From the Class of 2013 to the Class of 2014

Yes, it’s that time of year, graduation time.  There are graduations from kindergarten all the way to college, and I think I know some of all ages.  For example, the 8th graders at Collierville Middle are moving on to Collierville High; the Class of 2013 moving on to college; Josh O’Mura receiving his Master’s; and D. J. Stephens graduating from U of M.  So many of our close friends we are so proud of this year.  With this milestone in their lives, it brings so much excitement for the future of what they can accomplish.  It’s like a fresh start.

But wait.  So many say the first year is the hardest after you experience a death.  The first holiday, first birthday, anniversaries of this and that.  Not so for our family.  The SECOND year will be the hardest.  If you think we have experienced a hard year this year, when the first bell rings for the Class of 2014, my son’s truck will not be sitting in his parking spot.  I don’t mean to be morbid or “debbie downer”, I just want you to realize that just because people hit one year markers, grieving doesn’t end.  Grieving will never, ever end.  It just takes on a different form.

I went to the CHS graduation last Saturday.  There were so many people I was so proud to see walk across that stage ~ I just can’t name all of you!  I’d be hung!  I thought I would just squawl.  But actually, there was such an element of peace to see the excitement on their face.  I can’t count how many times we heard “We did it!” from the podium.  Of course you did.  Did you have doubts?  What about the scripture that so many graduates claim AFTER graduation?

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Why do students wait until after graduation? This scripture is for everyone.  It is relevent for today.  He knows every step we are going to make before we make it and he WANTS to give us an abundant future.  I can’t wait to see what kind of future He has in store for some of the Class of 2013.  So many are headed toward pre-med, engineering, vet school, and some just don’t know and that’s just fine!

Rest assured, our plans are not to wallow during the 2013-2014 class year.  We fully intend to step up and be involved in as many activities and events as Trey would have been.  It may feel odd at first and people may ask why, but on the day their senior walks across the stage, shakes hands with the administrator, moves their tassel, then tosses their hat, they will realize we are in our seats witnessing the Class of 2014 experience a year of memories without Trey.  And just as the Class of 2013 goes, then will go the Class of 2014.

Class of 2013, you have an entire year ahead of you. Remember the hashtag began around the time Trey was sick – #liveliketrey  We said no! #livelikejesus! Claim this scripture for your year –

Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

There will be two ways to handle your challenges. You can go about it as you did in the past and hope for better results, better grades, better friends, but knowing in your heart you will probably be back to where you started the first of the year. OR you can meet the year head on knowing your own limitations with the conviction that you serve a wonderful God who desires to walk with you every step.

You know I am a sap for lyrics to songs.  When I hear this song, I think of Trey and I relate it to myself – that I – his own mother – wants to live like that and give it all I have. I know he did. In the waking hours he did. In the night hours when everyone should be sleeping and he couldn’t, he would be reading his bible and be ready to tell me what he read when I got up. Not everyone is Trey, but just to give all I have is what Jesus asks.

I have never lost my home, but material things or money does not replace the life of a child. I know, in my darkest moments, I would give anything to have Trey with us again. But I would not take him from the gain of his eternal home. That is a gift he was given by our God, a free gift, by Christ’s death on the cross. That is a debt I can never repay for my Trey.  And praise God, I don’t have to do that.

This Sunday we will remember those who have passed away during the year at GBC and Trey will be included. We will also sing 10,000 Reasons. I will cry and remember how I held Trey on that last verse, but my prayer is to move forward and “give it all I have so that everything I do and say points to You.”

Go forward with me Class of 2014 and #livelikejesus


A Letter from Mother to Son

Hey bud.  I know, some people are going to think this is nuts because they would say to themselves that I should probably just write this on the computer and just keep it to myself.  But I have so many people who ask me how to pray for us.  So I thought I would write to you.

