Sadness and Celebration

Hi Friends –

We’re overwhelmed with sadness and we celebrate the life of an amazing person tonight and tomorrow.  I’m not quite sure how those two things go together – sadness and celebration –  but we are going to do our best.  I’ve spent the last couple of days feeling sad, grateful, lost, and loved.  As many of our family, and some of you, have.  I don’t know how to summarize a life like Susan’s, but I/we will try tomorrow.  I pray that we can share a picture of who Susan was, we can remember her well, and be inspired by that memory.  I have so many moments where I simply can’t believe she is gone.  I expect her to walk through the room any minute now.

If you pray for us, pray that the wounds that are so open and raw right now begin to heal.  That God’s presence is intimately with our family, especially our tender-hearted kids.  And pray that God continues to use Susan’s life for much good.

On that note, I have been encouraged by all the response to this blog.  There are people all over the world, literally, that God has touched through Susan’s story.  I’m grateful that something good can come out of something so tragic.  And that is the gospel story, right?  Blessing out of a curse.  Good out of bad.  Light shining in the darkness.

God bless you, friends.  Thanks for everything you meant to Susan, and everything you mean to me.

Jerel

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30 Responses to “Sadness and Celebration”

  1. Hillary Haynes Says:

    Susan was such an inspiration to all who knew her here on this earth! What a blessing it is to know she is in Heaven with Jesus. I have prayed constantly for you, your family, and your precious kids! I can’t begin to imagine the heartache they feel now at the loss of their Mom! I pray God’s strength, peace, and healing will come to you all. I love you all and will be praying all the time for you guys!

  2. Mama Henley Says:

    You will get through today and tomorrow because the Lord will carry you,open wounds and all. We are praying for you, Jerel. She lived a life that glorified the Lord, which is the chief end of man. Well done, good and faithful servant!

  3. Sheryl Says:

    Sadness & gladness is exactly the right phrase!! So glad that Susan is healed and that I was able to be touched by her goodness for a season!! Sad because we cannot see her physically until we journey home!!! I am praying for you and your precious children always!! Thank you for including us in this journey with Susan!!!!!

  4. Ruth Winn Says:

    Thank you, Jerel, for your posts on this blog. We will join you in celebration and sadness as we remember Susan, especially tonight and tomorrow. May God engulf you and your children in His comfort and love.

    Ruth and David Winn

  5. Dawn Hatley Says:

    I’m at a loss for what to say, but I want you to know that I think it is amazing that you have shared so many of your thoughts and continued to give updates through such a hard time. I knew your sweet Susan from volunteering beside her with PTA and I will miss her dearly. She was such a positive, happy person and I know that I am better from knowing her. What an amazing person she was; always giving of herself freely! Your children are such bright, beautiful individuals and I will continue to pray for all of you. God bless.

  6. amy dodson Says:

    Jerel,

    I love reading the words you have used throughout your posts. Why they at times have been full of much sadness, the beauty and love for your SAvior is so present. Thank you for your strength in sharing and keeping us updated every step of the way. What an amazing witness for the character of Christ you are to those reading and to your beautiful babies. Thank you from the bottom of my heart showing me Christ’s glorious face again today.

    Amy

  7. Loie Forti Says:

    Jerel, I pray God will give you Peace!

  8. Phillip Barnes Says:

    Jerel,

    I have been praying for you and your children, I pray for peace in your heart and confort and peace for your children. My God provide you the words to say tomorrow when you celebrate Susan’s live and all the joy she has brought to you, the children and the rest of the world. May God bless you and confort you.

    Phillip

  9. Beth Says:

    Praise God from Whom all blessings flow-
    praise Him all creatures here below.

  10. Angie Says:

    May God, family and friends surround you and bring you peace and comfort. Susan’s light will continue to shine through you, Bailey, Christopher and Luke always.

  11. Amy Carter Says:

    God is flooding my thoughts with sweet memories of Susan and the times we spent with you all when we lived in Charlotte. Her smile was contageous and her love for God shined through her! Thank you Jerel for your posts and letting those of us who no longer live near you the opportunity to pray for your family through these times.

  12. Andrea Brewer Says:

    Jeryl, my name is Andrea Brewer, Dianne Mitzel is my beuatiful aunt. She introduced me and my sister to Your blog. I did not have the privilege of knowing your “sweet Susan” – it would been such an honor to have known her I am certain. I feel so many emotions when reading your story. Although, I do not know you and your family, I am thinking of you all every moment. You are truly a man to admire and I will be inspired from your strength and goodness always. With deepest respect and condolences.
    Andrea Brewer

  13. David Stith, Jr. Says:

    Prayers for you and your family right now Jerel during this difficult time. Reading your understanding and perseverance through these entries is inspiring. Susan’s work with the community will far exceed her time on Earth and it was an honor to have met you both through Mt. Tabor Methodist. I know your family will think about her every day and celebrate her courage through life.

