Grays 2013

Grays 2013

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 30, 2011.

 Nine years ago I was changed forever. I will never be the same as I was before loosing Joshua and Jennifer. That is not bad thing but most of the time I feel displaced not really fitting in anywhere. The friends and life I had as a single mom with two children all faded away. Some freinds stayed around but eventually they all returned to their lives with their children as it should be
.
It left single with no children which I did not really fit into that group either since I did have children just not here on earth anymore.

Then I met my wonderful husband and we were blessed with two wonderful children both under the age of four. I'm no longer in my 20's or my 30's for that matter so I really have a hard time finding common ground with mother's of preschoolers when I feel like a mother of teenagers.

Now all of this may sound crazy but this is just another reason why this journey has been so difficult.
I struggle to find my place in life.......perhaps it is because we are not made for this world. This life is only temporary...............and oh how I long for eternity.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A time to reflect


This morning it is raining, finally.  We are in a drought and the rain is desperately needed here.  And finally we are getting some relief. I love the rain, when I was a child I use to sit on the porch with my daddy and watch the storms roll in. Turns out that one of the most valuable things my daddy taught me was to not be afraid of the storms.


Tomorrow is Jennifer's birthday and I miss her so much. She would have been 16, hard to believe. I miss her smile and her silly banter. She challenged me more than any of my boys have. She was very much like me and sometimes that was not a good thing : ) I miss her laugh and the way that she use to talk non stop.



This time of year is especially hard for me and with each passing year it is hard for different reasons. Of course the obvious unchanging one is that I desperately miss my children and my daddy, that will never change this side of heaven. Nine years ago I would have never dreamed I would be where I am today. I did not see how life would go on. I could not see past a day much less think about years. 
I love where God has me and ironically sometimes that makes me feel guilty. Now before I get a multitude of emails telling me how crazy that statement is let me assure you I know it is not rational.  But grief is not rational. And grief is not something you "get over". With each passing year I learn a different facet of grief and I am blessed with the lesson it leaves me with. As long as I am still learning it means that God is still active and alive in my life.


As I reflect on the past I cannot help but be grateful for the present. God has blessed me by showing me restoration in my life. When I look at my two sweet boys and remember my three sweet babies in heaven I am reminded of how much God loves me.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A time to listen

