Thursday, April 17, 2014


As I was driving along to one of my schools, I noticed a burned-out area of grass. It was the remains of a fire that could have been started by any number of things: a hot tire, a cigarette butt, ... Who knows? What really caught my attention, however, was that in the area where the fire had destroyed the dead grass, there was lush, beautiful, green grass growing. Tall, yellow, dead grass surrounded the charred area. What was untouched by the fire still remained dead and lifeless.
I started thinking (of course) about how that applies to my life. On Easter Sunday, it will mark three years since Trey joined Jesus in Heaven. The date lies ahead, foreboding, telling of a terrible tragedy that leaves a searing hole in my heart. It's like a fire that destroys, kills, and leaves you feeling charred and helpless. It stinks, it hurts, it makes you feel like you have some fiery scarlet letter tattooed on your chest that screams, "I've joined the club that no one wants to be a part of!"
At first, all you can think about is what has been taken from you. The words "dead" and "death", when spoken, stop your heart. You can't breathe, as if you are being choked by some unknown force. You want to smother any flames of happiness and roll around in the ashes. I still feel like getting all of Trey's pictures out and just rolling around on them to soak up more of him.
As time passes by, you stumble around in the smoke, the fog of having to go about your daily life, even when you don't feel like it. You wonder how the rest of the world gets to move on, and wonder if they know your heart still feels as if it is being enveloped and choked out by the haze of disbelief and grief.
Anger flares up at anyone who dares to tell you they know how you feel. No one knows how I feel, except another mother of a son whose life has been snuffed out. Then the atrophy begins. Just as a fire makes everything brittle, my body becomes a shell, my inner self dead. I function because I know I have to. I do the everyday things that a wife and mother does. I try to be "normal", but I only go through the motions because my senses are numb. I get angry with myself because I want to be "better". I pray and plead with God to help me. But I don't let Him help me, because in some twisted way, I feel that if I get better, that means I won't miss Trey as much. I don't want to forget anything about Him, and I don't want anyone else to either. I am saddened that no one really wants to talk about Trey. It seems awkward and makes people uncomfortable.
As time has gone on, I feel God's presence more and am thankful that Trey is safe with Him. I allow God to enter my heart and breathe life into this shell. I still yearn for Trey's physical presence, his voice, the smell of his cologne, that crazy laugh...I slowly begin to learn that it's alright to laugh again, to have fun. I don't even realize the slow progression of joy creeping back into my life. I continue to listen to my Christian radio station, I claim gratitude, and start to notice the green "sprouts" in my life. I unwittingly become a counselor for other mothers. I discover that my burned body can feel love, desire, joy, and and a new awakening.  I have strength I never knew I had, God-given, mercy, grace-touched strength.
The new life in the burned-out area and and in my spirit mirror one another. I am thankful for the parallelism. Do I still stumble and choke and look back at the "fire" that scarred my life? Yes, but do I stay and let the flames of despair totally engulf me? No, because God has shown me His mercy and reassured me that I am His child. Trey is His child as well, and already experiences the eternal kingdom I will someday enter with thanksgiving.
Fire represents many things, including bringing renewal and new growth. Thank you, God, for reminding me of your great mercies!

Revelation 21:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
"but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Proverbs 40:31

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


We have had a yellow lab for 15 years now. Her name is Hallie. She arrived at our home about the same time as our oldest grandson. She couldn't figure out what that squirming, crying mess was. She soon found out that he was the only human who didn't run after her to get the ball back from her that she had retrieved. Hallie would trot over to Gannen's walker and drop the tennis ball. She did that for no one else. Hallie's domain consisted of our yard, five acres of pasture, and the dirt roads we walked. I wish I had kept track of the miles she and I walked together through the years. She loved taking off after a jack rabbit, tearing under barbed wire fences, yapping and cutting first one way, then the next. Often, we would start up the four-wheeler and ride around trying to corral the rabbits for her. She never actually caught one, but Hallie sure had fun trying. She barked at coyotes, kept rattle snakes at bay, and was always glad to greet us when we got home. Hallie listened to a lot of laughing, crying, stories, and arguing. She had a knack for positioning herself just right over my foot so I could "rub" her stomach. If you started petting her and got distracted, Hallie would shove her nose under your hand to remind you to get back at the business at hand. She was the only dog who stayed around through the years. The grandchildren have tried to ride her, rope her, hug her, pull her tail, and check her teeth--she looked indignant, but never fought back. She saw a lot of shenanigans as well. There are stories in her head that will never be told (kids coming in after curfew, sneaking out of windows, having parties, and Lord only knows what else)! Once an errant golf ball caught her in the leg, breaking it. After a trip to the vet, she promptly chewed the casting off. She gave birth to fifteen puppies, and thirteen of them survived. They were the fattest, cutest little things. Poor Hallie looked like the wrath! She got so skinny and poor being a good mom. We gave the puppies to families who were happy to have them (with a little help from our precious red-headed, pigtailed granddaughter at Walmart in Plainview). Great tactic, eh? Hallie watched all five of our children grow up and go off to college. She also made her way into most of our family photographs.
We moved from the Texas Panhandle to east Texas, where Hallie was introduced to a body of water bigger than her water bowl. She nipped at the waves, and when we tried to get her to swim, she sank like a lead weight. So much for Labs and swimming for her! Here she had the run of the lake house, as well as 12 acres at our home. She had to get used to the idea of jackrabbits in the trees (squirrels). She would sit for hours on end as still as a statue waiting for them to make a move. Hallie and her friend from across the street had fun staking out those squirrels. She actually caught one, which surprised her more than anyone. Hallie looked so sheepish as another squirrel (possibly a member of the dead squirrel's family) came halfway down the tree and proceeded to give her the what-for! When we would all load up in the boat to ski, Hallie would wait at the dock until we returned exhausted. She managed to nab a few bites of whatever "fell" out of our plates or off the grill at supper. Hallie made friends with our neighbors, and would look forward to them rounding the corner. She would join them on their walk, and return when they told her it was time to go home. Hallie was deathly afraid of thunderstorms and fireworks, and we had to be very careful because she would run away, trying to get away from the storm. Once she ran off during a storm, and we couldn't find her for a week. Another family had taken her in, got her groomed, renamed her, and let her stay in the air-conditioned house watching TV all day! She probably wondered why she couldn't do that at our house. When we got the call telling us Trey had died, I went out on the porch, and it was Hallie who stayed by my side. Every time I stepped out, she was right there.
As we all do, Hallie aged. When we moved back to the Panhandle, she had to live confined in a yard surrounded by a fence. Slowly, we noticed how hard it was for her to get around, especially in the winter. She lost interest in retrieving her ball, and quit wagging her tail as much. Hallie still managed to position herself by my foot, even though she couldn't stay in one position very long. As always, she greeted us at the patio door and was happy to see us. We put her on pain pills for her arthritis, and built her a house with a nice soft pad to sleep on.
On March 3, 2014, at the age of 15, we had to put our dear Hallie to sleep. She was suffering, and the vet told us it was time. We held her as she slipped away peacefully. There will never be another dog like our Hallie. I know she is in Heaven with Trey, playing ball and positioning herself under his foot so he can rub her. What an impact Hallie had on our lives during those fifteen years! As I think about the qualities she had, I am going to say that she was as close to being a perfect Christian example as there can be: she was loyal, devoted, happy to see us, kept secrets, loved us no matter what happened, protected us, fellowshipped with us, forgave us, and was always there to lean on or cry with. Hallie, you are loved dearly and missed terribly! Thank you for the life you shared with us.