Monday, April 26, 2010

A Tough Weekend!

I wish I could say I was in a better place today, but I feel just about like the weather--rainy and dreary. In a book I am reading it says "you never get over grief; you get use to it" I am thinking will I ever get "use" to it. How will that feel?? I know we should be getting a tombstone for Taylor, but that turned out to be much harder than I thought. Diane and i went Friday ( a beautiful sunny day) over to Creston cemetery to see if there were any we liked. We did find one that would "fit" Taylor----we took pic's of several to show Jeff and the kids. We even decided what and how we wanted it engraved. I could not help but keep thinking, we should not be doing this---I should not be here trying to decided this---this is something you do for your parents, not for your kids. Anyway, we took the company name of some of these stones so we could come home and look them up on line. We went to Diane's and did just that. I was not ready for what that looked like. Their showroom was filled with tombstones---I guess you walk around and pick out what you like----it reminded so much of the day we were in at Gillman's walking around picking out his casket----all those memories came flooding back----We never made any calls to the place, I realized it was going to be much harder to actually go do this than I ever thought. I know this is crazy, but it just makes it all so very final. The very last thing I will ever buy for Taylor. On the way home, I went out to the cemetery and just stood by his grave trying to visualize what that tombstone was going to look like, I crumbled into tears thinking this isn't right---this is not the way it is suppose to be---I came home and just put the camera away with the pics on it, thinking I can't do this right now. I didn't show any of them the pics, but did tell them where I was and what I had done---they must not be ready either, not a one asked to see the pics.
Saturday evening I was here by myself, and heard the emergency squad siren, and now especially since Taylor, i always say a little prayer for whoever is in need of help. Never did I think it was right down the road from us and it was one of Taylor's very good friends. When I seen his car, it was quite obvious that God had His protective angels around him. He walked away without a scratch. The way the car looked, he could have very easily been killed. I have to admit, I felt my first pang of real anger at God---I wanted to scream---where were Taylor's protective angels that night, You could have so very easily thrown Taylor up on the bank like the other kid, why did he have to land on that rock.
Ok, yes, this has been a tough weekend, but God will lift me up again. He has been so faithful, He will not let me alone, even if I don't feel Him right beside me---I know He is there anyway. I do know in my heart---Taylor's work was finished---God knows what He is doing--remember no mistakes with God-- knowing that is a comfort, but have to say it does not make it hurt any less. I was listening to Chip Imgram and what he said is so very true, but sometimes so very hard to do. Joy is focusing on God and what you can't see which are eternal, instead of focusing on circumstances and what you can see, which are earthly. I know God is always Good and I will choose to worship Him even in the times of great hurt. God will meet me right where I am, just like He knew where my heart was yesterday in church. What does He have us sing---How Great Thou Art. That was a song sang at Taylor's funeral---ya, i cried all the way through---but God was saying I know you are hurting, but I am right here beside you. I will admit this is a hard journey, but God has chosen to put me here, I just pray that His Name can be Glorified and He will keep me from drowning. Some days like today, I feel I am under water gasping for air and choking for each breathe, but know that God will not let me drown. He has given me a life Jacket--Jesus to hang on to.

Monday, April 19, 2010

God as my Compass

Again, it is a quite Monday morning---all in school or work. Part of me loves this time---it is a time I can spend with just me and God--alone together, but another part is not all that crazy about being here in the house all by myself---my mind wants to keep going back to memories. I know memories can be good and they are all I have of Taylor, but they can be so extremely painful. It was eight months on Friday. It seems so very long since I have seen him, talked with him, gave him a hug all very painful thoughts, but I can also think----Just what are you doing today, Taylor---Are you walking, and talking with Jesus right now, what are the streets of gold like to walk on---what is it like to finally see through the glass clearly, and no longer have to just imagine what heaven is like? What is it like to worship our Lord in person? I miss you so much--do you miss us even half as much as we miss you---oh, i know you don't, because that would bring pain, and Jesus told us there will be no more tears, and pain in heaven--no more good-bye's. Just know, I am looking forward to the day that i can give you a big hug again and we can talk with Jesus together---walk the streets of gold, and sit under the Tree of Life, put our feet into the river--let the warm breeze blow in our faces, no more stress, heartaches, or tears. Oh, what a day of rejoicing that will be.
