God Through the Rearview Mirror

MirrorI spent this last weekend with wonderful friends in Chattanooga. Sonya Luna called me two weeks ago and invited me to visit UT Chatt, her daughter, Madison, and so many of the class of 2014 from Collierville High School that were Trey’s friends. My first reaction was ABSOLUTELY! The more I thought about it as the time came, the more excited I got about getting away than actually spending time with others.

Sometimes, you never realize how much you need the time away from your loved ones until you leave, especially during the grieving process. Thank you for that tidbit of advice Andy and Rachel Schelb! If you are tired of reading about our grieving process, you can stop reading now. God does not say, “Thou shalt grieve for a two year period and thou shalt be healed”. No, He says, “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With a long life I will satisfy him and let him see My salvation.” Ps. 91:14-16 So, (1) because I have loved Him, He will deliver me; (2) when I call on Him, He will answer; (3) He will be with me when I am troubled, He will rescue me; and most importantly, (4) He will give me a long life ending with His salvation in glory. That, my friend, is an awesome promise whether or not you are grieving.

We talked this weekend about some of our fears. One of mine is driving across high bridges. The two mothers I was with talked about their children being hundreds of miles away and the decisions their children are making. As we discussed many things, they talked of their children in the present and all I could do was bring up Trey in the past. The one thing we talked about was perception and our kids. The perception of Trey is that he was this wonderful, Christian young man that had it all together and floated up to Jesus with wings while the Hallelujah Chorus was being played. That is entirely not true. I tried to remind Collin recently that while he was at school, Trey sat at home and cried because he just wanted to be normal. There was nothing normal about what he was experiencing and sometimes, he just did not like it. The same goes with the kids in college. Things go wrong and they are texting their parents for advice.

I think we spend most of our days as Christians weighing our decisions and after the fall out, we look back and will either have learned a hard lesson, not moved forward from the decision, or be joyful for the direction God led us. How many sermons have you heard about not living your life looking back? How many quotes have you seen about moving on? What about scripture? “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead…” Phil. 3:13 The terrible thing about society is that everyone is in such a hurry. Decisions are meant to be prayed over and considered very cautiously. What might be important to you, might not be important to someone else. That is a hard pill to swallow and I have learned that in the grieving process as friends have moved on and Trey is not on their priority list to talk about. It was such a blessing to spend time with friends this weekend and have the freedom to talk about Trey whenever I wanted and know I was loved.

What do our decisions have to do with looking at God through the rearview mirror? When I initially took this picture, my thought was – You’re there, following me. Every decision we make God is going to be there to guide us and after that decision has been made, He’s still going to be there in the rearview mirror to guide you to make sure you follow the correct path. For those under conviction, the Holy Spirit will be a hard thing to shake.

As a part of our weekend, we sat on Sunset Rock on Lookout Mountain to watch this large, orange ball sink behind the mountains. As I was sitting with Madison Luna and some of the other girls, the Holy Spirit pricked me to get my phone out and play 10,000 Reasons. As the song played, the sun slowly began to set. As Madison held onto me while many tears flowed, the line in the song came “…the end draws near and my time has come. Still my soul will sing your praise unending, 10,000 years and then forevermore.” FLASHBACK Trey’s hospital room, his last breath, my tears, my kisses, walking out of that room only to turn and look at him for the last time in that bed. Sometimes, that’s God in my rearview mirror and that’s okay because that is reality for me because God was certainly there…in that room…with my baby. Just as He was on Saturday as the sun slowly disappeared behind the mountains. I have proof on video that it perfectly set to the song Oceans by Hillsong “I will call upon Your name, Keep my eyes above the waves, My soul will rest in Your embrace, I am Yours and You are mine.” It was such a confirmation in my heart that I am right where I need to be in the process of life.

It’s okay to have God in your rearview mirror. If not, then who holds you up? God is in every sunrise and every sunset whether you see it facing forward or in your rearview mirror.

He Knows… (Blog)

Many are reflecting on the year 2014, what they did, what they didn’t do, and what they can do better in 2015. I spent much of December waiting to be rescued from what I would like to call Holiday Hell. I’m just being honest. It consisted of online shopping, Jay working, no Christmas parties, and Collin’s exams. I know, that really sounds like a pity party, doesn’t it? No, that’s just life!

