The Waters of “what should have been”

Rhett “should have” started his Senior year today…

I have not been out to the grave that holds Rhett’s body in over two years…
not since August of 2016.
It’s just too much to take in. I normally cannot handle the pain.

But after dropping Mara off at the high school this morning, I found myself sitting out here by your grave…wishing, weeping, and wanting things to be different.
You should be starting your Senior year today.

We didn’t get to go school clothes shopping.
You didn’t pick out a new backpack or fancy new athletic shoes.
You aren’t sore and worn out from football practice.
We didn’t get to go “meet” your teachers.
We aren’t talking about the ACT/SAT scores or what colleges you want to apply to.
I’m not buying “football mom” shirts, and they didn’t call your name at “Meet the Bulldogs”.
Your sister will cheer on Friday nights, but not for you. This was NOT how she dreamed it would be.
Ryan won’t be rushing home from ATM after his last class of the week to watch his little brother play under the Friday Night Lights.
There will be no “cap and gown” pictures, or graduation invitations, or new patches for a letter jacket.
No victories to celebrate. No losses to lament. Nothing.
All of that was stolen on December 28, 2015. Gone. Taken. Vanished, with no warning.

You did not get to drive to school and walk into the building as a senior this morning.
Nor will you tomorrow, or the next day. Or ever.

Jimmy and I will attend as many school events as our hearts can handle this year, and we will process our grief together when we get home. There are simply no words to describe how much losing you has changed our lives.

Your death is my never-ending heartache.
I have many questions about that cold December day, but I am SURE that Jesus rescued you. You were, are, and forever will be His!

This year will be hard for me, Rhett Jett.
I long for you to be present…
to be here with your friends, on the teams, in our home, at the bar eating dinner, hunting, laughing, sleeping in your bed, hugging me, breathing and living.
Breathing and living.
Living and breathing.
With us.

This was supposed to be your year!
I pray for the strength to honor God, you, and your memory as we wade through the waters of “what should have been”. Those waters are turbulent, deep, and unpredictable.
It’s so easy to drown and so hard to stay above water.
Jesus, we need you. Please, be our anchor, our ever-present help in times of trouble.

Rhett, keep visiting me in my dreams. Just a glimpse of you can sustain me. You know.❤️
I love you! I miss you! I always will!

Rhett Curtis Hering
Senior year 2018-2019

Meet me in the confessional

1. After much soul searching and prayer, I have decided to get off Facebook for “what should have been” Rhett’s senior year. I have nothing against Facebook or posts about seniors. They are sweet and appropriate, but they often tend to magnify my loss, and I feel like I need to really focus on healing while I maneuver the roaring rapids of this year.

2. I will try to blog more. Maybe this is my season for writing, not scrolling.

3. As always, feel free to share any of my blogs on your social media outlets. I didn’t leave Facebook in protest mode…I left in “protect mode” for my heart!

Identity “Crysis”

I want to scream…and cry.
I want to know how to rid myself of this lump in my throat and this ache in my heart.
I still want to know why I even have to deal with this identity crisis.
But I do.
I didn’t even consciously know this crisis existed until a specific moment this week, but now that I know, I have to do something… and that will be tough.

I had an epiphany. It was an eye-opening and heart-heavy experience, mixed with a whisper of freedom for my bondage. I could see it so clearly, and it hurt. And it embarrassed me. And it angered me.
But…worst of all, I knew “it” clearly identified me.

I used to be my own person. I used to know my identity. I was strong, I was creative, I was happy, I was “blessed”. I was a child of God.
I was Lorna Hering.

I lost her. Actually, she was abducted at 3:23 on December 28th, 2015 when Rhett died.
I don’t blame myself. I didn’t chose to lose myself.
The grief was all consuming. It ate me alive.
If you aren’t on this side of the “child loss equation”, you simply cannot understand.
It’s beyond your ability to comprehend the ripping and tearing of your DNA when your child dies.
And I have to admit… I used to be on the other side of that ugly equation too…and maybe I was a bit judgmental when people couldn’t move on after a loss or a tragedy. Maybe a bit too quick to think I had the answers. Maybe a bit too hasty to give up on a grief stricken soul. And, I was totally incapable of understanding the plight of parents who have had to live through such a deep identity crisis.

But I have had a shockingly-hard epiphany.
It breaks my heart and leaves me feeling lost.
I have totally forfeited my identity as anything other than Rhett’s momma. The dead kid’s mom. The lady who lost her boy in an ATV accident. The bereaved mother. The heartbroken shell of the ex-Lorna Hering.

I never did that intentionally. I just kept slipping and falling and grabbing on to Rhett. I did not and do not want to let him go. And to be honest, I don’t think I will ever successfully figure out how to really let him go as long as I am breathing.

But… I do have to give Rhett back to Rhett.
I have to let Rhett have his name and his identity back.
As much as I love being associated with that sweet boy of mine that died too soon, I hear God saying that I need to remember that I have my own identity…
I love that. I hate that.
It feels like freedom. It feels like heart break.
It feels like I’m abandoning my boy and letting go of his memory.
It feels like hope, like I’m letting go of heaviness.

