Saying Goodbye to Bryant, Joy for the Journey

Some thoughts on the road of healing after the loss of my 14 year old son by suicide

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Wife... Mother... Lover of Jesus... Freedom Writer!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

I don't know

ANYTHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ( except Jesus Christ, God in flesh, sinless, crucified and risen for our sin.) :)

Today is Thursday, August 2, 2007, day 486. I haven't written in forever. A dear friend emailed me yesterday and asked for the link to the blog so here I am again.

There is much to share. I have an appointment today for counseling, my first since last year, right after Bryant left. I hope to be able to write again soon.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Dinosaur and Daily Life

I can't believe how long it's been since I last wrote. Did I mention before that my computer is a dinosaur, big and slow as ever? But since I want to follow the scriptural admonition to "do everything without complaining" I won't expound any further about it. I mention it only to give partial explanation for my lengthy blogging-break. ( My seventeen year old son just told me that he tried to log online a few days ago as he was talking with a friend by phone and old Gateway-Rex took 58 minutes to connect. Need I say more? )

Besides dealing with my dinosaur of a computer, daily life has been going fairly well. Today is day 204. There are still occasional moments when it feels like a terrible dream. I've joined a wonderful support group for mother's who have had a child die. That has been a very good thing. There is so much to say about this walk by faith with the Lord, but I don't have time tonight to share it all. I'll be back as soon as I can to share more.

" Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. " John 14:1

Monday, September 18, 2006

Rainy Days and Mondays

It was a rainy Monday today. I remember being a kid and totally relating to the line in the song made popular by the Carpenters, " Rainy days and Mondays always get me down." I used to really hate the rain. And Mondays.

It's been twenty-four weeks. One hundred sixty eight days to the day.

I've come to appreciate the rain. And Mondays aren't so bad anymore either. Twenty four weeks ago tonight I don't think I believed I would live to see another day. But I have. I think I've said it before, every Monday gets a little better, even a rainy Monday like today.

Today I took my little ones to Tot Time at the library and we had a great time. I did laundry and a bit of surface cleaning throughout the house. I made breakfast, lunch and dinner. ( This is a major accomplishment since I don't really like to cook.) And I was able to check quite a few things off my to do list. It was a productive rainy Monday.

I just have to keep saying it. I love the Lord. Twenty four weeks ago "He heard my cry and pitied every groan. As long as I live, and troubles rise, I hasten to His Throne."

"My soul finds rest in God alone... " Psalm 62:1

Thursday, September 14, 2006

This World

When my boys were young I found a neat little poster in a Christian Bookstore. It had a globe picture of the world that looked as if it had been drawn with crayons. Around the picture of the world were the words "This World is Not My Home."

Underneath the picture and caption was this poem

This world is not my home
Although it seems to be,
My home is with my God
in the place He's made for me.
He's coming back real soon
the signs are very clear.
So when the trumpet sounds
I'll be outta here.

I bought and framed that poster and it hung in the boys room until we moved to our current house last year. Bryant knew that poem by heart. He recited it to me on his own several times during regular conversation.

People ask me often how I'm doing these days. Usually I give a quick, "I'm doing really well by the grace of God." Sometimes tho I have the opportunity to expound upon the goodness of The Lord through this trial.

It was just about this time last year that we found the house we now live in. It fit all the needs we had for space, location, school system, price, etc. And on the front of the house just to the left of the front door was a cute little sign attached that read "Home Sweet Home." After we wrote the contract on the house I would ride over here and put my hands on that signplate and declare that this was indeed my new home. One month later (mid October 2005) we were indeed moving into our new "home" and it was a good time.

For months after we moved in, every time I would drive into the driveway and look over at that sign I would smile. Now our house is no mansion but it is just what we needed. And I wasn't excited so much about the house as I was about the sweetness of God to provide it for us. I just felt very thankful. Then one day early this year, as I drove up to the house and looked over at the sign... and smiled, something different happened. It was as if I heard a voice inside me say, "You do know this isn't your home , don't you?"

