Weed of Bitterness (Blog)

Oh dear friends…

Satan is at work in our world every minute, every hour of each day.  He will use every tool in his bag of tricks to create division in the house of God.  Lately, I have been involved in discussions that have led to bitterness as the root of a problem.  The more I have thought about the discussions, it has led me to think about how actual bitterness begins.

Seeds of bitterness take root gradually.  The roots grow into the ground like a weed.  How many of you have tried to pull a stubborn weed out of your yard? Sometimes, they just do NOT come up by the root and you end up giving up, grabbing the clippers and snapping that baby off!  But does cutting the weed solve the problem of the root?  Absolutely not!

Hebrews 12:15 says, “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”  Wow.  So the root of the weed spreads and causes trouble.  BAM! Trouble! I thought I got that weed.  I know I forgave that person.  It’s been months, maybe even years ago.  How did I know that the weed could go domant and show up when it wants to destroy relationships?

I was presented with a situation with bitterness spewing and my heart hurt.  I know there is nothing I can do but pray for the situation to resolve itself in time, pray for those involved, and pray that bitterness is revealed.  How can there be fruit from a vine intertwined with weeds of bitterness? It is impossible.

Weeds choke a vine.

John 15:1-5 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

“…apart from Me you can do nothing.” That includes forgiving.  I ran across the book When You’ve Been Wronged by Erwin W. Lutzer (good name) and he suggested the five following ways to respond to bitterness and being wronged.

  1. Choose to live in the present and not in the past.
  2. Choose to free those who have injured you.  Forgive without even discussing the past.
  3. Remember that in the injustice, God is present.  When God permits evil, He will use it for some higher end. We can move beyond our past when we can embrace it as part of His good plan.
  4. Choose to bless those who have wronged you.  Blessing those who have wronged you has the power to set you free.
  5. Choose not to retaliate! Vengeance is God’s business, not ours.

Lastly, in Matthew, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matt. 6:14

I cannot believe school starts next week and my Collin will be a sophomore.  My prayer for Collin is that he will live each day learning how to forgive.  I pray for the people he comes in contact with that they will be loving and kind, not bitter and angry.  I pray for my wonderful, paramedic, firefighter husband as he deals with people on the street that his heart will continue to remain soft and kind to those in need.  I pray for myself that as I walk into my workplace each day, I shine the light of Jesus and not a bitterness of anger and grief.  That is hard a lot of days.  But I have to remember what scripture says, “…apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Be the hands and feet of Jesus today.

Hey Buddy! (Letter to Trey)

Hey Buddy!

Well, I remember sitting at St. Jude 3 years ago watching fireworks on TV while you tried to sleep. I remember being so upset as I watched local news and fireworks into the night and wondered how could so many be celebrating when we knew you didn’t have much time left. Yet there your dad and I sat, alone in that room with you with our glow bracelets.

Tomorrow will be another hard day without you. I can’t explain my heart to anyone. I pray for Jesus to come back everyday so my heart will be whole again. And we’ll be a family again. I know God has so many things to do before that time.

I’ve read so many books and talked to so many preachers about you in heaven. I’ve received so many different answers and I really have conflicting thoughts on what the bible says. Hebrews 12:1 talks about “a great cloud of witnesses” and in a book I read by Randy Alcorn, he seems to think you can see me. If you can, you would see how sad I am. I remember when you broke down with me twice and both times it was because you were worried about us after you were gone. I guess you had a right to worry even though I told you not to worry.

I just didn’t know what we were going to face. Now I’m trying to help others and be honest with them and prepare them before their children leave them. It’s a nightmare buddy. A dream I wish you would walk in and wake me up from.  Instead, I just don’t get much sleep at all.

Since the last time I wrote, we have a new church family.   We are at Central now and Collin has spread his wings. We needed this. I miss our GBC friends, but buddy, we are being loved and they are crying with us and you are still there.  I’ve been saying for months, it doesn’t matter where you worship, we are all one body of Christ. We’ll ALL be in heaven together one day!

Remember how I laid next to you in bed and whispered about all our vacations, well we went back to Hawaii. I saw you in everything. I hope in that deep sleep before you went to Jesus you heard everything I whispered to you because I couldn’t take it if you didn’t know just how much I love you and was going to miss you.

