How Are You Doing?

I had the privilege of speaking at The Orchard Fellowship Church yesterday in both of their services.  Thank you Pastor Sam Shaw for inviting me.  He preached from Romans 8:18-39 and talked about (in my words) how a loving God can allow His people to suffer.  In each service I learned something different.  I love how the Lord keeps teaching us no matter where we are in our spiritual walk. 

When people approach me, they will say one of two things: 1) You don’t know me but…, or, 2) How are you doing?  When speaking during the interview time with Pastor Sam yesterday, I shared with him that I had no idea he would be using the passage from Romans.  This passage is very near and dear to me.  Romans 8:18 says:

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

 These are the words of Paul.  This is a man who suffered while being obedient to the Lord.  I cannot even imagine what he experienced during his darkest days, yet he says, “…the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”  He is talking about the eternal glory God has for us in heaven.  What was it that sustained Paul?  Who surrounded him to encourage him?

 During my darkest days just after losing Trey, our close friend Ryan Mullins would quote this scripture to me.  I cannot tell you how many times it would come up in conversation.  Each time Ryan would tell me, “Lisa, Trey would NOT want to come back for anything because of the joy he is experiencing in heaven.”  I can only try to imagine having no pain, no sickness, no night and no tears – pure joy.  The scripture reminds me of the Mercy Me song I Can Only Imagine and that’s all we can do – is imagine.

The passage goes on to say in verses 24 and 25, “For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”  What comes to my mind is Christmas morning and how many times Trey and Collin sat at the top of the stairs EAGERLY waiting to come downstairs.  The anticipation was so great.  But then the years came that they began to sneak and find their presents in closets, cars, and under the bed.  The anticipation and hope for what they were going to receive was not as great.  In my simple mind, I think if I already know what I am going to see, receive, and do in heaven, why would I eagerly pursue it?  That’s God’s plan.  He wants us to pursue heaven.  He has so many promises for us in his word and I truly believe Trey knew that at the end of his suffering, he would be greatly rewarded for persevering through pain. 

I just think he had a glimpse some of us do not yet comprehend.  We can be in the depths of despair or on the highest mountain and He will still have a word for us, as long as we have the ears to listen.  Trey eagerly listened…and heard…and is seeing.

And What About Mary?

Yes, and what about Mary?  Christians study Ruth, Esther, and many other great women of the bible, but I don’t ever remember studying about Mary.  We all know that Mary was the virgin mother of Jesus.  Can you imagine an angel coming to your 13 or 14 year old daughter and telling her as it says in Luke 1:26-38:

 “Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.”

I am sure Mary had to go into shock and say, “Now just wait a minute! I’m going to do what?”  But from that moment on, she knew.  She knew HER son would be the blessed Son of God.

In Matthew 1:21 and angel appeared to Joseph and said, “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Joseph was told.  We have both Mary and Joseph being foretold the destiny of their child.  If you go back and study the scripture surrounding the foretelling of His birth, the angels always say, “Do not be afraid.”  But were they afraid?  Were they afraid as they travelled from city to city to hide from Herrod? I think they were probably afraid for their child.

We do not know a lot about how Mary was as a mother to Jesus during his adolescent years.  But we do know from scripture that he was obedient to his parents as they would travel to Jerusalem once a year.  He wondered through the temple as a result of his Father’s knowledge and would question the elders, not out of disrespect but out of the role of a student.  I can see Mary outside the temple watching her son as He made His way through the temple.

As most mothers do, Mary had to let her son go on His life journey.  She knew this was the will of God.  There is scripture in Mark that refers to Mary and the family when Jesus is teaching the crowds.  Why would she not want to be where He was? I sure would.  Wouldn’t she want to sneak to listen and learn from the Son of God.  He told his disciples in John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”  Do you think Mary would share with her friends what she would hear from Jesus?  Sometimes maybe not out of fear for his safety.

So many can quote John 3:16, but do you know what comes before John 3:16 and what Jesus is trying to teach Nichodemus?  For me now, it’s so much easier to understand because I do NOT understand what we will see the other side of heaven. With Trey in heaven, it takes a large amount of faith to comprehend what the scriptures teach us!  This is what Jesus tells him in John 3:9-17.

