12/20/10

A New Day!

Yesterday, Matt and I celebrated Christmas early with my mom since we will be spending Christmas day with Matt's family.  We had a blast playing games and talking and laughing.  Matt made us Coq au Vin.   It was wonderful, but I am not sure how any recipe that calls for brandy, wine, and bacon could be any less than wonderful.  We opened gifts as well, and included in my stocking was a new calendar for my purse.  This is a bit of a tradition.  My mom has been giving me a new calendar since I was a young kid.  Every year, I have looked forward to flipping though my calendar from the previous year, reminiscing about all the things I have done and transferring birthdays and holidays and such to my new calendar. 

Today, I had a little time left in my lunch hour so I held my annual "transferring of the calendars."  Though there were plenty of fun things like movie nights and coffee dates with friends and dinners with my husband, my calendar from this last year was marked with sadness.  Dates of funerals and burials.  Markings of trips to visit injured or sick friends and family.  Anniversaries of the passing of my son. 

After transferring significant dates, I got the overwhelming sense that I was done being consumed with the sadness of last year.  Will I forget what this past year has held...absolutely not.  Have the deep wounds of my heart healed...not totally and I don't think they ever will be healed completely this side of eternity.  But I have had enough of marking my days by sadness and grief.

There is something so freeing about transferring the important dates of life into a new fresh calendar and just leaving behind the tragic days.  So in honor of my birthday tomorrow and a fresh start on my own calendar, at the end of lunch today, with all my might, I chucked my calendar from last year into the trash.  I will not forget the lessons that I have learned.  I will always carry the scars and bittersweet memories of this year, but God is showing me that I can move forward with the hope I have in him.  Am I naive enough to think the future will be nothing but happiness and roses?  No.  But if I have learned anything from this year, its that my hope and joy is not based on the circumstances of this life.  It is based on the Solid Rock of my faith.  No matter what comes my way, He will be there to walk through it with me.

" Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life in fear; rather look to them with full hope that, as they arise, God, whose you are, will deliver you out of them.  He is your Keeper.  He has kept you hitherto.  Hold fast to his dear hand, and he will lead you safely through all things; and, when you cannot stand, he will bear you in his arms.  Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow.  Our Father will either shield you from suffering, or he will give you strength to bear it."
- Saint Francis de Sales.

12/3/10

My crowning achievement...

The crowning achievement of my day was finding a home for these two cuties:
I don't know that its possible to be in a bad mood while looking at those sweet faces. Trust me, if I didn't already have 2 cats (that I love) and a tight 800 square foot condo, these lovelies would be coming home with me! But I am thrilled to know that they will have a great home with an awesome couple that is so excited to welcome them! (and that I can visit and play with them :-) )

Joy

Thankfully the tears and grief of yesterday morning have given way to an almost childlike giddiness and joy today.  Some might call that an epic mood swing but I call it an answer to prayer!  Seriously.  Just this morning at Bible study with the ladies of my gospel community, I mentioned that I have had a hard time lately - especially in light of the holidays. I asked for prayer that I would have joy for this Christmas season.  I was expecting it a little closer to Christmas, but I will take it today!

May your weekend and your holiday preparations be full of moments of laughter and joy - a joy that is rooted in the real meaning of Christmas - that God's love for us is so vast that he would send his only Son to earth to redeem us to himself. What more reason do you need to be giddy?


I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
-Ephesians 3: 14-19

12/2/10

Today

2 years ago today, I sat in the ultrasound room and found out I would miscarry my first little one.

10 months ago today, I sat in the ultrasound room and found out Isaiah's heart had stopped beating.

1 month ago today, cancer took my cousins life.

In general, I am doing better.  I am sleeping consistently through the night. I am spending more time laughing with and treasuring my friends and family. I am finding more hope and more joy in each day.  I am closer to my husband than I ever could have imagined.  My faith is taking deeper, more meaningful roots.

Despite these wonderful changes, some days are still tough.

Today my heart aches for what was lost and what could have been...

11/18/10

TGFF!

No, my title is not a typo. While I do love Fridays, what I am thankful for today is friends.

I have found myself in another hard place the last couple weeks. After another young cousin's death, frustrations at Matt's work, and many other small irritations, I am just feeling beat up. That combined with the fact that while we still long for another child, I have found myself surrounded by newly pregnant friends and family and friends with more young children than I can count. Don't get me wrong, I am really happy for these other people, but as a friend said, "Its not that I am not happy for them, I am just more sad for me." I know that sounds selfish,but it is one nasty part of grief and longing that I still struggle with deeply.

Yet in the midst of these struggles, I have friends (yes, even ones with beautiful small children) that breathe such truth into my life and remind me that my worth is not based in my fertility.

Last weekend, a great friend and her husband, came to visit. Though we don't get to see each other in person often, we email back and forth so much that I forget we are separated by 400 miles. Yet, for this weekend, we got to be together and we had a blast. On Friday, she and her husband took us out for an AMAZING dinner. I am pretty sure we consumed about a weeks worth of protein and cheeses (Actually we did. We calculated it at the Museum of Science and Industry on Saturday.), but it was so yummy. And we topped it off with chocolate fondue for dessert. Two pots of warm delicious chocolate....I was in heaven.

Then we had a blast on Saturday touring the Museum of Science and Industry, eating Italian beef, playing hours of games while laughing and talking, drinking lots of wine and eating even more junk food. Even though it was a calorific weekend, it was so much fun and it reminded me that even though I don't have any living children with me...or in the foreseeable future, there are still things (and people) that I love.


Here's a shot of us getting ready for our amazing, calorific dinner.

Then, yesterday, I met with another dear friend for coffee in the morning. After catching up a bit, we were talking about how I was dealing with a few things surrounding losing Isaiah and my longings for the future. I got a little choked up because I really have been struggling recently. In her tender, supportive way, she didn't make me feel bad or awkward for tearing up. I shared with her how in the midst of my prayers lately, I have been trying to focus on praying more for God's will than my specific plan. Of course, I still tell God the desires of my heart, but I am slowly (very slowly some days) learning to trust that God has a beautiful plan that will be for his glory and my best. Even though it doesn't always feel like it, I would rather get on board with that plan than try to devise my own.

To pray like that is scary though. What if I don't get what I want? Again, I know that sounds selfish...and it is, but that's honestly how I have felt. Then she shared a beautiful insight with me. Remember that night before Jesus' crucifixion, where he is praying in the garden. After wrestling in prayer he says, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done." Now that's where most of us stop and think, "Now that's real faith and trust. That's how we all need to pray." While there's truth in that, my friend pointed out that we shouldn't stop there - the next verse is so powerful. "An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him." The answer to his prayer was that the cup would not be taken from him, yet God would give him the strength to face it. Isn't that beautiful?! God could have said, "Nope, sorry. You are stuck with it. Good luck!" No, God lovingly gave him the strength he would need to get through.

