Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Jae's Hurts, My hurts

Where do feelings like this come from?
Emotionally slammed.

Like July 4th, I was just sitting there, enjoying a patriotic parade in Texas, and a sweet high school cheerleader team from Arlington performed a stunt directly in front of where we sat. They were wonderful and beautiful and had no idea how much pain their impromptu performance brought my way.
Then there's the time a few days ago when I had a rough day at work and decided to run by the cemetery on the way home. By the time I reached Jae's grave, I was sobbing and crawling on my hands and knees,..looking quite insane, I'm sure.
(Note to self: sometimes stress is still handled poorly)

An hour or so ago, Ralph and I raked out a small mountain of leaves from inside our barn. The pile was much too big to move so I decided to burn them right there near the edge of the barn. Just as the fire reached about 120 feet high, I asked him if there was anything priceless inside the barn.

"Nope" he calmly said from the tailgate of our truck.
"All the priceless things to me are not in the barn. You, Casey and Abby are here and Jae's in Heaven. Nothing in the barn matters."

My heart is heavy tonight. I am doing my best to hold back a hissy-fit. I have no idea why and don't really care to figure it out. It just is.

I made up Jae's bed 'cause Abby slept in it last night. Put blankey and mousey on the pillow and looked around at all her stuff. The "gone fishin" picture she drew for us before she walked out the door the last time. Her bulletin board still covered with Christmas decorations and Lauren's, Sam's and Kyle's funeral programs. I have put up some pictures of her around the walls.

Another thing that hangs on her wall is a list of "hurts". It was created by her just a few weeks before her accident.

You see, once Jae became a cheerleader, it seemed that she was forever pulling this tendon, or spraining that joint. There was a constant ache in her back and pain in her head. Tumbling and flying left her bruised and sore almost every single day.

One day, exasperated with the whining, I made her do what my nursing students were required to do for their patients.
"Jae Lynn! Make a list of your problems!
Label them acute or chronic!
And then prioritize them in order of severity!"

Oh man! You should have seen her light up as the idea of expressing herself in such a creative way.
Here is her list exactly as she wrote it:

My Hurts
1-My thumb (acute
2-My lower back (but only in the morning) (chronic)
7-My knee
4-My shoulder muscles between my shoulders
3-My hips (they constantly pop in & out & sometimes get stuck in between & get bruised)
9-Occasionally I get HORRIBLE headaches!
8-my ankle will never lock out. It rolls & hurts (chronic)
5-my wrists pop alot (chronic)

The list is now history.
There are no more hurts for Jae Lynn tonight.
I, however, will never recover from having part of my soul torn away.
The joy in my life is mixed with discontent.
My trust in God is stronger than ever, but,....
Every single day contains the wish that things were different.

To all my fellow pyro-maniacs our there,..I know you are ashamed of me. I burned the leaves with a water hose nearby.
What a weenie.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


In my opinion, one of the most intimate passages in the entire Bible is the story of the last supper.

Matthew, Mark and Luke each devote less than half of a chapter to that one moment in time. John, however, screeches the entire Bible to a halt and takes us through the scene word by word,..moment by moment. His portrayal lasts for an amazing four entire chapters!

In John 13-16, Jesus emotions and deep affection for these men is evident. Jesus slows His World-sized ministry down to a slow crawl because He knows His chosen men, His beloved friends need comfort, reassurance and information.
The situation is urgent.
Tension surrounding Jesus ministry is at an all-time high.
Everyone is on edge.
Even Jesus.
Especially Jesus.

Jesus knows that these 12 men He has lived with for three years are mere hours away from being faced with the fight of their lives.
And He won't physically be with them.

There are one hundred things I love about this section of John, but this afternoon, I am thinking of His command in John 13:17 to "Do".

Like many of you reading this,..I am faced with many opportunities to "Do".
Do this. Do that. Here's a good cause. That's a noble endeavor.
Should I "do" this? or should I "do" that?

