This is an interesting week for me, every year this week brings me to a point of reflection, a point of deep joy and sorrow. This is the anniversary of the week my daughter spent in hospice, a week of prayer, a week of tears, a week of saying good-bye and a week of letting go. It is not a depressing week, but it is an emotional time, an often quiet time, where I can remember and think and pray about the journey that brought me to that hospice room in 2010, the journey that taught me how to be a mother surely, but I believe it taught me so much more. It taught me how to be a wife, how to be a daughter, sister, friend, Christian. Thanks to the life I shared with my daughter, I am a better person than I would have been, and I am so thankful for having been given the chance to be her mother.

Here is something I know, everyone suffers…pain, fear, confusion, loneliness, doubt and the list continues, suffering does not make you different, how you respond to suffering is what defines you. Do you stand strong in your faith or do you waiver? Do you blame everyone else, or take your suffering out on the people you meet, or do you turn to the Lord and in faith allow Him to carry you through? Something else I know, my daughter wasn’t disabled as a punishment, not a punishment for me, certainly not a punishment for her, her disability was a fluke, caused because we live in a world that isn’t perfect. Her disability wasn’t a punishment, but rather her life was a blessing. When the Lord gave me the chance to be a mother to my beautiful daughter, He was giving me a chance to become more the person He designed and created me to be. The Lord knew me, better in fact than I knew myself. I wanted to be a mom, but He saw what I could do if I was given the chance to raise Jade, with all of the demands and special needs that came with her, He was using her disability to mold me, to build me, to strengthen me and to bring me to a place where I should have been going all along. Raising a child with profound disabilities brought me closer to God, through the hardships we shared along the way, I became a better person and a better Christian. The Lord answered my prayers, in a big way.

Before my pregnancy with Jade I miscarried, it was very early in the pregnancy, but I knew about it, I felt it. I had been so excited at the thought that I was going to be a mother, and when I miscarried I felt heartbroken, but more than that, I felt somehow I had not deserved to be a mom, somehow I had not done something or done something wrong and this was my punishment. I know better now, but at the time, and there weren’t a lot of places to go to talk it out, or to share the pain, so I held onto it and waited. When I was pregnant with Jade, I was so afraid that I would lose her too, that every day and every night I prayed that I could be her mother, that I could have this one. I specifically prayed that I did not care what challenges we would face, I did not care what was wrong, I just wanted to be her mother. When Jade was born, I was ready to be her mother, not because I knew how, but because I was so hungry for the chance. Psalm 145:17 says, “The Lord hears us, He hears our prayers, He hears our cries, He hears our conversations with others, with ourselves.” The Lord heard my tear filled prayers as I worried and struggled with the fear of losing another baby, He heard me and He answered my prayers. He did not just give me the baby I wanted, He gave me the child that would forever change my perspective, the child that would force me to grow as a person, Christian, and that would cause every relationship I would ever have to be a reflection of the experience of raising her.

The Lord saw me, not as I was but as I could be. The Lord knew my heart and so trusted me to do what I had said I would, to raise her and care for her, and to do it all in faith. I could not have survived, I could not have done what had to be done, but with the help of the Lord I made it through. Zechariah 4:6 says, “So he said to me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, not by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord Almighty.” The journey was long, but it was a wonderful journey, along the way we shared the road with so many people who were touched by Jade, who saw their faith in God not dashed by the struggle, but built up by the blessing. Through her life we could see the grace and mercy of Christ, through her life we could see prayer answered, not always the way we wanted it, but the will of God is always good, and He uses all things for good, and in the end, as I look back over her lifetime and reflect I see so much of the good.

This week is a reminder of the strength of the Holy Spirit, I made it through, I raised her, always surrounded and supported by the very people I would need at the time. I saw her as a blessing and was blessed two more times with children who did not have the challenges she had, children who joined us on the journey and have carried within them lessons and blessings from her life that will impact the world they live in. This week is a strange one for me, I am never far from a memory of her, a tear in my eye, a smile that can’t be contained, but this week, especially, I reflect on her, I become quiet and I spend time in my own head, in conversations with God and yes even with her. This week I prepare myself for another year without her to hold, without her to care for, she isn’t gone, she is always present in the people who loved her, she is always present in the life we live, she is always present in the heart that misses her and rejoices in her life.

This week I am reminded that I was blessed, that I was trusted and that I was given the strength through the Holy Spirit to do what I said I would, to do what I was called to do, and to make it through all the struggles, to come through the other side in faith, carried through with love and to know that all I had to do was accept the hand of Christ. When God calls us to service, He has already blessed us with the gifts to accomplish His will. If we follow His will, He will deal with the obstacles in front of us to fulfill His plan. At each step of the journey the Lord provided, He put the people in play that would help us, the people that would keep us moving forward, the people who would join us on the journey, some joined us briefly, some came along for a while and some were in it for the long haul, committing to the path with confidence and faith. I am not strong, I am strengthened by the Holy Spirit, I did not do this I was invited and allowed to go along, and I am so thankful for the years spent with her as her mother.

Dear Lord,

Time and time again You show us how You will always be there to help us when we struggle, time and time again You have equipped us with just the right things to make our journey successful, time and time again You have carried us through when times got too tough or the road too rough.

Lord thank You for the blessings, thank You for going ahead of us to clear the path, thank You for walking beside us and holding our hand to keep us going and thank You for coming behind us to keep us safe and on the right path. Thank You for the Holy Spirit, and thank You for answered prayers. Please keep my feet on the right path, please keep the light ahead bright enough to see even on the darkest nights, and please continue to bless me, even when I am overcome with doubt, fear or confusion.

In the name of Your Son, my Savior, Jesus Christ –

Amen