Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Where do I even begin?

I am taking a step of faith by opening up my heart to you in hopes that God will use our journey to draw you to himself. I don't know how God will use it through a sinner like me, but I trust that He will. Well, I know that everyone he uses is a sinner, so I'm no different :) Several of my friends know that I was hesitant to list our blog address for EVERYONE at the funeral. I trust that if you're taking the time to read this that you truly want to know. Obviously my posts will look very different now. Well, some things won't be different, that's the hard part. We'll continue to take lots of pictures, go to the pool, have school things, have play will just all be without her. It's very lonely without her. You'd think with three other children it wouldn't seem so lonely, but it does. I promise to be "real." It's my desire to be real and honest. Give me grace if my thoughts don't make sense and especially my punctuation/wording... all that mess.

Several months ago Billy was struggling with some things at work and I kept saying "This is where the rubber meets the road for us. This is when our faith truly makes a difference in how we live. Do we really believe what we say we believe? Do we believe God ordains EVERYTHING? If we do, then when we go through "hard" things it looks different for us compared to a non-believer."

This is exactly what we're facing now with the loss of our little girl. If not for the hope of the gospel being REAL and TRUE I think, well, I know that I would be completely consumed with sadness. I almost can't even cry anymore, it's almost not real that she's gone. In a lot of ways it's like Alaina and Elley were twins. They did everything together. Elley loves all the things Alaina loved. So we are surrounded with sweet, precious memories, very hard to think about without crying memories. Billy, my Dad and I took Clemson(nephew), Holden and Alaina to a creek today. You know exactly what I was doing the whole time. Yep, I was picturing Alaina with them splashing, laughing and excited. I walked down the dirt road crying, not because I didn't want my Dad or Billy to see me, but because I don't want Elley and Holden to see their mom crying ALL the time. You can pray for this. Of course, they are not as devastated as we are. I know they still probably think Alaina will be coming home in a few weeks...she's just on a little trip. It's so confusing for them. I don't think they realize they will never play with their sister again in this life. How do you process this when you're 2 and 6???? Yet another thing I must trust Jesus about.

I've always been a people pleaser in that I don't want anyone upset with me and I, of course, want them to like me. I hate any kind of conflict. For probably the first time in my life I Don't care what people think. Don't get me wrong, I care as long as it relates to the GOSPEL. Otherwise I feel so FREE. This is something huge in my life......a process God has been working on for the past three years especially. I'm not nearly as concerned with what people think of my kids, how they are "behaving," whether they think I'm a good mother/wife/cook/housekeeper, etc, etc. Losing Alaina will help me be a better mother. I am free to not worry about stupid things, insignificant things like them watching 30 more minutes of TV or obeying the first time EVERY time I tell them to do something.

I ONLY want to be consumed with my Jesus....not with sadness. I long to "live my life for an audience of ONE." (Tammy Murden quote). My security, self worth, EVERYTHING must ultimately come from Him and not anyone or anything else. This road we are traveling now is a constant reminder of my old way of thinking. For so many years, I lived the christian life viewing it like a mountain. You just keep climbing to the top getting higher and higher, becoming a "better" christian until one day you pretty much "arrive." It was such a legalistic way to live. I used to think, "Oh, they're a strong christian, a mature believer, they don't struggle with the things I do, they've mastered things like trusting God and being disciplined." Now, the longer I walk with Him, I see more and more how sinful I truly am. The christian life is a continuous cycle of Repent and believe.....repent and believe the gospel. Over and over again. I must believe the gospel now more than ever before, I do believe it!

I hope you don't look at me. What I mean is that I want you to look at Jesus. I'm telling you, anything I am doing "right" is only from Him. In and of myself I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to keep going. My strength is all by His grace, the funeral was all by His grace, making it through one day is all by His grace. His free grace and love, and mercy, and kindness, and faithfulness and compassion. He is the great "I AM." I picture it as Him saying "I AM....whatever you need. Fill in the blank." Grief is so complex. Society either thinks you're weird if you are sad for a LONG time or you're being fake because you seem "over it" too quickly. I don't think I have to be strong or "hold it together." I feel no pressure. I feel free to just be. I'm not running to Jesus, he's running to me, my high priest is interceding for me when I don't even have the words to pray. He's holding me when I can't "hold on." He's carrying me when I don't want to walk.

ok, all these words are not just for you. It's for me, too. This is the closest thing to a journal I'll probably ever have. To Him alone be the glory!!!!!

Final note: we learned on Monday that Lew (my little nickname forAlaina) had some form of Meningitis. I'll post more details on that later.


Nate and Kara said...

Amen. To Him be all the glory.

