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Archive for the ‘Journey to James’ Category

Stuffed Silly CeCe    My 13 year old daughter, Secilya, is a budding young writer and wanted to share her experience and perspective on that awful day we lost our beloved James. She’s a precious young lady and I praise Father God for blessing me with her (and her sisters and brothers) every single day.

Everything Changed

By Secilya 

Have you ever had one of those days? One where if you had done something different, something would not have happened? This was one of those days; One that turned my whole world upside down.

I woke up on July 4th 2009 feeling excited about that day. My family was coming over for the Fourth to swim with us and set off fireworks and have a good time. I put on my swimsuit and ran into the kitchen to eat breakfast. “Secilya it’s a little early to be wearing your swimsuit.” I looked up to see mom holding my baby sister Darbie. I smiled and ate my breakfast a little slower so as to avoid choking. My sister Ellie and my brother James walked in wearing their swimsuits and sat down with me. As soon as we finished we ran outside so we would be hot and the water would feel welcoming to us. Have you ever been to Mississippi in the middle of the summer? It feels like you’re a chicken being cooked rotisserie style. When we went outside we looked next door and saw our dad and Papa Hal fixing the fence around the pool. I think the sound could have been heard miles away. But it did not bother us. We climbed onto the trampoline and jumped for awhile. Dad came back and began to barbecue some burgers. After about a few minutes, mom came out with Darbie and began walking next door.
“Race you!” Ellie said and all three of us began running. We walked inside the house and grabbed everything we could carry. This included goggles, sinking toys, floaties, and one of those mattresses that float. The water was dark and murky because the pool had been drained a few days ago because it was being converted to salt water and we use well water. We through our things into the pool and jumped! I helped Ellie and James put their water wings on and they helped me with mine. (Yes. I was nine and didn’t know how to swim.) While we swam our Papa Hal and Hebert continued to fix the fence. Our cousins, Andrew, Jean and Bubba where swimming with us. After awhile I had to use the bathroom. Before I ran inside I told James to stop running around the pool. “Okay!” He said in his cute and squeaky voice.
Do you remember what I said before? How if you had done something different everything might have changed? Thinking back on it, I wish that I had waited a few more minutes before leaving the pool.
When I came back something felt wrong, though I could not tell what. I stood there, looking around trying to find what was out of place. The dog was running around, Ellie and my cousins were still swimming and the fence was still being worked on. Then it hit me. Like someone had punched me in the gut as hard as they could. Where was James? I dismissed the worry and told myself that he must have gone inside without me noticing. I got back in the pool. I swam around for a few minutes when I heard mom scream “Where is James?” I began to worry and ran inside hoping to find my five year old brother.

But I didn’t. I thought for a minute. Maybe he went next door. I ran as fast as I could next door where my dad was barbecuing. “Did James come over here?” I asked as I gasped for breath. “No.” This time my heart began to race. I turned to see Ellie and Andrew walking over. “He’s not here!” I shouted. My dad began running leaving our lunch un-attended. I was running next door when somewhere in the back of my mind I heard a voice say “You know where he is.” When I approached the house, I could see through a hole in the fence, Hebert coming out of the pool holding a lifeless body. “Oh, no.” I said.

My dad pushed me inside the house where the other children were. He was calling an ambulance. The police arrived within minutes. James was put in the ambulance and mom rode with him. Dad got in his car and followed them. I sat down in a chair and began to cry. No one noticed me and I was kind of glad. I didn’t want to talk. I just wanted to cry. After a while I felt a little better. I sat down to eat some watermelon. It was about three in the afternoon and all I had eaten was eggs that morning. About half way through my grandmother pulled up. She walked inside and told us to get dressed. She was mad because dad had left us at home instead of bringing us to the hospital. I didn’t want to go but I went anyway. While we were in the car, my grandmother (who I call Maga) told us that James was airlifted to the children’s hospital in Jackson.

When we got to the hospital I saw my dad sitting there with his parents. Noni and Papa Hal. I sat down and waited for what seemed like years. My mom came out of the room where they had James and said we could go see him. I will never forget what I saw. A little boy with tubes coming out of him, his skin had a yellow color. He didn’t look like James. Beside him he had a toy ambulance that had lights that flashed. I wanted to cry but decided not to. I had to be strong, for James. I began telling him about him flying in a helicopter. He always wanted to fly in one.

