Friday, April 27, 2012

Her Love For Jesus

I unzipped the outer pocket of my mom's bible cover, and in it I discovered a bulletin.  It was the bulletin from the Sunday my family joined Grace Presbyterian Church.  Sara and Hannah were baptized that day.  She had kept it.  All of these years she kept it tucked safely near her bible.

My mom was not a pack rat.  She didn't believe in keeping anything she either wasn't going to use or had some special meaning to her.  Discovering she had kept that bulletin was overwhelming to my heart.  She wasn't crazy about us joining a Presbyterian church.  I was born and raised Southern Baptist, and just the fact they baptize babies and sprinkle instead of dunking was enough to cause her to have issues with it.  But despite her issues, she kept the bulletin.  She even grew to be grateful we were a part of Grace.

I had to zip the pocket back up and walk away.  It was more than my heart could take at that moment.

Two weeks later I sat down at her kitchen table and began flipping through her bible.  When I unzipped the bible cover I found two more bulletins.  One was from the Sunday my uncle Danny was ordained as a minister; the other was from a Sunday my brother had preached at the church he was attending.

She kept them.  They were precious to her.  Just like the bulletin from where we had joined Grace, she treasured them.

As I opened up her bible and a piece a paper fell out.  It was a scrap piece of paper she had taken notes down on at some point.  At the bottom she had written, "I have appointed Him as my Power of Attorney".

There in black and white ... in her handwriting was tangible evidence her heart belonged to Jesus.

I probably sat there a good 5 minutes thanking the Lord for giving me that gift.  One more confirmation He's given me to show me she's with Him.

As I started flipping through her bible I immediately noticed how marked up it was.  It was full of red, green, pink and black ink.  Highlights of yellow and pink.  Notes written all through the margins.  Dates next to scripture.  The spine of the bible was well broken.  It looked close to cracking.  It most definitely was well used.

Then I noticed it was a bible I had bought her for her birthday in 1990.  It looked like she could have used a new bible, but instead of buying a new one she had kept it.  For almost 12 years she had used the bible I had bought her.  It was all I could do not to weep.

After I had been sitting there for awhile, my brother came in and sat with me.  We flipped through the bible together.  We read the notes she had written and speculated what the dates meant next to certain scripture.  We talked about how well she could quote scripture.  We shared stories of reasons that would cause her to spout them off at us.  It was such a sweet time.

Since her death there have been the most amazing things about her that have been brought to our attention.  Things that the Lord knew my heart desperately needed to hear.

I click on my mom's Facebook page at least once a day.  I can't explain to you why ... just like I can't explain why I have a need to go to the cemetery every day.  Somehow it makes me feel close to her.

A couple of weeks ago when I clicked over to her page I discovered a message from someone she had met online playing games on a site called Pogo.  They had become friends 3 years ago.  My mom had told me about this lady and had asked me to pray for her on occasion.  Jackie was asking for someone to explain to her what had happened to my mom.  She stated she hadn't seen her online in about a month and had noticed people were writing about how much they missed her.

I told her she had died suddenly from an apparent heart attack on March 21.

It was then she wrote me the sweetest email ...

"I saw your reply on FB this morning before I went to church. When I met your mom it was at a very lonely time in my life. Everything was falling apart or so I thought. She gave me the strength and courage to move forward. Today I am closer to God and have become more involved in my church. Oh and how your mom would have liked to hear that I have made the decision to be baptized this Summer. But I know she will be there looking down upon us all on that special day. May God bless you and your family Jackie"

I cried when I read this.  I cried hard.  Jackie lives in California.  On the other side of the country my mom was showing someone Jesus.

I have had so many people tell me stories of how my mom blessed them.  She did things no one ever knew she had done.  She was an encourager and a giver.  And just like my uncle Danny said at her funeral, she was leader.  So many people she lead to Jesus ... so many she pointed to the cross.

Much of the things I have been told I already knew, but it has blessed my heart to hear how much it has blessed the person who was sharing what she had done for them and what she meant to them.

However, there is also much I had no clue she had done.  Hearing those stories have been so comforting to my heart.  So much evidence of the fruit she was bearing.  So much evidence of how much she loved Jesus, and because she really knew who He was, she wanted everyone to know Him.

What a legacy she has left us.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I Hate His Plan

As I sit here with tears streaming down my face and a sick feeling in my stomach, I'm wondering how am I possibly going to get through this day.  I'm having to fight the want to go to bed, pulling the covers over my head and shutting the rest of the world out.  I've had that thought often the past few weeks.  I keep wondering how the pain can possibly get any worse, yet every day it seems to grow.  The void ... the huge hole ... the enormous black hole in my life ... grows larger with each passing day.  I just keep thinking about how much I want my Mama back.  I see her in everything.  Everything I look at, everything I hear reminds me of her.

I felt this exact same way all day yesterday.

Yesterday was Wednesday.  How Wednesday got here so quickly again I have no idea.  It was the five week mark.  Five weeks since I've heard her voice.  Five weeks since that horrific phone call from my dad.  How can it be five weeks but feel in my heart like it all just happened yesterday?

Oh, how I miss her!

Yesterday was a horrible day.  Probably the worst yet.  I spent the day at home alone sobbing most of the day.  I tried to stay busy to get my mind on something else, but nothing worked.  All I could think of was her and how much I miss her.

