Tuesday, August 19, 2008

That's why I need Jesus....along the road

These pictures are of Holden and Elley's first day of school , El Bell's birthday(sorry, she doesn't like to wear clothes) and our day at the water park. These make me smile because I see joy in my children and Beeney (Mary Blake). I love to see them laughing and it reminds me that I can laugh and have fun too.

How am I doing? It's such a hard question to answer. At this moment, I want to yell at the computer because it won't cooperate.
Let's see, the things I don't expect to be hard really are hard and sometimes I feel like the grief is like a punch in the stomach. I have to take a deep breath. Then, the things that I build up in my head to be hard sometimes aren't.

For example, I got everything ready to take Elley to her little preschool open house and we jumped in the car, just the two of us, and I immediately started sobbing. I cried the whole way to church. Looking back at El and seeing her all alone in the back seat without her sister and best friend to talk to and laugh with and say "we're going to our new school." She just seemed so lonely. She was very quiet the whole way and although she can't verbalize it as much I know she feels the loss. So I'm praying as I drive "ok Lord, I can't go in like this....I can't even form a sentence....maybe Caroline will be there already and she can take Elley in for me and take her supplies. If you want me to go in then you've got to calm me down. If not, then I'm really fine going home and we don't have to do this today." I sat in the parking lot and slowly the tears stopped, we went through those doors, and it was fine. The ache is hard to carry in moments like those and I just pray, "Lord I'm giving this to you, I can't do this, I can't hold up under this burden....please carry this for me." And just when I think it seems unbearable, I realize that I'm still walking.

I get out of bed every day. I enjoy my kids. I laugh, cry, stare, wrestle with fear, try to love my husband well through this, worry, pray, try to explain how I'm doing, ask God for wisdom to help my children deal with this and want to take the pain away for them, feel very overwhelmed, wonder what we're going to eat for dinner......

One minute I'm so thankful for the four years we had with Lew and the next I'm asking "Really God, is this our story? Really, are you asking/telling us that we must walk through this? Really!!??" Give me grace to say "Not my will, but yours be done." But, oh God, I so want her here with us...But, oh yeh, that's right, she's better than she has ever been, she isn't going through what we are. In heaven, there is no more night! Thank you Jesus. Thank you that one day, we will see you face to face and there will be no more distractions. There will be no more fear or worry or SIN or death or struggle....I've read the back of the book and thank you that this is not all there is.

I struggle with right perspective. In everything there are two ways to look at it. I pray constantly for grace to choose His way. Grace to say "You give and take away, but my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name." By your grace....not by willing myself to choose it or mustering up anything in myself but all through Him. Thinking about Alaina dying in my parents house, the house I grew up in and now having to face it every time we go there. One friends perspective on this.... " How wonderful that she died in that house, the place that she loved to go, the place where all she knew was love and the fun and laughter that happened there." I thought to myself, "that is precious and THAT is how I'm going to choose to see it." I'm not saying it won't be hard going there but it so helps to think of the life she loved in that house. When we celebrated Elley's birthday this weekend and she was so thrilled over her big girl barbie cake my heart goes to "Lew would be loving this....she would think this cake is the most awesome thing ever, she would be as excited as Elley." But, I choose to be excited for Elley and enjoy the moment with her even though there is such sadness in my heart. I'm reminded that Lew is at the best celebration of her life.....so much better than a barbie cake and birthday.

You've heard me say before but don't you see how the loss is felt everywhere. It follows me around and I yell at it to leave me alone but it's stubborn and won't leave and it's a daily battle. A daily surrender to my flesh, a surrender of MY will. God causes me to lay it down...to let go and stop holding on to anything here. This is really where I want to be....obedient to whatever he has for us, to be about the things of Jesus...to live gospel centered. Of course, I want to do this with Alaina here but that's just not God's plan.

