? Are You Sovereign when I feel like darkness surrounds my life, when confusion is all this heart can feel?
This is how I have been feeling for several weeks now. I pray. I tell God that something has to give. I’m not happy. I am miserable. I am grieving. I still, even after a year find myself telling God that I want my son back. So, this evening, the girls are out. Greg is outside mowing. It is me and Abby (the pug). I light a few candles, turn on some music and I am not just crying, it is the UGLY crying…. And, the very song that came on my ITunes Radio was…. You are Still Holy. For real?
This is what I hear as I am crying in my room:
“Holy, You are still Holy, even when the darkness surrounds my life. Sovereign, You are still Sovereign, even when confusion has blinded my eyes.”
Wow….. Now, I am on my knees. And, then as the song says:
“So, I come into Your chambers and I dance at Your feet Lord. You are my Savior and I am at Your mercy. And, all that has been in my life until now, it belongs to You. You are still holy.”
Now, I am crying, on my knees, and my hands begin to raise to the heavens. And, I hear:
“Holy, You are still Holy, even when I don’t understand Your ways. Sovereign, You are still Sovereign, even when my circumstances don’t change. And, Lord, I don’t deserve Your tender patience when my unbelief has kept me from Your Truth. I want my life to be a pure devotion to You… So, I come into Your Chambers and I dance at Your feet Lord. You are my Savior and I am at Your mercy. And, all that has been in my life until now, it belongs to You. You are still Holy.”
So, at that point, my cries began shifting to cries of praise. Of Worship. I want to stay in His Chambers, dance at His feet. My cries of pain, of grief, of unbelief became cries of total praise. I will keep His name on my lips. He is still Holy. He is still Sovereign. How fitting that I turned on ITunes and God chose this song for me today.
I don’t know what is going to happen in my life from one minute to the next. I don’t know where I will be tomorrow. Or, 6 months from now. But, I want to be in my Father’s Tent. At the foot of the Cross. Where grace and suffering meet.
This is what happens when we can do nothing else but get on our knees and let out the gut wrenching pain of our suffering. God comes. Then, shouts of praise come forth. We praise Him. No matter the circumstances. We praise Him. Why? Because He is Sovereign.
God Bless….

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To: Chandler’s Friends Along The Way

I have often asked myself the following questions:

What would I say if I could sit down and talk face to face with all of the important people that were in Chandler’s life? What would I truly say if I had their full attention? It has changed minute by minute for the past year.

Here is how I would start that conversation:

I wish that I could say that I don’t blame anyone. I wish I could say that anger and bitterness hasn’t claimed part of my heart. As hard as it may be for some of you to believe, it grieves my soul to my very core that I feel these things. I absolutely hate that those feelings are in my heart. I beg God to take these feelings from me. I ask God not to let this stay with me forever. I ask God to put a sincere, wholehearted desire in my heart to pray for each of you by name. I pray that I wouldn’t be so sad and to the point of jealous as I see each of you step out and live your life.

But, the truth. I feel all these things. The truth. I pray all of these things. Even though I have these feelings, as hard as it may be for you to understand, I sincerely hope and pray that you succeed.

I, also, would tell you that at the beginning point of my deepest grief, I just knew that it was going to be my job to “save” all of you. To walk down this road of grief together. To provide comfort. I really thought that I could just pick up where Chandler’s heart for you left off. Over the last year of his life, he spoke to me in great detail about all of you. He told me where you were at in your life and he had a plan for each of you to help you with the things you were struggling with. So, I thought, I have to finish what he started.

I came to the realization very quickly that my motives were not the same as Chandler’s. I wanted each of you to fill the void that had been left in my life when I lost Chandler. I placed an expectation on you that there was no way that you could fill. You couldn’t fill the void. The void still exists today and I truly believe it will be there the rest of my life. I had to realize that I would have to rely on the impact of Chandler’s life on each of you. The life he lived, his legacy, and the things that have happened and that are still happening after his death that have been tremendous blessings. Those things would have to be the driving forces in each of your lives. I had to learn that this was Chandler’s purpose and plight and it was not mine. You all had to learn at a very young age that we are not promised another second. And, I am sorry that you had to learn this so early in your lives. I would tell you now that you have to make each second count. We can’t afford to put off one second. We do not know how much time we have.