Nightmares are becoming an every night thing.  For two nights in a row I've had the same one.  She's calling out for someone to help her.  I can hear her, but I can't get to her no matter how much I try.  I try calling out for someone to help her, but I can't get the words to come out of my mouth.  Then I wake up yelling "help".

It's an awful feeling, and it sticks with me.  It stuck with me all day yesterday.

I was faced with the question while talking to Mary yesterday, do I trust Him?

I'm going to be honest.  I had to think long and hard about that.
Either I do, or I don't.

I do.  I just don't like His plan right now.  I want things to be different, but His plan is not my plan.  In my plan my Mama would still be here.  His plan has my Mama in Heaven.  You'd think I realize His plan for her is much better than mine.  But I'm selfish.

Right know I actually hate His plan for me.

I have an appointment with Dr. Gaw later today.  I'm a little anxious about it.  I've had several hard falls lately, and I've noticed some increased weakness.  My left eye not focusing has gotten worse.  The pain and muscle spasms have increased.  I'm sure it mostly has to do with being so worn out, but I'm not sure what he might want to do about it.  The friend taking me is a friend who normally doesn't go with me.  She doesn't even know most of the issues I've had lately.  So I'm really uneasy about that.  I usually try to have Mary or Connie take me so they can help me remember everything I need to tell him, and they can help me remember previous conversations we've had.  I may actually try to call Mary later.  She offered earlier, but I told her no because we have Grace group tonight.  I was afraid it might be too much for her.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Worst Dream

I've just had the worst dream of my entire life, and I've had some doozies.  My heart won't stop racing, and I'm sick to my stomach.  Not to mention how much I've cried since waking up.

I was standing in my mom's livingroom and when I turned around to say something to her, she collapsed.  Nathan called 911 while I tried to wake her.

"Mama, Mama wake up!!  Wake up, Mama!!"

The next thing I remember we were in the ER.  She was alive but in a coma.  I don't know what happened to her.  She was lifeless but breathing on her own.  We took her home and took care of her for weeks, until one night she stopped breathing while I was alone with her.  I had to call 911 again.  I drove all the way to the hospital on the ambulance's tail.

"Please don't let her be dead, Lord!!  Please don't let her be dead!!", I prayed all the way to the hospital. 

I pulled up right behind the ambulance and parked.  I jumped out of my car and followed them into the room as the paramedics wheeled her in.  After they got her settled I walked up to the stretcher.

"Oh, Mama, I love you!!  I love you so much!!", I was sobbing.

She opened her eyes.

"Why are you crying?", she asked me.  Her speech was a little slurred and her voice was weak.

Before I could say a word, the nurses escorted me out of the room and sat me down at a nurses station just outside the door.  I sat there for what seemed like hours.  I decided I couldn't wait any longer, so I knocked on the door.

My Mama said, "Come in".

When I heard her voice I burst through the door and started yelling, "You're alive, Mama.  You're alive.  Praise Jesus, you're alive."

And then I woke up.

It took me a couple of minutes to realize it was just a dream.  She isn't alive.

The more I realized it was just a dream the more my stomach hurt.  Before I knew it I was sobbing.  I had the same feeling I did when I was walking up her driveway, and I realized she really had died when I saw all of the detectives and sheriff deputies walking around outside.

Only this time it was more intense.

I've wished for weeks now I would wake up from a dream and things wouldn't be as they are now.  However, my wish was in the dream she was dead, and I'd wake up realize she was alive.

Since the day she died I've dreaded sleep.  Every time I wake up it takes a few minutes for me to realize she has died.  It's like reliving it all over again.

Nothing compares to this though.

Monday, April 23, 2012

One Month

This weekend ended up being much harder than I had anticipated it to be.  I thought that spending time with my dad and my brother and his family would somehow soften the blow of what the past few days have represented to us.  It didn't.  It didn't make it hurt any less or make any of us not miss her so much.  It just reminded us of how much we all miss her and wish we could have her back.

Every Wednesday marks another week has gone by since my Mama died, and the 21st of every month will add another month to how long she's been gone.  We've now reached the one month mark.  Friday it had been one month since I heard her say, "I'll talk to you tomorrow."  Saturday marked one month since her death.  Sunday marked one month since we made arrangements for her funeral.  Today marks one month since we stood at her casket for over 4 hours greeting people as they came through the line to give us their condolences.  Tomorrow will mark one month since we lowered her body into the ground.

One month.  It seems like only yesterday if you go by the pain in my heart, but it seems like years if you go by the aching of my arms wanting to hug her.  It seems like it will be forever before I get to see her again.

Come quickly, Jesus!!  Come this very moment!!  I long so much for You to come and take us home!!

This has been my prayer every day for as long as I can remember, but now I pray it with more passion and urgency than ever before.  The more I learn about Heaven in my current Sunday school class, the more I desire to be there.  I want Him to come now!

His timing is nothing like my timing though.

I knew as the one month mark was approaching it would be hard.  I just didn't expect it to be this hard.  Something about hitting that date brought a renewed rawness to my heart.  I tried to stay busy on Saturday, but busy or not, she is constantly on my heart and my thoughts are constantly wandering to her.  I see her in just about everything.  I even stumbled upon the perfect gift for her for Mother's day.

