My Cup Overflows....

I woke up this morning to the sound of Tim's voice instead of my alarm clock,

which immediately told me I had overslept!

I hopped up and began getting ready and immediately my thoughts were on all the things I probably wouldn't have time to do.

Read the Bible.

Write to all of you.

Then I thought, "What will I say after yesterday?!?"

How can I put into words all the ways God spoke to me yesterday through friends, family, students, teachers..........

I definitely didn't have time to write about all of that this morning.

And then,

wouldn't you know it?!?!

God gave me just what I needed for this morning.

A coffee spill!

Yes, as I was rushing to get ready, my cup of coffee jostled in my hand and sloshed on the counter.

And there it was............

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When my cup overflowed, love spilled out.

That's how I felt yesterday. 

That's how I feel today.

I knew as soon as I saw this "heart spill" that I was suppose to take time to share my love with all of you....

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.

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.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.



Four Years ...........

November 1 011

Well, it's here.

The four-year anniversary of Nick's departure from earth and entrance to Heaven.

I will forever be certain that as we spent those last few minutes with Nick, who had not woken up for almost two days, we had the blessing of hearing him sing his way out of this world.

I'll never forget, as we gathered around him that morning,how he began to make the sweetest humming sound.

He continued humming until his last breath was taken.

The energy in the room was like nothing I had ever felt before.

It was as if our family room were full of some sort of pressure, almost enough to make my ears ring.

And then, with Nick's last breath, the room became a vacuum.

I will believe, until the day I get to Heaven myself, that our family room was transformed into Heaven's gateway that Saturday morning, November 29th, four years ago....

as if angels packed the room around us, filling it up with God's glory.

I've never felt so close to God's Presence as in that moment.

In my mind, it was as if the staircase to Heaven led straight to our couch, and our sweet Nick was personally escorted straight to eternity;

and with His last breath, the staircase, the angels, and Nick were gone.

Paul says in II Cor. 5:8,

 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

I feel privileged and thankful to have been by Nick's side when this moment, his transformation from this world to God's Presence, happened.

So, today, even in my very real grief and longing to talk to Nick, hug Nick, spend time with Nick,

I cling to passages like II Cor. 4:8-10,

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;

perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted,

but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus,

so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

This morning, in my daily Bible reading, the verses below were included.

They comfort me today as always,

It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken." With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak,  because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.  All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

II Cor. 4:13-18

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.  Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling,  because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.  For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.  We live by faith, not by sight.  We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

II Cor. 5:1-10

Today I have the privilege of filling in for a third grade teacher while she travels to another school for a classroom visit.

I believe God will speak to me somehow through these children, and honestly,

I am looking forward to today!

As I thought of all of you this morning and what I wanted to say before getting ready for work,

two videos came into my mind.

Videos that continue to be a blessing to our family.

The first is a video Chuck Norris and his family made for Nick.

Nick was able to watch this video just a couple of weeks before he passed away.

I'm thankful for men like Chuck Norris who have been successful in the world's eyes, yet carry with them a deep, bold faith in God and share His love in such special ways.

A Gift From Nick's Hero, Chuck Norris

 

The next video is a tribute to Nick that our son Erich put together for Nick's funeral.

The song, "I'm Not Cool," was Nick's favorite!

We listened to this song over and over again in the car going back and forth from Columbus.

Nick would sing along at the top of his lungs.

I can still see his grin as he sang every word and meant it!

Today, I hope you will experience the presence of God in a very powerful way,

a gift from Heaven to you wherever you are.

Maybe these videos will be part of the gift.

Sweet Memories of Our Sweet Boy............

 

Death, where is your victory?

Not at the Nischan house!

We believe in the power of the resurrection and anxiously await the return of Jesus to take us all Home.

Until then, we live for Him who conquered death so that we don't have to fear it!



How God Works Miracles Through our Pain...........

Jesus didn't try to hide the truth from His disciples when He said,

"In this world you will have troubles."

One common thread throughout history is that life has never been perfectly free from difficult moments for any generation.

I've questioned God many times in life, wondering why the Perfect Creator could not create a perfect planet.

Every time I reach these points of questioning, though, I end up right back where I started,

realizing that His purpose in creating us and this universe was not to display any kind of perfectness outside of Himself.

His purpose was to create a people who would long to be in fellowship with Him.

As someone who has had times of comfort and ease in my life and times of trials and heartache,

I can say without hesitation that I am closest to God when I need Him most.

God longs to be our comfort, our Hope, our strength.

He longs to teach us through our sorrow just how much He loves us,

and

grow deep inside us a longing for and great expectation of

all that is to come in eternity when PERFECTION comes to take us all Home.

I believe that in our darkest moments God does His greatest works.

Physical healings to the world are reasons to say, "It's a miracle!"

In God's eyes, however, Heaven brings the perfect miracle as well as the perfect opportunity for Him to perform earthly miracles in our hearts.

My smile today as a mom who grieves the loss of two children is a miracle.

My Hope is a miracle.

My faith is a miracle.

My laugh is a miracle.

My ability to say to all of you who are brokenhearted,

"You can make it if you lean on Him whose heart broke most deeply as He watched His Son die in order to conquer death for you and me,"

is a miracle.

Jesus rising from the dead is a miracle!

When I read these verses in II Corinthians 1:3-4,

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.

He comfort us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.

When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us,

I begin to understand exactly what a miracle is.

A miracle is a God who can create an imperfect world full of imperfect people facing difficult moments

yet place deep inside each of us a longing for  

eternity

and

a Hope that can rise out of our pain.