After a few minutes, I walked back to the waiting room. The doctors whisked James away to another room and mom followed. Nana and Pappy (Mom’s dad and her stepmother) came from North Carolina to the hospital. I don’t remember much except that they took us to a movie, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. We had been at home for two days, when mom and dad came home. I walked outside and saw Maga sitting in the rocking chair crying. I was confused. Where was James? Mom and Dad called me and Ellie and asked us to walk with them. As we listened to them talk I began to realize what was wrong. I let out a scream and began to cry profusely. James Timothy died July 7th 2009.
For the next few days, mom and dad began to look around cemeteries for a place where they could bury James. I was at home with Ellie making lunch when they came home. Dad took me to a mall in Monroe to pick out dresses for me and Ellie. I picked brown ones with pink accents. My cousins Josh and Julia came from Baton Rouge, along with the rest of their family. I manly stayed with my best friend Abye and her family. After awhile we buried James. We didn’t stay long; mom couldn’t take anymore and climbed in the van with Darbie. Ellie, Daddy and I climbed in and buckled up. I began to cry hard on my Mother’s lap. She comforted me the best she could. Before we left I spoke to God in my mind. “I hate you. You could have saved him and you didn’t. I will never forgive you”

I bet you’re thinking “That’s the end of it, Right?” Wrong.

On July 20th (My birthday) My Great-Grandfather died. Then eight days later, we had just gotten lunch at Wendy’s and were driving home. I was in the back seat with Darbie and I dropped my toy. As I reached to grab it I heard mom scream” LOOK OUT!” I looked up in time to watch our van collide with a dark blur. The impact knocked me out but I could still hear what was happening. We were in a ditch. At first everything was fine and I sat there until I felt something drip on my leg. It made me open my eyes and see a red liquid on my leg. Blood was splattered on Darbie’s car seat. I reached up and felt the blood flowing from my nose. My mom got out of the van with napkins and held them to stop the blood flow. After a few minutes an ambulance arrived. They placed a collar around my neck and laid me on a stretcher. I was rushed to the hospital and changed into one of those nightgown thingies. I was placed in a large machine and was instructed to hold my breath for insane amounts of time. Then I went home. I found out that I had shattered my nose and needed surgery to fix it.

Crazy, huh? I bet you’re wondering how I fixed my relationship with God. Well the truth is; I didn’t, at least not for awhile. About a month or so had passed. My nose was fixed and everything was fine, except I felt funny. I expected to feel funny after everything that had happened, but it was more like a longing. I realized that I had not prayed since James had died. My spirit wanted to but my heart was still grieving and still angry. I didn’t plan to go back to God until I heard a song playing on my radio. I bought wow Hits 2009 for my birthday. One of the songs was I wanna set the world on fire, by Britt Nicole. I woke up in the middle of the night and heard that song. Well actually, I was dreaming I was being chased by a T-Rex in a baseball park and I ran in a building where the seat glowed purple and made noise when you touched them. I heard that song playing and something about it made me snap; Like waking up from a strange dream. The fact that she loved God so much as to want to give everything she had to show her love for him made me realize that God loved me as much as he loved James. I sat on my bed and began to pray. I asked for forgiveness for turning away from God, and you know what? I saw James in my dream that very night.

I’m not sure how it all works, but I know it was really James. We played together and we had so much fun! When I woke up, I felt like I got to finally say goodbye to James and I knew he loved me as much as I loved him. I knew deep inside that there were more things to come for me and for James, and that I had to continue to trust God. Maybe I won’t always understand things and maybe they won’t always feel good, but God always has the best plan and I’m so glad I’ve learned to trust Him again.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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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Recently we ‘celebrated’ my first son James’ seventh birthday.  It’s been a little more than twenty three months since a drowning accident took him to live in heaven.  There’s so much anxiety leading up to special occasions that are markedly missing your departed loved one but none such like their birthday. It’s the day reserved to celebrate the day that precious being took its first breath and began life outside the womb; The beginning of something wonderful.  When that spark of life is extinguished before it ever really began it leaves a certain kind void, unlike any other.  We took balloons to James’ grave and told him how much we loved and missed him.  The day went much like any other and I even noted to myself how well I was taking each emotion in stride and letting it go again and not letting sadness over come me; Until I woke up the next morning.

It seems that sometimes the day after these milestone markers can have a bigger toll on us than the actual event.  I may have thought I was processing and letting go those rough emotions but instead I was just hiding them behind activities, conversations and general business! The day after his birthday seemed to be full of unexpected emotions that I was sure I would not have to encounter, seeing as how the bid day had passed and all. No, instead they seemed to be a little bigger, a little stronger and brought a few friends along for the ride! Needless to say, not much got accomplished that day! I ate ice cream with the kids and watched silly movies with them, when I could pull myself from hiding to cry in the washroom.  My husband came in and barely spoke to me before I burst in to tears again!  He hugged me, loved me and comforted me until finally I felt some relief; like I had finally cried away every bit of sadness, guilt, misery and loneliness that had tried to come on me. It was so refreshing and such a relief! Then I remembered how Our Father must’ve felt watching His son die on the cross and how His word says He collects all our tears. One day He will make right all the wrongs in our lives; we will be whole and complete and there will be no more tears for all eternity!

