O Death, Where is your sting?

Today is my Uncle Steven Carl Hicks’ first heavenly birthday. He entered eternal rest Aug.28, 2021.

Today in church we sang these words from an opening song
“Christ is risen from the dead
We are one with Him again
Come awake, come awake!
Come and rise up from the grave
Oh death! Where is your sting?
Oh hell! Where is your victory?”

As I sang tears streamed down my face as I both grieved my Uncle’s death and rejoiced in the truth of this song. In these tears I had simultaneously much needed pent up grief released and yes also joy.

Later during the service we sang the hymn, “Come Thou Fount”

The tears constantly flowed as I sang the words of this hymn we sang at my Grandma Arlene’s memorial. You see it was at this very memorial Unc stood up before his family and proclaimed fervently the truth that is proclaimed in that hymn. He knew this truth. It transformed him. His life changed dramatically and he yearned for all of his family to have this same hope and joy.

So today it felt as if Uncle Stevie, and Grandma (Memaw) , my two faith giants were smiling from heaven while I sang out through tears and sometimes choked through this resounding truth:

“Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

Oh, that day when freed from sinning
I shall see Thy lovely face
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace

Come my Lord, no longer tarry
Take my ransomed soul away
Send Thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless days

Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
Let Thy goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, oh take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above
Here’s my heart
Oh take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above”

And as if God through His tender, comforting Holy Spirit reached into the recesses of my grieving heart and said, “I know it hurts sweet Shelly and I am here.”


Waiting rooms are never my favorite. I have spent many times in waiting rooms for various reasons. The most profound memories in waiting rooms were for major medical issues with loved ones. Thankfully this time I am only waiting for a my daughter to have a minor diagnostic procedure. She was brave getting her IV. She is not a fan of hospitals and even stated her fear of needles. So I am proud of her.

The nurses are phenomenal as always and as God would have it our nurse Kristen today is not only awesome at starting IVs while calming Kyra with conversation whe learned she knows and is friends with a few of our Legacy people and her church meets at Legacy.

Legacy is the Christian school my daughter has attended since kindergarten and my husband teaches history there.

So as I sit in this waiting room and I entrust my daughter to the hands of healthcare colleagues. I feel almost helpless. I am reminded I am not trusting then alone our Lord is there with her even when I cannot be. A valuable lesson to recall in this season of life for our girl.

We are doing the test to find answers to a collection of vague synptoms ongoing since 2018 but worsening in the past year or so. The blood work is fine, bu our daughter does not feel fine. So we are thankful all the major stuff so far has checked out but we pray for answers so she can feel overall healthy again. Currently this work up includes POTS (postural Orthostatic Tachycardia syndrome) as a possible diagnosis. There are so many variables and this is one of a few tests. But for now I pray and wait…

I am thankful for an unusually quick appointment with the Cardiac Electrophysiologist. I am thankful for a pretty quick appointment to have this TILT test. I am thankful for a kind and very competent nurse thay also happens to know some of our favorite lovely people.

Seeing the glimpses of the Great Conductor as the symphony unfolds instills peace as we pray and wait for answers.

Flood of Memories

Memories come in flashes and snapshots

And then sometimes they flood on parade

Tears come just the same

And though my mind still grapples with all the pieces

Still replays events of that day

Yet peace envelops my soul

Because it knows you’re home

Restored and at peace in the Savior’s arms

Dad, Ted, Kyra, and I went to Dallas to watch my nephew play ball. Dad loved baseball- as a player and spectator

We still have much to do. Clearing out the house will be hard. Other steps are necessary before we get to that point. And I dread it, but I am busy enough professionally to push that to the back of my mind. I am sure when the time comes for this next hard task, just like all the ones before since you had the stroke, our loving Abba Father will carry us through one step at a time.

I miss you Daddy, but I do not miss the challenges a failing earthly body subjected you to, thus I truly rejoice that you are free. I wish I would have been there that Saturday before you left us. Though I was with you at the hospital until your last breath.

