Friday, January 27, 2012

Greetings from Howe, Texas

Happy Friday!

I am not sure when this writing will arrive. The internet is being uncooperative at Daddy’s house tonight.

I had some errands to run this morning. I asked Daddy if he wanted to go with us, but he said, “I’d like to spend some time by myself.” So I dropped Bruce off at Starbucks so he could use the internet and then I did my errands. One of my errands was to drop off two lovely wigs at Maxine’s (Mom’s hairdresser). She was going to take them to the cancer center to be given to women who were in cancer treatment and had lost their hair. Daddy has said several times that he does not need Mom’s material possessions. He just wants pictures surrounding him that have her in them. The other thing Daddy has said is that he wants her things to be used. So sometime after Sunday he will call and we will come down and disperse Mom’s possessions among family members who would want them and the rest will be donated. He has been pretty quiet today until dinner time and then he began to talk. Dinner tonight was leftovers from the gargantuan meal the Wednesday Workers provided last night. It was excellent warmed over!

Prayer: “Dear God, I give thanks that You do not give up on us. Show us the path You put before us daily, and give us the strength to walk it. Amen.”

Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

How many times in our lives have we said, “I have really blown it this time?” Here we thought we were doing okay and then the floor disintegrates from beneath our feet. Whether we have caused our own messes or a mess was thrust upon us Jeremiah tells us so clearly that God, the giver of every good and perfect gift, the Creator of all things, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords still has a plan for us. And I have enough faith to believe in the midst of the worst of mistakes or trials, God has a new plan for each of us. I am pretty sure that is why God sent Jesus. And if plan B does not work then there is a plan C. Even if some of us are nearing the end of the alphabet the amazing God we serve always has a plan. God never gives up on us and there is no mistake or sin, or sorrow and grief that can overrule God’s desire to heal us, providing hope and a future. God still works fulfilling His plans for us.

The song I wake up to each morning is “Your Love is Extravagant” by Casting Crowns. God’s extravagant love for each of us is always at work on our behalf to fulfill His plans for us.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes and a warm jacket. Count your blessings and say an extra prayer for Daddy and the rest of the family. We give thanks to and for all of you who have been such mighty and faithful prayer warriors. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Greetings from Howe, Texas

Happy Thursday!

I spent a rather busy day. I did the girl thing and had my hair and nails done. The really neat thing was that the two women who performed these services were the same women who did Mom’s hair and nails. Miss Maxine did Mom’s hair for over 20 years. We shared some tears and wonderful stories. Today, she gave me the gift of my Mom’s haircut. When Daddy took Mom last Friday, Maxine had to work her in and was unable to get her hair cut, so just washed and set it. Maxine is just one of many who will miss Mom. Michelle did Mom’s nails for a good number of years and loved Mom so much. Both of these women have three things in common; they are both strong women of faith, they both do quality work and they both loved my Mom. I am very grateful for the relationship they had with Mom.

Tonight we had another family gathering. Along with Daddy, Bruce and me were Mom’s sisters, Betty and Linda, along with Linda’s husband, Johnny, Ken and Sheena. There were 8 around the dining room table. I set the table with some of Mom’s pretty dishes and the meal was provided by the Wednesday Workers. These women brought enough food for an army and it was so delicious. As we ate, we shared hilarious stories about Mom and family members. So much fun!

Prayer: “Healer of the sick, teach us to come to You continually in prayer. Be with us as we leave our worries with You, and give us the courage to face each day—one hour, one minute at a time. Amen.”

Isaiah 41:10 “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

What a perfect passage of scripture! My Mamo always loved the old Christy Lane song, One Day at a Time. I sang this song at her funeral. When I read this passage tonight, I immediately thought of her. This passage calls us to remember that God is not just with us when we are in a time of trouble or grief. God is with us every day and always. “One day at a time” means that God wants us to begin and end our days with Him. Spending time with God can mean reading scripture, reading devotional materials, prayer, singing songs of praise to Him with the radio, or talking with other believers about God’s faithfulness and love. God cares for those who trust in Him. Because God cares for us, we can welcome each new day with the assurance of God’s promised presence in our lives.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes and wear a jacket. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Please continue to pray for Daddy and our family as we continue in our new journey. Love you all and thank you so much for all of your continued prayer support, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Greetings from Howe, Texas

Happy Wednesday!

