The dynamic of our family is one that is very unique. I mentioned earlier that my mom’s dream was to have a real family, a family that truly loved each other and wanted to be together. With determination, faith and love, she and my dad made this dream not only come true, they made it explode. They not only sacrificed to make life the best it could be for us, but they were so intentional, making every moment fun and joyful, no matter what it was.
I remember our first trip to Disney World like it was yesterday. It’s not even Disney World that we look back on together, it’s the car trip on the way there. My mom had a suburban at the time and both my parents knew it was going to be a long trip to take with five children. Back then, TV screens and movie players were very rare in cars, so my dad took a small TV with a built in VCR from our house and strapped it to the console in my mom’s suburban. We folded down all the seats, laid out sleeping bags and blankets, and watched movies and played games the whole way there. We constantly look back on this trip and just laugh because we had so much fun. It’s something so simple, but a memory that we will all cherish forever, as with SO many others.
With the love and strength of the Lord, Mom and Dad did this, they built this family, one that loves each other, that wants to spend time together, and who’s bond brings a strength that we never even knew we had.
I am one of five children. I have two brothers and two sisters, and I am the second child. I am married to my wonderful husband, Russ, and we have two little girls, Leighton and Everley. My brother, Micah, is the oldest and is married to his amazing, beautiful wife, Tiffany. They have two boys, Jackson and Mason. My brother, Hunter is after me, and runs his own business, “Junk Boss.” My sister, Colbie, is married to her husband, Pope, and they have a sweet little boy, Little Pope. My youngest sister Blakeley is in her junior year of college at the University of Oklahoma. My dad runs his own contracting business, but his main job is loving his family.
Every one of us is very unique, but we share so much, and each person brings in their own strength that lifts the others in their weaknesses. Our mom always made each of us feel special through encouraging those strengths and allowing us to thrive in them in our own lives and together as a family. From the letters in books, to notes on our napkins in our lunches, to cards just written to tell us she loved us and how special we were, and just her words and actions alone, showed the amazing love and dedication she had for her family. She enjoyed time with her family more than anything, and she always made it a priority.
(the "girls" in Florida; mama, Colbie, Blakeley, me, Tiffany)
This spirit that she had, brought us all to the place we are at today. We are each other’s best friends, and this has allowed us to have so much strength and encouragement during this time of grieving and healing. This bond has helped us to continue the traditions and legacy that my mom has left, and we are able to honor her through carrying them out with each other and in our own individual families.
Every one of us has dealt with our grief differently, but we have always, and continue to support each other through it all. We have also found support through close family friends that have reached out, and most definitely in our faith. There are many benefits to having a large, close knit family, especially in times like this.
Every one of us has found encouragement and hope in the love of our siblings and father. When one of us is down and grief stricken, the others help lift that person back up. Everyone feels something different at every moment, so there is always support no matter where we are in our journey.
The support of family friends has been important as well. Our Godparents, Rick and Jenny Dunning, have been there every step of the way since the very beginning. They have been my parents’ closest friends since junior high school. Jenny has been so strong for us since my mom’s accident happened. She and Rick have been there to pick up all the pieces that go along with this, when we just couldn’t handle them anymore.
(mama's wedding day with her best friend & my Godmother, Jenny)
There was one day when my sisters and I had to pick out a dress for my mom for the viewing. It was only a few days after the accident, and we had so many emotions running through us. We stood in her closet and looked around at all of her beautiful, sweet clothes. Her closet smelled like her and everything we looked at, we could envision a time when she wore it. It was too much. All three of us just melted to the point of uncontrollable sadness and anger. Jenny came in the room and just wrapped her arms around all of us. She was so close to mom, her hugs felt like mom’s hugs. We just sat in her arms and cried and she cried with us. That support is something that can’t be replaced, that we will always remember, and it still continues.
The love of family, friends, and of course, our sweet Lord is something that is crucial in these times, and all times. I look at the family that we have, that my mom and dad built, and the community of friends that they have brought into our lives, and the faith they have instilled in each of us, and I am so incredibly thankful and in awe of what the Lord has given us. When something like this happens, you realize just how powerful your faith can be, because all you can do is trust and depend on God, hoping in the fact that His plan is good, and always better than our own.
Our mom's accident was something so sudden and horrible, we all just couldn’t understand the grief and the loss. It was and still is sometimes, completely incomprehensible. I remember shortly after I found out, Russ and I called my mom’s friend and Bible Study teacher, Cathy Jo. She is a long time family friend, who teaches Bible studies all throughout Oklahoma City and who helps a lot of people through these times. She is a very wise woman of the Lord. When we called her, she was with my family, but she prayed with Russ and I over the phone, and then she told me something that I still use today. She said, “For the next year, you will only look at and take the next step. You will not look any further. Looking ahead is too hard.” This statement has so much truth in it. If I look ahead, I begin to feel anxious about what it will be like without mom. The feelings of sadness take over and I don’t see the beauty that could come from what lies ahead. But, if I just take the steps as they come, I can deal with them, and often times, even through the pain of mom’s physical absence, I can see the hope that God has placed in front of me and my family. I can see the signs that He is there, and my mom is right there with Him.
(my mom's Bible study group)
Many of us have sought outside counseling to help us understand and process our grief. My husband and I began our counseling through The Renewing Life Center in October. Counseling has allowed each of us to process the feelings we are having and to understand that whatever we are feeling is ok and that those emotions need to come out. It is all a part of the process. The emotions that are felt throughout the grieving process are all over the place. There are moments where I feel ok, and then there are moments of complete sadness, anger, numbness, fogginess, and total exhaustion.
Every day and every hour is different. It is so easy to want to shut these emotions off, to deflect them when they arise. I want to create distraction from them. I have learned that, although it is difficult sometimes, I have to stop and rest and allow myself to feel completely. I believe that God has called me to a season of rest in order to heal. It is so hard to rest and allow the grief to process, but each time I do, it brings peace; a weight is lifted. I want to stay busy, I want to pray that the Lord will just take the hurt away, but every time I start to search, He draws me back and says, “Stop, just draw near and rest in me.” When I rest, that is when His Peace washes over.
I have learned that God gives us a beautiful life, I always knew that, but even in the worst times, He brings beauty, and we just have to see it. Life is a true blessing and a gift. My mom lived every moment of her life believing and reflecting this. She is forever with us. I feel her in everything and her presence is everywhere. It is so hard to see it in all the grief sometimes, but if I remember to rest in Jesus, and just be still, she is more present and glorious than ever.
“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.”
about our guest writer . . .
Keithlee Logan is a loving wife, mother, sister, daughter . . . When she's not chasing after her two beautiful little girls, Leighton & Everley, she keeps busy being a soccer mom, enjoys baking, reading & spending time with her husband of 8 years, Russ. She is devoted to keeping her "mama's" memory alive by embracing family traditions & honoring her faith. The Logan family reside happily in Henderson, NV.
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Thank you to the Magness & Dunning families for their generosity & partnership!