I had to think, grief is like a storm---or I guess, I should say more like a tornado, it can be upon you so quickly, leave terrible devastation within a matter of seconds---one minute everything feels "normal" and the next you look around and see your life is in shattered pieces laying at your feet. Since tornado's like grief will not hit everybody around you, it just touches down in spots, so it can make you feel very much alone, unless you have been hit by this tornado, you really can't relate, or maybe you can relate to some degree, but really only imagine what it might feel like to have your life shattered so quickly. Where do you start to even pick up all the shattered piece? You know there is no way it is possible, so you just sit in the middle of it all and pleaded for help from God. God becomes your compass. I am completely directionally challenged---the only way I know east from west is the way the sun moves----north and south---since there is no sun to direct that---I am clueless. We have a vehicle with a compass built into it and the other day I was going somewhere that I knew or thought I knew just how to get there. i knew it was west and south. The thing I was not expecting was all the closed roads, which I thought I still could find it. Some time later, I happened to glance at the compass and noticed it said I was going east. I thought that was strange, but thought maybe the compass was not working right, because not once did I feel like I made any turns that had me go in completely the wrong direction---but since I realized I am so challenged with directions, i thought maybe, just maybe the compass was right and made some turns to start going west again----guess who was right--me or the compass??? Anyway, it made me think----all the closed roads are the troubles, trials that God allows into my life--they detour us--they take us down roads we had no intentions or planning on traveling----they are all for a reason---just like the closed roads were for a reason--maybe fixing a bridge, or something like that---but I could not see the reason, only had to believe it was impassible---but I was not keeping my eye on the compass because I thought I knew the next best road to take----but in all reality I was getting more lost and off course. Just like when I take my eyes off Jesus---I lose focus,--I am getting more depressed, feeling sorry for myself---ya know---why our family---why Taylor----I just want it all back to the way it was before Aug. 16th. But until I focused on that compass and got my vehicle going in the right direction----I was getting more frustrated by the minute, but as soon as I started heading the right direction, everything started to fall into place, and the frustration left---same as when I get my eyes back focused on Jesus----I start to feel His peace again and know I am not alone---He is right there beside me being my compass which will lead me safely home.
After the weekend with the kids here, and quite time is in small quantity (which I am not complaining, I love it), as I sat down with Jesus today, I prayed please show me what You want me to see and Know about you today----I opened to Nehemiah and the first thing I seen was 1:5-"O God of heaven, the great and awesome God------vs 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night."i thought, yes that is exactly my prayer---God went on to show me in the "In Touch" devotional that pursuing Jesus with a passion requires sacrifice and we often learn to really know Him through suffering. Yes, salvation is a free gift that Jesus gave us because of His great love for us, but intimacy with God is often a costly process, but the rewards are invaluable and we get to take them to heaven with us---they are eternal. Can I remember this on really bad days???? The pain is so deep and hurts so much, but God does nothing without a reason----even if I can't understand it now, I just have to believe and trust----yes, some days easier said than done----on those days, I am looking frantically for my compass (Jesus)---I know He will bring peace and comfort back into my soul. I wish I could say once I crawl back into Jesus's arms, I would stay there, but I don't---. Yes, I have gotten to Know Jesus on a completely different level----like Paul says in Phil 3:9 "Righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of His Resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death." So what was God opening my eyes to today?--Each time we go through trials and suffering, God is bring us closer to Him and refining us. We are developing a deeper more personal relationship with Him. I sat here and thought if God gave me the choice to go back to the way it was before Aug 16 and not have the relationship I have developed with Him that came from all the pain of losing Taylor, ----or would I stay where God has brought me thus far----and all the pain and suffering that came from losing Taylor???? I am going to be real honest---I really don't know----the pain is still very deep and the wound is still bleeding most of the time and some days I want nothing more than to have Taylor back with us. On other days, I can feel, or sometimes I just have to remember what it felt like to be carried in the arms of Jesus---when He spoke so clearly to my spirit---when He became my Great Comforter---just like He was standing in my kitchen---His Grace was so clearly being given----it was like I was walking hand and hand with Him. So, some days, I would say with a very shaky "yes", i will stay where God has brought me, but other days, I am not so sure. The one thing I am absolutely sure of, is the day I can lay the armor down here on earth and step over into eternity with Jesus and Taylor, I will know without a shallow of a doubt it was all worth it, even though all the pain and suffering.