A few co-workers and I were talking before Christmas how they just were not in the mood for the holidays. I told them it was okay. So many people view the holidays differently. I, for one, cannot tell you how many times I am asked during the holidays, “How are you doing?” Sometimes I want to say, “How do you THINK I am doing?” GEEZ! Close friends have stopped asking, some genuinely want to know, and others just assume. I’m not the Grinch, but I’m certainly not running up and down my street with jingle bells on either. My neighbors would certainly commit me (I would commit me). There were tears, but there were also smiles and remembrances of Christmases past. My point, my joy factor sinks during the holiday season. I try to concentrate on the REASON for the season. If Christ had not come as a babe, He would not have been able to die for my sins or that of my son.

Somehow, I began a conversation with a friend from church on text. We were talking about changes in our lives. Jay and I have been talking about many changes; visiting other churches, the sale of our home, school for Collin. It has just come to a point that maybe, just MAYBE Trey has been gone long enough to make some changes. I remembered during these talks something my boss reminded me of – 1 Corinthians 10:23 “You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial.” So some of these changes I have put on the back burner of my mind. After all, I haven’t exactly tackled Trey’s closet.

I had seen on Twitter and Facebook references to a sermon preached at Highpoint by their Student Pastor, Joel Johnson, on December 28. As Tami and I were talking, she told me she had attended the service and told me how wonderful the service was and what a refreshing word she received. I thought, okay, I’m game. So snug in my bed with my IPhone 6 smashed to my face, I began to watch the sermon “Landing on What’s Left.” I didn’t know whether to cry or laugh as he was preaching and he said, “Take what you have left and do something with it.” He also went on to say, “You can’t land on loss.” Humm…you can’t land on loss.

Then he said, “Turn to James 1:2-4.” WHAT? I came up out of my bed! That’s Trey’s verses. That’s what I use when I speak. It was God’s turn to speak to me. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Joel went on to say, “For a trial to be perfect, you have to let go of the loss.” Whoa. Is that one thing that Trey was able to grasp? He was able to consider his trials all joy because he knew he would be perfected in heaven.

Joel showed a video of a little boy who has overcome his physical handicap to make the best of what he has in his condition. My thoughts immediately darted to Trey and flashbacks swirled from hospital visits, to procedures, to chemo, to public appearances, to all-nighters being sick, then to his words, “I got this Mom.”

After I finished the sermon, I shared it on Facebook. A friend who attends Highpoint told me that when Joel was preaching he thought of our family. I told him I’m sure many did. But I want to be one who takes what God has left us and I want to make sure we are doing something with it. It does not lessen the hurt, the grieving time, or take the loss away. It gives the loss PURPOSE. So you land on PURPOSE, not loss.

So MY word for 2015 will be PURPOSE. What I do will be prayed over and it will have purpose; for me and for my family. Another thing I did after finishing the sermon was immediately listened to one of my favorite songs by Jeremy Camp, He Knows. God KNOWS our purpose. Jeremy reached out to Trey when he was ill and we had the blessing of meeting Jeremy and his wife, Adie, last December. The Holy Spirit uses him to speak volumes to me.

After all my Holiday Hell, listening to the sermon, listening to Jeremy, I decided New Year’s Eve was not going to be spent alone while Jay was at work. I invited myself to Mark and Isabelle Maxwell’s house (where Collin was) and ended up making a fun after midnight run to Taco Bell (two vehicles, a puppy, and a bunch of kids). The purpose…I made a memory in 2015…with Collin. Thank you, Joel Johnson for speaking the word of God. You spoke to this grieving mother.

My Precious Girl, Julianne (Blog)

I am amazed at the beautiful painting God has orchestrated in this story. As many of you know, Julianne Shiles was the love of Trey’s life. Tears come to my eyes when I think about what the future might have held for the two of them. Our families have even talked about it. To say they had almost everything in common is an understatement. They allowed each other to be goofy, they colored together, they both loved any kind of sport, they loved children, they gave themselves over in worship to the Lord, and most of all, the loved the Lord with all their hearts.

As Julianne stated in my book, she was in denial when Trey was diagnosed and when he died. It has been a long road for my precious girl. But she has grown not only in age but in maturity in the last 2 years. I’m not saying the grieving is over. She will always miss her Bubba. And she was his princess, just as she is to us.

We have prayed and prayed for healing for Julianne for the past two years. God, in his almighty grace and mercy, heard our prayers. His name is Ben. Julianne was a little hesitant at first because she was guarding her heart, as she should have done. But slowly, Ben and Julianne spent more and more time together since Ben is Julianne’s best friend’s brother (AND her boss at Chick-Fil-A).

