it is well with my soul

I want to tell you a story. It is a true story, and it is unfolding as I speak. I bring it to you with the hope that it will touch your life, encourage your heart, and more than anything, inspire you to come to Jesus. If you are already a follower of Jesus, I pray that you will be inspired to draw closer to the Savior of your soul.

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Prom, April 2016

 

This story is about a young man named Matthew and his special friend, Laura. These two young people have been an inspiration to everyone who touches their lives; lives that have been Christ-centered and Kingdom-focused –  futures bright with dreams of working together to further God’s kingdom here on earth – Matt, using music and Laura, using her words in speech/debate and writing. Both have sought to put God first in their relationship, first in their plans, and first in their everyday lives. I’ve watched their relationship grow and mature in a special way I’ve rarely seen between two people, let alone ones so young.

 

I’ve often wondered about the youth of our current culture. It seems that so many young people are confused and directionless, which is considered “normal and to be expected.” I know that there are those, who are challenging the norm and daring to reach higher, dig deeper, think more clearly than what is expected of them, who are becoming young giants in the faith.

My prayer journal is full of youth, for whom I pray on a regular basis. I pray for them to seek to know God, to stand firm on the truth of His Word, to not let the world set their base-line of truth, but mostly, I pray that they will love God with all of their hearts. I know that if they focus on growing in their faith, the craziness going on around them will not move them in the wrong direction.

Matt and Laura’s faith and commitment to going against the flow and daring to do hard things is an inspiration.

May 3, 2016. Life-shattering news.

Laura is gone – taken from this earth in just a split second of time. Knees hit the floor. Matt’s ministry through his music and his relationship with Laura has not only brought him closer to Jesus, but it has inspired people all over the world. Thousands of his Facebook page fans and followers, family and friends, are all holding onto Matt through the hours and days following Laura’s passing.

Death stinks. I mean really stinks. We are not designed to say “goodbye” because we have eternity written on our hearts. We were originally designed to live forever in the presence of our Maker – it was only when sin came into the world that death and goodbyes came. But those of us who have allowed Jesus to be our Savior have hope.

Dear Reader, do you have hope?

It doesn’t matter how young or old you are, it doesn’t matter what our world and culture tell you, God has a plan for you! If your life ended today, do you know where you would go? Do you want the assurance that you can only have through the gift of grace and forgiveness? Jesus died for all mankind – come to Him; He’s waiting for you!

John 3:16 – 21 “For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

We all know where Laura is. Matt is mourning but not like one without hope. Because he has a relationship with God, he is struck down but not destroyed. His music, a unique special gift from God, is now flowing from a deeper place. What once came from his heart is now flowing from his soul. His friends, family, and fans are being given a glimpse of what faith can do.

Only faith in Jesus and a personal relationship with Him can bring real peace, strength, and joy no matter what is going on around you. Jesus doesn’t want to be your hell-fire insurance, He wants to be your friend. He knows how it feels to face all of the crazy humanness here on earth. He’s walked a million miles in our shoes. He understands and loves you no matter what, and He wants to be your Comfort and Guide.

 

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Here is a post from Laura’s blog. Please read it. If you want to come to Jesus, and you don’t know how, please contact me at angela@jellybeanjar.org. Or if you would like to talk to Matt about his faith and ask him to pray for you and with you to accept Jesus as your personal Friend and Savior, you can contact him by messaging him here. Please don’t go another day without the assurance that is found in Jesus.

From Laura’s blog…

“The Greatest Adventure.”

Life is for the living.

“I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” ~Psalm 118:17

I want to live. I want to be fully alive. I want people to know who I am truly–deeply. I want to be open and approachable.

But I also want to forever be a great mystery.

My heart longs for adventure. Sometimes I can hardly stand it. I must dance with the grass to the music of the wind. I must run through my precious hills, up the trails, and over rocks and twigs. I must push my body to its limits until my legs scream in pain and my heart pounds so violently I’m certain it will explode.

But I want more than the hills surrounding my home; I want more than the adventures of my childhood.

I want to see the the world. But not just see it–I want to be in it, a part of it. I want a to experience it.

I want to dance on a beach at sunset and feel the grains of sand scratch between my toes. I want to breathe in ocean air and let it excite something deep inside of me that makes me sprint into the water, jump, and let the waves wash over my skin.

I want to repel off a castle wall.

I want to walk the streets of a foreign city at midnight. I want to be absorbed in other cultures. I want to eat strange foods, wear flowing, brightly-patterned clothes, and let my hair fall wild and free. I want to dance to their music and experience their parties.

I want to read the Psalms on the edge of a cliff. I want to raise my hands in the air, face the stormy sea, and sing at the top of my voice.

I want to be alive.

Am I saying life is dependent on amazing experiences? What if I never do any of those things? Will I miss the opportunity to be fully alive?

Such a mindset reflects the Post Modern worldview of our culture today. “I am what I see, feel, taste, do, say…” In Post Modernism, there is no bigger picture–no true story that applies to all people at all times. It says ultimate reality is unknowable (it does not say that it does not exist, but that we cannot know it).

If we cannot know ultimate reality, and if there is no bigger picture, no overall story of humanity, then how I live my life is solely up to me. And if life is all about experience, then, to fully be alive, I must experience as much as I can–to the fullest level it can be experienced–right?

But if there is a “big story” for all of humanity–a story of grace and redemption, a story of the greatest love and most heroic rescue–then there is more to life than the simple experience.

I am more than what I see, feel, taste, do, and say, so my life is more than this as well.

I could travel the entire world and still not truly live. So what does it mean to fully be alive?

