Thursday, August 15, 2013

                         Grief  part 1


Stephen Dodrill
Come October 31st my oldest son, Stephen, will be gone for four years.  There are hard things you do in life that when looked back on the pain is forgotten.  You remember it being hard, but the pain is gone.  I as remember each of my three births I know there was pain, but really can't recall any of it.  Which is the way God designed it or we'd stop having children after one birth.  However, the loss of my son is a pain deep in my soul that has not gone away after four years.

I am comforted by the fact that my son made a confession of faith a year before the accident.  I am comforted when Stephen's friends have told me conversations he had with them telling them that life would not make sense without God.  There are other stories of how Stephen would "rescue" them when they had a flat tire or needed a ride home after a party when they had been drinking too much.

I am comforted by the Bible when it tells me.....

1 Thessalonians 4:13 – Brothers we don’t want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep: or to grieve like the rest of men who have no hope.
2 Corinthians1:3-4 – What a wonderful God we have-He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of every mercy, and the one who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials.
Psalm 34:18 – The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. New Living Translation

However, the pain is still there.  It's like a cut that aches and won't stop or go away.  I've learned to live with the pain.  Yet there are times when I can see that whole day in my mind like I am watching from a spectator's view.  Some times I watch the replay because I can't stop it.  There are other times when I can choose not to replay it.  I used to sob when the replay would start like the day he died - to the point I would have to pull over if I was driving so as not to have an accident.  I don't cry hardly at all now about Stephen being gone and when I do it's just a few tears that spill over.

What  has God been teaching me these last four years?  That life is hard but God is good.  That Jesus weeps when I weep.  That God keeps my tears,

Psalm 56:8 

New Living Translation (NLT)
You keep track of all my sorrows.[a]
    You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
    You have recorded each one in your book.
I have become more gracious as I realize life is short and most stuff doesn't matter. I am God's child and that I don't have to do anything, beyond asking Him in my heart, to earn His love and favor.  Anymore that my kids have to earn my love and favor.....I just love them because they're mine.

I have begun reading the Bible daily.  It's been hard for me to figure out what to read over the years and so my devotions had been far and few between.  My husband, David, has been reading the Bible in a year for the last three years. Last year I found a small Bible in a year booklet, at a church where we were listening to a speaker, that I have been using.  I have been surprised that I've been keeping up with my readings most months.  I am learning a lot about God, His goodness towards me, and my faith is growing.

Hosea 13:14 -- I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues?  Where, O grave, is your destruction?

Friday, August 2, 2013

I was listening to the radio in my Jeep on the way to the day old bread store and had the radio blasting.  Well, it was at blasting volume when I got in the Jeep and since Lady Antebellum's song, I Need You Now, was on I left it there.  While rolling down our lane I started to remember how this song came on the radio when Emily, my sister, and I were cleaning out the barn garage just after Stephen, my 18 son, died.  This time I didn't cry.  I just enjoyed thinking about him.

Earlier in the day I tried to start the weed eater only to fail.......repeatedly.  Some times in the past 3 years that alone would reduce me to tears as Stephen would not be here to start it for me.  Instead, Stephen's friend, Hunter, was over doing some work around the place and he came over and started it for me. I was glad he was there.  It's nice to have Stephen's friends over working around here.  It's almost as good as having Stephen here.  Almost.

I have been so blessed that Stephen's friends will come over every now and then, even if it's to work.  However, every now and then I expect Stephen to come around the barn or pull up in the "Dirty Max".

When I hear a diesel truck coming down our lane I usually stop what I an doing and look up. Even after three and a half years I wait to see if it's him.  

I h
A few years ago while vacationing in Jacksonville, Florida, David and I had a debate about wether or not The Donut Shoppe had the best doughnuts.  I assured him that they did.  He was not as eager to agree.  
We decided to try doughnuts where ever we went to compare.  That fall David and I went to Nashville, TN for a close-to-home get away.  We started on our doughnut comparisons.  We went to two local doughnut shops.  I looked for them on a search engine and it came up with two and reviews of said doughnut shops.  Neither reviews were very hopeful.  Then we were off to eat a large variety of doughnuts similar to those at The Donut Shoppe.  Most of the doughnuts we did not finish as we were eating in the name of science.  Actually, at one shop is was easy not to finish as those doughnuts were pretty tasteless and left an oily taste in our mouths.  Our finding were that those doughnuts were not even close to tasting as good as The Donut Shoppe.

We also went to Indianapolis to compare doughnuts.  We hit one in Greenwood and one in Southport.  The one in Greenwood did not hold a candle to The Donut Shoppe.  The bakery in Southport, Long's Bakery, gave The Donut Shoppe a run for it's money.  As close second.  

So far my first bold statement that "The Donut Shoppe has the best doughnuts" still stands.  If you think you have some amazing doughnuts in your town, please share with the class.  I am always looking for a reason to go on a road trip!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Late May David and I headed down to Northern Georgia to hike a small section of the Appalachian Trail.  
We managed to stay on the trail for three whole days. We hiked about 30 miles.

