A Different Perspective – Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day Post from Lisa Erwin

I am honored West Cancer Center asked me to write about Mother’s Day from a different perspective.

One person not mentioned in my article is Barry Erwin, Jay’s brother, who passed away from cancer in December 1996. Collin Erwin, my sweet boy, is named after his uncle Barry. We miss you Barry, another part of the Erwin generation taken by cancer. God gave me a mother-in-law who loves the Lord. We walk together on this journey and she is my praying guide. I’m blessed.

Lisa Erwin

The Erwin family has three generations of cancer in their family, all linked to a rare genetic mutation. Their oldest son Trey passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2012, and his mom Lisa continues to fight to keep his memory alive while being there to support her younger son Collin.

“On Mother’s Day each year, I am reminded of the undeniable role of actually being two mothers. I am a grieving mother to a son who no longer bursts in my door with a smile that lit up a room. I am also a mother to a son who is striving to find himself while dealing with the heaviness of loss, doctors, tests, and the reality of what the future might hold.”

Lisa and her family are passionate about supporting the fight against cancer and the need for new and more effective treatment options. “Funding for cancer research is so important. Without research, there would be no hope for Collin.”

How do you prepare yourself for this Hallmark holiday we call Mother’s Day? Some of us are members of a club we never volunteered for when our child was diagnosed with cancer. Most of us share the pain and emptiness Mother’s Day brings, even while celebrating our own mothers. This day has been very bittersweet since my son, Trey, passed away in July 2012 from pancreatic cancer. Honestly, it is a day my grief is a little heavier than most days.

Mother’s Day note from Lisa’s son Trey in 2012

The last Mother’s Day with Trey was spent in Hawaii, his paradise. I remember waking up that morning with an envelope next to my bed. “Mom” I opened it to find a notebook piece of paper saying, “Happy Mother’s Day, I love you thisssss much! Trey.” He enclosed a picture of the two of us from the VOLS Orange and White football game we attended in Knoxville a couple of weeks prior.

Photo enclosed with Trey’s note

That “love phrase” is what we always said to each other. That was the last text he was able to read on July 5, 2012, “I love you thissss much! Mom.” I knew he was desperately trying to read the massive amount of texts he was receiving after we let the public know that he would not be with us much longer.

Many mothers mourn on Mother’s Day. Sadness overtakes the joy of celebrated motherhood and we long to hold our children that we have lost to a cruel cancer. The friends of our children are growing up, going to college, getting married, having children, and Trey forever remains 15 years old. There are days that I sink to the floor in tears with grief because this reality hits me so hard. And honestly, I’m trying to reel in a little “unfairness” towards Collin too.

Just because I lost Trey does not mean I suddenly stopped being a mother to my youngest son, Collin. Just in the last month Collin has become a patient at West because he turned 21 in July of 2020. St. Jude knew it would be best that he is followed closely by West Cancer Center since he carries the same mutant melanoma gene as Trey. It has taken me over nine months to pick up the phone and make the call for an appointment. As a mother, if I didn’t make him go, then maybe the gene would go away and there would be no cancer in Collin’s future. I know in this mama’s heart I cannot take that chance. I believe sometimes the children left behind are loved so fiercely, it’s hard to let them fly.

On Mother’s Day each year, I am reminded of the undeniable role of actually being two mothers. I am a grieving mother to a son who no longer bursts in my door with a smile that lit up a room. I am also a mother to a son who is striving to find himself while dealing with the heaviness of loss, doctors, tests, and the reality of what the future might hold.

Throughout the day, I’m sure I will not be able to resist scrolling through the sea of photos on social media of mothers with their children, young and old, and wonder was there something I missed; a drug or treatment we didn’t pursue; or, my failure as a mother to do everything in my power to help Trey survive. Do not misunderstand. A mother’s faith is not weak due to continual grieving of her child.

