“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore, I will hope in Him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.” Lamentations 3:21-25
My friend Heather has graciously allowed me to share her story in a four-part blog post series title Heather’s Story: I will hope in Him. As you read the lines of this post you will see that this is really more God’s story than it is Heather’s. It is raw and gripping, and still being written. However, her journal entries are so encouraging for anyone who is in the deep, deep well of grief. This season has just begun for Heather and her sweet family, but they have hope. They live hope. They express hope. They KNOW HOPE! As she shares her journey with you here today, don’t focus on the grief and pain, focus on the eternal hope!
You can read part 1 of Heather's Story: I Will Hope in Him here.
March 22 at 1:45 AM
The finality and reality of Riley’s passing is setting in. My heart cries over and over again I am not done being her mama. I miss her. We are both trying to wrap our minds around when do we go back to work. I ask myself if can I practice medicine again. How on earth have I helped save so many lives, yet I couldn’t help save my baby? I long to have a normal life again. My grief is almost unbearable at times.
Next week, I plan to test the waters of work. I intend to work alongside a colleague for a few hours. It feels good to have baby steps toward normalcy. We have learned so much during this storm. The Lord has revealed some painful truths to us and given us a new perspective on many things. In our deepest moments of pain Jesus has used many of you to send a timely message, text, phone call, Bible verse or song, to get us through that moment. Thank you for reaching out.
Our grief comes in waves multiple times a day. We cry a lot! But we also laugh, joke, and remember sweet Riley. Her big sister misses playing with her and it pains my heart to see her sad. She is wise beyond her years. No doubt Jesus reigns in her heart and He is giving her what she needs. I know God makes no mistakes. In my darkest moments, I still feel His presence in a manner I have not experienced before. I am not hopeless, but at peace. Through this storm, He is Lord, Lord of all.
“Though You have made me see troubles, many and bitter, You will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth You will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once more.” Psalm 71:20-21
March 22 at 8:26 PM
Today was a good day. We went and got our hair cut. Although I threatened to shave my head and buy sackcloth to wear as in Old Testament days, several people advised me that this was not a good idea. My husband and I have had a lot of sweet times together. He and I are grieving hard together. I am so thankful for him and our sweet marriage. We never anticipated walking this road, but here we are, together. He holds me up, cries with me, encourages me, listens to me, and laughs with me during this storm. He and I are trusting the Lord together. I pray that I can be good to him as he grieves too. Tonight, we are tired physically, mentally, and emotionally. We are praying for a full night’s sleep. Thank you, Lord for a better day, each other, and Your grace. We will be okay!
“God is our refuge and strength, a help always near in times of great trouble.” Psalm 46:1
"Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament... You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy." John 16:20
Today was a hard day. We have always attended church together. We recognize that Jesus is our hope and as a family we want to worship Him together. We have always had a Sunday routine. Today we had to go through that routine for the first time without our Riley. It hurts!!! We miss her! Our church family surrounded us with encouraging words, hugs, and kindness. The music and message blessed our hearts. We ate lunch with sweet friends after church, but we have a gaping hole in our hearts. Riley's big sister in particular struggled through today, and tonight she started crying and just couldn’t stop. My own grieving mom heart is overwhelmed but hearing her cries felt almost unbearable. We gathered together as a family and claimed a verse in John where Jesus promises to turn our sorrow into joy. We each cried out to Jesus in our sorrow asking why did You take our Riley? What is Your purpose in this? We don’t have those answers but we do have Jesus’ assurance that He will not leave us or forsake us and that His ways are higher than our ways. So, for today we are choosing to trust that God makes no mistakes and we are choosing to trust when we can’t see. We are confident that joy will come in His timing.
“The Lord is with me. He is my helper.” Psalm 118:7
March 25 at 8:19 PM
God granted us the grace we needed to get through today. As a whole it was a good day. We agree that we have a new super power—we can almost instantaneously make grown people cry. We tried to act normal in public today but ended up telling the bank teller our story. She was tearful before we finished making our deposit. We are thankful for family and friends who check in on us every day. While truly every physical need has been met, it is comforting to hear from so many who care. We all three find some comfort in journaling. Our relationships with each other have definitely strengthened. We lean on each other. Please pray for both of us. We are going to ease back into work this week.
