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Sunday, January 22, 2012

ID Please

Piggybacking on Jim’s wonderfully written blog “God, do you validate?”  I wanted to share my similar yet different validation journey.   The news reporter from USA Today, Dennis, also asked me the same question, “What was the moral?  What did you learn?”  I found it hard to answer that with one simple statement.  Jim will attest that I find most things hard to answer with one statement.  I believe men invented the term TMI (too much information) to categorize how we girls like to go “on and on” and give all the details to what they have no need for.  Jim taught me what a BLUF was (Bottom Line Up Front).  I had never heard that before.  He explained that sometimes he just needs to hear the point up front and then he can ask details after.  I enjoy taking the meandering route and word walking all the way to the take-the-yellow-brick-road- see–the-wizard-of–Oz-path-approach to story telling.  I have tried it Jim’s way but probably still don’t adhere to it as a general practice.  Ha.  Thus why I am still lingering on this subject in the first place.  Ah, the beauty in the differences of men vs. women….

My journey with Jesus through the death of Troy has been anything but simple.  So there isn’t exactly a simple way to answer the before-mentioned question of what did I learn?  But in honor of Jim I will begin with a BLUF:  I learned that without Christ being my own personal Savior and without believing the Bible as the absolute authority on who my God actually is, I never would have come out of the darkness alive.  Literally?  Well, I doubt that.  I have told others the honest truth ; for quite some time after Troy died, I HAD NO DESIRE TO LIVE ANYMORE.  I know some of my family and friends were aghast a bit by that statement but truly there is a difference between wanting the earth to swallow you up whole and wanting to take your own life.  I NEVER would have killed myself.  I knew that would not please the Lord and the last thing in the world my kids needed was to lose their only remaining parent.  But I hope by me being honest enough to make that statement that I can help others be real with themselves and with God (He knows it all anyway remember?) to seek spiritual and often medical help.  And honestly, to remind those that might see my life, our lives now, and think “Oh, that Ginger (and Jim), they couldn’t possibly know what I am going through.  Look at how happy she is, how happy they are” that, trust me, I carved my initials on the bottom of the bottomless pit.  I figured at 36 years old I probably had 40-50 more years to live and the thought of feeling like I felt for 40 more years was enough to make me crater when I was alone with my thoughts.

There are numerous patriarchs of the Bible, David and Job just to name a few, who felt exactly the same way I did and God still considers them heroes of faith in Hebrews 11.  So even when I wondered if I was losing my mind, I remembered God still did a major work in their hearts and they went on to be true examples of saints.

So, I found my struggle was to not not live but to not live as the walking dead.  Not live empty, purpose-less, or bitter.  I didn’t want to even want to settle for being apathetic or eternally grumpy.  I didn’t want to be separated from God but I couldn’t help feeling like He simply did not hold up His end of the deal.  By no means had Troy and I “arrived” spiritually or any other way.  But we were faithful to each other, serving God, giving 110% to raising our children in a loving Christ-centered home where the Truth was lived and taught.  We had led a life group.  I was helping with women’s Bible Studies and women’s ministry at church.  Troy was single-handedly developing a new Welcome Ministry at church.  Not to mention he was a stand-up, strong Christian fighter pilot refusing to submit to some of that world’s worldliness.  We were doing ALL that and all we were asking from the Lord was a little safety for Troy in Iraq and strength for me to hold the Phoenix fort down for 4 months.  We even met together with a group of Christian friends right before he deployed and together as a church congregation and laid hands on Troy begging God for His protection.  My point:  “We did our part, God, so You go ahead and do Yours.”

All this to give you the background of me feeling God had just let Satan pull the rug out from under our lives on the fateful November day.  Sooooo, I rode the rollercoaster of my emotions that maybe God wasn’t such a loving Father after all mixed with the Truth of Scriptures which all told me otherwise.  Each day that I walked through grief, anger and suffering of monumental proportions, I couldn’t help but see that EVEN STILL in the darkness I had to trust Him.  His Hope was my only way out of the long dark tunnel.  I saw Him everywhere as He provided for us.  And literally I can honestly say once I truly “felt” the Lord so close behind me that His breath was on my neck.  It may sound crazy and I don’t think I even journaled about it at the time but I can picture it right now vividly.  I was in my bedroom, maybe a few months after Troy died, lying on the floor crying my eyes out.  That from your gut crying that makes the world stand still and leaves you breathless with despair.  I remember the feel of the carpet on my face and between my fingers.  I remember wanting to dig my fingernails deeper into the carpet, below the level of the floor because I wanted to physically be in the depths of the emotional pit I was in.  And then in this wave of well, the Presence of Jesus, I felt Him on my back weeping just as hard as I was.  To this day, I still get teary-eyed and a knot in my throat as I remember thinking, “He has compassion.  He does care about me, the kids, all this scrambled mess, this Grand Canyon-sized hole in my heart.  This is actually hurting Him too.”  Don’t get me wrong, I grew up in the church and had been a Christian since I was 9 years old and I knew Christ was the compassionate type but never until that day did I feel His tender loving care for me so tangibly I could feel it all the way through my broken soul.