As many of you know we decided last year to become foster parents with the desire to foster to adopt if that was God's will. We started the process back in November 2010 and for me it has been a long difficult road, one I was not prepared for. While I have given my testimony many times over the years there are certain things that I have not felt lead to share except when God puts me in one on one relationships with other women to encourage them. Many of which all occurred before my relationship with Christ, some of my own bad choices, others I had no choice in and all of which brought shame to me. And once I understood that God, the creator of my soul, did in fact love and did in fact want a relationship with me wiped that slate clean. I had not dealt with that guilt and shame since I understood who Christ was and how much He loves me.
Until I had to write it all down on our paperwork to become licensed to foster/adopt. I realized after I had my life laid out on paper for people whom I did not know to read and decide if we would be good parents that I did not look good on paper. And in walked the enemy! I gave him the crack in the door he had been looking for for years. I have been a Christian for 18 years now so you would think that I would have seen this attack for what it was but I did not.
As we reached the final stages of our process I felt as though I had been judged my what was on paper and that I was not "good enough" to foster/adopt. I felt like the people who were looking at my paperwork were seeing all the bad in my life and making judgements based solely on that.
All the while God had a plan, a beautiful plan that I did not realize because I was too busy feeling sorry for myself and for the first time this side of my relationship with Christ I was riddled with shame which in turn made me angry.  I know in my heart that God covered my multitude of sin with the precious blood of Jesus but I was not feeling it.
As we were not so patiently waiting for our licensing process to be final some dear friends of ours got their first placements as foster parents. I have to be honest and say when she called me all excited I sat and hurt deeply thinking again what was wrong with me? Why did they not call me? Was I not good enough to be a foster parent? I know she heard it in my voice even though I tried to sound excited for her. I hung up the phone and cried myself to sleep. I really did want to be excited for her and her family but I was so caught up in my self pity I stole some of the joy from her and sad to say was not a good friend.
Just when I was about at rock bottom. I was sad and quickly moving into depression and quite honestly thought I was loosing it. That is when God stepped in....... I received an email from a friend whose child was friends with Joshua. She told me that her and her son had talked about Joshua and she just wanted to let me know that he was not forgotten. For those mom's out there reading this that have lost a child you know after 8 years what an incredible gift that was to me! She was afraid that she had upset me but just the opposite is true. God used her email to show me that just as he had written Joshua and Jennifer's story he was still writing mine. And just as He was still using their lives to impact others He was wanting to use  my life for the same purpose. I just had to be faithful to follow his lead. It was just what I needed just when I needed it. It reminded me that I am a child of the King and that my creator loves me enough to want to use me in His beautiful story.
We went to our friends house the day they got their first placement and when we left there I knew that those children were exactly where they were suppose to be and that I had to be content where God had me even if that meant that we would not have any other children in our home.
Then came the call, we had no idea we would get because we were still waiting for the process to be finalized. We were asked my our case worker if we would consider taking a 2 month old with medical needs. The baby was still in NICU but would be released soon. Without hesitation Russell and I said yes.
 Now the funny part of that story is when we first started the process I said I was not interested in fostering we just wanted to do straight adoption, no infants and no medical needs. I was selfish in my reasoning for all those and God showed me throughout the classes that I was really trying to take control of what He wanted for me. Of course I believe God has a sense of humor and gave us an infant to foster that has medical needs.
We were allowed to go up to the hospital to do feedings and bond before he came home. And the minute the nurse placed baby Isaiah in our arms I knew we were exactly where God wanted us to be. We feel in love with him even before we met him.
We were blessed enough to bring him home and while we do not know what the future holds for this little guy we  know that we are blessed to be part of the story. And we will love him as our own for as long as God will allow us that honor. He is doing fabulous at home and big brother is incredibly protective of him and simply adores him.
We know that God has a plan for Isaiah 's life and we are excited that He chose us to be his parents for however long that may be.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mothers Day

The first time I held my first born and was inaugurated into the blissful society  of motherhood was 17 years ago.  Oh how I remember that feeling of overwhelming love and fear as they placed that sweet baby boy into my arms. I had no idea what I was suppose to do with this sweet child but somehow I knew Joshua and I would be okay. And the fear of knowing that child was dependent on me for life was overshadowed by the abundance of love that I never knew was possible. If you are a mom you understand that bundle of emotion that comes with that first born. 

My second child came to me under not so normal circumstances.  I was at that time for all practical purposes a single mom. My husband and I were separated and fear took on a whole new face. I had no idea how I was going to take care of two children on my own.  God was good, he gave me the sweetest most content baby I have even seen. Jennifer was a joy from the moment I met her. She slept through the night at a week old and hardly ever cried. And we survived and began to get into a routine that would sustain us for many years as a single parent home.

My house was always full of noise, laughter, crying, fighting, all the business of two children. Until that fateful day in November 2002.  That was the day my house fell silent. No more business, no more laughter, no more fighting, just silence. I remember those days as vividly as I remember the noise. 

Again God is good. Five years after the death of Joshua and Jennifer I once again had the blessing of welcoming another child into the world. I did not realize how much I missed mothering until I was actively mothering another child. In just 9 short days my youngest child will turn 3 and as much as I love this child and as much as I am grateful for him there are days that it is just plain hard being a mom! Sometimes I fail miserably but always I have to remember the silence. When my child is throwing a fit in Barnes and Noble or Toys R Us and I loose my composure I have to stop and give thanks for the noise.
Because Lord willing my child will grow up and graduate and get married and have children of his own and once again my house will be silent. So for today I bask in the temper tantrum for the noise is far better than the silence. 
Happy Mothers Day! 

