Thursday, December 1, 2011

One Year of Enjoying God's Grace

Tiffany’s last post on facebook two nights before the Lord took her home was “Thanks so much for your love and prayers. I firmly believe my days are in His hands and no one or nothing can change His perfect timing. As for my God, His way is perfect!” Tiffany had told me the day before she wrote this that she did not think that she would live, and we moved that night to ICU in the hospital. Those last couple days of Tiffany’s life were in many ways surreal as we walked through many of the realities of life and of death. They were precious days of much love, singing, joy, tears, stories, and just being together. I believe that Tiffany’s facebook status that she wrote from ICU having told me that she didn’t think she was going to live point out two important facets of Tiffany’s life. One, she rarely thought of herself but rather thought of other people. I am confident that she wrote that post very intentionally knowing that it would be her last post, and she wanted people to know how grateful she was for their support and to challenge them before the Lord took her home that they needed to trust in God. She served people tirelessly even to her own hurt but yet she never complained but cherished the opportunity to live a life of impact. The second facet was her unwavering trust in God and His plan for our lives. We often told each other in those last couple of days that we were content with the will of God for her life - we knew that God’s way was best even though it did not coincide with my personal desires, and so she and I had to choose to hope in God and trust in the that reality that His way IS perfect. Looking back now a year later, I continue to see the hand of God at work using the life of Tiffany and working in my life today. His way is perfect, His timing is perfect, Tiffany's and my days are in His hands, and how grateful I am for the so many people who have come alongside of me and supported me throughout all of it. Thank you!

The picture below is of her headstone that we put together and placed at her grave this week. It is an aluminum plaque mounted on a piece of granite that came off of the family ranch. Although you cannot read it from this picture, the background graphic behind the lettering is a picture of her piano with a prelude sitting on the keys. The prelude is about the finished work of the cross and has a list of songs about Christ’s death on the cross.  The last two songs are “It is Finished” and “Satisfied.” She is enjoying her inheritance in Christ today! The plaque reads:

Tiffany Davis Brock
December 5, 1975 ~ December 1, 2010
A Life’s Melody
To The Praise of God’s Glorious Grace
Ephesians 1:3-14

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Concert In Tiffany's Honor

Had an interesting experience today -- I went in to Tiffany's and my favorite convenient store to get a drink and had a good conversation with the two lady workers. It has been over 9 months since Tiffany has passed away but yet she is still making an impact on people's lives. We are having a concert in Tiffany's honor this Saturday to raise money for the Davis Music Wing (named after Tiffany but using her maiden name) and I was inviting the ladies to come, and it sounds like they may come if they are not scheduled for work. It just amazed me that after nine months, someone could still have such an impact on people that you only got to know in short interactions over a counter.  What a great reminder to me that I must be purposeful in my interactions!

If your interested, we would love to have you join us for the concert this Saturday night September 17.  It will be a night of great music as a number of her music colleagues are coming together to honor Tiffany.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Faithful to His Promises

Well, my week was what I prepared for -- overwhelming. Overwhelming not in a bad sense but in the reality that I was feeling a whole bunch of things all at once. So many times we equate overwhelming times that are hard emotionally as bad things when in reality, if they are responded to with hope and trust in God can be quite good times. Good in the sense that it draws me closer to my God and allows me to work through the maze of emotions that come with some of life’s opportunities. It is these times that I must go to the Rock that is surer than I -- Jesus Christ my God. Friday morning was especially hard for me as I was working through the week and preparing to go to CO -- So I did what Tiffany did so many times, I immersed myself in God’s Word and reminded myself that He is “Faithful to His Promises.” Here are the verses that helped me through my overwhelming time.

Psalm 119
73 Your hands have made and fashioned me;
give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
74 Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice,
because I have hoped in your word.
75 I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
76 Let your steadfast love comfort me
according to your promise to your servant.
77 Let your mercy come to me, that I may live;
for your law is my delight.
78 Let the insolent be put to shame,
because they have wronged me with falsehood;
as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
79 Let those who fear you turn to me,
that they may know your testimonies.
80 May my heart be blameless in your statutes,
that I may not be put to shame!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Preparing to be Overwhelmed

The following post is from Tiffany from Sept. 5, 2010. It followed a difficult discussion with our dr.s when she was in the hospital and they started talking to us about a lung transplant for the first time. The post pretty much sums up how I am viewing this next week -- our wedding anniversary, the six month anniversary since her passing, and going back to her graveside for the first time since the weeks following her death. I am not sure what all the week will bring but I must simply do what Tiffany says in the last paragraph. 

“Do you ever have days where you are overwhelmed? Where you reach the end of your rope and feel like saying “no more-I can’t deal with this”?  For me, the past couple of days have been at this spot.  There were several events that just tipped the balance-not one of them was that huge but connected all together they made for something that just was too much.

I am so thankful for my hubby-he knew I was struggling.  He graciously cleared the room and just came and sat and held me.  There were tears (sometimes those are healing in and of themselves), questions, and venting; then a choice to rest in what God is doing-acknowledging that none of these things were a surprise to him-they had not caught him off guard. It did not make the struggles disappear and there have still been “it’s too much” moments.  

