Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Atchison Update

If you've been reading this blog for a while you probably remember me comparing our pain to an arm or leg being amputated. You use your arms and legs everyday and to be forced all of a sudden to live without them is pretty difficult. It's a long, hard process to begin to adjust. You feel it everyday, the loss. You wish you had your arm because life wouldn't be as hard. So, where are we in this healing process? It's hard to say, but I will tell you that we still have some very hard moments...the ache isn't as intense as it was those first few weeks, but it's still there and I guess always will be to some extent. I still have nights when I don't want to go to bed because I know the battle that is ahead in my mind. I know it will be a struggle when the house is completely silent and I'm alone with my thoughts. I know that if I think about it long enough I will cry myself to sleep. Maybe we're at the point where the bandages have been removed but the scar is right there on the surface for all to see. Sometimes you don't want to "practice" doing things without your arm....you just want to sit and think about how much easier things were when you had it. But God always gently and faithfully reminds you of his Sovereignty and his goodness...and by his grace you choose to continue fighting. He has expanded my eternal perspective and if I keep this before me I can truly have joy. I have a new way of thinking about suffering and trials. When the bible says "Give thanks in all circumstances" and "count it all joy when you face trials" I think it's really saying to shift our focus....I don't think God is calling me to be joyful about losing Alaina, to count it joy that I had to find her that morning...I think He's calling me to look to Him for my joy. To give thanks for who He is in the midst of the most horrible of circumstances...to give thanks that He is mighty enough to carry our burden even though we can't see or feel Him. That He is able to give me faith to believe that His promises are true. Like Billy says, "we're banking our whole lives on this." I'm not trying to make it sound like my struggle is always in this neat little package.... that I wrestle with God and doubt and then he reminds me of what is true and things are better. I DO get frustrated with God. I expect him to make my life easy now that we've been through something this hard....like I deserve it now. I think our kids should never be sick so we won't have to worry...just don't allow anything else in my life to be hard...that's what my flesh screams. But God says in his word that one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to "remind us of all truth." So I know that when I do have right perspective it's not coming from anything I've mustered up. It's all the work of the Spirit. It's messy, but He always brings me back. It's his job. I've learned to be honest about how I feel and to speak it out loud. God can handle it.

He has given us lots of opportunity for laughter. Billy and I went to Fairhope a few weeks ago without the kids and our camping trip this past weekend was one of my favorites. I am more thankful everyday for the relationships God has given us and for the faithful friends who have "been there" with us and continue to walk with us. We're not alone....I see it as another means of grace that God has provided. Billy always loves to say that life is all about relationships...our relationship with God and relationship with other people. We want to give our lives to these relationships and pray that God will keep before us what really matters and help us not get caught up in the things that don't.

A few things you can pray for us: Alaina's birthday is March 8 and we're trying to decide what that day should look like. I think we'll try to get away and do something as a family.

This Sunday Billy and I are sharing our story with a Sunday school class at First Baptist here in Cullman. This will be my first time to share in front of a group, and most of the people in the class I've never met. Will you pray that God would grant us wisdom with what to share and that it wouldn't be about US. I know the details involve us but I want the story to point others to Jesus. It's not about the Atchisons.

Romans 11:33-36
"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgements, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen


Anonymous said...

I'm always amazed every time I read your blog,please think about writing a book and thanks for being so real. My heart is always touched every time I come here.

stargirl12264 said...

i hope you find something helpful in this information. i can't even begin to imagine your pain, but i liked many of these ideas and could envision your family getting excited about some of them. it will ALWAYS be lew's day! ALWAYS.
and that's ok.



some of the ideas are hokey...feel free to ignore those. :)

-rachel hester

Nate and Kara said...

Thanks for sharing, dear friend. I am and always will be praying for you. Thanks for letting us know some specific things to pray for.


Amy said...

I will be praying for you as always. Hope I hope you find a great way to CELEBRATE Alaina's life. It is a day in which we celebrate life and her death does not change the fact that she lived a great, fun life and I pray pray pray that God protects you from the "extra" pain that days like this normally bring and that you and Billy and the kids can remember her and celebrate her life and bring glory to God as you do it. Oh sweet Hope my heart aches for you as you approach this day but may God make it so so sweet!!!!
I also have no doubt that you telling this story to this SS class will point directly to your Father. It is COMPLETELY evident on this blog that He is the source of your strength and every time you write and I read it I stop and praise my Father....you can't help but Hope. Looks like you guys had a blast camping...lots of kidos!!!!

