#prayfortheErwins (BLOG)

It’s the beginning of a hard week. It’s the end of the second year. As Jay and I talked to our sweet psychologist Thursday, he told us as he has counseled grieving parents, you can’t put a cap on years, whether it’s one, two, three. He sometimes says four or more, especially in our public situation.

We flew Trey to St. Jude on Saturday, June 30. On Monday, June 30, Collin leaves for church camp. I’m glad he will be surrounded by his Christian friends so his mind will be occupied. As much as he tries to tell everyone he is just fine, I still believe next week will be on his mind. He is human, after all.

Speaking of being human, being human has taken over my complete being. I’ve been able to share with a dear friend whom I trust, and I know there is light at the end of this very, very dark tunnel. I just pray there isn’t a train in this tunnel somewhere. He said something very wise. He asked me, you have been so busy taking care of everyone else, making sure Collin is okay, Julianne, Jay, have you even truly grieved yourself? I had to say no.

God never promised us an easy road. He only promised that He would be with us in the valleys. I know that He is with me during this time, but sometimes, as some of my dear friends might be willing to admit, the nearness is hard to feel when you are all consumed with loneliness and sadness. I am so incredibly blessed to have my boss by my side. He also lost his son. We were talking yesterday about the differences between our grieving. He said how he tells so many people how strong I am and he hears from others how incredible I am, but he looked at me and said, “Lisa, you are not that strong.” Boy, he knows me. You just can’t lose a child and be okay. I truly believe only parents that have lost a child know what I am feeling.

We have received so many prayers over the last two years. I almost feel guilty asking for more prayers. But isn’t that we are supposed to do for each other as Christians? Lift each other up, encourage each other, hold each other accountable… I remember talking in my book about having “hang in there” friends when Trey was sick. That still applies when you are grieving. Some people can’t be around people that are grieving, and that’s fine. It takes a special friend to listen to you cry. I’ve done a lot of crying alone, but sometimes, crying alone does not do any good. People need to hear you so that you can WILL yourself to feel better.

It’s all so complex and I don’t claim to understand all that I am walking through. I finally had to cry out to Collin this week to explain to him that I missed Trey because I grew him in my belly just like I grew him in my belly and I want him back and I miss him terribly. I’m so thankful Collin listened to me as I was able to express my feelings for the first time…and it’s almost been two years. Jay is the most patient father and husband, but he grieves too, just in a different way.

I know what the word of God says. I know that Trey is in a better place. I know that Trey would not want to come back here. I know, I know, I know…but that does not stop our suffering on earth because this is not our home. I’ve never been in a valley like this and I pray you will intercede for me and ask God to lift me high above the mountains.

Jay and I will be with Trey’s friends on the 5th. They miss him as much as I do. But we will laugh and remember the days that brought us so much joy with my goofball son. And maybe release some purple balloons from the roof of the Peabody. After all, Trey was all about having friends together. I think that’s why he went to Jesus so peacefully because he was surrounded by so many that loved him and he had been at peace for so long.

My prayer is that those that have read my book know that our faith runs deep and we know that God is with us. You don’t walk through what we did and not come out the other side without Jesus holding your hand. I hope, if you have not purchased it yet, you will do so to see how God used Trey in an incredible way. We still marvel at how God brought so many things together. I still can’t eat oatmeal without thinking about him. He was “A Mighty Dragon.”

So for now, “When you don’t know what to say, just say Jesus.”

It’s VBS Time…Everywhere!

Vacation Bible School is such an important time in the life of a child. It’s a time where they are excited to come to church because they know there will be games, cookies, stories, and they are not ashamed to invite their friends. How many of you asked Jesus into your heart at VBS? I bet many. It’s so fun to watch them as they are captivated by God’s word. And for some of the children, it is for the first time. Can you imagine? For some children, for the FIRST time!

There is a catch to VBS because it is only through the 5th grade. In the 6th grade, at most churches, at least at Germantown Baptist, you begin serving. That’s one of the many times I remember Trey beginning to serve so young. It might have just been wheeling the juice cart from room to room, but it was giving back.

Many parents have worked in VBS for years with their children in their rooms as helpers. Since I work fulltime, I have not been able to work in VBS. That has never stopped me working alongside my sons. Because of the timing of Trey’s illness, I was never able to serve with both of them at the same time on mission trips, but we did a lot of scouts together, and the BBQ Grill Ministry at GBC. My heart dropped on this last trip to Nashville as I watched Collin pull up trees. I realized he had gone from the 5th grader in VBS to a strong young man. And we were serving together.

I don’t know if it is something that Jay and I instilled in our children or a gift that God gave them. Either way, they both have (had) a heart for service. I know Collin is upset that he is missing VBS this week, but mandatory football practice has to come first.

One thing about serving WITH your children, you get to see the blessings first hand. Some kids may think you are trying to be all up in their business. I remember one trip to Panama City where Jay went as the paramedic and I was the counselor. Collin got the luxury of tagging along. It was Trey’s first high school trip. He was so afraid we were going to get into his dance space. I tried to reassure him he would be so busy he would not even see me. I’ll never forget one morning Trey coming up to me at breakfast and giving me a hug and telling me “Good morning! Where have you been?” I thought to myself, told ya so.

So don’t let your children talk you out of serving with them, whether it’s VBS, mission trips, church camps, retreats, etc. You just might be blessed more than they will be. I have memories that can never be replaced or taken away. Pictures in my mind of worship that will forever fill my heart. Memories of Trey in a closet at GBC cleaning it out (I think in 6th grade), because Keith, Ron, or Steve told him to do it. But he did it with a smile on his face! (See pic).

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.” Romans 12:9-13

Collin and Trey Serving