Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas 2013

It is often said, "God doesn't give you more than you can handle." I do not like this statement, nor do I agree with it. In God's own word, He says that His grace is sufficient for us, and His power is made perfect in our WEAKNESS (2 Corinthians 12:9). I believe that God does, in fact, give us more than we can handle. He doesn't want US to "handle" anything. Through His grace and power, He gives us the strength to persevere when our circumstances are unbearable. When faced with life situations that are really just too much, Christ draws us to Him to seek the strength to "handle" what is otherwise humanly impossible.

This Christmas has honestly been too much for me to "handle." The day came and went. What felt humanly unbearable for me, was survived. I literally existed through the day. Only a couple of days later, it really feels like a blur. Did I enjoy moments? Somewhat. Were there moments of happiness and the wonder that is experienced around children on Christmas day? Yes. However, I fought to keep my thoughts from drifting to the longing my heart felt to have Bunky here with me. Everything was a constant reminder to me of what was missing.
Cousins on Christmas morning- Ethan, Alea, Emma, Carson, Caylee, Colby, and Cooper
My boys with most of their cousins at Playtime Pizza
Me and my sister, Heather
Foosball tournaments at night with the family!
I was glad to be in Arkansas with family, yet, was ever so aware of the reason WHY I was actually there for Christmas and not at home. The boys enjoyed spending time with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It was a great distraction for them. Just what they needed. I was glad to see my family, but continually fought to stay in the moment of who was around me, rather than be bitter about who wasn't. I found joy sprinkled in with the loneliness I felt. God, no doubt, used my family to help me get through this holiday…to help me "handle" my reality. I am thankful for His grace. Without experiencing the deep valley that I am in, I would never experience the full measure of what He offers to sustain me. That really is a blessing, and I am choosing to believe that. Most of all, this Christmas brought an even greater awareness of the HOPE that started with a baby in a manger. Because God sent His only son to this earth as a baby to later die on a cross for me…I know the end result. This is not it. I rejoice that this is not my home and that one day I will be doing just what Bunky did this Christmas…celebrate Jesus' birthday with Jesus himself. What a party that will be!
Papa (my daddy) with Carson, Colby, and Paxton (cousin) at "Playtime Pizza" in Little Rock.
Cooper playing with his cousin, Emma
Uncle Craig, Nonny, Papa, Aunt Lauren and Ethan. Caylee and Abby Grace in front.
My prayer for 2014, and for every day, is that I will not ever attempt to "handle" anything on my own. Rather, that I would rest in His great love and provision for whatever each new day brings.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Wrapped in LOVE

My heart truly does overflow with gratefulness for how well we are loved. I still get cards in the mail regularly…sometimes from people I don't even really know, letting me know that we are thought of and prayed for. I have kept every email, every card and I treasure them. There is just something about written words that can penetrate the heart over and over, as they are read now and in the future. Never underestimate the power of taking a few minutes to write (or type) your thoughts to another. I truly cherish others encouraging words.

Another gift that I will always cherish, is one given to me by my small group (community group). Our family has been a part of this group together for over 6 years and truly value the dear relationships formed through it. It is refreshing to be authentic with others and share your vulnerabilities as individuals, as a couple, and as parents, without fear of judgment. It is a rare gift. The boys and I continue to be a part of that group. They walked with us through some of our hardest days when Cooper was diagnosed with cancer, and they continue to be a constant support to me and the boys with the loss of Bunky, along with so many others.

This group had some of Bunky's special t-shirts made into a quilt for me! I love this and can't put into words how much it means to me.

They also had quilts made for each of the boys with their daddy's t-shirts/ jerseys from teams of theirs he had coached. We will always cherish these special gifts. 

If you come by our house this winter (or anytime really), you will most likely find at least one of us wrapped up in our quilts. We all love them. The boys sleep with theirs and love to show them off and talk about the stories behind the different shirts. It just feels like it brings a little piece of him closer. We are blessed to be so "Wrapped in Love."

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas Letter 2013

Below is the letter I intended to send out with our Christmas cards. It was a little long, so I decided to post it here instead….
This was last Christmas Eve as the boys and their daddy "tracked" Santa on the computer. I love this!
Merry Christmas to you and your family!
On July 3, 2013, our world as we knew it came to a screeching halt. The most amazing husband, father, son, friend, coach, mentor...a 42 year-old man who was so many things to so many people... left this journey on earth and embraced his eternal home in Heaven. Not a day goes by that we don’t long to see him, hear his voice, or feel his presence in a tangible way. At the very core of our family, we feel broken, displaced, and incomplete. 

Grief is a strange thing. It seems that one minute life seems okay and at best...livable, but just under the surface, the reality that all you have known for years and all that you intended to know for years to come, has just been ripped away. The boys and I have moments of joy and laughter and love to talk about our favorite memories or “what do you think dad would say/do about that?” Even the moments of happiness, which sometimes feel fewer and farther between, are tainted and tempered with the pain of loss. 

