“Hawaii, was Hawaii without Warren”…

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…

Psalm 115:1

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.

2015-07-06 00.07.42It’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!

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Kane'ohe Bay
Kane’ohe Bay

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!

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Kaneohe Bay in Oahu

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Bill's sisters Beth & Susan
Bill’s sisters Beth & Susan
La'ie Point
La’ie Point

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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.)

Hanuma Bay
Hanuma Bay

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Waikiki…

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.

2015-07-18 10.36.15My 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!

2015-07-18 10.39.31Each 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.

Chad...
Chad…
Beth...
Beth…

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We love you!!

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Lanikaki Pillbox Hike
The Lanikai Pillbox overlooks the Lanikai Beach and the "Moks"
The Lanikai Pillbox overlooks the Lanikai Beach and the “Moks”
surfing in Waikiki
surfing in Waikiki
"hang loose"
“hang loose”
Romy's Shrimp Truck Yum!
Romy’s Shrimp Truck
Yum!
Luau in Waikiki with Madison & Allyson
Luau in Waikiki
with Madison & Allyson
Beth, Chad, Susan
Beth, Chad, Susan

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 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’…..

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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.

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!!

another hard “first”

2012-05-29 20.07.09

Today was just as I expected…HARD!!!  Emotionally, physically, spiritually~ All of it!!  Even now, I keep trying to take deep breaths, but each breath falls short of giving my body the relief I am searching for.  My mind won’t stop drifting to the thoughts of what should be..and how He’s missing so much because he’s not here.  The heaviness just will not lift and the tears have been more frequent and seem to sting more painfully.  I just can’t seem to wrap my brain around THIS reality, that Warren entered the 8th grade  almost 10 months ago, we bought the yearbook, we bought the t-shirt, he played football…he walked the halls of MMS just 6 1/2 months ago!!  I can even open this school years agenda and see his writing.  His backpack and binders are still in his room~However, today when I was waiting at the school for Grace to walk out, I watched familiar faces leaving campus and Warren was not among them. He should have been there and he was not..Instead you will find his name etched on a memorial outside the school along with others who have died.

“Died”, I hesitate to even use that word.  It sounds ‘bad’ or cruel…But it’s reality, and I think it’s what makes today so hard.  With the close of a school year and the beginning of summer…Leaving behind and moving ahead, I find myself stuck…Stuck grieving November 24,2014.  Not ‘stuck’, like refusing to ‘Live’…But rather having to journey through the stages of grief has me moving more slowly though life than everyone around me.  It seems just as I feel like I can move onto the next “stage”, I am faced with another big day or event to make it through.  Today, the last day of school, was one of those events…Not having both my kids here to celebrate the arrival of summer, and another successful year under our belt has been especially hard.

It’s like there is a big party being thrown and I wish I could decline the invite, but I can’t!  Well, I guess I could, but that would require locking myself inside my house, and that’s not an option (for me)!  I remember so clearly that ‘feeling’ of the last day of school..Especially as a teacher, that day is filled with such emotion.  The count down begins after Spring Break and at some point  I wonder if I will make it to June.  But when that last day arrives and I hug those kiddos good bye, I (sometimes) fight back tears knowing  that I will miss our daily routines and our interaction together…BUT after they leave the building and I look ahead to summer with my family, I am overwhelmed with  JOY!  It’s like… I become ‘giddy’!!  I’m exhausted, but walk away, proud of my professional successes, looking forward to the time with my kids!! It’s that ‘feeling’ that everything is just… “good”…”accomplished”…

Today..that ‘feeling’ is replaced with a deep longing for my “normal” back!  I want Warren back.  Yep!  I’m just going to say it…I know!  I know!! But if I’m honest, I’d give ANYTHING to have him here..with me!!  We’d be complete and safe and under one roof!  For me, right now, anything less just doesn’t cut it!  It isn’t fair..not for me, not for Bill, and not for Grace!  We miss Warren!

Has today been extremely sad for me?  Yes!! But….Did I wake Grace this morning with  excitement in my voice that today was the last day of school?  I did…. Jesus!  Did I accomplish some chores today that required interacting with the public?  I did…Jesus!  Did I take Grace and friends to lunch after school today?  I did…Jesus!  Did I laugh with friends and enjoy a nice dinner with my husband?  YES!!  JESUS!!!!  None of it by my own strength, let me assure you…Jesus!  But you, O Lord are a shield about me, my glory and the lifter of my head.  I cried aloud to the Lord and He answered me from His Holy hill. (Psalm 3:3-4)

So, as I lay here in bed at 11:50pm, I can honestly say that Jesus was ENOUGH, even for my very hard TODAY!  “Jesus is enough” doesn’t mean it was easy, in fact it was not. But it DOES mean that I can trust Him with my hard days. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:8) It does mean that even though the sadness seems unbearable, it will not destroy me.  “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor. 4:8-9)

I need to get my pictures organized..I had  trouble locating ‘end of year’ pictures..very frustrating!  ….but here are a few!!

End of School Fun-2010
End of School Fun-2010 (1st and 3rd grade)

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5th Grade~2012
5th Grade~2012
5th Grade Graduation
5th Grade Graduation
2015~End of 6th grade
2015~End of 6th grade

Can I just say that I could not be more proud of my sweet girl!!  This is the face of perseverance and courage!  God has amazing things in store for her.  I am so thankful for how He is so tenderly holding her during this journey!

She is ready for summer 🙂

I also came across a few videos that were taken at the end of 2014 school year.  Bill was so good about recording the kids on the first and last days of school…When they were younger they loved it….but as you can tell I think Warren might have been a little “too cool” !

Ephesians3Earlier this week we decided to make this our verse for the summer.  Even though I am struggling to  face this big “first” without Warren we are going to trust that God WILL do abundantly MORE than we could ever imagine!! Eph. 3:20