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Spring break is over and all back to school. Brooke was in CA for a week, Spencer, Diane and I were out to see mom and dad. Warren and Dawn came home also. That is the first time we were all together at mom's since that fateful night. Just being in the house where it all began, has moments of terrible sadness, but over all it was a nice trip. I met Shirley for coffee one morning who's daughter-in-law had died three years ago and also her grandson died 3 1/2 years ago. Lisa (the daughter-in-law) had an illness and also wrote a blog. I remember reading her blog almost from the first day she wrote. I remember thinking this is such a sad story---she was so young, married had a little boy, but he also got an illness and died when he was six months old. But in all the sadness, i seen such love for Jesus in Lisa's life, and even though she was so young, and knew there where many many prayers going up for her very single day for healing, she would end each blog with "His Will be Done". It left such an impact on my heart, because almost anyone that young and so much to live for, would have prayed straight for healing, and yes, she wanted healing, but more than that she wanted God's Will to be Done----she knew His plan was perfect and He makes no mistakes, even if it meant her dying and leaving her young husband and family. She had faith that God would take care of them. She left footprints on my heart as I am sure she did many others with her testimony of faith. After talking with Shirley, I realized the pain will always be there---is it any less---I really don't think so---you try to learn to live with it. There will always be that big whole where they are suppose to be. Like she said the little boy would have been five and starting school next fall. She didn't say, but I can bet she looks at other little boys that age and thinks that is how old he would have been, and wonders what would he have been like, who would have been his friends. Not only is she hurting in losing two very special people in her life, but also hurting for her son which is dealing with two of the biggest loses in life. God is the only one that can bring the comfort that will help us get through each day of such tragedy.
I am realizing that there is not going to be any "magic" healing after I have experienced all the "first" milestones. Sometimes I can really get down thinking, is it always going to be like this? Will I ever get through it. I try to think but I can't remember what it felt like to have a "carefree" heart and not feel like I am carrying a hundred pound weigh around my neck every day. Just what would it feel like to go back to before August 15th even for one day. I thought it was interesting, well actually, I am sure it was God, but I was reading this morning in the 'In Touch Magazine" and they interviewed Stephen Curtis Chapman about the death of his daughter. Reading this makes me realize even more that it will never be easy, but God is going to get me through, He will be faithful to all of His promises. It has been 18 months for Curtis, and yes, there is healing, but the pain is still very deep a lot of the time. I can relate exactly to some of the things he says, He can pray and sing "God, I bless your name. You give; You take away. Blessed by the name of the Lord", "but then some days cry out Lord, I am breathing my last breath. I don't have any more strength to go on. I am going to be overtaken by this grief. This is going to destroy me. God, if You don't show up in some way soon, I don't know what it's going to look like. Also he says, the waves of grief hit like waves of an ocean when we least expect and knock us flat on our backs again. The reality is, we are not ever going to be out of the woods of grief until Jesus comes and takes us home. " Sometimes when I read about other people's journey of grief and see that yes, there is healing, but your heart will always be missing some very vital pieces---I wonder will I make it, or is it possible to die of a broken heart. Then I have to think God has given us the hope that I am going to see Taylor again. We all need hope to survive not matter what the circumstances. We probably really do not understand how important it is until we are desperate for it. I do believe that the more desperate i become for God the more He will reveal Himself to me. For what ever reason, God has chosen our family to carry this burden----but He does not only want us to carry it, He wants us to Glorify His Name in doing so. Yes, some days that is so hard, all I want to do is feel sorry for myself and say, I want it all back to the way it was---and God is saying---just hang on I will bring you through this, I am walking right along with you, and when you think you can't walk anymore, I will carry you. Remember I am the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, all is in my Hands-----Yes, I am sad today---but that is OK, I will just do like it says in Psalm 91:4---I will climb under God's wings--- "God will cover me with His feathers, and under His wings I will find refuge. His faithfulness will be my shield."