Tomorrow, when we sing The Stand, my mind will go back to so many times I watched you worship with your hands in the air in praise to God. My promise is that during worship I will be one with God and you in praise as we sing 10,000 Reasons, The Stand, and prayers for Anna Wakefield as she sings your request for your celebration Your Great Name at GBC tomorrow.

When asked in Hawaii on a tour if there was one person I could have dinner with who would it be…I said you.

“Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.” From Wicked, your favorite Broadway musical. I wish everyone would have been able to know your tender, true heart for the Lord and the love for your family and friends. I’ve been changed because I knew you, my son.



Gastro What?

Four months.  Four long months of battling morning sickness nausea, but no baby.  It hits the same time every morning between 8 and 9 a.m.  I’ve been living on Zofran for four months each day.  One month I thought it was from a leftover upper respiratory infection, along with the cough.  Then I began to think it might be my hormone and called my gynecologist.  She said no and sent me to a gastroenterologist.  “Sure, I’m only leaving for Hawaii in TWO WEEKS!”

I had not been eating and noticed my clothes were getting a little looser.  I had a check up with my neurologist and they asked all the normal questions and I told him of this unexplained nausea and cough.  He immediately said, I think you probably have Gastroparesis.  Gastro what? He told me it can be from over narcotic use in migraine sufferers.  (I thought, oh great, another reason to put on my medical record if I need to go to the ER.)  I still wasn’t comprehending what he was telling me.  I told him I already had an appointment with my gastro doctor and would fill him in when I heard something.

I saw WONDERFUL Dr. Farooq at Gastro One the day before we left for Hawaii and without doing the endoscopy, he told me the same thing.  “It’s either Gastroparesis or and ulcer, and they sometimes present the same way.”  I was scheduled for an endoscopy after Hawaii and realized I had lost about 10 pounds and was not feeling “Hawaii bound” even after a bag of IV fluids.  That night Jay asked, “Do you still want to go?”

If you have seen my Hawaii pictures, there was one of me in the hotel room in the bed.  Jay snapped this after a rough morning of trying to eat (oatmeal) and unfortunately seeing my food again.  I had not thrown up to this point with this stuff.  And we were about to get on a BOAT! Praise the Lord, He saw me through the rest of our journey without any vomiting! But when we returned, my endoscopy did not end well.

What in the world is Gastroparesis? I’m talking about this because 1) I need information from people I trust, and 2) I can always use your prayers.  Here is the information I have learned:

Web MD states “Gastroparesis is a condition in which your stomach cannot empty itself of food in a normal fashion. It is caused by damage to the vagus nerve, which regulates the digestive system. A damaged vagus nerve prevents the muscles in the stomach and intestine from functioning, preventing food from moving through the digestive system properly.” Just like with a limb which has paralysis due to nerve and muscle damage, there is no cure for Gastroparesis. Gastroparesis patients have to rely on symptom management alone to aid in managing their Gastroparesis symptoms.

Gastroparesis symptoms are on a day-by-day basis. Gastroparesis can severely affect the quality of life of the person suffering from it. Frequent trips to the emergency room and doctor’s office visits become a normal routine. Due to a lack of medical research and awareness, it’s a common misconception that Gastroparesis is a rare condition. Gastroparesis symptoms include Early Satiety (feeling full after just a few bites), heartburn, weight loss, weight gain, abdominal bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, erratic blood glucose levels (mainly in diabetes), lack of appetite, gastric reflux, spasms of the stomach wall, malnutrition,  chronic nausea, vomiting (often of undigested food), and an inability to tolerate dietary fats.  Luckily, Jay knew of Gastroparesis when I was diagnosed because of his diabetic patients he transports.

As stated by the Mayo Clinic “There is no cure for Gastroparesis. Making changes to your diet may help you cope with Gastroparesis signs and symptoms, but that’s not always enough. Gastroparesis medications may offer some relief, but some can cause serious side effects.” There are only 3 oral medications currently for the treatment of Gastroparesis and those are Domperidone, Reglan, and erythromycin.  Domperidone is a non-FDA approved drug in the United States and side-effects include lactation, a rapid heart rate that can sometimes lead to sudden death, dizziness, and trouble sleeping. Reglan is sold in the United States but crosses the blood-brain barrier and causes Tardive Dyskinesia (an incurable disease that causes jerky movements to the limbs, head, tongue, and face similar to that of Parkinson’s disease). Dr. Farooq warned me about this and I have already had a few tremors with the Reglan.  Erythromycin is a low does antibiotic that is sometimes used to treat Gastroparesis but few doctors prescribe it because its side-effect include the very symptoms that Gastroparesis patients try to get rid of – NAUSEA.  I have not been able to take Emycin for years and is on every doctors list of medications in which I am allergic.

