On the Way Home

I saw a post today from one of Trey’s friends to his mother that said “On the way home.” I know how excited she is to have her son home for the Thanksgiving holidays.  I just had lunch with three college kids that are glad to be home for Thanksgiving.  Family time is important.

This year will be the first to have Thanksgiving at the Erwin home.  I’m not sure how it came about because we always celebrate the holidays at my sister’s house.  Last weekend, I was actually in a panic because of the thought that the Martha Stewart was not going to show up at my door, cook a turkey, and arrange beautiful decorations on each table.  This thought literally put me in bed and made my head hurt.  Seriously.

As I sat at lunch today with Trey’s friends, it was good to laugh, say his name, and dream of their futures with them.  Yes Madison, he is laughing at you for getting Bieber tickets.  I continued to think of how they would be sitting around each of their respective tables, but their friend, my Trey, would not be at my Thanksgiving table.  There are MANY children that will not be at the Thanksgiving table this year.  For some, it’s their first year, but I can tell you that it can be the first or fourth, the feelings are the same.


I asked special friends to begin pray for me because I know it will be an emotional time.  A friend had an idea that maybe I could put a place setting for Trey at the Thanksgiving table just as a reminder that he is and will always be with us.  But the phrase “On the way home” has been stuck in my head.  As we feast on turkey, ham, etc., my Trey will be feasting with angels, Jesus, Noah, Moses, Adam, Paul, Job, both this grandfathers, his Uncle Barry, and so many more.  I think I’m the one at the wrong table.  What a feast he experiences EACH DAY!

I remember the last thing I said to him as I laid next to him in his St. Jude bed.  “Run to Jesus buddy, run to Jesus.” I heard Trey today. That is rare. He hasn’t traveled far from me and he said, “Mom, I AM home.”

I don’t think I’ll need that place setting at the table.  He made it home.

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Trey Will be done



You Can’t See Through Mud

“I can’t see through mud.” That is a phrase I have used and it has definitely been used on me. It can be irritating when someone is standing in front of you and you’re trying your best to see around them. There are times that nothing can be said except, “Excuse me.” Hopefully the hint is well taken.

For the last couple of weeks I have felt down and disappointed. God actually told me NO! Can you believe that? I think I’ve been in shock and I know, very hurt. When God closes a door on plans you’ve made that you think were also His plans, it can affect you in many ways. For me, it was unexpected. I have wallowed in this disappointment even though I know God always has better plans.

How often do we choose to wallow in our disappointment, sadness, and yes, even our grief. We want to own it like it belongs to us.

I realized on the way home from church tonight that I was muddy. I actually felt muddy. You know, that good ole’ dried, caked on mud. There have been so many questions I have been asking God over the last several weeks, not finding answers, and I remembered His words.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

How can I live for Christ and expect others to see Him in me if I am muddy? Accepting God’s will for our lives is hard and I have to remember that I can’t wallow in the disappointments life will bring.

Life brings change. Change takes time. Acceptance takes time. With time springs hope.  Christ is our hope.

Yes, I will still wallow. I held back tears all day today. Tears can cause migraines! But those tears are ones that Jesus catches. I will choose to live another day clean by the blood of my Savior. Do you realize His tears on the cross is what makes us clean and we muddy ourselves on our own?

Tonight, I am thankful I can come to my Savior, give him my disappointment, wash off this mud, and pray that tomorrow someone will see Jesus in me.

Jesus, see through me. Wash me clean, even when I grieve.

When Tragedy and Grief Meet (Prayer Blog)

Lord, I never want to take for granted coming before your presence or especially the platform you have given me to share Jesus.  My heart desires to write and I can’t put words on paper.  Everything that comes to mind brings me back around to prayer before you.  Please honor my words as a sweet sacrifice.

