Sunday, December 14, 2008

"Are you ready?"

"Are you ready?"... to leave, that is.

Spencer turned and asked me this about 3/4 of the way through church this morning. We don't ordinarily just pick up and leave church like the way we did today, so let me explain.

Tomorrow is my mom's birthday, and so Spencer and I went up to Baltimore, back to the church I grew up attending with my family and then to brunch afterwards. I usually love going there, and it's a great church. So, I thought this was a good idea because 1-we got to celebrate my mom's birthday, and 2- because the children's Christmas pagent was taking place at our church this morning and I just wasn't sure that was something I was going to be able to handle.

Little did I know, that what I was in for was a lot harder.

I've shared on here that it has been difficult for me into the Christmas spirit his year... the whole "holly, jolly Christmas" thing just isn't where I am. So when worship started and we sang nothing but Christmas carols, I was a little on edge. It probably didn't help that one of the worship leaders had a big pregnant belly. But, given the spirit of the season, it was something that I could sort of let roll off my back, an even somewhat enjoy.

The sermon started, and to be honest, this is where it went downhill, and for me, it went downhill fast. Just about every analogy made had to do with pregnancy and babies. I mean, I do get that... at the heart of the Christmas story is a teenage girl who is pregnant with the Savior of the world. What I had trouble with was over and over hearing phrases of us as Christians being "pregnant with possibility." And truthfully, it was a creative illustration and metaphor; but as a mother who just lost her son, it just wasn't working for me.

What I had more trouble with was when the "hardships" of the holidays were described as traffic at the malls and getting together with family that can sometimes be difficult.. and that we needed to "get over it." Because, of course, there are parts of the world that are far worse off.

Get over it.

Really? To the wife who just lost her husband as he was fighting in Iraq and for the first time won't be here for Christmas this year, she should get over it? To the man whose wife is fighting a terminal illness... and losing, he should get over it? To the mom and dad whose teenage son died in a tragic car accident last month, they should get over it? And to the moms and dads who have given birth to a child and have held them as they died just minutes, hours, or days later, they, too, should just get over it?

I acknowledge that we are a prosperous nation and that in numerous ways, we can't begin to imagine the hardships of poverty and disease-stricken countries in other parts of the world. That is absolutely true. But there's another truth of the matter and that's this: tragedy exists in America, too. Not just in the blatantly visible ways, but also in the hearts of men and women who are or have experienced deep, profound, and unspeakable grief.

And for those people, the holidays can be excruciatingly painful. For some people, the frustrations aren't with the trivial things like traffic at the malls, but with trying to reconcile who God is with the pain that He is allowing them to face. Trying to figure out what it looks like to have hope again in the midst of their grief.

Later this evening, though, I thought more about this question of "Are you ready?" So often we find ourselves asking each other this question in regard to Christmas, frequently referring to whether or not we've accomplished all the things on our to-do list... the decorating, shopping, and cookie baking.

But as I thought about it further, I think a better question in terms of "Are you ready?" is thinking about whether or not our hearts are ready to be reacquainted with the story of Christmas... the fact that we're celebrating the birth of the Savior of the world and the start of God's redemptive plan for humanity. Because of Christmas, we can have hope. Because of Christmas... the beginning of Jesus's life here on Earth, ultimately sacrifced as not just a ransom for many, but for each of us personally... because of those truths, I know that my sweet Isaac is safe in the arms of God.

I want to be ready to be reacquainted with those familiar truths in a fresh way this Christmas... and I'm getting there. Will you join me?

59 comments:

Abbie said...

Hi, Stacy,

I wanted to say thanks for your beautiful post. I just lost my first child at 12 weeks pregnant, and it was hard to be at church when everyone else was celebrating. I hope you have a good Christmas reflecting on Jesus. I'm finding out how much I really have to rest in His goodness this holiday season.

Love in Him,
Abbie

Liz and Will Timmerman said...