My Mama loved Loretta Lynn.  I've probably seen "Coal Miner's Daughter" no less than a hundred times ... no joke.  Like my uncle Danny said at her funeral, my mom could relate to Loretta in many ways.

That's a story for another day. 

I dread Mother's day.  I wish we could just skip over that day.  I was thinking yesterday while sitting in my seat at church, I am so glad no one hardly wears corsages for Mother's day anymore.  Mine would have turned from always being pink, to white this year ... since white always signified your mother was dead.

Random things like that run through my head constantly.

People say it won't always be like this.  Some day it will get easier to handle, but that it will be a long time before that happens.  I still have no idea what "a long time" means.  I still think it means til Jesus comes back.  I can't imagine it getting any easier until then.

Friday, April 20, 2012

No Guarantee

I continue to miss my mom more and more every day.  Even during the moments when I'm the most preoccupied, she still remains on my mind and in the most tender place of my heart.  Tears stay at the surface of my eyes and are ready to fall at any given moment.  As much as I am so grateful to have the assurance she is with Jesus, I still just wish she was still here.

I was with some friends yesterday, and we were having a conversation about the current health of one friend's mother-in-law.  She's facing a chronic illness.  One that is greatly going to effect her quality of life.  There currently is no cure for this disease, and it will most likely be the thing that will ultimately take her life.  As I was listening to her and hearing the heartache in her voice, my thoughts went quickly to my mom and tears began to well up in my eyes.  She asked if hearing what she had to say was to hard for me.  Actually, it puts things into perspective for me.

The shock of my mom's sudden death has been horrible.  It's so hard to comprehend how she could be here one moment and gone the next without any warning to us.  I still hear her say over and over, "I'll talk to you tomorrow".  However, it would have been much harder to have watched her suffer a horrible, long term illness.  I still have a hard time with knowing my mom died alone though.  It's hard to think about not being with her when she drew her last breath.  I find myself often wondering if she realized she was dying.  As I was expressing this to Connie yesterday, Mary immediately reminded me of what my friend John said to me.

"I can't help but think that if your mom knew she were about to die, that God had taken care to make sure that she was experiencing no fear."

I need to try and make every effort to remember that.  I know he's 100% correct.  I am sure of it because the Lord says He will never leave us.  Never.  Knowing that is the absolute truth, I also need to remember that she actually didn't die alone.  He was with her every moment, and He gave her more comfort than I or anyone else ever could have.

We are never guaranteed tomorrow.  We aren't even promised our next breath.  Never miss an opportunity to say I love you.  Make sure that those you love know you love them right back.  Always express how much someone means to you.  I've also struggled with knowing if my mom truly knew how much I loved her.  Everyone says she absolutely did.  I hope so.  I try to remember what Darryl told me.

"Even is she didn't, she does now"

I just wish I had said it.  I wish those had been the last words I said to her.  I've always been able to hold on the gift that the last words I ever said to my Nannie were "I love you", and the last words she said to me were "I love you too".

I wish it had been the same with my mom.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Four Weeks

Four weeks.  It seems like forever, but it feels like just yesterday.  More and more as the shock wears off, the greater my heart hurts.  It's so hard for my heart to fathom she isn't here anymore, but as reality sets in the bigger the void becomes in my life.

I despise Wednesdays.  Every day I hate the hours between 12-2 p.m.  I hate the moments I pick up the phone to call her and the sick feeling that hits the pit of my stomach when I realize I can't.  I hate calling her house when my dad doesn't answer and I think, "I wonder why Mama's not answering".

I hate that my Mama died.

This is the absolute hardest thing I have ever been through in my entire life.

But God ...

He has given me the mercy and grace to endure each moment since that horrible phone call from my dad at 4:31 p.m. on March 21, 2012.  Most days I seem to be only able to put one foot in front of the other.  I can't think past the next moment.  I can't seem to get anything done.  I still feel like I'm walking in a tunnel, but He has guided each and every step I have taken since that very moment.

He has surrounded me with people who love me.  Friends to hold me when I need to sob.  Friends to just hold the phone when all I can do is cry.  Family and friends to call to try to encourage me and love on me.  A brother who I talk to every day that truly gets how I am feeling.  A dad who is more concerned with taking care of his children than he is for himself.

I am blessed beyond measure.  I forget that truth so often.  I can't seem to see all of the blessings I have past the pain in my heart.

I miss her so much.  I hate that she died.

But I love that she is with Jesus.  I love that I have the assurance she is in Heaven.  I love that the Lord has sent so many people to tell me precious things my mom did for them, and what a blessing she has been to them.  So many people that she showed Jesus.

I love that I have a mom I can be so proud of.

I love that I have a mom who loved me more than I ever realized.

I cannot believe it's been four weeks and one day since I last heard her voice.  It's so hard to wrap my head around knowing I will never see her again in this life, but I love that I get to spend eternity with her.  We get to spend eternity together with Jesus.

He gave me this verse yesterday ...
"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified." ~ Isaiah 61:3
He is faithful.  He will give me everything I need at the very moment I need it.  When I can't see how I can possibly walk through this pain, He will guide my steps.

Beauty for ashes ... joy for mourning ... praise for a heavy heart ... all for the glory of God.