I would encourage you to chase after what’s good and right. To focus and act upon the things that will impact others in a positive way. To be the one in the room that is different. The one that others see as a shining light to those around them.

It reminds me of Paul’s words in Phillipians:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy. Keep to the Script. Whatever you learned, received, heard, and saw in me – Do it and the God of peace will walk with you.”

~Phillipians 4:8-9 – The Voice

I haven’t done a good job at thinking on these things since Chandler’s death. It’s hard for me to see the good in anything. I tend to see all the bad. All the mistakes. Even though Jesus, Himself warned us:

“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be liberated, will go in and out, and will find pastures. The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance.”

John 10:9-10 – The Voice

I have read that verse over and over again in my walk with Christ. I knew when Chandler started having problems way before his death that this verse was true. He was after Chandler. He wanted to destroy him. He wanted to destroy you as well. I prayed for protection like I never had before for him. And, I prayed it over each of you as well.

But, even though I know this Scripture in Phillipians and I have been warned through the Scripture in John, I have had to come back and ask God:

How can there be beauty and truth in losing my son? Your friend?

How is that honorable? Right? Pure? Lovely? Good? Virtuous?

And, please tell me how in the world his death could be praiseworthy? How?

Then, I think of these verses:

“My intentions are not always yours, and I do not go about things as you do. My thoughts and My ways are above and beyond you, just as heaven is far from your reach here on earth.” ~ Isaiah 55:8-9 – The Voice

“So it is when I declare something, My Word will go out and not return to me empty, but it will do what I wanted; it will accomplish what I determined.” ~Isaiah 55:11, The Voice

Ok. So, ask yourselves, what has this tragedy accomplished in your life? Have you taken hold of Chandler’s life, legacy and thought of beauty and truth? Have you done the honorable thing? The right thing? Whatever is pure? Whatever is lovely? What is good? Virtuous? And, most importantly, are you allowing God to do the things He wants to do in your lives that result in knowing that he has done things for us that are praiseworthy? Are you stepping out in faith and obedience to His call upon your life?

I ask myself these very questions. And, sometimes, I like the answers and sometimes I do not. Sometimes, I am so off the mark that I just want to go back to bed and not get up again. So, that leads me back to the verse in Phillipians. What do we do?

“Keep to the Script.” Keep doing the things that God is calling you to do. The things that will honor Him and give Him all of the praise and glory.

And, finally, I would say to you. No, things were not always good. Yes, I have been unhappy with the decisions that you and Chandler made together. Yes, I would do it very differently if I had a second chance. Yes, I loved the way each of you had your own unique laughs. And, I loved the sounds it made when all those laughs came together.

And, I would say thank you for being a friend to Chandler. Thank you for providing a lot of his happiness here on this earth. Thank you for being a friend to him. And, I would tell you to look to God for everything in your life. He will not steer you wrong. These are the things I would say to all of you if I could sit down with you all face to face.

Blessings, Brandi

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Worn…

God allowed me to see how much Chandler had grown in the last year of his life. He still carried around a lot of problems that no one should have to. I am so thankful that he had went from someone that claimed to not “believe in a God that he could not see” to “I wish I had known him through all of my issues.”

About a month before Chandler passed away, he led worship at Greg’s Dad’s church. He sang two songs that I will never forget. He sang:

Mighty to Save by Hillsong

Moving Forward by Israel Houghton

We talked about how music impacted his heart. That playing and singing worship music made his heart come alive. He said one day you just know. You know that God is real and active in your life. He said that he knew now that God was for him and spared him of so many things. And, that was very true.

I will not lie. I waited until after our conversation and then I went in my bedroom and I praised God for a very long time. I prayed prayers of praise and thankfulness. I thanked God for His faithfulness. I danced a little. I sang a little. I got on my knees and I thanked God for hearing my prayers. There was a point that I was devastated by Chandler’s behavior the decisions that he continued to make. But now, we were getting somewhere. My heart was so full of joy. That seems so far away for me. Like an entire lifetime ago.

There are several conversations that Chandler and I had in the weeks before he passed away. In some strange way, I think he knew. I think he knew that he wouldn’t be here long. He was struggling with issues that he simply didn’t know what to do.

