Saturday, November 11, 2017

God Covers It All

"But my God shall supply all your need..." Philippians 4:19

I'm learning these days, more than ever, to take God at His Word. That's a good thing. Yes! It is most definitely good. 

I think we often go through life without ever knowing the full extent and taking advantage of everything God says He IS and WILL BE to us. I'll not pretend to fully grasp it all, I don't think we will ever fully "get it", yet it has become more real to me these days than ever before. 

I am hanging on with every fiber of my being...this, my HOPE.

He promised to be my Salvation, Comforter, Counselor, Peace Speaker, Provider, Healer and Heart Mender. (That's just to name a few!)

He promised He'd fight for me, extend grace and mercy on my behalf, cover me, hide me, give me rest, hold me up, see me through every valley, care for me and love me. (Again, that is only to name a few!)

Since the death of my son, I find there are so many different levels of loss and grieving that find their way into my brokenness. For instance, one day I found myself in a meltdown because somehow the falling leaves reminded me of him. I found myself, drowning in hot tears as I begged God to "make the leaves stop falling." (I know, it's alright to laugh. I was able to smile later too...much later.) 

I've found myself with questions that only a grieving mother could ask. I choose not openly share those. Just take my word for it. Making decisions on how to spend what would have been my son's 25th birthday (coming on November 20th) is also something I'm having to figure out and deal with. Next, there's Thanksgiving. Then, Christmas. Then, a new year. Some days it hurts this way. Other days it hurts in that way and a million other ways on other days. See? I'm finding that I need EVERY attribute and promise of God. 

I'm finding that no matter how I'm feeling, and which area of loss I'm dealing with at any given moment, there's one thing that never changes: GOD! No matter what I need at the time, He provides it or IS it. He gives me peace when I feel like I'm about to lose it. When I cry out to Him and plead for Him to hold me together tightly, He does. He puts people in my life to squeeze me tight and do the "hands and feet of Jesus" stuff. When I feel all alone, He reminds me He is near. His Word reminds me of His unfailing promises too. Talk about a one-size-fits-all...He covers it ALL. 

Does it ease the pain? Yes, at times. Does it take it away? Never. Does it help me get through the difficult moments? EVERY TIME! How? Because, above all...I have Hope. That, my friend, was the One Word I chose at the beginning of the year. I never dreamed I'd need it like I have, but God knew. Just another wonderful thing about Him. He ALWAYS knows what we need before we do.

He knew during this season of life, I'd need Him more than ever before...and He's shown up BIG! In every way. True, He's been there all along, but often times He brings us to things to show Himself to us in new ways. Since this is the season of thankfulness, this is what I'm most thankful for this year - that HE covers it all. Every angle. Every phase. Every detail. 

I am thankful. I am blessed. My heart may be broken, I may by grieving right now, but deep-down, it is well with my soul. I have hope. God covers it all...all to Him I owe. 

I must say one more thing. To you. If you're needing God, He'll be there for you too. Just exactly how you need Him to be too. There's no situation too big or off-limits to Him. He's good like that!

Oh, one more thing too. I write through tears often nowadays. I don't have it all together, and won't pretend to...but then I don't have to. As I write, and a fresh, hot, tear falls to my keyboard, I do so to encourage myself - and you. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Dear Steffan,

This morning I woke up with you on my heart. Before I even opened my eyes, I was thinking of you and longing to pick up the phone and ring you. Then, I remembered there's no phone where you are, so I closed my eyes again to ask God to tell you for me. I don't know how all that works, I only know my heart is broken anew today. As fresh as the day we lost you.

I still find it hard to believe some days. I just want to hear your belly laugh and watch you double-over as you used to do when you got so tickled. I long to hold you tight once more. To hear you say, "Mom, no tears." But...alas, I can't make them go away today. It's amazing how much a heart can stand. I feel mine will explode sometimes, especially today.

I know God is taking care of you and you'd never want to come back. I understand. I'm happy for you, sad for me. I'm sure you would understand. I see you in my dreams and have even heard your voice call to me. Some things take me by surprise and the tears flow freely. Like this morning, I just wanted to tell you I love you and how proud I am of you.

Death has a way of changing every aspect and dynamic of life. I tell your brother and sister I love them more than ever. I've turned into that obnoxious, over-protective mom in an instant. Loss like losing you has awaken us all up to the reality that life is short and only eternity counts.