Nehemiah 9:28  “…and when they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven, and in your compassion you delivered them time after time.”

Nehemiah 9:17  “…But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.  Therefore you did not desert them…”

James 5:11  “…the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

My first description of those many many months of agony after our loss would be to say God and I did this dance of “trust Him, fear Him, follow Him, yell at Him, fall into Him….” But in hind sight, really He was just standing still rock solid, listening to my cries of grief, collecting my tears of loneliness and holding me up so I could have the strength to do the hard work of grieving with the goal of healing and still be a mom to all my little ones.  At times I honestly thought I danced alone.  But He was endlessly pointing me in the right direction like a good dance partner always does.  Nope, Ginger, don’t lean to far that way you will get hurt or hurt someone else.  Nope, Ginger, don’t get ahead of Me, let Me lead you so you don’t make a monumental mistake that you will always regret.  Nope, Ginger, this or that is going to spin you around but I will not let you or your children go. 

Psalm 73:21 -24  “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.  Yet I am always with you; You hold me by my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel and afterward You will take me into glory.”

May sound crazy to you but there were days I just lifted my right hand in the air to reach for His and held on to that promise that He was unseen but holding mine too.  I knew Christ had been to that same point I was at in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before He was crucified.

Matthew 26:37-38  “He (Jesus) took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee (James and John) along with Him, and He began to be sorrowful and troubled.  The He said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” 

The Greek term that was used in the ancient writings was “perilypos” meaning “grieved all around, intensely sad; a sorrow so deep it almost kills.”  Well, there in the Word, Jesus knew about what I was going through.  He dreaded what He was about to face but in His trust of God He said:

Matthew 26:39  “Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, ‘ My Father, if it possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as You will.” 

So, back to me feeling like God broke our little “contract”.  Well, I didn’t feel like the kids and I got what we deserved to say the least.  So, I buried my head in the Bible to study more so I could know Him better so I could get to the bottom of why none of this added up.  Equation:  Godly Christian Husband and Father obeying and serving God+ Godly Christian Wife and Mother obeying and serving God + Precious Growing Family full of Innocent Children who Love Jesus already and not to 
mention who ALL have a long life ahead of them minus the worst nightmare imaginable = God loves us as Himself and works all things together for good?  I thought, well God’s definition of “good” must be way different than every other person in the world.  Indeed, it is.

My prayerful studies, everyone I knew praying for us and all the wise friends, family and followers of Christ that sacrificed to pour into all kept leading me back to this same conclusion:  God is good.  God loves us.  God is to be trusted.  God’s plans are not always ours but He is sovereign.  God is merciful to save us.  God does heal. God is listening.  God is real.  And finally, that even though God was the one I wanted to blame and wanted to push away in my anger, He was the very One I couldn’t go through the fiery furnace without.

We prayed for safety.  Jim and his family prayed for healing.  Our prayers were heard but not answered in the way we wanted.  Can we change God’s mind if we pray hard enough or believe more?  Well, I have read a lot about that topic and know we all have a slightly different take on that.  But I think my spiritual hero, Beth Moore, put it best when she said “God does indeed hear our prayers and reserves the right to relent if the change does not compromise an eternal necessity.”

Though I still do not understand it, I believe that Troy and Andrea dying so young and in the way that they did was of “eternal necessity”.  Even in understanding that, I still felt a little like God had targeted my sweet little family with a giant bulls-eye for His purposes and glory which made me feel “good” but still like “Lord, couldn’t you have chosen someone else?”

Over the years there have been so many ways the Lord has proven Himself faithful to us that I couldn’t begin to recount them all here and now.  Tiny miracles.  Gigantic miracles.  Clear protection and direction when I needed it most.  He didn’t need to prove Himself trustworthy to me, He is the God of the Universe after all.  But, still He did….