You can imagine my reaction! WHO IS THIS BOY! Well, after a few meetings, he asked Julianne if he could accompany her and our family to Trey’s Collierville High graduation. I thought, WOW! Who would want to throw themselves into that mix? And of course, that night they proceeded to take about 100 selfies on my phone. Yes, they are still there and was my cover picture of my phone for many months.

Let me tell you a little bit about this young man. He is the son of the Senior Adult Pastor at Kirby Woods Baptist Church, where Julianne now attends. He is the manager of the Chick-Fil-A in Germantown and is very goal-oriented. He, along with Julianne, started a bible study at his house for the employees. He has an incredible love for the Lord, a dry wit, but there are three important things that impress me: 1) he puts up with Julianne; 2) he is allowing her to grieve at her own pace; and 3) he loves her for who she is – goofy and all!

You would think the mother of Trey would be jealous of the suitor of his precious girl. But, as God would have it, I am crazy about Ben. We can sit and have conversations about life and what the future holds, he loves to mess with Collin, he likes to meet Julianne’s friends from Germantown Baptist, and most of all, he honors the memory of Trey, my son. My goodness, can I adopt him?

Ben Snider is everything that I would pray for Julianne in a Godly man. He continues to pursue what God has for his life. I am so thankful that Ben understands when I post pictures of Julianne and Trey that I am grieving the past, not wishing for what would be in the future. Julianne is his future and they both are secure in that fact, whatever their future may hold. He understands why Trey’s picture is still in the Julianne’s home. It’s not just Julianne that grieves in her home, but an entire family who considered Trey a son also. I know Ben and Julianne love each other very much.

I’m Mama Lisa to a LOT of people. I’m blessed that I can add to my family and be Mama Lisa to a young man that loves my Julianne very much. And besides, he gives good hugs. And that makes a grieving mama happy.

I love you both Jules and Benji! My prayer for the both of you is the scripture I made Jules memorize in 9th grade. 1 Cor. 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Then you can’t go wrong!

P.S. I did get their permission to write this.
Jules and Ben

As a Mother…I Wear Purple. #WorldPancreaticCancerDay

As a mother, you still hear his voice.
As a mother, you still see his face, especially in your 15 year old.
As a mother, you hear his laughter.
As a mother, you dream about him at night.
As a mother, you are startled because you thought you heard his footsteps realizing it was the dog.
As a mother, you wonder if he would have chosen to go with friends to college or gone to the college of his dreams.
As a mother, you wonder would he have battled with his Christian values.
As a mother, every song is about him.
As a mother, you still can’t remove the clothes from his closet so you slowly give them to friends.
As a mother, you can’t clean his room so his knick knacks, bible, pictures, yearbooks, stuffed animals all stay where they were left on his dresser.
As a mother, you still carry 3,000 pictures of him on your phone thinking one of them will be different one day, knowing they are all the same.
As a mother, much like mothers who are barren, look at happy families longingly to have what they have. Then you remember, you did at one time.
As a mother, when you are asked, “How many children do you have?”, you still say two.
As a mother, every text you receive from one of his friends is cherished.
As a mother, even though your precious one is gone, you have one that needs just as much love.
As a mother, you wonder when will the day come that people will forget the name Trey Erwin.
As a mother, you still have his phone active so his friends can still call and hear his voice.
As a mother, whether it’s the 10th or 100th time you hear 10,000 Reasons, you are taken back to being in bed with him knowing he was slipping to Jesus and begging in your heart for God to let him stay, just one more day.

And people may wonder…
Why does this mother keep posting his picture to Instagram?
Why does this mother keep tweeting about him?
Why does this mother mention him on Facebook?
Why did she spend countless hours pouring over pages to write a book?

Simple. So maybe, just maybe, another mother will not have to feel what I feel. So MAYBE St. Jude or the researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Institute can find some answers to the P-16 gene and there will be answers for Collin. So MAYBE, there will be no more tears BEFORE death.

Awareness. Pancreatic Cancer. There is no cure. There is no EARLY detection (unless you are VERY lucky). In my family, three are dead as a result of this gene, we believe.

As a daughter-in-law, a sister-in-law, and a mother, I will NEVER stop fighting for awareness. I want to be a grandmother one day. I want to see Collin succeed in life and not worry about his next St. Jude appointment. I will NOT stop talking about my son’s battle and his faith. In ten years, I will STILL be talking about Trey Erwin and how God used him to touch many lives and I pray God will still be using pancreatic cancer, but in a different way. I pray in 10 years there will be stories of adequate testing and cures and this mother did not watch her son be poked with needles in his back and side multiple times while holding his hand for nothing.

