Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Prayers for Wade Williams -

I haven't known how to write this, haven't wanted to write this, haven't wanted to believe the battle is almost over. I feel as though a million words are begging to be said, and yet words cannot truly tell how much you love someone, and ache when they ache.....

It was a few days after Barberville, it was April 4th, and I was house sitting for some friends. It was a calm afternoon, and I logged into my CaringBridge site for some updates that quite frankly, I never processed very well because it all seemed so surreal. The dogs all looked up in worry as moans, deep moans broke from my throat. The moans that come from the forgotten broken part of your heart. Moans of disbelief and pain, of deepest sorrow... moans only the Spirit can translate as prayers. 

I cried the rest of the day. 

Because there are no words to say when one of your daddy's best friends in the world is dying of cancer. 

That night I was banging around in the kitchen, trying desperately not to scream, and I finally called up my parents .... and Daddy already knew. He had read the update a few days before, he had already known that things ... that ... how do you write this? That Wade would not be long here. 

on Facebook a few minutes later, I wrote this: "I just received bad cancer news about a dear family friend. Broke down in tears and called my Daddy on the phone, only to have him tell me that being with Jesus is all we all long for anyway, and that Jesus knows our pain. Started crying all over again since it's his friend that is going earlier than we wanted. Brokenhearted and thankful that Jesus changes everything for us." 

The rest of that week was a blur of pain. The weekend following, I was hosting a table at our church's ladies tea, and as I wrapped up piece after piece of my grandmother's china to take over, I finally burst out something in a flurry of tearful, broken words to my Mom. 

"You know what is absolutely stunning? That for 2 years....TWO can wake up every morning and tell yourself that Wade is not going to survive Glioblastoma, and then you get the news one day that he is dying, and you are stunned and shocked beyond all belief. As if you didn't tell yourself every single day that he was dying. As if your heart beyond all reason continues to hope, even when your brain refuses to believe anything close to hope. Unbelievable." 

Unbelievable. And yet true. Oh, the tears. We've all wept over Wade having cancer. 

He was diagnosed 2 years ago, May 4, with a brain tumor. Brain tumors are bad enough....but Glioblastoma is something no one ever wants to hear. There is no cure for Glioblastoma, and a very low survival rate, and yet Wade has fought valiantly for two years. 

From the very beginning, Wade has said "the secret things belong to God", which makes me smile so much, because that is so like the Mr. Williams I know and love. 

When someone you have known your whole life, and your Daddy has known for at least 40 years, your memories and your past, and your whole world seem tied forever to them. Tied in laughter and tears, tied through the home-goings of my Daddy's parents, tied through hearing story after story after hilarious story of Wade & Daddy growing up together and playing guitar together. Every year for Thanksgiving, we would go up to Atlanta to spend it with my Daddy's parents, and every year, we'd get together with Wade and Jennifer Williams, because Chelsea was around Kim and I's age, and we were like three peas in a pod. "Dangerous" adventures, and hikes and parks and games .... and Moe's. "Welcome to Moe's!".... walking into the church they attended back then was like going to my second home, I thought. It was a wonderful time....and the people we loved were there.

I remember distinctly when Mr. Williams used their own tickets and took Kimberly, myself and Chelsea to a dramatic reading of The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe .... We didn't know how good it would be, and we sat there spellbound and riveted as voices swirled over us in the semi darkness of the theatre. 

They are dear, dear family friends. Here is a video that Perimeter Church made that year after his diagnosis: 

and now we have come to the the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

And even though we do not walk it with Wade literally, we walk it with him emotionally and prayerfully and mentally, we walk it from 495 miles away, from FL to GA. Our hearts are with them, and our prayers have dug deep wells full of expectant grace for them that we know the Father is giving them. We feel it in our prayers and we think of it at night, we see it in each other's eyes and we know it in our hugs and tears.

And I am not at all walking it as bravely or well as Wade and Jennifer are.
I'm listening to this multiple times a day. Every day. All day. This. This by Shane & Shane & Piper.

And now I am asking you on behalf of Wade & Jennifer and their children - Heather, Rebekah, Chelsea and David and their spouses and grandchildren - to come before the throne of mercy for them, and ask God's richest mercies upon them now.

From Wade's wife Jennifer - "This is the most difficult post to write as this all seems so unreal. 
Things have shifted in the last few days and it looks like Wade is nearing his journey home to be with Jesus. 

