Collin’s Story (Blog) He Calms the Seas

WRITTEN WITH PERMISSION

You are 12, you are settling into middle school, and just trying to figure out what life is all about.  The next moment, your family brings you to St. Jude to spend time with your brother with no explanation.  Within a few days, you are taken down a hallway where your parents sit you down and tell you that your brother has terminal cancer.  The question comes, “Is he going to die?”  Even though you know the answer to the question, you sugar coat it as much as you can to guard his heart.  There sits Collin with tears in his eyes not knowing what to say or how to walk back in to talk to Trey.

Bravery or confusion?

During Trey’s illness, Collin and Trey spent a lot of time together.  I know that Collin cannot recall that time, but they watched movies, he slept in Trey’s room, they played video games, and anything Trey was invited to do, Collin went also.  But during the process of the illness, we failed to keep Collin informed on Trey’s condition.  As a mother, it is just inbred in us to protect our children, even if it is from what something we knew was inevitable…death of his brother.

After Trey’s death, we thought it natural to seek counseling for all of us since we had just experienced one of the most painful events a family could fathom.  To our surprise, Collin did not respond to counseling. There wasn’t a question in the book that he would answer.  You were not going to crack Collin Erwin and he let you know it. Not only did he not respond, but he began to act out at school and bring home poor grades.  Since I lost my father when I was a senior in high school, I was not totally surprised at his reaction to Trey’s death.  Because of this “kindred spirit”, I felt on some level I could relate to Collin and help him open up to me.  I’m his mother, after all.  Even though my heart was shattered, I knew Collin was hearing me on some level.

Heart or head matter?

We continued to seek counseling for Collin because we knew he was also dealing with knowing he would be a St. Jude patient for the rest of his life since he also carries the P-16 gene – until we hit a wall.  That wall was anger.  I thought to myself this was normal.  Collin was angry because Trey was gone and this is the normal progression in the grief process.  I knew anger and I’m an expert at this grief process, of course.  Then came the outbursts, the anger against Trey, words I didn’t understand, words that hurt, things that Trey did before he died to hurt Collin.  Trey wasn’t perfect and they were normal brothers.  But they never got the chance to bridge that gap of teen years into a friendship of protection and unconditional love.  At the age of 12, for Collin, that relationship was cut off.

Over the years I heard many angry words about Trey, church, God, and family that I just knew were not in the sweet heart of that little boy I once knew.  But now he was 16 and bigger than me and could get in a vehicle and drive away with his anger.  The anger turned to depression accompanied by many hours of sleep, days of sleep.  There were some days I could look into his eyes and not even know the boy I was looking at.  He was a young man that didn’t care about himself or life.

On the evening of January 31, 2016, Collin and I had been having our usual elevated conversation.  I was trying to be the rational parent and have a conversation with a teen that was angry.  Once they are angry, they get angrier.  Without going into the details of our conversation, Collin admitted to drinking since he was 13 after Trey died and that at this point he had nothing to live for.  I saw the signs earlier, but I just could not catch him.

Parents, you cannot have a rational conversation with an angry teen.  Give.It.Up.

That same evening I made a call to our pediatrician and he told me to take him directly to Lakeside.  We arrived at Lakeside at 11 p.m.  Collin admitted to the counselor at Lakeside that he had thoughts of harming himself, so by law they had to keep him.  At 4 a.m. on February 1, 2016, he was being transferred to Parkwood Hospital in Olive Branch, Mississippi, because Lakeside did not have any beds. I did not know at the time what a blessing God was providing.  The EMT who transported him by ambulance recognized our name and said that he went to school with Trey.  At that point, I wanted to crawl under the gurney.  I then understood how Collin felt being confronted by someone bringing up Trey’s name at a time that you just did not want to talk about him.

It was hours before he was admitted to Parkwood.   All this time we sat together in a small room not talking.  His body was contorted in a chair with his hoodie pulled so far over his face it reached down to his neck. He wanted to disappear.  Jay was at work and could not be with us.  No one knew where we were or what was going on.  I was exhausted, as was Collin, and I was questioning every decision I was making.  My heart sank as Collin had to remove his belt, his wallet, and all his belongings to turn them over to me.  He walked out of the room and left without a word or a glance back at me.  I did not know when I would see him again.  I wanted to reach out to hug him, but I knew he would push me away.  I told him I loved him.  He would not look at me.