  14. Sissy Carney Groce Says:

    Jerel,
    I know you don’t know me but Mike Madding at The Cove has kept us updated about your Family. I will pray for you and your children, and know that God is always with you!!
    Sincerely

  15. Lin Essick Says:

    When we first truly dedicated ourselves to Jesus, you and Susan were there as a brother and sister and as a testament to lives devoted to God’s service. You showed us what that looked like. Worshipping together with you and Susan was always a blessing and is a memory that I’ll treasure. My walk with Jesus is a part of the legacy that you two built together. I’ll always remember the conversations that Susan and I had. She loved you with completeness, Jerel. No man has ever been more loved by his wife than you, my sweet friend. I know your heart is breaking and I would give anything to be able to ease your sadness. But only our Lord can do that, so this is what I’m praying.
    How blessed we are to have known Susan and to know that we will be with her again in only a while. What beauty and grace that she brought to our lives and that she’ll add to our eternity.
    And we’re blessed to know you. I hope that it goes without saying that Joe and I are here for anything you and the children need. Please count us as friends that you can call on to show you how much Jesus loves you. Lin

  16. MILLIE WINTERS Says:

    MAY GOD WRAP HIS ARMS AROUND YOU ALL IN THESE DAY’S OF DARKNESS.ONLY GOD KNOW’S WHY.I ONLY WISH I HAD YOR FAITH AND UNDERSTANDING , ALWAY’S KNOW NOW YOU HAVE A VERY SPECIAL ANGEL WATCHING OVER YOU ALL………I WISH I COULD SAY OR DO SOMETHING TO EASY THE HURT AND PAIN FOR YOU ANDTHE CHILDREN BUT I CAN PRAY GOD SEE’S EVERY HURT AND HE WILL TAKE CARE OF ITALL.LOVE AND PRAYER;S COMMING YOUR WAY.

  17. Carolyn Batchelder Says:

    Praying for you as I have been praying for Susan. I know there was a great celebration as she went Home to be with the Lord and one day you will see her again. The following is a poem I wrote and may it comfort you:
    SLEEP THROUGH THE STORMS

    YOU TOSS AND TURN, YOU CANNOT SLEEP
    THEN YOU HEAR THE FATHER SPEAK:
    “REST MY CHILD I AM HERE;
    GO TO SLEEP AND HAVE NO FEAR.
    YOUR FATHER GOD WILL TAKE YOUR STORM,
    I’VE BEEN DOING IT SINCE YOU WERE BORN.
    WHEN YOU ACCEPTED ME AND FIRST BELIEVED;
    MY HELPER AND GUIDE WAS THEN RECEIVED.
    CALL ON THE SPIRIT TO SHOW YOU THE WAY,
    THROUGH ANY STORM THAT COMES TODAY.
    BRING YOUR HURTS, BRING ALL YOUR PAIN;
    GIVE THEM TO ME;YOUR JOY WILL REMAIN.
    I CREATED THE HEAVENS AND EARTH YOU SEE;
    NOTHING MY CHILD IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME.
    I WAIT EACH DAY FOR YOU TO COME IN PRAYER;
    I LOOK FORWARD TO WHAT YOU HAVE TO SHARE.
    WHEN YOU LOST YOUR LOVED ONES…I CRIED;
    WHEN SATAN SAID I DIDN’T CARE….HE LIED.
    THEY ARE SAFE WITH ME IN A BETTER PLACE;
    ONE DAY YOU TOO WILL SEE MY FACE.
    KNOW ONE CAN LOVE YOU THE WAY THAT I DO;
    MY LOVE IS UNCONDITIONAL, TRUSTING AND TRUE.
    THROUGH ALL YOUR STORMS I KNOW WHAT’S BEST;
    CALL ON ME, TRUST IN ME, I’LL DO THE REST.
    I CAN CALM THE STORMS OF ANY SEA;
    I WILL CALM THE STORMS THAT RAGE IN THEE.
    WHEN YOU ARE HURTING I AM TOO;
    OH, HOW MUCH I DO LOVE YOU!”

    LOVE,
    GOD
    CLB 6/15/08

    Love in His grace,
    Carolyn

  18. Nancy Jones Says:

    Jerel – only time and the Lord will heal this sadness and great loss. But the memories now that make you sad and cry will one day make you smile because you knew Susan. You have 3 wonderful healthy children to keep you busy and see Susan in them. I can’t imagine but the blogs have been good for you – save them for your children to hear their mother’s words and yours. Death is a double-edged sword of joy, relief and such sadness.
    So very sorry, we could not be there but have to work and too far right now. God will hold you tight and you are going to learn of Him in a real sense that you will be able to minister to others in the future, God has a great plan for your life – wait on the Lord. I look daily to hear about you and the children.

    Nancy Jones, Colorado

  19. Jill Angell Reynolds Says:

    Jerel, this blog continues to reach deep into the hearts of many. I have asked others to pray for your family and gave them the link to your story. The conversations that have come out of that request have been remarkable. The legacy that Susan leaves is both deep and wide. She was a big part of a turning point for me spiritually at UNC and she has continued to be a part of changing lives all these years since. I believe that her/your story will continue to point others to the Savior for years to come. Thank you for sharing your heart so honestly.

