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.

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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I’m Listening, I’m Ready, Let’s Go!

I have been thinking a lot about the plans that God has for me. I am earnestly seeking what He has for me to do. What is my purpose? And, I have also thought, “How could He use someone like me?” I am so broken. A sinner. I am someone who fails Him on a daily basis. And, not just once a day. A lot of days, I am absolutely rotten to the core.

But, the Lord has been speaking to me about my life. Things I would rather not think about. The ways that I have messed up throughout my entire life. I have so many mistakes that I feel like they far outweigh the good things.

But, as I look back over my life, I am starting to remember things that I didn’t really understand at the time would play a role in God’s purpose for my life. I think I have known all along the thing that God wants me to do for His kingdom. I have just spent a lot of time thinking that He had chosen the wrong one. So, I have ignored it for years. And, when that didn’t work, I kept telling myself that I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have what it takes to do what I felt like He was asking me to do.

See, I come from a horrible past. And, I want to say up front that it wasn’t because I had a horrible childhood. I grew up in a Christian home with both parents who raised me in church and led me to the way that I should go to be a productive, contributing person in society. It was completely by my own choice that I chose not to live the way they had taught me.

My choices resulted in me being pregnant at age 19. I wasn’t married. It absolutely broke my family’s heart. They knew how hard this was going to be for me to raise a child on my own. But, God has a way of turning things that were meant to harm me into something good. We were all in complete and total awe the day Jackson Chandler Trent was born. Not to mention, that we were head over heels in love with him. He was absolutely perfect.

My sweet Nannie used to always say that Chandler was sent to us straight from God. She knew that he was straight from the Lord. He was such a blessing to us. His birth began bringing healing to our family. And, it brought healing to mine and Greg’s relationship. We decided that we wanted to be a family and that we wanted to raise Chandler together. Once again, Chandler had aided in restoration of my family. He had a way of doing that with everyone he met. He could talk someone into liking their worst enemy in 10 minutes flat. He brought peace to others. He was God sent.

Years went by and Greg and I welcomed two precious girls to our family. Alyssa and Sara. Greg and I both were head over heels for them as well. And, as time has a way of doing things, they grew. We watched them become teenagers. And, Chandler became absolutely immersed in music. He taught himself to play the guitar. He sang so much. I can remember wondering if he could possibly get any louder playing and singing in his room at night. And, yes, he found a way to get louder!

He started learning and singing praise and worship music. There were many times that he played and we would sing praise and worship right in our living room and we would sing and sing. Those memories are so precious to me.

A little over a year ago, I went with a friend of mine to a Women’s Conference. It was truly uplifting and at the end of the conference, we gathered up at the altar and the ladies that serve in this ministry gave every, single woman an old fashioned foot washing. I have only experienced that one other time in my life and it is so moving. It really brings you to humility. After that, we each got up and went to women that were placed all over the church where they would be praying for us specifically.

I went to the first lady that didn’t have anyone standing there. She started praying for me. It was the most beautiful prayer that I have ever heard. Then, she stopped and she said, “I do not normally do this but I feel like God is prompting me to tell you something. God wants you to know that it is His will for you to go forward with what He is telling you to do. He needs you to believe Him and know that this is not your own wish but it is His purpose for you. And, your son will be a huge part of this. In fact, he will be the center of your ministry and it will be blessed beyond measure. He will be one of the main topics of your testimony.” She said this to me. I stood in awe. This had never really happened to me and it hasn’t since.

See, Greg and I had been having some trouble with Chandler at the time like any other parent of a teenage child. My thoughts were, I am going to speak. I am going to share my testimony. I am going to share what the Lord has taught me. And, my sweet Chandler, is going to write the music of my testimony. God will open the doors for me to speak and Chandler will sing there. Hallelujah! I was so fired up. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell Chandler. I came home and just blurted it out to him and all he could say was, “Wow, Mom. I’m speechless.”

During the last year, I watched him grow. He went from a kid that doubted God’s existence to learning that He is real. He was back in church. We were talking about the Lord. We had some of the best conversations about God that I have ever had in my entire life. In my mind, I was just waiting for him to get ready. I felt like I had some things to get into order as well.

Time passed, things were good. Then, suddenly, on June 22, 2013, God called Chandler home. I have wondered for the last 6 months about how I could have been so wrong about my purpose. How could I have been so wrong about Chandler? The woman that told me this was just flat out wrong.

After Chandler passed, I felt an urging to just get his story out. I needed a way to keep family and friends updated so I thought I would blog. I would just update everyone that way. So, I started. And, I had no idea that one person would even read it.

