Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saturday Evening

I am so ready for spring, but have to say today was nice. Brooke and I went on an adventure today. She bought herself a new, well new to her, Escape. It is always fun to be spending somebody else's money :).
Everybody usually loves Friday's, but I am becoming to dread them. I am not sure why they are so hard for me, except that I am so busy on Wednesday and Thursday's that reality of Taylor's death is pushed back a bit. So, when I get up on Friday's it is like I get hit in the face with this horrible reality at full force. It seemed like satan found alittle open window to try to sneak into my heart this week. There was something said last week that satan took and ran with--he was trying once again to plant just a little seed of doubt of Taylor's salvation. It is like the saying goes---satan can plant a thought, but it is my fault if I let that thought take root and grow and that was what I found myself doing. When I got up Friday, I felt so down and sad, just plain discouraged and beaten up. I just pleaded with God to please pick me up and carry me for awhile. I am amazed sometimes how quick God answers prayers, but really I shouldn't be---He has been so faithful from the moment of that horrible phone call. As I sat at the table with my Bible open, I was feeling so sad, that I just broke down into tears----and thought I am so tired of feeling like this, and now I have this little seed of doubt to deal with----I thought I was finally through that battle, but found out satan knows just where my weakest spots are and will no doubt come as often as I let him win one ounce of a battle. As I sat there just thinking, I decided I would just pull out of my bible some of the verses that I had written down that meant alot to me. As I started to read the first one, i instantly seen it was the same verse God gave me about a month after the accident. It was the one that became the verse i hung onto with both hands---the one that three other people gave me within 24 hr. ya, the same one Isa. 41:10--Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, For I am your God. I will strength you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." I knew instantly God was telling me He was right there beside me being my God, holding me up. I started to think back on that day God first gave me this verse---My heart was hurting so bad, i thought I would not make it into the next minute. I had to think God did keep His promise---He has held me up and carried me many many times. But God was not done "talking" to me that morning. I flipped to the back of my Bible and I seen this card and opened it up to see who it was from and what it might be saying. It was a letter from Autumn, yes I had read it before, but God wanted to remind me one more time---I will never get tired of hearing it---that yes Taylor is safely in the His arms. I guess, it is that I just have a terrible fear of Hell and just how horrible it really is, and it is not only for ten years, a thousand years, but forever---I can not even wrap my mind about something so horrible and terrifying lasting forever. Anyway, I don't think Autumn will care if I put this letter in here---it helped me through a rough day when it arrived, but it also was a great encouragement on a day, six months after Tay's death.

"Mom, April and I went to P. Graham Dunn yesterday. As we were walking through the store, we found these two items. They touched our hearts, especially in light of recent circumstances. We hope they will mean as much to you as they did to us and bring you comfort. For these two items remind us of a story.....our story. Of a much loved boy lost too soon. Of a mother pleading before the throne of God for a sign of his salvation. Of a God-breathed cell phone message arriving soon after---an answer to prayer, a promise from God---Taylor is in Heaven and we WILL see him again. We praise God for His Amazing Grace--for it is this gift of grace that has saved us and saved our Tay---who professed by his own mouth to his teacher that Jesus was his Lord! God gave us a promise that Taylor is in Heaven. GOD KEEPS HIS PROMISES! Let us never forget... We love you Gasser Family! Please know that we think and pray about you every single day. Taylor is never far from our minds either. Our family circle has been broken here on earth and the depth of our loss can be consuming at times, as I'm sure you know that well...for you loved him most. But my own heart does soar in the moments when I am able to think beyond this world and the Spirit whispers to my soul the assurance that Taylor is with our Lord Jesus Christ and he would want to be no where else. he has seen the light of Jesus's face with his own eyes! Oh, how we each long for that day!

God had me pick this letter up to read again today because He wanted to remind me of His promises once again.. Thank you, Autumn----I know it was actually God working through you the day you sent it, and again today---I am so thankful that God is so merciful in never getting tired of my weak human self falling into satan's traps so often. Jesus was so quick to show me once again----Tay is safe with Him. After my melt down, I continued to do my bible study of Daniel. A comment that Beth made---is so true for me and probably for alot. She said---"One of satan's most effective schemes is simply to wear God's people out. Satan uses exhaustion and profound discouragement to persuade us to give up---Satan may be able to wear out our human strength, but he cannot wear out the Holy Spirit's. We can call upon God's supernatural strength to fight the good fight of faith". That is exactly what was happening to me on Friday---I was being worn out, but as soon as I called on God's supernatural strength----He was right there to help me through a dark valley. Just how beautiful is that going to be when we can lay our armor down here on earth and walk over the line and pick up our robe of righteous, but until then, I am sticking close to God's heart because without Him, i will very quickly lose strength and fall into the depths of depression and sadness---just where satan is trying to take me so very often. This valley of grief is so often not only a struggle of learning to live with a huge hole in my heart, but also a spiritual battle with satan sitting on one shoulder and God sitting on the other. I know it has been over six months, but please keep us all in your prayers as Taylor's 21st birthday is approaching which is April 1st, we are all starting to feel an overwhelming feeling of sadness and are wondering just how are we going to make it through not only that day, but the whole week. As I looked ahead in my classes, i found out my finals are going to land right on Taylor's birthday---I am going to need lots of prayers and God Grace to make it through those days. I know, God does not give Grace until it is needed----so why am I worried---satan is so tricky---because he found another weak spot. Fear is nothing more than "False-Evidence-Appearing-Real" but Grace is "God's-Riches-At-Christ-Expense.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