I am sure that we have not experienced the last of the overwhelming moments, however I pray that in those moments I will be faithful to respond in faith, trusting the One who is walking, shepherding me through them.”

Monday, May 16, 2011

False Guilt - The Application

So I have been trying to decide how transparent I want to be with this last post in regards to false guilt as I have written these posts as much for me as for other people who may be facing it. Living life whether you have CF in your life or not is filled with many difficulties some of our own making and many that we never asked for. I would like to share at least one very personal application of dealing with false guilt. 

Tiffany and I very openly discussed the end of life issues as we knew that we would likely face them sooner or later and end of life issues are very difficult. Tiffany’s last hospital stay was very unusual compared to her other stays as we were treating new things and the real culprit (MRSA) did not show itself early or very often. I am a person that asks a lot of questions and doesn’t just buy in immediately to every course of treatment.  I have a healthy respect for Dr.s and their opinions, but I am also very cautious of residents especially the first year ones. Because of their past mistakes we would rarely move forward without the primary Dr.s signing off on it or us confirming a course of action with our CF team. Consequently, this delays responses when a resident sees something on the weekend and wants to make all these changes to Tiffany’s treatment plan and wants to make all these changes without taking the time to get to know her. I pushed back quite a bit because they didn’t seem to know what they were talking about, but Tiffany and I could tell that something had changed internally. We made some difficult decisions over the weekend without the primary docs and some decisions were put off that looking back I don’t know if they were the best decisions as it seemed to allow the MRSA to come back even more. By the time we made it to ICU 24 hours later the MRSA had set in with a vengeance once again. We then had to make decisions about what we would or would not do with treatment specifically was Tiffany wanting to go on the ventilator. We had basically decided that if it gave her a fighting chance for the drugs to work or if it was needed to keep her alive till all of her family got in then we would do it, but we did not want to do it if it was going to only delay the inevitable. The Dr.s opinions was that it would only delay the inevitable and that if she went on it she would not come off of it. The evidence of the MRSA spreading was evident, and Tiffany could feel her body shutting down. 

It is hard now looking back and wondering what if we would have made those treatment changes quicker or would she have had a fighting chance if she would have gone on the ventilator and a whole host of questions follow. It would be very easy for me to live in false guilt wondering if I did everything right for Tiffany, did we do everything we could to fight the CF, did I make the right decisions. So I go back to the solution to false guilt realizing that this battle is a battle of the mind that can either lead to depression or can lead to trusting in God’s design for our life. The reality is that Tiffany and I have always been very aggressive in treating CF and we could only make decisions with the information that we had, and I believe that we made good decisions with the information and the circumstances that we had. Knowing that our identity and life was in Christ, Tiffany did not fear death, and I know that she is with Christ. Because we had the hard conversations before we were placed in the end of life situations, I know that we made decisions that were consistent with Tiffany’s desires and based on good information from the docs. Was it hard to watch Tiffany pass away as I held her hand, yes it was, but I can also look back at that last week of her life and rest in God’s plan for her life and for my life and not live in false guilt. Tiffany did not pass away because we did something wrong -- Tiffany passed away because it was God’s design for her life.  We often prayed for God’s will and that is exactly what God accomplished. I don’t have to live in false guilt questioning our decisions; I have to live trusting my God. That means I don’t spend my nights playing the what if game but rather I spend my nights meditating on my God and what Tiffany is enjoying in the presence of my God.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Living Between a Heritage and a Legacy

The following is my tribute to my mother-in-law, a mom living between her heritage and her legacy. As we celebrate Mother’s Day, I thought that this would be a fitting entry.

You see, my mother-in-law is a woman who has impacted my life in a great way. Over the course of the last 16 years that I have known her, she has taught me much. Over the course of the last couple of years, we have learned much together as we spent many hours caring for Tiffany and simply enjoying life as a family. In the last year, my love and respect for my mother-in-law has grown even more as I have watched her live through a very difficult time of life as she experienced the death of her daughter and her mom within six weeks of each other. Within six weeks her legacy and her heritage came together in Heaven. 

The Heritage that she had in her mother is a rich heritage. Her mother was a kind and gracious woman who passed on to my mother-in-law many of the needed traits she would need to live through the life that God had called her to live. She was faithful to her God, her husband, and her family throughout her life. She was a genteel woman who graciously served her God and her family. It is a Heritage worth emulating and a Heritage that should never be forgotten. 

The Legacy that she has in her daughter is an unfathomable legacy. By that it is one that is hard to understand. Usually your legacy is what you leave behind once you are gone, but Mom’s legacy went ahead to glory first. Although we all make our own decisions, one’s children many times is an indictment upon you. Mom’s legacy, my wife, is an indictment that speaks volumes about my mother-in-law. I got to see up close the impact that Tiffany’s mom had upon her life and how she lived with Cystic Fibrosis. Tiffany’s desire to not quit, to not make excuses, to trust in God, to keep living, to invest in the eternal, to pursue excellence, to love music, to love her husband and her family, and her gracious spirit towards people and life’s difficulties is a legacy to the life of my mother-in-law. It reveals a woman who lived that out in front of Tiffany through it all. Tiffany and I in the last couple years of her life would often laugh about how much she was becoming her mom whether it was how she wrote, spoke, or viewed life. Many fear that their wife may become their mother-in-law--Me, I welcomed it!

