Our lives were forever changed the day we lost Corey. He was an amazing man who loved the Lord and his family with all that he was. The pain of losing him is like no other. Our only comfort comes from knowing we will see him again someday.

I have moved the slideshow played at Corey's service to it's own post page above, titled "Corey's Memorial Service - August 10, 2010"

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Friday, December 10, 2010

4 months from good-bye

        It was Wednesday morning, August 4, 2010.  I had gotten up for the day prepared to be productive around the house since the girls were away in VT with Grandma.  I felt so overwhelmed with all the things I wanted to try to get done that I didn't know where to start.  Before I headed off running in all different directions, I decided I would give God a few minutes of my time and pray and ask Him for direction.  Just so you don't get the wrong idea...I'm no spiritual superwoman...I don't do this often enough...usually I feel the nudge to start my day praying and I ignore it and go on ahead running in all those different directions ;)  I was distracted by my to do list as I picked up reading where I had last left off in the book of John. While reading, the phone rang.  It was my friend Stacy on the other end who was scheduled to have her 20-week ultrasound that morning.  I had told her to call me when she found out if the baby was a boy or a girl.  She was really hoping for a girl.  She was crying as she told me that she needed me to be praying as some things with the baby were not looking good on the ultrasound. They had just finished with the appointment and the ultrasound tech wouldn't tell them anything.  They were being sent directly over to the OBs office for more information.  It wasn't looking good.  Stacy told me the baby was a girl just as she had hoped.  I told her I would be praying and to call me when she knew more.
        As I prepared to pray I reflected over the 2 weeks prior to that day. God had been moving in Stacy's life over those 2 weeks in some really cool ways.  He had revealed himself as a faithful provider on at least 3 separate and very visible instances in that short period of time. Prayers for a much needed computer, after Stacy's had broken were answered a couple of days later when someone gave her a like-new netbook with a flat screen monitor, mouse, and keyboard that they just wanted to bless someone else with... Her husband's prayer for new work boots that were much needed for his job was answered when new boots in his size were left in their van as a gift during that 2-week period.  They had no idea who the anonymous giver was but knew it was God answering a need.  Prayers for new clothes that were needed for their oldest daughter. A package arrived with new outfits for Desirae inside!  Undeniable answers from God, all in such a short period of time. I was amazed by the things Stacy was sharing with me and honestly I was somewhat envious.  How does one get God to answer prayers so specific as God was answering Stacy's? and so favorably?  Stacy and I had talked, wondering what God might be up to...the answer was about to come.
        That morning after praying for Stacy I told God that I wanted to be a part of what He was doing.  If that was what it was going to take for him to be active and visible in my life like he was in Stacy's, then I wanted it.  I told Him that I wanted to be where He was moving.  I asked him to remove the distractions in my life so I could focus on where he was moving and be a part of it.  (All the clutter in my home and unfinished projects were the "distractions" I was thinking of) After I finished praying I remember feeling like I had jipped God that morning with such a short quiet time and I felt bad for being so distracted.  I felt like my attempt to connect with Him was feeble and insignificant.  Little did I know He was listening and preparing to answer me. Little did I know that tragedy was about to strike, for Stacy and for myself.  Little did I know that he was preparing my heart to be in a place of willing acceptance of what was to come.
        Not much longer after that the phone rang.  It was Stacy again...just as upset as during the previous phone conversation.  She sobbed as she told me "The baby's not going to live."  She went on to tell me the condition the doctor suspected the baby had which would later be confirmed the following day at Maine Medical Center.  Stacy and I both knew at that moment that this was what God had been preparing her for.  He had been showing her how faithful he was so that when this horrible news came she would be that much more able to trust him with her unborn daughter's life and with the details of the difficult journey that lay ahead. I prayed for Stacy throughout that day and spent the evening with her that night.  We talked about the circumstances. I remember her saying, "God's got this covered." We talked about how God holds life and death in his hands.  I was consumed with sorrow and concern for my friend knowing that she would be carrying her baby to term with the knowledge that her daughter would not live long...maybe not at all outside the womb.
        The next evening, Thursday, August 5th, just twenty-four hours later I got the worst phone call I've ever received in my life. Corey was on the other end.  He was audibly upset and told me about chilling plans that he had made.  I didn't know it until later that he was calling to say his goodbyes.  He told me he loved me and that he loved the girls very much.  He told me how strong he thought I was.  He told me he was tired.  I tried to reach him.  I told him that he was sick, that this was the illness making him think this way.  I tried to tell him to hold on, that I was going to leave right away to drive the 90 minutes that it would take to be with him and that I would be right by his side to work through things with him. That we would do it together. That I loved him.  Minutes later he was gone. I was left hanging on the other end of the phone not knowing his condition, not knowing if he had been successful in his attempt to end his pain.  I knelt down on the ground amidst pine needles, where I had been standing with cell phone in hand, and began to pray, pleading with God to spare his life. For a painful 90 minutes I waited for someone to tell me something, anything.  The police dispatcher wouldn't give me any information. I knew the situation looked bleak when they were trying to get me to give them my location so they could send an officer over to where I was. I begged the state trooper to tell me over the phone if my husband was dead or alive. I didn't want to wait any longer just so the officer could tell me in person what I knew in my heart I was going to hear.  "I'm sorry to tell you that your husband passed this evening," were Sergeant Applebee's words to me.  Sadly, that difficult 90-minute wait had given me time to prepare for those words.
