My heart has been stirring since walking out of the Toyota Center Monday afternoon. Stirring and overflowing with a sense of urgency…An urgency to Trust God bigger and Believe that there is MORE. Not an urgency associated with fear…more like an eagerness to know Him and see Him and remember Him.
“Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your truth, we wait eagerly for you, for your name and your renown are the desire of our souls.” Isaiah 26:8
We had the amazing opportunity to be part of Passion 2016 over the weekend. This is a “Jesus” movement that is typically geared toward the younger generation…18-25 year olds. (We are way older than that…!!) However, we were able to “sneak” in (not really, but…) and be under some crazy amazing teaching and praise and worship. This event couldn’t be more timely as we face another year on our journey of grief!
“It is my privilege and my purpose to share the hope and joy of Jesus!” ~Louie Giglio (Passion 2016)
I told Bill that being in the presence of Jesus with that many people singing and worshipping the King of Kings must be a tiny taste of what Heaven will be like. At one point one of the worship leaders (I think it was Chris Tomlin) said, “Let’s join with the saints as we worship…” I remember looking up, as if I just might be able to “see” the Heavens open up and all of His glory would be visible to the human eye. I pictured myself standing with Warren as we sang, worshiping with complete abandon…Free, humbled, unworthy and yet completely loved by my Heavenly Father.
He is a Good, Good Father…. and I am more convinced of this than ever before.
JW Marriott in San Antonio ~ One of our favorite places
My life and my testimony are not squeaky clean…in fact, I have things in my past (and my present )that I’m not proud of…But here’s the Good news…when God looks at me He doesn’t see any of it. Because of His great mercy and love for me, He sent His son to die on a cross. He paid the ultimate price for my past, present and future sin. Because of the empty grave I worship a living Savior!! I am alive in Christ Jesus because before the foundation of the world He chose me. I am a daughter of the King!!! He loves me…And He loves you! He is pursuing you and wants a relationship with you …and with me!
As we face another 365 (minus the 6 that have already passed) days without Warren I just wonder how God is going to make them count. I want my answer to whatever He asks of me to be “Yes!” The good, the hard, the celebrations, the trials…the waiting.
So, as we move into 2016 “eagerly” waiting and watching for Jesus I wanted to share a few of my “favorite things”!!
cheer competition in Galveston 2013 ~Such a supportive big brother 🙂
Jesus, help me to love you more than life. You are my greatest treasure and I can’t imagine life outside of Your presence. Take me deeper with you. Awaken my heart and mind to MORE of you. Give me courage to “go, and tell”…
I woke up this morning…rolled over to see what time it was and the clock read 3:23 I’m struggling to sleep through the night, waking up early etc….so my first reaction was a weak sigh wondering how I would make it through another day with such little sleep. It took my brain a few seconds for it to register, but 3:23 is Warren’s birthday! I’m not going to make a big deal out of this “coincidence” (if you want to call it that)…but for a single moment I stared at the clock, and then whispered to my precious boy..”mom sure loves you!” The time on the clock changed, I laid still, somehow wishing I could reach out and turn it back. Oh, to turn back time.
I know it might seem crazy to some, but those few seconds in the dark this morning felt like a sweet kiss from Jesus…and a nearness to Warren that I so desperately needed. I’ll give up sleep any day, to be in the holy presence of Jesus…I can’t think of a better way to spend my waking moments. So, I’m grateful to my Heavenly Father for the gentle reminder this morning that He is near, He is holding me, and that He will never leave.
Yesterday was a big day for me…A HUGE answer to prayer…that brought both thankful tears and tears of great sadness. Two weeks ago I received an email from the general manager of the cemetery where Warren is buried. She was letting me know that the marker we had ordered from a company in Tennessee had arrived.
As I read her email tears streamed down my face as I knew that God had come through yet again! Not only was she informing me that the marker would be placed immediately, but she also apologized for the “lack of followthrough” given to us as we were trying to get this ordered. She took full responsibility and was extremely sorry for how things had been handled..We had dealt with 3 or 4 people during that period of time several months ago, but I had not ever reached out to the manager. Looking back, I’m not sure why I didn’t. So, when I realized that the delivery of the marker ended up on her desk (who knows why), and that there would be no problem getting it placed at the gravesite, I immediately knew that God had answered my desperate request that this would all be handled and settled before Nov. 24th.
The kindness of this woman has so blessed me. Since sending my last email (several wks. ago) and never hearing back from anyone, I had struggled with feelings of frustration and anger when I thought about this whole situation. I had no idea how God would work this out…Would I always feel bitter when visiting the cemetery? It’s amazing how the caring words of this one woman have been a refreshment to my heart and soul. I no longer have these ugly feelings of anger… AND the marker is placed..WAY before the 24th!!! So thankful that God is always in the details!! Weeks ago, the word God gave me was that He would take care of this…but He was going to do it His way, in His timing, so that when it was accomplished there would be no doubt it was God and not me.