Whether God chooses to answer my prayers, with "Yes," "No," or "Not now," I trust that he will give me the strength I need to face whatever comes. That thought hasn't completely lifted the weight I have been under for the past few weeks, but it gives me great encouragement to know, God will give me the strength I need to lift it. I don't have to do this on my own. Whew!

Its so beautiful to see how God uses my friendships to speak truth and love into my life. I have been blessed with some wonderful friends, and for that I am thankful!

11/4/10

If you could see me now

This week, my family suffered another terrible loss. My cousin Tyler, who is just months older than me passed away after an agonizing battle with Melanoma. So young...so sad. I wish I could think of the perfect words as a tribute to my cousin, but alas there are no words to capture what he meant to our family and to me. What I treasured about him was how present, how loving he was when I saw him. Because my dad left when I was just a baby and created an awkward strain on me and his family, I only go home to visit about once or so every year. Yet every time that I would go home, and get to see Tyler, I remember how he was always happy to see me and made me feel so loved and cared about. I will treasure the conversations I had with him and the times that we spent together.

I am sad that he suffered so greatly in his last days. As devastated as I am that he is gone, I find real hope in the fact that for those in Christ, death is a victory.

The song that I mentioned in my last blog, capture this hope that we have.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFOdA52sjFA&safety_mode=true&persist_safety_mode=1

We love you Tyler! You will be missed, but we wish we could see you now!


10/24/10

Held

Over the last few weeks, a new kind of darkness has set in...not the lonely darkness of grief which still hovers at times, but the darkness of fear for the future. What does God have in store for me? Will I ever get to be a mother to my own babies? This has really forced me to examine my faith. Do I really trust that God has a plan for my life - a plan that will bring him glory and be the best for me? Some days I do, but some days that's just to hard to swallow.

But God showed up this weekend, and it was so sweet.

This past weekend, I headed up to Minneapolis to attend the Women of Faith conference with Matt's mom, sister, and sister-in-law. We have been attending this conference for years and it has been such a wonderful weekend where we have gotten to bond as the women of the family and put aside the differences of our faith backgrounds and unite in our common love for Jesus. Its usually one of my favorite weekends of the year, but I have to admit, I was not looking forward to it as I have in years past. I just kept remembering how it was this weekend last year that we announced to everyone that we were pregnant. Because of our prior miscarriage, we had waited a while to tell everyone. We actually made it to 17 weeks and I was starting to show. Since I was going to see everyone in person, we figured we had to tell or they were going to think I swallowed a basketball. My mom was so excited. I remember her putting her hand on my belly. Somehow she knew right away that I was carrying a little boy. Matt's family was thrilled too. I remember that our mom's introduced themselves at the conference as grandmas to be. It was such a happy time. I remember that in the quiet moments of the weekend, I thought of how at this time next year, I would have a 7 month old baby. How exciting!

But that's not how it worked out. Here I sat this year, a childless mother. I just kept thinking, my boys should be at home hanging out together. Matt should not be home studying alone.

As I sat in my own pity party at the conference on Friday night, one of my favorite singers, Mandisa, took the stage. After of couple of lively songs, she told a story to start her slower set. A few years ago, a woman sent her a message. She was throwing a shower for a friend who was one of Mandisa's biggest fans and the friend thought it would be awesome if Mandisa would write her a note to be read at the shower. Mandisa readily agreed. A few weeks later, a very pregnant woman showed up at the front of one of her signing lines, and it turned about to be the same woman. They had a wonderful meeting and talked about the baby - who the woman found out was going to be a little boy and she was going to name him Andrew. A few weeks later, Mandisa was shocked to learn that the woman was being rushed to the hospital and they couldn't find little Andrew's heartbeat. Mandisa prayed for a miracle, but she was devastated to learn that Andrew passed away.

After telling this story, Mandisa said that she knew that there were other woman in the audience who had faced similar loss. She said she wanted us to know that in the midst of the pain and the grief, God was with us and that he loved us dearly. She then proceed to sing a beautiful song that she wrote in honor of Andrew.

How in the world, did she talk about the exact kind of tragedy I have faced this year? It was as though God was speaking directly to me. The tears flowed, but they weren't so much tears of sadness; they were more the tears of a woman who was touched to know that the God of the universe cared about her. He may not have stopped this whole mess from happening but he is holding me in the midst of the pain. It was though he was gently telling me, "Trust me. I do love you. I am still here."

It was a powerful moment. Somehow a bit of the darkness and fear that hovered over me for the past weeks just melted away. I don't know any more about what the future holds for me, but I do know who will be holding me through it. That's a beautiful comfort.

10/14/10

I'm back!

Sorry, I have been MIA lately, but Matt and I were on vacation. We went to New York, Cape Cod, and Boston, and get this, we took a train both ways! I think that idea sounded more idyllic when we were planning because the 21 hour trip both ways got a little long, but it was fun to roll through the heart of some beautiful small towns and look out at the glorious fall colors- especially through the Berkshires in western Massachusetts.

We had a blast out east, exploring the cities and the history of our country (Its amazing how I suddenly become interested in history when I travel....read it in a textbook and I am asleep in under 10 minutes). Here are a couple of my favorite pictures:





My favorite part of vacation was the whale watching trip we got to go on out of the Boston Harbor. Our captain took us about an hour and a half outside of Boston - so far out that no land was visible any way that you looked. We along with all the other passengers stood along the edge of the deck and scanned the ocean for any sight of a whale. After about 10 minutes of nothing, I thought to myself, "Sure, after the year I have had, of course I wouldn't actually see a whale." (Sheesh...my bratty self can come out). But then we spotted it:

The awesome spout from a blowhole of a whale! Just moments later, he came out of the surface of the water and we could see him a little more. Now, I have seen plenty of whales an Sea World or the aquarium, but this was the first whale I had ever seen in the wild, and I loved it! They are HUGE and powerful and beautiful. We saw a Minke whale and quite a few Humpback whales. One swam just under the surface of the water right next to the boat - kind of like seeing a big fish under the surface when you are at the lake, but this thing was HUGE! Matt and I were really glad to be in a big boat.

I stood there enthralled for of an hour looking for whales and gazing at the beautiful ocean and I was struck by the thought that

God's creation is amazing!

9/20/10

Loving September

Whew...the last few weeks have just flown by! We have been busy, but thankfully its been a month of fun and mostly good news!

Our month started with a fun dinner with the Bhutanese refugee family we have been working with.We have had a great time learning about their lives and their culture and we have been helping them get acclimated to life in America. We decided to introduce them to Mexican food that night.


I am not so sure what they thought about the food, but the sure did love our cats.



Then we headed up to MN to spend Labor Day weekend with Matt's family. The weather was beautiful and we had a blast playing games and hanging out together. The girls even took on the guys in a battle of the sexes bowling event. Unfortunately, the ladies lost - my horrid 50-something-score definitely did not help (Man I am a terrible bowler!). But we had a great time none the less.

