God Through the Rearview Mirror

MirrorI spent this last weekend with wonderful friends in Chattanooga. Sonya Luna called me two weeks ago and invited me to visit UT Chatt, her daughter, Madison, and so many of the class of 2014 from Collierville High School that were Trey’s friends. My first reaction was ABSOLUTELY! The more I thought about it as the time came, the more excited I got about getting away than actually spending time with others.

Sometimes, you never realize how much you need the time away from your loved ones until you leave, especially during the grieving process. Thank you for that tidbit of advice Andy and Rachel Schelb! If you are tired of reading about our grieving process, you can stop reading now. God does not say, “Thou shalt grieve for a two year period and thou shalt be healed”. No, He says, “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With a long life I will satisfy him and let him see My salvation.” Ps. 91:14-16 So, (1) because I have loved Him, He will deliver me; (2) when I call on Him, He will answer; (3) He will be with me when I am troubled, He will rescue me; and most importantly, (4) He will give me a long life ending with His salvation in glory. That, my friend, is an awesome promise whether or not you are grieving.

We talked this weekend about some of our fears. One of mine is driving across high bridges. The two mothers I was with talked about their children being hundreds of miles away and the decisions their children are making. As we discussed many things, they talked of their children in the present and all I could do was bring up Trey in the past. The one thing we talked about was perception and our kids. The perception of Trey is that he was this wonderful, Christian young man that had it all together and floated up to Jesus with wings while the Hallelujah Chorus was being played. That is entirely not true. I tried to remind Collin recently that while he was at school, Trey sat at home and cried because he just wanted to be normal. There was nothing normal about what he was experiencing and sometimes, he just did not like it. The same goes with the kids in college. Things go wrong and they are texting their parents for advice.

I think we spend most of our days as Christians weighing our decisions and after the fall out, we look back and will either have learned a hard lesson, not moved forward from the decision, or be joyful for the direction God led us. How many sermons have you heard about not living your life looking back? How many quotes have you seen about moving on? What about scripture? “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead…” Phil. 3:13 The terrible thing about society is that everyone is in such a hurry. Decisions are meant to be prayed over and considered very cautiously. What might be important to you, might not be important to someone else. That is a hard pill to swallow and I have learned that in the grieving process as friends have moved on and Trey is not on their priority list to talk about. It was such a blessing to spend time with friends this weekend and have the freedom to talk about Trey whenever I wanted and know I was loved.

What do our decisions have to do with looking at God through the rearview mirror? When I initially took this picture, my thought was – You’re there, following me. Every decision we make God is going to be there to guide us and after that decision has been made, He’s still going to be there in the rearview mirror to guide you to make sure you follow the correct path. For those under conviction, the Holy Spirit will be a hard thing to shake.

As a part of our weekend, we sat on Sunset Rock on Lookout Mountain to watch this large, orange ball sink behind the mountains. As I was sitting with Madison Luna and some of the other girls, the Holy Spirit pricked me to get my phone out and play 10,000 Reasons. As the song played, the sun slowly began to set. As Madison held onto me while many tears flowed, the line in the song came “…the end draws near and my time has come. Still my soul will sing your praise unending, 10,000 years and then forevermore.” FLASHBACK Trey’s hospital room, his last breath, my tears, my kisses, walking out of that room only to turn and look at him for the last time in that bed. Sometimes, that’s God in my rearview mirror and that’s okay because that is reality for me because God was certainly there…in that room…with my baby. Just as He was on Saturday as the sun slowly disappeared behind the mountains. I have proof on video that it perfectly set to the song Oceans by Hillsong “I will call upon Your name, Keep my eyes above the waves, My soul will rest in Your embrace, I am Yours and You are mine.” It was such a confirmation in my heart that I am right where I need to be in the process of life.

It’s okay to have God in your rearview mirror. If not, then who holds you up? God is in every sunrise and every sunset whether you see it facing forward or in your rearview mirror.

