Monday, October 28, 2013

In A Perfect World

In a perfect world, Nick and I would live in a 4 bedroom, 3 bath home, with a large backyard, with a tree that has a tire swing, a nice back patio with a covering and lots of room for a garden and playing. We would have plenty of space, like a basement and open living area for lots of people to come over, for kids to play on DNow weekends, for ladies craft nights, Bible studies and life groups. There would be plenty of room for 3 kids to grow up in. Oh and all three of those kids would be perfectly healthy and have no problems of course. There would be a large kitchen with a central island, lots of storage, neat nooks and crannies that hold special treasures of old, counter tops to roll out cinnamon rolls on the first snow each year, a big oven to make thanksgiving dinner, space for a nice dining area and bar stools so my three kids could sit and talk with me after school while doing their homework. Nick and I would have a nice spacious master bedroom with a huge bathroom, walk in closet, whirlpool tub, etc. I would have "my space" in there, with a nice cozy corner consisting of a comfy chair, bookshelf, lamp and window where I could peer out and watch it rain or snow, read and write. I want to write.  The kids would have their rooms, and we would have a basement full of fun things and family games. We would have two reliable vehicles in the garage and I'm sure Nick would love a dog or two, a cat or two, some fish, maybe a bird and whatever other animals he could rescue. He truly wants a zoo. Nick and I would run a thriving design business and art center. We would continually be involved in our church, ministry and other civic events. Family gatherings would happen often at our home. We would attend all of our children's school events, have friends over on the weekends and soak up life and all its goodness.

I said a perfect world. Don't we all know that a perfect world doesn't exist. Of course, most of you probably have the world I'm describing above already. Maybe you have that life and you think it is mundane and boring, typical and ordinary. I long for your ordinary.

Finding joy, gratitude and thanksgiving in the middle of your mundane is hard. Waiting upon the Lord for something that is not even guaranteed is sometimes where He meets us and tells us again, to trust him and turn our hearts back to him again. If you were to tell me, a few years ago, that I would have 2 children and one was going to die, I would have snickered, because God is good and He has my best interest in mind. Right? Don't we all say God is good, He knows the plans he has for me, plans for a hope and a future. Those words don't always seem true do they. If I were to look back a few years, I didn't think we would still be in our starter home, Nick still driving the car he has for over 10 years, etc. Life doesn't always happen the way we plan, the way we want, the way we hope and dream.

He hasn't left. He sees you. He knows.

I sat at church Sunday morning and was weary. Weary of the struggle to always budget, always have to repair things on our home, not always getting to go do fun things or buy new toys for the family, etc. It gets weary being responsible with our money. We sacrifice to allow me to stay home with Ava and we are seeing benefits and amazing blessings because of that sacrifice. There are days when it just bears down so heavily that we break and say "ok Lord, I'll go fix this. I'll go get a job, put Ava in day care, live in the same little house for the rest of our lives, never travel, never enjoy ourselves again, all on top of dealing with the death of our child." "here is my obedience Lord" *eyes roll, as I go lay depressed and whiny in my bed and let the tears roll* All these events of Saturday evening coming to mind and then all of a sudden, feeling the need to scribble words down in my notebook, I began to write those words. He hasn't left. He sees you. He knows. over and over. He cares. He loves you. He hasn't forgotten. He didn't leave. He has a plan. WAIT. Wait on Him. Don't let go. Keep on looking ahead. Sorry, Matt, I might not have heard the last few minutes of your sermon, I finally had a moment with the Lord that I have been needing for months though. So thanks for ushering in an environment for me to listen to Him.

Somehow, grief begins to plant seeds of entitlement. It can be scary and hard to keep them from growing. I begin to get the attitude that "my son died, so surely we get to catch a break on plumbing repairs, or other expenses we weren't expecting" "our son died, so surely we get to find that perfect house, get that random check in the mail or whatever." Life isn't easy, whether your child died or not. Life sucks, sometimes, even when you have everything you could ever imagine. Nick and I have always tried to remind each other to never be "happy when", but to be thankful and see what we DO have in the moment. Experiencing the death of a child, DOES put things in perspective though. Does all the fluff really matter, as long as I have what I need and God provides that, always does.

