You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
My fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me
So I could stand and sing
I am a child of God
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba Father!”. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
Well, 14 days of summer and counting…. How are we doing? I have absolutely no idea…I’m finding that there is no such thing as a “good” day or even a “bad” day. It can change from one moment to the next, and for no real apparent reason. Sometimes I can even be standing with someone and my heart seems protected from the pain but all of a sudden it’s like a wave of reality knocks the very breath out of me and I can’t focus to save my life. Part of me wants to cry, while the other just wants desperately to push it out of my mind. To let myself cry opens up the raw part of my hurt and I feel so vulnerable. Vulnerability in grief is a scary thing…It’s like I have no control of my own emotions or any idea how or when the moment will end. On the other hand…If I push the pain away, then I begin to have guilt. Guilt, that doesn’t make sense..but it’s like I’m saying “I can’t, Warren…not right now..I just can’t”. I hate to use the familiar expressions: ‘ebb and flow’, ‘roller coaster of emotion’..But, there is no better way to describe how one minute (or minutes) I can be functioning and carrying on like things are good, and then the next feel like I just stare right through the person and wonder how fast I can remove myself from the moment. This is the part of grief that makes it so hard to plan anything. When my thoughts are taken captive by the painful reality that Warren isn’t coming back…nothing feels right. However, when experiencing moments of God’s grace and unexplainable peace…I can actually participate (and enjoy) social interactions with friends and family.
For example, last week Grace had to go back to the dentist for sealants. I hadn’t thought much about it…not like before, when I KNEW it was going to be tough walking in for the first time. I sat in the waiting room..texted with a few friends, even saying how ‘good’ summer had been so far! (mind you, I think this was last Monday…what? like day 1 of summer break 🙂 ) Grace and I got in the car and I commented to her, “We did it! We accomplished the dentist!” She smiled…and I was proud and thankful. I mean, when I really thought about it…Of course, God brought me back to a ‘hard’ place to show me…”See, not so hard…one day at a time. I will see you through this. I WILL HOLD YOU!” Thank you Jesus for the amazing reminder of your ‘bigness’ at the dentist! Yea, for the dentist 🙂
And then there’s Target…Shopping with Grace. This was only a few days later and I hadn’t seen this as being a big deal. But….. We walked in, and the smell, the sounds, the feeling of ‘summer’, all the people…I could hardly breathe. My chest seemed to tighten, I began to sweat, or feel “sweaty”(which happens..it’s weird) and I couldn’t focus on what we were there for. Had Grace only known…this trip to Target could have been her lucky day! I would have said yes to just about anything…I just wanted out. But…We were there to buy some shorts and tops, while also looking for a swim suit(so help me), so I needed/wanted to pull it together. So, this was one of those moments I would try to push the pain aside…think of something else, force my heart to not “feel”, and will my tears to stay away …for now. However, everywhere I looked I was reminded of Warren. I’m not sure I ever strolled through Target noticing so many ‘boy’ things. All I could think of was: how unfair…why me?….why us? could this really be? I stood outside the dressing room, approving (and disapproving) of her outfits…I stood staring as people would walk by. I wondered what their stories were. I know very well, that I am not the only one with a story…but like so many, we go about our lives pretending that everything is ok…scared to let anyone in, not wanting to let anyone in, or like that day, just needing to do “normal” for the sake of accomplishing a necessary task.
After what seemed an eternity, Grace looked at me, obviously noticing that her mom was physically there but not emotionally, and said she was done. Happy with our Target finds, we paid for our things and made it to the car. I looked at Grace and honestly shared how difficult that had been for me….how being there reminded me of Warren. I was reminded of how we had shopped last summer for a last-minute trip to the beach, when we tagged along with Bill on a business trip. My very brave girl just smiled, a half-smile, because I know she feels it too, and we just sat, for a moment staring straight ahead, not saying anything..because nothing needed to be said.
Every single day, every single minute we (me, Bill and Grace) are making choices on how we deal with the hurt, the pain, and the screaming void in our lives. If we are laughing or smiling, it’s because we are choosing to see our situation with eternal lenses…something inside us gives us the strength to hold onto or be held by Jesus. Maybe it isn’t even a conscious decision, but nonetheless, some laughter that comes from our body is genuine laughing that brings much-needed rest and peace from the relentless pain. But just as the laughter stops and the smile on our face begins to fade…we can also choose to let the tears come, quiet fall, or words communicate how very much we miss our brother, son, and friend.
All of this happens every single day….choices, whether we recognize it or not, on how we will handle our new normal. One minute I can be texting a friend to express how awful I feel and the next minute pose for a silly pic that Grace can add to her snap chat. I look back at some of our more recent pictures/selfies and get confused myself as to how I was feeling that day or moment?!?
