Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I thought I'd share some links to a few people that I pray for regularly. I don't know any of them and I actually don't know how I found out about them except through prayer requests from blog readers, but nonetheless, these are people that need prayer and encouragement. I know that it can be overwhelming at times to think of all the prayer needs on this big blue marble, but we aren't meant to take on all of those burdens. We, as the Body of Christ, are meant to bear one another's burdens, as a team, not individually. There are a lot of other people I pray for that have blogs for other reasons, but these are a few with physical needs right now. I was wondering if you are reading this and have a few of your regular sites you visit of people you pray for, would you be willing to post them here to share with others?

I don't personally think that the more people who pray, that'll get the job done. If that were the case, what was the 'magic number' that would have 'convinced' God to heal Noah this side of Heaven? This isn't a game of manipulation. I do, however, believe that prayer works in numerous ways. Prayer isn't always answered the way we want. Prayer draws us closer to God because it is the Spirit of God who prays when we don't even know what to pray anymore. In light of that, the more people who pray, the better not because it will turn out as we plan but because it means we are seeking intimacy with the Only True God, and it makes the devil mad.
A girl named Georgie from Australia who has been in a coma for 195 days. http://georginabrooke.blogspot.com/
A little guy named Ethan who was born with leukemia. http://ethanpowell.com/Encrypted.cfm?id=121
Josh Buck, a pastor in GR, MI, who was paralysed January 2006. http://greenhouseministries.org/
A missionary family in Mozambique whose little guy was in the hospital, intubated, without answers as to a diagnosis. http://www.gardnersforgod.org
Paige Stibgen is a 10 year old girl who has cancer. http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/paigestibgen

I know many of you pray for these guys, too, because that is how I learned of them, but would you be willing to post more links for prayer? Last year at Halloween we were praying for Noah. This year the list is just as long:

The Lord's return
The sifting of His Bride
Softening of hearts
True repentance
Children all over the world
Single parents/Married parents
Prisoners (guilty and not guilty)
Soldiers (and their families and friends)

Seriously, as I ponder how the list is endless, it kind of all boils down to praying for our very own hearts to be changed, one at a time...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Roller Coasters

The Blue Streak. The Corkscrew. The Matterhorn. The Wild Cat. Space Mountain. Thunder Mountain. The Wild Thing. These are the names of roller coasters I can recall riding. I don't even know how many more I have ridden, but "Emotional" is the one I'm on right now and I have a feeling it just goes on and on. There are highs and lows, slow climbs and plunging dips at record breaking speed. Dark caves and rickety curves. The only stillness occurs at the very peak but then it crashes swiftly into the next valley and the anticipation of another climb and fall awaits. Sometimes it's fun. Other times you think you may hurl.

I've been wondering how I can be going along, thinking about Noah and missing him in a 'normal' fashion, to missing him with such intensity that my guts physically ache and I could care less if I existed on this earth. I've felt blind sided at times with the onslaught of emotional extremes but I have come to realize I literally am on a roller coaster, it is called life, and it does not stop until life ceases to exist. There have been some roller coasters that I have ridden and then hopped off only to run to the back of the line for another whirl. Each time I rode it I knew more and more what to expect around the next bend, yet the excitement and intensity did not lessen. I was still totally freaked out. The only problem with this roller coaster called, "Emotional", is that though there may be events in my life with subtle similarities, I don't get to hop on and off whenever I want and I won't ever really know what is around the next bend or over the next hill.

The past two weeks have left me feeling like I've plummeted down an 89 degree drop at 100 miles an hour. Why? I don't know. I do feel like I'm leveling out again, but boy, is this ever exhausting! One thing I shared tonight in grief counseling is that the anticipation of the one year mark on January 12th is HUGE! There will always be anniversaries, but this one forever changed my life, along with Jason's, Em's and obviously Noah's.

We talked a bit about our roles tonight. The facilitator had us think back to one month prior to our child's death and list the roles we were living. One month prior to Noah's death I was a mom, wife, researcher, caregiver, and doctor. Today I am a wife and mom. I know during the last year I have not walked appropriately in the many other roles I purposely laid aside while Noah was sick...sister, daughter, niece, aunt, granddaughter, friend, neighbor, etc. I am not sure when or if I'll ever fulfill those roles as I should.

