We Prayed To The Lord…

Last night, all of our visitors left, and I was sitting by Clay’s bed watching him breath. Suddenly, I got scared. Fear came and settled on me. I was not sure he would make it through the night and my mind starting imagining the scenario. The kids were with me and they could see that I was upset. So, they came around Clay’s bed with me.

I called Dr. Gummadi and his words calmed me. When I hung up, Sam said, “Mom, I think we should just pray.” The five of us sat around Clay’s bed and prayed for about five minutes. Sam prayed the most beautiful prayer I’ve ever heard him pray. It was exactly what I needed in that moment. I felt the fear leave immediately when he began to pray. It reminded me of Psalm 34,

I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
he saved me from all my troubles.
For the angel of the Lord is a guard;
he surrounds and defends all who fear him.
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
Fear the Lord, you his godly people,
for those who fear him will have all they need.

We prayed to the Lord and He answered us. He calmed me completely and His peace  filled our room. We sat around Clay’s bed and talked about funny memories of him. He has been such a good dad, so the kids have plenty of stories to tell. We laughed and Clay tried so hard to say some words to us. I know he was listening to Sam’s prayer and that he knows the work God has done in our children through this time. What an honor for him to know that he leaves them with Jesus.

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What began as a fearful moment, became really beautiful because the Lord heard our cry. If you ever take anything away from our blog, this is what I hope you really understand…..

God does not love me and my family any more than He loves you. Every single thing He does for us, He can do for you. He is no respecter of persons. He wants you to feel as loved as we feel. He desires to bless you just as He blesses us. He is near to you if you will draw near to Him.

As we walk through the valley of the shadow of death this week, I was reminded of a beautiful picture the Lord gave me several months ago. Clay and I traveled with Lee and Carla (our pastors) to a conference in Florida where we shared our testimony. The YouTube video is below.

I hope you have time to listen because I don’t have time to write this really thoughtfully! (smile) And, the thought is so good. (P.S. The message the Curtis McGeehee preaches, after I share, is so beautiful. If you need encouragement today, listen to it.)

Last night, I could see this image of us so clearly. In the valley. The shadow falls all around us, but we can also see the light behind the shadow. The light is God. Jesus sits with us at our table in the valley and there is food, candles, our entire family, joy, laughter, peace. The best part is that our enemy stands there. When he thought he was dragging us into fear, death, darkness and loneliness, he is now forced to watch us eat our beautiful meal here at this table that Jesus prepared for us in the presence of our enemy.

When Sam prayed that prayer last night, and then we sat together to tell stories the remind us of God’s faithfulness, I felt like we were sitting right there at that table with Jesus. It was so real. God is so good.

So, then we slept. Good, too. Clay rested. I slept in the bed with him and all three kids stayed upstairs with me. And, for all of you who think I hate our dog…..Ellie slept up here, too! We left the worship music praying all night and God’s peace was here with us.

Here are a few shots of the past few days. We love you, all! Thank you for helping us and for praying.

I leave you with this beautiful picture. Clay is peaceful. All his words have been said. All his wishes fulfilled. His work on earth is complete and he is resting. He sleeps good and he is very calm. Today, I saw him raise his arms. When they settled back down, this is where his hands were. I whispered to him, “Are you praying?” I think he was…

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Everything To Me

Thursday was my hardest day, so far. Clay has been getting worse and I had spent several nights in a row waking up all through the night with him. My back is hurting from pulling on him and trying to move him around in our big bed. The nurses would have to literally get in the bed with him to help him because he would roll to the middle. Leaning him up to drink was difficult and caused pressure headaches. The list goes on….and I’m sparing you lots of details.

So, the Lord brought me to the end of my rope so that I would be ready for the next step. I went out for my morning coffee and time with the Lord. The balcony was an amazing place to pour my heart out to the Lord. I prayed for a while, and told Him that I trust Him. I could feel that He had prepared me for this day.

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I texted the nurse and asked her to order a hospital bed. We spent Thursday cleaning the room and making the bed comfortable for him. The Lord sent Janell to be here with me so she could clean and help me arrange the room. Robin and Caleb came with supplies, moral support and to help move him to the new bed. Mom was here for moral support and whatever I needed her to do.

I cried a lot. You might think we are ridiculous, but I don’t think we’ve ever slept apart, unless we were in different cities. One time we went on a vacation and the room Clay and I stayed in had 2 twin beds. He was not happy when we walked in. I remember him saying, “Um. We’re either pushing these together or we’re sharing a twin bed.” He just wanted to sleep near me. We did push the beds together, but we basically slept on one bed. I mean, who wants to sleep on the crack??

I guess, it’s also hard because it brings a greater reality that the end is near. I thought he would look worse in a hospital bed. But, the truth is….once I got over my emotions, I quickly saw the benefit.  He is comfortable (mainly because of the memory foam mattress topper Robin brought.) We can move him more easily, elevate his head and feet, stand on both sides of the bed to assist him, raise the bed to our height. It’s just so much better.

Once we got him settled, mom said, “He just looks better, doesn’t he?” And he did.

You know, I’ve come to a full realization of what it is to trust God. To trust Him with every detail. He knows what we need, if we’ll just listen to Him. I knew He was telling me it was time.

“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” II Timothy 1:12

Timothy is talking about his suffering for Christ in this verse, but the words “FOR I KNOW WHOM I HAVE BELIEVED” just keep coming to my mind this morning. I do believe Him. I do. And, through this time, He has caused my belief in Him to grow every day. Jesus is able to keep us until we see Him face to face. We have to trust Him.

I thought of this song as I was writing this blog.

He has to be everything to us. We have to come to a point in our life where our knowledge of Christ becomes a reality. When we allow Him to truly be everything….more than words on a page, more than Sunday School stories….He has to be everything. And, when we let Him be everything, we’ll find that we can do anything.

The Lord continues to encourage us and do sweet things for us that remind us He is near. Our faith remains strong. The kids are holding up very well, and we are having very precious moments with Clay right now. God has blessed us with this beautiful weather the past few days. So, yesterday, we moved Clay’s bed so he could look outside and just feel the breeze. I think it was good for him. He had been really restless, but when we opened the doors, he calmed down and slept a while.

He winked at Sam yesterday and smiled a huge smile a few different times. We shaved him and gave him a really good bath. He looks so good! It’s strange that he still looks so healthy. The Lord keeps sustaining him. It’s so beautiful to watch. Clay’s Aunt Jean and Aunt Faye came yesterday. When they were praying over him, he squeezed Jean’s hand and sighed to let her know he could hear her.

God continues to send precious people to encourage us. Kayla brought me coffee and got to be here when the Lord blessed me with the most wonderful gift that I can’t really tell you about yet. Just know that God loves you and He hears even the smallest prayers deep in your heart. My friend Tiffany Hingle blessed me and sent Rachael Lagarde to see me. She is helping me create something that I’ve been wanting for awhile. God is so sweet.

Our nurses, Julie, Christy and others have been so sweet. This is Christy below and Julie is shown above with Clay. My sweet friend, Anna VanV Abrahams, came to play the piano for us. She came Thursday night, and after such a hard day, it was God’s way of comforting me. We worshiped Him together and it was just what I needed before bed. I didn’t even cry when I laid down without Clay for the first time.

The last time he drank water was Thursday am. He only had a small amount and Julie realized he couldn’t really tolerate it. That’s when we stopped giving him his seizure meds via pill and moved to a shot. Britton, his niece who is a nurse, was here that night to give him the evening shot. But yesterday, I had to do it for the first time, and I did fine. I’ve given it a few times, now, and he stays very calm.

Grace, mom and I actually snuck in a little nap yesterday. Then, we had a quiet evening here with just the 5 of us. We all slept really well last night. Grace stayed up here with me and we had to get up a few times to help him, but we slept a lot. He was very still and calm. We all needed a good night sleep!

We covet your prayers over these coming days. I can feel that the end is very near. We still believe with all of our hearts that God can raise him up. He absolutely can, if that is what He desires. If not, we know that these next few days will be precious and excruciating at the same time. Thank you for praying.