  20. Katie Robinson Says:

    Oh Jerel, I am continually in awe of how the Lord is giving you a new measure of His grace every day as you write these posts. Thank you for letting us see Him at work. You must be exhausted after talking with so many people tonight. Bill and I loved seeing all the pictures of you guys and remembering beautiful Susan. You and your family are amazing. I know we just kind of hugged you and kept moving, but know that we are talking about you, thinking about you, and praying for you all the time. As many have said already, God is using you in a mighty way right now to reveal Himself. Thank you, thank you for listening to Him and letting us hear with you.

  21. Melissa Durham Says:

    Jerel,
    Last night we came to the visitation and I was overwhelmed with the turn out of people that showed ther love and support to you and the family for such an Awesome women in Christ (not surprised). You and Susan made a difference in my life. Susan made me want to be more like her…the love she had for our AWESOME Lord was and still is very promising for me to be more like her! As you go through
    your grieving process just know that He will carry you through wounds and all and he won’t
    let you fall….and you painted a beautiful picture of a wonderful women in Christ, a wife and a mother…and all those things she loved being!!! So thank you for letting God speak through you to us at this time what a great testimony he is using you for right now!! We love you and the family and we continue to pray for you and your family.

    Love,
    Bob, Melissa, Megan and Autumn

  22. Eric Bolash Says:

    Jerel,
    Robin and I love you, man. I have fond, fond memories of Susan. The Lord used her so significantly in my life. She and Sunny invited me to weekly lunch at Carolina, which made an out-of-place, long-haired guy feel welcomed in InterVarsity. And that made me feel welcome enough to stick around and grow up in Christ. I wouldn’t be the man who follows Jesus that I am today if she hadn’t stepped forward and unselfishly spent time with me that way. I just remember laughing so much with her and you and others–a lot of joy as we grew in Christ together.

    I miss her with you. We love you and are praying for you, your kids and your extended family. May the presence of Jesus be your sheild, strength and hope.

    In Jesus, Eric Bolash

  23. David Rigby Says:

    Your entire family is an inspiration, to many!

  24. Misty Says:

    I have not lost a spouse, but I have lost a son. The grieving will be different, but it all is immeasurably hard. You can do it. Your children can do it. Be kind to yourselves, and be patient. Let the feelings come, and day by day, you will gain experience in how to live with the hurt. Some wounds don’t heal, but they become manageable. God will create your healing balm. Through God’s grace and love, you’ll be carried. Jesus is helping you walk this road as we speak. Keep writing. You have a gift for words, and writing can be a wonderful tool for healing. I’m a stranger praying from Utah. God be with you, always.

  25. BJ Says:

    thinking of you all today. praying God holds you tight in his arms.

  26. Susan E. Says:

    Jerel –
    I do not know you personally, but I have been following your blog for a few weeks. I want to add my condolences to those of so many for you and your children.
    I have been drawn to your situation and to your words in part because I lost my mother to breast cancer when I was 11. This was in 1969 – a time in our society when people did not talk about illness and death, but rather tried to ignore it as much as possible. From that experience and from working in the hospice field for 15 years, I can tell you that your children are fortunate to be surrounded by you and your extended family.
    You will keep Susan’s memory and stories alive for them, and this will serve all of you so well in the future. At their different ages, they are each experiencing their mother’s death in different ways. Your openness to your children now is a gift of such size that you cannot yet imagine the impact. And so I just needed to let you know how deeply I have been touched by your experience and words. Thank you for your willingness to share.

  27. Eric Lusk Says:

    I agree with Misty, Jerel. You have a true gift for words, and this blog from both you and Susan has become, in many ways, sacred space. God has used it in the lives of countless people. These many pages will be a real gift and treasure to your kids as they grow older.

    My wife Pam (Gustafson) and I stand with you and your family in prayer. As a husband and father myself, I want to say thank you for your courageous example of what it means be a real man, walking with Christ through the peaks and valleys, and for being so transparent with many friends and strangers, showing the world unashamedly what a true disciple of Jesus really looks like.

  28. mike Says:

    well done today – thank you for sharing it with so many of us. beautiful, honest, Christ-centered. I pray the LORD gave you just what you needed today in your grief.

  29. Laura Meindel Says:

    I do not know Susan, but I am deeply touched by your story and her fight. I am so very sorry to hear of your loss. May you and your family find peace somehow…someway during this difficult time

  30. Lisa Says:

    I am another one of those readers from around the world who is being impacted by Susan. My husband and I are missionaries in Bolivia and we just lost our newborn son after watching him struggle in the NICU for 18 days in November. My friend Jess Black sent me a link to your blog and I read a good bit tonight, understanding the pain only to the extent that one who has also lost can understand, but knowing that your pain is unique. I am praying for you tonight and your beautiful children- that God would continue to reveal Himself as I hope this for myself in the midst of grief.
    Blessings,
    Lisa Miser

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