Even in Grief ~ You are Amazing God

I was on my way to work this morning and the song by Chris Tomlin came on – Indescribable.  “Indescribable, uncontainable, you put the stars in the sky and you know them by name.  You are amazing God. All powerful, untamable, Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim.  You are amazing God.”  Those words took me back to yesterday.  The first day I stood at Trey’s grave looking at his headstone.  Many people ask if I go there often.  Actually, no.  That was only the second time since the funeral and the only reason I went was to take a shot for the news segment that is coming on channel 3 on Thursday night at 10.  Not that I don’t want to go, but this forced me to go.  Want to know how we are REALLY doing, watch at 10 p.m., Thursday on channel 3.  Richard Ransom, we just think you are awesome and are blessed by a new friendship.

The reason the words have anything to do with my visit is because I was wired for sound and totally prepared to fall to my knees in brokenness.  Don’t get me wrong.  I was very shaken, very upset, and tears flowed like a river.  But I told the videographer that Trey was not there.  The only thing that upset me was seeing his name, my son’s name.  That’s finality.  When I heard this morning “you put the stars in the sky and you know them by name” I thought, you know my name, you know each hair on my head, you know each thought before I think it, and especially, you know each tear before I cry it.  What a comfort.  You are amazing God.  Yes, awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim.

I think people read my posts, blogs, and think I am amazingly strong.  I’ve said this to my close friends.  I so know how Trey felt.  I am not strong, I am only doing what God is calling me to do.  I am so weak and hanging on by a thread.  I require so much prayer right now.  Panic attacks and chest pains plague me.  Tears at the oddest times embarrass me.  Sadness overwhelms me.  I miss my son.  I can’t say that without crying.  I told a good friend yesterday that I wished I could just snuggle in her arms and cry!  And I know she would let me (Cuz Becky Roberts has that big of a heart!) Someone said to me recently, well, you are putting on a good face.  No, God is giving me undeniable strength that I can’t explain.  I have taken much of the month of October away from church to grieve and handle resting and get things done (grieving with friends, bladder surgery on Friday (thank you Cindy for taking me), decisions for Collin, and many family decisions).  I would like to share more with you now, if I could, but I can’t.  We have much more going on that needs prayer.  Let’s just say the road we are going down and some testing we had done through St. Jude is not over, but only beginning.  We will be able to share more soon.  God is doing some amazing work already.  We love you Dr. Sara Federico!

We took a very difficult trip to Knoxville this weekend without Trey.  Tailgate for the Cure did such a wonderful job in honoring Trey’s memory and giving to St. Jude.  Too bad we couldn’t win the game. ;o)  Jay and I both said ~ Trey’s not here.  You have to know that he consumes our thoughts and we pray by reading the Word that God would consume us.  This is a slow process.  You can see this by watching the news cast from Knoxville at http://downtown.wbir.com/news/news/45590-tailgate-cure-fundraiser-honors-tn-cancer-victim

I’m determined to not let Satan get the best of me, yet I have to realize that some of this is the natural progression of grief. 

Point 5. in an awesome book I just started reading:

* The journey through grief is a long and difficult one, especially for parents whose child has died.  The death is wrong – it is unnatural, it is out of order, it is unfair, it is unfathomable.

* Be compassionate with yourself as you encounter painful thoughts and feelings.  Allow yourself to think and do whatever you need to think and do to survive.

* Don’t judge yourself or try to set a particular course for healing.  There is no single, right way to grieve and there is no timetable.

*Let your journey be what it is.  And let yourself—your new, grieving self—be who you are.

* (Most important) If others judge you or try to direct your grief in ways that seem hurtful or inappropriate, ignore them.  You are the only expert of your grief.  Usually such people are well-intentioned but they lack insight.  See if you can muster some compassion for them, too.

Ending tip – What are you beating yourself up about these days? If you have the energy (and you won’t always), address the problem head-on.  If you can do something about it, do it.  If you can’t, try to be self-forgiving.

