I believe that Clay’s services were exactly what he desired. I hope God let him see it. He was honored. God was honored. Jesus was lifted up. It was beautiful.
Of course, I was exhausted. The past two months were the difficult months in caring for Clay. He required more attention, and during the last month, I only left the house once or twice. He needed constant care. Then, the planning and preparation was tiring. So, I slept really good Saturday night.
But, I couldn’t sleep through church. I had to be there. Honestly, I thought it was going to be harder than the funeral. I wasn’t sure if I could go in with a smile, and I didn’t want to fall apart. That sanctuary is where God started and finished this work. It is a very sacred place to me. The people in my church have walked beside us, known every detail, helped constantly, watched us cry snot and tears at that altar so many times, watched us fight and struggle in prayer, and held us up continuously. So, I knew it would be emotional to go there without Clay.
We started going to FNT almost 16 years ago. Clay’s brother, Ron, and my grandmother had both started attending and had been telling us about it. They would talk about the depth of the preaching and how Lee’s words had ministered to them. Clay and I were at a point in our life…young married with small kids….where excuses to miss church were easily found. We were getting lazy with church attendance and growing more and more disconnected from church friends.
We were both raised in small churches with small youth groups, surrounded by close friends and families. So, we had a desire to raise our kids in a similar setting. From what Ron and Gammy told us, FNT was very much like our childhood churches. So, we decided to go and just see.
I’ll never, ever forget it. Lee and Carla both came over and spoke to us to greet us. They were loving, humble, sincere, and very laid back. But, when Lee stepped into the pulpit, he literally looked different. The anointing on him to preach is an amazing thing to witness. Sometimes it changes his countenance.
He preached on holiness. Ouch. We are called to be holy, like Christ is holy.
When you are living a complacent Christian walk, and going to church every few weeks, and finding every excuse not to read your Bible, it’s kind of hard to live a holy lifestyle. Now, don’t get me wrong. Clay and I were not living in gross sin. We were just sleeping. That’s how I think of it. We were asleep in our faith.
But, the Lord woke us up that morning. I was so convicted, y’all. I remember feeling like I couldn’t sit still, and being uncomfortable, but also LOVING it. I remember thanking God for convicting me. I felt His love that morning. It was like He looked down on me and had compassion because He knew I couldn’t be asleep in this life. He knew what was ahead for me. So, He woke me up.
Clay and I got in the car and sat in the parking lot for 15 minutes. I cried a lot. We had been at the same church for a while and I didn’t want to leave. God had done so much in our lives while in that church. My heart was broken. But, we both knew God was moving us here. We committed to attend FNT right there in the car. After just one service. We became members.
Now, 16 years later, I know that moment where God woke us up, was for May 2, 2016. He knew this was coming. He placed us under Lee and Carla’s leadership so we would learn and be prepared. Lee has often shared that he has been walking through his own valley for the past 8 years. They have made many sacrifices and suffered their own losses, and although they didn’t write a blog about it, he preached to us about how God was helping Him. He taught us how to walk through adversity with grace. He poured into his congregation all the excruciating lessons God was teaching him.
And, he did it with no shame. He never tried to hide the bad parts. He was real, transparent, open, and honest. It’s not about us, anyway, right? We don’t have to put on perfection and act like we are something great. It has nothing to do with us, really. It’s all Jesus. If we are willing, He lives through us and does everything. So, being real is powerful. It helps other people. Lee’s honesty helped me and Clay more than he’ll ever know.
God sent Lee and Carla ahead of me and Clay. Then He gave us the wisdom to soak it all up, so we would be prepared for our Red Sea crossing. And, we were. In every way. We were fully prepared.
You can see through these short paragraphs that I feel a tremendous amount of emotion toward our church, so going there yesterday morning felt like a tall task. But, as soon as I walked in the doors, the peace of God flooded me, and, the service became a continuation of Clay’s funeral. Lee acknowledged our family and the work that God had done at the service. He praised God for the things that have come from Clay’s life.
Jimmy, my brother-in-law, spoke and thanked the church for all they’ve done. It was perfect. He said everything I would have said. My dad talked for a minute. We worshipped. The Holy Spirit was strong in that room.
There is one particular place at the altar in our sanctuary where I have sat and prayed many, many times. For some reason, I always went to the same spot. For a few years before Clay’s diagnosis, I found myself right there almost every Sunday. Praying, crying, pleading with the Lord. My prayer was for Him to use me. He placed a desire in my heart to be used of Him. Not just to live for Him, or be a Christian, but to be used by Him in a great way.
I would pray for Him to change me….make me more like Him. I asked Him to strip me of my pride and selfishness. I begged for strength to make sacrifices that would allow God to use me anyway He saw fit.