Gastroparesis is a long-term chronic illness that affects the way those with Gastroparesis live their lives. A NORMAL healthy diet consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, food that’s high in fiber and a good amount of exercise. Those with Gastroparesis however, CANNOT digest foods that are high in fiber or high in fat because Gastroparesis causes a delay in how the stomach functions. When food that’s difficult for the body to digest is eaten (such as fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and food that’s high in fat) it slows down gastric motility. When someone with Gastroparesis eats foods that are high in fiber and high in fat it furthers the delay in Gastric motility and can cause serious food masses, food poising (due to food rotting in the intestines).  I have endoscopy pictures to prove it.  Think of this – no more salads.  Lettuce is one of the hardest foods for your stomach to digest.  Eating specific foods and some forms of herbal treatments without consulting a GI physician can be dangerous and can lead to deadly consequences. Many of those with Gastroparesis don’t just struggle to digest food, but they struggle to digest liquids as well and end up having to resort to feeding tubes or TPN (intravenously fed through the blood stream).  Oh, remember TPN? That was Trey’s favorite.  You’d have to tie me down before you put me on TPN!

So here I am.  Left with a specific and very limited diet, medication that makes me feel like a slug, but at least I have an answer.  I am thankful for a very, very understanding and wonderful, knowledgeable husband.  Just to think that God blessed me so many years ago with this Godly man and knew that he would go into the medical profession and how I would need his tender heart.  I am overwhelmed.  This also might be a blessing in disguise because it might cause both of us to eat healthier foods but in a different manner than most families. Fiber and fats are not my friends.  I covet your prayers for my new lifestyle, my frustrations, and that of my family.

Never thought I’d say…I’m not that hungry.

#pikotopshidebloat #greenforgastroparesis  #learningtosayNO #notubesplease

Phil. 4:13 “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me!”  Because Jesus Loves Me!!!


(Written in Hawaii last week)
As I sit here and look at the beautiful clouds covering the Pacific Ocean in Kauai, Hawaii, I see in the distance a lighthouse that stands majestically on what seems to be a large mound of lava rocks. I have seen this same lighthouse before in 2010 when Jay and I first took this cruise to Hawaii. I don’t think I ever noticed how alone the lighthouse looked until now.

Kauai is a beautiful, lush island filled with rain forests and spectacular beaches. Not to mention roosters have free reign of the island also. I’ve learned so much on this my third trip about the agriculture, the people and their heritage, and how every island is different, yet their history makes them the same in a unique way.

As I laid on the beach this afternoon and viewed the lighthouse, I began to think of how our Christian lives should mimic the duties of a lighthouse. We are also like the islands, God made us in image, yet we are all walking different maturity paths.

One of the sole purposes of a lighthouse is to shine light so that passing ships will know where there is land. Land represents foundation. If we shine the light of Jesus, are we not telling others about the foundation we have in Christ?

I remember our second trip to Hawaii with Trey and Collin for Trey’s Make A Wish. We scheduled professional pictures at the Admiral’s home of the Coast Guard. On his property was a working lighthouse. Trey HAD to climb to the top and the photographer followed. I vividly remember how very hot it was at the top of the lighthouse. The bulbs for the lights where huge and must have been for the entire coast of Oahu! Well, it seemed like it.

When we climbed down, we were all very tired. Was it from the heat? I’m not sure, but do you ever get weary of shining your light and just want to say, “I give up!” Let’s be honest, I think we all have been there. Someone’s light is always shining brighter than another.