Jesus says…
My real identity is that I belong to Him and share His DNA.
My real identity is that I am a child of God that has survived the unimaginable and am somehow now better equipped to help others.
My real identity is not “a bereaved mother” but “a beloved daughter” of the King.

I am Lorna Hering.
I have scars and bruises and rips.
But, I am still who He made me to be.
I am not just a product of the most devastating tragedy that my heart has ever known.
I am more.
I have to locate the real me again. I have to search for and reclaim my identity.
That does not mean that I am abandoning Rhett.
You must understand that I miss him and hurt the same as I did before this revelation.
It just means that I am ready to re-find ME.

And if you have sat with me during this “identity crysis”…thank you.
You have helped me reach the point of wanting to find myself again.
And I will need your help as I search for me.
And if you have been “offended” or put out by my identity crisis, please forgive me and maybe have a little extra grace for those like me…because this side of the “child loss equation” has been so hard on Rhett’s mom
…I mean me
…I mean Lorna Hering.

The Ultimate Gut Punch

On August 12th, Jimmy and I hesitantly packed our bags and our broken hearts and headed to Florida to watch Spacex launch a Falcon 9 Rocket with a tribute sticker for Rhett on board. We boarded a plane in Austin, landed in Florida, and headed to a hotel near Cape Canaveral.
We had no idea what to expect as our knowledge of rockets was minimal while our grief felt larger than life.

It took no time at all to be completely glad that we had made the decision to go to Florida to witness the launch carrying the Rhett Revolution sticker. Spacex treated us with such genuine kindness as they honored our son, and the KWTX News team of Julie and Clint was absolutely remarkable; they became like family. Jimmy and I had some much needed time to ourselves to sit on the beach, go to dinner, and reminisce about our Rhett Jett. It was good for our souls.

The launch was one of the most magnificent things I have ever witnessed. The sheer force, power and excitement of it was mind boggling. I now know why they call it “Rocket Science.” I was dumbfounded by “all things Space” and painfully aware of my lack of understanding of anything beyond the earth’s atmosphere. From the press conference, to the launch, to our exclusive trip to the Spacex landing pad to see the landed Falcon, we were very much emotionally moved. We were informed that the Rhett Revolution sticker had made it to Space and back, and we thought that was the crux of our trip. We felt like God had given us the precious gift of a “new” Rhett memory. . . compliments of a rocket, a sticker, and Spacex.

But, like only God can do, He blindsided us with a gut wrenching reality check.

After the launch, we went to the press headquarters to eat lunch and meet back up with Julie and the KWTX crew. Julie told us that the “Rhett Revolution Sticker Going to Space” story was starting to “leak” and several reporters were starting to ask about us. Julie said she had met one reporter who did podcasts about Space and that he had quietly told her if the opportunity presented itself, he would like to interview us for his show called “Talking Space.” Julie said he was really neat, so we agreed to talk to him and waited for him to come meet us at the back of the press room.

We were a bit surprised when Sawyer Rosenstein wheeled up to us. He was in a wheelchair and it appeared that he had been in it most of his life. For some reason, I immediately KNEW that I was supposed to ask him why he was wheelchair-bound.

We chatted and did the interview with him. We told him about Rhett and the purpose of the RhettRevolution which was to spread kindness, love, joy and peer acceptance while also helping grieving parents. He listened as we told him about how losing Rhett had been a devastating “punch in the gut” for us. Sawyer was a remarkable young man who had an impressive knowledge and dedicated love of Space. We felt comfortable with him and were (just like Julie had been) instantly drawn to his sincere spirit.

As our discussion was winding down, I asked him why he was in a wheel chair. He quietly looked down like he was trying to decide if he should even burden us with his plight. We sat quietly watching and waiting, and when his eyes met ours, he told us his story:

For several moments, Jimmy and I were speechless as we wept for this precious young man sitting in front of us. He did not cry and he did not want sympathy. He simply stated that when he was in junior high, a “bully” had punched him in the gut and caused a fluke blood clot which hit his spine and paralyzed him from the hips down. He had never walked again!
He had literally lived through the “ultimate gut punch.”

I felt the air knocked out of me.
How could this be? How could one child do this to another? Why hadn’t someone stopped this? Why wasn’t someone courageous or kind or strong enough to have kept this from happening? Why hadn’t someone promoted peer acceptance and created an environment where the bully had no place to act out his aggressive behavior? Why hadn’t someone showed the bully some acceptance so he didn’t feel the need to torment his peers? My mind was reeling and my heart was hurting. My own grief took a backseat and my tendency to feel sorry for myself felt embarrassingly out of place.

We continued to talk to this remarkable young man who “WALKED” in more forgiveness and less self pity than anyone I have ever known. He was not angry. He was not full of bitterness. He was genuinely thankful for his life and how it had led him to his love for Space. I sat in awe and honestly, some guilt, as I thought of how I doubted if I could ever forgive someone if they had done this to one of my children. Needless to say, meeting Sawyer was a life-changing experience.

