My next guest is a friend that I've known for about four years now. Our two oldest kids are the same ages and were in Mothers Day Out and Sunday School classes together. I remember initially being drawn into a friendship with Shea because of her warm smile and kind demeanor. We have maintained contact throughout the years and have helped hold each other accountable to scripture memory. She's a precious mother, friend and sister in Christ. I was blessed when she said she would be happy to tell some of what God has been teaching her. I hope you are as inspired by Shea's story as I have been by her walk of faith!
My name is Shea. I have been blessed with a wonderful husband and 3 cute little kiddos. My life is far from perfect, but God has given me a few usable experiences to learn to trust in Him and to share about His faithfulness so here goes…
I grew up with two very loving parents. Were they perfect? Far from it. Did they love me? Absolutely. As a child, I remember getting the question “What do couples argue about most?” correct when my friend and I were watching tv. She looked at me like I was brilliant for knowing the answer. I didn’t realize I was an expert. I was accustom to my normal. My parents loved me and my siblings more than anything, but they had a hard time being in the same room with each other.
At 16, I met a wonderful young man who “got me” and overlooked the fact that I was losing all my hair to alopecia. He even told me to take the wig off when we were just watching tv together. That is love! I don’t know many teenage boys who would be so kind. We went off to college and continued to date. He listened to my frustrations and dreams. We were married after college, and something happened, my parents had finally done what I had wished they would do for years, filed for divorce. I soon realized divorce wasn’t so simple, and things got worse. They wanted what was best for us and didn’t want us in the middle, but that was much easier said than done. I kept telling my husband that I felt like it was going to get worse like something was coming, something BIG.
My dad and I had one of our usual dates to check in with each other, and as I sat there I felt God prompting me to pay attention. Don’t be irritated, don’t be distracted, hear what he has to say, really listen. Three days later, I received a call that he had had a heart attack and to come quick. We rushed to the hospital and as we parked the car, we received a call that my dad had passed away. My DAD, my hero, my rock, my encourager was not on this earth? How could that possibly be? It felt like I couldn’t hold myself up, I couldn’t control my emotions or my body or anything. I cried, I screamed, I shook, and then I walked into that hospital - numb but even so carried only through God’s loving arms. My world was forever altered and my role forever changed - no longer was I my daddy’s little girl but now more than ever I was my mom’s right hand. You know what’s interesting and amazing about God? He had given me the tools I needed all along to do this job. He had given me a wonderful husband who knew my family so well that he could help fill in the gaps where I needed him to - helping my mom with finances and logistics. It was hard - was it ever hard, but He gave me the tools to be able to do it. He had grown me through the rough patch of divorce, alopecia and now death of my loving and always encouraging dad. And, God reminded me that HE is the ultimate encourager, the ultimate father, the ultimate safe haven. I just need to continually trust in Him and pray and talk with Him.
Fast forward 8 years and 3 beautiful children later, I’m helping my mom along with my siblings a little more every week. Her health is not good, and she is tired from the journey. Let me tell you, I understand when people say that they are ready to go “home” when they have suffered for awhile. I saw her hurting physically and emotionally. I saw a fun-loving, “people” person be isolated to her house, all alone, because of her health. She was having less and less “good” days, and I was unsure of what to do to really help. I am a “fixer” and wanted my sweet-hearted mom better, but no doctor gave us a good solution, just more medication. No pinpointing of one problem. No simple fix-it answers. Just sticking a band-aid on it. On September 29, 2013, I received a call from my sister-in-law to come and that it was bad. As I drove to my mom’s house, I tried to not expect the worst, I tried to think of all the other times I had gotten a call for a low blood sugar or not feeling well, but this time was different, this time felt different, this time I felt God telling me she was not on this earth anymore. When I pulled up to her driveway, emergency vehicles were everywhere but no one was rushing around, no flashing lights, no sense of urgency and most notably, no sign of my mom. I felt the earth give way like it did so many years ago. My mom was gone. My sweet mom who loved Jesus with all her heart. I can picture her in heaven more clearly than anything and maybe that’s because her physical body was holding her back so much here. I can picture her whole and happy there. She can finally see her parents and my dad, my brother who only lived a few hours, and of course meet Jesus face-to-face. What a beautiful scene!
We’ve had a long journey since then of finalizing everything associated with tying loose ends of what is left behind. It’s been hard wearing many hats with small children, but God has held me. Isn’t it amazing that he can put people in your path to help right when you need it? You may not even see it right away, but you can map your journey and see God’s hand even when you couldn’t feel it. I can’t tell you what God’s purpose for everything in my life has been, but I can tell you how He’s gotten me through it and what I’ve learned through each mountain and valley. I know that if we don’t keep our eyes fixed on Him, we fall. I clung to the verse from Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” God held me up more than I could ever imagine and gave me a peace beyond understanding. Beyond reason.
We just closed on my mom’s house, and it’s been a long tiring journey. Full of emotion and paperwork and stuff that goes along with tying up loose ends when death enters. But, I have to tell you when I got in the car after closing, I cranked the car and immediately Pandora (which by the way was not on when I had turned off the car earlier) started playing one of my mom’s favorite songs “Fill Me Up Buttercup”. I had tears of joy and sorrow coming down my face. Thank you, God, for a little glimpse of the joy that she is experiencing. God’s love is everflowing, and his love never runs out. He never leaves us. We will have trouble but where my parents are there are no tears, no sadness, no hurting.
What I’ve learned after experiencing death twice…
- You may feel like mush, but God will hold you up. You will somehow do what needs to be done even if you can’t remember what that was 5 minutes later.
- Pray, pray, pray. It makes the biggest difference.
- Accept help when offered. God puts people in your path for a reason. Allow God’s helpers to help! Don’t try to mess it up by being stubborn.
- Hug your people often (can’t say I always do this but I feel the urge to rush out to the car any time someone leaves). I can still recall the smell of my mom and dad and what it felt like to hug them.
- Don’t stay mad or scrutinize why they do what they do. We all make mistakes, and we will all fail someone along the way. Give someone a little slack - we all need it. There is only one God who will never fail you. Our family, our friends, we are all human. We all sin.
- Enjoy the moment - the unplanned, spontaneous moments. They will be gone in a blink.
- Encourage, encourage, encourage. You never know the impact your words can have. On the flipside, listen to your parents and their words of encouragement. Yes, they are your parents, and yes, they are suppose to think you are wonderful, but you will miss it when they are gone. My dad used to tell me I could do anything and I remember him saying I could be a rocket scientist. I know so corny, but he meant it! He was trying to make a point, and I felt his encouragement because it was genuine. How amazing is it that God thinks that way about us but so much more in a perfect and unfailing, mind-blowing way.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
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