I long for Heaven, and I pray every day He will come back.

I miss my Mama.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

She Made So Many Sacrifices

As I sat last night watching Hannah play softball, I kept thinking about how much I wish she didn't have a game last night.  Physically I felt terrible.  Between muscle spams and the fire running through legs, it was difficult to sit on those hard bleachers.  I'm so exhausted emotionally and physically that it's hard to even sit up at times.  I also was in no mood to sit there and have idol chit chat, pretending I was okay and having to fight back tears.

But I was determined I was going to be there.  It seemed like a small sacrifice to be there to support Hannah, show her I love her and let her know everything she does is important to me.

While sitting there my thoughts started wandering to when I was in the 4th grade, and I came home one day and announced to my mom I wanted to try-out for the cheerleading team.  Her first response was, "I'm not sure your good enough."

Now she didn't mean I wasn't a good enough person.  She was pointing out I had never done anything like that before and she wasn't sure I had the skills to make the team.  So we made a deal.  If I would practice hard every day for the next two weeks, I could try-out.

I spent hours practicing, and my mom would say, "Do it again" for what seemed like a hundred times as I would stand in her bedroom and do the cheer I had planned to do for try-outs.

I made the team.

What I didn't realize at 9 years old was what a hardship that put on my mom.

My mom worked two, sometimes three jobs to just feed and clothe us and to make sure we had a roof over our heads.  Now she was faced with having to find the money to buy material to make my uniform and to buy shoes, socks and my shirt I had to wear under my uniform.

She never once complained to me.  Not even when she and my aunt Kathy spent several evenings working to make my uniform after she had worked so hard during the day.  Actually neither of them complained to me.  They would start working shortly after my aunt Kathy got home from work and would work on up into the evening.

She managed to pull it all together and had everything I needed just in time for the first pep rally.

I changed schools when I started 5th grade, and she let me try-out for the cheerleading team once again.  When the numbers were called for those who made the team, my number wasn't announced.  All of the moms went to my mom and told her there had to have been some sort of mistake.  I should have made the team.  When I got in the car I started crying.

My mom was prepared to go to battle for me.  "I'll get to the bottom of this", she said.  "I better not find out they passed you up because you are new to the school.  Everyone knows you should have made that team."

I begged her not to make a scene.  I told her she would make things harder on me to try to fit in there.  She promised she wouldn't say anything.

A week later we found out there had actually been a mistake.  I had made the team.  They actually had announced the wrong number.  I was number 13 and they had called 14.  The girls who had done the judging were on the Tech cheer squad, and once they realized the mistake I had already left that day.  One of those girls was determined to find me.

When my mom got the phone call there had been a mistake, she was faced once again with having to find the money to buy material to make another uniform and to buy new shoes, socks and a shirt.  And once again, she never complained to me.  She and her friend Reba made my uniform that year, and by the first pep rally she had once again managed to get everything I needed.

As I sat on those bleachers last night grumbling to the Lord, I realized my sacrifice to be at Hannah's game was nothing compared to the sacrifices my mom made for me to do something I really wanted to do.  Maybe she did grumble to other people.  I think she had every right too.  She never once complained to me though.

My mom worked so hard to make sure we had everything we needed.  We never went without anything we needed, and she often would try to find some side job to make extra money so we could do some of the things we wanted to do.  She went without many times so we could have what we needed.  She never complained to us about how hard she had to work.  She taught us how important it was to have a good work ethic and to work hard.

I will forever be grateful for the sacrifices she made for us and for the priceless lessons she taught us.

And my mom always said, "I couldn't have done it without the Lord."

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Void Keeps Growing

I have an excess of tears this morning.  I had no idea your body could even produce so many tears without getting dehydrated.  Must be all of the Sonic drinks I'm living on these days.

My heart hurts so much this morning I feel like it's been stabbed with an ice pick a thousand times, and then someone took a razor blade over it.  I got an email from a friend this morning wanting to know how I am, and I don't even know how to answer her.

Does she really want to know how I am?

I don't think she does.

I think a lot of people ask just because they think it's the polite thing to do.  I say that because when you tell someone how you REALLY are, they get uncomfortable and back away.  No one is prepared to hear how much my heart hurts, or how much I am beginning to dread church because I cry when I'm there.  No one wants to hear me talk about my mom and how much I want her back because it makes them uncomfortable, and they simply don't know what to say.  No one wants to hear about how I really just want to go to bed, pull the covers over my head and cry until Jesus comes back.

Which by the way, I still pray every single day He would come right this very moment.

Actually, it's not fair to classify everyone in the above paragraph.  I do have people around me who would sit and listen for days if I needed them to.  They don't back away.  They will tell me they don't know what to say to make things better.  So instead of saying something totally dumb ... like "you'll get over this soon" ... they just tell me they love me and are praying for me.

Yes, I did actually have someone say to me, "you'll get over it soon".  No one I have talked to who has lost a parent says that.  They all tell me it will get easier, but it's going to take a long time.  I have no idea what "a long time" means, but if I had to guess I would say until Jesus comes back.

I have this huge void in my life that seems to just get bigger and bigger.  It feels like a black hole.

I've picked up the phone twice the last few days to call my mom.  I look at the clock around noon and think I need to hurry up and get something done because she will be calling any minute.  I don't know how to explain the sick feeling I get in the pit of my stomach when it hits me I can't call her and she's not going to be calling me.