Here's the ladies ready to take on the guys. We may not have the scores the guys did, but at least we looked cute losing :)



Then the next weekend, I headed up to Lake Geneva with for Missio Dei's 1st annual retreat. We had an amazing time hanging out in a beautiful spot and studying God's Redeeming Love for us. It was amazing. I did bring my camera but was having so much fun I forgot to take pictures once I got up there. I did manage to capture some shots on the way up. Since we wanted to make sure we had a true Wisconsin trip, we stopped at the brat stop where we had way to much fun and ate way to many calories (but I am determined that calories don't count on a girl's weekend anyway!)



Then during that week, I got some great news. My mom, who has been looking for a job for a bit, found a great job in a suburb near where Matt and I live. I am excited for her and I am excited to live fairly close to my mom - which we really haven't since I was in high school.

Then this past weekend we headed back up to MN for Matt's cousin's wedding. It was fun to get to see the family again for such a happy event.

The month so far has had many other fun events mixed in, and after months mixed with so much sadness and bad news, some fun and good news feels awesome.

9/2/10

Hit like a ton of bricks

I have actually been feeling pretty well the last couple of weeks. I would even go so far to say that I felt a bit like my old self, but that's not true. My old self is gone. Not that I don't still enjoy some of the same things, I just know that I will never look at life post-Isaiah the same. Part of that just stinks. I want to be naively happy again, but the larger part of me is grateful. I appreciate things much more deeply than I did before. I know what it is to feel indescribable pain and survive...that's even a little empowering. And Matt and I have grown so much closer to each other and to God. That piece of this whole mess is just phenomenal. But for the last couple of the weeks, the world hasn't felt as heavy.

That was until today. This morning I started going about my day like normal. As I sat down at my desk to prepare for a meeting, I looked at the calendar...August 2nd. Exactly 7 months since my life changed forever. I remember preparing for this same meeting that fateful day...not knowing that my precious child float lifelessly in my womb. This moment struck me as terribly odd...I didn't' break down in tears or anything (which is a huge feat for me!), but it just felt weird.

Luckily the morning was busy enough that I had to put these weird feelings aside and continue on my day. That was until I was sitting in another meeting later today. At around 11:15, I was struck by the memory that this was close to the exact time that I received that devastating news. While I sat in that meeting, I relived the most painful moments of my life. I vividly remember the look on the ultrasound technicians face as she threw down the wand and ran out of the room. I remember those agonizing minutes Matt and I sat waiting and wondering what was going on. I remember the frenzied tone of the technician's voice as she came back in to tell us the doctor would be in in just a moment and refused to tell us what was going on. What I can't remember is the exact moment I found out Isaiah's heart had stopped. I remember the screaming moments after we found out. I remember the doctor explaining what we would have to do next, but I can't remember the exact moment she told us. I suppose that's a gift. Who in their right mind would want to remember that, but it strikes me as so odd that I can't remember the most pivotal moment in my life.

The moment passed...again with no tears thankfully and I have been able to go about the rest of my day. I suppose that's life post-tragedy. You have to pick up the pieces and go on. You have to do "normal life." You still have really good days, but at a moments notice, something drags you back to that awful place...those awful memories. Thankfully, you also develop the strength to keep going despite these moments.

8/26/10

You will be fine.


Matt and I stumbled across this sign on the way to dinner in Chinatown, Chicago tonight. Enough said :-)

8/23/10

Angel on the El'

Last Tuesday, while waiting for El' train at the Jackson stop, I reached in my bag to pull out my book. But something in my gut stopped me and said, "Get out your Bible instead." Now any smart, God-fearing woman would get out her Bible, because clearly God had something to say. But not me. I'm stubborn, so I told God, "You know I do my reading time in the morning. After work, is my time to read a little fiction and unwind." Though my prideful statement was deserving of a good smoting at that moment, the lighting strike never came down into that tunnel. Instead an inner prompting quietly said again, "Get out your Bible." Ok, Ok, there were a few things I wanted to read through anyway... Begrudgingly, I reached for my Bible and turned to Galatians.

As soon as I opened the pages, a train arrived and I quickly boarded so I could find that coveted seat in the midst of what would soon be a rush hour cattle car...especially because it was a Cubs game night. I hate evening cubs games for this reason. The trains are usually packed enough during rush hour...add all of the cubs fans and it's a full hour of madness, but I digress. So I got a seat and decided to read Galatians.

I made it as far as the Galatians 1:1 and some guy turned around and had the nerve to interrupt my reading and ask where he needed to get off for the cubs stadium. Initially I had quite the Christian response, and thought to myself, "You idiot, just get off where the other thousand people wearing blue shirts get off." Good thing the Holy Spirit reminded me that I was holding a Bible and that I would not be acting as the best ambassador for Christ if I said that. So I took a breath and kindly told him where to get off and how many more stops and went back to my reading. A few seconds later, he looked at what I was reading and said "good book." I readily agreed and the best conversation started.

He explained to me that he was in town from Orlando. He then went on to share with me his testimony of how he came back to the church a few years earlier after returning home from the war in Iraq. He had essentially made a deal with God, that if He got him through the war safely, he would go back to church. Well, God did get him and his men home safely, but he did not hold up his end of the deal. Months after returning home, he still hadn't gone to church. Then one day, four completely unrelated people invited him to church. He said that really got his attention so that Sunday, he went to church. God got a hold of him that Sunday and he has been serving Christ ever since.

We talked a lot about what God was doing in our lives...and though I didn't know this guy at all, I found myself sharing with him about Isaiah's death and my struggle with hope and joy ever since. He actually said that his pastor's daughter had just been though the same thing and he asked how I was doing and was incredibly encouraging.

He told me how meeting him on the El' was such an encouragement to him and I readily agreed. As the Addison stop approached, he stood up to exit the train and turned back and said he would be praying for me and left.

Seriously, it was such an uplifting conversation and just what I needed after the tumultuous weeks I had just been through. It was amazing to think that had I not gotten out my Bible, this conversation would never have happened. Good thing, the stubborn girl in me lost to the obedient one that afternoon.

I know he was just a man from Orlando, but to me, he was an angel on the El'. See, CTA isn't always so bad :-)

8/14/10

In

I hit a low point this week when I found out we were going to be sharing what we are thankful for and praises for what God is doing in our lives at our Gospel Community meeting. When I found this out I became very cynical about the whole idea. The thought of everyone sitting around talking about all the great things in their life could not appeal to me less. I honestly thought that other than Matt, I don't have anything to be thankful for. All I could dwell upon was how awful this year has been. Losing Isaiah should have been enough to darken this year, but with the bad news compounding around me, its almost more than I can bear. I even emailed a friend on Thursday and mentioned that it felt like God doesn't even like me.

Ridiculous! Thankfully my friend pointed out that this was clearly Satan toying with me and I just needed to yell at him to get away and cry out to God to start filling my heart with his love and his truth again.

I wish I could say that I feel all better, but I don't. But I am simply refusing to let my thoughts be clouded by these negative and ridiculous thoughts. I am realizing more and more than even though I am not feeling the love of God right now that I need to put feelings aside and remain firmly grounded in His truths. He is good and I know He loves me more than I can ever imagine. Even if that were the only good thing in my life, that should be enough. He is enough!