Wow! Ouch! I stood corrected.

This world is not my home. This house is not my home. My own physical body is not even my home.

I think this is a core issue in how God has ministered to me since Bryant's home-going. It has been the issue of ownership (and of citizenship) that has brought me to acceptance of my son's death. Bryant was never mine. He belonged to the Lord. I am not mine. I was created by and for the Lord, and I was bought at a price. This earth is just a "passing thru" place for us. This is where we get the opportunity to accept or reject our Creator. This ability to choose is what makes us human (and not animal that lives strictly by instinct). This world is where we get to make a difference in the life of another, where we get to prove the reality and truth of our Unseen God, as we allow Jesus to live big in us.

I want Jesus to live big in me. I was sharing with a woman the other night about Bryant and she said, "Wow, you are so strong." I said, "Nah, but I know the One Who Is." :) The joy of the Lord truly is my strength. For some days now I have felt as tho my soul is waltzing with Jesus. This is literally how I feel. So lovely inside.

This is not the end of my story. Bryant is safe and happy and eternally secure. How can I be sad about that? This morning as we were having breakfast I stopped a moment and thought about how much I miss him. There were fond memories and a moment of sadness but it was just a moment. And then I thought about how happy he must be and that one day I'll be home with him too.

Until then I want to point as many people as I can homeward. I will tell of God's great works. Of His lovingkindness to all. I will demonstrate His goodness to the best of my ability, that is.... my availability. We are just passing thru here. There is a home in glory with the King. I will occupy until He comes or until He calls me home. I do love Him so.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Just One Boast

( NOTE: This is a long one. I haven't written in two weeks so there's catching up to do.)

I consider myself a bona fide graduate of the School of Humility. I don't know exactly when it happened. I don't know that I even made a conscious decision to enroll. I was born to two college graduated parents ( both born in the South in the late 20's), raised " middle class" and to aspire to the "finer things of life". My father ,who just had his 79th birthday, is somewhat well-known in these parts. (He was a teacher, turned news announcer and jazz singer, inducted into our State Jazz Hall of Fame in the late 90's.)

From childhood I was groomed for a career in medicine. I planned to become a pediatrician and discover a cure for cancer. My intentions then were pure. I really wanted to help people. By the time I made it to the prestigious all women's college I attended, my goals were a bit different. I was still going to help people but that medical career was also going to help me. I never really identified the new goals but I assure you they were there. I was going to be successful and famous and rich! Fame, prestige, power and money! This is the stuff of life, is it not? And I was gonna get some for myself.

So yeah, I don't know how I ended up with this here degree in Humility. First off I completed 4 and 1/2 years at that prestigious college but left at the end of 1985 still a few classes short of earning my degree in Chemistry. (Over the years I tried to take those classes, but for whatever reason I couldn't.) Then there was the whole family thing that I got into kinda backwards ( baby in '89, married in '9o, baby in '91). I married a sweet man who was also (unconciously) enrolled in Humility U. And we have had an interesting time. In the early days we both had OK jobs but we also had a constant struggle in the finance department. We bought a little townhouse in our second year of marriage and we had decent cars but things were always tight. Thank God my mother had retired from teaching and was able to help us with the boys.

But in the mid 90's Mom's health started to decline. Not only was she unable to help me with the boys, she needed me to help take care of her. So in '97 (or '98?) we made the decision that I would quit my job, come home full-time, take care of the boys and be there for my mother. We eventually sold our townhouse and moved our little family back to the house where I was born and raised. Ugh! Talk about a dream-buster.

While my sister, my childhood and college friends were all off being beautiful and conquering the world I found myself back home, living my meager life (by society's standards anyway). No educational accomplishments. No professional accomplishments, no material possessions, no fine frocks with which to adorn myself, no fame, no fortune. Yep, I was a card carrying enrollee [and not in the school of Hard Knocks, either :) ].

