Wednesday, November 25, 2015

On Giving Thanks in the Thick of It

I have re-written this post countless times in hopes that these words would find just the right balance of truth, grace, and hope. Because the thing is? The holidays can be really hard. They come every year. And those who are well acquainted with grief have come to learn that the holidays always bring with them waves of emotion. Complex emotion. Co-existing yet polarizing emotions. Still, the unwritten expectation remains: Smile. Just be glad for what you do have. Look around you... this is a time to be happy. If I am going to be honest, in the seven holiday seasons since losing Isaac, including last year's first round of holidays after very suddenly and horrifically losing my Dad, there have been years where managing both my grief and others' expectations has felt almost impossible to bear. And I have a feeling, I'm not the only one. So as Thanksgiving prepares to dawn, I wanted to share my heart on a couple of things.

Recently, some of you reading have experienced great loss. The loss of a job.  A marriage. A friend. A parent. A child. You've wondered how you are going to even put a nice meal on the table tomorrow. You've wept by a graveside, longing for more time... or even any time at all.

Others of you have experienced unwanted gain. A diagnosis. One of a friend. A family member. Or even your own. You wonder if your will get to spend next Thanksgiving with that person you hold so dear... or whether you may be here yourself.

The holidays have a way of doing that. They magnify everything. Everything. They magnify joy, and excitement and expectation. And they magnify sorrow and hurt and grief.

Our pastor shared this past weekend about the difference between being thankful and giving thanks. Most often, we think of giving thanks as the visible expression of a thankful heart... the action that occurs as an out pouring of feeling thankful.

But what about when you're in the thick of it? In the thick of the hard, the hurtful, and the horrifying... that heart-wrenching thing that won't seem to loosen its grip?

Give thanks.

1 Thes. 5:18 encourages us to "give thanks in all circumstances."

So, to those of you walking through the thick of it right now,  whose heart may be heavy this holiday season... who wants so much to feel thankful, and holly and jolly... but perhaps you just don't. Give thanks. You may not feel thankful. And hear me when I say, that's ok. Or maybe you do... but it's thankful, and yet....

Thankful, and yet missing someone you love.

Thankful, and yet scared for what next Thanksgiving may look like.

Thankful, and yet sorrowful.

Give thanks. Find that thing. Even if it's just one... and utter words of thanks. It likely won't make everything better... or maybe anything at all. But those words of thanks? They are words of hope.
Because He who has promised is faithful. Always.

And to those of you who can't in the least relate to what I am saying... who are full of joy and expectation and excitement? Be gentle and extend grace to those who just may not be there and may not be felling that way. Those "thankful, and yets" can be so hard, and so often misunderstood. Have the eyes to see them... their hearts... and lovingly, without judgement, let them know that you care.

This Thanksgiving, and in the Christmas season to follow... let's be gentle with one another, uttering words of thanks as much as we can, and extending grace whenever possible. And even in the thick of it, give thanks in all circumstances.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Blindside

It's been nearly a year, and just now can I even make sense of it all to pen the words for which I have been so desperately searching. There are few times in life that blindside you to the point of feeling completely surreal, often leaving you shattered and shaken and requiring time to put the piece back together.

Through our journey with Isaac, there were experiences from which I knew to expect deep difficulty... walking into a funeral home, eight months pregnant, to select my soon-to-be-born son's casket being one of them. While surreal and my mind full of disbelief that this was actually my life, it was... expected.

But that call. The one where the phone rings at a time it rarely does. And deep in your soul you know something isn't right. You dread even walking to the phone to see who is calling, only to have your suspicion confirmed. As you answer, you hear your name... followed by a deep sigh, and panic sets it. Rightfully so. Those words... "Your dad.... his heart..."


And so, as focused as possible, I threw clothes, basic necessities, and diapers into a bag, woke my sleeping baby, and embarked on what has undoubtedly been the longest one-hour drive of my life. One hour. A chasm of space and time that just couldn't be handled any other way but to allow it to pass... all the while praying that on the other side, he would be alert and conscious and... alive.

Another call on the way eased my fears... "He's alert. Talking to the doctors. I think we're out of danger now."

Sweet relief. A dose of hope.

So once inside, bag thrown over one shoulder and baby in her carrier on the other arm, I found may way to the emergency department, through security, and down the hall to triage. And the sight before me was anything besides free of danger.

Blindsided. Again.

And this is were it all turns surreal... living what must be someone else's life. Consciousness lost moments before my arrival. Doctors rushing and racing. Everywhere. I ran... not because the distance down that corridor was far; but because there was no way not to.

