February 4, 2013

guest post: jessica, on grace.

Today you get to hear from my dear friend Jessica{of Changing Seasons}.
I love Jessica.

One of my favorite memories of Jessica happened when she came over to my house one day with her kids. Ollie was having a hard day. Heck. He was having a hard year. He was having trouble sharing his toys and would cry whenever Jessica's son Elijah picked up one of his toys.

Stresssss! I was so mortified. I  just wanted her to like us, but Ollie was acting like such a punk to her son. I thought, she will never want to come back!

Instead of judging me, she took her son aside and said "Elijah, we need to give grace to Ollie. Remember how cranky you get with your toys when you are tired? We try to give you grace when you are like that, so you need to give Ollie grace."

I love that. I will never forget her kindness to us that day.

And even though we now live in different states(boooo), we find ways to keep our friendship alive and well. Jess and I occasionally have long chats on the phone, where we pour out our hearts with whatever we are dealing with.

Because we both struggle. With trials and sins in our own hearts. We both love the Lord, but that does not mean we are exempt from any of life's ugliness. Nope, we are the first to admit that we are far from perfect. But we really do try to live our lives for the glory of God...and often it helps to talk to someone who will tell you the truth, rather than flatter your vanity. You know what I mean? Sometimes people are afraid to tell you the truth. Not Jess. She tells me how it is. She speaks the truth in love.

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another". 
Proverbs 27:17.

Jess is piece of iron in my life.

Even though Jess is younger than I am, I feel that she is more wise and mature in many ways. Part of this I attribute to the fact that she was forced to grow up fast. But mostly it's because of God's grace in her life. I think you will understand more by reading her sweet testimony.
About a year after I was saved my pastor told me that when he looked at me all he saw was God's grace. It was so true. My life is nothing, but a picture of God's grace.  My life before Christ was a complete mess and it was only his mercy that pulled me out and saved me. I pray that my life is a continually reflection of Him. I'm grateful that Davi is letting me share my story.

My pretty much perfect life was turned upside down when I was six. One night I was trying my hardest to convince my oldest sister she wanted to let me sleep with her. I loved the idea of my own room, but in reality I always wanted to sleep with her. She usually let me, but tonight she wasn't budging until my parents stepped in and asked if she would please let me sleep with her. There was something they wanted to talk to us about. We laid there with my dad sitting on the edge of the bed next to Katie and my mom next to me. My mind was occupied with happy thoughts on how I'd won, when my dad told us that mommy was sick.

She had cancer.

The word was new then,  much different than the familiarity of it now. It was unknown, but sounded scary. Katie cried so I did too. I had no idea how much my life would change.

A new normal was created in our family over the next three years. We traveled all over the country for her treatments and spent months at a time with friends and family. I remember drawing picture after picture to decorate her hospital rooms with and I cried many nights wishing she was kissing me goodnight. My parents did an incredible job of making our lives as normal as possible. We were loved and cared for and although it was tough at times it was all we knew. Our life didn't seem that much different than other kids. My parents protected us from so much.

I never remember my mom complaining or even talking about being sick. Now, after reading her journals, I know how many days she spent throwing up and too sick to get out of bed. Her good days consisted of sitting up in bed or possibly making it to the living room. But I never saw it. It felt normal just to lay in bed with her. No rinse shampoo and self-administered shots was familiar in our home.  I questioned why God would let this happen to us, but every time I went to my mom about it she always took me back to the bible. She faithfully taught me and prayed with me.

I know her strong desire was to live and watch her children grow, but she KNEW God was sufficient for all out needs and completely trusted Him.

Her fight ended three years later.

I felt like I died too.

Some how I moved from day to day, but I didn't remember any of it. At first I'd cry so hard I couldn't move, but slowly, I started to push the tears away. I saved them for my pillow. I wanted to feel normal around my friends, but I couldn't move past it. I thought that if I didn't cry for her daily I was somehow betraying her. I remember one day I didn't cry. In fact I didn't even think of her. It tore me to pieces the next morning when I realized. I was so mad and promised myself it would never forget her again.

It wasn't long after she died that I started having dreams. I could see her across the room. It was so real. I could hear her voice and recognize all of her expressions. (These were the things that no matter how hard I tried I was forgetting.)  Complete excitement overcame me and I'd start running to her. Then, when I was just inches from hugging her she would vanish and I'd spot her somewhere else in the room. Every time I got near she moved before I could touch her. It was like a cruel joke. I daydreamed about how she could still be alive somewhere and someday I'd find her.

