Where is the Good?

Romans 8:28 New King James Version (NKJV)

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

While our daughter was on life support someone, I forget who, wanted to tell me about the above verse.  I was pulled away twice by my husband who needed me.  I excused myself but that verse haunted me.

It still haunts me because I fail to see the good in any of the this.  Our Sommer died 18 months almost to the day my mom died.  Mom died June 3, 2015, and Sommer died December 1, 2016.  Major blow for me and my family.

With mom, it was a “natural order” of this world.  You are supposed to die before your children do.  It’s just messed up the other way around.

My heartache with mom was not that she died but the court battle that ensued with the siblings.  You think you know your siblings until someone dies and leaves an estate to settle.  Sommer was there for me. Mom had asked me to be the executor of her modest estate in 2005.  When I agreed to do it she asked me not to fight with one brother.  I agreed and added that I have boundaries and I will not allow either brother to be nasty with me. We agreed.  Well, the worst did happen and just hours before she died I had hired an Estate Lawyer.  I took one phone call from one brother who cussed me out because I was “in control” of the estate. My humble advice is to have a will written and signed before your 50 years-old.

I say “the good” in mom’s death.  She smoked since the age of 16 and ended up dying from COPD. A terrible way to die and to watch.

I understood Romans 8:28 with mom but not with our Sommer.

I found that verse to be a “catch-all” verse.

You’ve just broken up with the person who wanted to spend your life with and a friend comforts you by saying, “It’s okay, God has a better man for you.”

You just lost your dream job. Again, “It’s better this way. God will show you the good in this.”

When something happens in our lives that does not go our way, let’s say, a new job, a promotion, a prodigal child or marriage breaking up,  Your friends want to make you happy again so they say, “Remember what the scripture tells us.  He works all things together for our good.” Or my favorite, “God never closes a door without opening another or at least a window.”

Sometimes losing a job is the best thing for you.  Perhaps you were beginning to compromise your core values.  It’s called the thousand mile rule.  My husband has experienced this.  If you don’t want to play the “thousand mile game” with the big shots when you find that you have reached a plateau and your career stops at the rung of the ladder you have been perching on while stretching for the next step. Don’t play no more pay raise.

Sommer’s death was good for her.  She is where she strived to be, with Jesus her first true love.  In paradise.  “All things work together for good for those who love Him.” Yes, she loved Him and she showed it by leaving a little sparkle wherever she would go. “to those who are called according to His purpose.”

I love God.  I’ve been called for His purpose. However, I promise you, the death of my daughter was never my purpose.  The death of our daughter has not been a good thing, for me or for our family.

God’s greatest concern isn’t for our temporal comforts but for our eternal joy.  That is a good thing.  Our affliction does end up for our good. Our eternal good. 

Some wounds likely won’t heal until you see Jesus face to face.  But afflictions have a way of helping o see Jesus clearer even now.  And that’s why we can say that even now we experience the goodness of God in the midst of our afflictions.

Afflictions conform us to Christ.

Afflictions loosen our hearts from “the world.”

Afflictions make way for glory.  And honestly, that’s how I want to live my life.  For the Glory of God.

As I have said before Sommer’s death only makes Heaven much, much, much more desirable.  I’d like Jesus to come for us but I know where I am headed and so did Sommer.

For His Glory.

Blessings,

Heidi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Real

My last post was pretty raw for me.  I couldn’t sleep that night. I awoke to a sore throat and a nasty cough.  It’s a sure bet I have bronchitis.  I get it every summer and every February along with the flu.

However, stress and grief can affect your immune system. I stay very active and probably just wore out.

Before I started this blog I had prayed about it for over a year. I have to admit when it comes to technology I am not smarter than a third grader. Heck, probably a pre-schooler in today’s world.

We have a daughter who is an accomplished writer.  Some of you may follow her on her social media posts.  As the mother, I never want to compete with any of my daughters.  I  want them to shine and be everything God has planned for them to become.  I am just the mom.

We may both be writers but we have our own style and she is an English & Mass Communications major.  Same arena just different tents. She is going places.  And will continue to rock the world with her grace and charm.

Live Life with Hope is a very personal blog.  I promise to always be honest and nonjudgemental.  This is a site for healing.  I will heal by writing to you and God willing with my honest, raw, painful, joyous, happy or sad thoughts will in some way touch you.  In grief, there is hope and that hope can only come from having a raw relationship with Jesus Christ my Lord. I cant edit my heart or the Holy Spirit.  I write to please Jesus.