 Despite the fact that the back pack I was using was too big did not slow me down.  I was determined to make it to Neel's Gap and procure a new one that actually fit and hike on to the NOC.  
The morning of day three David had what we thought was a bladder infection.  We made it over Blood Mountain, the highest point in Georgia on the AT, and headed into Blairsville to get David to a doctor.  Thankfully, Wally World had a Doc-in-a-box and David got right in.  Turns out he was dehydrated and had a bladder infection.  Over dinner we discussed taking a zero day, no hiking, and getting him rehydrated and a good two days of medicine in him before hiking on.  However David got a call after dinner that his cousin's husband had been killed in an auto accident that morning.  We decided to come home.  The funeral was going to be that Friday and as I have learned presence is a comfort to those who mourn as much as any words ever spoken.

Isaiah 25:8 
He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

May 10th, my son, Joshua, and I started hiking the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain. I was delighted to start there and not have to begin 8 miles south at Amicalola State Park where I was originally going to leave the car.   We took pictures at a beautiful spot with the Georgia mountains in the background.  Then we set off.  My pack was uncomfortable but brushed off the thought as I would have to get used to it as we hiked.  We passed by Springer Mountain Shelter and paused there to get a drink and rest a bit.  As we hiked on I noticed that the once white blazes, that tell you you are still on the AT, changed to light blue blazes.  What?  That's not right.  We stopped and I pulled out the maps and searched for any comments on blue blazes.  I could not find anything.  I looked at the map hoping to see my error but could not figure it out.  I knew something was wrong but could not figure it out.  Joshua did not seem alarmed by it and we hiked on.

As we hiked we passed a number of hikers along the way.  The weather was overcast and a cool breeze encouraged us along.  We were a bit worried about potential rain but didn't get any while we were hiking.  There were lots of little flowers along the hike, purple, white and yellow.  Spring is mostly done in Georgia so those flowers cheered us along.  We stopped for dinner about 5:30 and were glad to have the packs off our backs for an extended time.  Then we were off again.  We came down a series of steps to a road with a sign on one side and a creek with a sign on the other.  I was eager to see what the signs said.  The sign on our side of the road said "Approach Trail" and the sign on the other side showed where the trail led from the Appalachian Trail.  What?  How in the world did we hike back to the spot we had just driven to avoid?  I really wanted to cut that 8 miles out of our day. But no......

I called David and told him our tale.  I was so utterly discouraged.  I did not want to hike back the way we came.  Not because I was too proud but because I knew how hard that would be and how far we'd have to go just to get to Springer Mt. shelter.  I remembered that I had asked a ranger earlier in the day about a shuttle service to the start of the AT on top of Springer Mountain. He said he was able to do it at 5:30 but I had hoped to get on the AT before then.  He gave us a map with directions on how to get there and that there were indeed parking spaces.  As I remembered that conversation, I wondered if he was still there and if we could get a ride.  Joshua called as I was afraid I would end up crying on the phone. The ranger, Bob, could come and get us in 30 minutes and haul us back to Springer Mountain.

When the car pulled up, it was Ranger Bob.  I laughed inside.  It was good to see a familar face, even if I didn't know him.  We got in and told him our tale of how we got there.  Bob told us that it is easy to get turned around.  He reassured me that he had gone in a circle twice when he had been on the AT.  Bob also told me that my first instinct about the blue blazes was right.  The next time we should stop and go back to where I stopped seeing white blazes.  Good to know.

Joshua and I got out of Ranger Bob's Subaru and headed north on the AT.  We hoped to make it to the first shelter before dark.  It was only about 2 miles.  Did I mention it was all down hill? We hiked along thankful that we were going in the right direction.  We made it to the shelter at dusk.  Just enough light to pull out our sleeping bags, sleeping pads and food.  I figured out how to get our bear bag of food up in  the tree.  Thankfully, this shelter had ready made bear bag lines and Joshua and I managed to get our food hung just before the rain set in.  We got up in the loft of the shelter as the bottom had filled already.  There was one guy in the loft but there was plenty of room for us.

As we got settled Joshua discovered that he did not have his sleeping bag.  He said it was supposed to be in my back pack.  I don't remember that conversation but don't reject it happened as my memory isn't what it used to be.  It was going to be a long, cold night for Joshua.  Which meant it was going to be a long night for me too.  Joshua was fitful at best.  About an hour or two later, I gave him my sleeping bag and pulled on my base layers over my clothes. Laid my raincoat on top and my down jacket over my feet.  I did sleep off and on all night. Between being cold and sleeping on a very hard floor, I was glad when morning came.

While eating a breakfast of oatmeal, Joshua and I talked about the fact he had no sleeping bag and did not want to wait for at least two days of hiking to get one.  I agreed and we hiked back to our car, thankful only about 2 miles (not the eight miles I had hoped to be down the trail).  While hiking back I realized that I could not go on with this pack.  It felt worse than the day before.  The more I hiked the more I was convinced that it would have to change before I got back on the trail.