Not just enough Hope to survive,

but a Hope that endures and brings so much comfort that eventually, even in spite of our brokenness, we somehow become vessels of comfort to others who are hurting.

How does God do that?

How does God take broken, hurting people and transform them into encouragers and comfort givers?

I DO NOT KNOW.

But, I do know this,

IT'S A MIRACLE!


So, today, if your earthly miracles haven't happened and you find yourself with empty arms,

I write to say this,

"The miracle is coming.  The miracle is on its way."

 

Lean on Him today and tomorrow and the next day in your heartache.

Trust in Him today and tomorrow and the next day in your sadness and pain.

Turn to the Comforter today and tomorrow and the next day, and don't be afraid to tell Him just how sad and confused and angry and broken you are.

 

One day you will wake up and find yourself bringing comfort to a friend,

and you won't even understand how it happened that you, a frail, hurting, emotionally-overwhelmed human being, could ever be the source of strength to someone else.

 

This, my sweet friend, is the greatest earthly miracle we get to be a part of while we are on this planet.

So, today, I challenge you even in your sadness to praise God anyway.

 

Tell Him how you feel, but then give Him your broken heart and let Him start His slow and steady work.

 

One day, our tears will be washed away.

Perfection will come.

Eternity in Heaven will be our past, present, and future.

Until then, I know we'll still have days when we feel extremely blue and confused.

We'll still cry.

Our hearts will still ache.

But because of our faith in the Father of all Comfort,

let's allow Him to be a continual miracle worker in our hearts so that others can know and experience fully how wide and deep and wonderful God's love is.

Ephesians 3:14-19,

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  

may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people,

to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,

 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.



Take Comfort in These Words Today..........

The Lord will fight for you; you need

only be still. 

Exodus 14:14

Whatever you're facing,

God faces it with you.

However you're feeling,

God understands.

No matter the situation,

God is right there too.

He is with you.

He loves you.

He understands.

He cares.

He is enough for you today and tomorrow.



One Thing That is Certain in an Uncertain World...........

I woke up this morning with several friends on my mind.

One of my  dear high school friends faced the unexpected loss of her sister this past Friday.

Carol and her mom and dad, along with her sister's children, will attempt to step back into a world today that will never be the same as it was just last week.

My mom's lifelong friend and her siblings are sitting at the bedside of their mother whose health is failing quickly.

They, too, are experiencing, with brokenness and sadness, the frailty of life.

So many things about this world we live in are uncertain and painful.

We hold on with a very weak grasp, because truly we are weak.

As I read the Bible this morning, I read each Word with Barbara, Lexie, Robert, Carol, Jane, and Carol's dad, niece, and nephew on my mind.

I wondered how the words I read would fall on their aching hearts if they were reading them this morning.

I wondered how God could speak to them today through His promises, and I found great comfort in these words in Romans 8,

I am convinced that nothing can ever

separate us from God's love.

Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,

neither our fears for today nor our

worries about tomorrow-

not even the powers of hell can

separate us from God's love.

No power in the sky above or in the earth below-

indeed, nothing in all creation will

ever be able to separate us

from the love of God that is revealed

in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I am wordless today when I think of the fresh pain in the lives of so many people I love.

Nothing I can say or do can begin to comfort their hurting hearts.

I'm so thankful for a Bible full of promises and words of hope.

As someone who walks the road of grief daily, I would be lost without its presence in my life.

As I look at my Bible sitting here next to me,

the Bible I have clung to nearly every day since Nick's death four years ago - pages torn, wrinkled, weathered, stained -

my prayer is that all who are hurting will turn to it with their doubts, their questions, their fears, and their uncertainties.

I do not have the answers for those who are hurting, but I know the One who does.

So, today, as I pray for my precious friends with broken hearts and for all who find themselves waking up to an uncertain Monday full of heartache,

I ask God to give them just what they need today and lead them to His Words exactly when they need them.

Because in an uncertain world, I am thankful for a certain Savior, a certain Lord, and a certain Love from which no power on Heaven or Earth can separate us.

Clinging to Him Who is Certain and Who Loves Us Deeply and Unconditionally Through all of our Uncertain Days,



Looking back........

Four years ago on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, we gathered around Nick's frail body to say "good bye" and witnessed the passing of Nick from this life to the next.

So much has happened in the last four years.

Erich and Evan both graduated from college.

Erich married Mallory.

Todd graduated from high school.

Erich and Mallory moved to Nashville, TN, and then on to Dallas, TX.

Evan moved to Los Angeles.

Todd began college.

Olivia started high school.

Tim and I have muddled our way through all of these big events and in the process had some very difficult moments and some very wonderful ones.

I have learned so much in the past four years about myself, about grief, about life, about death, about God's never-ending love, and about the amazing strength that comes from knowing that God has an amazing eternity planned for all of us if we put our trust in Him!!

Today, I decided to look back.

I decided to repost for the first time the post I wrote on the night after Nick died, because I wanted each of you to know that from Nick's fight with cancer to that painful day and continuing on until the day I hug Nick again in Heaven, I have not and will not stop being thankful for all of you who pray for our family and who walk this road of life and grief with us.

 

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dear Precious Prayer Warriors,

You know I just couldn't end my day without spending time with all of you who have grown to hold such a special place in my heart.

