HE has taught me so much through her....

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12

My friend, Jill, lives this verse....daily. I can only hope and pray that I can live the same example she does.
I guess I "officially" met Jill back in September of 2009, after Ayden passed away. However, I've admired Jill from afar for years. I remember being a visitor at church the Sunday that Jill announced her diagnosis of ALS and how she was facing this news. I remember thinking, "She is the most courageous, brave woman I've ever seen." Since that day, Jill was always a person who would venture into my mind from time to time. I had never met her, but I thought she was such an amazing person. I was humbled by her because she knew what ALS was going to bring to her life, and she was determined to face it by trusting in God's plan and purpose in it all. I remember making a mental note that should I face difficult things in my future, I should approach it the way Jill approached her diagnosis. Little did I know....
After we lost Ayden, I felt like no one understood what I was going through. I had met people through my blog and over facebook, but I hadn't met many people nearby who could relate. A couple at church reached out to us; they had lost their first child, a daughter, 18 years ago to a stillbirth. We have since become very close with this couple and consider them two of our dearest friends. In addition to this couple, Jill and her husband, Cliff, also reached out to us. Cliff and Jill were on the rotation to bring us dinner one night, and I was anxious for their visit. We had all been going to church together for years, but our paths never crossed - different small groups, schedules, etc. So, this was the first time I was going to "meet" Jill.
I remember her coming into the house, and immediately it was as if we had known each other forever. My parents were there, so they shared '70s stories and stories from childhood. Eventually, the conversation turned.....to the obvious. We had just lost our child...2 weeks prior to this meeting. Most people who had brought us dinner did the usual - come in, give us a hug, tell us they're praying for us, ask if there's anything they can do, wish us well, leave. Not that there's anything wrong with that at all. If I'm being completely honest with myself, I actually preferred that because it didn't force me to face the obvious. I didn't have to talk. I just had to put a smile on my face, say thank you, and then we'd be alone again. I think Jill's first question was, "I want to know how you're doing....really. How are you dealing with your grief?" It was the first time I had really been asked that question, and I had no idea how to answer it. However, as blown away as I was, I appreciated her asking me such a hard question. I needed people to do that. So, we talked a little bit about grief, faith, and how much life sucks sometimes.
As opposite as our situations are - Jill who has ALS and me who lost a child - our struggles are very similar. Jill is having to grieve for herself as she watches her body give out on her every day. Her process is most definitely relative to the grieving process. She has dealt with, and continues to deal with, the elements of grief - denial, anger, depression, acceptance. So, she and I had a connection from that moment on. Jill and I met weekly over the months that followed that first visit. It was such a healing time for me....to be able to meet with someone who had asked the same questions I was asking or had dealt with the same frustrations, doubts, and fears. When she told me that she sometimes prayed for God to end her life here so she could just go to Heaven, I completely understood. I hoped and prayed that God would decide to take me soon because I just wanted to be in Heaven where there was no pain, hurt, tears, and most of all....I'd be with my Lord and my baby again. I couldn't tell that to just anyone without them looking at me somewhat awkwardly. She understood my need to grieve in the way that was best for me, and she never made me feel like I was approaching everything in the wrong way. From our meeting stemmed a small group bible study that was challenging, but it forced me to get back into God's word and to begin looking at myself and where I stood spiritually after everything that had happened.
I'm so thankful for the friendship that Jill and I have formed. God brought us together in the most unnatural way, and He took two people who were dealing with completely different tragedies and showed them how their faith could still work.....although broken and hurting....He was/is still there in midst of it all. Through Jill, God showed me what means to hope through hurting, to be patient through trials, and to remain grounded in my faith...even when I questioned it.
Lately, Jill's health has begun to deteriorate rapidly. She is in a great deal of pain, which isn't related to the ALS but is an additional challenge on top of it all. Her energy decreases quickly, and it is difficult for her to carry on conversations because she is finding it difficult to talk and it wears her out so easily. I admire Jill's strength so much. She didn't ask for this. She could dwell on her situation with desperation....angry with God...giving up on her faith, but she chooses to accept that this is God's purpose for her. She's the first to acknowledge that while we may not understand WHY God chose this for our lives, it is up to us to find a way to live for Him through our given trials and situations. Jill is an inspiration to many - her faith, strength, and ability to acknowledge God's blessings through all of this has changed so many lives. ALS is scary, and believe me...Jill would be first to tell you that she doesn't go through each day as a super hero, facing it all and knocking it out with her super Christian powers. Many days, she faces fears...questions...worries...and a lot of tears. However, she continues to keep everything in perspective. She has HOPE. And she knows that at the end of all this, the worries, fears, and tears will all be for nothing because what she has been living for is her ultimate treasure. Her body may give out on her here, but soon she will have a new body....an indestructable body...and she will be out of that chair forever! (woo!) She will run, jump, dance, sing, laugh, and worship alongside our Lord. We will hurt here because we will miss her terribly, but I can honestly say that I will find so much joy in knowing that Jill moving to Heaven means she will be whole again. We'd love to hold onto her here....but we wouldn't keep her from Heaven for anything. Just like, if given the choice, as desperately as I want Ayden back, I couldn't bring him back here from Heaven because I know that He is experiencing so much more joy than I could ever give him.
I didn't clear this post with Jill before I wrote it. Hopefully she won't mind. My words seem so simple in comparison to the awesome person that she is, but I wanted to at least try to express my love and appreciation for this wonderful woman. I'm so thankful that she is a part of my life and the lives of so many. We all love you Jill :)



  1. Wow Lindsay
    This post is powerful and it brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing this. Love ya

  2. THANK YOU for posting this. I know Jill struggle with feeling "purposeless" and I don't think she realizes just how much she means to so many people. I am so thankful that I have been able to get to know this wonderful woman. And I can't wait to see her in heaven running, jumping, talking like her old pre-ALS self (a "self" that I never knew).

    I hate that both of you have had to deal with such heavy, heavy stuff. I admire both you ladies for blogging about your struggles and for letting those of us who haven't been in your shoes know how to best help those who have, and unfortunately, will be in the future.

    Many prayers go up for both you and Jill daily!

  3. What an amazing and beautiful woman. I've learned things from the both of you, just by reading this post. I am so glad the two of you have each other, a friendship from God.
    Love and prayers to you both - Kelley