Enjoy this devotional from FlourishWriters student Valerie Terrell
In silent anticipation, I echoed the tick, tick, tick of the clock hand. At the right moment, the familiar ring-a-ling of the recess bell sounded. But then, life changed. Again.
“Valerie, I need to talk with you over the recess,” my fifth-grade teacher announced. I dared not disagree.
Caught off guard, I sensed my dreams of running and screaming as I played kickball with my friends fade. My ten-year-old ears filled with the sound of my thumping heartbeat as I tuned into her tone of voice.
Two years before, my world of playing and ease also ground to a halt. “Tone of voice” and powerful words altered my life as my maternal grandmother announced the end of my momma’s life. She was gone, just like that. Eight and a half years—the total time of bonding with her. Death crashed into my world, lugging its nasty baggage of heartache, trauma, and change. It played havoc with my childish understanding of the world.
Enjoying life felt out of place. Changes whirled like a revolving door. Swept away by helplessness, a cloud of fear overshadowed me. My heart frantically searched for an escape from my maze of sadness, tears, and pain.
Refuge appeared in the safety of school days, where my passion for learning gradually restored my sanity. Yet my little feet stumbled trying to keep in step with the significant and rapid changes to my life.
Careening back to reality, I heard my teacher’s instructions to read from the blackboard. She knew I loved to read. I obeyed a favorite routine I had and moved from front to back in the seats of my row. Task finished, I waited expectantly.
“My dear, I think you need glasses,” she compassionately declared.
Expertly, she observed my struggle with reading and squinting the farther away I sat. Like all my family, I needed glasses. Reluctantly, I followed instructions to inform my grandmother.
With corrected vision, the “wonders of the world” came alive! Foggy, shadowy objects in the distance became clear. Words danced off the pages and took me on adventures beyond my imagination!
I discovered a talent for memorization while learning Psalm 23 in English class. In the ordinary days of school life, God got my attention through my love of learning. Through my teacher’s observations, He improved my physical sight. Similarly, God helped “correct” my spiritual blindness—my lack of knowing Him and what He was like (His character). By reciting aloud, I spoke the powerful and transforming Word of God into my mother’s loss. God’s providence began filling a deep heart need of love in me.
God’s providence sees ahead of any circumstance in our lives and amazingly provides for whatever is needed when it’s needed. As God watches over all His creation, every detail of our lives is essential to Him. My needs were never more than He could handle. God was always in control!
Yet, in my elementary learning about God, the sufferings of early mother loss blurred my vision to see Him. I needed to know and believe what Scripture said about God and His character to recognize His providence in my life. As I memorized His attributes in Psalms 23, my spiritual sight sharpened. I caught glimpses of God’s love and faithfulness working through others in my young life.
In retrospect, I experienced God as my Good Shepherd lovingly providing all my needs (Psalms 23:1). After my momma’s untimely death, He prepared a new family unit for me—my maternal grandparents and siblings. God led me to a peaceful, restful, and safe new home (v.2). He “restored my soul” (v.3a) by nurturing and nourishing me in my school setting. Attending church with my grandparents, God guided me along “the paths of righteousness” (v.3b) while spiritually feeding my broken heart.
I knew well about the “valley of the shadow of death” (v.4). I clung to the hope and comfort in these verses that God indeed was with me! I longed to regain the love I missed from my momma. I greedily absorbed comfort like a dry sponge as my elementary teachers coddled me. God’s abundant blessings overflowed in my family of eight (v.5). I glimpsed His “goodness and mercy” following me through the days of my life (v.6).
God’s providence is also visible in the story of Joseph (Genesis 37–50). But Joseph had many trials and obstacles to overcome, first. God prepared his heart, protected him, and built his character for greater responsibilities. God used those hardships for Joseph’s good. In God’s timing, Joseph gained power under Pharaoh in Egypt during a famine. God saved the Israelites (Joseph’s family and God’s chosen people) from starvation in His good plans and purpose for Joseph’s life.
So, as a young girl, God was with me, helping others improve my physical vision. He also demonstrated His love by correcting my spiritual sight through learning Psalms 23. He prepared me back then to share this story with you today. God’s presence and power were with Joseph in hardships while shaping his character for God’s plans. However, God’s providence seems more visible when we look back on our lives. Yet, you can believe He’s always there in control even when you can’t see Him!
You can trust God to be there in your life’s details too. His providence is providing for the excellent plans and purposes He has for you. Recognize God’s character in your life as you read the Scriptures. He can be your Good Shepherd in your journey of mother loss. He is near the brokenhearted, comforting and lavishing compassion on you. He desires to encourage and guide you in each step you take. God lovingly wants to fill your heart with hope for your future. God promises to heal you as you trust him with your loss. So, see God’s providence working in your life today!
Valerie Terrell is a daughter of God, wife, mother, and budding writer. She is writing her first memoir about her journey of early mother loss. Currently, Valerie publishes words of encouragement to daughters of early mother loss via email. She speaks to women’s ministries sharing her story and other topics relevant to women. Valerie has volunteered as a women’s peer counselor for over ten years with the Eve Center in Hamilton County, Ohio. She has experience as a certified facilitator with the Motherless Daughter’s Ministry in Warren County, Ohio.
God healed Valerie’s childhood trauma of early mother loss through the gift of salvation and faith in Jesus Christ. Valerie is passionate about helping women with early mother loss pursue a hopeful future in Christ.
She enjoys uplifting conversations with her friends, mentoring women, and taking pictures and videos to preserve moments in her family’s life. She lives with her husband Rick in Warren County, Ohio, and is a proud momma of two young adult children. Valerie connects with readers at valerieaterrell.com.