Today, would you please pray for Clay’s parents. I know they are so proud of him, and so thankful for his testimony, but that doesn’t make it easier. They love the Lord and have been so strong in their faith the entire time. Pray for the endurance we all need right now. Pray for God to cover them both in His love. Pray for peace that passes understanding. I’m so thankful that they have always loved me like their daughter and they have supported me this through all the decisions during this time. They love me and I love them dearly. It is such a blessing right now.

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Thank you for your prayers for our entire family. We are all so close, and each of us is hurting. Pray for God to wrap all of us in His arms. I am praying for you today. Praying for each of you that read our blog to trust God in your own lives. Praying that this message the Lord is teaching us will change you, too. Trust Him to always do what is best for you and I pray that He is your EVERYTHING today. We love you!

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…”In The Heart of a Grateful Man”

Over the past week, our days have gotten increasingly harder. Clay is awake less. He is getting more confused, so when he is awake, his comments don’t always make sense. His voice is very weak, so I have to get right beside him to hear him. He hasn’t left the bedroom for weeks, and he hasn’t walked in 2 weeks. He hasn’t eaten a meal in 2 weeks. He has had some severe moments of confusion that caused frustration, which is really hard for me.

He does still drink water in the mornings while he takes his medicine, but that is getting harder, too. Today was sort of a climax. Getting him to cooperate, take medicine and bathe was really difficult. The nurse was considering a catheter and a hospital bed. I am not completely opposed to this, but I don’t want it. I like to be able to sleep beside him and he’s so comfortable in our bed.

Robin and Caleb had come over to bring me coffee and visit, and Caleb was able to help me and the nurse get everything done in our bed. The nurse was here for over 3 hours today helping us. Hospice has been so wonderful.

I had a few melt downs. Which is ok. Sometimes I just have to cry and get it all out. The emotions start to pile up and it feels good to just cry. I came down the stairs, and found some of my favorite faces in the world….Pastor Lee, Jason Doise, Robin and Caleb. When I saw them, I just broke down. They came upstairs and prayed over us while we waited for the nurse. Clay is so loved. He hears the prayers and it helps him. After we prayed, he was able to cooperate with us and we got some really difficult tasks completed.

The entire time, he was apologizing to us…saying please and thank you….he was just so sweet. That is the Lord (and maybe a little bit of medicine) but I give the glory to God for his sweet demeanor. It is who he’s always been and these circumstances have only made him sweeter. I’m so thankful.

Speaking of being thankful…..some of you have asked me how I’m doing this. People sometimes say, “I don’t know how you’re making it.” This is how….

Psalm 34:1-10; 17-20

I will bless the Lord at all times:
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make her boast in the Lord:
the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he heard me,
and delivered me from all my fears.
They looked unto him, and were lightened:
and their faces were not ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him,
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encampeth
round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.
O taste and see that the Lord is good:
blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
O fear the Lord, ye his saints:
for there is no want to them that fear him.
The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger:
but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.

The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth,
and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart;
and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous:
but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.
He keepeth all his bones:
not one of them is broken.
Evil shall slay the wicked:
and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.
The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants:
and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.”

This is an excerpt from a devotional that Robin gave me titled “Springs in the Valley” by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman. The book was published in 1950.

“There is a legend of a man who found the barn where Satan kept his seeds ready to be sown in the human heart, and on finding the seeds of discouragement more numerous than others, learned that those seeds could be made to grow almost anywhere. When Satan was questioned he reluctantly admitted that there was one place in which he could never get them to thrive. “And where is that?” asked the man. Satan replied sadly, “In the heart of a grateful man.”

David knew this truth. He was a worshipper who had a grateful heart. And, even in his despair, he always found a way to praise God. He would talk to himself when he was sad, or discouraged. And those Psalms which begin with despair, almost always end in praise back to God for His goodness, mercy, lovingkindness and unfailing love.

This is the key to our survival. A grateful heart. No matter the circumstance, there is always something to be thankful for. Even in the very worst situation you could ever imagine….you could simply be thankful for salvation. But, none of us are in the worst possible situation. No matter how bleak you life may seem, you would only have to look a short time to find someone with a worse story.

In our situation, I find myself giving thanks for all the provisions God has made. There are many symptoms and side effects that Clay could, and maybe should, be experiencing that he’s not.

When he feels frustrated…..I think to myself that he could have woken up from surgery with an altered personality. But he didn’t. We had 16 months with Clay…the same Clay we have always loved.

When he is sleeping most of the day….I give thanks for all the time that he felt well and healthy and looked so vibrant.

When he is confused….I thank God for the months and months that he functioned completely normal and had time to spend with his family living life to the fullest.

When his head hurts…..I praise God that he didn’t suffer for 16 months with uncontrolled pain.

When he vomits…..I really thank God that I can count on my hands the number of days that he’s been throwing up from sickness related to his cancer.

God has been so good to us. He has provided. Helped. Healed. Parted waters. Guided. Comforted.

Every promise in His word has been proven true in our lives. Every single one. He has kept Clay and empowered him with great strength to stand in the devil’s face and laugh. He has built a testimony in Clay’s life that has changed thousands of people. He has never left us or forsaken us.

And, for that, I am grateful tonight.

When I want to despair, I can’t. Because God has been so good. He is so close to us because we are brokenhearted and His word promises He is near to us. You can feel His presence in our house. You can see it in Clay. You can see it in our kids. He is here, y’all. And, in His presence, there can be no fear, no despair and no hopelessness. He overcomes those things that the devil wants to use against us.

I hope and pray that wherever you are tonight…no matter your circumstance…you can be protected from Satan’s seeds of discouragement by allowing God to give you a grateful heart. If you don’t feel grateful, read a few of these scriptures and let God speak to you.

We Love You!

Clay and Kristy


II Corinthians 4:6-15

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
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But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

Hebrews 1:9

You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”

Hebrews 4:14-16

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

I John 3:1-3

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

These scriptures were inspired by handmade cards sent to me by Diane Ruiz, my dear and precious friend. Ms. Diane, you have encouraged my heart so much and filled my thoughts with scripture. That’s all I have right now…the truth of God’s word….to keep my spirit lifted. Thank you.

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Run With Endurance…Finish Strong

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

The writers of the New Testament refer to our lives as a race several times. They encourage us to finish strong and to run with endurance. This analogy has always made sense to me, but this past November, God taught me a great lesson regarding running my race.

My friend, Meredith Heath, is an avid runner. She had been encouraging me to run, just to get some exercise and clear my mind while I was taking care of Clay. You may remember the blog post titled “Couch to 5K” that I wrote during the time that I was training for a 5K with her. She sent me a really cute pair of running shoes, which got me started.

Then she asked me if she could enter us in a 5K in Baton Rouge. Honestly, my first thought was that I didn’t need a 5K to make me run. But, it sounded fun to do it with her, so I said yes. I started training pretty hard. I couldn’t show up for the race and have her embarrassed by me! On days when I didn’t feel like running, I did it because I knew the race was coming soon, so I would roll out of bed and make myself go.

The day of the race arrived. I was ready. We had matching shoes, so what could go wrong, right?

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Another dear friend from high school, Dawn Borges, decided to come run with us. I had two really wonderful encouragers by my side for my first 5K. I felt very prepared.

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We lined up to start the race. It was very crowded. There were lots people of all ages crammed into a very small starting area. The gun sounded and the crowd tried to move together to get through the starting line. We were having to walk because there was no room to run, yet. But, as the crowd moved, and people started finding their own pace, we spread out and were able to start our run.

Everyone ran at a different pace. Some people walked most of the time. One man who was at least 75 years old passed us! Meredith looked over at me and said, “We better pick up the pace. That dude just passed us!” We laughed, but it actually really encouraged me to run harder.

We started off great. We had a good steady pace going and we were talking and encouraging each other. Meredith and Dawn really could have left me in their dust, but they stayed right by my side. There were moments when I was tired and needed to walk for a minute. And we did. I would catch my breath and then I was ready to run again.

At each mile marker, there was water and a cute sign that said, “1”, “2” and “3.” It really helped to have an idea of where we were in the race. When I saw that “1” sign in the distance, I pushed harder because it was an exciting feeling to know we had reached a milestone. 