Our assignment for the upcoming week is an interesting one. We are to assess the support people in our lives, people who have supported us throughout this long journey. Some questions posed are, "Who is a 'listener'?" "Who is a 'doer'?" "Who could you 'do without'?" "Who have you 'lost' through this experience?" "Do you choose to reconnect with them?" "Why or why not?" "Who have you gained?"

As I pray throughout the week, I will share some of my heart here. I think this assignment will be easy for me, even though the losing and gaining have been difficult...
Jason and Em and I drove to SD last week to see family and friends. Jason spent a lot of time hunting with his brother, friends and their friend's fathers. His dad died 9 1/2 years ago and hunting and fishing were two things they really enjoyed together.

I missed grief counseling last week. Obviously I wasn't physically there, but I missed going. Jason and I had borrowed a couple of grief books to take along on the trip and one day I decided to read them. Three of them were grief books for children. I wanted to pre-screen them before reading them to Em. One of them is entitled something like, We Were Supposed to Have a Baby, but We Had an Angel Instead. It was good. It also sucked. It was the most simple of books, from the big brother's perspective, and I wound up a heap on the floor because of it. I haven't decided when I'll read it to Em.

As we met some new people in SD, Em would say hello and then begin sharing that she had a brother. Two women who may have known our story, I'm not certain, cut Emily off mid-sentence. I was shocked but not shocked. It made my heart hurt for Em because it is important for her to be able to share her side of the story. I think two things happened...one, the women came across as adults who don't address children, at least not engaging in conversation, and two, they weren't comfortable with how they would have to respond, so it 'came across better' as if they just didn't hear her or understand her. Believe me, they heard her.

As adults we are barely comfortable with our own feelings and emotions, but let us not stifle a child's expression of those things...they will be healthier adults, let's give them an advantage and just listen. No, we can't solve it or put a bandage on a grief 'boo boo', but we're the only ones that think it needs 'fixing'...Kids are more pure than that.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Lord, I pray for every person affected by the fires in California. I pray that as they draw together in community they will see Your face and be comforted by Your loving kindness. I pray that the Enemy of our lives will not be successful in destroying hearts, hopes, and dreams. Lord, it's not like You are not aware of the devastation people are feeling in losing their physical treasures, but in the midst of it, Lord open their eyes to hope in You and everlasting peace that can only come from you. Lord, for all the volunteers, please bless them with strength to serve and to not grow weary in well doing. For all of those who have lost loved ones because of the fires, please give them the hope of Heaven. For those who have lost their homes and businesses, comfort them and bless them with wonderful new beginnings like Job. Lord, in all things You deserve the glory. Lord, all over this earth every single day there are tragic things that happen that we cannot comprehend. You see the bigger picture and somehow it all is beautiful or useful in Your perspective. Please, Lord, as our eyes are opened slightly with Your perspective, give us the hope that only comes from You. And when You lay those things on our hearts to pray, may we be obedient to do so, and to do it steadfastly.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I'm crusty. I am very grateful for this outlet. I usually process things with the Lord, first. Then, if it is something that needs continued wisdom or counsel, I talk with Jason, then possibly family and friends, if not involved and appropriate. I don't care for strife but that doesn't mean I avoid it or go looking for it. If it comes, I deal with it. I think some people do indeed go looking for it. Their lives are miserable, so why not include everyone around them, right?

I know that I have strong opinions about some things, but I have also learned with time and maturity (not boasting, just the facts) to bite my tongue and allow others who think they know everything to learn on their own. Just because I have an opinion doesn't mean anyone needs to hear it. Often in the settings where people around me have been so adamant about expressing their views, self-righteousness is the main driving force. "I think I am right = self-righteousness." The pride that permeates the situation is so nauseating that I usually have to leave the room. Have you ever known anyone like this? From the big things like politics and relationships to small things like where to shop and how to run your kitchen, their way is the best way, their way is the only way, anyone who doesn't do things their way is inferior and sub-par, purely ignorant, completely stupid. Oh wait, that is their opinion, they don't define me.