About three weeks before he passed away, he was at my Mom’s. He called me around 11:30 at night. We talked that night until about 2:30. Praise God for those moments. Praise God that I got to just sit and listen. My boy was changing. He wanted different things. He was growing up.

We talked about his excitement about getting his acceptance letter to Pellissippi to begin studying Culinary Arts. He wanted to be a chef. He talked about the summer and how he just wanted to have fun. The time of his life. He said that he knew that everything would change when college began.

His heart was also very heavy about some very tough decisions that he had made. Choices that he made that he knew would be best for him and his future. They were very, very hard for him. These decisions would hurt people that he loved. But, he knew they were right. He said, “Mom, I just don’t know how to do this without others getting hurt. I never intended anyone to get hurt.” That was who he was. He didn’t want to hurt anyone. I know in my heart that he struggled with this in the weeks to come. The situation seemed to continue to escalate. It was out of control.

I look back and I would give ANYTHING if I had just stepped in. I dismissed it as normal teenage behavior. It was not normal. It was abusive on every level. He was so beaten down. He was miserable.

The morning of Saturday, June 22nd, he called me. He called me every morning including the weekends early. He was always an early riser. We had plans that day. Our sweet Carlee was celebrating her 1 year birthday. He told me that morning that he was tired. And, that he just wanted to come home with us from the party. He said he needed to get away. He had been at my Mom’s for a while. He said he was worn. He asked that I tell the girls not to make any plans that he would be home and he just wanted to be with us a little while. That made my heart happy.

I can’t even remember the timeline of the things that happened after that conversation. But, one thing I do know. He would not have told me to tell the girls to stay home if he never planned to be here. He called me several times before the unthinkable happened. He called me while I was at Target. I could sense the agitation. I could sense he was angry. He felt like he wasn’t going to make it to Carlee’s party. We talked through it and he seemed calm and was in route to the party.

Twenty minutes later he shot himself. How do you go from being on your way to a birthday party to being behind a rec center with a fatal gunshot wound? He begged to be left alone. I have saw some text messages that were sent to ask others to help him get out of there. He was angry. He was upset. He was in a hopeless state. He felt he would never just be left alone. I saw the texts for myself on his phone. He discharged all the bullets from that gun, or so he thought. He was prepared to prove a point that day. This is what it had come to. Trying to prove a point with a gun to his head. And, then the accidental shot. And, within 45 minutes I was by his side.

I don’t know that I will ever get over not being there when he needed me the most. I don’t know if I will ever be able to let go of the thoughts:

Did he wonder where I was? Did he just want me? His Dad? His Nannie? Was he scared? Did he realize what had happened?

The EMT’s assured him the whole way to the hospital that day that we were on our way. We would be with him soon. They comforted him so they could try and keep him calm. I will never be able to thank them enough for that. They told him how much we loved him. The nurse at the hospital called Greg and I from Chandler’s phone. She assured me she was keeping him calm and reassuring him that we would be there. We were coming. To just hold on. He did.

I haven’t spoken these words to another person. I felt I had to talk to these people who took care of my son when I could not be there. Grateful is not even a strong enough word to explain how I feel about these people.

I have written as much as I can today. I am leaving you with the lyrics to a song that remind me of how he must have felt that day. Love and Blessings, Brandi

Worn – Tenth Avenue North

I am tired, I am worn. My heart is heavy. From the work it takes to keep on breathing. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve let my hope fail. My soul feels crushed by the weight of this world. And, I know that you can give me rest. So, I cry out with all I have left.

Let me see redemption win. Let me know the struggle ends. That you can mend a heart that’s frail and torn. I want to know a song can rise from the ashes of a broken life.  And, all that’s dead inside can be reborn. Cause I’m worn.

I know I need to lift my eyes up. But, I’m too weak, life just won’t let up. And, I know that you can give me rest. So, I cry out with all that I have left.

Let me see redemption win. Let me know the struggle ends. That you can mend a heart that is frail and torn. I want to know a song can rise from the ashes of a broken life. And, all that’s dead inside can be reborn. Because I’m worn.

My prayers are wearing thin. Yeah, I am worn, even before the day begins.  I am worn, I have lost my will to fight. I’m worn, so heaven and flood my eyes.

I’m worn.

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When There Is Pain In The Offering…

August 21, 1995 my life changed forever. At 7:04am I laid eyes on the most beautiful baby boy that I have ever seen. There was a lot of busyness going on all around me. I just wanted to get him into my arms. I had waited for 39 weeks to see this baby.

