Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Conversations at McDonald's

It's April 30th, 2013. Today I have the privilege of attending an Honors Achievement Awards program at Kori's school. She has straight A's and will be rewarded for all her hard work.....work that's been difficult over the last 4 months. But she's so strong, even on her weakest days.

I dropped her off at school at 8am but I need to be back for the program in less than 2 hours...so I decided to go to McDonald's, read my Bible and blog because tomorrow will make 4 months since the wreck. The 1st of the month seems to be one of the hardest times for our family to deal with. Not only that, I know that Mother's Day is only a couple of weeks away. But, as I sit here, I can't help but listen in on all the conversations that are taking place around me. The majority are the retirees sitting as a kindred group to my left. One man, with an obvious hearing problem, talks loud and his other friends keep asking him where his hearing aides are. The men talk "war stories and the craziness of cell phones". The women laugh at them, take their cell phones and show them how to use them. It's cute to watch this theatrical production.
I've been here for over an hour and in that hour, they have spoken of death multiple times. "HEY DEE! IS LIILIAN STILL ALIVE?!" the loud voiced man asked. Then outside we hear sirens from a firetruck and more stories ensue about old tragedies and new.
They all look to be late 70's early 80's. Wow.....the stories they have. And they still laugh. Enjoy every second they have with each other, as friends and comrades, they are soaking up every little bit of "time" they have with each other. And laughing. Women laughing at the men and the men laughing about crazy things they've done over their years.

I'm sure if we were to sit down with each one, they would have so many "stories"....some unreal for my generation and certainly for my children's generation. But, along with those stories, they have wisdom. Wisdom that I've prayed for. Wisdom that can only come with trials of this life.

I remember listening to my grandpa & grandma Teeters telling all their stories from their horse-drawn buggie runaways, WW11, and list goes on. I savored listening to those stories, still do with my grandmother. I always knew, even when I was young (and "knew it all") that their wisdom was something priceless. Something that could only be "earned"......And I miss them.

My prayer today is that God will use me to Glorify Him. Even though the weight that I carry in my heart, seems a little heavier today because tomorrow is May 1st.
And for today, I will have "great joy" in watching my beautiful Kori receive her awards for all her hard work. Today, I will PRAISE HIM.......regardless of pain and sadness.

James 1:2-8

New Living Translation (NLT)

Faith and Endurance

Dear brothers and sisters,[a] when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

This is a picture of my grandpa Teeters and Kori at grandpa & grandma's 70th wedding anniversary party. What a blessing.

Friday, April 26, 2013

God's Timing.....not mine

I'm part of a support group for parents who have lost their children. I've yet to be able to go to one of the support meetings but I still receive so much support from mom's and dad's who feel or have felt, what I feel. I just want to quote something from this group and a special mom named, Jill. ".....we talked about how easy it is to lose our faith when questions and doubts assail us. In the face of great loss, like we all have experienced, how do we keep from losing our faith? To me, it all comes down to holding on to what we KNOW. Last night, we discussed ten things we can KNOW to be true, regardless of the circumstances in our lives. Over the next ten days, I thought I would share them here. So, here we go. #1 -- We KNOW that God is sovereign. He is not surprised by anything that happens here on earth. Each one of us has a specific number of days to live, and this was determined by God before we were born. "My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:15-16"

 I recently got onto our church website www.insideoakpark.com to see if I could listen or watch some of my Father-in-law's last messages before he & Maci went to Heaven. I had remembered him preaching about the "seed we plant" and on what types of ground it fell on. So I went searching for that sermon, instead, under the Live Streaming/Video Archive tab, I found our Christmas Candle Light Service. And I watched it. Seeing my wonderful, handsome, snow-white haired, FIL greeting us with the joy of Christ's birth just made me want to jump through the screen. To hug him. To talk to him one more time.
 But, then I began to listen to his words. It wasn't a typical "born in a manger stall" message. His message was definitely divine and Heaven sent....God knew I would watch that sermon again.....at just the right time. HIS time. David spoke about God's timing and how perfect it is. He even went on to say things like "even in your most horrid times, God's timing is precise, it's whats meant to be". I couldn't help but think that 1 week from that message, that the most horrid time would strike our family and we would lose him & Maci at the same time. But I continued to watch the service, his smile, his silly jokes, his body movements, the congregation. I could see my precious Mother-n-law Christy, my husband Paul, myself, and our oldest daughter, Kelsy sitting on the front row. The lighting was so pretty and we all had candles in our hands. "Going out, and being a Light for the world". David & Christy sang with our choir director and his wife as we exited the sanctuary.....         http://www.insideoakpark.com/video-archive/

 Fast forward, 4 months later. FOUR MONTHS LATER......
 Our family is still trying to find our "new normal", still trying to make sense of it all. Still questioning God's timing (although, I know HE makes no mistakes and for whatever reason, His timing was exactly as it should be). I find it hard to cope with the fact that the driver that hit and killed David & Maci has yet to be arrested.....but again, it will come, in God's timing.