Does God really listen to my pitty party moments? Yes, of course he does. Does he honor them? I'm not sure, but I really don't think that my whining has ever gotten me what I want. It sure didn't with my parents. God listens, he cares and he knows better. My timing is never his. Obviously. Somehow he knows what I need, when I need it. There are so many things He is doing behind my view and the point of faith isn't just to know it will be ok in the big times of life, the deaths, the births, the job change or the big move, but in the mundane, the daily grind, the boring and sometimes gutter cleaning feeling days. When the budget is exactly where it needs to be, but no more, there has to be gratitude, not complaining. When we are all cozy in our little 2 bedroom home, when it is 30 degrees outside and raining, there MUST be thanksgiving and not whining. To be content, is not to settle, but to be so sustained in the provision of who God is and His character, that the worldly and earthly things aren't such a big deal.

So, if you see me or Nick driving his old Monte Carlo around, thank God for us, that we have 2 vehicles and no car payments. If you see me wearing the same outfits for a few years, it's not that I don't want to be fashionable or "in style", we just have other responsibilities that mean I don't get to go shopping every season. We spend what God gives us in the places he calls us to, and don't get me wrong, we spend some frivolous dollars, but rarely are they there to spend. Ava wears hand me downs, our lawn looks pretty dreary, the house needs painting and there isn't enough room to have many people in it. It isn't spectacular, but it is ours, it is home and it is shelter. We are NEVER WITHOUT though. Ever. We are so rich in the eyes of the world.

Entitlement can be a large idol, that we may not even know is there, but when we start thinking we deserve any of what we have, then we become god in areas of our life, that we can't be. There can be no places of our hearts or minds that take the place of Him.

That means, here I am, publicly confessing the fact that I have felt entitled, I have felt that I have earned my dream home or my dream life, because I have endured the death of a child. It is wrong, it is not how God asks me to respond to my grief, and so here I am saying "Lord, this life is precious and everything we DO have is yours, everything I WANT to have is up to you and yours. My children are yours, obviously we have given them to you in different ways, my marriage is yours, our life ahead is yours. Giving it all back is the only way that there will be room for Him to work, move and bless. So get out of your own way. Quit being the stumbling block of your mind, of your family, your dreams. Let the one who has given you those dreams, be the one to make them come about.

If you ask where we live, I would tell you the ghetto. haha. If you ask where I want to live, I can tell you, today, I want to live where God calls me to live, because for 5 months, I lived in 4 different places and some days I wish I was living that life again. I  just want to be where He is. It will always be ok.

He is STILL good. He will always be good. He will always see me. He chooses to know me and desires that I know him. That is grace for the day.

I looked at one of Noah's doctors the day before he died and asked, "God is still going to be good right?" He answered yes. I knew the answer, but sometimes we need someone else to tell us what we already know. So, I'm saying that, 8 months later, He is still good. He may not seem near, always, but I can say, that He will always be good.

Thanks for loving us. My prayer is that God uses my weakness. Be blessed
Noah's momma



More than blessed. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

2nd floor please

I have found that when in a room full of people, even those closest to me, I tend to push my emotion downward. And it is ok. No one in my close circle pushes me to be a certain way, at a certain time or expect me to follow the norm, they know better. It is not that I am not sad or hurting that my Noah is gone, I just choose to save my emotional moments for myself (and nick of course, he is my person)