Grief doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t seem to follow a rule book. I assume that things I experience and feel as a grieving mom are different from other grieving moms..even if our situations are similar. I am an emotional person by nature, so I cry easily and probably more often than some. I don’t mind being alone (most of the time), in fact, I find comfort in being at home with time to read and listen to sermons. So much of what God is teaching me happens during my time alone with Him…I crave it and desperately need it! I can’t imagine this journey without Jesus being my lifeline…CAN-NOT imagine. God has also placed amazing people in my life to encourage me along in this journey. The other moms (whom I now call friends) that know all too well this road of suffering, have been, and continue to be absolutely priceless…I am beyond grateful and in awe as God provides, very specifically, to my unique needs each and every day. His promises are true, and He continues to be our Healer and our Comforter!
So…How is summer so far? Well, I can say that we miss the heck out of Warren and the hurt is deep and pretty constant. There are no words that I can come up with to explain this kind of suffering or heart ache. I think about him all the time. I am either yearning for summers past or wishing he weren’t missing out on this summer…it’s awful!
I can also say that the reality of our days so far have not been as bad as I had imagined. I imagined long days with Grace at the house…each of us confused and alone, not knowing how to “function” with so much time together. I worried how we would wake up each morning without Warren here and what those moments would look like…Truth is…I worried about our “tomorrows” !! Even last night I found myself shaking my head and thinking….”I can’t do it”…”I can’t do it”!!
So how is it not as bad as I imagined…? Jesus. Jesus comes through EVERY DAY!! In fact, EVERY DAY Jesus is waiting for me..ME! He gives me rest, but He does not sleep!! Where does my help come from? Why can I say that the summer hasn’t been as awful as I imagined….? Because every day I am reminded where my help comes from…My help comes from the Maker of Heaven and earth. If I will just lift my eyes to the hills, above the wind and the waves, above the storm, He will not let my foot be moved. He will keep and protect me from stumbling. When I find myself in a “Target” moment….I Look UP!! When I can’t breathe or take one more step…when my tears seem to have no end…I Look Up!! When I begin to wonder if Jesus is enough….I Look Up!! I find Him every time. When I choose to Look Up.
Psalm 121: 1-3 I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned before, but I struggle with fear. Fear can be crippling. Fear is not from God…and Satan has certainly had a field day distracting me with this stronghold…I recently heard a missionary speak on fear and he shared some amazing truths that have begun to create a shift in my thinking…He shared a couple of songs with me that I have been playing over and over the last couple of weeks. I believe that (loud) praise displaces fear….so I thought I would share these songs with you! The words at the beginning of this post are from one of the songs… ‘No Longer Slaves’ by Bethel Music. The other song, ‘Break Every Chain’ feat. Kristen DiMarco is absolutely life changing! I will post them with my other favorite songs!
Also, I mentioned that I listen to sermons. I come from a family of preachers…My Dad and my brother are both pastors. On days that I am home alone and sometimes in the evenings, I will find a sermon series to listen to…A few of my favorites include:
*Michael McCracken (my brother) @ Alamo Ranch Community Church, Pastor Gregg Matte (our home church HFBC), Matt Chandler, and Louie Giglio.
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
I can look at these pictures and remember, like it was yesterday, your laugh and your smile that brought such joy to our family. This first summer with your new baby sister was so special. You loved her and treated her so tenderly. You enjoyed being outdoors and splashing in the pool or playing in your sandbox that Nana and Granddad gave you. You also loved to swing and play on your ‘big boy’ swing set. I remember it like yesterday, yet it also seems so far away…I love you buddy with my whole heart. Jesus is teaching me so much and I am trying so hard to be brave… Brave like Esther..(Granddad taught me that) I just read something that you wrote…that we were made to be “proclaimers” for Christ. I’ve not ever been really good at that…but I’m asking that God would continue to use your life’s story and that He would strengthen me and use me to “proclaim” the gospel of Jesus…Without Jesus, we have no hope! I just continue to be so proud of you.
I can say with confidence that Christ is my life…I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. (2 Timothy 1:12)
I love you Warren Austin Barfield. I miss you every morning. I miss you all throughout the day, and then I miss you at night as I lay in bed. I can not wait to meet Jesus face to face with you right by my side…promise me you’ll look for me!!
Me: “Good night, love you so much!!” You: “I love you more!”
Me: “Are we seriously going to argue about this? I love YOU more!”
You:” No, Mom, I love you More…end of story…!” ….and on and on we would go!!
Oh, Julie – I have no words. I am so sorry. He should be here with you. I know that is not God’s plan – I desperately wish that it was. Please know I think about you and pray for you many times throughout the day. How awesome it is to see your faith. I love you. 💙
Love how you share your heart – the real hurt and the real peace of Christ. Praying He continues to wrap you in His arms. Love and prayers!
I stand amazed!! thank you for sharing your story, thank you for sharing your grief, and most of all, Thank you for sharing the HOPE that is in you!!! Through your grief, I see Christ!! Through your grief, his presence is so undeniable. I hear my kids playing in the den, and I know they are making a huge mess I will be left to deal with, and I will not take their presence for granted!! We have mutual friends, but have never met, and I feel so very honored to read your story!!
Thank you Julie for sharing your heart so beautifully. What a testimony to our Savior! Praying for you, Bill and Grace.