Our lives were forever changed the day we lost Corey. He was an amazing man who loved the Lord and his family with all that he was. The pain of losing him is like no other. Our only comfort comes from knowing we will see him again someday.

I have moved the slideshow played at Corey's service to it's own post page above, titled "Corey's Memorial Service - August 10, 2010"

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Corey's Memorial Service - Tuesday, August 10, 2010

     I'm excited to share that I have the video of Corey's Memorial Service uploaded to youtube! I was hoping this would be possible for those who weren't able to make it and were interested in viewing it. I am so thankful to have this video. That day was a bit of a blur for me and watching it later allowed me to notice things I didn't the first time around. Corey's service was a lengthy 90 minutes and in order to put it on youtube it had to be broken up into 11 segments. Thanks for doing this Tris!
You can follow this link to pull all of them up:   http://www.youtube.com/user/corjilly
Here's the first segment to get you started.
Don't forget: If you choose to view this here, be sure to scroll down and push pause on the music player otherwise you'll be hearing both the video and songs at the same time. 

     I've mentioned before that planning this event felt much like planning my wedding (except for sorrow instead of excitement) with the added challenge of having only a few days to get it all done...there were SO many details! In addition to creating a service that would honor Corey's memory and life, I wanted it to bring glory to God. I wanted it to be an experience for people that brought them comfort and peace following the tragedy of Corey's death.  I wanted people to leave having heard the message that God is good and worthy of our praise no matter what the circumstances. Singing praises to God was a big part of our time.
     As I said, there were so many details and decisions to make; what songs to sing, what verses to have read, who would give a eulogy, and so on and so forth. God gave me confidence in making these decisions as I leaned on Him. I just kept hearing myself say, God will tell me what I'm supposed to choose (for all the decisions).
     I'd like to share some of the amazing ways God spoke to me as he helped me put together a Memorial service for Corey that would be a moving tribute to his life.
     I'll share just one for right now and more in future posts. At the beginning of the service we had a slide show playing of pictures of Corey and the girls and I. My friend Stacy had put it together and she needed to know what songs I wanted playing as the background music. I found one song by looking through Corey's drumming notebook from when he played drums during worship at the Journey Church. I picked a song that I remembered Corey really enjoyed playing. I felt "stuck" trying to come up with another song (the length of the slide show required 2 songs). I knew God would give it to me. I went to lie down for a rest the Saturday afternoon following Corey's death. In the midst of all the planning (and hardly any sleep) I was exhausted. Once again, I couldn't sleep...too many details flying around in my head...it was a whirlwind. Stacy was out in my living room while I rested. I had given her Corey's MP3 player to try to see if she could find a song that he might have liked that would work with the slide show. As I was lying in bed she was listening to his tunes (I had no idea). Like I said, I couldn't sleep. All of a sudden it came to me...U2...a U2 song would be perfect. Corey and I had gone to see them in concert less than a year earlier. We used to listen to their music all the time together back when we were teenagers dating in high school. I thought for another minute and their song "All I want is You" came to mind. I was so excited that I had my answer that I wanted to tell Stacy right away. Plus, she needed to know sooner than later so she could finish putting it all together. I went out into the living room where she was standing and said, "I've got the song..." and we both in unison said "U2". She at that same moment was listening to one of U2s songs on Corey's MP3 player. I proceeded to tell her the specific song I was thinking of by the band. I'm not sure about Stacy but I got goosebumps in that moment. I know you naysayers are thinking that was just a "coincidence," right? Well, over the course of the few days following Corey's death, there were too many similar situations such as that one (from which funeral home to use to where to lay Corey to rest) to simply chalk them all up as mere "coincidences." God continued to lead me as I moved ahead with all the rest of the decisions, and I was grateful yet again for his faithfulness.
     More to come...stay tuned :)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Clinging to God...clinging to hope-Part 1

