Friday, July 19, 2013

Dear Brynn

Dear Brynn,

Today I heard about a 14 year old boy who drowned in the Black Warrior River, and the first thing I thought was, "That could have been you." His friends tried to save him, but they couldn't. That family, mourning the death of a beloved child, that could have been us. Your daddy says that he feels like he just can't thank God enough for sparing your life. I truly understood that today when I heard about young Jamal Harris. Everyone doesn't have a happy ending to their story, but you do. How could we ever thank God enough?!

So, Brynn, I just wanted you to know how special you are and how important it is that you follow God's calling for your life. See, He has BIG plans for you, girl! From your curls as wild as you are to your little suntanned bare feet, God is going to use you! You have already brought so much joy to everyone around you! You are so full of life! I call you a "wild child," a little girl with a HUGE personality, full of spunk! I don't think you ever learned to walk. You ran everywhere from day one. No fear! It's a good thing you have such a great big brother because it takes him, your mommy, and your daddy to keep track of you! Mixed in with all that "spunk" is a precious heart of gold. You give away your toys to try to make others happy. You give the absolute sweetest hugs and kisses! Oh, and don't let me hear your sweet little raspy voice sing praises to God! There is no sweeter sound! I could totally see why God would want you in Heaven. You are the life of the party! But, He let us keep you here, and I don't want you to ever forget that! You have an important job left to do here!

The week it happened we all just cried and cried every time we talked about it. Your mommy said your floaties were hurting you, so she took them off and told you to stay in the baby pool. When she and Aunt Laura started getting rocks and dirt and grass slung on them from a weed-eater, they turned to grab all their stuff and move. Then, your brave friend, Jack, came up and told them you were under the water. Your mommy ran over to the pool and saw you under water, not even struggling. Aunt Laura says she will never forget that look on your mommy's face. That's when the panic set in, but your mommy was such a hero! She jumped in and got you out. She immediately started doing CPR. You were already blue and they don't know how long you were not breathing. Several other mommies called 9-1-1, and they all thought it was too late. Your brother, Alec, your cousin, Cooper, and Cooper's friend, Pearson, knew there was only one person who could help. They gathered in the corner and began to pray. I told your mommy how great it was that she was able to stay calm and remember the steps to CPR. She said she was not calm. She was just screaming for someone, anyone to help her! She said there were so many people around, but she felt completely alone. Everyone was horrified, but she was the only mother there who was going to have to plan a funeral for her three year old. Finally, you started breathing again! God put air back into those small little lungs. Everyone was so relieved! People who saw what happened said that they will never be the same. The presence of God was at the Forest Glen pool that day, and He was breathing life back into you! You got to ride in an ambulance, and when the doctors checked you out, you were fine! You had no water in your lungs, no signs of brain damage, not even a bruise or scratch from the CPR! We met for lunch the next day, and you were running around like usual, telling me how you "went under water and it was gross!" There we all were, crying at the table, your mommy and Aunt Laura still unable to eat, and the background music was the sound of your little sandals doing laps around that Taco Casa dining room.

Brynn, I don't know why God chose to protect your life that day. I don't know why we are celebrating your life while others are in absolute despair. I do know that the Bible says, "In all things God works for the good of those who love him." If we were mourning your loss, I honestly don't think that verse would give me any comfort. It's hard to imagine anything that could comfort me in the face of such a tragedy. But, comfort or not, truth is truth, and I pray that we always remember that God can take even the worst things we can imagine and use them for good.

With all the love and gratefulness in my heart,

Aunt Lindsey (LiLi)

I dedicate this post to the family of Jamal Harris and other families who have lost their children to the tragedy of drowning. May God wrap his loving arms around you and give you peace. For He also knows what it is like to lose a child.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Dear Tuscaloosa

Dear Tuscaloosa,

I remember when my family moved here. It was the summer before 4th grade. My oldest sister was starting college at the University of Alabama, and my middle sister was about to start her first year of high school, where she knew not a soul! I remember when people would ask my older sisters, "Where are you from?" There was always a weird look, like, "How do I answer this?" Then, there would be a lengthy explanation, something like, "Well, everywhere. My dad was in the Marine Corps, so we have lived..." I remember asking when I was really young, "When someone asks me where I'm from, does that mean the last place we lived?" You see, Tuscaloosa, it seems crazy to me now, but even the concept of a "hometown" didn't make sense to my little military brat mind. Now, it seems tragic that so many children grow up not having what you gave me. I really was "born and raised" here, though my family took a little detour to California, Virginia, and Hawaii, all by the time I was eight. We came here when my dad retired from the Marines, and you have been "where I'm from" ever since.