Love you, Hope.


Tom Shepherd said...

Billy and Hope,

Oh God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home.

I am still so saddened by the loss of your lovely little girl. My heart sank last week when I heard the news.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on your blog. This helps me to read your words and reminds me to pray.

Billy, I am praying for you everyday. I love you man. Hope, keep running to Jesus as we know He is running to you.

nan said...

I Thank you for this post! Thank you for being so vulnerable and thank you for sharing truth.

Whitney said...

hope (and billy),

what strong and precious words - thank you for your rawness through this heartache. our family is constantly praying for you.

grace and peace,
whitney tingle
(terry tingle's wife)

Amy said...

i am so glad that you are choosing to use this as a journal Hope. Praise God that He has freed you to be real and vulnerable and that by living for an audience of One the things you share here WILL be used to Glorify your Father in Heaven. Hope, I am praying hard for you as you walk this road.

April Brown said...

Hope, thank you for being real!! It's what I love about you most.


Parks Avenue said...

Thank you for revealing your heart. I could tell when I talked to you the other day that you felt so free to feel, and that is a great place to be. We are continuing to pray for you guys and will plan a visit sometime in the near future. We love you guys.
-annie parks

Stephanie said...

Hope, we are praying for you and your family continuously. We were brokenhearted when we heard of your family's loss. It is truly our faith in our Savior that carries us in times like this...
your hope and faith in the Lord will renew your strength. We love you and are continuing to pray for you and Billy.
Skipper and Stephanie

becky said...

hope, thank you for being a vessel for our mighty God!! what wonderful words He has filled your heart with at such a difficult time. He will heal. What a blessing to have been a parent to a little angel. There will never be the right words for anyone else to say to you and your family at such a time. but we thank you for daring to have faith and for believing that He will provide because He WILL!! blessings and peace to you and your family.

Mandy Go said...

Hope, The Golightly family is praying for you and yours. We send much love to you all. Thank you for sharing and helping bring all of us closer to God.

The Harper Family said...

Hope, I found your blog through a link on another blog a couple weeks ago. I have cried with you and prayed for you numerous times. My heart is aching for you and I pray that God will continue to comfort you in ways that only HE can do. Please know that I am lifting you and your family up to the throne of God.
Southwest Arkansas

Carlton and Aimee Weathers said...

Keep being real. It's through your transparency, we see the grace of God.
There is no "right way" to grieve, so dont you worry your heart about what others think about how you are grieving. Cry when you need to, laugh when you need to.

Carlton and I continue to lift your family in prayer.

Love you dear friend,

"We ought to celebrate the positive glorious gifts of God, but the worth of God shines in a powerful way to the world when in the midst of suffering we still don't curse God but say "the Lord gave and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord." John Piper

Lisa & Will (or Bubba...he can't get away from it) said...

SWEET(what rebels we are)
Hope & Billy,
We love you guys so much. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. Our parents & other family members were asking about you guys and how the service went on Monday. You were right when you said it was perfect. God was so glorified. I told my parents I experienced and witnessed such a mixture of emotions...sorrow, yet joy; grief, yet hope;many tears, yet laughter; God's sovereignty, His love, His grace, His people...I'm so thankful we serve a real God that loves us and knows us inside out. I love how one of my favorite heroines, Corrie Ten Boom, explained God's grace. She said it reminds her of when she was a little girl. Her daddy would give her her train ticket right when she was getting ready to get on the train, not before, not after. And that is how God's grace is. He gives us exactly what we need right when we need it, at the perfect time...not before, not after, right when we need it. I'm asking and trusting our great God to do that for you and Billy, to give you exactly what you need, right when you need it, in the perfect time...not before, not after, not for tomorrow, not for yesterday, but for today, this hour, this very minute...I know God will continue to meet you right where you are day to day to day, and our sweet, yes, Billy, I said SWEET, Jesus and our comforter, the Holy Spirit, will continue to carry you and comfort you and minister to you, and use you for His Glory, as He already has! I'm looking forward to seeing you guys real soon. Until then, please know that we love you and are constantly and continually praying for you, Billy, Holden, Elley, Mary Helen, & your entire family.
Continuing to pray that you let the PEACE of CHRIST RULE in your HEART... Col. 3:15
Much love,
Lisa R.

kelly brechman said...

Hope, I have been so moved by your words and the testimonies I have read on the blog. Your posts move me to tears; tears of sadness for your loss, tears of praise for the freedom you have found, and tears of repentance for my own sin-filled and ugly life. But most of all, tears of joy for the grace that you remind me God bestows freely on those that believe.
I have always loved being around you - like so many others - you are so full of life. Thank you for opening your heart to us all. Love, kelly brechman

Rachel Hannah said...

my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. i love you dearly, old friend.
rachel hannah

Jackie said...