First, I have to say that Nick's journey may have ended in a physical sense today, but Nick's journey is only beginning in a spiritual sense. While my heart is literally torn in two, I know deep inside that Nick is with His Heavenly Father............safe in the arms we have all laid him in time and time again in prayer. And Nick's journey will continue here on earth as well. A foundation will be beginning in Nick's name. Through this foundation Nick's life will touch others for years to come as we give college scholarships, promote literacy in children, minister to hurting families and sick children, and help support missions worldwide. Nicholas Yancy Nischan stil has work to do!

Second, I have to share with you a little about the past couple of days at our house. All of our kids have been home, which in and of itself has been wonderful. Erich, our oldest son who is a junior in nursing school, has been more help than I could possibly EVERY put into words. Nick's health had weakened to the point that we could not have made it without Erich's strength, knowledge, and love for Nick. Evan's humor kept Nick's spirits up on many occasions. Todd and Olivia continued with their "normal" activities of computer/cell phone life (Todd) and sleepovers and basketball (Olivia). I believe that these normal events also kept Nick's spirits up. One evening a little friend of Olivia's stayed all night and we made gingerbread cookies. I came down and asked Nick if he would like to make one if I brought him a pan and a cookie cutter. He said, "no," until Mamaw had the great idea that he could give the gingerbreadman a gun! Nick cut out a man and Mamaw helped him create a nice-sized bazooka in one of its arms!

Thanksgiving morning Nick was lying on the couch upstairs and mamaw was under his feet holding her dog, Amber. I was sitting with Nick's head on my lap on a pillow. The tumors were so hard to look at but deep inside I just kept praying that they would shrink....that Nick's head would be totally healed. As we sat there together, Nick patted the blanket and said, "Amber," in a sweet little voice, trying to get Mom's dog's attention. Then when Amber looked at him, he said, "This is the life." And honestly, Nick meant it. He had me at one end of the couch, and my mom at the other end of the couch. He was under a blankie and there were no needles and in his mind no worries. He had great peace. To him it truly was "the life!"

He was able to eat a little for Thanksgiving dinner and then of course we watched the Titans have their 11th victory!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! With a score of 47 to 10!! I of course loved the numbers, and Tim told me later that Nick was so glad the Lions didn't score 1 more point! He knew I would have totally flipped out then. But truthfully the 47 points combined with the 11th win was enough for me to know that God was with us in a very special way. Nick napped off and on throughout the afternoon, and then late in the day, as I was sitting by him holding his hand I noticed that his hands were tightening up and he kept looking over at me but not really talking. I felt very nervous and honestly thought that maybe he was going to die at that time, but mom said she thought he was having a seizure and we were able to give him some medicine that really relaxed him. We called Martha, my very dear friend who has been such an unbelievable nurse to Nick over the past few weeks. She and Linda (our other special nurse and friend) came within minutes and stayed for a while to make sure things were okay. I did not want to take Nick to the hospital......the thought of having him endure any needles was more than I could bear.

Nick fell to sleep peacefully that evening, but on Friday morning it was apparent that Nick was not waking up from his sleep. It was as if he were in a coma. All day long he slept without responding to us when we would talk. The boys would take turns talking to him and they even brought Rock Band down to the room with him and played for a while hoping he would hear and want to wake up and be a part of the action. Friday night at midnight, Mom, Erich, Tim, and I were still up (Olivia had gone to stay at a friend's house) and I had bought the movie, "The Nativity" which we decided to watch. It was such a beautiful reminder of the amazing plan God had in bringing His Son into this world, and I just hope and pray that Nick could hear the movie as he slept there with us watching it.

This morning, Nick's breathing seemed much more strained, but he still would not respond when we talked to him. Evan, who normally sleeps in very late, was up by a little after 9 and was sitting right at Nick's head just watching him and touching his shoulder. I came down and suggested Evan get under his feet and rub them for a while. I looked down into the room a bit later and Evan had leaned over on Nick and was holding his hand and was sleeping. I wanted to take a picture, but I chose to just take one with my heart. It just didn't seem right to violate that moment for Evan. But I couldn't help but think of the verse that says Mary, "pondered all these things in her heart." That is what I have tried so hard to do this Thanksgiving break....simply ponder and soak up every precious minute. Every single word.

Around 11 (I think), I had been outside talking to mom for a minute on the porch about Nick's condition and then came in to give him another kiss. I noticed that something did not seem quite right and went to get mom. I called Martha and a couple of other people from church and they were at our house within minutes. It was amazing how Nick seemed to know that the stage was set for his beautiful departure to glory. Erich came to hold his hand and was crying, Todd came down beside him and cried harder than I have ever heard him cry in my life, Evan sat at Nick's side and held onto him crying, Caleb (Todd and Nick's buddy from birth sat right there along with us), and my brother got there in time to be with us too. Tim was at Nick's head and I was at Nick's side...............It was so hard to let go and whisper in Nick's ear that it was okay to go. I reminded him of Bill Leamon and John Mark Pemberton....I asked him to take care of Adrienne until we get there.............I told him we would be there soon. Mom sat at Nick's feet and told him she loved him too. It was a moment in time that I will hold close to my heart every minute of every day for the rest of my life. Nick simply began breathing less and less frequently until he took his last breath.

From that moment on our house has been a constant whirlwind of friends and family. We are sure that at least 100 people have been in and out of our home today. We feel so loved and so thankful. I have so much more to say, but I know that I am already going to be in trouble for the hour at which I am writing this. For tonight, I have to say this, Of all moms who were ever handed a child, I consider myself one of the most blessed to have been handed Nicholas Yancy Nischan, my sweet Nick. Oh, please know that I have cried so many times today.

I will share tomorrow about Olivia's learning of Nick's passing.

