Monday, August 11, 2014

Putting together a beautiful mosaic

Losing a spouse is somewhat like losing a limb.  I’ve never had something amputated, but I can only imagine how searing a loss that would be.  The pain would be awful, and I would miss the limb terribly.  Also, I would have to learn an entirely new way to live without it.  Eventually there would be adjustments, but life would never be the same as it was when I was whole.  I would remember the limb vividly and all of the things that I used to do with my limb, and there would be a dull, aching sense of emptiness when events are held that are really only designed for people with all of their limbs.  I would go from being part of the two-limb club, to being just an amputee.

That’s where the comparison ends, though.  I would rather have had all of my extremities taken from me than Ryan.  Any day.

Someone used the limb comparison with me when I made my venture back into the realm of dating (more on that later).  Their words were, “Since you can date and remarry, it’s like you get to re-grow the limb that you lost.”  I understand the intent of those words.  I’m 29, and there are likely many years left in my life, and much happiness.  However, I took issue with the subject of “re-growing”.

I don’t think that there is such thing as re-growing a limb, or “replacing” someone you’ve lost.  I have a friend who is expecting a child soon, who lost her precious baby son when he was one year and one day old, soon after Ryan passed away.  Despite the overwhelming joy that she and her husband and her daughter feel about having another child enter their home, it just is not possible to “replace” the child that she had.  How could she replace him?  Why would she want to?  Her son was uniquely wired and created to be exactly who God created him to be.  In the same vein, Ryan was uniquely wired and created to be exactly who God created him to be.  He’s not able to be replaced.  I don’t ever want to “replace” him.  That limb will never be grown again, because Ryan was Ryan.

So here’s the crux of my writing today.  I have been seeing someone for a while, and things were going so well for both of us that we soon knew that we should play for keeps.  He proposed!  (I happily accepted, for the record.)  Matthew is an amazing person.  He’s kind, intelligent, calm, honest, fiercely loyal, and a wonderful, loving father to his three sons.  (You read that correctly.  He has three sons + I have one son = we have together…four…boys!)   If I might beat a dead analogy, yes, in a way, I’m re-growing a limb.  But this isn’t the same limb that I had before.  It isn’t replacing the limb that I lost.  This new chapter of my life is exciting and beautiful, and I’m very blessed and humbled that God would choose to bring another person into my life that loves Him and loves me and loves my son.  I am excited beyond measure. 

But a little part of me died recently when someone said to one of my family members, “Boy, she was quick to replace Ryan, wasn’t she?”  (?!?!?!?!?!?!)  Friends, is there such a thing?  Can you ever truly replace someone that was a part of you?  You can adapt, change, move forward, and once again find someone to add beauty and color and love to your life, but my friends…there is no such thing as replacement.  Ever.  Please don’t ever use the word “replace” with any friend of yours that has lost a child (to miscarriage, as well), a spouse, or any person that they loved past all reason.  (And when your friend is ready to face life again post-tragedy, please support them and love on them as they rebuild a life that is not centered on pain, grief, and loss.)

I want, every single day of my life, to remember the life that I had with Ryan.  I want to think of his laughter, his kindness, his fire, his inspiring words, his jokes, and his intense love and devotion for his family.  I want to cling to the ways that he influenced me.  I want to be bold as he was bold, I want to love others like he did (even if that means telling them the blunt truth), and I want to be logical like he was.  I want to tell my son all the time of how his father loved him more than he loved himself, and how joyful his dad will be when he gets to lay eyes on Colton again in heaven.  I want to continue to see life in high definition, as he showed me (us) how.

I want to love, remember, honor, celebrate, and give thanks for that part of my life.  Always.

But I also am ready to rebuild my life.  Losing the most important person in your life makes it feel like life has shattered into a million pieces.  For the past several months, I have been able to witness firsthand how a million broken pieces can slowly be put back together to create a lovely, colorful, and breath-taking mosaic - different and rearranged, and yet still good.  



For any iota of negativity that has been said to me directly or indirectly, there are countless other friends and family that have been extremely kind and supportive, and I’m very grateful for that.  Once again, I am thankful that I have such a wonderful network of people around me, praying for me and encouraging me.