I remember one summer during those years when I had just one dress (that fit) and I wore it to church every Sunday for several months. It did not occur to me until about the 6th week that maybe I could use another dress. I mean when I say it was a non-issue, I mean it really was a non-issue. I wasn't going to church to attend a fashion show right?

I don't know when my paradigm shifted, as it were. At some point I just decided that stuff is just that, stuff. I know that God doesn't have a problem with us having "stuff". He created stuff for us to enjoy. I think He does have a problem tho, when the stuff has us. When the stuff gives us our identity. When the stuff is what we live for. When who we are becomes our job title, or our neighborhood or the car we drive, the names we wear, our club memberships, our bank balance. When we get our self worth from what we do or what we have. Even our accomplishments, as good and as necessary as they are, are just one accident or illness away from being useless to us. None of the stuff of life can truly give a secure leg on which to stand.

I've known this for a while. And yet I have had to take a bit of continuing education since Bryant's death. I guess I thought I had "arrived" in this humility thing but God has shown me in this tragedy that there was another frontier to excavate, one more area, a source of pride that had to be done away with.

I was (am) a good mother. From the get go, I loved my boys hard and I loved them well. I studied all the experts, Dobson, Rainey, McDowell and others. I was (am) an intentional parent. I even wrote out ( and redefined) my mission statement as a mother. At first it was this...

" My goal is to teach my children how to live without me."

Then a few years later the Lord fine tuned it for me and it became this...

" My goal is to teach my children how to transfer their dependence upon me to an utter and complete dependence upon God."

No, no I wasn't having any of this teaching your child independence stuff at my house. [That's the trouble with the culture today, all this independence nonsense we have bought into. Every man for himself. Even God Himself is Three. But that's another subject; I won't preach that sermon today. :) ] Yes, I was (am) a good mother. My number one objective is to point my children to Jesus, not as an expert who's " already attained" but as a follower herself who sometimes misses the mark but who loves Him with a sold out heart.

I haven't written here since Bryant's birthday. Well I have written. I started several blog entrys over the last few weeks but they never made it to publishing. We had a lovely day on the 17th. We met with the youth at the church, had the balloon ceremony. The kids wrote sweet tributes to Bryant and gave them to me.

But by the next week I found myself feeling blue. I was battling all these angry thoughts. Angry thoughts towards my dead son. How could he do this to me? I was such a good mother, skillfully covering every step in the "Perfect Mother's Handbook" ( or was I writing the thing myself?). I won't even try to make my case and begin to give testimony to how I have been there, loving and nurturing my children. When he was just a little boy even his young classmates commended me for being a good mom. It was such a slap in the face, THE WORST AND MOST PAINFUL SLAP* in the face, for him to do such a thing, to reject me this way and leave me here to deal with it. To say "thanks, but no thanks." How could he do it?

When I began to inquire of the Lord what was going on with me it soon became clear. And now it's confession time. I realized that until April 3rd, I prided myself in being a good mother. No, I didn't go around tooting my own horn about the great job I was doing. In fact I knew I wasn't necessarily doing the greatest job anymore since adding two more nurslings to the flock. But I was proud. It was hidden back in an odd corner of my heart but it was there indeed. Over the years people often complimented us on our lovely family. And so I secretly and proudly wore the self-appointed "Badge of Honor" for my children and my mothering skills. My family was the the one thing I could boast about.

And then came April 3rd. My Bryant made a horrible choice. Can I say something (else) here? There are NO GUARANTEES in this life. There is nothing we can bank on except the promises of God. The only things that will last, the only eternal things on this earth are the souls of men and the Word of God. Indeed for many years now I have not lived for the stuff of life. Neither have I lived for the "approval of men." I say with great humility that I've tried to live as Paul when he said,

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that comes through faith in Christ- the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith." Philippians 3:7-9

In the last week or so the Lord has seen fit to not only correct me on this pride thing but to give me information about my son's death. I'll write about all that ( teen suicide, anger, reckless behavior) soon. I don't know how people live through the trials of this life without Jesus. Yeah I do. They drink and take drugs and turn to all manner of addictions and perversions to medicate the pain of living. I don't say this in judgement or in disdain. It is just a fact of life. I am, as the saying goes, "just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread." The Bread of Life and Living Water that fully satisfies.