Following Christ is not about emotional highs and lows or of who can outshine the other. It is about staying true to your foundation…your lighthouse…Jesus. In John it says, “Jesus said, “For a brief time still, the light is among you. Walk by the light you have so darkness doesn’t destroy you. If you walk in darkness, you don’t know where you’re going. As you have the light, believe in the light. Then the light will be within you, and shining through your lives. You’ll be children of light. Walk by the light.” John‬ ‭12‬:‭35-36‬

Yes, this was our third trip to Hawaii but I went with the attitude of opportunity. Whether someone asked about my tattoo (and if you’ve been to Hawaii, everyone has a tattoo) OR if it was to ask why the multiple trips. I even was able to share many times that Collin was not with us because he wanted to go on two church camps that would conflict with the trip. Many where amazed. Bottom line, I was bold. Was it easy? No. Telling of how God was glorified in my son’s death and how Hawaii is his special place was never easy. But somehow, they always wanted to know more. Give me an open door and I’ll walk through it…walking by light.

If you drive by our house this next week, many days it will be dark, much like today’s lighthouses. The modern lighthouses have been converted to be automatic and do not require a lighthouse keeper. Even though I will be putting myself on auto this next week, I can guarantee you that the lighthouse keeper is in our home to comfort me and our family. It will be another hard year. Just stop for a moment, just one. Okay, it’s your son or daughter. Yes, I’ve already been crying and posting memories because it’s another anniversary, another July 5 and a week that I will remember each day leading to the day Trey met our lighthouse keeper

…our foundation

…our Jesus

…His Savior.

Thy Word

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
When I feel afraid, and think I’ve lost my way,
Still you’re there right beside me.
Nothing will I fear, as long as you are near;
Please be near me till the end.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
I will not forget your love for me and yet,
My heart forever is wandering.
Jesus be my guide, and hold me to your side,
And I will love you to the end.

By Amy Grant

Can you be a lighthouse to someone? Maybe even me. The tired and the lonely lighthouse on a hill.

In Memory of Trey Erwin #13

Over the last year I’ve received many texts, emails, phone calls, and had personal conversations, “Ms. Lisa, do you have any of those bracelets from Trey’s celebration?” My answer is always sadly, no. Last year, I thought about ordering some and my first thought was, “What an egotistical thing to do.” So I didn’t do it; until last week. I received another text from one of Trey’s sweet classmates, Jessica Berry. We tossed around the idea and she said PLEASE DO! Well, here they are.

Some may wonder why continue to wear these bracelets when Trey has been gone almost three years (July 5). Every person that I give a bracelet to, I tell them, make SURE you know Trey’s life verse, James 1:2-3 “Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” Someone who is wearing the bracelet might ask them, “Why are you wearing that bracelet and who was Trey Erwin?” It opens the door WIDE open to share Trey’s faith story, how he suffered for Christ, but much more, how Christ suffered for our sins. Without Christ suffering and dying for our sins, there would be no eternity in glory. That’s where my boy is, with our Jesus! But it does not make me miss him ANY less.

It is much like getting a tattoo with scripture. I cannot tell you how many times I have used my tattoo with James 1:2-3 on my ankle to tell of Trey’s plight and how God used him to proclaim glory and honor in all things. I’m not going to get into a battle over tattoos, but whether it is a bracelet or a tattoo, if it proclaims the gospel and one person is brought to Jesus because of your sharing His word, then will you suffer for Christ? Will you be bold? Will you step out for Christ?

I’m trying to get to the point that my skin is tough and judging does not bother me. The world and yes, even Christians judge. You just have to have walked in my shoes of losing a son. This was my son. He left a legacy that no one can duplicate. He was a mighty Collierville Dragon and loved deep. And much more than all of that, he was a mighty servant of God.

In Memory of Trey Erwin #13
I love you son. I will be in Hawaii next week buddy. I will think of you, ache for you, and cry over you. But I KNOW, God’s will is perfect. He has a purpose for ALL things. You fulfilled your purpose on earth in a way most adults would not be able to do. I’m proud to be your mom and I’ll ALWAYS be your mom.
Love, Mom

More Than Just Freshman Year

Let me just tell you, the last week of school was a hectic week.  It’s the week many parents and students start the countdown probably during spring break.  I think I see more teachers counting those days down more than I do parents.  That’s a little suspicious.

I did not make it a secret to my close friends that Collin was struggling his freshman year.  High school is NO JOKE!  I cannot tell you how many seniors will tell freshmen, “I wish I would have taken my freshman year more seriously.”  Well, that freshman year has now come and gone with much agony.