Hi Stacy,

Thank you for your honesty in this last post. You so often speak the words on my heart that I am either to afraid to voice, or can't really put my finger on to begin with. Since we lost our son this past February, it has been very difficult for us to go to Sunday services. I have to admit that we have skipped more than we should. It is painful sometimes to see the parents with their babies, and to hear sermons directed at seemingly superficial things. Plus, the singing is hard to get into when I am fighting with all my might not to cry. However, I think there are a lot of people that feel deep pain over the holidays. I suppose it is up to you and I, now that our eyes have been opened to the deeper suffereing present around the holidays to reach out to those in similar shoes. Together, we can get through these bittersweet holidays and rejoice knowing that our suffering is not in vain. Mary buried a son as well, so that we may have eternal life. I think Mary understands the sufferings of missing your child.

May you and Spencer have a blessed Christmas.

Love
Liz Timmerman

Monica @ Writer Chic said...

Oh Stacy, in ways I have yet to share with you, I SO relate to this post. I was thinking about you this morning, praying for you on my way to work. Hope you feel those prayers and my love today. Talk to you soon!

Kristina Petrella said...

Dear Stacy- I appreciate you writing your thoughts. Though I have not lost a child my parentss' divorce was finalized in November and this is the first year in my life (all twenty three years) that we haven't had Christmas together. My younger brother is also serving in Iraq right now and won't be home for Christmas. Thanks for reminding us what Christmas is all about.-Kristina

KKM said...

YES! Thank you so much for this beautiful and truthful post.

Nichelle said...

Stacy and Spencer…
Thank you for your honest post…I agree, how can you “get over” from something that has shaken your world, not only for the present, but for what the future holds??
My son Elijah would have been 4 years this Christmas and my other heavenly baby would be 3 years.(We delivered him Dec 29th, so the Christmas season is always hard to take) I often thought, how will this hurt ever go away? Everyone is telling me to move on…as they have. I will give you some HOPE…Years from now you will look back at your old posts and be amazed with your growth not only in your grief, but also in your faith. There were many days when I thought “ this is my life now”, days full of pain and sadness. As I stand here in my 4th year of life without my son, I am finally able to remember those moments with him with joy. I pray that God will give you strength not only this Christmas season, but all days. Giving you what you need, when you need it, everyday to get through another one. He truly is an awesome God.
Praying for you both,
Nichelle

Shaina N said...

Thank you so much for this wonderful, beautiful, heartfelt post. I'm struggling with the holiday season, and haven't found a way to let others know that yet. It is hard, it is difficult, but you're completely right. We don't need to "get over it." I think, as a nation, that we are obsessed with materialism, so much so that the church is finally catching on, but that doesn't mean that the ones who are truly suffering shouldn't have an escape during the holiday season. I'm sure God understands whats in your heart, and isn't upset for you leaving early. You are in my thoughts and in my prayers!

kate s. said...

Wow. These are beautiful, honest words from your heart. Thank you so much for sharing your story, your heart, your faith. I've been following your blog for about a month now and find myself looking at the world and my children differently (in a good way!) thanks to you. You and your words are a gift from God.

Thank you, Stacy.

Rachel C. said...

I'm so sorry that you had to deal with that. After I miscarried our first baby last year, church was the hardest place in the world for me. I would get seriously anxious on the way every Sunday. I miscarried the last day of November last year, and then a few days later went to a Christmas program at church, and all I could hear was "baby, baby, baby" over and over again. Praying for you; that God would hold you close through this pain. I'm praying that He would keep you close to Him and close to Spencer.

Rachel C. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sandra said...

That was beautiful, Stace.

Rachel C. said...

Sorry, just one more thing from me! :) My pastor and his wife lost their 16 year old son 15 years ago. Right now they are going through a blog series about dealing with grief at Christmas time. http://www.markinc.org/blog/index.cfm/2008/12/15/12-Days-of-Christmas-Grief-Relief--Day-6

They have some other resources - books and CD's about dealing with grief. If it's anything you're interested in, I have some copies and I would love to share them with you! My email address is myshadow28(at)aol(dot)com

Amber said...

Stacy,
That post was beautiful. Thank you for sharing so much with us. I will be pondering what you said for a long time I'm sure.

