Thursday, May 30, 2013

The search

2 Corinthians 1:4Who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Have you ever gone to the store or been in a crowd with your child (or children) and that nervous feeling hits and you KNOW something is wrong? You start to look around, "where did he go??". Then the panic creeps in when you look around and don't see him, then you start to yell the child's name only to have them jump out of a cloths rack they are hiding in. Those like 10 seconds of pure panic is what its like living here on Earth without my son. Except he doesn't jump out of the ladies dress rack this time and the 10 seconds turn into years. 
Jackson is part of me and my very soul searches for him at the strangest times. There are times when I'm on the way to take Jenna Claire to school and Jett to daycare and my heart starts to beat out of my chest and I start to sweat. Its that feeling and I KNOW something is wrong. "What am I forgetting? I know its something major" I pull over and look back, 2 kids (both have cloths on), 2 backpacks, my purse, my phone, wait.......2 kids, that's the problem. I have 3 kids and one is not here.
That is the most horrible gut wrenching feeling. Then your open. Open to all the guilt and loss and it comes rushing over you like a tidal wave. I have learned that if I am in a place (like home) when that happens it's better to just let the wave consume me and live in the sorrow for a while, maybe all night maybe a few days. I never know how long it will last, but so far it has not been forever. That particular guilt and sorrow wave rolls back out to sea eventually.

When I worked in long term care at a nursing home there was a particular patient who had lost a daughter when she was young. She was hit by a car at about age 6. The patient suffered from severe advanced Alzheimer's disease and was well into her 80's when she was my patient. She would have those moments like I explained, she would just scream out her daughters name and keep saying "no, no, no, no". At this time I had no children and my heart went out to her but I was clueless. I thought to myself, that is just the disease making her relive that tragedy over and over. Now I feel totally different about the entire situation with that particular patient. I feel like it was more of her heart and soul searching for what it longed for more than anything else in this world. Her brain was just so congested with plaque from a horrible disease that it could not reason for her anymore. That's what happens, our brain tries to reason with our heart. When it comes to our kids that's really not possible because we love beyond all reason. We parents who have children in Heaven may seem "okay" but our very essence is searching. Always searching and watching and waiting until we are reunited with what was lost way to soon.

I find myself longing more and more for Jesus to return. Only Jesus can comfort me and He does. The day that He wipes away every tear will be the day I stop searching for my son. On that day all will be made right. Not just for me, for all of us. For all of us who search for what just cannot be found here, Jesus will make it right. We will be complete and I believe that day will be very soon. I believe that with every fiber in my body. Hold fast and keep praying and He will keep comforting.

~1 Thessalonians 4:13-17

13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. 15For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. 16For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel's call and with the sound of God's trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. (NRSV)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Doubt in the forecast

Matthew 8:26 Jesus responded, "Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!" Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm ~

Having lived on purely faith in the last 3 years, its hard to believe when I catch myself doubting my Lord. I love Matthew 8:25, even Jesus own disciples got scared and the first thing they did was yell "Save us!". It shows me that these men trusted and gave up their former lives to follow Jesus, yet they basically doubted when the storm hit who He even is. Matthew 8:27 says this :the men marveled saying, "who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?" How did they NOT know? It's comforting for me to know we are all just human, we all have times of fear and doubt.
As I pray, I catch myself at times doubting that the Lord will actually do what I ask. What is that about anyway? I would never go to my boss and put myself out there to ask for something I didn't really think she would agree to help me with. It would be embarrassing to be told "no" for me, and I sure don't want that. Maybe we only ask for what we know we can get because we are just so afraid of being let down or embarrassed. Sometimes I catch myself praying like this "Lord please help me with this problem, but if you don't I know it's your will." okay, why ask if I don't believe He is ready, willing and able to DO IT ?  For me I think I feel safe expecting the worst possible outcome, that way I avoid being totally let down.

Today, I got a faith wake up call. Today, God really showed up and He really showed out big time. Something I, along with countless others, have been praying for day and night happened today in the way I begged for it to, but I'm not sure I fully expected it to. When the prayer was answered I felt like God said "SEE" and immediately "ye of little faith" came to my mind.
Sometimes when we pray it may not be God's will, but we can't know that. We need to speak the things we want to be true and believe that God can and will make it true. We can't know Gods plan, that's probably never been more evident. We can't know why horrible things happen. That's why we have to just focus on what we do know. We can know that He wants a relationship with us, He loves us and wants us to ask for what we want. No, we don't always get it the way we want it. That's just part of life and learning I suppose, but sometimes, we DO get what we ask. How do we know until we ask?

