We Believe

For years Bill and Warren labeled 
EVERY SINGLE baseball
with his initials. (making it easier to keep up with their balls during practice) 
We have buckets of worn and used
 baseballs that not only remind us of our 
Warren, 
but they also remind us …We Believe.  
We Believe Jesus is better.   
We Believe all His promises are true.  
We believe God sent his one and only son to earth.
We Believe He was crucified and died.
We Believe He rose again.
We Believe He will return.
We Believe the best is yet to come. 

All things work together

We don’t always see the beautiful, behind the scenes, God working in ALL things…the stories, the people, the ‘obstacles and the blessings’ as Carolyn called it~Sometimes we miss it because in our brokenness, our mess and in the confusion of our circumstances, we simply can’t see past the pain or imagine that in “this” God is working (for our good).

Other times, we cry out so desperately for a sign, a word, something tangible, applicable, something real..that when God, in his kindness, comes through in a way that is undeniably from heaven~ You see it and you hold onto it, study it and share it with whoever will listen…

That’s how Wednesday, December 17, 2014 was for me. My heart was broken, my whole body was weak and I wasn’t sure how I could face the reality of Warren’s death another day. It hadn’t even been a month, I was tired and felt a desperateness for Jesus….

Click here to read the “beautiful, behind the scenes” Believe Story.

Wednesday December 17, 2014 (from my journal entry)

Every day is a sad day. Sad doesn’t necessarily mean tears, it’s just an overwhelming feeling~ Something is just NOT RIGHT.

My morning started with a visit from a friend and coffee. It was nice.

Our hot water heater broke, needs to be replaced. No shower.

Need to run errands. Laundry. What I wouldn’t give to be folding Warren’s clothes. I screamed at Grace during a fight about who knows what.

Grace and I decide to get out and do some Christmas shopping. It’s so surreal. How can this be? I find myself gripping the steering wheel several times asking, out loud “Please God show us something, a sign. We need you so desperately this day…” We thanked Him for every parking spot, friendly cashier, the cool weather…

I offered to drive carpool. Surely, I can drive the girls to cheer. We pick up a sweet 8th grade girl (a friend of Warrens) She and Grace giggle in the backseat. Grace asks her about finals…I can’t help but think ‘Warren should be taking finals’…We pass the high school. Another trigger. (something else Warren will be missing out on) I push these thoughts out of my head..Not now, Julie. Pull yourself together!

The girls pile out of the car. The last door is shut and my heart explodes into a thousand pieces. Tears flow and I can’t do a thing to stop it.

I shouted and I asked “Why? Why? Why” As I cried, somehow the sorrow turned to fear and I felt hopeless.

I drove into the driveway, walked straight inside and headed to Warrens room where I fell onto his bed, grabbing his pillow…I cried. My entire body longed for relief. Bill came and snuggled up next to me. The pain was so deep. I asked the Lord to please just help us. I said “O Lord, we believe, but we need to hear from you. Please give us a sign that you are near and that we are going to be ok. Father please help us…Help us believe.”

It became quiet. A quiet that seemed to bring the much needed relief. I felt exhausted. I could have stayed in that moment forever. It somehow felt safe.

At some point we transitioned to the living room. This time and space seemed sacred. There was almost an unspoken feeling of embarrassment..What just happened. Have we gone crazy? Is this grief going to take over?

As if to break the silence my phone dinged. I went to check it and it was my neighbor from across the street. She told be to go outside, there was something in my front yard she wanted me to see.

I guess I had missed it when I drove up. My eyes had been wet with tears and I’d hurried into the house as fast as possible…

I walked out. It was cold and damp. I felt numb. What I saw in our front yard literally sent chills over my entire body. It was a sign. Seven red glittery letters that spelled out the word BELIEVE.

Some may call it coincidence, others a miracle. I know what I know and this was a gift from the God who weeks earlier promised to hold me. This was a word for me to cling to as I journeyed the most difficult excruciating season of my life.

He hears me. He sees me. He cares for me. He IS working…

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together….for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:26-28

I am still on the journey of what it looks like to believe when life doesn’t go as you planned or hoped. Moving from head knowledge to heart knowledge, delighting in the Lord and treasuring Him above all else. Surrendering all and fully trusting that He is who He says He is.