Fast forward some years to last fall.  I took Beth Moore’s study “David, Seeking a Heart Like His”.   I felt I already had a personal relationship with David just through reading the Psalms he wrote.  I remember sitting next to the boys by their bed, just days after Troy died, and asking them “What do you think David and Daddy are talking about right now in Heaven?”  Those two heroes I knew had some stories to swap.  I can’t say I related to the hero stories of David in the Bible but I can certainly say I related to the desperate stories David of the Bible.  I learned so much more about him through studying with Beth (I like to call her Beth like we are fast friends because she did personally pray for me, write to me and sent me a book after Troy died.  Long story how that happened but ever since I have just feel a connection to her, much like thousands of women all of this country I am sure do. She has an amazing way of being all of our best friend!) 

I couldn’t possibly go over all of what I learned.  But again, so many things about God and the ways He validates Himself to us were the same ways He validated Himself to David (mind you before Jesus walked the earth and the Holy Spirit came to indwell in us – which made things a whole lot more complicated for David than us).

David had highs and lows.  Actually David had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  He was a passionate man who loved the Lord with his whole heart but struggled with pride and selfishness.  Much like I always have… hmmm.

The fallen world and man’s sins are often what let us down the most.  Not God.  Man can leave you (by choice, by betrayal, by death) which leaves a void that truly that “man” was never intended to fill.  We are created with a God-sized hole in hearts that we fill with both good things (loving godly husbands, happy healthy kids, security) or bad things but either way only God can truly fill it. 

David was promised he would be king but found himself living off scraps and hiding in caves from his enemies who persecuted and pursued him relentlessly.  Until it was just he and God alone against the world.  (Been there!)  It’s a painful place to get to but it’s a beautiful place to stay as Beth put it.   I lost all my identity in this world – as an Air Force pilot’s wife, as half of the term “parents”, as Troy’s love.  But Troy couldn’t be my god.  He was a great guy but he simply couldn’t be my god.  Wasn’t supposed to be.  I never really thought of him that way until he was gone and then it struck me that I was only who I was because I was his other half.  All I wanted to do was run away from the fact that I was no longer Mrs. Troy GiIbert, wife and I was Mrs. Troy Gilbert, widow.  I jotted in my notes during this recent Bible study on David that Beth said, “We can’t run from life and find refuge in God instantly.  TRUSTING God is what you do on the pavement – it’s the path – to get you to that refuge.”  Like my good friend Marlo told me, (Marlo was a widow too at one point) she said you can’t wait till you feel better before you get up and start walking, you just start walking and the feeling that you want to live will come later.  Beth says, “We can’t just trust our feelings.  We must entrust our feelings to God!”  I learned time and again over the course of these last five years, that I cannot always trust my feelings because they can come and go with the wind.

Beth said the goal of crying out to God is to come to a place of rest and trust (in Him) not just crying for the sake of crying.  He won’t fill our hearts if our hearts are already full of bitterness, turmoil and rage… And the clever observation that right in the middle of WRESTLE is the word REST.  Wow that hit home!

That was a determination I had to pray about daily.  I wanted to keep my heart open and empty so God could fill up with the righteous things, with wholeness and healing and the ability to forgive and to love again.  Believe me there were days I could almost see Satan trying to fill it with the poison of doubt, anger and bitterness.  He kicks us when we’re down.  That’s pretty much his MO.

Like Jim said and like I am still learning, this life is not about getting what we want but getting what we need, which is ultimately doing a work in us to make us more Christ-like until we see Him face-to-face.  That goes totally against what we call the “prosperity gospel” that God will just give us everything we want if we believe enough or pray enough or are good enough Christians.  Sometimes He simply says “no, my child.”  And what we do with that pretty much holds the key to what the rest of our days on this earth are like.  Believe I have not gotten to the place where I am excited about pain but I am a believer that through it (just like childbirth) He can give you a treasure to hold close to your heart afterwards.  I am thankful that I got all the earthly treasures I did (security, friends and most of all Jim) but I also received the confidence to know that God had validated His love for me on the Cross by sacrificing His precious and only Son.  He had already given me what He loved most to prove that He loved me too.  To quote Beth, “We’re going to win, but victory is going to take blood, sweat and tears – His blood, our sweat and tears from both of us.”

I am still trying to come to the place where I can shift my thinking from wanting what I want to wanting what God wants, when what God wants from me might hurt.  That is where the crisis of faith comes.  The rubber meets the road.  I owe the Lord way more than He ever owes me.  That was a process that took me a lot longer than I think it ever took Jim or Andrea.  I guess that’s why they intrigued, inspired and encouraged me so much.