As I pondered my terrible attitude this week, a verse kept popping in my head:

Be joyful always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1st Thessalonians 5:16-18.

In all circumstances...ouch. When I first read this, I thought this was just cruel. How could God possibly ask me to be thankful when all of these horrid things were happening to us and those we dearly love around us? But that's when the Holy Spirit highlighted a key word for me, "in." I know what you are thinking...she has lost it completely, but really the word "in" made the difference for me. At first I was reading this verse as though it said be thankful "for" all circumstances. Well of course I am not thankful that my son died, that my cousin died, that another cousin is battling a terrifying disease and the many other hard things we are facing, but I can find ways to be thankful "in" these circumstances. I can be thankful for great doctors, dear friends, an amazingly supportive husband, loving family, provision....

Wow, when I start to list the things I am thankful for, its almost hard to stop. God is so good and it feels so good to think of these good things rather than dwell on the negatives.

May you too find the peace of dwelling on the things you can be thankful for in the "ins" of your circumstances.

7/27/10

Unredeemed

Whew, a new week is here! I know it will still be a tough week as I along with my family grieve the loss of my cousin Nathan, but after all the happenings of last week, a fresh start (even if its only in my mind) seems wonderful.

Here's an update to a few of the things I shared about last week and some ways you can be praying. Last week was simply too much for me and my friends and family to handle on our own, but I am fully confident that God can and will work in each of these situations.

Guy (my cousin who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer) - I have not heard if he was able to get into any experimental treatments yet. Please continue to pray for his physical healing and that his friends and family would be an encouragement to him as he faces this awful diagnosis.

Grant and Lois (the couple that lost their baby) - After some health complications, Lois and Grant were able to return home. Please pray for Lois' physical healing as well as both of their emotional healing as their come to terms with the loss of their precious son.

Our car - Praise God! The other driver accepted full liability and she has good insurance. We have not yet heard the extent of the needed repairs on our car, but its just a car. Either we will fix it or we will get a new one. After all that happened last week, a car doesn't seem like that big of a deal.

The loss of my cousin Nathan - Please continue to pray for my family - especially Nate's parents as we grieve this loss.

My own contentment - Surprisingly through all of this, contentment about my own situation has come a lot easier. Its hard to dwell on your own problems when you realize there is so much else going on around you. That doesn't down play what Matt and I went through, it just makes me realize that we are not the only ones who face suffering. I would love to honor Isaiah by sharing some of the love and comfort I received in the wake of his loss with those suffering around me.

Finally, I wanted to share a song that my sweet sister-in-law Laura reminded me of. She originally heard it at Isaiah's memorial service but it seems so fitting regarding the events of last week.

Unredeemed- by Selah

The cruelest world
The coldest heart
The deepest wound
The endless dark
The lonely ache
The burning tears
The bitter nights
The wasted years

Life breaks and falls apart
But we know these are
Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled
It may be unrestored
But when anything that's shattered is laid before the Lord
Just watch and see
It will not be unredeemed

For every choice that led to shame
And all the love that never came
For every vow that someone broke
And every lie that gave up hope

We live in the shadow of the fall
But the cross says these are all
Places where grace is soon to be so amazing
It may be unfulfilled
It may be unrestored
But when anything that's shattered is laid before the Lord
Just watch and see
It will not be unredeemed

7/26/10

You will be missed!

Below is a sweet note that my grandmother wrote to my cousin Nathan. It breaks my heart to hear the pain and longing behind her words, but its wonderful to relive all of the fun memories from when we were kids.

Nathan,

I will always remember you as a beautiful towheaded baby, who grew into a wonderful little boy who enjoyed life very much.

My favorite memories are of all the Holiday's, Birthdays, Easter Eggs hunts, Christmas Parties, Vacations, all your growing up markers from the kindergarten graduation on.

Life was simple back when Tammy was babysitting all the Grandchildren and brings wonderful memories of you playing with Nick and your cousins in the backyard pool, where all the boy's added strength to their bodies as the wrestled, dunked each other in play!!

I especially remember that you and Kenny introduced all my family to the wonderful Lake at Bull Shoals!!!! I appreciate all the hours on the Bayliner as we watched the babies grow.

It was great fun, watching you learn to skim over the water in the tube, later the knee board (I'll never forget the day you learned to do the 360 and did it about a dozen times in a row) and water skis.

Later Erika became your water buddy as you had a friendly competition with water skills!! It was great time in their and all our lives.

It was always fun to remember all the Grandchildren playing at the dock, fishing, running Jumping in the Lake, Eating, feeding the fish. You loved it all. You especially loved fruit, peaches in particular and I always tried to have some sliced for you every year. You always appreciated it so. We had wonderful days, Watching the children take turns at the end of the rope as we spent countless hours on the Lake. Who could ever forget you climbing on the rocks, jumping from T Rex, all of us hanging in the water while all Grandchildren played with whatever was handy, water guns, water balls.

I remember the long rides to Bull Shoals, with you in the back of the van, helping you with your lessons, so you would not get behind in school. You were a lucky boy to have your parents spend so many hours nurturing you growing up.

I know you were a troubled teen, but I prefer not to dwell on those memories. What I remember is your sweetness with Dad and I, how you always seemed happy to see us where ever, how you grew to make such a strong young man, his blond hair turned curly, how he became a Grizzly Adams. look alike. So Handsome!!!

It seems, impossible that when you were on the cusp of growing up and getting it altogether that you are gone! It will be a hard week for everyone and I'm looking forward to you getting home, so we can all Hug you and share your loss!

Love,

Grandma Deana


We love you Nathan. You will be sorely missed, but we will always treasure the happy memories of you in our hearts.



7/25/10

Ridiculous

What a week it has been!

Earlier this week, I found out that my cousin, Guy's cancer spread all over his body. He is just a month older than me. Our moms were pregnant with us at the same time. I still remember going to visit grandma or the cabin with him when we were kids. To think that he has to face this horrible diagnosis at such a young age is just a shock.

Then, I found out that a woman who used to attend our church - who had a pregnancy full of complications, but had made it to 29 weeks, developed pre-eclampsia and had to be delivered early. After two full days of labor, she lost her baby boy at the moment he was born. Though it didn't really make me relive our loss, it did make me think of how shattering those early days were. I remember thinking that no one should ever have to feel that way - and here they were facings these emotions.

On Thursday night, Matt and I were in a car accident. Thankfully both of us were ok, but our car was pretty damaged.

Then on Friday, my good friend from small group found out her husband lost his job. She is a stay-at-home mom, so he was the sole earner and they are facing some very large bills.

As a culmination of this awful week, I received a call from my aunt on Saturday afternoon and she informed me that my cousin Nathan was found dead. Nathan is a few years younger than me and after the news of my other cousin's cancer this was just too much.