I am at a place where I, once again, must re-evaluate my priorities. There is simply no time to waste at "doing" good things, while the ones which matter for eternity go undone.

Just because something is important to us,..does that make it important? (no)
How do we get into places in our lives where we can't "do" anything? (I don't know)
Does loving our family and working in the church count as "Do"ing? (maybe-maybe no)

Here's the new "To-Do" list mapped out 'specially for me by Becky Russell:
1. Evaluate my life for ruts. They cause spiritual slumber and/or disaster.
2. Follow my passions and gifts.
3. Pray,..no,... Beg for discernment.
4. Read the Bible. For me,..that means study it with my commentary nearby.
5. Anticipate the outrageous. (i.e. Faith baby!)
6. Do.

Jesus was not known as a predictable rule-follower, yet His life was characterized by all of His "do"ing.

I wanna be like that.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It's Good To Be Bad

Last Friday night, I took our church teenagers to Wild River Country for a Lock-in. This fun night began around 8 pm and was supposed to be over around 1:30 am. My original plan was to take them as the only chaperone, but my wonderful husband ended up having to drive the big church bus because there were 20!
20 teenagers!
Love it.

Several were very young and had no experience going on a youth event. I was a bit worried for them.

I also had Nina, who is one of my all time favorite teenagers, and has a penchant for breaking rules. Worried about her too.

After a couple of hours there, Ralph fell asleep on one of the chaise lounges and I decided to take stroll through the water park. From some distance away, I happened to notice approximately half of my youth group having an animated conversation near the CYCLONE slide. Now the CYCLONE is biggest slide in the park, but on this night was closed for repairs.
The funnest ride was dark, unmanned and still.
Except for three little dark haired heads climbing out of the bottom of the slide. (Bayou Meto Baptist teen heads)
A nearby lifeguard witnessed this and looked away.

Judging by the hand motions and body language of those three and the rest of my group that joined them, it appeared that they were all considering playing on the CYCLONE, even though the sign stated it was closed.
To my surprise and satisfaction, the teens even asked the nearby lifeguard, working a nearby slide for permission to enter the CYCLONE.
To their surprise, (and mine)..the lifeguard gave them a "thumbs up" signal!

My teens visibly perked and off they ran.
Three entered from the bottom and the other 6-8 began to climb for the top!

Minutes later,...I witnessed my teens all following the Wild River Country Management. They were all in a row, looking dejected and frightened. The three from the bottom had run away and were now on the lam.
The rest were now on their way to the WRC Department of Security.

Joining them, I told the managers that I was their sponsor and that they felt as if they had been given permission to go on the slide by the nearby lifeguard. I informed the management and security that I had even witnessed the exchange myself.
They were not impressed.
They wanted the other three.

I went and gathered up the escapees and woke Ralph.
We all pow-wowed with security and managers and rather than get us all kicked out of the park,..the offenders were grounded.
No more swimming!
They all raced to the concession stand.

I tried real hard, but couldn't get mad about any of it.
Here's the good stuff that I see in it all:
**Jared, my oldest, became the spokesman for the group when they were all alone and in trouble.
**My youngest new kids in the youth group don't have a clue it even happened.
**That 12 kids got in trouble, and none of them were Nina.
** That the youth group now says that it was the best outing they have had in years.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hebrews 12

I've been a bad girl.

I have had such a crazy busy schedule during the past month or two that I have barely cracked open my Bible for devotions.
Now I am a firm believer that if your devotions schedule gets messed up for one reason or another,... that God doesn't get too bent out of shape about it. God is interested in the relationship,..not what is listed in our DayTimer calenders.

However,....however,....personally when I have a spell of no quiet time,..I find myself thirsty for God and His words to me.
Of course.
I am back on track now.
Drinking again.