New Challenges

One more month has gone by. It is going to be six months tomorrow. Well, they told us in our Grief Share Group that it takes six to nine months for the death to actually "sink" in. I wonder, has it sunk in yet?? Just what will that feel like---will the pain be more intense? Or do you just learn to live with a constant sadness in your heart---that just becomes a part of your life. Today I was in Rittman and on my way home, I met Brooke driving Taylor's truck, and just for that split second when i seen it, my mind flashed it to be Taylor coming down the road, but then my mind came back to reality and a wave a sadness just swept over my whole body. Last weekend, one of Taylor's friend's stopped by for a visit. It is always nice to see these kids and talk with them, but it is ever so bittersweet. We always talk about memories, ones that make me laugh, ones that make me cry. She was the one who was holding his hand when he died. She did not volunteer any information, but I asked her how it all went that night. I was always the type of person, who loved details, but I am not sure these were the best to have. Also this week, the magazine "Fastline"came out---it has the tractor Craig pulled in memory of taylor at the fair on the front cover and inside there is a picture of Taylor and a small article. Just looking at the cover with that tractor brings back so many memories of that day at the fair.

My new challenge---I had prayed about this for many months, actually it was before Taylor's accident. I was praying about going to message therapy classes. I felt this is what God had next for me in life. I was all signed up to go in September, but of course that didn't happen. After the accident, I was questioning God, is this really something I should be doing, but still felt this is where He was leading, so I enrolled in the next class which started mid January. I try to pray every day, or at least the days that I go to class, that God will go with me, prepare me spiritually, mentally, physically for this class and the class for me. It is amazing, I realized I have really been sheltered----almost all my friends, or for that matter most everybody I know are Christians, so when I got into an environment where God is definitely not the priority in their minds or hearts, it is a strange feeling---sorta like alone in a crowd. I always try to pray that if God wants to use me as a witness in any way---that He will prepare me for whatever it is-----I really did not think it would be quite so quick though. This one teacher asked me probably about the third week of school, if I was not at the orientation in September and I said yes---then i sorta hesitated and asked her if she knew why I never started at that time. She looked at me and said yes, i know and continued to say---I would be in bed if that happened to me with one of my kids. I said, yes it is horrible and before i could go on about just how horrible it really is, a little voice said in my head---tell her where all your help comes from--but my very next thought was- Oh no, not in front of all these people----what will they think--I want to fit in---satan came so fast with those thoughts, but I knew right then that was what my prayer was that morning---if God wanted me to say something----He would give me the opportunity and courage---so I said, if it were not for God I would be in bed too--God is my strength. Not a person said a word, nobody asked one question. The teacher just looked at me, she didn't really say much else---not sure what any of them thought. Now in one of my other classes the assignment is to write what our goals are. As I thought about this, I realized my main goal is to go through this valley of grief and come out on the other side with a closer relationship with God and hopefully have some sense of joy again. I am sure this teacher is not looking for that type of goal, but maybe that is just what God wants me to write about????
Does being busy help with the grieving process? No not really, yes i might not think about Taylor 24/7 every day, but instead of being on an even scale of sadness each day, I end up having alot more deep valley's where I can be going along, and all of a sudden something hits me so hard that I almost have to sit down. Just like I had to do my taxes this week. I took all our stuff, plus Brooke's and Taylor's to be done. I started with Taylor's and said I am not quite sure how to do this. He looks at it and says all these numbers---like what do you mean you don't know how to do this. I look at him and said very slowly, Taylor was killed this summer--his face went completely white and said, "oh, I forgot about that"---even though, it actually happened right down the road from him. So, of course we talked about it for a while, but had to think----that was how I use to be ---I would see a young kid in the obit's that died and would think, boy that is terrible, but in a day or so, go one with life and not think much about it anymore. That was the way it was for this guy---in fact, he did not even remember when he saw me, just plain forgot---but for me---that day changed my life forever, and not for a second will I ever forget. I read this on somebody's facebook, but thought how true it is. She wrote, 10% happens to you and 90% is how you react to it. My 90% reaction to any situation that God brings into my life is going to my testimony for Him. I can shine brightly for Him, or I can just be a dim little light in the corner that people walk by and never notice. Just like last week in the heaven bible study---he said when God is judging our lives---not whether we are going to heaven or not, but when He is judging our "works" to see what our rewards are going to be---He is going to take our lives into His hands and place it into the fire and what comes out is going to be the things we did to Glorify His Name---if we did nothing--or very little in His Name---then nothing will survive the fire---we will have no rewards. I pray my heart will always be on fire for God---and that I will always be ready and have my light shining. I pray that almost daily for my kids too---that God will be the center of our lives. I have seen and learned through all this tragedy----God is faithful, He wants nothing more than to have a relationship with me---He wants to talk with me daily---only if I am listening though will I hear His voice. Going to this Heaven Bible Study just makes Heaven so much more real. I always thought, heaven was a beautiful place and yes, i will love it there, but he pulls out so many more details that I never thought on or knew. It makes it so very exciting.