I know cancer did not define Trey, his purpose and faith in God directed him. Cancer did not define his grandfather, Jerry, does not define my husband, Jay, and WILL NOT define or deter Collin’s future. Three generations of West Cancer Center patients. We are forever indebted to Dr. Kurt Tauer for his love, honesty, and support for the past 26 years of this familial cancer journey. My prayer is that with West Cancer Center’s help, I will continue to have many more Mother’s Days with Collin. I will remain faithfully by his side as he endures each scan, endoscopy, and doctor’s appointment praying God would spare him.

I will remain ever hopeful that advances in cancer research will lead for better treatment options and better outcomes for other families like mine. I will continue to work to support the work of West Cancer Foundation and raise funds to fuel innovative research to find cures for this terrible disease. Without funding for research, there might not be hope for Collin.

I have said many times, the biggest fear a mother has is that after the death of their child, their child will be forgotten. Every mother who has lost a child deeply desires for others to say their child’s name. For someone else on Mother’s Day, your purpose might be to say their child’s name and acknowledge them as their wonderful mother. This Mother’s Day will not be lost without thinking how many people still greet me by saying, “I know you. Are you Trey’s mother?” My proud reply, “Why yes! Yes I am.” My purpose as a mother…fulfilled. I will enjoy Mother’s Day with my Collin, but in the meantime, I know Trey is enjoying paradise with Jesus and knows his mama loves him thisssss much.

Acknowledging all who have loved and lost on this Mother’s Day.

-Lisa Erwin

The Erwin family at the beach in 2012, one week to the day before Trey passed away from cancer

Lisa with her sons Trey and Collin in Hawaii, Mother’s Day 2012

Anxiety…I see you.

We are all living busy lives, even in a Covid-19 world. Our children do not have a normal routine and are having to alternate school days (if they go at all). Our jobs are in a fluctuating state of working remote to being in the office for longer hours. Week to week we have to make the decision to attend church because of Covid-19 exposure, with many choosing to worship via streaming. And then there is the weather! I think you would all agree that finding “our norm” is very difficult.

Unfortunately, our bodies suffer from the day-to-day life that we have now created. For me, most know that I suffer from chronic, severe migraines. Saturday started my latest battle of trying to determine what was the best course of medication before going for the big guns. I felt some chest pressure and thought I had congestion and chalked it up to my sinuses. With the weather front moving in, I know many have been having the same issues I have.

Sunday morning it hit full blown. I was determined to not let it put me to bed for the rest of the day. Fortunately, after taking many different prescribed medications, my headache began to ease. In place of my migraine came anxiety. A full blown anxiety attack.

If you have ever experienced an anxiety attack, you will know exactly what I am about to tell you. Remember, panic attacks and anxiety attacks are different. Panic attacks will usually come and go within 10 to 30 minutes. Anxiety can last for days.

The elephant in the room had moved to sitting on my chest. My legs felt like they could run a mile with my feet never touching the ground. As the afternoon turned into evening, my hands started to feel numb. I knew exactly what was happening. My head kept trying to tell my body, you will be fine. Jay was reassuring that I would be fine. I told Jay, “My head knows everything you are saying, but my body does not!”

We have an oximeter at home, which if you do not have one, get one. It measures your pulse and heart rate. Every thirty minutes I would ask Jay for the oximeter. My rates were normal.

I took a bath thinking it would surely relax me. All it did was raise my heart rate and send me outside to the cold to attempt to bring my body temperature down. Trust me, during this entire time I was doing breathing exercises. Breathe in through your mouth, hold for 4 seconds, exhale slowly and repeat.

Jay kept asking me why I would not take the Xanax I have that is prescribed for this very thing! In my mind, Xanax would suppress my breathing and I was trying to explain to him that the cure for my anxiety would cause me MORE anxiety. Is it going to be this way every February? That was my thought.