This is why I shout, “WEAR PURPLE!” So someone will ask, “Why does everyone have on purple today?” And you can say, “To bring awareness of the horrible disease pancreatic cancer and it’s need for research funding.”

If you think we do not need prayer, you are wrong. If you think we do not need consoling words of hope, you are wrong. If you think we do not need hugs, you are wrong. If you think we do not need love, you are wrong. If you think we feel this oddness of not belonging, you are wrong.

As a mother, I lost a son who came in at night and sat on my bed and talked about his day.
As a mother, I lost a son who actually communicated with me by text.
As a mother, I lost a son who really apologized when he was wrong.
As a mother, I lost a son who I personally prayed with to receive Christ.
As a mother, I lost a son who was different. He loved Jesus.
As a mother, I not only lost a son…but because of his maturity, I lost a best friend.

Don’t think of me and feel sorry for me. God is always in control. Think of me and pray for us and wear purple.

That, my friend, is why I wear purple. I wear purple for my son. Trey Erwin.

Will you accept the challenge to wear purple with me on November 13 or anytime in November?

Horse of a Different Color

When I was growing up, I went to church with a family that I often heard the mother called a prude. You never heard a bad word come out of her mouth, or that of her husband. There was NEVER alcohol. I do not remember rated R movies in their household. I remember laughter. I do remember struggles about the music that their child listened to, but instead of lecturing, they gave it to God. I remember at that time thinking, “How can you be THIS good?”

What I realize now is that they made a choice. They made the choices not to use foul language in their home, along with all the other choices in life. I was talking to my sister this morning about this subject. We talked about how we were raised in a house with a horse of many colors (Dad). But she reminded me that when both of us first started our families, we had an agreement that we could discipline each other’s kids because we made the same choices. You may laugh, but Donna and I did NOT like the word FART! Not sure that lasted too long. But one thing that did last, you did not tell each other to shut up and video games were screened until an appropriate age. My boys were not, and are still not, raised in a house of foul language or alcohol. That is our choice.

I remember when Trey was 14. He had hit the age of making sure we knew he was approaching manhood. I will never forget the day he told me, “I’m not afraid of you.” I thought to myself, “Where in the WORLD did that come from?” So Jay and I just went with it. What I didn’t realize was Trey was battling his own spiritual warfare inside of making these decisions for himself. He was a freshman at Collierville High School and we had just ended a relationship FOR him.

Yes, I ended the relationship. Our home was not the Cleaver household. There will be forever etched in my mind Trey standing on the balcony yelling at me how much he hated me, how much he hated God, and wished he did not live in our home…then he kicked the wall. Without the kids knowing, I walked out of the house, called Jay and told him what had happened. He was on his way home from work. I was headed straight to Bretta and Keith Cochran’s house in tears begging them to tell me what I had done wrong! Later that evening, I went into Collin’s room to tell him goodnight and found him crying. He was upset because of the yelling and Trey saying he hated everyone – which he took it to mean him too. I marched myself into Trey’s room and told him, “Your brother thinks you hate him!” Trey said, “What?” I made sure Trey made it right with Collin that night. And you thought the Erwin family was always living a life of love and sweetness? HA! We are raising children!

This is the transformation of my horse of a different color. This is just one of the events that transpired before God reached down to Trey in February of 2011 and spoke to him during our Family of Families weekend. Not that Trey “changed” because he was always a loving child. But he finally realized something my devotion said this morning, “You are the only Bible some unbelievers will ever read, and your life is under scrutiny every day. What do others learn from you? Do they see an accurate picture of your God?” That is where YOUR choice comes in.

If you have not caught on by now, the horse represents you, your family, or your loved one. And if you have never seen the Wizard of Oz, then you are just out of luck.

I like the way Peter says in the Message translation, “Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.” (1 Pet. 2:11-12). Hum, don’t make yourselves cozy in it. How about, don’t be accepting of the foul language around you. Stand firm for your choices. Stand firm for the future of your family. I promise that your choices WILL NOT be the popular choice among some and you MAY lose friends. We are trying to teach Collin this very difficult lesson. We are trying to teach him about his choice of friends and music. What’s in your heart comes out your mouth; (Matt 15:18) what you say is what you mean. Test it. (Taken from Ken Freeman) Don’t get cozy. You may find you only have four months left in this world.