So, today I'll try to wrap these tears up and go about my day as best I can. I will think of you and smile when I see your picture because I know you don't want me to cry.  I'll do my best to live the best life I can. There are many "firsts" right around the corner. Only 17 days until we should be celebrating your birthday. I don't know how I'll get through that day except with God's help.

One thing is certain, a mother's love doesn't stop when one of her babies are gone. The bond is still there. I still love you. Always and forever!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Perfect Place for Every Cuppa

If you have read any of my posts since September 27th, then you will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I'm in a very dark season of life. Tears. Loss Pain. Sorrow. These are the contents in my cup right now. And I'm learning to be alright and even thankful in this season; not because I'm drinking from this cup but because of Who is drinking it with me and where I'm drinking it at.

You see, the One who shares this cuppa with me has already tasted and asked for His own cup to be taken away. The Bible tells us He was a man of sorrow, familiar with suffering. (Isaiah 53:3) Gracious to His children, He doesn't ask us to drink from a cup He hasn't already tasted, which is why He is so touched by the feeling of our infirmities, and He gently comforts those who mourn. He's been there, done that, and has the proverbial T-shirt to prove it.

I've attempted to read all the verses and recite to myself all the applicable verses that I've felt go with this season of life. You know, like He shall dry every tear from my eye; it's kind of like a Pumpkin Spice Latte in autumn. It's what you expect to taste when you tip the cup to your lips; but sometimes not quite what you expected at all. Ever so often, the barista might get your order wrong and you'll find yourself with a bitter cup you didn't quite expect. I'm not saying the Lord ever gets it wrong, I'm just saying life happens and it rains on the just and unjust.

I've learned it's not about enjoying the cup you've been handed, for there is a time for every thing; it's about being real in the moment and sharing that cup completely- even with millions of salty tears and an extra pump (or ten) of desperate hope. During this season, I may "know" all the right verses to apply but He doesn't expect me to do anything else but keep them in the back of my mind and just be present in this season. (And, a word of warning, in advance, those people quoting verses as such mean well. Try to extend grace.) I can't skip this season, just like I can't will winter to give its place to spring. "Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted", we can't trade the ugly parts for something more tasty. Grief is a process and I must go through this entire season, even though I'd rather blink my eyes and be into the next season.

I was delightfully surprised with this beautiful cup from a dear friend the other day, but I've yet to drink from it. Hello!!! What's wrong with me?! (Beside the obvious!) You see, it's ultimately my choice. I can just look at it and simply enjoy it that way; or I can tip it up and drink of its warm, delicious contents. When I do the latter, each time I will be sharing that cuppa with my friend. I will never be able to drink from that cup alone!

That's what the Lord desires that we  do with the cup of sorrow and grief which He allows to be placed in our lives. He doesn't expect us to just look at them or know they're there. He wants to share every drop with us. There is a time to mourn, there is a time to weep, blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted, the Lord is close to the broken-hearted...we don't have to be Christians of Steel during our season of grief. He longs to hold us tightly, like the little, weak children we are, and for us to know the full scope of being there, and to be OK with being nestled safely in His loving arms, finding hope in the midst of our worst pain or nightmare.

Seasons like these make ever so real to me the compassion and gentleness of my Father. I'm so much harder on myself than He is! He doesn't stand there telling me to pull myself together or the "shake it off"; He doesn't expect me to be all that and a bag of chips. He doesn't expect me to be perfect either. He knows exactly where I am. He weeps with me. He feels the pain of loss with me. He knows that I'll come through this season because He loves me and I love Him...and He's content and willing to sit with me as I drink this tiny sip at a time. He knows I'm not able to gulp it down quickly, He is patient. No, He never pushes me to move on, looking down on my broken heart with disgust or my tears with shame because I'm not a stronger representation of Him; He's a perfect Father who feels my sorrow and sits at this table hiding me safely and securely under the shadow of His wing.

Remember this when you find yourself in a dreadful season of life, when you feel like "looking on" or sticking your head in the sand rather than partaking from the cup in front of you. It might not be the cup your expecting but, like my pastor says so often these days, "You can choose to do it with Him, or without Him" - I'd never want to do this won't either.  Being strong in the Lord doesn't mean doing the hard parts of life without getting wounds and scars, it simply means resting in Him while He carries and mends the broken places for you.

