Saturday, July 19, 2008

Grace, peace and truth......along the road

Jesus has "carried" me the past few days. The deep sadness is always there but I can laugh and we've said over and over I can grieve with hope. Before Billy and I had any children, actually when I was pregnant with Holden, we made a decision. We prayed that our children wouldn't become the center of our world. We were a family, the two of us, and any children we had would be joining our family, not become the center where everything revolved around them. See, Christ is my hope. My hope and purpose can't be in my children though I love them more than I can explain. This gospel of grace is more precious to me than it has ever been. We'll never fully fathom the depth of God's love for us (in this life) but He does give us a picture.....He explains it in His word.....that God would give his ONLY Son to be the substitute for ALL the yuck in our hearts. Ok, I couldn't do it. There's no way I would. BUT, I'm not GOD!!! The punishment that brought US peace was upon HIM. The conversation Jesus has with God just before the crucifixion....."Can there be another way?" I would've said, Yes!!! We'll get another plan....there can be another way. And Jesus said, "Not my will, but YOUR will be done."

This is how I feel. God, can't there be another way? Is this really your plan? And ONLY by his grace can I say.....not my will (not what Hope wants) but YOUR will be done. I prayed last night......"God, whatever you have for us, let it be.......whatever." Cause me to live this life with an open hand.....not closing my fists and holding tightly to anything. I want to continue to stress this......THIS is what God can do. He is loving yet powerful enough to sustain my frail and weak self and this same strength is yours if you know Him. This same peace is in your heart and life if you're a believer. HE is the strength and the power and the peace and the truth and the grace and the hope. God is! It all points to HIM. Get to know this God that is just as mighty in your life.

So we're figuring out our "new normal." I told Billy last night that I feel like we've had our legs or arms amputated. We can still function, but just have to figure out how to do it without a major part of our body. Things move just looks and feels different no matter what you do. You make a little progress everyday but it's slow and steady. It's a long, hard and painful road to travel, especially without your arms.

I spent Thursday night and Friday at the beach with two of my "heart" friends. It was such a gift just to be with them......just to "be." They left and Billy joined me Friday night. We sat on the beach, taking in all the beauty and calm. It has been very restoring. AND, I've been sleeping better, THANK YOU for praying specifically. God has taken a lot of the fear that the night time brings. I'm sure it will come back around but God is bigger than fear or worry or doubt or you fill in the blank.

So, we are headed to Cullman on Sunday and the moving truck gets there Tuesday. I've already pictured myself with these new women at our church.....they don't know me, I don't know them. I've imagined me saying to them "Ok, I just lost my daughter and need you to be my friend. I'm usually an initiator but I'm not exactly my normal self so you may need to initiate to me. I may be the biggest drain in your life for at least the next year but, so be it." :) Oh, my pride! See, I don't want them to think I'm a crazy woman. What if they never see that I am just laid back and fun? :)

It may be a little while before I can post again since we're moving this week but I'll be back eventually. I'm excited to get moved in and settled.

Take care friends!


Jaime said...

Hope, God knows what you need in Cullman and has already gone before you. Don't worry, you have so many people that love you and you will have many more that will love you where you are. Greg and I saw Steven Curtis Chapman last night at our church and I thought about you throughout the whole thing. His testimony of what his family has been through was so encouraging. He is scheduled to be on Good Morning America and Larry King next week. I think his words will really encourage you all as well. Praying for you and would love to talk when you feel like it.

lisa richburg said...

I can't wait to hear what God is going to do through you and for you! We will keep lifting you guys up in prayer. No one is going to think you're a crazy woman, and if they happen to think that, they may just be crazy themselves! Just be yourself, whether that looks different from day to day or week to week, just be you, the Hope God has created, and allow people to minister to you. Hopefully we'll see you soon.
lisa r.

Amy said...

Hope I am greatly encouraged by this post. And Hope people can't help but love you and think you are fun. And don't forget you have to old friends right down the road ready to load up and head that way in a moments notice. Really - call us and April and I will head that way the same morning. Talk soon

Danny and Jennifer White said...

Praise God for the rest he has given you.I will pray for your moving process. I agree with Amy that anyone who knows you ir will meet you will definitely love you, nd want to hang out with you. God has given you and Billy such sweet fun personalities.I can think of stories/pranks involving the two of you and they bring laughter to my heart. Love you guys.

April Brown said...