My patients at Cardiac Rehab are of all different religions and denominations, and some absolutely love to talk theology. One of my patients, Tom, has a vibrant active Faith and teaches a Sunday school class of older adults who, according to him, sleep through church and life in general.
In an attempt to being some life and excitement to himself and others, Tom often will take a passage of scripture, and make numerous attempts to get his class to discuss the meaning. Occasionally,.he creates a deliberate rebellion by saying or reading something outrageous.
(Actually,..it's God who says the outrageous things,...and Tom just reads them.)

Last week,..it was a Scripture passage in Hebrews that he found confusing.
The scripture passage in Hebrews 12:5-8 talks about God "scourging His children".

Tom came to exercise therapy Monday morning and asked me what I thought about God intentionally bringing pain into our lives to make us go the direction He wants us to go.

Anyone who knows me know that I struggle with this concept of theology myself.
My opinion about this is not always popular.
My opinion about this is not necessarily correct.
My opinion about this is apt to change every hour.

Anyway,..here's the point of this story.
As I was studying this passage of scripture for myself and Tom,..a received a phone call from a dear friend who is deeply burdened with unexpected and sudden catastrophic health issues for her parents. Hospital rooms, cancer diagnosis, strokes, diabetes and now,..the need to relocate them to Arkansas.

My encouraging word for her did not include the "scourging of His children" part of Hebrews 12.
Gracious no!
My words for her were of the passage a few verses down (verse 12) which I had only moments before studied. It tells us to "strengthen the hands which hang down and the knees which are feeble,..so we can stay on the straight path".
I was able to encourage my friend in Mississippi that troubles will come our way,..but as brothers and sisters, we are all on the road heading towards God. Our job is to encourage each other on the way, in the middle of our good times, OR our bad times.
In our lives,..we pass people every day who, like Jackie, have "hanging down hands" or "the feeble knees". We do not need to always search for the reason we are getting beat up in life.
We need to pull each other along until we all get to Heaven.

So,..theology will still be discussed. It is right and proper to do so. I crave it actually.

Tom will still be in his Sunday school this Sunday and will probably lob another controversial topic in the middle of the snoozers.
Go Tom!

But I bet Tom didn't know when he did it last Sunday morning, that he would create a ripple effect which would make me sit at my table Friday morning, at the exact same time that Jackie would call me from Mississippi needing a good word.
The true delight is that the same passage of Scripture can hold such a vast wealth of meanings.

I love it when God reminds me of things like this.
I could just read about it,..but instead He chooses to make it real by getting me all involved in the lesson.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dark and Stormy Nights

One night a few years ago, a long and loud thunderstorm was scheduled to move through our area.
All three girls were tiny and had said their prayers and been tucked away into their bedrooms. Sometime during the wee hours of the morning, the storm arrived and one particular bolt of lightning and clap of thunder shook the very timbers of our house.
Darkness and silence filled our home as the electricity shut off all of our nightlights, fans and clocks.

Ralph and I lay in our bed and began to hear the girls, one by one, cry out to us with fear.

Did we call out to them to get out of their bed and come to us?
No,...they were too small. They would be too frightened to walk the distance alone.
They danced, played and ran through the house in the daylight, but when the familiar rooms were enveloped in darkness,..their home suddenly seemed dangerous and scary.

So what did we do?

As we called out words of reassurance, Ralph and I got up as fast as we could, and gathered the girls to us.
Brought them right into our bed and put them "in the middle".
Suddenly, their fears were gone, because they were confident of our care and concern.
The dark and scary night became a place of comfort, love and good memories.
Three little girls, in their pink princess nightgowns, fell fast asleep as the storm raged outside.

As a parent, I feel so fulfilled when I get to comfort and protect.
I don't do it because I have to,..I do it because I want to.

I imagine God felt the same for me as I was surrounded by darkness and silence after Jae's death. Life quickly became unfamiliar to me and I did not know how to get to Him.

There are times when I still feel as if I'm out in the storm, but these days,.... praise be,...these days I am blessed to feel like I am "in the middle". All surrounded and loved by God who makes me feel safe.
He's not frightened nor intimated by stormy nights.
He knows the way through the dark.
However,..He also knows I am prone to wander.

