Viva Las Vegas! (Blog)

If you know me well, you know I love to travel.  God is good because gave me a husband full of adventure and a love to see the world outside of the box we live in each day.  If we learned anything from Trey’s journey, it was to begin a bucket list and pursue it with all our might. On our bucket list was Las Vegas for our 25th wedding anniversary! I want to share with you a little of our trip since so many shared with us.

Most people think of Vegas as Sin City and the place where you naturally would want to go to gamble. Vegas offers much more (to my surprise).  I was shocked at the number of families in our hotel and walking the strip.  I will admit, the summer after I graduated high school, my mother took me to the West Coast and I went to Lake Tahoe.  I walked through casinos with my mother where you did not see ANY young children! My how times have changed.

I began my search through the airline, Allegiant. Their fares are so low that you cannot beat other airlines. Yes, you do have to pay for certain carry on luggage, beverages on the flight, but you still end up paying less than you would flying with another airline. Especially if you package your air with a hotel. That is what we did and flew on their schedule and ended up staying 8 days in Vegas for an unbelievable price in a suite that we would have not been able to otherwise afford. So do your research! I love that part of planning our trips!

I call myself an OCD travel planner. If we are going on a trip, we do not leave without a color-coded excel spreadsheet with each day planned. (Just ask my sisters – they have survived Hawaii and Disney multiple times.)  Each day has confirmation numbers, telephone numbers for excursions, rental car numbers, you get it.  Believe it or not, I left Memphis with a blank spreadsheet with nothing pre-planned for us to do. (And we survived!)

We stayed at the Venetian Hotel which is the sister hotel to the Palazzo. My mother-in-law stayed at the Palazzo on a visit to Vegas and told us of the shops and convenience to restaurants. This is an understatement.  It has to be the most beautiful hotel on the strip. We can testify that it’s the biggest.  Jay and I made it our goal each day to see if we could make it from one end of the hotel to the other without getting lost.  This is NO LIE!  We would circle through restaurants, high-end shops, back through the restaurants, through the Palazzo Hotel, end up on the Palazzo casino floor, wait…the Venetian is at the other end.  Then, we would turn around and head back.  There is a REASON they do not have windows!  The first day, after walking the strip, including walking to the M & M store, we calculated we had walked almost 10 miles.  Jay’s achilles was swollen where he had surgery and I had chin splints.  We couldn’t walk the next day or the next.  We laughed at ourselves trying to make it to the elevator!

We did see two shows, Cirque du Soleil O at the Bellagio and Cirque de Soleil Michael Jackson One.  Both shows were fabulous.  If you are in Vegas and are a Michael Jackson fan, do not miss this show.  We opted out of buying tickets to see Jennifer Lopez or Mariah Carey, or Donny and Marie Osmond.  That might have been a mistake, but one I can live with.

No, we didn’t go see Hoover Dam.  So many friends told us before we left that the heat was going to be so different in Vegas and I just couldn’t understand that concept…until I got there.  If you didn’t have a bottle of water with you at all times, you were in trouble.  At least in Memphis you can sweat a bottle of water!  The dry heat wore us out.  We actually slept EVERYDAY from 3-6 p.m. and would then go to dinner.  I don’t think I have ever done that on a vacation! Oh, that’s what vacation is for!  Jay would be on the couch in our suite in front of his TV and I would be in our king bed in front of my TV and we snoozed.

There were two days that we did choose to get out in the heat.  I pre-arranged for us to have cabanas next to one of the pools because I knew Jay would not be able to handle the sun.  What a set up!  The cabana had a television, fridge (stocked with water), couch, chair, air condition, fan, chairs outside, misting system, and your own waiter.  Even with all that, Jay and I could only stay in the heat from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.  We were in our room in time for our afternoon nap.  The cabanas were well worth it.  If you were in the sun, you were not in it long without getting in the pool.