What I want to end with is what encouraged me this morning.  How God lifted me beyond the heights that I could reach.  Yes, He can accomplish INFINITELY MORE than we might ask or think.  I am counting on that, believing that, having FAITH He will do it now and in the future in me, Jay and mostly in my precious Collin.  He did it in Trey.  So Trey was 1 in 5,000,000 with a disease.  Like Chris Tomlin’s song says, He put the stars in the sky and he knows them by name.  Do you know how many stars there are? Like we say in our family, Google it!

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. ~ Ephesians 3:20

I have so many Trey’s friends that make me smile – and to you, I am eternally grateful for your love, text messages, instagrams, tweets, fb messages, visits, everything! YOU are a blessing!  Trey was blessed by your friendship and that has kept our family going.  You have no idea how the little things make us smile.  We are planning a new t-shirt.  So watch for it.

From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea
Creation’s revealing Your majesty
From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring
Every creature unique in the song that it sings
All exclaimingIndescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untamable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go
Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow
Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light
Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night
None can fathom

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name
You are amazing God
All powerful, untamable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God
You are amazing God

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God

All powerful, untamable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God

Incomparable, unchangeable
You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same
You are amazing God
You are amazing God




Yesterday I had the opportunity to talk with the Collierville freshman football team.  Coach Kyle Reed invited me to speak to the boys.  He was also Trey’s coach in 9th grade.  Kyle told me the boys needed to be motivated.  When I first agreed, I asked myself, “How in the world can I motivate a bunch of 9th grade football players?”  Then I realized it was not up to me to do the motivating.  It was up to God.

I read them this quote.  “Football is like life – it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.”  The author of that quote was Vince Lombardi, head coach of the Green Bay Packers.  I went on to say, I can’t talk about the game itself because I do not play.  I can’t talk about what it’s like to be a boy because I am not one.  But I can talk about what it is like to persevere.

On their helmets they have a sticker – 1:2-3.  That’s all it says.  It stands for James 1:2-3.  I asked WHO put the stickers on their helmets.  Usually, the coaches or parents will stripe or decal the helmets for the players while they are practicing.  I was glad to know that THEY put the stickers on their helmet.  I think it will mean more when they put their helmets on.  They were aware that James 1:2-3 were Trey’s verses that he claimed during his illness.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

I was impressed that many of the boys knew the verses.  I was more impressed when I asked the question, “What does perseverance mean?”  It means doing something despite how difficult it is.  Playing football is not easy.  I asked how many of them wanted to quit at some time.  It took them a minute but eventually a few, then more, raised their hands.  Why?  They said because it’s hard!  I informed them that they were not the only team that had players wanting to quit.  Trey wanted to quit at that age.  Collin wanted to quit.  As a parent, you don’t let them quit.  What does that teach them?

I asked the team if the coach announced that he knew they would not win the game they were about to play, what would they do?  Would they quit?  They said NO!  They would try harder to prove him wrong.  Exactly!  Dedication, hard work, and sacrifice.  When Trey was diagnosed, he did not quit.  If anything, he tried harder to do what God had called him to do, be a disciple.  To win his game.

I think they got a little confused when I asked as they grow older (through the years of football) will it get easier.  They said yes.  I said NO!  They’ll have MORE coaches that will yell at them, they will be lifting weights, trying to gain or lose weight, more practices, all-in-all it will take MORE dedication to the sport they love.  They might not be first string like they are now.  They might fall to second string.  But they will need to stick to it through the hard times.

I really laughed when I asked the guys how many of you hate it when your parents yell at you from the sidelines.  I think every player raised their hand.  The point I tried to make to each of them was that no matter how much a parent tries, no matter how much a coach tries, they cannot make them BE aggressive or BE mean to be on the line.  They can’t make them WANT to go to practices.  We tried and tried to make Trey aggressive.  He could take a hit, but aggressiveness just wasn’t in his character.  We were told, it will come.

