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.

Drew

Hawaiian Paradise

Paradise.  What is your paradise? To some it is a mountain home overlooking the vastness of God’s beauty with a stream flowing below.  To others, like me, it’s the calm winds of an ocean breeze with the palm trees swaying slowly with sun beaming down.  Three years ago today we were headed to that paradise, Hawaii.  It was Trey’s paradise.  That was the first thing he put on Twitter when we arrived at the hotel, “Just arrived in paradise.”

When we were in Hawaii, it was also Mother’s Day.  I remember waking up that morning with an envelope next to my bed. “Mom” I opened it to find a notebook piece of paper that said, “Happy Mother’s Day, I love you thisssss much! Trey”.  He enclosed a picture of the two of us from the Orange and White game when we were in Knoxville just a couple of weeks prior.  That note and picture is taped to my bathroom mirror.  I see it every day, multiple times a day.

I can’t help but think about how he is experiencing his paradise with Jesus.  I want to believe that there are beaches in heaven.  I want to believe that he is not thin and his body is restored so that he can soak up the rays of light that Jesus gives.  When he had cancer, the sun was not his friend.  He only burned.  I want to believe that the light is no longer blinding his eyes and he can see all that God has that a beach paradise offers.  I know what the bible says, so I know God is loving on my boy.

Our paradise wasn’t exactly what we had hoped.  Trey couldn’t get in the water because he was too sick and had no strength.  He had fallen in the suite and had burns on his arms and legs, so the sun really hurt his skin.  The pool water was so very cold for him.  But one thing I’ll always cherish was waking up and looking up at this tall, skinny kid looming over me at 6 to 7 a.m. saying, “Come on Mom, let’s go eat breakfast!” We did, after I came down off the ceiling.  He loved the way the hotel fixed the oatmeal and it was one thing he could tolerate, sometimes.

It seemed every time we got on the elevator the song Somewhere Over The Rainbow was playing by the artist IZ.  Trey loved that rendition and downloaded it on his phone.  I almost had it played at his celebration, but for me, I would not have been able to handle it.

It will always seem like yesterday, and for me, it was.  Children are growing up, getting married, going off to college, coming home from college, going into high school, and mine is still 15, reminiscing of his Hawaiian paradise.  There are days that I sink to the floor in tears with grief because it hits me so hard.  And honestly, I’m trying to reel in a little “unfairness” towards Collin too. Grief really messes you up!

We are going back to Hawaii in about 30 days.  We are staying at the same hotel, same floor.  Yes, it will be emotional, but it will be paradise.  All I that comes to mind is the scripture from Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”  I think Trey is experiencing that glory which is much better than the paradise he thought was Hawaii.

Mother’s Day is always bittersweet.  I still have my own mother with me, but I’m without one of my own children.  I will enjoy Mother’s Day with my Collin, but in the meantime, I will be praying that he is enjoying paradise with Jesus and knows his mama loves him thisssss much.

Prayer Mask (BLOG)

It’s during my hour morning drive to work that God begins to prick my mind of daily events, people’s lives, memories of the past, and I slowly slip into a state of wonderment and what could have been.

I have always believed the bible is the absolute true word of God; from cover to cover.  God penned each word through many gifted prophets and those who sought His will while enduring strife and suffering.  I think of Job.  I think of David and Paul.  But what do they have in common? They called out to God in prayer during many stages of their walk with the Lord.

I remember the recent times I have called out to God in desperate prayer.  I have even tested the scriptures as God has told us to do.  Many nights I’ve called out to God when the hours were late, when you feel most vulnerable and your soul aches for God to answer your deepest needs.

“Humble yourselves therefore, under God’s might hand that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” Romans 15:4

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing…” 1 Peter 4:12-13

“Hear my cry, O God, Give heed to my prayer.” Ps. 61:1

“Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For my soul takes refuge in you; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by.” Ps. 57:1

But then there comes a day when I just can’t pray. Where is the hope I prayed to receive? I see posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram from others of scripture, devotions, encouragement and I wonder…how deep are you in prayer with the Lord or do you wear a prayer mask?  A mask that says, “God and I are tight and I have no problems!”

The only thing that gets me through some days are when I just say, “Oh God!” And that is all I can say.  He knows my name, he knows my heart, most of all, he knows my prayers before I pray them.