When the “3” sign came into view, I knew we were so close to the finish line, but I suddenly got a horrible headache. Y’all, I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever had a headache like this. It hurt so bad. I had to take my hair down and take my sunglasses off. I had water running out of my eyes and I was holding the bridge of my nose…just squeezing it because it hurt so bad. I told Mer and Dawn I had to walk a minute. I remember stopping and bending over. They just stood by me and encouraged me.

“We’re almost there, Kristy. We’re so close. We’ll walk it if we have to, but we are going to help you cross that finish line.”

I stood back up and started walking. Within about 20 feet, I could see that people were lining the street on both sides. They were holding signs and cheering at the top of their lungs. I was thinking, “What are these people doing out here cheering us on for a little 5K?!” But, when I heard their cheers, I was suddenly super motivated. They were watching us with excitement and cheering us on.

Those people didn’t know that my head was about to split wide open, but they cheered for me like they did. “You can do it!” “Great job!” “Come on!” “You’re almost done!” I could hear all these voices of people I didn’t even know. So, I picked up the pace and I pushed through the pain. We were jogging, again.

The closer we got to the finish line, the bigger and louder the crowd got. Their voices were even more excited for us, and I was even more motivated to finish strong. The last stretch of the race was shaped like an “L” so when we turned that last corner, we could see the yellow finish line marker and all the balloons. And, although this is probably an exaggeration, it looked like thousands of people standing all along that last stretch of road. Their cheers were so loud in my ears.

I was looking at the finish line and listening to the crowd, and feeling my head hurting so bad, but that crowd of witnesses gave me the encouragement I needed to keep going. I could see the end and it was close enough that I knew I could endure anything for that short distance. And, we made it. We crossed the line. The headache was still there, but I was smiling a huge smile! And, look at my sweet friends. Holding my arms and cheering for me, too.

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Suddenly this scripture came into my head,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”

Tears were streaming down my face as I got the most beautiful vision of all the saints in heaven cheering for all of us as we run this spiritual race called life. They can see our finish line. They can see what we can not see and they’ve already crossed through the finish, so they know that it is worth it.

Right now, those saints are cheering so loud for Clay. They are all standing around in heaven watching him as he nears his finish line. They are telling him, “You’re almost home Clay!” “Don’t give up now, Clay!” “Finish strong, Clay!” “Even if your head hurts, Clay, keep going.”

In that sea of faces, there are many that he has never met, but there are many faces that he will know. His grandparents, my grandparents, friends that have already gone to heaven. But, the most precious face he will see is the face of Jesus. He’s in that crowd. He’s cheering harder than anyone. Because He knows what it is to run a really hard race. He knows the splitting headache we feel sometimes as we turn that last corner. He feels our pain. That verse says,

“…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Jesus endured because of the joy set before Him. We should consider that. When we are tired of running, and our head hurts, we should consider Jesus. He endured so much more than will ever be asked of us, yet he finished. And, now, He’s there….cheering us on.

Every race ends with a prize. Our little 5K ended with a medal,

but just imagine the prize that awaits us when we make it to heaven! Imagine the crown of glory that we will receive. And, Jesus himself will give it to us! (II Timothy 4:7-8) What an honor.

I mean, what could you NOT do if you knew the end of it was a crown of glory presented to you by Jesus Himself? You have to believe it. You have to see your life through eternal eyes to believe that you are running this race for eternity.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” II Corinthians 4:16-18

I’ll be honest with you. I am at the part in my race where my head is starting to hurt. I am feeling the affects of this affliction. Clay is having a harder time. He sleeps most of the time, and when he is awake, he is starting to get more and more confused. He still recognizes everyone who comes, but he is having a harder time talking. He struggles to do things I need him to do, so I have some frustrating moments.

But, God has given me a very real picture of heaven. He is drawing my heart to heaven through this situation. My eyes are on the eternal things and not the temporal things. Those saints are cheering loudly right now. They are cheering for Clay, but they are cheering for me and you, too. Our race may not be over, but we are reaching some mile markers that let us know we are that much closer to the finish line. We are all running at different paces, in different shoes, and with different people, but we are all running.

You might be walking right now because you need to catch your breath, and that’s ok. God will send people to give you water and refresh you. He’ll do things to remind you that He is with you. Let Him refresh you so you can run again.

Keep your eyes on Jesus. He is the author and finisher of our faith. And He is cheering for us so hard! He is so excited to see us run with endurance.

Just like Meredith and Dawn ran my race by my side and held my arms when I needed help, we have been so blessed with so many people who are supporting us and helping us. This week, our house has been filled with worship, Bible reading, prayer, food and love. Here are a few snapshots:

We had Anthem come and lead us in worship, Taylor Beth Lloyd played her harp for us, many friends have come just to be with us and to pray. My family from Arkansas drove down today and prayed over Clay. Family from Mississippi came this morning. A bunch of our friends came out to support Grace at her volleyball game this week. A few of my lifelong friends have been cleaning my house and coming just to help me almost every day.

It’s just amazing the way so many of you have blessed us. Thank you so much. We love you for the way you are cheering us on to our finish line. We are surrounded with love and support that keeps us going. But, more than anything, we are filled with the hope of glory. We are so thankful that God has demonstrated great purpose in this journey. He is cheering us on and waiting for us to make it home. What a thought.

Let’s run with endurance and finish strong!

P.S. I love you Meredith and Dawn! Thank you for encouraging me to run that race so God could teach me a lesson that would be so important to me right now.

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And…photo creds to my lifelong friend, Michelle Chenevert Morgan! She was in that crowd cheering and capturing it all! I love you, girl, and that photo will be a treasure to me for the rest of my life.

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There Is Purpose…

A while back, Carla (my Pastor’s wife) asked me to teach a Bible study on Joseph. Joseph is a type (or illustration) of Christ in the Old Testament, and the study was meant to bring out that truth. I found my notes yesterday and, once again, I just sat in amazement at how God prepared my heart so much for this event that He knew was coming.

Kayla and I were having (decaf) lattes on my balcony Sunday night, and she was remembering how it was so evident that God prepared us for this trial. I have come to realize that God knew this event was in our future. He gave us a choice….to be prepared and walk with Him, or to go through it without Him. We chose wisely. When God began to prepare us, we knew He was doing something really great in our hearts. We just didn’t understand the magnitude. But, nevertheless, God saw this coming and He paved our way with promises and hope.

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Just like He did for Joseph. You know the story, right? Joseph was the son of Jacob. He wore the coat of many colors. He was beloved of Jacob and his brothers were jealous. So they sold him into slavery to Egypt. He spent many years of his life in slavery, in prison, and in great hardship. Until God raised him up and used him to bring deliverance to the entire nation of Israel.

But, before he went there, God showed him a vision. God told him that he would be used of God. That he would have an impact on the nation of Israel. God gave him a hope to hold onto while he would sit in that prison for years and years. God prepared him and worked in him while he was there in the darkness. In times when he wondered why, God spoke and gave him dreams and visions.

He knew his life had purpose.

It was the same with Jesus. He came here with a purpose. And, He always knew what it was. He endured great hardship “for the hope that was set before Him.”

That’s what God can do for you. If you will allow Him. That’s what He did for me and Clay. We don’t have to ask God why? We don’t have to wonder why He has allowed this, because He showed us. We knew immediately when this began. We both knew that God was building a testimony that would bring glory to Him.

Clay instantly became an evangelist. It’s been amazing to listen to things that come out of his mouth. He knows that God is using him and he’s honored by that. Your response to the video I posted of Clay was overwhelming. It’s been shared about 150 times and viewed thousands of times already. God is using him as a voice to a broken and hurting world.

So, if you are asking God “WHY?” Stop. We know why. And because God has shown us, and given us that hope, we can make it. We can endure.

He can do the same thing for you! He can show you the purpose for your life so that you can endure the difficulties of this life with purpose and hope. We all have to go through pain and sorrow…..don’t you want help with it? Don’t you want to know it’s all for a reason?

It doesn’t make it easier.