What is my fear? Taking medications that slow my breathing because I am afraid to go to sleep. This started for me at age 18 after the loss of my father and when someone stole my identity to seek drugs. Once a pattern of anxiety comes into your life, it just does not go away. You have to learn to control it, daily.

About 7:30 p.m., Jay came to sit closely by me on the couch and hold my hand as we watched American Idol. After beginning to take my nighttime meds (that also doubles as a medication for anxiety), I slowly began to calm. But I knew bedtime was coming. Night. My biggest fear.

At 10:30 p.m. I went to bed praising the Lord for a calm spirit. As we do each night, Becky, Andrea (my best friends) and I were telling each other goodnight by text and Becky said, “Fear is a liar!” I immediately went to the song by Zach Williams – “Fear is a Liar”. I rebuked Satan and began to recite 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” I slept.

Friends suffering with anxiety during these strange days, I see you. I hear you. I feel you. But so does our big God. I am not saying anxiety is gone, because today (Monday) it still lingers and I made it through the day with the help of Xanax. But I know when I go home I will be able to relax, nothing will happen to me, and I will sleep.

If you suffer from anxiety like I do, I hope you know you are not alone. Anxiety is real and it is SCARY. That heart attack you feel is coming on is controllable. The best thing (next to Xanax), is to make sure you have a support system in place during this time. I could not have made the night without my husband. Trust me. I was crying and telling him if the Xanax did not work, he was taking me to the hospital! And you know what he said? Okay.

Unfortunately, since I wrote this, my migraine returned on Tuesday. I immediately went to my pain doctor. Not only am I blessed with a wonderful husband, but I have a doctor who I have been with for over 30 years. Dr. Schnapp’s his first remark was, “Are you trying to kill yourself?” He said that the combination of all my medications caused a medication induced tachycardia event evidenced by the anxiety. I told him my oximeter said my heart was normal! He showed me how to record an EKG from my Apple Watch to my Iphone. Life changer. Advice – get an Apple Watch and use it if you have anxiety!

“Anxiety might be your superpower, not your kryptonite. Changing my perception of my anxiety has helped me see that it doesn’t diminish my value in my career or as a parent, and might even enhance it.”  Alice Boyes Ph.D Psychology Today

The reason for this blog is to say I am not ashamed I suffer from anxiety. I think I’ve been through quite enough in my lifetime to cause a little anxiety. I want YOU to know you are not alone. Anxiety is real. Even though you feel like you are on the edge of death, you are not. Remember to rest in the strength of His arms. “He is our comfort and strength, a very present help in time of trouble…though the mountains shake and the waters roar, we will not fear!” Ps. 46:1-3.

“Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith. I don’t agree at all. They are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the Passion of Christ.” C. S. Lewis

In St. Jude/Out St. Jude

That day is very vivid in my mind. It was so hot as we sat in the car. It we just the two of us, Jay and I. July 5, 2012. We had just walked out of St. Jude for what we thought was the last time and left Trey’s sick cancerous body. We both looked at each other and said, “What are we doing to do now?” We had no idea where the next 7 to 8 years would take us and that it would keep us at St. Jude.

Soon after Trey’s death, Dr. Sara Federico contacted us and set up an appointment for Collin to see her. We knew that he carried the same malignant melanoma gene that we believe caused Trey’s cancer. Dr. Sara told us that normally they send patients out for screening since they do not actively have cancer. Dr. Sara loves our family. She petitioned the powers that be and also because of Trey, Collin remained a St. Jude patient for screening. . .until February 19, 2020.

What my head was saying in both instances was the right thing.

“THIS IS WHAT IS NATURAL AND NEEDS TO HAPPEN!”

But my heart had emotions swirling like a carousel at Disneyworld. The picture below shows Collin walking down a long hallway at St. Jude as we enter the Chili’s building to go to our car to leave. What you DON’T see is that he was so happy he was walking and weaving from one side of the hall to the other. No more Kid’s Kafe, no more patient number, no more little red wagons, and no more painted halls. Now, it will be West Cancer Clinic. Leaving with one child and left without one child.

