Month: May 2016

To bow before Him

Up until recently, I don’t know that in my 37 years I had ever spent time just worshiping God for who he is.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve spent tons of time worshiping God for what he’s done… sending His son, leading my life, loving me, etc.  But I don’t know that I have spent much time in complete adoration of God, for who he is.

So I found some worship songs that are about God and not about what he has done, or asking him to do something else.  This task is a harder task than you would think.  As I played these songs I spent time thinking about God, the creator of the universe.  I spent time writing all the different words that describe him.  I spent time worshiping HIM.  I read Revelation 5:11-14

 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, 

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, 

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

And as I did so, I was brought to my knees.  Physically to my knees, what an amazing God we get to have relationship with.  As I was on the floor imagining in some small way what it would be like to be in God’s presence I was overwhelmed.  I was overwhelmed with the idea that God is that mighty, powerful and magnificent and he wants a relationship with me.  I was overwhelmed with the idea that not only does he want a relationship with me, but he uses me to bring Him glory here on earth.  And not only does He use me, He uses my son.  And that thought brought me to a place of deep worship, and humility.  God uses my son for His glory.  And I immediately wrote this in my journal.

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There are no words…

Sometimes there really are no words for things.  For three weeks I have felt that way, that there are no words.

Spike has been more than a pet to Tim and I for 14 years.  He’s part of our family.  I mean look at this face.  How could you not love him?

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It’s the Saturday before Mother’s Day, and our house is busy with activity.  As I’m in the bathroom upstairs getting ready to leave, I hear one of the most awful sounds. Immediately I know what it is. Spike is hurt.  As I pull back the curtain from the window, I have a clear view of the driveway where Spike is laying beside a truck that was recently moving.

As Tim and I are driving him to the vet, Tim’s hand is bleeding pretty bad because Spike bit him in the midst of his pain and confusion.  I should note that Tim doesn’t do well with injury to himself and blood.   In this 10 minute drive, Tim is now getting very pale, sweating ridiculous amounts, and bleeding quite a bit.  As we pull in, he then starts vomiting out the car door.  I quickly take Spike between rounds of vomiting and head in by myself as Tim is sitting in the car working hard to not pass out.  Tim keeps telling me he is ok, but he really doesn’t look it.

There are no words…

We find out Spike has a fractured pelvis that is disconnected from his spine on his right side.  Upon giving him back to us, Spike cries non-stop for the next three days.  There was nothing we could do to calm him. He simply cried no matter what we did and slept very little.  The poor dog was so confused because he couldn’t stand. He was in pain and really high from the drugs.

The last few weeks have been interesting.  Our dog functions a lot like a baby now: needing carried everywhere, fed special food that we deliver to him, waking us up throughout the night, cleaning up frequent accidents, and so much more.

Spike has never needed this attention, and we don’t typically give him this much attention.  It’s all a little weird, and yet similar to what we should be doing for Enoch.  I’ve watched Tim be a really good dad to our dog.  He gives me the updates on medicine, tells me how to pick him up or hold him without hurting him, and gets him blankets to lay on on the floor since he can’t jump on or off the couch. He’s sweet and does so well caring for Spike.

I’ll be honest; it’s all a little confusing.  Why is our dog needing attention like a baby?

We should have a baby, but he died.
Our dog was hit by a car on Mother’s Day weekend.
Now he needs treated like a baby.
There are no words…

And yes, Tim’s hand is fine.

 

A different kind of parenting

I have the privilege and opportunity to be the Director at First Glance.  I love it.  I loved it on day one, and fifteen years later, I still love it!  If you don’t know anything about First Glance check out our website.

Part of what I get to do at First Glance is spend time with and love teenagers.  It’s really the best part!  As I walked into and out of Mother’s Day it was not lost on me that God has given me many parenting opportunities over the years.  There are countless students I’ve gotten to “mom” in both large and small ways, so many that if I tried to name them all I wouldn’t be able to.

A few that stand out are:
I taught Amber how to drive and was the one pacing in the waiting room as she took her test.  I seriously was so nervous.