There's a Perfect Place to drink every cuppa -

"Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trustees in thee: yea, in the shadow of the wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. Psalms 57:1

Saturday, October 21, 2017

As the Leaf Falls

"Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:19

I watch the leaves slowly drifting to the ground. I love this time of year. What a beautiful display our Creator puts on for us during autumn. Vibrant reds, mellowed yellows, and joyous oranges too...such brilliant hues brighten up our days. Everyone cheers when fall rolls around. Pumpkin spice is all the rage, hay rides, fire pits, S'mores and candy apples. Delightful to the senses and a much needed break from the weariness of summer time. I too get excited.

This year will be quite different for a lot of us. We'll enter this season with hesitation. You see, I saw one of those beautiful golden-yellow leaves falling to the ground the other day. I was instantly awed and excited. Like I said, I love this time of year. My favorite! Then reality slapped me in the face and I remembered...the leaf is falling because things are dying. I know this season is all too real for me right now.

I admit I wasn't quite prepared for that thought at that particular moment and a tear came to my eye. This happens at the strangest times and places nowadays. (I'm learning to work through that better, with God's help.) I thought of the fresh loss in our lives. We are entering a new season along with everyone else, yet ours will be a bit different and we'll probably not be quite as cheerful around the fire pit or eating pumpkin pie this year. Death and tragedy has touched our lives deeply. Maybe your life has been affected by something similar too. We'll have to wade through many "firsts" this season.

I won't list them all today; I'm trying not to go there before I have to. The truth is though, there are a lot of hurting people in our world today. People who have felt the pangs of loss, tragedy, set back, disappointment, shattered dreams and heartache. We're none exempt. We all can probably find some kind of "leaf" in our lives...drifting downward.

I find it amazing how God can make this time of year beautiful in spite of things dying or coming to an end.  I've determined to believe the same is true in my life - no matter what it may look or feel like presently. I hope you will try it too! The truth may be ugly, and even seem unbearable a times; but, out of death springs life. If we can pause long enough to recognize it and look through His lenses we'll see it. It's easy to get side-tracked and lose sight of God's sovereignty. (I know this all to well too.) Of course, it's a trap but it's easy to fall into at times.

Thank goodness for those precious people that speak into my life, reminding me that through every dark storm, God has a plan. (I hope I can speak this into your life right now as you're reading this post.) I might have a hard time catching that glimpse right this second. I might have to be reminded again and again; however, that doesn't change the fact that my God makes all things beautiful. I know this to be true. It is etched upon my heart! He has never failed me and won't start now - He's got the same track record for you too. Sure, the leaves fall and fade away...but springtime will come yet again - and with it, LIFE.

I want to go find that leaf and preserve it between the pages of a book, so I can come back to it at another season and testify to it. "I made it!" Sure, it might not be an easy season and I might not come through without a few scars, but I WILL come through. You can make it too! It might not look like the dream we had anticipated, but God is still in charge. We might all be living a "new normal"; but whatever we go through today can be a phase of growth if we'll allow God to do that within us without us giving up or becoming bitter. That in itself is life.

For me, there is life because my son is in a better place, because my precious grand-hearts can grow up hearing how much their Daddy and "Steps" loved them, that one day we'll see Steffan again, and last but definitely not least, souls have been touched for the good in spite of the tragedy. LIFE.

"Life" takes on a little different look sometimes. Yes, sometimes life can look like a beautiful, yellow leaf falling to the ground after all. Even through ugliness and deep pain, it's there. What does life look like in your situation? Can you see it yet? If not, keep searching and I pray you find it soon. 

Just as the leaves begin to fall in this season, while we're yet experiencing the pangs of loss and shattered dreams, behold He is "doing a new thing." It is indeed well with my soul and I pray you find that peace too. Even during this season there is sweet peace and deep, undeniable beauty. I can be reminded of this promise of hope I cling to...even as the leaf falls.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Me Too's & I'm With You's

So many questions still bombard me. Many emotions are felt each day. Tears continue to flow down my face unexpectedly. I'm still missing my firstborn son. Natural feelings and occurrences during this season of my life, I suppose. Just when I think the worst has come and gone...yet another wave comes crashing in on me again. I'm in a valley, but I'm not alone. God is with me...and...

I find myself face to face with people who can share a "me too" message and those who share "I'm with you" message. I find that they are both necessary during this season of life. They both bring such comfort, yet on completely different levels. That's the beauty of community I suppose. We each have something we can contribute because God has made us in His image and has given us varying experiences, the ability to feel, love, care and we, in turn, can bring comfort to one another.

