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What’s In a Name?

Juliet: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

William David Griffin.  That is what I chose to call my second-born son.  God spoke to me while I was carrying him and told me to name him William after my late grandfather, Martin William Bates.  He also told me to name him after my husband’s father, David Morris Griffin.  Hence his name… William David Griffin.

This past Sunday, on Mother’s Day, we dedicated William to God at Mosaic Church Charlotte.  Before the dedication, Pastor Mike researched our baby’s name and learned that it meant Beloved Protector.  Yes, Beloved (David) Protector (William).  I realized as Mike spoke that, after suffering a heartbreaking miscarriage on Christmas Eve of 2008, God had chosen to bless me with a beloved protector, William David Griffin.  And for that, I am so very thankful.

Every night before bed I read a Bible story to my boys from a “My First Message Bible,” and tonight we read the story of David and Goliath.  Zachary, my 8-year-old, is very familiar with the story because we read it over and over when he was little, at his request.  But tonight the story was new for William, who is 2 1/2.  As we settled in to read, thunder rolled outside as a gentle rain began.  William creeped behind his bed and hid from the thunder, unsure of what he was hearing.  I told him everything was fine and he sprinted into my lap and gripped me in a hug, telling me he was scared of the thunder.  I reassured him again and began to read.

Well, you know how the story goes.  David steps up to fight Goliath with his sling and stones, and he slays the giant with a single pebble with God’s strength behind him.  William, who has a tendency to run circles around the bedroom instead of sitting quietly through my story, sat very still tonight and seemed to hear every word.  After the story we prayed as we always do, based on suggestions from the book.  The suggestion was to tell God about some of the things of which we are afraid.  Of course, William said, “Thunder.”  I suggested that William pray to God to stop the thunder so that he could go to bed in peace, and, of course, He came through.  There were no more rolls of thunder after we prayed our prayer.  God is Good!

Jesus, take the wheel…

Saturday, March 24, 2012, is the day that changed my life forever.

I had taken Zachary and William shopping to pick out new beds.  It was time for William to transition to a toddler bed, and I was moving him and Zachary into the same room.  While checking out at Babies “R” Us that afternoon, I noticed a storm brewing out the front windows of the store.  The sky darkened suddenly and began to look ominous as rain began to fall.

As I loaded the kids into the car, William began shouting, “Save me!  Save me!”  I laughed and joked with Zachary about William having watched too many episodes of the Wonder Pets on TV.  I even stopped to post the joke on Facebook.  I headed across the parking lot to Target and we rushed in to shop for Zachary’s summer wardrobe.  When it was time to check out, I noticed that the lines were really long (as they usually are at Target), and I began to get very thirsty.  I searched out a bottle of water, which was odd for me since I’m not a water drinker, and began to feel a bit disoriented.  I thought, I must be getting really dehydrated or something.

We checked out eventually and made it to the car as the storm continued.  I hopped onto I-485, and, as I rounded the curved bridge to merge onto I-77, I noticed that the sun was shining very brightly on one side of the car, but on the other side of the car it looked as though the bottom was going to drop out.  I began thinking about my poor vision in the rain due to a bad run-in with Lasik surgery in the past (we won’t go there), and I began to worry that it was going to storm like it had a year ago when my brand new car was severely damaged in a hail storm.  I stopped and prayed: “Lord, please just get us home safely.  My babies are in the car and are depending on me.”

All of a sudden, I gradually started to feel as though I was being lifted from my seat.  Then I felt as though the car was lifting.  I didn’t seem to be driving the car anymore at all, in fact, and I didn’t feel as though I was in control any longer.  I thought, “Is someone else driving the car?  Am I delusional?  I don’t seem to be in my body anymore.  Wait, am I dead and I’m watching it all somehow?  Was I in an accident and don’t remember it or is one about to happen??”  I started vibrating a little and felt lifted even further.  I tried to pull myself back down but couldn’t.  At that very moment, Zachary and I both noticed the most VIBRANT double rainbow out of the driver’s side windows, on the sunny side of the car.  I fumbled with my cell phone trying to get a picture of the rainbow because I was sure that I was witnessing something miraculous, but I worried about crashing the car, too!  Zachary told me to give him the phone so that he could take the picture.  And he did.  And it was beautiful.