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I’ve been to many graduations, standing with flowers and a hug at the end of them (here are a couple I had pictures of).
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Attending baptisms and taking them out to lunch afterwards.22518947121_7c6a1c4093_o.jpg10190422064_e50f61fa3f_k.jpg
These are a few that are larger scale and ones I happen to have pictures of, but there are many other smaller ways too.  Several call me mom. Others simply call me in moments of tragedy and joy, and most girls are nervous to introduce me to their boyfriend knowing the questions I will ask them.  Mere minutes of so many of my days that I get to “mom them.”

In addition, a handful of students have lived with Tim and I over the years.  Brea lived with us while she was 17.  To her we are mom and dad, and to her kids we are grandma Noelle and grandpa Tim.

I remember meeting Brea for the first time; she was 15.  One of my other girls was having a birthday party at the lake, and I was invited.  Of course at some point these teenage girls thought it would be great to drag me into the lake, which they successfully did.  Brea was one of them.  She then asked me for a ride home 🙂

Brea began to attend First Glance and then our Teen Moms program, and when she was 17 she called our house home.  We had several fun adventures while she lived there.  Brea moved out about seven months later.  It has been eight years since then, and Brea & her girls continue to be part of our life and family.  Obviously Brea no longer needs the same parenting at 25, but I still take my opportunities when I can!

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Brea now is an amazing young woman who works hard to raise her two daughters as a single mom, and we are so very proud of her!26069276571_4cc6893a49_o.jpg
Mother’s day was painfully hard this year without Enoch – so different than anticipated. But I can’t tell you how blessed I feel by the opportunity to love and care for so many around me.  God owes me nothing, it’s all a gift!  As much as I grieved the loss of Enoch and being a mom in a more traditional way, I recognize I am a mom to him, to Brea and to others around me.  God didn’t have to allow me these opportunities.  But he has, and I am so very grateful!

 

I couldn’t leave the shoes

Two months ago, it was a Tuesday, which is always a hard day anyway.  The hardest day of my life happened on Tuesday, and every one since has been hard.

It was a Tuesday, and I was driving home from counseling, which also is hard.  Nothing like reliving the worst day of your whole life on a day that is full of so many reminders already.

I decided to stop by the gravesite on the way home, on this hard grief day and after a difficult counseling session.  It made perfect sense in my mind.  I needed to be near him.  I needed a reset.  I needed something to help dull the painful ache and endless tears as I drove 40 minutes home from counseling.

As I entered the cemetery and drove down the narrowly paved road all the way to the back of the cemetery, my heart sank.  I saw the cemetary workers were throwing personal items left at gravesites into the back of pick up trucks.  Immediately I remembered what they had said in the spring about personal items not being left at the gravesite.  But when your baby dies and you’re figuring out all the details that go with burying him, you don’t write it down in your calendar.  No reminder that on March 14th I could no longer have any personal items there.  I knew the day was coming, but I didn’t remember the exact date.  I didn’t know the date until I was driving to the back of the gravesite, seeing all the trucks.

It was devastating.  I began to cry harder.  I was hoping for reprieve.  I was hoping for a reset on this hard day, but instead I drove up to a very empty gravesite.  No little converse we placed there to mark his grave.  No lego’s that Isaiah built him months ago.  No little car that someone had recently placed there – I still don’t know who.

I fell apart.  I immediately called Tim.  He came and soon found out that they did in fact throw those items away.  They were confident they were somewhere in the very full dumpster.

I couldn’t leave them.  I couldn’t leave those shoes!  It reminded me way too much of December 9th at 9:30 am when we left Enoch.  We left him at the hospital.  If I’m honest this scenario replays over and over in my head more than any.  It was the most horrific thing I ever had to do.  I left my new born baby… the baby we never thought we could have, the baby I carried for 40 weeks, the baby I took on adventures, the baby I loved more than anything imaginable, the baby of our first and only pregnancy.  We left that baby, our son, at the hospital, less than 12 hours after he was born.

I remember that morning so clearly: Tim handing Enoch to the nurse, because there’s no way I could have, and our walk down the hall.  I remember my body feeling so weird…  I had given birth; I was in shock;  I had stayed up all night; I was hungry; and none of it seemed real.  We walked down the hall. I was glad Tim remembered how to get out of the hospital because I had no clue.  I don’t even know what floor we were on.  It was all such a rush to get in there.