Collin and I were at St. Jude this week (praise God he’s clean for another 6 months!), and while we were waiting for his MRI in pre-op, he heard a child behind another curtain call his mother a B%&*# several times. Collin’s eyes got real big and he looked at me and said, “Did you hear that?” I acknowledged with a nod of my head and tried not to make a big deal of it. (Because I knew he would make it bigger.)He knew it was wrong and I didn’t have to tell him. Don’t miss the opportunity when you experience these opportunities to tell your children, that was wrong and that is not how we act.

There is scripture that is very easy to remember to help you live your life in service and glory to the Lord. If a group of 9th grade girls some years ago can memorize it, you can too, or tape it to your computer, your mirror, your dashboard, your refrigerator, put it in your child’s lunch. “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31)

We aren’t perfect. Only Christ was perfect. My devotion also said, “Even those who hold to a high view of Scripture may sometimes fail to obey it. We need to be reminded that the authority of God’s Word isn’t simply a doctrine to be affirmed, but a priority to be pursued.” I think our goal should be to keep our horse (family) of a different color one shade. Since Jesus wore a robe of purple, that is what I choose as my color. My family will stand firm and rooted in God’s word and we WILL make it a priority to pursue it. There are days that we may fail. But, how else are you going to know how to lead your horse if you don’t read the guidebook?

St. Jude, Again?

I have been having the most vivid dreams lately. Usually, I do not remember them when I wake up, but I have been remembering every detail. Last night, the entire family was in Dr. Tauer’s office and Collin was on a hospital bed. He was sleeping very comfortably. Dr. Tauer said, “It’s a glioma.” I knew immediately it was a brain tumor. He told me he needed surgery immediately and began to go down a list of surgeons. Funny thing – they were mostly from my OB-GYN group! Finally, he talked with a surgeon on the phone that was on call with West Clinic and Collin went into surgery. I woke up.

Trust me, I’m not one to read ANYTHING into dreams. If I did, I would have been dead a long time ago from all my recurring tornado dreams. But it’s odd I would have such a dream when Collin is scheduled for his check up at St. Jude on Monday. He will have his routine blood work and an MRI, then see Dr. Federico for the results of the MRI. St. Jude parents know this is an all-day event. You may wonder why he doesn’t have more testing. Any kind of testing with radiation (x-rays) CAN aggravate the mutant cancer cells.

Collin does not talk about going to St. Jude and we do not talk about it with him. It’s just something we do. He knows he has the P-16 gene and this is a part of life. But for me, this visit will be a little different. Collin is 15. Yes, 15. It seems like yesterday he was 12, short, and a little pudgy. Now, things are changing! One thing that has changed the most is he looks like Trey. It might be something only a mother can see. He does not accept or appreciate the comparison. He is not Trey.

But, there is one thing they have in common – being 15 years old at St. Jude. As I type, my hands go numb, my throat sinks to the pit of my stomach. Not that I’m worried. It’s just, what if? What if the gene decides to present itself? I’m scared to say I don’t think I could bare it. God might see if I could. Here I am, one of those mothers that wait for months, weeks, and days for tests that can determine the outcome of my child’s life for at least another six months to a year.

I have many friends on Facebook that are St. Jude mothers. I watch their posts as they go through trying times of chemo, surgery, radiation, sickness, another diagnosis, and my heart breaks. I usually do not say anything. I only “like” their posts as to say “I know what you are feeling and I am praying for you”.

If you think the pain, hurt, aching, and longing for your child gets better in this short of time, you are wrong. You are just a little more numb and you don’t talk about him as much to others because they’ve heard so much about him before. So you keep the pain to yourself; snap at your husband, argue with your child, and see little happiness in what is left of the day. And people ask, “How ARE you?” with emphasis on the “ARE”. And you smile and say, “Just fine, how are YOU?” Be careful when you ask. You might get the truth.

I see little happy families and I think – I wonder if you have ever considered losing your child? I hope it makes them appreciate them more as they have written in crayon on the walls. And you think panicking when you lose him in a retail store is scary. Those are just the simple things in life.

I’ll take it one extra step. Do I look like everything is fine because we aren’t falling apart or wearing black 24/7. I don’t cry during every song. Does the congregation as a whole think we’ve moved on? Heavens, I hope not. Trey’s medication hasn’t even been touched. Collin won’t wear his clothes that are still in his closet. Collin won’t even call THAT ROOM Trey’s room. I go upstairs only when it is absolutely necessary. That’s Jay’s job.