     I had the unique opportunity to be a part of a discussion panel at a MOPS (Mothers of preschoolers) meeting last Wednesday. The topic was depression, and myself and 2 good friends were asked to share our own personal experience with the illness. I shared briefly about my own struggle with depression since college and what that has looked like for me. As I was the only person on the panel who has had a spouse with depression, I went on to spend the majority of my time sharing about Corey's battle with the illness and what brought him to his place of desperation. 
     I had talked with a friend a couple of days before the meeting because I was struggling with knowing what to share, how much to share and how to leave people with hope after hearing about how Corey had lost site of hope for his own life. I didn't want anyone to hear our story, and, God forbid, be in a similar place of desperation and think that suicide was the solution for Corey and therefore might be the solution for them. Corey is free from all suffering now and, better yet, in Heaven. That sounds like a pretty good solution, but how could I express that it certainly wasn't the right one. Below, is a letter I wrote to Corey. I am sharing it so that people will see the ramifications in the aftermath of a suicide. If you are ever in the position of helping someone who is suicidal to see another way out, or if, God forbid, you yourself are ever considering suicide, it is my hope that these words will stay with you. Your loved ones' lives will not be better without you! I really think Corey had convinced himself that the girls and I would be better off without him. It certainly was not the truth.
     I will tell you that it was an emotional but healing process preparing this material. I did a lot of crying. That said, some of this might be hard to read. I also want to stress that I did not write this letter out of anger or bitterness towards Corey, but out of my love for him. 

     I wish that in the hours and days before your death you could have seen into the future to know fully the gravity of your decision and what the reality of your death would look like in our lives. 
     I wish you could have seen that life without you would not be better. Yes, your depression brought many challenges into our lives but the girls and I are facing many challenges now in the aftermath of your death…they’re just different ones.
     I wish you could have known the grief your daughters would have to come to terms with. I wish you could have known the dread I would feel in having to share the news with them that you had died and then see our oldest daughter sob uncontrollably in response. I wish you could have seen all the tears they would shed over your decision to leave us. No more Daddy to play horsey with on the carpet. No more Daddy to cover them with kisses at bedtime.  
     I wish you could have known how lonely my days and nights as a single parent would get. How much I would miss having my partner and confidant. A widow and single mom at age 34 was never what I dreamed about as a young girl, and it was never what I wanted for our daughters. Life in this fallen world can be so cruel.  
     I wish you could have known how many others in your life would miss you too. Your parents and brother, your extended family, your friends and co-workers. They miss your smile, your humor, and your kindness and compassion toward them, amongst many other things.
     I wish you could have known just how many people it would take to help the girls and I recover from losing you. Three therapists, 5 pastors, the prayer support of more than a few church communities, and too many friends to count. All these individuals combined cannot replace the value of you in our lives. I wish you could have realized that this side of heaven we will never fully heal from losing you.
      I wish you could have seen that your life had value – to God and to your family. That even in your darkest places and deepest valleys you mattered to us.
      I am thankful I had the chance to tell you minutes before you died that the girls and I would be devastated without you. That was the truth. I only wish you could have seen the impact that losing you would have on us and just how important you were in our lives. Maybe this reality would have helped you choose a different path; however, I know that in your illness your thoughts were not your own. I have no anger towards you, just sadness that you weren’t able to grab hold of the truth.  
     I pray that your story, that our story, will bring life to others; that through our tragedy and loss, others will hear a message of hope and know that God’s love is deeper than any valley they might find themselves in.  
 Suicide has been described as a permanent solution to a temporary problem.  I know Corey’s life had great value both to God and to all of those who loved him.  His decision to end his life was not the right solution.  Corey may have lost sight of hope but that does not mean that there was no hope to be found.  We will never know how God might have otherwise lifted Corey from his valley. I’m certain that Corey’s decision broke not only our hearts but God’s heart as well. 
     I closed with an exert from the book A Path Through Suffering, by Elisabeth Elliot: 
He [God] wants to transform every human suffering into something glorious. He can redeem it. He can bring life out of death. Every event of our lives provides opportunity to learn the deepest lesson anyone can learn on earth, "My present life is not that of the old 'I,' but the living Christ within me" (Galatians 2:20, JBP). When our souls lie barren in a winter which seems hopeless and endless, God has not abandoned us. His work goes on. He asks our acceptance of the painful process and our trust that He will indeed give resurrection life. 
           "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" ~ Jesus, John 10:10

