It has been no secret that over this past year or more, our family has had our fair share of struggles.
Our faith has been stretched in ways that I would have never thought possible. I have screamed out to God in desperation like never before. I have clung to His promises by my fingertips, unsure of where the strength to hang on would come from. I have felt God closer than ever before. I have also felt completely abandoned, lost and forgotten by Him as I have floundered around with questions of faith.
We have walked through the fire, and I would like to believe that we have come out on the other side with a stronger and more real faith (although it is a much messier and more painful version of the faith that we once had).
The fire has burned us, molded us, and stretched us. Our hearts have been broken and our faith has been tested. We still feel the pain from those burns, but are slowly recovering and allowing God to heal us in ways that only He can.
As I've walked this path, there are very few things that have remained the same in my life. I am no longer the Jill that I once was. My family is not the same that we once were. We have loved fully and lost deeply. Our faith no longer comes easily- it is messy, hard, and painful.
But here we are. In just one short month, Joshua will have been gone for a year. It's been one whole year since my child left my arms and entered into the presence of God himself.
What a year this has been.
I will admit, I still struggle. My faith still hurts and is sometimes extremely hard. My heart will never be the same. I will never be the same.
But through it all, God has remained steadfast. He has never left my side- even when I have felt like He is nowhere to be found, He has always been there- loving me. Even as I screamed four letter words at him and blamed him for taking my child away from me, He has been there. He has protected us and provided for us through the attacks on our family and through the foreclosure of our home. He has always remained faithful- even when we couldn't see or feel it.
Part of His faithfulness has been through providing us with people and resources at the exact moment that we have needed it. God has brought people into our lives for very specific purposes.
Two of those people are Matt and Sarah Hammitt. (Matt is the lead singer for Sanctus Real) Their son Bowen, was born shortly after Joshua. Bowen has the same exact heart defect that Joshua had.
While Sarah and I were both pregnant with our boys, we were able to connect and share experiences through a few forums and through email.. I followed their story through both their blog and through the updates on KLOVE while Joshua was in the hospital. I prayed for them as they walked in and saw a nurses hands inside their child's chest, performing chest compressions to keep Bowen alive.
Just a week after Joshua died, Shane and I had the privilege of going to to Mott's Children's Hospital to visit with Matt, Sarah and Baby Bowen.
Since then, we have continued to follow Bowen's story. We have said countless prayers for him and his family as they adjusted to life at home. We have prayed for them as they continue to minister to other families who have been affected by CHD.
Matt and Sarah have been such a blessing to our family. They have ministered to us in ways that I don't think they will ever be able to understand.
Over the next few days, I am going to share more about Matt and Sarah's ministry. I want to share with you how God has worked through them to bring healing to my life and my faith. And finally, on Friday, I am going to help them bless you by offering a free copy of Matt's newest solo CD to 3 of my readers.
Please stay tuned as I share their powerful story and how it has changed my life and my faith.