I knew God existed, but I didn't want to have any kind of relationship with him. I started living in complete rebellion. I was reckless and never thought of the consequences of my actions. I lived moment to moment. I didn't know how to follow God after he allowed my mom to die. I remember wanting to pray and at the same time hating him and wanting nothing to do with him. I feared man not God and wanted to fit in the world. I wanted to be just like all my friends and have a 'normal' life. I didn't really want to live, but I was scared to die. Relationship hurt and I didn't want that pain in my life so everyone, including my family, who loved me so much was kept at arms length. My life was complete chaos. I knew God wanted my heart, but I wasn't willing to give it. I was stubborn, but scared. I believed anyone I was close to God would take away. I lived in constant fear that at any moment I would loose them too.

It's funny, all the ways I tried to hide from pain and suffering only made things worse. I never felt peace or true joy. My grief over my mom turned to an obsession. I started to forget and hurt the people that I still had.  All my choices were leading me on a downward spiral. I lived one step away from consequences I wouldn't be able to come back from.

The end of my senior year of high school I started to feel a need to "live better." I had no idea what that meant, but I knew that I didn't like where my life was headed. I started to see the pain I caused my family and I wanted to stop, but I couldn't. I was too far down a road that I didn't know how to come back from.

I put aside the drinking and drugs for a time, but as soon as life wasn't easy, I had no where to turn. My freshman year of college I met a guy and was quickly back into my same way of life. This time was different though. I felt like everything inside me was crumbling to pieces. I hated it and didn't even find momentary pleasures. I saw the pain in my families eyes like I never had before. I could keep doing this to them. But what I saw in their faces was just a mirror of what I was doing to God.

 I'd run as far as I could run and I broke. I didn't know what else to do, but fall on my face and beg God to take me. I had nothing to offer, but I needed a Savior. He forgave me and loved me in a way I've never known before.

My life wasn't immediately fixed. I had a long road to walk to healing relationships and thinking clearly. I lived in such a fog for so long it took a long time in God's word to start thinking right. God never left me or forsook me though. For every battle I fought. For every long night. He was there. I screwed up again and again. And every time he never left. His faithfulness is never ending.

I never thought that I'd heal from my mom's death and even eighteen years later it can still hurt so bad. There is always a little ache in my heart. But God's given me complete peace about it. I even see incredible blessings he's brought to my life through it. I don't understand it and I don't think I ever will, but I completely trust God's plan in it all. Now when I cry over her there is no bitterness or anger. My tears are filled with just a pure sadness. They are something I can take to God and be comforted by him.
I just want to thank Jessica for coming on here and telling us something so near and dear to her heart. I know that Jess and I would be more than willing to pray for you if you are dealing with something difficult in your life. Feel free to contact us:)


  1. Thank you for sharing something so personal :) I love to hear the stories about how God really turns a person's life around. He did that for me, as well. It's beautiful & amazing how He can change us & create a real joy and peace in our hearts.

    Even though it's been many years for you, I am deeply sorry for your loss of your Mom; especially at such a young age.

    & thank you both for sharing this:

    Instead of judging me, she took her son aside and said "Elijah, we need to give grace to Ollie. Remember how cranky you get with your toys when you are tired? We try to give you grace when you are like that, so you need to give Ollie grace."

    Sometimes I think I need to extend more grace to my own kid & remembering this will help me with that & help me show them how to do the same. :)

  2. I had to admit while reading your introduction, that maybe I would have been the judging mom. Maybe I would have been the person that you thought she was going to be. I hate that. I don't want to be that. Thanks for your raw honesty. To say I'm humbled isn't adequate but neither is thank you but I don't know what else to say. Thank you. Marissa

  3. What a real and open testimony. I really enjoy hearing such genuine words. It was a great morning read as I sat here with my coffee remember the grace of the Lord. Thank-you for sharing with us your sweet friend Jessica...!

  4. you have one really great friend there ;) i too lost a parent to cancer///something really changes in you when it happens. I always try to see the blessing that god can make out of a trail and i think that sometimes losing a parent makes you a better one, you treasure and value time with your kids. great testimony and thanks for sharing

  5. I love Jess to pieces. She is transparent, humble, and so very wise.

  6. so sweet. so personal and honest. thanks for sharing