As I reflect on the moments in life when I felt most alive, I realize it’s when I felt fully known. I felt understood. It’s when I related deeply with others and with my Creator.

To know, and to fully be known.

I think this is what awakens our soul.

And the One who fully knows us, is the Creator of both spirit and flesh–body and soul.

And He, this omnipotent being, also desires for us to know Him and to have a relationship with Him. Without a relationship with Jesus Christ, you will never be fully alive. Call upon the One who died for you, so you may have life–to the fullest, and for eternity.

For that, my friend, is the greatest ADVENTURE.”

God bless,

I invite you to visit Matt’s Facebook page that showcases his music. Here is his rendition of “Blessed Assurance,” which he recorded by Laura’s grave, and the words he wrote about his Laura.

Hey everyone. Sorry I’m late in posting this hymn, but it has been a crazy week. On May 3rd, I received news that my best friend, sister in Christ, and the love of my life went home to be with the Lord. It was such a shock, and I couldn’t believe it. Just two short weeks ago, we were at prom, dancing the night away. After finding out, my family and I immediately made our way out to Wyoming to be with her family. It is such a comfort to hug, cry, laugh, and just to be with her family. Laura was such an amazing girl. She constantly talked about how she wanted to see many come to Christ and to be a world changer. We encouraged each other so much in our walk as Christians. We would pray for each other in our struggles, and it would be such an encouragement. She was an amazing writer and wrote all time. I, and many others, enjoyed reading her online blog, where she posted her words of wisdom. I thank God for the years that Laura and I had together. We created so many memories that I will always cherish. I always loved when I made her laugh, and I’d look over and see her big dimples proudly showing. I would surely appreciate prayer for myself, but also for her family. They loved her so much, and were such an encouragement to her. Also, on this Mother’s Day, please remember Laura’s mom Sally in your prayers. Recently, when I talked to Laura on the phone, I said, “Do you know how much I love you, Laura?” She said, “Do you know how much I love YOU?” After we said that, we went back and forth saying how we loved each other more than the other. After a little bit of that, I said, “Just make me a promise that you’ll never forget how much I love you.” She said, “Okay, as long as you never forget how much I love YOU.” Well, Laura, I have not forgotten, nor will I ever. Friends, Jesus loves you so much. Even though sometimes in the midst of tragedies we tend to blame or question God, He has the best plan. He died on a cross many years ago so that you could be free from the penalty of sin and live with Him forever in Heaven. He wants to be your friend and to lead you in your life. If you’ve never let Jesus into your heart to have a personal relationship with you, please do it! It’s the best decision you could ever make. Laura made that choice at an early age and lived out her faith in a very strong way. Laura is experiencing something in Heaven that is WAY better than what is going on in this world. I can’t even imagine the beauty that she is seeing. She talked about heaven all the time and how excited she was that Jesus was coming. Well Laura Ann, you were an inspiration to me and so many others. I loved growing with you and seeing the woman you were becoming over the years. I loved Christ in you, and I was so attracted to that. I love you, Laura. Friends, the spot where this video was taken is a very special place. On Friday night, we buried Laura’s remains on her family’s ranch. I knew Laura would want me to keep going with my music, as she encouraged me so much with it. I decided to do this video at her graveside. I hope you enjoy the video and are encouraged. I appreciate you all so much. Thank you for being such a strong, supportive family of Christ.

 

For those of you, who have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, I’m asking you to renew your commitment today. Don’t take life for granted. Commit now to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a new and fresh way.

When life is sailing right along, with smooth seas and hopeful horizons, drop your anchor into the hope and power of God. Don’t wait until the wind changes and the waves are tossing you in a sea of hopelessness and despair. Prepare your heart and soul now for whatever could be on its way by staying close to the One who holds your life in His hands.

Ship-in-storm-1

 


 

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Would you like to dare to do new and bigger things for Jesus? I highly recommend this book. It is written toward teens, but it is an inspiring read for any age.

Remember, parents, our kids learn from our example. Let’s reach high to set good ones!

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

My note to Matt and Melissa:

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Matt and his sister, Melissa.

You two are about as close as you can be to being my own kids without actually being mine. I love you both so much, and routinely battle for you on my knees. God has so many plans for you, and I love watching you both step into your adulthoods. I know the last weeks have been so tough – life shattering, really.

I want you to know how proud of you I am. Not because you’re so tough and you’re handling all of this pain with a stiff upper lip and a mystical inner strength. No, nothing could be further from the truth. The brokenness and pain are real. The searing pain of loss cannot and should not be glossed over or minimized. There is nothing inside of any of us on our own that can hold us steady in times like this.

I’m proud of you for allowing the pain to drive you to the shadow of His wing. I’m proud to see you armoring up, strapping on your climbing gear – your shoes of peace – and digging into the mountain in front of you. I’m proud that your faith, not your parents’ or mentors’ faith, YOUR faith in the God of the Universe and of your soul, is anchoring your ship in this storm. I’m proud because I see you, knees to the floor, hands – shaking with grief – being lifted high, palms open to the sky. Yes, I’m proud of you. All of the tough times that God has used to prove His love to you both have paid off. I see two followers of Jesus. Not fans. Followers.

2 Comments

  1. Dan Carlson

    Thanks, Angela. So touching and thoughtful. A beautiful account of an earthly “tragedy” that is a victory for Laura, one that will ultimately bless many, many Christ-followers and draw many more to faith in Jesus. I’ve also observed Matt and Melissa and their strong faith through this trial. I am so blessed by my grandkids!

    Liked by 1 person

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