I have also had many people ask me about this blog and what I intend to do with it.  I have spent some time thinking about the intent and purpose of the blog, and I’ve decided that I’m not any less committed to passing along the message of “Living in High Definition” than I was in April 2013.  God gifted Ryan and I with a unique message, and a unique platform, and I will continue to walk through whatever doors He might open regarding that message he burned into our hearts.  What does that mean, logistically?  I would like to begin writing again, and as I feel more comfortable, speaking again.  I just recently have been able to talk or write about Ryan without it feeling like I was driving a knife deep into my heart.  I’m finally able to approach the subject with a feeling of gratitude for having had him in my life, rather than deep, uncontrollable pain and grief.

I don’t believe that the story is done being written.  The Lord has pressed upon my heart that there are still many chapters to be brought forth.  I’m not sure if I’m speaking figuratively or literally, but I remain open to either.  I ask, dear readers, that you would continue to pray for me, Colton, and Ryan’s family, and my “upcoming” family.  There are many obstacles that we’ve overcome as we have learned and changed and adapted to life post-cancer, and there are many other obstacles and challenges and opportunities that are ahead of us.  But there are is one constant that we cling to, and that is the name of Christ.  As it was when I walked through the darkest valley of my life, He continues to provide the constancy, the guidance, and the wisdom for the journey ahead.  And as opportunities to proclaim the work that He has done in my life come forth, I welcome them.  I praise His name for the great things He has done, is doing, and will continue to do.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

He holds me upright.

Dearest friends, family,

I cannot thank you enough for the many messages, texts, cards, posts on Facebook, flowers (thanks, Delynn!), and other tangible demonstrations of support that Ryan's family and I have gotten from loved ones this week.  One of Ryan's former campers even wrote an open letter to her baby son about where he got his middle name of "Ryan", and it was powerful!  I still consider myself to be so fortunate to forever be linked to this incredible person that left such an indelible mark upon the world around him. Thank you, Ryan, for making us all better and for bringing glory to your Savior.

That six-week stretch of time from Ryan's birthday through this week has been challenging at times as I have reflected upon the incredible loss that we all experienced a year ago.  I am so grateful that the God I serve is the same God for which this verse is written: "When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me." (Psalm 86:7, NIV)  The unbelievable peace and joy that I've been able to still have even in the midst of grieving is only because of the mercy and goodness that my heavenly Father has poured out on me over and over again.  When I'm afraid, sad, confused, hurt, or lonely, He is more than enough!  It is the same way with Colton and his mama.  When Colton heard an enormous clap of thunder during a storm last night, he came running to me and jumped in bed with me.  His mom is his safe harbor.  Our God is a safe refuge in the midst of a storm (Isaiah 25:4).  I can't imagine having gotten through this past year in one whole piece without the grace and protection that I have received from God.

But I would also like to share with the readers of this blog about the most incredible experience that I've gotten to have as a parent.  This past Monday night, one year later (almost to the minute) from when Colton said goodnight to his dad, Colton prayed and asked to receive Jesus into his heart!  He was quite insistent with me that he wanted to follow God at that very moment.  I was so blessed and honored to be able to do that with my precious son.  He turns four tomorrow (April 14), and his dad was also four when he first followed the Lord.  I am amazed at God's timing, and so excited to know that someday all three of us will be together again in eternity.

Life continues to go well for Colton and I.  We've had the opportunity to travel a little more, make some memories together, and we have had people come into our lives that have been timely friends and have brought much joy.  Colton still asks about his dad a few times a week, and we get to have wonderful conversations about his dad's character.  He did go through a period of time not that long ago where his sadness about his dad was perhaps a little overwhelming to him, but now he seems to have evened out a little bit.  He is doing amazingly well and I'm grateful that God seems to have given each of us (and also gave Ryan) a little extra share of resilience when he created us.

Again, thanks to all of you for continuing to pray for us and to think of us and reach out.  I'm grateful for every message sent my way and I can feel the grace that you are asking God to give me!  With God behind me and the body of Christ around me, Colton and I continue to stay upright and moving forward.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Ten thousand, two hundred seventy four days.

How does one measure a life?

Is it the number of birthdays that we achieve?

Is it the money in our bank account?

Is it the style of our clothes?

If those are the measures of a life, then my dear husband might not have made much of a splash.  His time here on earth was short.  Today would have been only his 28th birthday, and despite the unbelievably brave effort that he put into fighting cancer (countless rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, theraspheres, surgery, naturopathy, vegan diet! - I wonder if he has yet forgiven me for that?), he did not achieve a long life.  Today that fact is weighing heavily on his family's hearts.

Money in the bank account?  We shared joint accounts.  I can attest to the fact that he and I were very much an unremarkable, middle-class family in that regard.