It doesn’t take the pain away.

But, it can make the burden lighter. It makes it bearable when you know that your life is being used by God to demonstrate His power to the world. If you can really let God help you live your life with a heavenly perspective, He can help you understand that this life is only a blip on the radar. Eternity is what really matters. What follows this life is the only thing that has meaning.

Live for that.

Live for eternity.

I want you to see this note I wrote in my journal when I was studying Joseph…..

“Ask God to speak into your life and show you His plans for you. If you are in your prison years, ask God to show you how He is using you. See your life on an eternal timeline and you will walk with victory and love.”

I did this, y’all. For years….really for my entire life….I’ve been praying for God to show me the plans He had for me. I’ve been begging Him to use me. I’ve always desired to be used of God. Now, don’t misunderstand. That is not natural. I didn’t work that up in myself. God did that in me. He put that desire in me. He taught me to pray for His work to be done and His perfect will to be preformed. He prayed through me. I didn’t do anything.

And, isn’t it wonderful to just accept that? We don’t have to do anything. His work in our life doesn’t depend on us. It all depends on Him. Some people have a hard time with this thought because we are influenced by the world to think that we have to be strong and brave and capable. Our culture is filled with self help and motivational speakers. We are buying a lie that says we have to get up each morning and strap on our boots and take on the world.

No.

You have to get up each morning and give your life to Jesus.

So, the good news is that you can just rest and let Him do all the hard work. Surrendering your life to Jesus does not mean you are weak. It means you know how strong He is. We could never live up to what He can do. So, just surrender. Live your life with great purpose and let Him do the hard stuff. I’ve learned this concept so strongly this year.

Almost everything that God has set before us to accomplish has been impossible. And, I love that. I love that most of my days end in this thought, “How did I do that? Oh, yea. I didn’t.” He does it all for me and then I get to marvel at His work.

These truths are especially meaningful right now because the days are getting increasingly harder. Clay can no longer get out of the bed. His legs are too weak to stand. He has completely stopped eating and he sleeps most of the day. He is still drinking water, especially when he takes his medicine. He is confused a lot. But, he still has moments of consciousness where he talks and even cracks jokes. Here are a few good moments from the past few days:

My lifelong friends, Tiffany Barry Ray and Angie DeJean Vercher, came over with their husbands and helped us make a mold of all 5 of our hands together. It was really cool! Clay couldn’t sit up, so he just laid over the side of the bed and we got around him. It was tight quarters, but we laughed and joked around the whole time. I have great kids. And great friends.

You know, this is so sad and difficult, but there are many moments where I sit here in our room with a very thankful heart. Thankful that my kids are having this precious time with their dad. Thankful that we have LIVED our lives to the fullest for an entire year while knowing his end was coming. Thankful that God has provided. Thankful that all of you have loved us so much and continue to show us great love. Thankful for family. Thankful for great memories. Thankful for time. Thankful for Jesus. Thankful for peace.

Our room is so peaceful. I play worship music most of the time. Yesterday, Clay was sleeping. I went over to check on him and he opened his eyes and said, “I love that song.” He is listening and worshipping, even though he can’t say much. God has covered him in peace. It is a precious time for me. I’ll always remember these days by his side.

My father-in-law made me breakfast this am! He’s so sweet. It was delicious. For those of you concerned for me, thank you. I assure you that I’m sleeping at night. I’m resting when I can during the day. I am drinking lots of water and I’m eating. Not tons. I’m really not hungry, but I’ve been eating enough to keep me going. I am allowing the Lord to help me and He is. I read my Bible as much as I can and I sit in the quiet and worship as much as possible.

Many of you have also asked about our kids. I am so thankful that God gave me 3 really strong, grounded kids. They are doing as well as we could expect them to do. I believe that Clay’s strength has given them a strong foundation on which to walk the rest of this path. He has led the way for them and they are following his lead. Thank you for praying for them.

We are so thankful for your prayers and love. Today, you can pray that God will give Clay spiritual endurance. That his spirit will win over his flesh when he feels confused and frustrated by the circumstance. Pray that he will rest peacefully and feel the arms of Jesus holding him. I need strength. I need patience. I need God to keep reminding me of His plans. Our kids need God to feel near to them. Jim and Flo need strength and the hope of God’s purpose for their son to fill their hearts.

Love you!

 

 

A Day In The Recliner!

After the seizure Wednesday morning, Clay hasn’t gotten out of the bed…..until this morning. All day Wednesday and all day Thursday, I honestly wasn’t sure if he ever would. Dr. Gummadi wasn’t sure, either. There are just so many unknowns right now. We were not sure if he was just sleeping deeply because of exhaustion and medication from the seizure, or because of disease progression.

So, you can imagine my excitement when we took this picture at around 11:00 am today.

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My friend, Ashley Starnes stopped by for coffee. We sat out on my balcony and talked for a while. She brought me some wonderful lavender bath products, so I could relax for a while. It was wonderful, Ashley! Thank you so much.

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Robin and Caleb arrived with latte!!! People who bring latte are some of my favorite people! My morning was almost made. Now, I was just hoping Clay would sit up and visit with us. Julie, our nurse, arrived, and helped me sit him up for medicine. Then, he decided he wanted to get up and brush his teeth. What? You want to get up?! And, he did.

He cleaned up and changed clothes. Then he decided just to sit in his recliner, instead of getting back in bed. I was so encouraged, y’all. It seems like a little thing, but I had really prayed that he would recover from the seizure so we could have more time with him. He did. Bobby and Cindy Holt came and visited for a minute. He drank a smoothie while they talked to him.

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Then, James VanV arrived with his guitar. We had the sweetest time of worship and prayer. I love how music draws us close to God. He loves when we sing to Him and just thank Him from our hearts. That’s what we did. James sang some of Clay’s favorites. He laid in his chair the entire time, but he listened and worshipped. It was so good. Chenelle and Christy dropped by at the perfect time and got to enjoy the worship with us.

 

 

 

I asked James to sing “I Am Redeemed” and he said that was much better with a piano. So, Caleb just went and got my electric piano and brought it upstairs! I want a baby grand so bad, but today was one time it was good that I don’t have one. That would have been a little more difficult to move! Caleb and Sam were able to bring it up and James played some more. Oh, it was so good to worship together in our room. The Lord was really here.

Clay and I napped a little when everyone left. I actually slept last night, so I wasn’t as tired as I’ve been, but it was good to lay in the quiet for a while.

We had several visitors tonight. Donuts were delivered by my childhood friend, Amanda Boulton, and her husband, Tom. Dinner was delivered by Jenna Wilcox and Diane Mohler. The Gummadi’s came to check on Clay and pray with us, Summer and Jimmy were here for a while. Pastor Lee and Carla came to see us after returning from a week away at a conference.

 

Yesterday, Clay had visits from his Aunt Sue and cousin, Joanna. They drove in from Nashville just to see him and talk to him. He had a hard time waking up and talking, but they just sat on the bed with him and enjoyed their company. He loves y’all so much!

 

Clay has been blessed with a life long best friend. Clay met John Green when they were around 10 years old. They’ve been close ever since. He constantly tells the kids stories about John and what a good friend he has always been. They have a unique friendship.  When John walked in the room, it was the first time Clay had even tried to sit up in the bed for 2 days. I was so glad to see it.

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Amanda and Jason brought us a gourmet dinner. Christy, Janell and Michelle cleaned my entire house, and my friend, Jodi, came for a quick visit and afternoon coffee. She really encouraged Sam. Man, I love you people!!!!

 

I’m tired. So, I’m not going to write much more, but I want to tell you how much I appreciate your prayers. God has heard us in the past few days. He always hears us, but I feel like He has really been near this week. My heart was so thankful when Clay wanted to get out of the bed today. His legs are still very weak and he is still tired, but I felt like God really heard us and granted us some more time with him.

We love you and appreciate your prayers so much. I’ll keep updating as often as I can. I’m going to bed with a joyful heart tonight. Love y’all.

 

 

God Hears Our Prayers

Clay had another seizure this morning, and he seems to be declining rapidly. Before I tell you about it, let me back up a few days.