Friday, April 22, 2011

A time to celebrate!

The past two weeks at the Gray house has been hectic as we joined a few hundred of our friends at Central Baptist to prepare of the Easter Pageant. Russell is singing and I am toddler Jesus' handler. Yes, our son made his acting debut as toddler Jesus. His role is to stand with Mary and Joseph as the kings come. He waves and blows kisses to the kings. He is absolutely cute if I do say so myself.
It has been a great opportunity to talk to him about Jesus and the story of Easter. So as we were laying in his bed the other night and he was reviewing his day as he does every night we talked about Easter pageant practice and the Easter egg hunt he had at MDO. He was so excited about the egg hunt and talked excitedly about the treats he got.  I thought I had the perfect opportunity to talk to him about the real reason we celebrate Easter. So I asked him if he knew why we celebrated Easter and he looked at me with all seriousness and said, "because Jesus is alive"! I had an elaborate explanation for my sweet child and he broke it down into three words, Jesus is alive!
It brought sweet joy into this mommas heart to hear those words so simply stated. It also made me stop and cherish those three simple words.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A time to rejoice!

Thank you all for praying for the Haven of Hope Retreat this past weekend. God answered your prayers! The mom's that came in on Friday were not the same when they left on Sunday and let me tell you that was God! Some of them mom's shared on that on Friday they did not want to be there and some even admitted to almost backing out. But on Sunday they were all glad that they came and were uplifted and renewed in spirit.  God truly blessed us with His presence.
One of the greatest joys for me was to have so many mom's before the retreat want to help by providing gifts for the other mom's. We had tons of stuff to give them! It was amazing. From books to special blankets to Sentsy.  It was such a blessing to see these mom's want to reach out.
Lots of prayer went into this weekend. In fact God would not let Marsha, Daisy or I sleep on Friday night so we were up praying into the wee hours of the night for the women God brought to the retreat. I think I can speak for all of us when the weekend was over we were exhausted but reassured that it made a difference for the kingdom of God.
The women who came out were precious to share their children's story with us and what a blessing it was to sit and listen.
For those of you that are reading this and  have not walked this path and have children, STOP. Stop and take time to enjoy today. The messes, the arguing, the whining, the laughter, the tears, the piles of laundry, the dirty rooms, all of these things are things I missed when I Josh and Jennifer died. And today I am so grateful that I have a child that I can honestly bask in today with.  When I pray with my son at night I always thank God for another day with him. Why? Because that is all I have. I don't know what tomorrow has. God does and for that I do not have to worry. I allow myself to worry about tomorrow it steals the joy of today. So hug your children a little tighter, a little longer. Thank God for all the things that irritate you about being a mom.  You may not loose them to death but they will grow up and you will miss this!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A time to sleep??

Yes it is 1:00 am and I am blogging.......what am I doing up you ask? Stuff for the Haven of Hope retreat that is April 8-10th. Yes that is only a week away which is why I am up.
For those of you that are not aware Haven of Hope ministers to mother's that have suffered the loss of a child. And today I was scrolling through pictures of the children for our slide show and was overwhelmed with the unfairness of a need for such a retreat.  I assure you every single one of these mom's would rather not need this retreat.
So I am sitting here shamelessly blogging at 1:00 am to ask you to join me in praying for these mom's this week. I know from experience that prayer makes all the difference.
Also please pray for Marsha, Daisy and myself as we prepare all that is needed to minister to these precious mom's.  A ton of prep work needs to be done and we are almost there but this week will be hectic in finishing up all the details.
After the 10th I will fill you in on how God answered your prayers and share with  you our next project, Easter Pageant at Central with none other than Zachary Gray as toddler Jesus. Lots of hilarious stories to be told  already and we have only had one rehearsal, but that will have to wait for now I will try to sleep.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A time for restoration

