It has been a year of challenges and change for me. My absence from this blog since May has been due to some major personal trials. In early March 2017, my wife experienced an acute health crisis followed by multiple medical complications that then led to her being hospitalized most of this year until she passed away in hospice in late August. I was able to stay with my wife through all this on permissive TDY (PTDY) status and we learned how to make life work the best we could living in hospitals together.
Most importantly in all of these months, Sarah and I were able to have so many wonderful conversations as we reminisced about the past and shared our hearts with each other. When it became clear that there were no medical solutions left, Sarah took the time to carefully plan out her Celebration of Life Service, designate her personal effects as gifts, provide guidance on what to do with her things, and most importantly spend time with those she loved.
I wrote the following in those final weeks as we shared our journey via social media and its words ring even truer today so I share it as our testimony of grace in the midst of a great trial.
“As we have walked this trial of health challenges all year long, God has been working in and through us in so many ways. We have learned to rest in His sovereignty and control over every circumstance we have experienced and seen His amazing love poured out on us in ways we could never have known before. The Body of Christ through His Church has uplifted and supported us in innumerable tangible ways and my leadership at work has given me all this time to spend with Sarah. Trials have a way of helping you focus so clearly on what is most important in life and for us that has been to seek to bring glory to God in every way possible. We know that this sickness unto death is a way to shine His glory even brighter (John 11).
God has led and given us such amazing and abundant peace and grace each and every day. It’s truly amazing to experience and we hope we can be an encouragement to others in the same way they are an encouragement to us. I am frequently asked how we are doing and I can confidently say that we are at more peace than ever this year. When I’ve been on the other side of these experiences watching other people go through them, I would marvel at how they were able to bear up in the midst of such heavy trials. Having now walked through this experience this past year I know so much more deeply the truth of 2 Cor 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
As Christians, Sarah and I view death differently. 2 Cor. 5:8 tells us that when our soul departs our body it is present with the Lord. God saved Sarah from her sins when she was 20 years old so she can face death confidently knowing that her citizenship is in heaven where she awaits her Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Phil 3:20) 1 Peter 1:4 also describes it as “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for [her].” We mourn for our loss, but rejoice for her as she enters into eternal glory free from the great physical afflictions she faced.
It is my fervent hope and prayer that our testimony will likewise bring glory to our sovereign and loving God and challenge you in many ways. Sometimes it is so easy to be focused on the here and now instead of stepping back to see an eternal perspective. James 4:14 reminds us that our “life is as a vapor” so we must use our time and resources wisely in light of eternity, treasure those we love, and rejoice in each blessing God gives.”
As I begin to move forward, I know that a redeeming purpose from all of this will be my ability to help others in new and special ways. I’ve learned more about Tricare than I ever thought I could know, experienced the full benefits of the military flexibility being able to use PTDY to stay with my wife, and truly understand the importance of estate planning that encompasses the emotional as well financial and legal aspects.
Earlier this year before things got too serious with Sarah’s health, I applied for separation from active duty as I get ready to carry out the next step of my transition plan and become a financial planner. While I will be stepping away from AD, I want to continue serving in the Reserves or Air National Guard. I’m still working on the final plan for this, but will share more as time goes on. Next year I will also be taking an 8 month sabbatical to travel around the U.S., spend time with family and friends, as well as explore new possibilities. During this time I’ll be finishing up studying for the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation and my Masters in Financial Planning. I look forward to sharing each part of this new journey with you, my readers.