This past Saturday night, what felt like 1,000 of my dearest friends got together to surprise me for my 40th birthday. My mom, my sister and our friends, Robin and Caleb, worked so hard to keep my from finding out, but as it seems to always happen with us, the Lord knew what was best. I was supposed to think it was a prayer meeting at our church for Clay, but I really knew that it was a party for me.

I hadn’t told anyone that I knew. And, this might not be something I should admit to, but I can lie pretty good. I LOVE surprises and I’ve pulled off some epic surprises for other people. So, when I realized what they were planning, my heart was sad for them. I knew how disappointed they would be to find out.

But, at 5:40 pm, Clay was laying on the floor of our shower throwing up. He was so nauseated he couldn’t even stand up. I had already gotten dressed and was ready to leave when this happened, but I had to get in the shower with him to help him. I was literally looking at him with absolutely no idea what to do. Do I tell them? Do I try to convince him to go?

Sam and Grace came upstairs, expecting to find us ready to leave, and Clay was on the bed trying to go to sleep. I felt so sorry for them. You should have seen their faces. So, I decided to tell them that I knew. We told Clay that we were actually trying to get dressed for my party and he said, “Oh no. It’s your birthday?! I didn’t get you anything!” Hahaha.

Y’all, he sat right up and said, “There’s no way I’m not going. Let’s go.” And, he finished getting dressed. And, I’m really glad. As bad as I knew he felt, I didn’t want to go to my party without him. We arrived 30 minutes late, but we made it.

The good news is that I was actually really surprised when they opened the door to our church sanctuary. This is what I saw…

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It felt like a sea of people. I haven’t counted, but it was A LOT! I felt so loved. In the midst of everything we’re going through, so many of my friends and family stopped what they were doing and came just to tell me they love me. I needed it.  Thank you so much to everyone who was there! I’ll never forget that moment. And, you see that red, white and blue shirt sleeve in the far left corner….that’s Clay. He made it there with me. He didn’t really know what was going on, but he was there.

While they waited for us to arrive, they really did have a prayer meeting for us. Look at all these people, praying together for Clay. Praying for our kids. Praying for me. We are so abundantly blessed. I thank God for all of you everyday.

We partied and had cake. Lots of beautiful cake. It was the perfect party. Not too long, because Clay really got tired. But, long enough for me to be showered with love and gifts, and for my mom to show off a bunch of pictures of me growing up!

My high school girl friends came home with me and we visited a little longer while Clay went to bed. He needed help up the stairs that night for the first time.  We noticed a significant difference in his ability to walk. His legs were getting weaker.

Sunday, I went to church while Clay’s friend Caleb came and sat with him. I was texting Caleb all through church to make sure he was ok. He never woke up. Some of my high school friends came to church with me – Meredith, Chenelle, Christy and Jensie (Chenelle’s daughter.) Meredith Heath was my very best friend in high school. She lived with me and my family for a year. We are like sisters. She flew in from North Carolina for the party and stayed a few days. Her primary goal was to make Clay happy, so whatever he wanted for two days, she got it. I love the selfie of us with him.

He stayed upstairs all day Sunday, and although he got up for a while Sunday evening to eat, he really wasn’t out of the bed much. My cousins, Adam and Ashley, came to see him, but he couldn’t wake up. So, we visited and took pics. You know I’m good at that. Then, Todd and Drew came by to show him their baseball rings they received for winning State for Central High Baseball. Clay played in high school, so he was so excited to see this happen for them.

Sam had a friend birthday party. His birthday is actually before mine, but I got to celebrate first. He is turning 18. Meredith helped me get the house ready and get food for a bunch of teenagers. Clay visited with them for just a minute, but mostly stayed upstairs.

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Clay was able to get up Monday for a meeting and then a few visits. He didn’t go downstairs all day, but he was awake for some visits. Cleve, Conner and Ms. Sharon brought a homemade apple pie. The Pyle’s brought the Krispie Kreme eclipse donuts! Oh my goodness! If you didn’t get one, you missed out. And a package arrived from Aunt Sue. She made us a pillow out of the t-shirt from Clay’s golf tournament. He loved it!

He got a little confused when it was time to go to bed Monday night. But, he slept good. He woke up Tuesday morning nauseated and vomiting. That entire day, he was either sleeping or throwing up. It was very difficult for me to watch. He hates to be sick and he just couldn’t get any relief. We had family over for Sam’s birthday, and he tried several times to be able to visit with them, but he couldn’t stop throwing up. So, our family and friends made Sam feel special while I stayed upstairs to help Clay.

Scooter and Beverly Trice, stopped by to give me a birthday gift. Oh my goodness. Look how special! They spent the week in Waco, TX, and bought me this sign at Magnolia. It is the perfect saying for how I feel right now. Clay and I have both been showered with love, and, y’all, I’m telling you, it is keeping us going. Your love and prayers have meant so much to us. And, look, Jimmy Don even signed it!!!!

After the party, everyone went home and I settled in for what I thought would be a peaceful night of sleep. After vomiting all day, Clay was exhausted. At 2 am, I woke to hear him convulsing on the floor beside our bed. He was having a seizure, and he had fallen out of the bed onto the floor. I rushed to turn on the light and saw blood right away. This time was different from the first. I felt prepared.

I remained calm, and turned him on his left side. I just nestled my legs behind his back so he couldn’t roll over. I held his head so he didn’t get hurt. And, I just prayed. When he started to calm down, I called Dr. Gummadi to talk me through it. He answered right away and helped me stay calm. I called Hospice and they sent the nurse. After the convulsions stopped, I called for Sam and Grace to come up and help me. They were wonderful.

The nurse called the Fire Department to put Clay back in bed. She gave him some medication and stayed with me until everything had calmed down. The medicine makes him cranky and agitated, but it also makes him sleep for a long time. We lined his back with pillows and eventually got back to sleep.

He slept most of the day today. The medicine puts him in a deep sleep, so he is barely conscious. Tonight at around 10 pm, I asked Sam to help me give Clay his medicine. We talked to him to wake him up, but it was very difficult. He needed to go to the bathroom, so he got up, but he was very agitated. It was hard to help him. Then he basically refused to take his medicine.

He seemed confused, frustrated, and almost angry. It was not him. I know it’s the medicine, but it can still be really hard to help him when he is like this. Sam was starting to get really upset because we needed him to take the medicine. It is the seizure preventative. I begged him, I cried, I fussed, I demanded, Sam begged, Sam bargained, Sam fussed. Nothing worked.

We were both at our wits end when Sam picked up the phone to call Hospice. I told him to wait. I told him to turn on my Sonos speaker and play Selah radio. The first song that came on brought such a peace to the room. I laid behind Clay and put his head in my hands and told him I was going to pray for him. Sam laid hands on Clay, too, and we prayed.

‘God, we know you see us right now. We know you know exactly what we need. Clay needs your Holy Spirit to rise up within him. You are greater than his mind. You are greater than this medicine. You are greater than his thoughts. You are the peace he needs. Please give it to him right now. Please help him do what we need him to do. I watched you display the fruits of the Spirit through him after his surgery, when the doctors told me he would be mean. You made him sweet. I need you to do that tonight. I need you to give him a sound mind and a willing heart. Please God. Please help us.”

When I stopped praying, I rubbed his back softly and said, “Clay, you know we love you, right? You know we are trying to do what is best for you, right? I need you to take these pills.”

He opened his eyes and said, “Ok. Where are they?” He took them. His entire demeanor changed. Sam’s eyes got really big and he looked at me like he wanted to say, “Did that just happen??!!” It did happen. The Lord heard our prayer and answered it.

After that, Clay sat up and drank some water, and said he wanted donuts! Katy and Damian, thank you so much for bringing donuts. We had some glazed left. Sam popped them in the microwave and Clay ate them. He sat up and talked to us. We laughed and joked around. Grace came in and he laughed with her. It was like he was himself again, immediately. He signed some papers for me and I helped him get situated safely in the bed. Then, he quietly dosed off to sleep.

