Friday, April 24, 2015

18 days

Friday night after the funeral I didn’t want to go home. Our home was covered in things that reminded me of death and I just wanted to escape that…just for a night. I kept getting all these text reminders that God was with me. He was near to me in my broken place. And all I could do was lay on the floor and cry….I didn’t want God near to me at that time. I wanted Justin near to me. I wanted to feel loved and comforted by my husband. I wanted to feel whole because Justin was next to me.

It has been 18 days since Justin went to be with Jesus. 18 very very very long days. I thought the days in middle school watching the clock tick by during tests felt like long days….how na├»ve. These days feel like eternity. 18 days of waking up and forcing myself out of bed. 18 days of being a single parent. 18 days of being a widow.

Widow. A 30 year old, mom of three boys, WIDOW. Say that out loud without a lump forming in your throat. I dare you. It is disgusting. I hate that word. I have seen it in writing and next to my name and it infuriates me. I AM MARRIED.

But, here is the thing. Justin’s life on earth has ended. I feel like mine has ended. But, I have these three incredible boys who have so much life left. I know I have lots of life left…but I am not ready to go there yet. But, these boys. Gah. They lost their superhero. They lost the strongest man they ever knew. They lost their movie watching partner. They lost their daddy. We are 4 very different people grieving in 4 very  different ways. The mourning doesn’t look the same, but it hurts just as deeply all around.

Right now we are creeping out of the shock phase. The numbness is wearing off and…let me tell you, I would prefer to feel numb. We are holding each other and falling asleep crying at night. We are joyfully reminiscent, but painfully hurting. God has been RELENTLESS in showing up in the dark with his LIGHT. Absolutely relentless. This is where we are:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. – John 1:5

We are in such a very dark place. I am lost. I am hurting. I can’t possibility in the good that He will bring from this.

Because we are in the darkness, but his light overcomes that darkness. We don’t have to understand or comprehend. It is just so.


The glimpses of joy we find through pictures, decorating our new home, kinder field trips, friends, beautiful and thoughtful gifts, crawfish and dogs…are BIGGER than the darkness. Even though it doesn’t always feel that way.

I am sharing daily glimpses of his light via social media, but I plan to sit and gather my thoughts here weekly. THANK YOU so much to everyone who has loved on us. THANK YOU for donating to the boys account at Jefferson Bank and on Go Fund Me. THANK YOU for dinners, laundry, laughs and quality time. THANK YOU for registering for the ONE LESS RACE (www.onelessrace.com) and for your support of Vault: Fostering Community. THANK YOU for honoring Justin.


Next week will be the Celebration of Life recap. Spoiler alert: It was freaking incredible.

Monday, April 13, 2015

one week

So, I have had a lot of time to pray in the past 172 hours. Actually, praying is all I really can do well right now. 172 hours ago I kissed the love of my life for the very last time. After that kiss, he let go of his life here on earth and jumped straight into the arms of Jesus. No doubt he made a GRAND entrance. If I sit very still...I can hear the rejoicing and see his body whole, healed and perfect.
But, if I sit still and quiet for too long...that beautiful noise leaves me and I am left with only the the sound of my tears hitting my blankets and sobs so deep I can barely recognize that they are coming from me.
Through some of my prayer time I have felt affirmation in doing this. And by that I mean...writing through this experience. Processing some (not all, because that may be scary) of my grief and navigation through this awful time. I feel 100% sure that some of it will make sense, some of it won't, lots of it will be sad, all of it will honor my husband and every bit of it will be healing.
There are 4 people that live in the Mac Shack now....and we are all dealing with the loss of Justin very differently.
If you are new to this journey then I encourage you to read these few posts that will really give you a broad recap of this 4 year story. Read a couple of posts from late May/early June of 2011. Opportunity from November 2012, Surrender from March 2013, Dancing with Justin and Needing God more than Ever from Jan 2014 and my latest post which is copied below. (Uh, sorry I am not smart enough to tag the links to those....I am doing my best to just sit up straight in my bed right now.)
I am not a professional writer and I never intend to be. I don't proofread my posts. No time for that...I never have and I am not going to start now that I have a larger following...so if typos upset you then this is not the place for you. But, if truth is your thing...then welcome.
You can also surely jump in without catching up on the previous posts.