There were so many machines. And nurses. And a surgeon helping us to try, in the midst of complete shock and disbelief, make sense of it all. "Heart. Aorta. Rupture. Emergency surgery. Now."

Can you please sign here, on the consent form?

Questions swirled in my mind...  How did this happen? What if it doesn't work?

But they had to. It was their hail mary.

Those moments... it felt like an eternity. So much information in such little time. Watching my Dad... the one who was always, always, there... laying completely helpless.

One of his nurses.... a former student of his who pursued a nursing degree because of the paramedic biology course he had taught. It came full circle.

Another nurse... looked at me and said, He said 'thank you.' Thank you. To who? For what? I longed to know more...

That night... that awful, horrific night... it changed me.

Our hope hung so delicately in the balance for the next ten hours. Updates, though promised, rarely came. And then the surgeon came in... He made it through. But it's bad. Uncontrolled bleeding. May need to operate again. 

And they did. And he made it through. Again.

But the surgeries... they took their toll. His heart stopped several times during surgery, he said. We were able to bring him back... but we're unsure right now as to the extent of the damage. 

Damage. That word... all that it means and all that implies. Deep down, I knew. I believed what the doctor said. It's bad.

My Dad... my poor Dad... his body accosted by this horrific series of events rendering him completely helpless and fully dependent on external means of keeping his body going.

Minutes... hours passed as the juggling act of trying to help him heal left all of us waiting with bated breath, hanging on every word... every detail one of the doctors shared. Time... that chasm. No way to hurry it, and yet somehow this became the most excruciating combination of sudden and prolonged. One kind of horrible juxtaposed against the other. It was just that: horrible.

Days passed... and in the horrible some of the sweetest moments were found. Hours... just sitting with my Dad and holding his hand. Walking down memory lane, sharing scripture and singing to him. The nurses told me that hearing is the last sense to go... and I hoped it was true.

Eventually, that time came. The one that no one can ever prepare for. How can you really know when it is time to say goodbye? How do you surrender your hope of a miracle and give in to the reality before you? I remember asking myself that same thing with Isaac. That balance of walking the line of hope for the miracle and the reality of the situation.

The only answer I can give is this: peace.

Please don't misunderstand... I can safely say that none of us felt peaceFUL in those moments. But there was peace in knowing that this is what my Dad had wanted... his handwriting on that dreadful form said so.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

I've experienced the to-be-expected out of order loss of my son. And I have experienced the too-soon, sudden in-order loss of a parent... my Dad. Whether expected or when it completely blindsides you... whether in order or out, the truth is this: when you love deeply, you hurt... deeply.

So we have almost completed a "year of firsts" without my Dad, and his absence has been so pronounced. And I think the reality of the fact that our kids being so young... they will likely not remember much about their time with him. My nephew will be born this December... and he will not ever meet his G-Dad. That is excruciatingly heartbreaking to me.

I am again reminded that there is simply no timetable or expiration date on grief... that it is hard, it's messy, it's surprising, and it will never leave you unchanged. And through it, we find ourselves relying on what it is that anchors us.


Oswald Chambers has said, "Faith is the deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways we don't understand at the time." 

I love that. Because admittedly, I don't understand. And quite honestly, I don't like it.

But I have confidence and hope in the One who knows all things... who sees all things... and who doesn't change in the face of horrific circumstances. He is a sure foundation, an ever-present help in trouble. He is close to the broken-hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

For Him, there is no blindside.

I love you, Dad...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

... And Then There Were Four

I realize that I haven't updated here as much as I would like. Raising three kids under 4 years old is not for the faint of heart! What I didn't realize, though, is that I never introduced you all to our sweet addition born October 17, 2013, weighing 6lb 11oz and measuring 18 3/4inches. So without further adieu...

Meet Ryleigh Grace Delisle!! Now at 4 months old, she has mastered tummy time and rolling from tummy to back, she is all smiles most of the time, and she has a great giggle!! Eliana and Jacob are enamored by their little sister, as are we. :)



Sunday, May 12, 2013

You Are Seen...

It wasn't until I personally experienced the elation of that first positive pregnancy test that I began to understand what it would mean to be celebrated on Mother's Day. After all, with my first-ever due date being May 9, 2008, I remember the joy I felt in thinking that I would get to BE celebrated that year... in addition to celebrating my own mom.

And so at 13 weeks, when it was discovered that we had lost that precious life, I felt as though I no longer belonged. I not only lost my child, but also my entry ticket into the club of motherhood.

