Month: March 2016

Reminders

I often use my phone as a reminder.  I’m not talking about the app called reminders, where you can set a time or location and it will remind you of the task you set.  You know, the one I set up on my sisters phone to say “Hug your sister” every time she comes near my house.  Not that one.

I’m talking about how I use my screensaver as a reminder of what’s important.

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For months at the end of last year I had this one.  It reminded me to pray for the same 4 things every single day.

 

 

 

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Earlier this year I switched it to this one.  My husband and my son.  I love them both with my whole being.

 

 

 

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This week I switched it to this one.  Our prayer room wall at First Glance.  It’s prayer week. I HAVE to pray for our students.  I HAVE to pray for them by name…  not out of obligation, but because I love them too much not to!

 

 

So I put this picture on my phone, because if I’m honest I look at my phone more than I’d like to admit.  And every time I’m reminded to pray for those whom I love so much!

Prayer Week!

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This week First Glance is hosting  a week of prayer.  I LOVE prayer week… I LOVE it!!!

I love prayer week because…

  • I really wholeheartedly believe prayer changes things!
  • We, as a community of believers, come together to fast and pray for the community of Kenmore!
  • Someone is in one of our two prayer rooms at First Glance praying almost every hour for a week straight!  This takes 2 Thess. 5:17 literally, “pray without ceasing.”
  • People are praying for our students by name!  I always wonder, what would happen to this community if we prayed for the students by name?
  • Everyday the prayer rooms have new prayers, verses, and thoughts for this community we love so much.  All written by several different individuals.

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I genuinely believe that prayer changes things and we have almost 200 hours of prayer specifically for this community I love! So why wouldn’t I love prayer week?

To pray generously is not enough; we must pray devoutly with fervor and piety. We must pray perseveringly and with great love. If we don’t pray our presence will have no power, our words will have no power. – Mother Teresa

 

The loss of distraction

Tim left town a couple weeks ago for a business trip.  He was leaving just Sunday through Wednesday, and as much as I knew I would miss him, I felt ok to be alone.

In preparation for him leaving, I decided I would work on a few projects, most of which were on my computer – things like designing a new website (yes, I’m serious).

So day one comes and a friend and I plan to spend the day cranking out some work for our small strategic planning business we do with non-profits (akron on purpose).  We have a very productive morning and afternoon.  By evening we are cruising when suddenly I spill my water on my computer.

First, I should note that I am an Apple computer fan through and through!  In fact, I ask every person we interview at First Glance if they are Mac or PC.  I own a christmas bulb with an Apple logo, and when Steve Jobs died (the CEO of Apple) many people sent me texts of condolences.  So to spill water on my computer is a heartbreaking on a good day.

This night spilling water on my laptop wasn’t overwhelming me.  In this season of grief, losing a computer is not a big deal… even an Apple (I know I can’t believe I’m saying it either).  But the truth is that I don’t care about the money.  I don’t care that I would have to buy a new one.  It’s a “thing.”  In those moments my frame of mind is, “my baby died, who cares if I have to buy a new computer,” which was exactly what I thought as I drove to a nearby store to buy rice.

12744426_10154057494137033_8270596810638597772_nSoon I was sitting beside my wet computer in my recently purchased laptop bag full of rice.  At first I was annoyed by the slow down of productivity, but by the end of the night, I felt completely paralyzed and sad.

Again, it wasn’t the loss of computer.  That night it became obvious that I had planned so many things for these four days because it was a distraction.  This was one of the last official plans we made with the anticipation of a baby.  Tim and I had talked about this trip months ago.  “Will you be ok working and taking care of the baby if I go to Atlanta for this trade show?”  I replied, “Yes.” I was confident I would be.  But now the trip is here, and Enoch is not.  There is no child care to worry about, work schedules to figure out or late night feedings alone.

In addition something I hadn’t thought about until I posted a picture of my laptop in the bag of rice, is that people would ask what happened to my computer, and I would have to type the words “it died.”  I haven’t typed that word on my little screen in the last three months unless in reference to my son.  I tried to figure out other ways of talking about the outcome, because I couldn’t write those words, not without thinking about my son.

Four days without Tim, my computer dies, the void becomes obvious, and there are no more distractions.  Just me and the empty room that my son should be in.

 

"Never"

When Tim and I got engaged, we took pre-marriage classes at The Chapel.  There are a handful of lessons I remember from those classes.  One of which was to never use words like “never” and “always.” The temptation is to say, “You never do the dishes,” when really that isn’t true.  This is something I have always remember and have applied to almost every relationship: marriage, friendships, leadership role, etc.  Over and over I have trained my brain to never use the word never.

But in the past three months I have had to retrain my brain.  I am forced to say never and my mind doesn’t want to.  It can’t comprehend it.  It doesn’t want it to be true.

I went to the grave yesterday and had the realization that I will never get to hold my son again.   I will live all my days on earth and never hold Enoch again.  Never.

