You know, I grew up in church… I have always strived to live a Godly life. I don't have an amazing story of how I was unsaved for so long, living such a worldly life, and found Christ… I love those stories.. but mine isn't like that. I have not had a lot of TRUE pain in my life… I have really led a very blessed life. My life has been pretty much a simple life that many times I feel that I THINK much too simple. But I am so thankful for my life. I am so thankful that though my earlier childhood has memories of my parents fighting and then they divorced-- they had us in church. I am thankful that even if our home life was not what was reflected while we were at church-- that did not scare them-- they took us to church. I wasn't like most kids when their parents divorced. I was not broken over it. I was so very thankful. Once in my teenager years an adult I was close to said to me that I had a "dysfunctional family" because my parents were divorced… I never agreed. The ONLY thing I was sad about or FEARED with my parents divorced is that my mom's last name was going to be different than mine. The simple minded Cassey did not want her mom to sign her report cards, field trip forms, or reading log with a DIFFERENT last name. I didn't want to be "one of those." I guess I felt if I my mom had the same last name no one would know that my parents were divorced.. even though I was so very thankful. (And she didn't change her last name until Little Sis graduated HS) I remember my dad asking us as children if we were upset about the divorce… I remember telling him 'yes' because I felt I was suppose to… but I never was. Not once. As the years went on… I lived a pretty normal life. There was some crazy times in my life… I went through those preteen/teen years with parents divorcing, remarrying, step-siblings, hurt, anger, bitterness, attitude… Lots of painful things… for me. I had such a great life though. I may have been a pain and did hurtful things towards my parents, but I really think it was the teenager in me lashing out.. I honestly, don't remember the things that happened really-except there were years in my life from like 15-21 where a relationship I had with a parent was very strained.. and would set the tone for our relationship for many years to come. Next week I turn 31… I am SO thankful I am who I am today. I am SO thankful that though there was pain in my childhood, I don't dwell on it… I don't let it affect who I am. I can't imagine holding on to those things and letting them affect how I live my life. I am just so very thankful. I am thankful that today… I have real relationships with both of my parents and I feel like the teenager years have been forgiven :D I am actually not sure why I went off on this tangent.. not what this blog was about. I just wanted to emphasis that I had a good life, a good childhood… I did. Even with divorced parents. I NEVER suffered from the hands of anyone else… nothing like that. Nothing like the pain so many of my friends have endured…
Then I got married. I married my 16 year old Love. I married him at the ripe age of 19… wanted to experience life with him. There are a handful of times that I can name that life was so HARD for us. SO HARD. Not because of finances, changes, etc. But because of choices we made… and just things that happened between us. But I am so thankful that we are both grounded in our faith.. that we both had that instilled in us as children.. and each time we have truly struggled, we have come out stronger. Nathan is the man that God created for me, created to be my kids Daddy. I, much too often, take him for granted… I really believe as the years go on we get better together, our life gets sweeter, and I just long to be with him more… to love him more… This man helped change me. He helped make me who I am today. Heck, I married him at 19 years old… I was just a kid. I literally grew up with him. I have been going back reading old journals and I see God's Hand in so much.. how God is molding us and changing us. Prayers I prayed for years being answered.. and I am so thankful. Again, not what this blog is about… whew.
But isn't he HOT?
So today in Sunday School we were in Hebrews and discussing different things.. The question came up…."What happens that causes us to question God?" Or.. fall from Him, dare to not believe in Him??? I listened to answers and I realized.. once again, my answer was just TOO SIMPLE! I wasn't thinking like these other people: "people who are preaching almost the same thing, but twisting ONE scripture… and living believing this for years" "preachers who get on that pulpit and preach, but live such a different life outside of church." These things hurt my new friends I know!!! I have never experienced that kind of hurt, by a preacher or someone head of a church… and I almost begin to wonder about me and the depth at which I really cling to God. My mind instantly goes to the ONE TIME I know I fell hard, I questioned Him, I was angry at Him. I wondered "WHY! Why didn't HE SAVE him? Why would He let this happen? He is all powerful, the healer, ultimate physician…. and yet HE DIDN'T SAVE my brother?"
So after listening to the ways my new friends talked about in this world-- ways that cause us to fall or question God… I spoke. I said "when someone close to you dies or gets cancer.." you know- the cliche answer "When bad things happen to good people." But you know, I didn't want to make it personal. I don't know these people. But in the life that I lived.. a simple, good girl life… Losing Shane was the WORST thing that has happened in my life by far. Losing my grandpa years before was the other most painful. Shane never lived past 29, he will FOREVER be 29! No new pictures of Shane.. no new memories…… and then I find myself, in church… trying to get angry. But God… He softens my heart. I really do feel like it is okay to be angry… though I find myself getting that way less and less… Though I will NEVERRRR understand, this side of Glory, WHY God would 'allow' this to happen… I know that I am not the only person to hurt. My sister and I are not the first sisters to lose their brother, nor will we be the last. My mom and dad are not the first parents to lose their child to a car wreck, nor will they be the last. Shane's kids were not the first kids to lose their daddy… nor will they be the last… and this sentence-- that makes me cry. His sweet kids. Growing up without him, some real memories, many made up memories in their head based on what we have all shared with them, based on pictures… I don't understand.. never will.