I am glad our last day together you did talk more and sleep less. We watched High Chaparral and talked about visiting Tombstone,AZ and Doc Holliday. You did so great with your therapy that day. I even stayed longer than usual. I am thankful for that day. I am even glad at the time I didn’t know it would be the last, but I am thankful for every single moment.

I know when I say last it isn’t truly the very last, but merely the last on this side of the veil. Next time, in glory. Rest in our Holy Father’s peace, grace, and glory. This very same peace and grace sustains us until we are with Him and you in glory.

See you in a little while, Daddy

Desert Songs

Several years ago when I returned to work after a brief hiatus to be with my family after my dear, beloved stepmomom passed from cancer I walked into my boss’ office and said “Cancer sucks, God is good.” He said “thank you.”

Too many times he only heard fairweather rejoicing when things were good. My friends right now there is a global uncertainty, but God is good. He is not only our way through the desert, but he is what sustains us in it. And if we abide in Him we too can find songs in the night. Even though all around us seems dry we can find true peace and still rejoice!

For those of you in your desert moments, I am praying for you. Know you are loved.
#songsinthenight #peaceinthevalley #pillaroffireandclouds #desertsong #dailybread #rejoice #Heisstronginmyweakness #neverforsaken #Heiswithusalway #peacebeyondcircumstances

Songs in the Night

This year, this day, this moment: God is working. His light is shining in whatever darkness encroaches our lives and this world. In the midst of pandemic, illness, economic uncertainty, political unrest ,
divisiveness, discouragement, and yes even despair. If one looks for it there is a light that shines through. The light is brighter than we ourselves can perceive because of our position from it. It only takes a flicker of light to defeat darkness. My prayer for you all is despite whatever personal challenges or worldly upheaval is threatening to extinguish your light that you may know the Light of the World is eternal and has defeated the darkness. In the midst of health issues, hospitalizations, and other calamities there is also reconciliation, answered prayers, mercy triumphing over hardened hearts, healing (both likely and unlikely), provision, and a peace that goes beyond all circumstances. May you know the Light and may this HOPE sustain you even in what seems to be your darkest night.

Long lost friend

When the streets are wet, and the skies are grey

And the drip drop rhythm of the soft falling rain

Plays a sweet melody, like an old welcome friend

Then my mind settles and heart stirs again

It has been fenced off in survival mode since summer appeared in fiery force

Makes it easier to push forward through jagged climbs and marathon treks

When you stay shallow or seem detached

Not unfeeling or calloused just a means to cope

Pushing forward each step fueled only by hope

And here in an intermission from the toil

A sweet shower from the skies dares my heart to engage my mind

She looks back and sighs in gratitude and awe

We have made it this far , what a long road it has been

Knowing all too well to enjoy this smooth patch because around the bend there are likely to be more treacherous climbs

But we are not there yet

We are here

In this moment

With peaceful grey skies

And rhythmic soothing rain

Cooling off the boiling pavement

Calming my overactive brain

Oh sweet rain do not forget to fall

Soft and steady, not too fast to flood

just enough to cool and refresh a thirsty ground

How sweet the sound of drip drop rain

Washing the weariness down the drain

Refreshed and ready to take to the hills again

A beautiful interlude

Composed Saturday June 13 in my Dad’s hospital room as I sat at his bedside.

Everything fell to pieces when my eyes met yours in that hospital gown….

Joy Invincible, Switchfoot

My cousin died last week. Today we will have a memorial for him. I woke up a week ago to a phone call to learn of the tragic accident. He was only 36. He was deaf. The world was challenging for him. His parents did everything they could to help overcome the obstacles that is impairment caused. Most importantly he was and is given unconditional love.

Today we will celebrate Brandon’s life as we navigate the rough waters of grief.

I am writing in a hospital right now. My dad is the patient. He had a stroke yesterday. He was supposed to be riding with one of his sisters to his nephew’s memorial.

