Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Halloween Fun

Spiderman in action!

Thanks to Uncle Brad our Butterfly can really FLY!

Anna Lea...not sure who she is, but she "DIGS" it!

More to share, but tonight I need sleep! These precious children are wearing me out...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Year Ago

Exactly one year ago my family spent several days in Disney World. Those memories now are priceless. We had such a great time. Little did we know that 3 months later we would be facing the toughest year of our life.

Jason absolutely loved Disney and all that went along with it. He had a week off last October so spending it there pleased Jason so much. Jason, the kids and I met my mom, dad, Scott, Ashley, Melinda, Wayne (Ashley's parents), Daniel and Haley (Ashley's brother and fiance' - by the way, we're pretty pumped at that engagement). Anyway, Brad just happened to be in Lakeland, Florida, competing in a canine competition with Mikey that week. Looking back, I don't believe he just happened to be there, but rather God ordained this time for Brad to be with all of us, but more importantly for Brad to spend some quality time with Jason. It thrilled Jason so much that Brad took the effort out of his busy schedule of competing to come 'hang' with us at Disney. I know Brad is as thankful for that time as I am. The weather was great while we were there, but the fellowship was even better. I showed the kids the pictures from the trip not long ago and oh, the memories that came flooding out of their mouth about that trip. You see, that was the last family vacation we had with Jason.

The Lord has blessed me beyond measure with WONDERFUL sisters in law. One lives next door while the other lives in Memphis. They both are amazing and have served me in so many ways. Ashley, also known as Ah-Lee, called me several weeks ago with a really big surprise. She informed me that she was planning to take me, Anna Lea, Jon Brent, and Ross to Disney in November. The plan is to leave the day after Jason's birthday. A nice diversion to what could be another really tough week. How kind and thoughtful is that! The kids are so excited. Jon Brent keeps saying, "we're going to Disney World in Ovember!"

Ashley was worried that visiting Disney this soon after the loss of Jason would be too hard. I am sure there will be some tough moments as Jason and I visited Disney MANY times over the last 10 years, but I pray there will be many smiles as we remember the fun we had a year ago with sweet Jason.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's just Wednesday

Is it just Wednesday? Seems like this week has lasted forever. The week has brought some moments I'd like not to have to be living through, but my God is faithful to give me breaks of joy as well. Monday was a tough day because I had to make myself go and pick out the head stone for Jason's grave. I know many do this very quickly after the loss of their loved one, but I just haven't had the strength to do it. There are many reasons I couldn't bring myself to do this, but Monday I had to put aside my reasons and just get it done. I walked in the monument company and literally felt like I was going to be sick. Doing something like this for your 33 year old husband is NOT normal. This is something you do WITH your spouse in your 70s. Right? Thankfully the individual working on Monday was most helpful and made this horrific task somewhat easier. When we were leaving an elderly couple drove in to do what I had just done, but they were getting to do it together. For a brief second I was so incredibly jealous of this couple that were complete strangers to me. Jealous of the fact that they have probably been married for 50 or so years. I pray they know how blessed they are to have had their mate by their side for so long. Something I so wish I would have been given the opportunity with sweet Jason, but that wasn't the plan and I must rest in His perfect ways even in the midst of my deepest pain.

My heart has hurt for another family this week as well. During Jason's illness, I came in contact with MANY families who were and still are fighting leukemia. One of those families was the Brown family. Cameron, who is 8, was diagnosed with AML when he was 4. After 2 transplants, he has relapsed again and has been sent home with no further treatment options. There is nothing more the doctors can do for him and unless our Lord chooses to heal him then he will meet Jesus in a matter of weeks. As I read Lori's entries on their caring bridge site, my heart breaks so deeply for her. (Lori is Cameron's mother) I so badly want to just hug her and serve her in some tangible way right now. As I was preparing to write her a message, I knew that NOTHING I could say could make this better for her. No words that I could possibly write would bring her real comfort. No words could take away the pain she is feeling. I hate that I know all too well the dark road she will have to walk in the coming days. No, I don't know what it is like to lose a child, but I do know how it hurts to lose someone you love with all you have to this nasty disease. Please pray along with me for the Brown family.

