Photo Courtesy of Scott Kirk Photography

Sunday, January 30, 2011


The valley experienced the loss of another sweet soul this week.  This has been happening a lot since Christmas.  Sometimes they are just names listed in the paper.  The last couple souls are people who were deeply loved by people I love.  It brings back June 7th all over again.  Sometimes I think the pain is magnified, because I now share this pain with someone I love.
Today during church, people shared so many thoughtful messages.  "God is good."  "On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand."  "The cross can save a life."  The last one hit me like a brick.  For many, when one of our own leaves this world via his or her own hand, we worry about their souls--their eternal life.  Is this an unforgiveable sin?  Based on the teachings of Christianity, the answer is no.  The only unforgiveable sin is to deny Christ.  Because of that, today I want to tell you the status of his eternal life is not one of my worries for Andrew.  The cross did save his life the day he declared his love for Jesus by accepting Him as his personal Lord and Savior.  He made it official on a sunny September day when Grandpa Bud dipped him into the Touchet River and brought him out renewed in his life with Christ.  On the day he left this world, he told us he was ready to go home.  I believed him then and I know he is there today.

I miss Andrew's physical presence; however, I am not worried about his eternal life.  The cross did save his life and even though it seems to many that his life was lost, it was not.  His life was saved by the life he led in Christ.  His sixteen year old body has been lost to those of us who love him and who survive him, but the thing that really mattered, his soul, was taken to Heaven personally by our Heavenly Father.  He overcame Satan and the darkness he put in  Andrew's life and led Andrew home.  Isn't that what we want for all of God's children?  I just wish he wouldn't have made that choice.  I wish someone could have talked to him about this permanent solution to a temporary problem.  I hope we can stop this pain from happening to another family.

So if you miss Andrew, be like me.  Miss him, but don't worry about him.  He really is in a great place.  For him, the cross really did save a life.  But let's work on getting the message out to those who are surrounded by darkness or who have not heard the message of the cross.  As we leave the season of celebrating the birth of Christ, share the message of the hope through the death on the cross.  There is hope in our world.  There is love in our world. 

Peace to all who read this
~Andrew's Mom

Thursday, January 27, 2011


       I was fortunate this fall to be invited to join a Beth Moore Bible study.  Beth Moore is a powerful woman who has a powerful message.  Week Eight of this study answered some questions that I had been having in my life.  Why would God love someone like me?    This week's lessons reminded me about the power of God's unfailing love and how it helps me to believe.         
       Let's go back to Monday.  I was at my monthly attitude adjustment (a haircut) where I have a chance to have a wonderful 45 minute conversation and mental health session with my sister-in-law.  We were talking about Andrew and she told me she couldn't believe how strong I was in my faith.  Now, I was just a little surprised, because I feel like I am so weak in my faith.  For the most part, Bill and I are mourning privately and quietly.  We aren't out in public that often, so the public doesn't see the tears that still come daily.  The public doesn't hear the cries of why when I visit our son. However, I guess it is our faith that allows us to do much of anything.
      One of the side statements in my Week Eight study says, "By God's grace, I can do whatever He wills me to do."  So much of what has happened these past months has been through and with God's grace.  I know it was God's grace that allowed me to talk to those friends who shared our pain the night of Andrew's candlelight vigil.  I know it was God's grace that allowed Bill and me to make all the decisions concerning Andrew's remains and his service.   I know it is God's grace that allows me to go to school everyday and share in the lives of kids the same age as my son.  Even though being with the kids reminds me of what I've lost, it gives me peace to know lives go on.  It is God's grace that allows me to function at all.
       Those with no faith or who have never experienced God's grace may question my belief system.  And I don't know how to explain it to them other than to live my life in the presence of God's grace.
       One of the exercises of this particular day's study had me rewrite Romans 8: 38-39.  The original verse says, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
       My rewrite says, "For I am convinced that neither my son's death or the difficulty of life without him can separate me from God's love.  Nothing--good or bad that is experienced in my life-- will separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

       My son took his life and left me with so many questions, even some questions for God.  So why is it that I believe?  I believe because I feel the presence of God with me at all times.  I believe because I look into the eyes of my grandchildren and see God's love.  I believe just because I do. 
       Brooks and Dunn recorded a song whose verse sums up the way I feel about my faith today.

I raise my hands, bow my head,
I'm finding more and more truth in the words written in red.
They tell me that there's more to life than just what I can see
Oh, I believe...