Jenn said...

I am going to try!

Maria (MKC101103) said...

Stacy,
You continually amaze me with your strength and courage. Thank you for that post.

Verna said...

Thanks for the beautiful post Stacy.
Too often I think people expect us to quelch our grief. I have not lost a child, but when My child was born My mother had just left us prior. After my daughter was born, I cried and cried, because I could not share her with my mother. It wasn't until much later that I had a dream, and I clearly heard my mother tell me, Don't worry, I helped send her to you. I helped choose her for you. I'm watch you from heaven and enjoy seeing her.
So don't let people tell you to get over it. I still miss my mother greatly and she's been gone over 31 years.
Always , always keep your precious son in your thoughts! He is a very special young man and has touched many lives!
We will continue to keep praying for you and Spencer in this holiday season.
Blessings,
Verna

Anonymous said...

Praying for you.

Rachel E. said...

Stacy, thank you so much for writing this post. I just lost my grandfather on December 1st after a 6-month-long battle with illness, and this is the first holiday season I've had to experience with loss hanging over me like this. I wouldn't have been able to stay to listen to a "get over it" sermon either. Praying for you and Spencer during this holiday season and looking forward to your next update.

Crysbena said...

Wow.. I felt the same way at church this weekend. It's so hard to "enjoy" this time of year. I can only try my best. Great post.

Nestie Becoming_untied said...

Continued prayers for your family.

Brenna said...

Hi Stacy,
You've summed up so beautifully something many of us are feeling this year (speaking from the perspective of a fellow grieving mother, which is the context in which I know Stacy). Your blog never fails to touch my heart deeply. Thank you for the thoughtful post.
All my best,
Brenna

Kelly said...

Amen sister! We lost our sweet baby girl in Oct. 07 - this is our second Christmas without her, though in many ways it feels like the first because the pain is so much worse this year. Christmas doesn't feel the same to me anymore..I used to love the shopping, baking, getting together with family and friends - not this year. I could care less about the gifts that did or didnt make it under our tree, or the lights and sounds of Christmas - all this does is remind me of the sweet little soul we are missing so very much. I have had a horrible time trying to deal with the happiness that seems to be seeking after me! I feel as though everyone around me is wrapping up this 'wonderful year' with so much joy and excitment while me, my husband and my other two girls are left in sorrow and mourning...so I know (in a sense) how you are feeling, and though I have lost the love of the glitz and glam of Christmas I am well aware of the TRUE meaning this year "JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON"...

God bless you - we are always praying.

In His Love,
Kelly

Stephanie said...

Thank you for this beautiful post.
I so wish I could take mend your broken heart.

sarah louise said...

I had a miscarriage in October. It was devestating. I stumbled on your blog as I was searching for help in my grief. Thank you for your blog. It has helped me in many ways. I am so sorry for your loss! So very sorry!
I have had some big struggles in my life and I have finally realized a Christ Like quality that I was lacking. That is empathy for everyone, not just those with "big" struggles. Everyone has struggles and some of those struggles may not seem very hard for us, but they are for the person going through them. Saying that other people have it harder just trivializes what the person is going through.
I lost my baby at 11 weeks and was told over and over again that I can try again, or it wasn't meant to be, or that other people have stillborns and that would be harder. Very few people wanted to have empathy for what I was feeling and going through. I do think other's situations are harder, but that doesn't mean I am not hurting too.

Thank you for your thoughts on Christmas and remembering the real reason behind this season.

Charity said...

Beautiful words! Trusting God will continue to heal you and show his mercy toward you during these difficult days. "I lift up mine eyes to the mountains, I look to Jehovah for aid. My help is the Lord God Almighty, the earth and the heavens He made." from Psalm 121 (as put to song in my church hymnal)

Kendra S-L said...

I am ready to reacquaint myself with the truth of God's humility, His preciousness, His love poured out for humanity. We say those (and type those) phrases over and over. I want to reacquaint myself with those truths every season, especially this one.
This was beautiful, Stacy. Thank you.