We know our friendship/relationship with Sawyer is just beginning. Hopefully, Sawyer will be traveling to Waco soon to spend some time with KWTX and the Board of the Rhett Revolution to see how we can partner together to promote kindness, courage, and peer acceptance. We look forward to spending more time in the presence of this incredible young man. I know he will continue to inspire and teach us just as Rhett has done.

Please pray that God will finish what He started when He brought Spacex, KWTX, Julie and Clint, the Rhett Revolution Board, the Herings and Sawyer together.

We totally believe it was for a greater purpose!

A Warrior’s Battle

When our kids were little, they wanted to know why we left home every morning and what we did all day. We explained to them that I was an English teacher and that Jimmy was a lawyer. Ryan, Rhett, and Mara were satisfied with that answer, but our middle son Rhett misunderstood Jimmy’s job description. He had no idea what a “lawyer” was, so he assumed we were saying “warrior.” He was so proud that his dad was a “warrior,” and he began saying that he wanted to be a warrior when he grew up too! We thought it was cute when he made that innocent statement.

But maybe Rhett knew something we didn’t know, because Rhett indeed became a warrior. In his short fifteen years, he fought for justice. He battled for acceptance for his peers. He fought for kindness and protected the underdog. His battle cry was love and his weapon of choice was joy and laughter. He never backed down from a worthwhile challenge. Rhett’s earthly life ended on December 28, 2015. The tragic events of that day waged a war on my heart as his mother, but I have no doubt that Rhett is now a warrior in Heaven with Jesus.

As a mother, losing a healthy child in a tragic accident launched me into a fierce battle. There is something so devastating about burying a child that was once in your womb. I used to think you got to “pick your battles,” but I’m not that naive anymore. I would never have chosen this battle. The tour of duty for a bereaved mother is not for the weak. There is no “warrior” training for a catastrophic war of this magnitude.

Instead of a battle cry, I cried over the battle of losing Rhett. I have wanted to surrender to the overwhelming grief on many occasions. Despair, bitterness, loneliness and fear are my constant enemies, and they are strategically placed on the battlefield. I have to armor up daily to face those battles. Being a warrior is hard work; it’s not easy to choose faith and hope when you are brutally wounded. I wish that being a “warrior” came as easy for me as it did for Rhett. My husband and children have all proven to be tough warriors. They courageously battle the brokenness and strive daily to live with love and honor for their favorite warrior.

Rhett’s untimely death prevented him from growing up, but it did not keep him from being the warrior he was destined to be. My battle cry now is that I can become the warrior that I was destined to be. In reality, we are all warriors facing battles in this game called life, and our only hope for victory is that Jesus is willing to fight for each of us. As I continue to struggle and grow on this journey through grief, I find myself saying the same thing Rhett did whenever he was little. . . “I want to be a warrior when I grow up too!”

I wrote this article for a new magazine in the Central Texas area called Modern Texas Living.  (July 2017)
Pick up a copy of this magazine around Waco and check it out!

And as always, if you like what you read on my blog, share away on your social media platforms! ❤


Unspoken Brokenness

I’m not supposed to say this!
I’m supposed to be strong and talk about healing.
I’m supposed to trust God’s plan and lean on faith.
It’s been 15 months and the world expects me to be okay. . .

But today, I’m not okay.

Today, I am angry that Rhett is not going to run in the District Track Meet.
Today, I am jealous that all the people in my circle still have complete families.
It’s not that I want them to lose a child, it’s that I didn’t want to lose mine either.
Today, I am lonely because no one understands, but I also don’t want to socialize because I feel too broken to contribute, and I don’t have the energy to go through the motions.
Today, I wonder if I will ever be okay. Really okay? Not just “pretend for the moment” okay.
Today, I wonder how tall he would be? What his favorite shirt would be?
Today, I am trying to figure out how to make the clothes in his closet not smell old.
Because they do; they smell old and I hate that.
Today, like every day, I wonder if he suffered or died instantly.
That question haunts me.  Breaks my heart.  Keeps me awake at night.

Today, I look at the retainer on the nightstand by his bed, and I think about his teeth.
Thinking about his teeth makes me think about his smile, his dimples, his blue eyes, his freckles, his hands, his laugh, his walk, his everything.
Today, I look at the athletic shoes that the coaches delivered to us from his locker about a month after his death, and I try to picture him still playing sports.
Today, I can’t picture it. It’s been too long and it’s too painful.
Today, I am happy that his classmates are still growing and learning and competing and becoming. . . but I’m too hurt to know how to authentically celebrate that.

Today. . .
I want to kiss his cheek
I want to hear him laugh
I want him to ask me “what’s for dinner, Mom?”
I want him to sleep in his bed tonight
I want my family to be complete

Today, I want Rhett back.
I know it’s too much to ask.
I know it’s not realistic.