I completed the celebration service today. I went to the church for a song list and visited with the ladies of the Wednesday Workers. Mom was a participant in this group. Today they were quilting. They miss Mom so very much and loved to visit about her. I sat across one of her oldest friends. Mrs. Dorothy and Mom began first grade together. Mrs. Dorothy was the valedictorian of their senior class and Mom was the salutatorian. Several of these ladies knew me before there was a me! It was a really wonderful visit. These sweet women are bringing dinner tomorrow evening for us. Another long-time family friend brought a delicious banana pudding. Country ladies’ cooking…completely amazing! The diet will have to begin next week, because right now it doesn’t stand a chance.

Prayer: “O God, when we feel too broken to ever mend, surround us with your love. Amen”

Psalm 147: 3 “The Lord heals the broken hearted, and binds up their wounds.”

The first church I ever remember attending as a very small child was the Howe Methodist Church. It was a beautiful picturesque white frame building with curved pews, cathedral ceilings, hardwood floors and a bell tower with a long rope strong enough to allow a little one to fly up and down and ring the bell. The most prominent and treasured attributes of this beautiful old building were the stained glass windows. They were the real stained glass, not art glass, and had been created into pictures of Jesus and children, or Jesus and sheep and other images of Bible stories. When the building became unsafe with a shifting foundation and cracks in the ceiling it was time for a new building. My Mom and Dad were married in that sanctuary, though, and my first church job as a youth and music director was also in that building. There was such grief when there was no other choice but to build a new building. The greatest amount of thought was how to safely remove those priceless windows from this beloved building without cracking or breaking them. A plan was devised and the windows were removed and reframed. There were bits and pieces left over which were carefully collected and placed into custom made light fixtures that hang from the ceiling in the sanctuary. The sanctuary is now surrounded by these windows and lit by those bits and pieces.

These bits and pieces which seemed so fragile and the windows that were so faithfully restored were reconstructed into precious memories and became another of God’s outward and visible signs of an inward gift of grace. God takes our broken pieces and re-crafts them with His love and tender mercy to make something beautiful. These pieces of ourselves that sometimes seem so fragile and beyond repair are can be restored and made into a mosaic of grace that sing a song of praise.

Even though our hearts are broken God promises in the scriptures that He will heal our broken hearts and bind our wounds tending to them Himself by His loving compassion and everlasting love.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes and carry an umbrella. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Continue to pray for Daddy and for all of us. Love you all and are so grateful for your prayer support, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

PS Please pray travel mercy for all who will travel to be with us. gc
Greetings from Howe, Texas

Happy Tuesday!

Today Dad and I met with the pastor of Dad’s church to talk about the service. One of the dear members of this small town community was leaving the parking lot as we drove in and came back to see us. She spoke of how devastated she was over Mom’s passing. I feel sure there will be others who will express similar feelings as the week progresses. The obituary was sent to the funeral home this morning and will be in the Herald Democrat for posting tomorrow. If you saw the picture on the journal last night it completely captured my Mom with her beautiful smile and her “glad to be here” countenance. While taking care of the business at the funeral home, we picked up Mom’s ashes. I was not sure how Daddy would handle this so I sort of collected them and carried them for him until he was ready to take them. We went to lunch in Sherman and made a couple of stops. We stopped at Maxine’s, Mom’s hairdresser, where I made an appointment for Thursday for me. She just cried and cried because other than Dad, she was the last one to see her before her passing and Maxine loved her very much. Then we went to LaChelle’s, Mom’s nail lady, and made an appointment for my nails on Thursday also.

Daddy decided that he wanted pictures of Mom and the family to surround him. So down came the year-round Nativity scene on the mantle and up went all of the framed pictures we could find. I consider this a wonderful start to whatever Daddy’s new normal is. Now he can look up from his chair and see Mom anytime he wants. I have spent most of the rest of the evening crafting the celebration service for Sunday. The only pieces left to put into place are the congregational songs. The pianist, organist and band have been contacted. I would ask you to pray for this service that God will be glorified in the Word spoken, prayed and sung.

Prayer: O Lord, open our eyes to Your Word and help us to see You more clearly in every circumstance. Amen.”

Hebrews 13: 5 “God has said, “Never will I leave You, never will I forsake you.”