Tonight as I went up to get my computer, I saw Nick's cell phone lying on the table still hooked to its charger from Thanksgiving Day. I just broke down in my mom's arms. Oh, I love Nick so much. I will miss him more than words can ever say.....EVER SAY. However, I am determined and committed to being the vessel through which Nick's testimony and love for God will touch lives from this day forward. I will share more with you later about how you can be a part of Nick's continuing journey.

Olivia so sweetly said tonight, "I would love it if Nick showed up at his foundation." Then she said, "He probably won't though." It was so precious. She misses him so much. I told her Nick will be everywhere we are. At every game, every concert, everything. Oh, I love you all so much.

I have a lot to learn about prayer and miracles and times when prayers seem to not be answered in the ways we desire.............. I hope and pray that you will walk this chapter of Nick's journey with me as faithfully as you did the first.

With Gratitude for Every Prayer Whispered on Nick's Behalf,



What it takes to be truly thankful............

In this world we are usually going to be able to look around and see someone who has it a little easier, someone who seems to have at least one less thing to worry about, someone who appears to "have it all."

But if we really open our eyes, we are going to see a whole lot of people who have it harder, who have a lot more things to worry about, and who wish they could get a break in life.

"Looking around" should never be the criteria we use for wanting more or being thankful for what we have.

"Looking around" keeps us earthly in all our ways.

"Looking around" rarely leads to long-lasting thankfulness.

So, on this particular Thanksgiving morning, I'm looking up.

Literally, I'm leaning my head back and looking up.

When I do this small thing, my mind rushes with enormous thoughts of His love, His patience with me, His Son, His promises, His Presence, His plans for me...........

And everything around me washes away.

My sadness.

My grief.

My worries.

My struggles.

They fade away and in their place is only Him.

And I find my heart filled with thankfulness.

True thankfulness.

Because I know and believe that HE IS MY EVERYTHING.

So I can smile and I can love.

I can be excited about life, because I know I live for Him and Him alone.

I can "give thanks in ALL things."

Last week, I had a little health scare.

It ended up being an ocular migraine and lingering fatigue from mono (which I didn't even know I had.)

It took all week to really pull myself back together.

I worked during the day and pretty much rested every evening.

I'm still laying pretty low, and I think the new me will for a while.

But spiritually, I don't want to rest.

Spiritually, I want to grow and help others know Him better.

I can do this!

And for that reason alone I am thankful this morning.

I may be resting more physically, but I am determined to continue to run spiritually!

I want to be able to say what Paul says in I Cor. 9,

Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize?

So run to win!  All athletes are disciplined in their training.

They do it to win a prize that will fade away,

but we do it for an eternal prize. 

So I run with purpose in every step!

To be truly thankful, I believe we have to know the One to Whom all thanks goes.

To be truly thankful, I believe we have to live for Him.

To be truly thankful, I believe we have to remember that

"neither life or death can separate us from His love."

We need to remember that "he hears our cries and lifts us out of pits."

We need to put our trust in the "God of Hope" so that we can "overflow with Hope!"

This morning, you may find yourself having a hard "earthly day,"

but I hope you'll lean back and look up for just a few minutes and think about Him.

When you do, I believe great things will happen.

And you will find yourself feeling truly thankful.

Thankful today for each of you,



Happy Birthday, Evan!!!!!!!!!!!

Evan, if I could hop on a plane this morning, I would!

I'd fly straight to LA and take a taxi right to your apartment!
And I'd hug you and tell you just how much you are loved by me and by your dad and by all of your family.

But since I can't, I found a few pictures this morning and decided to just reflect on what a gift you have been and still are to us.

Evan November 016

I could always count on you and Erich for a good naptime!

Evan November 017

You hung out with me and whoever was at the house on any given day.

This particular day the Mullholland kids were over and you were right there,

listening as we read yet another Richard Scarry book!

I'm so glad I had those glasses on so I could see the words! Smile

Evan November 018

Your eyes were beautiful from the very beginning!

Erich's, on the other hand, seem to have disappeared on this particular day! Smile

Evan November 011

Being a crown-carrier at KCU's homecoming is just one of many tasks you completed before you were four.

Jacob and Lela joined in the fun that day!

evan 003

Our annual trip to Holiday World with Mamaw and Papaw was always so much fun!!

evan 004

Neighborhood experiences were always an adventure when you guys were little!
We love you, Brenda and Whitney!

Evan November 013

20 years ago when you turned 3, I didn't look at you and think that this day would come with 23 candles.

Time goes so quickly!

Enjoy every second...I know you do!

Evan November 014

I never really knew what you and Erich would want to be next.

Olivia will love this picture when she comes downstairs this morning!

She'll probably frame it and add it to her pig collection in her room!

Evan November 015

This might be one of my favorites!
You in a Power Ranger costume.

You were the king of costumes.

And I smile today, knowing that you will spend your birthday in the desert filming a cowboy scene for a short film.

I can't wait to see pictures from the shooting.

I am proud of you, Evan.

I am excited for you!

I can't wait to see you at Christmas!

All my love,

Mom

evan and more 001



What Support Groups Are For...........

I never really thought I needed a "support group," but I've learned there is something very special and healing about a community of people who share the same struggle.

I am more of a "reader" than a "writer" in the online support group I belong to for parents who have lost children to brain tumors.

Every once in a while I share, but normally I read and soak in other people's comments, ideas, questions.

Many times I am wordless.

I read and want to respond but feel like I come up short with any kind of wisdom, because I too have the same questions, the same fears, the same kind of tough days.

Over 200 of us belong.

