2017- The Worst Year of My Life & The Best Year of My Life


vashon island

Photo By Shala Gean

I have found myself saying lately, “This has been the worst year of my life, but has also been the best year of my life.”  How is that possible?

January 14, 2017 will forever be a day that divides one section of my life from the woman I was to the woman I am now.

The woman I was… was lost that night when the Lord called my husband, Cody into glory.

This has been a year of pure trust in the Lord.  Though as a Christian I should have been living in that trust with the Lord for years now.  But I wasn’t.  Experiencing the disappearance of Cody and going through the gut wrenching 5 days of the search before his body was recovered from the lake… Those 5 days were dark and scary.  Those do not seem sufficient enough words to describe it.  Breathing was agony.  But I’m thankful that his body was recovered.  So many families are not that fortunate when a loved one disappears.  For that I will be forever grateful.  That was the beginning of the Trust I found in The Lord.

Walking this season as a widow—(I despise the title of widow by the way)… The Lord has ‘wooed’ me to Him in such an eternal romance type of way.  To say I am head over heels in love with Jesus is an understatement.  To witness Him take such brokenness and despair and begin to remold all of the broken pieces together again for His Glory—has changed me from the inside out.  I don’t want to be the person I was the day before deep tragedy struck my little world.  I realize how selfish I was.  I was living to build ‘Jessica’s Kingdom’…not Gods Kingdom.

I didn’t look at every faucet of my life through the lens of Christ.  I looked at it through the lens of Jessica.  I was living inwardly, pleasing myself.  Though as long as I’m on this side of glory—I will struggle daily with fighting my flesh—but I can say it has definitely gotten easier to get myself off my mind.

I have learned to enjoy the simplicity of life.  I find such beauty and laughter in the smallest of things.  I have learned to love more selflessly, to cherish the people I care about.  I don’t want to take people for granted, ever.  Because they may not be here tomorrow.  We never get a better chance to grow relationships and friendships than the present.  I have learned to truly enjoy and be thankful for the mundane of everyday.

In May of this year the Lord pressed upon my spirit the revelation that all of the trials I have faced in life and may face in the future… are not about me.

Every trial we encounter in our earthly lives is to ultimately glorify God.

A couple of months ago while preparing to speak at a women’s conference, I came across a note in my journal.  It was Cody’s handwriting. He had written notes from a sermon by Jason Harris at Evangelistic Temple on October 2, 2016.  These words are full of truth and are almost prophetic for me to read after his death.

God is sovereign over all suffering.  All suffering infinitely exists for God’s glory.  God’s aim in your suffering is to take your mind off yourself so you rely completely on Him.  Suffering in the life of a Christian is an opportunity to show the world that Christ is worth more than life itself.  The proper response to suffering is Faith and even Joy.  Suffering points us to the HOPE we have in Christ.  God is a good, good Father.”

Every single word above is pure truth and is exactly what the Lord has revealed to me this year.  Joy and peace can be found in the midst of the darkness of this world.  The Love the Lord has showered on me and my daughter this year has been so real and humbling.  It has changed the way I view the body of Christ.  There is power in prayer and power in Gods people coming together in unity while standing in the gap on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

There is power when we surrender everything to the Lord. For me this consists of surrendering the grief, the guilt, the bitterness, all of my desires, my dreams, my fears… letting go of it all.  I have to do this daily.  It’s hard, but it’s necessary.  I have to trust God that He will continue to grow beauty from the ashes.  I have no doubt He is sovereign.  I have no doubt He has a great plan for me.  He has a great plan for you.  I am praying Jeremiah 29:11 over all that are reading this, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I am excited to bring in a new year.  I am excited at what the Lord is doing.  I am looking forward to growing more in Christ, growing more in love, growing more into the woman the Lord has called me to be.  Though this has been by far the most trying and saddest year of my life, it has been the most God seeking, and love abounding year of my life as well.  When we have no place else to run but the arms of Christ—oh the love He lavishes on us.
I will forever be grateful for 2017.

As Danny Gokey sings, “Tell your heart to beat again.  Close your eyes and breathe it in.  Let the shadows fall away.  Step into the light of grace.  Yesterday’s a closing door.  You don’t live there anymore.  Say goodbye to where you’ve been.  And tell your heart to beat again.

