Friday, August 9, 2019

Remembering Jessica (1986 - 2019)


I have no words.  I don't even know how to tell you.  Except to say that my beloved niece Jessica was taken up to heaven unexpectedly early Monday morning.

Last time I wrote, I shared these words from John Stumbo and I had no idea how quickly they would come to define our family's reality - 'Ignorance of our future is a form of God's grace.  Few of us would be able to fully embrace today if we knew what tomorrow held.'

 And then the speaker up at Camp told us Sunday and Monday that 'we are one text message away from disaster.'

And this is true.  We are living it right now.

Beautiful Jessica's obituary is right here.  There's no point in me trying to come up with anything different than what her family has so carefully written.  She packed a whole lot of living into 33 short years.  She selflessly impacted people around the globe.  She loved Jesus and her family and her ever-widening circle of friends.  She was creative and artistic, lovely, intuitive and adventurous.

Every word is true.

And then some.

We are left with disbelief and tears and questions with answers that might never come this side of heaven.  Our bodies are recoiling with grief, and in many ways we are simply speechless.  Numb.  This must be some kind of nightmare that we'll somehow shed.

But we cling to these truths right here ... God knows the aching of our hearts.  His ways are higher than ours.  He loves us and cares deeply about our grief.  We have faith in Jesus Christ.  We do not grieve like those who have no hope {1 Thessalonians 4}.

And that will have to be enough.

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Three years ago, her dad baptized Jessica in the bright blue bay on the sunniest afternoon ever.  What a joyful celebration of her faith!





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And our family partied together all day just a few weeks back.  I'm grateful for this snapshot.



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A friend sent this prayer.  So eloquent, so heart-felt.  She banged on heaven's door on our behalf.

As your family struggles with Jessica's unspeakable death, I am remembering a hymn which since I was a little girl, I've known: "Children of the Heavenly Father."  Decades later I began to understand ... 
"Though he giveth or he taketh
Christ his loved ones ne'er forsaketh.
His the loving purpose solely,
To preserve them pure and holy."

O Father God,
I lift up to You young Jessica.
I lift up to You, her parents, Marilyn and Bob.
I lift up to You their family.
I lift up to You Linda's mom.
I lift up Linda and Tim, and their family.

O Father God,
Now more than ever Your promise to hearts and minds and souls is needed.
In just one moment on an ordinary day, tragedy struck down Jessica, Your beloved.

Death digs a pit of despair in her family's hearts and minds.
Their hearts are weighted down; their minds seek to comprehend unspeakable loss.
They journey in the wilderness of grief.  Memories of things left unsaid or undone trouble them.


O Father God, You are ever Mercy and Compassion.
Hear these families as they cry to Jesus.
Let them all know that Jesus is weeping at the death of Jessica beloved.

O Father God, You are ever mindful of our distress.
Console Jessica's family in their hour of need.
Let the light of Christ shine out of darkness in their hearts and minds. 

O Father God, You are all Power and Goodness.
Let this family's hearts break forth from the emptiness.
Let water for their thirst spring forth from the arid place of grief.

O Father God, Your love is everlasting.
Remember Jessica,
Bring comfort, peace, and assurance to her soul.

God our Father, Christ the Son, Holy Spirit three in one.
Let Jessica's death not be in vain. 

O Father God, Let the light of Jesus Christ shine in her family's hearts, minds, and souls.
For, we remember Your promise to "Let light shine out of darkness."

Our Father, who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done.

Ever blessings in God's name,
Ever your sister in faith
- CZ -



I love you, sweet Agape girl.  I can't believe that you are gone ~
Aunt Linda
xo

Jessica's mom, Marilyn, is an active member of our little online community here.  I'm guessing that sooner or later she'll drop by to read this post.  Please share your love in the comment section.

Bless you.

50 comments:

  1. Dear Linda, Marilyn, and the family of beautiful Jessica,
    I am so sorry for your sudden and unexpected loss of your beautiful child, Jessica. Reading about her life and her love of being the hands and feet of Jesus unto others, truly tells of the agape love she gave so freely. There are no words to ease your pain. Please know you are all in my prayers that God would draw near and comfort you with His everlasting arms filled with love. I claim His promise over you: "I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you." (John 14:18). May He give you grace and strength as you navigate the days, weeks, and months ahead. May He always guard your hearts until you are reunited in His forever Kingdom. With heartfelt love and sympathy, Bev R.

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    1. Oh yes, this, Bev --> 'being the hands and feet of Jesus.'

      So beautifully put. Thank you for that comfort, friend ...

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  2. I'm so, so sorry for your loss, Linda, and for all your family. My heart hurts for you all. Her obituary is a beautiful testimony to God's grace in her life that was poured out to others. May our ever-caring God who knows the aches in your hearts give all of you strength and comfort!

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    1. Oh thank you for this, Trudy --> 'God's grace in her life that was poured out to others.'

      Yes, it most certainly was ...