I can’t fathom you’ve been gone for 10 months.  It seems like 10 minutes.  At least my heart feels that way.  So many people ask how we are doing.  Honestly Trey, a lot of time I just lie.  It’s so much easier to say we are fine than to say that we are not.  How can you explain it if I were to say that we aren’t?  They wouldn’t understand anyway.  Sometimes I get frustrated with that.  I think your dad and I feel alone in that. 

Your friends are really missing you.  You should see the number of people still wearing your bracelets and t-shirts.  I don’t think it’s so much for other people as much as it is for them.  Sort of like me.  It makes your dad and I feel good when we see your friends.  We get hugs and more hugs.

This time last year we were in Hawaii! Remember? Oh my! I know you were in pain so much of the time and there was so much you wanted to do, but I know you just loved looking at the scenery.  I vividly remember when you came and woke me up about 6:30 a.m. for breakfast and we went to eat oatmeal.  Didn’t they have awesome oatmeal!  That’s when we saw the rainbow and you took the picture.  It was a very faint rainbow, but we both saw it at the same time.  I loved your “hungry” times!  It was just the times right after when it hit that wasn’t so fun for you.  I think that is why Collin stayed in the room and watched cartoons so much – because you would be resting.  I don’t think he wanted to go out without you.  UNTIL WE SHOPPED! Ralph Lauren will never be the same!

Mother’s Day is coming up.  Remember how we shopped in the Pandora shop and you and Collin bought me charms?  And you made me leave the store! Y’all were so funny.  I think what I cherish the most is my turtle with the diamond in the middle that you gave me.  I don’t think kids understand that just handwritten notes mean so much to mom’s and dad’s.  The last one you gave me was on a piece of paper that said Happy Mother’s Day! I love you, Trey. And you put the picture of me and you from the UT spring game with it.  I have taped it to the mirror in the bathroom and I see it everyday.  I will be a hard Mother’s Day.

I know you were so worried about Collin.  You were right.  You had reason to be.  But we are doing our best.  Remember when you had a smart mouth on you and YOU knew everything? Yes, you did. Well, Collin is there.  I giggle sometimes and tell your dad, I remember when Trey was that way.  If is was sports, you knew it all.  Girls, you knew everything about them.  But Julianne broke THAT mold!  Speaking of Julianne, she misses you, but she is very quiet about it.  Kind of like Collin.  Things are about to change for the both of them.  Collin will be going into the 8th grade and Julianne is graduating.  Yep, she did it.  I know you would be proud.  So many of your friends are graduating; Cody, Madison, Leighton, Laura, and tons on the football team.

I can’t hear you much anymore.  I’ve lost the ability to keep your voice with me.  I can’t smell you anymore either.  That Trey smell is gone from your room, which we both know is kind of a good thing! I haven’t washed your blankets, so they are on the back of your chair.  Things are pretty much the same.  I’ve got some cleaning to do in the extra bedroom, but I need some WOMAN help.  The only thing we have done is paint your room and you would be SO glad we took that border off!  Actually, you would probably go ballistic if you saw the shape your room is in sometimes.  But I rarely go up there.  Only when I see things hanging over the bannister!! Don’t panic.

I think you’d be proud of the way I am giving back by telling your story.  But there are times I can faintly hear your voice say – OH MY GOSH! As you would want it, God is still getting the glory from the way you lived your life.  I wish people could have been a fly on the wall during so many of our conversations as you sat at the end of our bed and we had those “life” talks.  I wouldn’t trade those for anything.  I hope parents learn to listen to their kids.  You had a lot of valuable things to say, even in the days your heart was breaking.  I still understood.  I know those days were tough, but you grew so much.  That’s what you get for breaking up with Madison Luna in 3rd or 4th grade on Valentine’s Day! What a creep! I think you learned your lesson!