The Fabulous Ms. Beth said...

Stacy,
Christmas for me is the hardest time of the year. This is our third Christmas without our baby boy, and I thought it would be easier.. but it's the same. My arms still ache for him, and my heart is still broken.
I'm praying for you and Spencer this heartbreaking holiday season.

Kelly @ The Beauty of Sufficient Grace said...

Thank you so much for so beautifully asking the most important question, "Are you ready?" Not ready for the presents, the dinners, the visiting...but READY to embrace the miraculous gift of the birth of Jesus. Well said, Stacy. And so true.

God Bless you both this Christmas,
Kelly

shyanne butler said...

Stacy,

I wanted to let you now that as someone who has gone through some what of the same thing you never forget but it does get a little easier and you will enjoy the holidays again. Want to wish your family a Merry Christmas and my prayers are still with you as the holiday season passes.

Evan said...

Hi Stacy.

I just wanted to thank you for what you wrote.. Christmas is a time when so many people take family and life for grant. I have been reading your blog to find out (more keep an eye on you) how you are doing. I have a son and am grateful for each day, but my heart and prayers are to you and anyone that has/will go through the pain that you and Spencer have gone through. Isaac was an ADORABLE little guy. If you need someone to talk to or just need to vent I will be happy to listen. I wish you all the strength and love for the up coming trial and tribulations.

Cara said...

Stacy - It is so important to remember the real reason for celebrating this season.

Thanks and don't rush. It will come, again and again.

Anonymous said...

Stacy,

I just want you to know what an inspiration you, Spencer and Isaac have been to me. I cannot begin to describe how very strong you are and have been. May God give you and Spencer peace this holiday season.
You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
Jenn

Bea said...

Hi, I have been prompted to send you this a couple of times, I hope you find it useful, it seems appropriate with regard to the above post, it has helped me to live with a significant loss in my life: ‘On our farm we have a row of maple trees that illustrate the mysterious process of adaption. Many years ago these trees were used as fence posts for the stringing of barbed wire around the pasture. Now, fifty or sixty years later, it is possible to look at those trees and observe the way the life process shows itself in adaptation. In some places the trees fought against the barbed wire as a hostile agent, and here the trees have long and ugly scars that deface the bark and inner structure of the trees. In other places, the barbed wire has been accepted and incorporated in the life of the tree. Where this happened, the barbed wire left no mark on the tree, and all that shows is the wire entering on one side and exiting at the other.
It is natural to wonder what makes the difference in the quality of a tree’s response to injury. What was there in some trees that made them injure themselves by fighting against injury? What made it possible for other trees to be able to incorporate the injuring object and become master of the barbed wire rather than its victim?’
Edgar N Jackson: The Many Faces of Grief. P.123-4
Blessings to you.

Jen said...

Amen.

Trish said...

That was beautifully said. The pain is so much and there is no such thing "as get over it" when you lose a child. And this year is going to be especially difficult for us to go beyond the sadness grief brings and celebrate. Thank you for your post.
Trish
Max's mommy

Anonymous said...

In a recent sermon at church, my pastor said, "You were born for two reasons: one is to have a relationship with God, and the second is to point others to Jesus".

Thank you for your words. To God be the glory, Stacy! You will see your sweet son again.

Continuing to pray for you.

Blessings,
Beth

Erika said...

Stacy, such a beautiful post. Since we lost Vivian and Annemarie in July, my world view has shifted. The things that used to seem so important now seem trivial.

My recently widowed mother in law was just diagnosed with breast cancer. My stepdad has very advanced colon cancer, and it will be a miracle if he survives to next year.

These are things we cannot "get over" in a moment.

This Christmas we are focusing on the real reason for the season, the birth of Jesus, and not on what we need to buy everyone.

I wish I could throw my arms around you and give you a huge hug. I wish Isaac were here with you this Christmas, just as I wish my girls were here.

Lots of love,
Erika

Ericka said...