But it’s all I really want; I just want him to come home.

So, my only hope is to go back to doing what I’m “supposed” to do. . .
Help me Jesus. I’m desperate for You!

Meet me in the confessional:

1. Not everyday is this bad, but some days are. It is a never ending heartache.
2. I believe tomorrow will be better. I hold on to that hope, and I trust Jesus to rescue me AGAIN.

Unbridled, Unboxed, and thankful?

I really did learn so much from that blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy of mine. He wasn’t perfect, 😏he sometimes made hasty decisions without weighing all the consequences, 😳and occasionally he cared a little too much about his “swag”.🙄
But . . . Rhett’s heart and moral compass were pure and honorable. He was kind, fearless, and full of adventure, and he taught me some vital truths about relationships and God through his life . . . and his death.

We used to have two old horses that roamed the pastures behind our house. They always stayed in the general vicinity of each other and often hung around the cows. These two horses were rarely if ever ridden, but we loved having them around. Rhett and Mara would feed them apples when they could get them to come over to our fence, and occasionally they would try to sit on them. I remember feeling sad when one of the horses passed away because I was afraid the other horse felt lost and lonely.

Soon after the first horse died, I made the following comment to Rhett: “I hope that horse thinks he is a cow now. I don’t want him to be sad. I want him to just blend in with the cows so he knows he hasn’t been left alone.”

Immediately, Rhett responded: “No way, Mom! I want that horse to KNOW he is a horse. He doesn’t need to pretend to be something else just because he lost his buddy.” I was struck by the wisdom of that statement. Rhett was so right, and he had recognized something important that I had not: Loss should lead you to find your identity, not lose it.

The next day I was outside washing my car when I heard a strange noise coming from the field behind our house. The noise was Rhett laughing and galloping bareback on an unbridled horse across the pasture. I was shocked to say the least. What did he think he was doing? He didn’t even know how to ride a horse!

I held my breath until he finished his ride and walked back up to the house carrying the large bucket he had used to help himself climb up on the horse. He casually explained that he was “showing” the horse that it was definitely still a horse because no one ever rides a cow. Rhett knew that sometimes words were not enough. He knew he couldn’t just TELL the horse, he had to SHOW the horse who he was. It was risky and it took time and effort, but Rhett was always willing to go the extra mile. Once again, I was the student learning about life from that unbridled blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy of mine.

The November before we lost Rhett, we had decided as a family that we were going to do devotionals after dinner when we were able to sit down and have a family meal. Of course, that wasn’t every night because we were a busy family with sporting events and many other obligations. We all knew what order we went in, so each person just got ready and held on to their “word” until it was their turn and we found ourselves seated around the kitchen table sharing a meal together. Each person had to have a title for their “devo” because we wrote them on a chalk board for the month.

On December 23, 2015, the five of us had just finished eating a meal when Jimmy asked whose turn it was to do the devotional. Rhett jumped up and said it was his turn as he ran to his room to get his iPad. He returned to the table and found the notes he had made in preparation to deliver the “word” for the evening. He announced that “Unbox God” was his title.

He started out by saying how much he loved Christmas and opening gifts. He went on to say that we often miss the real “gift” of Christmas. He said we open up Christmas presents with excitement because we are eager to see what’s inside the box, but we never really “unbox” God. He explained that we often keep God in a box and therefore we never really get to see how BIG God is. He challenged each of us to focus on unboxing God in our lives. We prayed and wrote it on our December board. And again, I was thankful for the lesson my blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy had taught us.

And five days later, Rhett was dead. Just like that. Killed in a tragic accident. Ripped out of our lives forever. No warning. No goodbye. Just gone. Suddenly and forever gone.

I don’t remember many specific details about that night as I sat on the floor in our living room while people flooded our home with love and tears. I kept replaying Rhett’s devotional in my mind, and I knew that I would indeed need to “unbox” a very big God if I had any hope at all of surviving this loss.

I was absolutely sick to the core of my being. Rhett was dead, my precious blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy was in the morgue, and I was completely devastated. It was so unfair! I had never taken Rhett for granted. I had always been so thankful for the treasure I had in Rhett, for his love, and for the lessons he taught me on such a regular basis. How could this be happening?

But happen it did, and in Rhett’s final act on earth, he taught me the hardest lesson I have ever learned. I suppose one day I will thank him, but that seems impossible right now.  I just can’t bring myself to say the words out loud. . . I can barely type them.

How does a mother ever “thank” her son for dying before her? That’s absurd!
How does a mother ever accept the fact that her son’s death taught her the most valuable lesson she has or EVER will learn?

I still do not know how to be truly thankful for this; I will openly admit that right now.
I’m just not selfless or strong enough yet to say “thank you” for this lesson.
I doubt that I will ever be strong enough to say those words on this side of heaven.