Life is so not the same.  I could say that over and over again.  Anna sang this last Sunday and Trey, it was all I could do to keep it together.  I know how much you loved Taylor and Anna.  I have NEVER heard her worship in song like that.  I know you heard her.  God filled the sanctuary.  We are getting ready for mission trip.  They were singing all the old songs in practice last week and each song I could hear you singing.  And then there were some I knew you and I had talked about how you were tired of but you knew I liked it.  I’m so proud that no matter the song, you always allowed God to work through you.  Remember when you first were on the football team and we had the UA retreat and you had to get permission to miss football practice on Friday and you BEGGED me not to tell anyone it was for choir?  Boy, you sure did come a long way from those days!

Like I tell people when I speak, I might be telling story of how God worked in my child’s life and I’m able to speak without hesitation, but I will always be your mother.  I’ll protect you no matter what, always.  Just like Alley did when you would be in your crib and she would lay under your bed.  She was a good lab.  By the way, the dog you named Abbie, uh, she is spastic!  She is just over a year and drives Belle nuts!

OH guess what! Dr. Sara is going to have a baby boy!!! Ella and Mia want to name the baby – Sister Baby Jesus! You can just see Dr. Sara laughing and saying NO NO NO! That name is taken! – that’s what she says.  She misses you! I made pictures of all your different polo outfits and bought matching baby outfits for her new little bundle.  She just loved it!  That boy is going to be brought into this world wearing polo from his cap to his toes!  Rest assured buddy, she is taking good care of Collin and he is fine.  I know that she could only pray that she would have a boy who would grow in stature, wisdom, and have a charismatic love for the Lord like you did.  I hear so many times, I didn’t know your son, but. . .

I plan on putting some of your funny videos on YouTube soon.  People have GOT to know how funny you are! Bobby and I were laughing so hard a week ago about the napkin!  That was a hoot!  And I sent the one after you got out of one procedure how you thought you pooped on yourself to a few people so they could get laughs when they were sad.

Buddy, I could write all day, but I am rambling and you know Mr. Joe needs me to do things.  Mr. Joe and I talk about you a lot.  I think it has helped him.  Your daddy misses you quietly also.  He’s been going to as many sports games as he can.  And Chris Wallace has been a sweetie to get us to the Grizzlies games.  You’d be proud of your Grizzlies!  D. J. and Stacie talk about you.  D. J. encourages me when I am down, just like he did you.  I’m attaching a picture from the beach before you went to Jesus of Stacia, Julianne, You, Hunter and Leighton.  They miss you.

I love you thisssss much.  I think of you every moment of every day.  And your dad and I still sleep with the pillow you had at St. Jude when you died between us.  You’ll never leave us…just help Jesus by being a good servant to Him and watch your mouth! They own the place, you know.

Trey and friends beach

Heaven or Hell…Our Choice?

After Trey died, my friend Keith Cochran (and youth minister at the time) gave me a book Heaven by Randy Alcorn that I have been reading. It was a book that his wife, Bretta, read after her father died. It’s not that either of us have any doubts of where our loved ones are, it’s just that we want to know MORE about where they are. Think of it this way, if one of your family members moved across the country, wouldn’t you want to know about the city to where they were moving? I would think so. I would think you would ask about the schools, the house market, the climate and season changes, the traffic, the population, and many more interesting facts.

For someone who we love so, so dearly, it’s sometimes just not enough to know that they have gone to heaven. John 14 is a great example of Jesus telling his disciples about what would happen to him after the crucifixion. John 14:1-4 and 6 says, “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.  In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.  And you know the way where I am going…I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.”  Some translations will use “in my Father’s house are many MANSIONS”.  I can see Trey kicked up in a mansion.  That’s just the point.  I know where he is, but I’m not exactly sure what he is doing.  That is what this book helps us understand.

As much as I want to comprehend what is going on in heaven, I also know the scripture says in Isaiah 55:9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways are indeed higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  In the book is a quote by Francis Schaeffer, “The Christian is the really free man–he is free to have imagination.  This too is our heritage.  The Christian is the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars.”  In some ways, this gives me peace as the book goes on to say, “One day soon you will be home–for the first time.  Until then, I encourage you to meditate on the Bible’s truth’s about heaven. May your imagination soar and your heart rejoice.”