Grace…

I do not deserve God’s grace.  I have often asked for forgiveness for not being the praying child of God I need to be, but instead I am the sinner that begs for His mercy and grace.  I remember telling a group of girls on a GBC summer beach trip during our “together time” that I thought I wanted to be a nun as a teenager because I felt that was the only way I could be in constant prayer with God without the pressure of feeling guilty that I had failed Him.  They got a good laugh.  I believe God put that desire in my heart for a purpose.  To seek Him continually.

I’m quite good at begging for mercy. I learned it the hard way, on a St. Jude floor, next to a hospital bed, while my young boy struggled to sleep through the pain. My mind still goes to those dark places of not understanding why God did not extend His mercy on my child; a child that was supposed to outlive his mother.  Where was your mercy then Lord? Did you not hear my cries and my pleas when I prayed your word?  A grieving mother’s heart might never understand the true hand of God when losing a child.

But a CHILD of God knows His mercy and sees his handiwork through prayer.  “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, And he knows those who take refuge in Him.” Nahum 1:7

Do I still cry out “Oh God!”- most definitely.  Are there days that I say, “But God!”- each day.  Are there days of peace? Thankfully, yes. And my prayer is simply, “Thank you, Lord.”  Our days should be filled with prayer as conversation with our Lord.  If you wait to say, I’ll pray for an hour tonight, you won’t do it.  I believe that’s why God told us to pray continually.

Does prayer bring peace?  Most of the time.  But you have to have an open heart.  Kind of like a young boy I knew.  I can’t understand how God granted Trey peace.  I read this today, “You can avoid strife by remaining silent about the Lord, but a faithful peacemaker is willing to speak the truth regardless of the consequences.”  Yes, prayer brings peace.

I am still striving to be a bold warrior for God.  God have mercy on my soul that you may grant me peace in my grief that I may be a faithful prayer warrior for your people…without a mask.  That one day, you will say to me, “Well done thy good and faithful servant.”

It’s Been…1,000 Days April 1 (Blog)

1,000 nights I have woken up in the night to hear your voice only to realize you are not there.

1,000 days I have come home from work expecting to hear, “Hey Mom! How was your day?”

1,000 days I have waited at night for you to come in the door to tell me about your evening.

1,000 days have consisted of tears or fighting back tears, depression, and/or sadness.

1,000 days of needing friends, needing family, needing God, feeling frustration, desperation.

1,000 days of hearing your name mentioned as “Trey was…” knowing your considered in the past.

1,000 days of wondering how you would be doing in school and where would you be going.

1,000 days of talking to myself wondering if you hear me blabbering about the things Collin is doing.

1,000 days of remembering what we did each day during your cancer journey.

1,000 days of hearing your laughter ring in my ears and remembering the smile that lit up a room.

1,000 times of singing 10,000 Reasons and going back to the bed at St. Jude and wanting to hold you just one more time.

1,000 days of looking in your closet and wondering what I’m going to do with all of your clothes.

1,000 days of missing 3,000 plus 30 minute long hot showers.

1,000 days of remembering at least three changes of clothes a day…at least three.

1,000 days of not hearing “Collin, do you have my Nike Elite socks?” Collin, “NO!”

1,000 days of missing our talks at night as you sat at the end of our bed…and you listened…and you talked…and we laughed.

1,000 days of missing both boys in the bed watching a movie and hearing “Move Over!”

1,000 days of remembering how we talked about the sermon on the way home and going into deeper conversation.

1,000 days of remembering how you and I both sang Phantom and Wicked in the car together.

1,000 days of remembering when I called you to the bannister to tell you we had to go to Le Bonheur and the look on your face that I can’t erase…the fear.

1,000 days of trying to forget tubes, shots, procedures, chemo, lines, medications, throw up bags…

1,000 days of how you insisted on doing your laundry at 2 a.m. and was so OCD.

1,000 days of memorizing your face, your voice, your touch.

1,000 days of looking at the same pictures and watching the same videos knowing there will not be new pictures on my phone.

1,000 days of wondering when will Collin understand God’s purpose and miss you.

1,000 days of spending moments with your friends, receiving hugs, joining hands, and feeling loved.

1,000 days of receiving texts, emails, cards, calls, and visits from so many who hear a song, see your face, and ache for us.

1,000 days of appointments with counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists to learn how not to miss you.

1,000 days of learning how to lean a little more…just like you did.

1,000 days of remembering how strong you were till the end.

1,000 days of remembering whispering sweet things in your ear as we laid next to each other as you began to journey to Jesus.