All this comes down to, after all the suffering and the pain, I can tell you I still believe God is good and as the Natalie Grant song says : “I know what it is to be held.”  God’s showed me His ID through His Word and He validated it as “authentic” when He proved Himself faithful and held me through it all.  He was my anchor.  He didn’t give me what I sought but He let me see Him in a way I never could have imagined.

How God Introduced Us

Ginger and I have been asked many times to tell the story of how we met. I decided to find the original emails we exchanged and post them in a blog. It began in Jan 2007 when Andrea went into the ICU for the first time. That night I wrote an email to my friends updating them on how Andrea and I were doing. It was a very difficult night, when for the first time I thought I was going to loose her. That email was forwarded to Ginger between mutual friends and Ginger responded to my email through a friend, Terri Otto and asked if she could contact Andrea and I. Sadly, in Jan 2010 Terri was killed after being hit by a truck while jogging. She always has a special place in our family, a Godly woman and mother, she prayed for Andrea and God used her to introduce Ginger to our life.

Ginger told me long after we met that she, most graciously received hundreds of emails, calls and letters during those first months after Troy's death. They meant the world to her but she was simply too physically and emotionally drained to respond to many of them. Also, deep down, she felt that, though thankful for their kindness, few really understood the level of deep pain and hurting that racked her soul. She remembers seeing this forwarded email late at night and immediately felt drawn to this unknown couple. Ginger was going through a period of being very angry at the God she had always loved whole-heartedly. Yet as she read the words I wrote that night, she saw a couple that had suffered for a long time but did so without the expected anger or disappointment in God. It made her curious about our journey. Andrea would get out of the ICU soon afterwards and Ginger continued to correspond with Andrea and I about once a month over the next 9 months. When Andrea was sick, I would read her Ginger's emails and Andrea will tell me what to write. I have Andrea's prayer journal that list Ginger's name. It is a very special connection between my two wives.

Andrea went back into the ICU in Nov 07 but this time she when she never came home to the boys and I, she went to her real Home with Christ. It would not be until 25 Dec 2007 that I would meet Ginger, the hurting widow at the other end of this email trail.

Below is the email I sent on Jan 3 2007 followed by Ginger's email she wrote back on Jan 6 2007.

It is 2:00 am and I just got back from the hospital. Like everything about cancer we are not the drivers of events, at times it seems we don't even control our time. 48 hrs ago Andrea was a little short of breath when we went for a walk, 24 hrs ago Andrea was out of breath walking in the house and today (Tuesday) we woke up to take Nic to the airport and Andrea needed oxygen, right now I sit in our house alone and Andrea is in ICU on a ventilator. It looked very similar to 2 months ago when Andrea cancer had gotten worse. I assumed when Andrea went in for treatment this Thursday we would start a new chemo. But when we got home from the airport Andrea was so short of breath that even with oxygen she was unable get a normal breath, so I called her doctor.

He had us go do the CT scan at 7pm and based on the results had Andrea check into the hospital. Off we went to back to the hospital and the 7th floor, the oncology floor. A place I had been once before for Andrea's transfusion, and a place I did not want to ever go back to. There is not much good when you have to go to the 7th floor. But after meeting her doctor in the hospital and describing the events of the past 2 days he became more concerned. It was just happening too fast. So he recommended Andrea go to ICU and be put on a ventilator. The reason is Andrea was having so much trouble getting oxygen and it was taking so much effort that she could face some serious complications.

So off we went to ICU, Andrea being wheeled in her bed and me following behind. In ICU there was a flurry of activity with wires and hoses and people all around my wife. I could just stand in the corner and watch as the machines displaying Andrea's vital sign sprung to life, with a lot color displays showing data and beeping. The doctor came in and explained the procedure, why it was necessary, and how it would be done. Then we were left alone to discuss it. In a matter of 5 hrs we went from our house to the ICU. Now surrounded by displays showing Andrea's heartbeat and any other data you would want to know about her, we sat, separated from the nurse's station by the curtain now closed for our privacy. We prayed and decided that it was best to go with the procedure. It meant 3-10 days of Andrea being put "asleep".

Once we gave the okay, the activity resumed, with blood draws, needles and bags. We stayed together and read Psalm 91 together. I read it and Andrea repeated the verses with what little breath she had. It was a reminder of why this was necessary. I anointed her with oil and it was time for me to go to the waiting room. In a quick 40 minutes I got the call it was done and I could go see her before having to leave for the night.