Today was Zachary's first rehearsal for Easter Pageant at Central. He is playing the part of toddler Jesus and he had a blast today. Those of you that know Zachary know that he is totally in his element when he is the center of attention so he totally hammed it up today. As we were leaving a sweet gentleman walked over to us and said that Zachary had a "neat personality".  I could not agree more and as I drove home I was once again overwhelmed with God's love for me.
When I look into that child's face I see God's love for me.  With every "I love you mom" and every "super duper" cool story he tells I am humbled by the fact that God loved me so much that He not only restored my role as mother but super exceeded it beyond anything I could have ever imagined.  What a blessing.


All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.
  The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys.  And he also had seven sons and three daughters
Job 42: 11-13

Friday, March 18, 2011

A time to keep silent, a time to speak.....

Confession time..........I was watching Oprah today and it spurred this blog.
She mad multiple families on her show that have served or are serving in the military. She also had families that have paid the ultimate sacrifice as they lost a loved one in the war. Her purpose of the show was to help us know what to do for these families. We all have been in a situation where we are not sure of what to say or do so many times we do nothing.....
That is not the answer. So here are some thoughts I wanted to share from my own experience:
1. Do not ask "how are you"  unless you really want to know
2. Do not say "call me if you need anything". This will not happen the person that is dealing with trauma or separation is so wrapped up in doing the "next" thing that they cannot even see what they need.
3. DO show up..............to either bring a meal, mow the grass, clean the house, or just sit and listen.
4. Do call, send an email, or a note of encouragement

We use to as a society take care of each other. We use to know our neighbors and we use to live by our families. Be sensitive to the needs of those around you. Reach out and let them know you care. You may not think it makes a difference or that someone else is taking care of them. You may never know the impact you have on that person but believe me it makes a difference. So does your silence and lack of action.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A time to surrender

There have been some very pivotal points in my life where God has brought me to a place of total surrender. This is one of those points. I have struggled this past four weeks with many questions. It seems the more we experience in life the more questions we have.
This past few weeks as I questioned why and struggled to make sense out of something so senseless anger trickled in and in my anger I gave the enemy a stronghold. My anger manifested in a poor attitude and a short temper with my family. I really blew it a few times with my two year old and I had thoughts like, "well not wonder God keeps taking all your children you are a horrible mom and you do not deserve to have children." Now you have to admit that in a way when you are trying to make sense of things we do not and cannot understand that seems like an answer that makes sense to our human minds. Our sin causes the consequences in our life, after all is that not what we teach our children?
Well this is what God revealed to me as I was speaking to a woman that voiced a statement much like mine. As she said that is must have been something she did that caused God to take her loved one I realized how wrong that thinking was.
You see first of all we do not serve a vindictive God. We do serve a God that gave His only son to die on the cross for our sin. Jesus' blood covered our sin. So what that means is if we yell at our children and sin and our anger God does not in turn take them from us. If that was the case then there would be far more families without children.  Don't get me wrong I do believe that there are consequences to our deliberate disobedience but it is not out of vengeance but out of love.
Once I was released of the insane thoughts of my mind I was able to take a step back and focus on who God is and has been in my life. He is my Savior, my comforter, my prince of peace, the Great I Am,  the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, my deliverer, my redeemer......
Once  I focus on those characteristics of God then I am able to surrender to His will for my life. My question can then go from why to what. What am I suppose to do with this? How am I to be used in this?
COMPLETE SURRENDER! knowing that I am loved by the King and while I do not have any answers as to why I have had to loose 3 of my 4 children but I do know that God does not waste anything. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A time to seek