Style of our clothes?  I really shouldn't touch this with a ten-foot pole since beauty is in the eye of the beholder (and our opinions on clothing differed greatly), but Ryan's cowboy style probably wouldn't have earned him any style points with the fashion police.  I'll leave it at that. :)

If we measure a life, what is the standard?  I propose this:

What do you do to impact the world around you?

In only ten thousand, two hundred seventy-four days (the number of days that he lived), Ryan Prudhomme changed the world.  No, he wasn't a world leader.  He didn't have an impact on politics, government, or policy.  But for hundreds and even thousands of people, Ryan caused them to stop and think about their faith, their priorities, their families, and their passions.  He challenged us all to see the world in a new lens, in high definition, and to evaluate what really matters.  As a charismatic cowboy in the prime of his life publicly battled cancer, he invited the world to share in his hurts, his hopes, and his Savior.  And I know for many people (myself included), what Ryan did in those 10,274 days was to create a ripple effect where we now will go out and change the perspective of others around us.  So quite literally, he changed the world.

So despite the fact that the candles on his birthday cake never exceeded 27 and a few times his checking account even dipped below that number (yikes!), Ryan Prudhomme set a standard of living that I pray the rest of us will continue to strive for.  He taught us that "apart from [the Lord] I have no good thing." (Psalms 16:2), and that our ultimate purpose in life is glorify the One who created us in His image.

Happy birthday, good and faithful servant, funny cowboy, sweet friend, beloved son, devoted father, loving husband.  I am sure that your celebration today is one beyond what any of us can imagine.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of our friends and family.  Colton and I are grateful that we are so loved, so prayed for, and so supported through this first Christmas without our dear Ryan.  I have had so many Facebook messages, texts, and cards this year - it never ceases to amaze me how the body of Christ pulls through for us when we need it most!

I am so thankful that the same savior that has given me the grace to persevere through the most difficult year of my life, chose to take on human form and was born 2000 years ago with the loving intention of dying for my sin.  I am also grateful that my husband intimately knew that same savior and as I type this, is celebrating Christ's birth, work, and resurrection in Heaven.  No more pain, no more cancer.  Thank you, Jesus, for the hope and healing that we have in you.

And though our hearts ache for what we lost...

...we continue to focus on what the Lord has graciously given us: each other, a loving circle of family and friends, and His own precious Son.

Photo credit: Christine K Photography, Grandville, Michigan

Merry Christmas from the Prudhomme family!  May the peace of Christ remain in your heart as we begin a new year.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A fitting memorial

Today, Ryan's grave marker was put in place. It took me an exceptional amount of time to think about exactly how to put who Ryan was into a two-foot wide slab of granite. Lots of thanks to Ryan's parents and my friends for being my sounding board and offering suggestions or affirmations. Thanks also to Ryan's cousin David for the beautiful craftsmanship. 

What I ended up loving the most about this stone is the scripture that is on it. "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." (Psalm 20:7, NIV) This scripture so embodies who my Ryan was. Although he loved horses and was often defined by his cowboy lifestyle, he was most defined by his faith in Jesus Christ. The picture also illustrates the way that Ryan led his life fully submitted to his Savior. Oh, I am so proud of you, Ry. 

In case you are interested in visiting this, Ryan was buried at Hersey Village Cemetery, an eighth of a mile west of the main street in Hersey (near his hometown of Reed City) on Three Mile Road. His gravesite is at the extreme east end of the cemetery.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

If His grace is an ocean...

Eating dinner tonight - a gourmet delight consisting of macaroni and cheese and reheated leftovers (hey, a single mom has to cut corners sometimes!), today's date jarred my memory.

Instantly I was transported back to March 26, six months ago today.  A very grave, dejected Dr. Vashi, gently telling Ryan and I the words that we so desperately did not want to hear.

It was time to go home.  No more options.

I had steeled myself for this news for the previous 24 hours.  I could see the whole news unfolding exactly as it did, almost like a premonition or a foreshadowing.  I could see the symptoms increasing.  I knew that Ryan's surgery six days prior had been unsuccessful in its attempt to stop the internal bleeding that had plagued him since late February.

However, my husband had not spent the same amount of time preparing himself for the news. When we had a private moment, my husband, weak and bone-thin after four weeks of fighting for his life with every ounce of strength he had, laid his head on my shoulder and quietly sobbed and we prayed.  Most of it was guttural, but it was almost an entirely non-verbal plea for grace, peace, and mercy.