Thank you for being real and vulnerable. I have not stopped praying for you and Billy and your little ones. Keep sharing your heart!
With love,

Danny and Jennifer White said...

Thanks Hope.God is already using your story in mighty ways!!

Kari said...

Hope,I am encouraged and strengthened by your honesty. Thank you for sharing what's in your heart. We are praying and will continue to pray for you and your family for the months and years to come. My heart aches for you.

Lindsey said...

hope, thank you for sharing all of this. i am glad you are able to write and "talk" about what you are thinking and feeling. i am so encouraged at the awesome power of our God to sustain you. we love you and continue to remember you, billy and the kids in our thoughts and prayers.

Laramie and Cyndi said...

Dearest Hope and Billy,

My name is Cyndi and I am married to Laramie Tyson. Laramie is the son of Lawrence and Emily. So, I guess that makes us kin by blood and by the love of Jesus Christ!

Hope, I know you stated that you did not want the focus to be on you, but I must tell you how much I admire your courage, strength and faith. Thank you for giving God the glory.

My mom-in-law (Emily) said that the service for Alaina Martha was amazing! She said it blessed her and encouraged her to press on.

Also, Emily asked me to remind you of your singing "that's what you get for jumping on the bed"! She said you were a beautiful child that has grown into a beautiful woman.

Please continue to blog. Your thoughts (real, raw, true) are such an encouragement to other Christians (me). I have laughed and cried while reading the blog and looking at the pics.

Laramie and I will continue to pray for your family. May you always be comforted with beautiful memories as you continue to live for an audience of ONE.

Love, Laramie and Cyndi Tyson

The Elys said...

Dear Billy and Hope,
A friend of mine who recently lost his 7 day old asked that this list be sent out to their friends as they dealt with the loss of their little girl. I thought it might help to do the same for you all.

A Bereaved Parent's Wish List

1. I wish my child hadn't died. I wish I had him
2. I wish you wouldn't be afraid to speak my
child's name. My child lived and was very important to me. I need to
hear that he was important to you as well.
3. If I cry and get emotional when you talk about
my child, I wish you knew that it isn't because you have hurt me. My
child's death is the cause of my tears. You have talked about my child,
and you have allowed me to share my grief. I thank you for both.
4. I wish you wouldn't "kill" my child again by
removing his pictures, artwork, or other remembrances from your home.
5. Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I
wish you wouldn't shy away from me. I need you more than ever.
6. I need diversions, so I do want to hear about
you; but I also want you to hear about me. I might be said and I might
cry, but I wish you would let me talk about my child, my favorite topic
of the day.
7. I know that you think of and pray for me often.
I also know that my child's death pains you, too. I wish you would let
me know things through a phone call, a card or a note, or a real big
8. I wish you wouldn't expect my grief to be over
in six months. These first months are traumatic for me, but I wish you
could understand that my grief will never be over. I will suffer the
death of my child until the day I die.
9. I am working very hard in my recovery, but I
wish you could understand that I will never fully recover. I will always
miss my child, and I will always grieve that he is dead.
10. I wish you wouldn't expect me "not to think
about it" or to "be happy". Neither will happen for a very long time so
don't frustrate yourself.
11. I don't want to have a "pity party," but I do
wish you would let me grieve. I must hurt before I can heal.
12. I wish you understood how my life has shattered.
I know it is miserable for you to be around me when I'm feeling
miserable. Please be as patient with me as I am with you.
13. When I say, "I'm doing okay," I wish you could
understand that I don't feel okay and that I struggle daily.
14. I wish you knew that all of the grief reactions
I'm having are very normal. Depression, anger, hopelessness and
overwhelming sadness are all to be expected. So please excuse me when
I'm quiet and withdrawn or irritable and cranky.
15. Your advice to "take one day at a time" is
excellent. I wish you could understand that I'm doing good to handle him
at an hour at a time.
16. I wish you understood that grief changes people.
When my child died, a big part of me died with him. I am not the same
person I was before my child died, and I will never be that person
17. I wish very much that you could understand -
understand my loss and my grief, my silence and my tears, my void and my
pain. But I pray daily that you will never understand.
18. Please excuse me if I seem rude, certainly it is
not my intent. Sometimes the world around me goes too fast and I need
to get off. When I walk away, I wish you would let me find a quiet
place to spend some time alone.

Duane and Kim said...