Besides shopping (and yes, I hit an outlet mall!), I would have to say that our evening dining was what we enjoyed most. We had a lot of referrals,  talked to locals, and to some that frequented Vegas every year. Taking all of that into consideration, I think we only had one bad experience and it really wasn’t a BAD experience.  It just wasn’t what people had told us to expect and that was the Caesar’s buffet.  For the price we paid, well, you don’t want to know.  We were told to try the Wynn buffet and it was surprisingly better than Caesar’s.  Vegas hotels are very much in competition with their buffets.

For reservations, I used the app Open Table.  In the comment section for special occasion I put 25th wedding anniversary.  It’s amazing how service steps up a little when they know you are celebrating your anniversary.  Not to mention the nice dessert you get at the end of your meal.  We ate at Delmonico (Emeril Lagasse’s steakhouse) 5 star, Buddy V’s (Buddy Valastro  – the Cake Boss) 4 star, Yardbird (Known for their fried chicken), Caesar’s buffet in Caesar’s Hotel, Wynn buffet in the Wynn Hotel, and I can’t leave out In and Out Burger TWICE!

I would like to share an experience I had walking from dinner at the Wynn hotel.  I rounded a corner on a long walkway on our way back to our hotel and I saw a large black man in a purple jacket.  It just so happened I had a purple tank top on and Jay had on a purple t-shirt.  That was not planned.  It was August 4, several days after Trey’s 20th birthday.  Jay and I had spent July 31 grieving Trey together.  I felt this was an opportunity I could not pass up. I approached the man (as Jay kept walking) and I looked straight at him and said, “Do you know what purple stands for?” He looked at me with a grin and said, “Minnesota Vikings? Baltimore Ravens? TCU?” He kept naming every sports team he could think of and I gave him a minute as I grinned. I finally put an end to his torture.  I said, “No, it’s for pancreatic cancer.” He cocked his head and said, “I thought that was for breast cancer?”  I said, “No, pink is for breast cancer.  Purple is for pancreatic cancer.  My son was 15 years old when he passed several years ago of pancreatic cancer and he loved the Lord and he loved purple.” He got the biggest grin and he said, “Can we get our picture together?” I said, “Sure, cool.” So I have a picture with a man in a purple coat that turned out to be one of the security guards for the Wynn Hotel.  When I walked away, he had a smile on his face.  I don’t know why.  Maybe he likes purple too.  But I told Jay when I saw the purple coat, God opened the door and I couldn’t pass it up.

All in all, even though we didn’t walk the strip each night, stay up all night gambling, go see Hoover Dam or Lake Mead, we did exactly what we wanted to do for our anniversary which was basically waking up and having no agenda.  Don’t get use to THAT Jay Erwin! We’ve got another trip to plan and THIS time, we are going to a BEACH in 2017! A beach in the Caribbean!

Let the research and planning begin!

 

Unworthy (Blog)

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

I have a confession.  While driving to work this morning, I was talking with God and simply asked Him for blessings (keeping the particulars private).  All of a sudden a wave of tears came over me and I began to cry out to God, “Why am I asking for blessings when I feel so unworthy?”

Do you ever feel unworthy of God’s blessings when life is hitting you hard each day?

In Rick Warren’s Four Laws of God’s Blessings, he says, “When you care about helping other people, God assumes responsibility for your problems. And that’s a real blessing, for He’s much better at handling your difficulties than you are.”

Whoa.

In reading Rick’s quote, my thought is, am I holding on to something I need to let go of in order to receive a blessing.  As a matter of fact, (transparency here), when I was praying, through my tears, I told God that I just could not ask for a blessing when I am still hurting about Trey.  Am I playing a little blame game here? Certainly not me?  I immediately cut off my conversation off with God.

As I pulled in my parking garage, God clearly spoke to me and reminded me of the Beatitudes.

Matthew 5:3-11

 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.”

 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Blessed…Blessed…Blessed.

I realized I am worthy of God’s blessings because I am His child.  God desperately wants to hear from us as His children, even through our tears.

I have shed quite a few tears these last two weeks because of the anniversary of Trey’s death.  It never gets easier with time.  Trey’s words resonate in my mind from his testimony.  “I’m not doing anything but sending out a tweet from a bible verse I read that day and all the glory goes to God in everything.  I’m not inspiring anybody.  I’m being used by God and I’m just wanting all the glory to go to him and none, none, none to me.”

