Month: April 2016

They’re missing and so is he

The door of the nursery is closed.
Still.
I’m not sure when it will ever open… I’m in no rush.
From time to time I have to walk in there for something that has gotten shoved into this room with no apparent purpose.
I walked in one day to grab something quickly anticipating to jet back out as fast as possible.
I didn’t jet.
I stopped.
My body froze as I noticed the wall of converse.
I was struck by the missing pair of shoes (which were at the gravesite).
The empty space seemed so glaring.
It reminded me of how I felt about Enoch.
Such a blatant reminder of Enoch’s presence missing in our house.

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A few days later because we could no longer keep the shoes at the gravesite, I brought those small black converse and put them back on the shelf.

26058918555_7ea74132a8_o.jpgIt too felt wrong.
It didn’t fulfill.
It didn’t replace the void.
And now they weren’t as his grave site either.

 

 

Worship songs are scary

“Who likes chocolate?”  Almost all of the girls raise their hands.
“Who thinks they could go 1 day without chocolate?”  Again the majority raise their hands.
“Who thinks they could go 1 week without chocolate?” Some don’t raise their hands, but most do.
This goes on… “A month?” “Six months?” “A year?” By the time I get to a year most all of the girls hands are down.  They don’t think they could go without chocolate for that long.

Next I hand out full size candy bars.  I let them pick their favorite kind.  I have them take one bite.  And then I walk around with a trash can and make them all throw the candy away.

When I make them throw away the candy bars, they are furious with me.  They tell me I’m mean.  One girl shoves the whole thing in her mouth before I get to her.  They ask if they can get them out of the trash, and it’s complete chaos and frustration.

Almost all of the girls said they could go without chocolate for a day and yet were furious when I said they couldn’t have the chocolate 10 minutes later. I use this to illustrate that it’s easy to say you can or can’t do something until it’s right in front of you.  In the moment, it’s a lot harder.  I often use this illustration when giving the girls my talk about sex.  But really it could apply to so many different parts of life.

I’ve thought about this illustration a lot since Enoch, mainly during worship.  The songs are catchy; the words rhyme; and they say nice things about God and living for him.  But do I mean them?   Lyrics like “I surrender ALL,” “When the boat is tossed upon the waves, even in the storms I’ll follow you,” and “I lay down my life, whatever the cost.”  I could go on and on.  Lyrics to songs I love.  Lyrics I have sang for years.  But honestly they are hard lyrics… Surrendering everything is hard.

I don’t blame my girls for wanting the candy bars after I tempted them.  Equally I sing songs in church, and when hard circumstances hit, they are harder live out.

So when I sing, I ask myself, “Do I mean it?”  Do I mean it when I sing all of these lyrics about the sacrifice it takes to fully follow and fully obey Christ?  I want to mean and live out every word.  Recently I’ve thought about those lyrics before I sang them.  I don’t want to talk and sing about these things at Church and then not be able to live it out when I walk out the doors.  Because “I give you all the glory,” means I give Him all the glory even during tragedy – even when my son dies.

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**The chocolate bar illustration I modified from a friend and co-worker, Scott Calhoun, from years ago.

One year…

It didn’t make sense.  There’s no way it could be true, but I had to know if I was pregnant.  All signs pointed to no: never once suspecting in fifteen years of marriage, a doctor saying we only had a 3% chance, and let’s face the realities that age is not on my side.  But my body was pointing to the fact that I might be, and I couldn’t ignore those signs for too much longer.  It’s a  weird thing knowing we are infertile and yet feeling like I might be pregnant.  So, as much as I didn’t think it could be true, I had to at least get that thought out of my head.  And so I bought pregnancy test.

The next part also is tricky too.  How much attention to put on the test.  I don’t want to be too hopeful, but if it’s miracioulsy positive, then I want it to have some meaning.  So in addition to the pregnancy test I buy stuff to grill out, and plan to take it on a night Tim and I would have time together.  Spring was just breaking through, and it was a warm night.  Tim loves burgers over a charcoal grill, and so I make sure we are stet up for that on this night.  As he lights the grill and we wait for the charcoal to get hot, we also wait to see what the pregnancy test will say.  Just minutes later the test is very clearly positive.  I am in fact pregnant!  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Tim so excited, as he hugs me and picks me up off the ground.  Such joy.  Such anticipation.  Admittedly I am a bit more hesitant than he is, knowing it’s early in pregnancy and planning to take the second test in the morning.  But that doesn’t squelch his excitement one bit.  As we continue to cook outside and enjoy the warm spring air he says, “this is the best day ever.”