My greatest desire now is that he be as comfortable as possible. These last several days have been hard as things have shifted, and we are all pretty tired. So, we would ask for your prayers that the rest of the journey would be peaceful, and without complications. As is typical throughout the journey, there are patterns, but everyone is different. I also would ask for prayer that God's timing would allow our family to all be present to walk with him as he finishes his journey to the gate." 

I found this quote and immediately thought of Mr. Wade, and sent it to them a few weeks ago -

"You shall not lack a Rescuer when you most need Him. The Pilot, who has conducted you across the stormy main, will not resign the government just as the vessel enters the deepest haven. The Captain, who has conquered for, and conquered in you, will not leave you when on the eve of the final conflict and the certain victory. Oh no! Jesus will be with you to the last." 
~ Octavius Winslow ~ 

Please be praying with us, friends....we would covet them for the Williams family.

Our hearts are breaking and we have many questions and tears, but we know Wade will soon be Home, and will see the Savior we all long to be with, and will be able to sing and play guitar (his great joys), and we will all be there with him soon and forever.

"I would have despaired unless I believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." ~ Psalm 27:13

We love you, Wade and Jennifer and family! We love you so very much. Our hearts are with you. 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Reflections (21) -

"My faith rests not in what I am, or shall be, or feel, or know, 
but in what Christ is, in what He has done, and in what He is now doing for me." 
~ Charles Spurgeon ~ 

"The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in mercy. 
He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. 

He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. 
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. 

As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. 
For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust." 
~ Psalm 103: 8-14 ~ 

Photo taken: Resurrection Sunday April 20, 2014

"I Need Thee Every Hour" by Annie S. Hawks (1872) 

"1. I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord; 
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.

Chorus: I need Thee, O I need Thee; every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now my Savior, I come to Thee.

2. I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby; 
temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh. 

I need Thee, O I need Thee; every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now my Savior, I come to Thee.

3. I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain; 
Come quickly and abide, or life is in vain.

I need Thee, O I need Thee; every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now my Savior, I come to Thee.

4. I need Thee every hour, teach me Thy will; 
and thy rich promises in me fulfill. 

I need Thee, O I need Thee; every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now my Savior, I come to Thee.

5. I need Thee every hour, most Holy One; 
O make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son.

I need Thee, O I need Thee; every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now my Savior, I come to Thee." 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

My Project 52 (17) -

Week 17

Today's outfit. My new blouse from Old Navy ($16!), my skinny-straight jeans and my coral flats. 
It was a good day celebrating Nichole and her upcoming wedding to Jeff in May! 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Friend -

From Lisa-Jo Baker, the Gypsy Mama"On Fridays around these parts we like to write. Not for comments or traffic or anyone else's agenda. But for fun, for practice, for joy at the sound of syllables, sentences and paragraphs all strung together by the voice of the speaker. We love to just write without worrying if it's just right or not. For five minutes flat."

Today's prompt: Friend:

~ Go ~

"Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. 
It's splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world." ~ Anne of Green Gables

Photo taken - Feb 27, 2014

Dear Friend ....

Lately I haven't known how to talk to you. 
Perhaps it's because I haven't known how to talk to myself either. I feel like I'm drowning in a million words. 

It's so easy for me to write you a quick message about the latest song I love, or the cutest thing someone's baby did, or how much photography drives me downright insane sometimes .... and it's so easy to enter into your lives, and I love doing so - thank you for letting me in so willingly. 

You are my cheerleaders and the uplifters of my heart. You make me laugh on the days I'm sure I'll never laugh again, and you listen to me while I rant about the 90th thing that ticked me off that day. 

I've been there with you through births, surgeries, graduations, emergencies, unknowns, sorrows, joys, weddings, the ending of the space shuttle era, loss of jobs, the scary world of cancer and the splendid delightful business of finding your heart's true love.
I've walked steep hills with you, hiking for fun, crossing rivers dangerously, trespassing lightly,
and treading water we definitely shouldn't have been in, both literally and figuratively. Haha. 
I've gone running beside you, groaning and whining and laughing at our crazy hair.
I've watched you dance at your weddings, and rushed around like crazy with you to get the right shots. 
I've walked beaches with you, and I've sought the comfort of the quiet when you couldn't come, and prayed for you there. 

I stayed up with you long-long nights when the bad news kept rolling in and we couldn't bear to sleep. 