In this season of seeking God has been faithful. As I mentioned in my first post I have struggled with anger. It is not a coincidence that 4 months ago God gave me the verse, " be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil." Ephesians 4:25-27
At the time it helped me with a situation with another person that I was dealing with and I wrote it on my mirror. As I reflected on that verse yesterday I was challenged by a friends statement and forced to ask myself why I am angry. As I sought out the answer to that question I realized that I was angry at the situation, the unfairness of loosing three children. I know that God is still the same God that He has always been in my life. I do not serve a cruel God. And He also gives me permission to be angry. In fact that verse alone says that He knows we will have anger because it is a God given emotion. He does not tell us not to be angry. It does not make you a weak and unfaithful Christian if you struggle with anger. And yes I have had people say that to me.
The second part of that verse was the most convicting...........and do not sin in your anger.  While God gives us permission to be angry He has also set boundaries in that anger. He does that because He knows that if you let anger take root it will give way to bitterness and consume you. So what does it mean to not sin on your anger?  I had a friend ask me today if He gives us a list of how to do that. I wish it was in black and white then it would be so much easier. In seeking this in my own life I had to take note of how I handled my anger. And I am sad to say I have sinned in my anger by taking it out on my husband, my son and other family members.
The last part of that verse is the scariest for me........and give no opportunity to the devil. What that is saying is if you sin in your anger you give opportunity to the devil. That is not who I want to serve.
So as I reflect on that verse He gave me so many months ago I came across this verse
"Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:25-26
My heart has turned to "why" to "what", What does God want me to do with this trial. I am not sure what that is but I will continue to seek because there is comfort and peace when you seek God's will for your life.

Monday, February 28, 2011

A time to laugh

I am so grateful that our heavenly father created us in such a way that through our season of mourning He still provides laughter. I learned this lesson the first time at a very difficult time of my life. It was when Joshua ,Jennifer and my dad died and we had the visitation. I was standing at the back of the funeral home with my Uncle and he said something to me that made me laugh out loud. There were 2 sweet women that my dad worked with that had come to pay their respects and had no idea who I was. These two women looked at me with tear stained cheeks and gave me the meanest look they could. See they thought I was being disrespectful when in reality it was exactly what I needed at that moment. Once I took my rightful spot back at the front of the room and they realized who I was they were very apologetic. I learned through that experience that even in the darkest moments of our lives God gives us exactly what we need exactly when we need it. At that moment I needed to laugh. I needed to see that my remaining days would not be void of laughter.
During our newest period of grief in loosing the baby I realized that we don't laugh in our house as much as we did 3 weeks ago. At least I don't, and of course as a mom and wife we really do set the mood of the house.
Those of you that know our sweet Zachary know he is full of reasons to laugh and last night as I was putting my sweet boy to bed I looked into his face and through my anger and frustration and sorrow I saw the face of a loving God looking back at me. See even in my confusion and anger as to why God would have me walk this path again I cannot deny that He loves me. All I have to do is look into the face of my sweet baby boy to see how much my Saviour loves me. That made me smile and yes even laugh.
So as I face today I choose to find reasons to laugh and rejoice in that sound for I know it is a gift from God
Even though it still hurts...............

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A TIME TO MOURN

Yes, unfortuantely we are in a season of mourning in our house. This is not a season I am unfamilar with having lost two children and my father in a car accident eight years ago. My most resent loss happened three weeks ago. We found out on Januray 11th that I was pregnant. We had been trying for 2 years to get pregnant so we were so excited. Three weeks later we got the news that there was not a heartbeat and I had to undergo a D&C. This devestated us as a couple but for me it opens old wounds.
To be totally honest it makes me angry.....
And as strange as this may sound this is a new emotion for me. I did not have anger when Josh and Jennifer died. I believe it is because I was covered with the grace of God. However this seemed to me that God was cruel to allow me to get pregnant and then take yet another child from me. So at this crossroad I am forced to make a decision to either believe what I know about God or to walk away.
For today I choose to believe what I know about God. In spite of the pain, sorrow, and anger I will hold on to the only thing I know.

Seasons

In our life there are seasons for everything:

"a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck what has been planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace."
Ecclesiastes 3:2-8
In this blog spot I will be talking about these seasons as they are applicable to our life.