Hope, I'm so thankful to hear your heart! What an encouragement you've been to me!! I can't wait to love on you when you get to Cullman!!


Rachel Hannah said...

Hope: I will miss knowing that you are in Butler but I'm sure that getting situated in your new place will be helpful. I hope that you know not a day goes by that I don't think of and pray for you and your family. I will continue to be simply a phone call away. I love you, my dear, old friend. Love, Rachel

Lori Ellen said...

Hey Hopey T!

Thank you for continuing to let God speak to me through you. Reading your words and Rachel's comments to you have made me realize how much I miss you guys. I hate that it has come under this circumstance, but I'm glad I've learned about your blog, and glad for the opportunity to reconnect with you. It has been too long, old friend. I'm excited for you moving into your new home. As of this afternoon, Steve and I are in escrow on a new place as well. The first comment that appears when I open the comment section for your blog is from Jaime. I second that "God knows what you need in Cullman and has already gone before you." I will continue to pray for you as you settle into your new home with your "new normal." Please email me when you get a chance ( I do miss and love you so!

Love, Lori

Anonymous said...



Christie Mulkey said...

Sweet Hope,
I got to read your blog for the first time today, I but have been praying for you since we got Andrew's call. Don't worry about Christ Covenant-it's full of crazy women and you will love them! I think I finally started letting go of Cullman when I knew you were coming. In my heart, I've passed all my little Cullman treasures on to you and I pray that despite the pain of "life now," you will experience real joy there--especially at home, even when the toilet backs up! I look forward to talking with you about the house and neighborhood sometime.

Kari said...

Hope, you encourage and challenge me everytime I read your blog. I love your heart and I want you to know that we are still praying for you, Billy, your children, your nights, and your move.

Joy said...

What a "Hope-ful" post. I'm so glad you've been able to rest at night and have had some rejuvenation with friends and hubby at the beach. We'll be praying the move is short. We don't live very far from Cullman at all. If you need a buddy, let me know!

Joy Goode Hutzler

Anonymous said...

We continue to pray for all of you. We love you and wish the best for all of you. I truly don't think you will have any problems making friends, from the posts it looks like there are all ready people in Cullman ready to love you! We (Denise and I) are heading to your old house to clean on Monday. We will re-live the memories(ie the Growth Group olympics) and pray for all of you in your new home. I am glad you have been able to rest. We love and miss you and continue to pray for you,Billy and the kids everyday.
Love Ya
Kari Veenstra

Helen said...

Hope, I am so glad you are getting some well needed rest, relaxation, and sleep. I have been praying for you and the rest of your precious family. You are right, everything happens for a reason. We may never know the reason, but God is in charge, and will never desert you. Here I am working again tonight, wishing I was at home. My oldest daughter came home last night from Dothan for her 40th birthday (wow she sure is getting old) and I just wish I was there to catch up; but I know I'm where God needs me:) How is Holden? Hope he is doing better by now, you tell him that Helen and her purple hippo said hi and to be good!

I have been praying everyday for you and your whole family, that you will all be getting your needed rest and start healing. Healing is a slow steady process, but through Christ all things are possible. Never lose your faith in Him, and He will never desert you.

I love you all and feel very comforted in having met you and your family. God bless you and keep you always. Pray for me as I pray for you.

Mir said...

Glad to hear that God has taken some of your fear; it can be one of the hardest things to live with, and I've never had to deal with your type of loss. Many prayers and much love during your move and always...

Debra Carl said...

Hope and Billy,

I was in church today and so many of the worship songs we sang seemed so pertinent to what you are going through -- I sang many of them as prayers on your behalf. I continue to think about you and pray for you as you progress down this new road.

Debra (Enlow) Carl

becky said...

"Cause me to live this life with an open hand.....not closing my fists and holding tightly to anything."

that is truly powerful and something i struggle with. thank you for bringing it to the forefront of my mind for some meditation today. i am praying for your family daily, that each day will bring you more peace because i know that no day will ever be easy.

Kristin said...

I hate that we didn't get to get together before you headed up to Cullman... But, we will follow you up there, for sure! I loved reading this post. I'm going to read it over and over, and let it sink in.

I'm so glad the beach and your "heart friends" were so restoring for you. I know it had to be good...

We love you, and we continue to shoulder the burden and pray every day. I'll pray specifically for all that this transition during your grief will entail.

Love you, dear friend.

Anonymous said...