Sometimes it does come, but not in the form you would like. Trey became aggressive in his fight against his cancer.  It was what mattered to him.  We didn’t have to tell him, God instilled it in him.  Trey won his game.  I told the players I wanted them to remember every time they put on their helmet what perseverance means – doing something despite how difficult; knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 

The last scripture I shared with them was 1 Timothy 4:12.

“Do not let anyone look down on your because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.”

As a team, I believe they have a responsibility to set this example.  I was so proud of them.  Coach Kyle Reed should be proud of them.  They were attentive, responsive, and respectful.  I told them do not let anyone tell them they cannot do something – as in on the field.  Set their mind to it, work hard, be determined, and they will persevere.  My Trey did.  Healthy in heaven.  Missing my buddy on and off the field, but healthy in heaven.


The Perfect Plant

I was driving to work this morning and noticed a peace lily plant next to a garbage can at the street.  I almost stopped!  I am one that will take care of a plant till the last leaf falls off.  Matter of fact, a friend at work sent an email out that she had two peace lilies upstairs that she was offering for someone to take care of on another floor because she just couldn’t keep them alive.  Of course I took one!

As I kept driving, my mind kept wondering back to the peace lily.  I call them funeral plants.  (I hear everyone going OHHH, now I know what they are!)  Why would someone throw away a perfectly good plant?  At least it looked pretty good.  The owner might have been tired of taking care of it.  It might have actually come from a funeral and brought sad memories.  Then I realized that I had been driving at 40 miles per hour and maybe it had bugs or a plant disease.

My mind immediately was drawn to myself and how people are viewing Jay and me.  We are seen in public and I cannot count the number of times people will come up and say, “I just want to give you a hug.”  Hugs are always welcome.  We smile and go along.  We are sometimes pointed at and I’ll either waive or just giggle.  Or, “How are you doing?”  Do you really want to know?

Jay and I have had many friends that have surrounded us at the Collierville football games tell us what an inspiration we have been to them.  I distinctly remember having the conversation with Trey about how he did not want to be an inspiration.  That was not his goal.  That is not our goal either.  We are just living our lives the best way we know how.  Sometimes, just like that plant, by all appearances, we look perfect.  So do many of our church friends and our youth, but down deep they may be dealing with something that is out of control.

Several weeks ago one of the seniors in the Sunday School girl’s class that I teach with a friend of mine gave her testimony.  It rocked their world to know this precious girl who seems to always have it all together has been in therapy for some very serious issues.  Were there signs?  I thought everything was fine and would give her a hug when I saw her.  Just like the hugs we are getting.

One of my favorite passages is John 15:1-11.   “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

I thought of this scripture this morning and wondered if this plant was drying up like we dry up when we do not abide in Christ.  Even in my darkest hour, it is still my desire to produce fruit for God.  That is why it has not been our desire to inspire others, but to glorify God in all we do.  Our prayer is that through this journey we will continue producing fruit.  In order to produce the fruit, we need God because without Him, we can do nothing, absolutely nothing.  That plant, on its own, can do absolutely nothing.  It cannot grow, produce the white bloom, it cannot feed or water itself.  The plant relies upon a gardener.  Maybe the gardener got tired. 

I understand the weariness of a gardener and/or the branches of the vine.  Satan tempts us when we are weary.  He tells us we are not good enough.  He tells us we are not worth it.  He tells us we will not make a difference and we do not have anything to say.  Or that our grief and pain is crippling.  Yes, it can be, but not to the point of not producing fruit.  I almost believed him.  I call it SENSORY grief.  My eyes grieve Trey, my nose misses the smell of his skin, my ears miss this voice and his laughter, my hands miss touching his face and hair, my body misses his hugs, and most of all, kissing him goodnight each night, but my heart, oh, it knows the difference.  It still breaks, but my heart knows that he is rejoicing with Jesus and reaping his bountiful harvest of fruit.  Trey produced some fruit!

Now as for that plant, it looks perfect on the outside, but on the inside, maybe at the roots, it’s not doing so well.  Do you know someone like that?  Our roots are fine, it is just that we may LOOK perfect, or even okay on some days, but we just haven’t been watered lately.