We represent a lot of pain.

We represent a lot of different walks of life.

And we definitely represent a lot of different views of life and death.

But one thing we all have in common is this:  we miss our kids.

That's where I find my bond with these moms, dads, and even grandmas and aunts.

So last week after I had such a tough week with my health, I found comfort in the words a mom wrote about her daughter's recent struggle with a recurring headache.

In response to another mom whose child was having strange headaches she had written these words on Friday,

"A headache is never "just a headache" anymore for any of us.  It is a trigger of
grief and anxiety of that terrible thing happening again."
 

As I read her words, a feeling of "being normal" came over me.

Sometimes in the "real world" I don't feel normal very often.

Conversations happen, in which I am a participant, and words are said that strike me in a totally different way than they do anyone else.

I don't react externally, but often internally, I feel the accidental knife, I feel the reality that there are just some things about me that have removed me from the world's view of normal.

Grief calls people to a higher road of patience, love, and mercy; because when you lose someone you love deeply, you suddenly see the frailty of life in a way that many people just can not.

You understand that plans are simply plans.....not promises.

You realize that dates on a calendar can mean celebrations for one family and agony for another.

You "get" that family pictures never feel quite right anymore.

You receive Christmas cards that share the joy of the season and yet you realize that for many the season lacks the joy it once had.

Not that grieving people never laugh anymore or want to smile.

Not that grieving people can't let go.

Not that grieving people are hopeless.

But they just walk a road parallel and yet separate from their non-grieving friends.

Our road crosses over the same events as non-grieving friends.

We do birthdays.

We do Christmas.

We do parties.

We do jobs.

But we do everything with an underlying awareness that something about us is just a little different.

So, for me, even with my extreme confidence in Christ.

Even with my deep belief that one day I will hold Adrienne and hug Nick and share eternity with them,

I need a support group.

I need to know that there are other moms and dads out there who are trying to decide how to sign their Christmas cards.

I need to know that there are other families out there who want to keep their children who have passed away alive in the hearts of their other children or in the hearts of aunts and uncles, and that they are wondering what they can do throughout the holidays to make this happen.

I realize I will never be "normal" again when it comes to being a mom.

But last week those words from another grieving mom helped me realize that a week ago when I rode in an ambulance after having a vision scare that it was pretty normal for me to panic, to fear the worst.

As I step back into another Monday, I step back into it thankful.

Thankful that I have friends I can hug who have never walked the road I am on and thankful that I have friends I may never meet who walk the same road I do.

If you find yourself struggling with any type of problem that isolates you from those around you, I highly recommend finding a support group.

Thankful for the comfort God has brought me.

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,

who comforts us in all our troubles,

so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

II Cor. 1:3-4

 



When Life is a Mess and You are Stuck...........

She was only five, but she spoke to me in the midst of a classroom full of kindergartners trying to finish a sequencing task.

As one child cried because she didn't know how to use scissors,

this particular, brown-eyed, mussed-up-haired girl looked up and said,

"My finguhs aw stuck togethew."

In the excitement of getting it all right on her test, this sweet little girl had screwed her glue stick right out of its holder.

Trying to shove it back in, she had discovered that squeezing a stick of glue back into its holder is a lot more complicated than getting it out in the first place.

echs homecoming 2012 033

And in the midst of trying to solve her own problem, she now had two.

Sticky fingers and an unusable glue stick.

I wanted to sit down and tell this little girl I knew just how she felt.

I wanted to explain in adult terms just how normal she really was because; honestly, I saw my eyes in the eyes of this young child.

I saw someone longing to please, longing to do a good job, and then realizing that in their eagerness to hear the words, "Great job!" they had wound up stuck.

I want to please God even in my grief.

I want to do well.

I want to demonstrate that I understand exactly what is asked of me,

but sometimes in the excitement of being "all I can be," I find myself overextending my glue stick, leaving me with an empty container and a big mess.

It's hard to restore what I've already emptied.

In the process of trying, I reach tough places much like this little girl........

with my "finguhs stuck togethew."

Suddenly, the task I was doing doesn't seem nearly as urgent as the ungluing of my "finguhs."

And doesn't the devil love when our fingers are glued.

We are so unusable.

So unable to even lift our hands in praise.

----------------------------------------------

My mind wandered as I thought of this little girl's predicament, and then I heard her cute little voice saying to her teacher, "Can I go wash my hands?"

She knew what to do when she was stuck.

She turned to her teacher.

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I started this week with a list full of tasks,

and I ended this week realizing that sometimes I am the most difficult task on my list.

I am the mess.

I am the little girl who extended things too far, trying to please everyone.

Stuck in a mess.

Needing restored.

At the very same time, I am the glue stick container.

Emptied.

And difficult to refill.

What do I do when my "finguhs are stuck togethew" and my glue stick is empty?

That's been the question on my mind this week.

Even though I didn't really understand until I stood in a kindergarten classroom Friday, and God showed me through the words and actions of this little child.

Isn't that just how God works?

Through children.

Through glue sticks.

Through messes.

He very clearly said to me, "Tammy, I hold all things together.  Your life gets messy when you try to hold it together in your own strength."

So, I snapped a photo of the messy glue stick as the little girl grinned.

She wasn't worried about her unfinished sequencing task for her teacher.

She wasn't even worried about her "finguhs."

She giggled through her mess while I stood beside her, much older and supposedly much wiser, pondering all the messes inside of me.

And then I saw this hanging on the wall.......

echs homecoming 2012 034

I'd seen it many times before,

but today it spoke to me.