Here is the definition of opinion:
1 a: view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter b: approval, esteem
2 a: belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge

Notice opinion does not equal being right.

The reason I am so fiery about this and can speak out on this is that I used to be that arrogant. My freshman year of college I thought everyone wanted and needed to hear my opinions. It stemmed out of a need to be heard and to be right, but I have learned over time that it was deeply rooted in my own insecurity and need for approval and affirmation from humans. As long as I was right that made me feel better than others. I had this need to know that I was at least better than the next guy. It is this fleeting thought that turns a desire to be good at something into wanting it at the expense of anyone and everyone. It is this small seed that gradually sprouts and grows roots. It is this small seed that one day looks like the beanstalk in Jack's story, at least to everyone who meets you. Somehow you are oblivious that the gigantic beanstalk growing outside your window is obtrusive.

Having an opinion or feeling strongly about something is how we are wired. Having the maturity and wisdom to know when it is appropriate and welcomed is another story. Sometimes in not sharing one's opinion, the other person learns more than if you had shared. Having an opinion does not equate being right.

As long as we think we are right in everything and that everyone we meet is wrong, as long as we think we are better than everyone else because we do, or don't do, this, this, and this, or have this degree or pedigree, as long as we think everyone and their dog needs to hear our opinions when not sought, we aren't building bridges toward life and love.

Sometimes I physically bite my tongue. Other times I have to consciously make the choice to keep my lips zipped. Often shutting my cake hole looks like me walking out of a room because the argument just isn't worth my time on this earth. I'm not sure what it may look like for you, and no, we won't always do it right, but if you don't even realize you actually need super glue or surgery to sew your lips shut, take a look around you...if you haven't many friends, have estranged relationships or you are only surrounded by 'Yes men', you are a prime candidate. I'm guessing at times you are right, but I guarantee it is not all the time. Ask God for the wisdom to know the difference...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Grief counseling, addendum

Recently God's been showing me His beauty in trees. I've been thinking a lot about the growth process from seed to mature tree, the root system, the necessities for growth like sun, water, time and season change. It's the season change that has me thrown for a loop, even though I know it is necessary.

When Noah was born I felt like a summer tree in full bloom, fresh, green, full foliage, healthy. When he got sick and was in the hospital for 5 1/2 months, it was like after the first frost when a tree experiences shock from the temperature and light change. Even though the outward manifestation of fall is magnificent and glorious, the trees are experiencing messages from external forces that cause changes. Because the outward expression of the changes are so beautiful, I doubt the fall tree knows that its colorful leaves will not stay like that forever.

As I look back to life in the midst of Noah's sickness and even in his death, I felt like a fall tree. Noah's life was a beautiful expression of God's love. His life was not in vain. He was a tree planted for the display of God's righteousness. When I drive around and look at the amazing colors of fall this year, I am daily in awe of God's creativity. If I had been God at the dawn of time, I would have thought leaving trees in a constant green, summer state was just fine. Thankfully for all of mankind, I wasn't there! If I had left it summer or constant spring, the whole seed germination process would not have existed and earth would have died out a long time ago.

Anyway, currently, even though I know what happens with trees, I feel like a dead, dormant tree in the middle of winter. My branches feel bare and unlovely. I know Noah's life changed my own and that his story encouraged others for a time, but I am a winter tree that doesn't know that there is something called "spring" on the other side of this state of being. And, technically, that isn't a promise...that spring comes after winter. Many trees can't take the season change. An aspen in our front yard couldn't take it. I know that spring is the season for fruit, but in the midst of winter, does a bare dormant apple tree know that it has the potential in the upcoming year for a beautiful harvest?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Grief counseling, week 3

I remember the week before Noah was born cramming to sew his bedding. My dear friend Rachel had helped me paint his room maybe a month or two prior to his arrival. His room had been Emily's nursery where I haphazardly painted gigantic red flowers mid-wall with green paint up to chair rail height. Hers was an eclectic mix of cherries, retro kid, and classic toile. It was interesting.