As I thought further when I took another picture through the windshield of St. Jude to go along with the 10 million I already have, our hospital is our church. How many of us leave our church, turn around, and feel sadness because of what life is handing us? Feeling cancerous.

We drove away and didn’t chat much, but I kept thinking. Jesus is our healer, our Jehovah Raphah. This last week or two has been very hard on us because Jay had surgery on February 18, my mother died that afternoon, and Collin’s appointment was on the 19th. There has not been a time of whaling or crying over our mother. We were at peace because she wanted to see Jesus more than anything. We were at peace.

I have the verse of the day sent to my phone each day and on February 26th it read, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matt. 5:4. I posted it on my Facebook story and said “You can’t make this stuff up.” I wanted people to know that God was comforting me and speaking to me in the most amazing ways and through friends and loved ones in our church. I actually got excited and began to think more about the church being the hospital and I began to pray that people would know that there are really genuine people in the church there to love and serve you and tell you about how Jesus can save you and give you the peace you so desperately desire.

There are things in our life that we have let sin become a cancer and metastasis to other people in the church. We know their needs to be forgiveness and He is waiting to cure us of all the ugly diseases we carry.  There may not be healing, like with Trey, but he’s healthy in heaven. We know we do not have the power to save, only God. There will be changes, as with Collin. There will be more bad news of cancer, as with Jay. But I know, I KNOW, like I told someone else, He never promised us an easy road. He only promised to walk with us through the valleys. He’s got my hand! You need to grab it too!

Psalms 23 – From the Message.

 God, my shepherd!
    I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
    you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
    you let me catch my breath
    and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through
    Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
    when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
    makes me feel secure.

You serve me a six-course dinner
    right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
    my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
    every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
    for the rest of my life.collin st jude

Bloom Where You Are Planted

I can’t believe it has been since September that I have posted, but I know it has been that long that I have been struggling.

I’m going to test your memory. Remember the test that you have taken to know what spiritual gift you have? You may have the gift of  teaching, serving, giving, etc. Many people have more than one. Do you think that God changes these gifts in your life? This is an honest question.

I have had several gifts for many, many years and I have felt a tug from God to go in another direction. How in the world do you say NO to using your gifts? This has caused sleepless nights, bad dreams, stress, until I began to pray about this certain activity.

I was given an amaryllis plant at Christmas and I put it on my desk and I have watched it miraculously grow, produce what would turn out to be the most beautiful blooms. I walked into work last week and saw the plant in full bloom.

I was doing my bible study last week and this jumped off the page at me:

Because we have Christ, no matter WHAT is going on around us, there is always a reason to rejoice. Because Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever;…”

“Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever;…” I looked at the plant again and this phrase came to me – Bloom Where You Are Planted. Okay, so, what? I listened a little closer.  This plant requires NO water. It is not in a pot and is not in the ground. It made me ask the question of myself, where am I planted that I can pour out the beauty of Christ? I immediately started with the area I was struggling and a peace came over me to let it go.

I have two areas right now that I feel responsible to concentrate on in my life; home and work. I have struggled over the last six months to be the person that writes the gratitude list, the person that journals in five colors (and spent too much money to try), that studies from three bibles, that is committed to two bibles studies, and even rearranged my dining room to have a study area.

To be honest, my name is Lisa and I have tremors. I can barely write study notes anymore. I work 60 hours a week (hard). My husband and I need each other desperately during this time in our life to make it through his cancer battle and my migraines.  We just found out today he has another melanoma and there will be more surgery.  My son needs me and he is growing into a wonderful young man and I am SO proud. I need to be on top of my game at Burch, Porter & Johnson for many reasons.  A smile goes a long way.

Bloom Where You Are Planted. . .

“God has planted you where you are that you might be a blessing. He wants you to take deep root. He wants you to bear rich fruit. And if you will draw upon His spiritual power, He will enable you to be a blessing. Bloom where you are planted and bear fruit to the glory of God and the enrichment of others.