I read something new...something I needed to hear.

I think God gets me.

And He forgives me even when my life is noisy and messy.

He sees His children trying to make happy memories in the midst of a noisy, messy world; and I think He smiles even when our hands get stuck together.

Really, it's not so much that we have messes.

It's really, "What do we do when we realize we're stuck?"

Do we sit there and cry?

Sometimes.

But eventually, we realize that we only have one option.

No new tasks will be completed before we step away from our mess and head to a place of cleansing.

And after we're cleansed, we pick up a new glue stick.

Maybe we won't open this one with the same kind of gusto, but we open it anyway.

Because in the twisting of the glue stick we show the world that even though life is messy it's worth the risk of sticky fingers.

I've been emptied this week.

And I've been stuck.

So I'm using this weekend to cleanse myself through some much-needed rest and reflection.

Grief caught me off guard Monday when I faced a medical scare.

  My heart and mind were flooded with memories of Nick's own journey through ambulance rides, IVs, and cat scans,

and I've been reeling in fresh grief ever since.

It hasn't been pretty, and I've known deep inside that no one could pull me back to a place of healthy existence except for God.

So, I've tried to lay low.

I've tried to only do what had to be done, and I've trusted that somehow, in some way, He would restore my soul.

I haven't been much of a wife, mom, or friend.

Grief has stepped in and been my best friend for a while.

And I've sort-of stopped and allowed him to stay.

I think I needed some time with Grief.

It had been a while since I had cried with him.

And my family has graciously given me the space I've needed to simply allow Him to stay.

But, I'm sensing that he'll be leaving soon, and it will be time to wash my face and climb out of this pit for a while.

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If you ever find yourself feeling extremely blue or "stuck," know that God understands, He hears your cries, He loves you, and He longs to lift you out of the pit.

Sometimes, He makes you sit there a while, though, with sticky fingers.

Just so you'll realize how wonderful it is to be rescued and restored!

Psalm 40:1-3

I waited patiently for the Lord;


he turned to me and heard my cry.


He lifted me out of the slimy pit,


out of the mud and mire;


he set my feet on a rock


and gave me a firm place to stand.


He put a new song in my mouth,


a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear

and put their trust in the Lord.

 

A 5 year-old, little girl reminded me of something Friday.

When I am stuck, I need to turn to my Teacher.

Praying you will turn to your Teacher today, even if you find yourself looking up from the bottom of a pit.



I Know I'm Not Saul, but...........

I just read Saturday in my chronological Bible about Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus.

I read about him seeing the bright light and then being blinded for three days.

I read about how God used this terrifying moment to change something inside of him.

And from that time on, he was a different person....

So different, in fact, that he changed his name from Saul to Paul and began doing the exact opposite with his life.

Once a persecutor of Christian, he now dedicated his life to helping people become Christians.

We read this story last night with some of our football boys, and I told them very briefly about what had happened to me Monday.

I know I didn't have an actual "Saul/Paul" moment, but something changed inside me Monday.

As I was riding in the ambulance, thinking "What if this is it?", I realized that the people who would miss me most are the people I invest the least time in these days.

Honestly, people might cry if they heard I was gone.

I would cry if I heard a great number of people were gone.

But my life probably wouldn't be totally turned upside down.

I would cry.

Then I would have to step right back into my roles.

The same would be true of most people who know me.....

Except for my family and maybe a few close friends.

Their lives would be changed forever.

Someone would replace me in my job.

Someone would replace me in my Sunday school class.

Someone else would lead in any area of leadership I have on this planet, and life would go on.

So, I've done a lot of thinking since Monday about what's really important, and I realize I have some big decisions to make about how I want to spend the next part of my life....no matter how long it is.

When we talked with the our football boys, we asked them two questions.

First, "Are you more like Saul or Paul?"

Second, "If you are more like Saul, what is it going to take to change you?"

Maybe Monday happened just so we could ask our boys those two questions.

Maybe Monday happened so I would ask myself how I am investing my time.

Maybe Monday just happened for no reason at all other than the fact that sometimes in life our bodies do weird things.

I don't know.

But I do know this, God uses everything to teach us, mold us, change us, and perfect us.

And I want my eyes WIDE OPEN to how He longs to teach, mold, change, and perfect me.

Not being able to see clearly was scary.

Losing my peripheral vision was terrifying.

Spiritually, I'm afraid that happens to me way too often.

I want a clear view of the world through God's eyes.

Topsy gave me a book to read last week, and in the book people wake up changed.

They can see the world differently, they can hear the world differently.

I want to be open to how God longs to change my vision and my hearing, so He can use me to help a hurting world.

I went to my eye doctor yesterday.  Thank you for praying for me as I sat waiting for my appointment time.  I looked across the room and there was one of our "Nick Nook's" with Nick's smiling face looking right at me.  I knew he was with me and I knew God was too.

My optometrist was very kind.

He took photos of my eyes, and we looked at them on a computer screen.  They looked good. Smile

He is leaning towards an ocular migraine which he says can be very scary the first time you experience one.

Now I am waiting for all of my blood work results to return and then I'll know where to go from here.

Hopefully, the only thing that will change is my spiritual perspective.

I've tried to live for Him, but I feel like God is calling me to even deeper places.

I just don't know that that means yet.

I love you all so much.

Have a thankful Thursday!



When Things Don't Make Sense.........

We've all been there, haven't we?

In those moments in life that cause us to question just about everything we do and are.

Why is this happening?

How am I suppose to handle this?

What caused this in the first place?