Justin did not initially love my blog, but it grew on him and it became something he was very proud of. I have intentions of updating it, making it less amateur looking...but I can't remember if I have washed my hair since the day of the funeral so I should slow my roll on those ambitions.

You can visit Justin's obit here: http://www.ebensberger-fisher.com/Obituary-Of-Justin-Allen-McElhannon/1587

There are millions of ways to love on us from now until who knows when. I can't wait to share how we have experienced community like nobodies biz. Right now, there is a close knit group handling everything. Literally. Everything. If you feel called to love on the boys financially there has been an account set up at Jefferson Bank in Boerne or you can make a contribution here: http://www.gofundme.com/r83njc


I don't know what the coming posts will look like, but I do know God will honor my obedience in this journey and He will continue to show his face through my time in writing...He has never failed to reveal great things to me through this silly blog.



I wrote this following post with Justins prompting 5 days before his death.

When someone becomes pregnant, they have about 9 months to prepare for the birth of the baby. Sometimes that feels like eternity and sometimes that feels like just NOT long enough! Preparing for a life is a really big deal! Families that adopt often wait for months or even years preparing for their future child. There is paperwork to fill out, appointments to go to, names to choose, books to read, rooms to decorate, classes to attend and so on. Preparing for birth or the placement of a child is a very exciting time! There are showers and parties and registries and so much preparation! 

The preparation for death, however is not nearly that exciting. There is an element of excitement, no doubt, because HELLO...Jesus. The after party of this life is far better than the hotel lobby...it's technically what we have been waiting for since the moment we were born. To be reunited with our Creator. To feel no more pain...to be whole...to sit at His feet. Gah. I take it back. It is more exciting. It is just too much for the human brain to comprehend. And he created it that way. Our mighty God made heaven a place that our earthly brains just can't even fathom. 

There aren't death showers or death scrapbooks. I mean maybe some people do that...but not anyone I know. There surely are ways to prepare for death. There are plenty of pamphlets and articles and opinions on how to do so with dignity, with finished business and closure. 

And then there is this majestic and truth filled book called the Bible. And wow does it  prepare us for death, dare I say FAR more than it prepares us for birth. HE is the resurrection and the LIFE. What a miracle birth is....but through HIM we experience LIFE. Through death we approach God who breathed life into us in the first place. Our true citizenship remains in heaven. This earth is a sweet place for us to experience His grace, mercy and gifts...but what lies ahead is far more of a gift than any moment of pleasure we may experience here. 

Why am I talking about all this? Because, after four. FOUR. FOUR. Years of watching my husband FIGHT. Persevere. Defy all odds. Shock doctors. LIVE. Four years of traveling to the country's best doctors, trying chemo, new medications, finding (in our own sweet little town nonetheless) a doctor that would manage and fight for Justins life like it was his very own, beginning the frightening stage of hospice...it has really been a LOT. 

We have lost friends, welcomed friends, felt lost, felt hurt, felt found and embraced and redeemed. We have seen God remove things that needed to go and fill those gaps with beauty only He is capable of. We have seen LIFE in a way that I wouldn't have asked for...because it has been HARD. But, don't you dare ask me to trade it for anything. 

We have entered a new season. Honestly, we entered this new season last January when Justin's prognosis became far beyond any doctors imagination. He became one of those rare cases that was just a big fat question mark to doctors. 

Justin has never once been a question mark to his creator. Justin was placed on this earth for a very specific reason. He has lived a life that many wouldn't envy. He has suffered more than others would desire. But, let me just tell you...JMacs life has SCREAMED the presence of Jesus to me and my three boys like its nobodies business. He is leaving behind a legacy for those three young men that can't be replicated. He has lived a unique and passionate life. He has failed, lost, succeeded and seen the beauty of the holy spirit in a way that I for one just flat out yearn to experience. 