To no one's surprise, then, when I learned I was pregnant again a few months later, my hope was renewed. I may not have had that first child in my arms to love and to hold and to cuddle on Mother's Day of 2008, but I would have another child whose life was being formed inside my very being.

And yet the unthinkable happened: between the joy of that second positive pregnancy test when we learned I was pregnant with Isaac, and Mother's Day of 2008, we learned that Isaac's prognosis was very, very poor. So poor, in fact, that we were given no guarantees of how long he would make it... either in the womb, or out.

So came Mother's Day of 2008. And to maintain a spirit of honesty, I will say this: I was dreading it.

I remember being in church that morning, and all of the mothers were asked to stand. And here's the thing: I didn't know if I should stand or not.

I had no evidence of my motherhood for the world to see. I had lost my first baby, and wasn't far enough along in my pregnancy with Isaac to be past the "is she pregnant or....?" phase. I didn't know where I belonged... other than this strange limbo of somewhere between motherhood and not.

The following year...Mother's Day of 2009. I am sure it goes without saying that this was one of the most difficult "firsts" since Isaac was born and passed away. My pregnancy and our loss of Isaac was very known my the members and attendees in our church; our pastor had even brought us in front of our congregation a few weeks before he was born to have them pray over us.

So once again, on Mother's Day of 2009, all of the mothers were asked to stand. This time, there was no confusion.

And I did. Knees trembling, tears streaming, and heart breaking... but I stood. Because to honor my son and acknowledge that he was born, and that he lived, and that he was here... how could I not stand?

It's not the picture of honoring mothers that we think of when celebrating Mother's Day. It isn't the situation whose sentiments can be nicely contained in a Hallmark card. Yet, it is often the situation that goes unacknowledged.

And so today, as I shared on my Facebook status this morning, I want you to know that YOU... you, whose situation doesn't fit the norm or can't me nicely summed up in a card... YOU are seen.

To the mommies out there who have every reason to celebrate today: I wish you the happiest of days. 

To the mommies out there who can't hold one (or more) of their kiddos because of a loss: I am missing them with you today. 

To the ladies out there who long to be a mother but have yet to see that dream realized: I am praying for you today. 

And to those of you who have a mother who is no longer here to celebrate with you: I am remembering with you today. 

Lots of hugs to each of you today, friends, whether your situation is celebratory and joyous, or if today is a day that brings up hurt and sorrow. You, too, are seen and acknowledged. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

12 (ish) Week Ultrasound and Consult

One of the strangest things about this pregnancy is that the timing of it aligns completely with my pregnancy with Isaac. So much so that the due dates are only two days off, and which consequently means Isaac's birthday and this baby's birthday will be within days of each other. And yes, that is hard.

Today I have my 12(ish) week ultrasound, nuchal fold test, and consult with my high-risk obstetrician. This is the same appointment, and the same high-risk doctor, at which we first learned of Isaac's prognosis. Almost to the day, five years ago.

To say it feels anything but odd would be false, and perhaps that's because of the timing of this pregnancy. It all feels so similar. In some ways it is such a gift because it brings to mind my sweet son so often; in other ways its poignancy is so much greater than my pregnancies with Eliana or Jacob. So what does that mean regarding today's appointment? I am a lot more nervous about it than I would have expected.

It is no surprise, however, that God meets me right where I am with it, and this morning's devotion was no exception.

"...Similarly, I give you sufficient Peace for the present, when you come to Me by prayer and petition with thanksgiving. If I gave you permanent Peace, independent of My Presence, you might fall into the trap of self-sufficiency. May that never be!... Approach My throne of grace with bold confidence, receiving My Peace with a thankful heart."    ~ From "Jesus Calling", April 18

So please pray with me today, for a great scan, that baby is looking good... and most of all for the Lord's perfect peace.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

This Is {some of} Us

We had the pleasure of having updated family photos taken recently by a good friend, and this one happened to be one of my favorites. Eliana has gotten so big, and Jacob, well, is three pounds bigger than his older sister :)

** All images are personal property and may not be copied, used, altered, or displayed without prior consent.

Friday, March 22, 2013

An Open Letter to My Obstetrician

Dear Dr. D,

I wanted to thank you for the years of care you have personally provided for me and for my family, particularly during my pregnancy with Isaac. Many, many aspects of my care at *** have been great, and I appreciate the sensitivity you have shown us with regard to concerns that have come up in regard to some of the prenatal care I previously received.