Trey just wanted God’s will to be done.  Isn’t that what we all want? Trey didn’t ask to be blessed. When Dustin May asked a few of us to describe the blessing we receive when we serve, what would we say.  I told him the blessing I receive is seeing God glorified. I have definitely seen God’s glory over the last four years.

As I have thought more and more this morning, I am reminded of the awesome power God gives us to go forth WITH His blessings to minister to others. I am also reminded of the part satan plays to tell us that we are NOT worthy of anything God has to offer.  He tells us lies from the pit of hell!

So YES! I AM WORTHY because I serve a risen Lord who died for my sins. And no matter what, through joy, heartache, and pain, Thy Will Be Done.

This song is my heart and deepest prayer as we face Trey’s birthday on July 31.  He would have been 20.  Jay and I will be out of town on his birthday for our anniversary and I pray that our friends will surround Collin and our family that day with love and prayers.  YOU still bless us with your outpouring of love and support.  #weareblessed

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You make me BRAVE!

Tonight, my mind would not let me rest, especially when God heard my prayers.

A part of grief is bitterness and even though at the time of Trey’s death I did not ask myself “Why?”, I have found myself with that question popping up in my mind.  My sister is dealing with the same grief.  Lord, why Trey? Why not healing? Why all this pain? Why the isolation?

I have prayed and prayed for God to come to me with comforting words to share so that I could share something positive.  The words never came.  I have refused to write about my never-ending grief.  It’s there.  I know people are uncomfortable talking about it.  My own family can’t talk about it.  Hello??? I lost my son! My heart literally breaks every day and NO, you CAN’T imagine how I feel…until you’ve been there.  But you can pray for me.  You can hug me.

I had the conversation with a friend the other day and he said, “…people just don’t know how to respond.  I even often worry that I might say the wrong thing or that something would be taken wrong.  I just push past that and pray for God to give me the right words.  I know we can be stronger together.”  What a concept! Stronger together!  I told him, “You get it!”  I know he prays for me and my family.  What a blessing.

But this week has still been filled with questions and pain.  A deep longing to sit with someone and talk about Trey and cry for my son as I head into an excruciating month.  I found myself crying out to the Lord tonight.

After that time, I realized I had not finished my devotion for the day, which I would like to share with you.

God Puts Pain to Use

I enjoyed breakfast recently with a friend.  Most of our talk revolved around the health of his fourteen-year-old son.  Seven years ago a tumor was found behind the boy’s spleen. The discovery let to several months of strenuous prayer and chemotherapy [at this point, I wanted to stop reading].  The son recovered.  He is now playing high school football and the cancer clinic is a distant memory.

The discovery of the tumor was the part of the story I found fascinating.  When the boy was seven years old, he was horsing around with cousins.  One of them accidentally kicked him in the stomach.  Acute pain led to a hospital visit.  An alert doctor requested a series of tests.  And the tests led the surgeon to discover and remove the tumor.  After the cancer was removed, the father asked the physician how long the tumor had been present.  Although it was impossible to know with certainty, the form and size of the tumor indicated that it was no more than two or three days old.

“So,” I said, “God used a kick in the gut to get your boy into treatment.”

The question at the end was, “Why the kick in gut?”  God doesn’t manufacture pain but he certainly puts it to use.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”

Oh, this story is so familiar but with such a different ending. How many of us are living with pain and grief, but forget there is a purpose.  We need to be brave in our faith. Satan does not want us to use the power God gives us by recognizing His full purpose.  We all have a purpose.  Trey had a purpose.  I actually reminded my sister this morning as we talked about our grief of Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  That scripture is NOT just for students graduating high school! He still has plans for my life, he has a future for me and I should have hope.

Does what I just said diminish my grief? Absolutely not.  But my God is faithful to answer me when I call.  To remind me that I am BRAVE.  I can make it through this life with friends by my side that choose to do this together!

YOU make me Brave! And it’s okay to cry!

Should I Stay Or Should I Go (Blog)

A gym full of parents registering their kids for camp.  High school and middle school kids running from one table to the next trying to decide who they want to room with, which bus to be on, excitement, drama.  Words are being said, but nothing is heard.

