My Refuge

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

This promise has been clarified and made REAL for me this past week. The unfolding of events that took place last Monday and all through the week, even up until this afternoon when God revealed this verse to me, He has been with me. Once again He has been PRESENT in both my pleasure and my troubles. 

 I thought I was procrastinating, as I am guilty of doing so often… too often if we are being honest. And although that is partially true, I do consider myself attuned to the Holy Spirit and move when I receive heavenly whispers. But I had a heavenly sign last Monday and I knew I was to share it “publicly”, but I just kept putting other things in front of it. I did share my experience with my family and close friends, but God never intends it to stop there. It is my desire and I feel appointed duty to proclaim His goodness, in good times and in sorrowful times. I took a vow to let my light so shine and glorify my heavenly Father. Alex set the course. I followed. And it is an honor to do so. 

Yet, I felt I was procrastinating. Until I was refilling the bird feeders and pruning my blush rose this morning. The birds are my happy place. They still bring such joy. I feel God so very near when I am around them. And pruning the roses always, ALWAYS,  shifts me into humble territory. I cannot think about either without thinking of Christ. Each time I get pricked, I think of the thorns He wore around his head and how painful that must have been. His selfless sacrifice overcomes me and I am humbled. 

The pruning always hits a personal nerve with me. John 15:2 - He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch does not bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. I have been pruned in my life. Each time it is painful, but if that is what God sees fit to do in order that I be fruitful, then so be it. I can trust He knows best.

This knowledge, this scripture, did not come to me until this afternoon but I feel it is foundational of the story I have to share with you today. I believe my experience is to shift our minds and hearts allowing a more heavenly perspective. I pray I can tie it all together so that God IS glorified. 

I want to note real quick: there are a lot of I’s and me’s and my’s in this story, however it is NOT AT ALL about moi! I pray you see that!

Last Monday morning I spent the entire morning with the wildlife in our backyard. I was on cloud nine. First the Barred Owl showed up at the pond! Oh MY Word! He/she is spectacular. It stayed around a good while and I captured lots of pictures. After the owl departed I spent some special time with the Dove, Carolina Chickadee, Carolina Wren, the Cardinals and their babies, the mockingbird– singing his little heart out from atop the fireplace, the hummingbird’s, my sweet female bunting, the squirrels, and butterflies. It was nature’s delight. I gave thanks to God for giving us such a place to call home. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the beauty surrounding me. I was Truly in awe of His goodness.

During the afternoon hours, Hayden and I sat down to tweak Alex’s website. I thought we needed to add some things, but come to find out Hayden had already done so. What a great brother. He is surely on top of things. As we sat at the desk we heard the sound of a bird flying into the dining room window. It happens from time to time and only a few times have we found one laying on the porch. When we heard that loud thud, we just kind of looked at one another grimacing, but did not run to see if all was well. We quickly turned our attention back to Alex’s website. 

Hours passed and we both had things we were doing. I stepped out back to move water. I walked back through the house and walked out the front door to move the water I had running out front. I witnessed a horrible sight. Laying on the front porch was a beautiful dove, deceased. It was too graphic for my eyes. It crushed my heart. I went straight to Hayden, crying and in shock, I told him what I had seen. He immediately said he was sorry and he offered to clean it up. I felt ridiculous crying, I mean I have found a few like that before but it was never this bad. And it was a Dove this time! My heavenly Monday was now a very sorrowful Monday. I felt a bit defeated. Trust me as I write this I still feel ridiculous but it really upset me. 

Hayden took care of the dove and cleaned everything up. I am so grateful for him! He didn't really know how to console me, he just jumped in and took care of matters and was quite sweet about it all. I noticed his eyes were sympathetic but his mouth was almost ready to laugh, it seemed. He later admitted he felt a little bad at first but couldn’t imagine my distress, until he saw the dove. He said, he even became saddened. It was just really sad. 

After Hayden had taken care of everything I walked up to the mailbox. As I walked I did what I often do, I thought “I wonder how Alex would have handled me?”

My first thought and only conclusion, was he would have hugged me right away. He was a big hugger and a great consoler. Hayden and Alex, both tender and sweet, but still they have their own unique ways. I’m not saying Hayden is any less compassionate, I just know my boys and how they cope with matters. 