When our third daughter was about  15 months-old I became pregnant with our fourth baby.  Here is how I found out about our new baby.

I had been working with a trainer to run another 10K.  I started in March and was ready for my second weigh in, and take measurements to track my progress. That was October.  We were behind because of the horrific events on September 11, 2001. My body mass increased though my weight had decreased and I was running a 12/15 minutes mile.

I laughed and said, “Only I could work my tush off and gain body mass!”

She was expecting her first baby as was another young lady.  My trainer asked if I could be pregnant? “NO!,” said I.  That was the only thing she could come up with and said I should try a pee test.  I stopped at the Walgreen’s on my way home.  A double pack.

Yep, I was expecting a new baby.  My hubby was Guadalajara, Mexico at the time so I told him the news over the phone.  He laughed and then said, “Seriously?” Men!  I was around 15 weeks along. Sadly this baby was not meant to be born.  When that happened I never mourned the loss because it is a very common experience.  I looked at it as being part of Gods plan for me, and our family.  A month later I was expecting, again and again, my body rejected this baby.  That was too close to the first one.  But I didn’t question God about it either.  I made my husband see the doctor because we felt another miscarriage would put me over the edge.

After our Sommer died of unknown causes I was shocked.  Broken. And wanted to know “WHY GOD WHY!”

I have been in my prayer closet screaming before the Lord raw with anger, jealousy, sadness, disappointment, fear and abandoned.

I still have those moments with God and it is totally fine to be upset with God.  He wears big boy panties.

We are made in the image of a loving God.  He gave us the emotions we need to express them not hold them in for a better time. Grief knocks you out in the strangest places.

Grief is a tool used by Satan to draw us away from God. He wants us to turn our backs on God in the same way Job’s wife wanted him to do.  But, Job did not.  He expressed his feelings and God loved him because He is God and Job was not.

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.  Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Isaiah 53:3

 

For His Glory.

Blessings,

Heidi

Air Flights and Bomber Piolts

Some of you do not know the story about how we found our darling Sommer nonresponsive and not getting enough oxygen.  It’s not something I am willing to share but the Holy Spirit in all His wisdom must think otherwise.  I ask you to take my hand and walk with me through this post.

On November 28, 2016, around 2:00 in the morning my husband crashed through our bedroom door screaming my name.  You know when someone in the family uses your full name there is trouble.  He followed it with “Get up she is not breathing!”  I rolled over and the family room lights were shining in my eyes.  My mind was still stuck on him calling me “Heidi!”

I saw Sommer lying on one side of the sectional and my Father-in-law breathing into her mouth.  My husband was begging her to wake up.  I screamed, “Get her on the floor she needs CPR!” I then ran out of the garage and next door to my neighbor whom I had just met and knew he was a retired Army medic.  I started pounding on their front door as I called 911.  Note to self, put “Emergency” in your cell phone contact it saves time when you don’t have your glasses on and you’re in the dark.  He finally came to the door and being a “Good ole boy from Texas” he brandished his gun.  Yes, I screamed.  Yes, I almost wet myself.  I told him Sommer was not breathing and he took off in a sprint and was in my house and working chest compressions before I made it back inside.  I came into the kitchen and everything went into slow motion.  A gun was on my countertop.  Chester was bare-chested and sweating.  I cried out to Jesus.  Begging him “No, Jesus, No!  He heard me.

I remember going to my closet to get dressed.  Debating with myself do I wear a bra or a wired cami.  I keep a small case packed in case of emergencies’. I grabbed it and put some things inside, slid on my Converse shoes and went to the car and waited for Chris.  I remember a Sherriff coming to ask my name and how I was related to Sommer.  I could not think. We followed the ambulance to the local hospital five miles away.

I am not sure if I saw her there or not but suddenly a flight crew arrived.  The nurse had given me a blanket because I was in shock.  Literally.  I didn’t get the picture.

Our house is on the flight path from Seguin Hospital to San Antonio.  I hear it fly over every day. Sometimes two or three times a day.  Funny, I never noticed it before. When I did see our Sommer, she had a tube in her mouth and she had her creamy complexation back.  I talked to her and kissed her.

I came out of the curtain and stepped over to the flight crew and introduced myself and said I would be riding with her and thanked them.  I walked away.  They avoided eye contact with me after that.  Our Youth Pastor and his wife arrived from Cibolo to be with us.  I don’t know why but I smiled and said ‘Hi,” as if I had just seen them in the store.

The reality was starting to set in.  “Oh, my God what the….in my past and sometimes present life I am an F-bomber pilot…need I say more?