Hope and Billy,
Every time I read your blog I have wept for you both. I know that your arms feel empty even though they are full of 3 other children, and I have prayed for you. I know you would give anything for another moment, but I am so glad that we serve a God who is capable of being so sufficient and meeting us in the storm. I know you will not be consumed, and already that your testimony through Alaina's death will be used for the saving of many, I pray for that. Thanks for being real with your faith and the hope you have. We love you and are praying for you. Love, Kim and Duane

Katie and Dick said...

Hope, it's so good to "hear" your voice. I am so thankful you started this allows us to be close to you and your heart through everything moving forward...and to "talk" to you, too. Your words move me--and bring glory to God. Thank you for the perfect song to accompany your words, I am blessed by it all. Your whole family was incredible. I can't explain how they made us have something very, very special in them, and all your precious friends. Continue to hold on to His word. Tonight I pray for you, "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love for I have put my trust in you." Continued prayers daily for each of you all--and all our love, Katie

Keith Scherer said...

Hope (and Billy),

Thank you so much for being so open, honest and God-glorifying. I think for all of us, certainly for me, the gospel, the inconceivable but true good news, has sunk just that much more deeply into my heart.

"It is quite inconceivable and incomprehensible how open, how accessible, how receptive God is, and how He rushes toward us every moment and every hour of the day!"
(from Sermons by Johannes Tauler, c. 1300-1361, p. 99)


The Elys said...

Billy and Hope,
I just wanted you both to know that we spent some time this morning praying for you and your family as a Thursday morning group of 7 men.

I loved the richness of this passage...

Psalms 139:1-7
1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
5 You hem me in--behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

Praying for the presence of Christ to richly dwell within you in this time of deep anguish,

Brian Ely

Anonymous said...

My deepest sympathy to you and your family during this difficult time.

Friends of mine lost a teen to meningitis several years ago. It was very hard for them, but God made a difference.

I wish I had words for you that would help in the weeks to come, but since I don't know you like the others posting here, please know that you're in my prayers for the long haul.

Kristin said...

Love you, Hope. Thank you, God, for being our "I Am ______"...

Janie and Mike Justesen said...

This is your grief my dear sister. Your pain is part of Alaina; you don't have to make excuses or hurry through it. I know it was supernatural power that had you start this blog. At the time it was a joyful way to keep us informed about your family and your move. God knew it would be so much more. You are reaching a nation. So many of my friends some Christians many not are taken by your story and all the beautiful pictures you've taken over the years.I am sorry for your pain, but I know people will come to Christ through Alaina. I hope when you share her program you will share the precious story of that photo. It was a perfect picture of a little girl who loved dresses. I loved all dress up pictures and the Disney pics. (She only knew life as a princess.) You ARE a great mom! She even knew what the perfect date would be like. Billy you were still her prince charming.
Your sisters and brothers in the Lord will hold you close in our hearts and will pray you though one day at a time, and pray protection on the other children from a saddness they cannot understand.
Love, Janie

Anonymous said...

I just want to encourage you to grieve in your own time. I think I told you I lost my sister to meningitis when I was 8 yrs old. And I, like you, always wanted everyone to be happy and not mad at me. So I never asked questions about her death. It was not until I was out of nursing school that my mother and I talked about it and I learned of how she died. I did not want to "make mama cry". So, I would encourage you to tell Holden, Ellie and Mary Helen that it is ok to talk about Alaina and ask questions about her even if you cry. Thank you for your honesty and John and I are praying for you constantly. Also, we are praying for Holden and if I was in your shoes, I would have done the exact same thing when he got sick. Please don't feel guilty. You will probably react differently from now on when one of the children gets sick. But that is undestandable and OK. God bless you second by second. I truly look forward to seeing you soon!!! Shannon

Jill Williamson said...

Oh, Hope!! I have not stopped thinking about you and your family. And now Holden being sick! Please let us know about him! uh so sorry!

I have never experienced what I saw in you and Billy on Sunday/Monday. The power of Jesus was on ya'll. Casey and I were and are so challenged, encouraged, broken, enlightned....God was honored and I have shared it with everyone.
Oh, Alaina was so loved! It is so sweet how she has influenced Elley to love what she loved.
I enjoyed the slide show so much...Alaina was beautiful and full of life...I loved her mouth wide open in all those pictures!

One thing you could say about her four years here on this earth from that slide she was so loved and her family had so much fun! She had a short-full life!

When I watched you and Billy worshiping the Lord at the funeral and saw you put out your hands and say "my heart will chose to say Blessed be the name." I.....can't put it in words, have experienced the unsearchable riches of the gospel.....and I am in awe...and it has changed me and my view of God.

again, I desire to trust Jesus more because of you!
Praying and hurting for you! Blessed be the you my sister, Jill