The Father, our Heavenly Father, writes His Love Story in us, through us, and for us. To reveal Himself to us. And to others. Besides the Word of God, one of the BEST ways to witness God's precious character, heart and unending love for us is to watch as He writes the stories of Himself through our lives.
Incredible He uses us. Because we are but a mist....
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14
Brian was rewarded with a trip to San Francisco. Not just any old trip, his company was footing most of the bill. He said No way, we'll never find someone to watch all of our kids. I said, If I can find someone or someones, wanna try and go? Just get away...like the old days?
A friend was keeping Evelyn and Vivian. My Mom checked her calendar and gladly agreed to keep Carlisle that week. We selected Carlisle out of all the girls to stay with Mom, because she and Mom are so well suited for each other. Carlisle, our most laid-back, low-key, old-soul of a daughter was going to spend the week with her Me Me. It was genius. They adore their time together. I was elated. BECAUSE, to this day, I think back with incredible fondness on my time with my own Grandmother, Lochie Carlisle, for whom our little Carlisle was named. I went for a week, every summer, to be with my Grandmama, an angel. To think that Carlisle would have that chance alone with Mom was ideal.
Mom is classy, noble, regal, stately. She's ever-loyal, steady, true. She has certain personality traits that made her unique. And other qualities like her gratefulness and appreciativeness that made her almost childlike and innocent.
Brian threw Carlisle's little bags on the guest bed, in Mom's house, when we arrived on Sunday to drop her off. It would be the room she'd stay in all week while we were gone. We all sat down and laughed about our little baby Bliss, who was traveling with us. Her chubby thighs, sweet smile. Mom commented that; You never would have known that she ever had trouble gaining weight. She really looks great Jennie. And we talked about their events and plans for the week. A museum, swimming, watching hummingbirds in the window, the Zoo, it sounded precious... I told Mom, Don't entertain her. Let her fit into your life. She's gonna love doing what YOU were planning on doing this week.
I couldn't put my finger on it, but something didn't seem right. Mom was all smiles, Carlisle too...so that wasn't it. I showed Mom Carlisle's new bible. Mom, this is so special. You will be the first to read this with her, it's brand new. She got it yesterday. Will you read it with her? And listen to her read it every night? She said Sure, I'd be happy to.
We gave lots of hugs and kisses, a few more hugs and we were off to Charlotte to catch our flight. As we pulled out of the driveway, I couldn't shake that quiet, but uneasy feeling. I ran back up and handed her Carlisle's Hello Kitty chapstick. She smiled, I smiled and we drove away. Did I hug her? I can't remember.
On our way to San Fran. Someone special and super-precious came along...
(Found this picture of Carlisle on Mom's cell phone after she died. The only picture from their day together at the Zoo.)
I called in the late afternoon to check in. She told me all about their day. She sang Carlisle's praises. She declared the weather at the Zoo 'heavenly'. Jennie, I can't think of the last time I spent 4 hours at the Zoo. We had a wonderful time. Oh, the weather was heavenly. Just heavenly... She told me that she had a headache and was going to lay down. I told her I loved her, and would talk to her in the morning. We talked for a total of 6 minutes. I called her at 10:27pm to check in one last time and tell her I had put some pictures on the blog. But she didn't answer.
By the time I woke up Thursday morning, I had already missed 2 calls. One from Mom at work and one from my sister.
I called Mom first.
Her co-worker Barbara answered. I actually hadn't looked at my phone before I pushed the button, so I didn't realize I was calling her work number. When Barbara answered, I said Oh Hey Barbara. Is my Mom available?
Barbara said she wasn't. We hung up.
Barbara didn't explain it at the time, but the missed call on my phone was from her, wondering if I had heard from Mom.
I called my sister.
Julie was quick to the point. Barbara didn't want you to worry since you are in CA, but Mom hasn't shown up for work. We can't get her on the home phone or her cell phone.
That uneasy feeling. Again.
I hung up and called Mom on her home and cell phones a million times. No answer on either.
My mind was spinning. I felt dizzy. And sick.
Brian was staring blankly across the room. He was just waking up too. He looked the way I felt.
After calling a bunch more times on both of her numbers, I called Julie back.
She asked me why I was worrying, You're not a worrier Jennie. I'm the worrier.
She was right, I know Julie. This time feels different. This time I WAS worried.
Brian asked me, What would be a logical explanation for this?
I tried to think of one. They are off on an adventure and Mom accidentally left her phone at home? But that didn't make since, she was supposed to be at work. Things. weren't. ok.
I called Barbara back, she told me, If she's not here in the next few minutes, I'm going to go over to her house.
Brian got up and went straight across the room and sat down at the desk. He was on the phone with USAir changing our flights to leave immediately.