I know horrible things are going on in the world right now.  People are selfish, and crazy. Innocent children are killed everyday, women are raped and murdered, pointless war's are going on all over the world. Tornado's, and tsunami's are claiming innocent lives and crushing entire community's. I can't even turn on the TV without my heart breaking. Tragedy seems to strike at every turn. Sometimes I can't even catch my breath and get myself together before the news shows the next awful disaster, be it natural or not. All these things are enough to cause us to constantly doubt God's plan. I don't have the answers for why God allows such horrendous things, and I never will have the answers. I'm not a pastor, or a bible teacher. I'm just a mom who see's pain everywhere, I also SEE love. I saw love when those teachers put themselves over those kids in Moore, OK yesterday to shield them from the tornado's wrath. I saw love when countless people showed up in Newtown, CT to show support to the grief stricken families of evil I can't fathom. I saw love in NY after 9/11 that continues to amaze me. Bad things happen and they will probably continue to happen, but God can and He will use it for good. I see good and I see love anytime I stop and look for it. I have seen God show up in the darkest places at the perfect time. Like that George Strait song (oh how I love king George) "I saw God today" I did SEE God today. For that I will continue to Praise Him in the storm. This storm and storms that are surely headed our way.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Change of plan

I really hope this helps someone because there were numerous hoops I had to jump through to get this one posted. It has been typed, erased, typed again. Copied, pasted, deleted, at last typed again. Lets face it. I'm just not technical, but I would be glad to talk your ear off :) here we go.

1 Peter 5:9-10 NIV: Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

I think its safe to assume that it was not in God's plan for me to just "blend" or have any type of just normal soccer mom type of status in the local community. I suppose that had always been my plans, like lots of women. We just want that American dream, husband, kids, church. Just "normal". Little did I know there is no such thing as "normal". I think He began preparing me on my wedding day (or that's when I noticed there would be no "blending" in), because wanted or not our lives were going to be in the spot light. I recall walking down the isle and thinking "who are all these people?!" There was standing room only on josh's side of that church, and I'm not kidding when I say the majority of them I had never seen in my life. My husband, Josh, works for the local Sheriffs office, so he is known in our community. That has never bothered him, he is what you would call a people person. Me, not so much. Being married to Josh took a major adjustment on my part (I'm perfect so I'm sure he had like zero adjusting to do). I hated that everyone knew me as "oh, your josh's wife" . I kid you not, to this day (10 years later)I still cover up my last name on my work badge to avoid the typical " your husband arrested my _____" and yes that happens. So I think it's safe to say, that "blending in" the community was a no go for me.

So far my life has not been what I expected, but honestly , are most peoples? I wonder, is there more suffering out there than "blending" or "normal" lives? I have a friend who is very beautiful, has a precious husband who loves her,  great career, children who look like they should be in a magazine, and she has cancer. She is literally fighting for her life. When I was praying for her this week, I just got mad. I mean really mad, how is that fair?  Why should one woman get all that minus the cancer and another suffer pain we can't imagine just to walk around  while holding her baby. Why couldn't she get that normal life that I wanted, and just blend in with the other families? I don't know, but I know God has amazing plans, plans we can't comprehend with our small human brains. My friend may not have chose the spotlight but she is living in it, and she is shining like the brightest star in the darkest night. I can see Christ living in her and it makes me realize God is truly everywhere all the time. He is with me when I'm in the pit, he is with her when she's in the pit. He sustains us no matter what the cause of our sufferings.
My mom is another beautiful example of suffering in faith, she is my rock. She has suffered things even I can't comprehend. Have you ever had someone tell you " God never gives you more than you can handle" ? I hate that, I know people probably mean well when they say that, but its simply not true. There is more put on us than we can handle, but there is never to much for God to handle. We who suffer burdens that others cannot comprehend share our burden, if I had not shared mine I would not have survived and if I had survived I would not truly be living. So you see, that was "more than I could handle." 
My mom lost her own mother before she ever got to know her, her sister, her husband, her father, her step mother, her daughter and now her grandson. Most of these deaths were tragic, not timely.  I never really understood my mom's suffering when I was growing up, even though I saw it, I didn't SEE it. I think I just thought she was like super woman or something. Now I know she is just another human like you and me, except her faith is the kind that can move a mountain, and she allowed God to bear her burdens when she could not. I don't know why suffering seems to pick on some of us more than others, but it's obvious that some of us get way more than our share. When I read that verse, 1 Peter 9-10 where Christ HIMSELF will restore us I just get chills. I believe He will restore us, and he will make us make us stronger FOR our suffering.

