Monthly Archives: February 2012

Daydreams of Davy

It seems in the last few years, there have been several significant celebrity deaths. It’s always sad to hear of anyone’s passing, and when it’s a person who enriched our culture through art, entertainment, or music, we all feel the impact. However, I’ve never really mourned a celebrity before – with the notable of Princess Diana. But hearing about Davy Jones’ heart attack and death today made me really sad.

I’m sure it doesn’t help that my feelings of sadness are already high with the approaching one year anniversary of Rusty’s death, but it’s more than that. As I started to reflect, I realized what a poignant part The Monkees had in my life.

In fifth grade, there were these 3 boys that I thought were the funniest guys I had ever met: Greg, Daniel, and Richard. For some reason, these guys LOVED The Monkees, and would always go around pretending to be them: Greg was Mickey; Daniel was Davy; and Richard was Peter. They didn’t have a Mike because they didn’t like him too much. He was always way too serious. I hung around these boys as much as I could, because they were cute AND funny. And it paid off, because Greg decided he liked me and we started “going together”, as it was called back then.

Greg was  a very considerate boyfriend – especially for a 5th grader. He often left surprises for me in my cubby, so that I would find it when I got to school in the morning and put my lunch box/backpack away. One day, he had left me a cassette tape of The Monkees. I’m not sure which album it was, since he had taped it off of his original tape, but it introduced me to all the classic songs from the band: “I’m a Believer”, “Last Train to Clarksville”, “Daydream Believer”, etc. I loved listening to it, and fell in love with them.

Fast forward to just after I graduated from high school, and I was dating the man who would become my husband. He’s 12 years older than I am, and so he was a kid when The Monkees were among the current music scene. He was surprised to learn I was a big fan of theirs, and after I told him about my 5th grade “boyfriend” making a cassette tape of one of their albums for me, he made sure to do the same thing for me.

My brother, years later, bought me a DVD of The Monkees TV show. I haven’t watched it yet, for some reason, but tonight seems like the perfect occasion to unwrap the cellophane, slip the disk in the player, and take a walk down memory lane. So long, Davy. You will be missed.

Categories: death, Memories | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Surprised by Grief?

I’m sorry for all these hard, serious posts here lately. It’s just where I am right now – I guess because the one-year mark of Rusty’s suicide is less than a month away now. I promise this blog will not always be this heavy.

The night of Rusty’s death, when my mom called to tell me, my boys heard me crying and came in to see why. I didn’t realize they were in the room, so when Preston came in to see what was wrong, I blurted it out. The look on Harris’ face still makes tears come to my eyes just thinking about it. When I hung up, he said, “Uncle Rusty is dead?!?!” – like he couldn’t believe it or understand it. Then he burst into tears, and I held him as we cried together.

David, on the other hand, just took off running back down the hallway. After handing Harris off to Preston, and getting Amy Beth out of the tub (which is where she was when my mom called and who was too young to understand what was happening), I went to check on David. He was in his room, just slowly pacing around the room. I hugged him and asked if he was okay. He said yeah. I asked him if he realized what had happened. He said “Yes, Uncle Rusty died. But that’s okay because we’ll see him again in Heaven, won’t we?” I told him we would, but it was still okay to be sad that he’s not still here with us. But he never acted sad. I never saw him cry.

Fast forward to this past Sunday afternoon. My brother, Darrell, had brought his 4-wheeler by and was taking the kids for rides on it. I went inside for a few moments, and then heard the doorbell ring. It was David. He looked very upset and said Uncle Darrell said he couldn’t ride on it ever again. I knew Darrell wouldn’t have said anything like that, but David ran up to his room, slammed the door, and just started wailing. I went upstairs to see what was wrong, and David told me he was mad at Uncle Darrell, and scared. He cried and cried and cried, wailing with all his might. I just held him, wondering what on earth was really going on. And then it hit me – could this be his grief over Rusty’s death finally coming to the surface? Could it be that those emotions of fear, anger, sadness, that his brain didn’t understand and didn’t know what to do with, have finally found their outlet by being re-directed at the other uncle, who was still here and was a physical person to react to? If so, what do I do with this? How do I help him?

I just kept holding him. I didn’t try to shush him, but let him cry it out. At one point, Harris came in to see why David was so upset. When I mentioned that I thought some of it might have to do with Rusty, David started crying even harder. When he was done, I suggested working on a puzzle together. He has always loved puzzles, and even though I didn’t think of this at the time, maybe it helps us in our grief because it’s constructive – putting the pieces back together so that the picture makes sense, the way we wish we could with our hearts. But we can’t on our own. Only God can, and He will.