One morning, as I sat there in prayer, the Lord gave me a vision. I was standing in a pulpit, in front of a casket, looking out to a large crowd of people, and I said these words, “This is for you.” I was telling the people that God allowed this death so He could save lives.
I prayed about that vision for many months. “God, what does it mean? Who is it? Why did you show me that?” I knew it was from Him. Y’all, I imagined every possibility. I wondered if it was my parents, my sister, my in-laws, even my kids. I asked God to show me if He was planning to require such a high price for me to know Him. I wasn’t afraid of it. I didn’t fear it and I didn’t dwell on it. I simply told the Lord that I didn’t want that vision to be fulfilled, but I would do whatever He asked. Then, I put it out of my mind.
But, I can tell you this. Not one single time did I imagine that Clay would be in that casket. Not once. The thought never entered my mind.
When he was diagnosed, I had never told anyone, but that was one of the first thoughts that came to me. God gently comforted me and said, “I knew this was coming. I have prepared you. Walk with me and I will use you and help you.” The strength of God filled me immediately. And, He used that vision to prove to me that He knew.
My favorite thing God did, though, is that He gave Clay the same exact resolve. Our hearts were in perfect tune throughout the entire ordeal. We never one time asked God “WHY?” Never, y’all. I’m not just saying that to sound good. We never asked that question. Because we always knew.
I didn’t feel released to share this with you because so many of you were believing God to heal Clay. And, we always believed He could. We knew He could, and we prayed with you that He would, if it was His will. I know God used that desire in your heart to draw you closer to Him. You spent more time in prayer and God used it to give you an urgency to pray. And I hope it changed you.
But, I tell you now, because I want you to know that GOD DID NOT FAIL US. He did not let us down. “He is not cruel,” as Clay said.
Clay’s name went before God probably millions of times over 16 months, and I believe it was a sweet fragrance to Him. Our prayers did not change His mind, but Clay and I never wanted to change His mind. All we both wanted was the will of God. The perfect will of God. Clay stood firm in that until his last breath. He never begged for his life, he simply prayed, “I trust you, Lord.”
Please don’t read these words and let yourself think for one second that Clay and I are anything special. Y’all, we’re not. I promise. God did everything. It was all because of Him. He saved us. He prepared us. He put the desire in our hearts to be used by Him. He led every step we took. He made our path straight. He strengthened us. He did it all.
The only thing we do…..is surrender. Surrender. Stop trying to do everything on your own. Stop trying to figure things out. Surrender. Tell God that you are willing to let Him use you. And, don’t be afraid. Please don’t be afraid. God will not take you through something He doesn’t prepare you for.
Don’t be afraid to surrender because of the price we had to pay. God wants to use every single one of us, and He has a plan for your life that looks very different than His plan for mine. Trust Him. He knows what is best and He sees what we cannot see.
Many of you have asked me what I think is next. Will I continue to write? What will our lives look like? This is all I can tell you for now…..
God’s promises are still true. He even sent me a rainbow to prove it. A rainbow was perfectly visible right over my house Saturday evening just after the services. God was writing in the sky for all of us to see that He has not left us and His promises are true.
Yesterday morning, I walked to my favorite place at the altar in our sanctuary. I knelt where I’ve knelt probably a hundred times before. I went back to the same place I was when God showed me that vision, and where He spoke to me so many times. I knelt right there and I simply said, “Lord, I will follow you.” Wherever He takes me. Whatever He desires to do. I will follow Him. I will not be afraid. I will not retreat. I will not draw back, now. We’re waaaayyyy to far into this, now!
And, my kids are right here with me. Filled with strength and resolve to follow Jesus.
On Tuesday, September 12, my heart went to heaven. My affection for the things of the world evaporated. My greatest desire, now, is for Jesus to come and take us all home. So, my focus will be on heavenly things. My desire will be for God to use me in an even greater way so that I’m ready to see Him face to face.
For now, I will continue to write. It is going to be my healing. I know it. I will continue to be raw and real with you. And, I continue to pray that God uses it to help you.
This is the last thing I’ll say today…..About five years ago, I was kneeling in that same spot in the altar at FNT, and the Lord told me that I was going to write a book. I told Clay because I just wanted to get it out in the open. I couldn’t believe it, but I knew He was saying that I would write a book. I remember telling Clay, “What in the world would I write a book about?!”
When he was in the hospital at MDA, just before surgery, I was reading my blog to him one night. He looked over at me, with the sweetest eyes, and with the sweetest voice, and said, “You know you’re writing your book, right?”
I love y’all.
Iam so glad you are continuing your blogs Kristy.
You don’t know how much they have helped me.