So, I am writing to thank you. You are the town that houses pretty much all of my important memories. You keep my memories from childhood in Duncanville, memories from my picture perfect high school years, my (sometimes fuzzy if we're honest) memories from four years of college at the University of Alabama, five years worth of memories from the start of my teaching career, memories of my first date with my husband, memories of our wedding in downtown Northport, memories of DCH, where we waited and watched the arrivals of my nieces and nephews, and precious memories of time spent with my grandfather and great-grandfather, who both also called you "home." I know you will keep these memories safe for me while I am gone.

When I think of you, certain things come to mind, things only a T-town native could appreciate. When I think of you, I think of Alabama Football, of course (Roll Tide), Taco Casa, flippin' HOT weather, the April 27th tornado that ripped through the middle of you and took so many of your citizens' lives, our hometown heroes (or mine at least): James Spann, Walt Maddox, Wild Bill (from 98.1 WTXT) and Nick Saban, patriotism, fear of The Lord, southern hospitality, the historic homes on Queen City Avenue, Dickens Downtown at Christmas in Northport, Summer Snow, Hokkaido, Krispy Kreme (Man, it was tough without those three after the tornado!), everything houndstooth, family, and, most of all, I think of HOME.

Any time I travel, I always get that feeling when I come driving back to you. As soon as I can smell that Tuscaloosa air, it's like a peace comes over me. There truly is "no place like home." It's strange to think I won't get that feeling when I come back anymore because you really won't be my home, at least not in the literal sense. My actual home will be somewhere else while my husband serves in the Army. Well, there may be a roof over my head in Colorado Springs for a while, and who knows where after that! But, I will always be able to answer the question, "Where are you from?" and for that, Tuscaloosa, I thank you. Roll Tide!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Psalm 91

Five days ago I pinned this to a board on Pinterest. I don't really know why... It wasn't particularly for any spiritual reason, I think I thought it would make a pretty tattoo. :) Anyway, you will see why it is important later. 

So, 99% of the time I am ok. I stay busy. I miss Seth, of course, but I pretty much stay sane. Today was one of the 1% days. Seth got to call, and I was so excited to tell him about my yard sale and how successful it was. He was distracted and anxious at first. He is always watching to make sure others don't do something wrong so they don't all get in trouble. So I didn't feel like he was listening. Then, I told him I sold something of his that I literally did not even know he had until I found it in the attic. He has never used it not mentioned it in the three years we've been married. But apparently, he had "been looking for it the whole time." Lol! So he got upset with me and then I got upset with him, and then it all went downhill. He apologized, and I got over that, but the. Satan started to attack me with anxiety. I really don't normally struggle with that, but I just started to feel so stressed out and overwhelmed and I cried for a good bit of our conversation. Then I got upset because I was ruining the few precious hours we have "together," and it was just bad! We prayed and both started to calm down. Seth then started to tell me about this book he was reading about Psalm 91. It was about how all these men in war situations throughout history had studied and prayed this psalm, and they had been miraculously protected. He said we should read Psalm 91 tonight and focus on it as a family. 

So, our conversation ended up fine, and then Satan started to attack me again, and I've just been upset all night, just overwhelmed and anxious. Worrying about the 100 things I can do nothing about, like my house selling, where we are going to live, what if Seth gets deployed soon, not being prepared for my job, are we going to have enough money, etc.  The one person whom I think can make it better is the one person I can't call! So, I FINALLY decided to read the Bible, Psalm 91, and found this:
1Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.a
2I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14“Because heb loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.