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Headstone 2011

 “How many kids do you have?”

It’s a common question asked between adults in all walks of life and it seems to be an innocent, generic and non-invasive conversation starter when you find yourself interacting with someone you don’t know very well. For the grieving parent though, this is one of the most horrifying and, to say the least, awkward questions we will be asked for the rest of our lives. Instantly we’re pinned between equally overwhelming desires – to recognize our child who has passed and keep them alive by keeping their memory fresh and to not expose intimate details of our private lives with every stranger who happens to cross our path.

There are several options you can choose from and no one way is right or wrong; there’s only what’s right or wrong for the individual parent. I’ve even found that each interaction might find a different option that feels right in the moment.

1. Spill the beans. Tell them everything; every detail of the events that lead up to, during and after your child’s passing. Sometimes you just have to let it all out.

2. Tip of the iceberg. Tell them you have a child who has passed on, but gloss over it as quickly as possible. You’re not looking for sympathy, but you just can’t leave it out altogether.

3. Concealed in the counting. Another option is to simply rattle off the number of children you’ve given birth to and an account of their current ages, including the age your child would have been if their Earthly journey had continued. Only you know and it still gives honor and recognition to your child.

4. Out of sight, out of mind. For some, it’s just too painful to mention their child at all. They mention the children who have survived or, in the case of only children, simply say they have no children at all. For some, this is less painful than recognizing the existence of the departed child. Or, maybe the situation simply calls for discussion of living children only for technical reasons.

This summer will mark four years since our sweet James Timothy left our home for his heavenly home, following a drowning accident in July 2009. Just a few weeks ago I found myself in group of unfamiliar faces, making small talk, and being asked how many children I had at home and their genders and ages. I hadn’t anticipated this moment and hadn’t prepared myself to give an answer. Before I knew it, I was awkwardly fumbling my words and tripping over sudden uprising emotions. As a parent of a heavenly resident, you might mention your departed child because you simply enjoy talking about them; it keeps them alive and active in your heart in your family. Talking about our passed on children helps their siblings remember them or, in some cases, get to know them. More often than not, we’re not looking for sympathy when we mention our child is no longer with us. We just want you to know they exist.

However, sometimes social situations are so casual that you might not feel right in weighing down the lighthearted conversation with such a heavy topic. Most of the time, people are just making conversation. They’re not trying to get to know you or share a connection. They’re just trying to pass the time. You may see these people very rarely or never again. In that moment, you find yourself having to feel the heaviness of each possible response and measure it against the weight of the conversation and situation. You want people to know your child exists, but you also don’t want to drag down an otherwise pleasant exchange with the burden of your revelation.

So the next time you’re talking to a random person and they seem to fumble awkwardly over such a simple question as, “How many kids do you have?” – Consider that may be a very cumbersome question for some people and forgive them while they adjust the weight.

Love Your Neighbor

Of all the commandments given to us by Our Father, they all can be summed up into one, two-part commandment – Love{agape} God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind and love{agape} your neighbor as yourself. {Matthew 22:36-40}

Who is our neighbor? Neighbor has two very broad definitions – it can either mean someone who lives near you or it can simply imply ‘your fellow man’. It’s safe to say that God expects us to love all people because He made all people and He is love and expects us to be conduits of His Love.

Have you ever noticed that, in most cases, it’s really easy to be patient, gentle, kind and loving to complete strangers? You offer a smile, a wave, a friendly word to the cashier, bank teller or barista and most of the time it’s not even difficult. Wow, so this ‘love your neighbor’ thing must be pretty easy then huh? 

What about your friends? Are you gentle and kind with them? What about your very best friend? Do you ever find yourself ‘getting comfortable’ in that friendship and not always putting your best foot forward, letting your hair down and letting how you really feel come out because, if we can’t be ‘real’ with our friends then who? What about your family? How ‘real’ do you get with them? When you interact with your parents, siblings, spouses and children, do they see how you ‘really’ feel? Is that an expression of God’s love; or an outlet for the anger, frustration, disappointment and failure to flow? How do you respond when your husband doesn’t pick up the milk you asked him to pick up on his way home from work? If your child brings home an ‘F’ or refuses to clean their room, what’s your reaction? Of course you should correct your child or communicate disappointment to your husband, but those messages should not be laced with poison either. Does God correct us with a little bit of poison in His love? NO! What if your lunch order is wrong and you have to take it back? How many times have you screamed at the cook and called them lazy, stupid or good for nothing? I hope most of us are answering that we’ve never acted that way in public, but I’m sure there’s more of us than we’d ever admit that have reacted this way to our spouses, children or other close loved ones. Have you ever wondered why you treat total strangers with love and respect but find yourself venomous at times with your immediate family?