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  3. Beauty from ashes. That has been my prayer when tragedies have hit my own family. Lord, somehow, bring beauty from these ashes. Linda, this was beautifully written. And the prayer from your friend, wow. I find myself periodically stopping throughout the day, offering yet another prayer for Marilyn and Bob, Aunt Elsie, and each one of you. I'm so glad that you had that family get together this spring and that you were able to snap that family photo. Little did you know how precious that photo would become. But like you wrote, 'Ignorance of our future is a form of God's grace. Few of us would be able to fully embrace today if we knew what tomorrow held.' Beauty from ashes, Lord, for all of the Davidsons, Blackies, Stolls and other family members and friends.

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    1. Beauty from ashes, oh yes, Carol. May He do that in all our lives. You are always in our hearts and in our prayers. I'm so glad you're here today.

      We're praying BIG for you ...

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  4. I don't know Jessica, but reading about her here makes me tear up at her loss from our world. :( My prayers are with her friends and family, mom Marilyn, and you Aunt Linda.

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  5. Oh, Linda! Words completely fail me. I am SO sorry for your deep, deep loss. Jessica's impact on this world cannot be measured, and only Heaven will reveal how much she accomplished in her short time on this earth. She sounds like a true angel - so giving, selfless, kind, and dear. I know you will miss her terribly, and my heart goes out to you and her precious parents. Oh, dear Lord, please have mercy and comfort all of you at this sad time and hold you so close to His loving heart. Sending much love to you, and dear Marilyn, please know that when you read these words, you are prayed for and deeply loved, also.

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    1. Thank you for your encouraging words for Marilyn, Cheryl ...

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  6. My heart is breaking for you, dear Linda, and for the entire family. You will be in my prayers. May God surround you with his comfort and peace.

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  7. I am so sorry to hear of this tragic loss of one so full of life and Jesus, so passionate in her service. She is not lost to Jesus, but will clearly leave an ache in all of your hearts for a very long time. Even for those of us who didn't know her, we will lose because of all the things she might have done for so many in places that may have come near our own doorstep. You're all in my prayers. Hugs to you, dear friend

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    1. Yes, yes. I've been thinking of all the students and young adults she interacted with in her role of therapist ...

      Such loss.

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  8. Linda, Marilyn and all. I can't begin to imagine your pain. Your family has walked paths of loss too often and, as you well know, the road is so hard and long. May you know our Father's love deeply and fully. May you feel His arms wrapped tightly around you each time you start to stumble. May you experience His comfort each time your tears flow, knowing His tears mingle with yours. And may it help, just a bit, to know your friends are supporting you in prayer.

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    1. Whoever you are, I so appreciate the benediction you've prayed over our family ...

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  9. Oh, Linda. I am so sorry. I can't add to the wonderful truths you have expressed and others have shared in the comments. My heart goes out to you and Jessica's family, and I will pray for God's comfort and grace for you all.

    It's particularly hard when someone dies at such a young age. I'm reminded of a letter from Samuel Rutherford to a woman whose child died, quoted by Amy Carmichael when one of her young charges passed away. It says, in part: "Ye have lost a child: nay she is not lost to you who is found to Christ. She is not sent away, but only sent before, like unto a star, which going out of our sight doth not die and vanish, but shineth in another hemisphere. We see her not, yet she doth shine in another country. If her glass was but a short hour, what she wanteth of time that she hath gotten of eternity."

    She has a head start on eternity, and I know she's looking forward to welcoming you all there.

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    1. Barbara, thank you so much for taking the time to find that meaningful quote. It's hit home for me on many levels.

      Jessica has joined her Grandpa who can't quite believe that she's there already. And her sweet little 2nd cousin whose image she captured after he, too, went home to Jesus ...
      http://www.lindastoll.net/2015/09/a-journey-through-grief.html

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  10. Oh Linda. I'm so very sorry ... for you, for Marilyn, for your whole family. What a beautiful woman, a life so well lived at such a young age. My heart aches for you, my friend.

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    1. You know what complex grief looks like, dear Lois. It means so much to me this evening that you're here. I hope you're doing well in this bittersweet season.

      Bless you, friend ...

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  11. Linda, I'm so sorry to hear your news, an especially that it came so suddenly and unexpectedly. Jessica sounds wonderful, and I'll be praying for you and Marilyn and the rest of the family in the coming days. May you know God's love and comfort surrounding you and upholding you as you walk through this painful time.

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    1. Yes, I want to walk through it with my family. I don't want any of us to stay stuck in this netherworld of grief.

      He is able.

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  12. I’m so very sorry for your loss. What a beautiful, lovely, giving young woman. She reminds us all to wonder at life - agape!

    Please know you’re all in my prayers. I’ll be thinking of you all. I’m here if you need me.

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    1. Barbara, your note meant so much to me. I know you understand loss ...

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  13. Linda, I’m so sorry. I can’t even imagine the pain that you and your family are experiencing now; but I know who does know your pain. We don’t understand why God allowed this, but we do know that He cares for you and will get you through. May you feel His comforting arms around you as your friends lift you up in prayer.

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    1. Gloria, thank you for being here with me this week ...