Nicodemus said to Him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things? Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony. If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

You are thinking, what in the WORLD does this have to do with MARY? Or ME, OR TREY? Our FAMILY?  A lot.  Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go and he will never depart from it.”  AMEN! That is a verse that I had to repeat to myself from the time our children were BORN! As hard as Mary must have suffered with worry and anguish during the years they were apart, she did train her child in the way that HE should go.  Preaching and teaching God’s word of salvation to His death.  I know she had to go back to what the angels told her and Joseph in the beginning, “Do not be afraid…”

Then Mary experiences the fate of why her son was born, to die for the sins of all mankind.  Remember as the angel told Joseph that He would save His people from their sins.  John 19:25-27

“But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.  After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth.  Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”

Oh, how Mary must have grieved for her son.  She watched her son be crucified for my sins.  I have thought about Mary a lot lately.  I cannot wait to meet her and to hug her as the mother of Jesus who died such a horrific death so that I can live.  Jesus died so that MY son could live.  Were we afraid the last six months, of course.  But scripture would come to us over and over again ~ Ps. 56:3 “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.”  Jeremiah 1:8 “Do not be afraid of them, For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the LORD.”  Hebrews 13:6 “…so that we confidently say, “ THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?” 

And now, how do we survive?  By reminding ourselves to not be afraid.  Knowing that Jesus has gone before us.

What a sacrifice of love, for Mary, for Joseph, for God ~ Their son.


Blood and sorrow flow

From the languid brow of Jesus dying

And tears from heaven’s eyes

Are the anguished drops of a Father crying

Oh why?

This must be a cross of love

For God to bruise His only Son

Jesus, what a sacrifice to reach us

It had to be a cross of love

To Be Honest With You, I Wish. . .

Someone else had a hole in their heart like I do.

Someone else could figure out what to do with his favorite Oakley sunglasses that are sitting there and have not moved.  There are so many things that are in the house that I pass that are his.  But you just can’t De-Trey your house.

Someone else would wake up in the night screaming from nightmares and not be able to sleep.

Someone else would hurt for Collin who just wants him to be a normal 13-year-old boy who would love the game of football like his brother did.  We want Collin to be Collin.  He has a lot of hurts.

People would acknowledge you and hug you instead of staring at you when you walk by and say “That’s that family.”  We were at football practice last week and talking with another family.  We only said our first names.  When they asked if we only had the one son, we explained we had another son that had just passed away.  The father began to cry uncontrollably and apologized.  He said they had prayed and prayed for us.  It was so comforting to meet a family that we never knew that actually had been praying for us all that time.  It was such a blessing and bonded us immediately.

Someone would fill out all these death insurance forms for me.  No, I’ll do it.

The house was not as quiet.

I would stop hearing him calling my name, but I dread the day I stop hearing him, or seeing his face or recalling his touch.

I would begin to be productive at work instead of drawing pictures of bees at my desk.  I have begun to paint, thanks to Julianne.  I think I’ll paint the bee.  It has been therapy that I enjoy.  I have always wanted to paint.

People who have lost a brother, a mother, a sister, a father would stop comparing their loss to the loss of a child.  It is not the same.  Not even close.  You give birth to this child.  Feed it from your body.  It depends on your for life.

I had someone to empty the trash again without asking and who washed his own clothes.

He was here to wake me up when he came in to tell me about his night no matter what time it was.  “Night Mom, Love you.”  I’ve said this before but we had a different mother/son relationship.  We communicated well.  I’ll never forget when my brother-in-law was going out one night and my mother-in-law did not ask complete details of when he would be home, etc.  I said WAIT A MINUTE!  So the sister in me jumped up and said Terry, when will you be home!  I don’t know that I ever got a complete answer, but I remember thinking I would know every move my child made.  I’m not saying I knew every move Trey made, but we had a trust that if he went somewhere else other than where he was supposed to be, he would let us know.  I AM a mom that’s ALL up in my kid’s business!

You had a boss that has lost his son and understands everything I am experiencing.  He is more compassionate that anyone I know.  I have worked for Joe Duncan for 14 years.  I am blessed for work for a christian man who has taken me in as family.  He and his wife, Lee, are precious to our family.

