Well, I Lied

Wow. What a week. I wish I had some more time off to take. I only have three days of vacation left! Maybe I should have planned better. When it comes to grieving, planning is just thrown out the window! I have found that each day is different. I can wake up, be fine, and go downhill within a matter of an hour. Now just what causes that?

There are so many things and I can’t begin to describe them. As I have said before, we are all grieving differently in our house. Our entire family is grieving in different ways. One principle that our family stands on is that we have told our children we will never lie to them.  We never lied to Trey during his cancer. Sometimes, when they ask hard questions, telling them the truth hurts. I remember having a difficult conversation with Trey that I had to admit a sin of the past because of questions he asked. It was a learning moment for him “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.” I will never, ever forget that conversation standing in front of the refrigerator in our kitchen. Ever. But I told him the truth and he respected me for it. I remember getting a – Thanks mom. You might think by telling them ugliness it will push them into curiousity. Sometimes, they just want to know their parents are human.

Grieving is much the same way. I mentioned before that I am pursuing learning who my identity is in Christ. I am so appreciative of my pastor who is helping me down this road. I remember him telling me when we started that it would mean letting go of some of me. You know the phrase – I much decrease so that He can increase. Pastor Charles told me there would be hard moments of tears and gut wrenching things that I would face. At the time, I really didn’t grasp it in totality. In this grieving process, letting things go is letting go a little bit of Trey a piece at a time. The sadness. Yes, some is anger that I am dealing with right now. Even the strongest, STRONGEST of Christians cannot go through grieving without hitting an anger patch. And sometimes it’s very fleeting. Sometimes that anger is at people who do not understand your grieving who did not know your son personally. But I truly feel, if they are Christians, they will love us where we are, put their arms around us, and say I will walk with you or be here at the end because I have never experienced this. I can tell you, there are things going on in our household that you will never know. Things that hurt us to the core. Choices we have had to make for our family. New walks of life sometimes include new friends and letting go of old friends. God never promised it would be easy, only that He would love us through it. We were at dinner the other night with new friends and I told them how thankful I was for them because if it were not for Trey, we would not have cultivated our precious friendship – and we have so much in common!

So, how do I let go a little bit of Trey at a time? I don’t have that answer yet. Let go is not a good phrase – learn to cope, maybe.  My wound is not healed. It is healing though and that’s what I am working on. Now you are wondering when I lied. I’m probably not the only one. I said that when I got the tattoo, I would take his bracelet off because I had the tattoo. I have had this on for a year. It would be like not wearing my watch. Why do I feel it identifies me? It doesn’t. It’s a rubber bracelet that he never saw. But when I leave the house and I don’t have it on, I panic. That’s not good. I’m just not over that hump yet. I thought the tattoo would satisfy the need for the bracelet. What I am finding, nothing is satisfying the need for Trey.

This is where the change needs to come. There should be nothing that satisfies us like our need for Christ and our desire to be fed by His word. I know this in my head and I know his in my heart and I am craving the word to find out how can I be MORE like Christ and LESS like Lisa. Oh, that’s what my boy desired. It’s just a matter of moving all the memories of my son to the side and letting Christ satisfy my longing. I think I’ll turn that switch on tomorrow. I wish it was a switch! Emotions are a hard thing to switch on and off. YOU CANNOT JUST SWITCH EMOTIONS OFF. TREY DIED AND IF YOU LOVED HIM, THE FEELINGS YOU HAVE FOR HIM JUST DON’T GO AWAY. Hello!!!! Trey died! I have to tell myself that (and others). He will never come back, you will never talk to him again, and feelings will never be returned. Now, swallow that. There are days I think, oh my gosh, Trey is dead. He’s actually dead. It’s a part of life you have to accept. But how does a mother accept her baby boy is dead? R.E.A.L.I.T.Y. CHECK! But if I don’t grieve, I will live this way the rest of my life and that is NOT what God desires. He desires for us to bear fruit as He talks about in John 15. We are the branches and He is the vine. Shriveling up is not an option for my type A personality. Okay, some of you can stop laughing.  There is a bright side.  I see him in so many of his friends.  And for that, I am very thankful.  He’s a little bit of Daniel Roberts (a lot actually), and Tim Few and Cody Jordan and Hunter Byer and Thomas Boone and Corbin Peeper – so many more.