Categories: brothers, children, grief, Rusty, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

God of peace

Based on someone’s suggestion, I’ve been studying the phrase “God of peace” as it appears in the New Testament. It’s only in the NT 5 times, and each time it’s in one of Paul’s letters: twice in Romans; once in Philippians; once in I Thess.; and once in Hebrews.

The one that stands out to me so far is the one in Romans 16:20 that says, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” When I think of peace, I don’t tend to think of the strength and power that is necessary to crush the enemy – especially under my feet. I usually think of it as something you get to enjoy after the enemy has been crushed.

When I think of the God of peace, I think of a God that is calm, serene, and very tender. I think of a Father who gently holds me in His lap, stroking my hair, and “quieting me with His love”. (Zeph. 3:10 – I think.) I still think that’s true. Even during the storms of life, when I am completely distraught, or overwhelmed, or angry, or heartbroken and grieving, the God of peace is still there. I guess that’s how it’s possible to have peace in the storm. He is our peace.

But most of the time, instead of resting in that peace, I get angry with God and shout out, “Don’t you see this storm? Can’t you see my heartbreak? Why aren’t You doing anything about it? Why are You just sitting here holding me when this storm is raging all around me?! You could do something to stop it!”‘

The God of peace doesn’t react to my anger. He doesn’t reject me or scold me. He just keeps holding me. At this point, I have a choice to make: do I choose to be still and trust Him, His timing and His will, or do I crawl out of His lap and try to stop the storm myself, or maybe just ignore it? If I choose the latter, it will be very hard to find my way back to His lap again, and it will only cause more pain and heartache. If I choose to be still and rest in Him, His peace will cover me like a blanket. And then, I’ll see it. Under my very own feet, this quiet, tender, serene Being, with power inherent in His very name, has crushed my enemy. And it humbles me to know that while I was resting, He was fighting for me. The God of peace is not impotent. He is all-powerful and victorious. And when I’m willing to quietly rest in His lap. He is quietly, but powerfully crushing Satan under my feet. Hallelujah!


Categories: devotional thought, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The End of a Journal

A few days ago, I finished up my most recent journal. It lasted me less than a year, which may be the quickest I’ve ever gone through one. It’s also the most challenging journal I’ve ever kept, with more varying degrees of emotion. I started it about a month before Rusty died, and ended it about a month before the first anniversary of his death.

In the past, my journal entries were usually about my trust in the Lord and all the great things He was doing in my life. But this last journal was different. It records my wrestling matches with God, as I struggled to trust Him and His plan. I was SO angry. I felt betrayed. I struggled to believe in the power of prayer, since I had prayed so much and so hard for Rusty. The journal records my questions (if Rusty had to die, couldn’t it have been any other way?), my confusion, my anger, my pain. Through it, God exposed my pride, my selfishness, my desire to be in control, and how shallow my faith – that I once considered so strong – really was.

However, the journal also records a lot of my breakthroughs from those wrestling matches. I gained a deeper understanding of aspects of God’s character. I saw new aspects of His love. I learned just how amazing His grace really is. I realized how deep His mercy was for Rusty – and for us left behind. It also records the moments when I didn’t have a revelatory breakthrough, but instead I just chose to stop wrestling and to trust God – even to submit to His plan of letting Rusty die, of letting him take his own life.

Overall, I learned how prideful and arrogant I am, assuming I could control things and protect my family through my prayers. I learned that God is Sovereign and that no purpose of His can be thwarted (Job. 42:2), and that submitting to Him means submitting even when I don’t want to or don’t like it. My anchor of faith is deeper now that it’s been tested, and I learned that it will hold, even through the fiercest storm.

I understand God’s amazing grace, the depths of His love, the power of His death and resurrection, the immutability of His faithfulness and His will in more profound ways that I ever would have without this journey/journal. I also learned how hard – and how rewarding – it is to give thanks in everything.

I have no idea where my new journal will take me. God has put some exciting things in my lap this year already. But I do know that God is in control, and I am not. No purpose of His can be thwarted. My role is to CHOOSE to humbly submit.

Categories: choices, death, devotional thought, grief, Jesus, Rusty, storms, suicide, thankful | Tags: | 2 Comments

My Last Day With Rusty – part 2

First of all, I want to thank everyone who read, liked, and/or commented on my post from yesterday. That means so much. I wanted to take a few moments and tell you what the Lord did for me last night – on the anniversary of my last day with my brother.