What if ‘love your neighbor’ means, first and foremost, to learn how to express God’s Love {agape} to our immediate family, living in our home? Maybe our first priority in this life is to simply walk in love with our parents, siblings, spouses and children in that gentle Godly way, regardless of the expectations we had that we perceive they’ve failed at, how unfair we’re being treated by them, how heavy the burden is to love and care for them or how hot their tempers are?

Why should strangers get our very best but the people who we love the most, who love us the most and will be in our lives for our entire journeys (hopefully) get the bottom of the barrel? Why? Possibly because we have yet to ‘be real’ with God about our behavior and ask Him to fill us in those deepest places with His love. We need to pursue with a passion to ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God’ so that ‘all these things’ – the fruits of the Spirit {Galatians 5:22}, reflections of God’s Agape Love {1 Corinthians 13: 4-8} will radiate from us like a beacon in the dark! Women need to ask God to mold us into a Proverbs 31 woman so our worth will be ‘above rubies’ and evident to all and men need to pursue to be made into the examples set forth in 1 Timothy 3 and the book of Titus. When we received salvation, it meant more than a ticket to heaven. These are the qualities, characteristics and life-preservers salvation gives us in this earthly life. We must go to God and ask Him to ‘work out’ {Philippians 2:12-13} the salvation that He put in us so that the fruits of His Spirit will shine and our gentleness will be evident to all! {Philippians 4:5} Yes, we are absolutely called to be a light to the world and to Love every human with the Agape Love of God – but first and foremost I believe we’re called to Agape Love our immediate family. They are our training ground for the rest of the world – if we fail at home, how can we succeed in the world? If we can’t seek God’s face and ask for His reaction to be ‘our’ reactions in the face of the harshest treatment from the people we love the most, how can we really expect to be a genuine and sincere example of God’s Agape Love to the rest of the world?

 

 

 

 

Every year, kids around the world reach an age where they want to know the truth about SANTA; and soon they also reach an age where they are ready to know the inside story about Christmas. It seems you’ve been growing up, showing responsibility and maturity, so now you’re ready for the whole story!

No one knows for sure how Christmas began, or why. Oh, there are those out there that will insist they know – they’ll tell you they read a book or that someone told them a story so now they know the beginning. The truth is, Christmas began thousands of years ago, long before anyone alive today –

Or even   their great – great grandparents! Books have been written since the beginning of time but only one book to we trust to be pure and perfect truth; the Bible. Every other book is written from the perspective of the author, not necessarily the perspective of truth. Some people believe Christmas began to celebrate Baby Jesus’ birthday. Others believe Christmas is a time to worship pagan gods of the sun and winter solstice. Still, others believe it started out pagan, but Christians adapted it to be about Baby Jesus. The truth is, Jesus was born during The Feast of Tabernacles during Rosh Hashanah, which happens in the September – October area. Rosh Hashanah began thousands of years before Baby Jesus was born and the Jews were already celebrating that Feast time of Harvest. Christmas is a time to celebrate all the things given to us with the birth of Christ – redemption, salvation and restoration. Whether Christmas began before the pagan’s began to worship winter, or as a way to counter them, there’s only one thing that matters – Christmas is an opportunity to be a beautiful example of everything Jesus gave us through his life and death.

 

“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31

 

Jesus died to unlock the doors of heaven, releasing God’s Blessings on the entire Earth, if we so choose to open our hearts   and receive it. Those open doors allow our prayers to flow freely and be heard by God Almighty, helped along only by His Holy Spirit.  Jesus said that if we love Him, we will take care of widows and orphans – people too poor and unable to take care of themselves. We should give freely of everything we have to give to care for those who cannot care of themselves; because we are loved by God and He provides more than enough for our own needs, we can allow His love and blessings flow through us, to them. Now let’s fast forward a few thousand years or so to a kind and good man who would come to be called, Saint Nicholas. None of the ancient writings agree on where Saint Nicholas came from, what great things he did or when he lived, exactly.  We know that in every culture for many centuries, there has been a legend of a Saint Nicholas who worked miracles and gave gifts, always in secret. The Bible says:

 

“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 6:1

“When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do–blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.” – Matthew 6:2

“But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” – Matthew 6:3

“Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” – Matthew 6:4

 