So today is day 154. Twenty-two weeks since Bryant made his exit into eternity. I don't know if this is even proper to say but I feel good today, really good. Most of the circumstances of my life remain unchanged. I still face the same challenges. Bryant is and will remain ...gone. BUT how many times can I say it? God is so faithful!

And for the rest of my life, come hell or high water, I have just one boast... that I know the Lord Jesus Christ and Him crucified and risen from the dead (in full payment of my sin debt) to give me life, abundant life, here and in eternity. Them is shouting words right there! And shouting for joy I am!

"My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afficted hear and rejoice!
Glorify the LORD with me, let us exalt His Name together." Psalm 34: 2-3

"In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise Your Name forever." Psalm 44:8

"Let him who boasts, boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, Who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the LORD. " Jeremiah 9:24

"Therefore as it is written: " Let him who boasts, boast in the LORD." 1 Corinthians 1:31

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world." Galatians 6:14

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and not from yourselves, it is a gift from God- not by works , so that no man can boast. " Ephesians 2:9


(*edited to add... Byrant's death is actually more of a stab in the heart, but I kept thinking "slap in the face." I see now that "slapped" is the more appropriate description of the frustration and sadness I was feeling because it was the result of my inability to "save face" in light of what's happened.)

I want to thank God for the people who read this little blog of mine. I'm thankful for the cyber friends He has given me through this medium. Rena, we have never spoken other than through our blog comments. But I have a heart connection for you. You are my sister. I know you have been praying for me. I thank God for you!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

15 is the number of the day

My 3 year old is watching Sesame Street right now as I begin to write this. Now I'm not crazy about Sesame Street but she went to bed last night with a fever and she 's moving kinda slow. So we're doing TV this morning. And Elmo just announced that the number of the day today is 15.

Fifteen years ago today I had my second son Bryant. He was born on a Saturday afternoon at 2:31 pm one day before his due date of August 18.

My first son Brenton was 2 &1/2 years old at the time. Brenton was born on his due date. My labor and delivery with him from first labor pain to birth was a quick 4 & 1/2 hours and I'd been told that second babies generally come faster than the first.

So late Friday afternoon, on August 16, 1991 when I began to feel the first twinges of labor I called my husband at work and told him I thought things were getting started. At that point I had been feeling regular contractions for a couple of hours but they were coming in 10-15 minute intervals so I figured I still had some time. And in fact I did. Travis came home from work at the usual time, about 5 ish. We gave Brenton dinner and then took him to my mom's house. We visited with my mom for a bit, trying to determine our next move. Since my contractions didn't pick up any we eventually headed back home to get some rest. I remember that Travis didn't want to undress that night for fear that something would happen and we'd have to run out in a hurry with no time to spare.

Travis and I went to bed. By the time I woke at 6 am I had some serious contractions going on. I called my doctor's office but could not get an answer, not even the answering service. After the third failed attempt to reach anyone, I called Labor & Delivery at my hospital and they told me to come on in.

Now my plan for this baby was to try for a natural delivery. I'd had my first son so quickly I really thought this was doable. When we got to the hospital that morning I was 4 centimeters dilated. By 1 pm I was at 7 centimeters, still unmedicated and it was getting hard. My doctor came in and asked me what I was still doing pregnant. :) He said he thought for sure I would have been done by then. I'd gone as long as I thought I could without drugs so we called for the epidural. A little while later my nurse noticed some "irregularity" with the baby's heart rate on the monitors and she got the doctor. He checked me and informed me that the baby was head down and facing up instead of head down, facing down (or towards my back). The doctor tried to turn him but his heart rate plummeted and faster than I could say "jack sprat" I was in an operating room full of health care professionals, being prep'd for a C- section.