Walking back into the room seeing her asleep with the hose in her mouth, the rhythm of the ventilator in the back ground the room was suddenly very different. When I left Andrea was smiling, looking at me with her beautiful blue eyes. When I returned she was laying limp her life seemingly replaced by the machines all around her. I was able to talk to her and her nodded but did not open her eyes. It was 1:30 and I had to go. No spending the night in ICU. I walked back to the car and drove home to an empty house. And I thought what just happened today?

I admit it was hard to walk into the house. I called a close friend to talk. Now I'm still up at 5 am writing. I'm not ready to go to bed alone. Thank you for allowing me to work this out in my mind. I have thought a lot about the seriousness of today. Heck I have thought about it many times in the past 18 months. Cancer is so relentless in it's pursuit. It is always there. We just etch out what normal life we can around the constant reminder of cancer. We cherish the days where we don't think about cancer, every day we don't have to sit in a doctor's office, every time we can laugh about something silly, or plan something in the future. Those times are precious but really we have found no matter where we are or what has happened, God has sustained us. Just as His word says he will. The doctor called me over to explain how serious this was, that even though her tumors looked better in her CT scan this was no a simple step we were taking. I said, " We have been facing the constant threat of death for 18 months and I know God is in control right now, we are at peace and we are trusting God to heal her." Today I listened to a sermon about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. I may have mentioned this before how they are told to bow down to the golden statue or be thrown into the furnace. I love 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 agree, God is able, He will, but even if He does not rescue us we will not bow down to the idol. I won't, by the strength of God, give up on all I believe, nor get mad because I don't understand why. God is still God no matter how these events transpire. Circumstances don’t define my faith or my God. God is unchanging. He is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow. Being a Christian does not mean we are given a guarantee of a trial free life or pain free life. In contrast it means we will face trials and pain. Our guarantee is He will never leave us nor forsake us. We do not face trails alone. And through our faith we glorify our creator and our savior who gave us another guarantee…that we will live for eternity with Him. So as we get ever closer to the edge of this furnace, and has we begin to feel the heat from the fire we know the flames do not control our destiny. And we rest under the shadow of the almighty.

In Christ, Jim

Below are the emails from Ginger and Terri

Begin forwarded message:

From: Terri Otto

Date: January 6, 2007 11:30:37 AM CST

To: Jim and Andrea Ravella

Subject: Friend of Jenn Gordon's

Jim - I just received this email. A friend of mine is very good friends with the family and she forwarded Ginger your email about Andrea. Ginger would like to email you and I hope you don't mind but I gave her the go ahead. I am sure that you heard abut her husband dying in Iraq. Anyway, she is struggling and I know that she was encouraged by yours and Andrea's faith. You will be hearing from her soon I am sure.

Love you guys and am sooooooo happy to hear of Andrea's recovery and good humor!! Like you say "small but mighty!"


Begin forwarded message:


Date: January 6, 2007 11:30:37 AM CST

To: Terri Otto

Subject: Friend of Jenn Gordon's


My name is Ginger Gilbert. I am a good friend of Jenn Gordon's. She forwarded me an email from Jim about his wife and their faith and it touched me. I don't know them or you at all. My husband was Troy and he was the F16 pilot who was killed in Iraq on Nov. 27th. I am a believer. I love the Lord but I am struggling. I am left with 5 small children and the reality is starting to sink in. I really needed the spiritual encouragement he enclosed in his email and wanted to email he and his wife if possible. Totally different situations but still pain is pain. If you think it would be okay could you send me his email address? Thanks so much.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

God, do you validate?

To validate, to give legal force or official confirmation to; declare legally valid.

I know it has been a while since Ginger and I have written.  I guess that is a sign our life is getting back to "normal."  So busy you don't have time to write!  However, this past week a reporter from USA Today interviewed Ginger and I for an article about our family.  During the interview he asked me "What was the one thing you learned during your trial?"   I thought about his question a lot since then and at church this past Sunday this blog came to me.

I think we all have a desire to know what we believe is true; we all want to have our faith validated.  But I think we keep this need buried deep in our subconscious for fear it is true, that maybe just maybe what we believe is wrong.  I think Christians also have this fear, what if God does not exist, what if Christ was just a man?  So we seek validation of our faith.  Normally we find our validation in life’s blessings.  It seems logical we validate God when we get what we want.  I’m not saying God does not bless us, far from that.  I count my blessings everyday when I see Ginger and the kids. What I’m saying is if the only way you validate God is when life is going good then you will miss a chance to truly know God.

