GATHER: The story of Blaire Stephens

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My name is Blaire Stephens and I am a daughter of God.

Sound a little “churchy” to you? Well let me just tell you, the journey it has taken for me to even begin to realize that truth has been a rough one.

Let me explain.

“Ok, so what just happened?”

 How many of you have been there and walked away from a situation with the same question? I don’t know about you but I have been there way more than once, and to be honest, there is one time above all that has shaped my journey like none other.

It was about 3 am after driving home from Tuscaloosa.  All of my friends had left. I was up in my room. I was staring at my journal and finally, I opened the pages and just began writing.

God, my dad just killed himself. Those are words I never thought I would say.”

I can’t begin to explain what came over me other than the Holy Spirit, because, if you were to have asked me two years ago of all of the people I know who would commit suicide, my dad’s name would  be the last one to pour out of my mouth.  As long as I can remember my dad served in the church in some way. Whether being a deacon, Sunday school teacher, or right in the middle of some mission project, he always valued being involved in the local body. He even invested in people’s lives on a regular basis that we didn’t even know about until he passed away. None of it made sense.  I have such sweet memories of conversations I have had with my dad about the Lord, about His personal relationship with Christ, even conversations were I would literally hear Him call out to His Father on my behalf.  And that is what made all of this so confusing.

I can’t tell you that I am less confused now as to why he did what he did, but I can tell you this.  I know more now of what it is to have a Heavenly Father and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I had a relationship with Christ before my dad died, but I didn’t really know what it meant to have a Heavenly Father. I know that sounds super “unspiritual” but I didn’t feel that void in my life. I had a dad and I knew beyond a doubt that my dad loved me.  One of my favorite memories of my dad was when he would come kiss my sister and I on the forehead before he left every day.  It was a reminder that he saw us, that he loved us,  that he was there for us. My dad was always there when I needed him. My dad always provided for my family. My dad always offered godly wisdom and advice. My dad always loved to make people laugh.

So why?

Why God?

I still can’t tell you why and honestly I don’t even know if it matters.  But, do you want to know what I do know?

  I do know what it’s like to be so completely lost about what is going on around you.

I do know what it’s like to be so tightly wrapped in the arms of the Heavenly Father that you don’t ever want to leave.

I do know what it’s like to be so angry and confused and feel so loved and safe all at the same time.

Four days before my dad killed himself, my Heavenly Father led me to Isaiah 43, a scripture that had been speaking to the depths of my heart for a while, and that night while I laid in my bed, the Lord led me back there and told me so clearly… “I don’t care what the world calls you, I call you mine.”

Did you catch that? Did you get it?

I don’t care what the world calls you. I call you mine.

That night I wrote it on a small sticky note with the date and placed it in my bible, where it’s still today. Little did I know when I slipped it into those pages that just 4 days later I would feel like my world was falling apart and I would need to be reminded of Who I belonged to.  My dad who I loved so dearly and felt so safe with wasn’t there. Oh, but I could feel who was.

“But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
    O Israel, the one who formed you says,
‘Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
    I have called you by name; you are mine.

When you go through deep waters,
    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you’ ”

Isaiah 43:1-2

So as I continued to journal that night, the Lord changed my heart as only God can. He turned my heart from confusion to thanksgiving. He reminded me of all of the wonderful years I was able to spend with a dad who without a doubt loved me. And here I am, being so open and vulnerable to let you know that the hurt is still there, the hard days still come, but just as they come, so does the Holy Spirit, like a flood. The day before I drove home to be with my family after my world crashed in on me, the Lord gave me a verse. Nahum 1:7.

“The Lord is good,
    a strong refuge when trouble comes.
    He is close to those who trust in him.”

So regardless of your questions about what life places in front of you, know that you and I have a God who loves us, and a Heavenly Father who loves to calls us His.

Flourish, baby, flourish,

Blaire

Blaire 1

 Blaire Stephens is a daughter, a sister, and a friend but above all, a follower of Jesus Christ. She is one of the most selfless people I’ve ever known and through sweet connections made in hammocks on the back of boats floating down the amazon river in Peru, we have grown into lifelong friends. Blaire works as a physical therapist and also has a beautiful love for international missions. If you ever get the chance to meet this sweet spirited disciple of Jesus, you’ll be the lucky one. Blaire, thank you for being open and vulnerable today and every day, always willing to share your story if it means HE will be glorified. Flourish baby flourish.

Love you sweet friend,

Ashleigh

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