Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Finding our way

First time for my small group to meet....first time someone asks how many children I have.....First day of women's bible study(this morning). All of of a sudden I realize I am being asked to introduce myself. My heart is pounding as it's almost my turn. I'm thinking "ok, I'm going to be in this bible study with these women for a while and it's a pretty small group, so here goes"...."I'll be real honest, I hate introducing myself lately!" and the crying begins....I just am never sure what to say. I just can't bring myself to say I have three children. She's not here but she'll always be our little girl. We have four children. It's ok to say it. I don't always need to explain it. I went on to ask the ladies not feel awkward around me or think they shouldn't bring up Alaina. Well I guess I shouldn't tell people how to feel...I hate it when people tell me what to do or how I'm probably going to feel. I've been in the awkward place before of not knowing what to say/do and I need to remember that. It's just sometimes more hurtful/awkward when she isn't mentioned. I love to talk/think about her. I really can do it a lot without crying but sometimes it just hits me when I don't expect it...like this morning when I had to say my name and tell about myself. At our small group we were asked to share prayer requests...now how in the world can I share anything else???? We need prayer...lots of prayer as we're trying to "figure out life" without our little girl. It's a humbling place to be when you burst into tears in front of a large group of people...some you've met that night for the first time. But, I won't have it any other way. I long to be real and honest and not just say "please pray for us as we're in a new town and for Billy's new job." Let's just dive right in. I don't have time to stay on the surface.

I can't describe how much I miss Alaina. All our kids are super fun but she just had a unique way about her. So, so special! It hurts deeper than you could imagine. I think it's possibly the worst pain you could ever experience. But I hope you read our story and are amazed by God...not by how we're "handling" this but how awesome and wonderful our God is. If not for Him we couldn't handle it...we couldn't go another day. God brought me to this verse yesterday...

"Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised." Romans 4:20-21

Please pray for our next few days. My parents will have our kids in Butler and Billy and I are headed to North Carolina for some time away. Pray that I will not worry about them while I'm gone. I want to enjoy the time with Billy and rest. Just pray that God would guard my heart and mind.

"To God be the glory, great things he hath done,
so loved he the world that he gave us his son,
who yielded his life an atonement for sin,
and opened the life gate that all may go in.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the earth hear his voice,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
let the people rejoice.
Oh come to the Father through Jesus the Son,
and give him the glory, great things he hath done."

Friday, September 12, 2008

How could I NOT trust Him?

Ok, it has been almost one month since my last post....Hello again! :) I feel like I'm barely keeping up with all we have going on. It's not that the kids are in 100 activities..we've got Holden and El's school and soccer and church...pretty basic. But nevertheless, we're busy as is all of America.

Ok, let me think what these slide show pictures are...I just love pictures because they show our life. This is the main reason I love to scrapbook, because our life is in those books. This slide show captures a little of what we've been up to. We made it to the zoo.... my sister and brother-in-law and nieces came for a visit over memorial day weekend and the kids put together a lemonade stand..... I think that's the whole slide show. Oh, the Elley in her nightgown picture is when my good friend Alysia came for the weekend from Chicago. We had a great visit.

Last week, my parents came for the week and held down the fort so that I could go to Orange Beach with Billy for a work trip he had. Before I give the details of that can I just say that my parents are awesome. Really, I am so blessed. They would walk to the the ends of the earth for me...and in many ways they have! I just read a quote that said "that is how I first felt confident that my life was under the care and protection of a kind and compassionate father." This sums up my Dad, kind and compassionate.... and gentle and loving and Godly. Seriously, one of the greatest men I know. Growing up under the care of my parents, I agree with this author that it was never a question in my mind that there was a perfect and loving and good Heavenly Father. After all, I knew what a wonderful earthly father my Dad had been and could only imagine a perfect Heavenly Daddy. To say I'm thankful just doesn't even begin to express how I feel about my parents.

So it was great to get away to the beach although Billy and I didn't get to spend a lot of time just the two of us because of his conference. We're headed to the mountains at the end of September for some time away not work related, a belated anniversary trip. The beach was great. You know how the beach is, you step foot on the sand and it automatically causes you to take a deep breath. There is something so breathtaking about God's handiwork. This trip I burst into tears the minute I got on the beach. Overwhelmed with sadness but also with amazement over God's great love for me. A song I've listened to lately says "How could I not trust my King?" I love this chorus because it's so where I am. How could I not trust Jesus? What else is there, really?!? What else could I turn to that would satisfy? Nothing that is eternal....NOTHING!!! So I just run to Him. I fall on Him. I cry to Him. I wrestle with my thoughts "God, can't our life just please be like it was before? Can't you just let me have my daughter here? Please God." He brings me back always to the truth that this is His plan and He will redeem even this great pain for my good and His glory. I really do believe that even though I don't want to. It's just not what I want. I want easy. I want that easy button to push and then I don't have to struggle or experience such intense pain.

