We Pray for Blessings (Blog)

“We pray for blessings

We pray for peace

Comfort for family, protection while we sleep

We pray for healing, for prosperity

We pray for your Mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while, You hear each spoken need

Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things.”

I have recited these lyrics before, Blessings by Laura Story.  Unfortunately, they became all to familiar to me again two weeks ago as Jay, Collin and I walked into St. Jude for his kidney surgery.  Blessings? Peace? Healing? What was I walking into again?

My fear was just that, walking into St. Jude and sleeping on the couch that makes a bed as I would watch Collin sleep.  I anticipated the bed separating as it had in 2012 as I watched Trey sleep for so many nights.  Yet God did hear our spoken need.  We spent our time in the new Chili’s ICU step down unit and not in the same area where we had been with Trey. What a blessing.  It was so nice for Jay and I to feel a little bit of the chest pressure release.

Dr. Davidoff, who performed Collin’s surgery, consulted on many issues with Trey when he formed pseudo cysts.  His associates, staff, nurses, etc. were all familiar with our family.  I was allowed to go with Collin into the operating room as he was put to sleep.  Collin kept exclaiming he didn’t feel sleepy.  We all joked because we knew the seconds were clicking down before he would be in his nice, deep sleep.  I hovered over him and told him I loved him and to enjoy his nice sleep.  About that time his eyes began to roll back and they shut.  The nurses and doctors said that would take very good care of him.  I couldn’t help but say, “You better take care of him because he’s my baby and he’s all I got. The last time I left here, I left my other son.” And I began to lose it.  A sweet nurse walked me out and assured me Collin was in good hands.

A surgery that we were told that should last maybe four hours lasted six.  All I could think about was, “I can’t believe I’m sitting here, I can’t believe I’m sitting here.”  As Jay and I sat in the surgery waiting room, another family was experiencing our March 6, 2012 (Trey’s diagnosis day).  We tried to be comfort to the family, tell them what to expect, tell them not to be overwhelmed by doctors, nurses, residents, social workers, etc. and just ask for a time out! Their world was falling apart as their daughter was in surgery the same time as Collin.  I just wanted to take their pain away and it made me even more mad at cancer.

Surgery was successful as they removed a 20 percent wedge from the back of Collin’s kidney that contained a cyst.  When we finally got to the room at around 8 p.m. Tuesday, I was ready for rest.  I guess my mind had forgotten the every hour to two hour visits by the nurses and even the doctors in the middle of the night.

What I didn’t anticipate is how dark the night is.  I once heard a theological argument about faith.  In that argument, to prove his point, he said that dark is the absence of light. There was so little light and the night does NOT feed peace.  The night can feed anxiety and fear, memories from the past, faces replacing faces, time going back.  Before you realize it, you can’t breathe. Inhale Lisa, Exhale Lisa.

As I tried to help Collin, he would become angry and not want to be touched.  He had tubes from his nose, a catheter, two IVs, oxygen, and beep, beep, beep, as we repeated BREATHE COLLIN, BREATHE.  In the night I paced, he called my name but he didn’t know what he needed and I couldn’t help him. I prayed for the sun as I would doze off in the wee hours of the morning.  Jay, bless his heart, slept in the parent room because we knew Collin might not rest because Jay would snore and I would prefer to be in the room anyway.

Each morning was the same of giving Jay my update of our night and Collin not remembering anything that happened.  I think there were two days I didn’t leave the room because we could order food from the room and I didn’t have to leave Collin’s side.

We waited for him to progress so that he could get tubes out, IVs would blow, he couldn’t eat (he’s lost about 10 pounds) and all during this time he could not tolerate the light.  I have always feared the dark to the point of panic.  I think the ONE night that was the brightest was Wednesday night when Dr. Sara Federico FLEW in the room while Collin was sleeping.  Her arms fly while she talks and she laughs and smiles all at the same time. There is no way to not feel joy when she walks in the room.  It was such a relief to see her and she knows how to calm me.

Collin had his days mixed up, thought he missed Christmas, and at one point just looked at me and said, “Can’t you just call Aunt Donna to come pick us up?”  This was Thursday when I was with him and Jay was seeing his surgical oncologist at West Clinic.  I wanted to be with my husband as he was seeing Dr. Tauer AGAIN but now, for another occurrence for a different cancer, but I needed to be with Collin because he couldn’t even stand up.  I wanted to scream, “WHERE ARE YOU GOD!” Oh, wait, I think I did a couple of times.

The blessing is that Collin’s cyst came back benign.  It was a relief for all of us and I know, especially Collin.  He will not have that in his body to worry about what it is any longer.

There were many lonely days and exhausting nights.  Jay had to work some of the time we were there.  Maybe I have been watching too many Hallmark movies because this post doesn’t end with a positive, inspiring note. I’ve just been told so many times by my friend, Tami Theobald, that writing is a way of healing.  Maybe this is what will bring peace.

I can truly say, I will never have true peace until I’m in heaven with Jesus and my son.  I think that thought became too real.  I also learned a few valuable lessons the week at the Jude.  Collin doesn’t flinch when you call him Trey when he’s on drugs.  That’s one.  (I didn’t do that.  The nurses did.)  No two patients are the same.  That’s two.  Shave your face if you know you are going to have an NG tube because the tape doesn’t stick to facial hair and it pulls on the tube.  That’s three.  There are a few others I’ll keep to myself.  Just know, if you are ever scared, facing a surgery with your child in a familiar setting, needing a shoulder or hand to hold, I’m your girl. That’s four.

Signed,

Trying to hold it all together.

Praying I will conquer fear with MORE faith in 2017 as the Erwin family faces the battlefield.

 

 

That ONE Person (Blog)

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.

Lisa:

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.

Sincerely,

Steve Gilmore

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.

BEST HELP!
– 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.