 I think about what a miracle Caleb is. How he is healing so well from such a horrific wreck and he injuries he sustained. And the same with Paul, Christy and Beth....PRAISE GOD they are still here with us.
 And, of course, every single day, I think about my 3 oldest girls, Kelsy, Mekenna & Kori. What beautiful gifts they are in my life and those that know them. How they have excelled in school and been shining lights for the Lord. I couldn't be more proud of the women they have become. God's timing has been perfect for them as well. Even when it didn't seem right for choices that they made (for those people looking in), God's timing has been consistently perfect for my girls.

 Kelsy will have the honor of going to Morocco with her beloved boyfriend, Jonathan, and seeing where he grew up and spending time with his parents. What a true gift Jonathan is to Kelsy and the rest of us are blessed to have both of them in our lives. I can't wait to see what God has in store for their lives.

 Mekenna will be moving home. She has grown so much at the university she is attending now but her heart is telling her she needs to be home....and I don't question that at all and especially considering what we've been through. She wants to be with her family and spend time with Kori (before she graduates high school & goes who knows where) and simply be HOME. I admire her sense of adventure and spontaneity. Of course, she misses Travis, but once again, they will be together again when God says "it's time".

 Kori is has blossomed into the most gorgeous butterfly and certainly "come out of her shell". Watching her lead our praise & worship for the youth in our church just blesses not only my heart but everyone who hears her sing and worship her Creator. She's amazing at 16.....I can only imagine what awesomeness will come from her by the time she's 40!

 And now, in God's timing, I will be going to Armenia on a medical missions trip. I have always been passionate about missions but it has been hard to find the time & the money to go. Well, this trip was "given" to me....at JUST THE RIGHT TIME....God's timing. It won't cost me a dime and I get to go be a nurse and care for those people, all the while, loving them with the love of Christ. I dream about Maci going with me and how SHE would love them. She loved ALL people and wanted them to know the love of God. She would work hard at learning the basics of their language (just like she did with the Spanish children in her class), she would make them smile and bring joy to everyone she would come in contact with. I plan on doing the same. God knows my heart and the love I have inside of me. This trip is a part of my healing....it's perfect timing. God's timing.

Friday, April 12, 2013

An Unexpected Trip

Psalm 139 (The Message)
1 God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. 2 I'm an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking. 3 You know when I leave and when I get back; I'm never out of your sight. 4 You know everything I'm going to say before I start the first sentence. 5 I look behind me and you're there, then up ahead and you're there, too - your reassuring presence, coming and going. 6 This is too much, too wonderful - I can't take it all in! 7 Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight? 8 If I climb to the sky, you're there! If I go underground, you're there! 9 If I flew on morning's wings to the far western horizon, 10 You'd find me in a minute - you're already there waiting! 11 Then I said to myself, "Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I'm immersed in the light!" 12 It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you. 13 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother's womb. 14 I thank you, High God - you're breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration - what a creation! 15 You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. 16 Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day. 17 Your thoughts - how rare, how beautiful! God, I'll never comprehend them! 18 I couldn't even begin to count them - any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you! 19 And please, God, do away with wickedness for good! And you murderers - out of here! - 20 all the men and women who belittle you, God, infatuated with cheap god-imitations. 21 See how I hate those who hate you, God, see how I loathe all this godless arrogance; 22 I hate it with pure, unadulterated hatred. Your enemies are my enemies! 23 Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about; 24 See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong - then guide me on the road to eternal life.