Monday I found myself asking all of these questions as I heard the doctor say, "I want her sent to the hospital just to be safe."

As I sat there, legs shaking and tears falling, I couldn't help but think of Nick.

How had he been so brave every single time he was faced with medical tests?

How had he not finally caved to the onslaught of nurses, doctors, needles, MRIs, and on and on and on?

Here I sat, hearing words like "possible TIA, low oxygen, high blood pressure.."

And I was already caving.

Fear overcame every part of me; and truly, I'm not sure what I really feared more - needles or possible bad news.

See, Erica (my co-worker) and I had left one elementary school and stopped to eat on our way back to our office for an afternoon meeting.

As we were leaving the restaurant to get in the car, my right eye began to pulse with a sort-of bright light and a spinning blurriness as if I were looking into water.

At first, I thought it was just my contact lens doing something strange.

But as I continued to blink and try to readjust my vision, I realized something was going on with my eye.

I asked Erica to see if my pupils looked the same, because my left eye seemed fine.

After confirming that they were both the same, I climbed in the car to drive back to Grayson.

As I was driving, I realized that the blurriness had transformed into a lack of any peripheral vision in my right eye.

It was one of the strangest moments I had ever experienced personally, like Erica had disappeared from the passenger seat of my car.

I felt as if I were in a tunnel to my right.

Fear gripped me.

As I started to talk through tears to Erica about what was happening to me, I also started to reflect on memories of Nick's courage when he faced health issues.

I tried to remain focused and calm as I drove us back to Grayson, and I was thankful that as we approached our office my vision returned.

However, my nerves were shot by this time and I had a very strange feeling in my head.

I walked into our meeting, but as I spoke with another co-worker about what had happened I began to cry and she insisted that Erica take me to the doctor's office just to be safe.

This is where I found myself as I began to wonder, "What in the world is going on?"

Riding in an ambulance had not been on my list of things to do Monday.

My only other ambulance experience involved following one to Columbus, Ohio, at midnight - the first night after Nick was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 7.

Receiving an IV "just in case" was also not on my list either.

I'm definitely not a fan of needles, and remembering Nick's favorite verse, "Be strong and courageous," kept me calm as the nurse performed her duty.

Martha, my dear friend who has had a miraculous recovery from her fight with cancer, was back at work in the ER and welcomed me as I was rolled into the hospital.

She kept me calm and well-taken care of as they did a catscan and blood work.

At the end of the event, thankfully all of the tests came back clear.

However, questions lingered in my mind about what had caused this entire event and emotions soared as I had been taken back in time to difficult moments I had long since pushed to deep levels in my heart and mind.

Exhaustion overtook me.

As I got home, I found myself slipping.

Emotionally, I truly was a wreck.

Tears came that I didn't even know I had inside of me anymore.

Yesterday, I spent the day resting, crying, and reflecting on where I am in life and what God is trying to say to me.

I went to see my doctor and she did more blood work to check all sorts of other things that could have caused this episode with my vision.

This morning, I am suppose to visit my eye doctor for the same reason.

Honestly, today I am going to have to  rise above my emotions in a powerful way as my optometrist is the one who discovered Nick's second brain tumor at the age of 11.  This is the very place where our world was turned upside down with the horrible news that Nick's optic nerves were extremely swollen, and this is the place where Tim had to meet me to pick up Nick because I was such a wreck I couldn't drive.

Shew.

I'm really not sure why God is pushing me backwards this week.

In November of all months.

I really entered this week feeling strong.

Feeling ready for full days and full evenings.

Now, my strength is all coming from Him which is where it should come from anyway.

I write all this not to be focused on myself but to say that in life we all reach places (often more than once) that don't make sense.

I don't think I've handled the past two days as well as I should have.

I'm still not really feeling like I am the person God wants me to be in all these uncertainties.

I'm weaker than I thought I would be if faced with a health concern again in my life.

I'm wondering what God is teaching me through all of this.

I'm trying to regain my perspective and face today with a smile, but I'm realizing that Monday my life changed again.

I faced my own fear of death.

I've never felt quite so vulnerable physically.

I am clinging to the promise that "when I am weak, He is strong," and I'm realizing that His strength simply increases as our decreases.

Today, I will step back into my job once again changed by a life experience.

I will face the eye doctor with courage because God is with me.

I will wait for test results with confidence because I do not walk this road alone.

I have got to dig back down into my deep faith and remember that God makes all rough places smooth, and He has already gone before me every step of the way this week.

He was not surprised when my vision changed Monday.

I was.

When I am going to learn that even when life doesn't make sense to me it still makes sense to Him?

In some strange way, He will use this.

He uses all your moments too.

The ones that makes beautiful sense.

And the ones that seem so confusing.

I love you all so much, and I thank you for sharing life with me.

The highs.

The lows.

The victories.

The defeats.

The celebrations.

And the times of mourning.

As you enter Wednesday know that God is already there.

Entering before you.

He is there.



Twenty Years Later..........

Sometimes in grief you reaches places of peace and resignation.

That's kind-of where I was with the death of our little girl, Adrienne.

Seeing her tombstone daily for twenty years and realizing that all of my friends' children who were born that same year are now busily completing college and planning wedding,

I sort-of reached a place where I thought maybe Adrienne's short little life had served its biggest purposes in doing these three things:

1. Teaching me deep compassion for the hurting

2. Pushing us to adopt Olivia from India

3. Preparing me for the difficult road of letting Nick go

nick and adrienne 003

Honestly, I had deep peace in knowing that my 6-week experience as Adrienne's mom was a gift and the lessons she taught me were a gift for a lifetime.