Y’all, God is real. He is powerful. He hears the cries of our hearts. He sees our needs. When life is frustrating and you want to scream….turn to Him. He will answer you. He lives in Clay, so even if Clay’s mind is not right, his spirit is. The Holy Spirit is greater than our flesh.

The reality of our situation is that Clay is progressing quickly. The doctors believe that the nausea and seizure is from pressure building up in his brain. It may be hard to control. So, the meds will keep him sedated unless God touches him. Please help us pray. My last blog talked about how healthy he’s been in the midst of the sickness, and while I knew these problems were likely in our future, I was hoping we had more time. Please help us pray that God will touch him and control these symptoms. I am asking God to give him strength and a sound mind. We are praying against nausea and headaches.

These days have been hard, and there are more hard days ahead, but God has remained perfectly faithful. I just keep reminding myself about God’s love for me. He loves me. His love is unfailing. It never ceases. He has my life in His hands. He has my children in His hands. He knows what is best. I continue to trust Him, and I continue to be thankful for the way He answers our prayers. We love you. Goodnight.

Health In The Midst Of Sickness

I am really going to have to find time to post more often because there is so much to tell you. I know you all don’t have an hour to read our blog, so I’m going to do my best to keep this concise. (Spoiler alert: I’m just finishing this post, and it is NOT concise. Sorry!)

I’ve been amazed, from the very beginning, at the number of people who have reached out to us, helped us, provided for us, ministered to us…

It’s been a blessing just to watch the way God has drawn people to our situation. So many of you are praying for us and believing God to do a miracle in our lives. One day I’ll have time to sit and count the number of people who have visited Clay during the past 15 months. These pics are just since last Saturday.

Todd, our Hospice Chaplin, and Julie, our nurse, met with us and we were able to share our story with them. It is such a great opportunity to tell about what God has done for us, and why we’re still smiling and believing. I love the pic of them laughing above. Our house has really been filled with joy and peace. Thank God! Julie comes twice a week, and is just managing Clay’s medicine and monitoring symptoms. There is not a lot to be done for him right now. He’s doing well.

Jordan and Patricia Whatley visited us with Chris and Maria Hudson. Interesting story….Patricia is the doctor who helped me at church on the Sunday night when Clay had his first real symptom. He woke up from a nap, and wasn’t able to remember what time church started or how to get there. When he told me, he already had tears in his eyes. He knew something was wrong. When we got to church, I spoke to Patricia. She helped me remain calm, but got us an appointment with one of her partners the next morning at 10:00 am. When I think of all the people God has used in our lives, I remember that moment standing in our foyer with Patricia. Thank God she was there.

So, they brought dinner and ALL their precious kids. There were Krispy Kreme donuts on the counter and Gabby (one of their daughters) asked me, in the cutest, sweetest voice ever,

“Mrs. Kristy, do they really have Kreme in them??”

I replied in shock, “Gabby, you’ve never had a Krispy Kreme donut??!!!”

When she said, “No, ma’am….” I couldn’t hardly believe it. Well, it gets worse! None of them had ever had one! Poor babies. So, we fixed that problem. I gave each of them a donut, and, of course, Clay got one too. Watch this video of their first bite. Wait for Gabby’s response. It’s so cute.

Y’all, while this is really cute, the sweeter (pun intended) thing about this, is that these children have prayed for Clay for 15 months. They pray for him with their parents, and they’ve come over in church and laid hands on him to pray for him. It has touched him so much to see the faith of the children in our lives.

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I wonder if they’ll remember that their first Krispy Kreme donut, ever, was with Mr. Clay?!

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Wow. I’m not sure I could have taken a worse picture, but it’s the only one we took, so I’ll have to sacrifice for the greater good! Ha. Last Saturday, my high school friends, Todd and Betsy Smith, knocked on my door with their adorable kids. We had a very nice visit over coffee. God gave me some incredible friends in my teenage years who have stayed with me all my life. It’s such a comfort to know they care about us.

He woke up last Saturday to more Krispy Kreme donuts, delivered by his sweet cousin, Stacey Green. His parents came down for the visit, and my cousin, Lori, from Arkansas surprised us when she walked in the room with my grandmother. We had a party in the bedroom!

Our friend, Kenny Kepper, and his wife Kara came. Kenny had a heart attack a week before they were here, and he looked wonderful! I was amazed at how well he was doing. While they were here, our friends from church, Paul and Angie Merchant, came in. Angie had a lumpectomy just a few days before this. She was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and has a long road of treatment ahead of her.

It was the Lord’s plan for us all to be together. Kenny shared some scripture from Psalm 119 where David says,

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.”

We all talked about how that scripture doesn’t really make sense, until you walk through your affliction and you see how God uses it to make you more like Him. Praise God that there is purpose in our pain.

Jill Wyble joined us and brought Middle School yearbooks from Istrouma Middle, when she and Clay were in 7th and 8th grade. They laughed a lot. His long term memory is perfect, so he was telling stories and they were remembering teachers and friends. Very funny to watch.

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Angie Robertson is an old girlfriend of Clay’s. I had only met her once, but she started writing me as soon as Clay got sick. She has kept up with our blog and written me several times to tell us how much it has ministered to her. Her children ask her to read it to them and they pray for Clay, as a family. She asked if she could see him.

Now, I’ll be honest, I’ve gotten some funny looks from people when I say that Clay’s ex-girlfriend’s are visiting him. (Angie is the second one!) But, let me tell you…..I have nothing to be insecure about. This man loves me with all of his heart, and I know it. I was glad that Angie had the chance to see him and thank him.

She said something really sweet to Clay that is a common theme for how many of you feel about him, and there is a lesson in it for all of us. She told him that she always remembered how he made her feel loved. He showed her how a man should treat her, and he set a standard for her future relationships.

Other people have told him similar things. He has a way of making people feel special. He is genuinely interested when you talk to him. He pays attention to what people say. He always speaks. You know, like, when we’re in Wal-Mart at 10:00 pm, and he sees an old friend from Middle School 3 aisles over??!! He’s going over there to speak to them. You can bet on it. And, while there were times when I would have preferred to walk the other way, since I had no make up and I was tired – we spoke. And, now, I am so thankful for that. Because all that love and attention is getting returned to him 100 fold, at a time when he desperately needs it.

I’m so proud of him. Proud to be his wife. Proud to sit beside him while people love on him and take time out of their busy lives to come tell him what he has meant to them. I’m so proud that he has lived his life for the Lord and allowed God to love people through him. God has made him a light and a testimony for many, many people to see, and I have had the best seat in the house for 15 months, as I’ve watched God minister through him.

Do you ever wonder why we’re not depressed? Why we’re not scared? Why we’re smiling?

This is why. Because God is ministering to people through him. There is purpose in our pain. There is a great hope in us that God has allowed affliction for a reason. Yes, it has brought us so much closer to the Lord, but it has also become a ministry. You see these pictures of all the visits, and all the people who have come through our home. And, many of you have asked me if he’s tired of it, or if I’m tired.

The answer is no. I believe that God is giving Clay health in the midst of sickness because he is allowing God to speak through him. Although his short term memory is not functioning properly, he is able to testify of God’s love every time someone comes to see him. Watch this….

This is a regular occurrence in our house. Wether he’s talking to long time veterans of the faith, or people who don’t know the Lord, he tells them the same thing. “It’s Jesus, y’all!” He says that a lot.

He had a visit from some friends he worked with at Hancock Bank several years ago. He loved it, and he told them all the same things he always says. Love the Lord. Jesus is everything. Nothing else matters. God is carrying the burden. When they left, he asked me to remind him what he said. He looked at me very serious and said, “Kristy, did I tell them about Jesus?” I assured him that they heard the name of Jesus that night. And, they all seemed to love Him, too. Clearly, they care deeply for Clay. It was a sweet time.

We continue to be blessed with help. Jean Raggio mowed our grass, while Sam helped a little. She made his day much easier. Richard Jordan cleaned our windows this week. Man, my house is in great shape! Thank you, to so many who have helped us during this time.

All these visits! So many prayers. So much love. Sooooooo much food! So much laughter. So much peace. Praise God for all of you!