My story is long and I’ve been so angry with God
I’ve since brought him back in my life he never left my heart I was just angry and confused.
Like I said I’m so glad you are writing these blogs
I look forward to reading them everyday. 💜🙏🏻💜
I always find myself thinking how eloquent your writing is. You touch so many hearts. I feel I understand what true faith is because of what you have shared. Please keep sharing, you are an inspiration and I love you.
I love you too Kristy. And I love your writing. Write on sweetheart. Write on.
Thank you so much for your inspiring God- glorifying words of encouragement. I recently started a blog just a few weeks ago, based on real life issues, sharing of God’s love and mercy through past mistakes, lots of encouragement, and learning to love God more and more each day! I need you to know, God has used you and your family in soooo many ways, my sweet sister in Christ. Upon coming across your blog just a little over a week ago I don’t think I’ve read a single post of yours without tears streaming down my cheeks. I love the hope that the Holy Spirit is guided in you. Some of my own posts have contained very personal messages and it was only within a few short days ago I began to allow Satan’s torment to get the best of me, accusations of “why would you put these things out there for the whole world to read, how embarrassing!” …but today after reading your last post with tear-filled eyes I must remember this is not about me, it’s to glorify Christ and bring hope and comfort to someone’s unsettled heart…just like you and so many other Christians I must surrender and allow God to use me. Thank you for your obedience and following His will, thank you for ‘social media’ fellowship and inspiring me to continue with my blog no matter how ugly it may feel at times, God is bigger than the hurt and his love heals the pain so that we can persevere regardless. Blessings to you and your sweet family.
Love you Kristy and Sam, Grace and Ben.. God will continue to use you and bless you. So glad you are going to continue to blog.. 😘
Christie thank you for writing this blog. I have never met you but I love your heart for Jesus. It has helped me so much. Clay and I worked together many years ago at Bank One. He was one of a kind. I will
Never forget him. God was using him in my life even then. Please know I watched your fb live of the funeral. OMG! I cried the whole time. If only I could have that kind of faith. I pray God will assure me as he has you. Thanks again for sharing Clays last days with us and PLEASE continue to blog. My prayers for you and your family!
Your words are beautiful and inspiring as you are. As Who lives in you Is. Thank you for not stopping to write. I was going to ask you if you planned on putting your blog into a book…. i got my answer. I’ll see you soon at FNT.
I have not been following your blog very long. But in this short time I have been so moved by your words and experiences. No words can express how sorry I am for the loss of your husband. But I can obviously see there is no other strength other than Jesus. Yours and Clay’s story is so inspiring to my heart. Only Jesus has that power to work through the ones that love Him. May God continue to bless you and your precious family. My prayers will continue for His will to be done. God Bless
praying fir your family
Praying for your family, still. Please do continue to write. It will be healing for you and everyone else that reads it. Your family still continues to touch lives, that you are not even aware of, everyday.
After all, ITS NOT ABOUT US,
ITS ALL ABOUT CHRIST,
BUT BECAUSE ITS ALL ABOUT CHRIST,
HE MADE IT ALL ABOUT US!
May God continue to Bless you and your family.
I have only been following you for a few weeks, but every time I am so encouraged. You have got to be the bravest person I know to share your heart like you do. Thank you! It has been so encouraging to read your words. I am so glad you’ve had so many people around you to walk this journey with you. But especially the Holy Spirit guiding you. Praying for you and your family as you walk on. Keep the faith and thank you for being a true example of Jesus’ love.
Oh Kristy….words of eternal wisdom from a beautiful sister. All you did was offer yourself to Jesus. That’s all He wants from each of us….just say yes to Him. All we have to offer Him is ourselves, a living sacrifice. He gives each of us a wonderful gift, one no more valuable than the other, but to be used for His glory, His will and His purpose. And He envelopes us with His presence…..and there’s no greater place to be. We can do NOTHING apart from Him, nothing that is worthwhile. Thank you sweet Kristy and Clay for saying yes to Jesus. You have brought so many into a closer walk with Him….that’s all He wants.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I needed these words today. Clay is in the great cloud of witnesses cheering you and the kiddos on. He has a “front row seat” to His throne interceding for you. Love to you.
Thank you. We don’t even know each other. We have mutual Facebook friends. I have followed your journey, and you help me everyday with your writing. I recently lost my mother, and these are very difficult days for us valley dwellers. BUT, with Jesus, I know that I am a survivor and I’m holding on to His Truth and Love. Thank you. Thank you sweet sister.
Inspired thoughts that could only come from God. Thank you a thousand times over for your surrender. Praying for all of you.
