Friday, November 21, 2014


I wanted to share a letter we received this week from a friend.  She articulated a number of things that we have struggled with and we thought many of you could also benefit from reading her well thought out words...

Dear Pam, Bruce, Dani & Jordan,

I probably knew Jenna the least well of any of your family friends, but I write this letter to tell you that her passing has had an indelible impact on my life.  I think of her absence from this earth and pray for your family on a daily basis. I cannot imagine how much pain you feel each day to wake up and remember the fact that she is gone.  I wanted to write to you and tell you how much she meant to me and how I have begun to process our fighting for her life in the spiritual realm, followed by her death, with the hopes that these reflections bring any comfort whatsoever to your hearts.

[She said a lot of nice & meaningful things about Jenna which I will put under COLLECTIONS but for now I will skip to the part where she articulates so well the struggle a lot of us have had.]

Jenna´s death has rocked my understanding of prayer and humbled me before God.  I had begun to believe that I had some sort of control over the universe by my prayers and that I understood God´s will enough to know for sure that Jenna´s death was not a part of it.  I believed that if enough people prayed hard enough we could change God´s mind about delivering her from the ravages of cancer right here and now.  I was wrong.

I have been stopped short in my tracks, speechless at the realization that no amount of prayer, however earnest, can alter God´s sovereignty.  No amount of human wisdom can fathom God´s ultimate intentions.  Do I still believe a powerful God exists and that this God is loving toward all of us, even though he did not heal Jenna?  Yes, I do.  But Jenna´s death was so tragic and so earth-shaking, that I have had to stop and seriously consider these questions  I feel I must do so to test the integrity of my own faith and for the benefit of my friends who do not believe, so that I can more sincerely answer their doubts.  You are not alone in any confusion and pain you express and I thank you for sharing it with us, your support network, through your blog and fb posts.  It has blessed us all.

Throughout the process of praying for Jenna, I found solace in the Holy Spirit´s whispering to me over and over again that, ¨it is going to be alright¨, though I clearly misinterpreted this assurance at the time to mean she was going to be healed before our eyes.  I was also deeply moved by the realization (based on facebook comments) that those who participated in praying for her all over the world sensed that ours were powerful prayers.  Before her death, we believed that God was going to channel this power into her earthly healing.  But even at the time, I had a sense that God was doing much more than a work inside Jenna´s body.  He was changing things on an invisible level, where we could not measure our impact, but felt it deeply in our spirits.  I still feel that we were shaking the gates of hell by our prayers.  I stop and ask myself, ¨Is this just wishful thinking?  Am I just grasping at straws to find some redeeming value in what was really just a colossal waste of prayer?¨  My spirit responds vehemently that, ¨NO!  We do not understand what has happened here, but someday we will.¨ In this future hope, I put my doubts to rest and surrender Jenna to God.  It is a wane light I see in that distant sunrise, but it will be bright someday, blindingly so.

I pray that you will be protected from the deepest pain of the withdrawal of a sense of God´s nearness in this time of grief.  May God´s truth surrounding this tragedy grow brighter each day for you and those who witness your family´s grief.  May his glory be multiplied in such a way that all of heaven will remember the toil of your sorrow for what it reaped in the eternal realm.  But for today, may the memories and vivacity of all that was and is Jenna comfort you as you hold one another up.

God´s peace,

Laura (Morris) Saylor

Mark and Joann Morris, the parents of Laura, have graciously lent us their guest house over the years when we´re back in California.  This has been a refuge for us and we have made a myriad of great memories there with them, including long walks/runs with deep conversations like this one! 


  1. A myriad of faces turned upward to the Father, crying out for life for Jenna, for years to be together with us, for healing of that which had become corrupted, cancerous. If we were God, we would have done things differently, perhaps. So many of us now, with more questions, and fewer answers, turn our faces upward again, crying out for you four. And Jenna, unseen by us but seen by our Father, is fully alive, and all that was cancerous and corrupted is healed. We crane our necks to look upward and try to understand. It is a hard posture for anxious men and women to be in. Perhaps, like the lilies of the field, that toil not, we shall someday come to embrace the beauty of being lilies, lovely here for a time, faces turned up day by day to the Son.

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  3. What an excellent reflection - a well articulated internal dialogue that many (perhaps, most) of us have had over this event. To acknowledge the more perfect will of God [than our own] is such a vitally important part of TRUST in God (and I using "trust" as a more potent synonym of "faith" these days...) that we are truly lost without it.

    I agree with Laura that from my perspective I was waiting for the celebration that was going to come from a beautiful healing at just the right moment - due in part to all of the thousands of faithful and authentic heart felt prayers from around the world.

    It is has been difficult and agonizing to see this go in a different direction. Much of my agony has been for Bruce as a Dad, and Pam as Mom, and Dani & Jordan as siblings. The high regard we all hold for the Sider family is such that it made total sense [to us] for God to heal such an innocent, vibrant, and graciously committed young woman. That He chose to elevate her to Heaven instead - as good as that is in the bigger picture - is still a stunning blow to experience as a friend, let alone what it is like for a parent, sister, or brother.

    C.S. Lewis' line that "God is not tame" is a fearful thing for sure for those who understand and believe in the implications of that truth. The "things that God was changing on an invisible level" was at least so many of us. This has been very humbling. I also agree we have to confront the "...Is this just wishful thinking?" thoughts that gnaw at us. Totally natural, for sure, and I'm pounded by it regularly, but life with God requires us to live with the mysteries (as Pam has so eloquently written about in the past). If we were to set God aside as only an emotional crutch that is not real, what then? No answers to the deeper questions, "reality" is more blurry, not more clear. I would rather wrestle with God than with the dysfunctional voices of this world.

    So thank you Laura for voicing truth, and Pam for posting it. I continue to pray for your comfort. Know that we love you guys more than ever.