I held your hand when there was nothing to say, I pressed your head against my shoulder to weep together. 
I brought you flowers and chocolates because I couldn't bear to show up on a sad day with nothing. 
I prayed for you in the dead of night and begged God on your behalf.
 I stood in the snow, in the pine needles, in the wildflowers, in the rain, in the church, in the wind,
I stood with you as your love was buried deep below. 

I've sobbed in your arms and probably been very angry in your presence once or twice. 
I wrote you long extensive e-mails and burst into tears over "nothing" in your kitchen. 
I've longed for the best for you, been silent when there were no words to touch that grief. 
I've pressed your hand in mine when that verse hits us in the hymn the same way, and no words are needed. 
I've held your babies in my arms and cried, I've watched them grow and learn and thrive. 
I've watered your gardens, cleaned your kitchens, washed your dishes, done your laundry and .... 
you've all repaid me millions of times over with your love. 

I've listened to late night conversations and you've born with me through mine. 
You've showed up unexpectedly when I had nothing to give, and no one to be, and you were there for me. 
You've answered the phone for the millionth time and listened to me pour my heartaches out.
You've helped me on projects, encouraged me, told me I could do it, and were my sanity through the crazy.  
You've fed me, prayed for me, encouraged me, forgiven me, given grace to me, and loved me.
You've dragged me out to do things and talk when I thought no one would understand, and you did.
You've brought me deeper, higher; you've been restless with the known, and pulled me closer to the deep.  

Many days you were the only thing keeping my head above water. 

You've spoken LIFE and TRUTH to me. You told me I am not alone in this. You lead me onward. 

Every day I was with you, in joy or in sorrow, working or still, sick or well, angry or upset .... 
I was never thinking of me. I was praying for you, when I was quiet. I was singing hymns to calm us down. I was crying with you, hurting for you, weeping for us. I was screaming with joy and dancing in glee, and jumping up and down with happiness. I was hugging my love into you.

And I was thanking God with all my heart for giving you to me as my friend

~ Stop ~ 

I love you, my friends. This is just the tip of the iceburg of you - you unforgettable and wonderful you. 

~ Jean Marie ~ 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Out of a Grave -

March 29, 2014 - Barberville Pioneer Settlement

"Adam, along with his bride, walked out of a garden and into a grave. 
The Second (Adam), along with His Bride, out of a grave and into a Garden."
~ R.C. Sproul Jr. ~ 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Reflections (20) -

~ Resurrection Sunday ~ 

Perhaps more now than other years, perhaps it's just these weeks building up on me, but as I watched the sun rather quietly peek through dark clouds this morning, I realized how very much I need to celebrate in the resurrection of Christ. Now and today and every day. Today makes me long for the resurrection of all of us, when we shall be forever with our Lord. It makes me think of Avery and Barbara and Elise and Mr. Gilchrist and all our dear ones. And it makes me so very thankful for the power and victory of our God! Victorious Lord, Victorious Lord, Victorious Lord and coming King!

"I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. 
O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction!" ~ Hosea 13:14 

He is not here - He is risen, just as He said!!!! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!! 

Sunset in May 2013

One of my very favorite Resurrection Sunday hymns...I can't stop singing it, I love it so much. 

"He Was Wounded for Our Transgressions" (#244 in the Trinity Hymnal) 
by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1941

"1. He was wounded for our transgressions, He bore our sins in His body on the tree; 
for our guilt He gave us peace, from our bondage gave release, 
and with His stripes, and with His stripes, and with His stripes our souls are healed.

2. He was numbered among transgressors, we did esteem him forsaken by His God; 
as our sacrifice He died, that the law be satisfied,
 and all our sin, and all our sin, and all our sin was laid on Him. 

3. We had wandered, we all had wandered far from the fold of "the Shepherd of the sheep"; 
but He sought us where we were, on the mountains bleak and bare, 
and brought us home, and brought us home, and brought us safely home to God. 

4. Who can number His generation? Who shall declare all the triumphs of His cross?
Millions dead now live again, myriads follow in His train! 
Victorious Lord, victorious Lord, victorious Lord and coming King!" 

Happy Resurrection Sunday, y'all!!!!

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

My Project 52 (16) -

Week 16 - The night watch over the Tomoka Basin. April 19, 2014. Eve of Resurrection Sunday. 