I really never expected anymore.

adrienne three

Until last week when I received a Facebook message from a lady I had never met who recently lost her baby to SIDS and was looking for support.

Just one week later we have a Facebook page, thanks to another hurting mom, for eight moms who have all walked this horrific road of waking to find a child has died in his/her sleep.

Talking with these moms, I realize that the pain I felt twenty years ago was very normal.

I realize that I somehow muddled through grief without a group of women who were walking the same road and it was only by the grace of God that I did not crack.

I came close.

I can remember sitting in a mall parking lot all alone squirting St. John's Wart, an herb for calming nerves, under my tongue and thinking, "This is it.  I have lost my mind."

But God had other plans and somehow He pulled me out of a pit and gave me hope and a promise.

adrienne four

 

adrienne two

adrienne one

If you find yourself grieving today for the loss of someone you love dearly,

I write to encourage you.

First, allow yourself time and space for God to work.

Then thank God for being with in all those times and space.

Finally, know that no matter how many years pass by, God longs to use your journey to help others who will walk behind you.

Psalm 40:1-3

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord.

Trust Him today with your pain.

I love you all so much.



TWO NECKLACE WINNERS!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love announcing the winners to a give-away, but I'm always sad that I can't list everyone's name who entered.

If I could, I promise I would!

The winners of the bird nest necklace drawing are:

LARA HARRIS

and

TERA BALDWIN

Congratulations, girls!

I made your necklace last night, Lara!

Tera, I will get yours made this afternoon!

Directions for making these necklaces can be found on several different websites.   Just Google "bird nest necklace."

Love you all!



Remembering the Thumbs Up Today...........

When I opened my computer to begin writing this blog post, I wasn't planning on going back in time.

However, this photo from 2006 caught my eye in a folder in "My Pictures," and I opened it for the first time in a long time.

If you didn't follow Nick's fight with cancer through his website, you can go to www.nick7-11.zoomshare.com and read our family's story.

On this website, you'll read all about how the "thumbs up" became such a powerful symbol of God's "hand" being over Nick throughout his fight.

My mom took this photograph while driving to our house to begin Nick's radiation treatments.

We had been taking pictures of people with their thumb up already in the days following Nick's surgery, simply showing that God was with us and that Nick was going to be great!

When mom saw this lone cloud in the sky, it was actually above the trees and she could see the entire hand.  By the time, she fumbled through her purse while driving in order to find her camera, it had fallen below the trees a bit.  You can still see the hand with the thumb up enough to know that this was one special cloud!week of oct 2 055

This is a cropped photo showing the hand and if you look closely you can see the thumb bent perfectly and even having a hint of a thumbnail.  One of my friends was about 30 miles ahead on the interstate that day and remembers telling her husband to look at the perfect thumb in the sky.  She said that was the only part of the hand they could see from their position on the road, but she clearly knew it was a thumb.

week of oct 2 055

I love that God gave this gift to my mom and that He chose to allow a friend of mine to see the critical part of this message from yet another place on the road as a confirmation.

I love that God gave us such a powerful visual to cling to as we put our trust in Him.

We received so many "thumbs up" pictures from people all over the world for the next 2 1/2 years.

These pictures gave us energy and reminded us that we were not alone in Nick's fight.

When Nick passed away, I really questioned the meaning of the cloud.  I wondered if we had just clung to something that really didn't mean anything at all.  I wondered why God would send us this cloud if Nick wasn't going to be healed.  I didn't understand.

Then, in our grief, God led our family to India on a mission trip to visit an orphanage, and while there my husband received change that included this coin.

 rupee

I wish I could put into words what it felt like to be on the other side of the world in the midst of a Hindu country where the worship of God is not the primary form of worship and see this symbol on a piece of foreign currency.  I felt as if God was clearly saying, "I am still with you.  I have a plan."

We returned home in about a week, and I was so intrigued about why India would include a "thumbs up" on one of their coins.  Most of their money contains pictures and images of gods and animals that they worship in the Hindu religion.

I did a search on-line looking for the thumbs up rupee, and I didn't find any information on its particular creation and/or history.

However, I found a mountain in India that I believe was the inspiration for this coin.

It is called, "Thumbs Up Mountain."

thumbs up mountain

This mountain is in a remote part of India near a city called Manmad, which I couldn't help think had significance in and of itself as the city name looks so much like the word "manmade" but, like the mountain, clearly is not.

As I sat at my computer and looked at this image, I was overwhelmed with a passage that I had memorized as Nick fought cancer, a passage that had brought me so much comfort.

Suddenly, this passage had such deep meaning to me and I felt as if God was showing me with earthly visuals the depth of the verses' meaning in my life.

Read this chapter from Psalm out loud and think about the cloud my mom saw, the rupee Tim received, and the mountain I found in my Internet search.  (The two small, italicized words were added by me.)

 

PSALM 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills-
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven
(the cloud) and earth (
the mountain).

He will not let your foot slip-
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you-
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm-
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Some day I want to travel to India and stand at the foot of this mountain.

Honestly, I would love to climb the mountain and stand right next to the thumb.

Even if I never get to do this, I will forever cling to the cloud and mountain as

God's earthly symbols of His presence not only during Nick's fight with cancer but also in our grief after Nick's death.

I feel as if this cloud and mountain, and the rupee that tied them together, were given not just for us but also for all of you.

Hide Psalm 121 in your heart and know that God is with in your coming and your going

both now and forevermore.

Nicholas Yancy Nischan Found Logo

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