In the early days of my own loss, I kept reminding myself that life is just not fair, but this seemed ridiculous. Really God? Why so much in just one week? There is just so much sadness and heartache in this world. Why would God allow all of this?

I wish I could say that I had an easy answer to all of these questions, but alas I do not. The only comfort I have found is to realize that this is not how God intended things to be. In this fallen world, I know we will encounter sickness and disease and heartache and death and so much more. But one glorious day, God will come back and restore creation to the way it should be. On that day,

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." - Revelation 21:4

7/18/10

Contentment

Matt and I went out to visit the "property" after church today. We were lamenting on how surreal this whole situation feels and how this loss seems to have thrown us into this bizarre time warp. Honestly many days, I still feel like I am just trying to survive - to get through the day without crying and try to find some bit of joy. Days crawl by and seem to fly by in a blurr at the same time. We can't believe that it has nearly been 6 months since we kissed our precious son hello and goodbye. It still feels like it was just yesterday and decades ago at the same time. Our whole lives seem like they have been split in two: B.I. and A.I. (before Isaiah and after Isaiah).

In the midst of our time warp, God continues to show His faithfulness so clearly. Though many days I still kick and scream and cry out to him about why my life is what it is, He still won't let me go. He just keeps tangibly showing me signs of His love and goodness. Man, there are some days I just hate that. I want to be mad at God and blame him for everything. To all of my rage, He responds with unfathomable love and gentleness. I don't deserve the grace He gives me, yet I am eternally grateful!

I feel like I hear God clearer lately too. Its amazing how loss, how stripping away earthly joy makes me just lean into God. I love that even in the midst of this valley, He keeps showing me more of Himself, and teaching me how to draw closer to Him.

Over the last week or so, God has pressed a word on my heart.

Contentment.

This thought has really stemmed from a verse I stumbled across in Philippians:

"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." - Philippians 4: 11b-13

According to the intro to Philippians in my Bible, "In a life dedicated to serving Christ, Paul had faced excruciating poverty, abundant wealth and everything in between. He even wrote this joyful letter from prison. Whatever the circumstances, Paul had learned to be content, finding real joy as he focused all of his attention and energy on knowing Christ and obeying him."

Wow, I want that. Honestly, my life has been plagued by a lot of sadness, fear and jealousy lately. Sadness, that I will never see my boy this side of eternity, fear that I will never get pregnant again and give birth to a live child, and jealousy of those that do. I have to admit that is not a fun place to be. I keep trying to fight these feelings on my own, but I am learning that I can't. I need Jesus to fight this fight for me!

I desperately want Him to be my All in All. No matter the circumstances that come into my life He will still be God. He is still good and I want to trust in His goodness. I trust that He has a plan for my life and it is for my good and His glory. I may not understand how or why it unfolds as it does, but I trust that it is good. The more I think of that, the more that my fears go away. I pray that one day I will give birth to a healthy child, but even if I don't, God is still God and His plan for my life is still good.

I say this all but I have to admit that it is not with unwavering certainty. This is a day by day thing. Every day, I have to wake up, hand God my bundle of grief and sin and insecurities and ask Him to show me His goodness and His glory and ask Him to help me to trust in Him more. Daily I have to invite him to be my All in All.

You are my strength when I am weak
You are the treasure that I seek
You are my All in All
Seeking you as a precious jewel,
Lord to give up, I'd be a fool.
You are my All in All

Jesus, Lamb of God,
Worthy is your name.
Jesus, Holy Lamb of God,
Worthy is your name!

Taking my sin, my cross, my shame,
Rising again, I bless your name.
You are my All in All.
When I fall down you pick me up
When I am dry you fill my cup.
You are my all in all

©1991 Shepherd's Heart Music, Inc.
Words and Music by Dennis Jernigan

7/6/10

Think about such things

To borrow a phrase from a blog I recently stumbled across, this blog is getting moldy. I haven't had the motivation or inspiration to update it lately.

Honestly, I have been in quite the funk for the last couple of weeks. I was warned by many women who have gone through a similar tragedy that grief can come and go in waves, but I never expected that it would still hit me like this 5 months later.

I am learning that there is no timetable for grief. Each of our experiences are unique and therefore how we learn to cope with our grief will be different. I am really wishing there was a road map at this point though so I would know what to expect, but alas there is not, and I need to come up with a game plan to help me through these difficult seasons.

I know I need to face this grief head-on. To try deny an emotion and bury it is to risk an emotional explosion later. But I also, am coming to realize that I have control of how I respond to these emotions and what I do with them. I can wallow in them until they affect my sleep, my health, and my attitude....which is what I have done lately, and trust me, I don't even like to be around myself then! Or I can express what I am feeling in a healthy way - praying, journaling, and talking to good biblical counselors and friends, and choose to not let these feelings consume me. I can either choose to focus on the negatives, the sadness, the loss or choose to focus on the beautiful blessing Isaiah was and is to me and the many other blessings in my life. I am going to go with option B because that puts me in a much better place.

So in an effort, to focus on the blessings in my life, I am going to start a blessings journal. I want to use this to record all of the blessings of my day - be they big or small, so when I am having a tough day, I can flip through and remember that even in the tough days of life, I am still abundantly blessed.

Its amazing how what we choose to think of can dramatically affect our attitude and perspectives on life.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. - Philippians 4:8

6/16/10

5!

Lauren and I showed up to our first pre-marital class in winter of 2004. We drove out to a far-flung Minneapolis suburb to listen and learn from another Christian couple assigned to us by the church. I still remember walking into their house, glancing at the framed picture of George W., taking a seat awkwardly in the ultra-formal, ultra-floral love seat, and wondering how weird this was going to be. Sparing you the details... it was, in fact, weird. We flunked our compatibility quiz, stumbled through the sex discussion, and fought desperately from rolling our eyes as the couple waxed-on about their unbelievably obedient, gifted children. Despite all of the weirdness, the couple had two things right: they were desperately in love with Jesus and desperately in love with each other. It was infectious.

Six months later, I married my beautiful bride on a warm and sunny June day in Minnesota. She balled her eyes out the whole day.

It was perfect.


We flew to Mexico for our honeymoon. While in Mexico, we drove up an ocean-side mountain, discovered Lauren had a severe allergy to shellfish, and watched thousands of "creatures" emerge from the Pacific one night, just after nightfall. The million crab march was utterly terrifying and altogether beautiful... just like marriage.


The ensuing years equalled lots of grad school, apartment hunting, meals-gone-wrong, and beautiful dusk walks. We spent lots of time traveling. We wandered through Florence and Rome: lovin' the Bernini and biscotti. We flew to Rio de Janeiro: explored a jungle, lived for churrascaria, and got mugged on the Copacabana. We travelled to Paris: fell in love with the Marais disctrict, pane au chocolat, and Chartres. This past spring we took a trip to northern California and drove from valley to valley looking for old mission churches, vineyards, and breathtaking views.