I will never forget when all the busyness stopped and it was just him and me together at last. I stared at him for what seemed like hours. He was perfect. He had a head full of beautiful black hair. He weighed in at 7 pounds 1 ounce and was 19 inches long. I remember unfolding all of the blankets and counting his little fingers and toes. Checked him all over. Perfect.

I began praying and thanking God for this gift. I remember tear drops of pure, unselfish, indescribable love dropping on his little leg. I did not deserve him. But, yet, God gave him to me anyway.

June 22, 2013 once again changed my life forever. At 4:10pm I said goodbye to the most beautiful boy that I have ever seen. Again, there was a lot of busyness going on all around me. I just wanted to get him into my arms.

For a brief time the busyness stopped. It was just me and him together at last. I stared at him for what seemed like hours. He was perfect. I remember checking everything again to make sure he was ok and he was comfortable.

I began praying and thanking God for this gift. For these 17 years that I had with Chandler. I remember tear drops of pure, indescribable love and grief all at the same time. I remember fixing his blankets, holding his hand and I remember the tear drops fell on his hand this time.

I remember thinking about a song that has been a favorite of mine and Chandler’s. This was one of the first songs that he learned to play on his guitar. I heard the words over in my head:

When the darkness closes in Lord, still I will say, blessed be your name, blessed be your name. Blessed be your name on the road marked with suffering. Though there is pain in the offering, blessed be your name. You give and take away, you give and take away. My heart will choose to say Lord, blessed be your name.”

There was tremendous pain in this offering. But, my heart had to choose to say, blessed be your name. There is no other way.

I am ready to tell his story even though there is pain in this offering that I give to you. It makes me ache for him. But, God wants his story to be told.

I wanted to start from the beginning but I had to address the end as well.

Chandler was such a good boy. He was the delight in our lives. He was the first grandchild on my side as well as Greg’s. Spoiled rotten. We couldn’t help ourselves. He was a kind, sweet, and giving child. You have no idea how many times I picked him up from school when he was in elementary school with no coat. When I would ask him where his coat was, he would say that someone in his class didn’t have a coat. He gave his to the child because he had more coats at home. That giving spirit stayed with him until the very end. His last gift was to 5 special people who received his organs so that they may live.

Along the way, we saw that Chandler was veering off on a path that we were not happy with. A path that brought Greg and I to our knees. It began his sophomore year.

I have such a heart for parents that are struggling with the decisions that their children are making that are destroying them. I have a heart for the children that are making these decisions.

In sharing my story, Chandler’s story, I hope and pray that it gives parents hope. That it gives them an idea of what road to take to intervene. To go after that child and fight with everything in you to help them even when he/she cannot help themselves.

I also hope that Chandler’s story will help a teen/young adult who is struggling. You know the decisions you are making are wrong. You struggle with making the same mistakes over and over again even though you know you are headed the wrong way. You feel like the last thing you could do is go to your parents and tell them the truth. I am telling you to run to them. Right now. There is absolutely no one that loves you more than they do. They are for you. They love you more than a friend, girlfriend, boyfriend could ever love you. They would lay down and die to know that you are ok.

You haven’t gone too far. That is a lie the enemy will attack you with every day. You will never go too far for God to come and rescue you. Come home. You will be safe there.

Much love, Brandi

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The Beginning of Truth…. Chandler’s Story

“We do not want you to be uninformed about the hardships we suffered. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But, this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Than many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

~2 Corinthians 1:8-11

I have loved these verses this past year. I have etched them in my heart. Greg, the girls and I have not wanted in any way to keep those around us uninformed. We have been astounded at the way that everyone around us has rallied behind us. We stand amazed at the love that has been poured out on our family. Prayers, cards, dinners, money, flowers, messages, phone calls. I could go on and on. We still receive all of these things today. Precious. We could not have made it without you. There is no way.

This verse explains how we have felt the last year. Great pressure, far beyond the ability to endure, and yes, I have even despaired of life. There have been times that we felt like we could not get up and go on. And, yes. I have been rescued. In fact, I am rescued every, single day. I have had to learn to rely on God. I have had to set my hope in Him. And, you have played a significant role in this for us. Your prayers. They have protected us. The prayers have led us to put our trust in God and His ways. Not our own.