If you could pre-inject into their DNA as they are being formed in the womb something to help them form study habits as they grow into their teenage years, our hair would not be the color it is now.  Well, most of us would not spend what we spend to have it colored.  I think study habits just come natural to some and it is something you cannot teach.  It is a discipline and self-taught process, and much harder for boys!

This freshman year showed Jay and me that study habits are just not on the top of Collin’s priority list.  I have to say, it was not on the top of mine at his age either, but who wants to tell their child that fact.  Collin struggled in two subjects, science and history.  But what I am amazed is that he blew algebra out of the water with an A or B on a given quarter.

The last two weeks of school I cried, sent multiple school emails, did a lot of praying, screaming, and took multiple migraine medications (and threaten in my mind to move to my sister’s till after school was out).  For some reason, that didn’t seem to change the outcome of his exam grades, but he DID pass science…by one point! PRAISE JESUS! (Insert sigh of relief.)

There are some people that take a break from Facebook and that week, I really should have.  All I saw on Facebook were students with this honor and that honor, CHS graduation, CMS graduation, all bringing back many memories (of Trey) and also hitting me in the jealous gut (for Collin).  Why can’t Collin be an honor kid?  If I saw one more certificate, I was going to scream.  Some kids are just NORMAL!  You know – C is AVERAGE.  Go with me on this.

On the last day of school, I was on my way home from work and Collin had sent me a text earlier in the day.  He had said that he was going with Jake Craft and some of the Young Life kids to help with an area in Germantown clear some leaves and help work off his Young Life camp balance.  My mind started to reel.   If something happened to Collin and he had to suddenly face our Lord and Savior, would God ask him what he made on his science test or what his GPA was at the time?  What about honors he achieved? I don’t think so.

Then my tears began to fall as I was driving and I was convicted of my attitude of pressure.  My son, who struggled in science, was out serving his community on his last day of school and was working off all of his $700 camp balance except for $68.  During the year, Jake would pick him up at 6 a.m. to go to Chick-fil-A for bible study before school.  On Monday nights, he was at Young Life meetings where they talked about Christ, played games, and sang songs.  I know what Young Life means to so many CHS students.  One of Trey’s sweet friends, Brittany Lockwood, is serving right now as a camp counselor.  It doesn’t come easy, but it is something God has put on her heart – to serve the Lord with gladness and share the gospel with young campers.  What it means to Collin – it’s a place where he is plugged in and belongs.  It’s his place (and was never Trey’s).  I had been praying for MONTHS and asking people to invest in Collin.  I cried when Collin posted a picture at the end of the year of the CHS football team and the thanked them for being his family and said how he was going to miss them.  We did not know how Collin was going to walk into CHS – introvert or extrovert.  He walked in with a bunch of senior friends who took him in, loved him, and called him his little brother.  They were once Trey’s brothers.

Next Sunday, he leaves for Young Life camp for a week.  He will come home for one day and then will turn around and leave for Oasis which is high school camp in Florida with Central Church (This is where he spends his Wednesday nights with his high school friends).  I cannot tell you how MUCH he has matured in six months.  I shared all of this with him this weekend and told him how proud I was of him (as I cried and he looked at me as if I was an alien).  I needed him to know that things will change in the fall as we attempt to attack school in a different manner.  But his character and servanthood is something that is engrained in him and it cannot be taught by a teacher.  That is in his heart.  It has always been in his heart…to help others.  Even when he was a little boy in elementary school and we told Ms. Rachel, his teacher, to help with his energy, let him hold the door open for the kids because he likes to help.  That is why he is helping manage the varsity football team at CHS and is the manager of the varsity CHS basketball team.

I’m proud of Collin Erwin and what he has accomplished in a year and what goals he has set for himself.  I’m proud that he sends a text to his friend and asks them to church on Sunday.  It’s just hard on mom and dad when kids act like they don’t care about things.  We know they do.  But one thing I will have to continue doing, as I did all year long, give him back to God.  I have to remember, he is not mine and belongs to the Lord anyway.  Pray for your children.  I pray for your children and you pray for mine.  They are our future…our leaders…our church.  Pray for their decisions to be wise.  Pray so that we may trust them, for them to have strong character and pure of heart.  Pray for them to have open ears to the words from the Lord and a conscience to know and a convicting spirit.  Lord hear our cries for our children.