With Noah's room I knew I wanted it to match a little more than Em's nursery had. I moved Em into her new room (a surprise weekend project my friend Molly helped with while Em was out of town. I wanted her to have a special 'Big Sister' room.) and 'nested' the new boy nursery. The only thing I never did in Noah's room that I wanted to was put up large alphabet flash cards on the white trim two-thirds of the way up the wall. I had found some great ones with animals from around the world, but never got around to buying them...

I think the anticipation of having to tear down his room was more difficult than the actual task. I cried at church and left the service. I sat outside thinking the recipe for the day couldn't get any worse:
3 rainy days in a row
1 deceased child
3 'missing' persons
1 room in need of dismantling
1 bag of chocolate chips (the only saving ingredient)

It wasn't as if we were going to wait until November 27, the day before closing, to pack up his room. Obviously it had to be done and whenever is that convenient? Anyway, after church we went to lunch with some friends and their adorable little boy whose birthday is January 12th. I feel like God has blessed me with knowing two little boys who are sweeter than honey, one is 6 months older than Noah and the other 6 months younger. They would have been his buddies. Anyway, after lunch we headed to the tool store to replenish a few tools Jason needed to disassemble Noah's bed. You see, coincidentally, after one of the 68 showings of our home, ALL of Jason's tools were stolen from the garage. Fun times!

One of my friends, Cindy, who became a friend while Noah was in the hospital, and who was a friend of Noah's, is due with their little boy in about 6 weeks. We 'sort of' systematically organized Noah's things, keeping one mid-size rubber bin of our favorite clothes and mementos. We made a give away pile of things that could be used by someone else in need. And, then we sorted the 6 month and up clothes and are giving them to my friend.

Prior to tearing down Noah's room, Jason and Emily and I held hands in there and prayed. We explained to Em that in our new house Noah wouldn't have his own room but that the room next to her would be a place where her grandparents could sleep when they came to visit. She understood. She enjoyed being daddy's helper using tools to take apart his crib. We also let her pick some 0-3 month clothes for her Cabbage preemie. She named him, 'Noah' and plays with him daily. She has a lot of Noah treasures, but we knew it was important to include her in the process.

We 'reported' a bit of the process at counseling. I have to say, I love every parent in that room. Usually when you get to know someone right away, it starts out trivial. The process of loving that person takes time and concerted effort. When you open your heart and are vulnerable because of a 9-week time sensitive course, there is no time for trivial. But that wasn't an option for any of us, obviously, since the criteria for attending is losing a child...

We talked about the grief process last night. There was a visual diagram with life status quo, then loss hits, then this cycle of emotional and physical 'shock, protest, disorganization, and reorganization', and then life after loss. The line or arrow indicating life after loss was no longer simply horizontal. It naturally had an incline; life pressing on, with more purpose, not distracted by meaninglessness. I'll ask the facilitator if I can scan the chart and show it here on the blog for visual types, like myself. Jason and I both talked about how for us we both hit many of the 'stages' while Noah was in the hospital. For sure the 'shock', 'protest', and 'disorganization' stages.

We won't be able to make it to counseling next week because we are headed out of town for a week, but our assignment is to journal our thoughts on grief. This can look like anything, but the emphasis is getting our thoughts and hearts onto paper, basically not allowing ourselves to 'stuff' our grief, perhaps in the form of letters to our children or to God. The blog has definitely been this for me, but I want to scribe a few treasured thoughts to put somewhere for Em, too.

Well, this is ridiculously long. If you've read to this point, you certainly didn't have to. Thank you for allowing yourself to walk this road of grief with us. Tomorrow I'll post some thoughts God has running through my mind about my personal stage of grief...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Can I be any more random lately?

I can barely keep up with my brain. Do you blog in your head WAY more than on your blog? I do. Sometimes they sound so eloquent, in my brain that is, and then when I try to type them out, it's like the cookies a few entries down. Anyway, regarding those, depending on where you live on earth, geographically speaking, sometimes you have to adjust your recipes accordingly. So, even though "JOY" or "Betty C." made up a recipe ages ago, one that is tried and true, does not mean it is going to work in your kitchen. Well, it occurred to me regarding the 'smack' down move with the Toll House recipe (that's what it is, with regular flavor Crisco-oh so gross to think about) that that move may not work for other CCC recipes.