Regardless of when or where Saint Nicholas lived, his secret expressions of God’s Love impacted the world so deeply, that we continue those traditions even today. Over time, those traditions have evolved. Satan saw the opportunity to create greed in the hearts of the recipients so they would never be satisfied with whatever gifts they were given. At first, gifts were only exchanged secretly with orphans and poor children, like Saint Nicholas did, and this created jealousy in the hearts of the children of the wealthy. Soon the stories of Saint Nicholas and his charitable gifts of compassion were embellished more with every telling and eventually he came to be called, Santa Claus. Toymakers, with hearts full of greed and strife invented Santa Claus and encouraged children to beg their parents, and Santa, to give them more and more gifts because it made the toymakers a lot of money. Eventually people forgot about the Love of God Saint Nicholas worked so hard to express – the true Joy of Christmas. People are forgetting to help the poor, orphans and widows. They forget that a true GIFT is one given in secret.

 

That’s why you’ve been recruited to keep the Joy in Christmas. It’s up to those who know the truth to live out loud and put God’s Love in action, for God’s glory only, and not our own. We can remember what Jesus asked us to do, what Saint Nicholas did, and what SANTA could mean, if we keep the true meaning in our hearts.

 

SANTASpiritual Awareness Nourished Through Anonymity

 

How could S.A.N.T.A. teach us to be spiritually aware? Often times, we start in January keeping an eye on the special people in our lives, getting an idea of what their deepest needs and desires are, in order to get them a wonderful gift next Christmas. It is an act of God’s Love to think of others and how to bless them! That’s a wonderful seed that God’s Holy Spirit can Nourish and grow into an Awareness of the needs of many people in your community or around the world and become aware of the many opportunities available  all year long to give of yourself or other resources to express God’s Love all the time, Anonymously.

 

God Bless Y’all! Merry Christmas!

Prayer effects generationsIt couldn’t have been a more perfect day if I had created it myself. The sky was clear blue, the clouds fluffy white.  Green trees jumped out in stark contrast to the picturesque blue sky but were dwarfed by the skyscrapers from a big city that teased the horizon. Wind blew my hair into my face and I remember the welcomed chill it brought my sun drenched skin as I pushed my daughter in a swing. My daughter, I suddenly noticed, was very beautiful and growing too quickly as children tend to do. She was eleven now and but wanting me to push her in the swing. I wanted to protest an argument that she was too old but something in the distance caught my attention instead. When I raised my hand to shield my eyes from the harsh sun something new was in the sky to match the distant hum. My eyes tried hard to focus, both from practicality and disbelief. Were those old war planes flying through the giant city in the not-so-distant distance? All around me parents who had just been enjoying serenity with their children in a peaceful park began to scatter like ants, screaming hysterically. I looked up again at these foreign objects, these planes that appeared to be from WW2, and noticed that now bombs had begun to fall to the ground, shaking the very earth with every impact and obliterating this quintessentially perfect day. Frantically, my eyes searched for any plan of escape. Deep inside, in my heart of hearts, I had a sense of certain doom. I knew that there was no escape, that no plan would work and without a doubt we were going to die. That’s when an elevator shaft, for lack of a better term, came straight up from underground, almost directly beneath me. Instantly other park-goers began to fill the tiny capsule and I ran to claim a space for myself and my daughter, still knowing this plan wasn’t going to help us any but knowing I couldn’t do ‘nothing’.  As the elevator doors began to close, fingers appeared inside the disappearing opening, wrapping around the door and effortlessly opening them again.  An eerie sense of peace and calm filled the air and it’s possible that “time froze” because no one else seemed to notice this new person or move in any way. Standing in front of me was a handsome yet average looking man in blue jeans and a plaid shirt. As I took in his general appearance I was surprised to see a giant pair of wings behind him that were so white they were almost transparent or perhaps the color of pearls. He caught my eyes with his and held them in his command before he said boldly, quickly and matter-of-factly, “Meshele, this is the beginning of The End. You better get right with God.”

In the distance the sound of bombs impacting the earth began to morph into a less of a jolting sensation and more of an annoying ringing sound. It pierced the air like an air raid siren that had been neutered, “Ring, Ring, Ring. —  Ring, Ring, Ring. —  Ring, Ring, Ring. —  Ring, Ring, Ring. —  “

As I began to come out of this deep sleep I still couldn’t separate dream from reality. The only thing I was sure of is the emasculated air raid siren was reality and it was somewhere in my house! I checked the radio in my bedroom, but the power was off. What about the alarm clock? No, it was never set. It must be the TV then. Someone must’ve left it on all night. I attempted to make my way down my small apartment hall but still couldn’t comprehend if I was still dreaming or if I was, in fact, really walking down my hall. Relentlessly the ringing continued, but the TV proved innocent since it was turned off as well. Finally I found the direction the ringing was coming from: The kitchen! Sleepily I made my way there and found the ringing between the microwave and the fridge – The Phone! By now I was beginning to get an inkling that I might be awake but it would still take some convincing. When I answered the phone though, what I heard didn’t give me much to work with.