During this time, Jay and I did a lot of crying and re-evaluating.  I cried out to ministers at several churches who had been there for me in the hard times.  Many stepped up and wanted to go see Collin but Collin was not allowed visitors.  It was a very lonely time for us.  We knew that Collin blamed us for where he was and what he was going through.

I spent the time when I was alone praying through Collin’s room with worship music playing very loud.  I prayed in his bathroom, over his bed, in his closet, over his walls, and I prayed satan out of his room.  I did this for many, many days.  I prayed Ephesians 6:12 over him.  “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  I screamed at satan repeatedly, “YOU WILL NOT HAVE MY SON OR MY FAMILY!”

I also prayed Psalm 30:1 and where the word “me” was, I inserted Collin’s name.  “I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued Collin.  You refused to let Collin’s enemies triumph over him.  You are not willing to give Collin up to his spiritual enemies, Lord. You aren’t willing to let Collin go.  You will fight for Collin and complete the Victory in Collin.”

I relented over the many days I had NOT done this over the last four years and how maybe we would not be at this point if I had been faithful in praying over him.  We had been praying for four years to see a change in his anger…and here we were.

You can ask anyone that has been to our home, these scriptures and many others are taped in my personal bathroom on the wall…my war room.

Collin spent the next three to four weeks in group and one on one therapy.  He was in therapy classes with kids that did not have parents or kids that parents were not coming to see them or were incarcerated.  We had approximately three opportunities to see him.  During one of those sessions, he told me that he hated Trey and would never forgive him for the things he did to him.  His anger spewed like a hole in a pipe that had burst.  As a mother, my heart was broken.  I felt like a failure and that there was no healing for my boy or our family.

Lord, where are you? I’ve been crying for you! Is this what Collin’s life has come to? Where did we go wrong?

Because of Collin’s anger, Parkwood recommended long-term care.  Our insurance only covered a certain amount of time inpatient, but they would cover until the end of April for outpatient care.  Collin drove to Parkwood every day after school and attended therapy from 5:30 to 8:30 Monday through Friday.  We attended family sessions on Tuesday evening, which were not always successful.  Finally, at the end of April, Collin learned to use his coping skills when he felt anger, and agreed to follow a program set up by Parkwood and by us as his parents.  His grades began to come up and Kristy Krotzer became a part of our daily life at CHS as we made sure he followed the rules we set for him to follow.  If he did not follow the rules, he would return to Parkwood as inpatient (no drinking, go to church, do your best at school, take your medication).

We felt like we had a new lease on life.  We thought we had a start at a new family.  Collin had admitted to manipulation in therapy and using us by lying to get what he wanted. Parents, they become masters.  Therapy for a few months doesn’t always cure all that ails the heart, mind, and bad habits.  Anger doesn’t just run away.  It’s like sin, it creeps in suddenly and will wreak havoc in a family or relationship before hearts can heal.  So many times I wanted to say, “Do you know what we are going through, do you know what my son is going through?” But let me back track a little bit about anger.  It’s not LIKE sin…it IS sin.  I was angry too.  Angry at the people that had given my boy alcohol and their parents, angry at the friends that weren’t running to our door to rescue us.  But only God can rescue a sinking ship of sin.

May came along and Collin was able to finish his sophomore year and pass all of his subjects.  We were sweating a couple of subjects.  I cannot praise Collierville High School enough for how they integrated Collin back into school after him being out for a length of time.  I also want to take this opportunity to say to parents who are dealing with kids who are drinking.  Do NOT be naïve to think they are not doing it under your nose, even while you are at home.  Seek help.  Believe it or not, insurance will only require you to pay the co-pay.  You could be saving your child’s life.  Seek professional help.  Do not think you can handle this on your own.  Jay and I will admit now, it’s the best decision we ever made, yet the second hardest thing we have ever done in our life, walk out and leave another son.  I will NEVER forget what the counselor told us after with left our first inpatient session.  She said, “You go home and don’t worry about Collin.  We will take care of him.  You pray and strengthen your faith.  By doing so, you will be strengthening Collin.”  I fell in her arms crying telling her that is what I needed to hear.  She repeated, “We will take care of Collin, you take care of your faith in God.”

