Our Broken Road – Part 1

Life. It doesn’t always work out the way you want it to.

When I was little, I had this vision of the way my life would go.

Married. House full of kids. Always happy.

As you grow older, you realize that always being happy and never being sad just isn’t realistic. Life happens.

Isaiah 43:2 says “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.”

Not If you go through deep waters, but When. Which means that in this life there will be times that we have to go through deep waters. Waters that are so deep you feel you might drown in them.

And that’s the road we’re walking right now. A road that is leading us through deep waters. Waters that are crashing over us with the feeling that these waters are going to drown us. This road that is so broken.

And this is our story.

On July 1, 2017, our 4 year old, Sam, went to heaven.

Let me rewind a few years to begin our story.

When Sam was 2 he was diagnosed with epilepsy. There is no feeling like having to sit and helplessly watch your child have a seizure, knowing the only thing you can do is watch the timer and pray. We spent many, many long nights in the emergency room waiting for Sam to respond to us after his seizures. We kept upping his medicine dose until one wasn’t enough, and we had to add another. All the while me and my husband were praying and believing that he was going to grow out of these seizures and he would be healthy and whole.

For two years we waited. Waited in emergency rooms watching as Sam slept and praying that he would respond. Waited and wondered if a seizure was going to come while we were out in public. Waited on the numerous test results to give us some answers. Waited and believed that God was going to heal our Sam.

There’s something about God though that I think needs to be mentioned here.

Isaiah 55:9 says:

As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

God’s ways are not our ways. Our human minds can’t comprehend God’s thoughts. We can’t begin to understand the why of what God does. We can sit and try to figure out the ways of God, but there are some things that we’ll never be able to understand. And this is one of those things.

Once a month my church holds a Parents Night Out. They watch the kids for a few hours so the parents can go out on a date. It’s a great time to connect with your spouse and the kids always have a blast. On Friday night, June 30, 2017, we dropped our kids off at church. They had a big blow-up water slide and lots of cupcakes. So basically it was Sam’s perfect night. They said he slid over and over on that slide. And at one point my pastor’s wife even got a video of him laughing, saying his pants had fallen down. They then went inside and he ate at least four cupcakes. He had a great night.

The next day he slept in and woke up with a very high fever. If there’s any epilepsy mamas out there, you know that a high fever is no good. High fever = seizure. So we alternated Motrin and Tylenol and tried to keep his fever down. The day went by pretty uneventfully. He laid around on the couch watching TV as we tried to keep his temperature down.

At 8:30 that night I had checked his temperature and it was 104. I gave him a dose of Tylenol and then went back in my room with my oldest son. At 9:30 it was time for his seizure medicine. I walked into the living room and Sam was laying face down on his pillow. I just assumed he had fallen asleep from his fever. I got all his meds ready and rolled him over to give them to him and I immediately knew something wasn’t right. Blood started coming out of his mouth and I called my husband in there.

He wasn’t breathing well, so my husband started doing CPR and I called 911. For the next eight minutes my husband continued doing CPR as we waited for the ambulance to get to us. After they got there and worked on him for a while, they loaded him up on the ambulance and rushed to the nearest hospital.

Little did I know that was the last time I would see my baby alive.

We got to the hospital and they took us to a room and asked us to wait. I’ll never forget that moment. The moment the doctor walked in and told us “Sam is no longer with us”. The immediate pain that swept over me totally consumed me. It was as if every nightmare and fear I ever had as a mother came into existence with those six words.

The next few hours went by in a blur. I remember walking in and seeing my baby laying on the hospital bed. I remember holding his little freckled hand and kissing his freckled cheeks over and over. I was memorizing every single part of him. From his red hair all the way down to his little toes.

The morning after he died, I put this on Facebook:

“There are no words to describe the pain I’m feeling. Such a big hole was left when Sam left us. It’s hard to see beyond the pain right now. There’s been a quote that I’ve held onto since Sam was first diagnosed with epilepsy. And I actually bought a sign with this very saying on it just 7 hours before we lost him. “And if not, He’s still good.” Even though I don’t understand and this pain is excruciating, he’s good and I trust him. I trust him with every part of my broken heart. My Sammy baby, our lives will never be the same without you.”

Throughout everything I had to go through that next week, from picking out the outfit I had to bury him in, to picking out pictures and songs for his memorial video, to celebrating his birthday just nine days after he died, God was with me every step of the way. There were times that I felt like I was drowning in my grief and I would cry out for him to rescue me and I could literally feel him lift the burden off of me and I could feel his peace wash over me.

He gave me a vision during one of these broken times. I was on the floor wailing and breaking. He was kneeling on the floor with me, holding me and he was crying with me. It was like he knew this was what was supposed to happen, but he was hurting because I was hurting.