~ Resurrection from the Valley of Vision ~

 "O God of my Exodus, 

Great was the joy of Israel's sons, when Egypt died upon the shore,
Far greater the joy when the Redeemer's foe lay crushed in the dust. 

Jesus strides forth as the victor, conqueror of death, hell and all opposing might;
He bursts the bands of death, tramples the powers of darkness down, and lives forever

He, my gracious surety, apprehended for payment of my debt, 
comes forth from the prison house of the grave, free, and triumphant over sin, Satan and death. 

Show me herein the proof that His vicarious offering is accepted, that the claims of justice are satisfied,
 that the devil's scepter is shivered, that his wrongful throne is leveled. 

Give me the assurance that in Christ I died, in Him I rose, 
in His life I live, in His victory I triumph, in His ascension I shall be glorified. 

Adorable Redeemer, Thou who wast lifted up upon a cross, art ascended to highest Heaven.
Thou, Who as Man of Sorrows wast crowned with thorns, art now as Lord of life wreathed with glory.

Once, no shame more deep than thine, no agony more bitter, no death more cruel. 
Now, no exaltation more high, no life more glorious, no advocate more effective.

Thou art in the triumph car leading captive thine enemies behind Thee. 
What more could be done than Thou hast done! 

Thy death is my life, thy resurrection my peace, thy ascension my hope, thy prayers my comfort." 

When those who are Christ's die, it is not a defeat - it is a victory. They are not dead, they are ALIVE.
More alive than we have ever been or could ever hope to dream. 

The resurrection of Jesus tramples death and cancer, every sickness and pain, every brokenness and deepest was trampled and pounded into the ground with the cross into Golgotha, 
it was in the nails in Christ's hands and feet, it is the thorns upon His brow... it is the stone rolled away,
the curtain torn in two, the victory cry of "It is finished!" - Christ's death and resurrection defeats DEATH. 

"O death, where is thy victory? O grave, where is thy sting?" 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Monday, April 14, 2014

No Sleep -

I hate writing when I feel like I will be judged for it. And maybe I will and maybe I won't. Maybe it's more that my brain is telling my heart not to be vulnerable and real...but if I don't write - I feel like screaming....and so I write. Whenever I write so real, so honestly, I feel as though the comments (or lack of them) drive the words "Unimportant" through my heart. As if none of this matters. 

And it might not to anyone but me. But even if it just matters to me, it does matter. It matters so much.

Sleep has been absent the past 3 nights. 
I went to the chiropractor today (under the hopefully correct assumption that it was a bad adjustment) and when he walked in, he asked me how I was, and I immediately said "I'm not sleeping. all.", and he looked at me and said "Wow. No, you are not.". 

The past week was awful. Awful news and awful realizations and awful feelings that no matter how much you pray for something, God most likely has another plan that you will not like for a very long time. 

When I'm sad, I stop eating. I've dropped 5lbs in just 10 days. When I grieve for one, I slip into grieving for another, and another, and another. When I don't sleep - things go downhill pretty quickly. When I think about cancer and my friends, I cry myself to "sleep" at night. 
And then I don't sleep. 

When I think about losing friends to cancer....the nightmares come back. Uninvited. They'll be worse after my friends go to Heaven, but for now, they linger in the confusing aspect of barely-there-rest....reminding me that even my subconscious cries in grief. 

When the nightmares return, so do the flashbacks. Flashbacks about Avery leaving this broken earth. Flashbacks so strong and real that even if I'm in the middle of a conversation, I'll stare down at my shoes and see pinestraw underneath them. Or in the middle of a sermon in church, I look down to my finger tapping consistently on the pen. Anything to be moving, anything but sitting still, which was a defiance that the world wasn't spilling out of control that day of his funeral with his daddy's voice breaking in love. The rest of the people in church look up at the stained glass window, and I wrap my deep teal shawl tighter around me, my reminder of him, and try to sing, as I see the wind blow the ivy on that little hill. 

Impossible. Impossible and heart-wrenchingly true. 


By Saturday night, I was a broken, horrible mess....I didn't want to eat, write, edit, move, think, or be anything for anyone. 
Between no sleep and nightmares and flashbacks, it was a terribly quiet weekend as I tried to ride it all out.

There are words, millions of words that cannot be spoken, be put into sentences. My heart and brain simply can't even wrap around reality right now. I found myself not even knowing how to I was so thankful Sunday only required soaking in, and no thinking. Thinking is something reserved for days on the beach, the sun warming my skin, snuggles with babies and my dog, and conversations that remind me how much listening means to me (thank you Amanda and Jackie - so so much for that on Thursday night). 