What perfect words for our family tonight. Daddy has said many times in the last few days since Mom’s passing that this is hard, but next week will be harder. I have been here all week and will stay until Monday morning. Ken and Sheena will be here in a couple of days, all of our kids, extended family and friends are close by. But next week Daddy knows that he will be by himself and he knows how much he really misses Mom.

But here is the thing, according to the scripture, God’s Holy Word, “He will never leave us…” Daddy may be by himself but He will never be alone. God’s Word is more than just words. These are words of hope and empowering faith. The sadness Daddy and all of us will feel will not vanish for a long time, but if we focus on Christ and His promise to always be with us especially in the moments of the 4’ 10” sadness we are all feeling, then some of the sting of this loss will lose its edge. There is more to this healing than just reading and claiming the scriptures. We have to surround ourselves with His Word and keep them as a sign of God’s continuous presence.

One time when Casey was receiving treatment for cancer, a cousin of mine called me and said “Gaylene, one time one of my kids was sick and nothing we were doing seemed to help. So I prayed Psalm 23 over her as medicine.” My cousin claimed God’s Word as more than just words and asked that the Word of God be put into action. So I am praying the psalms (they were Mom’s favorite passages) as medicine over Daddy and all of us when we are so sad. And truthfully, Mom would not be happy with us because she is with Casey, and together, they will just keep the party going! (I love that!)

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes and carry an umbrella. Pray travel mercy for Bruce as he travels to Howe tomorrow. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Love you all, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Genita Rose Helvey 1933-2012

Greetings from Howe, Texas

Happy Monday!

Today was the day to run errands. Daddy and I made a list. We went to see Dr. Bensen and her eye doctor. We cancelled all future appointments for all of her doctors. Each person we spoke with expressed their deepest sympathies and told us how much they were going to miss her. Dad returned some of her rehab equipment he purchased because the equipment was never able to be used. We went to lunch and had a great time to talk. Ken’s school board president came to him today and promptly dismissed him from work for the rest of the day, so Ken came to Daddy’s and the three of us spent the remainder of the day and through dinner time looking at pictures, beginning to prepare the memory table and writing Mom’s obituary. As to how we are doing…Daddy asks throughout the day, “How am I going to get along without her?” I simply restate the question with “How are we all going to get along without her?” There will be a 4’ 10” space in all of our hearts for the rest of our lives that will eventually be filled with precious memories of a tiny woman with a smile that lit up an entire room, infectious laughter and perfectly coiffed hair!

As for tomorrow, Daddy and I will meet with the pastor of their church to plan the service. Mom loved Casey’s service so much and so asked me months ago to write a celebration service that honored her life in Christ. It is my plan to take my cue from Geni and craft a service that “keeps the party going!”

Prayer: “O God, teach me to be still and know the ways you are present with me today. Amen.”

Psalm 46: 7 “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”

I asked Daddy today if Mom had any particular passages of scripture she really loved and he told me she loved the Psalms. I found my Word in Season devotional book and thought I would reflect on this tonight.

Of all the times we need to count on God it is in times of loss. Grieving is a time when there are holes in your life that are really hard to fill. Grief does not just happen when you lose someone you love. Grief happens during any kind of loss: jobs, homes, children leaving home, retirement and so many others. These times are really hard because each type of loss carries with it the necessity of finding a new normal for our lives. Lots of folks try to fill those holes in self destructive ways.

Others try to fill those holes with hiding, sleeping, extreme busyness or becoming a hermit. Scripture tells us that the Lord of Hosts, the Creator, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Wonderful Counselor and Everlasting Father promises to be with us no matter what, no matter when, no matter where. This passage says God is our refuge. We take our holes and crawl up into the lap of God. Then we believe that God is stronger that all of our uncertainty, fear, sadness and grief and know He will heal the holes in our lives. Healing takes time and usually hurts like crazy, but the healing God provides is the healing that will last forever. Earthly ways will pass away, but Emmanuel, God with Us, is here to stay and stays with us forever.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Thank you all again for being mighty and faithful prayers. I ask you to continue in your prayers. We appreciate them so much and they are helping to ease the sting of the loss of Mom. Love you all so very much, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Greetings from Howe, Texas.

Blessed Sunday to you all!

First let me say a heartfelt thanks to each of you who have sent your love and prayers of comfort to our family. They mean so much and you are so caring and kind. Bruce, Geni and Travis all made it home safely today and it is just Dad and me.