After a few seconds, I finally seemed to rest back in my seat and “come to.”  Things began to feel normal again.  Zachary and I discussed the awesomeness of the double rainbow.  It was absolutely stunning!  I finally got to our exit and we made our way home.  As we neared the house, William spoke out from the back seat for the first time and said, “I tired, Mama.”  In my stupor, I repeated what he said like I always do, saying “You’re tired?”  “Yes, I tired,” he said.  I asked if he was ready to go to sleep, and he said “Yes.”  He told me that he was tired several more times down that stretch of road.  The significance of what he said didn’t hit me until later.

We arrived safely at home and neither Zach nor I seemed to be able to get out of the car.  I felt so HEAVY and TIRED.  I turned around and looked at Zachary, and he appeared to be in a stupor.  And then it hit me – he had felt it, too!  I asked Zachary if he had just felt what I did, and he said, “Yes!” with a huge goofy grin on his face.  He told me that he felt really heavy.  He told me that he couldn’t feel his legs, and I realized that I couldn’t really, either.  But, we also felt very light somehow.  And every part about it felt so GOOD.  I realized in that moment that I had just experienced God and the Holy Spirit in a way that I have never known.  Zachary and I felt as though we were buzzing, electrified somehow.  Almost drunk with delight.

Awesome.  Incredible.  Amazing.  Wonderful.  These were the words that we spoke, sometimes in unison.  I started crying.  We grinned at each other when we said the same words, as though we were in each other’s heads.  Zachary appeared to be in a daze and his nystagmus (back and forth movement of his eyes caused by albinism) seemed to have stopped.

After a time of reflection, we both came to the same awesome realization: we had just experienced God’s Almighty power.  We agreed that there was no other explanation.  We both realized that we needed to get out of the car and go in the house and tell Seth and Keaton about our experience, but we worried that they would think that we had completely lost our minds.  But, we had just experienced the same things independently, so we weren’t crazy, right?!  The feelings that we had felt were real and the proof was in the double rainbow!!

We eventually got out of the car and walked unsteadily to the house, noting that our bodies, especially our legs, felt very heavy.  Like weights.  But it still felt good somehow.  We went in the house and gathered up Seth and Keaton to tell our story.  Zachary and I tried desperately to put into words the miracle that we had just experienced, but our words didn’t seem adequate.  For the next few minutes, Zachary and I discussed the events further, slowly gathering up all the details.  Zachary had also thought at one point that he was dead, somehow watching himself from the outside.  Then he realized, like me, that wasn’t the case.  It WAS real.  And it was amazing!

While we are recounting our story, William began to speak out.  He mentioned having seen the rainbow with purple, pink and yellow colors.  And then I began to wonder if William had experienced any of the feelings that Zachary and I had, when it hit me:  He most definitely did!  That’s why he told me he was so tired in the car!  William had felt it, too, and that was the only way his 2-year-old brain knew how to explain it!

As we delved deeper into our feelings, Zachary dropped a bombshell.  He told us that he had seen angels in his room.  Not just any angels, but Nana (Daddy’s wife, Jeanne) and Granddaddy Bill.  He told us that an angel had come toward him recently and told him not to be afraid.  The angel told Zachary that he was in fact him, only older.  The angel was wearing a robe and had wings.  Zachary said that he felt a windy draft and was cold at the time the angel had appeared.  And then, Zachary went on to tell us that he had seen angels multiple times in the form of those who have died before us.  Wait, what?  Yes, Zachary said he had seen angels that had identified themselves as our ancestors.  Whoa, I thought… this is getting out of control!