Clinging to God...clinging to hope-Part 2

     As part of the MOPS panel discussion on depression, all of us who shared put together a handout with information on the topic. Below are suggestions I shared on how to help a loved one who is struggling with this illness. I'm certainly no 'expert' on this subject. I was not a perfect wife, that's for sure. All I could do was my best and ask God for lots of help. Some of these suggestions are, therefore, things that in hindsight I wish I had done (or done more of). Above all, I've learned that I couldn't save Corey; only God could have done that.

Suggestions for helping a loved one who is struggling with depression:
·         Recognize that it is not your responsibility to fix the person
·         Pray for your loved one and get prayer support from others for you and your loved one. It is important to be cautious with the who (who to tell as well as how many people to share with) and how much to share about the situation. You don’t want your loved one losing their trust in your relationship.
·         Be persistent in letting the depressed individual know you care about how they are doing. Give them opportunities to share not just their struggles but whatever is important to them and be available to listen without judging their thoughts and feelings. It can be extremely hard for the depressed to open up.
·         Encourage activity/exercise but don’t heap guilt on the person if they are non-participatory.
·         Offer ideas while being careful not to “parent” the individual (particularly if the depressed is your husband). Don’t mother him. Help him keep his dignity as he tries to find solutions for himself (with your help of course).  Remember, what works for one person might not be effective for someone else. 
·         Be your husband’s help meet particularly by being his biggest supporter (this doesn’t mean enabling bad behavior).
·         Encourage the depressed that it is okay to share their struggles with others they feel they can trust. This can give others the opportunity to help in ways you might not be able to.
·         Get support for yourself. Sharing daily life with someone who is suffering from depression can be very challenging. Getting support early on can help prevent the situation from worsening. 

A song

I had wanted to share the following song with my last post titled, Many thanks...But, the song isn't available on playlist.com   Here it is through youtube:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Many thanks!