I feel so isolated.  The world keeps going on with life and I'm stuck.  It's like everyone thinks, "Okay, the funeral is over.  Now lets get on with life."

I have no idea how to do that.

It's like people are just disappearing into the day to day happenings of life.  The phone calls have almost completely stopped.  The stack of cards that were coming in the mail every day has almost stopped.

And the grass on her grave grows thicker every day.

I even find myself wondering if I'm even a part of my mom's family anymore.  Did her death cut that tie?  Some moments it really feels like it and it's gut wrenching.

Darryl told me yesterday, "Grieve, but don't sin in your grief."  I asked him to explain what he meant by that statement, and he did.  I just can't tell you a word that he said.  The entire time he was talking I kept thinking, "You just don't get it."

Of course he doesn't.  He's not lost a parent.  However, whether he "gets it" or not, he's right.  I can't sin in my grief.  I guess I need to ask him to explain his comment again.  Thankfully he's used to repeating himself to me over and over again.

It's now approaching noon.  I just had the fleeting thought, "I need to wrap this up and get my shower.  Mama will be calling soon."

Oh I long for Heaven!!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Near To The Brokenhearted

As we drove up the drive into the cemetery, I immediately noticed the flowers that have laid on my mom's grave for the past 3 weeks have been removed.


It's been hard to look at dead flowers laying on her grave.  I've had the overwhelming desire to replace them with fresh flowers, but we've told we aren't allowed to.  There are rules, and we are only allowed to put flowers in the vase on her headstone.  That won't be placed for another 3 weeks or more.  I cannot wait to buy that first bouquet to fill the vase.  I hated seeing those dead flowers, but what I didn't expect was how hard it would be once they were gone.

The purpose of keeping them on for so long was to help with growing grass.  They kept the hay from blowing away, and the hay covered the grass seed to keep the birds from eating it.  I thought I'd feel better once grass had grown over the dirt, but I was so wrong.

As I stood over her grave looking at the grass beginning to grow, I wanted to rip it up.

She's hasn't been gone long enough for grass to be there.

As that thought kept running over and over in my mind, Hannah started walking from side to side picking up the random flowers that had dropped as they were removing the dead ones, and she was moving them aside.  When I asked her what she was doing, she told me she didn't want them on her grave.  Just like me, Hannah has hated the dead flowers.  She asks me every time she is with us when we can bring new ones.

Standing there staring at the grass and watching Hannah move the dead flowers off to the side, this verse came to mind.  Every Sunday it's recited after the scripture reading.

"The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever." ~ Isaiah 40:8

I've been thinking about that verse since we left the cemetery.  I guess you could say I've been stuck on it.  The images of the new grass and the dead flowers run through my head like snapshots in a photo album.  Even photographs fade ... as do memories.

But God's Word never does.

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." ~ Hebrews 13:8

His Word says He will never leave me.

" for He Himself has said, “ I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” ~ Hebrews 13:5

It also says He is near to the brokenhearted.

"The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit." ~ Psalm 34:18

I've always thought this verse meant He was only near to us in spirit.  It's not like we are physically going to be near Him until we reach Glory.

Or are we?

I've learned since I first became sick four years ago that Jesus uses people to be His hands and feet.  There have been more people than I can count who have been His hands and feet for me and my family over the past several years.

He never changes, and He continues to do the same today; just like He'll do the same tomorrow.

I was telling Robyn yesterday as we were having lunch about how much support and love the Lord has sent to us during this horrible time.  We are covered in it.  We are surrounded by people being His hands and feet every day.

I began to think about in what way has the Lord been the nearest to me in the past 3 weeks.  He's been near through His people.  He's been near through His Word, no doubt ... He keeps giving me the same verses over and over to sink my teeth into.  He keeps proving Himself over and over to be faithful.

Yet, one thing speaks louder to my heart than anything else right now ...

My brother called me a couple of days ago to specifically share something with me the Lord had revealed to him.  He had a dream the night before that had given him so much comfort and peace to his heart.  I don't feel at liberty to share the details.  It was his dream, and I've not asked his permission to share it with the world.  I can tell you the Lord vividly showed him our Mama isn't dead.

She's very much alive with Him.

As He shared his dream and his heart with me, I began to weep.  I was so grateful the Lord had laid it upon his heart to call and share with me.  I needed to hear everything he said that morning.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." ~ John 3:16

She may have physically died here on earth, but her spirit lives forever in Heaven with our Lord Jesus.

I had the sweet opportunity to have a short conversation with Robyn's mom yesterday afternoon. Mama Jean ... I've called her that since we were kids ... and I talked about how comforting it is to know my Mama is with Jesus and how much peace it brings to my heart even in the midst of such grief.  What a gift it is for the Lord to have allowed me to have that assurance!

Just another way He has been near to my broken heart.

Friday, April 13, 2012

He Is Faithful

I've spent all night sitting at the foot of cross.  The night has been long and hard.  Moment to moment seems to be the only way I can get through the nights and days.

"God's gives us grace for the moment and not a moment before we need it."  I can hear Mary reminding me of this.