Yesterday for some reason I decided go check taylor's cell phone. We have left it activated, at least for a while longer. Yes, sometimes I just call his voice mail to hear his voice---it just makes him seem closer, and sometimes I am so scared i am going to forget what his voice sounded like. Anyway, when I checked his phone there were three missed calls. One left a message and it said everything I was feeling. It just tore at my heart---she is like the rest of us, missing him terribly, like she said, Taylor, I am missing you more than you will ever know---that part is true, Taylor will never know, but someday, someday, we will get to hold him and talk with him again. Yesterday, I heard something on WCRF that I thought was worth thinking on. He said spiritual maturity never comes cheaply and the road to maturity is a wrestling match. I thought in every storm I have a choice---either I can get bitter, depressed or I can draw closer to God and believe every one of his promises. So, I had to think would I trade all of this sorrow, sadness, grief which is definitely taking me on the road to maturity=== for a life of leisure---or one with only a little rain occasionally, instead of having a tornado that completely flatten me. It definitely made be cling to Jesus with both hands, which probably would never have happened. Also, I never would have seen and felt Jesus's presence in such a deep and personal way. Can i answer that question---would I trade it all?? My human self would say in a heart beat, yes, I will trade every second of it as quickly as possible, but my spiritual side, loves being this close to Jesus--He has become my very Best Friend.

Monday, February 1, 2010

God---My Great Comforter

When I get up in the morning, what is the first thought that enters into my mind? Sometimes, I admit the first thoughts are all the things I need to get done in the next 24 hours, but I have found that if I can just surrender my day to God even before I get out of bed, the day will go much better. Beth Moore once said-- before you even get out of bed every day decide in your mind who is your Master for the day--who has control of your day---just who are am I going to serve. No, actually no one who is a Christian would conscientiously choose to serve anybody or anything but Jesus, but I have found unless I conscientiously think those thoughts, my priorities may become all mixed up for the day. Satan loves to get control of my mind and my day and take me down the road of despair, sadness, or even the "what if's", for that matter anything that can be discouraging---satan is just waiting for a small crack to get in the door.

It seems like Friday's can still be one of the worst days of the week for me. I got up last Friday, just feeling sad and very lonely---worse than I have for several weeks. I really did not know why, but those feelings were just in my heart. I had to make some phone calls, but the number I needed was on my cell phone, so I had to go through the saved messages to get to the number I wanted. I usually do not listen to any of them, but on Friday, when I came to the one from Craig (Taylor's teacher that left the message the day of his accident), I could not help myself, I just had to sit down and listen to it. Just listening to that message again, brought everything right back into clear focus, like it just happened today. It seems like when I am having a bad day, i know this probably sounds strange, but instead of stopping all my thoughts about those terrible moments and days that followed, it is like I am drawn to go back and go through those devastating days again. I don't know if this healing, or just a plain crazy thing to do. After I listened to Craig's message, I could not help but to cry a few tears. My heart was so sad. The rest of the morning, I just kept thinking about Taylor and at times cried a few more tears. I am sure God was right there beside me, even though for awhile i was lost in my grief and lost focus of Jesus's face. I just felt the whole day, I was on the verge of tears, and was wanting this day to be over and hoped tomorrow the clouds would not be so thick and heavy in my heart.
Like I said, God is so often my Great Comforter, and Friday was no different. I came down to the computer to write to someone's in their inbox on facebook. When I got on facebook, I by mistake was on Spencer's account, instead of my own. I went to the inbox to write my message and God opened my eyes to something He wanted me to see. I noticed that there was message there that was unread, so thinking it was mine, i started to read it. The more I read, the more my eyes filled with tears and my heart was both breaking and rejoicing. It was a friend of Taylor's that did not know our e-mail address, but wanted to write a memory in Taylor's memory for Christmas. She wrote this on Christmas morning at 2:38 AM. I am just going to post the whole thing, and give God all the Glory. She wrote