As we hiked Joshua and I discussed what to do once off the AT.  Did we: 1. go find a outdoors store and get him a sleeping bag and me a backpack that fit, 2. go to Asheville and find something fun, 3. go check out the school he'll be attending in the fall, 4. go home.  Joshua opted for number 4, go home.  I was saddened by his decision.  I was so wanting an adventure with just he and I.  After all, I had planned to be gone a week, did we really need to go home?  Joshua was done. So we got in the car and headed north.

On the way home I decided, just before we passed highway 404 in Nashville, TN that I would stop at the Publix grocery store and pick up a Mother's Day cake for me since the next day was Mother's day.  It almost made up for not getting to hike the Appalachian Trail.  Almost.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Years ago, when blogging was gaining popularity, I had no interest in reading anyone's blog.  It seemed to me that who ever was blogging was quite presumptuous to think I would want to read what they wrote.  My sister then challenged my thinking and started writing her own blog.  UGH!!!! I am going to have to eat my words!   When Emily began blogging, I only read her blog for a number of years.

            Here's Emily and I in Dubrovnik, Croatia 2013

 Her blog, in case you are interested, is  After my son, Stephen, died, Emily began blogging about her journey through her grief.  It was balm for my broken heart.  Emily gave my grief words when I had none.  Mind you, it was not in every blog but it was sprinkled over the three years. She was my voice.  I am ever grateful for her words.  I am not the writer in my family (of the Swift's), Emily is.  After I write this, I'll have my writer-husband, David Dodrill, edit my work as I am sure to leave out needed comas and words.  Emily has a degree from Florida State University in English.  My husband has a Masters in American History from the University of Florida with a published master thesis from Alabama Press.  David's book is called Selling The Dream, a book about the Gulf American Corporation and the land boom in Cape Coral, Florida and the company that changed the way selling land was done.

Over the last year Emily has had more on her plate and has had a hard time finding the time to blog.  This is where I come in.  She has shown me that blogging can be done only once a week.  What a relief!  I'm not sure I have much more to say than once a week anyway!  Frankly, my blog is more of a diary that is public.  Not sure why I need it out there for everyone, except that maybe it will get me writing and putting some thought into it.  No need to write in and tell me about my typo's or syntax as I am not good at grammar and tend to leave words out.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

While sitting in Starbucks today at "Coffee Therapy" (a topic for another day), Lance asked me what I am taking with me on my hike on the Appalachian Trail.  My reply was "as little as possible." I went on to mention to Lance that I had done some searching on the internet and had found little that actually helped due to my poorly-phrased search words.  It didn't really bother me that I hadn't gotten any good advice on what to take.  False sense of security?  Could be!

While taking my MacBook to get fixed, I began to think about my conversation with Lance and maybe I ought to take a chance that someone at JL Waters (outdoor equipment store) might know something.  It's a long shot as most of the knowledgable people don't work there anymore.  Bother!  But I felt nudged by God so I stopped anyway.  I parked on the square, having never seen so many parking spots at 11 AM, and walked to the cross walk.  I wondered if I should instead stop in The Tap and see if Matt was working today.  I wrestled around with that as I know they only sell beer and no food.  I do like some beers, but know it only takes a small amount of alcohol for me to need a driver.  So as I am having this conversation with myself, who comes into view?  Matt!

Matt used to work in JL Waters but now works three doors down.  My son, Stephen, used to go to JL Waters when Matt worked there and discuss outdoor gear.  Stephen got a lot of stuff there.  A lot of great stuff with Matt's help and my credit card.  And I'll be using some of it on this hike.  Matt is standing in front of The Tap because he is waiting to get let in to work.  I am so excited because now I get to talk to Matt and not have to buy beer or bother him while he is at work.  He tells me he has helped a lot of people get ready for hiking the AT.  Yeah, me!!!!  All that to say, we are getting together this Friday to discuss and plan for the hike Joshua and I will do for two weeks, and then the one week David and I will hike.

I tell you all this because I have felt that God has been teaching me to listen to His still small voice.  As of the last month or two, I have been working on asking God questions during the day and straining to hear Him.  Example: I was heading home and about to pass Wally World when I wondered if I needed to stop and get anything before I passed by.  I couldn't think of a thing, but I felt I needed to go anyway.  Not long after having gotten my buggy (sorry, I'm from the South and that's what we call it) and heading past the Veggies, I ran into one of Stephen's friend's grandma.  We stop and chat and she tells me how much my Facebook post, after a funeral I attended, meant to her two grandsons.  And how much my son, Stephen, is still having an impact on those guys.  I told her how proud and honored I am to know those guys who were not afraid to walk alongside me when Stephen died.  As an adult, I have had a hard time knowing what to say or when to say it.  I even thought it didn't matter if I even showed up at that funeral.  But this group of young men, Stephen's friends, are not afraid.  These young men ask how I am doing when we meet, give me hugs, tell me stories of things they did with Stephen, and that they miss him.

I don't remember what I bought at Wally World that day.  I think I was supposed to go in to "run into" Debbie.  I hope it was to encourage her.  I know I was encouraged.  I know I ran into Matt today because I was listening to God after I asked the question about stopping at JL Waters.  I am starting to trust that still small voice more and more.  More of you Lord, less of me.  
He must become greater; I must become less."  John 3:30