Praise God there will come a day when we won't have to deal with ANY disease. Praise God there will come a day when He will wipe away our EVERY tear... FOREVER.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Everlasting God

I was going through some old photo albums this afternoon just longing to see Jason. I guess just to be close to him. I have always loved pictures and now am I so incredibly thankful for all the pictures I have of sweet Jason. Sometimes looking at the pictures brings a smile or laugh while other times it is so painful that tears flow without cease. I never know which emotion will take over when looking. Today I went through our honeymoon album. We went to Maui. What an amazing trip! My friends still make fun of me because I called them while we were there. I wanted them to hear the sound of my voice from this most beautiful place! Be gentle, I was young...23. :) Anyway, I ran across a picture that was taken at a luau that we attended. The picture was taken by a professional... you know one of those tourist traps. "You can get this great 8x1o picture for the low price of...!" Of course, Jason and I fell prey. The picture was what I would describe as cute. We were all decked out in our luau attire with sun kissed cheeks. We were so very happy. At the bottom of the picture was printed "The Aloha is Everlasting."

There was that word...everlasting. Part of the name of this blog. Leaning on Everlasting Arms. I started thinking again about that word after seeing it printed on our luau picture. Everlasting is defined as lasting forever; eternal or continuing indefinitely or for a long period of time. Deuteronomy 33:27 says, "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." To me everlasting meaning FOREVER He is there. Indefinitely He is there. He has certainly been my refuge even in these really tough days.

Although He is my EVERLASTING God, I find myself in a very dark place right now. I want so badly to feel real joy again. I know that my God won't leave me here forever. I know my God is a God of healing. He is our Jehovah Rapha and I know my heart will be healed in His time.

I have been reading for over a year now a blog of a young mom who lost her newborn many months ago. She wrote something on grief the other day that struck me and I want to post a little of it.
"Grief is not a place that you park. It is not a destination. I believe that with every season of grieving, Jesus desires us to reach a place of complete, total, life-renewing healing. I don’t have to go through life as one of the walking wounded! Instead, Jesus has given me the freedom to pursue healing, and eventually attain it. I can’t give you an exact day or time—it’s much to gradual for that—but what I can tell you is that now, nearly 10 months later, that the wound is closed, and I feel like the healing is complete."

I am certainly not where she is yet. I don't know when I'll get there, but I know my God will bring healing to my hurting heart. I will wait upon the Lord. As I think about the word everlasting, I am reminded of the song by Chris Tomlin entitled "Everlasting God."
Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
Our God, You reign forever
Our hope, our Strong Deliverer
You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won't grow weary
Our God,
You reign forever
Our hope, our Strong Deliverer
You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won't grow weary
You're the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles

I will not grow weary because I am weak and He is the defender of the weak! He is comforting me in my greatest time of need. He is my Hope, my Strong Deliverer and He reigns FOREVER. I will wait on Him. He is my Everlasting God and with Him the Aloha IS Everlasting.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Random Thoughts

I have to share a little story about this picture. This was taken August 22, 2007, in Naples after Anna Lea's first day of kindergarten. Jason and I had promised Anna Lea we would take her for ice cream that afternoon when I picked her up from school. Jason's last surgery case finished up just in time to meet us. Anyway, the other day I was looking at pictures downloaded on our computer, which I do regularly these days, and Jon Brent saw this picture. He immediately said, (without me saying a word) "we ate ice cream with daddy in Naples!" One simple statement brought me to tears. Why? Because Jon Brent remembered this small outing without me reminding him anything about it! I am so worried that Jon Brent won't have any memories of his daddy other than the ones I share with him and lo and behold, I was wrong! Who knows what other things he'll remember long term, but I pray the Lord will allow Jon Brent to remember lots of good memories of his daddy.

I am finally beginning to feel 'settled' in our new house. I look around sometimes and think to myself how pleased Jason would have been in this house. He would have especially loved living next door to Brad and Sherri. At times it hurts so deeply thinking of the things he is missing out on, but I am then reminded that WE are the ones missing out. He wouldn't come back to this world after experiencing heaven. I am certain of this. I know I say this a lot, but I miss him so much. I promise I never thought I would hurt this deeply. I didn't know it was possible. I find myself having pity parties quite often here lately, but I read something today that convicted me of doing this very thing. When I find myself in a "woe is me" mood, I need to go straight to the Lord with these feelings. HE can and will change my perspective by just conversing with him. I know He feels and sees my pain.