      I am so happy spring is on its way. Along with the somewhat warmer temps comes the melting. I needed help getting my sump pump up and running last weekend. I mentioned to my friend Kathy over the phone  last Sunday evening that I wasn't sure what I was going to do to remedy the situation and we were in the midst of getting heavy rains. I was worried. An hour later she showed up at my house (as is usual for Sunday evenings) but she wasn't alone.  She had brought a friend from church who was ready to lend a hand to get my pump working. With a few adjustments he was able to get it functioning within 15 minutes! I was SO relieved and knew I would be able to sleep well that night not having to fear the torrents of rain coming in the basement while I slept. Thank you Lee!! This was yet another one of those situations where I tried to figure things out myself but the las few pieces of the puzzle just weren't fitting together right.  In talking with Lee about the pump's setup we were able to determine that there was an unnecessary part attached (2 check valves instead of just one, in case you're really interested ;)) and without the extra part, everything fit together perfectly. And then, since I had someone handy in the house, I asked Lee to take a look at my dryer vent. The dryer hose was continually coming off the back of the machine so the hot air was blowing into the insulation on the wall.  I had tried to tighten the screw to the clamp that was around the opening but it just kept coming off. He explained that because of the temperature changes to the metal connector piece, the resulting expansion and contracting was causing it to keep coming off. It made perfect sense. I hadn't thought of that! I know, I sound a little too excited about these projects, right? Generators, sump pumps, dryer vents...what next? I can feel myself getting smarter...I must be growing new brain cells through this process!  :)
     Then I got a call last week from Doug who works with the youth group at church. He told me they were going to be doing some service projects on Friday and wanted to know if I needed help with anything. It took me a bit to figure out what I could have a group of teens work on. Taking help means being organized in order to coordinate a number of people and that takes time and planning.  I managed to put together a list thinking that I might not have enough to keep them busy for the 4 hours. Boy was I wrong!  The night went awesomely well. There were 5 teens and 2 adults (Ron and Mitch- you guys are handy!). All in all they got a ton done and far exceeded my expectations! They got one of my cars vacuumed out and wiped down since I was going to be trading it at the dealer's the next day. I have this awful habit of saving boxes from things we buy and things we've had shipped to us. My box hoarding was out of control until they stepped in and broke down probably at least 30 boxes. They almost filled the back of a pickup truck with these. I had them take some electronics away as well...a TV, broken air conditioner and various computer pieces. This purging felt SO good! Then, in preparation for construction to finish the upstairs, I had them work on moving a bunch of items that were up on the second floor (it's like attic space currently) down to the basement.  They probably moved 2/3rds of what was up there down 2 flights of stairs. One of the teens cleaned and organized Corey's work bench which was pretty out of order (mostly from me not putting things away since he died). Let's see...am I forgetting anything? Mitch had brought his tool belt with him and must have been itching to do some hammering because he got busy fixing one of the doors in the basement that wouldn't close right. They found things to do that weren't even on my list! Great job guys! You're welcome back any time ;))
     I also have been meaning to put a thank you out there to an anonymous someone who paid for 3 weeks of babysitting for me. I have a fabulous sitter, Hannah, who comes over every Thursday evening for a few hours so I can have a break and get out of the house and not have to do bedtime. I look forward to this time each week and so was pleasantly surprised when Hannah told me that someone had already paid her for the next few weeks! That was a cool blessing!
     I certainly have no shortage of things to be thankful for. I can't say enough good things about my church family. They are absolutely amazing. I have never known a church to have such a heart for people in need, and their compassion extends out into the community on such a consistent basis. I don't think there has been a time when I have said hello in a quick exchange with Pastor Bernie and he hasn't asked me how everything is going and is there anything I need? I feel very loved and am so appreciative! The funeral director for Corey's service and burial made the comment that he works with a lot of churches in the area and has been very impressed with all that goes on at Grace. He likened the people at Grace to ants working away busily. I have been blessed to be a recipient of this church's love in action!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

More Texas pics!

Here are some more pictures of our visit to the Dallas Aquarium and Zoo. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!

I wanted to share some pics of our fun times in Texas last week. Two of our exciting adventures included the Dallas Children's Aquarium and the Dallas Zoo.

     On Monday (2/21) Richard and Cindy took the girls to a Children's Aquarium in downtown Dallas. I was feeling under the weather and spent much of the day recovering from our travel the day prior. Upon their return the girls shared stories of getting to pet sting rays and handling crabs. Apparently on command from a trainer the sting rays raised their flippers and splashed the crowd! Richard tried to feed one. Because their mouths are on the underside of their bodies they cannot see what they are eating. Apparently their mouth is like a vacuum and along with the sting ray food Richard's finger was pulled up into its mouth. Despite feeling the sting ray's teeth, he did manage to come home with all 10 fingers intact :)
     On Tuesday (2/22) we all went to the Dallas Zoo. Corey and I had actually visited this zoo years back before we had the girls. Much of it seemed the same except for a new "Giants of the Savanna" exhibit. Abi and Ali were really excited about taking the train/subway to get there. Out of all the animals I think the highlight was seeing the giraffes. The exhibit allowed you to get at just about eye level with the lanky animals, as their grazing area was about 12 feet below the viewing area. We were able to feed them some grass, and I was even able to pet one of them on the nose. Man do they have long tongues!

The zoo also had many pewter statues of different animals that the girls had fun climbing on. They made for some great photo ops.

More pics to come...I'm working on uploading some now to my Picasa web albums...it's taking a little while...