I was 15 when my Nannie died, and still to this day I haven't "gotten over it".  I love and miss her so much.  Her death was so devastating, and there were times I didn't know if I could survive the heartache.

Loosing my mom is a billion times worse.

I've asked the Lord all night long "why".

Why did you have to take her so soon, Lord?

Why did she have to die alone?

I have a hundred "whys", and He hasn't answered me.

But if I believe His Word and I trust Him, I know this is for my good.  I know this is part of His perfect plan for not just my life, but also for the lives of all of those who knew her.

It's hard to believe that something so devastating can be good.  It's hard to believe that even though my heart is shattered, there still good in this.  It most certainly doesn't feel good.

My faulty, selfish heart would prefer for her to still be here.  I want to still be able to talk to her every day.  I want to hear her ask me if my laundry is caught up ... almost every day she would ask me that.  I want to hear her give me unsolicited advice, and for her to answer the phone when I called her for it.

But she's gone.

And where's the good in that?

I honestly don't know.

I do see there have been some things that are good.  It's brought my family closer together.  It's made me re-evaluate what's important and what's not.

But, Lord, couldn't You have chosen to do those things a different way?  You're God ... in charge of all things.  All things are possible with you, right? 

I confess I am not always faithful to trust Him.  I question Him.  I scream at Him.

And He still remains faithful.  He sticks right by my side.  He never leaves ... not even for a second.

He is faithful even when I'm not.

When I can't get through the moment, He gives me the grace.

"And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

This has become my favorite verse.  So often Connie has said to me, "He strength is greatest in my weakness".

I received a text from my friend, Adele, yesterday.  She reminded me, "Jesus loves you this I know for the Bible tells me so."

He loves me.  He gives me grace exactly when I need it.  When I am weak, He is strong.

He is faithful even when I'm not faithful to trust Him.

My heart aches.  It's raw and bleeding.  There is a void in my life I can't find the words to even begin to explain.

"I am weary with my sighing; Every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears." ~ Psalm 6:6 

Yet, He is faithful.  He has been faithful to carry me thus far.  He is carrying me this very moment.  And He will be faithful to carrying me in the moment.

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." ~ Hebrews 13:8 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I Hope She Knows

I feel like I am on the verge of having a breakdown.  My insides shake all of the time.  I cry most of the day.  I can't concentrate and can't get anything accomplished.  I don't have the "want to" for anything.  All I can think about is my mom and how much I miss her ... how much I want her back.  I'm having to fight the urge to just go to bed, crawl up into a ball and just cry ... forever.

I had a horrible morning.  I sobbed harder than I ever have in my life.  All morning long I just kept telling the Lord my heart can't take it anymore. 

You're going to have to do something, Lord.  My heart can't take this much pain. 

Just as I said those very words, my phone rang.

It was my brother.

If there is anyone on the planet who understands what I am going through right now, it's him.

I was sobbing when he called, but by the end of our conversation we were laughing about some of the quirky, funny things my mom would do.  Things that in the moment would either embarrass you or make you angry ... often times both ... but looking back are so funny now.  "That's Mama", we would say.

I was okay once we hung up.  There's something about talking to him that's very therapeutic for me.

But it wasn't long, the tears started once again. 

Mary ended up picking me up today and bringing me to her house.  Actually, I'm sitting at her computer right now typing this.  I really didn't feel like coming, but deep down I knew it was best.  After she deflated the excuses I gave her for not coming, I called her said, "then come get me".

So here I am.  It's been good to be here.  Friends ... a friend who really is more my sister ... are gifts from the Lord Jesus.  I am grateful for her and love her deeply.

I was telling her earlier today about a conversation I had with my mom a few months ago.  The conversation started out with her scolding me for naming Mary, Darryl, Connie and Robyn as my best friends on my blog.

"You shouldn't do that.  It might hurt your other friends' feelings and make them feel like they aren't as important as them."

I told her that anyone who knew me was very aware of the tight relationship I have with those four.

After a long pause she said, "You know, you really know more about me than anyone else.  So I guess when you boil it down, you are really my best friend."

I wish I had taken the time to really tell her how much those words meant to me.  I wish I had told her what an honor it was for her to call me her best friend.

I have wondered a lot over the past 3 weeks if she knew how much I really love her.  I've wrestled with why did I not tell her that as we were hanging up from what ended up being our last conversation ever.

My brother told me the other day, "You don't have to worry about that, Robin.  She knew".

My other "brother" Darryl said last night that even if there was a chance she didn't, she does now.

So I guess that means that if she knows now how much I love her, then she also knows how much those words mean to my heart.

I hope so.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I Just Want My Mama Back

My Jesus Calling devotion today says ...

"THIS IS THE DAY I HAVE MADE, Rejoice and be glad in it.  Begin the day with open hands of faith, ready to receive all that I am pouring into this brief portion of your life.  Be careful not to complain about anything, even the weather, since I am the Author of your circumstances.  The best way to handle unwanted situations is to thank Me for them.  This act of faith frees you from resentment and frees Me to work My ways into the situation, so that good emerges from it.
To find Joy in this day, you must live within its boundaries.  I knew what I was doing when I divided time into twenty-four hour segments.  I understand human frailty, and I know you can only bear the weight of only one day at a time.  Do not worry about tomorrow or get stuck in the past.  There is abundant Life in My Presence today."

