Monday, January 30, 2012

One Calorie at a Time, Sweet Jesus!

"All Things Bright and Beautiful"
by Cecil Francis Alexander

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings.

 Psalm 147:3-5 NIV
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit."

Allison, John and I climbed into the car and drove to the gym. It was the first time since we bought the membership in August 2011 we had gone.  Got to admit John and I aren't exactly fitness gurus.  Allison walks and works out on the Wii Fit, but since Russell died, she hasn't been exercising much.

Allison had a melt down at school today and ended up coming home early. The positive from this is she met her guidance counselor, a wonderful woman who will offer her a safe haven at school when she needs one.  We have also heard from her teachers, all who are praying for us.  They are truly loving people who are supportive of her and us during our grief.

We are trying to make it through the day moment by moment.  I felt that "moment by moment" as I peddled on the stationary bike watching the calories burn one at a time. I worked so hard on that bike and only got to five (yes, 5!) calories before I called it quits...partly because I was tired and mostly because I was bored.  I can't concentrate on anything for any length of time.

But today was a start for us.

Allison learned she has a support group outside her family ready to lift her up. 

John and I are trying to improve our health by spending time with Allison at the gym.

One calorie at a time, Sweet Jesus, and this family will find a way to maneuver through the maze of life with God's Grace even as we miss our precious boy.
Thank you Lord for your faithfulness during this difficult time.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Learning to Walk Again

The Full Moon Sets at the Start of a New Day

Isaiah 41:13
"For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you."

I am afraid. Afraid of questions I can't answer. Students who mean well will ask me questions that will cause me to cry. Colleagues will whisper behind my back.  I am afraid.

I need to go back to work. I know I can't heal until I establish a routine again. But how will life ever flow as it used to before his death? 

Birds fill the sky during the day, and stars fill the sky at night. I feel empty. I want to feel the freedom of the soaring birds and the light of the stars inside me.

Fear cannot keep me Earthbound. I need to stretch out my soul and face the crowds. I trust God is holding my hand helping me learn how to walk again.
Please Lord, continue to hold my hand. I am weak and afraid of falling.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Grace, Grace, God's Grace

A Staircase to Heaven

John 14:1-4 NIV
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."


A couple years ago I learned a new term: prevenient grace. It is defined as the grace from God that comes before everything I do.

On January 8, 2012, I wrote words that, in my opinion, prepared me for the looming tragedy which was about to unfold on January 13, 2012 with the accidental death of my son. 

At the time, when I wrote the following words, I was overcome with a strange passion to write as I had never known before. The words unfolded effortlessly as if God himself gave them to me.

As I look over this anecdote, I am in awe of God's love for me. I believe He gave me this memory to remind me that death is just the beginning, not the end of life.

I sit in the back seat of a car traveling down a country road in Indiana farmland one summer’s night circa 1966 or ‘67.  I don’t remember. The memory is in black and white for me, so I must have been young.
My grandpa sits next to me, and I snuggle against him. He smells like car grease and pipe tobacco. He wears a white shirt and a small tie. Maybe we have been to church. I don’t know. But now we are on our way to visit somebody sick.
My dad, grandpa’s son, is at the wheel. Mom beside him in the front.  The mood, somber and serious, hangs over us like a dark veil. My throat closes up as stifling heat builds in the car. Even though it is summer and hot, our windows are rolled up because of the dust bowl our tires create driving along the rutted dirt road.  Indiana in the summer was like this when I was young. We visited old people who lived on dirt roads that wound through corn fields.
The veil of darkness settles over us in the car and on the horizon. Dad turns on the car lights and continues to drive. I listen to mom and dad talk. The conversation went something like this:
“She has been sick a long time. It looks like this will be it.”
“She was always good to us.  I’m glad we can see her one last time.”
It is the first time I understood the meaning of “it”.  As a child, death is a difficult concept. People around me had died before, but I didn’t understand what happened. This night, in this car, with the veil of darkness around us and the stifling heat closing my throat, I shuddered in understanding. I gasped to breathe because I had suddenly lost the ability to swallow.
Grandpa sensed my awareness. I don’t know how, but he knew I knew what was going on and could feel fear envelope me.  I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t speak, I was in the dark dust drowning in knowledge I didn’t want.
Then, from the darkness came grandpa’s arm around me. He pulled me close to him. I buried my head in his chest and breathed deep the smells of life. He patted me as I calmed down.  The veil of fear lifted. I could breathe without gasping. My racing heart slowed.
Not a word was spoken, yet we shared a defining moment of my life. The moment I understood the meaning of death. 
Mom and dad continued to talk softly in the front seat.  I remember hills rising and falling around us, the dust, and the darkness.  But mostly, I remember my grandpa’s protective arm keeping me from drowning in the darkness of knowledge.
Lord, help me hold tight to my faith that I will see my loved ones again in paradise with you.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Russell Stewart Gregerson Durham
September 28, 1984-January 13, 2012

John 14:27 NIV
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

When he was born, the doctors told me, "Congratulations, you have given birth to a toddler." Ten pounds of a baby boy had left me trying for six days to deliver him. The joy and relief I felt the first time I held him in my arms was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I was so proud to be his mother.

