Friday, August 8, 2008

A Word From Daddy...

A Word From Daddy,

Many of you have asked if I would share my thoughts on this blog (ok, not many but a few, really just two and one of those was my mom.) So for all two of you that may read this… here you go... Honestly, I don’t see how Hope does this blog stuff. She’s so good at articulating how she is feeling / I find it very difficult to summarize what’s going on in my heart. Every time I try to write something I just sit here and get frustrated – I’m just not that good at writing out my thoughts. I think it’s also hard for me to let the entire world have access to my heart – therefore, this will not be a normal activity for me.

I had driven all day from Butler, AL to Chicago on Tuesday, July 1st to finalize a moving company to move our family from Chicago to Cullman, AL. I got in about 2:00am that night. I awoke to a cell phone call from my good friend Dick Albaugh. He just said, “Hey, you at home? Ok, I’ve got to call you back.” (I later found out that phone call was to make sure that I had made it home before Hope told me about Alaina) A few minutes later the phone rang again. It was my wife and it was to become the conversation I’ve replayed in my mind a thousand times: “It’s not good Billy, it’s not good… Alaina died this morning”, Wait, I didn't hear her correctly, "What?" "Alaina died." I fell to my knees and we both wept like never before. The pain is hard to describe, other than to say I’ve never hurt like that before.

Within minutes close friend were showing up at my house in Chicago. My wife had called my friends first (before she called me) and asked them to head my way to be with me right after she informed me of the news. To this day, it boggles my mind how Hope had the whereabouts to think to call my friends before calling me. Within 30 minutes of giving CPR to her daughter she was thinking of others. She was thinking for me and wanted to make sure that I had support as I received this horrible news. (Hope, thank you for showing me love in such a remarkable way. My words don’t give my appreciation justice.) Those friends, who came by my side, thank you. I don’t remember anything said during that hour, but I do remember that you were there with me and helped carry my burden with your love, compassion and tears. Shortly there after my new company called and informed me that they, through a vendor partner, had a private jet on its way to a close airport to pick me up and fly me home to be with my family. Thank you for that. When I saw Hope for the first time my heart sank even further and we embraced like never before. Both of us had lost something we loved with our entire soul. I’ve never felt so helpless in my life when it came to comforting my wife. This was something that I couldn’t fix.

The first several days I would wake myself crying. However, through this entire ordeal I’ve never felt compelled to ask “why”. I don’t think there is an answer for such questions this side of heaven, at least no answer that would satisfy. Going down that path would just leave me frustrated, angry and bitter at God and life itself. I have a much better appreciation of studying the characteristics of God like never before. You see, Hope and I have believed for some time now that God is truly in control of all things. All things happen for his glory and ultimately for my good. I’m not sure how I would help someone through something like this after the fact. I think we are handling this horrible situation in a healthy way because of what we’ve believed for years about God… That He is good, no matter what, all the time. Because of his grace we have continued to believe these truths about God, and that’s why we are doing ok and are going to be ok in the long run. I’ve also thought much about the “Victorious Christian Life” that the Christian world likes to throw around and treat God as if he has Santa Clause qualities – giving you what you want, when you want it, and life without pain, death or sorrow. Well, I firmly believe we are living the Victorious Christian Life right now. The victorious Christian life is not a life free of troubles… It’s about allowing Christ to walk with you (and some times carry you) through those quandaries. He is with us now and I too hear the train daily.

I am tired. If I’m an 8 cylinder engine I feel like I’m only operating 2 cylinders right now, but the engine is at full red line (8,000 rpm). (For you women – that means maxed out). I’m not able to think clearly and get overwhelmed and frustrated at the simplest of task; i.e... It took me eight hours to put together a simple filing cabinet last week!!!
We basically went through the perfect storm when it comes to stress levels:
Selling a house (in the worst market in 20 years and losing all your equity)
Finding new housing
Leaving a great church
Finding a new church
Leaving close friends/relationships
Having to make new friends
Leaving a job that I enjoyed
Starting and learning a new job
Family being separated for three months due to new job
New schools for our kids
New friends for our kids
The death of our daughter, Alaina
And Holden and Elley losing their best friend

I’m sure all the psychology books would recommend some type of institution for someone who has experienced these things with-in the time frame we have. However, God is holding us together – through his word and through his people, the Church. I believe things would be much more difficult if the people of Naperville, Eastern Shore and Christ Covenant Presbyterian Churches had not acted as they have. (FBC of Butler and FBC of Orange park for our parents.) These churches and other friends have been a great example to me of ministering to someone in need. At some point I hope to personally thank everyone for all you have done. However, right now, the thought of writing thank you notes is somewhat overwhelming with everything else going on. For right now… just know that I am thankful for all you have given to me and my family.

As far as my new job goes: Territory Manager for Sunbelt Fire in North Alabama: I love it. The fire industry has some top quality guys and the people I’ve met thus far will be friends for life. I truly believe this is where God wants me and hope that Sunbelt Fire will keep me around for a while. Sunbelt, thank you for all you have done.

I love Cullman and our new church and look forward to the many new relationships that God has in store for me.

Click Here to Listen to Alaina's Funeral:

If you would like to listen to Alaina’s funeral please click on the link above. It was the most memorable worship time of my life and we want to thank all those who were involved and attended. The recorded music does not come close to effectively reflecting how wonderful the singing was due to the quality of the recording (Keith and Karen - you guys were great - thank you). This link also has a copy of the handout given at the funeral.

This is my last post for a while… I’m exhausted from writing. Mom, I hope you enjoyed this.

P.S. Dr. A, you won’t ever lock up these guns; they don’t make locks that big!


Amy said...