“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Trey Erwin Memorial Scholarships

After Trey passed away, Jay and I decided that we wanted to give back to the community and school that gave so much to us during the time that Trey was sick.  We decided to first set up the Trey Erwin Memorial Football Scholarship that would go to a senior football player in the amount of $1,300 since Trey’s number was 13.  Then, we decided to grant another scholarship in the spring to not slight anyone who was not a football player.  We wanted to give those with leadership and character an opportunity to tell us how Trey had impacted their lives.  We have given two graduating classes leadership/character scholarships and two graduating football scholarships.

The first scholarships went to his graduating class.  The football scholarship was awarded to Mitch Owens.  I love this boy and so proud that he calls me Mama Lisa and we keep up with each other.  It was very hard to select the leadership/character scholarship recipients from his graduating class.  The applications are read by family, “his girls” including Julianne, and two coworkers who do not know the applicants.  They are narrowed down without knowing the opinion from me or Jay.  It is amazing to see how God chooses the recipients.  Last year we awarded three, Hunter Byer, Caroline Hardy, and Madison Luna at $1,000 each.  All three were very close to Trey.  Trey would be proud.

I tell you all of this to let you know that your purchase of A Mighty Dragon on Amazon goes toward the funding of these scholarships.  My prayer is that we will be able to continue these scholarships in memory of Trey.  It is rewarding to see how God has impacted these students and I wanted to share this year’s recipient’s applications with you.  Erica Haskett was awarded the Trey Erwin Memorial Scholarship for leadership/character and Drew Van de Vuurst was awarded the Trey Erwin Memorial Football Scholarship.

There is also a Trey Erwin Football Award voted on by the football team and the coaches.  It is much like the Heisman.  The large trophy stays at Collierville High School, but the football player receives a smaller version of the trophy.  Trey’s graduating year, Corbin Peeper was awarded the Trey Erwin Award and this year Drew Van de Vuurst received the award. What an honor!  THESE ARE MY BOYS! Corbin was a pallbearer at Trey’s funeral and Drew has played football with Trey since they were first able to wear helmets!  They know their hugs make my day.  I told the crowd at the football banquet, when we were walking in to register for Collin’s freshman year of high school, Drew was walking out and he said Hi Ms. Lisa, gave me a hug, and high-fived Collin with a bro-hug.  Then they began to talk.  I teared up because I knew then with Collin walking into what was a school filled with Trey, Collin was going to be just fine.  His brothers had his back.  Much like the community had Trey’s.

So please, buy A Mighty Dragon, pay it forward, and support the Trey Erwin Memorial Scholarship Fund.  Enjoy these wonderful essays.

Trey Erwin Memorial Scholarship

Erica Haskett

When I was in sixth grade, the church I had attended my whole life was planning a mission trip down to Gulf Port, Mississippi. My best friend, Andrea, invited me to go with her, so I signed up. I had never been on a mission trip before, or even on any kind of church trip in general and I was pretty nervous. At the time I was only thirteen, so I was just beginning my decent into adulthood and the confusion inside my head was very much so translating into confusion in every aspect of my life. I believed that God sent his son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, but I didn’t give it much thought at all nor did I read the bible or attend church regularly. With nervousness and thoughts of just a fun trip with my best friend and a few others, I packed my bags and loaded the bus. The trip wasn’t what I was expecting at all, but then again I’m not really sure what I was expecting. We helped out with V135 at this church, which was a lot of fun because I had never done anything like it before. We also went door to door telling people about Jesus and inviting them to attend the Sunday service, where my church’s youth choir called Under Authority, that I had joined (again because Andrea invited me to), was going to perform. It was an interesting trip, but it got more interesting to me on the bus ride home.

