You’ve had that feeling before, that nagging in the pit of your stomach that something is just not right. I was asked to speak at Bartlett United Methodist Church months ago. I suddenly realized that it was a week away and I had not asked permission from my boss, nor had I begin to prepare. Panic set in and I told myself I just had to find a way to get out of this situation. I sent a text to the daughter of the mother of whose church I was going to speak. I told Holly, I can’t do this…what am I going to do! She asked, “When is it?” I responded, “Next Tuesday!” Silence.
More panic began to set in as I did not receive a response from Holly and I imagined she had contacted her mother to tell her that I was not able to speak because of my work load, a misunderstanding because I thought the event would be at night, [insert next excuse].
Most of you are familiar with LinkedIn on social media. I am a member because I kept receiving invites and I finally succumbed to realize it would be a good outreach tool. I received a message in my inbox from a man I didn’t know and he proceeded to tell me the story about his father. He gave me permission to share this wonderful, bittersweet story.
I am a Germantown resident with three boys. I have followed Trey’s and your family from the beginning of Trey’s illness. I want you to know your son taught so many how to die with God’s Grace. Little did I know that God put Trey and your family in my life for a reason. In the fall of 2013, my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and he passed away April 2014.
But because of your story being told publicly, I knew what to expect. I shared your family’s story with my dad. During this time my father found God and was saved. He is with Jesus now and Trey. He knew Trey’s story and he knew what a disciple Trey was until the last minute and still is today.
I spent the last two weeks with dad and most of his waking moments were just talking. Nothing was left unsaid and I am happy to say that.
I was talking to my dad’s pastor as he was asleep one day about my dad’s salvation and the pastor said he was present when my dad accepted Jesus into his heart. He also stated my dad talked about Trey’s story. Wow!!
The pastor told me that “dad was teaching me his final lesson”. He was “teaching me how to die with grace”. I immediately thought of Trey.
I want you to know I still pray for Trey and your family. Trey may have left this earth but he is alive. He has helped so many and I am sure I am not the only one.
Although, I have never met your family or Trey, I am very thankful you shared Trey with the world.
You should be so proud of Trey and how he taught so many lessons to people of all ages.
After I read this story and Steve and I communicated, I went to my boss with a convicted heart. I told him I had a problem. After I told him what was going on, he looked at me with all seriousness and said, “You need to get your mind right.” I said to myself, “What?” and immediately thought, “Did I say that with my inside voice or outside voice?” Luckily, my inside voice. Joe went on to tell me, “There will be ONE person there that will need to hear what you need to say.” I told Joe the story of Steve Gilmore and his father, and in my mind, might have been JUST THAT ONE at the time and place God had intended. I left his office with his blessing to speak and I sent a text to Holly telling her all is well.
I received a text the night before I was to speak from my prayer partner, Ashley McCrary, asking me what I was going to speak about. She knew I was going to speak about Trey, but she wanted to know specifically so she could pray. I laughed and I told her I had 14 different versions and I had no clue. I had a migraine and I could not focus to decide. I put my Ipad down and just prayed for God to lead me in the coming day.
The ladies at Bartlett United Methodist Church were so lovely and inviting. I shared with them my story about not knowing what I was going to share and they were also touched by Joe’s compassion to let me go out into the community to share Trey’s story. As I looked over the crowd while I was speaking, I communicated with God, “Who is that ONE Lord that needs to hear from you today?” Sometimes we will never know how the Lord touches someone’s life through our actions or words.
I have been weary lately and my writing has been put to the wayside. Out of the blue I received a text from my friend Tami Theobald. We talked about how fear can restrict us from what we want to put on paper. She made a statement that is so true. “We write as if it really happened, we have to bleed on paper.” Then she said, “Someone needs to hear your words!” That was the SECOND time someone has told me that. She told me, “Your words heal you by writing them and heal others by reading them.” I was amazed at God’s work in telling me, “Lisa, it’s time to put it on paper.”
At the end of speaking at Bartlett United Methodist Church we had a question and answer time. One special lady asked the question I have been waiting for someone to ask. “What are the things we should or should not say to a grieving parent?” I lit up for joy and said, “Oh, thank you so much for asking that question and here are my suggestions.”
1. Try to avoid – “I’m sorry for your loss.” Trey is not lost. I know where he is. It’s not that it’s offensive, it’s just a church saying when you don’t have anything else to say.
2. Please don’t say – “Oh, he’s better off in heaven not suffering.” Are you kidding me? I know he’s in heaven, yes, but I’m still his mama and if I could beg God, like I have MANY times, I would ask for just ONE more time with him so I could tell him how much I love him.
3. Try to avoid – “I know what you are going through.” Unless you have lost a child, no you don’t. I carried my son for nine months, fed him, bathed him and changed his diapers. Then at age 15, I fed him, bathed him, and changed his pants, underwear and bed as he looked up at me, sometimes with no words.
4. Remember this one, if you can – “Call me if you need anything.” We won’t call you. We are grieving and it is not in a grieving person’s nature to reach out. We are still reaching in to find what was lost. We know it cannot be replaced, but we are trying to find a new way to function as a family of three.
– Listen to our memories
– Tell us that you will pray for us, and DO IT!
– Insist on bringing a meal or going to dinner together – even after two years (action speaks louder than words)
– Remember a hug goes a long way
– Be patient with our tears. They will flow for years, and years, and years.
– Put yourself in our shoes
– If you ask how we are doing, be prepared to listen
I retweeted something today that I thought was so important. “Be a voice, not an echo.” By being that voice, you might be the only Jesus that ONE person sees or hears. In speaking, that ONE person might have needed to hear the suggestions for a grieving parent. My prayer partner, Ashley McCrary, her kids, and other adults and high school kids at Central Church are leaving for Ecuador tomorrow. I think of them as they go out to be the Jesus that ONE person might see and one day, just maybe, be at the feet of Jesus because of their ACTIONS. For this reason, I have said, I will never stop talking about Trey’s faith story. Will it add ONE more child to your kingdom Lord? Isn’t that our purpose? Was that Trey’s purpose? To bring people to HIM?
“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Are you the only Jesus someone sees today? If so, would it lead them to the feet of Jesus? As Christians, we are held accountable to go…preaching and teaching the Word. So wherever you are, whatever you are doing, KNOW you might be that ONE to someone.