But, I am fully aware of what Rhett’s death has taught me.
There is no denying that this lesson cost me SO MUCH MORE than I was ever WILLING to pay. Losing Rhett taught me that I must find my identity in Christ instead of relying on anything else. Because quite simply, I learned the hard way that there really is nothing else.

To put it plainly, the lesson for me was that I need Jesus more than I need ANYTHING.
When my life was easy,  Jesus was a great “addition” to my life. I loved him and honored him with my words, but loving Jesus with my words was no longer going to be enough. I had never totally made Him my first priority. He was never my sole source of HOPE. And, while I had never taken Rhett for granted, I had most assuredly taken Jesus and His death on the cross for granted.

But when they lower a casket into the grave that holds a literal piece of your own soul, you become more thankful than ever for Jesus. Rhett’s salvation is secured ONLY because of Jesus and His death on the cross. I couldn’t save Rhett. The paramedics couldn’t save Rhett. Jimmy couldn’t save Rhett. We never had that ability, but I am humbly thankful that Jesus did what none of us were ever capable of doing in the first place.

I do not think for one moment that God orchestrated this tragedy to teach me a lesson. We live in a fallen world that is sometimes full of heartbreak. What happened to Rhett will always break my heart. Always.
But like only Rhett could do, he SHOWED me the real crux of what this life is all about. He just had a knack for pointing me toward love, truth, and Jesus, and his departure from this world was no exception.

The “out loud” thank you will have to wait until I am in Heaven in the actual “unbridled” Presence of Jesus with an “unboxed” God and reunited with Rhett again. After I thank Jesus for who He is and what he did for me, I imagine I will grab my blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy and whisper in his ear.
I will say “thank you for SHOWING me how much I needed Jesus!”

Meet me in the Confessional:

1. I confess that this was so hard to write. I have cried hundreds of tears writing this. I am thankful for Jesus, but I’m still so broken. I wish I could have learned this lesson in a much less costly way. Gratitude can be hard!

2. I miss my  “blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy” more than words can say.

The Cardinal Sin

As far back as we can remember, Ryan has been deathly afraid of snakes. This was always in direct opposition to his brother, Rhett, who spent many a day hunting for a snake to chase, capture, and bring home. Rhett was completely fascinated by these reptiles, and Ryan absolutely HATED them. Ryan wouldn’t so much as step foot into the snake house at the zoo, and I could hardly ever get Rhett to leave the snake house. Taking them to the zoo was always a lesson in patience and “bipartisan parenting”. . . trying to appease both a snake lover and a snake hater in a single trip is a valid struggle!

Growing up, Ryan always feared that snakes were “in” or “under” his bed, and we spent many a night proving to him that there were no snakes in his room. This snake phobia prohibited peaceful sleep on many occasions. Therefore, Ryan has never seen a single reason for thinking that a snake might be of any use. . . that is, until a cardinal entered his life about four weeks ago.

For about a month now, a cardinal has been pecking on Ryan’s bedroom window. It is loud and persistent, and Ryan half loves/half despises this crazy bird! I’m pretty sure that Ryan never had any intentions of telling us about this nuisance of a bird. That’s just not how Ryan rolls. Ryan is the type of kid that doesn’t readily offer up information about the everyday events of his life. He is not being sneaky or sly. . . it’s just who he is.

For example, one time when he was in elementary, a helicopter landed on the school which was kind of a big deal. The other moms started talking about this event and I was clueless. When I confronted Ryan about this “big event” he said that I had never asked him if a helicopter had landed on his school. 🤔
I knew right then and there that I was probably going to be uninformed about many things in Ryan’s life. . . not because he was hiding things, but simply because he’s not one to get worked up over a situation.

So, of course, Ryan didn’t voluntarily tell us about this annoying cardinal either. We found out because one Saturday morning Jimmy discovered Ryan sleeping on the couch in the living room. He inquired as to why he wasn’t sleeping in his bedroom, and that’s when Ryan came clean about the bird in his life. He said that every morning, the same bird sits on his windowsill and pecks at its reflection and then repeatedly flies and crashes into the window. He said it’s not so bad on school days when he has to get up early, but it makes it dang near impossible to sleep in on non-school days.

Not long after he told us about this bird, I was gathering laundry one morning in Ryan’s room after he had left for school, and that’s when I had the pleasure of meeting the cardinal for myself. It was so adorable at first. I just sat and watched it peck and crash into the window. Soon, I started hearing this bird all day everyday. The “adorable” aspect waned as the constant tapping and banging increased. I figured it had to be driving Ryan crazy.

Last weekend, we took a two night family vacation to San Antonio for spring break. When we got home and started unpacking, Ryan came to the kitchen and said he had good news and bad news. I immediately figured he had left something at the hotel, but that wasn’t it at all. He announced that the good news was that “his bird” was still around, and the bad news was that “his bird” was still around. He clearly has a love/hate relationship with this feathered friend. He said he didn’t want to hurt it, but he had to come up with a plan to stop the nonsense. I was afraid if we didn’t find a solution, he was going to make this cardinal pay for its sins.