That's why He listens for me to call out.
It's what He loves to do.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Angels and Giants

This weekend I have walked with giants.

It looked like any other "convention" which are commonly held in hotels everywhere around the U.S., but I assure you, there was nothing common about this gathering.

I am way too tired to talk much about the weekend,..just got home a hour or so ago, but I'm telling you readers out there, that I am plumb chock full of inspiration! There's no telling what you will read on this blog for the next few weeks, but most of it will have been inspired by the other moms and dads I was with at the 2008 National Bereaved Parents Gathering in St. Louis.

Nobody ever wants to be a member of our gathering.
Most of us never knew it existed until we had a child die.
We lived through the nightmare and have been forced not just to survive,... but to re-enter life.

This weekend was an excellent reminder that we are not supposed to just exist in our pain,..we are to thrive in it.

Hundreds of us, strangers,...friends,....artists,....speakers,...writers,....silent,.... homemakers,...professionals,....non-professionals,...all shapes and sizes,..and all personality types (Lions, Beavers, Otters, and Golden Retrievers!).
All of our differences simply fall away as we share our common pain. Tears flow freely, and the embraces are tight.
Both are healing.

But do we just share pain?
Good grief, of course not!
Who in their right mind would attend a gathering like that?!

We meet to arm ourselves with encouragement and skills.
We come home from a meeting like ours reminded that our lives are to be lived with passion and honor.
We are a group that believes Heaven and it's occupants are very very near.

So,..when I catch up on a few hours of sleep,...I will share a few things that are on my little mind.
Until then,....I will be dreaming and thinking of Angels and Giants.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Do you have a time of your life which is your favorite?

I think my all time favorite time of family life was when Jae was in Cheerleading full-throttle and Casey was playing in all of her sports programs. Abby woke up every morning asking "Where do I have to go today?"
Our schedule was absolutely double-booked and we felt as if we lived in the gym or at the ballpark.

I used to joke that I whenever I called the family for supper, they ran and sat in the car!! :)

After Jae's wreck, the schedule came to almost a screeching halt. Casey's softball team was wrapping up the season, and I no longer had a cheerleader living with me. Our calender still had a several things penciled in,.but they were no longer things I belonged to.
Cheerleading fundraisers.
Car washes.
Cheer camp meetings.
Cheer camp.
School cheerleaders get the summer off, but Competitive Cheer squads have no "off season". Jae, of course, was a member of both.

Fall came,..football season.
Friday night football games was where our family all gathered. I was one of the mom's who held the jackets, re-stocked the programs, planned the after game parties, HOSTED the after game parties, watched the cheer routines and dances, loved the band, loved the announcer (my husband!), etc...

After Jae was killed, those Friday night football games became the most painful of all nights. I went a few times,..but my eyes kept wandering to the far left corner of the cheer team. The sounds of the band evoked agony as I recalled her dancing to every song with her skinny legs and messy ponytail.
I just did not belong any more.
Where was I supposed to sit?
I couldn't sit with the other cheer moms, even though they would have welcomed me. It's hard to have school spirit and adore your daughter with someone dying beside you.
I couldn't pass the cheer moms up and go sit somewhere else. Think about it. Just too awkward.
I tried to sit in the press box with Ralph,..but my crying was a distraction.

I have been a North Pulaski Falcon since 1980, but I felt like a pitiful stranger. Walking along the bottom of the stands looking up for a seat was excruciating.
I flitted around, talking to everyone I know, trying to act like I was sitting somewhere else.

I usually ended up leaving early trying to hold in the sobs until I reached the car.
Occasionally I made it.

Finally, I just stopped going.

This week, Abby received her 9th grade band schedule. She is a terrific clarinet player and will be marching with the varsity Falcon Marching band.
You should see the schedule these kids have!

I put it all on my calender and felt anticipation and excitement for the first time in years.

I will belong once again.