God has blessed you with certain abilities so you may invest them in others and bring glory to Him. As you use your God-given talents, you glorify Him and bless others. Draw from God’s spiritual resources and let Him use you to enrich others. (Ps. 80:8-13)”

                                                                                          The Baker Publishing Group

Yes, Lord. I hear you. I will strive to bloom where you have planted me as a wife, mother, and employee. Do not be afraid to step back, look, and bloom.

(Yes, this is my plant pictured)

flower

I’m Only Human

You have to admit it. You started singing the song, right? “… of flesh and blood I’m made.” Human League from 1986. That is exactly what I thought Monday when Jay called me after seeing Dr. Fleming and told me his biopsy returned as cancer in his neck.  I will tell you, I was angry.  It was a throw your hands in the air and scream – What the hell? – kind of anger.

Then I crashed. Rock bottom. Do not look at me; do not talk to me, kind of crash (at work).

Trust me, God was not on my radar to run to for answers. Why? Because I have done it time after time, occurrence after occurrence and still…cancer. I am not even the one fighting it! Jay has to endure more than I do. So much more. His words ring in my ears, “I hate this.”

I put my foot down and said enough.

That might have been when God laughed. Or maybe when I was spilling my guts in the office of one of the attorneys I work for at Burch, Porter & Johnson.  My kind friend, as tears streamed down my face said, I’m glad you are in here. No, I do not really think God laughed at me.  I truly believe He saw my hurt and understood that I was hurting for my soulmate that He had so graciously given me. He knew the crushing weight of emptiness I felt because I could not and still cannot help my husband.  I also believe He was preparing someone else to minister to me also.

Monday nights are when I attend a high school bible study and help as a small group leader. I immediately thought, there is NO WAY I am going there and act as if I have it all together, because I obviously do not. I might cry or yell in front of one of those precious kids and I just could not take that chance.  So you text the leader, right? I did not want to hear her words either. I think she knew that, but she was persistent.

This is what she shared: (We are studying Exodus) She said, “I don’t know if you have read chapter 5 yet, but it is good and right where you are.” (I am thinking yeah Moses, come on down, join me.) “And in 6:1 God doesn’t shame him or condemn him or even strike him dead, but just gently reminds Moses…just watch what I will do.  It has nothing to do with you Moses, it is all about Me and when it is done…I will be glorified and it will be for your good.”

As you can imagine, by this time I am in tears reading her text.  Her words were hard, but truth, as we both agreed. Sometimes the truth, especially the word of God, is hard to hear or read. However, when it is delivered in a loving, caring manner, God can change the heart of the receiver. Isn’t that why we pray for others?

She went on to share:

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!” Ephesians 3:20-21

Yes, that anger was fleeting, but it was there.  As I said at the beginning, I’m only human; of flesh and blood I’m made. Anger, frustration, worry, and anxiousness, all things that cause us to drift from God were filling my heart.  Nevertheless, God did not drift away from me or from Jay. I cancelled all commitments for the week (except women’s bible study), and we did what we always do, we have watched television together, ate pizza, and talked football (oh, and maybe Big Brother).

Jay and I are registered to participate in the West Fight On Run/Walk tomorrow.  We both have agreed to stay home and do a little cleaning before football. (He does not know about the cleaning part.) We know that only with God makes us stronger together.

Jay has his PET scan on Monday to see if his cancer has spread. He will then see Dr. Tauer and decide which specific chemo pill he will take with the plan to eventually have radiation.  Things always change.

We ask for your prayers as we file insurance claims, juggle this and that, and mostly for Jay to endure the side effects without missing work. We have a good group of firefighter family and growing in Living Hope Church. I also have other friends battling cancer that need prayer.

When someone steps in to speak truth, listen. You may not want to hear it at the moment, but it will eventually soak into your soul and feed you where your heart is aching.  Be thankful for those that speak truth to you and remember they are human also.

