What a bittersweet weekend this turned out to be, truly the perfect word. Our church had it's annual Devoted Conference and they are always amazing. Worldwide speakers come and it's just a powerful time. But, of course, last year was when we received our gift from the Hope Foundation (a ministry of our church), the cruise. And Jessica was with me.
Going to church in general has been kind of hard for me. A few weeks ago, I couldn't even stay through the entire worship, as my emotions just overtook me, especially when we sang Yahweh. But I figured out it's not just the songs or the worship anointing. It's the building itself. So much of Jess's journey took place in that building. Subconsciously, she's around every corner, or some memory related to her sickness and passing. The cool thing is that our church also meets across town, closer to us, in a theater. One church, two locations is how they define it. So, we went there week before last and it was really right. Kind of a fresh start, but with our same wonderful team of leaders.
Then came time for the conference. Every part of my flesh did NOT want to go. I knew it would bring up lots of memories. But I felt strongly the Lord wanting me to go. And you know, He really poured into my spirit. All of the speakers spoke very strong words....getting into our purpose and destiny, counting the cost, choosing joy, being the lioness' that we are called to be, etc. Really took me out of myself and looking back toward the bigger picture. That's kind of the battle with grief, I think. Keeping your eyes on the eternal......
I was even blessed to meet Lisa Bevere. She's the husband of John, who I wrote about in last blog. All of their books will challenge you like none I've read... (Bait of Satan, Breaking Intimidation, Under Cover, Driven by Eternity,-I'm reading now-, to name a few....and Lisa's....Fight Like a Girl, Kissed the Girls and Made them Cry, Nurture....). Just fyi! Anyways, John and Lisa started the Pearl Alliance, which is one of the ministries we listed as giving donations to in lieu of flowers. They fight human trafficking and have a home for girls in Cambodia. Jessica left some money to that ministry and I was able to look at picture's on Lisa's phone of the actual beds her money purchased. Truly awesome!!!
But finally, on the last night, they did the Hope Foundation for this year. I thought I was prepared......It was wonderful how they blessed some women in need, truly awesome. And they also gave money to A21, which is another human trafficking ministry. But Jessica kept coming up. First in one pastors talk on giving. She shared on Jessica's generosity and giving spirit. She was one of the pastors there when Jess went to heaven. And at the end of the night, they sang a song and showed clips of all the women who had been blessed previously, ending in pictures of Jessica and some with all of us on the cruise.....and the words "In Loving Memory of Jessica Jean Snead".....
I have those same pictures. But the music, the large screen, her beautiful face smiling at us....the great memories that rushed in of that cruise....wow, overwhelming. She seemed more beautiful than I remember. I can't imagine her being more beautiful in heaven, but I bet she is. A friend of mine saw a vision of her in heaven during worship. Saw her in her perfection, laughing and singing. I imagine it, but it's not the same.
In the book "The Shack", he talks about the great sadness. I totally get that. It's so deep, it's deeper than deep, reaching into your soul. And you know inside that it will never, ever totally go away until heaven. That's the kind of emotions that came at me that night. And do every couple weeks, with smaller moments in between. I can push it aside most of the time. I can make choices that help. Like choosing joy, choosing life, receiving daily grace and love from my Saviour. Those are the ways I will get through this year. And believing that next year will be easier. Whether it's the Devoted Conference, her birthday, or the hundreds of reminders of her all around me, I'm looking forward to the day when I can be aware of them and have a little smile.....without all the tears. That's my HOPE.