The "Me Too's" somewhat know how I'm feeling, they too have experienced the sadness and feelings of loss I am living out now; because they've walked down similar roads in their own lives. Yes, it's nice to hear from someone who has "been there, done that" and are willing to share their story. Although it's not ever going to be identical to mine and it doesn't take the pain away, does it give me hope because I see they made I know I can too.

Still, the "I'm With You's", who might not have traveled down this road, offer something I need and appreciate in a totally different way. Sometimes I just need an ear to listen. A hug. A smile. A prayer. A word of encouragement. It's nice to receive things that those who haven't been there can contribute. They care enough to listen, love and try to understand through my pain.

Two gifts - each beautiful in their own unique ways. Each priceless to me! I have found that neither is more important than the other at this time in my life. They're both desperately needed! And appreciated. 

Some speak, some remain quite lest they say the wrong things. Some take my hand or give a pat on the back; while some squeeze me tightly in a hug. One sweet lady blessed me by washing my hair - as sorrowful, hot, tears streamed down my face. Some will call and some will text or send cards. Some say, "I'm sorry." and some have nothing to say at all. I've received plants and wind chimes, comfort foods and intangible gifts of love. Every unique act of love, kind word and service has been beautiful to me. 

If you ever doubt if your way is needed, appreciated or even necessary; rest assured it is. Never feel like you have "less" to give than others. God gives each of us unique ways of showing our love to one another. We're not cloned so it won't always looks the same, but it's always necessary that we love and give in the ways God has created us. He simply commands us to love. He touches lives through his people.

I read a quote today that stood out to me:

"In life, you can't heal yourself; it takes relationships to heal you."

How true! At the end of the day I see how I need the relationships of "Me Too's" at some moments and at other times I need the "I'm With You's." It's a beautiful combination of the love of God, executed through the body of Christ, for the purpose of supporting and healing the broken-hearted. Whatever group you find yourself in, know that you are needed and, no matter what, you are part of the hands and feet of Jesus. That's what matters most! That is what is needed.

I say a simple, but heartfelt, "Thank you, for the gifts you give!" to each of you who have touched not only my heart, but the hearts of my family during this time of loss. Your unselfish acts of love, no matter what they looked like, have touched our lives in a special way...and we're better because you are there, in your own unique way, loving according to what God has given to you. 

Blessings upon each of you~

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Limping Into Your Blessing

I awoke early this morning, thinking about a message a sweet mother left on one of my recent posts. 

I'm finding it absolutely amazing right now, how God shows up in so many different avenues in my life. I realize He's always been there like that; sometimes though, certain chapters written within the pages of our lives have a way of clearing every bit of clutter and dust from our eyes. Ironically, it is often in these dark and painful times, when our world seems to fall apart, that we see so many things we normally take for granted so clearly. Like for me right now, God is loving on me and showing up in different ways - especially through community.

This dear lady who left this comment has also felt the cold, ugly fingers of death snatch away one of her  children. She received the phone call no mother ever wants to receive. She's been where I now find myself. She gets it. The questions, the broken heart, the pain and longing to go back in time...the darkness, the physical pain as well as all the other ways one can experience it. 

She is walking ahead of me on this road and although I do not know her personally, she can relate and kindly shared this tidbit that I want to share with you - because just maybe there's another hurting person out there that needs to hear this message too. 

"Our lives change forever when we have a child. And when we lose a child, you will walk again, but always with a limp."

How true I can see this statement to be. Today, I takes every bit of strength I can muster up, but I'm still walking. "How?", you might ask. The only answer I have for you: I've got a God who is faithful to carry me. When all my strength is gone, when tears blur my view, in the night when I need to be held tightly, He's there. I recall during my son's viewing and homegoing services that there were times when I just physically couldn't make my legs work. It felt so odd, unnatural. I felt so weak. 

Today, my legs don't seem to want to carry the weight of this load either. My heart seems to weigh a ton today. I'm limping, but that's alright. I know God is right there to carry me- even if my legs completely give out and I cannot even limp. He's faithful to carry my broken pieces for me a bit further, to hold me up as I limp along. After all, who would I be teasing if I told them, "I've got this!"?  I DON'T...but I know He does. 

This morning, my thoughts turned to Jacob wrestling with the angel.

He struggled, left with a limp...and a blessing. God never wastes a hurt. 

We all know God is in the business of working ALL things together for the good. We've heard it since childhood. He never changes either. He's the same yesterday, today and forever. Can I get an "Amen!" 