But now, it has been 1,000 days that you’ve been at the precious feet of our Savior.

Selfishly, I still want one more day because it feels like only one day.

Jesus, thank you for letting me hear him say, “It’s okay mama. I’m okay.”

Jesus, please give this mama 1,000 plus glimpses of Trey with you in glory.

Heal this mama’s heart.

What’s With the Wardrobe?

So Friday night I went to a break out session at our women’s event at church.  The name of the session was How to Refresh your Wardrobe.  I thought, if there is anything about me that is easy to refresh these days, it’s my clothes!

If you haven’t noticed lately, the new fashion in tops are the flowy piko tops.  I love them!  If you know me, you know how much I love them because I think I own one in every color.  Throw that belt OUT the window ladies and put on the stretchy pants!  But there comes a time when you feel like you are tired long necklaces, ballet slippers, black pants, and a different scarf to work every day. Oh wait, I just told what I wear to work every day, but with a vest here and there.

I left the session with a few ideas…throw a cardigan over this, a crochet vest over that, sure you can wear white skinny jeans, buy a tank top and put a piko over it.  My mind began to spin and Saturday shopping was on my list of things to do for the weekend.  It was the sidewalk sale in Collierville, after all.

I’ve been quite the Instagram shopper the last couple of months and found great looks and buys.  Some boutiques can be pricey, but they also have the ability to control their prices.  I have a pair of palazzo pants that I was determined to use my new savvy ideas to match for Spring.  Out the door I headed with my pants shoved in my purse, shopping for Spring…in the snow.

One thing that my sweet mother passed to my two sisters and me is the ability to gain wait and keep it as our very own.  Grief has not helped the situation.  But the Winter style sure helped hide that problem.  As I walked into the store, the Spring style does NOT emulate the Winter style.

“Can I help you?”

“Yes, I need something that is coral to match my pants.  I see you have pikos. Can we find one that will match my pants?”

The young (emphasis on young) lady replied, “Oh I’m sure we have something.”

As I browsed the store, she brought me a cream top with no sleeves and a bow at the back of the neck.

“You can just put a cami under this and it will match perfect!”

I smiled and replied, “Oh, that’s so cute, but I try not to go sleeveless and show my arms…at work.”  All the while I’m thinking, does she know how tight the piko sleeves are on these fat arms anyway?

A few minutes later, “Here is a blue and white striped shirt.”

I looked at it for a minute and thought it might work, but it also might look like I got dressed in the dark because my pants have a pattern.  Or if people REALLY didn’t know me, they would think I had been drinking.

The last suggestion was a dress extender that’s a cami to go under a piko.  I guess just forgetting the pants. Now that would be a sight!

I finally said, “Honey, I’m almost 50 years old and I just can’t pull off most of this stuff.”

I did leave with ANOTHER piko and a vest.  All the way to my car I was thinking, “What am I doing! Another piko!”  Was I just impatient and wanted something to go with the pants or do I really love these tops? I think impatience won.

What I came to realize over the weekend is that I am who I am.  Yes, I can lose some weight.  A lot of weight.  But because the style is camisoles and skinny pants, that doesn’t mean I need to be the next Walmart “what not to wear” ad, if you know what I mean.  There are so many things that have changed about wardrobe do’s and don’t’s.  You can wear suede in summer and white after Labor Day.  Well, that’s not what my momma taught me.

So, who do you listen to?  Well, I was brought back to God’s word.  Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.” 1 Timothy 2:9-10  I think we can braid our hair, etc. but what made me think is my dress making a claim to godliness? I immediately thought of 1 Cor. 10:31 “Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do ALL for the glory of God.”  I think that includes the way we dress.  I don’t think I have to look like I have on a potato sack, and I’m going to work on that part, but I don’t need to wear skinny jeans and not cover up what God gave me either.  (The thought of putting on skinny jeans makes me nauseated anyway.  Don’t you want to eat?)

As women (and sometime I know fathers do also), we tend to harp on the young girls who dress inappropriately with short shorts, tank tops with bras showing, but the acceptance is becoming more and more for the older generation.  We must remember to be an example to the younger generation and model what is appropriate.  I’m thankful for Alisha Reed at Central who is modeling to her children what is acceptable and not acceptable.  She refreshed me Friday night with her suggestions on how to spruce up my wardrobe with a Godly heart.

“You are together beautiful my love, there is no flaw in you.” Song of Solomon 4:7  Claiming it. Memorizing it. Answered prayer.