My boss, Joe, verified yesterday that birthdays are much harder than the day he died. The day he died he went to be with Jesus. That’s a celebration. The day of his birth is not a celebration. I will and have been mourning for that day. He came into the world with so much hope. Every parent dreams what their child will be like in elementary, middle, and high school. Will they like sports? Or will they be musical? Will they love to read, or will you have to buy spark notes? Will you fight with homework or will it come easy? Will they make good choices in friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, colleges, careers and ultimately a spouse. How many children will they have…and I stop there. So many dreams, gone. As a teen reading this, it will not bother you because you have that future to look forward to and that’s okay. As an adult, maybe you have experienced this loss. This is how you understand the grieving of birth is so much stronger than the grieving of death. That’s why I have said that his senior year will be difficult because it is filled with so many markers during the year and milestones.

I had a client in our office walk by my desk yesterday and remark about the football pictures of Trey. He just talked and talked about his smile and how handsome he was. He was from Little Rock and did not know the story. I proceeded to tell him and did not go into detail. I have a calling card with my blog site on it and I welcomed him to read about Trey and his faith (and our family). Sometimes you can’t tell a fourth-month history in five minutes, you can only plant a seed and let God handle the rest. As I handed him the card, I distinctly remember praying, Lord let him use this. It was just a small grasp and wanting to see God work.

Another song I sang to Trey when he was a baby was the song “How Can I Live Without You” by Leann Rimes. It had just been released. When your baby is born, you are SO in love with your baby. It’s a love that is all encompassing. You just can’t imagine not having that little bundle in your life. I remember crying when I would sing that to him. Was God preparing me? Of course, I do believe that God already knew Trey’s path. Matter of fact, Trey had surgery the end of his first grade year to remove a swollen lymph node because we were already suspicious. What a coincidence – He didn’t finish out 1st grade at school or 11th grade at school, but he still passed!

I think I can sum this up by saying that it will take more than just a year to grieve. Some have not even begun to grieve. I know his football team misses him. Some of his teammates were in the room when he died. I sure love those boys – all those boys. And no one, NO ONE, will ever tell the Erwin family that we are not loved by the Collierville Dragon family. We appreciate you for helping our grieving be a little easier on some days. Our mighty dragon left a larger than life impression on a small community that will hopefully never forget him, his smile, his bravery, his wisdom, and most importantly, his faith.

Yep, I lied. I thought I could do this and I can’t. But you know what – I can do ALL things through Christ. That’s my hope, my faith, our faith and strangely, that’s where I put my grief – in Christ. He knows my pain and catches each tear as I drive home from work.

This is one of my favorite passages of scripture – John 15:1-17 I am giving it to you in the Message version because I like the way it reads. My desire, to continue to bear fruit for the Lord. I do not want my grieving in any way to hinder my growth in Christ and what He has for me to do in order to bear fruit. So, He’s pruning me right now to be a better servant for Him. I do a lot of repenting, a lot of thanking, and a lot of begging for God to work.  If you are grieving, or suffering, maybe you’ll connect with this song by ffh also.

Next Wednesday is Trey’s 17th Birthday.  It will be very hard.  As long as I have Jay, Collin, family, and I think, as planned, the CHS football team around us, on the field, we’ll be fine.  Trey will be there – with his team.  And the Lord will be there.  Moving.


John 15:1-17

1-3 “I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.

4 “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.

5-8 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.

9-10 “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.

11-15 “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.

16 “You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.

17 “But remember the root command: Love one another.

The Color Purple

Yesterday, I was in the gift shop in Turks and Caicos buying our last little bit of goodies, I was buying something purple. The ladies behind counter noticed my Coach wallet was purple and my beach bag was purple. She said you must like purple! OPEN DOOR!

So I began to explain that first purple
was the color for pancreatic cancer and it was my son’s favorite color. I continued to tell the story of Trey’s faith and what God did through him. They said he had a purpose. I said oh yes. God chose him for that purpose.

After we talked about how long Trey Erwin lived, the ladies remarked about the smile on my face and how sad they were. I told them I was not sad. He was with Jesus, just where he wanted to be. They said oh but it must be sad for you. I said sometimes it is, but I get to see the work God is doing through his testimony. Then I told them to google his name and they would find his testimony.