Smiles, laughter, and brief conversations about Sunday School, exams, school, and the outrageous cold temperature.  But wait…I just realized, it’s Laguna Beach Resort.  Still smiles and laughter.

“Do I need to have any information about Collin’s medicine?”

“No, I’m going as I counselor, so I guess not!”  Again, laughter.

What?  I’m going as a counselor? Back to Laguna Beach Resort.  The place where Trey made a video trying out his Lifeproof phone case underwater in the pool.  Where I looked at Ryan Mullins and said, “He won’t be coming back, you know.”  And Ryan responded, “Yes, I know,” as tears rolled down my face.  And the last place he worshipped, hands in the air, sitting with pillows to prop his feeble body in metal chairs a week and one-half before he died.

I’m writing this at 2 a.m. and asking myself if I’m crazy or has God put such deep desire to serve that I just cannot stand NOT going.  I have bonded with so many of my sophomore girls and the excitement of watching them grow in the Lord has me over the moon.  When I was able to spend small group time with them at Encounter and listen about their lives and their struggles, the desire to love them and help the grow in the Lord was unquestionable.  And that was just a weekend.

Have I answered my own question?  At first, I understood that we would be staying on the resort that is located on the beach, which is different from where we stayed with Germantown Baptist in 2012.  It was only until last night did I find out that those accommodations were not available and we would be at a different part of the resort, possibly the same location as 2012.  I had no hesitation in signing up in the beginning and was looking forward to bonding with the kids and also the youth leaders.

Last night I opened the mail to receive a necklace that someone made for me in East Tennessee.  Among the purple beads hangs a small glass tube with three small white/pearl beads to represent tears.  Attached to the tub is a charm with the inscription Psalms 56:8. This verse states, “You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book.”

I do not think it is a coincidence that I came home from an evening of looking around a room for someone to understand me or somehow pick up on my loneliness only to have God say, “Lisa, I’m here for your sadness.”  Hear me say, I didn’t expect anyone to realize about Laguna.  I fully believe you have to walk in someone’s shoes in order to feel their pain.

How can he turn such a week that was turmoil for Trey into joy of serving for me? Honestly, that is a good question and something God will need to work out.  I’m going to call on my prayer warriors to bind me up, cover me, and know that I am going for a purpose.  Before I agreed to go, I did ask Collin if it was okay with him.  He is fine with me going.  He won’t have to worry about money! Ha!

I will say that I respect Jay’s decision not to go.  Maybe he’s smarter than all of us guarding his heart.  Jay spent the majority of that week in 2012 taking care of Trey. Trey could not eat and Jay would go to the store and get soup for him to try.  Trey stayed in his room reading his bible or on the beach when it was cool doing his devotion.

He might have been in pain, but he was happy (and goofy).  And maybe it was at that time that God was preparing him for the end since he was able to spend so much time in the Word.  That gives me peace.  It was there that he wrote his last devotion, which I have shared before, but will share again.

Answering Prayer

Mark 9:23 says, “If we believe in him, all things are possible.”  But that does not mean God will answer all our prayers whenever we want or need.

Other passages say we must:

*Pray in line with God’s will – 1 John 5:14-15 “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”

*Pray with the right motives – James 4:3 “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”

*Pray with persistence – Luke 11:8-10  “I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.  “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

*Pray with a spirit of humility – Luke 18:14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Sometimes, we do not need to be reminded of these guidelines.  Sometimes, it just takes an increase of faith, Mark 9:24 “Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

By Trey Erwin

What a blessing for me to have this written by my son to help increase my own faith and give me a guideline for my own prayer life.  Yes, I think my question has been answered.  I am humbled that God would ALLOW me to serve and I should never take being one of his servants lightly or for granted.  Having the ability to go on a trip and minister to young minds is a blessing.  I ask that you will pray as I go the week of June 27 with Central Church and that God will guard my mind and my heart.  Pray for Collin, all the kids, and the staff!