Recently, upon hearing of my current pregnancy, Dr. B asked me in a phone conversation if I was going to continue my current pregnancy since she knew it was not planned. I had seen her on a Friday for my annual checkup, discovered on Saturday I was pregnant, and called her on Monday to talk with her.

Before learning of my most recent pregnancy, I had been contemplating switching practices out of convenience. Once I learned I was pregnant again, I wanted nothing more than to have you and Dr. B to once again provide my prenatal care and deliver our newest (and final) addition to our family as you had with our other three children..

However, Dr. B's response to my news came not only as a surprise, but with a lot of hurt. On a very basic level, I have a hard time understanding why a doctor would ask a married woman (and truth be told, anyone) that question. Based on the depth of my pregnancy history, though, I have an even harder time understanding why I would personally be asked that question when my beliefs on this are abundantly clear. What I have struggled to understand is this: If I didn't end a pregnancy with a child I was told was going to die, why would I end a pregnancy with a child simply because it was unplanned?

I know you all have numerous patients that you see because you are a large practice; but I, personally, am still your patient. I, personally, deserve the same support of my values and beliefs while being provided exceptional obstetric care. At this point, as much as I would like to feel otherwise, I believe it is in my best interest to switch to a practice that is, as a whole, more understanding, supportive, and respectful of my beliefs.

Thank you, Dr. D, for your personal support and care for our family... For being the brave one to walk into a waiting room filled with our family and close friends on the morning of October 7, 2008 to share with them the news that our sweet Isaac was no longer with us... For so sensitively cutting out portions of the discharge instructions pamphlet from the hospital because you knew that reading about them would be hurtful... and for looking Spencer and I straight in the face after Isaac's delivery and telling us you thought we were heroes. I do not at all think of myself as such; but I know that in saying that you recognize in us how much we love our son, and how deeply we treasure the lives of each of our children. I want you to know that we haven't forgotten these things... And we are grateful.


Stacy Delisle

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Therein Lies The Miracle

I remember so clearly during my pregnancy with Isaac praying for that miracle... the one in which God would prove Isaac's diagnosis wrong... The one in which for no good medical reason Isaac made it... The one in which Isaac was healed on this side of Heaven... The one in which those around us who didn't believe in God at all couldn't help but then believe.

After all, the stage was set. The doctors had said he had no chance of living after he was born. And other doctors had said that his condition, though his genetics, brain, and heart were all just fine, could not be treated. It was the perfect story... one set up for a miraculous ending... the one in which God saves the day by healing our son and sparing his life.

And when it didn't happen that way... when Isaac's story was much, much shorter here on Earth that I would have ever hoped, I spent a long time wondering: "God, you are capable of miracles... where was it?"

It has taken me a long time to come to the place where I now understand this: I was only looking for one kind of miracle.

And because of that, I had been blind to the fact that the Lord HAD in fact performed a miracle... one different than that for which so many had prayed... but a miracle, still.

You see, when confronted with unthinkable tragedy, we only have two choices: fight or flight.

We can either go to the wrestling mat with God, like so many past heroes of the faith; or, we can walk away.

"God, you didn't heal my son..." Fight, or flight?

"God, you promise a hope and a future... where is it?" Fight, or flight?

"God, you provided Abraham a ram in the thicket... where was OUR ram?" Fight, or flight?

So while the miracle we, and so many of you had prayed for, never came to fruition, the Lord has still performed a miracle in our lives through our sweet son:

Even when the unthinkable has happened, we are still standing. We are still okay. And we still have faith, hope, and trust in the One whose ways are higher than ours.

And this is not of ourselves...

It would be easier to run. It would be easier to give up on a God who allows your son to die. But that is just it... even in our brokenheartedness... our questions... our frustration with Him... our lack of understanding, and even lack of trust because we just couldn't seem to reconcile our circumstances with the truth of who God is... God never gave up on us. He continued to pursue our hearts, to help us understand, and to bring us to a deeper level of faith and dependence on Him.

Countless people, particularly women I have encountered who have also suffered the loss of a child have asked me this: How in the world do you go through this and still remain strong in your fatih?

That is just it: I am not strong. But He is. And therein lies the miracle: that life's deepest tragedies can be suffered, but that one thing remains: His love never fails... it never gives up... never runs out on me. And so faith remains... hope remains... and love remains... Because He is the great I AM, and will never change... not even in the most painful of circumstances.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Post in Which I Share One More Thing...

Got to see this little one's heartbeat flickering away yesterday:)


SURPRISE!!! Baby Delisle #4 is due to arrive in October :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Post in Which I Answer Your Questions and Pour Out My Heart

It has been hard to write an update.