“Grief never ends, but it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, not a lack of faith. It is the price of love.” —author unknown
March 26 at 8:21 PM
Today we returned to work. My morning was simply a computer class. It was surprisingly refreshing and for those four hours I felt normal. I left the class and had some intense guilt for enjoying the class. I came home and cried the hardest I have cried thus far. For a few minutes I felt hopeless despair. I read my Bible and prayed asking God to carry me through. I called my husband at work and he reminded me that we are not in hopeless despair, losing Riley did not catch Jesus by surprise. We will absolutely grieve, but we are not hopeless. Riley is with Jesus! Jesus will turn our sorrow to joy. Jesus has given us this hard task for reasons that we don’t understand, but His promises are true. He has not and will not leave us. I take such comfort in the promises Jesus gave. I will choose joy even in intense sadness. I will continue to put one foot in front of the other and take it day by day. Riley's big sister had a good day today. She said momma, it didn’t hurt as bad as yesterday but it still hurts. I think Jesus is turning my sorrow to joy just a tiny bit. She is such an amazing little girl. I am so proud of her resilience in spite of this storm. Thank you, Jesus for caring for her and helping her to trust You too. Thank you again for your encouragement and prayers. Jesus remains our anchor in this storm!
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31
March 27 at 6:01 PM
My post is early today because it was an eventful day and we are just plain tired. At 3:30 this morning Riley's big sister woke us up throwing up. As you can imagine, our fear and anxiety were over the top! We both really believed it was a stomach virus, but were very scared. We literally stayed in her room watching her, and took her to the pediatrician as soon as they opened. The staff was absolutely fantastic! They did several lab tests and everything came back normal and she just has a stomach virus. I am so thankful that they helped ease our fearful hearts and gave us a quick appointment. We got her home and she is now tolerating fluids again. Thank you Lord I got to bring our girl home with us!!!! No doubt panic on our part, but I am cutting myself some slack considering the circumstances. Our sweet pediatrician reached out and reassured us also that she really is okay. Thank you, Lord for giving us such a good pediatrician and staff! We have spent the day cleaning carpet and bathrooms. We are praying that we will be spared from get it. But hey, one thing we have learned the past few weeks is that we are not in control of anything, so just roll with the punches. I did ask the Lord to please let off the accelerator a bit, not sure how much more we can take.
March 28 at 8:35 PM
Riley's big sister is feeling much better. Thank you for praying for her, and us. She played for a long time while I cleaned her room. She asked to play with some of Riley’s toys. It was bittersweet to see her playing with them. I really didn’t know what we were going to do with them, but it seems perfect for her to play with them. It was painful knowing that Riley will never be here to play with her. We had a good cry together.
While yesterday was so scary, when Riley's big sister was sick, I was reminded that she still needs me to be her momma. It reminded me that my purpose is still to be a good wife to my husband, a good momma to my daughter, and a good nurse practitioner to my patients. My husband went to work today and all in all had a decent day. He used his superpowers and made several people cry at work.
"He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake." Psalm 23:3
March 29 at 2:24 PM
To everyone who has sat with us, sent flowers, a meal, card or gift, given to the go-fund-me account, lent an ear, cried or prayed with us, we love and appreciate every one of you! You will never know how much you have encouraged us through this incredibly difficult time. We can't imagine having to go through this alone. You are amazing!
“The Lord is with me. He is my helper.” Psalm 118:7
March 29 at 9:18 PM
I would be lying if I didn’t say today was a hard day. I have cried so much the skin on my face is burning! My goal today was to have a fun day with Riley's big sister. She seemed to enjoy her day, despite my struggle. Everything we did seemed so empty because I kept feeling like Riley should be here. Every store we went into had unicorns and things Riley liked. The cookie store had a ton of her favorite cookies. I could picture her at the nail salon getting her yearly beach pedicure. So many good memories that are just so painful right now. We drove past the cemetery and my heart screamed my baby is buried there. I miss her so badly. I am tempted to slip into despair. I am tempted to focus on what has been taken from me. I am tempted to reflect on why modern medicine, as amazing as it is, failed my Riley but works so well for so many others. But Riley isn’t missing anything here. She is perfectly healed and with Jesus. We are confident that her life was fulfilled here on earth in just a little under seven years. God makes no mistakes. His plan is higher than ours. Jesus will never leave us or forsake us. Jesus will turn my sorrow into joy. Because of these promises I will rest tonight and get back up and face tomorrow. One day at a time. A sweet friend reminded me that you never get over it but you do get through it. Just the hope I needed to face tomorrow.
You can read more of Heather's Story: I Will Hope in Him next Tuesday.
Suffering is real. But so is hope.
“When we are humbled and completely dependent on the Lord in the wilderness, it teaches us to remember, even in times of comfort and abundance, that it is God’s faithfulness and power, and not our own strength or wisdom, that we most need.” ―Kristen Wetherell, Hope When It Hurts: Biblical reflections to help you grasp God's purpose in your suffering
Each chapter contains a biblical reflection, with questions and prayers, and a space for journaling.
I think my biggest takeaway from Heather's Story: I Will Hope in Him (Part 2) is where she says, "In our deepest moments of pain Jesus has used many of you to send a timely message, text, phone call, Bible verse or song, to get us through that moment. Thank you for reaching out." She repeats that same thought throughout the post several times. When God lays someone on our hearts, we need to reach out. He uses us to encourage others. If you know someone who would be encouraged by this post, please share. It's important!
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