After eating supper that night, I gave William a bath and he didn’t want to get out of the bathtub when we were finished.  Now, he had done that before, but that night I was exhausted and just let him stay in the tub, even after the water was gone.  In fact, I had tried taking him out of the tub and he just climbed back in by himself.  Rather than force him out like I normally would to get everyone ready for bed, I let him stay in the tub to see where all of this would lead.  I sat in the floor of the bathroom and decided that the day had already been strange enough, so maybe something else was supposed to happen, and I definitely didn’t want to miss it or stop it from happening!

William played with his cars for a few more minutes and eventually climbed out of the tub of his own free will.  He walked downstairs behind me and climbed on my bed for me to diaper him and put his pajamas on, as is our normal routine.  William became agitated while on the bed, however, and I didn’t really know what to make of it.  He gave a little shiver, and told me that he was cold.  “I cold, Mama,” he said.  I hovered over him and wrapped him in my arms to warm him up.  Then William said, “Shower man.”  I replied, “Shower man?,”  and William confirmed, “Yes, shower man.”  I said, “Who was in the shower, William?”  and William said, “William was in the shower.”  I glanced at Seth and thought, “Wait, is he talking about himself or had Granddaddy Bill come to visit him too?!”

William became still then and let me put his diaper on.  But, when I tried to put his pajamas on, he became very playful.  I asked him, “What are you doing, William?” to which he replied, “I dancing.” as he walked and hopped about the bed.  Taking a chance, I asked, “Are you dancing with an angel?” to which he responded with an emphatic “YES.”  “Holy cow. Are you serious?” I thought.  Was he really seeing Granddaddy Bill, too??

March 24th, 2012, was not the only time that William has behaved that way.  William had another episode of “playing with angels” just this past Saturday night, April 21, 2012.  William refused to put his pajamas on again and began dancing and jumping around the living room in a frenzy.  I took the chance and asked, “William, are the angels here again?” and he said “YES!”  So, I let him dance, hop, jump, bounce and sing around the living room for about thirty minutes.  While doing this, William said, “Bible told me to.”  Not once, but twice.  He then took all of the pillows from the couch and built a fort around the couch, closing himself in.  Now, I have no explanation for what he was doing and will not even begin to try to come up with one here, but suffice it to say that I BELIEVE in angels and the power of the Holy Spirit

Yes, after experiencing the amazing events of March 24, 2012, April 21, 2012, and hearing and seeing all of the incredible recent revelations from my children about angels on Earth, I can say without a single doubt that, YES, I most definitely believe in angels!

Bill, William, or both?

My Granddaddy Bill died on February 5, 2012.  He wasn’t the grandparent that I was the closest to, but we definitely had a solid connection.  Even before my son William was born and named after him.  As a child, I used to visit his house in Rock Hill, South Carolina on weekends.  He would take me to play Putt-Putt and then we would have lunch at Taco Bell.  To this day, I still order a Meximelt and regular nachos when I eat there.

Three weeks before his death, Granddaddy fell at his home and was admitted to the hospital.  After a brief stay, he was transferred to a rehab facility.  During this time, I began to notice what seemed to be odd coincidences between Granddaddy and William.  Now, keep in mind that William is only 2 and had only visited Granddaddy a handful of times prior to his death.  So when I began noticing the similarities, I at first brushed them off as mere coincidences.  But the more similarities I began to notice, the more curious I became about them.

Not long before his death, Granddaddy, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s, began locking himself in rooms in his home, unable to get out without assistance.  While Granddaddy was in the rehab center, William began a fascination with locking doors in our house, laughing at us when we couldn’t get into a room.  We would have to get the little key doohickey to unlock doors when William would lock himself in.  And this began to happen very frequently.  I told my mom about William’s newest quirky obsession, and she responded by telling me about Granddaddy locking himself in rooms at his home, something I had not previously known.