Hope,you truly are a woman of faith,,you have lifted me up,,I am a granmother of four little ones that I love so much..I am blessed to have them attend the same chruch as we do.. I hope to be a more godly grand than I ever have, having realized again how quick life changes,,May God hold you and keep you and your family,,

Anonymous said...

I don't "know" you but was told to read your blog by a friend who knows you guys. Your hope in Christ and His power is SO encouraging to read. Thank you for sharing your life with all of us. I'm not married and do not have kids so I do not know how this feels. My heart longs to be there some day and HE is bigger than that as well.

Thank you!

Dr. Buffie said...

I know that you don't know me, but I have learned of you and your strength through a mutual friend, Mandy Golightly. You are an inspiration to me and other Chrisitians. This is something that God gives us to strengthen us, but we all can not imagine what we would do if it happen. Your testimony is encouring to me.

Anonymous said...

Hello, first of all, I wanted to say how deeply sorry I am for the loss of your daughter. I can't imagine the pain. I am thankful that you have 3 beautiful children to share your life with.

My mother's maiden name is Atchison, do you know anyone in WI?

I came across your page through another page. I will be praying for you, especially to sleep well. Lack of sleep seems to make everything worse! Take care...

Seattle, WA

Anonymous said...

Hope and Billy. I'm thinking about you often. I am praying that your move in day goes well today. I can't wait to see this awesome house you've found. We serve an amazing God, and He provides and takes care of us so well. I hope to see you soon. Jeff 7/22/08

These Three Kings said...

"I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me"-Psalm 3:5

"I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." -Psalm 4:8

Hi. Delta sent me a link to your blog. I just wanted you to know you are in my prayers today. I am so in AWE of the GRACE that GOD's provides for us, His children because of the work HE is doing in your heart. May God give you the peace that surpasses all understanding. I will be praying for that peace in the years to come for you and your family.


"But faith always affirms that no matter how chaotic and absurd things may seem to our limited view they are in fact the tactics of infinite wisdom.
Therefore let us hold fast to God.'-John Piper

If thou but suffer God to guide thee,
And hope in him through all thy ways,
He'll give thee strength, whate're betide thee,
And bear thee through the evil days:
Who trusts in God's unchanging love
Builds on the rock that naught cam move.

All are alike before the Highest;
'Tis easy to our God, we know,
To raise thee up though low thou liest,
To make the rich man poor and low;
True wonders still by him are wrought
Who setteth up and brings to naught.

Sing, pray, and keep his ways unswerving,
So do thine own part faithfully,
And trust his Word, though undeserving,
Thou yet shalt find it true for thee;
God never yet forsook at need
The soul that trusted him indeed

Loving Nana said...

Hope, Billy and family,
We knew Billy and Karen from FBC Jax. Karen and our daughter Shelly were friends in high school. We just learned of your loss today and wanted to send our sincere condolences. Our family is lifting you up in prayer today especially, since we just learned of this, but will continue to do so in the days and weeks ahead. Love to all.

Mark and Lynn Petrucci
Orange Park, Fl.

Brandi Barnes Parten said...

I went back and read all of your posts from the beginning tonight. You made me laugh so much! You have such a beautiful family, I really wish we had been closer in college! I feel cheated that I missed out on getting to know such an amazing person better. We may have "lived" toghether for a little while but I was in a very different place for most of my college life. I find it such a blessing to find your blog and hopefully reconnect with you again. I have a cousin who lives in Cullman, perhaps we will be able to meet up sometime in the near future! You are a beautiful person, such a warrior for Christ! I pray your move will be peaceful, and your new church family will hold you close. (By the way when did you and Billy start dating?)

christine and davis dawkins said...

Hey Hope-I am so glad you had time at the beach and that nights have been better lately. I will be praying for you in your move-friendships-everything. Christ is your strength and hope-enjoy his love and grace-You will be so blessed in Cullman and as always-you will be a huge blessing to folks there. God has given you a family that wants to love on you and support you-it is Him touching you here on earth. Besides-you can't hide your "funness and laid-backness"-impossible! Love you, Christine and Davis

Marc & Amy said...

Though we haven't met, I am a friend of Christie Mulkey (from Lubbock, TX, but just moved to Virginia) and I just came across your blog from her blog. I am weeping at the terrible and frightening events your family has just been through. But I am just so in awe of how you are grieving with hope and how the Lord is giving you the grace & strength you need at this time. I love and appreciate your honesty and willingness to share the very real pain mixed with faith and trust.
Just wanted you to know that the body of Christ is holding you guys up in prayer.
Amy Corbett

~Carrie~ said...