When they pulled the baby out (we hadn't found out his gender beforehand) I heard an audible gasp from several of the hospital staff. The baby's umbilical cord was wrapped multiple times around his neck. He was fine but they really gave me a scare for a minute there. He was a beautiful pink, 7 pounds, 7 ounces.

And so I was then the mother of two boys. We named him Bryant Colin ( meaning strong and virtuous child). He was such a little doll. We were discharged from the hospital on Monday morning. I remember dressing him in a cute little yellow two piece "coming home" outfit. After dressing him I remember thinking, wow you can barely tell where the outfit ends and he begins. Right about then the prediatrician told us he was jaundiced. My little pink fella had sure enough turned a sunny yellow.

A home health company met us at our house that afternoon to set up an untraviolet light in Bryant's crib in our bedroom. We were instructed to leave him under the light as much as possible, naked, wearing only a little blindfold to protect his eyes. A home health nurse would come back to check his billirubin each morning until it decreased to the normal level.

The emergency C-section was harrrrd. ('Til that point I had always thought I had a high pain tolerance but the recovery after surgery was hard.) Baby Bry only had to have the light for about 3 days. I remember the laugh we got on his first night under the light. Travis and I had gone to bed when we looked over to see a stream of pee coming up and out of his crib. It was so cute.

Where did the time go?

Our one and only vacation as a family of 6 ( since my 16 month old was born) was this time last year. We went to the Chattanooga Aquarium in Tennessee to celebrate Bryant's 14th birthday last August. We had a nice time and he loved having a special trip to celebrate, being the young man of the hour. How I thank God for that time and the memories.

Much of the the night of April 3, 2006 is a blur for me. My older son found Bryant dead and then came and told me. I ran up to his room, found him and touched him. He had already started to get cold. Somehow I made it downstairs and screamed for the phone. I managed to dial 911 and then my pastor. I think I called another friend but I don't know how. I remember writhing in pain in the floor of my front foyer. People came. Emergency personnel arrived. Someone ( I learned later it was Brenton) had gotten my husband at work. I remember seeing him briefly and then hearing the worst wails coming from him in the distance. ( He was rolling in the grass of our front lawn.) Someone managed to get me out of the floor and onto a sofa.

I was in labor again. The worst labor. Labor times a million. I was birthing a 120 pound, 5 foot 7 inch baby into heaven.

Over the next 5 days until we buried Bryant I would have the experience of labor pain two more times. The days after his funeral brought me a real and definite postpartum. There was a huge hole in my soul that was almost tangible. This was not just in my head. I felt as though a cannon ball had been blown right through me. On the Wednesday after his funeral the women of my church met at my house so I could share. After our time of sharing they prayed for me. Someone asked the Lord to give me a quick healing for the hole in my soul. Within a day or so after they prayed it was completely gone ( filled).

It has been an interesting 19 weeks since Bryant left us. I use the word interesting only because there is not a single word that could describe our loss. It has been horrible and yet wonderful (because of the comfort God has given), awful and yet sweet (because of the love He's poured out on us). I could go on and on.

There is so much more I could write but I'll save it for another time. As I was talking to a dear friend a few weeks ago about all the Lord has done in this tragedy, about how strange it was to take the first step to move on with life, she said to me that Bryant left an empty space in our lives. A space that will never go away. This is so true... But I realized something this morning when I woke up on his birthday feeling "a peace that passes all understanding." I said before that I am a kinder, gentler Sharmayn since my son's death. And I now understand why. Jesus has filled the space Bryant left in my life with Himself. I can't help but be different. With all the questions, all the pain, grief, regret, and sorrow, Jesus has given me a way and a reason to go on.

Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name.