Nothing can ever prepare someone for suddenly losing the love of their life. There are times I look at our boys and can hardly breathe, just imagining what I will face in the days and years to come, without having their dad here to share in it with me. What I do know, is that I believe in an Almighty God. One who was not caught off guard by this and the ONE who will slowly mend the broken pieces of the core of our family together again. He is near to the broken-hearted and will faithfully carry us when our legs just won’t take one more step. 

I also know that HE is the reason I have HOPE that this broken world is not the end. Because He sacrificed His ONLY son, Jesus Christ, our sins are forgiven, our debt has been paid, we have been redeemed. Nothing and no one can keep us from His love for us. Basically, this life is NOT it...not all we have to look forward to. There is nothing greater than knowing these truths and knowing that my man is basking in the glory of His Savior. I can’t wait to join him one day! I hope that this holiday season, the birth of Jesus, the VERY one whom my husband is now in the presence of, will be more real to you than ever before. I can think of nothing Rod Cook would love more, than to know his friends and family will be joining him at his party in Heaven one day. 

For all that has been done for us, well, it is honestly just overwhelming. I couldn’t possibly begin to sit down and thank every person for all the MANY ways you have cared for and blessed us. We have had strangers show up at our door with food, gifts, and money. The boys have had countless sleepovers, play dates, and rides to practices. The meals have ministered to me like you wouldn’t believe, as I have just felt weary, and unable to think through coming up with grocery lists to cook. The cards, phone calls, texts, emails, gift cards, interior and exterior house decorating and maintenance, helping with homework, house cleaning, yard maintenance, and the list could really go on forever! We have felt your prayers and continue to feel deeply loved in every way. It is truly a testimony to the kind of man Rod was. 

I cherish every second that I had with him. Bunky used to always talk about how what really mattered was the “dash” between his birth date and the date he would die. His life on this earth, which represented the “dash,” leaves a remarkable legacy and lasting impact on those whose lives he touched. Each of you have honored him well by the way you have supported us.... “Thank You”....just isn’t adequate, but please know my heart is overflowing with gratitude. 

The boys and I continue to go to therapy, as we process this great loss. Carson and Colby are both starting basketball and are doing well in school. Cooper is just enjoying being in Kindergarten and isn’t interested in team sports yet, although, he did mention the other day that he wanted to take “Ninja Guitar” lessons...not sure what that is? We had a wonderful pumpkin patch this year for The Cooper Trooper Foundation. I am so thankful for the many who stepped up and took such a load for me this year. Our sales were up 41% from last year. Rod Cook would be celebrating that one...and I feel certain he is! 

Finally, I just wanted to ask for continued prayers this year for some specific things:
Colby’s birthday (2/10)- Rod’s was 2/13 and they always celebrated together, so I know this year will be tough for Colby. Spring Baseball season (this will be hard for all of us, as he had a huge presence with spring baseball), Carson’s birthday (5/20), He went home to be with Jesus (7/3), Cooper’s birthday (7/28),  Anniversary (8/1), My birthday (9/6)

With hearts full of love and gratitude, 

Missy, Carson, Colby, and Cooper Cook

Monday, December 9, 2013


I sometimes think of my life before Bunky died and it seems like an eternity ago. Other times it feels so recent. So much so that I'm not even sure I really believe it has happened. People are so well-intentioned, and I was one of those people at various points in my life. Now that I am on a different side  of things, I wish I could take back things I said that I thought were the "right" thing. More importantly, I wish I would have not said anything at all sometimes…because sometimes, that really is the best thing in the moment.

I think one of the things I absolutely love the most, is when someone shares a story with me or the boys about something Bunky said or did. Funny. Sweet. Stupid. It doesn't matter. I just like hearing his name in a conversation and listening to others share their memories.

It seems a lot of people are afraid to do this…I would have been before. People are afraid they will upset me and then God forbid, I might get emotional and they don't know how to handle that. So, they just don't bring him up. For daily life...from the moment I wake up until I go to sleep (and even after I go to sleep), is a constant reality of the void that is now my world. I miss him. He was here one minute and gone the next. To hear about him from others, who have specific memories that I might not even know about, brings a little piece of him back to me for that moment. Might I get emotional? Possibly, but I have no expectations for anyone to do anything with that. I'm just grateful for a small moment to remember. It's like a salve that takes the sting out of an open wound…even if just for a moment. The pain is still there and I have no idea if or when that will ever really go away. All I know is that a little of the sting stopped for just a minute, as I found joy in remembering the man he was. So, please don't be afraid to tell me or the boys your stories. To remember is to honor.

An example of one of the stories that has just been a great reminder of how much fun Bunky was, is the story of "Netter" from Camp John Marc. He was a part of the first summer staff and told me about his time there on our very first date. I knew immediately how special this place was to him. He would tell the campers about an imaginary fish he named "Netter," which could not be caught and even broke the net. Chronically ill campers still enjoy trying to catch the big imaginary catfish. In fact, Camp Director, Vance Gilmore, sent the boys shirts he had made with Camp John Marc and Netter on them. The boys love hearing these stories and so do I. Please don't stop sharing them with us.