I’m okay just as I am. And the next time you see me, I might have on a piko (like right now).  ;o)

That ONE Person (Blog)

You’ve had that feeling before, that nagging in the pit of your stomach that something is just not right. I was asked to speak at Bartlett United Methodist Church months ago. I suddenly realized that it was a week away and I had not asked permission from my boss, nor had I begin to prepare. Panic set in and I told myself I just had to find a way to get out of this situation. I sent a text to the daughter of the mother of whose church I was going to speak. I told Holly, I can’t do this…what am I going to do! She asked, “When is it?” I responded, “Next Tuesday!” Silence.

More panic began to set in as I did not receive a response from Holly and I imagined she had contacted her mother to tell her that I was not able to speak because of my work load, a misunderstanding because I thought the event would be at night, [insert next excuse].

Most of you are familiar with LinkedIn on social media. I am a member because I kept receiving invites and I finally succumbed to realize it would be a good outreach tool. I received a message in my inbox from a man I didn’t know and he proceeded to tell me the story about his father. He gave me permission to share this wonderful, bittersweet story.

Lisa:

I am a Germantown resident with three boys. I have followed Trey’s and your family from the beginning of Trey’s illness. I want you to know your son taught so many how to die with God’s Grace. Little did I know that God put Trey and your family in my life for a reason. In the fall of 2013, my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and he passed away April 2014.

But because of your story being told publicly, I knew what to expect. I shared your family’s story with my dad. During this time my father found God and was saved. He is with Jesus now and Trey. He knew Trey’s story and he knew what a disciple Trey was until the last minute and still is today.

I spent the last two weeks with dad and most of his waking moments were just talking. Nothing was left unsaid and I am happy to say that.

I was talking to my dad’s pastor as he was asleep one day about my dad’s salvation and the pastor said he was present when my dad accepted Jesus into his heart. He also stated my dad talked about Trey’s story. Wow!!

The pastor told me that “dad was teaching me his final lesson”. He was “teaching me how to die with grace”. I immediately thought of Trey.

I want you to know I still pray for Trey and your family. Trey may have left this earth but he is alive. He has helped so many and I am sure I am not the only one.

Although, I have never met your family or Trey, I am very thankful you shared Trey with the world.

You should be so proud of Trey and how he taught so many lessons to people of all ages.

Sincerely,

Steve Gilmore

After I read this story and Steve and I communicated, I went to my boss with a convicted heart. I told him I had a problem. After I told him what was going on, he looked at me with all seriousness and said, “You need to get your mind right.” I said to myself, “What?” and immediately thought, “Did I say that with my inside voice or outside voice?” Luckily, my inside voice. Joe went on to tell me, “There will be ONE person there that will need to hear what you need to say.” I told Joe the story of Steve Gilmore and his father, and in my mind, might have been JUST THAT ONE at the time and place God had intended. I left his office with his blessing to speak and I sent a text to Holly telling her all is well.

I received a text the night before I was to speak from my prayer partner, Ashley McCrary, asking me what I was going to speak about. She knew I was going to speak about Trey, but she wanted to know specifically so she could pray. I laughed and I told her I had 14 different versions and I had no clue. I had a migraine and I could not focus to decide. I put my Ipad down and just prayed for God to lead me in the coming day.

The ladies at Bartlett United Methodist Church were so lovely and inviting. I shared with them my story about not knowing what I was going to share and they were also touched by Joe’s compassion to let me go out into the community to share Trey’s story. As I looked over the crowd while I was speaking, I communicated with God, “Who is that ONE Lord that needs to hear from you today?” Sometimes we will never know how the Lord touches someone’s life through our actions or words.

I have been weary lately and my writing has been put to the wayside. Out of the blue I received a text from my friend Tami Theobald. We talked about how fear can restrict us from what we want to put on paper. She made a statement that is so true. “We write as if it really happened, we have to bleed on paper.” Then she said, “Someone needs to hear your words!” That was the SECOND time someone has told me that. She told me, “Your words heal you by writing them and heal others by reading them.” I was amazed at God’s work in telling me, “Lisa, it’s time to put it on paper.”

At the end of speaking at Bartlett United Methodist Church we had a question and answer time. One special lady asked the question I have been waiting for someone to ask. “What are the things we should or should not say to a grieving parent?” I lit up for joy and said, “Oh, thank you so much for asking that question and here are my suggestions.”

