Happy Birthday

Tonight I asked Daddy what his plans were for tomorrow. He said “Nothing. For the first time in my life I don’t have any plans for tomorrow.”

Tomorrow, March 23, is Momma’s birthday. If you know us then you know that birthdays are big deals. They come with 6 a.m. phone calls complete with a tone-deaf, off-key rendition of “Happy Birthday” being sung. Some voices are louder than others, and some are more chipper. But it’s all done with a half-awake, full of love heart and joy! Of course no birthday is complete without the favorite dinner followed by Daddy’s homemade strawberry shortcake and ice cream. And because no one can agree on one single flavor of ice cream in our house there’s always a smorgasbord to choose from, kinda like stepping into Baskin Robbins.

Hales and I loved the shopping for her cards. It was a challenge to find a good, spunky, sassy card that will top the belly laughs from years past. But let me tell you, Hales is a GOOD finder of cards that are “spoken like a true smart-ass!” (Claree Blecher, Steel Magnolia’s) Honestly, it’s a trait in our family. Or a squishy one that’ll make her cry more than the year before. I miss that and hadn’t realized till now how much I do. Or watching the kids help her blow out her candles. Oy vey. There should be a guide-book for all of this – at least one with suggestions!

I hope you enjoy your first birthday in heaven, Momma. And I hope you like the flowers we’ve placed at the cemetery. Daddy takes such great pride in having everything look nice for you. He’s itching to get out there and check on them for you, but the rain. It. Just. Keeps. Coming. Please tell God we’ve had enough. And while you’ve got his ear, please tell him that this family is full of soooo much character, it’s oozing out of our eyeballs. He can relax on us for a little bit. I think the lottery would be a nice compromise.

I love you Momma, we all love you…bunches and bunches and more than this world!

And Happy Birthday!

xoxoxo

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“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” ~James 1:12

….and she did.

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I got nuthin’, not even a title

Monday morning, standing at the open car door, Jackson stares at me across the seat and says “I haven’t been in this car in a long time.”

I know baby, but it’s okay. Come on. We’re gonna be late for school.

He gets in slowly and as he sinks into the front seat I can see his entire face shift as if another face has taken over. One that I don’t like because it makes my heart hurt and I want to fix it but I know that I can’t. And he says in the smallest voice “It smells just like Nina.”

Hales on the other hand, jumped in and then you could see her catch her breath and breathe it all in deeply –  the familiarity of it all, the feel and smells, like a huge tight hug.

How easy I forget that my kids still have moments like Daddy and I do. I’m driving Mommy’s car while mine is in the hospital and the thought never crossed my mind how it would affect my kids. And so differently. How is it that a smell can take you back in time to memory? Or a sight – a sound can turn on the movie reel in your mind and everything comes flooding back.

I walk by our dinning room window and see the Jeep in the driveway and expect to see Mommy coming up the walk, but she doesn’t walk through the door. I get in the car and see her lipstick tubes and  can vividly see her applying it. On Sunday mornings while sitting on the front pew I watch people walking up to the doors and I wait to see her too, but she doesn’t come. And sometimes at communion, I look over to tell her to get up that it’s our turn to go, yet she’s not there. When I need advice or just an ear to listen to me, my first instinct is to call her but I can’t. The other day I was talking to Daddy and he said “I wish your Momma was here ’cause she would know exactly what to tell you. She always knew what to do.” Me too Daddy. Me too.

I was going through my texts cleaning them up when I came across this one from Mommy…

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She sent this to me after she had walked into church on morning in July and looked very confused. She sat for a few minutes and caught her breath and then decided to go home. We thought the confusion and unsteadiness was because of her blood sugar levels. Little did we know that it was so much more. As you see in the text she made it home then and I know that she’s home now too.

Tuesday marked the fourth month since Mommy went home with God. It feels like forever ago and yesterday all at the same time. There is so much changing in our lives right now, so much that I want to talk to her about and this has just been one of those hard, hard weeks when you feel like you’re scraping to get by emotionally. My tank is empty. I have nothing left to give today. God, I think I’m gonna need a piggy back ride….

Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world

This is what we’ve become. Day counters. When I walked into the kitchen this morning and glanced at the calendar, this is what was staring back at me. A reminder of time lost. Three long months.

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Subconsciously I was keeping score of what has been ripped from me but I had know idea that the kids were too. Funny how I thought on some level that it was just me in my crazy thinking. Not so at all. And if it is crazy, then my whole family is in the boat with me. And that’s comforting….in a weird way? They’ll jump ship on me.

It’s horrific that we all know someone whose life has been affected by cancer, if not our own. An online GBM support group that I’m apart of has over 3,000 members with new members being added daily. Think of all the time that’s been robbed from them. GBM is classified as an “orphan” disease meaning that it affects fewer than 200,000 people in the US. It has a median survival rate of 14 months. It doesn’t get all of the attention that breast cancer, colon cancer, skin cancer or any other cancer does. Wanna know why? Because there’s no cure for it. And there’s no federal money being put into research for it. Just within the last month I know of three people diagnosed with GBM and another two families who have battled GBM to the end. I think the numbers need to be re-looked at.

Considering the trauma we’ve experienced, I’d say we’ve all done ok. Some days are better or easier than others. They all hurt. But in those moments when it’s the darkest, it’s easy to let the enemy get a foot hold. To allow him to plant those seeds of doubt in my mind. To relive the not so nice moments over and over like a projector has been installed inside my brain, running continuously. And I go back to the many Bible studies that I’ve done – that Momma and I did together, and I remember to capture those thoughts and images. Taking every thought and making it obedient to Christ is sometimes not easy – but it’s the only way. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” ~ 2 Corinthians 10:5

I remember when I was little and would have a bad dream and call out to Momma in the middle of the night. She would come sit beside me and rub my back and in the softest, sweetest voice she’d redirect my thoughts to a happy place – my favorite place to be….on the beach. And I could imagine us building sand castles, playing in the crashing waves, listening to the ocean and birds above squawking at us for a just a drop of boiled peanut, a chip or a crumb of fried chicken, walking our dog. And those bad thoughts would be captured and good ones would replace them and calmness would return.

Over the last few weeks in Kids Church we’ve walked through Jesus’ baptism, his temptation in the desert and his healing of Peter’s mother-in-law. I don’t believe for an instant that the lessons I’ve been teaching the children are coincidental with where I am. I think they were for me. I always tell the kids that you may hear a Bible story 20 times BUT if you really listen with your heart and your mind, you’ll hear something new. Always. After Jesus was baptized and the Holy Spirit came down on him and he heard God speak, he goes right out into the desert to be tempted by Satan – for forty days with angels attending him. For forty long days Satan tried every temptation to break Jesus. Mind games. And Jesus used God’s word against Satan.

And. He. Won.

God always wins. Hebrews 4:15-16 tells us that Jesus absolutely can sympathize with what we are going through because he has been through it all himself and we can approach the throne, with confidence that we will receive grace and mercy and help in our time of need. He is FOR us!

So when those mind games start, I have to remember who I am in Christ. I have to remind myself of all of His promises for me. I have to search for Him in all of it. I do know that He has great plans for me. I don’t believe for a minute that my great God makes bad things happen. But he does allow us to walk through the muck and mire, learning to navigate it. To experience it. To learn from it. Sometimes we get stuck in it but He can rescue us and use it all to help us grow. As I tell my kids, it’s called character building.

And that’s about the time they give me the eye roll. And yes, I sometimes roll my eyes too.

And when I capture those bad thoughts or images and replace them with God’s truth, it’s then that I can recall all the good times and great memories that I have and be joyful and thankful for them. It’s in those moments that I can hear her voice, hear her laughter and feel her next to me….like right now.

Thank you Jesus for all that you’ve done for me. All that you will do for me.