I hate it and I love it. I hate it because it is a reminder that my life has changed and will never be the same. I hate it because it reminds me of how desperately I miss Warren!
I love it because it perfectly reflects our boy..where he is-Safely Home, & Who he was-adored, extraordinary, and passionate.
I miss you Warren Austin Barfield. Nothing about this makes any sense. I can’t wrap my mind around it. I don’t want to wrap my mind around it. I wish you could come back…
As the 24th nears I feel VERY sad…but I also feel VERY held. This is something else that doesn’t really make sense. Since Sunday (11-1) there has been an incredible peace that has covered us in a way that I just can’t explain. What’s complicated about this peace, is that it’s not what you might imagine. Yesterday was awful hard..awful! I cried and cried every time I thought about Warren and the marker that had been placed where his body is buried. I could barely pull it together to get Grace to the dentist and then to school for a theater arts performance and then to cheer after that! I was a mess..exhausted AND YET….unexplainable peace that met me right at the bottom of my sorrow -filled pit! God’s grace is always enough and no matter how low or how dark things may get…He meets me there and tenderly holds me! He is absolutely the lifter of my weary head and the One who offers hope when all around me seems hopeless!
We have begun a new series at church…The Unstoppable Gospel. The month of November is dedicated to sharing the Hope of the gospel. I cannot help but think that God is using this timely sermon series to help us keep an eternal perspective. The Cross…Jesus…our Hope. This is the Good News that we want you to know and really understand…that no matter where you are or what your going through, Jesus loves you. HE is a Good, Good Father..Always. He is calling you into relationship with Him. This isn’t “religion”..The grace that meets me in my darkest hour has nothing to do with “religion”. He wants to pour out His love on us, He wants to rescue you from whatever seems unbearable. The Gospel changes EVERYTHING!! He has made a way so that we can come, just as we are, broken and unworthy.
He was despised and rejected by men; A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised and we esteemed him not.
Yet has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
This is the Gospel…without the Gospel we don’t have Hope! I am here to tell you, that not by my own strength could I have faced the last 11 months without Warren, much less the next 40 years, if I didn’t know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is NOT my home…I’m only passing through!! ‘Eternal Lenses’….It’s real and it changes everything!!!
I’ve never known hard, like we are experiencing on this journey. Every day we miss something different about Warren. There is always something that reminds us of our brother… our son. Sometimes the memory makes us laugh, sometimes it makes us cry, or sometimes both! I pray that these memories always stay fresh..that we will never forget the very things we miss so desperately!
One of my favorite pictures….This boy would work and play hard from the moment his boots hit the ground at ‘Uncle Bob’s’ Ranch!! He didn’t want to waste a moment-So he would crash before we made it off the dirt road!! ~Love him so…
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!
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…
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
Below are links to 2 messages I listened to this past week that were a huge encouragement to me:
Saturday July 4,2015 ~On an airplane headed to Hawaii…our first vacation since Warren went to Heaven….sadness, empty, fear, anguish, uncertainty, anxious, questions…I love Bill and Grace and I am happy to be with them…very happy! But it’s hard!
Psalm 36:5-6 Your Love O Lord reaches to the heavens, Your Faithfulness to the skies, Your Righteousness is like the mighty mountains… Your Justice like the great deep…
I’m reading a book, Beyond the Valley..It’s so good. As I am reading something struck me…I’m not on this grief journey to “get through” anything, my journey is finding God’s Hope in the midst of my struggle. The struggle, the suffering…my journey will always be about what God is doing in the middle of my hurt.
Lamentations 3:21-22 This I call to mind and therefore I have Hope; Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed. Just like Jeremiah, I can have hope in Jesus because even in my suffering I will not be consumed. He will be enough every day and every morning His mercies will be New! Because Jesus loves me, and because of His never-failing compassion I have Hope!
A quote from the book…“it almost feels like abandonment to let go of the terror in our hearts in exchange for the hope God offers” (Beyond the Valley) So…I must choose to let God work in the middle of my pain and sorrow. The Lord is my portion, I will wait for Him..Lamentations 3:24
What is your word for me this week? I will do my part and proceed with confidence…Give me courage. For your Glory…
Not to us O Lord, not to us
but to your name be the Glory,
because of your love and faithfulness
This was an entry from my journal on the day we left and traveled to Hawaii…The plane ride was almost 8 hours and honestly, I loved every minute. I was able to sit, read, talk to God..and listen as I was expecting to hear from Him.
I expected to hear from Him, see Him and couldn’t wait to meet with Him each morning or evening (hopefully both) on the beautiful beaches of Hawaii. I knew friends and family were praying with sincere faith that this trip would bless and bring rest to our weary souls…praying that somehow we would experience God in a fresh way simply through the sound of the waves, the sand under our feet, the smell of flowers, the sunsets and sunrises.