Stacy,

I've followed your blog for a long time but this is my first time posting. You are in my thoughts and prayers this holiday season. I heard a sermon on grief at Christmas time, "Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar on soda,Is he who sings songs to a troubled heart." (Proverbs 25:20)Sometimes quick answers are the worst thing to offer when people are going through a hard time. In well meaning attempts to lift someone's spirits, we move too fast. It is good that you take your time to heal, knowing that God is closer to you now. "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18 (NIV)Thank you for the beautiful posts. We'll continue to pray for your family each day.

Ericka

boltefamily said...

Last year I was pregnant with Asher and had just learned of his diagnosis at this time of year. I too remember sitting in church and thinking that celebrating was the last thing I felt like doing.

I decided to take my study of christmas to a new level. I delved into the prayers of Mary during this time. I found that I identified with her more than I realized. She was pregnant and about to give birth to a son who would suffer and die a tragic death. She too would have to carry a baby through less than ideal circumstances and then eventually let go.

I know it is different. It just somehow did give me comfort to know that I was not alone in my suffering. A song that has had profound meaning for me has been Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant. It is on the playlist on my blog if you haven't heard it.

I am so sorry for your hurt, tragedy sure does happen here a home. There are so many people hurting. It makes it tough to even give a hoot about the typical Christmas worries.

Praying for you this season.

nelsontwinsmom said...

That was a beautiful post. I don't think that you ever "get over" losing someone you love. My mom died almost 20 years ago and I am trying to type this through the tears of thinking of spending another Christmas without her. You don't get over these losses. You learn to live with that emptiness where that person should be, you learn to function again, but never get over them.

My heart aches for what you have gone through, but it is also amazed at the strength and grace you and your husband have. Baby Isaac will be that sparkling star that you see on Christmas and you'll know that he will always be with you.

Mandy and Jack said...

Just wanted to let you know that I'm still reading and praying.

Genesis said...

Stacy,

I just wanted to say I really love this post. I am also trying to find hope in midst of my grief...this holiday season is far from "jolly".

You're not alone.

Walking by Faith said...

Stacy this was full of truth. To ask people to just 'get over it' in reguards to the examples you mentioned and thousands more is ignorant. I don't think our human hearts can ever 'get over' things like that, but we know that God can help us walk through them, and out of them, with the ability to look back and praise Him for how He's sustained us. Thank you for posing this question. "Are we ready?"...I am.

I'm ready to look with eyes wide open at the story of redemption that was so sweetly unfolded in a stable in Bethlehem. I'm ready to look at his obeying parents who were asked to walk a very hard road and not quite understanding why until the cross. I'm ready to look at His sinnless life an example for me, and I'm ready to look at how he willingly suffered, bled, and died for my sin debt that I could one day have the gift of Salvation & thus eternal life!!

Thank you for reminding us to look at who He is, even though many are looking through a veil of tears this Christmas. May we just look at Him, and know that He is God, who came in the flesh, who walked this life of sorrow once, and who knows just what each and every one of us our facing. Bless you and Spencer...you are so often on my heart! Love,Heidi

Open your Eyes. said...

Your right - tradgedy exists everywhere and we all deal and accept it in different ways.

I'm tagging along with your for the ride...x.

Darlene said...

I continue to pray for you. May you find peace from our Savior this Christmas season.

Stacey said...

Stacy,
Thank you for being so honest and candid with us. The strength you show is amazing. You, Spencer and Isaac are such an inspiration and encouragment to me. I just want you to know that I am praying for you during this tough time of year (and this valley in your life.) I hope you can feel the Lord wrapping HIS arms around you guys.
Take Care
<><

Foreverloves said...

I don't know that I'm quite ready for that...I'm still too lost and sad at the death of my twins to fully embrace Christmas. Yes I'm pregnant again, but trust me when I tell you, it doesn't take away an ounce of pain for my children. In some ways, it makes it worse.

God bless you as you attempt to prepare for Christmas.

Wuxi Mommy said...

Dear Stacy,

Thank you for sharing your story in such an honest and transparent way. I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes as I read this post, although I've never lost a child. I think you touched on something so important, though, about how each one of us needs to reach out to others who are hurting, especially during the holidays. I'm so sorry that you didn't recieve that comfort at the one place where we usually go for comfort.....our church. Please know that you're in my heart and prayers today.