And there it came, rushing over us yet again, even in one of the most heartbreaking moments of my life.  And even in that excruciating moment where death stared us in the eyes, I knew that God's grace was once again going to sustain and buoy us through the next (short) chapter of our lives.  Because it is sufficient for me.  It was for Ryan.

It is for you, too.

2 Corinthians 12:8-9 "Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that [the thorn] should leave me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

The next two weeks will be really tough for me again as the six-month anniversary of Ryan's passing approaches. The combination of the impending anniversary and school starting (Really?  I'm really doing all of this myself?  All the time?  No breaks?) has left me feeling bereft, lonely, and overwhelmed for the past few weeks.

And yet, throughout all of the pain that this month of September has dredged up, I am reminded of that sufficient grace.  As a believer, I have an enormous source of power within me that is a direct result of the Holy Spirit's indwelling of me.  This power has allowed me to choose joy in spite of paralyzing sadness, and has allowed me to live life in abundance in spite of my weakness.

My Savior loves me.  My Father comforts me.  His Spirit sustains me.

And His grace is an ocean in which I am still sinking, six months later.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The silver lining

One week after Ryan's funeral, I found myself lying flat on my face on my bedroom floor, sobbing uncontrollably.

Given that our new house was not completely unpacked yet, I decided that following Saturday to attack my bedroom and get some of the boxes out of the way.  Along the way, there had to be at least fifty emotional landmines.  What was I supposed to do with the items from Ryan's nightstand?  His eyeglasses?  His socks?  Meaningless items, but it was still hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that he did not need these anymore.  All of this was difficult, but it did not compare to the ammunition provided by a stack of handwritten letters, tied with a black ribbon.

When Ryan was 17, he spent a summer in Wyoming "cowboying" on a ranch.  He did not have much internet access, and this was prior to texting.  So we went old-fashioned that summer.  Countless letters and postcards were sent between Hart, Michigan and Cody, Wyoming.  We had been dating for about a year and a half, and we were crazy, crazy in love.  I made the stupid, absolutely insane decision to read the letters that day.

"I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with you..."
"I am so looking forward to growing old with you and playing with our grandkids..."
"I could spend eighty years with you and never grow tired of you..."

Suddenly, the fact that all of our dreams for a long life together, horses, children, grandchildren, traveling, and ministry had been cut down and destroyed hit me like a ton of bricks, and I crumpled and hit the floor.

There is no time period of my life that has been more excruciating than the spring of 2013.  And sometimes I have struggled to make any sense of it. Why?  Why this pain?  Why me?  Why Ryan?  Why Colton?  Does this pain have any purpose?!  Is there any silver lining?

It does have purpose.  And there is a silver lining.

Fifteen months ago, I wrote a blog post about suffering.  This post is not going to be a replica of that one, which was about sharing in the sufferings of Christ and why suffering is beneficial for us in the long run.  Today, I'm simply searching for what I have to be thankful for.  I am redeeming the pain that I have suffered.  My God has promised me that His plans are meant for my good, and that He has given me hope and a future.  Today I am looking for what has been for my good.

Because of this pain, I...
  • have become a better parent.  Being the only parent of a grieving child has taught me even more about compassion and patience.  It has forced me to be less self-focused at a time when I could easily be all about myself.  My little boy lost his father and he doesn't fully understand why.  Anything that I'm going through pales in comparison to his situation.
  • have learned to take better care of myself.  I am very in tune with my needs at the moment.  Some days I need alone time to recharge, and I'm making that a priority.  Sometimes I need to be with my friends.  I need to exercise and eat food that makes me energetic.  I need to have fun and laugh and do things that I enjoy, so I'm doing that.
  • have learned to appreciate happiness (even small measures of it) and not take it for granted.  When something comes along that truly makes me grin, I recognize that and I thank God for it.  A beautiful sunset, a wonderful conversation, a walk-off Tigers win, a well-brewed pot of coffee, a good book, a bike ride through creation, or even just a really funny TV show - I am so grateful for these things.
  • have learned (re-learned?) to rely on the Lord for my joy.  All of the things listed above are wonderful, but they do not compare to the deep contentment that comes from knowing Him and trusting Him and being thisclose to Him.
  • will be a better spouse (if God chooses that for me) in the future.  I can easily look back and pick apart all of the faults that I had when I was married to Ryan, but that is futile.  Let's just say that I grew a lot in seven years, and Ryan pushed me to be a better person. (Anyone who knew Ryan well is probably smiling, imagining what I mean by that.) What is most important is that I learned not to take someone for granted because we are not guaranteed (at all) that we will have our spouse into old age.  Each day is a gift.
I never would have chosen the road that I've been on.  The price that I had to pay to learn all these lessons - when I think about that price, it is almost too much to bear.  I still have to pinch myself when I think, I buried my 27-year-old husband.  It is still totally surreal.  But despite the grief, the emotional triggers that appear out of freaking nowhere, I know that I'm moving forward.  I have finally come to the place where I am thankful for what I have, what I had, and I am not mourning all the time but rather I'm celebrating because my God has once again proven Himself to be enough for me.  I have been so blessed.  So blessed.