Beginning—Just let that word wash over you.  It’s alright now.  Love’s healing hands have pulled you through.  So get back up, take step one, leave the darkness, feel the sun.

Your story is far from over and your journey’s just begun…”

I pray 2018 is a year of restoration, a year of deep peace and joy overflowing.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”  1 Peter 5:10

It’s time to tell your heart to beat again…

I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.

Finding Healing

Finding Healing

Photo By Shala Gean

This picture speaks 1000 words. The water. The stump. The wind. The sky. The sadness. The beauty. The healing.

There is deep healing happening in this photo.

A moment can change our lives. On November 14—10 months to the day my husband never came home from the water during a fishing trip—I was on a trip to the Pacific Northwest. We decided to go to Vashon Island. The ferry ride to the island was a quiet one. My friend and I were eager to go to the island, but didn’t quite think it through. Being sensitive in the spirit like she is—she knew I was having trouble being on the water. It was an unspoken silence. But deep down I knew I needed to get to the other side of the water.

Arriving to Vashon Island—it was unique and beautiful. We drove miles to Point Robinson Park. As we were walking through the trails of the park—I felt the Lord walking with me. It was a visceral sensation. The trails parted and in front of us was a lighthouse overlooking miles of water. The beauty was breathtaking. The overcast skies were appropriate. They represented the deep sadness I carry in my heart. Though the skies loomed dark, they were encompassed with boundless beauty. They were engulfed in a sweet tranquility. I couldn’t get to the water’s edge fast enough. Walking the shoreline, I knew I wasn’t alone. I knew the Lord brought me to Washington, to this island, to this shoreline, in this moment for a special and deep healing in my heart.

I looked up and saw a stump overturned. Tears filled the corners of my eyes. “A serenity stump”, I whispered. Cody and I had a stump on the end of our pier—we called it a serenity stump. Lots of quiet time, prayers and laughter were shared on that stump. I made my way down the beach and climbed to the top of the stump. I knew it had been waiting for me.

I sat there in silence. Looking around me. Studying the water. Studying the waves. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I wanted to run into the cold water. But I sat in silence as soundless tears streamed. In that moment I felt a release. My shattered, throbbing heart began to throb a little less. I gulped in cold air. The wind felt like it was turning my tears into ice. But it felt refreshing. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to sit in silence. It’s okay to reflect. It’s okay to heal. It’s okay to be excited about the future. It’s okay to let go of the guilt.

I don’t talk much about the guilt I felt over the death of my husband. I don’t talk about the guilt the enemy dangles at me daily since his death. But sitting on this stump, listening to the waves of the water crashing, taking in this raw beauty, I could hear the Lord telling me to lay the guilt down. It’s not mine to carry with me anymore—it never was mine to carry.

I could feel the Lord’s sovereignty blanketing me. Through all of the sadness this year, confusion, fear, grief, He still reigns supreme and boundless. He is still a good, good Father.

I am thankful to know my Heavenly Daddy on a deep and intimate level. When you can feel His unending love covering the depths of your heart, telling you to, “keep trusting, keep digging deeper, keep putting one foot in front of the other,” His love is unshakable, impenetrable, and always abounding.

“You call me out upon the waters

The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand” Hillsong

When we go through the deep waters of life, it’s so easy to want to run away. To run from God, but it’s through the deep waters The Lord has the greatest opportunity to mold us from the inside out. I am forever thankful for His molding in me. Though many times my flesh has fought to run—I’ve realized there is no power in running. Our power begins when we surrender our lives and tragedies to our Creator. He is never finished with us.

The story isn’t complete. My story isn’t complete. Your story isn’t complete.
Lean into the Lord through the joy, sadness, mundaneness, and deep grief of this life. Seek His will in all things. Let Him dream for you—His plans will far exceed our own. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9.

“Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior” Hillsong

I left a piece of my heart on Vashon Island.

Sitting on the ‘serenity stump’ at the water’s edge, I found healing.

I Trust my God, I Trust my God, I Trust my God.