Today marks 3 weeks since He called my Mama home.  It's hard not to complain.  I know I should be focusing on the certainty I have that she is with Jesus.  She is at peace.  She's no longer worrying and being anxious.  She no longer hurting.

But selfishly, I want my Mama back.  I miss her more than my heart can take.

I just want her back.  I want to be able to tell her I love her and to hug her.

I want to hear my phone ring at 1:30 this afternoon and hear her ask, "Did you go to bible study today?"

I just want my Mama back.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Pain Gets Worse

The days just get harder.  Tears fall more frequent each day.  My mom stays on my heart continuously, and I think of her at every turn during the day.  As the shock begins to wear off a little more with every day, the pain grows.  The void in my life gets bigger.

It's more than I can bear.

It's more than I can even fathom.  She gone ... forever.  There will be no more 1-2 hour long daily phone calls.  Her seat on the couch will always be empty.  I'll never have the chance to say "I love you" again.

It really is more than my heart can bear.

I constantly feel like I'm walking in a tunnel.  I can't seem to focus on anything, nor can I seem to get anything accomplished.  Laundry is piled up, the sink stays full of dishes and list of "thank you" notes I need write grows longer each day.

I have yet to go through all of things that have come from the funeral home.  I just can't seem to do it.  I try to do a little each day, but some days I can't even go near it.  The days I do, I can only do it for a few minutes.  It's just a constant reminder to me she is gone ... forever.

The pain is unbearable.

Even in the midst of the greatest pain I have ever felt in my life ... a loss that compares to no other I have ever experienced ... the Lord continues to give me grace for each moment.  I so often think I can't take my next step, but just as quickly as the thought crosses my mind, He's already given me the grace to do it.

Grace for moment to moment.

He is faithful, even when I'm not.

I'm finding it hard to pray at times.  I often don't even know what to pray.  But the Holy Spirit knows exactly what I need and just as the bible says, He intercedes for me.

"in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;" - Romans 8:26

I am grateful that when I am at my weakness point, He is strong.  I am grateful that carries me when I am unable to take my next step.

Today is the hardest day I have had yet.  My heart ache is unbearable.

Without Him I couldn't make it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hope, Joy and Faith

It's been a very tough weekend.  We celebrated the first birthdays and the first holiday since my Mama died.  On Saturday we celebrated Hannah's birthday, and yesterday was Easter and my nephew's birthday.  I expected it to be hard, but it was so much worse than I had imagined it would be.  I've cried about 2/3 of the weekend.

I miss my Mama.  So often the thought, "I just want my Mama back" crosses my mind.

I had to ask friends to pray I would get through Hannah's birthday without sobbing, and I would be able to actually enjoy myself.  I couldn't stop crying the entire morning.  My mom mostly likely would have not gone to the party.  She missed a lot of parties the last few years of her life because she just didn't feel like going.  But she would have called just before the party telling me she wasn't coming and asked a hundred questions about what I had planned, who was coming and what was I feeding everyone ... and she would ask if I would save her a piece of cake.  My sister-in-law always makes my girls cakes, and my Mama loved her cakes.  Then she would have called after the party wanting to know a play by play and list of everyone who came.

She would call and want pictures put on Facebook a.s.a.p. so she could see them.

There were no phone calls this year.  I never thought I would miss my phone ringing so much.

Yesterday was heart wrenching.  I have dreaded Easter for days.  I couldn't even get my act together about baskets for my girls.  The few things I have bought are still sitting in a chair at the end of my dining room table.

I can barely think past the next moment.

My mom was big on holidays.  She was big on family being together and holidays were the perfect excuse to have us all at her house.  Every Easter we would go to her house after church to grill out and have an egg hunt for the kids.  After lunch and the egg hunt, we would all sit on the screened-in porch watching the kids open their eggs and shove tons of candy in their mouths.  We would sit around and talk and laugh all afternoon.

This year was different.

We still spent Easter with my dad.  We still ate lunch, had an egg hunt and sat on the porch and laughed.  But under the laughter was much sadness.  We were all on the verge of breaking down and sobbing.  The day before my brother and I had a conversation about needing to be strong for our kids and to try and have a good time for them.  My Mama would have wanted that.  It wasn't easy though.

As we drove up the first thing that jumped out at me was my dad has covered her car.  I don't even know how to express the pain that hit my heart and my stomach at the exact same moment.  When Nathan parked the car I looked straight into the window in front of us and could see the spot on the couch where my mom always sat.  She would always lean over and peek out the window to see who had just driven up.

Yesterday she wasn't there.  Even though I knew she wouldn't be, it didn't lessen the pain I felt seeing her spot empty.

I hadn't been there since the day of her funeral.  I sat in the van and cried for awhile.  I wasn't sure I was even going to be able to go into the house.  I think I was able to go in right after she died because part of me was still in shock.

Yesterday reality sat in and it was more than I could handle.

But just as He has been the past 2 1/2 weeks, the Lord was gracious.  His strength is so much bigger than my ability.

As I sat there praying for the Lord to give me the strength to walk in that house, He reminded me of what my brother had said, "we are going to have to be strong for our kids tomorrow."

I know, Lord, but I don't think I can do this.

With Me, all things are possible.