Anonymous said...

Stacy - It reminds me of Faith Hill's song "Where Are You Christmas?" I pray that in your search for the true joy of Christmas - that you find it again.

Love, Stacey

Jill said...

Stacy,

I'm glad I stopped by your blog today!

I can't even imagine sitting through that sermon after experiencing all that you have.

Then I remembered the truths that have been shared with me recently. There is nothing you and I will go through that He doesn't understand. Jesus understands and doesn't say get over it - He says bring it to me so I can carry the burden. Jesus came so that you and I don't have to just get over things - we can come to Him broken and know that He will hold us up and strengthen us through His sustaining grace.

Praying for you and your husband as you walk through this holiday season holding His hand. He is the only reason - not just a season. We are all nothing without Him!

Blessings!
Abiding in His grace,
Jill

D9 said...

You continue to be an inspiration in faith to me. I continue to pray for you and your family.

Dawn said...

Your honesty always moves me. As someone who just lost her best friend to cancer, I can so relate to this post.

Thank you for being the light you are and the example you are as you go through the grieving process. Your raw honesty has truly helped me so much.

Dawn

Marisa said...

Stacy,

I've been following your blog for a little while now, and have been moved by every one of your posts. You may not feel like a hero, but it was very brave to have given your son life and make certain that his life mattered when others discouraged you from continuing the pregnancy. You are teaching me what it means to love truly and boldly, and changing the way I think about everything. I am so much more appreciative of my family now and treasure every moment I have with them. Thank you for writing so beautifully and honestly. I'm praying you and Spencer have a joyful Christmas.

Ang said...

Hi Stacy,
I know you don't know me, I follow your blog and just so sorry for your loss. I have left a comment before. I just had you on my mind today as I had others and prayed for you. I know you have 100's of followers and probably not alot of time to check other blogs out, but I just posted a song our preacher sang (I am sure you have heard it a 100 times) but the 2nd verse made me think of you!! Also if you'll scroll down and listen to my daughter singing (little by little, you may not have heard it) it may be hard to listen to because she is a child and you are hurting so deeply right now, but it just speaks of that God has a vision and a plan for our lives. I too have a precious child in Heaven with yours and I pray for you often! hugs:)

B Family Life said...

Stacy,
Thank you for this reminder. I could not have ever put something in writing so perfectly. This Christmas is the first since our recent miscarriage and 5 yrs since the loss of my Uncle who I was very close with, your post echoed so many of the sentiments I have in my heart. As always, you are in my prayers. God Bless

Delayna said...

We are praying for you continuously.

Megan said...

Stacy...you and your husband continue to be in my prayers.

The only thing that keeps Satan at bay for me in my thoughts, is to really ponder what I want my son to see me doing. Do I want him to see me wither away....or press forth and be a light for the very King that he is now in the presense of?! press on sweet girl.....Isaac is indeed interceeding with Jesus for you, even right NOW!

Elicia said...

I just wanted to say *hugs* It breaks my heart to read that. "get over it" just doesn't and can't happen for some things in life. Church is an emotional place for me and sometimes it can hurt to be there. Thank goodness for the love and mercy of Christ.

amanda said...

I've visited your blog before, and I don't think I've ever left a comment, but I have left my prayers for you, your beautiful baby Isaac, and your family.

Yes I'm ready! I have been, and with the heartbreaking grief in my life it's been rather heartbreaking to live in this world of unreadiness. Yes I will join you!

Thank you for such a comforting, heartwarming, and validating post so many need to hear that don't.

"...I would think how words go straight up in a thin line, quick and harmless, and how terribly doing goes along the earth, clinging to it, so that after a while the two lines are too far apart for the same person to straddle from one to the other; and that sin and love and fear are just sounds that people who have never sinned nor loved nor feared have for what they never had and cannot have until they forget the words." ~William Faulkner, character Addie Bundren in "As I Lay Dying" pp. 165-6