Sunday evening. April 13, 2014.

And honestly, I can't expect it of you when I can't even expect it of me. Because there are no words. There is no fixing this. Sharing scripture with me only makes me think that instead of hearing me, you have only sought to tell me that you think I do not know that our Savior is faithful. 

Oh, I know He is. He also understands my weeping heart, and catches every one of my tears in His bottle. He weeps with me, with us. I am not forgotten or alone, even though grief is oh, so lonely. He understands my complete confusion and hurt for the friends I'm losing, and is carrying us all in His everlasting arms.  

Heavy, fast, rippling panic sears through me every time I think of the 2nd anniversary of Avery's home-going. I don't even know how to catalog time or emotions or memories because I'm so shattered that it will be 2 years. I don't understand how it could be. I have to shut myself down so fast so I don't go into SVT just thinking about it. 

Some things never leave you. 

The sweetness in this darkness is that the joy of those beloveds will never leave my memory either. 
The hope in this devastation is that God will never be less than what we need. 
The light shining at the end of this darkest valley is Heaven, and that we will be there soon.
The promise to our broken hearts is that death will be defeated and cancer too. 

And it will be SOON. Jesus, thank you. 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

My Project 52 (15) -

Week 15

It has been a really really hard week. A bad week, even. Not sleeping last night doesn't help things. 
I'm emotionally, physically, and mentally drained. My brain doesn't even know how to be right now. 
It's been hard for deep reasons that I can't even go into right now or I'll spend the next few hours crying my eyes out. 

I'm thankful that Sunday doesn't require just requires soaking up God's words of Truth. 
And I'm thankful for this truth that has stayed with me today: 

"Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not." ~ Lamentations 3:22

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

My Project 52 (14) -

Week 14

This morning I went out to the wildlife refuge (truly, my place of refuge from the world) and watched 15 manatees play in the cove.....big ones, medium ones, and little babies with noses the size of my fists! It was wonderful, and I realized, as I always do, that I'm so at peace when I'm around wildlife. I love it so much. I could have sat there for hours, except I was getting sunburned. Then I drove awhile along the beach, and then headed back towards town. By then it was about 2pm, and I really needed some lunch! 

I stopped at a local family owned taco shack, complete with surfboards, tiki huts and picnic tables, and ordered some of their amazing BBQ brisket. It was so amazingly good. It's the real humdinger good stuff. 

Between that and their sweet tea, I was one happy Southern girl. It's no surprise they call it comfort food....good BBQ and sweet tea remind me of my roots, the South, my family....and it comforts me. 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Girlfriends -

I love these ladies so so much. I really wanted a picture of us at the end of Barberville, and of course when I asked, some of us had already left (Leah!) and some weren't there (Becs & Shannon weren't there on Sunday!) and some people had moved (Alabama stole my Lauren!), but as it was already 45 minutes after Barberville had officially closed, that wasn't surprising. 

I'm just grateful for this. And for these amazing girls I call my friends and confidants. And as you can see, and as we laughingly joked about all weekend, some of us are pregnant. To clear everything up for everyone forever until anything is announced: 

LtoR: Abi (newly married/NOT pregnant), Tricia (has a 3 month old/NOT pregnant), 
Me (not married so definitely NOT pregnant/duh), and then there is Emily Acevedo (32 weeks pregnant!) 
and Emily Brower (11 weeks pregnant!) and of course Leah was in another picture, as she is 13 weeks pregnant!! 

Honestly, I love any amount of time I get with any of these girlfriends.
 They encourage, love, laugh, tease, ask, care, listen and pray about life. I'm so thankful for each of them!! Spending time with them at Barberville was the best. One of the many reasons I love those weekends so much are memories like that! 

I just love them. Period. So thankful for their individual relationships and group relationships as well. 

And I'm taking a few days away from my normal computer (my Mac), so I won't be editing a ton of Barberville pictures, or any other pictures for that matter! I've got my Unit 2 test to study for and the test to take for my NYIP classes, so I'm taking a huge photo break and everything else break to get that done. I've just been SO overloaded with so many photos and projects, and need to get school done ASAP before I forget anything else. 

And then I'll be back! Oh and I'll post my Project 52 photo for this week. :) 

With love always,
~ Jean Marie ~