Cook Children's Medical Center put together an incredibly thoughtful and beautiful service Sunday afternoon for those families who's child died in the PICU during the last almost 2 years. Those that could make it, came, had pictures on a slide show, a candle was lit and words were spoken by medical staff and the chaplaincy dept. It was a lovely time. Doves were released in the prayer garden in honor of the children who had died. They truly put love and time into it and as a mom I was thankful and felt very loved and special.
I realized, yet again, just how different we all are, in our grief. I could look around and just wonder at how we all take loss in such different and yet meaningful ways. Grief is such a taboo subject, yet at the same time, everyone is affected by it and everyone knows someone who is dealing with it or they themselves are in the midst of it. I suppose that grief is as common as celebration. That is ok. Services such as the one we attended yesterday just don't stir my emotions, as it does others and that is fine. In many ways I swell with pride and thankfulness that my son is of the honored and he fought the good fight. I get the proud mom face on and soak it in. Those times I just don't let a lot of tears fall. The moments I find myself letting my guard down and feeling the wetness touch my cheek, are the walks down the hall, pushing the 2 in the elevator, ringing the doorbell to the PICU, walking by the cafeteria, the play place, the gift shop and front entrance. Those quiet moments of normalcy that I got used to, coming back into that context makes me weep. I weep because I miss it. Deep deep down I miss that place, the people, the smells and the long walks. I miss them because I miss the one for whom I was there for. I weep because I and especially Noah are free from all of that now. I just weep because the mix of emotions just overwhelms a momma's heart. The bittersweet taste in my mouth as Nick and I walked the familiar halls. The immediate turn to the right as I walked into the PICU to wash my hands before handing over the treats we brought. The conversations with dear dear friends, as they continue to care for little ones, endlessly. There were times before Noah died that I swore I would never go back if he died. He would have lived his entire life there, encapsulated, and I could leave it there. The second Noah died, I just wanted to stay though. I wanted to come back and I still want to go back, because, for that same reason I thought I would never come back. Noah lived there. I feel him in the halls, in the elevator, in that cold bathroom with the showers, that I had to experience far too many times. ha. I would do it all over again.  I weep because walking into the hospital now, means that I'm there for someone else. (as much as I am there for myself too) I am there to love on and encourage those who did SO VERY MUCH for my baby, for myself and for my family. So many things come to mind when I walk out of Cook's. Thankfulness. Pain. Heartache. Joy. Inspiration. Empowerment. I am a better person every time I visit that place. I'm refocused and rejuvenated as a wife, mom and person in general. I want to help every single family that walks in those doors, knowing that is nearly impossible. So I am asking the Lord for what I can do for the heart families. The ones that are in the place I was this time last year. What Lord, is it, that I could do or give that would make a difference, lessen the load, care for or love on that lonely mom, nervous dad or precious sibling? I have my ideas and I pray that they come to fruition and that I will be able to see God work in it.
I know God has so many plans for our family. Sometimes, the demand of the mundane makes me forget that we are set apart, that we are still on his radar and in his hands. I forget that the plan for our family didn't end on February 22, 2013 at 10:40pm. Life didn't end there. When the dust of home gets to be too thick for my lungs, I head south on 287, go slowly down i-35 (usually) and hit I-30 where I will see blue roofs and a familiar feeling rushes over my gloomy heart. I made it through the longest year of my life, including the hardest 5 months I have ever experienced, in that place. Everything about Ft Worth (for me) is magical now. It is this special bubble. I know for those that live there, this is absolutely absurd, as I feel the same about Amarillo. So, every few months, God seems to give me the opportunity to visit and be refreshed. It might only be a few hours at a time, but it is always enough. Bubby left his mark, God made His mark on me there, and I am forever changed, grateful and will always need it. I will always need the people there, the friendships and relationships. I will always be thankful.
 I'm not sure where you are in grieving, or maybe you aren't but know someone who is. Give them space. Help them find that place that inspires and refreshes and encourage them to go there, as often as needed. I'm thankful for those around me who continue to let me be me, let me grieve how I need to, and also push me to keep going in the direction of hope, grace and joy.

If you are reading this and need help with the loss of a child, I am not sure that I can be of huge assistance, but will try. There are some amazing resources that I have come upon,
Kathy Guthrie and all her books.
I am currently reading A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
This book touches not only on grief as a whole, but it is his personal experience in the loss of his wife. Incredibly honest, raw and perfectly written.

If you could, please say prayers for a little 4 month old boy from Amarillo, Harley, who is in Houston recovering from a liver transplant. He has his ups and downs and we continue to pray for him to recover and thrive.
Please pray for those families who were at the ceremony yesterday, including ours, who continue down the road of loss and grief.

Please know that if you feel you need permission to share this blog with someone, you have complete permission. It is public and I pray it ministers to those who need it. My heart and my prayer are to lift up and come alongside anyone who could use someone who is in the middle of it all still. Grief, heart moms, etc. Thank you for being someone, in my life, who supports, prays and loves me through it all. I appreciate you all.
God is faithful. He is doing good things in our life. I am waiting on Him for many things, knowing that He sees, loves and delights in us still.

much love,
Noah's mommy

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Resources

I have found a great resource for those grieving. I have found some great help and encouragement from listening to Nancy Guthrie and look forward to reading some of her books. Even if you have not suffered loss first hand, you know someone who has and this is great advice. She has many great, Biblically based bits of information, help and advice for helping those who are grieving, etc.

http://www.nancyguthrie.com/

Hoping this might help someone like it has me,
shaina