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Homework in Heaven

Photo Credit: Meshele Makin

There is a song called “God of This City” by Christian worship band Blue Tree. The chorus repeats, “Greater things are yet to come and greater things are still to be done here.” During the few days that James was kept on life support that one line continued to repeat in my head. No matter what else was going on it just kept repeating and I couldn’t make it stop. I even bought the CD along with a portable CD player during a rare moment I left the hospital to clear my head. I couldn’t let go of this song. It became my power song. I was sure this was my message from God that James would have a turn around and wake up. As the days slipped through my fingers like butter in a hot skillet, I had to face the reality that I wasn’t getting the message I wanted to hear. After that just thinking about that song was too painful, much less listening to it.

 

In my grief, I felt deceived. The song struck the chord of deception in my heart because I felt that God was telling me that ‘greater things were yet to come’ for James but that wasn’t true because he died. Even as a Christian, believing James was in heaven, I still couldn’t find any hope in “things yet to come.” I guess I had this idea that heaven is a place we go to sit around and enjoy the afterlife; A kind of retirement home for the eternal. As the months went by God slowly began to try to change that image for me because, quite frankly, it’s false. Heaven isn’t the endgame, it’s just the beginning! We are eternal, immortal beings traveling in a fragile, temporal body having an Earth experience. We are driven by our passion for love and our passion for creating, accomplishing and producing results. Those qualities came from the One who created us because those qualities are in Him!  It goes against everything we were created to be to expect to ‘retire’ in heaven!

 

As this image began to take its new form in my mind, I went through a very dark time where I was tormented by (what some might call) irrational thoughts on what heaven might be like. I began to think, “What if heaven is nothing like we’ve been taught? What if it’s another world with horrible situations just like this one?  What if, there, James is some kind of orphan, abandoned to the streets because he died here so young?” I know it might seem a little silly but these thoughts sunk so deep inside me that I couldn’t shake them. I cried uncontrollably for days. John was only a few weeks old at that time, still attempting to nurse and it wasn’t working out. I hid in the bathroom, washroom, bedroom – anywhere I could to keep the big kids from seeing anything. I would pull myself together enough to stop crying if Tim or anyone else was around. I was trying hard to fight against these ideas and felt that if I didn’t talk about them then maybe they would go away. They didn’t. I ended up on the bathroom floor spilling heart out before God, disclosing my doubt and begging Him for answers.

 One night after crying myself to sleep again I had the first dream of James I had (that wasn’t a nonsensical nightmare) since the funeral when James came to say goodbye – but that’s another story. I am standing in a kind of nothingness and even though I don’t hear anyone actually speak to me, I have the understanding that I am about to get to visit with James but there are some rules. I have to stay calm and not allow extreme emotions to take control and I’m not allowed to touch him. I’m supposed to stay cool, calm & collected and the ‘connection’ will hold. Suddenly I see his beautiful face come in to focus and he is wearing his BEST smile!  I took my time and I looked James up and down and took in every detail I could from his feet to his honey colored hair. Immediately I noticed he seemed just a little bit older with his hair well groomed. He was wearing a nice button down shirt, slacks and dress shoes but I was surprised to see a stack of books in his hand. I looked back into his beautiful blue eyes and told him how handsome he was and how he had grown. The mother in me acted without thinking and I reached out and brushed his hair back above his ear. That was it. Dream over. You might think I would be disappointed and I was on some levels but the comfort I received from what I consider a real visit with James is more than I could have ever hoped for! Seeing him well dressed reassured me that someone was surely taking care of him! Seeing books in his hand showed me he is learning. And why wouldn’t he be? We’re created to do just that – create! If this world is just a pale version of what is to come then surely we will be learning, creating and accomplishing goals throughout eternity!

Recently I read a book titled Heaven is for Real’ about a remarkable little boy named Colton Burpo. When Colton was three years old his appendix ruptured and during his surgery Colton was given the honor of waiting in heaven until it was time to wake up again. Colton has some amazing things to share about his trip including telling his parents about meeting his sister who was miscarried very early on in Mrs.Burpo’s pregnancy.  They never knew if they had a son or daughter until then. Colton said she didn’t have a name because her parents never gave her one. I was inspired to choose names for two children I lost through miscarriage over the years and I said a prayer to let God know what their names are! I don’t know if it works this way but it made me feel more at peace. Without giving away too much more about the book, I have to mention another detail that touched my heart so deeply. In the book, when Colton is asked what he did while in heaven he answered, “Homework!” I almost fell over when I read that! Here it is a year after the dream I had of James holding books and learning and this is the first I’ve ever heard of homework in heaven! It confirmed everything I knew in my Spirit to be true and all that God has been trying to show me these long nineteen months. Now I understand why the Holy Spirit continued to remind me those dark days in the ICU when time was standing still that ‘Greater things are yet to come and greater things are still to be done.’

 

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