I was sitting in the back with Andrea and after we stopped at a rest stop about halfway through the trip, this guy was sitting back there with us too. I was very nervous to have a guy in my presence because I didn’t talk to guys ever. I had no guy friends, wasn’t interested in dating anyone, and was just in general very shy about the topic. So here this guy a year older than me with blue braces and long, flowing blonde hair is sitting next to me. Andrea introduced us and they began talking with a few other people around us. I felt very awkward and out of place and ready to be home, but something felt different about this guy. His name was Trey and he was very much so a Christian. I hadn’t heard anybody talk or think about God the way he did in my entire life. After a little while of generally avoiding talking to him, we struck up a conversation about music because I had taken liberty to avoid him by putting my headphones in. Seeing as I was not very religious, I was listening to this rapper called Lil’ Wayne. He was my favorite artist because he had a cool voice and my older brother liked him a lot. I told Trey who I was listening to and he just looked utterly repulsed. I explained to him why I liked Lil’ Wayne so much, and he replied that he hated Lil’ Wayne. I was shocked. I didn’t understand why he hated such a popular rapper. He replied that the messages conveyed in Wayne’s songs were gross and only talked about women in a demoralizing and sexual way and this was not what God said to do, so he couldn’t stand to listen to it. I didn’t think that this mattered and why did God create Lil’ Wayne and then not want me to listen to his music? But something just didn’t feel right after hearing that the provocative music I had been listening to for quite some time now was not what God intended for Christians to be listening to. I couldn’t shake this feeling that there was something special about this guy Trey and that he knew what he was going to do with his life and who he was going to follow, and it was inspiring. Still, I wasn’t sure how to go about having a relationship with God.

About four years later, I was a freshman at Collierville High School beginning another confusing faze of my life, when I was this guy in the cafeteria who looked very familiar. I had changed in four years, but still had not really found God. I didn’t remember who this guy was, but couldn’t shake the feeling that I somehow knew him. Then a few months into that school year, word came out that a student had been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. His name was Trey Erwin. That’s when it hit me. The guy in the cafeteria, was the guy I had spoken to a few years before about my love and his hate for Lil’ Wayne. I was speechless because he knew God like no other person I had ever met before, yet God gave him this deadly disease at age fifteen. What kind of a God would do that? I was angry and upset for this kid I had only ever spoken to once. Then I started hearing more stories about his cancer and how he was dealing with it, by spreading the love of God. It just didn’t make sense to me. He loved God so much, yet God was going to take him home way to soon, and he was okay with it? How can a person be okay with dying when they haven’t even lived yet? My heart was broken for this kid, but his heart wasn’t even though he was the one that had been given a death sentence. As his condition worsened, his faith seemed to grow, and I decided it was time I stopped and listened, I just wasn’t sure how to do that. A friend I had from middle school randomly invited me to attend her youth grow one Sunday morning at the Orchard Fellowship, and I found God there. I began to understand what Trey knew and why he felt so safe and comforted even though he was going to die. Even though the only things I knew about Trey were that he hated Lil’ Wayne and loved God and I only spoke to him that one time, he saved my life by showing me the light of God when I didn’t know the confusion in my own life was because I was stumbling around in the dark. Now I’m filled with the knowledge and love of God and have gained the confidence to tell others of God’s love and help lead them to God just as Trey did. For this I will be eternally grateful and I will always thank God for that one simple, random conversation I had with the guy with blue braces and long, flowing blonde hair in sixth grade.

Trey Erwin Memorial Football Scholarship

Drew Van de Vuurst

Growing up, I spent many of my falls playing CYAA Football with a lot of the seniors from the class of 2014. I also played on the same team as Trey. I guess you could say I knew him pretty well after the many practices and games that season; I spent every snap at quarterback under Trey, our center.

During my freshman year after the football season ended, I spent countless hours working out with my new brothers on the varsity football team. They were family to me. Once I found out about Trey I immediately wanted to help in some way. I told my AAU basketball coach, and he was able to help me put on a 3 on 3 basketball tournament to help raise money for the Erwin family.  One thing I took away from Trey and the rest of the senior class is to play every play like it’s your last because you never know when it will end. I took that mindset into every practice and game I played in. They showed me what true leadership is like and how a real family should be. Every single one of us loved each other, and we had each other’s backs through anything. We were much more than just a bunch of jocks on the football field. We were inseparable brothers, and it was an absolute blessing to play with these men. I truly believe that because of Trey and the senior class of 2014, I am a better man, a better leader, and an improved follower of Jesus Christ.

This is a picture of Drew at quarterback and Trey playing center when they played for the CYAA Raiders.