As we walked out the door and into the parking lot, the bitter cold surprised me. The sun was shining. But you could see your breath, and there was a thin layer of ice on our car.  We climbed in and started to drive.  What do you do after you just gave birth to a dead baby and are headed to an depressingly empty house?  Stop by McDonalds.  I was so hungry and knew when I got home I wouldn’t want to deal with food, so I bought a breakfast sandwich. And in my dazed state, Tim drove us home.  All of it seems so weird looking back on it now.

I replay those moments time and time again.  I often ask myself and others why we left him there.  It was the most traumatic part of that 24 hours, and I have not yet talked about leaving him at the hospital without tears coming to the surface.  It was awful.

And now 14 weeks after this traumatic event they throw away his shoes.  I can’t leave his shoes.  No way.  Never.  Leaving him at the hospital was the most horrific thing I’ve ever done.  I couldn’t leave his shoes.  I already left him, not his shoes too.

It took an hour and a half of digging through that dumpster.  Finally we found them, along with some broken legos.  It was another half an hour of putting it all back in the dumpster, but there’s no way I could have left them.

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And now the gravesite looks so empty.  We are waiting on a gravestone, but there’s nothing right now.  If you drive to the gravesite you don’t know that there is anyone even buried in that space, let alone that it’s my son.  His name is Enoch, and he’s amazing and nobody knows he’s even there.

I’ll be honest it’s been harder to go since that day.  It’s hard to go and see the bare ground where my son lay.  It seems so empty.

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A permanent reminder

As mentioned in my last post I wasn’t looking forward to Mother’s Day, but I wanted it to be redemptive.  I needed it to be more than only a horrible day I wanted to get through.

I have been wanting to get my first ever tattoo for a while.  After Enoch died, I knew I wanted one in honor of my son.  So on Mother’s Day, I got it.

I got his name on my hand for a couple reasons.

The first reason is this verse, which was introduced to me months ago by my friend and mentor Gail Benn.  “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” – Isaiah 49:15-16 ESV     (I wanted the tattoo in my palm, but it wears away there, so I put it on the side of my hand).

The second reason is that all of last year I would write on my palms “palms up” as  reminder that I was open handed, surrendering everything to God and trusting He was in control.  I wrote about this idea earlier this year.

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And so now I have a regular reminder… Of the son I will never forget, and that I surrender everything in my life to God.

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My first Mother’s Day

I will admit I’ve been pretty mad about Mother’s Day coming for about the last ten days.  I’m mad because of so many conversations I had with God last year at this time, having just found out I was pregnant and begging not to have a miscarriage.  I’m mad because Enoch should be turning 5 months on Mother’s Day and instead he’s dead.  The pain and heartbreak is overwhelming.

Anticipating Mother’s Day would be hard, I made plans months ago to go away for the weekend with my friend Kara.  It seemed like a good plan.  Escape Akron and everyday life, but as the days got closer and the sadness came so violently to the surface I realized I needed to cancel.  Paying money to be sad in a hotel room across the country suddenly seemed like a waste.  Kara, of course, was gracious and encouraged me to do whatever I needed to do.

What did  I need to do?  I knew what I wanted.  I wanted to eat my feelings, lay in bed, watch sad movies, break plates and be mad at the world.  That’s the temptation.  To sulk, to be angry and feel justified in my anger.

But I once again realized it wouldn’t fulfill.  Grief has reminded me a bit of fighting with Tim.  For years when he and I would fight, it would drag on for hours and sometimes days.  Days where I wanted be and demonstrated that I was mad at him.  Now after 15 years of marriage, I realize I will forgive him and we will move on, so now I save the two days of silent treatment and get to the forgiving part sooner.

That is how grief has been.  There are days I am paralyzed with the pain and loss.  And in it I stay there, sulking in it.  The truth is I have tried so many different things to help in those moments and none of it does.  Eventually I end up going to God during the hard days and that’s what gets me through.  So I’ve stopped spending so much time trying all the other things, even though they seem like the better option in the moment.