1. Try to avoid – “I’m sorry for your loss.” Trey is not lost. I know where he is. It’s not that it’s offensive, it’s just a church saying when you don’t have anything else to say.

2. Please don’t say – “Oh, he’s better off in heaven not suffering.” Are you kidding me? I know he’s in heaven, yes, but I’m still his mama and if I could beg God, like I have MANY times, I would ask for just ONE more time with him so I could tell him how much I love him.

3. Try to avoid – “I know what you are going through.” Unless you have lost a child, no you don’t. I carried my son for nine months, fed him, bathed him and changed his diapers. Then at age 15, I fed him, bathed him, and changed his pants, underwear and bed as he looked up at me, sometimes with no words.

4. Remember this one, if you can – “Call me if you need anything.” We won’t call you. We are grieving and it is not in a grieving person’s nature to reach out. We are still reaching in to find what was lost. We know it cannot be replaced, but we are trying to find a new way to function as a family of three.

BEST HELP!
– Listen to our memories
– Tell us that you will pray for us, and DO IT!
– Insist on bringing a meal or going to dinner together – even after two years (action speaks louder than words)
– Remember a hug goes a long way
– Be patient with our tears. They will flow for years, and years, and years.
– Put yourself in our shoes
– If you ask how we are doing, be prepared to listen

I retweeted something today that I thought was so important. “Be a voice, not an echo.” By being that voice, you might be the only Jesus that ONE person sees or hears. In speaking, that ONE person might have needed to hear the suggestions for a grieving parent. My prayer partner, Ashley McCrary, her kids, and other adults and high school kids at Central Church are leaving for Ecuador tomorrow. I think of them as they go out to be the Jesus that ONE person might see and one day, just maybe, be at the feet of Jesus because of their ACTIONS. For this reason, I have said, I will never stop talking about Trey’s faith story. Will it add ONE more child to your kingdom Lord? Isn’t that our purpose? Was that Trey’s purpose? To bring people to HIM?

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

Are you the only Jesus someone sees today? If so, would it lead them to the feet of Jesus? As Christians, we are held accountable to go…preaching and teaching the Word. So wherever you are, whatever you are doing, KNOW you might be that ONE to someone.

Just Being Real…Leaving Home (Blog)

Jay and I left my home church, Parkway Village Baptist almost 20 years ago to become a part of Germantown Baptist Church (GBC). Parkway Village was all I had ever known. We did not visit anywhere before going to GBC because there were so many people that I knew at GBC and it was a comfortable fit. That does not mean the move from Parkway Village was easy. I left all my family behind as Parkway Village was going through a difficult period.

Jay and I knew that we eventually wanted to get into a church with a large youth program because that was what I had growing up and the bonds that were formed then are still with me today. We also knew we would eventually move from our Cordova home to Collierville to raise our children in the Collierville schools. Through all of those moves, God was with us as we prayed each step of the way; moving houses, giving birth to two children.

For more than 8 years, I served in the Youth Ministry at GBC because my heart is with youth. There is nothing more satisfying than pouring into their lives and ultimately seeing the light bulb go off as God speaks to them. So many precious girls and so many memories; summer camps, Vintage (girl’s camp), Youth Choir, Youth Choir retreats, mission trips, DNOW; all serving most of this time with Trey and/or Collin in the youth group.

Then, in 2012, at DNOW with our GBC youth, God changed the direction of our family with Trey’s diagnosis. After Trey’s death, Collin was left in the youth and I continued to co-teach a class. I finally came to the point that I realized that I was putting the oxygen mask on everyone else and not on myself and not doing God service in His teachings. My grieving need was paramount over my teaching need. BUT, during this time, the meals had stopped, the cards were no longer coming in the mail, the statements that were made would be, “Call me if you need anything”. Well, I can’t call anyone. If you have walked the death of a child journey, you will know that you are still there, in 2012. He is still in 10th grade as many of you have walked your child off to college and that phone call…well, it needs to be made by you. But the phone calls did not come. I heard, “We need to get together.” And all I knew and still know how to say is yes, we do.

Jay did not return to Sunday School after Trey’s death for many reasons. When I stopped teaching, we went to several classes. God literally closed doors by backs being turned (not intentally!). You can’t get a more clear answer than that. I began to pray for Collin’s heart to soften to leave GBC. After his best friend left with his family because his father is pastoring a church, Collin felt a little disconnected. Collin told me in the last three months he was NOT leaving GBC. I just continued to pray and told Jay I would give it till the first of the year.