Yesterday evening, after a long, exhausting day, I was feeling drained and I could tell I had emotions broiling under the surface, waiting to be faced and dealt with. So I decided to go to Healing Waters Church. They have a life group that meets there on Sunday evenings, and they’ve invited Preston and me to join them whenever we can. (Our relationship with that church is such a God-thing. I’ll have to blog about it sometime soon…) Preston was kind enough to stay home with the kids so that I could go by myself.

This life group is almost like “doing church”. They have a time of praise and worship; someone delivers a message from the Bible; and they finish up with prayer and ministry to whoever wants it or needs it. First of all, they love on me so well whenever I’m there, and that alone ministers to me. I’ve read so many accounts of people who have been through the trauma of losing someone close to them, who were abandoned by the very ones they considered a support group. So I realize how very blessed I’ve been to have an amazing support group of friends and loved ones around me since Rusty died – from both my church, Shades Mountain Independent Church and Healing Waters Church. (But I digress…)

During their worship time, I was soaking it in; choosing to surrender my pain and grief to the One who knows, understands, and heals. Then I started thinking about that perfect last day I had with Rusty, and the Lord showed me what a gift it was. That when I see him again, it will be like picking up where we left off. I started to imagine what it would be like when I get to Heaven and see him again. Will he be the one to bring me to Jesus? What will he look like, now that he is whole and free from his strongholds and his sin nature?

I kept thinking I was allowing myself to get distracted, but just then, the song that came on was “I Can Only Imagine”. If you don’t know that song, it’s about imagining the day when we’re in Heaven. It was like God was showing me that I doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I just broke down and sobbed and sobbed. It was exactly what I’ve been needing to do for several days now. It was so healing.

Afterward, I had a lady come over and just wrapped her arms around me, crying with me, and told me, “Mourning lasts only for a short time.” I knew the rest of that Scriptural truth: “and then joy comes in the morning.” This lady lost a son 6 years ago, and so she knew the pain and grief, and the Lord laid it on her heart to embrace me and say that to me.

Then, the leader asked me to come pray for a young man that had come for the first time that night, and had recently gotten saved. (This church LOVES to pray for people, and they love to ask me to pray when I’m there, for some reason.) When I walked up to him, he smelled just like Rusty. The look in his eyes was just like the look in Rusty’s eyes. I could hardly keep the tears back, but then the Lord showed me what a gift He was giving me: to be able to minister to someone the way I wished I could have for Rusty. Nothing with God is ever lost. He is the Redeemer. He showed me that He’s taking all those prayers, and all those desires to pray for Rusty, and letting me use them for other people like Rusty. Hallelujah!

Wow, this is really wordy. I apologize. But I had to share the incredible way God met with me last night with you, to give Him thanks and all the glory. He really is near to the broken-hearted, and there is healing in His wings.

Categories: death, God, grief, Heaven, Rusty, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

My Last Day With Rusty

Today (well, most likely yesterday to most of you who will read this on Monday) marks one year since the last time I saw my brother. I was dreading this day; at one point even thinking that after today, all my memories of him would be over. One of the things I’ve done this past year to get through the big occasions/holidays, was to think to myself “This time last year, Rusty was doing this with us.”, and so part of me was scared that after today, I wouldn’t have that crutch.

I’ve also been dreading it because it’s another step of separation from having him here with us. And it’s a big step. Not as big a step as the 1 year anniversary of his death will be, but almost. After all, after Feb. 19, 2011, Rusty’s role in my life – at least the role he played here on earth – was for all intents and purposes, over.

I have also been regretting that I let so much time pass from the last time I saw Rusty till the day he died that I didn’t try to see him. Granted, he avoided us when he was down, and he got really down really fast. But still, I could’ve…should’ve…would’ve…..

But today, the Lord showed me what a tremendous gift He gave me with that last day. It was an absolutely perfect day in every way. The weather was gorgeous, the temp was perfect. Rusty had come to my house so we could ride out together, with my kids, to Darrell’s house (he’s my other brother- let the jokes begin) to celebrate our dad’s 60th birthday. The conversation on the way there was great and fun. I don’t remember much of what we talked about, but I remember being surprised by his great, upbeat attitude, and I remember us laughing a lot.

He was always a blast for the kids to play with, and that day was no exception. So I’m thankful their last memory of Uncle Rusty was also such a great one.

At one point, we decided to take a photo of all of us on the front steps. It turned out to be a great picture, and of course now it’s a most treasured keepsake. I know the Lord put that idea into my head so that we would have that memento of that special day. I wish I could share it with you, but it’s on my other computer that is not working at the moment.