I did not ride with her to Methodist Hospital at Stone Oak, our second daughter did. There was a care-a-van to that hospital.  I did not know that at the time.  I just knew I could see the flashing tail light of the helicopter and I felt as if we were following a star.  We were, and her name is Sommer.

I want to tie in my last post about saying things to people in grief that are easy off the tongue but damaging to the heart.

Going to church is hard on me.  I see my daughter, Sommer in every little kid’s face.  She grew up in that church.  I watched her go from ponytails to a cute short bob in 17 years.  She is EVERYWHERE IN THE CHURCH. EVERYWHERE!

Last Sunday a woman I barely know broke into a private conversation I was having with a woman whose husband died tragically and suddenly.

I said, “Amelia, the second year seems harder for me than the first.  I cry every day.”  She got it.  I told her that it’s not the natural way life goes.  Your kids should outlive you. The other woman said to me, “So, you think God was wrong!?” The back of my brain is thinking ‘what the…bomber pilot.  The Holy Spirit said, “NOT HERE.” I explained that I felt it was just not the order of life. “So, you do think God was wrong!?  The bomber pilot in me was ready for take-off.

God loves bomber pilots. F-16. F-18. F-14….and just plain ole F-pilots.

“That’s not glorifying God to be THAT type of bomber pilot,” you might say

That’s the beauty of His grace. His compassion. His unlimited LOVE.  And I am just a recovering sinner that’s not there yet.  But, GOD WILL GET ME THERE! I know this is true.

Prayer without complete honesty, being naked before the Lord is an empty prayer.

My grief is real. I am in trauma 101.

I worship a living God who will work this out for me in His time.  His time!  And God is never late.

Pass the tissues, please.

Blessings,

Heidi

We Need Permission to Grieve

We have a friend who lost her husband a year ago and she told my husband,

‘I am so tired of people asking me I am doing.”

Perhaps she is in denial.  Perhaps she simply does not know how to respond.  Sometimes we can’t find the words or know how to respond.  Maybe she is afraid of her own emotions and afraid of losing her composer.

Her generation didn’t talk about death.  Too many of them, it’s a practical part of life.  Your loved one was there and now they are not.  End of sentence. End of chapter. Close the book.

I believe our Christian friend is in so much pain she is afraid of it.  I get that. As I’ve said in other posts grief fills every part of your body.  My mother-in-law had a rash all over her body that took six months to clear up.  She had to have a blood transfusion because the doctor felt she must be bleeding somewhere inside.  No scan should any blood loss inside her body. One can physically die of a broken heart.  It is a true health issue.  Think about that.  One can literally die of a broken heart.

But, here is the truth, grieve is not a book.  One can not skip a chapter or read the end of the story first.  Grief is a process.  For some it’s a short journey for others it’s a lifetime. Mine will be a lifetime and that is okay.  I don’t mean bawling all day, not sleeping, constantly thinking of Sommer, I mean to say I will miss her until I am with her in the presence of the King. That’s okay. God will make me stronger. I believe that wholeheartedly. I will become stronger, not better. Grief is not the same as getting over the flu or a cold, it is grief and we must face it.

I can’t wish it away, run from it, or pretend it didn’t happen.  Grief is real and Christians NEED TO GRIEVE!

As the Body of Christ, we have an obligation to help our neighbors. Jesus invested His time, His time with others.  He met them right where they were physical, spiritually,  and emotionally. We all know someone who has lost a loved one. We must minister to them. Nurture them.  Love them because Christ died for them.  Saved and unsaved.

If I can not be allowed to grieve in front of my church family where do I go?

Validate my loss. Validate your loss. Please, please, please validate someone you know who has lost a loved one.

Let’s not pooh-pooh ones grief by giving quick, “Christian correct” responses.

It is better, oh, so, much better to stand alongside me. Try to understand what I am feeling.  You may not get it because your child has not died but mine has and I need to be reminded that is okay to grieve.  It’s okay for me to cry.  We need COMPASSION!

You may think “I don’t know what to say.” or “What if I make her cry, I don’t have time to comfort her.”  That may be the case, but I promise you God will remember.  I am not suggesting you call me every day. I am asking you on behalf of all who mourn don’t forget about us.  I/you/others matter to Christ, why can’t we matter to you?

Be like the good Samaritan.  Reach out to me.  Surround me with strong hugs.  We may grieve but we won’t break form a love filled hug.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan:

Luke 10:25-37

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply, Jesus said: A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers.  They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell int the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

All the emphasis are mine.  This is the NIV translation. You might be wondering why I chose to tell the whole story.  Because it is sad, true, and beautiful.