Today, is June 1st. This is the beginning of the month that we lost Chandler exactly a year ago. The Lord has placed it on my heart to begin sharing the entire story of where we have been, what we have been through, and where we are right now. He is also calling me to inform you of the truth. The truth of exactly where we are. The truth about what happened to our son. Please know that our story isn’t finished. There is so much to tell. But, it isn’t finished. We are still living out our story. I have no idea what that looks like. But, God does. So, again, I put my hope in Him.

I ask that you pray for me as I set out on this journey. I ask that you pray that my story is God honoring. Above all else, it must honor God. The words have to come from Him, not me. Otherwise, I don’t want to have anything to do with it. There are parts of this story that are hard to tell. I don’t want to dishonor my son or anyone else. But, God has reminded me, that the truth will set me free. Not my truth or what I think it is. But, God’s truth.

My biggest prayer is that God will speak and this will help someone in some way. That, someone will see this and know that what they are doing at this point in their life, the relationship they are in, the path they are choosing is wrong. It is destroying you. It is causing you a lot of pain and misery. And, most of all, I pray that someone sees this that is at the end of their rope. They feel like they cannot hold on anymore. They do not see a way out. They feel like they will never be free.

You can be FREE. Please, hear that today. You can be free through Christ. No matter how tight the chains are, no matter how helpless you feel. I know that some of you are sitting here today feeling like there is no way out for you. There is a way out.

Galations 5:1 tells us, “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you,” ~The Message

So, please take heart today. There is more to you than the bondage that is holding you down. You can break the chains and break free from this relationship, the drug addiction, the alcohol addiction, the past…. There is freedom waiting for you through Jesus Christ.

What happened to Chandler was not intentional but it was a cry for help. The bondage was so deep that he didn’t know what to do. It does not have to end this way for you. I imagine that he felt completely helpless that day. He felt he had nowhere to turn and no way to break free. I do not ever want to see another person suffer like this. I do not want to see another set of parents experience the grief that Greg and I have.

I am going to tell you Chandler’s story. My story. Our family’s story. It is not a story that is easy to tell. But, it is time. I have prayed that God would bring healing not only to myself and my family but to others as well. The price we have paid is too high for God not to bring blessings out of Chandler’s life.

So, if you are that person today who is stuck in something that you feel is way over your head and you cannot get out of. Hold on! You can be free.

Reach out to your Pastor, a godly friend, a counselor. Reach out and don’t keep it hidden any longer. The truth shall set you free.

I will continue my story throughout this month. Blessings to you. Until then, Brandi

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He is Risen! Hope Springs Forth in this Mom’s Broken Heart…

Oh my goodness…. It has been so long! I haven’t been writing like I should. I have simply had some things that I have needed to work on in my life and I have realized how much bondage I have been carrying around. So, I have been a busy girl working with the Lord on breaking the chains. And, with Him, I have broken chains. Praise the Lord!

I realized it in a situation that I absolutely lost control of. Anger, bitterness, rage absolutely came pouring out. I could not even hold it in. It just kept coming. No filter. I was absolutely stunned. I had no idea I felt the way I felt. I know that sounds like an excuse. Believe me. I told myself over and over that very thing. However, once I really realized, I saw that I had pushed these feelings so far down that I didn’t even know they were there. So, in essence…. I blew it! Big time.

I was so ashamed and I had so many different feelings about the entire situation. I, so want to do what the Lord wants me to do. But, I have learned that my feelings are human. They come from intense, exhausting grief. They come from the human way of thinking. They come from not understanding. They come from the humanness in me that needs an answer to why my son is not here with me today. I need an answer and I don’t have one nor will I ever this side of heaven. This has brought anger, bitterness, and pain. I am so thankful that I have never pointed this anger toward God. To be angry at Him has not been an option for me. He is ALL I have. He is it. However, this explosion has really caused a huge setback in my journey through my grief of losing Chandler.