" You will teach me how to live a holy life. Being with You will fill me with joy; at Your Right Hand I will find pleasure forever." (Psalm 16:11)

Happy Birthday Bryant! I miss you and love you so very much.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Horses on the horizon

For some time now my life has been like a rollercoaster ride, complete with high inclines and difficult and unexpected jerks and drops. I've tried to live well but my recent past has been, well ...wild.

I came to know Jesus in the 7th grade when I was 12 years old. My elementary school had a Friday morning Bible study before school called Morning Watch. My mom taught at the high school down the street and she dropped my sister and me off to school early every day. I looked forward to Friday mornings and Morning Watch. I remember the day the invitation was given to know Jesus as Savior and I remember saying yes to Jesus. I remember feeling changed in that moment, knowing that something was different about me and I wrote about it that night in my journal.

For as far back as I can recall, we regularly went to church. But that was the extent of it. I've heard it often said that "going to church makes you a Christian as much as sitting in a garage makes you a car." Looking back I say that during my growing up years I was "churched," but not discipled. When I was about 14 or 15, a youth leader at a vacation Bible school gave me a Bible. That was my first Bible and I was very happy to receive it. I read it some as I loved to read but I didn't really know how to study or make The Word mine.

During my teen and young adult years I was master of my own fate and found myself walking a sort of tightrope, doing the best I could. My faith was a safety net beneath my willfullness. I would go about my business, doing things that I knew were against God's stated will for me ( I don't have to give examples do I? ), at the same time hoping and praying for God's protection ( in my sin). I didn't have much Bible knowledge but I knew when I was doing wrong. God's Holy Spirit (and my conscience) would caution me about my wrong doing but most of the time I would ignore the warnings. I would back myself into my little sin corner and then cry out "Oh God! What do You want from me?"

So I did my own thing ( as a Christian) and prayed this desperate prayer for 18 years until one day when I was 30 years old. By this time I'd had a child, gotten married, had another child ( in that order) and my young marriage was on really shaky ground. My husband was also churched, but not discipled; neither of us had a clue what we were doing on this here road of life. I have a large history of divorce in my family line and it seemed I too might be headed in that direction. In desperation one day, I began to call out to God as I never had before. I had come to the end of my proverbial tightrope.

It was during this time that I decided to attend a prayer meeting at my church. This was a new thing for me. I'd never been part of a group that would pray out loud and I was a bit unsure about it. As I waited that day for the meeting to start I remember seeing Robert waiting in the group with us. Robert was a mentally handicapped man who attended our church. Someone tried to send him away (thinking that he was there looking for a ride home) and told him that we were about to have a prayer meeting. I think he surprised us all when he responded, " I came to pray." The praying started. First one and then another. And then Robert. As Robert prayed, everything within me began to shake. His prayer was pure and honest. He praised God for being God. He mentioned how people made fun of him and how it was OK because he knew the perfect One who loved him perfectly. When Robert finished praying I was completely undone. And then I heard God speak to me as never before and I got the answer to my 18 year prayer. God said to me clearly and plainly, " Sharmayn, I want your whole heart."

That night I read in my Bible this passage:

One... who was an expert in the law of Moses asked Jesus this question to test Him: "Teacher which command in the law is the most important? "
Jesus answered , " Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and most important command. And the second command is like the first, Love your neighbor as yourself."
Matthew 22: 36-39

It was then that things for me really changed. I didn't just have fire insurance (protection from going to hell) anymore. Jesus was more than just my Savior, He became my Lord as I said yes to giving Him my whole heart.

After that revelation I wanted to walk closely with God. I started to consult Him in everything, and not only to consult but to obey. My faith was no longer a safety net but a safe haven. Things didn't instantly become perfect for me but I began to devour the Word of God and to grow and to be more conformed to Christ's image.

There have been times since then when I got sidetracked. The busy-ness of life, obligations, responsibilites, and distractions have been all too real to me. (I read somewhere that BUSY is an acronym for Being Under Satan's Yoke). These things may have bought my ticket to the rollercoaster.

