Adventure: Valleys of Strength

strength valley

As I celebrate my birthday the day of this posting, I feel joy and gratitude, looking back on my life. Yet it hasn’t exactly been a rose strewn path. My life journey has certainly had twists and turns and uphill battles. Thankfully, from my earliest days, Papa God has faithfully protected me, revealed His love for me, and carried me when life was overwhelming.

Fast forwarding from childhood to adulthood, I met my husband, Scott, at a Christian college. Between his wit, serenading me on his guitar, and his good looks, he quickly won my heart. Our wedding day was a grand celebration and I was sure we would live happily ever after. We’ve been blessed with six wonderful children who have brought us much joy. We have always had love and laughter in our home, but we have also faced some grievous struggles, the worst being the death of our second born son, Tyler.

In 2003, Tyler (who had always been an outgoing, adventurous, faith-filled young man)became depressed and mentally ill and ended his life at age 22. Nothing could have prepared us for the devastation this would cause us. The deep, lingering ache in our hearts was debilitating. I don’t know how we functioned, except to say that God carried us through that time and brought many caring people to our side. I couldn’t pray for months, feeling God had betrayed me. I remember thinking that I could see why people would reject the God of the Bible in search of some alternative. Hadn’t I asked him for “fish” and instead he gave me a “scorpion”? As I began to cry out to him, I was reminded of the scripture where Jesus asked his disciples, “Do you want to leave me too?” Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Only you have the words of eternal life!” Those words struck my heart. No other religion or belief system offers eternal life by a loving father God. Jesus had proven Himself faithful and true throughout my life, so where else could I go? Eternal life through Him is the only way of seeing my son again, but also the door to healing and hope.

From that day forward, I began to make peace with God. I exchanged my weakness for His strength. I looked for signs of His compassion, and was renewed in strength and hope as I connected with him. The 23rd Psalm is a beautiful picture of exactly what He provided for me as the shepherd of my soul. I learned that he does not bring calamity. It’s the enemy of our souls who “comes to steal, kill, and destroy.” Our Father feels every pain we feel and weeps with us. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18). As we lean into Him, (instead of resisting Him), He embraces us; He kisses our wounds; He brings healing and beauty from devastation.

Healing for me came very gradually, as the pain left in increments. On the first anniversary of Tyler’s death, I woke up hearing the words, “Death has been swallowed up in victory!” Such words of comfort and hope from my loving Father, right when I needed them the most! I’ve learned that pain and adversity certainly shape us, but do not define us. Our hardships should never become our identity. We are overcomers, because of what Christ paid for on the cross. His resurrection is proof that he has conquered death, and we too “are more than conquerors through him who loves us”!

I could fill the pages of a book with all the tender mercies shown by Papa God during that season and all the years to come. According to his promise in Psalm 103:1-5, he has surely “redeemed my life from the pit, and crowned me with love and compassion”. Knowing he will never leave me or forsake me, walking with him is a great adventure, and I look forward to the amazing road ahead!

KathleenKathleen lives in Happy Valley with her husband Scott, of 38 years, and daughter Hilary. They’ve attended Grace for over a year. She is the proud mother of six adult children and one grandchild.

She loves people and finding the treasure that God has placed in each one. Having a passion for the arts, she has taught classes and ministered through art, music, drama, and stories over the years. She enjoys the beauty of nature and the vast array of creative expressions by the Creator, himself!

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One thought on “Adventure: Valleys of Strength

  1. Sharon Osterhoudt says:

    What a beautiful, heartbreaking story. I have no other words other than I wish I could give you a ((hug)) … the loss of a child no matter what age they are is devastating and horrible for a heart of a parent, I have a few friends who have walked this road and even though it is terrible in the beginning it does get better. Although you never forget that ‘love’. I am glad you can honor him by sharing your story.

    Like

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