Monday, March 28, 2011

Family, not by blood, but by love...

Many, many things on my mind and heart today...  This last week has been such a long and difficult one. 
To begin, I have to explain something.  My best friend of over 20 years has the most wonderful family ever… to include: Renee and her husband Johnny (and their sons, Adam, Kaleb, and Trevor), her mom, Frances, dad, Roger, sister, Tammy, brother-in-law, Ricky, and nephews, Shane, Josh, and his wife Sarah (and their two precious boys, Zeke and Eli), and Ricky’s niece, Ashley.  I am so honored to be included as a part of this family, even though I am not blood related at all.  They are what families should strive to be, should want to be... what God truly intends for families to be.  They support, love, and care for one another… not just sometimes, but ALL the time. (I am stressing ALL because there are too many who only care when it is too late.)  I am fortunate to be included in their family get-togethers on holidays.  I cannot ever remember a time that any one of these get-togethers had someone arguing or any drama involved, not a drop of animosity to be found.  All I can ever remember is hours and hours of talking, laughing, listening to our vast and eclectic music collections, and maybe even a little dancing here and there (well, maybe that is just me, Renee and Tammy LOL).  I never, ever tire of spending time with them.  I can be ME with them.  No fear of judgment, just unconditional acceptance and love (EVEN though I am an Alabama fan!).  Some just don’t understand how much this family means to me… and how much they make me KNOW I mean to them. 
On December 20, 2008, Roger passed away after a battle with cancer.  I remember that while he was in the hospital during one of his many trips there, we were all talking and I remarked that he had always been there for Tammy and Renee as a father should be. His response was to sing, “That’s my job… that’s what I do..”  Hang on a second, I need more tissues…………………….. ok, I am back.  The day Roger went to be with Jesus, I went to see him at the hospital.  As always, he had a ready joke to tell me, even though he was struggling to breathe.  Of course, he made me laugh but my heart was breaking.  Frances’ sister, Jewel was there and as she walked out of the bathroom, he looked at her, pointed to me and said, “THAT is my other daughter right there!”  If most of you don’t know, I am not really good at NOT crying but I held it in until I left the room. I did not make it to the elevator, needless to say.  He went home on hospice that afternoon and within a few hours Renee called me to come.  I did not want to have to say goodbye, but I had to make sure he knew how much I loved him and what he meant to my life.  Some did not understand why I was there; again many do not understand that blood does not always mean everything in a family. Love is what matters.  And Roger had enough love in him for not only his blood, but for many others as well.  See, that is the thing.  So many families have a hard enough time loving each other… their BLOOD.  But that is what is so amazing about THIS family.  LOVE is all they know.  And not just a regular love… a love strong with God at the very center of it.  Firm, strong, faith filled, armor-type love.   If this world had more people who understood how to love this way…  I just cannot imagine how much better it would be. 

And now this family is under attack from the enemy again.  Josh and Sarah’s 18 month old son, Zeke, was taken to Children’s hospital in Birmingham by ambulance last Wednesday because a CT scan revealed a large tumor in his chest that was also pressing on his esophagus.  He underwent a biopsy on Thursday and many other tests. On Friday, the family was told he has Stage 2B Neuroblastoma.  While this news has been devastating, they have said that although the tumor is large itself, it seems to be localized. His blood work, bone marrow biopsy, and bone scans show it has not spread. Thank You GOD!  Zeke began his first round of chemotherapy yesterday.  So far today, the only side effect he is experiencing is a decrease in appetite.  I have seen so much love and prayer for Zeke and for this family in the last week.  I cannot even describe it.  I have watched an amazing family being shaken to their very foundation… but I have also seen them immediately, without hesitation, seek God to help them shore up their defenses and to praise Him daily. I have seen them reach out to the family of 6 mth old Lillian Brackins, who was taken up to Children’s on Thursday and was diagnosed with leukemia.  I have seen them, once again, expand their love… to Lillian and her family and they have prayed fervently.
This unexpected fork in the road, this journey, is going to be long and difficult, but I have no doubt that they will never question the faithfulness of the Lord and what He can do. I know there will be times where there will be tears of grief, frustration, and anguish as Zeke has to go through things no child should ever have to endure… but if I know this family as well as I believe I do, there will also be smiles, laughter, and so, so, so much love. 