I grieve not only for Alaina but for the laid back part of my personality. I was never one to go to the worst case scenario in my mind. Worry and fear were never huge struggles. Now it's an everyday battle. Mary Helen gets a fever and I can't even talk to my Dad on the phone, I have to give the phone to Wendy and let her tell him how much Tylenol to give her. I no longer enjoy going in the kids room at night to check on them...there's always that nervous pit in my stomach before I see they're breathing. If they sleep late in the morning I don't want to go in their room for fear of what I could find. It's AWFUL!! I can't explain how I hate it. The enemy is always there to whisper in my ear. He really is "a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. The thief comes to steal, kill an destroy." BUT, "I have come that you may have LIFE." I do have life and peace and joy in the midst of this battle with fear and unbelief. I'm sure it will get easier but this will probably be a lifelong struggle...a constant surrender every time one of my children gets sick and every time I hear that horrible ambulance siren.

Even though it sometimes feels like it, I know that I'm not the first person to lose a child or go through something so painful. I'm so much more aware of other's suffering. It's everywhere, everywhere I turn...disease and pain and death. I don't enjoy watching the news at all!! So again, how could I NOT trust Him in the midst of living in such a fallen and sinful world?

Holden and Elley seem to be doing ok, although I can tell Holden is constantly processing Alaina's death. He drew a picture of the cemetery and he pointed out "the green fuzzy chairs" we sat in. He hugged me and patted my back and asked "why did everyone hug that way at the funeral?" He remembers so many details, things I never thought would make an impression on him. Thus another battle for me. I lie down and everything is replayed in my mind. The morning I found Alaina, the funeral and days surrounding it...the whole bad dream that I want to forget but can't. I am utterly dependent on Jesus and so helpless at times. I am constantly replacing the awful images with the amazing four years we had with Lew.

Billy is having a "better" week but please continue to pray. I feel very overwhelmed at times about how to "be there" for Billy and the children. I have to lay down the weight I feel of them all needing me as I'm dealing with my own pain.

I'll end with some quotes from a little book I've read....they say it better than I can.

"Grief from whatever source, is a long and painful journey. And, I found, it is full of frightful choices. The urge to retreat into a cocoon-like existence is great, and depression is slipped into so easily. The allure of escaping into busyness or pleasurable fancies also raised its ugly head.

Alongside all of this temptation that would take us further and further from healing lies the sometimes obscure choice of acceptance. Obscure because this path leads into the pain and makes no promise of a quick cure. Instead, it opens the wound to its very depth and applies the healing balm of God's very special grace from the inside out." Verdell Davis, Riches Stored in Secret Places

"Discouragement is a large cloud that like all clouds, obscures the warmth and joy of the sun. In the case of spiritual discouragement, the Son of God, the Lord Jesus, is eclipsed in our lives. Discouragement is Satan's device to thwart the work of God in our lives. Discouragement blinds our eyes to the mercy of God and makes us perceive only the unfavorable circumstances. There is only one way to dispel discouragement, and it is not in our own strength or ingenuity. The Bible says, "Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart:wait, I say on the Lord" (Psalm 27:14) Billy Graham

"No matter what the circumstances, God always has the last word. Always. And it is a word of triumph. There is no death! What joy! For those of us left on earth puzzling it out, ultimately after weeping through the night, we notice that the shades lighten slowly, and sunlight eventually pours in, making the dust motes dance, and making the room habitable once again. The peace of God passes understanding." Leslie Williams

I especially love this one....

"Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. (Luke 6:21) The courage to laugh ultimately rests with our belief in the faithfulness of God. During our grief we will not likely laugh for the right reasons, unless we feel assured that God has a stake in our lives and will come through for us. So then, it becomes our belief behind our laughter that makes the laughter a healing force. God himself has engendered our laughter, and he becomes the divine enabler of our joy.

Robert A. Williams...Journey Through Grief

"Because of the Lord's great love we are NOT consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lam 3:22,24

Because of who He is I am not consumed even though at times I feel like it. He brings me back to what is true. Corrie Ten Boom said "We must go everywhere. We must tell everyone that no pit is so deep that He is not deeper still. They will believe us because we were here." Whatever is going on in our lives, He is able. Nothing is beyond His redemption. The challenge is to believe this truth even though our emotions scream the opposite. In spite of my weakness and unbelief, He IS faithful, He IS good, He IS Sovereign, He IS God. I've been to the "deep pit" and He has proven himself faithful.

I thank God for all of you, for your letters and cards filled with kind words and reminding me of God's truth, your messages on my answering machine, your comments on this blog....your taking time to simply listen......Thank you for loving me!