AND, all of this on top of my own daily sin. It's only God guarding my mouth that I haven't yelled at people. (ok, these are all random and not related to each other) In my head I'm yelling(at whoever) "Enough of all your judgemental crap, I mean attitude :) .... Did you really just tell me I will be charged the aftercare fee for school when I'm three minutes late to get Holden?" Seriously, I wanted to say, "that's just what I needed you to say to me this afternoon since I just buried my daughter this summer. I'm doing the best I can to get him to and from school!!!!! How about some extra grace here????" See, this is where my thoughts go. And I say this just one day after telling Billy "you don't just yell out to people that our daughter just died, they will thing we are total freaks." No sooner do I tell him this do I feel the urge to yell it at the lady at school....just because I didn't that day doesn't mean I won't ever....I just don't know what will come out. It's a hard place to be. Sometimes I want to say in any given conversation "Um, I know your mouth is moving and words are coming out, but I'm just tired. I'm going to walk away now." I'm just so judgemental. In my heart I am so judgemental of moms who I feel are too uptight or controlling and I'm sure they're judging me for being too laid back. I think my way is the right way. It's MY pride. Not sure how all this relates, I'm kinda rambling. I guess what I'm trying to say is there is nothing I hate worse than a judgemental attitude, a prideful spirit( which I have) or feeling the need to "have it all together." I guess several years ago I realized NOBODY has it "all together" and if I ever start to think they do then I so don't understand sin and the gospel. In reality those that seem on the surface to be "Mr. or Mrs. together" are the ones who are probably the most "messed up." :) We all have our junk, our pride and weaknesses. Especially as women we are so driven by what other moms think of our kids and are we going to get the mom of the year award.....This is why we need JESUS. He knows how broken and sinful we truly are and loves us in spite of our deepest struggle. Did I just sound like a preacher? Preach it sista :)

One of my favorite songs at NPC...not sure of the name but the chorus was
"Not the righteous, not the righteous....sinners Jesus came to call."

"None but Jesus, none but Jesus, can do helpless sinners good."

Please pray for Billy. He's struggling just like I am and we're working through it together, but I ask that you pray for him specifically this week.
Until next time,


Connie said...

My heart is full of sorrow. I can't even begin to imagine what the road is like at this moment. I boldly pray that the Lord will give you peace and that your days will be bathed in his glory. I am sitting here trying to find the right words to express to you...but I am at a total loss. I just pray, everyday for you and your precious family.
~In His Grace

Becky said...

Dear Hope,
My heart is breaking for you and Billy. I understand wanting to scream at people and I HAVE just walked off.
We haven't met yet but I am looking forward to meeting you and Billy and your beautiful children.
My name is Becky. My son, Adam was killed 26 APR 07.
I wish there was something I could say to help you all through this but as you know, there is nothing that can be said. Just be kind to yourself and if you feel like screaming, scream. I've been known to do that on occasion. I've even scared the dogs ;)

Katherinellen said...

Hope and Billy,
My prayers and thoughts is with you both and the children. Pray that God continue to give you Grace,Strength, and Peace. His Love will tarry you through. It okay to scream...You have to let the burden out. The lord will continue to strengthen you all with his Love. There is no words from me that will make it better. But you are right that we all have to have Jesus along the road with us. We can't do by ourself. Remember that "I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthen me." Phil. 4:13
God is Grace,

Mrs. Cowan said...

Dear sweet Hope,
don't you just sometimes wish that you could jump out of your body and not be the Hope that everybody expects you to be, even if it is only for the few seconds it would take to tell the lady at daycare where she can put the late pick-up fee? I've been there too many times. And guess what. Even if, in our sinful selves, we do step out of ourselves for those moments and give in to the desires of the heart (or is it the head?)and tell someone off, God will be waiting for us with open arms when we come home feeling awful for having hurt someone's feelings.

It's important for you to know that it's perfectly normal for you to want to tell the lady off about your being a few minutes late to pick Holden up from daycare. It would have been normal for you to be a little peaved about that even before ALaina died, so why wouldn't you be ticked now? Remember, you are living a new normal, not the same, but still you can, and you will, return to a new normal. As you and Billy travel your road to the new normal, remember that God is traveling with you. You are not going alone, and should you feel that you are running out of gas, look to the future with your beautiful family and trust that there will be brighter days. God did not tell us we couldn't cry or mourn. Let yourself feel it. You owe it to Alaina and to yourself to let yourself experience the pain and not try to push it aside. Only through embracing it will you be able to let it go.