Dear Gasser Family, I am sorry I am writing my letter to you through facebook, but I still wanted to take part in your Christmas letters about Taylor. I met Taylor clear back at Sterling when we were little kids. We used to play soccer on the fields at recess. he was always so shy and quite, as we grew older we became friends through track and had many great laughs and wins together. Taylor would light up any room he walked into with his smile and I will never forget how perfect it was. After graduation I didn't see him around much but then I ran into him this past summer in July in Wooster. We talked for a bit and went our ways not knowing this would be our last meeting-----I am a fire fighter and an EMT for sterling and I remember hearing that call go out over my pager. it is something I will never forget in my lifetime----at the time i didn't know who it was but I remember just praying to God that it wasn't someone I knew. The next morning when I woke up my mom had called and told me who it was. I never in my wildest dreams expected it to be him. At Taylor's funeral I could barely function. I remember hugging each and everyone of you and feeling so empty and lost for words, but during his service something came over me. I remember Taylor's uncle preaching about how Taylor can't come to us, but we can go to him. I truly believe that Taylor was an Angel sent here to serve his purpose and i am here today to tell you that Taylor has changed my life completely. As i sat at his service with my classmates listening to what his uncle was saying I gave my heart to God completely. If no one else from that day from my class got anything out of what his uncle said just know this......Taylor saved my life and served his purpose. He truly is a blessing from God and I thank God for him everyday. I pray for your family everyday for God to give your family the strength to carry on. I honestly believe that God only gives you what He knows you can handle and I truly believe Taylor is up in heaven with God looking down on his family and friends everyday waiting for us to join him. Your son changed my life and I can't wait t to thank him someday for it! Merry Christmas and God Bless.

After reading this I just layed my head down on the computer desk and sobbed---God, You are my very best friend and my Great Comforter---You knew I needed this encouragement today. It is such encouragment to know that Taylor's death was not in vain----Perhaps other classmates, parents of classmates, friends are being saved because of his death. How many more gave their hearts to Jesus that day, or maybe in the days that followed???? It again reminds me that God has a perfect plan and does what is best for each one of His Children.. Would Taylor have given his life to "wake" up his friends----I believe he would have. He probably would not have said a quick "Yes", but after thinking about it a bit---I believe Taylor would have done it--- I can just see him looking down smiling and saying I am so glad you are choosing to live your life for Jesus----you will never ever be sorry!!!!! I pray there were many more sitting at Taylor's service saying those same words----giving their lives completely to Jesus.
I asked Spencer if he had ever read that in his inbox, He said he has never seen it. I just sat there and thought how God is so awesome and works everything out in His perfect timing----I can not get into spencer's facebook, because he has a password to get into it, but on this day----it was left open, so I just got into it by mistake, well in God's eye's it was no mistake, it was by His Hand directing me to it. Nothing, and I mean Nothing is "why accident", with God, everything is for a purpose or has a purpose in His Master Plan.
But God was not done encouraging me for the day. Jeff got the mail in and there was a card from Amber with a poem in it. Actually, I still get a card or two almost every week---God's people are amazing!! He uses them to carry and encourage me when I need it most. And what is so amazing is that they always come on just the right day--- a day when God sees I need to be carried for a while Anyway, I want to share it-----it fit just perfectly---What! is that a surprise---God in the right place at the right time!!!

"You can shed tears that he is gone,
or you can smile because he has lived.
You can close your eyes & pray he'll come back,
or you can open your eyes & see all he's left.
Your heart can be empty because you can't see him,
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember him only that he is gone,
or you can cherish his memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn back,
or you can do what he'd want---smile , open your eyes, love and go on.

I can see Taylor saying each line to me---and yes, even though, my heart can be sad, I can also smile.

God was merciful,-- Saturday was a better day. Another one of Taylor's friends came over and brought some more pictures of Taylor---some were ones I have never seen. It again, makes my heart so sad, but so glad to have them. We talked for a couple of hours, but did notice that this time we did not spend the whole time talking about Taylor---so there must be some healing there. It is so nice to see and talk with Taylor's friends---it in some way makes me feel a little bit closer to him. I know it is so sad that i got to know his friends so much better through his death than in his life. That is a change I am trying to make with the other two---get to know their friends much better now. I also decided to go out to the cemetery on Saturday afternoon, again something I have not done in several weeks. Yes, i did cry a few more tears, but I guess that will be for a long time, because each time I go out there, the thoughts that keeps running through my mind are----he is way too young to be out here----this can't really be my reality----just why Taylor---and then I stand there and look at his picture----But I always stay long enough to let God answer each one of those questions---it is all the same answer----My Plan is perfect and someday you will understand----then I go home.
God is my Great Comforter now and forever!!!!!