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  14. So sorry to read of this loss for your family, Linda. As you mentioned, her obituary shares how she packed in a lot over her lifetime and touched many. Prayers to you and your family that you feel God's love hugging your grieving hearts.

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    1. Hugging.

      Yes, more than ever those in person or spiritual or virtual hugs mean the world ...

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  15. Merciful and mighty God, I don’t have any tears left. The funeral is over, and I’m sitting here stunned, shocked, numb. I ache with heaviness and emptiness. Parents aren’t supposed to bury children, Lord. I know, I know, I know what I’m supposed to say. I know the verses, the theological answers, the right things to think and say. But right now, I need to sit in this pain before you, not to grumble but to groan. I want a lot more than relief. I don’t need answers right now; I need you, Father. I hate death. I hate good-byes, especially ones that sabotage the way I think things ought to be. I’m not naïve about life in our broken world, but Father, really . . . a child in a casket? I hate disease and death with a violent and (I pray) holy hatred.

    Hold me, Father, but more importantly show me, and our community, how to care for this devastated family. They fought so valiantly; they loved so well; they hurt so deeply. Oh, for the day of no more death and dying, gut-wrenching moans and heart-ripping losses. Even so, Jesus, come soon, please. In your great name I weep and pray. Amen.
    (Every Season Prayers by Scotty Smith)

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    1. Oh Carol, this prayer.

      Thank you for digging it up for me, for us, for this community. I could simply sit with its wrenching truths for a very long time.

      Thank you for praying for us, with us.

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  16. I'm finally back from my long blogging break only to find you and your family facing a heartbreaking loss! Oh my, Linda! You and your family are in my prayers and consider yourself virtually hugged! I'm grateful to know that Jessica was a believer and is with Jesus today.

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    1. Just seeing you here again brings me comfort, friend ...

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  17. Oh how my heart breaks for your family.
    Words do not seem adequate at a time like this. But we serve a great God who who is more than adequate. I pray that he will bring you comfort and peace as only he can.

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    1. Teresa, oh yes. God is more than adequate. Each morning His mercies are new and fresh and oh-so-appreciated.

      Thank you for your thoughtful words ...

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  18. Linda, Marilyn, and family:
    My heart breaks for all of you, and I'm grateful that you know the love and compassion of our sovereign God.

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  19. Oh, sweet friend. I am so sorry for all the heartbreak you are facing right now. Praying God reveals Himself to you in the middle of all that doesn't make sense. Thank you for sharing your sweet niece with us today.

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    1. Who do we have but Jesus?

      He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. He truly gets where we are. No wonder we love Him so ... maybe even more than ever ...

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  20. Oh Linda, I'm tearing up as I write this. I am truly sorry for the loss of your niece, Jessica. She sounds like a vibrant, living-life-fully woman. Reconciling things when God brings someone home is so hard on this side of the veil.

    When someone so young and vibrant dies so unexpectedly it's so difficult to make sense of it. During the grieving, when the questions come, when the emptiness in heart left by her departure are the most painful, may our Father be your comfort. May He be the One who gives peace, especially in the season of not understanding the whys. I'll be praying for you, Marilyn, and your family. I'm sending you heartfelt hugs from Colorado, friend.

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    1. He's there in the emptiness, in the questions, in the storm.

      Yes, yes, Jeanne. Thank you for your tears ....

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  21. Linda and Marilyn, I am so sorry for the loss of your niece and daughter, beautiful Jessica. I am praying that God sends his comfort and grace to you and your family.

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    1. Thank you for praying, friend ... it means so very much.

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  22. As a mother marked by grief, I know this type of heartbreak is something most cannot understand. The grief different than any other. The obituary and Linda's words are beautiful. Certainly Jessica's legacy will continue to impact many...and bring joy to all those who loved her. Praying for you this very evening!

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    1. Jennifer, yes, I know your heart hears mine. Thank you for sharing your kindness here.

      Bless you ...

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  23. Dearest Linda, I am so very sorry for your loss. My heart breaks for you and your family. After reading your post and the comments from your sweet community here, I am so thankful for the many who have come before me and the many I'm sure our in your circle that are coming alongside of you and your friend to grieve with you and to speak words of comfort - His words of comfort. Such a beautiful picture of God's presence in your life. Praying for you all, dear friend. Thank you for sharing something so difficult with us so we can pray for you. Much love, friend.
    SimplyBeth

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    1. Sweet community, oh yes, Beth. You're so very right.

      And I'm so glad that you're here, my long time friend ...

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  24. I read this heartbreaking post as soon as it came out and honestly find it hard to express the right words. Linda and family, I have been praying for all of you. God knows and cares about what you are going through deeply. I pray His tender love surrounds you and that family and community support you in a deep and meaningful way. Love and comfort to all!

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    1. Isn't that such a comfort, such a mercy, that God knows and cares?!

      I'm so grateful He doesn't change like shifting shadows. There's enough unknowns in life.

      And yes, it is hard to express the right words. And that is ok.

      Love to you ...

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