Billy you wrote it well!!! I am sure it was hard and you are so very right....Hope's word flow with such grace and emotion. I can't wait to hear her and be encouraged by her. I talk with people that don't know Hope who tell me the same thing. I know she did not intend for this to become a ministry but OH how God is being glorified in her words!!!! Just want you to know, just as I shared with Hope, there are things in my day that God has used constantly used to bring you to my thoughts and to pray specifically for you Billy. Thanks for sharing!!!

Lindsey said...

Billy, thank you for sharing. It was good to hear from you too. I cannot even begin to wrap my mind around all you guys have been through and when you wrote out the list... overwhelming is an understatement. There is no way people can look at your lives and how you have coped with losing Alaina and say there is no God. He is good all the time. **I am amazed at your wife too. She is so incredible and real and honest and struggling yet able to point us all the the Lord. Steven and I love you guys and continue to pray for you.

Matt, Carrie and Lucy Allen said...

Billy, I just want to ditto eveything Amy and Lindsey said! It was great to hear your thoughts and to hear you speak from the clip of the funeral. I wrote to Hope in a comment that ya'll are so special to me and were part of such a meaningful time in my life (in NZ)and to see you go through this breaks my heart...I love ya'll more than you know and am CONSTANTLY thinking and praying for ya'll. Your lives are even more of a testimony to me now-helping me to grow in my faith and trust in Him and helping me to be a better parent.

Shea said...

Billy, thank you for sharing something so personal with all of us. Know that we are lifting you all up in prayer each and every day! God bless you all.

Laura said...

Hey Guys,
It is great to hear from you. Our thoughts and prayers have been with you guys daily. At least once a day, I stop and think to myself, "The world is just upside down for them." I know it is. All I can do is pray, and I will. I am so thankful that you believe with such a strong, sweet faith.

I can't wait to call Al and tell him the big guns story! I think it will be the best thing he's heard all week!

sagefats said...

thanks for sharing man. still praying. love you guys,
matt ford

Nate said...

Thank you, Billy for posting, I love hearing your words, hearing your thoughts. I appreciate your willingness to record this, and to be a blessing to us readers (and listeners...I will download the files when I return home).

I love you brother and miss you. I look forward to our pints not a day too soon.

PS, I did see that you called this week, but we are back at the lake and I was not able to check the message and call you back. We are returning this weekend and I'll give you a call soon.

nan said...

Tony and I just read the blog. It is an incredible word and obvious that God is your strength. The Funeral and your response through all this has been faith building for the two of us. We love you guys! I've been trying to get Tony to Lock his guns up for quite some time but he is a bit protective:)
the Chessers

JJMERKEL said...

Billy, I agree with everyone else on here. Thank you for writing. I am so glad that you did. Also thank you for putting Alaina's funeral on here, I so appreciate it. We really did want to be there. Megan heard me listening to it today and she recognized your voice right away and asked me why I was crying. She said mom your not supposed to cry when Billy talks. I still don't think she fully understands all of this. Thank you for everything. You are in my prayers daily. Oh and Jason loved the big guns story.

Danny and Jennifer White said...

Thanks for sharing Billy!

Parks Avenue said...

Billy, you wrtie better than you give yourself credit for! I have been waiting to see if you would share your heart as well and I feel blessed to be on the receiving end of the faith and hope that you and Hope have displayed in our great God. You are a blessing to me and many others. Thanks for the "classic Billy" comment at the end! It made me absolutely sure that you were the one who wrote it! (Just Kidding!) We love you guys and would love to come and visit soon. Let us know!
-annie davis parks

Michael and Jennifer Werneth said...

like the others have said - thanks for sharing your heart. ive been amazed at your willingness to minister to others in the midst of such sadness and loss. i continue to pray for yall several times a day as God continually brings you to mind. hope that you still love sitting in your l'room with those deer staring back at you! cant believe i actually liked them in there too! dont tell michael, though; im not as nice as hope:). love yall

Jill Williamson said...

Billy, Thank you for writting!

It was so amazing to watch you explain where Alaina was to each child that came to the funeral. I too agree with was one of the best worship experiences I have ever watch you and Hope worship made my soul long for heaven somthing I struggle to long for!
We love you, Jill

Kristin said...

We love you, Billy. Thanks for putting your heart out here. Your words and Hope's words are touching so very many lives. We think about your "Lew" every day, and we're still praying.

Love y'all so much, and we hope we can spend some time with you very soon.

Connie said...

I am at a loss for words. I pray that God will continue to give you and family strength everyday. We live in Cullman as well and would love for you to visit First Baptist Cullman (Across from courthouse.) Our church family will pray for all of you.

Sarah said...

Thanks for sharing, Billy. It is great to hear your heart. You guys are always on our minds and in our prayers.
We love you!
John and Sarah

jan said...

I have been keeping up with your amazing story through this blog. I don't know you, but I do know your family. God has really come alive through your family and your reaction to such unimaginable tragedy. I really admired what you said about not even thinking about questioning God! That is such faith. You have really strengthened my faith in an awsome God who had brought me through so many things. I'm so humbled by my very very small trials beside what your family has gone through so far. My prayers are with you and your family. So much good has come from such horrible tragedy! Who could imagine? Lew will live forever through your awsome faith in God.

Denise Shoemaker said...

It was great to "hear" you. Even though it is so very painful, everytime you and Hope share your thoughts, your faith shines through. You are both such inspirations to us all. We are praying for you every day.

The McNeill Family said...

Glad to hear that you guys are getting settled in there in your new place. Billy, it was great to hear from you. Your words are still bringing hope and encouragement to so many. We're still praying and love you guys!
Ken and Jenny