The nurses in the nursery told me, "He won't sleep like the other babies. He looks all around the room, so we put him in a pumpkin seat so he can sit up and watch what we are doing."

He was the one who didn't follow the crowd. He was the one who made his own path in life. He was the one whose endless curiousity about the world around him led him to explore the United States and Italy.

He was a friend to all he knew, and those who knew him loved him. He was big and strong and looked intimidating, yet he had the heart of a kitten. He danced to the Wii with his sister, and listened patiently to her aimless rambles about her high school drama.

He died in a tragic accident this past Friday. He has left a hole in my heart that will never heal. My baby boy was 27, yet it seems like yesterday when I heard the doctors laugh as they delivered him. That laughter followed Russell throughout life as he made others smile everyday with his ironic humor.

One of his co-workers told me her favorite memory of him last summer was when they worked at the pool for a swim meet.  As he discussed preparations with the lifeguards, he mistakenly called the event a track meet.  Without missing a beat, he stopped and said, "Well, I guess it's really not a track meet unless Jesus is coming."

That was my boy. He looked at life from a different perspective than the rest of us.  I will miss it so much.
Lord, help John, Allie and me through this difficult time. Thank you for the family and friends around the world who have wrapped their arms around us and sent up prayers to you on our behalf.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Teenagers! Gotta Love Them!

Teenagers just Like to have Fun!
New Year's Eve 2012

Joshua 1:9 NIV
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

They are teenagers. Teenagers. Teenagers. God love them; help me remember they are rambunctious, buoyant, chatterbox bundles of hyper energy happy to see their friends after a three week break.

They didn't mean to wear out my bad knee, sag my shoulders, or make me yell at them to be quiet.  It was just the first day back to school, and they meant nothing personal by rearranging my seating chart. (Ha--but I figured out their deception with twenty minutes left of class). They only wanted to sit by their best buddies, their cousins, their girlfriend, a boyfriend.

They couldn't help complaining about the room temperature (too hot or cold), the seating arrangement (no--I don't think it's possible to get a circle of twenty-eight desks in this small room), the thickness of the textbook (I'm sorry it "won't work" for you. You still have to keep up with it), or the "banned word list" for writing assignments that includes: stuff, very, and thing.  (I know that list hurts your brain. That's why I gave it to you--to stretch your brain muscle.)

Yes. (Sigh!) The first day of school. A whirling dervish of activity all designed by teenagers to evade a new semester of classwork.

They may have knocked me out today, but, Lord willing, I will recover in time to go back tomorrow. 
Lord, give me strength when my body is weak.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Don't Tell Me They Will Win!

True Victory Comes by being in the Game, not the Final Score.

2 Corinthians 12:8-9

"Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
Last night I sat on the couch transfixed by a playoff game between my hometown Cincinnati Bengals and the home team Houston Texans.  The first quarter showed my underdog football players could hold their own. They looked strong as they tackled players and broke up passes.

Unfortunately, their luck came to a screeching halt by the second quarter when the Texans took over the lead.

By halftime my legs shook with nerves, my heart raced, and I couldn't tolerate the suspense of the third quarter. I left the room, found my phone, and texted my brother in Cincinnati. "I can't stand the suspense. Tell me they will win."

He replied, "Nope. They will lose. But they had a great season!"

My brother put the game back in perspective for me.

Many times in life the pressure of competition causes me to focus only on the outcome and not on the progress toward goals. 

In the education field, it seems as if the bosses and politicians only want to see the bottom line of test data that will supposedly reflect progress in our students. Too often these folks forget education is a journey; the real victory is not in the test score but in the learning process itself. 

God notices my failures in life. However, like true Bengals fans and teachers who know their students, He sees my progress over time. Furthermore, His grace washes away my failures.

Why can't people be as gracious to each other?

Instead of pointing out each other's flaws, wouldn't it be wonderful to be kind when we see someone struggling? 

The world would change if we lifted each other up in prayer each day.
Lord, Let me pray for others and offer my help to them whenever possible.