Well, my friends ~ this morning as I did my devotions and sat and pondered the year we are about to say goodbye to and the year ahead . . . there were many realizations. It occurred to me that at the beginning of 2007 I believed it would be one of the greatest years of my life! I knew that we would release ‘Gratitude’ and launch a marriage ministry – there was so much anticipation. On a personal level we were taking our first major family trip (to Disney in April of ’07) and would have all three kids in school ALL day come fall (you can figure that one out !)
That year, however, ended in such despair that I truly cannot put the depth of that feeling into words. As I turned the corner from ’07 into ’08 just one year ago tonight . . . it was with dread and fear and pain. I was saying goodbye to the last year I could ever ‘be’ with my beloved . . . and entering into my first year of ‘alone.’ I had no idea what ’08 would bring . . . but I knew I didn’t want it . . . ANY of it! I wanted my beloved . . . but I knew that there was NOTHING I could do but trust God! And trust I did!
2008 began with me truly wanting to die. “Please God . . . can’t our home be filled with carbon monoxide and ALL four of us wake up with You and Chad?” This is me . . . being real . . .with you! I DID NOT want to continue without my beloved. I am so thankful, however, for God’s sustaining grace and strength. I made it through those first dreadful months of ’08 . . . truly, only for my children. Slowly ~ hope for a new future began to emerge . . . despite dealing with illness that put me to bed for most of June and July. I am so thankful that God is bigger than me (duh!) and works despite me. All the while I was working to grieve and mourn, God was working to continue to bring healing and hope and a future.
Throughout 2008 I can truly tell you (and with a smile on my face) that I have found ‘ME.’ You see, when you are married . . . you work to meld two into one. That is our job as a married couple. Not that I LOST me while I was married . . . but I wasn’t ever just ‘Sarah.’ I was Chadandsarah! That is how we wanted it. That was our command from the Lord . . . the two shall become one! We spent 12 ½ years working toward becoming one person. I entered 2008 limping – feeling that ½ of me had been ripped away and I was wounded and bleeding and exposed. I cannot tell you the depth of that feeling. I remember walking through stores, driving through town, attending church or kids’ activities with a constant ‘wonder’ within me . . . . trying to figure out where Chad went and who in the world I was without him. Even, and especially, into June and July my journal read “I don’t know me without you.” I remember frantically looking around wondering who would marry me . . .because I certainly couldn’t be alone! It was a terrifying feeling. I didn’t trust my own emotions through any of that . . . but I was so afraid to be alone . . . I got married so I wouldn’t have to be alone! Now what? How could I possibly face life alone?
But, I am so happy to tell you, friends, that I have figured out who ‘Sarah’ is . . .well, I should say, I AM figuring out who ‘Sarah’ is. It is a wonderful feeling. I do not feel the ‘need’ to have a man . . .should God bring one along I will be blessed . . . but I WILL NOT settle out of loneliness or despair. I will not have a man JUST to not be alone. All that being said . . . guess what? I am going on a date! Someone called and asked me! Isn’t that exciting? I won’t tell you when or where . . . that is for me (and him) to know and you NOT to find out .
When Chad first died, people told me “don’t worry, Sarah, you are young and beautiful and there will be men lined up around the block.” Well, in November of this year (over a year after Chad died) I told my brother that I was clearly standing on the WRONG BLOCK!!!!! And, while there certainly is NOT a line . . . It is exciting to know that someone is interested and we will just go out and have fun . . . and THAT will be nice!
Also!!!!!! I have VERY exciting news!!!!!!! Last week Christmas In Heaven hit the charts at #30 on the Billboard Christian (radio airplay) chart AND #17 on THE national Christian airplay chart ~ (click on the title of this blog to go to the chart) (http://www.radioandrecords.com/Formats/Charts/Christ_Inspo_Chart.asp)! That is the top 20!!!!! Today, a radio guy I know wrote and congratulated me . . . my Christmas song beat the new Casting Crowns song!!!!!! Wow!!!!!! Thank you God! I am truly SO, SO thankful!
So, my friends, as I turn the corner into a new year . . . there is much to be hopeful about. We have made it through what I hope will live down as the toughest year of our lives. The kids and I are happy and healthy . . . PLEASE don’t mistake that for thinking that our hearts don’t still break . . . for, every single day they do. I DON'T WANT a top 20 song because my husband is dead . . . I DON'T WANT to go on a first date because my husband is dead . . . but, though this isn’t the story I would have been chosen it is the story I have been given and I WILL make the best of it! I WILL glorify God through ALL of it! I WILL rejoice in ALL that HE is doing and I CHOOSE to trust ALL that HE is!
I realize that today, as YOU turn the page on a new year, you may be facing great pain or many trials. I understand that, my friend! PLEASE hold on to Jesus! Please REST in WHO God is and how truly faithful He is! He IS good . . . even, and especially, when you don’t FEEL it! Nuzzle yourself under the shelter of the shadow of His wings (Psalm 91:1) . . . stay SO close to Him that when light or dark surround you it doesn’t destroy you because you are so close to Him that His shadow protects you from whatever it is that comes at you. It doesn’t mean that you don’t feel the heat or the pain . . . it is not a magic ‘eraser’ for this life and this world and all that it holds . . . but it IS a sustaining recipe for our lives! Christ . . . and ALL that HE IS will get each of us through WHATEVER 2009 holds! That, my friends, is for certain!
God Bless your 2009!