Dan Allender wrote a book titled, The Healing Path. I only know this because I read the Foreword by Steven Curtis Chapman in his wife's book, Choosing to SEE. A truth from Dan Allender's book is that as Christians, when we suffer tragedies or loss, sorrow and pain, we won't embrace it and go through the journey that God has entrusted us with. Instead, we often deny or sweep it under the spiritual rug of 'God's sovereignty'. I don't want to do that.
Instead, I want to travel through this journey....most of the time with the pain and heaviness and tears that invade me to my soul, then use all "this horridness" to help others see the Glory of God.....and also come out of this tragedy, somehow better. Somehow new. Somehow an inspiration and source of Hope for all those who will suffer such pain.
This is my transparent heart....no hiding it, no sweeping it under the rug, but facing it, and learning what it is that God intends for me to learn.

I happen to be on my first vacation of 2013 from the hospital. It was scheduled last year when all the nurses on my unit got to choose their weeks.
Me, being the 'low man on the totum pole' really wanted Spring Break week but it was taken and I had to choose another week.
"April", I thought. Spring. Flowers. Even though my older girls, Kelsy & Mekenna would still be in college, Kori & Maci would be home after school and we could enjoy the beginnings of all the 'new life' that we would be seeing. Maybe take afternoon walks in the wooded trails that weave through our subdivision, start a garden and plant LOTS of flowers. I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom for that week and have cookies ready for them when they got home from school and have supper together as a family every night and enjoy the laughter and silliness that has always taken place at our dinner table.

Well, obviously, things have changed.

Since the wreck, I've cooked only one time. I haven't baked any cookies either. Somedays, I've looked at the 'new life' of Spring and see the flowers blooming and trees budding and am still perplexed as to how  can the world keep going when my world has been thrown off it's axis?
Other times, I look at all those things and smile (especially when I see my favorite flower, the daffodil, blooming in my front yard, a special secret surprise that Paul & Maci planted last year for me).

~ Back to my vacation~

I had wanted to surprise my mom and make a trip to Wilmington, NC (where I hadn't visited for almost 7 years). But, my mom had said she wouldn't be there so I had settled for staying home in Little Rock and cleaning my filthy house (another thing I haven't done since before the wreck).
Much to my surprise last week, my mom called and said she would be there afterall and she wanted me to fly there on a one-way ticket because she wanted to give us her car (since we lost our vehicle in the wreck, we've been unable to purchase another one).
This new change of plans was certainly a surprise and a blessing all wrapped into one. However, it would mean I would only have one solid day in NC with my mom before I would need to drive her to Kentucky to my brother's house, see as much of my family as I could in one day there (My dad, step-mom, grandma, sister-in-laws, nieces, aunt, and friends) then start my drive from Kentucky back to Little Rock BUT, I knew that I wanted to scatter some of Maci's ashes at the beach where my mom lives. It has always been a special place for all my girls and me and I literally had to work up the "nerve" to do it....to free or release a part of my little girl is part of my healing. And so, I did.

I left eastern Kentucky yesterday evening around 5:30pm. I passed through Lexington and went past the horse park....beautiful white fences with thoroughbreds grazing....a part of my heart lives in that part of the country and I wanted to stop so bad but I also wanted to get home to my family (I did get to stop and see my cousin, Darren...a spontaneous detour...spontaniety, a part of the 'old me' before before all this mess happened...a good thing for me, since I have felt that the spontaneous side of me had been snuffed out.
After saying goodbye to Darren, I was back on the road. The sun was setting and of course, I was driving west. But it was quiet. It was peaceful. I had time to pray and have outloud conversations with God. My goal was to make it to Union University where Kelsy & Mekenna were waiting for me but I knew it was going to be late.
Then Paul called me. Curious about where I was and concerned for my safety, he talked to me for almost 3 hours, keeping me company until I reached Jackson, TN. It was so nice to talk to my husband for that length of time, especially since it has been difficult to communicate our grief and thoughts to each other about losing his dad and Maci. This is something that I know will take time and I'm committing our relationship to Christ, trusting that we will come out on the other side of this better...closer...bonded in a way that only God can accomplish.

I did make it back home to Little Rock with Mekenna following me in her car. She has decided to move home....I cannot even express the joy that fills my heart to know that she is coming HOME. Not only that, I got an early Mother's Day gift from her.
A HUGE canvas picture that my father-in-law, David (who passed away with my baby girl, Maci) took  of our family almost 2 years ago. This is our family through His Eyes..........
I know this is a very long blog and now I am realizing how important it is to do this on a more regular basis.
God is working in our lives.
God is still good.
And I know that He loves me and my family so very much.
Pray for us as we travel this journey.