The 18th Candle

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Sometimes it’s a familiar fragrance of a sweet flower that brings me back to that day. Sometimes it’s the outside temperature or a song on the radio that will cause a knot in my throat to form. It doesn’t take long for me to realize that the birthday of my sweet baby girl whose birthday candle I never had the chance to light is near.

She would have been eighteen today! Eighteen! I can’t help but wonder what this year would have been like. The excitement of picking out her prom dress and the shoes to match. Senior pictures probably would have been ordered along with the graduation announcements. I imagine her smiling in pictures with our family while she holds her well-deserved diploma. I probably would have been going nuts planning a graduation party and then an 18th birthday celebration all in the same week. I wonder if I would have combined both milestones…or not. I’m curious as to what her interests would have been, would she prefer a college or a trade school? Would she live at home or on campus?

It’s been eighteen years of questions, mostly directed towards God. The big one was the “why” question. In the earlier years, when my grief was so raw, I walked a winding road of despair, doubt, anger and bitterness. I never stopped believing in God but I doubted Him and I was certainly angry with Him. I just couldn’t understand His ways.

Thankfully, God’s ways are not my ways. I am so grateful for that.

Slowly, He started showing Himself at work in other areas of my life. I began to see the beauty in nature again and my heart started to soften. He gave my family miracles, unbelievable miracles! Instances from the way we found my missing siblings to the way my son was brought back to life and everything in between.  I began to understand that losing my daughter had to happen in order for His will for my life to unfold. It was His plan, not mine and I had to surrender to that.  He’s had His hand on me, even when I didn’t deserve it. He has proven to me over and over that He is a good and loving God and that ALL things work together for my good.

“…weeping may come in the night but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

The verse above is one that I meditated on, and still do when my heart is troubled. I’m reminded that we are living in a troubled world, we will have experienced sorrow and pain, but God is bigger than all of that. Morning time will come and He will give us relief.

I’ve come to realize the answer to my “why” question. In Colossians 1:24 Paul says, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake…”  Paul suffered a tremendous amount of turmoil all to spread the gospel and truth about our Lord. My story can’t compare to Paul’s. His was a story of being beaten, whipped, stoned and left for dead, shipwrecked not once, but three times, was under arrest without trial for two years, so many other instances of death threats and persecutions, but the one that seemed to torment him the most was a simple thorn stuck in his flesh. A reminder to be dependent on God and not to become too full of himself.

I know that it’s the same for me. God has used my pain to teach me how to become 100% dependent on Him. He wants me to use my experience of His healing, grace and peace and share with all of those around me going through similar experiences. He wants me to equip myself and be prepared with my testimony of His faithfulness so that others can experience the goodness of God too.

I’m so very thankful for the experiences and the life that God has given me. I know that God gave His only son so that WE can have eternal life…if we believe! I am given much comfort knowing that my sweet baby is in the arms of our Father and, because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, I will be too.

Happy Birthday to my sweet baby, Machaela! Our short time together has taught me so much. ‘Til we meet again!

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