When I pray for my friend, I'm reminded that there are times in my life I can barely stand on my own 2 feet from the exhaustion of my suffering. In those times I can not pray for myself. I was introduced to many prayer warriors at the time Jackson went to heaven who were willing to stand in that gap and pray FOR me when I could not, and they still do. Maybe you have not suffered in the way we do, but we all suffer to an point. It can be in the form of anxiety, death, physical pain, depression, or fear.  Maybe your life just didn't turn out the way you planned. Whatever it is, in my opinion if it harms you its suffering. I will continue to stand in the gap for my friend along with thousands of others until she can stand again. I was taught this by my mom who suffered before me, the warriors who stepped in, and friends and family who love and support us daily. We just have to be there for others, if we are not there when they need us, who will be? We have to stand for and with each other now more than ever until we are all restored. What's that old country song " you've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything" how true that is.

Galatians 6:2 Share each other's burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cowgirl up!


Psalm 54:4 Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul.

Lately I have been stepping out of my comfort zone. I am venturing out to places I have not been without Jackson, like the boys end of the baseball field, and back into the dugout to help Josh coach Jenna Claire. That is a battle I still fight, but I do it for Jackson. I can hear him saying "cowgirl up mom, keep going!". 
Our son was a fighter, he suffered pain that most of us cannot comprehend. When he was 2 years old, he was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. That diagnosis took 3 weeks to get, all of which we spent in and out of the hospital. He went through horrible testing and procedures to try and figure out why our vibrant little man just could not walk anymore. After the diagnosis was made, we started treatment. There is no cure for JRA, only treatment. Jackson had to receive an immune suppressant shot every night, and an extra one on Wednesdays. He hated the shots, but he never knew another way. It's all he knew. After about 6 months of that medication routine he was a new child, or the old one anyway. He was the fastest kid on his team, rode horses and RAN everywhere. He understood that without the shots, he would not be able to do those things. Every single night and twice on Wednesdays my little man would "cowboy up" (in his words) and take the shots. So you see, Jackson was never "normal" he was unique from the jump and we knew it. He was electric and people were drawn to him. So it makes sense that he would want his mom to just "cowgirl up" and step out of this safe place I created.  

Stepping out has opened more doors than I was prepared for. Old bitter wounds have threatened to resurface by running into good friends who have become faded memories over the last 3 years. I have learned that as painful as it is for me to step out, it can be painful for others to see me. Maybe it brings up old memories of Jackson, maybe they just don't know what to say or do, maybe they don't like being reminded how fragile and short life can be. Maybe I just make people uncomfortable. I don't know that there is any one reason people avoid us. I guess I never noticed as I was so busy avoiding them as well. Now that God has led me to "cowgirl up" I am seeing people. I see people I miss, I see the boys Jackson loved so much, I see people who just don't know what to do or say to me. Every loss is completely different. Every person is unique with Gods own finger print on them. Because of that, there is no "what not to say & do, how to look or not to look at the grief stricken person" hand book.  Grief is not a one size fits all. When words fail you, just be honest. In the attempt to avoid saying the wrong thing your face is already speaking volume. If you worry that talking to me will make you cry, then lets cry. Lets DO something, anything is better than nothing!

In close I want to say this. We are currently living through a tragic loss. You never "get over" or "get past" it. However, we are NOT tragically lost. We are still here, struggling to figure it all out just like everyone else. Life is a journey, if we continue to stand still in fear and not move, how will Gods plan ever unfold? We have to "cowboy or cowgirl up" and move when God wants us to move. It hurts, but its better than standing still being numb.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hold that thought