Okay, so, I'm the chef or baker in the kitchen. I have a recipe in front of me that is written in black and white and ladies in aprons all over the nation have used it day in and day out for years, no problem. Well, I live a mile closer to God, well, the sun, than say, Martha Stewart in Connecticut. Just because she follows a recipe one way doesn't mean it works for me, the chef, in my altitude kitchen. I have had many a floppy cookie trying to follow the stinking recipe verbatim! By trial and error and asking for HELP, I learned the trick to great triple C's (Chocolate Chip Cookies)...add more flour and a little more salt. And let's not forget the 'smack'. So, if I have to spell it out...God's the chef in my life and even though I'm used to living according to a tried and true recipe (my will, my way), He's adjusting my 'ingredients' to make a recipe better than my limited mind conceives. He's even graciously not leaving out the 'smack' down step (God loves me, calls me His child, and God disciplines His children...) on the counter of life because He knows about all the batches that didn't get the 'smack' and how much better His version is...

Regarding grief counseling, our assignment last session was to spend the week thinking about 'What ideas do you have for your child's clothes, toys, treasures or mementos?' and 'What would you like to accomplish during this nine week time period?' Not ironically AT ALL, we spent the day packing Noah's room. We have to by November 28th, our closing date, but tomorrow my folks are coming for an extended stay and I wanted them to have their own room while they help me pack. I took tons of pics and will post some of what we did so as to encourage any other people out there that need inspiration, perhaps, that they aren't the only ones and that they too can get through this step, whenever they are ready...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I'm 'dated', how about you?

So, as I sit here in 2007 with a computer on my lap, blogging, the obvious comes to mind. I am 35 years old. I first took typing from Ms. Reinhart in 9th grade. That was in 1987 when big hair, big earrings and two pairs of socks at once was cool. The same year I took typing class on a typewriter I took a computer class. The screen was dark brown with an orange cursor in the top left corner. We would type in programs and suddenly hearts or other shapes would come onto the screen. When we hit 'print' it meant going to the printer and physically ripping off the edges of feed paper as well as tearing each page from the next. The remainder of my high school years I typed my papers on a typewriter. I used something called "White Out".

Fast forward to 1990 when I headed off to college. I typed my papers on word processors. These were essentially fancy typewriters. There was one girl on my floor of 30 women that had an Apple computer. Once in a while I typed a paper on that, but she had homework to do, too. I did research for my papers in actual books from the library. (Thankfully books still exist...) I studied at the library where the only computers were for finding books. Thankfully I got married to a computer guy in 1993 and was able to type my senior thesis on a computer that came in 3 gigantic boxes that resembled Holstein cows...I graduated undergrad in 1994. The Internet was a rumor. Fast computers were the size of basements in large buildings.

Somehow I have existed for the last 20 years with taking one computer class...

My kid is 5. She can click and drag. She knows what a laptop is. She uses the finger mouse pad. At what age do kids learn keyboards these days?

(I didn't say I was 'old', I just said I was 'dated', mind you...)

Friday, October 12, 2007

I lost my cookies

So, my girlfriend who makes the most amazing chocolate chip cookies taught me a trick recently. It wasn't to throw my half-baked cookies in the dishwasher, though that would be an interesting step in the baking process...run it through a rinse cycle or maybe heat dry? No, the 'magic' step is to partially bake the cookies until the centers rise and then pull the cookies out of the oven for a 'smack' on the counter to cause the centers to fall. Then, return the cookies to the oven for a few more minutes and they are AWESOME!

Well, it was on the 'smack' on the counter step that I lost my cookies in the dishwasher. It was an easy clean up with the spatula and the sink sprayer, FYI, in case anyone else ever finds themselves in this scenario. It likely would not have happened had I not used parchment paper, but it's all I use for non-stick baking and easy clean up.