He Knows… (Blog)

Many are reflecting on the year 2014, what they did, what they didn’t do, and what they can do better in 2015. I spent much of December waiting to be rescued from what I would like to call Holiday Hell. I’m just being honest. It consisted of online shopping, Jay working, no Christmas parties, and Collin’s exams. I know, that really sounds like a pity party, doesn’t it? No, that’s just life!

A few co-workers and I were talking before Christmas how they just were not in the mood for the holidays. I told them it was okay. So many people view the holidays differently. I, for one, cannot tell you how many times I am asked during the holidays, “How are you doing?” Sometimes I want to say, “How do you THINK I am doing?” GEEZ! Close friends have stopped asking, some genuinely want to know, and others just assume. I’m not the Grinch, but I’m certainly not running up and down my street with jingle bells on either. My neighbors would certainly commit me (I would commit me). There were tears, but there were also smiles and remembrances of Christmases past. My point, my joy factor sinks during the holiday season. I try to concentrate on the REASON for the season. If Christ had not come as a babe, He would not have been able to die for my sins or that of my son.

Somehow, I began a conversation with a friend from church on text. We were talking about changes in our lives. Jay and I have been talking about many changes; visiting other churches, the sale of our home, school for Collin. It has just come to a point that maybe, just MAYBE Trey has been gone long enough to make some changes. I remembered during these talks something my boss reminded me of – 1 Corinthians 10:23 “You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is beneficial.” So some of these changes I have put on the back burner of my mind. After all, I haven’t exactly tackled Trey’s closet.

I had seen on Twitter and Facebook references to a sermon preached at Highpoint by their Student Pastor, Joel Johnson, on December 28. As Tami and I were talking, she told me she had attended the service and told me how wonderful the service was and what a refreshing word she received. I thought, okay, I’m game. So snug in my bed with my IPhone 6 smashed to my face, I began to watch the sermon “Landing on What’s Left.” I didn’t know whether to cry or laugh as he was preaching and he said, “Take what you have left and do something with it.” He also went on to say, “You can’t land on loss.” Humm…you can’t land on loss.

Then he said, “Turn to James 1:2-4.” WHAT? I came up out of my bed! That’s Trey’s verses. That’s what I use when I speak. It was God’s turn to speak to me. “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.” Joel went on to say, “For a trial to be perfect, you have to let go of the loss.” Whoa. Is that one thing that Trey was able to grasp? He was able to consider his trials all joy because he knew he would be perfected in heaven.

Joel showed a video of a little boy who has overcome his physical handicap to make the best of what he has in his condition. My thoughts immediately darted to Trey and flashbacks swirled from hospital visits, to procedures, to chemo, to public appearances, to all-nighters being sick, then to his words, “I got this Mom.”

After I finished the sermon, I shared it on Facebook. A friend who attends Highpoint told me that when Joel was preaching he thought of our family. I told him I’m sure many did. But I want to be one who takes what God has left us and I want to make sure we are doing something with it. It does not lessen the hurt, the grieving time, or take the loss away. It gives the loss PURPOSE. So you land on PURPOSE, not loss.

So MY word for 2015 will be PURPOSE. What I do will be prayed over and it will have purpose; for me and for my family. Another thing I did after finishing the sermon was immediately listened to one of my favorite songs by Jeremy Camp, He Knows. God KNOWS our purpose. Jeremy reached out to Trey when he was ill and we had the blessing of meeting Jeremy and his wife, Adie, last December. The Holy Spirit uses him to speak volumes to me.

After all my Holiday Hell, listening to the sermon, listening to Jeremy, I decided New Year’s Eve was not going to be spent alone while Jay was at work. I invited myself to Mark and Isabelle Maxwell’s house (where Collin was) and ended up making a fun after midnight run to Taco Bell (two vehicles, a puppy, and a bunch of kids). The purpose…I made a memory in 2015…with Collin. Thank you, Joel Johnson for speaking the word of God. You spoke to this grieving mother.