Another First

It seems like “firsts” are still the norm for us. As Christmas quickly approaches we have decided for the first time since Warren died to be at home…Just the 3 of us. But we are BELIEVING, fully expectant that it’s going to be ok. It just will. And, in fact, maybe it will be better than ok.

Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus..The baby boy in the manger that has changed EVERYTHING!

Giving Your Heart and Head Time to Catch Up…

 

Harvey 

…As I scroll through Facebook, I continue to see pictures and stories of how flood waters have violently left an unwanted mark in peoples lives.  Neighbors who have lost everything…. homes, cars, and other personal belongings.  The devastation has been unreal, and yet SO VERY REAL TO MANY!!

As heart breaking as it is, there are also stories and pictures that are a wonderful illustration of  strength, community, and redemption….It’s not going to happen overnight, and it won’t be easy, but we are HOUSTON STRONG! 🙂

There are no words to really describe what people are going through or what their “new normal” is since Harvey…because, although my heart knows loss, it’s different, and I can’t pretend to understand what people are feeling at this moment…and I’m just so sorry.

 

My Personal Storm

I recently explained to someone that on August 21,  Grace started school, 9th grade, High school, without her brother…A new schedule, a new season…Adjusting to new days without Warren.  This will be our 3rd (school) year.  With time, practice and lots of prayer, we are figuring out how to use certain “tools” to protect our hearts and push through the hard!

So, when Harvey hit….and school came to an abrupt halt, my heart and my head were thrown for a loop.  Literally a storm hit our city and my heart all at the same time. I must  confess that the storm and all the pain and suffering around me has been a trigger, and my heart misses Warren so terribly…More than usual, and its been difficult to shake..

However, I am realizing, that although it’s unique for all of us, people are hurting and trying to make sense of their current situation…and wondering when/if things will ever be normal again.

Truth & Encouragement

In a message given by our pastor after the storm, he said something that I needed to hear and wanted to share …. Not that you need permission from me, but maybe you need permission from you….

It’s OK to grieve over the loss of your “stuff”..your house, your things, the way things used to be.  

It is not materialistic to walk into your house and feel sad about the things that are ruined or dirty or missing.  It must be a terrible feeling to walk into a place where you once felt safe and comfortable, have snuggled on the couch and watched movies, raised a family, gathered for holidays, celebrated birthdays..and see such disorder.  It’s like someone came in without permission and invaded your personal space…

I’m a very sentimental person…and especially since Warren’s death, there are things and places, and memories of how life used to be (should be) that are very special to me.

Give yourself the freedom to grieve.  Allow yourself the opportunity to feel the pain that comes with loss..even the loss of things.  Remembering too, that this process is different for everyone.

I keep hearing, “this is not a race, its a marathon.”…Such Truth!!…..It’s going to take time! Your heart and your head need time to catch up…It’s not always.. “pull yourself up by your bootstraps and charge forward…”

One of my favorite texts to receive is one that a friend or family member will send reminding me ..”we are still with you..”  I’m learning that not all of us are “first responders”…but this road will be long for many and there is a lot of work still to be done.

I still Believe He Is Good and His Promises are True

The bible talks about the various trials that we will endure as Christ followers.  We are not to be surprised by them.  It is in these times of great difficulty that I pray our faith is increased …I pray that we remain steadfast.

I can’t say it’s not a little messy walking out our faith in the middle of pure exhaustion, uncertain times, and heavy hearts…but I do know that at the end of the day…Jesus is enough!

There will be days when we feel like throwing our arms in the air and shouting, “I can’t!” ..and go ahead…Do it!  You’ll feel better!  But in that moment of complete desperateness, I believe He reaches down and strengthens our weak and feeble hands and makes straight our path.

Yes!  I really still believe this ..and I do not pretend to know or understand your personal journey…and I certainly don’t make light of it, but I do trust that the only Hope worth holding onto is Jesus.

Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.  Psalm 62:8

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37

I have set the Lord before me, because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Psalm 16:8

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope!  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”  Lamentations 3:21-24

 

Remembering…

But as for me, I will look to the Lord;

I will wait for the God of my salvation;

My God will hear me.

Rejoice not over me, O my enemy;

When I fall, I will RISE

When I sit in darkness,

the Lord will be a LIGHT to me.

Micah 7:7-8


Remembering…This past weekend seemed to mimic the weekend 2 years ago that Warren was injured in an ATV accident that ultimately took his life….or better said, the weekend Warren met Jesus face to face, the weekend Warren made it Home!  The weather & the blue skies…it was so similar and hard to ignore.