But as we talked in Sunday School.. something was said.. and though I have heard it many times.. today it hit me. When things happen to people close to us and we don't understand why.. we have to "Remember the good times!" And I wrote in my Bible. "Shane: I need to remember the Good times." We had some GREAT times. GREAT TIMES! AMAZING MEMORIES! It kills my soul to know that we are embarking on his 5th year anniversary since that awful phone call while living in Japan. A phone call our own mother had to make to her six month pregnant daughter… across the world. Guys, I would have never, EVER guessed that when I hugged this boy I call my Big Brother goodbye, as I started a new journey in Japan- in June 0f 2008.. would be the LAST time I would touch him… hug him… cry with him. The next time I was crying-- it was for him, because he had died in a tragic car wreck at 11:16pm on December 3, 2009--- as I sat in my classroom teaching my kids across the world in Japan. We cried hard that day..the day I left. I cried so hard.. I am so close to my mom, brother, and sister… I'll never forget that day. So very thankful for their relationships and all of our memories together.
On that day in June of 2008, I was so stressed out at the airport.. my bags were too heavy. If I had been with my husband, who is Active Duty, it would not have been a big deal- but I was flying to meet him in San Angelo.. so I was getting issues. My 2 suitcases were too heavy. I remember freaking out.. I was MOVING to Japan! I remember stressing so much that I started crying. I remember sitting on the floor in front of the counter trying to make things fit and taking things out, etc. I am sure you some of you understand that drama.. I remember Shane laughing as he tried to help me-- telling me to "calm down, it is ok." I probably snapped at him- then felt guilty later. I remember the drama of it all.. and how HE and Greg, my stepdad, helped calm me. I remember growing up and at one point he did not like me, as many older siblings don't their younger.. but he still would protect me. I remember as we became adults how he would tell me on the phone that he was "proud of me." I remember when finding out I was pregnant he was so excited. I remember how I was not home in my college dorm when he called to tell me of his first baby and he left a message calling me "Aunt Cassey"… I remember. I remember so much about him- that would take a ton of blogs..
I remember many talks with Shane and how my heart would hurt so bad for him. Shane didn't seem to live an easy life. It always seemed like something was against him. I remember helping him out quite a bit financially or what have it. I wanted Shane to have the good life like I did. I always felt guilty when things were okay in my life, with Nate and I, when we were taking trips, etc. Shane just struggled.. but you know what? He loved life. He loved us. He loved his family and friends- so much. He loved being a Daddy..he loved those kids!!! He was one of the sweetest men I knew… and HE DID NOT DESERVE to die.. but when I get like that… I have to "remember the good times." And oh, we had some good times. When I think of how he is missing out on his kids lives, how he has not met any of my kids or Britt's.. how Noah, Zander, and Sydni only know him as memories-- it kills me. Literally squashes my soul. He would love our kids.. just as we have always loved his.
We are not the first, nor the last, to experience this pain. But I really feel like today the Lord wanted me to hear "Remember the Good Times." As we journey towards the 5 year mark…. I want to remember the good times.. not the pain. I tend to always think of that horrible phone call, what happened in the next few hours, the military working with us to get us out on the next available flight-- the next morning, the day long journey back to America, walking through my moms front door with everyone there, going to see his body, the viewing, his service… I tend to remember that stuff.. TOO MUCH. I remember how …. I would have been hugging his ALIVE soul only 8 days later if he had not had a wreck--- as we had flights booked to go home for my sister's wedding… My sister who had to continue with her wedding.. without him… But… I need to remember the sweet good times..
I actually do not know what this blog is about. I felt like writing. I miss writing for me. So here we have it. I remember between Shane dying on December 3, 2009 and my returning back to Japan the beginning of January 2010 and before Noah was born in March of 2010.. I remember driving to work at some point and hearing the song "Praise you in this Storm".. and making that my mantra for the coming year.. I remember emailing my two girlfriends the lyrics and sharing my heart that day… If you are going through something, I hope these words can help you too:
"Praise You In This Storm"
As the thunder rolls I barely hear Your whisper through the rain "I'm with you" And as Your mercy falls I raise my hands and praise the God who gives And takes away
[Chorus:] And I'll praise You in this storm And I will lift my hands For You are who You are No matter where I am And every tear I've cried You hold in Your hand You never left my side And though my heart is torn I will praise You in this storm
I remember when I stumbled in the wind You heard my cry to you And you raised me up again My strength is almost gone How can I carry on If I can't find You
But as the thunder rolls I barely hear You whisper through the rain "I'm with you" And as Your mercy falls I raise my hands and praise the God who gives And takes away