Call me if you need to talk.
(Maybe all those therapy sessions I paid for after my mom's death won't go to waste if I can help someone else). If not, it sounded pretty good, didn't it?:)
Love you and am praying for you.
Mrs. Cowan

Anonymous said...

Come Ye sinners is the name....

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow’r.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.
Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.
View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies;
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?
Lo! th’ incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.
Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.

in christ alone, ashlie j. (in athens, ga) friends of brandon and christie mulkey (your amazing landlords)

Michael and Jennifer Werneth said...

the fact that you continue to speak the word through such terrible pain is still so amazing to me! i continue to pray and cry for you when i dont know what to pray. i know that i dont even begin to know the loss that you endure each day, but i still think of aliana and all of you often...when leah dresses up, makes up songs, asks to watch max and ruby...God keeps you on my mind. im so sorry, hope! thanks for being real. and thanks for continuing to remind us of what really matters. preach it, sista! love the pics, esp. the one with elley primped up and ready for school with her shoes on the wrong feet!
p.s. last verse of "always thou lovedst me" (that i prayed for yall):
"thou didst reach forth thy hand and mine enfold; I walked and sank not on the storm-vexed sea. twas not so much that I on thee took hold, as thou, dear lord, on me."

April Brown said...

Hope...I love all the pictures you posted. Love the pictures of Elley's cake...did you make that? so cute!!

Thank you for sharing your heart! It helps me to know how to better pray for you!


Amy said...

Hope, I read your blog early this morning and I have wept for you and Billy throughout the day. And when I look at Brady (elle's age) my heart has broke for her just thinking of her riding in that car without her sis. As I sit here now a huge lump fills my throat and tears flow as I re-read it this afternoon. This morning I didn't comment because I ask God to give me words to encourage you and none came. All day none have come. Hope I am praying for you that you would find great comfort in your Father tonight. That you would feel his presence and that it would engulf you, removing your sorrow and replacing it with great delight. Even if it is just for a fleeting moment to remind you that he is with you.

Shea said...

My heart truly aches for you, Hope. You wouldn't believe how often I think of you and Billy daily. I continue to pray for you. I will pray for Billy specifically too. Just know that you have God's permission to scream and to question. He expects you to do just that.

The pictures are great. Happy B'day to Elley. Know that you are loved.

Marc & Amy said...


I am a friend of Brandon & Christy and we've never met, but I am weeping & praying for you & your family. I SO appreciate how real you are & honest about struggling with sins and so much pain. Thank you for ministering to us all through your suffering.

We lost one of my husband's best friends (RUF Campus Minister, Dustin Salter) when he died from a freak bicycle accident (riding around the block with his young boys). His wife, Leigh Anne, now left as a single parent with 3 children under the age of 9, in the acute stage of grieving shortly after his death, told us this hymn was now her favorite. (it's done by Red Mountain Church & don't know if you've heard it)

Help My Unbelief

I know the Lord is nigh,
And would but cannot pray,
For Satan meets me when I try,
And frights my soul away.
And frights my soul away.

I would but can’t repent,
Though I endeavor oft;
This stony heart can ne’er relent
Till Jesus makes it soft.
Till Jesus make it soft.

Help my unbelief.
Help my unbelief.
Help my unbelief.
My help must come from Thee.

I would but cannot love,
Though wooed by love divine;
No arguments have power to move
A soul as base as mine.
A soul so base as mine.

I would but cannot rest,
In God’s most holy will;
I know what He appoints is best,
And murmur at it still.
I murmur at it still.

Help my unbelief.
Help my unbelief.
Help my unbelief.
My help must come from Thee.

Grace & peace,
Amy Corbett

Kristin said...