I’m grateful for that day one year ago.  I’m grateful that we created a fun memory to find out the news.  I’m grateful we withheld telling anyone for a while so that it was just ours.  It really was all a gift.

Although today I remember that night with such joy, it also is met with deep sorrow.   He died.  My greatest fear came to reality eight months later in the most awful way.  And on this one year anniversary we also officially ordered Enoch’s gravestone.  We hadn’t until now, partially because the task seemed so overwhelming and so final, but it was time for many reasons.  And unintentionally both are landing on the same day, today.  The joy and the sorrow continue to meet time and time again.

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Tim and I never took a picture that night, but we did take this photo the next night

No Escape

This morning I woke up.  I knew I was off.  I knew I was sad.  I knew it was a rough grief day before I even got out of bed.  Sometimes I try things.  I try and make it feel better… the searing pain and the overwhelming loss.

It’s not a conscious decision, it just happens.  You know when you feel off and your brain wants to make it feel better.  So you try things.  This morning I decided to go through with working out as I planned, I thought to myself  “You always feel better after you work out, you just need to get up and do it.”  So I did.  Sometimes it’s food, or caffeine, or a nap, or a distraction, or fill in the blank.  Today it was biking and running.

I didn’t realize it this morning. I didn’t realize I was hoping that at the end of the workout I would not feel the searing pain the overwhelming sense of loss.  We biked, we ran, and as my work out partner, Alicia, told me we had to run a bit further, I still felt awful and angry so I ran faster, “Maybe I just need to get more energy out.”  And then it hit me.  He died, Enoch died!  I began to cry.  The thought continued over and over in my mind “He died.”  Occasionally I would say it out loud.   Then the realization hit me so intensely in that moment, I was grieving and no amount of working out was going to make me feel better. Needless to say we stopped running and walked the rest of the way back.

Grief is hard because you never know when it’s going to hit.  Sometimes, I don’t even know it’s grief that hits.  The reality on these days seems unbearable… Enoch died and there is no escape.  Today is one of those days.

"Happily Ever After"

God healed my mind, my marriage, and my body.  I have written and talked about these three things over and over again.  I have told this story time and time again to groups at First Glance, to our church, and really to anybody who would listen.  I needed to.  I had to.  And what better way to end the story than by telling them I was pregnant.  Years of emotional hardship, difficulty in our marriage, struggle with infertility, and the “happily ever after” is that we get to have a baby!!  It’s the perfect ending right?

That was NEVER my message.  Every time I told that story, even if you look back at my blog posts, I say I didn’t like ending with my pregnancy because I was afraid it gave an unclear message.  The unclear message was, “If you believe in God, everything will work out perfectly.”  It’s not true.  I didn’t believe that then, and I don’t believe that now.  I talked about it at the funeral.  John 16:33 says, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world.”  Jesus never says that following him will make life easier.  I’m not sure why we Christians often portray this message.  And, as I told my story of healing, I too feared communicating a false message.  In fact, every time I talked about this story of healing and pregnancy, I would even say, “I fear this seems a little too ‘happily ever after.'”  I would always end my story with the reason I was telling it.  God, the creator of the universe, interacts in our lives. That’s the message.  And that is still my message!23984814149_c8767d4fba_z.jpgIsn’t it amazing that God, who created universe, desires to interact with us in our lives?  God did when he healed my mind.  God did when he continued to prepare me in a variety of ways throughout my pregnancy.  God has in so many ways over the years, both in large and small ways.  So I hope to make my way back to all those groups that I told this story to.  Because even though the ending was more different & difficult than we ever could have imagined, the message is still the same.  God interacts in our life!!!  He wants to, and if we allow him to, He does.

Romans 8:26-27  In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Experiencing Easter Differently

This Easter season was different for me.  Parts of it were incredibly hard, others incredibly powerful, and all of it so different than any other Easter.