“They’ve bombed the Pentagon! They’ve bombed the World Trade Center! They have attacked us! America is at war! Turn on your TV!” It was my mother calling from five states and one time zone away, unaware I had been enjoying a rare morning of sleeping late. I turned on my TV and on every channel were the images that are seared into the hearts and minds of every true Patriot, to this day even ten years later. It was September 11, 2001. As the reality began to set in and separate from the dream, I began to tremble and cry. I told my mom, “I just dreamed this! I just dreamed this!” It was more than I could handle. I had never had an experience like this before, in fact you might call my life almost ‘spiritually uneventful’ up until that point (and sadly for far too long after the point as well.) I was no one. I AM no one. I’ve never done anything that anyone could even sugar coat to imply that I had done anything to further God’s Kingdom or even help humanity. I was a young girl, married to the wrong man whom was NOT a man of God to say the least, had a one year old and a baby on the way. I was too busy trying to figure out my own life and why it wasn’t working to pay much attention to God or ‘His People’.  The only thing I had going for me is a promise God made my mother when I was a newborn. She promised to teach me about Him the best she could if He promised I would make it to heaven. Ultimately, that’s all she wanted for me and she made sure that promise was ‘sealed by the Blood of Jesus’ before I was even weaned. I grew up to make a lot of horrible choices and I wound up down some pretty dark paths, even after this dream, but that promise surrounded me like a cloak. God lead me out in His perfect time (and when I learned to allow Him to take the lead). Pray over your children. It makes all the difference in the world.

All we need is Jesus and His Grace, NOT LAW. We’ve had some rough times in our journey on this Earth but there are harder times still ahead. God wants us to know that He will always protect, regardless of what the circumstances and evidence try to prove to us. He also wants us to know that He promised this evil would not thrive infinitely on the Earth and that He would put a stop to it one day, in His perfect time, and that day is drawing near. It’s time to put away whatever guilt or condemnation you feel and embrace acceptance. The Bible is full of imperfect people, people who had affairs, lied, stole and murdered, who were embraced, accepted, loved and forgiven. God’s about heart modification – not behavior modification! The Law has been fulfilled by Christ and there’s no need to earn your place before God! Just accept His love and forgiveness. When thoughts come into your mind that tell you that you are disqualified from God or a hypocrite, remind yourself those are lies and that you are loved, accepted, forgiven and that God ENJOYS conversation with YOU!

Be loved!

Brave enough to hope?

No one has ever accused me of being any kind of math whiz but even I know that you can’t get something from nothing.  If you hope for nothing, faith will produce nothing.  Faith is the evidence of things hoped for. 

What is hope, after all? When we think of hope we think of a feeling more akin to wishing than believing. You might say, “I hope I get a better job.” but inside you have a feeling of uncertainty. Immediately your mind begins to list all the evidence to support your insecurities such as, “The economy is bad. The job market is weak. I’m too young. I don’t have education or experience. I’m too old. I’m very slow and on my way out.”

There’s not much hope at all in that, is there? This is not what the Bible means when it promises you that ‘hope will never disappoint.’

In 1Corithinans 13: 13 it says “These three remain: faith, hope and love but the greatest of these is love.”  God is Love, Faith is the evidence of things hoped for and hope is a joyful, confident, expectation of good. You can have faith and have no good fruit produced if you are not hoping for anything good. Worldly hope is not Bible hope! It doesn’t matter what the evidence against your hope is, GOD is faithful to provide! When God told Abraham he would be a father in his old age and once he finally received that prophesy from God, the Bible says Abraham “hoped against hope!” He had a joyful, confident expectation of good in his life against his doubt and insecurity and his faith is what produced the evidence of that hope:  Isaac.  