While president-elect Obama was speaking to a crowd of thousands in Chicago's Grant park (election night 2008), Lauren and I were a few blocks away eating dinner. That night Lauren told me that we she was pregnant and I was so joyful. I remember instantly thinking: what name should we choose for him? For her? Where would he/she go to school? Would he/she be a cubs fan or a sox fan? ... But, before Obama could take residence in 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, we had miscarried and were distraught. so shattered.

By late summer 2009, Lauren was pregnant again. We were fearful but so excited. I didn't allow myself to think of names or schools or sport affiliations. We took one day at a time and everything seemed to be going so well. Lauren's midsection grew slowly...then dramatically. Week 8, 12, 20, 24 passed and everything was perfect. Then in the last throes of winter, our sweet boy, Isaiah, passed away at 32 weeks. Lauren endured labor and we held our dead son.

It snowed with abandon on the day he was buried. The snow covered my bible. It covered our coats, boots, and faces. I wanted to disappear with the snow. To be white and only one of millions of flakes.

We drove our old Saturn along the north shore as the snow storm intensified. The sensible would choose to stay off the roads, but I had no sense and so we drove from Rosehill cemetery on Chicago's northside north along the crashing waves of Lake Michigan.

The days that followed were so dark and schizophrenic. We hurled our anger toward the ALMIGHTY and buried our faces deep in HIS beautiful chest. We sensed HIS love more than ever before. And, in our desperation, lived for HIM alone.


There is a song that captured our thoughts during that time (and it's still our favorite worship song).

soon and very soon
my KING is coming
robed in righteousness
and crowned with love
when I see HIM I
shall be made like HIM
soon and very soon

soon and very soon
i'll be going
to the place HE has
prepared for me
there my sin erased
my shame forgotten
soon and very soon

i'll be with
the one i love
with unveiled face I'll see HIM
then my soul
will be satisfied
soon and very soon

soon and very soon
see the procession
the angels and the elders
'round the throne
at HIS feet I lay
my crowns my worship
soon and very soon

though i have not seen HIM
my heart knows HIM well
JESUS CHRIST the LAMB
the LORD of heaven

soon and very soon...


My favorite phrase in this song is "with unveiled face, I'll see him." This comes from 2 Corinthians 3:18 where Paul writes:

"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the LORD's glory, are being transformed into HIS likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the LORD, who is the SPIRIT."

Heavenly Father, it is our desire as husband and wife these 5 years and the next 50, to reflect YOUR glory with unveiled faces.

we've experienced so much joy, discovery, patience, and pain these last 5 years. Tonight we are packing for a long weekend at Sleeping Bear Dunes near Traverse City Michigan. The landscape along the lake dunes is utterly sublime and breathtaking. I can't wait to enjoy the CREATOR'S creation, and walk hand in hand with my beautiful bride.

6/1/10

What's in a name?

This is a question that has popped into my head repeatedly in the busyness of the last few weeks. Something I still treasure more than words express is to hear people use Isaiah's name. Somehow this simple gesture seems to validate my son's brief life. In hearing his name, it reminds me that he really did exist. I really was pregnant with him for 32 weeks. Its not just a whimsical dream of some far off carefree life.


I am a member of an online support group and recently, we have been doing a name project where we take picture of each others babies' names and photograph them in interesting ways. It is such a simple project, but I can't tell you how powerful it is to see your child's name written out. Its a tangible representation of how he left a mark on this earth in his brief life. Here's a few of my favorite examples:










Sadly, these sweet pictures are not the only ways I have seen my son's name in the last couple of weeks. From time to time, Matt and I like to go visit Isaiah's "property." We know he is not really there, but it is a special place for us to go and spend time where his physical body rests. Because Isaiah died in the winter, we were not able to get a tombstone right away. We designed the stone a while back but were told that it wouldn't be in until spring or so, and that they would call us as soon as it was in.


Two weekends ago, we were out visiting the property and we were shocked to see that his stone was already set. No one called to warn us. I know it may not seem like such a big deal, but there is something shattering about seeing the name that you lovingly picked out for your son etched in granite.

So final. So real.

A flood of emotions hit me as I gazed upon this marker. Part of me was happy about how it turned out and the fact that there will be a permanent marker of his existence, but I was also flooded with the memories of what happened and the realization that my son really is buried and I will never see him again this side of eternity. I can't help but think, "Is this really my life?" "Did this really happen?"

Alas it did. I am coming to terms with the fact that I may never fully understand why God allowed this to happen. Daily, I am choosing to trust God and his goodness. Something that used to come so naturally to me, now really is a daily choice. Its so easy to trust God when things are going well, but its a whole different ball game when life is hard.


Something I have really been seeking to do lately is focus on the truths of God. Though my emotions are quite the roller coaster right now, and can't be trusted, God is unchanging. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.


"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliver; my God is my rock,
in whom I take refuge."
(Psalm 18:2)

5/17/10

How are you?

How are you?

I feel like I have been asked this question a thousand times recently. Don't get me wrong, I love that people are willing to continue to support us and show their love and concern, but I have to admit I get sick of this question because it is a really hard one for me to answer. I think most people expect a few short words as a response to that question. Unfortunately, I can't sum up how I am really doing in a few words, so I warn you now, if you want an honest answer to how I am doing, be prepared for a book.

I have made the effort to condense my answers a bit since most people would prefer the cliff notes to the three part epic novel. The best thing I have come up with is to say that everyday is a roller coaster - some days are good - I would even go as far as to say really good - but some days are still so tough.

For those of you that truly do want to know, here's a glimpse into the deeper reality of how I am doing. I truly do feel like I am stuck on a roller coaster. I have had some wonderful moments lately. I am finding the deepest joy in the fact that God seems to be drawing Matt and I so close to Himself. I can't begin to tell you how much it means to me to see how God is working and moving in Matt's life. I continue to see more and more of God's character shine through him and I can feel God drawing us closer together though our love for Him. The conversations we have had, the prayers we have prayed together, the sweet time we have just hanging out together, its simply amazing!

I have also found great joy in spending time with my friends and family. I find that more and more lately, I am able to enjoy myself while I am out doing things with people. I find myself laughing and smiling more often and I am so thankful for that.

But I have to be honest, though things are "better" sometimes, I am still deeply struggling at times too. Every new situation seems to bring the thought that Isaiah should be with us. I also really struggle with jealousy at times. I desire to be a mother to a child here on earth so seeing pregnant women and babies everywhere brings pangs of longing. I find myself wondering why I don't deserve to be a mother like these other women? What's wrong with me? I know this is not true and I have to fight these thoughts with God's truth. Still as strong as I try to be, my heart and arms ache with emptiness and my mind spins as I try to answer the never ending why's in my head. Why me? Why us? Why Isaiah? I have thought to myself many a time that when I get to heaven I have some questions for God. He better help me understand this!

Matt has really helped me deal with this desire to get answers from God. He was listening to a podcast of one of our favorite pastors. The pastor began by reading from Isaiah 6: 1-5

In the year that Kind Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces , with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory."
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips , and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty."