I've been 'away' all week because Jason left his computer power cord in Chicago last week and then took mine to Pennsylvania this week when the one he ordered showed up and was the wrong one! I supposedly had a fully charged battery, so when I went to write more of Noah's story the other day, it died after only 35 minutes, meaning, my battery needs replacing. I went away for a week in the mountains and had more access to technology there than I had in my house in the city all week. Very archaic.

Anyway, yesterday at Bible study, God put a smarter thought in my head than I could think of on my own, so, here it is...

"Never is there a time in the life of a follower of Christ where the words, 'I'll take it from here, Lord' would express total surrender or utter trust."

We were talking about trusting the Lord with the details of our lives, big and small. We were talking about belief and unbelief and how the devil will continue to lie to our hearts and minds, trying to convince us that God loves us conditionally, according to what we do rather than who He made us. There are days that I don't feel lovely or worthy of love, but that's the point...God's love for me is not based on His feelings. It's just the facts. God is love. He loves me. He's not a liar. God is incapable of lying. He is the Author of Truth and we are the subject with whom He is unashamedly in love. You and I can't do anything to convince Him to love us more. I need to adjust my trust and thinking accordingly. Trusting that even when my life and heart look like the cookies in my dishwasher, that somehow God's got it under control.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Grief counseling, week 2

Jason's show and tell
Jason's show and tell
Noah was made up of every wonderful trait his father has...compassion, humility, generosity, selflessness, kindness, gentleness, self-control, patience, love, pure and simple love.
Well, the facilitator reminded us tonight that this class needs to be a priority. She encouraged us not to make any major changes that would entail missing the class like, for instance she said, traveling, moving, getting a new job, etc. Oops, we'll be doing the first two, but we are committed to this class and should only miss one night...

After counseling tonight Jason and I went to our favorite Thai restaurant for a bite. Yes, the thought of food is nauseating after sitting for an hour and a half of crying and talking about grief, but honestly, I'm not going to lie, on Monday's until December 3rd, I will be taking part in emotional eating. Heck, the facilitator provides chocolate. I wouldn't want to offend her...

Anyway, at dinner I asked Jason if he were to blog about counseling tonight what would he write? He said simply that he is a mess. I asked if it was all because of Noah or all the faces of the other parents and kids represented in the room. He said that it's both, but mostly how deeply he misses Noah. He said that he knows the counseling is good and necessary but that each week so far there has been such a deep sadness in his heart. He said it is good for him to talk about it, though, and appreciates the setting.

So, tonight's homework assignment was to bring a picture to leave on the board and then an object that reminds us of our child. I brought 'Sushi', a blankie my friend Kim sent along for Noah on August 8th, 2006. I brought it to share because 'Sushi' was Noah's trademark blanket. I'm grateful I had mind enough in January not to have him cremated in it, along with his other 3 blankets. I also brought Noah's little Bible that Em picked out with his hand and foot print in it that we read to him every day. I used to love jumping in his crib and reading it into his sweet ear while I rubbed the tip of my nose on his cheek. We got through the Psalms, Proverbs, the story of Noah in Genesis, and the New Testament before he died. My 7 month old had heard more truth in his little life than a lot of grown ups. Jason passed around his silver bracelet he had made that he wears every day. He had it made shortly after Noah died by an artist on etsy. It says, "Nothing Missing, Nothing Broken" "Noah Steven Graves Crowned in Peace".

It is such an important thing, remembering. Regardless of the difficulty of the circumstances surrounding a person's death, remembering is important because no matter the time and distance between the day of their death and the very moment in which you are present, that person was real, that person loved you and was loved by you, and that person remains real, though in a completely different place. Each parent tonight had a treasure to hold dear, in order to remember, though their child is no longer able to be held by them. If you or someone you know is grieving, please don't put time limits or expectations on that person or yourself. The reality is, grieving people will always have profound loss on this earth. We will never get over it. In your grief, just because someone is physically gone does not mean you aren't allowed to remember them. Don't let anyone tell you how to grieve and what amount of time is appropriate. There was one woman tonight whose family got rid of all her daughter's belongings while she was beside herself with grief and her husband told her she has to just get over it. What the heck!? Lemme at him!