One evening a few weeks ago, I headed out to the back porch with my Bible, journal, pen, and my music. And, I must not leave out the box of tissues that were depleted by the end of my time with God. I needed to hear from God. I was so embarrassed by my actions. I needed to hear from Him. While I sat there, I listened to a song that just happened to be on my IPod. I have never listened to it before. The words of the song said:

“O the Blood, Crimson love… Shameful sin, Placed on Him. The hope of every man. O, the Blood of Jesus washes me. O, the Blood of Jesus shed for me. What a sacrifice that saved my life. Yes, the Blood, it is my victory. O, what love, no greater love, grace, how can it be that in my sin, yes even then, He shed His blood for me.”

Hallelujah. The Lord took that moment to show me that the Blood is my Victory! I could not help but think of my journey through Lent this year. It has been such an intimate time with the Lord for me. This year I started a new Lent devotional by Ann Voskamp. I focused on the following: Listening to His Word, Lingering over His Word, and Lifting up my voice in prayer, and Living His Word. I came into Lent this year with absolutely nothing to give. I know that sounds absolutely absurd in the world we live in today. I have just been so empty that it wouldn’t matter if I gave up anything or not. So, this setback was fresh and one night I just prayed and I told God all that I knew to say. I said Father, I know this may be so out of line, but I gave up my son this year. That’s what I feel like I’ve given up. It’s the greatest loss I have ever known. God whispered over my soul, “So did I child, so did I.” I prayed over the next few days about the day that Chandler went home to be with Him. I prayed about sitting by Chandler as his blood pressure was dropping and I knew it wouldn’t be long until he left us. It was just me and him. I talked to God about how I could barely choke the words out to him of how proud I was of him. I choked out what a wonderful son he had been to me and how he and his sisters were the lights of my life. And then, I did the absolute hardest thing I’ve ever done. I told my child, my Chandler, that it was ok for him to go. That I knew he was ready. I assured him in the best way I knew how that we would be ok. I told him that we would meet him just as soon as our race was over here. I told him no one could love him more than we did except God Himself. And, I told him that God would be there waiting on him and He would take wonderful care of him. Moments later, He left us. In talking with the Lord and praying about this, He reminded me that He had walked the walk I had with His own Son.

I found myself this past Friday reminding myself that this was the day that Christ was crucified for all our sins so that we may live eternally. I also reflected upon the fact that because of Christ’s death on the cross I have hope that I will see Chandler again. I will meet him there just like I told him I would there in the hospital.

I woke up this morning to a beautiful sunrise. I went out on my front porch and looked up to the sky and said, He is risen! Quietly, I sang the words to the song by Casting Crowns:

“Living, He loved me. Dying, He saved me. Buried, He carried my sins far away. Rising, He justified, freely forever, one day He is coming, O Glorious Day. One day the grave could conceal Him no longer. One day the stone rolled away from the door. Then, He arose, over death He had conquered. Now, He has ascended, my Lord evermore. Death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him from rising again.

Praise God! I woke up with fresh hope this morning. He is coming friends and it will be a glorious day…. I will see that precious boy of mine and I will never let go! Praise God that I have hope to see him again.

Hope. That’s what we have today. Happy Easter to all!

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8 Months…. Learning To Stop…

It has been a really long time since I have written anything. The last few months have been a time of trying to adjust to our life now. It took a lot out of us to get through the holidays. I do not even pretend when I am asked how the holidays were for us. I simply tell the truth. They were horrible. We were not prepared, which I don’t think you ever could be. However, we did make it through and have moved into a new year.

Yesterday, marked 8 months since Chandler passed away. In so many ways, it seems like yesterday but in others it seems like it has been a lifetime since we lost him. I miss him as much today as I did the day he passed away.

I have stepped out and I am truly trying to do what the Lord wants me to do. I spoke for the first time in January to a wonderful group of women about my loss and how the Lord has worked in my life. I was able to share the things that He has taught me. He continues to teach me every day. I am so grateful that I have never felt alone in this. He has stood beside me and never for one moment left me. And, He has it purposed for me to share my story. Share the blessings that have come from this tragic event in my life.

I am working full time. A lot of times it takes every, single thing I have to make it Monday through Friday with my job. I have been absolutely exhausted from the amount it takes from me to be able to get through the work week. I have secluded myself on the weekends to refuel just to get through the next week. However, I have been getting out a little more on the weekends. Just taking things one step at a time. I often tell Greg that I could stay in my house forever. Never leave. But, as we all know, that is not how life works.