With that, I walked into the house.  The first thing I noticed was a huge void.  I still couldn't walk into the den where she always was, so I sat on the couch in the living room and cried for a few minutes.

Once my brother and his family got there, the house was full of chatter and laughter ... but the void remained.

My nephew said the prayer over lunch, and the end of his prayer just about sent me into massive sobbing.

In his sweet, tender voice he said, "And God let Nana have a good time in Heaven with you today."

And, Lord, help me keep it together.  Help me relish in the sweetest of this moment, and not focus on the pain his precious reminder that she is with You has brought to my heart.  Help me focus that even in his sadness, he is teaching me to look to You.

The Lord was faithful.

Not only did He help me keep it together, He also gave me the ability to laugh and enjoy being together.  Mama was greatly missed.  All day long we made reference to her.  Even though she wasn't with us, she was still close to our hearts and never left our minds.

Remember me talking about the big gust of wind that came through the tent the day she was buried?

Twice ... TWICE ... as we sat on the porch a big gust of wind came through and opened the screen door.

Jesus was near to the brokenhearted.  He was all around us the entire day.  He gave us the strength and ability to enjoy the day and have fun with our kids.

Just like my Mama would have wanted.

As I sat in the quietness of the night, I thought about what this Easter meant to my heart.  It was much different.  Instead of approaching it with joy in the reminder our Lord has risen, and He now lives sitting at the right hand of our Heavenly Father waiting to come back to get those who belong to Him ... the very thing I long for more than anything else ... I approached it with much dread.

I still have the joy in my heart that I serve a living Lord.  I still long for Heaven.

Oh how I long for Heaven!

But I realized that Easter also represents even more.

It's a reminder of the hope.

The hope I have in Jesus.  His resurrection gives me the hope of being with Him.  The hope I have that one day I will sit in His lap.

The hope in knowing my Mama is with Jesus ... my Nannie is with Jesus ... and they are together.  The hope I have that I will one day be with my Mama and Nannie again.

I long for Heaven more today than ever.  I am grateful that because my Jesus died on the cross for my sins ... for the sins of my Mama and Nannie ... and He rose again on the third day, I now have the hope and joy implanted deep within my heart I will one day be in Heaven also.

Hope and joy in the reminder we serve a living Lord is what Easter represents.  The reminder that Jesus bore all of my sins.  He was beaten and tortured far beyond anything I will ever experience.  He hung on a cross in agony and pain.  He paid my ransom.  He died and was buried in a tomb.  But on the third day they discovered the tomb was empty.  He had risen.  He is alive.  He sits on the the right hand of God the Father.

"looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." - Hebrews 12:2

He loves me.

He prays for me.

He gives me the strength to take my next breath.

He gives me the grace to get through the next moment when I can't.

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful" - Hebrews 10:23

That very hope and joy gives me faith.  The faith I have knowing and believing that Jesus is my Savior.

The faith to believe His word is the absolute truth.

The faith in knowing He is all I need.

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." - Hebrews 11:1

As you can see I have spent a lot of time in Hebrews lately.  It's by God providence that at the time my Mama would be called home I would be deep in a bible study titled, "Hoping for Something Better" by Nancy Guthrie ... a study based on the book of Hebrews.

A bible study written by someone who has experienced deep loss ... the loss of two children.

God is forever faithful.

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." - Hebrews 13:8

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Happy 13th Birthday, Hannah!

Happy Birthday, baby girl!  I have no idea how you are already 13.  Time passes by too quickly.  As much as I wish you were still the little baby I had to rock for hours and hours, I have also enjoyed watching every stage of your life.

Hannah, you amaze me.  I have often said, "I wish I could have a heart like, Hannah".

You have a love for people like no other I have ever seen in my life.  Your compassion for those in need and those who are hurting is so precious.  Your mind is constantly coming up with ideas to help others, and your passion for carrying those plans out has such a wonderful way of getting others to participate.  You challenge us to look beyond ourselves.

That's a gift, girl!

You are so sensitive to those around you.  I love how every time you see me cry, you reach over and pat me.  I love how you often remind us we need to be praying for someone.

I love how you always stand up for what is true and right ... even when it causes others to not like you so much.  I love how you stand up for your friends when they are too afraid ... even though we need to work on how far you need to go with that. : )

I love how you love Jesus.  It is so evident to me and to those around you how much you love Him.  Not only do you love Him, but you have a deep desire for everyone to know Him.  I love how you pray for those who need Him, and how you celebrate when someone turns their heart to Him.

I love how even though you fight with your sister, you would fight for her with every fiber of you being.  You love her and want to spend time with her.

I love your laugh.  I love how your laugh comes deep from within you.

I love how your are so independent ... although you still see your need for Jesus.

I love how you have no fear.  You are not afraid to try something new.  When you decide you are going to do something, you just do it.

Hannah, I love you ... all of you!  I love you from the tippy, tippy top of your head, to the tippy, tippy bottom of your toes.  I am so honored the Lord picked me to be your mom.

You are one the best gifts the Lord has ever given to me. 

You are precious to me ... and to so many people around you.  I love watching the young woman you are becoming.

Happy Birthday.  Your finally a teenager ...

And you know Mama Gaile would be the first one to wish you Happy Birthday on Facebook.  She loved you so much and was so proud of you too! 

Love you so much,