 Besides complete and total healing and of course no side effects from the chemo, my constant prayer is that we will all let this family’s faith and love infect us, that we will value those we love and never take them for granted, and most importantly that Zeke’s testimony will change lives and bring more to know the love and grace of the Lord.

Please visit the Team Zeke website and Zeke’s Caringbridge site at

Join me in sending up IMMEDIATE prayers also for:
God bless these children and their families.

Matthew 7:7-8  Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Friday, December 17, 2010


We walk through our lives thinking things just cannot ever happen to us.  We put our trust and hopes in those we love and although we know the risks, we do it anyway.  Yet, we are still surprised when those people betray that trust or we are blindsided when those people are taken from us somehow, someway.  We look at people when bad things happen to them, and we think, “Well, that can’t happen to my life.”  How wrong we all are.  Not one of us is immune.  No matter our walk in life, where we live, what religion we are, how much money we have… bad things happen.  Things you can never see coming.  And they will knock you down to your knees.  They will shatter you, leave you broken, almost destroyed and gasping for air.  The enemy is lurking out there.  He is deceitful, he is manipulative, he is evil, and he comes in all shapes and forms.  Each and every day, people find themselves trapped in the web of lies he weaves or he uses selfish people to rip someone from our lives.  When you are on the receiving end of this hurt, it is easy to want to lash out. To break those who have broken us or to make someone feel the hurt you do.  It is a very real, very human emotion.  Not a Godly one, by any means, but it is a human reaction you cannot help but feel.  There are many stages of the pain that you go through.  You go from crying, to screaming, to sobbing, to yelling, to crying, to throwing things, and back to sobbing… all in a matter of minutes.  You are ok for a while and then it comes back again.  What is left of your heart breaks a little more and the cycle begins again.  You wonder when you will wake up from this nightmare that has taken over your life.  You know God is there, you feel His presence as you cry out to Him for help.  You beg Him to stop the pain, to make it all go away.  You beg for answers and for peace.  You know that somehow, someway He will get you through this, even as the heartbreak seizes your body with agony time and time again.  You can see Him in the faces of your children as they make you smile, even though you thought you would never smile again.  You hear Him in their voices as they tell you how much they love you.  You realize by the outpouring of love and support from so many that He is there and He will not leave you to deal with this on your own. 
I had a friend ask in a post if your heart ever scars enough that there is no room for anymore scars.  Sadly, a heart can continue to beat with every inch bound in scars. Pain is an inevitable part of our lives in this sinful world we live in.  It pulls us to the brink of insanity, it makes us want to curl up and die.  But it also gives us strength, it gives us courage, it gives us the testimony of our Faith in a loving Lord and Savior who can bring us through anything, it helps us find forgiveness for those who cause us pain, and even helps us to go on with our lives without someone we love.  I have had much pain in my own life. Much too numerous to name here, that is for sure.  It is my wish that none of you ever experience the pain of any type of heartbreak or loss, but I know that nothing can spare any one of us from it while we are in this life.  So, my prayer for each of you is that God uses your pain in a way that glorifies Him… even if you feel every human emotion there is through it.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalm 46: 1-3

P.S.  I am reminded of feeling many of the feelings I have described above, nine years ago, when I lost a good friend who was taken way too soon from this world.  As I am now thrown back into these feelings, I would give anything if he were here to listen.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vocabulary lesson on the value of friendship... or maybe the lack of?!?

I have gotten behind on my blog due to high stress and busy weeks.  I am struggling but I am determined to keep up better.

The following is something I wrote a while back but never had a chance to post. Enjoy!

adj.: 1. a: marked by lack of steadfastness, constancy, or stability b: given to erratic changeableness

noun: 1. a: Definition of TRUST
assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something b : one in which confidence is placed
           2. a: dependence on something future or contingent : hope

noun  Definition of FRIEND
1. a : one attached to another by affection or esteem b : acquaintance