The only solution that any of us could come up with that would not harm the cardinal was to put a rubber snake on Ryan’s window ledge. In a moment of stellar parenting, we made Ryan carry the rubber snake through the rose bushes, braving the thorns on his journey, to place the serpent on the window ledge. I’m pretty sure it was a defining moment in his life, a rite of passage, where he faced his fears to bring about justice that would allow him to rest once and for all (both figuratively and literally).
We were all hopeful this would do the trick. Surely the cardinal had no interest in sharing a ledge with a serpent. . .

Maybe it’s the English teacher in me, but at this point, we have no choice but to explore the incredible irony associated with this cardinal event that has invaded Ryan’s life.
For starters, many people associate the sighting of a red bird with a visit from someone who has already gone to heaven. As much as we would all love to have a visit from our Rhett Jett, we do not for one moment believe that Rhett is visiting us in the form of a bird. We do recognize the beauty of this red bird which points us to a Heavenly Father who creates splendor and wonder all around us if we are willing to notice His glory! (And, let’s get real here! If Rhett had the ability to come back as an animal, he would have chosen to come back as a lion, a shark, or a rattle snake. . . but never a red bird.)

One thing Ryan has told me about losing his brother is that he hates not hearing Rhett getting ready in his room each morning. The boys shared an adjoining bathroom, and sometimes the silence, especially in the mornings, is hard on Ryan’s heart. Ironically, the constant slam-dancing of this cardinal into the window has put an end to the silence issue. I think the noise and entertainment is half-way welcomed. (Plus, this crazy, energetic, fun-loving bird occasionally must remind Ryan of his lively little brother.)

Next, the irony of a “snake” being the only thing that could possibly help Ryan get some sleep is beyond amusing. Ryan lost countless hours of sleep as a child because of his fear of snakes, and now he has one on his windowsill to help him be able to get some sleep. What a crazy turn of events! I can’t make this stuff up!
The one thing he feared the most, is the one thing that might have the ability to help him find some peace.  Clearly, this could possibly be irony’s finest moment!

Lastly. . . you had to know that I would explore the irony of this bird sharing a ledge with a serpent. I mean, Duh! How can I call myself an English teacher and an aspiring Christian writer if I let golden opportunities of this magnitude pass me by?

How often do we get too comfortable with the “snakes” in our lives? Have we become desensitized to dangerous habits and harmful attitudes to the point that we are willing to let them take up residence in our personal space? Have we become so preoccupied looking at our own reflections that we fail to see the needs of others or the Enemy slithering up beside us? Have we become naive enough to think we can sit on the ledge and commingle with the serpent without getting bit?

If we can answer yes to any of the above questions, we have let our guard down and probably forfeited any possibility of obtaining genuine peace or rest in our lives. We must put on the armor of Christ and remain diligently aware of our surroundings.  We must press in to Jesus because He desires to protect each of us from the craftiness of the devil. It’s important that we realize that small sins can often lead to “cardinal” sins. . . and it’s a slippery slope when we find ourselves sitting out there on that ledge right next to the serpent.

“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”
2 Corinthians 11:3

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11

“But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.”
2 Thessalonians 3:3

Meet me in the confessional:

1. As you can see from the above pic collage, the bird has absolutely no fear of the snake. I often watch this bird actually sit on the rubber replica while it pecks and primps at its reflection in the window. 😂😂
2. I kind of hope Ryan’s cardinal sticks around. Next fall, I will have two empty rooms and no sons/boys living under our roof for the first time since I became a mother. 💔   I imagine that some noise coming out of Ryan’s room after he moves to ATM will be good for my soul.
3. Would it be wrong to put bird seed on both Ryan and Rhett’s windowsills in the fall? Asking for a friend. 😬

Cast of Characters

She was small in stature and moved with unbelievable grace. Even at the ripe old age of six, I knew she was special. I didn’t actually want to be her…I wanted to be like her. I wanted to fly!

A brilliant thought occurred to me as I was sitting in that movie theater with my mom watching Peter Pan. To this day, my mother claims that she saw that thought wash over me and she warned me that I couldn’t fly. I never heard that. I think I tuned her out like any highly knowledgeable 6 year old would when I realized she was downplaying Tinker Bell’s aviation abilities. She was mumbling something about her being “just a character,” and I didn’t need my mom’s skepticism weighing me down. I had goals, dreams, and plans too big for my mom to understand.

I waited a couple days before enacting my plan. I was at my grandparents’ house with my sister when the opportunity presented itself. Several of the kids in the neighborhood were playing with us on the swing set in the backyard when I broached the subject of Tinker Bell. The other kids started pretending to fly by running around the yard with their arms outstretched or by laying on their bellies on a swing. They were so lame! I was embarrassed for them and their lack of adventure. Their actions were degrading to Tinker Bell and a clear indication that they did not believe in themselves. Someone had to help these people rise up!