I want to close by bragging a little on my 89 year old grandmother. Remember the one that so many of you sent a birthday card to back in June? Well, she came and stayed with us for a couple of days to help me get caught up on my ironing. I was over 3 weeks behind. Ugh... Anyway, she literally ironed all day on Wednesday. Not only did she iron, but she did with a glad heart! Amazing she is, simply amazing. Oh, I pray I can one day have a servants heart like she does.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Acting a little more like Jason

So, check out this photo... many of you received this picture in the mail because this was our Christmas card in 2004. If you recall the greeting went like this..."Tis the reason to be jolly!" Yes, I am FULLY aware of the real reason we are to be jolly at Christmas and that is the birth of our Savior, but I was just having some fun. I was MOST pumped about George W. getting elected to serve another 4 years then. I loved that man, still do. Anyway, I mentioned the other night how Jason didn't get ruffled about much other than my obsession with politics and children's clothing. Jason would usually just shake his head and ignore me when I would start ranting at the tv during a debate or watching some of the liberal media report any news story in regards to politics. Now this is something I so cherish about Jason.

Even in high school when Jason and I first started dating, I was guilty of being too involved in presidential campaigns. He never understood why I wore Bush/Quayle stickers everyday when I wasn't even old enough to vote. He certainly didn't understand why I cried the entire day that Bill Clinton was inaugurated. Then, when I started making Anna Lea wear a Bush/Cheney sticker when she was only 2, he was totally annoyed. Can you tell by his smile how he wasn't as into this Christmas card idea as I was?

Do I think he didn't care? Not for a second. He cared tremendously about our country, but Jason just trusted in our sovereign Lord a little more than me. Even now, I am learning from Jason. I haven't been able to get as involved in this presidential campaign as I usually get, but I can honestly say that although it looks grim for my 'team' to win at this point, I am trusting our Lord like Jason did.

Jason used to remind me this each time I would get scared, worried or flustered over an election. Regardless of the outcome, He is in control! Whatever the outcome on November 4th, our Lord won't be surprised. Or as my friend Mike Madaris would say, he won't be scratching his head saying, "how did that happen?" Our God sees and knows all. So, I will continue to pray that the right team (no pun intended) wins, but I know our God is still on the throne. I think Jason would be proud that I am finally acting a little more like him in this regard.

P.S. Go McCain/Palin! :) Yes, I do have a bumper sticker on my car. Jason would expect nothing less of me! ha!

Friday, October 10, 2008

I miss him...

Things I miss about Jason the most:

1. His hugs

2. His smile

3. The way he would pour his cereal before he went to bed and put a paper towel over it. He would also lay out his spoon as well as 3 splenda packets to sweeten the cereal. Not 2, not 4, but 3 every night. He would lay everything out the night before so he could be as quiet as possible when eating his breakfast at 5 a.m. He had to be in surgery by 6 a.m. He was so considerate... always.

4. Seeing his work shoes at the back door. He would never wear them inside b/c he didn't want to bring GERMS in from the hospital. Only Jason.

5. Walking through the den and seeing Jason watching the History channel. WHY??? I would always ask him why he wanted to watch this channel and his response was always..."it's something smart people do, Stephanie." :)

6. Seeing the kids watch a movie with their daddy and hearing him laugh out loud at them. He loved Disney movies as much or more than they do. B/c of that we own almost ALL of them!

7. Hearing the back door slam in the afternoon and knowing it was Jason coming in which was always followed by the kids screaming, "daddy!!"

8. The way his cologne smelled on him. I can smell the bottle now, but it doesn't smell like it did on him.

9. I miss his laid back attitude about EVERYTHING. Nothing ruffled Jason too much other than Jon Brent's whining and my obsession with politics and children's clothing. Ha! He chose not to 'be involved' like I get during political campaigns. More about that on a later day.
10. I miss EVERYTHING about Jon Jason Weathers.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Still I Will Trust

I just finished spending some time with the Lord and had to share what I read. I am going to write it exactly as I read it so not to miss anything. This comes from Beth Moore's devotional book entitled "Praying God's Word Day by Day." Ashley gave me this book several months back and what a source of encouragement it has been to me.

God has graciously allowed some of my fears to come true so I would discover I would not disintegrate. You, Christ, were despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. You were like one from whom men hide their faces. You were despised, and we did not esteem You (Isa. 53:30). You know exactly how I feel, Lord. I put my trust in You.

Mighty Redeemer, the cords of death have entangled me; the torrents of destruction have overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave have coiled around me; the snares of death have confronted me (Ps.18:4-5).