Also while in the rehab facility, Granddaddy began refusing to use the restroom.  One night at our house during this time, I brought out a new Cars potty that I had recently purchased for William to begin introducing him to the concept of potty training.  For a completely unknown reason, William freaked out.  I’m talking the worst tantrum I have ever seen a toddler throw, and I have seen quite a few after raising Zachary through his toddler years.  William was screaming and actually began taking the potty apart, piece by piece.  It got so bad that I simply had to back off and let William work through his frustration alone, as hard as that was for me as a mama.  I remember thinking, “Now THAT was a serious meltdown.  What in the world could have sparked such a tantrum?  Over a potty??”  When my mom and I discussed the meltdown not long afterward, she reminded me of Granddaddy’s refusal to use the bathroom.  Another coincidence?  Hmmm….

In his younger days, Granddaddy loved to fly airplanes.  He taught pilots to fly airplanes during WWII after enlisting in the Army Air Corp following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  He also owned his own small airplane that he used to fly out of the Rock Hill airport.  I remember flying with him one time as a child and him letting me “take over” the plane.  I feel pretty confident that I didn’t actually “take over” the plane, but he let me think that I did, and that was very exciting.

William has been obsessed with airplanes since he could see them in the sky.  Every time – and I mean every time – he sees or hears one, he announces, “Airplane!” and makes everyone look for it in the sky.  Around the time of Granddaddy’s death, we went to dinner with my mom at a local restaurant and there was a balloon artist there who made William a helicopter balloon.  William flew the helicopter around the restaurant during dinner, much to the dismay of some of the other patrons.  As we were driving home that night, William asked a question that he had never asked me before.  He asked, “Mama, what are you doing?” to which I replied, “I’m driving, what are you doing?”  William asked, “Do you want to fly?”  That was a “lightbulb moment,” when I really began to think that Granddaddy had invaded my child’s body somehow and overtaken him.  I said, “Do you want to fly, William?”  And he answered with an emphatic, “YES!”  I called my mom to tell her of yet another similarity, which were starting to become ridiculously common, to the point where I thought my mom might be thinking that I was making all of it up.  But, I called her anyway and put her on speakerphone so that William could talk to her.  William asked my mom if she wanted to fly, and she asked where they were going.  My mom, who my children call “Mimi,” responded, “Yes.  Where are we going?  To the beach?” to which William replied, “Yes!”  Granddaddy loved the beach and used to fly my mom and his other two children to the beach in his airplane on vacation.

Following Granddaddy’s funeral, I picked up William and took him to Granddaddy’s house to visit with family.  He seemed very comfortable there despite not having been there often.  He explored the house with his cousins and even played hide and seek in the attic.  The following day after things quieted down, I took William back to the house to visit with his Mimi and Granddaddy Bill’s wife, Betty.  After eating lunch, William insisted on taking me to the bedroom where Granddaddy had spent his final days.  William had never seen Granddaddy in that room.  While in the room, William took on a very playful persona, giggling and hiding from me.  The sun was shining through a window, the same window that Granddaddy was peering through the day he died.  The sun had made a sunny patch on the carpet, and William proceeded to lay down in the sunny patch.  He literally wallowed in it.  I watched him curiously and asked, “What are you doing, laying in the sunshine?”  to which he replied, “Yeeeeesssss.”  I couldn’t help in that moment but to feel that Granddaddy had come home through William, somehow, perhaps to comfort us as we grieved his loss, and as his way of telling us, “Hey, I’m ok!  I’m whole again, and it’s more than wonderful!”

There are other coincidences that I could mention, but I think you get the picture.  Is it possible that Granddaddy has spoken to us through my precious William?  After witnessing these events, I believe that not only is it possible, but that it happened.  And for that, I am so grateful.  God is good!

Angels Among Us

Matthew 18:10

King James Version (KJV)

10Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

I never really considered the possibility that there could be angels watching over and/or living among us until my stepmother, Jeanne, passed away a couple of years ago.  After she passed away, I began to wonder if it was possible for her to look down from her place in Heaven and see what was going on down here.  Could she see me and everything I was doing?  Could she send us signs that she was watching over my Dad, my sister and I?  I can’t say that I received any really obvious signs that she could, other than my son, Zachary, telling me more than once that Nana was ok.  They had a very special bond even though Zachary was only 6 years old when she died on February 17, 2010.