I guess when life’s trials come your way you can get mad at God, you can feel cheated by God, you can feel forgotten by God, you can be left in a state of confusion as you try to connect the dots of what you expected God to do and what is happening.  I guess having gone through 4 years and 4 months of cancer with Andrea I learned God could not be defined by what was happening.  I could not have prayed harder, believed more, wanted something more then I wanted Andrea to be healed.  I always imagined he great testimony when she was healed.  Oh how God was going to use her after He healed her.  But time and time again our prayers went unanswered.  Unanswered in how we wanted them answered.  So it came down to this, was God true? Was He real or was I going to throw away all I had professed when life was going the way I wanted?  Or was he bigger then my circumstances?  Was Christ’s death about more then getting what I wanted?  What was His purpose in my life?  When I opened my mind to a truly sovereign God I found validation of my God in the strangest of places, the ICU, as I watched helplessly as my wife laid her life her life down.  She had the greatest faith I had ever witnessed; yet she did not doubt when cancer’s gripped proved too tight.

For me it was the trial that eroded everything in my life that I had trusted in until one day it was just God and I sitting at a table.  It was if He was looking into my eyes and asking me “Well Jim, what now, with all of life’s distraction removed, do you believe, do you still trust me?

You see there was a certain amount of faith I had placed in doctors and medicine.  They offered confidence with all their education.  Why do you think they hang their diploma on the wall?  It is always behind the doctor’s chair.  I think that is so you can see it when he tells you your wife has cancer.  Then there are all the machines of our advanced 21st century society.  MRIs. CT scans, tests after test that reveled the enemy to us.  But in the end that is all they could do, show me what we were fighting where the cancer was.  So close I could touch it on the screen, yet it was defiant to the end.  All man’s knowledge failed us in stopping that black spot on the x-ray from taking my wife.  But the one thing cancer never took was Andrea’s faith in God and I witnessed what it meant to believe. To believe because it is true, independent of our desires, and independent of our expectations He is truth.  He is sovereign.

In the end God did not let me down, He reveled Himself to me. I just had to be willing to see Him thru my greatest fear, losing my wife.  It was a process for me to get to that point, but when I did, I knew.  God was validated and Andrea left me the greatest gift she could have given, an example of unwavering faith. I knew I was not alone at the  loneliest time of my life.

At 1225 on Dec 17th 2007 I told the doctors it was time to remove Andrea from the ventilator.  I remember every detail of that day, I remember calling friends and family, I remember the fear in my son’s eyes, I remember my struggle of giving up on my wife. I had been by her side every step of this fight, her advocate at every doctor’s visit.  I held her when she hurt. I cleaned up her vomit when the chemo took it toll.  I shaved her head when her hair fell out.  I prayed with her every night, and through many nights when she could not sleep.  And now I had to let her go and I remember that moment.  But as I think back I also remember the doctors and nurses left us alone in the end, just me and my two boys in the room.  No longer did the monitors display all the data about Andrea.  All that technology that once was a testament to man’s ability suddenly were blank, and I’m sure to the ICU staff we seemed so alone.  But I knew different, I knew God was with us as He welcomed His daughter home. I was not alone, I given up on placing my hope in man, doctors and machines. God had been validated in my life not by what I saw or by getting what I wanted but by the opposite, by letting go of all I wanted.  Then I saw His love for me in ways I could have never seen or felt if I only looked for God in a blessing. 

My question to you is this; Where is your hope?  Where is your faith?  Is it only in what you have or what you get?  Where do you seek validation?  I offer this thought don’t forget to look in your trials because you might be surprised what you find when you allow yourself to let go of what you want and allow God to meet you in your pain.  Trust me I understand how dark the night can be and how lonely life can feel when you lose it all. I have been in that storm you are facing and I did not wait for it to end to find God, strangely I found him in the mist of the storm.  When the waves were crashing over me and I was struggling for every breath struggling to make it.  Not to the next month or the next day but at times hoping to make it to the next minute.  He is there with you, His words are truth, and His promises are real.

There was a time I was so exhausted from struggling against what was happening in my life until one day I had no more strength in me and that is when God said, "Finally you are ready to listen." This is what I wrote that day, a day in the middle of the storm a time when I had no idea which way was up, where I was going or how I was getting there.  It was dark and I was lost in my pain. 
No voice is as loud as one spoken in total silence
No light is as bright as one shown in total darkness. 

My prayer is that those who are in total darkness and total silence is you will hear His whisper and see His light.  It may be faint and dim but I promise He is there and you will find validation of God in place you never thought possible.  

In Christ,