May God have the Glory!

Blessings,

Heidi

Angels Come From Texas

Our family lived for sixteen months in Arizona. We were so blessed to have found a townhouse in the same community as Grammie and Grandpa.  It was a blessing to spend time with them but it was a difficult situation because we missed our church family and didn’t seem to find a good fit for that area.

The girls really felt it and we tried to find fun memories to take back to Texas after the contract expired.  One thing I came up with was going to McDonald’s drive-through for ice cream shakes and a large Coke for me. I started paying the bill for the car behind us.  And it became a game.  When I paid for our snacks I would ask how much the check was for the car behind us.  I had a $10.00 limit.  I would tell the cashier to wait until I pull away then tell the next customer “Angles come from Texas.”

We did this almost every day and our girls loved it. They were in on one of mom’s secrets and they loved it.  It was fun. We would talk about why I would do that and I would answer, “Because it’s fun!” They caught on and really got into it.  They would be bummed if no one was behind us.

One day a college-age girl pulled up behind us.  Her car looked worn-out and in my review mirror, she looked just as worn-out.  I told the cashier I wanted to pay for her order. It was just a diet coke. I had one of the God talking to me at that moment and said, “Make it a chicken nugget Happy Meal with a large drink.”

When I pulled away she followed behind me out. Because of was traffic I couldn’t get away. She honked and pulled up next to me at the red light.  She put down her passenger window and said, “That is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.  I am down to my last $10.00 and I need gas.  Angles really do care about us, right?”

“The ones from Texas do,” I said.

I guess it’s called “Paying it forward.”  To me, that sounds like “lay-a-way!”

When we are grieving the loss of a loved one. A husband, wife, mother, father. A sibling, a baby or a 22 years-old daughter. It hurts. I mean IT HURTS!

I feel like the second year is more painful than the first. Sommer’s death has set in.  She really is not coming home from a trip to the moon. Don’t get me wrong, I have that blessed assurance she is sitting at the banquet table in constant presence with the Lord. Prancing on streets of gold and a mansion that she doesn’t need to clean.  That only happens in heaven and I can’t wait to join her when my day comes.

God will comfort us in our grief, but we must allow Him to.  God is stretching me right now and it hurts.  But, I do have hope one day it won’t hurt as much.  I will always want our Sommer to walk through the door.

God promises “‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and will dine with him, and he with Me.’

Revelation 3:20

I have to walk this journey so that I may help others walk through their grief.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

 

For God’s Glory!

Blessings,

Heidi

She Had the Face of God

Family friends were going home after Christmas 2016.  I was home alone trying to recover from Sommer’s death, ceremony and our family trip to Newport Beach, CA where we set Sommer’s ashes into the Pacific Ocean.  Her favorite place was not Disney Land but the beach, the surf, the gathering of shells when the tide was out in the late afternoon.

Their youngest daughter said to me before they left, “Sommer had the face of God.”

Grief is all consuming.  It reaches every neuron, every pore, every vein, every wrinkle, every muscle.  It is real and it has a mind of its own.  It creeps up on you while walking through Target, as it did to me today.  As I write this tears are blurring my vision and spilling over to make a puddle on my lap.

The death, the untimely death of Sommer has been the hardest, the hardest thing God has asked me to walk through.  I feel like a deflated balloon that is flying around the room as the air releases from inside. Deflated but not defeated.

The truth is Sommer finished her race early.  As one friend said, “She just graduated before the rest of us.”  I was moving books around my office one day not too long ago and a 3×5 note card dropped out and it had Sommer’s handwritten memory verse:

“I have fought the good the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith.”

2 Timothy 4:7 KJ

I’ve been training with a running coach so I can run a 5K, 3 miles, with our youngest daughter.  I’m 52 and have not done a road race in a decade.  Yes, 10 years.  Trust me when I say my body is not happy with my thought process some days.  Some days my body applauds me and I have extra cream in my coffee. Hazelnut, please. I had to say that to get the tears to stop puddling.

“I weep with grief, my heart is haeavy with sorrow.”

Psalm 119:28

It’s simple really.  It takes sunshine and rain to make a rainbow.  God made a promise to us with a rainbow.  Now, who does not run outside to snap a picture of a rainbow?

Sommer was two and I let her go out in her blue raincoat, Mickey Mouse umbrella, and pink rain boots sent to her from Miss Cathy in California.  It’s the cutest memory I have.  Her splashing in puddles singing Sunday School songs.  She delighted in everything. She had the face of God.