Imagine you’re making a loaf of bread. You mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and knead the dough and it’s ready to go into your pre-heated oven. If you leave it on the counter it will continue to rise but eventually it will collapse and dry out. Your oven is pre-heated, working and ready for baking but if you never put the dough into the oven it will never become bread. The ingredients are the desires of your heart; the good things you want to see happening in your life.  The kneaded dough is your hope; your joyful, confident expectation of good.  You may have a wonderful batter and hardy dough but without the oven there will still be no bread. The oven is your faith; however hot your oven is represents how strongly you believe that God is a GOOD God. It can be red hot and ready to go but without any dough there will still be no bread.  Sometimes it takes a lot of courage but if we’re brave enough to put our dough in the oven, risk getting burned but hoping against hope anyway, we’ll have a beautiful loaf of bread! Somewhere along the way we realize there’s a timer on the oven that keeps the bread from getting burned; a Bible promise in Rom 5:5 (NKJV) – Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

The bread represents Jesus Christ. John 6:35(NKJV) – And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” When we take communion we discern the bread to represent Jesus’ body. In Hebrew the town of Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, translates ‘House of Bread’. When we are ‘hungry’ and we seek the Bread of Life, we are ‘seeking first the Kingdom of God’ and part of the many ‘things that will be added to you’ are the ingredients, the dough and the oven, just to name very few.

Ask and it will be given; Seek and you will find; Knock and the door will open! “

Ask continually, persistently, without ever stopping! NAG GOD with a heart of Thanksgiving (there’s a trick for ya!)

Every mother knows that if a small child has gone more than 45 minutes without a snack they behave as if it’s been three days since they’ve had a crumb! They’re at your feet begging for something to eat. The Bible mentions several times to come to God like little Children, not with a whimper or a wine, but with the boldness to ASK for some bread when you’re hungry, the courage to hope and put the dough in the oven and the determination to not give up until the timer goes off and you’ve got it!

July 28, 2009

What Satan means for evil God turns to Good!

Today marks another major event in the nightmare that we lived the entire month of July 2009. We spent July 4 – July 7, 2009 at the PICU at University of Mississippi Medical Center after James’ drowning accident. Those few days felt like months.  On July 11 our families’ gathered to lay sweet James to rest, say our goodbye’s and begin to learn how to move forward.  James’ oldest sister turned 9 without him that year on July 20 and in the wee hours of that morning my grandfather passed away after many years of battling illness.  It’s just like Satan to ‘hit you while your down’ and on July 28, 2009 he tried to do just that. He saw already that his plan to destroy us by taking our five year old son wasn’t going to diminish our faith in Daddy God. This time God gave me a dream.

In the dream I answered a knock at the front door to find two police officers.  I don’t remember what they were saying but they pointed ‘down the road’ from our house. Suddenly it was as if I was a bird and I sort of flew to where they were pointing. About a mile down our country road there is an intersection between some fields. At that time where was heavy construction taking place and semi trucks were constantly traveling back and forth. All I could see was one of these trucks as if it had been pulling out from the dirt road of this field and I assume it collided with my husband’s work truck. What I saw was my husband lying on the pavement, no medical personnel around him, only police officers. I assume he was dead because he laid there so still and I began to scream, “God I can’t do this! I can’t lose this much! Please don’t do this to me!”  I’m not sure entirely what my words were but these were the gist. That’s when I woke up. The air in my lungs seemed to have turned to stone even after I was awake. I couldn’t stop crying. I have nightmares all the time and this was nothing like a regular nightmare. If you’ve ever had a spiritual dream you understand how the lines between dream and reality have lost their definition even hours after waking.  It had to be three in the morning but there was no way I could sleep. I paced the house and I prayed for God’s protection and peace. I took authority over Satan, death and every weapon that he may attempt to throw at me and reminded him that we are Children of God and his tricks had no place in our lives. Within an hour, maybe less, I felt complete peace and I was able to go back to sleep.  To me, the ability to have peace and go back to sleep is evidence of God’s mighty work at play in our lives.  

When I woke up I had forgotten entirely about the dream. I sent my husband off to work like any other day and never thought twice about it. Oddly, he called mid morning to say that he was done working for the day and would be coming home. After he got here we decided to run some errands and take advantage of his free time. Later that afternoon we were traveling down the highway and we were nowhere near an intersection but a driver in the other lanes suddenly decided to make a left turn. He never merged into the turn lane, put on his turn signal or gave any indication he expected to turn – he was simply driving straight and then suddenly in front of us.  Later he would never give an explanation of why he suddenly decided to turn in front of us. I was 15 weeks pregnant and our three other children were with us as well. Our oldest child was wearing her shoulder belt improperly so she hit the seat in front of her that had a plastic handle on it – it shattered her nose. We all went to the emergency room and praise God alone, no one else was injured. It was on that day during the ultrasound exam to be sure the baby I was carrying was fine that the sweet ultra sound tech told me indeed we were having a boy! We had all girls except for James and we had prayed on Mother’s day, the day I found out I was pregnant again, for a brother for James.  It was an amazing moment for me to learn I would, indeed, have the brother James had prayed for; the brother he professed he would play with every night at bed time; the brother he prophesied the Angel of God had told him would be named John.  

