I will remember

Posted: June 26, 2016 in Uncategorized
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As God has now allowed my life story to continue three and a half years longer than my husband’s, I marvel at His faithfulness to me. While I am certainly not living the life I could have imagined even 5 short years ago, I am convinced that I am exactly where God wants me. When I was cruising along with a healthy husband and living the busy life of a mom of two teenagers, I had some basic expectations of what the next stage would be like. As the kids approached college and many changes were right around the corner, I thought I’d be walking through the empty nest phase with my husband by my side. But I was wrong.

Since the diagnosis of ALS threw our lives into a tailspin, nothing has been the same. In fact, the only consistent thing has been the steady stream of changes. I guess we could all say that nothing ever stays the same. Each of us experiences different stages of life and we are usually at the beginning or end of some transition.

There are many contrasts to my former life and my current life. The more substantial two are that instead of working part-time at a nearby school, I now work a full-time corporate job in the city; and instead of living in a house with a husband and two children, I now live in a condo alone. Of course, those trickle down to a thousand other ways life has changed. My main roles used to be “wife” and “mom.” The former of which no longer exists and the latter requires minimal time; both kids basically grown, gone more than home.

It’s pretty drastic; death is like that. It interrupts everything. As does all suffering…It doesn’t have to be death. Most of us are thrown a curve ball at some point and the unexpected becomes the new norm. We need time to process that this shocking event has become a reality. When someone is sharing with me a burden and starts to say, “I know it’s not as bad as yours, but….,” I immediately stop them. It doesn’t have to be like mine to hurt. No need to compare. I haven’t walked in your shoes and you haven’t walked in mine, but we can still bear one another’s burdens. I consider it a privilege to share what God has taught me with another who is suffering. God’s word is completely transferrable to all our different struggles.

Living life alone was not what I ever expected. It’s certainly not what I wanted. It flies in the face of my personality. I’m a people person, a communicator that loved sharing life with my best friend and pouring into my children and ministry.

I loved my life.

Now I don’t.

That’s complete honesty. That doesn’t mean I’m unthankful; far from it, even in the littlest things, I see God’s goodness and overflow with gratefulness. It doesn’t mean I’m miserable; each day, I try to be positive and show God’s love to everyone I meet with a kind greeting and smile. It doesn’t mean I don’t have peace; on the contrary, I lay my head on my pillow each night completely at peace with God in my mind and spirit.

It just means I don’t love my life like I used to. It’s still hard and I’m still adjusting. Some days feel like drudgery, others are acutely painful. Some I manage just fine, while others I simply endure. Life is like that. I don’t think I’m that much different from anyone else.

I know I’m right where God wants me; and that makes it ok for me to not love my life now. Because if He’s ok with where I’m at, then I humbly accept it. “Better is one day in His courts than a thousand elsewhere” (Psalm 84:10).

This season of life is part of God’s plan and His plan is good. He prepared me in advance for this time and He is preparing me now for the next stage, whatever it may be (Ephesians 2:10). Absolutely nothing is wasted in God’s economy. What a relief. There is always a purpose and a reason for our pain.

I don’t buy into “your best life now” philosophy; instead I choose to believe that my “momentary light affliction is producing for me an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinithians 4:17). God didn’t promise me a trouble free life here; In fact He said the opposite (John 16:33), but He has overcome the world and He has promised to never leave me (Hebrews 13:5).

And just soak in the promises of Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

I knew those promises before, but now I’ve truly lived them. Many hours on my face before God weeping buckets of tears, begging God to carry me and I can honestly say He has carried me. It’s only by His grace that I’ve made it this far.

Recently, as I was trying to encourage a close friend who was having her own struggles, I found myself telling her that as awful as this grief journey has been, I’ve asked the Lord to never let me forget how needy I am. I never want to lose the closeness that I’ve had with God during this time. Absolutely lost, desperate and broken. Completely at the end of myself, knowing I can’t survive without Him.

As painful as it has been, it has also been precious. I don’t yet have words to explain it. Maybe I never will. At rock bottom, Jesus Christ has met me, held me and carried me; and I won’t forget. Ever.

As a result, I have absolutely no doubts that God has my future figured out. He is with me in his journey. In fact, better than that, He planned it and it’s for His kingdom purposes, which I will not fully understand until I’m Heaven-side. Won’t it be so cool to be able to see all God was doing from beginning to end? Each of our own personal stories is just a tiny fragment of the whole. His purposes unfolded will blow us away. I can’t wait!

