Monday, February 10, 2014

February Love Letters- Love Makes Us Better by Jodi Grimm

Like every little girl, I had always dreamed of my wedding day; of falling in love, building a family, and growing old with someone.  I was raised in a very loving home with an older sister and two loving parents, who always put my sister and me first.  I knew I wanted to create the same environment for my family.

I graduated from college with an Education degree and began my teaching career in the fall of 1998.  After several failed relationships in college, and numerous bad dates, I returned home to my parents’ house as a single college grad.  I was back in the loving home that I so craved to recreate one day. 

Over the next three years I continued to teach middle school English, coach my former high school cheerleading squad, and search for “the one”. I was content, eventually moving into my own apartment and beginning to build my life.  The one thing I was missing in that equation was the love God could have provided me, had I only sought Him first.

I began to have health problems.  What I thought was being sore from softball or cheerleading, or “being too old” turned out to be a long, painful, frustrating road of an eventual diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis. 

I was devastated.

 I was 25 years old, single, my whole life ahead of me, and now I had an incurable, crippling, debilitating disease? My life was over.  Or so I thought.  But still, where was God?  Why wasn’t I searching Him for help?  What was I waiting on?

Fast forward to Fall of 2001, I met my soon to be husband.  He came to watch the football game of our Alma mater, where I was still the cheerleading coach.  To make a long story short, he sought me out after the game, sent me a letter in the mail, and ultimately stole my heart.  

This man was 10 years older than me, but had all the characteristics of “the one” I knew I wanted to find one day.  The only problem was that he had 3 children: a 6 year old little boy, and 2 year old twins.  Wow!  I was young, single, and never been married.  Did I really want to pursue a relationship with this man?

Over the next few months, Mike proved to me the real meaning of a relationship and love.  He went to my doctor appointments with me, he learned how to give me injections to ward off the progression of my disease, he joined an online support club of family members with RA, and all along he was slowly making me realize not only were his children lucky to have him as a father, but I was lucky to have him in my life as well. 

Then tragedy struck.  

Three months into our relationship, my father suddenly passed away without warning.  My entire world crashed around me.  I didn’t feel like I could carry on.  I didn’t feel like living, or breathing, or loving.  But Mike stayed right by my side.  He let me feel my anger, my sadness, my frustrations, my fear. 

And his children, the reason I wasn’t so sure I wanted to get involved in a relationship with him to begin with, kept the joy in my heart.  

They gave me a sense of hope and they brought laughter and sunshine into my rather dark world.  We got engaged 6 months later and planned our wedding a month short of my dad’s one year anniversary of passing.

I was angry in those early stages after my dad passed away.  It wasn’t fair.  How could God take someone so good away?  Where was God when we were grieving?  Why wasn't He there to take the pain away?  

I was searching for God, but I was searching for Him in anger, not searching for the peace and comfort I so desperately needed, and that only He could provide. 

But He was patient.  He was right there all along, lifting me up when I didn’t think I could go on, He was filling me with strength when I was weak.  And He sent a man into my life months before He took my dad home so I wouldn’t be alone.  God had a plan for me.  Finally, I was seeing it.

Mike and I have been married now for over 11 years, and looking back I see God’s hand in every aspect of our lives.  Right after we were married, we found a home church that we have been serving in for over 10 years; from children’s church, AWANA, Sunday school teaching, and even my husband serving as a Deacon. 
Luke is now 19, Emily and Tyler are now 15, and Bryce, whom just celebrated his 8th birthday,joined our family in January of 2006.  Looking back at my childhood dreams of how my life would be, I never anticipated or included being a step mom in any of it.  But I know God’s plan for my life is exactly the way it should be.  I can’t imagine not having all four of my kids in my life.  Being a step mom requires extra patience and love as you deal with a blended family.  God, and our church, is the center of our family life, and our family holds close to the peace only God can provide.  He has shown me that although as a little girl, I had other hopes and dreams, but as always He knows best, He knew this was what I needed along. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” NKJV

I have drawn strength from those early days when I was struggling with a diagnosis of RA, and when I lost my dad. Had I only leaned on God, I would’ve had so much more peace.  I would’ve wasted less time worrying, less time stressing, and less time with a broken heart.  There have been other obstacles along the way over the last 11 years, but there is nothing that God can’t provide.  He is my comforter, my strength, my rock, and without Him I am nothing.  

I am a better mother, a better wife, a better friend, and a better teacher, when I place my hands at the foot of Jesus and love like only He can.  My hope for my future is to instill the love of Jesus in my children, and to let them know that there is nothing God will place in front of us that He can’t help us with.  I want my children to have a personal relationship with Him and to rest in His lap of peace.  That is my Hope.  And that one day, Jesus will say, “well done my good and faithful servant.”

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