It's been 134 days since my life changed forever. ( I started counting the days after my son's death in response to Psalm 90: 12. "Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.") Since Bryant's death I've had to face the rollercoaster of my life. I've been forced to do spiritual inventory and make necessary adjustments. My tragedy has made me a kinder, gentler Sharmayn. I want to be wise. I want to be fully God's and I want Him to be fully mine as I continually get rid of anything that competes with Him for my heart. As I was frantically riding the rollercoaster of life, my son died. And it's time to get off.

I have a new vision for my life these days. I see myself in a lovely carriage strolling about town (with God's banner over me). Everyday I have the choice to ride the crazy coaster or take a stroll with The Father. Everyday is a new beginning, a new opportunity to do things His way, to face any challenge with the confidence that "if God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31).

I see horses on the horizon. My King and His chariot await me. I'm going to enjoy the ride. :)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Murphy's Law and other applicable cliches

Well I wasn't expecting to have an opportunity to write today for several reasons.

1. Our air conditioning unit is on the fritz and it was 472 degrees inside my house today. ( Actually it was only about 85 until we got a nice, much needed rain. It's now about 7:45 pm and we have the windows up , ceiling fans going and the thermostat is right now reading a cool 81.) A service man came and worked several hours this afternoon only to discover that he needs to replace coils that have to be ordered. So he'll be back tomorrow.

2. Virtually everything else that could have gone wrong, did.

I won't bore you with the details. Let me just say that "when it rains, it pours". "If it's not one thing, it's another"... " No pain, no gain" ... "The road to success is always under construction"... " For crying out loud", "this too shall pass." "It could be worse."

Now I'm smiling as I write this because today was really... well, crappy. I mean the day wasn't crappy because it was a day the Lord made. But the events of the day were all around, pretty crappy.

But you can't keep a good woman down ( definitely not one who knows the Lord). OK, maybe just long enough for her to get a good night's sleep. After a day like today this good woman is gonna take a load off her feet and get some shut-eye. Just between you me and the fencepost, tomorrow is another day. By the grace of God I'll arise in the morning bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to face another day.

And that's the long and short of it. ;)

I did have a special moment in all the chaos of today. I have a cousin who is a singer in the group of a well known contemporary Christian artist. I 'd never met this cousin but I knew who he was. His dad and I are first cousins. His grandfather and my father are brothers. Until this summer I did not know my cousin sang with this well known artist. I was invited to a concert (of said artist) in May by a friend and during the concert, when the artist introduced his group I recognized my cousin's name. After the concert I wanted to get a note delivered to my cousin but I ended up getting a chance to go backstage and meet him. It was so great to meet him. He's about 10 years my junior, married with a young family. I talked to him about our family here, his southern roots, told him briefly about Bryant ( this was about 6 weeks after he'd died.) We talked about 15 or 20 minutes and exchanged phone numbers. I've thought of him often but we hadn't spoken again... until today. Out of the blue he called to say he had been thinking of me. It was such a blessing to hear from him. One of those "God-incidences" (instead of coincidence) that reminds you of God's kindness in the midst of the madness.

Hugs and good night.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Eighteen weeks

It's been 18 weeks today. Onehundredtwenty-six days. Every day for the past 125 days I have relived that Monday evening. Sometimes it seems like a dream, the worst dream. But every Monday has gotten a little bit better.

Today has been a challenge in other ways. Dh started a new job, his first day back to work since April 3. I spent a couple of hours this morning signing my father into a nursing facility. He is scheduled for a few weeks of rehabilitation but there is a possibility he'll need to stay there indefinitely. ( This was/is soooo hard!) I have two meetings at the same time this evening, one is orientation at my teen's high school and the other is equally as important. (Where is a good clone when you need her? ) I'm also operating in sleep deficit because I was up late last night visiting with a young cousin who was in town for the night. I think we turned in around 2:30 am and she had to be up and out this morning for a 7am flight. Then there are the little ones. Every once in a while I stop and scratch my head in wonder at how I ended up with a 3 year old and a 1 year old at this stage of my life. [ Yes, I do know how they got here. :-)] And I want to raise them well.