#cancerstillsucks

Only Human

Married or Single?

My sweet boy:

I have to tell you Buddy, your Aunt Donna and I saw Hamilton last week. Oh, it was something you would have loved! Almost as much as Wicked.  As Aunt Donna and I sat outside on a bench, I asked her, “What do you think Trey would be doing at 23?”  She had no idea. I think, as many “girl” friends as you had, you would have been married. We had a good laugh about that.  Well, look at all your male friends! They are just about all married!

Ms. Shawn (I know, you don’t know her, but you know Taylor), said something to me after the anniversary of your death.  She said I seem to be handling things with more strength.  She couldn’t put her finger on it.  I told her I knew.  I’ve allowed myself to grieve for you. I’m not letting anyone influence me anymore.

I had a rough time one week and I talked to Papa K.  I just didn’t know what to do.  They lost Oreo, Trey. And he told me that just like Oreo will always be a part of them and they will miss him as they walk through life, so will be the same with you, but to a greater grief.  I will always walk through life with an amount of grief as a mother with you beside me.  It was like a light bulb went off.

How can I not grieve? I’ve thought about it a lot this week. I’ve been in the bed and tried to remember the feeling 23 years ago and how massive my belly was.  You kicked the fool out of me. Sometimes it really hurt. As with labor pains, so does death of the child.

God has put us at Living Hope and Trey, it has been such a blessing.  I met someone who lost their child many years ago. They were able to share with me that missing your baby just doesn’t go away and no one should ever tell you to get over it. I felt SO much better! It was like a weight was lifted. God has put many in our path.  Remember Ms. Anita and Ms. Janice?

Honey, I know you didn’t want us upset.  But on earth, we don’t have the ultimate joy you have in heaven even though we try.

Sometimes, things are pitch black, as if I’m looking down a dark tunnel.  I feel as if my heart will break and there is total emptiness.  But, the goodness of God fills my soul somehow.  I do ask Him why.

Why God are you still forgiving my anger?

Why God are you still loving me after crying with jealously of other parents?

A friend of mine posted this and it’s so true:

“We tend to stay away from mourning and dancing. Too afraid to cry, too shy to dance…we become narrow-minded complainers, avoiding pain and also true human joy…While we live in a world subject to the evil one, we belong to God. Let us mourn, and let us dance.” Henri Nouwen

Trey, I still mourn. But buddy, I do dance.  And I’m so thankful for the people in my life that are still willing to walk beside me and your daddy and mourn with us when we need it.  You know the 24’s take care of us! You know God understands.

I know you would be so proud of Collin.  He’s growing up and trying to find his way. He’s wanting that truck that you wanted to buy. So when he gets it, I know he’ll think of you.

I need to stop the tears and end this Happy Birthday.  Another year of healthy in heaven.  Please hug Jimdaddy for us.  We miss him so.  I know you were glad to see someone else to play basketball with!

Dad and I still cling to James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”  We endure many trials and we continue to grow.

Love you Buddy.

Iphone 2017 1153

 

Depression and Suicide

img_2685Random conversations.  Facebook messenger.  Email.  Text.  Coincidental meetings. All females with the same issue…loneliness. Many with depression.  We are all the same age and all in the same phase of life.

Out of those conversations came these remarks:

“I go home and just go straight to bed.”

“I go home and just go to my corner of the couch.”

“I never go out with friends because I don’t have any.”

“I sit and watch television by myself.”

“I’m in bed when I go home, just me and my glass of wine.”

“…and since I don’t work, I don’t even have work girlfriends.”

“Maybe we should start a no friends girlfriends club!”

“I feel like social media leads to a lot of depression.”