God, I was honest when I asked Shawn why would you lead me to Central only to put me in the middle of another tragedy with a student that has had such a huge impact on a youth group, a school, and a community.  My hurt is still so raw and it hurts when people say, “Haven’t you gotten over that yet?” The only soothing balm for my heart is knowing that Grant and Trey are at your feet.

OH GOD! You know there are days that I just sit and stare into space thinking of my boy and remember all the events surrounding his short four months of pancreatic cancer and still so many questions come to my mind.  So many questions that I know will never be answered this side of heaven.  Why Trey Erwin at age 15? Why Grant by a car accident at age 17? But how do we help children understand a grieving process for their friend when I cannot grasp it sometimes for my own son.

My head and my heart knows Romans 8:28 like the back of my hand and I repeat it like I’m convincing myself of your mighty power. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  I am begging you to help the youth find your purpose in the midst of tragedy.

The question on their minds is why not healing? Oh how I begged and prayed to you for Trey’s healing.  Trey understood better than his mama because he knew he was gaining eternal life and I was losing his on earth.  If only we could be so wise.  Gaining Grant so instantly doesn’t give us answers, only confusion. Lord, the kids are drowning in grief for their buddy and classmate.  Only you can orchestrate to put someone in their path that will comfort when they need to know that Grant’s precious life served your purpose.  It’s just something we have a hard time accepting because you made us human.

I cannot fathom how you created every living creature on the earth and made each one of them different in some way.  It reminds me of how each of us are different and we will grieve differently.  Lord, so many of Grant’s friends cannot concentrate for school, they cannot do their homework, parents do not understand their children as they grieve, and they themselves do not understand their own grieving.  How can I help, Lord?  You have put me here for a reason.  Help their anger, frustration, hurt, confusion, and dry their tears knowing you catch EVERY tear.

Our Almighty Jehovah-Rapha, our Lord who heals our hurts, our bodies, our souls; come into the midst of your people and heal these children.  I can only kneel before you in truth knowing their hurt is so real.  So many may not believe that you are the Healer.  “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chron. 16:9  Strengthen us and bind us together.  Guide us to know how to comfort our children.  Speak to parents so they may bridge the gap and comfort their children.  God, I’ll confess, and I ask forgiveness.  I really want to pop some insensitive people.  Just because our children or friends are in heaven doesn’t make it easier for us on earth.  Help us to drop our boundaries and rely on each other through your guidance.

I miss my boy, Lord.  This time of year is the worst.  I can only beg you again to put a hedge of protection around my family and those families that have lost people they love.  I think of Ron and Susan who will be facing their first Christmas without Austin.  Grant’s family without him will be so quiet.  The only consolation this time of year brings me is that if your son, sweet baby Jesus, had not been born, he would not have been able to die for our sins to bring us eternal life.  Help us to remember your gift to us this season, your son.  And when the kids are sad, remind them during this time of year of the fun times they had with Trey, Grant, Austin, and many other loved ones.

God, I come back around to understanding grief.  I’ll never understand it and I’ll never stop crying out for Trey who took such a large part of me when he left this earth.  There is so much tragedy in this world and my heart aches to be with you so there will be no more pain and suffering.  And I’m selfish, I’ll be with my boy.  In the meantime, I claim your word, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.” Prov. 18:10

Lord, I especially thank you for what you have brought me lately and how you have blessed me.  Thank you for the rich, new friendship I have (she knows).  Bless us that we might be mighty warriors for your kingdom and your glory.

If it be your will, I ask that you cause a sweet revival of precious souls for Christ in light of the fact that Grant knew you as his Savior.  As for an answer to our grief, that should be enough.

Yes, Lord, oh that it should be enough.  You are our Savior and I thank you for saving a wretch like me.  I got out of bed again today precious Jesus.  And I praise you, today, headache-free.

Hear the cry of my heart, Amen.

I Got Out Of Bed Today (Blog)

Yes, as I posted on Facebook, I got out of bed today.  I just read wise words a friend posted on Instagram.

“Don’t think or judge, just listen.”