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Taylor's birthday

As much as I dreaded Taylor's birthday, it is now over. Another milestone is passed, and we are still sitting in the palm of Jesus's hand. I got up on Thursday morning the day of Tay's birthday with a deep pain in my heart---I just kept thinking about the day 21 years before---how little and cute he was---he was so tiny they put a little green hat on him to keep his body temp up. A couple of days before his birthday, I decided to sit down and write a letter to Tay to read at the cemetery on his birthday. I knew I could probably not read it, because I was sobbing just writing it and when I tried to read it over just to see if I could, I ended up sobbing even harder---so knew it was going to be impossible for me to read it. Brooke thought she might be able to, but as time got closer to his birthday, she didn't think she could either, so I asked a good friend to read it. Spencer and Brooke decided that they would try going to school that morning. Spencer wore one of Tay's favorite shirts and Brooke wore the Famous Yamaha shirt with "In memory of Taylor Gasser" on the back. She knew it was going to be a tough day, but was hoping being busy at school might help, maybe even a little tiny bit would be a good thing. She said on the way to school----and as she drove past the high school there were all these tractor----and most of them red (Taylor's favorite kind). At first, she thought, are they doing this in Taylor's honor of this birthday-----because anybody that knew taylor knew he loved tractor's, but soon realized it was FFA days. By the time, she got to school, she was on the verge of tears and was hoping nobody would remember that it was taylor's birthday. She had a meeting first thing in the morning, but one look at her an Mr. Dreher knew what was going on and decided to cancel the meeting. By this time, her heart is aching so much, she can't take another minute and breaks down into tears. Mr. Dreher's heart is breaking for Brooke. He helps her through this breakdown and then for the rest of the day, the teachers all help her with the kids. They all showed great compassion for Brooke, but by the time she got home from school, she said I feel like I am just whipped, but knew we had some very hard things yet to get through. Spencer said his day was sad, but not as many people knew what the day was---the kids did not remember, or most likely most never ever knew it was his birthday, but one sweet girl, a friend of Spencer's put a plate of cookies in his locker with a note. I tried to keep busy---but it did not take much for me to have tears running down my cheeks. It was a warm sunny day, but very windy. I wanted to get balloons and tie them on his cross out at the cemetery, but afraid they would either burst or fly away before evening. April, Diane, Max, Morgan and I went to wooster to get balloons anyway, because we were all praying that the wind would die down before evening---power in pray, and we just felt God would answer it. I knew alot of people were praying for us, because I had asked almost everybody I knew to please pray for us that day. I felt, yes, the day would be very difficult to get through, but knew there is great power in prayer and I also knew that God would give us just the right amount of Grace to get through this very difficult day. This verse kept running through my mind all day, Isa. 40:31 "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles: they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."WOW--that verse was so true. Just like eagles, when a storm hits, an eagle sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm---while the storm is raging below, the eagle is soaring above it. The eagle does not escape the storm, but simple rises on the winds to be lifted higher. That is so much like God's Grace--I was soaring on the wings of God's Grace---lifted up above the tremendous grief of celebrating a birthday of a child that is not here. The winds are still very strong, but knew I would never survive if I was pulled right in the middle of the storm. Yes, God has allowed a grief-storm to enter my life, but He will give me His strength to rise above.