Wow, is all I can say. Can you imagine seeing such a powerful scene? What MAJESTY and AWE!

After reading this portion of scripture, the pastor asked if we were standing in this amazing scene before Almighty God, would we really want to demand any answers from him? Would we really want to share our "beefs" with him? Really?

No! If I were standing there, like Isaiah, I would be totally freaked out. I would also want to throw myself on the ground and cry out "Woe is me! I am unclean and I am gazing upon Almighty God." All the beefs and questions I have will disappear as I gaze upon God's beauty and majesty.

The amazing thing about God is that He is this majestic fear-inspiring God but He is also full of love, grace and compassion. He is truly amazing! Though on this earth, I may never understand why God allowed Isaiah to die, I rest in knowing that God is God and I am not. He may chose to answer some of my questions, or He may ask me to simply trust in His unfailing plan. Whatever He chooses to reveal to me, I am choosing to put Him on the throne of my life, and to Him I cry,

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord Almighty;
The Whole Earth is filled is his glory!"



5/10/10

The elusive sheep are back in town!

I made it through my first Mother's Day weekend without Isaiah, and it was not as bad as I anticipated it to be. In large part, that was due to my sweet grandmothers birthday. Well, I suppose the mere fact that I am writing this entry tonight is due to my grandmother's birthday because I wouldn't be here without her, but I digress.

This weekend, Matt and I made the long drive from Chicago to Tennessee to celebrate my grandmother's 80th birthday. My mom planned a surprise party for her and invited the family and her friends. I have to admit, I dreaded this a bit in the weeks preceding. Being in a large group is still hard for me - especially when its seeing the people in the large group for the first time since I lost Isaiah since most people say something the first time they see me if they know what happened. Though I deeply appreciate their care and shows of support and affection, it is really hard to repeatedly hear, "I am so sorry," and "How are you," in that sympathetic, don't upset the grieving mom tone.

The party turned out to be a lot of fun. I could tell my grandma loved the surprise and loved that so many people came out to celebrate her special day. And yes, quite a few people came up to Matt and I with the expected questions and comments but they were all really sweet about it and we prepared a few answers so we wouldn't have to think about it too much and could keep as much attention as possible on my grandma.

My grandma told me something after the party that really touched my heart. As much fun as she had at the party, it was still hard to celebrate without thinking that my grandpa should be there with her. Just as I was feeling that Isaiah was missing from the party, she felt that grandpa was missing from the party. I know that is such a simple statement but I was so wrapped up in my own feelings of loss that it never occurred to me to think of how that would feel for her. I am so thankful that she shared that with me because in a weird way, I felt bonded to her in a special way through our grief.

I also felt bonded to my aunt this weekend. About 10 years ago, my aunt also lost a precious baby to stillbirth. I hate that we share this agonizing loss, but knowing she walked this road before me is such an encouragement to me. And seeing my cousin who was born just a year after she lost her baby was an encouragement to me as well. She is such a sweet, beautiful girl and she is a wonderful reminder that there is hope even in devastating loss. My aunt also gave me a beautiful mother's necklace. She didn't want to make a big deal of it, or call it a mother's day gift, but this gift really touched me. To have someone honor me as a mother meant so much to me - especially when it came from someone who really understood this lonely journey.

Matt and I also got to cook dinner for my mom and grandma on Sunday. As much as we wanted to bless these sweet women on Mother's Day, it was a blessing to us as well. It kept me busy not thinking about myself. The less time I have to think on these "hard days" the better, and it allowed Matt and I to do something fun together which is something we really appreciate right now.

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend, and on top of all the other blessings, God gave me one other present - 3 nights of falling asleep without having to take anything! For those of you that have journeyed with me through this loss, you know that sleep has been my toughest physical symptoms. Most nights, I cannot fall asleep without taking Benadryl or Tylenol PM, but for the last three nights, I have drifted off to sleep without taking anything. That's huge for me. I have spent so much time in the last week trying to track down some sheep to count, but this weekend, my elusive sheep were back in town!!

5/3/10

Keep Your Fork!

I can't believe its already been three months since we said hello and goodbye to Isaiah. Three months? My heart still aches for him like it was just yesterday. Yet at the same time, I feel like it was years ago. I think part of it is that I feel like I am a different person than I was three months and a day ago. Thanks to my sweet boy, I have learned to be so much more intentional about life. Each moment that I have seems so precious to me now, and I finally taking the time treasure friendships, family, and my husband and put life into perspective.

I recently read a book that talks a lot about perspective: The Noticer, by Andy Andrews. In this story, the main character, Jones, helps people discover perspective about their lives and their situations, and there is one story that has been a real encouragement to me.

A woman wakes up to find Jones comforting her husband, Harrison, who was losing his battle with cancer. He had become quite bitter and afraid of dying. In talking to him, Jones brought up the memory of holiday meals at Harrison's mother's house. Harrison reminisced of what a wonderful cook his mother was and how joyous these meals were. Then Jones reminded him of what she used to say as she would clear the table of the dinner dishes before dessert. You see even better than her cooking was her desert baking. Everybody raved about how good her pies and cookies were. So as she cleared the table, she would remind everyone to keep their dinner fork because the best was yet to come. Before Jones left Harrison that night, he kissed him on the head and said, "You don't have to be afraid anymore, Harrison. You can keep your fork. The best is yet to come."

How powerful and how true! I have had my share of hardships and I am sure I will have more, but I can rest in knowing that one day I will be reunited with my Glorious Savior. He will wipe away every tear. He will mend my broken heart. He will make all things right and in him I will be complete. I celebrate that no matter what life brings, the best is yet to come!

4/24/10

Sileo

I am spending another lazy Saturday, sipping coffee, crocheting, and hanging out with my wonderful husband. Again, I find myself gazing out our living room windows and I have made a wonderful discovery. A beautiful Robin is building her nest right outside of our window.

OK, I must admit that at first, I was struck by the irony of this. Sure we recently lost our son, and now I have to gaze out at a bird preparing a nest for her new babies. Not fair. This reminds me of another not fair animal moment. While Matt and I were on our trip to California, we stopped to see a geyser we read about in our travel guide. Well, this turned out to be quite the roadside attraction. Sure the geyser was cool but there were lots of other cheesy things set up - one being a petting zoo. In one fenced in area, a mother goat was nursing her baby goat and I found myself balling. You know your emotions are raw when a nursing goat brings you to tears - seriously a goat! I think the kids around the petting zoo thought I was a complete nut.

Anyway, back to my Robin. After I got through my initial moment of irony, I found myself drawn to this mother bird as she builds her nest. It is so amazing to watch her bring back scraps, twigs and strings and weave them together to make nest. Its stunning to watch her wind these items around in circles and pat them down with her feet. There is such beauty and love in the way that she builds this nest for her babies. One of the things I found most stunning about this whole process is how secure this nest is. Its a rather windy morning. All of the leaves and delicate branches of the tree are swaying about in the wind yet the nest - which is made of nothing more than scraps and twigs - stands firm. It doesn't sway at all. Matt mentioned something about a mother Robin's spit being like cement which holds the nest together so strongly. I have no idea if that is actually true, but I like the imagery of it!

