Look Back To Move Forward-Part I

Part 1 of a 2 Part Series

Last week, my husband lost a job which he had essentially worked to attain since he was 15 years old.  A chef by trade, last June, my husband was offered a position as the Assistant General Manager over Food and Beverage at a large hotel in our area.  We were all pretty proud of him and had hoped that the opportunity might open up even more doors for advancement in the future.  We never dreamed that less than a year later, due to fears over a global pandemic, he would lose his job...and our family's sole source of steady income.  

Even before homeschooling became every mom's sudden unexpected reality, we were homeschooling our big kids.  I left a decent-paying job in 2010, when my oldest daughter was born, in order to stay home with her.  Homeschooling was a choice, and one we've never regretted. Several times recently, I recall feeling grateful that my husband's job had afforded us the opportunity to do just that.

So much is uncertain now.  If we survive the pandemic, how will we live?  Will my husband be called back to his job? Will we have to move for work?  Will I have to return to the workforce? If so, would there be any way for us to continue homeschooling our kids?  If not, what then? So many unknowns.  In one of my favorite Psalms, King David implores his hearers...

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities, 
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle."

Psalm 103:2-5, NASB

At various times in my own life, when I've found myself standing at the crossroads of fear and faith, the Holy Spirit has brought this verse to mind. In those moments where the outcome of some difficult and scary situation I was facing seemed so uncertain, instead of looking forward to the end result, I was reminded to look back, instead. Encouraged to look back at His hand actively operating in every circumstance of my life, caring, guiding, protecting, and providing.

It would be so very easy to allow fear to creep in and immobilize me.  In the past, that's exactly what would have happened. Until fairly recently, fear and anxiety were pretty constant fixtures in my life.  I was like the people referred to in Hebrews 2:15, "who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives." On more than one occasion, the anxiety I experienced was crippling. 

The Lord was faithful to preserve me through these episodes, though many times, as I came out on the other end, I would feel grateful and yet also apprehensive as I wondered when the proverbial "other shoe would drop."  

At some point, however, I realized that this all had to do with a deep-seated lack of trust on my part.  Over time, I slowly began to understand that the opposite of fear was faith or trust. And I knew that this was the very thing I so desperately lacked.  Ironically, although I had trusted in Jesus for my eternal destiny, per John 3:16, I had always struggled to entrust Him with the details of my life here on earth.

Around the fall of 2015, I recall being in the worship service of the church I attended back then and hearing the song "Oceans" for the first time.  As I listened to the words, "Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders," I thought to myself, "how could I ever get to that place of unreserved trust in His plans for my life?" 

You see, a decade prior, my husband and I had buried our first child shortly after marrying and moving to another state, away from family and friends and all that was familiar to us.  Her death followed just five hours after an emergency c-section at 24 weeks gestation. The surgery was prompted by a severe case of early-onset Preeclampsia which had seriously compromised my liver and kidneys, and which was brought on by a previously undiagnosed blood clotting disorder.  

The loss of our daughter Eva had left us reeling, and on shaky footing as a married couple just starting out.  We were isolated and ill-equipped to face such a hard blow alone. Dreams shattered, and without any community to speak of, the sense of hopelessness which we felt drove my husband to alcoholism and workaholism, and me to depression. 

In the aftermath of our daughter's death, a well-meaning friend had remarked to us that what we had experienced was likely divine punishment for having been intimate before marriage. It was like the very worst sort of salt in the wound and profoundly affected our view of God and our ability to trust Him to rebuild our broken lives. So instead of trusting Him, we ran. For a decade.

Our gracious Lord did break into our darkness and blessed us with a second daughter, Brooklyn, and also a son, Alexander. Over time, our hearts began to thaw out little by little. Hope resurrected as we saw His benevolence operating on our behalf, in spite of our continued inability to fully trust Him. We started to settle into a comfortable rhythm in our lives as parents of two little ones. We began to develop a small support network here. We were healing, but we were still holding back.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this series following Kelley's journey of looking back and moving forward.

Now What?

13 comments on “Look Back To Move Forward-Part I”

  1. Hi Kayla,

    Thank you for your comments. It’s funny that you should mention my sharing this story so many years later. I always wondered how, when and if He would use it to minister to others. I was beginning to think He might not! I’m so very grateful for this opportunity to share and to hopefully redeem some of that pain by giving others hope.