Psalm 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

It is SO hard to just "be still" for me. I would love to be still over doing 456787 loads of laundry, but I doubt that would be ok when none of us had clean underwear. The fact remains that when I read that verse, I recognize the authority in "BE STILL!!"
Have you ever tried to talk to your kids when they are not looking at you, or they are moving from room to room? You know they can't actually hear what your saying, and quite frankly it appears they don't care what you have to say. I am awful about praying and asking, asking, asking for things to happen. But I'm rarely ever "still" enough to let God speak back to me. Maybe I just like to talk to hear my own voice, never really expecting a response (maybe I just like to talk.....and we wonder where Jenna Claire gets it.). Can you imagine how irritating that must be to God? I mean it just gets on my nerves when someone asks me a question and then doesn't even stick around for me to answer. Its like saying "Nevermind your opinion doesn't really matter." what a slap in the face.
Sunday Jett (the baby) woke up really early. I got him up and brought him to our bedroom thinking maybe he would lay back down with me. I was wrong. He just wanted to play. I put him down so he could get moving. A few seconds later I heard him making those little boy noises when they play with tractors or trucks, you know, BRUUMMM BRUUUUM. So I looked down to see what he had. He had one of Jackson's little cars. I have no clue where he got that car. I have not seen that car in 3 years, and here comes my sweet little 17 month old baby boy pushing it around on the floor like it's been there the whole time. It has not been there. I can try and think of a thousand ways that car made it to my bedroom floor Sunday (the day before the 3rd year without Jackson). The fact is this, no matter how it got there it was not a coincidence. God was letting me know that He heard my prayers. He sent me a sweet reminder of my precious Cowboy and He sent it at the most perfect time, and what better route? He does not leave us without Hope. He just doesn't.

I have a feeling that like myself, most people don't doubt that God is real, I mean even Satan knows that! The doubt creeps in when we wonder if He is really good ALL the time. If so why does He allow bad things to happen? I don't know "why" but I do know that He is good ALL the time. God doesn't change, ever. He is always God and God is love. There can be nothing mean or bad in pure love. If you know me personally, then you know why this verse is so close to my heart James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of  the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.17. The more I read it, the more the last part jumped off the page at me..... "who does NOT change like shifting shadows." He does not change, He is the Father of lights! . This verse holds more and even different meaning for me every single time I read it.
One day we will get to ask all the why's we want to ask, but I doubt that will be needed when we get to Heaven. Until then we have to keep listening, be still and trust even when its hard. maybe more when its hard. 

Random thought for today. I think in the medical field they teach us 6574950483950 abbreviations because most of us can't spell anyway. Hello, who needs to know proper grammar/ spelling while saving your life? ;-)

Monday, May 6, 2013

helpless is not hopeless

John 14:27
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

*please remember I am a Wife, Mother, and a Nurse. Not a professional writer. As evidenced by the punctuation and spelling below ;-p *

In my post yesterday I mentioned how I dread being "hurled" backwards to the day of the accident. I had forgotten how the details rush back as well. I always expect it to be horrible, but what I felt today as I was "hurled" back to that day caught me off guard. I think for a time the human brain shuts out some of the details of such great tragedy (AKA shock), mostly because there is no way we to would be able to survive daily living.....ever again.
Three years ago I got that call that nobody really thinks they will ever get. The call that my 5 year old son was in a tragic accident and that he was not breathing. As I drove as fast as my car would go to get to him, I remember having an overwhelming feeling of "urgent helplessness". I know that may not be a proper word, but there are no real words to explain that kind of panic state of mind and heart. I just knew that he had left this world, I felt a light go out in me and I knew. I know lots of mom's say that as well, it's a connection that should NEVER be broken.
Today I had to drive that same road, to take Jenna Claire to have her pictures made for dance. I knew it would be hard, my mind kept flashing back to the night my world broke off its axel. I recalled lots of things, yelling his name, yelling at God, just yelling. I also remember Jenna Claire. She never said a word, she just sat and stared out the window. What in the world could have been going through her tiny 3 year old brain? I think Jesus must have been comforting her, how else could she not have been crying or scared out of her mind at my behavior? 
Many things went through my mind today as I drove that same highway I drove 3 years ago on that horrendous night. This time the same word kept popping in my head. So when we pulled in to the studio I wrote it on a napkin. The word may not mean much to you but it explains my feelings that night and my feelings 3 years later. That word is "Helpless". Please don't confuse my Helpless for Hopeless, they are not the same and I do not feel hopeless, not today anyway. I do still feel helpless pretty often. Helpless in that I don't know how to take the hurt away from my husband anymore than I can take if from myself. Helpless in that I cannot change the past no matter how hard I try. Helpless that 3 years later I don't know how to help others in this situation. I suppose there will be days that I just feel helpless, as I'm sure most of us do at some point or another. The trick I have learned is that feeling that way is okay for a time. It's okay to feel helpless , depressed, and broken. It's just not okay to lean on those feelings. We cant let a feeling define us. Feelings change day to day (If your me, moment to moment).We have to focus our eyes on Jesus, he is all the help we need. Though I feel helpless, I am not without a helper, I have the Holy Spirit and he LIVES in me.  That is one feeling that has not and will not change.