At 6:10 we leave for the cemetery, not knowing who or even how many of his friends are planning on coming. We get there finish tying the balloons on. As we stood there, we realized God answered our prayer---it is a beautiful evening. The sun is shining, the wind had completely died down. We barely get the balloons tied up and the cars and truck start coming up that long drive. I just stood there watching one after another pulling into the drive. It was very quiet as each one got out of their vehicles and walked over to his grave site. I hugged a few people and yes, there were tears, but could feel the prayers and support of all that were there. After about 20 minutes the last one pulled in---there were probably around 65 people there, some holding balloons, some brought flowers, but most of all they were there to support us. Jeff started it off with his voice cracking thanking everybody for coming and saying a few other things. Mark, and many others had on that same shirt that Brooke wore to school---in Taylor's memory---it just tore at my heart to see how these kids truly loved Taylor and are missing him just like the rest of us. Brittany read the poem she wrote in Tay's memory---it was so him, then Rebecca read the letter I wrote to Tay----yes, it was just as hard to listen to her read it as it was when I was reading it over at home---My heart is breaking because he isn't here to celebrate his birthday with all of his friends and family, but I just have to keep focusing on that he is celebrating big time in heaven-----maybe not his birthday, but celebrating and worshipping our Savior Jesus--not just today but every single day. Spencer spoke next---he told a memory about Taylor and himself----a trick Tay played on him last April 1st (April fools' day). Brooke spoke next---she just spoke from her heart. Mark said something that was so very true---when something bad happens---Taylor's death was definitely bad, but something very good can also happen---giving your heart to Jesus is the very best thing that can happen. Some of Taylor's friends then spoke and told some memories about him. Then Spencer lit the candle. We all just stood there watching it burn for a several seconds, before Rebecca had a prayer. As she was praying it was like Taylor was saying I am here too---because in the background we can hear a fourwheeler in the distance. After she is done, we all get our balloons , some write a message on them, some tape messages to them, then we all say happy birthday taylor and let them slide out of our hands. We all stand there in silence as they float up and away, but as they do somebody says look and here there were two jets that crossed paths and the white stream they let behind, made a cross in the sky----was that Jesus saying I know this is so painful, but I am here with you, and Taylor is being well taken care of? We all stood there watching the balloons float out of sight, then slowly everybody stared back to their cars. Brooke and I stayed awhile longer, just standing by tay's grave talking with each other and to Tay. We did look up into the sky and was watching the beautiful sun set God had given us this night. After the cemetery, we invited the kids all back to the fountain for a meal, so they could just sit and talk if they wanted. Again, I have to say Tay had a great bunch of kids as friends---actually, several of his friends planned the meal. As we pulled into the fountain, Brooke and I just stared at what was posted on the sign "In Memory of Taylor Gasser's 21st Birthday"----we just looked at each other and said, just how can this be true!!! Can't it just be a nightmare that went on all night, but in the morning we wake up and find it is not true---we could just go back to our old normal---we are so tired of this new normal, but realize that is never going to be.
I can't remember if Taylor's birthday fell on Easter weekend before or not, but it meant so much more this year than if it ever did before. I had to think---God gave His only Son---watched Him being flogged, spit on, and crucified---and Jesus endured it all---He understands pain--Yes, my heart can be filled with sorrow and pain that we lost Taylor so very young in life, but I can't even imagine what it would have been like if I had to watch him being beat, having big spikes pounded into his wrists, and ankles----and Jesus did it all for us----He was completely innocent---He did it because He loves us and wants us to spend eternity with Him----again God's Amazing Grace.