So that’s what I am doing this weekend… clinging to Jesus.  I’m hiding from the world.  I’m in a cabin at a catholic retreat center all by myself.  As much as that sounds sad and lonely, really it’s not, it’s the healthiest thing I can do.  To turn off texts, my phone, email and social media.  To cling to Jesus.  To pray for parts of this weekend to be redeemed.  It is the only way I know how to get through this weekend, a weekend that seems so breathtakingly hard.

Don’t get me wrong, I will engage being sad.  I will look at pictures of my son, I will read books about grief, and I will weep.  There is nothing that takes away the pain.  I simply know the only way to get through any of this is with Jesus, that he meets me in the heartbreak.  So that’s what I’m doing this weekend… clinging to Jesus and a Five Guys burger can’t hurt either right? 😉

Beck-63.jpg*If you contact me and I don’t respond, it’s because I’m hiding, not because you said something wrong.

The joy and the sorrow

In July of 2010 First Glance had our annual vision day.  I love vision day where we gather all the key leaders of First Glance and talk about the direction of the ministry.  We have a time where everything is on the chopping block as well as a time for dreaming.  The dreaming session is a time where any fun or serious dream can be added to a list.  It was this vision day in 2010 where Alicia Ley put down her dream of her husband planting a church in Kenmore.

I remember the first time I ever met Alicia.  I was walking through Teen Moms when it was still hosted at the Funeral Home (because we had no space at FG).  She was sitting on the floor with an itty bitty baby in a sling.  Karen quickly introduced me to her, and I shuffled along my way.  About six months after this first introduction I was getting ready to go on my 10 year anniversary trip and decided I would do two workouts a day back-to-back to get ready.  I invited five friends to join me each morning, and Alicia was the only one to come consistently.  This is how she became my work out partner and later my bike partner.

And so in July of 2010, this young woman who had been volunteering about a year is sitting in this meeting talking about her husband planting church.  We added it to the dream list along with a swimming pool on the roof of First Glance.

Fast forward to December 2015.  Alicia is now not only my bike partner but also my dearest friend.  She’s walked with me through First Glance leadership, depression, infertility, and everything in between.

The Sunday before Enoch was born the day was warm, and I asked her if she wanted to bike so that my bike app would hit 4000 miles (since I started using it).  This is what makes Alicia a great workout partner.  She’s willing to help make this short couple mile ride as it’s getting dark with all of her kids running around like crazy.  She gets my desire to hit 4,000 miles and is up for any adventure.  The night was fun.  We laughed a lot and hoped we biked the baby out.  We took this picture in the midst of this ride and oddly both posted it onto FB, which was uncommon for either of us to do.

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The next picture posted online would be a handful of days later… It was this one of her sitting in the hospital bed next to me as I held my dead son.  The picture was heartbreaking.  I admit that I liked the contrast of the two: the joy of anticipation when biking, and the care and concern as I walked the hardest day of my life.

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Months following there would be the next picture posted of the two of us online.  This one of Alicia and I hugging on the front page of the Akron Beacon Journal.  Yes, that is the back of my head. Yes, I am famous, and you didn’t even know it.  The picture was taken because Jacob, Alicia’s husband, planted a church in Kenmore!  5 years, 7 months and 27 days after she first said it in our meeting, it happened!  Easter morning The Chapel officially planted a church in Kenmore and Jacob was the leading the way.   (Click here to read the full article).

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What an exciting morning for so many reasons:

  • Easter Sunday, the celebration of Jesus raising from the dead!
  • I love seeing dreams come true.  Jessica who’s on our leadership team always says, “Welcome to First Glance where all your dreams come true.” Alicia put this dream down every year at vision day since 2010, and now it’s a reality.
  • As the director of First Glance, I couldn’t be more thrilled for a church and a leadership team that understands our community and desires for those in it to come to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (along with the other churches we partner with).
  • I really do believe I get a front row seat at what God does. I’ve had a front row seat on this particular journey with the Ley’s, and so I was thrilled to be there to support them at their launch.

I remember, so clearly, the young Alicia Ley who sat in her first ever vision day and said her dream was for Jacob to plant a church.  Little did I know that dream would become a reality!   Little did I know the journey that would happen in our friendship over time.  I am truly so grateful for this community and for how God interacts in our lives.