My husband, being a police officer, is naturally distrusting of people.  Someone has to earn his trust and even then… he is never blindsided by how fickle and cruel people can be. He is pretty good at reading people from the get-go, so most people just don’t surprise him. With me, I trust too easily most of the time and people have always had to hurt me for me to see they were never worthy of my trust. Then I get upset and beat myself up over the fact that I was stupid enough to put my trust in them at all.  Where is the happy medium? How do you prepare your children to deal with this world, especially this mean and nasty one they are living in, making them cautious without making them completely distrusting?  I know if I was not as trusting as I am, I may not have the lasting friendships I have.  I have been blessed to have many great friends over the years with a few constant, reliable, "accept me as I am" friendships. These people have never questioned my crazy self and they love me... despite ME!  These are the people I am comfortable around, because I never have to worry about just being myself with them. I know there are many types of friendships you have throughout your life. Some dwindle away.  Some are not meant to last, even if they touch your life for a moment and make a difference in it. Some are just toxic and the best thing is for them to be over. Some are better in small doses.  Some last a lifetime and become a part of you.  I can honestly tell you, that as I look around, many people these days do not value any type friendship the way that they should.  I hurt for my children as I see them grow up in a world that does not honor friendship and loyalty… only the “right here, right now, I will just discard someone from yesterday for someone else today” kind of friendships. Someone with teenage children told my best friend and me the other day, "There are no friendships like yours anymore."  How sad is that?  I know I cannot spare my children the hurt that people will cause them. As a Christian, I want them to be trusting, Godly people, but as a mom, I don’t want to see them get hurt either. I am very thankful that my daughter seems to handle these situations better than her mom.  The mama tiger in me wants to scratch someone’s eyes out when they are mean to her but she just shrugs her shoulders and says, “Oh well, they were not deserving of my friendship anyway.” I was always impacted when someone was mean to me (still am) and I am glad she handles it better than I ever did.  She is very forgiving, but like me she keeps her guard up a little with someone after they have hurt her.  I know that all of the friends my kids make are not going to be and are not meant to be lifelong friends. But still, I pray daily that God will bring people into their lives that they can form a bond with, people who will love them for who they are and never expect them to be anything other than themselves. I also pray that the other ones will only make them stronger and help them to understand the hurt that you can cause someone.  I am proud of my children for loving who they are and being comfortable with themselves.  As has become my constant chant as of late, I do not require my children to fit inside a box, therefore they do not expect others to fit in the box of what most in our society deem as normal.  What is normal really?  hmmm... sounds like a good topic for my next post.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hard fought battle... and an awesome night sky!

O God of my praise, Do not be silent! For they have opened their wicked and deceitful mouth against me; they have spoken against me with a lying tongue. They have also surrounded me with words of hatred, and fought against me without cause. In return for my love they act as my accusers; but I am in prayer. Thus they have repaid me evil for good and hatred for my love. Psalm 109: 1-5
It has sure been one long week.  I feel as though I have been through an emotional wringer repeatedly.  I had years of pent up emotions explode like a volcano of epic proportions.  I know I am supposed to turn a cheek and not get angry, but I am only human and this has been a long time coming... about thirty years.  It took an attack on my children for me to have had ENOUGH!  You automatically assume if someone is family that you have to have them in your life, but there are times when it is necessary to remove toxic relationships, even if it is a family member.  I have realized this week that this is the best course of action in this situation and the only other thing I can do is pray.  I am sad that this person is doing everything possible to distance me from someone who has always been an important part of my life, someone who I love very much but this is another thing I have to put into God's hands.  This week I said many things I should have continued to hold back and had many things said to me that were meant to destroy me.  But the great thing is… I have a relationship with a wonderful, loving, and forgiving Lord and Savior.  He has forgiven me and has given me the strength to withstand this attack against me.  I also have the ability to pray that maybe this person will find God and know the forgiveness, grace, and love He has to offer.  However, I do not have to let this person bring hatred, selfishness, and jealousy into my life.  Hatred, selfishness and jealousy can eat you alive and turn you into something almost monstrous.  Satan loves to use these emotions to sabotage each and every life around.  But God gives me the ability to stand firm against any weapon yielded against me.  Attacks may hurt or wound, but they will not destroy.
Ok, to get off the proverbial soap box and on a lighter note.  Did anyone else see the awesome site of Jupiter in the night sky?  Sitting there with my children, looking at the amazing creation of God… I felt more peace than I thought I could feel.  How blessed we are!  God took such care to create the heavens and the earth for us, just for us and we take it for granted so often.  I am glad I took the time to stop and enjoy it with my children.  I may just make it a new habit!!!
O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!
      Your glory is higher than the heavens.
 You have taught children and infants
      to tell of your strength,
   silencing your enemies
      and all who oppose you.
 When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—
      the moon and the stars you set in place—
 what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
      human beings that you should care for them?
 Yet you made them only a little lower than God
      and crowned them with glory and honor.
 You gave them charge of everything you made,
      putting all things under their authority—
 the flocks and the herds
      and all the wild animals,
 the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea,
      and everything that swims the ocean currents.
 O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!
                                                           -Psalm 8:1-9

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Just venting...

