I do not know Krista Wilbanks Stover but she came into my life on Saturday morning when a “friend of a friend” on Facebook forwarded me a large piece of Krista’s heart. It came in the form of a “What’s on My Mind” blog that Mrs. Stover, who lives near Rome, Ga., wrote after a 13-year-old child named Jessica Raines died unexpectedly.
I am big on learning life’s lessons and, as you’ll soon see, they can be quite severe at times. I have found that often the best of teachers are people like Krista who use their life experiences to steady our hand when a crisis occurs in our own life. What makes her story glow is the fact she uses her early memories to assuage her newest ones and I am grateful for the opportunity to share Mrs. Stover’s story with others who might not otherwise see it and the hope you’ll be as blessed by it as I am.
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WHAT’S ON MY MIND
By Krista Wilbanks Stover (via Facebook)
What's on my mind? That is a loaded question this week, Facebook. I cannot think of any emotion that I have not felt this week. So many thoughts. So many memories.
When my baby sister was born, in 1972, I was the only girl up until then in the family. I was in the 10th grade and I was a Christian, so I prayed. Blonde hair was the style, (but mom would never let me dye my hair, for which I am so thankful now.)
I prayed for God to let mom have a healthy baby girl. I loved my brothers, all three of them, but I was so ready for a sister. When they put mom in the hospital to have the baby, I prayed harder. "God, please let it be a girl," and by now I had picked out the "style" of sister I wanted. I placed my order with God. "Let it be a girl, and PLEASE let her have blonde hair and blue eyes."
To make a long story short, daddy called us from the hospital in Dalton, Ga. "It's a girl". "IT'S A GIRL!" my prayers were answered. When they came home, she had blue eyes. (My mom and dad, myself, and all three of the boys had brown eyes, both of my grandmothers had blue). Everyone said they would change and turn brown as she got older, but I knew better.
Fast forward 6 months --Mom went to town and Julie finally had hair, Blonde! I was in love with this precious little sister of mine. While mom was gone, and daddy was at work, I went to work. Down came Julie's crib from Momma and Daddy’s room. Up went the crib in my room. From that day forward, my sweet little blonde haired, blue eyed (they never did change...I knew they wouldn't) sister became my baby.
Fast forward again -- I started driving and working, almost every dime I made went -- you guessed it --on whatever my baby wanted.
As she grew older, she went everywhere I went, most of the time. I broke her in right. She learned to love Bambi, and Cinderella, as they were re-released and I took her to see them on the 'big screen' as I saw them as a child. She got a crush on Luke Skywalker, because we waited in a LONG line to get tickets when the very first Starwar’s movie was released.
She learned about Jesus, partly because if I went to church (which was every time the doors opened at the time) most of the time my sister was with me. I became a children’s church teacher because I loved to teach, and because I could teach my sister. (In my class was also the cutest little blond haired boy, but more on that later).
I took my week’s vacation one year, and just me and my sister went to Jekyll Island and had the most wonderful time looking at all the historic houses, churches, and yes, even the cemeteries. When I moved out and lived on my own, my sister spent a lot of nights at my house (trailer). I would let her and her friends spend the night with me and pop popcorn, eat candy, and let them have their girl talk into the wee hours. I started a scout troop, of which I have very little memory of ... other that MY sister was now a scout!
Fast forward again -- after I married and moved to Rome, my sister stayed with us quite a lot. Her and about three of her best friends at the time, baby-sat our son. She honored me by giving me ‘Girls Night Out’ with HER friends (young women that I had watched grow up) to see 'The Nutcracker' at the Fox. It will always be one of my favorite nights.
Another fast forward -- I stood beside my beautiful, blonde-haired, blue-eyed sister as she married that cute little blonde-haired boy in my children’s church, Joshua Raines.
Then, they were blessed with a beautiful blonde haired little bundle of pure joy, Jessica Anne Raines, and again another little baby to spoil-uh, over shower with love.
I watched as my baby raised her baby to love, you guessed it, Bambi and all the other Disney movies, Star Wars movies, and since I forgot to mention it earlier, reading. (Though Jessie was just beginning to start liking it some, when there was nothing else to do, like softball and basketball.)
I watched as my sister let Jessie have spend-the-night parties and talk girl talk with her friends into the wee hours. I watched as my baby became involved in scout leadership so Jessie could be a Girl Scout.
But the greatest joy was watching my baby raise her babies in church and teach them about loving God. (By this time she also had Jake, and then later – surprise – Joey.)
The only thing my baby did different with her babies, was she did it all a lot better than I did. Still, another fast forward. -- Sunday, August 26, 2012. As I am getting ready for church, busying around, mind reviewing key points I wanted to make in my Sunday School lesson that morning, my phone rang and for some reason it came up with Jake’s caller ID.
But the voice is not Jake. It is my baby, hysterical, because they were on their way to the ER with her baby, unresponsive was one term used, “not breathing” was another. My heart stopped for about five seconds until I yelled for Jim. As he came to where I was, I was already praying, "God, breathe life back into that child, Don't let my baby lose her baby!"
Jim and I hurried to the ER in Calhoun, as I made cell phone call to the rest of the family, and various friends I knew would be praying. The sight I saw when we got into the ER broke my heart. There was my baby, laying on a couch with a wet rag on her face, praying fervently that God would spare her child.
But those many, many prayers were not answered in the way we wanted them answered. I was standing beside my baby, as they stopped CPR and at 10:15 am, my baby’s baby was already in the arms of the One she loved, and Who loved her more than we ever could.
But we were broken hearted. 'Nightmare' was one word used. 'Cannot believe this is happening' was another phase used repeatedly.
We do not have any answers as to why. The doctors have no answer as to why. All we knew was a healthy, beautiful, vibrant ray of joy had been snatched out of our lives -- forever. I stood helpless, as I watched my baby hurt and I was unable to say or do anything to make it better. That is one of the many emotions that have gone through me this week.
But now back up just a bit -- last week I was, in my yearly Bible reading, reading the book of Job in a new commentary Bible I had not read it in before. It pointed out and made me realize, that through all the suffering and pain Job went through:
1. He still praised God through all his sufferings and his 'whys?'.
2. God never did answer Job’s "why?" but He did heal his suffering.
Back to the present. I have watched my baby and her husband hurt more than I can even imagine this week. But I have also watched them praise God in this storm. I have watched them try to comfort others through their tears and pain. I have also watched the Blessed Holy Spirit manifest Himself just when they needed Him most and bring them comfort, when the hurt was too much to bear.
Like Job, my baby and her husband may never know the answer to "why?' in this roller-coaster of pain. But, like Job, my baby and her husband know the Redeemer lives. Their baby has seen Him with her own beautiful, sparkling blue eyes, and the know, through this pain, that they too, will one day see Him, face to face.
Josh has asked God that two things will come from this tragic loss:
1. Souls would be saved.(Over 25 people of all ages stood to make a commitment to Christ at Jessie’s life celebration yesterday.
2. Healing would begin. I watched as friends and family that had not spoken in a long time as they hugged each other, talked, cried, laughed and fellowshipped in general yesterday.
Of the over 2,000 at the visitation, and of the almost 1,000 at her life celebration, my baby’s baby did more in her thirteen years than most have in their lifetime. Though she has made it far sooner that any of us would have had her make it, we know Who’s she is and Where she is.
What will be our testimony when we are no longer here to give testimony ourselves? What will our life testify of us? I want mine to be like Job’s, and like Jessie’s. Though we may never know the "Why?" we will know that our Redeemer lives and we shall see Him face to face with our own eyes.