My thoughts were on little Carlisle. On Mom. Praying.
I continued to call Mom on her numbers. I just KNEW that Carlisle would answer. Mom's home phone is so loud when it rings. Have I ever shown her how to work a home phone? Does she even know that we have a home phone at our house?
By this time, Barbara is on her way to the house. My sister is on the way from Charlotte to Columbia and we are in a taxi on our way to the airport.
We have just enough time to get to the airport, get checked in and go.
Barbara is on the phone as she pulls in Mom's driveway.
Your Mom's car is here.
She moves quickly up to the house. And knocks. A little face comes to the door.
Carlisle? Hi Carlisle. I'm a friend of your Grandmothers... can you open the door?
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. Philippians 3:7
Hi. She looks up at Barbara and earnestly and honestly says: Um... Me Me is sick today. Um, she's not feeling so well.
She's laying on her bed...
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16
EMS is there within minutes. They immediately begin work on Mom. Although, she was not conscious then, and never regains consciousness.
I have no idea where Carlisle is in the house... but somehow I am on the phone with her during this time. I tell her, I know you don't know any of those people, but they are there to take care of Me Me. And I know Mrs Barbara is a stranger to you, but she is a friend of your Me Me's and will be with you until Aunt Ju Ju arrives. Ok Carlisle?
I have been.
Ju Ju will be there soon....ok?
Mom is taken to the hospital. My brother leaves work and goes straight there.
The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1:21
I tell Julie Hug Carlisle. Hold her. Be her mother.
Oh Jennie, I will. That, you don't have to worry about.
Julie gets to Mom's. Carlisle runs out onto the driveway and into her arms. They stand there hugging, Carlisle doesn't let go.
Brian and I have gotten our tickets and are through security when my phone rings. It's my brother.
I am standing in the little airport restaurant, staring out the window onto the runway when I hear him say these words....Jennie, it's not good. I just saw the neurologist. Mom had a stroke. The doctor says it was catastrophic. She doesn't want to operate because of Mom age and the severity of the stroke. There is nothing they can do. She will never recover.
I don't know what I said after that. Tears rolled down my cheeks, I wasn't blinking. Just staring.
Is this really happening to me?
And it was. It is.
God himself, who put the stars into the sky, and makes babies in our tummies and moves the waves on the beach...HE was calling my Mom home.
And I don't blame him.
Brian and I fly across the country. We arrive 5 hours later in Charlotte. We grab our bags, get our car and drive to Julie's house. She had taken Carlisle back home with her. When we pull up in the driveway, Julie sees us through the front window. I see as she turns and says something to Carlisle.
Carlisle comes busting out the door screaming 'MOMMY! MOMMY!! MOMMY!!'
And I did exactly what you would have thought. I scooped her up in my arms and held her like a baby and cried.
I had never shown Carlisle 9-1-1. I always told her, if something ever goes wrong, or if someone is here that is not supposed to be, or if I am really hurt and Daddy is not here, press the red button on the house alarm system. The cops, the firemen, ems, they will all come. Of course, this is all true and good. But she wasn't at our house when tragedy struck.
We left Charlotte. It's a long drive back to Florence in the dark. Lots of time to begin to uncover from Carlisle all that her little young eyes have seen. I don't want to prod. I want to let things come out in time. So I ask her just a few open ended questions.
How did you know that something wasn't right with Me Me?
I could tell because she wasn't waking up. And there was something on her lips. They looked black.
Did you hear the phone ringing?
Yes, but it's not my house, I didn't want to answer Me Me's phone. I knew it wasn't for me. (She was so intently listening to each question and carefully answering.)
Did you know Carlisle... It was ME calling...
It WAS? (Completely incredulous. It was then she turned and looked me in the eyes.)
(I softly say) Yes. And Aunt Ju Ju and Daddy were calling too.
THEY WERE? ....(deep, quiet thought. I could hear her wheels turning) But, if I had known it was you, I would. have. answered...
Its ok Carlisle. Because what did you do?
That is ALWAYS the right thing to do. And what did you pray?
(speaking softly and incredibly heartfelt) That someone would come... That you would come Mommy. That God would take care of me and Me Me....
Did God answer your prayers?
You're right....he did. Did God send someone to help you?
And did Mommy come?
Carlisle, You did EVERYTHING. JUST. RIGHT.
I prayed so hard.
And Carlisle...He heard you.
And then she laid her little head, heavy with thoughts, on my shoulder.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
How does it feel to have your Mom and Dad die? Within just over a year of one another?
I am grieving. My days are spent quietly reflecting, sifting through memories and trying to begin thinking about what happened. It feels blurry. Like I've taken off my glasses and have bad vision. I am trying to adjust to just imagining my new life without a Mother.