You had the set of close friends that Jay and I have to lift us up and be there in our time of need.  I had a precious friend of Trey’s start school yesterday.  He sent me a text and said, “I don’t think I can do this Ms. Lisa.”  It made me realize so many more are hurting like us.

You had a church that has ministered to us day and night for the last six months, even driving to get our son in New Orleans when we had a surgery scare.  We could not have made it through this without Keith Cochran and our youth group.

You had a God that promises that even though we hurt now, our joy will come in the morning.  We will grieve for a time.  Some may and may not understand this scripture.  Habakkuk 3:17-19

“Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, YET I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.  The Lord GOD is my strength, And He has made my feet like hind’s feet, and makes me walk on my high places.”

You could truly understand how we feel; lost while wrapped in God’s arms the entire time.  We do feel lost.  We look at the pantry and do not know what to cook.  Our house is a wreck and we don’t know where to start cleaning.  So Jay does what he does best, cut the yard, and I go to bed.  Collin watches TV.  It might be that way for a long time.

I had Trey safely tucked in my arms again.  I believe someone told me that I needed to love Jesus more than I loved my son.  Until you have lost a child, you cannot imagine the love you actually felt for that child.  But I understand her concept.  I need to turn Trey over to the Lord, and as Trey so wisely said, His Will Be Done.  That’s what Trey wanted.

I was as strong as my son and I wish you were still here with me.


Boundaries.  The first thing you might think of when I mention that would is a wall.  That is really what I briefly want to talk about. 

I have a calendar on my desk that someone sent me from Hope Church that is called Words of Hope.  It is numbered by days.  Yesterday was DAY 2 back at work so I decided to start the calendar in that manner.  The scripture for DAY 2 is Philippians 1:9-11.

“This is my prayer for you: that you love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love; that you will see the difference between good and bad and will choose the good; that you will be pure and without wrong for the coming of Christ; that you will be filled with the good things produced in your life by Christ to bring glory and praise to God.”

This scripture can have MANY meanings.  With my mind being so much on Trey, what hit me was purity.  It says, “. . .that you will be pure and without wrong for the coming of Christ…”  As a Sunday School teacher of girls and a mother of two boys, I have had the opportunity to teach many lessons on physical boundaries in relationships.  Trey and I had many conversations about this subject.  Some conversations that ended with MOM! As you can imagine a guy saying.  But we taught him boundaries.  I still teach boundaries.

Yesterday, I felt compelled to contact Julianne, Trey’s girlfriend and shared this scripture with her.  She immediately sent me a text back of Colossians 1:9b-14 which says:

“…we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience…”

I think we both were blown away at the fact that God had given us similar scripture on the same day, but maybe not for the same reasons.  I told her how proud I was of her relationship with Trey and she didn’t quite understand what I was saying.  I told her how proud I was as a mother to know my son went to meet Jesus as a virgin, as this is the will of God.  That’s what Trey wanted.  His will to be done.  Yes, my son, almost 16, a tough football player, called Beiber, was a virgin GUYS!  Julianne said, well, Ms. Lisa, we had boundaries!

How many parents are blessed this side of heaven to KNOW that so many things they have taught their children they actually listened.  Another blessing from God and an incredible gift our Trey gave his parents.  Obedience.

I believe I shared in a Caring Bridge post that at a Family of Families event at our church he wrote a scripture that he chose to be dedicated to on a brick that still sits on our shelf Ephesians 6:1:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”

This is why we told Trey he was receiving so many blessings during his journey because he CHOSE to obey not only his parents, but the word of God.

CHALLENGE:  My challenge is that you talk with your teens, pre-teens, young adults, college kids about their boundaries in life.  Do not stop talking to them about it.  It does not have to be physical boundaries.  But also teach them about forgiveness.  My challenge to the adults is that your love will grow so much in the Lord that obedience will become so easy so when the day of Christ comes, you be WILL be pure and without wrong before our Lord.


The New Normal

Just to clear things up, I might have used the title “The New Normal”, but I don’t like it.  Nothing will be normal again.  That’s just the honest truth.  In counseling with my Pastor, one thing that he so wisely told me was that as a family, we must be INTENTIONAL in finding what is normal for our family.  If we do not, our days will turn to months and before we know it, our normal will be set for us.  We might not like what we become.  As Jay and I have talked, we both have agreed that we will be a family that always talks about Trey.  We will laugh at his obsessiveness with organization and cry when we hear a worship song that we know was his favorite.

