Kristen Fersovitch had more ornaments than she could find room for on her Christmas Tree. Some were negotiated in and out each year, depending on how she felt. However, there were some non-negotiable ones, like a resilient rocking horse.
Kristen and her husband Mike purchased ornaments for every special occasion in their lives:
* There was the one that celebrated their first year of marriage.
* A baby ornament was added when their first born, Beckett, came along.
* Two more joined the first one with the arrivals of sons, Tayven and Lincoln.
One other ornament had sentimental value, not because it commemorated anything special but because of its unique resiliency. It was a white, wooden rocking horse.
Kristen put the rocking horse on her tree each year, and sometime during the Christmas season it would invariably get knocked off and break. This pattern repeated Christmas after Christmas.
The rocking horse was glued back together “a million times” according to Mike’s calculations.
The resiliency of the rocking horse matched Kristen’s own resiliency.
In June 2011 Kristen was diagnosed with inoperable cancer at the tender age of 27. She was given two years to live. It was her second cancer diagnosis. She had faced her first diagnosis and surgery with faith and courage.
Her resiliency would be tested again by this setback.
A rich, spiritual source of resiliency is joy. Joy is a quality that is often disguised as happiness.
Kristen had a contagious joy. God had blessed her with a singer’s voice and songwriter’s talent. Her music became a platform from which she inspired thousands through songs she wrote about her trust in God. She was a featured singer in the 2011 Edmonton Singing Christmas Tree.
She candidly shared her story of cancer and faith in Jesus at each performance. An Edmonton Journal reporter was dispatched to interview Kristen in December 2011. I spoke to that reporter two years later. The impression Kristen made on her was still fresh. She reflected, “Kristen endured more hard times in a short time than many people see in a lifetime, yet she remained unflappably happy.”
Joy is happiness but so much more. Joy actually creates happiness. It is spiritual, not just emotional. It’s an attitude and an action. Feelings always follow actions. You can act your way into happiness faster than feel your way into happiness. The Bible teaches us to, “Rejoice in God.” To rejoice is a choice. Joy originates in a choice to trust God. Rejoicing is looking for God’s influence in every situation of your life. Choosing to rejoice changes your perspective and outlook. Rejoicing supplies the energy required to sustain a comeback from any setback.
In June 2013 Kristen kept a commitment to sing at a Prayer Rally in Edmonton. Cancer treatments weakened her body. Perhaps she sensed her time was growing short. Within four months her life on earth would end. She never let on if that was the case. She summoned the strength to get a day pass and along with her mom, Kathy, and sister, Kennedy, sang the Lord’s Prayer at the Rally. Many of the hundreds of people in attendance said they had never heard the prayer sung so majestically and joyfully.
Hebrews 12:2 encourages, “…fix your eyes on Jesus, the perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross…” Kristen learned this Bible verse as a teen. It served her well all of her life. She could relate to Jesus. She drew strength from the same joy He focused on. Kristen knew Jesus was perfecting her faith. This “perfecting” was a stretching process and not without it’s own kind of pain.
“There have been times when I’ve bawled my face off at the thought of my sons not having me. Regardless of how bad things get, you can still be a joyous person, and I know that personally. I think that’s something anyone can have.”
At one point Kristen was voicing her concerns to the Lord. “I was going on and on, and finally at the end of my prayer I remember saying, ‘Well…clearly you know more then I do, and I don’t understand, but I trust you. Your ways and thoughts are higher then mine…just speak to me Father, bring me comfort.”
She flipped her Bible open and her eyes fell on the words of Isaiah 55:8-12:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace.”
On Display For All To See
Kristen passed away on October 4th , 2013. She “went out in joy.” Her life was like an ornament – on display for all to see. On the night before she entered heaven she whispered out one last song to her husband Mike. “I will praise Him, I will Praise Him. Praise the Lamb for sinners slain. Give Him glory all you people for His blood can wash away each stain.”
Kristen’s resiliency, joy and faith live on in many ways.“Ornament: The Faith, Joy and Hope of Kristen Fersovitch” is available on Amazon.ca
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