That is honesty at its best.

I want so much to tell you that being at home is better than I have ever dreamed, that my kids are in a great routine, that we are well rested and happy and enjoying every last minute.

And I want to tell you that even on the hard days, I know better than to complain and know that I should wholeheartedly cherish every difficult moment.

That would be honesty at its worst.

What I do want is to remain authentic about where we are, how we are doing, and how the Lord is using all things for our good and His glory.

So how is it being at home? It is hard. Really, really hard.

If you have been reading a while, you know that we have been battling significant sleep issues with Eliana since she was about 15 months old. This past Monday, she turned 3... needless to say that is a long time. We have taken her to two different sleep specialists whose best advice was to: change her nap time, and put her on an adult-level dose of melatonin. Her pediatrician has chalked all of this up to tempermant and typical bumps in the road.

I knew in my core that it was more than that.

As I continued to watch Eliana, look for patterns, and tried to look for some sort of correlation between her behavior, her sleep, and her eating, I began to notice some things I hadn't intended on finding.

During my first two years of teaching, I had the pleasure of having "Bobby" in my class. "Bobby" was smart as a whip... he loved the color blue, knew the name of EVERY President in US history (in order, the dates of their term, their party affiliation, whether or not they were married, and their family members' names), wrote everything in all capital letters even in the 5th grade, and had a sweatshirt that doubled as a security blanket. He had a need for things to be perfectly even, and if they weren't he found some pretty creative ways to make them so.The sound of the fire alarm caused him panic, and any change in routine was enough to rock his world. He couldn't stand buttons or zippers, had to have socks where the seam ran across the top of his foot, and his mother had lovingly cut the tags out of all of his shirts. He had the most creative mind and the most endearing speach. "Bobby" had been diagnosed with high functioning autism.

And so has my daughter.

Little by little, I started noticing little quirks and idiocyncricies with Ellie that caused me pause, and made me internally say, "Hm. That really reminds me of  'Bobby.'" At first, I was able to chuckle and shrug it off and just think about how, like "Bobby", Eliana is so endearing. She has a vocabulary and way of speaking that makes her sound like she is 3 going on 30. :) She is amazing.... she makes us laugh, she remembers the funniest things that you or I in our busy pace would most often forget, and she is so, so sweet.

And she struggles. She struggles when things are too close too loud, too bright or too tight. She can't stand to wear certain articles of clothes because they don't feel "right." She has a certain way of putting on her coat that, if disrupted, will set you back significantly in trying to get out the door. And she doesn't sleep well. Still. After all, it is currently 4:34 am our time, and I am down here writing because after being awakened at 1:00am with a full blown tantrum that not only lasted for 2 hours but also woke up her brother... it's hard to get back to sleep.

So it has been hard... and that is honest. Some days I feel like Moses when God called him to go to Egypt to face Pharaoh. You know the part when he says, "LORD... Please... send someone else to do it?" (paraphrase mine). I feel that way sometimes.

Like Moses, I don't feel prepared or equipped to handle this role. And like Moses, God is with me... fully equipping me for each turn. Most days I have come to the end of myself... and the state of my laundry pile, dishes, and playroom would validate that.

And it is at the end of ourselves where grace is. Where strength is. And where our intimacy with the Lord grows. It is where we see all that we are not and all that He is and how without him... this parenting thing? How would it even be possible? It is at the end of ourselves where His power is made perfect in weakness and we can be patient again... just one more time. The Lord has been really working on my heart and my focus, convicting my heart to trust that he will enable me to be calm in the midst of a tantrum that lasts for hours just one more time. Not all the other times today, or tomorrow, or this week... we'll get to those as well. But this time... just one more time.

Do I love being at home? I do. I love it. I am so grateful that God has provided the means in so many ways for us to do so. I love that I don't have to rush out the door every morning, that on a whim we can change our plans for the day, and that I am the one who is home helping to mold the hearts of my kids. I love seeing the little ways in which they are learning and growing, how their personalities are developing. I love having random dance parties with Eliana, indoor picnics (although I can't wait for spring to get OUTdoors), doing crafts, reading books, and tickling little Jacob until he is laughing so hard little tears creep out of the sides of his eyes.

And I am grateful that I get to be the one to help my daughter through a difficult period as we figure out how to best meet her needs as a little one recently diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. It is hard. It is really, really hard. And God is faithful...

His "faithful" is immeasureably bigger than my "hard."

So, Ellie is 3, Jacob is 14 months, and their smiles make my heart swell :)