We had another all night prayer meeting last night. We stayed until almost 1:00 am. Clay just laid on the pew when he felt tired, but he still prayed and worshipped. I have never done this before, but I played the piano and sang for a little while. Clay loves Kari Jobe’s song, “I Am Not Alone.” Every time he hears it, he remembers that he had a vision of Jesus while he was recovering from surgery and it is triggered by this song.

My sweet friends, who know how much I love pictures, and who also know how sentimental I am, captured this sweet moment. He was laying down when I went to the piano and started playing. His eyes were closed. But, when I started singing, his head popped up. I guess in shock because he listens to me play and sing at home, but never in public. He laid back down, but his hand went right up in the air in worship to the Lord.

I’m probably going to take a nap, now. I love you people who love us so much! You’ll never understand how encouraged we are by your love and prayers. Thank you.

 

 

We Love You!

Yesterday, as the rain poured down, so did my tears. As soon as I woke up, I knew it was going to be a hard day. My thoughts were consumed with the reality of what is happening. Clay is slowly getting worse.

He is beginning to sleep more, and he feels tired when he’s awake. Wednesday was the first time he told me he didn’t think he could walk down the stairs because he felt weak and “fuzzy.” So, he stayed in our room all day. He had wonderful visitors, but he didn’t want to leave the room and a few times, he just laid in the bed while we visited.

I had plans and things that needed to be done, but I decided just to stay right there with him. So, we sat on the bed and talked for most of the day. He loves to listen to the rain, so that’s what we did.

My body is beginning to feel the effects of everything we’ve been through. I was weepy, tired, weak, and I didn’t have energy. And, I don’t feel guilty about that. The fact that I feel the grief, does not mean that I am not trusting the Lord. I am. He is still as faithful as He was on the days that I didn’t feel sad. He is still a healer. He is still my friend. He is still good. He is still love.

And, as Clay and I talked, God comforted me and slowly took that sadness away. We talk a lot about what is happening. He asks me questions about what I think life will be like if he is gone. We talk about our kids and how they are handling everything. We remember the best times of our marriage. We laugh a lot. Clay tells me how much he loves me and how grateful he is for our relationship, especially in this hard time.

He says, “Can you imagine going through this together if we didn’t really like each other?” Yesterday, my answer was, “It would make it harder right now, but it would make it easier to face what is ahead for me.” And that’s true.

So, we’re sitting in our bed, listening to the pouring down rain, talking about how wonderful our marriage has been. I’m listening to Clay tell me how thankful he is for our life, and this thought flies through my head…..it’s literally like one of those signs in front of a business where the words move across the screen…

“This isn’t fair”

And immediately….I mean before the thought even made it across my brain….my spirit rose up within me. It was like I could see a vision of my spirit grabbing the thought and throwing it out of my head. As soon as the words even formed, my spirit was already saying, “You don’t believe that. You don’t think that. Cast that thought away.”

And it was cast away. Because it’s not true. God is love. He is good. He is sovereign. We don’t understand His ways, but one thing we know for sure is that His ways are perfect. And I believe with all my heart that He loves us too much to do anything but good to us. So, even though I don’t want to do this, I can trust that God sees something I don’t see and He knows something I don’t know. He has already seen our future, and He desires what is best for us.

About that time, the house was quiet, and the doorbell rang.

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It was my cousin, Andy, who lives in Houston. He and Clay have always really liked each other. It was so good to see him standing there. He came up and we visited for a while. Then, Janet and Bill (Andy’s parents) joined us. It was perfect because we got some time to talk in the quiet.

Bill recently won his battle with cancer, and while I know he would trade places with Clay if he could, we rejoice for him. God used Bill’s fight to strengthen my kids faith just before we faced this situation with Clay.

The doctors only gave Bill 6 months to live, but about 3 years later, he is now completely cancer free. It was truly a miracle, and our family prayed for Bill so much. We really believed God could heal him, and He did. I watched my kids’ faith grow tremendously as we celebrated Bill’s life. God used Bill to prove to my kids (and to me) that He can do great things. So, if He chooses not to heal Clay, they don’t have to wonder if it’s because He can’t. They just have to ask God to help them trust His ways. We love you, Bill and Janet. Andy, you’re just alright….

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As they are leaving, I hear Bill telling Janet she needs to move because there are a lot of people in the driveway. Ha! And, there were!

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We had a wonderful visit with some dear friends that the Lord placed in our lives during our time at First New Testament Church. They have moved on to different places, now, but God has preserved the friendship that we feel for one another. Clay said a few times last night that the best decision we’ve ever made was to attend FNT. God has taught us so much, and He has enriched our lives with people who love us deeply, and whom we love.

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We had a wonderful time of prayer and we both felt so loved by all the hugs, the delicious dinner and the huge smiles. I love these people. I’m so thankful that the body of Christ extends beyond the four walls of our churches.

My parents stayed for dinner and we had a visit from Grace and Sam’s lifelong friend, Jordan Stephens. Jordan just moved away for college and she will be playing Volleyball for William Carey. She bought Clay a cap that say’s, “Carey” that he can wear to her games that she’s really hoping he can attend. I’m praying we can make it to one, Jordan.

Wednesday, our house was filled with worship, and it was so wonderful. I woke Clay up for a visit with Caleb and James. James brought his guitar and the three of them sat in our bedroom for a time of prayer and worship. You could visibly see how it helped Clay. When he first woke up, he was weak, confused, and he couldn’t get his words out. After James played and they prayed, he felt fine. He has some really good men in his life.

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Their visit was followed by a sweet time with Bro. Wayne and Mrs. De Austin, and Mitch and Candace Mula. My dad was here most of the day, too. Candace sang while James played. Clay and I were married at Healing Place Church 18 years ago, and served there for about 8 years of our life. We made some lifelong friends during that time, including Candace and Mitch. I’ve always loved her voice (Duh! I mean who doesn’t?) and it was so great for her to sit in our room and sing worship songs with us. Bro. Wayne was my mom’s youth pastor. We go way back! They bought us a delicious dinner, but the time they spent with us was so much more valuable.

Callie Richard was our Nanny for about 8 years, so she practically raised my kids. She came for dinner Wednesday night. When I was working and the kids were younger, we would meet for dinner before church on a pretty regular basis. So, that was the plan, but Clay just wasn’t able to get up for church. In fact, he didn’t even get up for dinner. So, the kids got to visit with Callie for a while. Ben, in particular, was very happy.

Clay’s Aunt Mary knocked on the door and she woke him up to love on him a little. When he opened his eyes, he said, “I’m only waking up if it’s my Aunt Mary.” Ha! I think it did her some good to see that his sense of humor is fully intact. She brought fudge, so he was glad to wake up for that! She has survived cancer twice, so she understands where we are right now. They visited for a while and it was perfect because there were no distractions. She just sat by his bed and talked to him. img_7815

Meet Jamie and Damien Tullier. Jamie was my best friend in 3rd and 4th grade. We were really close. We even had a journal/diary with a lock on it. I would write in it, lock it, and bring it to her. Then she would write back, lock it and bring it back to me. Little girls!!! I have wonderful memories with her. Well, then she grew up a little and she was really good friends with Clay during his college years. Then, the 3 of us were together at Healing Place in the College/Career Group. Then, we all ended up at Victory Academy when our kids started school and we’ve grown close during that time. Small world!

God has blessed us so richly with wonderful people in our lives. We spend so much time talking about how much you all have meant to us. Here are a few pics from the past week. Rob Hoffpauir spent his day with me Wednesday working on our computers. I am trying to get all our family pictures organized so Clay can see them, and Rob is helping me do that. Jennifer Dougherty came and took family pictures for us, and we had a wonderful time with her. My dear friend, Robin Scherer, brought me a latte and Clay a muffin. She spent the day with me just listening to me. Dr. May is our dear friend from church who is looking after Clay’s well-being right now. He’s been such a help to us. Grace’s high school Volleyball Coach, Coach K, brought us dinner along with her precious little girl, Savannah. We had a great visit and the food was delicious!

I hope you are not bored with all the pictures and the stories. This blog really helps Clay remember the things that you all have done, and the people who have visited. He remains overwhelmed by all the love. Thank you for ministering to us so much.