Can you do that? Just listen? Or do you always feel the need to fix and have an opinion.

I hear what is in your head.  Trust me.  People have actually said the words.  “I can’t believe it’s been three years.”  Three years to you is ONE day to me. Or some days, it seems an eternity since I touched his sweet face, rubbed his thick eyebrows, and smelled his Beiber hair.

I see so many children suffering and it makes me angry.  I am human and sometimes the world makes me angry.  It’s okay.  Maybe I am hitting that stage of grief; the kind of grief that brings angry tears for my family and for others. I confessed this to my Sophomore Sunday school girls…my anger baggage.

I am sure I am starting a week early with scanxiety.  Collin goes to St. Jude for his yearly MRI next Friday.  Then we wait days and go back for another St. Jude visit.  For this mom (and I know many others) comes the what if’s.  I know it’s on his mind and how can I blame him for spending fall break in bed?  If my mind is angry, restless, and grieving, how does his feel?  So many questions and no answers.  But again, it’s okay.  God knows.  I talked to Collin today.  It was noon and I needed some questions answered and I said, “It’s okay, you don’t have to move.”  I heard, “Oh, thanks.”

Another friend posted on Facebook this week and I quote: “Praying for courage this morning. Facebook pics are always full of the happy times. But in reality we all go through hard times we just don’t like to chronicle those. Praying this morning for all my dear friends and that we may trust that God is in control and take comfort in that. So thankful for my boys, my friends, and my family. And so thankful that I am loved by my Jesus.”

I commended her for speaking out and not hiding behind the happy family pictures of fall break. I get so weary of seeing the happiness when no one has the guts to post the ugliness of life.  This is the ugliness. The ugliness cancer patients (and their families) face on a daily basis.  But God does remind us in my “go to” verse, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, And He knows those who take refuge in Him.” Nahum 1:7

I ran into new friends at church last night.  They knew me from somewhere but did not know my name.  As I began what I call my “standard short story” about Trey, you could see bells and whistles go off in their minds as they recognized me.  There was so much about our story that they did not know and I usually save that for one on one (Collin has the gene, Jay’s melanoma).  Point being, we never, ever know what is truly going on in someone’s household no matter how public their life may be. Publicity takes it’s toll and satan threatens isolation. I will keep repeating, he will not have my family.

So yes, today, I got out of bed.  When depression, anger, and tears could have kept me there, I got out of bed.  Sure, knowing Trey is with my Jesus makes the day a little better.  But knowing I will go home and he will not be there makes the day(s) even harder.  Without judgment from my husband or my son, or my family, after hearing 10,000 Reasons this week the same time my husband did (and we talked about it), cleaning out some of his clothes and determining what is his and what is Collin’s, folding his favorite yellow polo, wearing his fuzzy socks, knowing we will be at St. Jude next week, I think I’ll cuddle with my two pups and crawl back in bed when I get home.

Right now, I’m not strong, haven’t had the humph to write, and you know what? It’s okay because my God is more than enough.

What’s in your Heart, Comes out of your Mouth!

For the last week I have caught myself switching the radio station from The Message on Sirius XM to the ‘80s on 8 station.  We had to drive Collin’s Jeep home from Cabot, Arkansas, and if someone saw me in the car, I would have been so embarrassed.  When Jungle Love came on, I was movin’ all over that front seat!  This morning, Rick James came on and I know I was flying toward downtown singing “Super Freak, she’s super freaky yeah…”  All I know is that my mood changed and I was be-boppin’ into the office.

I often talk to Collin about the music he chooses.  If you listen to some of the rap lyrics, they will make your toes curl.  But like Pastor Rick said this past Sunday, we have become numb to our sins.  NOT that music is a sin, but what the music creates in our heart and our head, such as lustful thoughts, anger (I call it anger music), and definitely sexual thoughts.

