Life Stories

What Defined Chelsea Tibbits

My name is Chelsea and my husband and I have been attending Milestone since we moved here from out of state a little over three years ago.

Five years ago my little sister, Annie, died suddenly at age 20 – a senior nursing student at TCU. Annie was my best friend, it was a joy to be her big sister. The first couple of years after her passing, I was consumed with maintaining her memory. I felt like I had to do certain things – check certain boxes, to be considered a good big sister. I was obsessed with making sure people remembered her for the beautiful and radiant human being she was, not just the illness that took her from us. I even quit my job to start a special initiative focused on raising money in her name to help others. While that was a positive outlet for a while it became unhealthy very quickly.

I allowed it to define me.

A little over a year after Annie died my husband and I moved to Texas in search of a fresh start, that is when Milestone entered our life. I tried several small groups at Milestone searching for the right fit, and really struggled. I realized I had a lot to work through: grief and the consequences it had on my relationship with Jesus, my identity, and my relationships here on earth. It became clear that maybe the small group setting wasn’t initially the right place to start. Then in the spring of 2017 I started going to Restore and was in a closed group lead by Amy Fowler. What a POWERFUL ministry this has been in my life.

I encountered a grace, realness and love at Restore that I have never experienced. I learned that while Annie matters and is worthy of being remembered, I can let go. She has the ultimate freedom and the best care anyone could ever have in Heaven with her Father. I was reminded that I am not defined by the recklessness and darkness of grief.

I am defined by our Creator.

I am a daughter of The King, fearfully and wonderfully made and I am worthy of living a life full of joy. Without faith, I encountered this encouragement every week at Restore. With love and grace, Amy told me that being a slave to the hurt of grief is not the life God has for me. I learned balance, coping skills and encountered the Holy Spirit in a BIG way.

Ultimately, I had surrendered to the fact I would never be truly happy again; there would never be real joy in my life and healing would not be in the cards for me – there just couldn’t be without Annie here. I was proven so wrong. There are still heavy days, days like today when I am sad it has been five years since I heard Annie’s laugh or hugged her tightly. There are still moments that take my breath away, like when I look at my two-year-old daughter, and realize she will never know her Aunt Annie. I have now surrendered these to Jesus. I don’t manage these moments anymore, God does. I have learned to give myself grace to feel these intense moments, and then draw strength from the Holy Spirit to move through them. I now have a hope that my grief is not going to keep from being who God has called me to be.

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  • Jordan Fowler
    May 24, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    Chelsea, such a GREAT story and I know you have deeply impacted Amy’s life as well. And now God has taken your journey and is using it to help others. Keep going!

  • Lory B
    May 24, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    So happy you’re part of our spiritual family at milestone. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Mel Baggett
    May 25, 2018 at 10:18 am

    Chelsea, thank you for sharing your story. My 17-year-old brother died of cancer nine years ago. Milestone continues to be a place our family has found healing and hope as we walk alongside others through those moments of pain and grief. We’ve seen over and over that the Lord is faithful to redeem and restore what’s broken. So glad He placed you here in our soiritual family!

  • Amy Dillard
    May 25, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story! I remember meeting you at Welcome Group in Restore and could already see to the other side of your healing and knew God had a good plan for you!! You’ve honored Annie’s memory well!

  • Pastor Ron
    May 26, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    Thanks for being brave. What a testimony!!!

  • Pastor Tim
    July 23, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    I love seeing God take the broken pieces of our lives and put them back together and bringing healing and Restoration! Thank you Chelsea for sharing your story!