Today marks one month since Trey went to be with Jesus.  Like I said in a tweet, it seems like one day ago.  Jay asked me this morning if I was okay and I said no, I am not.  I will not be OKAY for a long time. But I understand that part of the process.  It’s a waiting process for our bodies to heal.  We do not know how long that waiting process will be.  It might be 6 months (doubt it) or it may be years.  I’m leaning toward years.  But I have to share one thing that Trey shared with our Pastor during their talks.  When Pastor Fowler would ask Trey is there anything that I can pray for you, Trey would ask for prayer for Jay and me (and Collin) and for our strength to be able to endure after his death.  Trey and I had many MANY emotional crying moments that Trey would express to me how worried he was about us.  I told him many times that we were fine and that God was taking care of us just as He was taking care of Him and he did not need to doubt God.

Jay and I return to work tomorrow, Collin starts 7th grade at Collierville Middle tomorrow, Collin has football practice every afternoon this week (for which I am team mom again this year), our church has promotion Sunday next week with the opening of our new student center, our youth choir kicks off the year with a retreat this coming weekend, and our adult choir has kicked off its new year. My senior girls Sunday School class has a project to finish for the prayer room of the new student center by next Sunday AND they also start school tomorrow.  PHEW! Oh, wait, our 21st wedding anniversary is Friday!  Somewhere in there Jay and I will pay bills, continue to file on insurance policies, deal with the funeral home, write acknowledgment notes, send thank you cards, and find time to be JAY, LISA, and COLLIN.

I was on my way to meet Jay and Collin for dinner Friday night and the song While I’m Waiting by John Waller came on The Message – Sirius Radio.  These words hit me like a brick between my eyes and I just had to lift this song in prayer to God.  It describes EXACTLY how I feel.  I think the waiting is actually being able to turn a corner and smiles be more than tears; to not have the elephant sitting on your chest anymore; and, actually sleep through the night without hearing him call your name out from upstairs.  Jay and I know these days will come.

Julianne and I were talking about the different scriptures that have been sent to us during this time.  My favorite verse has always been Isaiah 40:31.  “They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.  They will mount up as eagles on wings; they will run and not be weary; they will walk and not faint.”  I cannot count the number of times I have been sent this verse.  Julianne and I talked about how we become desentitized to the word of God.  In my grief and frustration, I have often thought if one more person sends me this verse I’m going to tattoo it on their forehead for them to walk through. (If you know me well, you gotta laugh.)  What this has taught me is to remember that ALL scripture, remember ALL scripture is the inspired word of God and in my darkest moment, God will bring this verse that I know so well to my mind and it will comfort Jay and me because so many have thought to share His word with us.

Tomorrow is not only the first day of school for Collin, but the first day of school for many of Trey’s friends and what would be the beginning of Trey’s junior year.  The Collierville High junior sponsor and I have already talked this last week and she knows to keep me in the loop of everything that is going on at CHS.  Our son may be gone, but we will not let him be forgotten.  We pray for an extra measure of success for the junior class this year!  There are so many that we love dearly.  I talked to Coach O’Neill today and we attended the football scrimmage on Friday.  You will NOT keep us away from the Dragon football games.  That was Trey’s team, that is OUR team, and we will be there with Trey’s last year’s jersey on, his button with his picture on it, and KNOW that Trey will be coaching his team from heaven (yelling CATCH THAT BALL!).

So you see, our lives are full.  The challenge will be how we choose to handle each activity.  We know that we will need to rely on friends just as we have since the end of February.  OUR PRAYER is for as we return to work and Collin returns to school, we will be able to minister to Collin in the way that he needs.  He will be coming home to an empty house each day and this hurts my heart.  He will not admit it, but I know that first day when he walks in to yell Hey Trey and there is no response, his little heart will sink.  So please pray for Collin.

CHALLENGE:  My challenge for you is the same as it is for me.  That we will continue to serve, worship, and be obedient to our Lord no matter what our circumstances might be.  For who will receive the glory if we are? HE will! Who will receive the blessings? WE will!Image

While I’m Waiting by John Waller

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it’s not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve you while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting on You, Lord