Justin has entered what is referred to as the active dying phase. This is hospice lingo for...time is running out. Justin has accepted this phase. Has he thrown in the towel? Has he allowed satan to win? Has he lost faith? NOPE. And if you feel that he alone has the power to declare something over God's will for Him...then I challenge you to show up on my doorstep and have that conversation with me. I will have my bible opened and I will show you that God begs us to fear HIM...NOT DEATH. 

I take my Bible very seriously. I recognize the parts that are to be taken literally and the parts that are not. I sure don't have a degree in theology..but I have seen death without Christ. I have seen miracles right before my eyes. I have watched my own son be brought from death to life in the midst of significant spiritual warfare. I have seen the most firm believers suffer and wait and hurt. I have seen non believers experience Christ's very real presence. I have seen God's truth in REAL LIFE. 

We have entered a new season. We have been here for awhile, but it has been hard to swallow and admit. Justin has accepted his phase of dying. He isn't defeated by satans lies, y'all. He is comforted by the TRUTH that our God wrote for him. For all of us. 

This new season is a time for extreme intention. It is a time for closure and a time to respect the firm belief we have in Christ's sovereign plan and for privacy in the Mac Shack. 

Justin could have another year on this earth or he could have a mere 2 weeks. That is NOT up to us. What IS up to us is that we can honor every moment that God provides Him. Salvation is not something satan can take from him. He knows what awaits him...and we hate the hurt we will feel with him gone, but man are we embracing the wholeness of what lies ahead for our most favorite guy. 

If you are looking a way to love on our family or encourage us here are some ideas...
- Speak truth. 
- Allow Justin to experience closure and be comforted in the fact that in a blink of an eye his family will be by his side in the majestic kingdom. 
- Email things you would like him to hear or remember to mistymac2@yahoo.com and I will be very sure that he reads it. 
- Respect this very precious time that our family needs to be "hunkered down" 
- Realize that TALKING about death DOES NOT make it happen. We know our words are powerful, but our God is MORE powerful than anything we posses. Text or email your encouragement to him. 
- Make him laugh. 
- Have grace for us. There are tons of articles and blogs and packets to "help" us navigate this season...but we prefer to allow the holy spirit to lead. That means listening to Him at the last second, planning less and living in the flesh as little as possible. 
- Don't pretend you would know how to navigate this if you aren't in our shoes. Please. 
- Pray for us. 

We love every person who has kept up with the macs. It has been an honor to watch the followers of this blog grow from 15 to over 25,000 in just a few short years. You guys are Team Mac and we just couldn't walk this walk without y'all....because somedays when I am too weary to pray or too afraid to cry or too tired to face the facts...YOU stand in the gap. Because our Father really knew what He was doing when He created us and our instinct for community in His name. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Is death scary?

When someone becomes pregnant, they have about 9 months to prepare for the birth of the baby. Sometimes that feels like eternity and sometimes that feels like just NOT long enough! Preparing for a life is a really big deal! Families that adopt often wait for months or even years preparing for their future child. There is paperwork to fill out, appointments to go to, names to choose, books to read, rooms to decorate, classes to attend and so on. Preparing for birth or the placement of a child is a very exciting time! There are showers and parties and registries and so much preparation! 

The preparation for death, however is not nearly that exciting. There is an element of excitement, no doubt, because HELLO...Jesus. The after party of this life is far better than the hotel lobby...it's technically what we have been waiting for since the moment we were born. To be reunited with our Creator. To feel no more pain...to be whole...to sit at His feet. Gah. I take it back. It is more exciting. It is just too much for the human brain to comprehend. And he created it that way. Our mighty God made heaven a place that our earthly brains just can't even fathom. 

There aren't death showers or death scrapbooks. I mean maybe some people do that...but not anyone I know. There surely are ways to prepare for death. There are plenty of pamphlets and articles and opinions on how to do so with dignity, with finished business and closure. 

And then there is this majestic and truth filled book called the Bible. And wow does it  prepare us for death, dare I say FAR more than it prepares us for birth. HE is the resurrection and the LIFE. What a miracle birth is....but through HIM we experience LIFE. Through death we approach God who breathed life into us in the first place. Our true citizenship remains in heaven. This earth is a sweet place for us to experience His grace, mercy and gifts...but what lies ahead is far more of a gift than any moment of pleasure we may experience here. 