I don’t want to sound like I am complaining, maybe just mourning. I’m just honestly scared for Collin. What mother would not be? I am so thankful for what I do have. I know things will be better after Monday and I hear, “Everything is clear!” Ann Voskamp said, “We give thanks to God not because of how we feel – but because of Who He is.” That’s how I can still walk into church and praise God, because of who He is – because I am still hurting. I can struggle with getting out of bed because God knows I love Him no matter what the day brings – even if it brings news I don’t think I am strong enough to hear. I know He’s strong enough to carry me. He’s been carrying me all along.

“But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord; I wait for God my Savior, my God will hear me.” Micah 7:7

I treasure the devotion book A Shelter From the Storm which was Trey’s. June 27 seemed to be particularly encouraging to him from his highlighting. Today, son, you have encouraged me by your faithfulness.

By the way, have you thought about Christmas? I bet you have. There is no greater gift than a donation to St. Jude to help in the research for children like Collin. They now have someone on staff researching the P16 gene (a mutant melanoma gene) and its genetic mystery! I’m so thankful! Help THEM help children! Or you can still purchase A Mighty Dragon on Amazon as a great way to spread the gospel during this season.

Trey, Are you a Goose?

I have loved geese even before Ty came out with Lucy the Goose as a Beanie Baby. It’s just something about how they are graceful in flight and how God specifically placed every feather in its place to make them such beautiful creatures.

It never fails that I will see a flock of geese flying over Highway 385 either to or from work. I’ll never forget one occasion when Trey was in the car with me and I went nuts over the low-flying geese over the car. He didn’t understand my obsession with the fowl. God stepped in and gave us a moment.

I explained to Trey how geese fly in a V formation with the leader in the front. When the goose in the front gets tired, this goose will fall behind and another goose will come up and take the lead. They KNOW to do that! When a goose falls out of the V formation, it feels the resistance of flying alone and realizes it has to get back into formation.

These fowl flap their wings so hard that creates such a force and uplift for the geese to easily fly behind each other. Did you know that when you hear the geese honking it is to encourage the other geese to keep up? Did you also know that when one goose is hurt or goes down, two geese fly down to help protect the goose until the goose is able to fly? So that is why when you see one goose, you’ll see many more.

After telling Trey all these silly little facts, I told him how magnificent it is that God created an animal that we can relate to. When someone in our flock is down, we are there to pick them up. When someone needs encouraging, we are there to call and lift them up. When someone falls behind, we are there to pick up the slack and hold them accountable when they step out of line. He got my love for geese. So every time thereafter when we would see a goose – he would point them out! If you have ever been to the park in front of the Field Museum in Chicago, they are EVERYWHERE! We almost ran through them once. Not a good idea.

When you lose someone, some people look for rainbows or special signs from God that the loved one is still with you. I’m not sure it’s biblical (insert smiley face), but I’d like to think that God would send us glimmers of “I’m with you” in a form that we understand, like geese. Since Trey died, it’s been too coincidental.

Sending Collin off for homecoming was actually difficult. I told Jay I didn’t have a good feeling about it. We were standing in Marti Ponton’s cove and you are not going to believe this, but a flock of geese flew over. I just began to cry. Thank goodness a friend, Rhea Douglas, was standing there. I’m not sure she totally understood, but she was very comforting. Trey was 15 in October of 2011 when he went to his big homecoming at Houston (where you see all the cute pictures) with Julianne. Four months later in February of 2012, we were at St. Jude. Collin is 15 and going to his first homecoming. It was all a little too emotional. October 14 we will spend all day at St. Jude with Collin for his checkup. (As a P.S. and I wasn’t going to jump on this subject earlier, this is why the mothers at St. Jude were upset about the rescheduling of their appointments when Mrs. Obama was here. It is a very emotional time for the parents and the patients. You think about this appointment for months, weeks, days in advance anticipating what the outcome of tests will be for your child. Child first.)

When the geese flew over, I pointed them out to Collin and he said, “I know, I saw them.” He also knows my love for geese. And I looked at him and I told him, “It’s Trey.” It might not have been Trey. But it might have been a way for me to be able to let my son drive away in a car to a dance that HE said he wasn’t going to dance. When he got home – we heard a different story. Unfortunately, he was danced ON. Welcome to the world, son.

I just pray that Collin will be as a goose. When he steps out of line, he will feel the resistance of the wind and will get back in line with the flock of God. When he feels like he needs to step back, there will be friends (in his squad) that will be there to pick him up and encourage him. Most of all, I pray he feels God is in the front of his V formation leading him with a little honking from the Holy Spirit.