Tuesday, December 5th, 1984 was the cold winter afternoon into which my daughter so exuberantly entered the world. My first born. My one and only daughter whom my husband and I named Joyia Evangeline. We had no idea how she was going to become her name, literally.
I could tell you story upon story of the love of Joyia. From the day she was born until the day she died she drew my heart and soul up, out and away, always wanting me to look and see and taste and hear beyond myself; calling all my senses to embrace and engage life. I’m just beginning to grasp the root of wisdom she unwittingly or perhaps intrinsically sought to impart. Whether she fully grasped the intention of her soul or not, I know for sure God did.
He, our everywhere present God, sovereignly allows and permits moments, scenarios, circumstances, etc…to come and go, to be as they are naturally bent to be, even when He can see the end from the beginning. He ordains the ebb and flow of life to be the wheel that molds and shapes the beautiful vessels we could become. He leads us to the paths He would have us follow, all the while giving us the freedom to choose – right or wrong. Then, when we choose our way over His way, there is no condemnation. His perfect love doesn’t pause or skip a beat. It’s too deep for that.
Rather, He makes a way up, over, out and through the messes we make (wasting none of it) to bring us into deeper and fuller understandings, helping us to grow up; helping us to endure the harder things that are likely to come.
Things like the death of a child.
On her birthday this week I lit a candle, in memory of her being present here. Then I took a photo and shared the moment I was making on Facebook. My soul continues to be warmed by the responses of friends, of those who knew her, who were loved by her. It is a deep and wide and rich blessing that we got to do relationship with her; that we get to do relationship with one another. And deeper still – we are invited to daily enter in, to abide, to sit at the feet of the Lord in deep relationship with Him.
Beloveds, we are rich in love.
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-22
Stephanie served on staff at America’s Keswick for 14 years as Women of Character Program Director. She is married to Sesky; together they have 2 adult children-a son, James and daughter, Joyia, who abides in heaven.
Stephanie is daily learning to live and do life victoriously in the shadow of great loss.