Are there still hard days?  Absolutely.  Don't ask me about the night before Colton's first day of preschool last week; it's a tear-filled haze.  Am I still in pain?  Yes, and I imagine that I will always feel those sharp twinges of pain throughout the rest of my life.  But I am reminded of Psalm 40:1-3 at this stage in my life:

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.

Because I have been redeemed, my hymn of praise will continue, undaunted.  Christ's sacrificial love for me is the ultimate silver lining.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Prayer request for Colton

Hello friends, I don't have any deep thoughts to share today. I only have a simple request: that you would continue to pray for my precious son. He is really struggling right now to understand why his dad left him and there are a lot of emotions that we are handling. Anger and sadness are definitely the most prominent. It is all normal and a part of the healing process. Kids process grief so differently from adults and Colton didn't have the luxury of understanding for two years what was about to happen. He is just truly beginning to understand what this all means. 

Please pray for me, too. It rips me apart to see Colton so torn about it and when the grief causes anger and misbehavior, sometimes it's hard to discern what is normal toddler behavior and what necessitates further conversation with him. I certainly need wisdom and guidance to weather this particular storm. I am so grateful for your continued bringing us before the throne. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The scab

That, my friends, is a bonafide little boy knee.

Colton and I have been very busy lately. We just got back from a ten day trip to Colorado, where we were able to explore, meet new people, catch up with family and friends, see new things, and relax. It was perfect. It was just what the doctor ordered. 

While Colton was there, he was incredibly active. He ran, jumped, and daredeviled. He has become quite a boy! Of course, in the course of these events, he picked up quite a few battle scars. The picture above is his skinned up knee from many exploits over the last couple of weeks. 

As I looked at his knee last night and prepared to kiss a boo boo acquired at a family Fourth of July party, it occurred to me that Colton's knee and my heart have a lot in common. Like his knee, my heart is healing. Actually, it is healing nicely and better than I thought. I feel like I'm adjusted, functioning, and feeling like myself again (for the most part). My sense of humor has returned, I don't feel lethargic anymore, and it feels like the black cloud isn't constantly hanging over my head.

However, not all days are perfect.

Something new happened to Colton last night. Another boo boo caused the scab on his knee to reopen, and fresh blood trickled out of the wound he acquired while jumping in a pile of rocks at a rodeo last weekend. 

So it feels with the scab on my heart.

Fourth of July parties - shouldn't he be here?

Colorado trip - gosh, I wish he were here with me to ___________ (fill in the blank).

Every time I have one of those moments (hours, days) where I miss him, it feels like the scab reopens and that same familiar grief comes running out. 

And yet, by the grace of God I am healing. I'll always have a little scab that will reopen from time to time. Sometimes the corner of the scab might peel up, and perhaps sometimes the entire scab will be roughly ripped off and I'll have to practically start over again. Maybe, like the skin on Colton's knee, the new flesh will not be the same color and the pink flesh will be telling of the massive scab that used to occupy that space.

But thankfully the God I serve is one that heals both physical and emotional scars. As He has been faithful to me thus far, I know he will continue to do so. By His grace, and with the comforting salve of the prayers of his Body and His saints (here's looking at you, Ry Guy), I know that I will continue to live life abundantly.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Victor, not victim.

Poor Kendra.  Poor Colton.  Poor Ryan.

I have no doubt that those words have crossed many people's minds, and probably many people's lips.  And certainly that is understandable.  Probably most of you that are reading this have been walking this road with me for the better part of two years: the first days when Ryan was first diagnosed, to when we got our first set of great scans, then when we had to try radiation since chemo wasn't working well, then when we got amazing news last summer, to when things started to turn downward, really downward, and then when the bottom truly fell out of our lives.  And know how that chapter of the story ended.

Even now, as I spent some time this week reading over our past blog entries, I can have a tendency to feel really sorry for myself.

I'm 28.  And widowed.

I have a young son who has no siblings and no other immediate family other than me.