Many years ago I was at a women’s home bible study.  One young woman just lost her husband to AIDS.  She never knew he was a recovering drug addict.  She knew he was in recovery for alcoholism but not the I.V. drug use.  It was so sad.  We were studying the book of Job. She had been applying for jobs that day and when it was her turn to read the scripture she pronounced Job as j-o-b.  No one said a word until our host corrected her and she said she must have j-o-b hunting on her mind. We all had a great laugh and she needed that more then anyone knew.  We couldn’t go back to Job we had to hold her hands and wipe her tears.

Sommer had fulfilled her final act and God called her home.  He knew her appointed time before she was knitted in my womb. I truly wish He would have let me in on it but God is not my puppet.  He is my Father in Heaven and He has our Sommer.

How blessed am I? Completly! There are millions of mom’s in the world that can’t say that with blessed assurance.  But I can. I do. I will.

“You have decided the length of our lives you know how many months we will live and we are not given a minute longer.”

JOB 14:5

May God have the Glory!

Blessings,

Heidi

Tell Her Story

Every New Year’s Eve I ask God what His plans are for me in the coming New Year.  December 31, 2015, God’s Spirit spoke to me, “Tell her story.”  I thought I knew exactly what God was saying to me.  When Sommer was around 10-years-old I witnessed some young girls excluding her at a church event.  My heart just broke.  No mama bear wants to see her cub being snubbed,  but it does happen. It is simply part of growing up in a fallen world.

I tried to use situations like this one as a learning lesson.  For me and for our daughters. The thing about Sommer is that she didn’t catch on.  She was not competitive, not athletic, not a show-off and certainly not mean. She was just the opposite she included everyone and if she saw someone at the back of the room she would go stand by them to show she cared. I would not allow our daughters to tease, pick on or exclude one another.  I did not allow squabbles over anything.  I would sit them down and tell them, with hands on my hips and say, “One day your daddy and I are not going to be here we will be with Jesus and Y’all will only have is each other. Now hug and let’s move on.”

I have heard many stories of sisters not liking each other and about physical fights. They carried that hurt into adulthood.  I did not want that for our daughters.  As the fictional character, Barney Fife would say “You gotta nip it, nip it, nip it in the bud.” And that’s exactly what I did. Did they quarrel? Of course, they did and do. If you were to ask them today they will tell you the same story about mom and dad being with Jesus and they would only have each other.

After returning home from the church event I sent the three of them to the showers and I went into my prayer closet.  And cried out to God! “Why her God why my baby?” Later that night I woke up from a deep sleep and grabbed my writing journal and the pencil did all the work.  I wrote a story about a little girl who did not belong and she very much wanted to.

The New Years prayer for 2016 was simply “to tell her story.” I told my husband and we thought that 2016 was the year we should publish the story I wrote a decade earlier.  I started looking for an illustrator and found a delightful young woman who personally knew our Sommer. I truly thought that publishing her story as a children’s book was what God was alluding to when He whispered: “Tell Her Story.” NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, did I think her death at the tender age of 22 was a story I needed to tell.

I was wrong. This is God’s story about Sommer Raye:

Sommer was a junior at Texas State studying History. She was going to start ASL summer of 2017. She wanted to work at the colonial museum in Williamsburg, VA. She wanted to connect with deaf tourists.  Her weaknesses were watching the Kirdashinions and chocolate preferably at the same time.  She didn’t party.  She didn’t drink. She didn’t date around. She was happiest being home with her family.  She made handmade gifts for people every Christmas or other special events. Six hours before she became unconscious she was kissing me goodnight and reminding me she would be in class and not to expect her home until after 3:30 Monday afternoon. Sommer loved and loved to be loved.

I have told that story over 100 times in 2017, our first year without her.  But God took me to Dallas to a hotel where I told a young woman about Sommer and The Samaritan woman at the well and how Jesus knew all about her past/present and future.  Jesus loved the Samaritan woman and He loves Christyl, who accepted Christ right there on the job poolside of The Four Seasons. Fetching drinks for thirsty people.  How beautiful is that? Sommer did not die in vain.  She left a story to be shared and that story changed at least one young woman’s life.  Welcome to the family Christyl

We all have a platform.  We all have a story to tell.  If you are a believer and follower of Jesus you have many stories to share.  It’s called The Gospel. Pass it on and watch souls soar.

For His glory!

Many Blessings,

Heidi