My household is definitely run by the "spare the rod, spoil the child" philosophy.  My children are expected to behave and understand there are consequences if they don't.  However, I do know that as children, they will test these boundaries and that sometimes, they will be "kids."  I get around other people and their kids, then I realize my kids are very good for the most part, despite being typical kids, i.e. hyper and loud.  It is when people assume that my kids are not behaving and they take it upon themselves to correct my children (repeatedly) when I am sitting right there, that I have a problem.  I am NOT one of those parents who let their kids run wild and crazy without ever getting onto them. I have been accused at times that I am too hard on them and I need to let them be kids.  It is usually people who have children of walking and talking age that say this.  Those without kids or who have babies, look at my children at times like they are out of the Exorcist and will soon begin to spew pea soup if they simply run in front of the TV or speak a little too loudly.  My kids are not bad kids.  They are actually pretty loving, most of the time respectful, they love God, and they know right from wrong.  No, they do not sit there silently, hands in lap, for hours on end (and at times they say and do things they simply know they shouldn't despite knowing they will get in trouble for it... oh the horrors!).  When you are a parent for a while, you learn to not stress over the small stuff.  Make them mind, but don't sit there watching their every single move waiting for them to mess up just so you can get on to them.  I certainly do not do this to other people's kids and I do not expect someone to do it to mine.  If I ask you, "Will you please watch my child?" then by all means, make them mind.  But if I am right there, I WILL correct them when I feel it neccessary.  If you see them doing something dangerous and I don't see it.. then stop them from getting hurt.  If they are behaving in a way you feel is wrong and I do not see it.. then tell me and I will surely take care of it.  But never, ever think your kids will not act hyper, back talk, do something they are not supposed to, break something in a store, or that you won't ever give in to their wants at times in life.  I promise you, you will regret thinking that.  People always think their kids will never....... but they will. And, point blank and frankly, if you just cannot handle the way I feel about this, then maybe it is time we rethink hanging out together.  My kids are my life. I do not dump my kids off on a sitter just so I can go hang out with people who don't understand life with children.  After hanging out with a great family Friday night, who have kids close to my kid's ages... I realized how relaxing it was not to feel the need to worry constantly that my children would offend an adult with their mere presence.  Not once did these parents find it neccessary to correct my children.  They were dealing with their kids and they let me deal with mine.  I could see how much more relaxed my kids were and they behaved so much better.  I think this is why I enjoy hanging out with my best friend and her family so much. Besides the fact that they love me, for me... they love my children, for themselves.  They are able to play with her kids and feel free to be the kids they are.  I am able to just... breathe.  It is such a great feeling. It deducts from my stress levels instead of adding to them.  I should not have to get so stressed out to go hang out with people just because I know I will have to watch every move my kids make.  It's not fair to me or my kids. I know that there will be times that I and my kids will have to endure this but I will be making it very clear in the future that if someone cannot handle being around my kids, then maybe they should just not be around them... or me.  My children are the biggest blessing of my life and I am so tired of making them uncomfortable by hindering their curiosity and wonderful energy (that I would love to have a 1/4 of) because I am in fear another adult will not understand it.  I know I keep going back to it, but it is just the truth.  My kids don't fit inside the box that people think kids are supposed to fit in.  Be assured, they WILL be made to mind, but I will not rob them of any ounce of their childhood any longer.

Jesus himself said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children."  Matthew 19:14

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rule #1, Don't use red???