There were 3 piece’s of mail I pulled from the mailbox. Two junk and one card. The card addressed to me, had no return address. I thought it was probably a graduation party invitation. I wasn’t in a hurry to open it. Halfway down the driveway I looked at it again and thought, “well if it was an invitation, it should have all three of our names on it.” That peaked my interest, so I opened it. It was a sweet early-birthday card from my friend Susan in Tennessee. We met her and her family on our first trip to Scotland and Ireland. We became friends immediately, even flying to spend Labor Day weekend with them just a few short months after our trip. We have always kept in touch, but over the past year I have not been able to get in touch with her by phone. I had spoken to her son Zachary, so I knew all was well but I just couldn’t reach her by phone. Seeing the card was from her, I immediately stopped thinking about the dove. 

Susan had included a gift. In a pretty pink sack with the words written– Tesi “Shine”  on it, was a sweet charm that read SHINE. She wrote that she cannot see that word without thoughts of me. I absolutely love that!

I cannot see that word without thinking of Alex!! I admit I felt a heavenly presence, a heavenly tenderness. But what happened next, blew me away. 

I walked in the front door and lay the card, the little pick sack, and the charm on my dining room table and snapped a picture with my phone. I wanted to share with my friend Melissa. She knew my concerns about not being able to connect with Susan in a while, so I wanted to share that I had heard from her and share of her kindness. 

I have an iPhone, so I clicked on the picture I just snapped and it gives you options on how you want to send your photo, I chose text message. So then it comes up TO: and that’s where you type in the name of the person you wish to send to. I hit the letter “m.”  That is ALL I did. On EVERY account of doing this in the past, it will bring up 5 or 6 people who’s name starts with an M. Always it’s the last person’s names you have sent text to. But it did not do that. I hit “m” and it not only brought up a name it inserted it! Please see the photo’s attached. 

The name Mangy Wolf at MySpace is Alex’s myspace name!!! I have never. Never. NEVER! Sent anything, photo or otherwise to his myspace. I don’t even think you can. I haven’t been to his myspace account in probably 7 years. This was my son’s last digital footprint. This was something he created that was all him. Just as FB is for us today, myspace was for him in 2008.  I remember asking his friends, after his promotion to heaven, where did that name come from? His friend Chrystal said “Alex liked wolves, so I gave him the nickname, Mangy Wolf!” 

In disbelief, I quickly screenshot a picture of what I was seeing. I was breathless!

Next, I deleted the name and hit the ‘m’ again. This time, like every other time, it brought up the last 5-6 people I have sent a text to, whose names begin with an ‘m”. Not only that, it did NOT put anyone’s name in, which is normal. It let’s you pick. (see second picture. I erased the phone numbers since this is being shared publicly.)

My head is spinning and my heart racing at this point. I ran and showed Hayden. He was amazed! We just stared at each other. At a loss, really. 

Next, I tried very hard to send all the info to Melissa through text. I was too emotional to call her. I ended up confusing her, trying to send everything by text, so I collected myself and called her, explained it all. She understands all to well how God sends these signs from above. 

I shared with Coby and other family and close friends and they agreed, this is clearly something to be shared with everyone.

Today, as I fed the birds and pruned the roses, I realized our home is a “refuge” for wildlife. But clearly I see now, it is also a refuge for us. God also impressed –pruning generates growth– which produces the most beautiful and bountiful fruits. 

I  feel God near me, here. It was through capturing a bird at my fountain that I experienced joy again, in 2014. I experienced God’s presence, right here at home. He is everywhere, all the time, but I am aware of Him most, right here. 

And that He would affirm and allow my Alex to console me in such an intentional and completely undeniable fashion, is overwhelming. The grace, the love, the mercy, the comfort that flows from heaven is nothing short of colossal. 

I had one more thought, “what would I do if Alex were before me now?” I knew the answer. I would love on him. So I went into Hayden’s media room where he was playing a video game. I sat beside him in his big chair, I slid my arm through his and laid my head on his shoulder. I loved on him and thanked him for taking care of me and then I just sat with him quietly praising God for His heavenly signs and thanking Him for both my sweet boys and my husband who carved out such a haven for us.