This happened more than once. I took the opportunity to compliment a lady who has a sunshine tattoo on her shoulder. She told me it was on of those things she did as a kid. Her husband walked up and had an Air Force jet on his side. He had that tattoo because his father died in an Air Force crash. I told the family (with Collin behind me) how I sang You Are My Sunshine to Trey as a child. I showed them my tattoo and we talked about Trey and I thought it was so unique how Collin would jump in and fill in the story such as the date of his death and how long he was sick. We parted ways with the family with them asking Collin to join them on one of the teen dinner excursions. I hope I showed Collin how easy it is to take the opportunity to speak to someone and bring your faith into the conversation. When we walked away, he didn’t ask me, mom, why did you talk to them. So, I think with the mission trip training, he’s getting the hang of it! That’s what Trey did! Thank you Lord!

You never know what kind of door God will open for you. It might be something as simple as talking about a color. Or you may have to step out when you see someone that you believe you have something in common with and trust God to lead the conversation.

Open hearts lead to open doors. Another thing, I didn’t realize my countenance as I was telling Trey’s story. Thank you Jesus for
shining through me!

Jesus said in John 10:9 “I am the door; of anyone enters through me, he shall be saved and shall go in and out; and find pasture.”

Remember in Psalms – he maketh me lie down in green pastures!!! Ahh!! Green pastures!!!

Written in the Atlanta airport. Not proofread.

Is it just STUFF?

I’ve asked myself this question many times, what would be the first thing I would grab if my house was on fire (other than the dogs, of course). I’ve always said my wedding photos. They can’t be replaced. That’s really something to think about. They are close to the front door and the family knows, get the photos!


Yesterday I was walking to the car and the thought, OH! I need to drop off my Hallmark order at Debbie’s Hallmark in Germantown. Since Jay and I were first married, I have collected Hallmark ornaments just like my sisters. There are series of ornaments, ornaments for babies, teachers, sports, I’m sure you have seen them all. There are three different series that I collect. When Trey was first born, my sister, Judy, started Trey with the very first miniature train engine. This year will be #18 in the series. Trey always got his trains out and would line them up on a shelf. He made sure they were in series number order. They were HIS trains. Maybe this year I will be able to get them out.


More for Collin than for Jay, I started the miniature fire engines. This year will be #11. Collin also gets them out and puts them on a side table. What Collin REALLY likes is my Wizard of Oz collection. I have them of every sort and kind. You can walk through the house and hear the witch cackling and know Collin has pushed the button. Not sure where they will go this year or if I will even get them out.


All of this RUSHED through my head, literally, within ten steps of walking to the car. Just a flashback of memories. Then, God spoke to me, as plain as day:


“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matt. 6:19-21


I don’t think God was saying, Lisa, don’t go get the ornaments. I think God was reminding me of what do I treasure most. And I thought about my sister, Donna, who is moving and having to choose what she is keeping, selling, and throwing away. And then my mind went to my husband who is a firefighter/paramedic. He goes to so many houses where people live that are hoarders. (Have you ever seen that show? OH MY!) They tell them if they have to respond to a fire, they may not be able to get to them because of the STUFF that is in the entry or blocking whatever room they are in. It’s because of STUFF. Lots of STUFF.


Sunday was July 7. It was the day we buried Trey last year. In Trey’s casket was a stuffed animal from Collin that he wanted to go with Trey. His class ring was on his finger. To be honest with you, I can’t remember if there was a polo hat in there or not. He WAS wearing a polo shirt and pants! Jay took his class ring off before he closed the casket himself. On Sunday, for the first occasion, I wore Trey’s class ring. Collin asked if he could wear it. I said sure, but treat it with respect, do not let anyone wear it, and do not take it off. During the service, it was passed down the row to me. I’m proud that Collin decided just give it back to mom. That ring is just STUFF. It means something to us, but it would not have gone to heaven with Trey. I doubt Jesus would have asked to see it.


This morning, I came into work and I read Jesus Calling. Did you read it? I’ll reprint it for you here. I don’t think Sarah would mind. I don’t think this was a coincidence.