Whether I can ever say “I love my life” again is irrelevant. It’s not the goal. The goal is to continue to walk closely with my Lord and Savior, faithfully obeying and trusting. The struggles of our daily lives on planet earth bring to the surface the areas where we need to submit and where God wants to mature us; and all the while, the hands of a loving Father help us through the process.

A few months ago I was introduced to this song and I can’t get enough of it. Many mornings on my drive into Detroit, alone with Jesus, I have my praise and worship time. As I sing and pray this song, I force myself to keep one hand on the wheel when I want to raise them both heavenward and I fight back the tears so my mascara won’t run before my day has even begun. This has become my theme song and I encourage you to get alone with God and turn it up loud and listen….

There wasn’t a day that You weren’t by my side

There wasn’t a day that You let me fall…

In all of my life, Your love has been true,

With all of my life, I will worship You.

I will sing of all God’s done and I’ll remember how far He’s carried me

From beginning to the end, He is faithful until the end….

I will remember.







  1. Tim Vermilyea says:

    Thanks once again for putting words together to share God’s work in your life! His grace evidenced in your life is another way in which He speaks courage into others’ lives! Thanks for posting the song, too. It’s a new one for me – I’m listening as I type and I’m encouraged by the truth that He never leaves us alone. Trust God’s direction for you today.

  2. Deb Millard says:

    Dena, Thanks so much for sharing your own personal journey over the past years. My husband and I lost our son at the age of 8 1/2 and the challenges of grief and loss are significant, hard to describe…something that doesn’t pass with time really, just change. It’s interesting to see how we grow and how God completely transforms us and uses the most painful and devastating losses we could experience for HIS glory and to help so many others. I do also think that seeing the reality of grief is really important, and sharing is vital and healthy. Many think we should just move on, and that somehow our relationship with Christ makes grief “disappear”… then when they experience grief, they think their Christianity isn’t strong enough. Some lose their faith. That perception is so distorted, and it’s so important for all of us to share the truth and the reality of grief and loss and how a strong faith and relationship with God carries us, but doesn’t mean we don’t grieve those we love. Thinking of you and your family!
    Deb Millard

  3. Shirley Piatek says:

    Thank you, Dena, for your honesty and your transparency. God is using you to help others. I cannot imagine your loss and pain, but you express very well what God has done in your life because of them. As always your unwavering faith and trust in the LORD, is an Inspiration to me. Love and Hugs!

  4. Sue Eskelinen says:

    Thank you for that encouraging post! You let our Saviors Love shine through all of it and brightened my day!💕

  5. Barry Mahloy says:

    Very precious and very hopeful

  6. sharon boyle says:

    Dana, this is so heartfelt and beautifully written.  May I have your permission to share it with my adult Sunday School class of 12 people?  I think it would be helpful to some who are going through their own valleys in life. Thank you, and may God continue to keep and bless you,Sharon BoyleLincoln Ave. Presbyterian ChurchSalinas, CA

    From: Patricks Story To: sboyle43@sbcglobal.net Sent: Sunday, June 26, 2016 4:31 AM Subject: [New post] I will remember #yiv2822006713 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv2822006713 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv2822006713 a.yiv2822006713primaryactionlink:link, #yiv2822006713 a.yiv2822006713primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv2822006713 a.yiv2822006713primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv2822006713 a.yiv2822006713primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv2822006713 WordPress.com | Patrick’s Story posted: “As God has now allowed my life story to continue three and a half years longer than my husband’s, I marvel at His faithfulness to me. While I am certainly not living the life I could have imagined even 5 short years ago, I am convinced that I am exactly” | |

  7. Shelly McMahon says:

    Thank you for your honesty and willingness to be transparent before the church. The Body of Christ needs this, it helps us to hold together and it is a reminder to keep others in prayer. I’ve shared your blog with many of my friends who have also been struggling with the loss of a loved one.
    Keep strong and keep leaning on the the everlasting arms.

  8. Betty Koenke says:

    Thanks again for another great addition to your and Patrick’s life. This on really hit home for me especially with Mel being gone now for a little over a year. You gave me some boost, with the way you handled our grieving, and sure appreciate all you talked about doing, cause I know you experienced it, and understand how grieving really is. I have saved the letter, and intend to re read it frequently to help me too. Thanks so much, and I’ll continue to pray for you, and hopefully you will remember me also. Lovingly Betty Koenke

  9. Sandy Morehead says:

    Dear Dena – Thank you so much for sharing how God has walked with you through this journey. It is such an encouragement to know that God is faithful to His own wherever they are in their life struggles, losses, and illnesses. Sandy M.

  10. das says:

    Thank you Dena, it was worth the 6 month wait. What an awesome song too.

  11. JUDY STAFNE says:


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