Through the holidays, I haven’t blogged much. The holiday season has been heartbreaking for my family. I woke up this morning relieved that Christmas was over. No more pressure. I felt like I could breathe.

I haven’t thought about the woman at the conference at all. She has never entered in my mind until this morning. I thought of her words. I feel like I know every word she said to me by heart. And, as I laid in my bed, I asked God, “Why do you want me to remember this now? What purpose does it serve for me to remember this? He won’t be with me in whatever ministry I am supposed to do.” And, then…. Then, I felt God in a way that I haven’t in a while.

He whispered over my soul, “Chandler is the biggest part of your ministry. It just wasn’t the way that you thought it would be. He was so special, my child. And, you have to go out and share your testimony. I want people to know about him and the impact that he had on the people he touched. I want people to know that I gave him to you to get you to the point where you could carry out my purpose for you. You are there. And, Chandler’s work was done. Get up, child. Go. I will open the doors.”

My response today, “Father, I will go. I am hurt that Your plans were not mine. But, I will go. Father, you are right. He was one special boy. And, because of him, others will know about You. I am going to go out and I am going to tell our story. I am going to tell others what You have done for me. I am going to tell others what You can do for them. Father, I know if it is Your will that You will begin to place opportunities before me. That the doors will be wide open. I trust You. I surrender to Your will. I am ready.”

I am ready to step out in faith. I am ready to tell my story. I’m excited to see what God will do. What doors He will open. 2014. I will surrender to the call that God has placed on my life.

I’m ready to go!

Much love, Brandi

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Christ Our Savior is Born…

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I didn’t realize it had been so long since I posted! I started thinking about it today as I drove home from work. I won’t tell a lie…. I have really been struggling lately. I feel like depression has become a new part of my everyday life. Even though I keep telling myself that my depression is situational, I secretly pray and hope that is the truth. I feel deep down that it could never possibly go away.
Of course, to everyone else I look like everything is ok. That, I am so strong. That, I am learning how to live with the loss of my only son. Not true. I do not for one moment want anyone to think that I am a super woman who is just gliding through this mess called grief.
I think about how difficult the holidays will be. Other people think the same way I do. So many have reached out to me just to let me know that they are praying for us during the holidays. My biggest fear is that prayers will stop after they come and go. Our family still needs those prayers desperately.
I haven’t been able to get out among the hustle and bustle to shop and enjoy the season. I have done all of my shopping online. It’s just too hard to go out and see things that I know that Chandler would love. I have this great need to buy things for him. I think about what he would want this year. Even though that seems so crazy because I know he isn’t here, I still feel like I am leaving him out this Christmas season.
And, then…. I think…. Why am I so worried about the holidays? Why do I dread them so much? I learned through his birthday and Thanksgiving that it doesn’t matter what day it is. If it’s a holiday or not. I still feel the same. It is horrible and painful to live life without Chandler. I miss him so much. I am back to begging God to give him messages for me a thousand or more times a day.
I have come to realize that the only way that I will get through this month is to focus on the reason why there is even a Christmas in the first place. To really, really relish Christ’s birth. To immerse myself into really reflecting on His birth, His sacrifice. If that little baby wasn’t born in that manger so many years ago, I would not have one ounce of hope that I will see Chandler again. But, not only that. I would have no hope at all. We would each and every one walk around filthy in our sin.
Honestly, I feel like I have never just really stopped and just enjoyed the birth of Christ. I think about Isaiah’s words when he said many years before Christ was even born; “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” ~Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)
He was born to carry my sins. He was born to be my counselor, my God, my Father, and my peace. And, He has faithfully been all of these things to me. Especially, the last 6 months. So, I am choosing to focus on Christ’s birth. Which brings me to the Cross. The reason He was born. For me, for you, for Chandler.
I have to trust what I know to be true. I say this to myself over and over again each day. He has never forsaken me. He has never left me alone here to deal with this grief by myself. I can feel His presence like never before when I am curled in a ball crying out for my child. He is here. He has every tear I have shed in His nail scarred hands. I am thankful that I am His child. And, He is my Father. Because of His great love for me, just like David, I know that Chandler will not return to me BUT I will go to him one day. And, what a day that will be. When I can lay my eyes on that precious boy again!
So, I will keep moving forward. One step at a time. And, I am going to choose joy if it’s the last thing I do. I won’t give up. I will keep running the race. Until, He calls my name and I go to meet my baby again.
Until then sweet boy. Your Mama loves you. I miss you so much. We all do. I know you are there rejoicing tonight. Play one for me on your heavenly guitar. I love you to the moon and back and then some…..
Blessings and Merry, Merry Christmas,
Brandi

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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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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.

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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.