I got everyone’s attention and announced my plan: I was going to fly just like Tinker Bell did in Peter Pan. To err on the safe side, I had my sister sprinkle some sand in my hair to mimic the pixie dust that my mentor TB had used, and then I climbed to the top of the ladder of the slide, stood up proud and tall, and leapt to my destiny . . .

I don’t remember much about the descent after I jumped off except that it landed me in the hospital with two broken bones in my left arm and a sandy scalp to boot. To this day, what really gets me . . . is that I believed! I actually BELIEVED I could fly, and I was shocked when it didn’t pan out the way I had envisioned. (Pun intended)

I started first grade in complete disbelief that things hadn’t gone according to my plan and sporting a cast on my arm that all my friends could sign.  Forty-one years later, I still can’t decide if the whole Tinker Bell incident was punishment for not heeding sound advice, the beginning of me doubting myself, or just a good old fashioned character builder.

In the weeks after Rhett’s death, I couldn’t get over the fact that my life had taken such a terrible downward spiral. Although I had always worried about losing a child, I never actually believed it would happen to me. I am still shocked by Rhett’s death and the fact that things are never going to turn out the way I had envisioned. After all, I had big goals, dreams and plans for MY life.

Since I was drowning in despair and heartbreak, I decided that I needed to find a professional counselor to talk to. That was not an easy task, and after a couple failed attempts, I gave up. Like only God can do, He connected me with an amazing woman of God who also happened to have her doctorate in grief counseling. She was a complete stranger to me, but she reached out to me via an acquaintance and asked me if I would like to meet with her at Starbucks. I agreed with some hesitation, but I followed through . . . and boy am I glad I did!

I only met with this precious woman two times, but the things she told me were of immeasurable value. I have gone back to her advice many times as I have maneuvered this path of grief.
No doubt, the most useful and important thing she told me was to “build a cast for my heart.”
I had no idea what she was talking about, so I inquired further.

She asked me what would have happened if I had been in that Polaris wreck with Rhett and had severely broken my leg. I shrugged and said that I would probably need a cast and lots of time to heal before I could walk again. She nodded . . . and slowly the words that I had just said replayed in my soul.

I did need a cast. I did need time to heal. And one day maybe there was hope that I would “walk” again. She told me that a broken heart needs even more time and care to heal than a broken bone. She also told me that like a broken bone, my broken heart would always have weak moments and ache at certain times; there was simply no way around that.

So far, she was speaking directly to my soul, and I was hanging on to every word she spoke. I understood most of what she was saying, but how would I find a cast for my heart?
That seemed unlikely and impossible.

She said I needed to ask God to help me build this cast. The purpose of the cast was to hold my shattered heart in place while it bled and tried to heal. This sounded so refreshing to me . . . like maybe the love of God and the love of my supporting cast could help hold me together and keep me from falling apart. I chose some of the people who would make up my cast, and some of them chose me. The Lord carefully handpicked a few of them for me as well. Love was the recurring theme for all of my cast members, and I am ever so grateful!

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God.” 1 John 4:7-8

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Luke 6:31

My “cast of characters” has been amazing. This cast has consisted of men, women, strangers and children from near and far who have loved me, supported me, and prayed me through the last fourteen months. My heart is by no means healed, but I am learning to lean a little less on my “cast” and more on God for strength. Eventually, I hope to be able to leap to my God-given destiny. That still seems impossible to me after losing Rhett, but God is rebuilding my character, and I will choose to trust Him and His timing.

One day, even though I cannot fly in real life, I hope that my heart can soar again. I no longer want to be like Tinker Bell; I just want to be the “Lorna” that God created me to be. I am trusting that He has goals, dreams, and plans too big for me to understand. I’m well aware that my broken heart and my own skepticism are weighing me down, but I will keep trying to BELIEVE that even after burying Rhett, I will one day FLY again because I have a God who makes all things possible.

Meet me in the confessional:

1. I am no longer a fan of Tinker Bell. I was an innocent child and I feel like that little fairy misled me, and that is unacceptable!

2. My other childhood fascination was a super hero. I spent hours spinning around in circles hoping to morph into Wonder Woman and save people . . . mostly I just wanted to be beautiful and wear a tiara. How fun would that be?
I’d like to say I only wanted to be like WW to fight evil . . . but I am trying my best to keep it real here! 😬

3. I confess that before losing Rhett, I did not understand the importance of being a “cast” member for the broken hearted. I am sure that I let many people down because I had no point of reference for comprehending or dealing with grief. I often found myself thinking “get over it already.” If you happen to be one of the people I hurt, I’m so sorry. I pray that I will be better equipped to love and serve the broken hearted in the future.

Filtering and Hiding the “Ugly”

When I was young, I was startled and somewhat mortified by a comment my sweet grandmother (whose name happened to be Lorna 🙂) made to me in a casual conversation. She had no idea that this conversation would be replayed over and over again in my mind for decades. One day she was reminiscing aloud about her mother, and she said that she remembered when her mother went to the nursing home, and she had made and kept a promise to her to shave her chin once a week. I felt violated. What was she even talking about? Why in the world would a woman need her chin shaved? The whole conversation was disturbing to say the least!