But I really want to talk about the funeral. I woke up that morning with an equal sense of dread and being happy that I would get to see my baby one more time. I’ll never forget the moment I walked in and saw my baby in that casket. It was a moment of complete brokenness. A moment that I never thought I’d have to experience. But I want to to tell y’all something. I felt him pick me up out of my brokenness and carry me throughout that entire service. I felt his peace and presence completely surround me that day.

It reminded me of Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Because the peace that I had in that situation didn’t make sense. But he was there with me. Every step. Every breath.

But unfortunately, our broken road doesn’t end there. I’ll finish our story in part 2.

35 comments

  1. Judy Hood says:

    Courtney, I go to Flow and have seen your unction shine even in this difficult time. Yes..of course your heart still breaks regardless of what we see on the surface, but, truly God remains Faithful! If I could name a book or ministry it would be “I AM and Sam”. What a great team they make. Love and prayers to you all. Watching the Father work🤗

    • Courtney says:

      Yes, my heart will never be whole again. There will always be an empty place for Sam, but God’s strength is carrying me through ever step of this journey. And I love that name!

  2. Cathy Ferrell says:

    Courtney, how deep and wise your words are, as you walk through this, your hand in his. My prayers and thoughts are with you, and our love, as you continue sharing and reaching others.

  3. Satah Wilson says:

    Courtney as painful as it is to share your brokenness it will help many others to see how big our God is. Thank you for being so transparent and sharing your story. I watched you in amazement at Sams funeral and I knew only God could give that kind of strength. I love you.

  4. Nedra Scarpelli says:

    Courtney , I’m sure I can’t put into words to describe the pain I’m feeling for you and your family … I don’t know you personally, just through my daughter Chrissy Johnson , I could sense the pain in her voice as she would try to grasp what her friend was going through. I’m not sure I understand how anyone deals with the loss of a child .but Only with God by your side … I will say it’s a good reminder to always be greatful for all the little people that God has placed in my life. Just know that God has giving me love for you & your family, and I morn for you and the loss of your sweet little baby boy . What a sweet photo of him !! Gods blessings to you and your loved ones Courtney

    • Courtney says:

      Thank you so much. That’s one thing me and my husband were saying, all this makes you realize what’s really important in life and how thankful we are for our family.

  5. Loren Cooley says:

    Sending love. I have too felt God literally lift my burden and carry me through two different times in my life. Praise God that He loves us that much. Sending so much love mother to mother, Christian to Christian.

  6. Judy Gann says:

    Beautiful, heartfelt words. An amazing testimony. I don’t know how I would have gotten through such a sad time, but I have never had to do anything remote to losing a child.
    We know your Dad, Chuck from the SCRC motorcycle club. We don’t see Chuck and Cheryl because we no longer ride, but they still hold a place in our hearts.
    My prayers are with you and your entire family today and the days ahead.
    We know we will all see your little Sam again one day. God Bless 🙏🏻

  7. Amanda Self says:

    Courtney, I couldn’t have said these words better myself. “He picked me up and carried me through”. It has been three weeks of Him picking me up and carrying me through. I look back at the months preceding my husband’s death and know without a doubt that He was carrying me even then.

  8. Debbie says:

    OH my as tears role down my cheeks, I think of what a testimony you have. I know this isn’t the road you wanted to travel but I can see you have a heart for Jesus and that will carry you through. My prayers are with you and your family.

  9. Angie Cornutt says:

    Such a powerful testimony. God shines through you and it is so very evident. May God continue holding you in his hand.

  10. Judy Pate says:

    Courtney, thank you for sharing your story! Itf reminds me of the poem Footprints in the sand. The Lord is so faithful. He always carries us through those difficult places. You have a beautiful testimony that has touched so many people! God’s love and grace has carried you and Josh and will continue to carry you. Psalm 56-8. You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each of them. The Lord will continue to carry you and your family. I love you Courtney and praying that God will be with your family in a special way!

  11. Denita Atwood says:

    Your words are so eloquent and truly speak of the power of God. I am a Biblical Counselor and would love to share your words to show others the power of God during times of trouble. Many times it takes hearing from one who is experiencing to bring God’s Word to life. We will pray for you and your family. Thank you so much for sharing.

  12. Deborah Williams says:

    Courtney, I too have experienced that peace and mercy. That only God can give. I can’t imagine the grief of losing a child. However, I have lost two husbands. My first, the father of my children died at the age of 51. God in His goodness blessed me with a wonderful man. My sweetheart and my love . He died in 2015. My heart was crushed. But through it all God was so faithful. He is a good, good Father. I have grieved and prayed for you and your family. God has and will remain faithful .

    • Courtney says:

      Yes, he is such a good father. I’m so sorry that you had to experience this loss two times, but I’m so thankful that we have a faithful father who loves us beyond what we can comprehend.

  13. Amanda Self says:

    Courtney, “He picked me up out of my brokenness and carried me through” there are no better words that can be used to express exactly how it feels. It has been almost three weeks since my husband passed and every single day He has carried me through. The darkest time I’ve ever experienced and yet I have felt him every moment of every day. Thank you for sharing your story.

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