Gods love is a lot like that. Man this world is just plain windy. We are constantly blown back and forth by the turbulent gusts of the struggles and hardships and pain of this life. Yet, God's love is immovable. He keeps telling me just rest in the nest of love and protection and hope that He has made for me. Yes, the world will still be turbulent, and unfortunately, we do not get a quick pass out of these troubles, but in Him, we are secure and will find rest.

This reminds me of the picture that Matt created to go over our bed. In large lime green text, is the word Sileo which is Latin for rest or quiet. Under that, is the verse that reminds me of God's amazing, immovable love:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the Shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God in whom I trust."

-Psalm 91:1-2

4/21/10

Brown Trees

This year, spring has refreshed my heart in a new way. The new leaves and flowers that are blooming all around me feel like God's beautiful reminders that in a world that can be so dark and painful and sad, there is still beauty and joy. I love to sit on my couch and look out the window at all the fresh signs of life, and looking out these windows as the trees bud always makes me think of a funny story.

Matt and I moved to Chicago rather hastily. Matt was just graduating grad school for architecture, and he got a promising new job offer. There was one caveat. They needed us there in just over three weeks. We were in the process of looking to buy a place in Minneapolis. We had already been pre-approved, were analyzing our finances and dreaming of all the personal touches you could put on a place of your own - like painting and drilling things into a wall. (We had been so trained in college about not nailing or drilling things into the wall, that this seemed oddly appealing). The prospect of having to rent again in Chicago seemed dreary. So we decided to head to Chicago for a weekend and meet with a realtor to see if it would be possible to choose a place and close on it in just three weeks.

After looking at just over a million places in 2 days, we fell in love with a small condo in Edgewater. We put in an offer, and just three weeks later we closed. When we looked at our place, it was just before the leaves came out on the trees. We loved all of the giant trees on our street and we couldn't wait for the beauty of the green canopy of leaves that was sure to follow.

Well, I came up a few days early to interview at my new job and do a walk through of the condo and I came across a startling realization. Our trees were brown! I remember calling Matt and asking him how we could possibly have just bought a place with the only brown trees on our street!

Life can be like that. We expect certain things. Like you would expect green leaves on a tree in spring, you expect life to fall into a certain pattern - like that old nursery rhyme..first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage. The first two parts of that worked for me so where is my baby in the baby carriage. Twice now, once through an early miscarriage and then through the loss of Isaiah, this dream has been shattered before my eyes. The carriage that we borrowed from a friend still stands empty.

I still struggle with the meaning of all this. Why me? Does God really care? How in the world can He allow me and so many other beautiful women I know to go through such tragic loss. God still hasn't given me an explanation and I don't think I will ever get answers to all my questions, but over and over, God keeps showing me how much He does care. Lately, He has been giving me glimpses of how He prepared my heart and my faith to walk through this valley and He has shown me how He continues to walk through it with me and hopes to lead me out. I will never understand why Isaiah can't be here with me and there are a lot of other things about life and my past that I will never understand, but I am leaning on this verse:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path. -Proverbs 3:5

4/16/10

our holy joy

why did YOU make us to feel so deeply? why did YOU form us to love so strongly and despair so thoroughly? we miss our son more than words, everything inside us aches: our insides collapse and our minds spin. the only truth we can piece together is that we are in YOUR image and YOUR likeness. If we--fallen and sinful creatures--ache this much, how much more do YOU, our HOLY JOY, ache for us?



our tears moisten, YOUR tears flood.



since losing isaiah, david crowder's rendition of "how HE loves" captures the hope found in JESUS, our holy joy:



how HE loves*


HE is jealous for me, LOVES like a hurricane, i am a tree,
bending beneath the weight of HIS wind and mercy.
when all of a sudden, i am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
and I realize just how beautiful YOU are,
and how great YOUR affections are for me.

how HE loves us oh,
how HE loves us,
how HE loves us all

HE loves us,
oh how HE loves us,
oh how HE loves us,
oh how HE loves.

and we are HIS portion and HE is our prize,
drawn to redemption by the grace in HIS eyes,
if HIS grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
and heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
and my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
i don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
when i think about, the way that

HE loves us,
oh how HE loves us,
oh how HE loves us,
oh how HE loves.
yeah, HE loves us,
oh how HE loves us,
oh how HE loves us,
oh how HE loves.


*lyrics by john mark mcmillian, performed (best!) by david crowder band


4/10/10

March for Isaiah (march for babies)

The agony of golgotha. The anticipation at the tomb . The glory of the Easter resurrection.

The drama of the past week traces GOD's great rescue plan. JESUS defeats the shameful cross, bears the weight of sin, ransoms the cold grave, and boldly offers new life. After weathering darkness and an all-consuming spiritual winter, all we can do now is glow in Easter truth. This year's early spring weather came just as Easter dawned and has blessed the barren Chicago soil with verdant chutes, buds, and blossoms. New life. Everywhere.

To celebrate our Easter joy and the hope of new life, we are participating in the March for Babies at 9am on Saturday, April 25 along the Chicago lakefront. We are marching 6.2 miles in memory of our beautiful son Isaiah and to help support the thousands of babies that are born too soon, too small and often very sick. The march for babies is affiliated with the march of dimes. The goal of this organization is to fund research and support programs that help babies begin healthy lives. If you're interested in sponsoring our walk, please visit our webpage at http://www.marchforbabies.org/LEGamache

Happy Easter.

4/7/10

Old Jeans, New Me

Today I reached a wonderful milestone - I fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans. They are a bit snug, but I'm in! I know that seams like a rather shallow milestone considering all that has happened but there is something so healing about fitting into my old clothes. I treasured all of the changes that my body took on during my pregnancy with Isaiah. I was not a woman that feared gaining a few healthy pounds, but in the wake of his loss, the physical reminder was so hard to bear. And on top of that physical reminder, it just took a toll on my self esteem. I have felt utterly shattered emotionally and then to feel unattractive physically just added insult to injury.

Its just amazing how fitting into old jeans can lift my spirits. I am finding that lots of little things have been lifting my spirits lately and that is a welcome change. The sunshine on my face, the beautiful flowers that are blooming throughout the neighborhood, sweet conversations with amazing friends, and spending lazy afternoons with my husband has brought me little glimpses of joy that I have missed in the last two months.

I still long to hold Isaiah in my arms more than words can express, but I treasure the fact that I can embrace this longing while still experiencing moments of joy. I know that each day and sometimes each moment will be different and at times this joy will be hard to find, so I want to treasure the moments of joy that I have.

So while I slide into my old jeans, I feel like a new me. A me that has experienced unthinkable tragedy yet has learned to celebrate the little joys of life.

Weeping my last for a night, but joy comes with the morning. - Psalm 30:5