Yes, I do--I believe.
~Andrew's Mom

Friday, January 14, 2011


       Blame is a very powerful word.  Blame has been thrown around a lot lately, especially in light of the shootings in Tuscon. Blame is one of those words that can be used as a verb or as a noun.  As a verb, it means to hold responsible; find fault with; censure.  As a noun, it is an act of attributing fault; censure; reproof.  Blame...blame...blame...
      From some this week, I have heard that the tone of the political rhetoric in our country is to blame for what happened last Saturday.  For others it is the extreme ends of both the left and the right in our country.  But think about it.  Who is really to blame for the shootings in Tuscon last Saturday?  It was the young man who thought about this, who planned it, and who pulled the trigger.  He is the one to blame for that heinous act that took six lives.
     On Facebook tonight I saw this posting:
To everyone who is calling for stricter gun laws in light of the tragedy in Tucson, may I offer this little tidbit: If guns kill people, then pencils misspell words, cars drive drunk, and spoons make people fat. Remember: HOLD THE PERSON ACCOUNTABLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS, not the means they chose to utilize!!!
I agree with this.  We must not blame all the negative things in our society for the action of one disturbed young man.  However, there are some things in all of our lives for which we need to take responsibility.
       When you speak to your neighbors, do you focus on the negative things in our world or do you try to talk about what is positive in our world?  When dealing with your children, are you allowing them to be the best they can be or are you trying to make them into someone they are not?  Are you supportive of them or hypercritical of them?  Or do you ignore your children, selecting your activities and plans over spending time with them?  Do you do things for others just because it is the right thing to do or because you hope to get something out of it?  Do you appreciate the fact we live in a country where we can worship God in a manner of our choosing or are you critical of others because they don't do it the way you think they should?  Do you cherish the fact that we can be critical of our political leaders without worrying about the government imprisoning you?  Are you proud of who you are, where you live, or what you do with your life?
       Blame has been a phantom shadowing me since June 7th.  My son did something for which I know I must put the responsibility on him, but it doesn't make me stop blaming myself too.  Another sweet soul took his life during this past week.  His family and friends were also told not to blame themselves for his action.  However, it isn't that easy.  The parents of the young man who shot and killed people in Tuscon will be taking some of his blame on their shoulders too.  The neighbor who took Christina Taylor Green to the "Congress on your Corner" is blaming herself.  The mother of a sixteen year old who took his life is blaming herself.  It's what we do. 
       Remember what The Bible said about trying to blame others for the wrongs done to us or that are in our world.  Think about Christ, as He hung on the cross, just about to leave this earthly world.

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. Luke 23:34.

We must allow people to be responsible for their actions.  We must not blame the media, pundants, or society in general for unexplained actions of people who are in fragile mental states of mind.  However, we must encourage and love those who feel it necessary to shoulder some of the blame for the actions of loved ones.  In the end, we really just need to love each other for we are all a part of the family of God.

      Random Peace Symbol
~Andrew's Mom

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


       Odors are very powerful emotional stimuli, explains Bruce Turetsky, a University of Pennsylvania associate psychiatry professor. In fact, he says, different scents may "have a greater ability to bring up an emotional memory in you than seeing a picture or hearing a voice." 
 Old Spice High Endurance Body Wash, Pure Sport

       I'm a big believer in the power of smells.  My mind immediately goes to another place and time when I smell a specific odor.  The girls locker room of the Dayton High School gym has the exact same smell as it did the first time I walked into it as a freshman in the fall of 1974.  A whiff of musk cologne and I am transported back to the summer of 1980 when I traveled through Europe with a group of fellow students, one of whom bathed in that particular cologne.  Cinnamon rolls always take me back to school lunches:  chili and cinnamon rolls. 
       For a week now I've had the cold/crud that has been visiting the valley since the middle of December.  My sense of smell has been non-existent until this afternoon.  I worked two days this week, but at the end of yesterday I gave up.  I needed sleep without the hack of my friend the cough, so I took pills and cough syrup last night and slept until 10 AM today.  Once I finally got around to it, I took a nice hot shower.  Oh joy!  I could breath again without coughing after a deep breath.  I felt human again.  So, I decided I would change sheets and start living life again.  I walked into Andrew's room to get clean sheets and WHAM!  It hit me.  Andrew's room no longer smelled like Andrew. 
       Now, for those who don't have boys living in their homes, boys smell different than girls.  Andrew had good hygiene, it was just that he was a boy.  His smell was the smell of his body wash (thank God it was an Old Spice brand and not Axe!).  It was the smell of his socks after practice.  It was the whiff of gas after he had been on his four-wheeler or mowing a lawn.  All of his activity added up to a smell that was definitely "Eau de Andrew."  But when I walked into his room today, that smell was barely there.  I stood in the middle of his room for a minute and really concentrated.  There!  I smell it!!  It's still here, but barely. 
       Friday will mark the seventh month since that June day that changed my life.  There are many things around my house that makes me feel like Andrew is still a part of our lives.  There are pictures in each room.  There are shadow boxes with jerseys, dance pictures with dried boutonnieres, pictures, hats, and golf balls in them.  His letterman's jacket still hangs in the closet.  His basketballs still fill the muck bucket in the back room.  His spirit still fills my heart.  Panic overcame me for a moment this afternoon when my senses weren't overwhelmed by his essence in his room.  I think I am afraid the day will come and I won't feel him as near to me as I feel him right now.  But that really won't happen.  How can I think that I will ever forget that soul whose body was a part of my body for nine months and a part of my life for sixteen years?
       As I've said before, my mind knows he is a great place, but my heart wishes he was with us instead.  I wish I would have known the depth of his pain.  I wish I wouldn't have been so busy with my life. I just wish I could have a re-do.  But I know I can't, so I continue to live my life.  I will try to work on the list I've created for my 2011 resolutions.  And I will continue to go into Andrew's room, hoping for a whiff that brings back a strong memory of the boy I love so much.