So in an effort to stay real and also to stay joyful I'll just say that on a scale of 1-10 ( with 10 being tops) my joymeter reads about a 7 today. My brain is tired but it really is a choice. Everything is. We can't always choose the circumstances of our lives but we can choose our reaction and response to the circumstances. By God's grace I'm choosing to live not "under the circumstances" but above them instead.

Bryant's birthday is August 17th. He would be 15. We're planning to have a party for him with the youth group at our church. I want to celebrate his life with his friends and talk to them about how important it is to keep a rich and steady diet of God's Word, to know Truth. I plan to ask each of them to make a fresh commitment, in Bryant's memory, to an authentic faith in and relationship with Jesus. I want them to write out their own private and personal commitments to be placed inside of 15 helium balloons. As a finale, hopefully just before sundown, we will release the balloons in a little ceremony outside on the church grounds.

Eighteen weeks ago today... in fact it was probably happening in these very moments. My son was ushering himself into eternity. And somehow we have to go on. I am going on. Thru the hurt and thru the pain, "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me."

Friday, August 04, 2006

Pitchin' a fit

I am currently in the process of night weaning my 16 month old son. I know I know... My friends are all surprised that I'm still breastfeeding him, especially during the night. And I know he is well past the age of sleeping through.

So we're trying. I was away for two nights last weekend at a Women's Conference and Dh said the baby did well without his "noonie." On Sunday night however, it was as if I hadn't been gone at all and babycakes was ready to do business as usual. Let me tell you it was no small feat to get the lil' guy down for the night. And after we did finally get him to sleep, it wasn't long before he was up frantically looking for me. It has been a real challenge to watch my otherwise gentle-natured baby pitchin' a fit all night long. Last night he was up at least 7 or 8 times.

The month before Bryant died I a did a Bible Study entitled He Speaks to Me (by Priscilla Shirer) on the life of the boy Samuel. Of the many nuggets I got from the study was another "mine" (words that just leap into my heart) passage from Psalm 131, verses 1-2

My heart is not proud, O LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

There is so much going on in my life right this moment. ( In fact I just wrote several long paragraghs detailing it all. Then the computer froze and lost it.) Today is DH's and my anniversary, our first anniversary obviously since the loss of our son. We're told that there is an 80% divorce rate among parents who bury a child. So we are really working and praying and believing hard that God is able to keep us in the 20%. I won't try to recount again all the external stressors (outside of grieving for Bryant) that we face everyday, including but not limited to caring for my ill and aged father who's lived with us for the past 5 years, parenting a 17 year old and 2 toddlers, careers changes and financial concerns and... and... and...

If I didn't know what I know I might even find myself pitchin' a fit... But

"My heart is not proud, O LORD,
my eyes are not haughty
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things to wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother
like a weaned child is my soul within me"

The fact of the matter is that TRUTH always overcomes (swallows up, conquers, defeats) reality. The reality of my life is that I don't have many answers right now to the why? the what? and the how?. But the TRUTH is that I know the One Who has ALL the ANSWERS. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the earth is His and everything in it, He is good and kind, full of grace ( His free favor) and mercy. He has engraved me on the palm of His Hand and He has good plans for me. He is Lord and King of all. He is mine and I am His, a daughter of The King. In at least four places in the Bible there is the admonition that followers of Christ walk by our faith and not by our sight. Instead of pitchin' a fit I'm gonna trust Him. (And you wannna know what else? He would love me just the same even if I did have myself a good long fit pitchin' moment.) :-)

One day soon my little one will be able to quiet himself without his "noonie", the thing of comfort that he thinks he can't do without. He'll realize that it's time to grow, to move on to the next stage of life, that no matter what, to the best of my abilities I'm going to meet his every need.

" ...In repentence and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength... "Isaiah 30:15