Today, we cleaned out a few things and are preparing to return some of the special equipment Mom required for therapy and mobility. Other things are going to go to the church and see if the pastor knows of someone who needs these items. We looked through picture books to find pictures for the picture table that will be a part of the memorial event. There was a small write up in the Sherman paper today announcing her death and pending arrangements. Dad was on the phone most of the morning fielding calls from friends, family and acquaintances. I spent some time this evening beginning to compose the obituary that should be in the paper on Wednesday or Thursday.

When we arrived at the house on Friday evening, it was just Daddy, Bruce and me. Dad went over to the desk and pulled out a small pink tissue-wrapped object. It was Mom’s wedding ring. He handed this treasure to me with the words that “your Mama wanted you to have it.” I am pretty sure I cratered just a bit. It is not the original setting, but contains the same stones. The story goes that the original setting finally wore through and could no longer be soldered back together. The stones sparkle like stars in the night sky no matter the setting.

I was talking to Geni today while we ran a couple of errands and shared this bit of wisdom with her. I looked at my hands and now they contain three weddings bands. My grandmother’s band (Mamo’s), which was the “something old” I wore at our wedding, my own wedding band and now my Mom’s wedding band. Collectively there are over a hundred years of marriage represented on my fingers. Each woman was married to only one man and just as the vows said, they were faithful until death parted them. That is over a hundred years of faithfulness and love given from one earthly person to another. I told Geni the monetary value of these pieces does not begin to match the value of the lives of faithful love they represent.

The legacy Mom leaves behind is this; she knew that when she married she was not making those most excellent promises to Daddy. She knew she was making those vows to God. In those vows to God she promised to “love and to cherish until death do they part, forsaking all others and to keep him only unto herself.” She promised to love Daddy with an everlasting, unconditional love that would only be surpassed by her love of God and God’s love for her. The really good news is she learned this lesson so well that there was enough of that extravagant love to encompass me, my brother and our families. Mom and Dad were unified in three things; their faith, their love for each other and their love for us. How blessed we have all been to have been witness to and participate in a love such as this.

Take joy in the journey even when the road is difficult. Always wear comfortable shoes. Say your prayers and count your blessings. Love you all so very much, Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am only moved by what I believe and I believe God.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Greetings from Howe, Texas

Happy Saturday!

I think we all got a fairly good night’s sleep last night. I awoke at 6:00 to find Daddy already awake and having coffee just as he does each morning. So I poured myself a cup of coffee and just sat and listened. My Daddy is somewhat of an historian. We looked at some VERY old pictures of his family. Like mid 1800’s old! He knew all of the stories of these people who looked as if they had just walked out of a book by Laura Ingals Wilder or Louisa May Allcott. Amazing!

Today we went to the funeral home and set the arrangements. The memorial service for Mom will be on Sunday evening at 5:00 pm at the How Methodist Church with dinner to follow. We have several out of town families who are making plans to fly in and we had to wait until all are gathered.

Later in the day we held a traditional Helvey cookout. All parties, except Stephanie’s new husband, were present and it was so great. We grilled out steaks and chicken, looked at pictures, marveled at the great grand baby, laughed and talked and had a wonderful time. Mom would have loved it.

As for Dad, he is doing well and has moments of sadness. I was okay today until I went to prepare breakfast and remembered all of the great conversations Mom and I used to have as I cooked. We even herd a pack of coyotes howling as Ken and I shared grilling duties and decided that they had gathered in honor of Mom.

My apologies to all who have posted notes of kindness and concern on Facebook and who have sent lovely messages. I have received them all, but have not had time to respond. So collectively I thank you all as I ask you to pray for our dear daddy.

Today a homemade chocolate pie and some banana bread were delivered as gifts of love and caring. It is still tough to wrap our hearts and heads around the fact that she is gone. Today I imagined her in heaven where, after checking in with Jesus, she was scooped up in Casey’s arms as he said, “come with me, Grandmere. Have I got some things to show you!” I think my favorite part of this day was what Geni posted on Facebook.l “ Grandmere went to be with Casey to keep the party going!” Gotta love it! More later. Thanks again for listening.

Take joy in the journey. Wear comfortable shoes. Count your blessings and say your prayers. Love you all Bruce, Gaylene, Geni and Travis.

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am only moved by what I believe and I believe God.