I had an awesome chat today with a good friend, Jemmie.  He is a very talented artist in many ways.  We talked about our high school art classes and how much we have either learned or not learned since then.  Jemmie was able to live a dream of mine, he attended the Art Institute after high school.  I feel fortunate to have been able to take art in high school but there is so much about it that seems so "generic" as I get older (and hopefully much wiser.)  We were expected to conform to the art curriculum laid out for us.  The problem?  Artists, like every other person on this earth, are NOT the same.  We don't all enjoy drawing perfect circles on a piece of paper or a still life "bowl of fruit".  We don't all like to be told... draw this, just like this, with these colors here.  We don't want to be told, "You cannot use red." (Inside joke, Jemmie will understand)  The point is to use the colors that you feel, that express how you see something.  An artist has the ability to let people see what they see through their eyes.  Now some, would look at a piece of artwork and say, 'That is not right! That is not the way it looks. It is not even that color."   I believe God gives us all the ability to see the world in our own colors, to view it in our own unique way.  I just think we are conditoned through life to try to see things in the same colors. Instead of nurturing the uniqueness of an individual, we want to force them to be what we have been brought up to believe is normal and correct.  I love history, I am by no means an expert, but I wonder where this way of thinking came about?  Is it something that goes back to Adam and Eve?  When they saw the world through the eyes of sin, did it cloud their minds of the beautiful colors they saw the world in to start with?  I hear the questions some may be asking right now, "But aren't we supposed to see things the same?  Aren't Christians supposed to change and be like God?"  Well, yes.  But does that mean losing our uniqueness or what makes us... us?  God created each of us, to be like him... yet, He made none of us alike.  If Christ is in us, someone should be able to see that through anything.  Long hair, tattoos, even scars from a past not lived in a walk with God.  If your heart is filled with love for God, no outer appearance or expression of individuality will hide it.  God created the colors of the rainbow and painted the earth with them, so that we, His children, could enjoy all He had created.  And He even used the color red!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Below is an excerpt of a post on Josh's guestbook on from one of his friends in Colorado:

"But the most important memories was how we accepted each other "CHECKMARKED AS IS" ..."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Saying goodbye...

Saying goodbye is never an easy thing to do. Even if it is just temporary and you know that someday you will see that person again, it is difficult to not be sad when someone you care about is gone.

Today we honored the life of a friend who passed away way too soon. There were a lot of tears, but there was an equal amount of laughter. Listening to someone talk about the great times they had with a friend and the memories they made together is very cathartic. Hearing a pastor speak about someone who was living in pain for so long and shares how they gave their heart to God brings a peace that is indescribable. Seeing old friends for the first time in years can make for some great reminiscing sessions that you never want to end. Talking to the parents of another friend who was also taken away too young, can leave you feeling melancholy. Knowing that those two best friends are now reunited in Glory… there are simply no words.

I pray that when my day comes, people will honor me as Josh was honored today. I hope I have touched throughout my life just a fraction of the lives he touched with his wonderful heart and smile.

Don't be dismayed at goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetime, is certain for those who are friends. ~Richard Bach

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11... so much to say...

I can't believe it has been nine years.  Nine years ago, our lives changed forever.  We faced our mortality as we had never done before.  We all felt safe in the cocoon of the United States.  The horror we watched that day was surreal but none of us could turn away from the TV. Do you remember where you were or what you were doing that day?  I, myself, remember that day so vividly.  I was sitting at my desk at work, starting my busy day as usual.  My boss's wife called to tell us to turn the TV on and that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  We turned it on... and it stayed on all day.  We sat in front of it and could not tear ourselves away.  The phones were unusually silent... probably because everyone else was just like us, scared to even breathe.  I remember pointing to the screen, yelling at a co-worker, "There's another plane!"  and then gasping as it hit the second tower.  There was no doubt then that this was not just some accident. Something truly evil had come out from the depths of hell to descend on us.  Smoke, flames and shattered windows were the only things we could see from the comfort of our chairs and couches.  What kind of hell were those people living through? I remember seeing little specks on the screen, not knowing at that point that it was people jumping to their deaths. I look back now and wonder how they could have done that, but then I also wonder just how bad it had to have been inside that building for them to do that.  Then, the towers began to collapse and I remember the sickening feeling of all the people still inside and of all the people on the outside who could not escape the torrent of debris.  Then the reports of other planes being hijacked soon began to come across the news screen.  The plane that crashed into the Pentagon, then the one that crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.  We all had that sickening feeling that life as we knew it, would never be quite the same.  The safety net of our Nation, the bubble that we all lived in, had been compromised in the blink of an eye in a way that none of us thought could ever be possible.  We watched our President step to action.  He has been greatly criticized for many things he did during his time as President, but I know he brought me peace with his words during that time.  He called upon the name of God and I felt comfort in that.  There have been many.. way too many lives lost over the last nine years. First, on that fateful morning, and continuing throughout two wars that are still being fought by our brave soldiers today.  All of this because of hatred, anger, and religion.  No, I am not attacking anyone's "religion" by saying this.  But religion is not what we should claim when we live for God.  Religion is a broad term that frankly, is overused.  I don't want to be labeled "religious" because that can mean so many things.  The monsters who stepped on those planes full of innocent people, they claimed to be "religious". No, loving God has nothing to do with religion, it means you are redeemed, forgiven, saved by the blood shed by Jesus Christ on the cross.  Many ask, 'Where was God on September 11?"  "Why did He let this happen?"  God was with each and every person in those buildings and on those planes, as well as with all of us who called upon Him that day.  He was with every fireman who was bravely climbing those steps as others were going down to escape.  He was with every policeman as they tried to help people get out and to safety.  The will of man is not the will of God.  He cried with us that day because this is not what He wanted for us.  Sin brought this upon us, not God.  Could He have stopped it, oh sure.  But man made the choice for free will when he chose to disobey God in the beginning.  The wages of sin is death.  The only hope we have in this evil world we live in, is to give ourselves to God, through Jesus.  Then there will come a time that we will no longer live in fear of evil and we will never shed another tear.  You can live with hope and have the joy in that hope.. or you can live without hope and be sad, miserable and of this cruel world.  I choose hope.  And on this day of remembrance, I hold on to that hope and to my Faith.  I look back on the horror of this day nine years ago and feel remorse for all who were lost, but I also feel a pride for our Nation as it responded to that horror with love and compassion.  I pray that this day reminds us all of that.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Losing touch.. Part 2