Collin and I went to Oasis which is the Central Church youth camp at Panama City Beach the end of June.  Many during that week were saved, getting baptized, and re-baptized.  It touched my heart deeply as I heard so many stories so similar to Collin’s.  I distinctly remember during the counselor meeting as we were praying, I fell to my knees and began praying out loud and begging on behalf of Collin.  I prayed for God to touch his heart.  I talked to his counselor and knew that Collin had shared his story of Parkwood for first time with the friends in his room.  That was a big step for him.  We left Florida without Collin checking a box on a card or being re-baptized, or professing any kind of change in his faith.  But I knew he was rejoicing in his heart over the changes his friends had made.  There was a smile on his face.  He was talking to adults.  Most of all, he took a picture with me.

On July 13, Collin called me at work and reminded me that Jay and I would be gone on vacation over Trey’s 20th birthday.  My mind began to reel very fast with the thoughts, “Why does he care, why is he bringing this up, this is odd, okay what does he want?”  He went on to say that since Jay and I were going to be gone, he talked to Tim Few (one of Trey’s best friends) and they decided they wanted to get matching tattoos.  I said, “WHAT? You’re not getting a tattoo! You’re only 17!” He went on to say that he decided he wanted to get Trey’s birthday and his signature.  I began to cry and I asked him, “Why, all of a sudden, do you want Trey’s name permanently on your body?”  He said that he had just been thinking about him a lot.  I told him he would have to do better than that.  He said he just had to move on and like I had said in therapy, Trey was gone and there was nothing he could do.  I said I had to talk to his dad and we would talk.  I hung up the phone in shock.

I talked with Jay and he agreed we needed to know more of Collin’s heart.  Jay was not totally against it and neither was I. Collin and I talked the next day.  I said to Collin, “Collin, you have spent the last four years with your mantra being how much you hate Trey.  How can it change so quickly?” He repeated what he told me the day before.  He just decided it was time to move on.  I said, “Collin, I have to ask you, not as a counselor, but as your mother, have you forgiven Trey?”  He said, “Yes.”  I said, “What I am worried about is once the tattoo is on your body and you look in the mirror, your anger with Trey will resurface and you will not know how to handle it.”  He told me he would.  I said, “Okay, what are you going to say when someone sees the tattoo on you?”  He said, “I’m going to say that’s my brother’s birthday.”  I played devil’s advocate.  “Why do you have your brother’s birthday tattooed on you?”  Collin replied, “Because he died when I was 12 and I was confused and it caused me to have a lot of mental problems and it reminds me I’m all better now.” I began to cry and told him I’d take it.  Jay agreed.

Forgiveness and acceptance.

Why are we so surprised and in doubt when God answers our prayers?  We had been praying for Collin for four years and Collin had finally come to the point of acceptance of the place where he would put Trey in his life.  We are such an instant gratification society.  We wanted Collin to have instant healing, grieving, no anger, and check the box on the re-dedication card.  As parents, we have to remember to not put our kids in a box.  They do not fit a mold and will not always check a box, go to a four-year college, or make A’s and B’s.

One thing Collin and I did talk about the day we went to get the tattoo was the part God played.  He said, “I know you want to think this is about God but it’s about Trey.”  I said, “Collin, I’m not saying this is about God and I think it’s great you think it’s about Trey, but you have to realize that you would NOT have a change in your attitude unless God had touched your heart.”  Collin’s face began to get a little red.  I said, “It’s okay to admit that God did something in your life.  It doesn’t mean that you have to go announce it to your friends, but your tattoo will be your testimony and you will need to learn to tell it.”  We have talked more about developing how to tell his story, because he definitely has one!

Collin has led a lonely teen life.  He has been judged by his peers and Christian adults.  What is important for Collin to know, he has a safe home where he is loved and NO ONE, NO ONE has walked in his shoes.  And until now, people have not known the road he has been walking.  And still…many have not lost a brother and have to go to St. Jude in October to make sure his tumor markers are normal and his MRI is not showing any signs of cancer.

Yes, I ask you.  Walk in his 17 year-old shoes and hold to your faith without anger or questions.  Our children are NOT perfect and Collin WILL mess up, but what I have told him and all of his peers, the beauty about God’s grace and mercy is His forgiveness.  Please tell your child there is forgiveness with our Savior.  We are not promised tomorrow. Are you concerned about approaching the subject because you are afraid of what your Christian friends might think?  What about the nights of worry where he will get the next drink, marijuana, or will it be pills.  From what I am told, it is everywhere.