I'm at a loss, too. I can't read your posts without crying, being deeply encouraged, imagining how very desperately you miss your girl, thinking about how hard everyday life is for you, crying again, and then passing the computer over to Jonathan.

I feel like I repeat myself every time. But, that's all I really want to tell you... And, I know you don't need a bunch of words, anyway.

We love you, and we still hurt with you, and we still think of Alaina every day. We're praying for all of you, but as you asked, we'll especially pray for Billy this week.

And, I LOVE the pictures. It's good to see those precious little ones.

Hope said...

Thanks Ashlie J for the name and the words!

Jenn Werneth....ok, I love love LOVE the cd's. The first one I opened and played was guess what? "Come ye sinners" :)

Oh, and the curtains are perfect for El Bell's room!!!!! Thank You!

JJMERKEL said...

Dear Hope, I have been thinking of what I could say to encourage you all day. I am also at a loss for words. My heart is breaking for you. Poor little Elley in the back seat without her big sister. This has to be so very hard on her as well as Holden. I think if you feel like you need to scream at whomever - then scream! It is completely understandable!! You have every right too!
Please know that we think of Alaina often. The girls were playing with their dolls today and it made me think of her. How she would go right into Sarah's room to get the American Girl dolls.

Thank you for putting some new pictures on here. Mary H is getting so big! Happy birthday to Elley! I bet she enjoyed her beautiful Barbie cake.

Kim said...

I am pray pray praying! For you - for Billy. I love you dear friend.
May God give you the grace and strength in this moment... then in the next moment... then in the next...etc


Amy R Smith said...

Sweet Hope,

I am so sorry that you and your family are going through this trial right now. I've been thinking and praying for you since I heard the news. Your blog is such an amazing journey of faith. I see your faith shining in every word. Please know I'm praying for you continually and miss you.
Amy Smith

Joy said...

Continuing in prayer as you move from day to day. You don't have to have it all together. Sending you both some hugs.
Joy Hutzler

Michael and Jennifer Werneth said...

when i saw the words of "come ye sinners" on your blog, the cd was already in the mail. god knew the song that was on your heart! cool, huh? love ya

Jaime said...

Hope, You continue to be in our thoughts and prayers. We hope we can spend some time with you guys over Christmas. I had meet the teacher night tonight and my first day of teaching first grade is next week, so pray for me. Sunday will also be two years since we lost our baby, Joshua. It still hurts, but God is still good. Email me when you get a chance or call. I would love for you to meet my friend Marianne. She just moved to Cullman.
Love you,

The Hannahs said...

I continue to hold you close in my heart. You and your family are in my constant prayers. I have been praying so hard for God to give me beautiful, encouraging words to pass on to you. All that comes to me is "I love you, old friend." I am still simply a phone call away.
Rachel Hannah

It's me, shannon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim said...

It is 1:37 a.m. and I am not sleeping so I am praying - for you.

I am so glad that I got to hear your voice last week.

I love you.

Busy Mom said...

Your family ia still in my thoughts daily. I pray for your family and the new normal for you. Your blog is an awesome testimony for those reading it. I love your raw honesty. B/c of that I gave you a little surprise on my blog. Of course you are supposed to pick other blogs yada, yada, yada, but that is not the important thing. I just wanted others to read your blog and see God. How he uses the ugly and the painful for HIS glory.


Anonymous said...

I love you, Hope. You are precious to me. Billy too and your whole family!!!!
Sharon Shepherd

Laura Ann Z said...

It's 5 am. I've been thinking about you and praying for you the last couple of hours-thought I should get up and send you a note. I haven't seen you since Alaina's funeral but have spent so much time with you and your family on my mind. On that day, I thought that Mark and I were going to Atmore to support you, but you really ended up supporting me. Sitting in that pew, looking around, and seeing you, Billy, and many, many other dear friends with their hearts just aching at once was so overwhelming. Thank you, thank you for providing so much scripture during the service. Thank you, thank you for providing such beautiful, healing songs of praise. Thank you, thank you for providing an atmosphere of worship. Thank you for providing so many pictures of that sweet princess so that so many of us could get to know her better through those beautiful images. Thank you for witnessing and supporting me when it was your time of need, not mine.
Still weeping with you...
Still rejoicing with you...
Laura Z.