Satan tells me that I am alone, that I don’t fit in at Central in the youth department, and that I shouldn’t be teaching.  He is wrong.  I know this because I taught at Germantown Baptist and gained some of the most precious friendships with adults and youth that I will cherish the rest of my life.  Society has succeeded in helping beat ourselves down with our thoughts.

This is not about God doing a work through grieving, which He can do.  It’s about God doing a work through faith.  My reliance on Him that no matter what the circumstances, no matter where we will be, I MUST “Count it all joy…” James 1:2-3

Thanks buddy.  I miss you. And way to go God, even at 2 a.m., for holding me tight!

P.S. After this picture was taken, Trey sent me a text and said he wanted to have his hair cut like Ryan’s and told me exactly how Rebecca could do it.  He was always making plans for the future and never giving up.  We should always have hope for the future and never give up.

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Emojinal #ccemojinal

Our pastor at Central Church is using the term Emojinal as a sermon series and I believe I fit in every emoji he is using.  Somehow, I’ve left most services feeling very emojinal.  Get it?

I received a card in the mail yesterday from a friend who follows me on social media.  Evidentially, she picked up on some of my tweets that have a sadness tone to them.  She went on to say in her sweet card that she remembers us “this time of year.”  Those cards come few and far between now.

“I can’t imagine how raw your feelings are this time of year,” said another friend.

The kindness in me always says, “I’m okay.”  The real me says, “I’m fighting each day with tears, heartache, and gut wrenching memories that no mother should have to experience.”  I remember something Pastor Rick said in his sermon on depression which included grieving.  “Dealing with depression does not mean you have a lack of faith or are in sin.”  What encouragement for me on the days that I feel the struggle of these “Trey days.”

“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear.” – C.S. Lewis

I talked with a St. Jude parent who told me that even after 10 years, a four-year loss is just a blip on the radar of grieving the loss of your child.  Whoa.  So I’m normal.  I’m not going crazy.  And what is best, I know that even in my darkest moments, God is still here.  My Jehovah Rapha.

Someone else is still in the midst of this ugly world.  Satan.  He loves to feed me lies that I am alone and the only one feeling the way I feel.  Pastor Rick encouraged the congregation to turn a deaf ear to the lie of abandonment that Satan tries to feed us because if you do not, it will lead to deeper depression.

So what can I do about this depression that haunts me? Well, I can write.

Write because you are angry.  Angry at the fact that so many things that are out of control.

Write because you are confused.  But God is not the author of confusion, so why can’t you sort things out, put it on paper, and things fall into place.

Write because you want real people for friends.  People that own up to their make mistakes, and also recognize their children make mistakes too.

Write because you still hurt.  Hurt for a child who is not here and the child that is here is suffering from a cruel world.

Write because it brings healing tears.  Because you know you are blessed with a husband who understands.

Write because you are screaming inside and no one is hearing you.  There might be someone else who is screaming too.  Maybe not for the same reasons and people think they know your reasons.  You feel like you are living around people in glass houses.

Write because you know God is the author and the finisher of your faith.  And God brings you to Hebrews to remind you of your faith.

Hebrews 2:1-3 “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?”

How can you neglect so great a salvation? A salvation that nailed anger, hurt, tears, confusion, depression, and death to the cross.  But Lord, I am human…they are human.  Do they not see?

And God said, Lisa, it is not yours to hold on to.  It is okay if the anger still surfaces, but be the example of my Son and know just as I calm the seas, I can calm you.  It is okay if you do not understand, you will in My time.

Writing helps.  It calms. It clears the mind.  It forces me to Be Still and Know that HE is God!

Writing is a tool that can bring goodness to the soul.

Writing is sharing.  Sharing God’s word.  How often can we overcome the depression and sadness to know that sharing God’s word is more important?

Trey worked in Kidz Worship at Germantown Baptist.  He loved to work with the kids and they absolutely loved him.  But something was different.  He had no fear.  I heard the testimony of a young boy Sunday night.  I knew of his testimony, I just have never heard it from his mouth.  On a video, he said that he learned about Jesus from this boy in Kidz Worship named Trey.  Trey Erwin asked him if he knew Jesus.  Trey was 15 at the time and sharing the gospel with a young child that eventually was saved because of his probing.