There’s a pain in my chest reading this imagining your families pain. But oddly I have a smile across my face from being so proud to know you! Walk out this calling girl its amazing to watch you use this short time on earth all for eternity!
Kristy, even though I do not know you personally, I know you in the Spirit by following your beautiful blogs. Your ministry is amazing and so obvious. My husband of 43 years went to be with our Lord in February of this year after a long illness. I am so blessed and amazed at how God has blessed me with His peace that truly passes all understanding as I am learning to life live without my beloved husband. We, too, prayed for him to be healed here on earth, but God chose to heal him for all eternity just as he did Clay. Praise His Holy Name! Our sweet husbands will never suffer pain, heartache, sorrow again and there will be no more parting from those they loved. We will see them again and they are both with Jesus forever, which is what we all aspire to and long for. My prayer for you is that you and your children continue to walk close with our Lord and for you to continue to fulfill your ministry that God has chosen for you. You and your children are such a blessing to not only the Body of Christ, but such strong ambassadors for Christ to a loss and dying world. God bless you and your family!
Another beautiful blog from a beautiful soul. I have no doubt that Clay was watching from above and probably reminded God that you needed that rainbow to let you know of his presence. What a lovely and loving gesture. Parts of your blogs have always given me goose bumps, and this one is no exception. True stories from God via you. How blessed you and Clay are, as well as those who know the two of you well. I look forward to reading more blogs. Again, thank you for sharing…
I hope that one day I will have the honor and pleasure of meeting you. I feel like I know you, from reading your blog and following your journey. Your words have blessed me and inspired me more than you will ever know.
I will continue to keep you and your family in my prayers!
I, too, hope I have the honor of meeting you one day. My husband was diagnosed with colon cancer about the same time as Clay. I live in the Central area and many mutual friends asked for prayers for Clay so I began to follow your blog. You have no idea how much strength it gave me (and continues to do so). Sometimes I would read your blog before I read my daily devotional. Your words inspired me, blessed me and gave me hope and strength on days when I just didn’t think I could put one foot in front of the other or even get out of bed. My husband’s diagnosis is not good. It is also terminal. My prayer is for peace and understanding and acceptance of God’s plan. I am so glad you will continue to blog because I know reading the words of one who has walked this path before me with continue to help me and bless me. God bless you and your family. Hold on to your sweet memories, your beautiful children and of course, to God’s hands and those of your extended family and friends. You still have the prayers of so many – even those like me who do not know you personally. Thank you for walking beside this stranger on our own cancer journey and for making me feel the presence of the Holy Spirit – in my heart I felt the words but didn’t know how to express them and I am so thankful you so beautifully and unselfishly shared them with us. God gave you the words and now your gift from Him will be to us!
I am very sorry for your loss. Your blog is a comfort to me.y husband has Parkinson’s. Our journey is similar to yours. Our trust in the God’s plan is what is carrying us through the ups and downs. Thank you for your real story. May God continue to bless your family.
My brother called me tonight to tell me about your blog. That may not mean much to you, but it’s an answer to prayer for me. I’ve been praying Jesus would get his attention. He’s been bitter and cynical for years, essentially avoiding any conversation about the things of God if he could help it. Tonight he called to tell me about this blog because you’re real, honest, hopeful in spite of circumstances. He knows you and he believes what you say to be true. In your grief, know that God is using you to answer prayers. Thank you.
Hello Kristy, I just found your blog today and I understand your journey. In 1993 I went through a similar experience at age 30. I pray that you still have the support of family and friends. The first year was very difficult for me with 3 young children. God surrounded me with friends who pulled me and pushed me along.
God bless you and keep you and your family. I pray that you find comfort and encouragement from Psalms 146:8 – 10.
I cannot find the words to express my thoughts about this blog and your strength and that of your family. My beautiful wife of 25 years (she is 48) underwent her second surgery for a GBM on January 24, 2019. The cancer was initially diagnosed on 08/31/2017. A biopsy performed in Fairfax, VA on 09/05/17 confirmed the GBM, and at stage 4. She has been absolutely glorious in God throughout the entire ordeal which includes far too much to list here. I wanted to thank you for your tribute to your husband and the sharing of your pain and experience here, as I feel sometimes no one can know the true grief I fee while taking care of my Kathy. We have three children, very similar in age to your children. We grew up in Louisiana, and now live in the DC metro area of Virginia. I do not know how much longer I have with my Kathy, but I am looking for every way to spend it with her and my children while we still have her here. God is great and I pray daily (multiple times) for guidance, healing and strength and understanding. I hope you get the chance to see this post and know that what you’ve written and done here, means something to so many. God bless you and yours and I am truly sorry for your loss. Russell Wilson, Bristow, Virginia.
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