One of the greatest things I am thankful for is that I had the opportunity to stay at home for quite some time after Chandler passed away. I, now think that the time I had here at home was crucial to where I am now. I hunkered down, spending so much time with the Lord allowing Him to speak to me, teach me, begin the process of healing which I am quite certain that healing will be with me the rest of my life. This wound is deep. But, in the process, I have learned that we must slow down. The hurry has to end. The rush to get twice more done than we can possibly do must stop. Why?

Because we are missing so much. I have been reading a book called 1,000 Gifts by Ann VosKamp. The book is basically about slowing down and seeing all the gifts that God has placed before us that when we hurry by, we miss them. It has really spoken to me because I feel like I have missed so much.

J.R.R. Tolkien quotes, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” I have learned that this is absolute truth. Ann quotes in her book, “Time is life.” How true that has become for me.

I have noticed that in grief some people race ahead. They are constantly going, going, going until they collapse each night. They will do anything to keep from having to deal with their loss. They repeat the same thing over and over again. But, at some point, they will have no other choice but to stop.

Grief has placed me in the complete opposite place. Grief has knocked me down and crippled me. I had no other option but to stop. Working Monday through Friday. The evenings were completely stopped. The weekends stopped. While I stopped, I have learned a few things:

1)  I have been rushing for so long that I don’t even remember a time that I wasn’t rushing. It was way before my children were even born. It intensified after my children were born. It sped up again when I had children, a job, and duties at church and to my family. When I stopped, I had to ask myself, “How much have I missed rushing around?”

  • How many moments, lessons have I missed from God that I needed to see?
  • How many moments with Greg have I missed?
  • How many moments with my children?

These are moments I will never be able to get back. I have learned, I don’t want to miss one more thing. The price that we pay is too high. I have many regrets of moments missed with Chandler. I can even name some that I know that I missed. It breaks my heart. Why did I allow so much rushing and hurry into my life?

2)  I have learned by slowing down that it is very hard for me to live in the present and nearly impossible to look at the future. The thought of thinking about my future absolutely terrifies me. To live in the present is to acknowledge that Chandler isn’t in it. To acknowledge the future is acknowledging that Chandler isn’t in it. His physical presence, gone. My hopes and dreams for him, gone. I will have my memories of him to take with me into the future. But, right now, I struggle with this. I don’t want to acknowledge it.  And, I have learned that I need to live in the moment. I need to get through the next minute. By living this way, I am not missing the things that I once did.

From the time our babies are placed in our arms, we always assume and live as if there will ever be a time that they aren’t in our future. And, then, when the time came where I had to realize that Chandler wouldn’t be in my future, I broke. What do I do with that? God says to me that I will live in the moment. Then, one day I will live in the next 5 minutes.

I know that I have to live in the moment right now. To be completely here in the present. Why? Because, right here, right now is where God is. I don’t have to walk in the present all alone. He will walk beside me just as He has since I gave my life to Him many years ago.

I want to be where He is. I have to be. I don’t want to miss one more revelation from Him. One more lesson. I want to know absolutely everything He wants to teach me. I want to savor and relish the sweet time that He has given me for the purpose that He has given me. As Scripture says, “I want to taste and see that the Lord is good.”

I know that it’s not just me struggling with the rush. I have a precious friend that is battling Stage 4 cancer right now who has a husband, and three precious little ones. She is relishing and savoring every moment she has with them because she doesn’t know when it will be the last. She has slowed down, stopped. I see her sitting in the presence of God. I can see it all over her face when I look at her.

Isn’t that where it’s at? Sitting in the presence of the one and only true God? Hearing what He has to say to us? Relishing the moments He has placed before us in the very moment we are to see them? I stood outside last week and watched the snow silently fall down. When I have slowed down enough to know that snow falling down is silent? And, the end result? In the silence, we look up and we see a beautiful white blanket covering everything around us.

I would love to know how many of you are tired. How many of you feel like you can’t move one more step? I would absolutely love if we could talk about this here on the blog. How have you found ways to slow down? Stop? Just sit in the presence of the Lord? Share them with us. We can help each other. How many of you need us, the Christ followers, to join you in prayer to help you slow down? Share what you can. Let us come together and pray for you.

The rest is there, my friends. The rush can be stopped. It comes from stopping, thanking God, and living in the moment of right now.

Let’s talk. Let’s help each other. Let’s pray for each other.

In Christ, 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.