Needless to say, the video made me VERY emojinal.  I went home and covered every emotion of the spectrum from pride to sadness.  But the bottom line is I know the angels rejoice for one more soul that will be with Jesus one day because a teenager stepped out and shared about Jesus.

So why am I so emojinal? Because maybe sometimes I feel my boy was taken from me a little too early.  But is God ever early or late? No, He is always on time.  Accepting HIS timing might be a problem for many of us.  Where am I going to college? When will I get that job? Will I ever get the raise they promised? How are we going to pay for school next year? Are these your questions?

You don’t have to lose your son to be in the pits of despair over life.  The trick is knowing how to handle what is thrown at you daily. Thank you Pastor Rick for your suggestion for remedies for depression: Focus on God, turn off the lies, remember the good things, give praise, find support, and reach out.  I am work in progress and God knows my heart.

2 Cor. 4:7-9But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

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Remove the Label (Blog)

I posted this quote on Twitter this morning:

“The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” – Wayne Dyer

The quote is talking about giving up labels.  What kind of labels? Well, how about the kind that you put on people that dress a certain way, or talk differently than you, different political views, go to different churches, or dare I say, make mistakes!

Take a moment to observe people around you.  Do they often disagree with you just for the sake of disagreeing or arguing?  As it says in the quote, they may not know anything about the subject, but they will reject your point of view.  How often do we see this in our Christian walk? Do they reject Jesus? Are you rejected?

Christians make mistakes and can automatically be labeled or judged by their peers for their mistakes.  Society is quick to put people in categories and judge them by their behavior, especially our youth.  But how can they peel off their label?

A very popular scripture in Romans says, “For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23.  It might be that some sins are exposed in the light and some sins are hidden (in your closet).  The fact remains, sin is sin in the sight of God.

What a wonderful, merciful God we have that he forgives us of our sins! He erases our mistakes! We are CLEAN!

But do friends still look at you like you have sticky glue from the label on your forehead?  You have rubbed and rubbed that glue till your forehead is red.  No worries! Take what you have learned from your label and help someone else. Your label had so many ingredients on it.  Just do not put that label on someone else.

Remember! Matthew 7:2  “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”

Judgment is left up to God, not to us or our peers.  And this can also apply to judging yourself.  I’ve had to look in the mirror a lot lately. Satan is so savvy at telling me lies.  His greatest lie is that I am not a good mother and that I am alone in my grieving. (This is a very tough time of the year and I miss my boy even more.) I had been praying this certain scripture in Ephesians in my prayer room each day and for over a week I stopped because I got a little busy. Satan used that door.

After prayer with a dear friend yesterday, I have regained strength and Satan will not have me, my family, or my son.  You cannot judge my grieving, my family, or my precious Collin.  We belong to the high priest, our Lord and Savior.

Fight with me.  Remove the labels.  No more judgment of others. Pray this with and for me daily to defeat our enemy.  Love others MORE.

Ephesians 6:12 “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.”

Lift up your head and remove the label.

“It’s Been a Long Day – 2012”

We had a long night last night.  We thought Trey was running fever.  He was acting very anxious, having tremors, extremely nauseated, but he had been sleeping until that point off and on all day.

Luckily, while we were taking his temp, his dr sent a text to check on him.  I thought since he had been sleeping all day, he was starting to feel the effects of the chemo and experiencing the extreme tired feeling we were told he would feel.  As I talked to the dr., we realized that the change occurred after the nurse had been out earlier in the day and had  removed the basil rate of his pain pump.

When Jay returned from Walmart at 9:45 with a new thermometer, he had no fever.  I was pushing his bolus every 15 minutes to get the dilaudid in his system as we realized he was experiencing withdrawal from the dilaudid.

We reached the nurse by 10:45 and she arrived around 11 p.m.  By that time the dilaudid was back into his system and he had calmed down.  The doctors ordered for the basil rate to be continued along with his bolus.  In layman’s terms ;o) – They took him off his continuous feed of pain meds yesterday and he only had his pump to push.  They wanted to do this to try to wean him off so that he could begin to take pain meds by mouth.  When you have been taking the level he has for as long as he has, you can’t cut it off cold turkey and just leave him with the pump.