Collin still has road to walk.  But he will never be alone because he has his family and most of all, he has Jesus.  We are blessed by our boy and know he is destined for great things.  One day, he will understand tough love as a parent and I encourage you to exhibit tough love if you are experiencing satan’s darts in your teen’s life.

Continuing to pray for strength for our boy and his story.

There is forgiveness and He has calmed the angry seas.

image

10,000 Reasons and Then Forevermore (Blog)

I am sure I have blogged about this before, but I really want to know, what is YOUR favorite worship song? 10,000 Reasons has catapulted to the top of the charts of all time favorite worship songs of our era. I have to say, 10,000 Reasons is NOT on the top of my list of worship songs.  Surprisingly, many haven’t a clue.  That is why I STILL continue to tell my testimony (and you should too).  Just in this last week I have had the opportunity to tell about Trey and Jesus twice (one while having a nerve block on my neck – literally while in the OR…and it continued to post-op!).  Back to 10,000 Reasons…

Sunday night we had Girls Night Out at Central Church.  Our Sunday school class had reserved two tables to sit together for the evening.  The topic was about mentoring and friendship.  Before the speaker began we had a time of worship.  When the first chord hit, I knew, and my head went down.  I thought to myself, “Keep yourself together Lisa, keep yourself together.” I saw my friend Gina Johnson turn a little red, then standing next to me was Laurie Phillips and she began to cry.  All of a sudden, my precious friend Treena Thomas ran up behind me and put her arms around me and we both just began to cry.  A lady behind Laurie asked her, “Oh, has she lost her husband?” Laurie told her, “No, she is Trey Erwin’s mother.”  See, not everyone knows his story and I realize not everyone will care to know it.

I am thankful my sweet friends know the meaning of 10,000 Reasons and what it means to our family and how it has impacted our life.  I’m even MORE thankful that Matt Redman knew how much it meant to us and emailed us after Trey died.  He wrote in an article, which I am attaching, that there are reasons he writes songs such as 10,000 Reasons and it’s not to win awards.  Matt’s reward will be in heaven for the lives he has touched for his song that has caused people to worship.  I received the article from an outside source after Trey died and was told that the person in the article “in the hospital bed” was Trey.

Laurie went on to say after the event was over that she doesn’t hear the song without thinking about us.  I thought that was so sweet.  I want people to remember Trey, but more importantly, I want them to the soak in the last verse of the song (which is the verse that Trey took his last breath):

And on that day when my strength is failing

The end draws near and my time has come

Still my soul will sing your praise unending

10,000 years and then forevermore.

Shouldn’t we live that way everyday? Will I still cry when I hear the song or sing it? Absolutely.  It’s like most people with How Great Thou Art.  Will I still need friends to surround me when I hear that first chord? You bet! Do I want you to let me know when you hear it on the radio or sing it in church? OF COURSE! Why? Because it’s not about me.  It’s not about Trey.  It’s about helping a friend.  It’s about being His hands and feet.  It’s about spreading the name of Jesus.  If Trey doesn’t make you think of Jesus, his purpose on earth failed.  And that should be our purpose also, when others look at us, they see Jesus.

I actually asked Trey’s friend, Tim Few, who is on staff at Central now, to warn me when we are doing 10,000 Reasons.  Sometimes he can’t get to me in time and he will say, “Mama, I didn’t know till the last minute.”  I’ll usually say, “It’s okay bud.” Some people have certain signs to help feel their loved ones near.  For me, even though it is a sinking, heavy feeling, my Trey will always be near when we sing that song.  I can’t always get the words out and I can’t always lift my hands in praise, but my heart…my heart is always with my boy and Jesus.

Worship.  And let your heart be with Jesus.  And please, please, always be a friend. Never judge and never assume. I’ve learned the hard way in the last four years.  Selfless friends are hard to find.  If you can find just one, you’ve found a jewel.  You never know when those around you are hurting.

Matt Redman_Page_1Matt Redman_Page_2Matt Redman_Page_3

 

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

Beach family

 

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.

IMG_2141

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.”

IMG_8969

 

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!

*************************************************************

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.