Today marks one month since Hannah left our earthly home for her heavenly one...yet another anniversary to mark. This month has been filled with some of the lowest times of our lives, and surprisingly some of the most joyous. The depth of sorrow is unfathomable, yet the peace that God has given is unsurpassed by anything we've ever known. The grief comes in waves and can sometimes take our breath away, yet the joy of hearing how God has changed lives through Hannah's story really helps to ease the pain.
This has been a particularly difficult week...it is spring break, and the three of us have spent most of the week at home together. Hannah's absence fills the house...from her empty bedroom, to her empty chair at the dinner table, to the empty recliner she always sat in to watch American Idol. We've been missing her terribly...possibly even more than we have before now, as reality truly begins to set in. Tonight, though, we had the opportunity to attend a Chris Tomlin concert in Little Rock. You may remember that he sings the song, "I Will Rise", which was sung at Hannah's celebration service. Before he sang that song tonight, he shared that he had written it with people who had suffered a great loss in their life in mind...then shared that he received a phone call just before the concert this evening that his grandfather had passed away. His grandfather had been in the final stages of cancer, so his death was not unexpected, and he explained that two weeks ago his grandfather asked him to sing that song at his funeral. He talked about how close he was to his grandfather, and how the words of the song had a whole new meaning to him, even though he had written them himself not long ago. As he sang these words..."Jesus has overcome, and the grave is overwhelmed, the victory is won, He is risen from the dead. I will rise when He calls my name, no more sorrow, no more pain. I will rise on eagle's wings, before my God, fall on my knees..." I was filled with a new appreciation and an incredible gratitude for what Jesus did on the cross so that the grave is overwhelmed, and because of that, Hannah was able to fall on her knees before her God. Because of His sacrifice, my child is with Him today. Chris also sings a song called "Amazing Grace", in which he sings the verses of the old hymn, with the following chorus inserted between them: "My chains are gone...I've been set free...my God, my Savior...has ransomed me...and like a flood....His mercy rains...unfailing love, amazing grace". I'm sure that when he wrote this song, he was referring to the chains of sin, and the freedom of salvation; but in my mind, I can hear Hannah singing those words...her chains of cancer are gone, and she has truly been set free. What an amazing thought, and what a Savior who is worthy of praise. The tears flowed freely tonight from all three of us...a strange mixture of grief and joy.
Yet another remarkable event today...my brother and his wife welcomed their new baby girl, Katie Joy Persenaire, into the world early this morning. She shares a middle name with Hannah, and we are so thrilled that she has made her arrival. She shares a birthday with her big sister, Julia, who turned two today!
Again, we thank you for your prayers and your encouragement as we continue the transition to our "new normal". I want to share a quote passed along to me from a dear friend..."Remember, we are not human beings going through a temporary spiritual experience--we are spiritual beings going through a temporary human experience."
God is good, all the time!
Jill, Brad, and Bethany
P.S. Just a brief update on Lauren Crook, who I asked you to pray for in my previous email. She was recently hospitalized due to a severe eye infection, but has been released. She was also very worn down and dehydrated, but was able to receive her radiation as planned and finished the last treatment on March 20th. She has had a lot of difficulty eating because her salivary glands and ability to taste have been affected by surgeries and radiation. She is still having headaches and they have given her a pain patch. She is also still having problems with her eye....It could be the infection, tumor, nerve damage, etc. Her mom asks that everyone pray for her eyes, infection, MS issues, strength, and most of all that the remaining cancer will be wiped out by treatment.