        Reflecting back over the last few years, I really thought Corey had already hit bottom with his depression. I actually thought things were leveling out for Him, that a change in job positions was the "fix" he needed, and perhaps he was even on his way up out of the valley.  However, for at least a couple of years the question remained in my heart, "What was I going to have to suffer through with Corey for God to bring him out of this valley?"  Often, as many of you have experienced, God uses difficult circumstances to change us.  He puts us through the fire to refine who we are.  For those who are followers of Christ, God desires to make us more like Jesus. I was willing to suffer through whatever it was going to take for Corey to be healed, but I never thought it would be his death.  I am so sad God did not allow another way. I doubt that I'll ever understand the why in all of this until I reach heaven.  The words Stacy and I had spoken in her kitchen the night before came right back to me after finding out Corey had passed away.  God has got this covered.  He holds life and death in his hands.  I know that this tragedy, that Stacy's tragedy are a result of this fallen and decaying world we live in.  The death of Corey and the death of Rachel were not what God wanted.  Sometimes I forget this and tell myself that this was God's will, but all this loss is really a result of this sin-filled world we live in.  God foreknew what was to come, but that doesn't mean it was his will.  As I stated in my eulogy for Corey, in the beginning God gave man a choice...to choose God's way or his own way...Adam and Eve chose their own way and death was the result.  Separation from God, pain and heartache, sickness and decay are the results.  Thanks be to God that he provides a way for us to have life and a restored relationship with Him through the sacrificial death of his son Jesus. God brings life out of death, triumph out of trouble and glory follows suffering. Thankfully in God's goodness he has promised to bring beauty out of the most horrific circumstances. "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28  I continue to cling to this promise. 
        God has not promised us that life will be easy when we choose to follow Jesus. He promises us times of trouble. John 16:33 says, "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." The good news is that He will never leave or forsake us and our reward is eternal life with God in paradise.  I just finished reading another book by Elisabeth Elliot titled The Path of Loneliness.  Elisabeth lost her first 2 husbands, one to murder as a missionary, and the other to cancer.  She is married again now to her third husband. Who better to share with me about the path of loneliness than someone such as herself. In one of the chapters Elliot talks about the glory of sacrifice. She says, "God could not more fully and plainly show us the glorious truth of life out of death than in the paradoxes of Jesus' life and death.  Is it not clear to us that the sacrifice of Calvary was not a tragedy but the release of life and power?...How hard it is to believe that our own self-offering to Him will work in the same way." I personally have found such release and peace in offering up to God my suffering...the pain of the loss of my husband. My willingness to do this comes out of gratitude for the gift that God gave, the gift of his son so that I could know Him intimately.  Elisabeth explains the 'paradoxes' of Jesus' life and death..."After the crucifixion came the resurrection.  After the resurrection, the ascension.  Because Jesus wore a crown of thorns, He now wears a crown of glory.  Because He became poor, He now sits enthroned.  Because He made himself of no reputation, He now has a name which is above every name.  Because He was willing to become a slave, He is now master of everything.  Because He was obedient to death, He is Lord of life and holds the keys of hell and of death. Because He made himself of no reputation, every knee will someday bow before Him. Every renunciation led to glory."  I am amazed at the wonder of God's ways! and how amazing still that He wants me to share in what He is doing. Isaiah 55:8 - "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord." People have asked me how I can be so strong through my circumstances. I can take no credit. It is because of my relationship with God through his son Jesus. This isn't to say that every day is an easy one...some are pretty tough to get through. I love this quote from Elliot's book that says, "It often happens that those whose loss is greatest receive the greatest share of grace, mercy, and peace. This does not mean that they never cry, of course. But they do not collapse. Those who only watch and pray and try to put themselves in the place of the bereaved find it almost unendurable. Sometimes they weep uncontrollably, for their imaginations never include the grace." Until you have experienced what God is capable of giving in the midst of a deep valley, you won't be able to fully understand it.  
       Four months ago today, on August 10th, along with friends and family, I laid Corey's earthly body to rest. We celebrated his life and said our goodbyes. Yesterday, December 9th, Stacy and Matt laid their sweet baby Rachel to rest and said their goodbyes. While there are certainly differences, the connections between our circumstances bring me comfort because I can see God's hand in all of this.  I think the 2 greatest losses that I could have suffered at this point in my life would be the loss of one of my kids or the loss of my husband.  Stacy and I have experienced both of these...such huge losses over these past 4 months.  I wish Stacy was not having to endure the grief that she is, but how thankful I am to have been given the gift of a friend who knows the pain of such horrible loss.  How like God it is to provide me with a close friend who understands what it is like to plan a funeral for someone so close to your heart at such a young age, who understands the sad confusion of not understanding why and knowing it might be a very long wait for the answer.  The verse in 2 Corinthians (1:4) rings true when it says He "...comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."  God has been and continues to be my faithful provider and comforter. He has a plan greater than my human mind can conceive and I draw my strength from his good promises.

1 Corinthians 2:9 ~ "'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.'"
        
An additional note:  If you would like to read more about Stacy's journey you can check out her blog at www.thegiftofrachelslife.blogspot.com.  It is quite an inspiring story!

3 comments:

  1. Beautifully and eloquently written. Continued prayer of healing for you, Stacy and your families.

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  2. beautiful words... thank you for sharing your heart with us. *hugs*

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  3. Jill, Corey would be so proud of this blog about God's truth and His plan. Remember how you said that Corey's death has led to more boldness (I think the context was Corey's eulogy)? It seems that this is another opportunity that you have seized...and with such gentleness and clarity. I'm amazed how God keeps giving you and Stacy such wonderful words and your willingness to share such transparency.

    I look forward to seeing what God has prepared for you. I bet it will take our breath away.

    Love you.

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