WORSHIP ME ONLY. Idolatry has always been the downfall of My people. I make no secrets about being a jealous God. Current idols are more subtle than ancient ones, because today’s false gods are often outside the field of religion. People, possessions, status, and self-aggrandizement are some of the most popular deities today. Beware of bowing down before these things. False gods never satisfy; instead they stir up lust for more and more.


When you seek Me instead of the world’s idols, you experience My Joy and Peace. These intangibles slake the thirst of your soul, providing deep satisfaction. The glitter of the world is tinny and temporal. The Light O My Presence is brilliant and everlasting. Walk in the Light with Me. Thus you become a beacon through whom others are drawn to Me.

Exodus 20:4-5 – “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.”


Samuel 22:29 – “For You are my lamp, O Lord; The Lord shall enlighten my darkness.”


I just went WOW. Did you get that? “…today’s false gods are often outside the field of religion.” How much of my house is STUFF? There is so much of Trey’s STUFF I haven’t even looked through because of my own selfishness of not wanting to let go of his image – TREY’S image. That time will come. But how many of us have TVs, boats, jobs, sports that we put before the image of God? Do we hoard God? I want to be a hoarder of God so that when someone walks in my house, there is NOTHING they step over or through except the presence of the Holy Spirit. Maybe then, my husband will change from calling me a neat freak and I’ll be called a Jesus Freak.


Hummmm…they always said you would want a second tattoo. Calm down people. It’s just a joke.


Hoard your God, not your Stuff! But don’t judge – Trey’s stuff and image will be around for ME for a while. Like Bernadette in the Bahamas said, you just have to be a mother!


A Momma Duck and her Ducklings…And July 5

Approximately seven months ago, I offered to chaperone four girls on their senior trip after overhearing them talking about it. It actually started out that I would go to the beach with them. As I began to think about a condo in Florida, I realized you can take a cruise just as cheap. So started my plan. (And CONTRARY to what many think and what rumors have flown, the Erwin family did NOT pay for the entire trip for everyone. The End.)

I love to travel. I live to plan my next trip. As the planning process began, we had to choose a date. Because of high school camp with GBC and college orientation, we chose June 29-July 5. I even received flack from people because I was going to be away from my husband on July 5. Uh, don’t you think my husband and I talk? He and Collin took a trip to Dollywood for a week the week before we left. Their first man trip together and they had a blast. It was a great bonding time for them.

Julianne Shiles (Trey’s girlfriend), Leighton Newman, Madison Young, Katie Beth Hopkins, and I hopped a plane to Miami on Saturday, June 29 for two days prior to getting on the Majesty of the Seas for the Bahamas. Just to sum up our personal time on the trip – we laughed until we could laugh no more. I was even grabbing the hand rail walking down the hall so I wouldn’t pee we were laughing so hard! We were not ashamed to pray at dinner with our dinner companions (a family of three). And I am proud to say the girls conducted themselves in a manner that their parents would be proud. They knew I held no rope around their neck and they could come and go as they pleased, but they were respectful and courteous.

Before we left, I gave them all journals. I told them that I wanted them to write and/or think about what God had showed them that day and what they had done for God. We would talk about it later. I would catch Madison going at it in her journal. It was theirs to keep and read, not for anyone else. And I had one too. Many personal feelings spilled in those journals, I’m sure. We didn’t talk about it too much, but Trey was on our minds.

On formal night, the family at our table brought us all roses. It was the sweetest thing. We each had a red rose. When I got back to our room, the girls had bought me a half dozen roses and the card said “From Trey and his Girls, We love you”. What the girls didn’t realize till later is that the florist gave them 8 roses. We decided to add our roses in with what they had bought. I stood there just amazed and said girls, you won’t believe this, but there are 13 roses here. We all just went WHOA!!!! It was a good moment for all of us.

Jumping back a bit, the first day we spent in the Bahamas, we went to Atlantis. Everywhere we went, people would ask, “Are these your daughters?” As much as I would have loved to say yes and claim all of them, it gave us the opportunity to tell why we were on the trip. We told the story over and over again. I would introduce Julianne and explain about Trey and the girls being Trey’s girls who stood by him during his illness and it opened the door to how God worked in Trey’s life. We were on the lazy river (which is not lazy) at Atlantis and we were waiting to go on a hill and a man complimented my tattoo. We began to talk and it led to me explaining the reason behind the tattoo. JUST THE REASON WHY I GOT IT – SEE!!!!! His face became very down and he began to talk about his divorce, etc. and it opened a door for me to be encouraging to him about God and forgiveness.