    I’m so sorry to hear that you lost a little girl, too. I’m sad to hear that it was also in the 2nd trimester. I enjoyed watching your video during the Free Grace Women Bible study the other day, and plan to check out your blog later today and look forward to learning more about your story and ministry!

    With regard to being able to trust Him for eternal life, but not so much for this life...I’ve been thinking about this verse:

    “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” - Romans 8:32

  2. Kelley... I too know the pain of losing a daughter in the second trimester. Oh what pain it causes; like a physical piece of your own soul is missing internally. I can also relate to the struggle to fully trust Him with my life despite being sure of my eternity. Thanks for being open and honest about this especially so many years later. Us younger ladies need to hear it!

  3. Oh Kelley, HOW YOUR WORDS gripped my heart~!!! I knew part of your story, but not all of this, and I'm so glad you shared it. Thankful that God brought you and your wonderful family into my life. You have been such a blessing to me~!!! Your words are a great reminder that God is here for us in the good times and the bad. We believed God's promise of John 3:16 which gave us our assurance of our eternal well being, and thank you for reminding us that His promises are just as true for being there for us in the difficulties of life that we go through. Our Father will NEVER leave us or forsake us. Thank you for such a beautiful reminder of that. I love you my friend. Hope we can get together again soon~!!!

    1. Hi friend!

      You know what? If you had not encouraged me to write down my testimony to begin with, this article would not even exist! Catherine Ndinda (from Kenya!) is on the writing team here, and reached out to me after reading my testimony in Grace in Focus! So thank YOU for your encouragement! I’m beyond grateful for your role in my life and for the way you helped point me back to His FREE Grace! Love and miss you and hope to see you very SOON! ?

      1. Hi Kelley, I just now saw your sweet reply. It's a joy to see how God is using your talents and your life experience to glorify HIM~!!! It's a joy to see how God is faithful in everything. I just need to remember to keep focused on HIM. Love you my friend~!!! Glad to see you writing with "Free Grace Women." They are all a blessing~!!! 🙂

  4. Thank you for sharing so openly, Kelley. You have certainly walked through the fire, and I am glad the Lord has given you grace, protection, and understanding through it all. I look forward to part 2!

    1. Thank you so much, Karen!

      I have always loved this portion of Psalm 139 (v.9-10): “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

      Your comment reminds me of the verse...how no matter where I’ve been spiritually or emotionally, He’s always been right there, holding me fast!

      Thank you for your encouragement! ❤️

    1. Thank you, Brandi! I have always been an open book with a big mouth! Usually it gets me into trouble, but I hope it will be an asset here! ? Looking forward to hearing more of your stories, too!

  5. Having been married for 40 years, I have seen several times the uncertainty in where God was leading us. Fear of the unknown future is devastating. But after seeing his grace and mercy leading us to great joy. I have learned not to fear the present circumstances but look forward to seeing where God is leading me as it has always lead me to be closer to him. I understand your fears as my husband lost a job after 24 years during 2009 economy. But it took me on a journey that as I look back was a blessing and him losing his job was the only way we could have lived with the blessing of living with my sister during her last year of her life. That year was one of the greatest blessings of my life. Believe me- a new chapter in your life is scary but full of adventures and rewards if you trust our Saviour. I pray you find the path you are on now be filled with rewards and happiness.

    1. Thank you, Deborah! I agree with you that God will use this time for His good purposes, and am praying that we will not miss any lesson He is trying to teach us during it! And I have a sneaking suspicion that like you said, this may be the only way us two hard-heads might have the time and space required to “hear” and receive some of those things He has for us. Thank you for your encouragement and for sharing the beautiful silver lining which you received during your trial! ❤️

  6. Oh dear Kelley..... I had no idea you and your husband carried such sorrow. I’m so sorry you two lost your precious daughter. And I don't believe for a second that the Lord was punishing you. As is typical, our dear Lord Who is Able to Use all for our good and His Glory, He is Using you to share His Truth you are learning in this journey. How can we move forward in Faith I unless we look back at His Faithfulness to us?! Thank you so much for your willingness to pass on your testimony of God’s Goodness to you not in spite of what some would consider failures but because no hurt is wasted in His economy!
    How proud I am of the woman of Faith you are. I am honored to call you Friend. ❤️

    1. Tears, Carlene! ❤️ No hurt is wasted in His economy...I could not have said that better, myself! In fact, I was searching for the appropriate phrase to articulate that earlier! Thank you for being my friend, and for your encouragement, beautiful sister in Christ!

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