Sarah said...

I love you and am continuing to pray, cry and worship with you.

Emily said...

My hearts aches for you and Billy. I think and pray for you and your family daily. I pray that God's mercy and grace will continue to help you through your sorrow. I love you all.

Emily Martin

Janie Justesen said...

I think of you everyday. Today you are especially on my mind, so today I pray more for God's protection and peace over you and Billy. No great words to make you feel better, I just feel at a loss,trying to imagine your pain. You are loved, we will not stop or forget; So today I pray even more.
Your sister,

Anonymous said...

This is my fourth attempt to post. Everytime I write something, I feel like I need to say more. So I will leave it at this. You all have been heavy on my heart,especially this week for some reason. We continue to pray for you, grieve for you and love you. I pray that you are able to find joy in the little things, like Holden and Elley's smiles and Mary Helen discovering new things. I pray that you and Billy will allow yourselves to lean on one another and continue to let Jesus carry you when you can't do it your self. We love and miss you, and continue to carry you all close to our hearts.
Kari Veenstra

Amy said...

Hope, I was just thinking about you today. I wanted you to know that you are in my prayers especially today. We have not forgotten your family. I was sad I didn't get to make the trip with April last week. Hope to see you soon.

Duane and Kim said...

Hope and Billy,
Thinking of you today...
Love, Kim and Duane

Kim said...

I am praying for each of you today. God has especially put Billy on our hearts. We love you.

Debra Carl said...

I know you guys just passed the 2 month mark. I am still praying for you as I know it is probably getting harder and not the other way around.

Whitney said...

I have been thinking about you and praying for you so often. I want to thank you for this blog. It is such an encouragement for everyone who reads it - especially me. I appreciate how real and transparent you are. You are truly glorifying God with every breath. Only with Jesus could anyone possibly handle things the way you and Billy have. I pray that you will have the strength to keep it up. You are touching so many people that you don't even know. I along with my small Bible study and my church family are praying for you and your family.

It is so amazing how our God is all-knowing…isn’t it precious that 31 years ago you were given a name that would be your message to the world – “Hope”!

3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:3-5

24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. Romans 8:24-26

4 Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; 5 guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Psalm 25:4-5

31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

13May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

I love you!! And really, I think it is the consensus to tell the after-care worker to lighten up!!

Whitney (Lanier) Holladay

Anonymous said...

Still thinking and praying for you and Billy.
Kari Veenstra

pricefamily6 said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I look at my 4 sweet children that are the same ages as yours and just cry for you and the kids. I can't read your blog without crying. You ministered to me so much in this post. I have been struggling with my own overwhelming situation (although in no way compare to the enormity of yours) and you wrote just the words that I needed to hear. Thank you for your insights.
Your family is in my prayers.
Angelle Price

Lindsey said...

hey hope. i just wanted to say hello and let you know i was thinking about you today and trusting that Jesus is continuing to carry you and your family. we love you guys.

The McNeill Family said...

Billy and Hope,
Just wanted you to know that we're still thinking of you and praying for you. You're on our hearts daily. Love, Ken and Jenny

It's me, shannon said...

Hey Hope,
You are on my mind everyday.I pray for often. Peace, Grace, Faith, and Love be with you at every moment Hope.
If you ever come to Orange Park to visit Billy parent's please let me know. i would love to see you.

Matt, Carrie and Lucy Allen said...

hope-still thinking of you often. very, very often.
praying for you and the whole family,

stephanie said...

You were on my heart and mind today so I decided to see if you had written anything lately. I know school is settling into routine here now it always seems to take longer every year. But we are blessed.. I am still prayin for ya and hope you have a blessed day with our Lord.

JJMERKEL said...

Hi Hope and Billy,
Just wanted to let you know that I was thinking of you all. I am still praying for you and your family.

Michael and Jennifer Werneth said...

praying for you. love yall