Yet even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me (Ps. 23:4).

Without a doubt a huge fear of mine has always been losing someone so very close to me. I would hear of others who were either facing death or had lost a loved one of their own and think that I could not ever handle such tragedy. I always assumed if I had to walk where I am walking that I would simply bury myself in a hole somewhere. Praise God, His grace has been sufficient for me. His love and mere presence has literally carried me day in and day out. Even the darkest of days. It is He that comforts me. Often I find myself longing to talk to other wives who also have small children and have lost a spouse. Someone who knows exactly what I am feeling. I was reminded today after reading this devotional that our Savior knows how I feel and He is that someone. I can't tell you what a source of comfort that is for me during this time.

When I think I'm going under, part the waters, Lord. When I see waves around me, calm the sea. When I cry for help, O hear me, Lord, and hold out your hand. Touch my life, calm the raging storm in me.

He has and He will. Praise God!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Praying for a better week...

Praise God for Monday! Well, not normally, but for me I am so needing a better week than I had last week. It was a crazy week for sure. I am sad to say that Brad's entry a couple of days ago was true. DHS will probably be contacting me soon. My parents hadn't been gone more than 4 or 5 hours when I locked Ally in the car. Thankfully, I was parked in my parents garage, but it was still a pretty hot afternoon. I was in total panic mode. By the way, we DID have an extra set of keys, but somehow in the move they've been lost. Anyway, thank the Lord for Brad. (I seem to be thanking God for him a lot here lately!) He can and does make things happen! He was too far away to get to us immediately, but he called another deputy with Lamar County and within minutes Deputy Lindsey saved the day!

Wednesday I went grocery shopping for the first time since Jason was diagnosed with leukemia. I have picked up a few items here and there, but I had not done a real 'Walmart run' in quite some time. When we left Naples, we gave away all food items because we weren't sure how long everything would be in storage. I even had to start over with spices, etc. Not sure why I felt like I needed those items right now because I haven't cooked a meal in months either. Maybe soon I will get back to cooking. Anyway, going to Walmart is stressful enough without throwing in my crazy emotions. I am not sure what happened to me in the bread section, but I totally lost it when I went to reach for the bread that Jason liked to eat. I am sure I looked certifiably crazy while crying over Nature's Own wheat bread. After I purchased LOTS of groceries and loaded them in my car, I began to drive away from Walmart still in tears. I kid you not, the song that was playing on the radio was "How Do I Live Without You?" I don't even like that song, but I tortured myself by not changing the station. I really felt like someone was playing a real mean joke on me because the next song was "All By Myself." I finally got it together enough to laugh at myself. Silly love songs on adult contemporary radio stations... NO MORE! I am revolting.

Wednesday night is when Anna Lea decided to climb on the top of her bed post. I have to admit that I accused her of being too emotional after the fall. I was convinced it wasn't broken, rather her acting a little dramatic. She most definitely inherited that trait from me. When she woke up crying in pain at 11:00 p.m., I knew we had a situation. So, off to the ER we went. My friend Susan went with us because she was afraid I might be emotional visiting the ER this soon after Jason's passing. She was right. Brad did join us and I was most thankful for that. (Do you see the reason I am continually thanking the Lord for Brad?) When we arrived in the ER we were immediately greeted by a kind nurse who had worked with Jason. She began to express her sympathy to us and told me that she had kept up with our journey on caring bridge. Of course, she expressed her love for Jason and how much everyone enjoyed working with him. After a quick triage, they moved us to another room and wouldn't you know it...we were put in the SAME room that they put Jason in when he came after going into cardiac arrest. My lucky day. Anna Lea over heard us talking about the fact we were in the same room and she immediately began to ask questions. Although we were 'bugged' out completely by this room placement, Anna Lea thought it was way cool that she was in the same room that her daddy had been in. I wish I could be 6 again.

Thursday came and went with no real crisis other than having to take Anna Lea to the orthopedic physician in regards to her arm. Thankfully a cast was not needed, but a sling for 3 weeks. Anna Lea was disappointed about this. Her mom was not!

Friday came and praise God my parents came home! I have never been so glad to see my mom and dad. What I discovered while they were gone is that I am a very needy individual! I know for those reading that know me well are not at all shocked at this statement. Having 3 kids and being 'single' is by far the hardest job I have ever encountered. Throw in trying to get settled in a new house and feel my misery! Kidding, of course. It was a tough week, but I made it with the help of other family and friends.