I will never hear him cry.  This one is particularly sad for me because Tim used to say before Enoch was born, “Noelle we are going to have a good baby.  He’s never going to cry.”  I told Tim he was crazy for thinking that. We didn’t know that Tim would be right.

Our family and friends will never babysit our son.   They will never offer to watch him, send me selfies, or tell me how he behaved while were away.  Never.

He will never wear converse.  I have several colors, all sizes for all ages, but he will never need any of them.  Never.

Every month I take this pictures of how many months old he is.  I will never take a picture that will look different than a gravesite shot.  Never a new pose or outfit or background.  Every month, every year, every picture will be at his gravesite.

He is never coming back.  I ask my friends sometimes if that’s true.  I need to see it, read it, or hear that he really is never coming back, because my brain can’t comprehend it, it just seems too awful to be true.

These “never”  statements are heartbreakingly sad and yet I have to remind myself of them.  Even while at myrtle beach for a minute my mind thought “what if he comes home and I’m not there.”    Fifteen years of training my brain never to say never, and three months of retraining my brain to try and comprehend that with Enoch, never is true.  

Beyond appreciation

Every year First Glance hosts a volunteer appreciation dinner for all of our volunteers.  I really wholeheartedly believe we have the best volunteers in all of Akron.  They do so much for First Glance, our community and our students.  So each year we attempt to honor and appreciate them for all they do.  And with that I have the privilege of doing a short presentation of thanks and highlights.

The challenge every year is to clearly and concisely articulate my deepest appreciation…

  • For coming each week, even when they don’t feel like it.
  • For loving teens and young adults that don’t always love you back.
  • For moving their families into the community to love our students better and more often (45% of our volunteers now live in a one mile radius of FG).
  • For showing up to countless court hearings, sporting events, birthday parties, plays, and anything else they are invited to.
  • For investing their personal time and money to love and care for our students outside of FG.
  • For giving countless rides to FG as well as other places.
  • For coming back even after breaking up a fight.
  • For showing them the hope and love of Christ.
  • The list could go on… and on… and on.

We have amazing and dedicated volunteers and I am impressed constantly by what they do for First Glance.

This year the volunteer appreciation dinner was even more humbling.  For years I have talked about this community of volunteers.  And almost every time I have talked about them I have bragged about how well they do to care for each other.  I’ve seen them drop groceries off to each other, loan household goods, buy each other cars, care for each other’s kids and so much more.  In explaining the way our community loves one another I have always said, “if something ever happened to us,  I have no doubt that they would be first on the scene.”  It’s true.  At least 100 times I’ve said this phrase when giving FG tours or talking about this community of volunteers.

When I woke up on December 8th I had no idea that I would be putting that phrase to the test.  I didn’t know that at 11:35 I would begin to text a handful of them and ask for prayer.  I didn’t know that within minutes our community would show up at the hospital.  I had no way of knowing what the next days and months would hold for Tim and I.  But I was right.  Something did happen to us and they were first on the scene.  They didn’t only show up on December 8th, but they have walked with us for almost three months since.  They have brought us food, given us money for medical bills,  helped us host a funeral, clean up a tree in our backyard, given FG money in Enoch’s name and so much more.  They did everything they could… even in a season when the doing feels empty because you can’t fix it.

There are NO words to express how humbled and appreciative Tim and I are at how the FG community loved, cared and supported us during the hardest season of our lives.

And on Friday I stood before this group for our annual volunteer appreciation with a very different message of thanks than I ever anticipated giving.  I thanked them wholeheartedly for not only loving and caring for this community, but for loving and caring for Tim and I.  I am so amazingly humbled and grateful to serve along side each of these volunteers!

**Please note many others, including family and friends have been a great support as well!

Privilege among the pain

God is using Enoch’s little life and story to bring Him Glory.  That was my prayer for my son’s life.  Over and over I would pray that his life would bring God glory and it is!  I won’t pretend this is how I thought it would happen…  But it has and God is using Enoch.  I continue to have people telling me how they have been impacted by little Enoch’s life.  I continue to have opportunities as well… to tell his story, to tell how being pregnant and meeting him was a gift.

If I’m honest in the darkness of night and on really hard days, the pain seems unbearable
And yet, there are moments when I get to share the hope and love of Jesus Christ.  
I get to talk about how it was all a gift.  
And in those moments I am energized and grateful for the privilege it is to be Enoch’s mom.  
I am grateful that God uses this story of suffering to bring Him glory!
Don’t you see?  It really is all a gift!

Recently, as I engage God, the theme that has come up over and over is suffering that turns to worship.  As I read 1 Peter, it points to this concept over and over.  These two verses stood out specifically.  
 

This song also has been an encouragement to me in the past couple of weeks… “Though the tears may fall my song will rise, my song will rise to you.  Though my heart may fail my song will rise, my song will rise to you.”

And I will close with this quote from Mother Teresa, “Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of Christ risen.”