JJMERKEL said...

Hope, just wanted to give you a suggestion for Alaina's Birthday. It may not be what you want to do, it is just a suggestion. Jason's parents always go visit katie and then we all go out for dinner to her favorite place, which at the time was Taco bell. (or we do something that she liked to go do) They try to remember the good times before they lost her. Sometimes they even buy some balloons and write messages on them, to send to Heaven. The girls really like to do this.

I can't even imagine the pain of that date coming up for you all. How hard this is going to be. I am just so sorry that you have to go through this.

Good luck to you and Billy with this coming weekend. I am sure that you will do a wonderful job.

Kristin said...

Thank you for sharing your thought process as you wrestle with God and find deeper understanding of what He meant when He tells us to "count it all joy... ". I have thought about you as I've been falling asleep the last few nights (so it's interesting that you shared this) and imagined how your mind must race and how hard it must be to "turn it off" at night. In the silence. Just you and your thoughts. I lift you up in those moments, because I cannot imagine how difficult and overwhelming those minutes must be for you each night. I will continue to pray for your nights.

Thanks for reminding us that God can handle our thoughts and questioning. As Amy said, it is EVIDENT Who is giving you strength and grace to keep going. We love you, and we'll be praying for you as you share with the Sunday school class, and as you create a special way to celebrate Alaina's life on her birthday.

Love you.

Shea said...

Oh, Hope. I will be thinking of you on March 8th...just as I think of you every day. I'll be thinking of you this Sunday as well. You are always such an inspiration to me through this blog. I mean it when I say I truly do appreciate your open heart and honesty. I grow in my Faith everytime I read your words. Thank you for that. However, I wish you didn't have the words to share because it would mean that you still had your sweet girl here with you. I know you will make "Alaina's Day" extra special. She will never be forgotten.

Jimmy Cowan said...

hope, again as i settle in and check on your sweet family, my heart is full of love for you and awe at how great God is to sustain you day in and day out. After losing my mother and later my father, that first year of "firsts" was so hard-- first mother's day, first birthday, first christmas--- all those things without her. As you consider Laina's special day,perhaps a part of that day could be creating a tribute to laina, like maybe something you could watch grow, like a special tree planted together in your new yard in a special area and each year you could add something new to Laina's garden-- flowers, azaleas, etc. something the children can help you plant and watch bloom each year and be reminded of her beauty and life. just rest in His assurance knowing that he will direct your path. you'll do the right thing for all of you. we love you and you are in our prayers tonight.
mrs. cowan

Laura said...

Hope and Billy,
I have wished 1000 times that this story would not be your story. I know the realities of it, and I have prayed and prayed. Of course, I will continue to pray. When I was reading this,I thought about how thankful that I am for your faith. It is such an amazing work of the Lord. Praying for you this weekend and always, and "for grace to trust Him more." For your family, for your story, and for those of us who are striving to bear your burdens with you. We love you guys.

Laura said...

Do you know about this?

I thought about you and Billy. It is in Dothan. How far away is that?

I thought you may be interested?

Love Ya'll. Here's the link


The Hannahs said...

All I can do is say that I am praying for you and I am holding your wntire family close in my heart. Love you so much, old friend.
Love, Rachel

Becky said...

I think of you and your family often.

Kari said...

Hope, I just wanted you to know that we are still praying for you guys. I read your blog and everytime I am encouraged, saddened, and pointed to Jesus. You guys are truly amazing. Thank you for sharing your heart Hope.

Ryan and Denise Shoemaker said...

I am so proud of you Hope. I know it must be terribly difficult to speak your story to others, but you touch so many people by doing so. I will pray for you and for Billy Sunday and I will be praying for the whole family on March 8. Imagine Alaina's birthday with Jesus - no present could compare! Love to you all!


stargirl12264 said...

prayed for you and billy yesterday, last night, and this morning. i hope today went well and that you found some peace in telling your story.


Anonymous said...

Hope, I have had you in my prayers for some time now. I am a friend of Jackie Tucker's - and she just adores you and Billy. You are such a godly woman and a light for all of us believers! Thank you! You will continue to be taken to the cross by me and so many others! Mollie Pfuetze, Saint Louis, MO

Leigh Ann Glass said...


Leonard said...

It can't really have effect, I think this way.
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Cyrus said...

For my part every person should read it.
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