I’d like to pick it up with the last remark.  We smile and waive, laugh at puppy pictures, “likes” on baby pictures, “love” on scripture pictures or postings, all the while using social media as our backup friend.  Yet we are the people posting the puppy pictures, babies, and even pictures with our husbands that are either never home or never in the same room. I don’t think society allows us to deal with reality because our character will be judged.  Personally, I have never cared.  Oh, I lie.  I do care or I wouldn’t have dealt with depression since age 18.  But, here I am.

According to USA Today, “The suicide rate for white children and teens between 10 and 17 was up 70% between 2006 and 2016, the latest data analysis available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although black children and teens kill themselves less often than white youth do, the rate of increase was higher — 77%.”

We are losing too many of our young adults to suicide and asking why. Yet we can’t deal with our own depression and suicide issues.  It is very hard to help someone else when you cannot help yourself.  I get it.  It is the “walk in my shoes” syndrome. I’m there with you.

If you look at the symptoms in children and adults for depression according to Mayo Clinic, many of the symptoms are the same.  Symptoms such as:

  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
  • Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide

You might ask, “What does this have to do with me in the bed when I come home?” A lot.  I look at my son and I wonder what he thinks of me.  Then I remember my mother on the couch my entire childhood and it all makes sense.  Depression.

What does God say?

I like what how the Message phrases Galatians 6:1-3:

“Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.” 

Stoop down and reach out!

How do we decrease the rate of suicide? How do we uplift the depressed? We share burdens.  Are you too good for that?

Even with Jesus, loneliness and depression is very difficult.  Satan is very powerful and he knows how to turn every thought against you.

There are moments of pure vulnerability and uncertainty no one sees but God during your loneliness.  You try to make sense of it all while nurturing raw wounds embedded deeply within your soul.  These wounds may be from many different sources such as death, a spouse, children, or even church.

I have tried to throw myself into scripture and prayer crying out to God.  I’ve tried to be around friends at work to forget the loneliness.

           The struggle is real.  It is real with depression and suicide. 

These are topics people do not like to talk about.  Just like you don’t talk about sex at church, or depression and suicide really.  Well, I will talk about it.

A friend of mine said while teaching bible study that sometimes we like to find our answers when we cry out to God in our darkness by opening up the Bible to a random page and just pointing to a verse.  We then believe that is the scripture the Holy Spirit sent to us as an answer to our problems.  As much as I would like to believe that God works that way in coping with depression, I’m not sure that is His intention.  He wants us to seek Him constantly – in and out of depression.

Do you just want to throw in the towel?

Some days.  I believe God does heal our wounds of depression.  I believe he binds up our beautiful mess with a proper healing.  I know He provides sweet conversation with friends of like mind.  Though they may be few, they MAY be all you need.  It is all in HIS timing.  It might be the day I see Him FACE TO FACE! I can only tell you with my experience, it can be debilitating after losing a child.  The most hurtful thing you can say to a mother is that it is time to get over it and move on.  Nope, nada, ain’t gonna happen. Not soon.  I’ll grieve, in some manner, with an amount of depression, (even a thought of suicide, maybe) for the rest of my life for my baby boy.  But my faith is NOT diminished! I know that God still holds me in his hands and I take comfort in the song that says… “It’s your breath in my lungs, so I lift up my praise, lift up my praise to you only”.

I’m still on the road…a long and winding road.

But be encouraged! Oh Jerusalem!

“But now take another look. I’m going to give this city a thorough renovation, working a true healing inside and out. I’m going to show them life whole, life brimming with blessings. I’ll restore everything that was lost to Judah and Jerusalem. I’ll build everything back as good as new. I’ll scrub them clean from the dirt they’ve done against me. I’ll forgive everything they’ve done wrong, forgive all their rebellions. And Jerusalem will be a center of joy and praise and glory for all the countries on earth. They’ll get reports on all the good I’m doing for her. They’ll be in awe of the blessings I am pouring on her.” Jer. 33:6-9

The Wrestler

Jay was a wrestler so he liked to wrestle with the boys. He had Trey pinned to get his phone. Parents do that just to irritate their kids, ya know.