So Mom, on this day that you remember your Heritage and your Legacy, know that you have forever changed my life. I am privileged to have walked this way with you. I love you and am thankful that today I can say Happy Mother’s Day as your Heritage and your Legacy are getting to worship our Savior face to face. Although they are not with us today, they are with the King of kings. Your Heritage will never be forgotten and your Legacy will always be loved!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

False Guilt -- The Solution

We have looked at the source and results of false guilt which leads us to the question, “what is the solution to false guilt?”. It is important for us to remember that we do not need to live our lives in bondage to false guilt otherwise those results will show up in our life. We can have victory, and we don’t have to live miserable lives.
  1. First you need to identify the type of guilt that you are having of whether it is true or false guilt. Dealing with true and false guilt are dealt with entirely different. If you need to, go back and reread my entry on the source of guilt. Identifying the source will help you determine whether it is true or false guilt. If it is true guilt, then you will need to take responsibility for what you have done and go and seek forgiveness. If it is false guilt, then the following thoughts will help you.
  2. Realize that the greatest battles that we face are in our mind. Rom. 12:2 tells us that we need to renew our mind in order for us to have Biblical thinking. Eph. 3:14ff tells us that we must be strengthened in the inner man, understand the love of God, and be consumed with the totality of who God is, and then He enables us to do His will. Moving forward in life does not start with “just doing it” but it starts with right thinking. 
  3. So what kind of thinking should I have? In short, I must have Biblical thinking but that is a broad answer that you probably are saying doesn’t help me very much. Here are some example of Biblical thinking. Life is not hopeless but rather hope is found in God. My identity is not in my life circumstances but it is in who I am in Christ (if you have accepted Christ as your Savior). God is not out to get me but rather is interested in my growth and me reflecting Him to others -- God loves me even though he designed my life to have this difficult circumstance in my life. God is in control -- I am not.  Loving yourself is not the most important thing but rather loving God is the most important thing.  Our problem is not that we don’t love ourselves enough but that we put ourselves first rather than God and others. Worrying is not trusting God. My personality is not an excuse for an incorrect reaction. Forgiveness not anger or bitterness is the path to restored relationships.  These are just a couple examples of Biblical thinking that we must maintain.
  4. Stop living in the fear of man. Living in the fear of man is allowing others people’s actions or reaction to determine my life choices. For example, someone who has been abused may feel that they can’t be loved or have good relationships because of someone else’s sin against them. That is living in the fear of man -- don’t let someone else’s bad choices determine what you will do -- you can still forgive and you can still be loved and love. Rather you need to live in the fear of God. It is this reverential respect that says I will live my life yielded to what God desires.
  5. Forgive -- this is such an important aspect when dealing with false guilt in relationships. Forgiveness does not equal trust and forgiveness is not putting life back to what it used to be, but it is a promise not to use something against that person to harm them. It is not holding on to the anger. Be willing to forgive.
  6. You can only take responsibility for what you knew at the time--not for what you would find out in the future. This is especially important in dealing with false guilt in the medical field. You can only operate with the knowledge that you have at the time you have it. W’e can’t go back and redo it but we make the best decisions we can with the information we have and move forward and then make adjustments as we need to make them.
  7. Don’t live in the the if only we had . . ., I wish we . . ., what if . . ., if only . . . world. That world of vast possibilities will get you into trouble if you live there trying to relive the past with its possibilities. You have to make decisions from where you are today regardless of the decisions that were made before. Yes, I have plenty of these moments in my life with my relationship with Tiffany in the medical field, in our marriage relationship, in our life decisions, and in our personal ives. I cannot relive the past though and it is foolish to try and figure out what life would have been if I (we) had done something else. Accept where you are today, learn from the past, and move forward making better and more informed decisions for the future. Don’t live in regret.
  8. Focus on the reality of who my God is and not upon my circumstances. Yes, I must deal with my circumstances but I am not defined by my circumstances but rather I am defined by who I am in Christ. Since I have accepted Christ as my Savior to pay for my sin by His death on the cross. My identity is not in my life circumstances such as my job, my family, my health, or my marital status -- my identity is in Christ. When I focus on my actual identity then the issues of false guilt begin to disappear because false guilt many times is tied in to finding my identity in that person, thing, or idea that is creating the false guilt. Who is my God -- He is loving, just, holy, sovereign, all knowing, all powerful, kind, tender hearted, forgiving, gracious, and above all. As I focus in on my God and who I am in Christ rather than my circumstances, then I am able to rest in Him realizing that my responsiblity is to simply make wise choices but I am not the determiner of the end result. I must trust God through it.
Don’t live your life with false guilt -- it will slowly erode your life to a place of misery and no hope. Rather, set aside the false guilt trusting God with your life. As Tiffany challenged me in the last days of her life, “Hope in God.”