I continued to pray daily Ps. 31:3 “For you are my rock and fortress; For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me.” During the holidays, I had eight days off and took that time to rest and take the time to prayerfully consider with Jay what our family needed to do come the first of the year.

Let me preface all of this by saying something Ernie Frey said from the pulpit at Central several weeks ago. It does not matter WHO is in the pulpit or IF there is a pastor in the pulpit, the PEOPLE are the church. The church is merely filled with sinners saved by God’s grace and also filled with sinners who have yet to know the saving grace of our Savior. All churches have issues, difficulties, staff changes, growth spurts, and differences in beliefs. But the majority of the churches in Collierville believe that Jesus was the Son of God and died to save us from our sins. Not ONE of us is perfect! There is no psychiatrist, psychologist, or grief therapist that can substitute for the church and the love that should emit from knowing its mission of sharing the Gospel. Even though we are seeing every counselor known to man to help with our grief, we come home and that warm and fuzzy feeling just doesn’t exist.

Oh, but I’ve claimed to have had joy? Well, for the first time in a LONG time since Trey’s death, it happened. A couple of weeks ago Collin was giving us grief about going to church that morning. We had not told him we were planning to go to Central. When we did, he did not say anything and he got ready for church. After Sunday School, I saw him come in the service late and my first thought, “Great, here we go. He’s been in the bathroom avoiding church.” After the service he came up to me talking non-stop how he was asked to join the Encounter (DNOW) planning team and that’s why he was late to church, how they were doing this and that. I just played it cool and afterwards I thought Gina Johnson and I were going to squeal like little girls. God had touched his heart. He was welcomed, loved, needed, and found his place. A place that had not been Trey’s place.

Fast forward to two Sundays ago. Jay was at work and my best friend visited with me, Cindy Few. We sang 10,000 Reasons and The Stand, both from Trey’s funeral. I cried in her arms and God placed her there for a purpose. Ernie preached about the discipline and leading in the family. God spoke through him directly to me about the leading of our family. Discipline is the responsibility of the home, not the church. I think I had been waiting for Collin to shape into place where Trey had made his mark in life.

Last week, Jay and I were coming out of Sunday School and a man grabbed me to hug. I looked up into these familiar eyes and melted into the arms of Jim Siegfried. If you have not read my book, Jim and Cyndi were members of GBC at one time and he baptized Trey. His grandson, Corbin, was one of Trey’s pallbearers, and we are just close in family. We then sang Forever Reign in the service, another song from Trey’s funeral. During the service, God spoke directly to me as our Sunday School teacher (Ky Faciane) was preaching. He told me that no matter WHAT church we belonged to, Trey would be with us wherever we go. And the friends that I have at GBC who are my true friends, will remain my friends for life. Peace. Joy.

We left the service to attend the Starting Point class to learn more about Central Church; and that was just our plan, learn. Collin said, “I don’t need to go, I’m already a member.” I said, “No you’re not!” He had no idea what he was talking about, but the fact that he voiced in his way how God had changed his heart was joy to this mama’s heart that I knew HE heard my prayers.

Starting Point…turned into joining Central Church. I’m already in a Beth Moore study on Wednesday night, I have run into so many ex-GBC people that want me to join the choir, Jay and I are helping with Encounter this weekend, they have a grief team that will be helping us. Most of all, and most importantly, every time I have walked in each door I have felt loved.

Ps. 30:5 says, “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.” I do not dare say that my weeping is over, (I still cry just about everyday) but I can tell you that joy has come in the morning for the Erwin family. It is different in a certain young man’s attitude and we all know that makes life a little easier. I don’t expect many people to understand. I’ve said many times, put yourself in my place and suddenly have God rip away your son or precious daughter and be expected to come to grips with it as people move on. Sometimes, I feel like it is down right mean!

There will still be the questions and comments because we are the Erwin family (I’ve had it happen several times at Central). There are many friends and people at Central I do not know who prayed for us and walked the journey with us. I pray I will have the opportunity to share our journey with the women at Central and I hope I will be able to return to GBC to speak to the family where I will always call my home. Selfishly, Pastor Charles did not want to see us go, but he did so with many blessings and love. I will miss Charles Fowler and Ron Norton, but I will not ever wander far from home.

Learning to live as a family of three, listening to His call, and following His leading.