Fast forward to my life now. I get it…I mean, I REALLY get it. I travel nowhere without a good pair of tweezers and a “tinkle” tool. (See above picture) I never know when a stray black hair may want to debut on my chin. It’s annoying and ugly…and since this unwanted hair growth is no respecter of time or place, I must always be ready to slip off to the bathroom and take care of business. One of my biggest hopes now is that Mara will have the guts and grace to shave my chin once a week should I ever become unable to do it for myself. That’s a huge burden to put on Mara, but I truly believe Mara will be able to lather me up and cut to the chase (or chin) one day because of the heroic example set by my sweet grandmother!

This leads me to an unfortunate incident that happened earlier this week involving my tinkle tool. I use these tinkle tools about once a month to “dermaplane” my entire face. That really just means scrape the blade “ever so gently and carefully” across the skin of your face to remove fine hair and dead skin. It works beautifully…most of the time. But I had a slip of the wrist Wednesday night and accidentally shaved off the center of my left eyebrow. (See above picture)

I wasn’t surprised when it happened; if you are going to use these tools, you must know that there is always a chance for a tragic tinkle accident. I was hoping it wouldn’t be too obvious, but it was the first thing Jimmy and Mara noticed Thursday morning. Of course Ryan didn’t notice, but I’m not sure Ryan would notice if a woodpecker made a nest in my hair and laid eggs. (That is sometimes annoying, but one day if I’m ever in a nursing home with a full beard, I will cherish the fact that Ryan won’t even notice.)

Mara was quick to point out that I could not just walk around looking like I belonged in a gang until my left eyebrow grew back. That left me pondering what my options were and considering a pirate patch. Lucky for me, she volunteered to fix my left eyebrow with brow paint each morning for the foreseeable future. She is a real sweetheart, but mostly she just couldn’t run the risk of being seen with a woman whose left eyebrow was shaped like an S.

This event got me to thinking about how we always “hide” the ugly in our lives in some form or fashion. For instance, most of my friends have Snapchat. I can barely keep up with Facebook, so I don’t want to mess with another social media outlet, but I love the filters on Snapchat. I have even been known on occasion to take a pic and send it to a friend to “filter me up” to make me look younger, tanner, prettier, more presentable…blemish-free if you will.
I’m just vain enough to enjoy this…but just real enough to question what it means for the stains and imperfections in our lives that we can’t successfully hide.

Look at the big picture above and you will see an unfiltered snapshot of our house…but that is not what I see at all. Look again and you will see a dark stain in the road. That stain has obscured my vision for 440 days. That is the stain from the wreck. That is where my son took his last breath trapped under a Polaris. That stain changed my life forever. That stain cannot be filtered. That stain cannot be washed away. That stain cannot be hidden. That stain can never be made beautiful by man.

So what is a mother supposed to do with a stain like this in a world where we are programmed to hide or filter everything that is not beautiful or perfect? How will this piece of my life ever be anything but ugly?

And this is when I realize that God is never fooled by filters. He sees all, knows all, and has grace for all. He longs to help me deal with this stain. He longs to help you deal with your stains. I don’t think He ever intended for us to work so hard to hide them.

I’m not sure it is beneficial to be able to filter away every flaw and imperfection. It is unrealistic and therefore leaves us with no knowledge of how to cope when things in life are unfixable. God wants so much more for us than that! He wants us to offer these things up to him so he can make something beautiful out of the ugliness.

God is not shocked by your “ugly.” He has seen ugly before. He watched as the world crucified His Son because Jesus refused to be “filtered and fixed” to fit into this world.
Maybe there is much to learn from the “ugly” that Jesus endured on the cross.
Maybe, some of the most important moments of our stories won’t be pretty either.

We serve a God who excels in making beauty from ashes.
He does not use filters or encourage hiding; instead He teaches us that through being raw and real and WILLING to face the ugly in our lives, He can and will bring about restoration.

“For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for.”
2 Corinthians 13:9

It is always easier to hide or filter our junk than it is to deal with it, but there is no healing in that. Healing comes when we face the ugly, offer it to God and believe He is faithful to restore us and make beauty from ashes.

I doubt that I will EVER see that stain on the road in front of my house as beautiful, but I am trusting my Savior to make something beautiful come from those ashes. It is a promise to me from Him…so I will wait without hiding and walk out this grief without filters. Surely He can do something with this ugly stain that matters for my heart and for His Kingdom.

“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.” Isaiah 61:3

And great oaks don’t have to hide or use filters to be beautiful!

Meet me in the confessional
1. I am still going to use filters on some of my pictures. Especially since I will more than likely have a full beard one day…I need to look presentable while I can.

2. I am also completely unwilling to give up my tinkle tool. Some things just make life better for everyone when used carefully. 😜 No one, especially Jimmy, is ready to see me parading around looking like I belong on Duck Dynasty. 😊