Three weeks before Jeanne suffered the heart attack that would lead to her death a few months later, my second son, William, was born.  I had somewhat of a difficult time picking out a name for William, and Seth and I had discussed it many times.  I don’t remember exactly when it hit me, but I began to have a feeling that we should name him William after my Granddaddy Bill, Martin William Bates.  I remember standing in Target wih Seth one day in the middle of the card section when he looked at me and said, “If you want to name him William, then I am fine with that.  We should name him William.”  And so we did.  Interestingly enough, William was born on Granddaddy Bill’s wife Betty’s birthday, September 25, 2009.  These seeming coincidences will become more relevant in my next post, but it is worth mentioning here because I don’t actually believe these are coincidences at all.

I mentioned in an earlier post that my Granddaddy Bill recently passed away on February 5, 2012.  Three weeks before he died, he fell at his home and began a steady decline.  During that time, I felt compelled to visit him as much as possible, especially when he left the rehab facility and went home to hospice care.  I watched his formerly able body undergo a transformation before my eyes, but as I continued to talk to him despite knowing he might not understand me and listen to him sing until his final couple of days on this Earth, I began to feel a peace about his passing.  I had just finished the book “Heaven is for Real,”  and I truly believed that he was headed to a glorious place where he would be freed from his very incapable Earthly body, which had been wracked by years of smoking, emphysema, COPD, Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration and hearing loss.  I knew he would be young again in Heaven and would be able to breathe, think, see and hear better than ever.

As my grandfather began the dying process, he began seeing people in white robes and speaking to people who were not in the room.  He told my mother as she was reading the section about people in robes in Heaven in the book “Heaven is for Real,” that she looked beautiful in her white robe (she was not actually wearing a robe).  He was not able to fully explain what he was seeing due to the Alzheimer’s, but we believe angels had begun to visit him in the rehab facility to prepare him for his journey home.

I last visited him the morning of February 5, several hours before he died.  Instead of being restless as he had been for several days before, he was still.  His youngest son Bobby arrived from Alabama to say goodbye, and he spoke his last coherent word when my mother and Betty told him that Bobby was there.  He said, “OK,” like everything was now in place.  Before I left that afternoon, I watched him looking out the window in his bedroom at the sunshine outside.  A peace came over me and I told him that it was ok to go, saying what I had a feeling would be my final goodbye.  Several hours later as I was watching Madonna sing “Like a Prayer” during the Superbowl halftime show, my mom called to tell me that he had passed away.

As I said earlier, Zachary seemed to know somehow that his Nana was ok following her death, and again, he seemed convinced that Granddaddy Bill was ok, too.  He stood over the open casket at the wake talking to Granddaddy Bill, seemingly not even the slightest bit afraid of death.  An 8-year-old.  Standing over a casket by himself.  I watched as Betty’s sister, Linda, came over to the join Zachary and I overheard pieces of their conversation.  He told Linda that Granddaddy Bill was in Heaven, playing and having fun.  I thought, “Is this for real?”  How can he be so absolutely confident?  It was like Zachary had knowledge of life after death that I didn’t know and certainly hadn’t sat him down and taught him.  Linda later told me that she believed Zachary and that she also believed that he had some sort of Heavenly connection that neither one of us could really explain other than to say that Zachary had to be an angel on Earth.  It’s funny, because I have always thought that he has one of the sweetest, oldest souls you will ever meet, and I began to wonder if in fact he did have some insight into Heaven that other people, like me, did not.

And then I began to wonder that if Zachary somehow had this special ability to understand life after death, could William have it too?  Why Zachary?  Could he possibly be an angel on Earth?  I know I am somewhat biased, but I really believe that he is.  And as the events of the following week unfolded, I also began to believe that William does have a special ability as well.  I thought, “How blessed am I to have two children with such insight?!”  I began sharing the events of the following week with my mom and close friends, who I think at first thought I might be going off the deep end.  And by the end of the week, I’m pretty sure one of my very good friends thought that I was certifiable, straight jacket and all.  But, I will leave it for you to judge as I delve into those events in my next post(s).