I heard from so many on my note "Losing Touch..." that I decided to write a second part. My heart is extremely heavy, because Josh passed away. I went to the hospital to see him on Tuesday afternoon but he had already been moved to CCU and I could not see him. I talked to his mom and awkwardly tried to express how I felt. I really hope she understands that although I came across as the "weird girl Josh went to school with"... I really had much to say that I could not even begin to express in the correct way. I seem to have a way with words, written that is. But as most of you know about me when it comes to talking in person, my nerves cause my mouth to go into overdrive and I never know what I will say. I can think it in the most perfect way, but once it hits my mouth... it is just a hot mess. I wanted so much for her to know how Josh had touched my life and what a special person he was. But then, I felt so out of place. Who was I to be there when I hadn't even kept in touch with him over the years? There were so many who deserved to be there and I surely did not. I felt the pull to go see him from the moment I found out he was sick, if for nothing more than to tell him thanks for being a good friend in high school, but I kept telling myself that I should not impose on the time his family and close friends had left with him. The pull continued all afternoon until I finally followed my heart to go. By then, he had been moved into CCU and I could not see him. He stayed on my mind and my heart all night. I called to check on him and see if there was anything his mom needed. I know there is nothing I could do or say that would ever ease her pain, but I just wanted to help in some way. The reports after that were good and he seemed to be improving. Someone even mentioned he might get put back in a regular room and I was thrilled for him. I was praying continuously for Josh, and I wanted so much for him to be healed. I was talking to a friend and telling her that he was improving and doing well. Then I got the message from Brad.... "Josh is gone". I know those had to be the hardest three words for Brad to type. He lost his best friend and I could feel his agony in those three words. Josh was so young.. way too young to be gone. He will be missed tremendously and I am so ashamed of myself that I let so much time go by. How do we allow ourselves to walk away from our graduations and leave behind those who we called friends? I know life is full and it is so hard to find the time for those even closest to us. I, myself, want to make an effort to reach out to those who meant so much to me in my life. If you get a message from me that just says "Thank You"... well, you know that I am just trying to show my gratitude for some kindness you showed me that meant something in my life. However small, that kindness was one piece that helped me toward completing the puzzle that is my life.

I hope to someday tell Josh that I was thankful that he taught me to laugh and that he always had a smile to brighten my day . In the meantime he is acting a fool and cutting up with our friend, Jacob, who was there to greet him as he passed from this life into the next. I am sure Jesus is getting a good laugh. I can't wait to see them someday and tell them both what they meant to my life. Then they will be cracking me up. Wow, laughter through tears. As I said in Part 1.. laughter heals. Tears cleanse the wound and then laughter heals it. I hope all of you can stop and remember Josh with maybe a tear... and then a smile. It is even ok if that smile turns into laughter!! Rest In Peace Josh Darden! You will never be forgotten!!!

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: ......A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; Ecclesiastes 3:1-4