After we left Darrell and Cindy’s house, we stopped by the park near their house so the kids could play for a few minutes. I have pictures of Rusty pushing Amy Beth in the swing and playing with the boys. Another great memory by which my kids can remember Uncle Rusty.

I remember even that day thinking how extra perfect and wonderful the day had seemed, and I really cherished the time I got to spend with Rusty that day. I wasn’t sure at the time why I felt that way, except that I heard God whispering in my heart, “This is a ‘last time’ moment today. You will not pass this way again.” I know that sounds ridiculous, but I really had that in my heart. I thought it was because Dad might not be with us for long. He’s paralyzed from a stroke and not in the best of health. I never dreamed it would be because Rusty would be gone about a month later.

So yes, I’m sad tonight because I miss my brother so very much, but I am so very thankful that my last day with Rusty was so wonderful.


Categories: brothers, grief, Rusty, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

My Light and Salvation

I was meditating on Psalm 27:1-3 this morning, and was struck afresh with God’s power and passion to protect His people. (My pastor would be SO proud of that last part of the sentence. He loves alliteration.Ha!)

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?
When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, my adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident.”

The Hebrew word for “light” in this passage is associated with the rising of the sun. It makes me think of another verse, whose reference I can’t remember, that says, “Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered.” The word for “salvation” means “liberty, deliverance, prosperity”. As an intercessor, I’ve seen God arise and scatter His enemies on numerous occasions. I’ve experienced His liberty, seen His deliverance first hand, and been amazed by His provision and blessing in the midst of the storm. Hallelujah! All praise and glory to God!

However, I tend to be a “dumb sheep” with a short attention span. When I get blind-sided by an attack of the enemy or a storm of life, I quickly get distracted by my circumstances and take my focus off of my Light and Salvation, and I get afraid or worried. I forget that God is for me. I forget sometimes that He is mighty to save me. And for some reason, I find it much easier to trust God on behalf of others than it is to trust Him for what concerns me. (Yes, that would be a control issue I have, but by God’s grace, I am getting better with it.) So my prayer for each of us today is that we would remember that the LORD, YAHWEH, is our light and salvation. I pray that we would hear Him saying to us, “Jennifer (put your name here), I AM Yahweh, the glorious morning light that rises in the midst of the darkness, and I am Your deliverer. Do not be afraid or worried, My beloved. You have seen that I am mighty to save, and You have experienced the power of my righteous right hand to redeem and restore. When I arise, your enemies will scatter. Even when overwhelming, game-changing situations surround you, be confident that I AM for you and I will deliver you.”

Are you facing a battle today? Know that God is for you. His plan is perfect and it is for your good and His glory. If you would like to have someone praying with you and for you, please comment below and let me know how I can pray for you.

Categories: devotional thought, Uncategorized, worship | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Night With “Celtic Woman”

If you know me at all, you will know that I love all things Irish. I love their country, their accents, their history, and most of all their music in all of its expressions. I haven’t been to Ireland yet, but I hope to go one day….

So I was very excited when I heard that Celtic Woman was coming to Birmingham the weekend before Valentine’s Day. It was the perfect excuse to convince my husband to buy tickets for us to go. As we got nearer to the date of the concert, I started getting nervous. I had looked forward to being able to see them live for so long, that I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. It turns out, that I had nothing to worry about.

Everything fell into place for us that night. We got a great sitter for our kids (the kids love her AND she does the dishes!); we found a restaurant where we could get seated immediately, which is no small feat on the Saturday before Valentine’s Day (apparently Mexican isn’t considered a romantic restaurant to most); and we found a parking place within 2 minutes of getting to the venue, which again, is no small feat considering we had been told to arrive an hour before the event to find parking. There were 3 different events going on that night at the B’ham Jefferson Convention Center.

While waiting in the lobby before the concert started, I ran into one of my best friends from high school (whose name is also Jennifer). While talking with her, one of my current best friends, Meredith, came walking up the steps, wearing a kimono. She is always dressed to the nines, but with her own unique flair. As she said it herself, “Leave it to me to wear a kimono to a Celtic concert.” During the intermission, I texted with another one of my best friends (Yes, I have a few of them), who was also there. It made the evening so much more fun to spend it with so many friends.

When we finally got seated, we met a lady and her daughter who had come from Atlanta to see the concert. They were hilarious and made the wait for the show to start fly by. I also found out they were Christians like us, and so it made our conversation that much sweeter.