The truth is…it didn’t happen like that! And believe me, I looked and I spoke the name of Jesus with every sandy step I took, and with each wave I heard splashing up against the shore. I excused myself from the dinner table so I could walk outside and capture our first sunset with the camera…only to stand with tears streaming down my face and then realizing as I heard the frantic call from behind me..”Mom, Mom! Where are you?” that I hadn’t let anybody know where I was going. So that “moment” was not exactly how I had pictured it in my head.
It’s not that the sunset wasn’t beautiful…It was…But my heart was suffering the ache as usual, and I so wanted relief, even if just for a moment. I have seen some beautiful sunsets right here in Houston, so observing a beautiful sunset just wasn’t how God was showing Himself to me. This didn’t keep me from noticing and being thankful for His beauty in the sunsets….I looked forward to them each evening!
I will tell you that with every fun adventure…we saw some of the most beautiful sights. The beaches ….I have never seen more beautiful shades of blue in all my life. The clear water made it feel like we were in a swimming pool. I was mesmerized by the water! It was breathtaking! The scenery around the island is so tropical and the colors make for lovely pictures! Yes! It was a beautiful place…but it was not in experiencing His beauty that God met me and held me during this “first” without Warren. No, my God is too creative for that!
The main reason for our trip to Hawaii had been to visit Bill’s sister Beth, her husband Chad and our niece Capri. They are stationed in Hawaii, as Chad is a Colonel in the United States Marine Core. We had originally talked about going over Christmas(2014)…this was a trip that we started to plan while Warren was still alive. I was not sure I could even take this trip, considering it’s only been 7 1/2 months since Warren went to Heaven. But God…He made a way and He went before us and knew exactly how He would carry us through this difficult “first”. (Beth is my sister n’law that was saved after Warren died and was baptized on Easter Sunday(2015) at their church’s Easter Sunrise service.)
I’m thankful I journaled while I was there, because with each day I can go back and read how He was faithful. It’s funny how you think you won’t forget when God shows up in your life, but you do, or you will…so it is important for me to write it down and never forget.
…(Oh, how I love this girl!)
On Sunday I wrote…
7-5-15 It’s hard, it doesn’t seem right….Yet, somehow God is pouring out His Grace, Jesus, to meet us right where we are.
My precious niece, Capri who is 4 (will be 5 in October), sings and talks about Jesus constantly! She asks about Heaven and wants to know when we are going…she wants to go to Heaven. (Tonight she said she thought we would be going on Saturday :))
One of the songs she is singing goes like this:
“We come here, Expecting God to do amazing things, Right here, Right now. Our friends and family gather here to have some fun, Right here, Right now…..”
Christian music is playing in the house and in the car~such comfort for me. Thank you Jesus!
Each day I looked for God in all of the beautiful sights and sounds, and there is no denying that Hawaii has so much of that every where you look…but what God had for me was something way better, incredibly more special than the ocean waves (salt water isn’t my friend:)), more amazing than the clear waters, and more beautiful than the rainbows we kept seeing…Yes, God met me there in a much more personal way…Music & Jesus! I got to listen to praise music (Honolulu has an awesome Christian radio station!) and have conversation with my niece about Jesus!!
Someone recently asked, “What brings you the most comfort?” I told them…”Jesus. Being with Jesus.” I know that may sound like a “sunday school” answer…but it’s simply the truth. When I’m with Him…and often times, when I’m with others talking about Him, is when I feel the most peace. So, the idea that my Savior didn’t just use the extraordinary landscape of Hawaii to minister to me, blows me away. It wasn’t until I shared this with a friend that I realized how God had orchestrated things, in order to prepare such a unique time with Him, by using Beth and Capri to bring me comfort during a difficult time. I am in awe!
From the moment we arrived Beth and Chad worked tirelessly to provide meals, activity, unique sights and a comfortable place to rest. We are beyond grateful for everything they did and how they loved on us.
After getting home, people have asked about Hawaii…How was Hawaii? Wasn’t Hawaii beautiful? Didn’t you love Hawaii? The honest truth is, “Hawaii was Hawaii without Warren”. I think our trip to Hawaii was different than most people’s trip to Hawaii. The “dream” vacation was clouded with the fact that our son, our brother was not with us. It was hard to appreciate the beauty…it was hard to enjoy each activity, the way “normal” families enjoy Hawaii. Our time with family was special…But, Hawaii was “just Hawaii” because Warren wasn’t there. However…We will not stop believing that Jesus is Enough for every ‘Today’…..
Whatever the cause of our mourning, Christ can be the lifter of our heads. He can give us beauty instead of ashes. (Beth Moore)
Psalm 145:13-14 Your Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom and your dominion endures throughout all generations. The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.