Why am I talking about all this? Because, after four. FOUR. FOUR. Years of watching my husband FIGHT. Persevere. Defy all odds. Shock doctors. LIVE. Four years of traveling to the country's best doctors, trying chemo, new medications, finding (in our own sweet little town nonetheless) a doctor that would manage and fight for Justins life like it was his very own, beginning the frightening stage of hospice...it has really been a LOT. 

We have lost friends, welcomed friends, felt lost, felt hurt, felt found and embraced and redeemed. We have seen God remove things that needed to go and fill those gaps with beauty only He is capable of. We have seen LIFE in a way that I wouldn't have asked for...because it has been HARD. But, don't you dare ask me to trade it for anything. 

We have entered a new season. Honestly, we entered this new season last January when Justin's prognosis became far beyond any doctors imagination. He became one of those rare cases that was just a big fat question mark to doctors. 

Justin has never once been a question mark to his creator. Justin was placed on this earth for a very specific reason. He has lived a life that many wouldn't envy. He has suffered more than others would desire. But, let me just tell you...JMacs life has SCREAMED the presence of Jesus to me and my three boys like its nobodies business. He is leaving behind a legacy for those three young men that can't be replicated. He has lived a unique and passionate life. He has failed, lost, succeeded and seen the beauty of the holy spirit in a way that I for one just flat out yearn to experience. 

Justin has entered what is referred to as the active dying phase. This is hospice lingo for...time is running out. Justin has accepted this phase. Has he thrown in the towel? Has he allowed satan to win? Has he lost faith? NOPE. And if you feel that he alone has the power to declare something over God's will for Him...then I challenge you to show up on my doorstep and have that conversation with me. I will have my bible opened and I will show you that God begs us to fear HIM...NOT DEATH. 

I take my Bible very seriously. I recognize the parts that are to be taken literally and the parts that are not. I sure don't have a degree in theology..but I have seen death without Christ. I have seen miracles right before my eyes. I have watched my own son be brought from death to life in the midst of significant spiritual warfare. I have seen the most firm believers suffer and wait and hurt. I have seen non believers experience Christ's very real presence. I have seen God's truth in REAL LIFE. 

We have entered a new season. We have been here for awhile, but it has been hard to swallow and admit. Justin has accepted his phase of dying. He isn't defeated by satans lies, y'all. He is comforted by the TRUTH that our God wrote for him. For all of us. 

This new season is a time for extreme intention. It is a time for closure and a time to respect the firm belief we have in Christ's sovereign plan and for privacy in the Mac Shack. 

Justin could have another year on this earth or he could have a mere 2 weeks. That is NOT up to us. What IS up to us is that we can honor every moment that God provides Him. Salvation is not something satan can take from him. He knows what awaits him...and we hate the hurt we will feel with him gone, but man are we embracing the wholeness of what lies ahead for our most favorite guy. 

If you are looking a way to love on our family or encourage us here are some ideas...
- Speak truth. 
- Allow Justin to experience closure and be comforted in the fact that in a blink of an eye his family will be by his side in the majestic kingdom. 
- Email things you would like him to hear or remember to mistymac2@yahoo.com and I will be very sure that he reads it. 
- Respect this very precious time that our family needs to be "hunkered down" 
- Realize that TALKING about death DOES NOT make it happen. We know our words are powerful, but our God is MORE powerful than anything we posses. Text or email your encouragement to him. 
- Make him laugh. 
- Have grace for us. There are tons of articles and blogs and packets to "help" us navigate this season...but we prefer to allow the holy spirit to lead. That means listening to Him at the last second, planning less and living in the flesh as little as possible. 
- Don't pretend you would know how to navigate this if you aren't in our shoes. Please. 
- Pray for us. 

We love every person who has kept up with the macs. It has been an honor to watch the followers of this blog grow from 15 to over 25,000 in just a few short years. You guys are Team Mac and we just couldn't walk this walk without y'all....because somedays when I am too weary to pray or too afraid to cry or too tired to face the facts...YOU stand in the gap. Because our Father really knew what He was doing when He created us and our instinct for community in His name.