The details of the weekend and how normal life seemed to be until that horrible moment have me thinking and remembering…

The obvious….How VERY much we miss Warren and wish that day almost 2 years ago had turned out differently.

The other…How quickly life can change, how fleeting this life is, & most importantly, how all of this points me to Jesus ..STILL!

It’s been almost 2 years, and I’m not sure if it seems like yesterday or the longest 2 years of my life..Both, maybe.  But One thing remains, our Hope is Jesus.  He is the Light of the world and because of this Promise, we will RISE UP and be thankful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ..and because of The Gospel we KNOW that Warren is ALIVE and we will see him again…

You remembering Warren is important to us.  It is important to know that you have not forgotten.   I know the how and the what are difficult and you want to be respectful …if it makes you feel any better, even within our immediate family, we don’t always know what we want or need..and that may actually complicate things , BUT what we do know is that however you choose to remember our boy…it will be perfect!

Be a LIGHT, Be the Hands and Feet of Jesus to a neighbor, Show kindness, Talk about Warren, Be thankful, Post a favorite memory, Send us a text, Wear your camo, Let someone know they are LOVED…Share on social media #warrenswarriors

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2015~LIGHT

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2015

 

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2015

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2015

We are grateful for our family, friends..our entire community and how so many of you have bravely walked beside us ..both near and from a distance.  We have not forgotten and we could not possibly thank you enough.


This song and the lyrics are a powerful reminder of Jesus and the unshakeable Hope we have in Him.  He is the One that quiets our doubts, echos within us every Promise.  His Word is louder than our fears and His JOY is greater than our grief.

I have set my heart on You.  You have every part of me.


 

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2015

 

 

 

Reminded I Still Need Jesus…

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me, your love, O Lord, endures forever- do not abandon the works of your hands.  Psalm 138:8

Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.  Psalm 42:5

Mother’s Day…Year 2

I was reminded that I still need Jesus.   I still need your prayers and encouragement.

It was a  day that took a bit more strength to face than other days.  It was bitter and sweet all at the same time.

There was laughter and joy as well as quiet tears because of the brokenness that has made it’s home in my heart.

I was loved well by Grace and Bill (I have the best daughter in the whole wide world!!!) She made the cutest pancakes for breakfast!

I greatly appreciated the text messages sent with such tender thoughtfulness.

I thought of Warren and missed him so much.

God’s glorious grace, once again, brought unexplainable comfort.

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Mother’s Day 2016

It’s Not Over

One of the hardest things about this journey is how disappointing it can be to wake up after Mother’s Day (or any hard day), only to realize I have to do this all over again next year.  Not only that, but every other “difficult” day in between.  It’s never over.  I don’t get to wake up with a sigh of relief or a sense of accomplishment.  I wake… immediately realizing another day of living with the heartbreak of Warren’s death, is in front of me.

I don’t know anything about how the brain works, from a medical point of view, but I do know from personal experience, that somehow you can ‘manipulate’ your thoughts.  I’ve often wondered how in the world someone without the hope of Christ lives through the death of a child (or any kind of suffering).  I’m guessing (maybe) that with some learned tools, over time, you can manage and learn to live with this type of pain (without faith).  I am certainly thankful for the ‘tools’ I am learning in counseling which help me to work through my “grief”…

However, it is ONLY my faith and trust in Jesus Christ helping me to do MORE than manipulate my thoughts and ‘survive’ another day.  In Christ, I am believing that there is more purpose to my pain than just surviving it.  If it was simply surviving, I might have already given up that fight…But because of the abounding grace God has lavished upon me, I know that I am being strengthened every day for His assignment on my life. I wish it were different and some days I don’t feel up for the task.  Oh, how…I wish it were different.  Yet, in my weakness…on my hardest day, His grace is sufficient.  His power is made perfect in me.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.

These Days

I’m no expert on grief, loss, or dealing with pain and sadness.  Half the time, I’m not even sure what direction I’m headed 😉  The other day I was trying to get some cards in the mail and realized I had put the stamps in the left hand corner instead of the right.  I can wander around a store and not remember why I came.  I can hold back my tears sometimes, and sometimes I can’t.  I know there are steps to healing…but I think I’m writing my own!  I often feel like I can’t put into words how I’m feeling or how things are going.   This can be frustrating and hard especially on those around me, I know.

