Read His Words Before Ours!
The floor creaked as I walked towards the bedroom and slowly turned the doorknob. Before me was the perfect little girl’s bedroom; pink and green walls, dolls and stuffed animals, and a closet full of little clothes. If I didn’t know better, it appeared she had just gone to school for the day, and would return soon. “Miss Kendra!”My thoughts were interrupted by her big sister’s call, and I headed back downstairs.
I began nannying for the Rechtien family when their oldest daughter was 10.
Their youngest daughter, Annie, had passed away almost two years before.
I didn’t know what to expect the first time I met them. Openly, the Rechtiens talked about Annie, showing me her bedroom as we toured the house and telling me about Mary Cate, their oldest girl. Through our conversation, there was nothing but peace and steady joy.
I learned a lot about Annie while I nannied. She was a bubbly girl who followed the rules and loved giving hugs. I watched videos of Annie in her preschool performances and singing about going to heaven one day. I heard Mary Cate tell me that she missed her sister, and watched as she ever-so-sweetly chose a Christmas ornament for her parents in memory of Annie. I rejoiced with the Rechtien family as they adopted first a baby boy, followed by a baby girl. I saw Mary Cate’s big sister arms filled with a little sibling to love and hold again.
Throughout all of this, there was peace and steady, deep joy.
One morning while Kathleen was reading her Bible, she shared the verse that had anchored her despite her grief.
“Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be moved,
but abides forever.”
She had memorized it as a little girl, never knowing that these words would carry her as her own little girl fought brain cancer.
Every morning I found Kathleen, coffee in hand and Bible before her. The family’s evenings were filled with church small groups, gymnastics, and Wednesday night services. They weren’t just going through the spiritual motions. No.
Praise was constant on their lips and in their hearts.
Peace was always there and joy was always steady.
Annie got sick at just five years old and Kathleen and her husband had a choice to make. Abandon the faith they’d grown up with or choose to trust God even when.
Annie passed away ten months after her battle began. She was at home, with her family surrounding her and her big sister laying next to her. As Annie took her last breath on earth and her first in Heaven, Kathleen knew that there was no going back. Her baby girl was gone.
They buried Annie that week, and went to church the day after, because that’s who they are. Before this moment came, they had already decided to trust God even now in the darkest storm.
Kathleen stated at Annie’s funeral that they were shaking.
They ached to hold their little girl.
Their world had changed overnight.
They were shaking, but their faith was not.
When life was easy, Robert and Kathleen had made Jesus their cornerstone,
so their foundation was set when tragedy came.
They could praise God, even when everything was crumbling,
because their foundation was the only thing not crumbling.
Loss comes in many different shapes and sizes.
To me, loss looks like losing my Papa.
You may have lost your marriage, a baby,
a relationship, a job, your home, or something else.
Loss will come to all of us, but we can choose now to build a foundation
that will allow praise in the tragic.
Robert and Kathleen never would have chosen this road.
But with joy,
not a bubbling over dancing kind of joy,
but a steady, deep joy,
they can say the Lord has used Annie’s life in incredible ways.
Praise might not look like standing with widespread arms.
Praise may look like ugly tears before God.
Praise may look like a choice to love, to welcome, to extend grace even now when your heart breaks.
Praise, just like loss, comes in many shapes and forms.
The Rechtiens still grieve.
They still miss their precious girl,
but because they chose to hide away in the shelter of Jesus,
praise, peace, and joy are theirs even now.
And because of their choice,
they remain unshaken, even now.
“How would you look at eleven
If God hadn’t called you to heaven?
Tall like your sister, or short like me?
Soccer, gymnastics, or cheerleading?
Your classmates all grow and change every year,
But you are my forever kindergartener in your uniform so dear.
Our family of four, now a family of six
A brother, a sister, I think you helped pick!
Six years was our gift, how we wish we had more!
Happy Birthday, sweet Annie, on the day you were born.”
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!