I am taking time for tears, not for my Mom, but for me and my brother and sister...and 9 teeny tiny grandchildren. Ages 4 months to 6 years. The verse that comforted me today was two words long.
'Jesus wept.' John 11:35
I long for heaven. I mean I REALLY long for heaven. Carlisle does too. She said to Brian, Hey Daddy. Do you think there is anyway we could all go to heaven at the same time?'
I am searching for answers and I find them. In the word of God. If you don't know the Lord, find him. Open your bible. If it is sitting on your shelf, find it and read it. It is a living, breathing thing. Don't think: 'Poor Jennie. Everyone in her family dies.'
EVERYONE dies. Period.
I do not now, and will never say, Why did mom die?
Everybody dies. The bible says it and we know it.
That's the thing. But where you go after this life....that's the big question.
Let THIS be the phone ringing in your life.
PICK IT UP.
Jesus is calling you to save your life. He does one thing very well, save us from our sins. And we all have sins.
I'm telling you WHO is calling. Jesus himself.
Now you get to respond.
Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere. Psalm 84:10
My thoughts are absolutely disjointed. I am NOT normal right now. I am a bunch of random thoughts and emotions that are all over the board.
But one steady-eddie thought is this...
We are sojourners. We are just passing through this life. We are a mist. This is NOT our home. We DON'T belong here. Truly.
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends! Philippeans 3:20 - 4:2
Sweet peace in the pain.
The night my Mom had her stroke, 1000's of miles away, I was blogging. God was already preparing my heart for what was to come. And these words, which held weight then, hold even more now...
Exerpt from my Peace from the Father post.
Dated August 22, 2012.
Nothing affects me without my heavenly Father's permission. Whatever He allows to happen becomes, For ME, His will for me. If God allows it to affect me, He wills it for me, out of His great love for me, to draw me to Himself.
He is the key to peace in this life. God is the only way to feel calm. Trust Him in everything.
There is INCREDIBLE power in gaining our strength from the Lord. In knowing where our home is. It's what I am teaching my girls. And I have the authority to do that, because I stand on the WORD of GOD.
Evelyn crying: 'I just don't want Me Me to die.'
The day after Mom's stroke, my brother, sister, brother-in-law and I were gathered around her, in her hospital room. It was around 4:00pm. Even in her unconscious state, she obviously waited for us all to be there. Together. We arrived and within minutes began praying our guts out over her very still body. And then we said Amen.
It was moments later, maybe minutes when her heartbeats slowed and slowed... and then completely stopped.
Mayo Carlisle Elliott Anderson died on August 24, 2012 at 4:25pm.
Brian kept the older two girls up a little later so that I could tell them in person. I drove back to Florence held in the righteous right hand of God himself.
I pulled in and was met in the driveway by two sweet, happy, smiling, expectant girls.
Mommy? Are you crying? Why are you crying Mommy?
We went inside. When I told them, Evelyn immediately began to wail. Carlisle was stoic. She asked a few questions. And quietly processed the answers. And then the tears began to drip out of her completely understanding beautiful eyes.
How cool Carlisle, that you were chosen for this job? What a big deal. God selected YOU to be with Me Me on her LAST day on this earth. YOU were the LAST face that she saw before she closed her eyes and saw Jesus! How cool is that?!?!
She smiled and nodded. And the tears fell.
Carlisle. She had the best day at the Zoo with you. She told me that the weather was heavenly. Did you think it was?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
So here I am. At this very interesting crossroad where life and death collide.
No Mother. No Father.
I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. Isaiah 45:3
God has summoned me to this place. At this time. To the darkness. But it is HERE that I am finding riches. Galore.
My Heavenly Father is caring for me intently. Loving me. Meeting me. All l have to do is look at the cross. HE is here.
And when I think about where my Mom is and who she is WITH, I am so happy I want to do a round-off-back-hand-spring. I get giddy.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea Psalm 46:2
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
When Mom was planning her week with Carlisle she was actually looking at the calendar right at the day that she would die.
I have to wonder. What would she have done differently?
What are we doing? How are we living our lives?
For the believer: Are you spending time with the Lord, yearning and seeking as you grow in the knowledge of Him?
For the rest: Do you know where you are spending eternity?
If you don't know FOR SURE where you will spend eternity, seek Jesus.
*Recognize that you are a sinner by acknowledging your sin.
*Ask for forgiveness and turn away from your sin.
*Acknowledge that Jesus Christ died for your sins, rose from the dead and is in heaven.
*Receive Jesus as your Savior.
Answer His call.
If you have questions about this, email me. firstname.lastname@example.org