Here is something hopeful the Lord showed me the other day...each day that I am further from Noah's death I am closer to seeing him again. Maranatha!

Sushi's debut
October 8th, one year ago
Sushi and Noah get some fresh air

The picture Jason took tonight
The picture I took
Holding hands over Sushi

He does look like me...

Tonight is 'Show and Tell' at grief counseling. We have to bring in a picture of our child to leave up on a board for the 9 weeks. We also have to bring in an object that reminds us of our peanut. I feel a bit nauseous. I want to bring Noah, alive in my arms, but instead I'll bring his sushi blankie that no longer covers his sweet, sweet, tender little body. I wonder what blankies in heaven are like? I'll check in later...
The two middle pictures are of me but I'd have to ask my mom how old I was...old enough to sit up, obviously. I couldn't believe how much Noah looked like me until I saw these pictures.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Unfailing Love

"But I will trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
for he has been good to me."
Psalm 13:5&6

I did a word search on 'unfailing' and it led to the following list:
  • inexhaustible
  • everlasting
  • constant
  • unending
  • infallible
  • sure
  • enduring
  • indefinite
  • incapable of error
  • certain
  • trustworthy
  • tireless
  • unrelenting
  • incapable of being used up, wearied or worn out
  • indisputable
  • dependable
  • lasting
  • not yielding in determination
  • not weakening in vigor or pace
  • firm steadfast resolution or faithfulness
  • loyal

This is the kind of love God has for us.

Verses one through four of Psalm 13 are not warm and fuzzy. It's a crying out from David's heart that summed up my entire being this time last year. Even when we are living life on earth where trials and hardships and gut wrenching scenarios play out second by second, God's love is still unfailing. It's difficult to comprehend. People ask the question, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" all the time. It's called post-Garden life but it does not change God's love for us.

In college I read "Bruchko", an account about a 19 year old missionary named Bruce Olson who went to share God's love with an unreached people group deep in the jungle of South America. He did not know their language but did observe that their lives and dwellings depended on the trees. They slept in hammocks up off the ground that were anchored into the sturdy trees. He finally made the analogy of God being the sturdy tree and the hammocks representing the people's lives. The tribe had to tie their hammocks into the trees.

In light of the hammock story and Psalm 13, I had spent many years wanting God to do my will. I wanted Him to bless me and my ideas. I wanted the Tree to tie into my hammock. I had plans that seemed good to my thinking and limited world view. But as I have tied my hammock into God's unfailing love, daily I am able to see His will and get glimpses of His design. No, I don't see the whole picture. That's not my job. But, the one absolute I do know is God's love is unfailing when everything is smooth as silk and when it's rougher than a category 5 hurricane. He does not lie, so I trust Him.

God's love for you is unfailing.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Am I the only weirdo?

I do not do this at every meal, BELIEVE ME, but once in a while, I position Em's food in faces or fancy symmetrical designs for guaranteed consumption. The face above looks psychotic. Seriously, I've seen it in nightmares, but she ate it. Am I the only weirdo mom that makes food into faces?
This picture was taken yesterday morning. In light of the sale of our house and in celebration of NO MORE SHOWINGS, for the first time in 5 months, I let myself go, along with the kitchen, and didn't even make the beds until before dinner. Why did I even make them by that time? Well, apparently making the beds for more than 21 days in a row truly became a habit. I rather like the habit as I firmly believe the whole house can be a disaster, but when the beds are made, somehow it looks tidy. Call me crazy. Am I the only weirdo that takes pictures of my trashed kitchen? It could be in the cartoon section of the paper, "What doesn't belong in this picture (or on the counter?)
Notice what is in the center of the picture (not planted, I promise). Anyone see Galatians 5:22 & 23 on the counter?

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."