Dad had a spell last Friday. He is insulin dependent diabetic and thought it was related to that. His sister who lives out of state is in town visiting him. She felt it may have been a ministroke. Dad was not sure but he refused to be driven to hospital or to allow EMS to be called. He recovered the next day so he really thought it was his blood sugar. We know now that was not the case. His spell happened the same day of Brandon’s accident.

After work yesterday my brother and I decided to head to the beach with our children. His youngest had never been to the beach. It has been a long emotional week and we anticipated that today would be even more so. So we loaded up and took an impromptu trip to the beach. We decided taking the kids to do something fun would provide a much needed moment of joy. We hoped it would help renew us as we braced for the next day.

On the way to the beach another call came in notifying me that my dad had collapsed at home and had left side weakness. He was taken to ER. The events unfolding would reveal what I as Family Nurse Practitioner knew to be true , Dad indeed had a stroke. We were almost at the beach. Dad had his sister with him. We were trying to decide to continue or turn around. We drove on as there was much undetermined that would take time. It was late afternoon almost evening and we were not far from our destination.

The remainder of the trip would include calls and texts to siblings and other family members. We learned Dad would be transferred to the closest stroke center hospital and we were waiting on that. We also learned once he arrived, due to COVID, visiting hours would already have passed and despite the situation we could not see him until the following morning at 6 am. We approached the sea wall and let the kids unload. I looked out upon the ocean and cried out to the Maker of this vast expanse of sea. “Lord, help Daddy!” “Lord, help us!”

Galveston Beach- Seawall

We had calls and texts back and forth. I had to tell my husband who was home and did not join the trip because he had a work deadline. After discussing everything he said, ” I know it is hard, Shelly, but try to enjoy the beach.” I had been wanting to go to the beach for a while. My niece, Lindsay had never been and despite all the unfolding events her childlike joy and optimism could not be contained as she had her first experience with standing in the ocean waves holding her daddy’s hands. “EPIC!” she exclaimed. Yes indeed the ocean is epic because its maker is amazing.

My daughter found her epic moment by sitting on her towel and pulling out her guitar. As she listened to the ocean waves she strummed and sang. I realized she was okay. The nephews were with their dad. My niece was building her very first sand castle and her mom was nearby watching her and calling the nurse at the hospital. I walked into the ocean.

I let the waves crash into my body. All of the chaos, the fears, the pain, the grief, the worries, I stood there until the sound of the waves and feel of the wind and smell of the salt forced them to all to be muted. Anytime I visit the ocean the song Saltwater Heart by Switfchoot always plays in my mind. So in that moment of solitude standing in the ocean after my initial cry to God, my mind played……

When I’m on your shore again

I can feel the ocean

I can feel your open arms

That pure emotion

I’m finally free again

Like my own explosion

When I’m on your shore again

I can feel the ocean

– Saltwater Heart, Switchfoot

As I was standing there consumed by the waves and the song in my mental juke box my brother Louis came near. I shared with him I always think of that song anytime I am at the ocean. Louis smiled. He is the one that turned me on to Switchfoot’s music and I knew he “got it.” He moved deeper into the ocean with his eldest as I stood relatively alone again. I prayed and then I resigned myself to this summation, ‘Okay Abba, help my Daddy.’

We finished the day with some joyful moments of sand castles, wave jumping, listening to my daughter play guitar and just standing in the ocean and letting the waves wash over us. It was tranquil. It was joyful. It was a beautiful interlude that the Maker of this ocean and our souls knew we would need.

Now I look at my Daddy here in this hospital gown. Unable to use part of his body due to the stroke with much uncertain in the future. In a few moments I will drive to the funeral home where my brother, Louis who is a pastor and is officiating the service will try to offer words of comfort and peace as we memorialize my cousin, Brandon.

Hallelujah nevertheless, was the song the pain couldn’t destroy

Hallelujah nevertheless, You’re my joy invincible

Joy invincible, joy

Tears were in my eyes when the phone rings

If only life didn’t need us to be this brave

But we don’t live in the world of if only’s

Stretched tight in between our birth and our graves

Hallelujah nevertheless

Joy Invincible, Switchfoot