In case you didn't know, it's been quite the emotional week for me!
Back in February I filmed part of our story for the Hannibal Police Department's HEET program (a program that is fighting back against heroin). A small portion of that story was used in the video, which was released this week. I was not quite prepared for it to hit the ground running quite so quickly, but I am praying the Lord is moving and working in each viewing. (CLICK HERE to watch the video. My story is the first one.)
I'll admit, it feels weird to watch this video, not because it contains the 911 call I made that horrible night, but because the story shown in it isn't really complete. The story in that video is one of fear, terror, and hopelessness. While our story has moments of each of these, I truly hope that those are the portions of the story people barely remember because the hope and peace and light of Christ far outshine it. It has been hard to overcome the feeling that this video will only hurt people or worse, if they are already in the prison of addiction, make them feel that there is no hope for them, only death. That is the last thing I want because, friends, there is hope. His name is Christ. I am thankful that I have a God who is big enough to overcome the fact that His name isn't mentioned, His Word isn't read, and hope and joy are nowhere to be found in this video, and still save lives by drawing many to Him. I am praying every day that that is the redemption we see from this heartache; the salvation of many lives as they see His hand of grace and hope from the beginning to now in our story.
It's also been emotional because I've been working on getting the flights for my kiddos to go visit with Kevin's family while I am on a mission trip in South Africa this June. It has made this long-awaited trip all the more real. This has brought up all the feels for two reasons. First, I have been dreaming of heading to Bethesda to serve alongside the Craig family pretty much since they announced they would be moving there. But, I had always dreamed of it as a family trip, one where we could all serve together. I am making this trip alone. And even when I do get to take my kids, it still won't be the whole family. It's a grieving all over again over the loss of dreams his death brought. Second, I keep picturing that moment at the airport saying good bye to my kiddos as they get ready to board their plane and I just can't picture it without lots of tears from all three of us. It's the farthest I will have been away from them and the least amount of contact I will have had with them since Kevin passed away. I have no idea what affect that will have on each of them and how those affects will manifest themselves in their behavior. I somewhat fear that I am dropping two ticking time bombs into my in-laws hands and I'll be no help in dealing with them. Yet, I know that God is so much bigger than my fear. Bigger than our grief. Bigger than our reactions to grief. Bigger than the distance between South Africa and Virginia. Bigger than a lack of technology. I must repeat these things to myself multiple times a day. I'll keep repeating them and soon my heart and head will believe it and trust will come and joy will be ours when we place it all in God's hands. His hands are bigger and more capable for handling things, anyway. Always have been. Always will be.
And one more piece of this emotional puzzle is that next week is Kevin's birthday. He would have been 35. Honestly, I am actually looking forward to his birthday. It was, hands-down, my favorite day of 2016 and of the whole first year without Kevin. The sun was shining. The day was absolutely beautiful. It was the first day in over a month that contained more laughter and smiles than tears. From all three of us. The three of us had so much fun together delivering surprise gift cards at HLGU and around town. We've all been looking forward to his birthday this year since his birthday last year. And I am not exaggerating about that. E liked it so much he begged me to do it again on Father's Day last year, which we did. This is my absolute favorite tradition we've begun. Yet, even with that joy, the tears still come. The loss is still felt. His presence is still missed. This will never change.
Oh, Father, teach me to rejoice, even in the midst of my grief. Fill my mouth with Your praise at all times. Father, use our pain, our story, to bring You glory and draw many to You. Somehow, even with the hopeless feeling the HEET video has, open eyes to see Your hand of grace in the midst of the agony of addiction. Open doors for me to be able to share the rest of the story. The best of the story. When those doors open give me the courage to step up and speak and fill my mouth with only your words. Fill me with your courage as the day for my mission trip draws closer. Teach me to trust my children to You at all times. Lord, give all three of us peace as we are apart. Make Yourself felt and known to all three of us each day that we are separated. Use that time to bond my kids closer to each other and to make me more of a light for You in my own home. Use this trip to teach my kids that obedience is always best, even when it's hard. Even when it means distance between your loved ones. Even when it means not always knowing the outcome. Obedience is best. Teach us that You are our protector. Give us eyes to see the mighty angel army that You have surrounding us. Remind us that you hem us in, behind and before, at all times. Lord, remind me that You love my children even more than I do. Lord, bring salvation to my household. Let today be the day of salvation for my precious Ethan. Let this time apart increase Sophie's face and show Ethan how much he needs You. Remind me that You are watching out for my children every moment, whether we are together or apart. Oh, Father, I believe. Help my unbelief.