I miss Warren and my heart still aches.

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I know that God is protecting my family and keeping us close to Himself and each other..I am so grateful for that.  I know that God is working and that He loves me.  I know that He will fulfill His purpose in me.  (Psalm 138:8)

Like everyone else, we are wrapping up another school year.  These weeks are always so full of activity and very busy.  I find myself thinking about the summer and even wondering what it will be like as Grace begins her 8th grade year in the fall.  What will it be like when she turns 14.  Warren will always be her older brother, but since he died at age 13, in the middle of his 8th grade year…I just wonder…

I Still Believe

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I still believe that God will keep providing the strength we need. I believe that He is still very much enough. I still believe that Heaven is better and the best is yet to come!! I believe His work in my life & Warren’s life is greater than I can even imagine.  I will trust Him because I still believe He is good.

I love this picture of Warren. It reminds me to be strong and courageous. It reminds me to be brave like Esther. Thank you buddy for pointing me to Jesus. I love you so very much!

afraid yet filled with joy…

 

 

March….

Spring Break ~ Warren’s 15th birthday ~ Move ~ Easter


 

Spring Break 2016

Florida with Bill and Grace for Spring Break.  Spring Break in Florida without Warren.

Beautiful sunsets…

Beautiful flowers…

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Beautiful water, blue skies & white sand….

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New adventures…

Beautiful and New.  Laughter and Sorrow.  Stories and Adventures.  Tears and Joy.  

This is how we do our new normal…experiencing new, while remembering the past and longing for how things used to be.  Moving forward, but desperately wishing we could go back.  Making new memories, but fondly remembering the old…

We continue to trust The One in control…but Oh, how we wish things were different.


 

Happy 15th Birthday to my first born!!! 

We celebrate you every day…so when March 23rd roles around each year, we will praise God for the days we had with you on this earth, and JOYFULLY look forward to the forever celebration to come….Love you…MORE!

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I guess we thought we would “eat” our way through the day… 🙂  So we had some of your favorites!  Grace and I also went and had our nails painted blue!  Honestly…we fumbled through the day not knowing really what to do or how to do it.  It wasn’t perfect…it won’t ever be, i guess…So we just asked God to be glorified and to surround us with a love greater than all loves…and…He did just that.  So thankful that we serve a God that loves us and considers us in our time of need.

La Madeleine for breakfast (quiche lorraine, strawberries)  🙂

Bar-b-q for dinner (ribs…)

Lemon cake…

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We moved…….

There is so much behind this picture…There is NO WAY I can put into words or even begin to describe how God used these (and others not pictured) to minister, encourage, support, and physically help us with this move.  My heart is full every time I look at these faces and remember the sacrifice of time and energy they gave to our family, on their day off, to come and serve.

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In case you didn’t notice in the above pictures…there is one person who just might have experienced the biggest blessing of all!  You see, on Sunday, 5 days before this picture was taken, he was in the hospital.  5 days before this picture, this man, My Dad, or better yet, Warren’s Granddad, was wearing a vest that was monitoring his heart.  He was weak and possibly looking at surgery to place a pacemaker that would control an abnormal heart rhythm.

5 days before this picture, I asked God to completely heal his heart.  I knew the pacemaker and the doctors caring for him could assist in his getting better…but I asked that God would heal his heart completely.  3 days before this picture, my brother called and said..”hey, the doctor said Dad’s heart has reverted back to normal.  they are removing the vest and he has no physical restrictions.”  Dad said to the doctor, “this is a miracle!” and the doctor said…”well, thats one way to look at it.”  We are so grateful to the doctors and nurses and how they have cared for our Dad.  We just believe that it is God’s sovereignty that instead of a pacemaker keeping his heart in rhythm, it’s beating just fine on its own!

So…as dad hugged each neck, and shook each hand, He was blessed in a huge way!

Jesus hears us.  He loves us…& He is the Great Physician.


Easter…

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies though his Spirit who dwells in you.  Romans 8:11

After what seemed like a month of “hard” … we closed it out by switching our focus to the cross, the resurrection, and the Hope that ‘Sunday’s coming’!   I just believe it wasn’t  a coincidence that the first morning in our new home was Easter morning.  Easter. Pointing us to look back and to remember, and in remembering, we can confidently look ahead, knowing that deliverance IS coming! Our future is secure in Christ!  It might not be yet, but IT IS coming!  