We Love You!!!!

The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved

The past week has been a sweet reminder to me of how much the Lord loves us all. Clay and I have been ministered to in so many ways. There were two very specific needs on my heart and I have been mentioning them to the Lord since we decided to enroll in Hospice.

This week, the Lord met both needs. I’m only going to tell you about the first one.

Yesterday, I felt like Clay and I were on one of those “fix-it” TV shows. 20 people from our church showed up at our house at 9 am and worked all day cleaning the outside of our house and repairing some things on the inside. I was bothered by the fact that the outside of the house was dirty because we’ve been having so many visitors and I want people to enjoy being here. So, God provided for my need. He lifted that burden off my shoulders.

And, now, my house is more beautiful than it’s been in a long time. I wish you could all come sit on the patio with us because it is so nice, now. Clay really loves to be outside. He loves to swing and rock. We have a balcony outside of our bedroom, where he spends a lot of time, and I wanted the balcony to be clean for him to enjoy. We hung curtains to shade him and keep it cool, and added some rocking chairs so people can sit with him and visit. I love this spot, now.

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Just before Clay got diagnosed, I took my grandmother on a trip to Branson to visit family. After Clay’s diagnosis, I was able to look back on that trip and see some amazing things God showed me that were preparing me for the moment when our world would change. While on that trip, I bought this stained glass window. I never had time to hang it, and for over a year, it has leaned against a wall on my patio. Travis (and Angela) hung it for me yesterday. It makes me smile every time I look at it. I know it’s just a simple thing, but it reminds me of something God did to prepare me just 2 weeks before we got Clay’s diagnosis.

So many people came and helped and I feel like everyone really enjoyed their day. We ate together, laughed a lot, and worked really hard. It was such a blessing. I got very emotional when they started walking in the door that morning. I just can’t believe how much people (and God) love us. Thank you so much to everyone who came. Thank you, Eric and Stacey for organizing this day. Thank you, God, for demonstrating your love to us through these dear friends.

The Lord put it on my heart to invite a few of our close friends over for a time of prayer and worship Thursday night. We had been pretty busy for several days leading up to it, and I was wondering when I was going to have time to figure out the food we would need to feed about 20 people. That morning, my dear friend, Danielle Musso, snuck into my kitchen and delivered a huge tray of baked ziti. It was more than enough. She did NOT know that I needed food for that night. The Lord just put it on her heart to prepare food for 20?! Yep. That’s what He did.

That afternoon, my friend Angela Kinchen called and asked if she could get me something from the grocery store because she was there and wanted to stop by with some things for us. So, she delivered salad and bread. The meal was complete. I didn’t ask, I didn’t even really pray for this, y’all. The Lord just knew the need. He told me to invite the people. Then, He provided everything we needed to make it enjoyable. I didn’t do anything. It was so amazing to watch.

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Then, He came and visited us as we prayed and worshipped. We were praying for healing for many in our church who are sick. But, the cry of our hearts is for God to reveal His glory to the world through our lives. We have been crying out to God to use us and make us more like Him…..that’s what He’s doing. The difficulty we walk through is making us more like Him. It’s the refiners fire. And, we are holding each other up as we walk through it together. There are different circumstances, but it’s the same work that God is accomplishing.

I encourage you to surround yourself with believers. Find a really good church and make sure that you are closely knit together with people who really love God. When you are in your pit of despair, you will need them. You will need their prayers. You will need their encouragement. You will need them to remind you that God is working in your life. You will need them to help you. God will demonstrate His love to you through the believers in your life. He lives in us, so we are the demonstration of God to the world.

Earlier this Summer, I was thanking God for all the miracles He was doing. He was providing every need we had, and there were so many stories I was telling people about the cool things God was doing for us in the midst of our fire. One day, I said, “I feel like the disciple whom Jesus loved.” That thought captivated my mind and I began to really ask God to speak to me about this.

One thing I knew, for sure, before I even prayed this prayer, is that God absolutely does not love me more than He loves anyone else. He didn’t love John more than the other disciples. He loves us all the same. He died on the cross for all of us. So, why was John “The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved?”

John is referred to in this way 4 times in the Bible. All 4 of those verses are found in the book of John. Who wrote the book of John? John. But, he never signed his epistle. He didn’t write about himself in a way that would make it obvious that he wrote it. He didn’t intend to receive any credit for it, or any recognition for that epistle. In a way, it seems like he referred to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved, so he didn’t have to mention his own name.

So, why? Why did he refer to himself this way?

I believe it is because this is how he saw himself. It was his perspective. John KNEW that Jesus loved him deeply. He spent time with Jesus. The Bible says that John laid close to Jesus and would sit very near to Him as He taught the disciples. John was with Jesus at some very important moments in His life and ministry. John positioned himself to be near to Jesus. And, because John drew near, he felt the love. He knew the affection Jesus had for him.

I don’t think there was pride in this reference. If John wanted attention, he would have signed the epistle and boasted of himself as he wrote it. He didn’t. Instead he almost hid himself behind that label.

It’s all very simple to me, now.

This is how John saw himself. He was so convinced of the love of Jesus toward him, that he labeled himself “The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved.”

How do you see yourself?

Have you spent time at Jesus’ feet so He can demonstrate His love to you? Have you allowed Him to shower you with His love? Have you laid on His bosom? Have you listened to His words and become convinced of His love for you?

When we walk through difficulty in this life, we have a choice. We can let it destroy us. Or, we can let it bring us closer to God. We have to choose to let God receive His glory through our lives. Then, as His power is displayed, He can demonstrate His love to us, as He stands in the fire with us.

If you are convinced of His love for you, you won’t ever believe that He is causing suffering in your life because He is cruel or unloving. You will stand on His promises and believe that His love for you is immeasurable. So, if He loves you so deeply, then surely, He won’t allow anything in your life that He doesn’t mean for good.

I’m telling you, friends. This perspective will change your life. If you can have the same perspective John had, you will have so much peace. He loves you. He loves you. It’s so simple. He loves you with a holy, unselfish, immeasurable love.

So, if He loves you, He will help you.

If you cry out to Him and believe Him for the things you need, He will help you.

I beg you to ask God to reveal this truth to you. Let Him help you in your need. You all have one. Don’t compare your situation to mine and Clay’s situation. You may not be facing death, but you are facing some difficulty. The world is broken and filled with heartache, so I know that you are dealing with some sort of struggle. Let God show you how your situation can bring you closer to Him.

In our trials, we learn that God is real. We experience Him in a way we never have because we become desperate for Him to help us. Don’t let your trial destroy you. Don’t let it drown you in depression and anxiety. Cry out to God. He loves you. Let Him come and help you.

He may not deliver you from your circumstance immediately, but He will give you peace and He will make sure you know that He is with you.

You can experience His love…

No matter who you are…

No matter what you’ve done….

No matter how difficult your circumstance…

You can experience His love.

Cry out to Him. Pray for Him to speak to you. Read the Bible. Go to church where you can experience His presence. Surround yourself with other believers to encourage you. Ask God to give you a testimony to share. Tell others about His goodness. Remind yourself of His love.

Your life will change.

You won’t be afraid. You won’t be depressed. You won’t be lonely. You won’t be mad. You won’t be sad. You won’t be swallowed up by your anguish.

You will be filled with trust, love and peace. Does it still hurt? Of course. Do you still wish that it didn’t have to happen? Of course. Do you still desire another way? Of course. Do you still long for healing? Of course.

But, your trust in God will overcome those emotions. And that’s when you find true joy. Joy in knowing that nothing can separate you from His love.

God is amazing. His ways are too high for us to understand. But, His love is something we can feel. Let Him love you today.

You all continue to be vessels for God to love on my family and I’m so thankful for it. Clay enjoys seeing people and having the chance to talk about the Lord. Our hearts are lifted because of your compassion and concern for us. Thank you. This blog has gotten too long for me to mention everyone that has come and all the food, dessert, cards and sweet things that have been done for us. But, here are the pics so you’ll know how great the past few days have been.

We love you. We are so thankful for so many of you who are following our story. May God bless you so richly today.