Needless to say, he has everything back that he had when he left St. Jude.  He did not get to sleep until 3 a.m. and I did not sleep well either.  He’s having some crazy dreams, but we are getting some good laughs.

Here again, just what would I have done if his dr would not have sent me a text just just at the right time to check on him? What a life saver! She kept me calm when I had no idea what was going on and Trey was punching the wall.

As most of you have already read, I got a text from him at 8 this morning asking if he could have Captain Crunch cereal for breakfast! That’s how we communicate.  He is upstairs and we are downstairs, so we either call each other on our phones or text.  I do have a baby monitor hooked up, but he doesn’t like it.  He had his cereal and kept every bite down.  He has eaten well today.  Turkey sandwich and a small plate of a chicken casserole.

He has had a lot of visitors today.  Needless to say he is WORN OUT! Dad and I changed his sheets, gave him his meds, and have tucked him in for the night.

One thing we did talk about this morning is his devotional he read when he woke up.  He reads Jesus Calling every morning that I gave him a year or so ago.  He tweeted part of the devotional.  I’ll post it for you.

“Come to Me for understanding, since I know you far better than you know yourself.  I comprehend you in all your complexity; no detail of your life is hidden from Me.  I view you through eyes of grace, so don’t be afraid of My intimate awareness.  Allow the light of My healing Presence to shine into the deepest recesses of your being–cleansing, healing, refreshing, and renewing you.  Trust Me enough to accept the full forgiveness that I offer you continually.  This great gift, which cost Me My Life, is yours for all eternity.  Forgiveness is at the very core of My abiding presence.  I will never leave you or forsake you.

When no one else seems to understand you, simply draw closer to Me.  Rejoice in the One who understands you completely and loves you perfectly.  As I fill you with My Love, you become a reservoir of love, overflowing into the lives of other people.”  Ps. 139:1-4; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; Joshua 1:5

“No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5

So tonight, he rests.

On another note, tomorrow we will be thinking about our friend and coach of the CHS lacrosse team, Steven Shipowitz who will be running the Germantown Half Marathon #1340 for Trey! 13 miles! Go Steve! Thanks so much!

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For some reason, God brought me back to the Caring Bridge page to read this to remind me what He said in Joshua.  “…I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  In the last four years, in grieving, pain, tears, joy, laughter, and sorrow, He has always been there. Have I always acknowledged Him? No.

God has taught me many things.  Things I need to share to bring others to Christ.  What has he taught you that you might need to share with someone?  Has your day been long? Are you weary? As I told a friend yesterday, there is an elephant in my room that will not move his butt!  I understand.  For me, the days are still long.

Allie Allen (Blog)

A 15 year old athlete.  An outgoing, charismatic personality. A rare cancer. No cure. Another St. Jude patient.  Sounding familiar? Sounds like Trey, but it isn’t.  It’s a sweet, beautiful girl,  Allie Allen.  A precious teen with hopes and dreams suffering with a form of an aggressive brain cancer that has at this time caused the doctors to recommend halting all treatment.  I remember those words.  “The treatment isn’t working.”

How do you move forward?  I’ve talked to Debbi Allen, Allie’s mom, on occasion over the last two months about living out each day.  If anything, she is grabbing everything for Allie and making the most of each day for her.  Debbi sparked my memory after we had a conversation at a recent Grizzlies game. I remembered how excited Trey was when he met the team, went in the locker room, and to this day we still have Rudy Gay’s shoes sitting in our office.  It’s those moments that the Allen family live for each day.  They put the smile you see on Allie’s face.  In turn, that makes for one happy mama.

But what you see are the smiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, news and even in person.  What you don’t see is Allie’s anxiety, exhaustion, nausea, and pain.  Most of the time, you hardly see that on most of the public St. Jude patients.  There were days that we knew an event would be coming up and Trey would dread the publicity for the shear fact that it drew attention to his cancer.  If I had a dime for each time he said, “All I want is to be normal,” I would be rich, and so would the Allen family.  That is what Allie wants most, to be a normal teen.  I bet you would hear that from all St. Jude patients.  I know Collin doesn’t particularly like the fact that he is one of Danny’s kids either.