My friend, it doesn't stop the pain, but it somehow encourages me to keep on limping, and to let Him carry me when I cannot. Just keep on keeping on - and watching how God will make beautiful things in the days ahead. Blessings in spite of the pain. And, I cannot wait to share those glimpses with you - so you can see too. He's a great God!

If you too are limping, hurting, or find yourself with a broken heart - for any reason - be encouraged...He'll carry you too. Keep limping into your blessing

Friday, October 13, 2017

Live. Laugh. Love.

Today...enjoy life to the fullest. Pull every single bit of goodness out of it. Appreciate every breath, every hug, every smile...every chance you have to make a difference or to love deeply...DO IT.

"This is the day which the LORD hath made; 
we will rejoice and be glad in it." 
Psalm 118:24


I think this verse was the very origin of that popular phrase. "This is the day"...we're not promised another, or even all of this one. Take joy in every single second. No matter what it looks like, fill it with what matters most, make the most of every moment...and most of all be thankful for all the blessings of the Lord. We cannot afford to waste a single day or take anyone for granted!

I suppose in my current season of life, this "new normal" I'm struggling to live after the loss of one of my children, I want to scream it from the top of my lungs, loudly through my brokenness and pain, for myself, my family, and for anyone out there that will listen. 

Live. Laugh. Love.

This Momma heart aches to give one more hug, to say I love you once more, to make a simple bowl of soup once more, to celebrate another birthday and holiday together. I ache for the Daddy heart that longs to do those simple, but oh so important things that only Dad's can do. I ache for a wife heart that no longer has those strong arms to hold her at night. For the baby hearts that no longer have a Daddy to play with them, to put them to bed, or to make them  happy. For other family members that have a hole in their hearts too. It's amazing how just one life can affect so many people. I see that now more than ever.

I'm convinced today more than ever, that often times, we never know quite the impact we're making on someone's life or the impact others have made on ours, until it's taken away and we're left with nothing but memories to hold on to. There's a list of things in my heart, one that has to be filed away for now, one that I can never "check" the boxes on. A "to-do" list. A "to say" list. Guess what? We all have those lists and it's up to us to check the boxes while there's still time. Let's not be too busy. Too tied up. 

"Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." 
James 4:14

Yesterday, I sat at a table and talked about things a mother never wants to talk about. I listened to things a wife never wants to say. It's oddly strange how one can see so clearly with a broken heart. 

We have been given a choice today. To make the most of it. To love deeply. To think of others before ourselves. To give unselfishly. To appreciate each other. To make the most of today. To say that things that matter. To rejoice - maybe even through and in spite of our pain.

Although my heart is shattered in a million jagged pieces, can I encourage each of us?


During the last couple days, I know many, many people have visited my blog and I know people have been touched by our story. I thank each of you who have shown love and support, sent cards and prayed, set up benefits for our family, cooked food and sent flowers. I want to take this opportunity to send out a huge, heartfelt thank-you. We are so appreciative of everything and could never say thank you to everyone individually. However, we have been touched by each act of kindness and blessed in our pain. Thank you! 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

God Is Not Surprised By This

Live. Laugh. Love.

Today, I pause, take a deep breath and then quietly sigh as I realize it's been two weeks today since my firstborn passed from this life. That's so NOT what I had on the To-Do list that day. No, I was planning to celebrate my daughter's twenty-first birthday that day. I planned to celebrate life! Needless to say, dealing with a sudden, unexpected death was the furthest thing from my mind. Life changing. Shocking. A nightmare that I couldn't wake up from, to say the least.

What an emotional two weeks it has been. I've cried a million tears, felt my heart shatter into just as many pieces, and relived just as many memories too. I've thought about the things we didn't get to do and the things that will never be. I've had some crazy thoughts. I've also had the chance to realize that just as I didn't plan to deal with death that day, neither did I plan for what had happened just the week prior to that dreadful day. 

At this point in life, even while I'm still grieving, I claim those days as a gift from an all-seeing, all-knowing God who loves me immensely. 

You see in a split second decision on a lazy, Sunday afternoon, this gal who hates to travel and hates to be without her "better half" for any extended length of time (that calculates to anything longer than twenty-four hours), packed a tote and drove all night long to Louisiana - because her mother was sick in the hospital. 

I was able to spend time with my mother and she was released from the hospital a couple days after I got there. Praise the Lord! God had so much more in store for me though. I just didn't know it at the time. However, I can now clearly see the hand of God in my going. Oh, how He loves me!