I am not sure where I am in the grief process, but this move has triggered so many emotions that I hadn't encountered as of yet. I have noticed that I tend to have very little patience right now. I hate that my sweet kids sometimes get the brunt of that. Actually, Comcast got the brunt on Friday. My kids don't deserve my frustrations with life right now, but Comcast most definitely deserves it!

Monday starts another week. Another week without sweet Jason. How I miss him so much. Everything about him I miss. Even the things that bugged me sometimes. Jason would constantly make little 'to do lists' and leave them laying all over the house. While unpacking a box this week a couple of those lists fell out of a notebook of his. The lists usually included music he wanted to download or books he wanted to read. Sometimes tasks such as having the oil changed in the car or paying bills, but my heart broke when I read, "take Anna Lea on a date." He was always so faithful to spend lots of time with the kids even in midst of a very stressful school schedule. How I hate they will no longer benefit from this incredible daddy of theirs.

Once again I am in need of your prayers. I feel so very lonely so much of the time. Alone even in the midst of lots of people sometimes. I assume this is very normal, but it indeed hurts like nothing else I have ever experienced. For now I will continue to press on and cling ever so tightly to our Savior. He's the only constant I have right now. Oh, how incredibly faithful he continues to be!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Can you say DHS?

Well, Steph has had a busy week and is exhausted. She fell asleep today in the line to pick Anna Lea up from school. The school called me and I told them to let her sleep til I got there. After trying to wake her up for 10 minutes, I decided to have her vehicle towed back to the house and let her sleep. Anna Lea was very excited to get to ride in the tow truck from school. That was 2:00p.m. and she is still asleep in the car. Don't worry, I added gas every couple of hours until it got cool. Maybe she will get up in time to get the kids to school in the morning. Anyway, I figured I would fill everyone in on the happenings for the week. It can be summed up in one word - DRAMA!

Anna Lea is currently wearing a white sling for the fracture to her upper arm. They couldn't do a cast because the injury was so high up. How did this happen? She did fall off of her bed but Steph should explain why she was on top of the bed. Steph has a real sweat shop going on at that house over there. She was making Anna Lea stand on top of her bed to paint her room. She finally took Anna Lea to the hospital after she finished the third coat of paint. Midnight on Wednesday and the emergency room got us right back. Plenty of rooms there to choose from. Which one do you think we got in? Of course, room #3- the same room J was in the day he went into cardiac arrest. We passed several empty rooms to get to that one. Steph and I wanted to throw up in our mouths but Anna Lea thought it was neat that she was in the same room as her daddy was. We got out of there around 0100 hours and didn't even go to Waffle House. ReRe learned a great lesson last night- don't leave your phone on silent.

That wasn't the only drama of the week. The other incident is still under investigation. Someone locked Baby Ally in the vehicle. There are three suspects- Steph, J Brent, and Anna Lea. We brought firetrucks, ambulances, deputies, and locksmiths. Nobody could get her out. She cried and cried and cried. I then yelled at her that her Uncle Scott is Cheesy and she began to laugh and rolled down the window. She climbed out the window and crawled into the house and locked the door. I guess she wanted to show the rest of the family how it felt to be locked out.

Jon Brent has not had his drama for the week yet. I anticipate him finding some permanent markers tomorrow and drawing a nice little picture on the newly painted walls. It could always be worse. He could eat a rainbow colored snowcone, go #2, and wipe it on the walls(that one was for you Kristen). We were able to work on some pressure points today and go to a football game. There will be no more pushing strollers for Jon Brent.

Steph and the kids are finally staying in the house. They have a couple of sheets hung up over the windows. Im not sure if they are for privacy or they are getting ready for Halloween. They do look good though. They still have several windows not covered so I can do the chuffle shuffle when they have company.

A company is coming tomorrow to bubble wrap the entire house. I hope this will help prevent further injuries and help time pass when bored.

Loving Life


Thursday, October 2, 2008

And so these are the days of our lives...

Too tired to give all the details right now, but Anna Lea was climbing on her bed post (which she has been told NOT to do) and then fell on the floor landing on her arm. After a couple of hours of deliberation we decided we must visit FGH E.R. An hour later it was discovered that she had a fracture. She has been put in a sling and will see an orthopedist in the a.m. Actually, in several hours now. Check out the time.
I'm tired. Who told my parents it was ok for them to go on vacation?? :)
More details later.