It may be hard to believe but I never thought about that dream until several days or even a week after the accident.  When I did remember it, it sent chills down my spine. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that Satan meant for much more to take place – not just that day but when he took James as well. It gives me great pleasure to dwell in the secret place of the most high, abide in the shadow of the Almighty and to dance in the victory my Daddy God already accomplished for us! It’s only because Daddy God is a wonderful God and because he LOVES me, my husband and my children that we can hold our heads high and walk in victory!

With everything in me, I wish I had asked more questions. I didn’t though, so this is all I have to go on. One of the most incredible moments of my life happened with my five year old son just a few days before the drowning accident that claimed his precious, short life. Without a doubt, it was a tangible, God moment that left me so stunned I couldn’t speak to ask the three million questions that ran through my mind a few minutes after I left James’ bedroom.

On Mother’s Day 2009 I took a home pregnancy test and discovered I was expecting our fifth child, just nine months after our fourth child was born.  I wasn’t exactly thrilled at first simply because I was still up all night with that nursing nine month old and didn’t feel I was physically able to deliver another child. However, ‘it is what it is’ has always been my philosophy and I was going to do my best to power through and trust God. We prayed with James and all his sisters that this baby would be a boy and James would finally have the brother I knew he wanted so badly! Every night from Mother’s Day until the last night I tucked him in to bed he told me, “Don’t forget, that’s my brother in your tummy and he’s gonna come play with me.”  I would kiss him, nuzzle his nose with mine, tussle his hair and nod in agreement.  One night though, just a few days before the worst day of my life, James said a little bit more, just this once and never again, “Don’t forget, that’s my brother in your tummy and he’s gonna come play with me and his name’s gonna be John!”  I was very surprised! John was a fine name but not one we have ever considered or discussed and I couldn’t figure out where James had heard this name to even guess such a thing! So, I asked him, “Who told you that?” He answered simply, “A angel.” I felt the air turn to ice in my lungs as my whole chest seemed to freeze instantly. I was nervous about feeding him information so I asked, “Who’s Angel?” just in case he had made a new friend of whom I was unaware. James didn’t say much. He was a boy of very few words and always had been so for him to speak anything was a rare treat indeed. Finally, he gave me my answer, “You know …. GOD!” I backed out of the room and I never asked James any questions about the Angel.

Well, that’s all it took for the ice in my chest to hit my blood stream and circulate my entire body in that moment. I don’t know why. I have always been a Christian. I’ve always believed in God and Angels and even that people have encounters with them. Just a couple hours before our family walked next door to the home of my parents-in-law James came running from his room where he had been playing quietly. He had his “My first Bible” he received for Easter that very year and was looking at it. He had it open to the first page but, mind you, he couldn’t read yet.  It was the very beginning, Genesis; and there was a picture of the Earth in space with clouds, stars and a moon. James exclaimed excitedly, showing me the picture, “Mu-yer, Mu-yer (Mother), Look!” His tone turned more inquisitive and he asked me, “God made the Earth?”

I said, “He sure did!”

So he asked further, “And he made the moon and the stars?”

“He sure did Buddy! And guess what? He made YOU too!”

“HE DID?!” James asked with curious elation before running back to his room, I presume to read more. I praise God for these and so many other special moments with James. These two moments help me when the waves of grief come crashing down, seeking to drown me too.

I just can’t bring myself to enjoy this Independence Day holiday anymore. I’m glad my ancestors fought and died to liberate this wonderful country from England so many years ago and I’m still proud of them and grateful for their sacrifice. This used to be my favorite time of summer; My Christmas in July so to speak. Now it’s just the day that James gained his Independence from me.  I’ve been surprised by this under lying anger I feel at the rest of the world for enjoying the holiday but I’m consciously releasing it. I know I am supposed to be conscious of the blessings that come from every bad situation; every silver lining in the dark cloud.  I guess it just doesn’t happen often that something so obviously from God is hand delivered to us.  These moments, while shocking, are the very anchors that keep me grounded. I wonder what more I would’ve learned if only I had asked more questions. I wish with everything in me that I had.

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