Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart BY GUEST BLOGGER Ashley Gonzales

 
Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart Guest Blogger Ashley Gonzales on Life As The Artist

Loss. It’s something that everyone experiences at some point in their lives, no matter how much we wish that we didn’t. I’ve grown up in the church. I attended regular faith formation classes, but when I reached high school age, I made the choice to stop attending the classes at my church and it was a practice that continued through college and beyond, up until recently. I attended church when I could and felt like I had a general understanding of God and Christianity, but it wasn’t until 2013 that this lifestyle that I had created for myself began to be tested.

In April 2013, my dad’s older brother Louie was given six months to live by his doctors. For a little over a year, he had been battling liver cancer and quit smoking in order to be placed on a list to receive a liver transplant. In April, when he and his sister Sandy flew up to Oregon to receive the transplant, the doctors discovered that the cancer had spread and that there was nothing more that could be done, including the transplant. My Uncle Louie and my dad didn’t have the best relationship growing up, but as anyone knows, in times such as this, that didn’t even matter anymore. Because my dad is from California and because he had just taken a new job, the earliest my dad could get out to visit his brother was two months later in June. Their youngest sister who lives in Hawaii made the trip as well to spend the weekend together.

That June, during my dad’s trip that was essentially to spend time with his brother in his final months, my Aunt Sandy (his other sister) began to complain of stomach discomfort. Aunt Sandy had been acting as Uncle Louie’s caregiver for the duration of his cancer battle as he was not married and childless. The day before my dad was to return home, he called us with the news that upon Aunt Sandy’s visit to the ER, she had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian cancer. She had already fought and beaten lymphoma 13 years prior. At her March checkup, just 3 months prior, the doctors had not discovered or mentioned anything concerning. Suddenly, my dad was faced not just with the impending loss of his older brother, but also his younger sister, who he had a very close relationship with.

The following month, my sister and I had the opportunity to get out to California to visit our aunt and uncle. My Auntie Margaret was staying with Aunt Sandy at the time as well. I ended up staying at the house with my Aunt alone during the day as my Uncle Louie ended being admitted to the hospital during our trip to help regulate his ammonia levels which were causing him to be very out of it. That trip was full of many precious moments with both Aunt Sandy and Uncle Louie and would be the last time that I would see either of them alive. Aunt Sandy passed away on Christmas morning, December 25, 2013 and Uncle Louie followed just nine days later on January 3, 2014.

The months following their deaths have been some of the hardest of my life and I can only imagine what it has been like for my dad who now just has his youngest sister Margaret and his 93 year old mother, who is in declining health. While loss has plagued our family for over a year now, something truly special has come out of it for me.

A few months prior to the anniversary of Aunt Sandy and Uncle Louie’s passing, I felt myself being pulled to a church here in Charlotte that I had never paid much attention to before. I had been going to the same church since I was a kid after all. I knew that God was pulling me towards this place, I just wasn’t yet sure why but I trusted in His guidance. In the weeks and months following our family’s loss, I found myself turning to scripture more and more but began to realize that although I had a Christian foundation from my childhood, my lack of involvement in my faith other than a sporadic church attendance schedule had seriously impacted where I was in life spiritually.

When I began to look closer at this church that God was calling me to, the first thing that I began to realize that I had been lacking was a sense of community. A community of fellow Christ followers who all shared a desire for studying God’s word and what that meant for our individual lives. And because of how I had been living my life post-college, on top of the tragedy of losing my Aunt and Uncle, community was something that I hadn’t even realized that I didn’t just want, I craved.

From the time that God first began to place this church in my life, I have found myself seeking Him more and rejoicing in His love and truth each day. From a time in my life that was full of loss and sadness, a renewed sense of trust in God has emerged and I am seeking out ways to join the community that God has led me to.

When my sister gave me the Jesus Calling devotional for Christmas, I immediately flipped to my birthday (as one does) and the devotional for my birthday perfectly summed up how God is using this time in my life.

“Do not resist or run from the difficulties in your life. These problems are not random mistakes; they are hand-tailored blessings designed for your benefit and growth. Embrace all the circumstances that I allow into your life, trusting Me to bring good out of them. View problems as opportunities to rely more fully on Me.”

Ashley Gonzales

Ashley Gonzales is a graduate student and special needs Pre-K teacher, Christ follower, and blogger at Messy Milestones. She was born and raised in North Carolina and has a serious case of wanderlust. She thinks that a small piece of Heaven can be found between the covers of a book and is only slightly addicted to Target. If you would like to see more from Ashley, you can find her at her blog and on Twitter, Facebook, and Bloglovin.

Jusika Martinez

Tucson, Arizona, USA