I remember the laughter…just as if you had tickled him when he was five under his armpits. It became contagious.

Tears from laughter fell.

Tears fall from grief.

Wrestling. What do we wrestle with? I’m wrestling with migraines, depression, grief, a dying dog, and to be honest – God.

Where do you want us God?

Tears fall from frustration and stress.

Eight years ago they wrestled. Today, we are still wrestling.

So for me – my prayer today is from Psalms. “But You, O GOD, the Lord, deal kindly with me for Your name’s sake; Because Your lovingkindness is good, deliver me;”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭109:21‬C485D394-E1FA-4C03-A158-3F22CAD0A8EA

Righteous Anger vs. Real Anger

You deal with anger a lot when you are grieving.  Many Christians like to categorize our anger as “righteous.” But when does that righteous anger cross the line and become just plain anger?

I have found myself angry a lot lately.  I won’t sugarcoat it.  Ephesians 4:26 says, “When you are angry, do not sin, and be sure to stop being angry before the end of the day.”  This anger has led to so many other things, such as depression.  (You should see my house – war zone.)

Why am I angry? I hate cancer.  Oh, wait, another sin…hate.  I feel like instead of being eaten up with cancer, maybe I’m eaten up with sin.

Let me tell you why.  In the last three months, my husband has had surgery for malignant melanoma and basosquamous cell carcinoma; July was “Trey” month, his birthday and the anniversary of his death; I lost two good friends to cancer; and, I have another one that has just been diagnosed who is fighting for her life.  Collin’s endoscopy that was scheduled for August has been rescheduled for November.  I won’t even mention that Aretha Franklin died of pancreatic cancer.

I have to make it clear that I am not angry at God and I don’t know why.  I think because I have a healthy fear of the Lord.  I know God is good.  I think most people would be angry AT God believing that He is the cause.  Yes, I have shaken my fist in the air a couple of times over the last six years, but that has not resulted in any relief or extreme pleasure.

Can I admit that I am angry at the people working in research? Why haven’t you found a cure? Why do you keep saying you’re so close?  Don’t say you’re so close and lead us on.  I remember researchers saying that about ALS in 1982 before my Dad died and I don’t believe they are any closer than they were 30 plus years ago. I had to get that off my chest.

I want to place my anger somewhere.  When we are angry, we all want to place blame.  I do not know who to blame anymore.  I remember so vividly when the doctor who was from genetics came to see Trey at St. Jude to tell us about the P-16 gene.  They told us that it was passed from the father to the son and Jay immediately turned to the wall, became red, and tears began to flow down his face.  Dr. Sara’s hand suddenly grasped his shoulder and she said, “Jay, this is not your fault.”  I believe Jay carries that burden, as do I for giving birth to my children.  (It does take two, ya know.)  There is NO anger towards Jay and NO burden he should carry since God in His almighty power, knowing beginning to end, had a plan and purpose for Trey.

Wait, what?  …since God in His almighty power, knowing beginning to end, had a plan and a purpose…  My apple watch just told me to BREATHE.  And I think I just received an invisible B-12 shot!

Hummm.  “Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20

You might not see me in an outrage with my anger, but am I using this anger to help others, help them heal, grieve, or need Jesus? That would be righteous anger.  I don’t know that I am, but I want to.  I just know that God is not finished with me yet.  I am thankful He still catches all my tears.  I stepped out of the car crying yesterday…because the Dragons will play their last game in the stadium where Trey played.  Oh, my heart aches.  It aches for the past that cannot become the future.

I watched a video I recently taped for Trey.  The person asked if I liked it.  I told him that I had told Jay all I talked about was Trey’s faith and said nothing about how Trey suffered.  Jay and I got a good laugh how that sounded coming out of my mouth.  So did the person on the other end.  Maybe it not always about the suffering or the anger – righteous or not.  Maybe it’s just all about the faith.