Our next island was Coco Cay. While we were shopping, I was asked the same question about the girls by a Bahamian lady. She immediately said her son would be 17 this year. She explained her story and how she could not have survived without the Lord. When she mentioned the Lord, I began to inquire about her salvation. She said, Oh, Yes, Jesus is my savior. Her name is Bernadette and we said that we would pray for each other as the years are hard. Her son died at 7 weeks 3 days. She said she cried until two years ago when he came to her in a dream and spoke to her and told her to stop crying, that he is fine and brushed her tears away. She said she has not cried since. We hugged and talked more about walking with the Lord during the time of loss. I’m glad Madison was standing there to hear both of us talk. It can be so easy and I didn’t realize how easy, to begin a conversation about Christ. I will never forget that moment.

I think the moment that all of us will remember is when we all returned from walking around Key West and we were lounging on the deck. Leighton accidentally knocked plates and pizza crumbs went everywhere. (She did that a lot this trip! Ha ha Leighton!) A Haitian man with a broom came up to sweep the crumbs. We began to talk and one of the girls asked him if he liked his job. He said he did not like his job but he liked having a job because he has something else he wants to do. I asked him what that was. He said it was a secret and he pointed to his chest. He said, if I tell you, it will not be a secret anymore and words have ears. I liked that – WORDS HAVE EARS. I began to realize it probably had something to do with his culture. I did tell him that even though our tongue can be like a two-edged sword, we should look to God for our guidance and He will lead us. To our surprise he grinned and kind of stuttered and said – like is says in Proverbs – and he could not remember the chapter and verse – but he quoted “I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me.” He kept saying seek, seek and you will find. I grabbed my phone and brought the bible up and his eyes got big and he said “YOU HAVE THE BIBLE ON YOUR PHONE!” I said yes. We found the verse – Prov. 8:17. He said “One day, I will have the bible on my phone.” I asked him why he didn’t carry a small bible in his back pocket. He said OHHH, it would get crumbled and bent. If we ONLY cared that much about our own bible. We kept talking to him and he said he was so glad we spilled the crumbs because it gave him a chance to talk to someone that talks about his Lord too. WHAT A GOD MOMENT. He would sweep a few chairs away and come back and keep talking. It was so cool.

We flew back to Memphis on July 5. Yes, that was the anniversary of Trey’s death. I’ve never been so exhausted. We had kids from Collierville High and kids from church come to the house that I had asked specifically to share in the evening. I was able to share some of the stories from above and they were able to share funny stories about Trey like the white napkin, him being told to gain weight and his reply with a straight face, “Ma’am, I have cancer” and walking out and bursting into laughter. That kid. Even stories of him crossing the street and trucks honking at him and him yelling, “Don’t you know I have cancer!” He truly lived up to the phrase – Hakuna Matata. Then, we all piled up and watched Lion King. Such a fitting way to honor Trey. Laugh at things he would laugh at and watch his favorite movie.

Lord, thank you for being with us and so ever present on this trip. Thank you for giving me four GREAT girls to share a time that could have been spent in tears. Thank you for giving us laughter, and yes, even tears together sometimes, but for good reasons. Thank you for boldness to speak your name. I pray that the words we spread will not come back void and blessings will return to the girls for being obedient to your word. I thank you for all the sweet children, yes precious souls, that gathered at our house on Friday to remember the legacy of Trey. I pray that you would prick their hearts to remember him, his story, and to tell it often of his love for you, his bravery, his courage, and his wisdom, all gained from reading your word and being obedient even till death. Lord, these words come to mind because I know this is what Trey would say – I will not boast in anything. No gifts, no power, no wisdom. But I will boast in Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection. Why should I gain from His reward, I cannot give an answer. For this I know with all my heart, His wounds have paid my ransom! Thank you Lord for paying MY ransom and the ransom for my son. Hug him for me, for his Dad, for his brother, for his girls. Amen.

July 5