The concert itself was spectacular – a feast for the ears with the incredible singing and instrumentals; and for the eyes with their gorgeous dresses, the dancing, and the very Celtic-looking set. They had an Irish dancer in a few of their numbers, and Irish dancing thrills me like very few things can. The concert was a mix of traditional Irish music, Celtic “folklore” music, pop music, and a couple of religious songs: “Amazing Grace” and “Ave Maria” (I have to admit, “Ave Maria” was one of the more breath-taking songs of the night, in my opinion). Preston said he also thoroughly enjoyed the concert, even though it’s not something he normally gets excited about, and he was great company the whole evening, making the evening that much more wonderful and enjoyable.


Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

A Change of TV Pace

This post is a bit different from my usual posts. It’s a “soapbox” type of post. These kind won’t happen often, I promise.

I never thought I would become one of “those” moms: they homeschool, they join Bible study and prayer groups, and worst of all – they don’t allow their children to watch the Disney channel. Now I have friends who do all those things, and I’ve always admired them for their commitment to their standards, but it just wasn’t….”me”. When I was growing up, the TV was always on, and it didn’t hurt me any. That’s what I told myself, anyway.

Well, now here I am. I homeschool my children; I not only have joined Bible study and prayer groups, I’ve even started them in some instances; and now, while not quite banning Disney altogether, have strictly limited what my kids can watch on TV.

It first began with a show about 2 brothers that my boys liked to watch every afternoon. While the show had started out okay and was even, in a way, cute, the later seasons became all about chasing girls, potty humor, and a total disregard for authority figures. My boys started picking up some of the attitudes and the sense of humor from the show, and that was it. When a show starts affecting my children like that, we’re done with it.

Recently, I banned almost every single show. There is a constant theme in all of them of disrespect for authority. In one show, the dad is also a police officer – a rather brilliant move on the part of the writers so that they can be disrespectful to two authority figures at once. (Come to think of it, there’s actually 2 shows where the single parent is a police officer.) The principal is out to use the students for her personal gain, and the teacher is so clueless that it’s up to the students to keep things straight.

I was worried that my kids would be upset, but they handled the news very well. They had no arguments or complaints. I was also wondering if they would drive me crazy being “bored” all the time. I figured, though, after a couple of weeks of boredom, they would find other ways to fill those TV times. And that is exactly what has happened. My boys have rediscovered the joy of “Veggie Tales Silly Songs”, which I have always loved. They’ve been spending way more time playing outside, using their imaginations to create elaborate games. They’ve gotten out old toys that I was about to get rid of for lack of use. The boys are playing so much better with their little sister. But the best part is that I can already see a change in their attitudes, and have become downright helpful. Without those bad attitudes and negative stereo-types being fed into them day after day, and as we study our Bible verses for Awana and our school work, I can see them becoming transformed by the renewing of their mind. (Like Romans 12:2 talks about) It’s amazing to watch.

So, I have become one of “those” moms. And I’m proud I did. But don’t worry, you still won’t see me in a denim skirt or a jumper any time soon.

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Southern After All

I was born and raised here in the Deep South. My dad, however, is originally from up North, and so some of his upbringing influenced me. I love the South; I love my state, Alabama; and I love the metro-Birmingham area where I’ve lived all my life. Somehow, though, I didn’t pick up on a lot of the typical “Southern-ness” that I heard and observed around me all my life. For instance, I don’t have that slow drawl when I talk, and I hate grits. I’ve always attributed this “lack” in my character to the fact that I had Dad’s Northern influence all my life.**Author’s note: I have nothing whatsoever against “Yankees”. Some of my favorite people are from the Northern part of the United States.**

However, I was having breakfast with a dear friend this morning. This friend is from as far North as one can get without being Canadian (I have nothing against being Canadian either, and have friends in Canada), just about. As I expressed frustration with something, she started laughing. I wasn’t aware that my frustration was that amusing, but she explained that my “Southern expressions” cracked her up. I couldn’t figure out what she was talking about, so she pointed out I had just used the phrase “cotton-pickin’ “. As in, “This cotton-pickin’ phone makes me jump every time it vibrates in my pocket.” She said I have several of them that I use that she finds quite amusing.

I was surprised by the warm fuzzy her revelation gave me. I never realized that I WANTED to be more Southern. Have I been feeling like a “woman without a region” all these years – not a Yankee, but not saturated-enough to be considered a true Southerner? Perhaps I’ve become more “Southern” with age? Whatever it is, I’m very proud of my Southern colloquialisms.

What Southern expressions do you use the most, or which ones do you find most entertaining to hear?

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