But I had to stop and think about the music from the 80’s.  Was it much different then?  I googled the lyrics to Jungle Love this morning and I was SHOCKED.  Of course, when I was young in the 80’s, I didn’t bother to know all the lyrics.  I just knew it was good music for dancing and I did my share of dancing in the 80’s.  Thinking back, I’d probably break a hip now.

My point is, do our kids actually know the music that is going in their ears?  If we could get their playlist and print the lyrics and ask them, “Would you hand these lyrics to Jesus?” I wonder what they would say and if they would be convicted.  I could go even broader, what about adults? Kids aren’t the only culprits.  It boils down to is it edifying and glorifying God?

“Geez Ms. Lisa, you’re being so picky.”

Just think.  God knows the thoughts of your past and the thoughts in your future.  How mind blowing is that?  More than mind blowing, it is intimate. God is intimate in his relationship with you.

When you sing the lyrics, can you sing them to God?

“That’s being a bit literal, Ms. Lisa.”

I think God is very intentional in his word when it says,  —for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God—“ Exodus 34:14.  Personally, I would rather not suffer the wrath of God for silly mistakes and something I chose when I know better.  I firmly believe what’s in your heart comes out of your mouth.

I distinctly remember the conviction of a young lady who was in the youth group at Germantown Baptist.  Her parents battled the music in her life.  They chose to pray over her.  Our battle is not our children and we know that.  Eventually, and I’ll never forget this, she stood before the youth and confessed of her addiction to unhealthy music and was getting rid of her music from her different devices she felt convicted her.  It made an impression on my heart that still is there today.  Now, she is an adult making BIG GIRL decisions.

So I have to do better.  I have to make better choices to be a better example.  We are not going to be perfect, any of us.  But I do believe we should strive to be more like Jesus.

Join me in fighting the fight. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Eph. 6:12

His Eye is on the Sparrow

Their family seems so perfect, always smiling, laughing.  I never hear of complaining from that family either.  Yet I walk around with my head down and doubts swirling. I’m out of place. I keep asking myself, I know my family is not normal, but when will we be happy?  Is happiness possible?  All these questions in my head!  I’m going MAD!

A friend enlightened me to a few things.  It didn’t matter how many times my friends had told me not to let satan have control, or how many times I had quoted John 10:10 to myself (“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”), it finally struck home when he said, “… you aren’t the only parent who feels feelings and thoughts like you are experiencing – don’t buy into the lie of isolation.”

Satan has convinced me that I am alone, fighting alone, and struggling raising my child alone.  This is simply not true.  I can still feel alone in a crowd, but I know God can fill a space that no one on earth will ever fill.  That’s the lie that satan tells teenagers.  He does steal and destroy, not only teenagers, but adults also.

How can we be examples to our teenagers? Of course, our first resource is to pray and pray intentionally. (Just go see the movie War Room.) But secondly, we must choose joy.  I posted a scripture from Psalms today that convicted me.

“If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,

“I’ll get you out of any trouble.

I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me.

Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;

 I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.

I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!”

So, how much am I trusting God to get me out of trouble?  Will He rescue me and my family as we suffer?  I want a party! I want the BEST of care.  Who can give that to me? MY GOD CAN! Who can send satan running? I CAN! Not only from me, but from my teenager who I believe battles more of life than I do at times. You have this same power and control over satan, loneliness, and fear.

God, I’m holding on for dear life.  My family is STILL holding on for dear life.  There are days we feel the walls closing in around us and there is no way out.  I know others must feel this way, but why do I feel alone?  Help others be as transparent as I am being.  Help others know how to pray for and with me.  Remind them that I still miss my baby boy who is in your care.  We are all your children.  I don’t like masks, Lord.  Why do people wear them? Bind satan and his masks from me and my family.  Rescue us from fear and pain.  Lord, watch over my little sparrow and keep him safe.  He’s my only baby left.  Don’t let him feel alone. Amen.

Satan, you have no hold on this family.  No hold.  I refuse to feel alone.

“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. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:2-5

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

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.