As it turns out when Jackson left this world, our connection was not broken, I believe as I type this that I am very much still connected to my son. I have a major investment in Heaven. Maybe that's why I read any bible study I can on Heaven. I want to study up for my trip one day. If your child moved away to another country, would you not want to know all there is to know about it? Though our time was way to short on this Earth, I choose (sometimes through gritted teeth) to focus on Eternity. I hear people say all the time how time has gone by so fast, for me it will never be fast enough. I long for the day my entire family will be together for ETERNITY.
Thank you all so much for the prayers today and everyday.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Meet the family

Let me introduce myself and my family by starting with this bible verse, as it has spoken to my heart many, many times since Jackson went to heaven. As I attempt to help others on their journey and seek help of others MUCH wiser than me. Let us always pray this:

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting , for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

I suppose one of my greatest fears as I begin this "blogging" journey is that I would speak my own mind to often and not speak the words the Lord would want me to speak. ( I have been told a time or two that I like to talk ;-) ) My prayer as I begin this blog is that I speak what is good and helpful to lift others up. I am no spelling/writing expert, let me just get that out there. I am using this blog basically so others can see our struggle and know they are not alone in their hurt, anger and suffering and to help others SEE how we struggle so they will better know how to pray for us who have lost a child. I am only a real mom showing my heart trying to make it to the day I see my beautiful son again. Here we go....

Tomorrow is "the" dreaded day. the anniversary date of when Jackson went to heaven. I have learned in the last 3 years that the days leading to any anniversary date seem to be as bad as the actual day (if not worse sometimes). I guess its the anticipation of knowing that we are about to be thrown or hurled backwards in time to the most horrendous day of our lives. On May 6th 2010 Jackson was killed in a freak accident. It was the eve before I was to graduate nursing school and 2 days before he would graduate pre school and head into the world of "real" school, kindergarden. Since that day, our family has never trusted, prayed or suffered more. Jackson is our oldest son, he was almost 6 when he went to heaven. We also have a daughter, Jenna, who was 3 at the time and 6 now. Since the accident God has given us another baby, a son we named Jett Layton he is 17 months old now.
I have been a Christian as long as I can remember. I thought I knew was faith was. I did not. Faith is what you dig (visualize digging in the deepest dirt with nothing but a spoon) out of the bottom of your soul in the darkest hour from the deepest darkest pit. Faith is what you hold on to when there is nothing else to hold on to. Faith is not faith until its ALL you have. There are many , many days that my faith is so tiny that I think it's disappeared the way our son did, here and strong and beautiful one moment and literally gone from our arms the next. I don't think any human on earth has Faith that never shakes or waivers, if so maybe his name would be Super Christian. On the days my faith is very, very small, God shows up. He may send me a friend, he may whisper a verse to my heart, he may send one of my kids in the room to do or say the most perfect thing. Sometimes it takes me days to get out of "the pit" when I allow myself to fall back in. So far I continue to make it out though, He never leaves US, His children, hopeless ( Its not just me, read the book of Job if you don't believe me!) As the years have passed God has shown himself to me various times. I stand in utter amazement every single time He does. He knows my faith (big or small that day)as he continues to show me great things through my faith, and through Him alone my family has survived this far.  I cannot say that there are not days when I have chest pain so bad that I swear I cannot survive the ache of my empty arms. If you follow our journey you will see that hanging with me is like being on a roller coaster 90% of the time. There are dips so low that you think "is this thing broken?!" and then the ride shoots up so high you think we just may make it, only to free fall right back down again.  There are times that I'm sure the stupid ride is broken and I start to get nauseous from the ups and downs. At the end of the day, the nausea is not common motion sickeness, but a deep, pure "homesick" feeling. Rev 21:4 "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."