My son got up at 4:30a.m. that Monday morning when I arrived. I'll never forget that moment when he took me in his strong arms and squeezed this Momma tight. I watched as he got up each morning and went to work to provide for his little family. I noticed how tired he was in the evenings when he came home tired and sweaty from a full day's work; yet he took time to play with his children when he came in anyhow. He had grown into a wonderful man. I watched him kiss his beautiful wife and maybe even roll his eyes at her playfully a time or two. He was so full of life and always had that smile on his face. I went to church with him on Wednesday and watched him worship the Lord with his church family. I heard him say, "I just want to spend some time with my Momma." Yes, my heart exploded in an hundred bubbly emoji hearts. On Thursday, I cooked his favorite kale soup which he requested for supper (it seemed to me he ate it with a grin on his face) and played Phase 10 with him and the family. I sat on the couch beside him and just enjoyed being his Momma. 

I hugged him, choking back the tears early Saturday morning before I left for home. I remember him saying, "No tears, Mom!" (I always cry when we leave each other. That's just what this Momma does!) and he squeezed me tightly once again. I never knew that would be my last hug. If only, I might never have let him go.

I share all that to show you a bit of God's faithfulness to me, His daughter. While I thought I was going to Louisiana for my mother, and I did; God had more in mind because He sees the future. You see, I left there and arrived back home in Georgia on Friday night. I was home only four days before the day he was taken from this life. 

What a gift from my Father to me. I didn't know it at the time, but God did. My sister kept repeating this phrase over and over again when we arrived in Louisiana again, for the second time in only one week: "God is not surprised by this." Indeed, God saw what was ahead and blessed this Momma with such a special gift...precious moments to hold onto until I hold Him again on the other side one glorious day.

So, I say with a broken-but-grateful heart, never take a single day or person for granted. Live each day to the fullest. Love hard. Forgive quickly. Say "I love you" as often as you can. Do the simple things like making soup and holding a hand. Make memories. Enjoy the little things. They really do turn out to be the super-big things! 

And most of all, never forget, though life may catch us off guard, "God is not surprised by this." Ever. 

"...the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; 
blessed be the name of the LORD." 
Job 1:21

Monday, October 9, 2017

Grief & Love

Day 12.

Home-going services have concluded. Condolences have been received. A million-and-one tears have been shed.  And life moves on...that's a hard thing for my broken heart to do right now. I know, I'm being very transparent here. If you're not OK with that, maybe you should close this blog post now. My mommy heart hurts!

Our son, Steffan, and his sweet family
I'm thankful that "the Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart" for I know He is definitely with me and I am not alone. How do I know this? Simply because when I close my eyes I can see my heart there, all of it, safely resting in His hands. Although shattered into thousands of jagged, broken pieces, I have this hope...that He is there. I think of the shortest verse in the Bible, "Jesus wept." Didn't He do so at the tomb of someone He loved? He's no respecter of persons, so I think He weeps with me today also.'s an ugly word, isn't it? A response to the loss of someone. In this case, our perfectly healthy, delightfully funny, stubborn, twenty-four year old son who was suddenly and all too quickly taken from this life in a motorcycle accident. No, he wasn't a perfect child, but he was my child.'s kind of an paradox (not sure if that's the correct word, but it will work for now) when I think about it:

One will only grieve if they've truly loved. 

So, maybe the word isn't so ugly after all. I grieve because I have truly loved; and to love is a beautiful thing and worth any risk. 

It's because of love that I can find the shattered pieces of my own hurting heart tucked safely in the hands of my caring Savior. It's because of love that I know my son is in a better place today. 

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

I'm certain God's ways are best. His will is the best place to be - in spite of the pain we may feel along the way. He is faithful and will walk us through the darkest valleys. 

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me..." Psalms 23:4

Grief...yes, it hurts. No, I don't like it one bit. I wouldn't wish this season or these feelings I'm dealing with upon anyone. Friend, enemy or stranger. Yet through it all...through the tears, the pain, the sweet memories which can never be taken away - there is love. Not the gushy, cute kind of love. No, I'm referring to the kind of love that is so strong, so deep and sweet that it blossoms even more so during times of pain and brokenness. 

"He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." Psalms 147:3 

One can only heal when he is present. One can only bind up wounds when he is on the scene. And One only mends what is dear to him...what He loves. What blessed assurance that He is near during this time of grief. As my precious daughter-in-love so perfectly put it: "He's as close as the mention of His name." 