Trey is in heaven because as he said in his testimony that was filmed in May one year ago, he accepted Christ as his Savior and was baptized.  He KNEW there was only one way to heaven and that was through salvation.  Did he have rough days from the time he was saved? I can tell you most definitely yes.  But he always came back to Christ.  That is the difference between someone saved and a sinner.  Because we are sinners, we are not entitled to enter God’s presence.  We cannot enter heaven as we are.

The book says, “Heaven is not our default destination.  No one goes there automatically.  Unless our sin problem is resolved, the only place we will go is our true default destination…Hell.”

This is where I believe it IS our choice.  If we are born as sinners, we have the CHOICE to receive Christ and enter into the presence of God where He has prepared a place for us.  Why would we not want to be there?  In Hell, Christ says the unsaved “will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  I think of Hell like a cancer, it is a pain that will continue to eat you alive with no relief.  What is worth that?

Last year, so many were “changing.”  Trey said, it’s not for me, it’s all for God.  Did you change for God?  I know so many teens that paid lip service.  I know their friends are hurting over this.  Is Hell worth that lip service?  Is it worth tomorrow you being sent to the ER with a diagnosis?  I want to share with you an essay that a friend wrote that touched my heart.

A notification. That was all I received. A blinking icon on the top of my cell
phone that would forever change me. Six little words that would cause so much
devastation. “Trey is now healthy in heaven.” My heart broke. My breathing
ceased. My stomach sank to my feet. Tears began to fall and would not stop until
the day after his funeral. How? Why? These were the questions that would
constantly run through my mind. How could a young man the same age as me die?
Why would God allow such a thing to happen? A rare form of cancer found mostly
in an older generation took the life of my beloved friend. I was mad. I was
hurt. I was inconsolable. How was I to know then how positively this tragedy
would shape me into who I am today.

Taking things for granted can become
a second nature. As natural to do as it is for lungs to collect the air from
around us. Trey did not have this second nature. He lived his life enjoying
every God-given day, for he never knew which would be his last. No one knows
what tomorrow, or even today, holds. Climbing and falling economies, unrest
between nations, health issues, family tragedies, these circumstances can all
change in an instant. It’s easy to fall into the trap of living, governed by the
fear of tomorrow. It causes people to put up walls, hoard their love and time,
or waste these things on momentary living. Without this heartache in the
physical realm, I would never have been able to come to this realization.

“I just pray that His will be done, because I know I’m going to be
okay.” And so it was. Every day for his short 15 years on this earth, Trey lived
to glorify God. He realized that though his cancer may win the battle, God would
win the war. Thus, Trey decided no matter what, he could not be defeated.
Neither can I. I have had a series of ups and down throughout my life, and until
this revolution, I had never had a positive outlook on the outcome of a tragic
situation. Trey taught me how to. He was the light that broke through my

Now, sitting outside while the warm summer breeze blows
through my hair, feeling the tingle of the sun reaching down to touch my
sun-kissed skin, I know he is with me. No matter where I go in life, where God
takes me, I will always have this. The absolution of Trey’s life that has now
become mine.

Thank you Amandalyn Abney.  Thank you for remembering Trey, for living a Godly life, and telling a story in such beautiful words.  God desires for all His children to be with Him in heaven.  He did give us the choice of free will.  That’s why satan tries so desperately to tempt us.  There are times he KNOWS he can succeed.  We need to be prayed up, with our armour ready, and rebuke satan at every turn in order to be ready for Jesus to call His own.  I look forward to that day.  I can’t tell you how much I am learning from reading this book and researching the scripture.

I think this scripture sums up what I am trying to say – Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that HE IS, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”

As I think about the kids getting out of school and I mentioned in a prayer today on Instagram, it comes down to making wise choices.  If you have made wrong choices, there is still time to right the wrong.  If you have made no choice at all, God has never moved.  He is still waiting for you.

Trey knew before the doctors walked in…and he is….Healthy in Heaven.