Kaaren L Hall's Testimony

I'm not a public speaker. Get me in a small group though - and look out. But my Brother Al asked that I speak today and after some hesitation I agreed that I would. I'm feeling nervous and thinking - why would anyone want to listen to me? Here is what I shared.

(Prayer - for the infilling of the Holy Spirit.)

Scripture: Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV) - 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Where I have worked for the past 6 years they have acronyms for everything it seems: KLR-KES-ICS-GCRT and SME. It took me some time to learn what all of these meant, but it's something you have to do, learn the lingo of a place you work. A SME is a Subject Matter Expert. Well, I'm not an expert at anything - well maybe organizing - oh wait, yes I am a SME - I am a Subject Matter Expert on losing one's loved ones.

It began when I was five years old. I lost my big sister who I knew loved me and I loved her so much. But when you're five, no one talks to you about what is going on. You just stay out of the way and watch. I learned later that the car accident she had been in disfigured her so badly that that is the reason I was not allowed to go to the funeral. My poor mom - this was the second child she had lost.

There were other deaths along the way. The next one was when I was just a few days away from turning twenty-nine. My younger brother was killed in a car accident. His funeral was on my birthday. But how do you accept when a 26 year old has lost their life? I worried - Did he know I loved him? Did he know how much I cared? I never told him. I was blessed that my husband was friends with my brother for some time before he and I met and he helped me realize how much my brother loved me/his family and that he did realize that I loved him. I learned from my brother's death that I had to tell those I loved - that I loved them - and to hug them, even if I was to be rejected (funny, I never was). But my mother - how could she remain sane - what faith she must have had to trust our Lord no matter what - this was the third child she had lost.

Sixteen years passed and life had its ups and downs, but there had been no significant deaths in my life. But then in late January of 1990 my mother had a heart attack and was in the hospital. My oldest daughter and her two small children and I flew out to Arizona to be with her. God gave me three weeks to sit at my mother's feet and learn new things and relearn old things from her - then she fell asleep one morning and could not be revived. I remember praying so hard - please God, don't let her die, please God, please. But I knew that she had not breathed in too long of a time and I knew that she did not want to live if she couldn't take care of herself, so I had to let go, and let God allow her to sleep the sleep of death. But it was hard. It was more than a month before we were able to have a memorial service for her and during that time I cried and couldn't sleep and kept asking Why? Then one night when I couldn't sleep, I sat down in front of the TV with the remote looking for some kind of distraction. I don't normally listen to most preachers on TV - I don't feel that a lot of what they say is Biblically based - but for some reason I stopped on this station where the preacher was preaching from Ecclesiastes 3 - "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born and a time to die" and he stopped. He talked about that just as there is a time to be born, there IS a time to die. And only the Lord knows that time - he knows what is best. I began to accept my mother's death, believing that God in His wisdom knew the right time. She wasn't suffering anymore and no one could hurt her anymore either.

Then in February 1992 my mother-in-law and then my father died. This was so hard on my children - to have two grandparents die, just a few days apart. The only bright spot was that after two years I was able to bury my mother's ashes along with my dad's in the same grave. Finally some closure.

Seven years passed and after some BIG ups and BIG downs my husband passed away in February 1999. I was scared. I had never been on my own and I had my youngest daughter still at home to get through school and get her started in college and able to take care of herself. We were so broke - but providentially I had purchased some life insurance on my family at the fast food restaurant I worked at. It was enough to have my husband cremated and the pastor of the Troy Seventh day Adventist church was good enough to let us use the chapel and he led out a memorial service for us. Five months later on my husband's birthday we drove to Fort Custer, Michigan and buried his ashes in a military service. He would have been so proud.

The Lord blessed, and helped us find a big enough place for me and my two girls. My oldest daughter helped with the rent because it was too much for me to pay for a townhouse on my own. More ups and downs - I know now that this was God's "rod and His staff" calling me to come back to the straight and narrow.

Then October 7, 2000 early in the morning I received a call from Beaumont Hospital that my daughter was there in critical condition and I should come right away. As I drove to the hospital I sensed the worst - my daughter was riding with me and said,, "this doesn't look good" and I said I didn't want to hear it - I wasn't ready to accept what I was sensing. A chaplain met us at the emergency room door (just like they had when they took my mother to the hospital back in 1990) - it reaffirmed the feelings I was having. I sat down in a small room with my daughter and my sister - the chaplain said, "Your daughter has been in a car accident and I'm sorry to have to tell you that she didn't make it - she died on the way to the hospital." I could hear myself saying, "no, no, no" - I didn't want him to confirm what I had been feeling. Then I moaned - I don't know if it was out loud or not - but I looked up toward heaven as if trying to see through the clouds and in my mind's eye I reached toward heaven and said, "I can't do this without You." I felt then as if my guardian angel put their arms around me and lifted me up and I felt the warmth of the love of God. I knew I would be okay - "all things work together for good to them that love God. . . ." (Romans 8:28). My oldest son Jason and my oldest daughter Amy were so strong for me. I know it was hard on them - but they did not show it and I knew it was for my sake.

There was a memorial at the hospital for Melissa because my youngest daughter Stephanie was in the accident too and she was in too bad of shape to leave to go to the funeral home where Melissa's body was laid out. This was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through in my entire life. I just kept holding on to texts from the Bible I had learned when I was young.

A few months later I went to a seminar on how to deal with the death of a loved one at the Desmond Funeral Home by invitation of the grief counselor who I had spoken to a number of times after Melissa's death. I learned as each person was allowed to speak of their loss that the counselor had asked me to go last because when it came for my turn I could look every one of them in the eye and say - I know how you feel to have lost your brother, and how you feel to have lost your sister, and I know how you feel to have lost your husband, and how it feels to have lost your mother - but the worst is, losing your child. But even in this - "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13)

Months went by and it was hard to comprehend what peace I had. I remembered the song I had learned at camp as a child - and I didn't have a clue at that time what it meant, it was just fun to sing it - "I've got the peace that passes understanding down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart." That's what my Lord had given me - "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7).

Time has gone on and there have been many ups and downs. Through it all - the Lord has carried me. I was let go from my job in August of 2004 - I had a little piece of paper on my cubicle wall that helped me through that day of being escorted out of the building - "If God has brought me to it - He will bring me through it." Two months later I got the best job I've ever had with such good people to work with. In April of 2005 the Lord blessed me with a small condominium with a mortgage I didn't think I could handle, I asked for Him to bless my attempt if it was His will - and he has blessed every month of every year that we have been living there.

I lost my older brother to cancer April 2nd of 2010 - he was buried on my birthday. He was laid to rest in the grave next to my Melissa, whose grave is next to my Mother and Father's, whose grave is next to my younger brother's. That's where I want to be on resurrection morning when Jesus calls our loved ones from the grave.

11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

A quote I read every morning from the inspired writer Ellen G. White says: God never leads His children otherwise than they would choose to be led, if they could see the end from the beginning, and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling as co-workers with Him. . . "Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake." Phil. 1:29. And of all the gifts that Heaven can bestow upon men, fellowship with Christ in His sufferings is the most weighty trust and the highest honor. {DA 224.5}

Are you content in whatsoever state you are in?

Everywhere and in all things - are you instructed?

Is the Lord speaking to you and calling you to follow WHEREVER He may lead?

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