September has a story.  A story that I have to tell in order in move on and embrace October.

“You have to tell your story” I keep hearing over and over and over again.  In the book three people have recommended to me in one week.  In the pastor’s message on a Sunday.  In the book I felt like I should read and couldn’t figure out why.

But I was all frozen up.  Words wouldn’t come.

Then this morning words just started bouncing around in my head and I had to type them out.

So in my messy little spot I love dearly and have neglected for weeks, with my house in disarray, with a mile long list to do, I am dropping it all and frantically typing this out.  Rambled and awkward and unchecked, here you have September’s story.

I am certain I could find the text from a friend that said, “I’m worried about September.  It feels wrong this year.  And it’s barely started.”

It’s not that we knew what was about to happen, it’s just that’s how it felt.  Heavy.

We began September deep in Football.  And we took a break to go to our fun Family Camp and pray that this trip was relaxing and what we needed to get us ready for what was coming in the school year.

It wasn’t.

But we are glad we had that Family Camp.

One of the family’s that was supposed to come with us had to back out.  Mandy had FINALLY gotten in for her surgery due to Cushing’s Disease and she wasn’t messing that up.

Family Camp is three families camping together in a boy’s camp along with a bunch of other families.  We had Cameron, Mandy and Bob’s son with us and 10 of our kids and six of us adults.

School started on Tuesday and Friday we already had a fog delay.  I was standing in the kitchen, in my pj’s, about to start breakfast for the boys when the phone rang.

“Mandy’s heart stopped.  Pray really hard.”

If there was anyone who could pull through a heart stopping, it would be Mandy.  I was scared, I was stunned, but I was confident.  God would not take a mom, a wife, someone a year younger than me who had finally gotten the surgery she needed to live her life again.  God wouldn’t do that.

But she died.

And I stood in the driveway sobbing with a friend I had just camped with and drove to to Mandy’s aunt’s home to sob with her.

Alicia is Mandy’s aunt.  Alicia, who I work with, who I see nearly seven days a week, whose boys I feed regularly, who there are no words to describe how dear and entwined her family is with ours.


Alicia, Mandy, Me It’s crazy how few photos we have together with friends. We always don’t want our photo taken. But when someone you loved is gone, you are desperate for a photo. BE IN THE PHOTOS.

Mandy was (oh, it’s hard to write was) just a bit younger than Alicia and they were like sisters.  Bob and Mandy, Jason and Alicia…they did everything together.

But a blood clot stopped her heart and she died.  She left behind her high school sweetheart husband, her son who is the same age as S3 and her daughter who is the same age as S4.

I sat in church that Sunday.  I didn’t want to go.  “Isn’t God good?” the music team cooed.  “Isn’t He so so good?  Let’s thank God for being a good good Father.”

And I couldn’t sing.  I couldn’t hardly move.

“Are you good, God?” I asked.

“Do you trust me?” He asked.

“Help me trust You.  Help me know ‘it is well’,” was my response.

It was a terrible week, I can’t lie.

And it felt like it wasn’t my story to tell.  Mandy isn’t my family.  But my heart still reeled and lurched and struggled to trust.

On one hand, you don’t want to go back to life as normal and the other you just want to go back to life as normal.

I sat in Bible study the next week where we discussed prayer and how we would all be studying prayer and the power of it.

I couldn’t say Mandy but I used another example I had and said, “We have to be okay to trust God when He seems to answer opposite what we are sure must be His good will.”

And then I got really scared.  I felt as if we were all in the book of Job and that bad news was going to keep on rolling in.  I began to pray force fields of protection over us.  Like Violet in the Incredibles.  Force Fields, God, we need them.

Our church put on a special meeting that I attended with hesitation and we heard a sermon on being fully armed with God’s armor and we were in a tough football game but no matter how tough the game was, remember we had won.

There are probably ten people on my phone that I have been texting with this month who are going through some really really really tough times.  I mean, their stuff on their own would weigh you down greatly.  AND IT JUST KEPT ON COMING.  In our own family, we have had some dark, nasty days.  We are exhausted.  I can almost always come up with cheery Suzy Sunshine  “But at least we have…….”  My texts were this more and more: “I’ve got nothing.  No words.  I am so sorry.  I am praying force fields.”

Jason and Alicia had been planning their twentieth anniversary for two years.  Mandy and Bob were going to care for their boys and they were going away for the first time EVER.  Reread that.  Twenty years.  First vacation EVER.  We all urged them to go.  “They NEED this, thank you, God, for giving them this time alone!” we said.

While gone, the grandma that Jason had lunch with five days a week got a UTI and died.

Jason and Alicia left their planned for two years vacation and rushed home to cry some more and bury yet another loved one.

All the other bad stuff.  All the awful we were still dealing with with Mandy.  All the pain.  All the “What the what is going on?’

All that.

I looked up at God, up at the sky raining and dark, and said, “GOD!  Do you even see us all down here?  Do you see us here?  We are hurting?  How is this at all good?  How is this YOU?”

Sitting in church our pastor told us to write our faith story.  That in writing the stories of our faith we can then see how God works His faithfulness.

I don’t know what God’s story is in this yet.

I don’t know why I am clinging to the word “Hope”, my word of the year a few years back that is on a bracelet Alicia bought me that same year.  I don’t know why I keep singing “There is power in the name of Jesus” over and over again by a group I don’t even like to listen to.

But I had this moment, I guess you would say.  I was thinking of how Violet had that force field.  The bad guys were still throwing things at her, she was still struggling.  And she needed Flash to get her out of there.

She was still getting bombarded.  But she was still protected.

And that’s our lives right now.

This morning I stood in the shower thinking of holy water.  Of being washed clean of September.

I thought of the fact that we have amazing friends.  My friends who have showed up in force for Jason and Alicia.  We make food, we drop everything and get together to watch football and forget the bad.  We listen to Cameron and Elizabeth begin to laugh again.

There were friends who showed up at my door, a note I received in the mail that said, “Not sure what is going on, but I felt like you needed some extra prayers and a little bit of love.  I love you!”

There was good in this month.

Thank you, God, for the good that did come.  For the extra hugs and the abundant “I know we don’t say this often enough but I love you.  I appreciate you.  I’m so thankful for you in my life.”

The trees are just beginning to change colors here.  You know what days I can see the colors the most brilliantly?  The dark days.

I do not understand September.  I do not understand this at all.

But I still have hope in God that He does.

Thank you for letting me share that with you all.  I heal by writing words.  And I am taking a chance in sharing these rambled, heart words with all of you.

And isn’t this just like God?  This came up on my timehop this weekend.  Yes, God, I trust.




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4 Responses to September’s Story

  1. Alicia says:

    Thank you. Love you lots!

  2. Karen Stauffer says:

    Hi friend. I am so sorry for the loss of your dear friend. Somehow in following your facebook posts I had missed the pain that you were experiencing. You have written a beautiful tribute to Mandy. And, you have very eloquently captured the aching of those she left behind.

    I feel so silly now for the trite response I posted when you mentioned that one song that was going round & round in your head. I didn’t realize the significance, and in fact, the healing that those words “There is power in the name of Jesus” had for you at that moment.

    My heart & my prayers go out to you and Mandy’s family and friends.

    • life4boys says:

      Don’t you dare feel badly, Karen! That song HAS been going on in my head over and over STILL but your life is not my life and don’t you dare feel a bit bad for “trite” things. I was happy for everyone who had “trite” things! I know you love us all dearly. We feel the same about you!

  3. Tonya says:

    (Tears) Bittersweet post. Thank you for writing and sharing. Love you friend.

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