I love the above scripture because if we aspire to live by the Spirit of God and in turn produce fruit because of it, if those attributes are bothersome to others, it's no skin off our backs, it just makes the devil mad...
"I love you."
"I'm laughing in the face of adversity."
"I don't know why, but I just have this peace. I can't explain it..."
"I'll wait...seriously, take your time. God sees us as equal so your agenda is just as important as mine."
"Here, let me help you with that."
"You know what? Let me do that for you and give you a break for once."
"You are my forever friend, regardless of distance or time."
"How is your heart? Is there anything you need?"
"No, I'm choosing not to partake in that because it doesn't draw me closer to my God who is so in love with me. It's hard not to, but the choice is worth it."
(My amplified version...)

Monday, October 01, 2007

Holy grief counseling, Batman!

Noah in Room 8 of the PICU
Noah on the admit floor, August 5th
Noah in his sweet bed at home on June 12th
Noah at home on June 25, 2006

Em and Noah in his last room on Earth in December having together time
Noah's artwork in his home nursery
Noah's sweet little pad next door to Em's room

While it's fresh I should say that although my heart feels like it was ripped out, thrown on the concrete, rolled over by a steamroller and then slapped back into my chest, I'm glad we went to the grief counseling group tonight. We will go every Monday through December 3rd.

I do not like that others have loss in common with us, but that is the reality of life on earth. Another reality is that grief is not comparable. Yes, in life there will always be people who have circumstances that are worse than yours and better than yours, but one man's grief is just that...one man's grief. It can be shared and people supported, but never compared.

The facilitator kept emphasizing that we are not to take on the sadness or situation of our neighbors grief, that we are in the group to focus on our own healing, but hearing every one's hearts tonight, there is no way on earth I'm not praying for each and every one of them. Yes, I know I am there to grieve Noah's death. I will focus on that task at hand, but there is a reason that God has strategically placed these 6 families in one setting for the next 9 weeks. I pray I can be used to encourage while I am encouraged...

We split into pairs and learned the story of the other individual and how their child died. It was encouraging just to say, "I am sorry" and know that the guy on the receiving end of that sentiment didn't expect any more words than that, nor did he desire them.

The group class is at the Ronald McDonald House across from the hospital. After 5 and a half months of driving to and from TCH Denver, I could have driven there tonight with my eyes closed. The timing of this is interesting because where many people hold onto a place as a memory spot for their loved one, TCH Denver moved last week from Denver to Aurora to a brand new state of the art facility. I debated going to the old building last week for one last walk through, but I just couldn't do it. I don't regret the choice. We'll go visit the staff at the new facility...

Noah's room won't be a memory spot for me anymore, either, because God sold our house yesterday! We close on our house 4 days before grief counseling ends...I will miss his sweet little nursery and the fact that he had a room set up just for him next door to Emily. I am so happy to close on this house, though, and finally have it off the market so I can get lots of pictures developed and blown up and put into frames for our next house. We are going to have an artist do a few neat pieces for a memorial in our new place and I feel like that's been on hold for such a long time. The reality is if I lived in a tent or dirt hole, Noah's memory is forever engrained in my heart, therefore as long as I live, no matter where, he's 'there'...

Anyway, because of confidentiality I can't share too many details of other peoples' stories, but God blew Jason and me away with how small He made our world tonight. One precious mom who has 3 children in Heaven and one on Earth was Jason's partner when we split into pairs. We went around after we shared in pairs and then introduced our partner to the group and shared their story. When it was Jason's turn to share this woman's story, he held it together the best he could, but you know how it is when a man cries...everyone follows suit. Come to find out, after class Jason and she were talking and her children were all involved with Teen Mania Ministries. That's the ministry Jason and I have traveled with in the summers in the past. Small, small world.

We ended the time with a story that one of the facilitators read aloud. The book is called, Waterbugs and Dragonflies. It was a good allegory of life on Earth and death and Heaven. I would highly recommend it to anyone wrestling with death and what happens next...It was sweet for me because shortly after Noah was born we took him and his big sis up to the mountains for a day outing. While we hiked around a small mountain lake, Em caught beautiful blue dragonflies in her bug bin. She remembers that day vividly, as do I every time we drive past the Mt. Evans exit on I-70, but I wasn't sad when I heard this story tonight. Another piece of the peace...

I will post every Monday night after counseling while it is fresh to allow others in on the process. I hope it encourages another person out there whose heart feels like my first paragraph to take that first step...