The Allen family received the “phone call” or the “talk” from the doctors suggesting no more treatment.  As you are sitting in this small conference room and the doctors you have trusted each day for each step begin to give you this information, the walls slowly close in.  For me, it was a fight or flight situation and all I could do was ask more questions, “What about this? What about that?” The answers I received, “It will not work this time.”  Debbi and Eric have been in the same situation.  I’m not sure if Allie was in the room at the time, Trey was not.  I was alone, holding it together, as I have been perceived the strong, stoic mother.

It’s called FAITH.  It’s called HOPE.  It’s called GOALS.  You just don’t give up as you walk through your nightmare.  I remember one young person asking why I had goals for Trey when I knew he was dying.  I’m sure Debbi will agree.  It’s a part of hope and faith as you fight a battle that Allie and Trey both said cancer WILL NOT and DID NOT win.  I was listening to someone on television this last week and she was talking about her faith in God (okay, I’ll admit it, it was Kristin Chenoweth and she was selling her jewelry on HSN).  But something she said struck me.  She began to talk about how people have faith in many things with God first, such as family, friends, and that is one thing that has helped her on her journey.  Because of this, she designed a ring in the shape of an anchor.  My mind went immediately to Hebrews! “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:19 and 20.

As Christ is the anchor for Allie’s soul first and foremost, Allie has an anchor in St. Jude, her friends, her family, and yes, the public.  This isn’t a path she chose for herself, nor did Trey.  But these are things that are constant in her life that she can hold on to.  On those days that maybe Debbi OR Allie can put their feet on the floor, there is hope and faith that they have in an anchor to keep them grounded.  It might be an appearance, a concert, a ballgame, or Allie’s ability to show up at Houston High (oh, what a dream!).  That’s what they fight for.

I think the most angry I have been was when a local television station edited an interview to make it sound like St. Jude was not covering Trey’s care.  St. Jude is the most wonderful institution in the United States to care for OUR children at no cost.  NO COST!  There would be NO WAY we could afford to have Collin remain a patient there.   BUT, St. Jude did not pay our house note.  That was the point of the PrayForTrey account and the point of the GoFundMe for the Allen family.  I totally understand Debbi’s feeling of guilt.  It’s not pride or embarrassment, it is just an overwhelming feeling of not believing you’re in the situation you are in and that total strangers are helping you.  There is no way to return what people did for us and I stress to Debbi, do not worry about repaying the GOOD of others.  I have told her, take these as the blessings they are meant to be.  I did not get paid when I took family medical leave for the months I was off before and after Trey’s death.  I needed to be with my child.  Debbi and Eric need to be with their child.  Debbi has been down her OWN road since she just finished treatment for breast cancer.

What Debbi and I have talked about most is how we have so much in common regarding wanting to scream at the madness (me in grief), being sad, depressed, and just not knowing what to do next.  I told her, satan will rob your joy at every corner! (John 10:10) What most don’t realize is we had things in common before Allie got sick.  Their son, Zach, played football against Trey, and I love getting those big hugs every time I see him.  Collierville is such a close knit community.  More than that, God has a way of bringing people together.  We have laughed together, we have prayed together, I have texted, tweeted, etc. many times for this sweet family.

One thing we know, tomorrow might not bring answers OR answers we are wanting to hear.  But we do know that we serve a mighty God and I told Debbi, on behalf of the family, I would ask for you to pray for them.  Sometimes, there is nothing more that you can do other than donate a few dollars to GoFundMe, pray that it be multiplied, and pray for peaceful days for the Allen family.

We love you Allen family. We are praying for you and we know God hears our prayers, catches each tear, and has a purpose for all things!  We don’t always understand those things, but that is when we call on our faith. Grab it! Hold tight! Allie, keep reaching for the stars and stay in the word of God!

“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.” Rom. 8:28

God has a plan.

Allie has a purpose.

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.

Despair.

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.