Please continue to keep our 
family in your prayers.
Thank you for all your thoughtfulness
and support during our time of loss. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

What I Signed Up For?

I signed up to be a part of 31 Days of Writing for the month of October. Cool, huh? 

I DID NOT sign up for the shocking, life-shaking loss of my firstborn son, Steffan, only 24 years old.

Funny how life has a way of allowing us to experience some adventures we are eagerly looking forward to, then shattering our hearts into a million, jagged, broken pieces of those "never want to experience this" pangs. This is where I am today.

It all began a week ago today when my phone rang and on the other end of the line I heard my second-born, Rustin, crying and screaming, "Where's Dad, Mom? Where's Dad!!!" A call in the wee hours of the morning in that context shook me to my core and I knew something was wrong. He arrived at our home and fell out of his truck, trembling in fear, "I'm sorry, Momma! I'm sorry!!!" I held him tightly in my arms praying and doing my best to console him as the story began to unfold. The most ugly story I've ever been told. He had heard his brother scream...and then nothing.

Mind you, we're ten to eleven hours away from Louisiana where my eldest lives. We waited to hear he was alive when someone found him. We waited to hear if he made it until the paramedics arrived.  We waited to hear that he made it to the hospital. Then more waiting. Prognosis. Outlook. We waited. 

There were no satisfactory answers for us. Somewhere in the middle, as the scene unfolded, we mindlessly packed our bags and began the long trek to Louisiana in anticipation of being there when he awoke from surgeries and to be there for a season during recovery. 

We were physically moving in time, yet time stood still. As we traveled toward our son, we found ourselves again holding our breath...and waiting as they life-flighted him to a hospital that might be able to help him in New Orleans. While on the outside he looked pretty good considering the accident, he had massive internal injuries. The doctors said it would be a miracle if he even survived through the flight, and he did. Driving. Waiting. Praying. Still.

Then the call came...his sweet wife's voice told us the ugly truth. On the other end of the line I heard, "He's gone. We lost him."

Our world halted to a stop. Wait, we didn't sign up for this part! There were no words. We were in shock. This was not how it was supposed to turn out. This isn't how our story was supposed to go. After all, it was our youngest's 21st birthday that day. We were supposed to be celebrating life, not looking death in the face. What a birthday! What tragedy had enveloped our lives. It began to rain outside. The bright sunshiny day we had traveled in seemed to be in mourning with us. It rained so hard. My tears also fell hard. Shattered pieces of my heart fell hard too. How? Why? So many questions.

So, instead of arriving and watching, helping our boy through to a successful recovery. We arrived to see our boy alright...instead of a hospital bed, his body lay on a table, cleaned up but still in a hospital gown, draped in a brown covering. This mamma's heart screamed inaudibly broken completely in two. This isn't what I signed up for. It's not supposed to be like this! I held his lifeless hand, placed my trembling hand upon his chest in hopes of feeling that fain heartbeat...

You see, it's not about what we sign up for. Life happens to us all. The good, the bad, the is no respecter of persons. It rains on the just and unjust alike. No, my story wasn't supposed to go like this; but the Author of my story still holds the pen in His Almighty hand and I trust Him for His will in my life. No, this isn't what I signed up for, but somehow deep within this hurting heart, I trust Him to know best. He holds my world in His hand. 

No, I probably won't write for thirty-one days this year after all, it's taken me a couple days to write this, but that's alright because there is plenty being written on my heart. The Author, my Peace Speaker and Comforter, is busy writing a new chapter and I fully intend to be a part of it. I don't know how yet, but I know I will see it, as God turns this ugly chapter into something so much more. 

You see, I have this consolation that I'll see my son again one day. I cannot hold him on this side any longer, but one day, after a while...

I'm back in my home now, taking one breath at a time, taking one day at a time, trusting my very life in the hands of the Lord. I know it won't be easy, but I know God is faithful. He's shown Himself in so many, many ways and continues to do so daily. He is our strength when we're weak. He's our shelter in the time of storm. He is close to those who have a broken heart. He is the Rock I stand upon. The prop that keeps me upright. 

We are in His hands, He loves me and is writing my story - and...


Please keep our family in your prayers during this time of bereavement.  

In loving memory of our son,
Steffan Russell Hardesty
November 20, 1992 - September 27, 2017