Hi Hope!
My name is Carrie Bentley. I coach gymnastics here in Cullman. One of my coaches attends your church and told me your story several weeks ago. I have been praying for you and your family since. I just happened to link to the Mulkey's page and found yours! I hope you are getting a little more settled here. I go to Northbrook Baptist. We have a MOMS group that meets on Thursday mornings (starting back in August). We do a Bible study and exchange "mom" stories. You will find that many of us are crazy too!
We have MOMS from several different churches that attend. We would love to have you join us.
Feel free to email me sometime- even if you are not interested in the group, maybe I can help you become acquainted with the town!


Mandy Go said...

Let me know when you get settled. We are just 40 minutes away... Drew, Grace, and I would like to see you and your family.

Patric and Jennifer said...

Hope, I love the song you put behind your post. "I will worship in the waiting." Thank you for that! And let me tell you, I know what it's like to move to a new place, to go to a new church, to desire to be known for who I am. That is tough enough on it's own. And, I've been struggling with it. But, one thing I'm learning through it all is that my identity doesn't depend on what others think of me, or what first impressions they make of me. My identity is who I am in Jesus. And I gotta keep clinging to that as I try to make new friends and get to know people, really know people. I think you will be blessed by getting to know people more quickly because of your wounded heart right now. Your faith and hope are contagious...people will be clamoring to get to know you. You guys are wonderful. I wish you would have moved to Philly instead! But it sounds like you already have people lined up in Cullman to meet you! ;) As always, I'll keep praying...

Shelley said...

Even though you are not able to post right now you are still on our hearts and minds and in our prayers. God did something really neat when I was on the interstate today. I passed a fire apparatus company and thought of Billy, at the same time "Blessed Be the Name" came on the radio, at the same time I passed a town called "Holden". I thought to myself, I hear you loud and clear Lord. So I spent some time praying for you all. Just wanted to share that. I hope it encourages you that God is not only faithful to carry you, but he is also faithful to use others in that process.

Jill Williamson said...

hope, I love what you said about Job and not comparing stories...oh, these blogs are so good. You are challenging me so much. I will commit to pray for you a heart friend in cullman.

Eloise said...

I am so very sorry about the loss of your precious, beautiful daughter. It is obvious from your blog that Alaina probably knew more love and laughter in her four years than many people experience in a lifetime.

God bless you and your family.

Michael and Jennifer Werneth said...

you may not have your computer up yet, but when you do...wanted you to know that im still praying. i am praying for your "new normal" and a "heart friend" in cullman too. ive been singing a chorus from a crystal lewis song over you and billy several times a day: "he gives beauty for ashes, strength for fear, gladness for mourning, peace for despair..." thank goodness there is not sound attached to this message! crystal lewis' voice is ridiculously beautiful; mine, not so much... :) glad we got so much done, but wish id gotten to love on your little punkins too. i can still ask luke "whats billy thinking" and he says "he loves me very much!" he got upset this morning because he wanted to go and see yall and eat his cotton candy ice cream. just so you know, i feel privileged to know you, billy and hope.

JJMERKEL said...

I was just thinking of you all and wondered how your move is going. I can't wait to hear from you!! hopefully you are getting settled. Love to you all!! Megan says tell Holden hi.

It's me, shannon said...

I think of you everyday. My prayers are with you and Billy. I was so happy to hear that you laugh and smile. You have such a beautiful smile. I looked up what the name Alania ment the other day, and the meaning said bright;light. The pictures show her brightness in her eyes and smile and she reflects the light of Christ so radiantly. I have feeling that she always will.
Thank you for being so honest, Hope.
Take care

Sarah said...

I love you, girl. I don't know what else to are constantly in my thoughts. I'll come see you soon.

Kristin said...

Still praying. We love you, and we haven't forgotten your pain or your precious Lew.

Allison said...

I prayed for you this morning as you are packing/unpacking. I imagine that as you come across things and reminders of Lew that your loss may feel & run deep. I pray that these "reminders" connect you more closely to the King and Lew worshipping Him. May His grace sustain and comfort you.
Allison (Wells) Draper

Friends and Family said...

hope I have had you on my mind a lot today. Just wanted you to know that I am still praying for you and Billy. I know the next few weeks will be hectic with getting Holden in school. I want to plan to come see as soon as you are ready.