My friends are buying minivans for their burgeoning families. I am buying a gravestone for my husband's burial plot.

And yet, this "woe is me" attitude is simply not a place that I can stay for long.

Because... do you know what I'm about?  Do you know whom I serve?  The God that I know and the One that knows me is a God of victory.


For me to break out of "victim mentality", it requires a refocusing of my mind from temporal to eternal: from things of finite importance, to things of eternal value.

I want to post some scripture from Romans 8 with my own emphases added.  I would love to post the whole chapter, but it is really long.  Please do read Romans 8 in its entirety (click here); it's phenomenal.

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. ... 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

... 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

...31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? ...

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Wow.  So powerful.  I almost feel like verse 39 should end with an obscene amount of exclamation points. :)  "NOTHING is able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

What is it that makes me a victor?  It is the hope that I have in the resurrection of Christ, nothing else.  It wasn't my marriage, it's not my job, it's not my precious son (although I love him a thousand times more than I love my own life), and it's not my possessions.  Lest I think that it's any of those things, I am reminded in the very first verse that I posted above - what we have here on earth, whether it is blessing or suffering, comfort or discomfort - it's not worth talking about.  It is not worth comparing to the GLORY that will be revealed in us.  Can you imagine what heaven must be like, if everything that we think is so important here on earth, is completely miniscule and trivial compared to that?  Wow.  Now that is some hope.  That is some victory that awaits us.

Maybe you have gone through some trials in your life too.  I know for a fact that some people that are reading this right now are in deep pain.  (I am actually envisioning a friend reading this very sentence, who has suffered unimaginable loss in her own life only three short weeks ago.  Praying so much for you.)  Or maybe it's divorce, job loss, or the pain of loneliness.  My dear friends, hang on.  " all things God works for the good of those who love him".  It doesn't make sense now.  It doesn't.  I want Ryan back with every cell in my body, but I have to somehow trust - you do too - that this season in our lives is meant to purify, strengthen, and solidify our faith.  Please, let's not fall victim to Satan's desire - that suffering would lead to doubt, and doubt to contempt, and contempt to hatred.

Victim Mentality

The Bible is chock full of lessons about victim mentality, although I'm pretty sure that the term was only invented in the 20th century.  Remember the Israelites wandering in the desert?  As Moses and Aaron prepared them and talked to them about moving into Canaan, the Israelites freaked out about the "what ifs".  Instead of preparing mentally for the battle that lay ahead, they spun their proverbial wheels about what could possibly happen, completely disregarding the Lord's promises and His proven faithfulness.  Heck, they even mention in Numbers 14 that they would rather have died in Egypt or the wilderness than to be where they were, on the brink of entering the promised land. 

I will lay it all bare here for you: I have had some days recently when I've felt like an Israelite.  I wouldn't say that I've exactly doubted God or His plans, but we've had words.  Sometimes those words have gotten intense on my part.  I have, for a few moments, felt like a victim.  Why is all of this happening to me and Colton and not to someone else?

However, it's flipping that switch in my mind from dwelling upon my circumstances, to setting my mind upon the One who cares so deeply about our hurt, and is cradling our broken hearts.  He alone will raise me/us to victory.  If God is for us, then who could be against us?  What circumstances are too big or too complicated or too hurtful for Him to handle?  Those of us who are in Christ Jesus are not victims, because of the hope we have in Him, and the comfort we have through the Holy Spirit.

More than conquerors

When I think of a conqueror, I think of someone wearing battle gear.  As most of you know, I'm not really into battle gear, camo, or weapons.  I'm more into great shoes and trendy sweaters.  However, I am a conqueror because of this amazing hope I've been given.  Are you a conqueror?  Are you headed for victory?

At the end of the passage, Paul talks about the many things that could potentially get in the way of our victory: death, demons, the present, the future, etc.  However, because of the army we have behind us, none of these things matter - none of them can separate us from the love of our Lord. 

Unless we allow them to.

What is your mentality, friends?  Are you feeling browbeat and defeated, like a victim?  Or do you hear that battle cry, the steady drum of the Victor, the Conquering Hero who has defeated sin and offers us a future that is not worth comparing to our present circumstances?

I know that for myself, I choose victory.  Choosing the victor mentality over a victim mentality requires work, and it requires me to daily put on my armor.  But I refuse to be "Poor Kendra".  I have been shown too much mercy, and showered with too many blessings to be "Poor Kendra".  I have been rescued, redeemed, and refined by His grace and His love.

I am a victor.