For now we see in a mirror dimly but then face to face, Now I know in part, Then I shall know FULLY, even as I have been FULLY known. (1 Cor. 13:12)

Leaving the house where Warren last lived , packing up his things…putting them in tubs so fearful we were leaving him behind… was painful for my still very tender heart.  But as I take the time to look back at how graciously God provided ~ His mercies NEW every morning , I am strengthened once again to take a step of faith forward.  

‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee.  There you will see him.’  So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy…          (Matthew 28:7-8)

Today, I am thankful that He goes before me.  I am also thankful that as a mom who misses her boy, I can be ‘afraid  YET filled with Joy’…. 

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A constant fight…

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9-7-2014

Every day is a fight.  Every moment there is a choice to be made.  I do not just wake up believing that Jesus will be enough.  I do not get dressed and go about my day with hope in my heart and joy in my step…just because.  No!  Does anybody?  Maybe…but the reality is, the fight for my affections begin as soon as I am awake and continue off and on throughout the day.  The choice to put on “eternal lenses” is a constant fight.  Believing the promise that Jesus will be enough..is a daily fight…and as far as Hope and Joy, those don’t just happen either.  I am a mom who wakes every morning to the reality that the battle is real and the fight is not over.  I wake each morning with a heavy heart knowing I will walk by an empty room, see a bed that hasn’t been slept in for months and clothes that haven’t been worn.  Every morning I am reminded that death stole something from me that I will never get back this side of heaven… And then the “fight” begins!

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. But Jesus…But Jesus…Yes!  Jesus has come that I might have life and have it abundantly!!  Jesus has been enough!  He is enough!  He will be enough again…today!  Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…. The struggle within..”Why am I discouraged?  Why is my heart so sad?  Why?… But, I will put my hope in God!  I will praise him again-my Savior and my God.”(Psalm 42:5,6)

Please Jesus, help me to remember that what I suffer now is nothing compared to the glory you will reveal to us later.(Rom. 8:18)  You tell me in Your Word that my present troubles are small and won’t last very long.  Oh, yes, they are real..yet they are producing for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever.(2 Cor. 4:17)  I Believe!  Jesus, help me with my unbelief!

Today I will believe with confidence, that because of His grace, I have been declared righteous and will inherit eternal life.(Titus 3:7)  I will look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ will be revealed!(Titus 2:13)

This kind of “preaching to myself” usually happens before I even get out of bed, and then again and again and again all day long!!  And I can say with absolute confidence,  when I call upon the name of the Lord, He listens and He hears me.  He holds me and He walks me through the suffering, the pain, the tears and the heartache of missing Warren.  It’s not always pretty, and the ache often threatens to take me down…but even down at the very bottom of my grief my Hope in Jesus is SURE and STEADY!

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9-13-2014 Kyle Field

Nearing the ‘one year mark’ of Warren’s death I find myself looking at pictures and thinking…”this time last year”.  It’s crazy to think that as November 24th,2015 comes and goes, we enter into a different phase of our journey.  There will no longer be memories of ‘this time last year’ that include Warren on this earth.  Crazy, just crazy!

Labor Day 2014…

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However, I was also reminded this week that our future will be far greater than our past!  I am part of something Jesus is doing, and He will prevail!!  The possibilities are endless when Jesus is in the story.  The world would say I have lost, but Jesus, eternity, says the best is yet to come!!

Nothing here on earth will be our ultimate consolation.  Our ultimate consolation is eternal!  As long as I keep my eyes fixed on this promise, I believe that I (we)can become less and less devastated because… at the end of the day something better is coming!  Praise God!  He is coming back!

Missing you so much…We all are!  Love you, MORE

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Below are links to 2 messages I listened to this past week that were a huge encouragement to me:

Alamo Ranch Community Church-Michael McCracken

Passion City Church-Louie Giglio

Summer so far

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

Romans 8:15-17
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.

Isaiah 43:1-2
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.

Summer 2003
Summer 2003

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.

Summer 2003
Summer 2003

Summer 2003
Summer 2003

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 🙂 

summer 2003
summer 2003

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.

summer 2003
summer 2003

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.

Summer 2003
Summer 2003

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.

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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?!?

Summer 2003
Summer 2003

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!

Summer 2003
Summer 2003

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!

Summer 2003
Summer 2003

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”!!

IMG_1494So 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.

summer 2003
summer 2003

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.

2003
2003

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!!