I can admit I hadn’t ever experienced or even understood grief until December 8th, 2015.  And it certainly impacted my experience of Good Friday and Easter Sunday this year.  When Enoch died I mourned.  I mourned for the first time in such a deep and tangible way… more so than ever before in my 37 years of life.    For weeks I only wore black, which isn’t too far out of my wardrobe anyhow, but I couldn’t imagine wearing bright color.  There was no room for colors when everything in me felt so dark and sad.  Even as I would text emotions, I couldn’t use the little emoticons.  How could I put a bright yellow face attached to a text, even it represented sadness and had a tear.  I couldn’t.  The bright yellow seemed too cheery, and I couldn’t bear to do anything that resembled happiness because I felt in such despair.  I was mourning.

This year as Easter came around and for the first time I actually grieved Jesus’ death.  I understood grief and mourning and death in a whole new way. God sent his son to die.  I sent a text just moments before the Good Friday service that I was nervous to go.  I was nervous to hear that phrase or combination of phrases dealing with a son dying.  I write those words from time to time, typically in disbelief that my son died.  How can that be true?  And now it’s Easter and I am spending days thinking about a son dying. I wore all black to good Friday Service and continued to all weekend.  I had to.  I had to mourn the death of Jesus.  Again, I found myself unable to wear anything bright or colorful.  I even switched my white glasses to my black ones.  I felt the loss.  I understood the sacrifice more deeply than I ever have before.

And now not only am I mourning the death of a son, I’m doing so knowing he died for me.  If I’m honest one of my biggest fears in life is being responsible for someone elses harm or death.  I’m the person that makes everyone buckle up, because I never want to be a driver of a car accident that causes a serious injury.  I worry about it with First Glance and feel the weight of responsibility of volunteers and students who walk through our doors, so afraid something will happen on my watch.  Overall it’s a fear I have more often than I admit.

No surprise that when Enoch first died I spent a good chunk of time in my mind trying to figure out what happened.  Going over and over those 40 weeks wondering if I had done something wrong, was it something I ate or did that caused my son to die?  When I learned he only developed to 31 weeks, I quickly pulled out my calendar to see what I was doing during that time.  I was responsible for him.  It was my job to care for him, and he died.  He died!  I won’t go into all the nights I had spent awake feeling responsible.  I later learned it wasn’t something I did and am grateful to have been freed from that guilt but from time to time the thought sneaks back in.

So now it’s Easter, “the son” has died, and I am at fault.  This year I understood more than ever the weight of my sin in the Easter story.  This wasn’t a lie or guilt ridden feeling, like I had with Enoch.  Jesus really did choose to go to the cross for my sin, and I receive a whole relationship with God and eternal life because of it!!  As much as I grieved like never before this Easter season, I also rejoiced like never before!  Sunday I wore white.  I celebrated.  And I was more grateful than ever before this Easter season.IMG_9633.jpg

Easter Photo

I forgot.  When I get bored it’s a habit to click the Facebook app on my phone.  I forgot not to click on on it this Easter day.  I do it out of habit, but I wished I didn’t for so many reasons.  Today is harder than most as my newsfeed is full of family Easter photos.  These photos are inundated with small humans in cute dresses or little boy ties, slicked back hair, displaying joyful and sometimes not so joyful smiles, with squinty eyes as the sun is blinding them.  I know these pictures.  But my Easter photo looks different than theirs.  A lot different.

Here is mine.  IMG_0650.JPGI was so excited to take him his red converse today.  I needed to.    Recently I moved my friends cute little shirts with the tags still on that she purchased for her kids specifically for today.  I didn’t get to do that.  I don’t get to buy him new outfits or dress him up and take his picture.  So I took him his red converse because I needed an Easter photo.   I needed to feel like I was “dressing him.” I needed to feel like a “normal mom.”  Plus, let’s face the realities, I have no doubt he would have been wearing red converse on this Easter day.

In addition I most likely would have dressed him in this, an outfit I found just days before he was born.  I never purchased it, but had full intentions of doing so if the little baby inside me was in fact a boy.  image1.jpegAnd yes, I realize you normally go for bright cute colors on Easter for kids, but that’s not really my style.  He most likely would have been in this with jeans and red converse.

So I went to the grave, took him his red converse to dress him up, and sat there and cried because my Easter photo is so very different than I expected.