Monday, March 30, 2009

A Grace Disguised

Currently, I am in the middle of reading 4 different books. I have no idea why I can't just read one cover-to-cover and then pick up a new one. For some reason, this just seems to work better for me.

I recently started reading A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser. Sittser is a professor or religion and received his MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is also a bereaved parent. A man who lost his mother. A widower. He lost all three of these people, his youngest daughter, his mother, and his wife, in one tragic car accident in 1996.

I am only on page 75 of this book, but boy, does Sittser get it. He has lived it. He continues to live it, even 13 years later.

In his second chapter, entitled Whose Loss is Worse?, he talks about how all people suffer loss, but that really it's useless to compare losses. He does make a distinction, however, between natural and predictable losses and catastrophic, devastating, irreversible losses. The natural predictable losses include things like growing up... losing your youth, but gaining adulthood; or, watching your child get married... "losing" your child, but gaining a son or daughter in law.

Then there are the catastrophic, devastating, irreversible losses. About these, Sittser writes, "If normal, natural, reversible loss is like a broken limb, then catastrophic loss is like an amputation. The results are permanent, the impact incalculable, the consequences cumulative. Each new day forces one to face some new devastating dimension of the loss. It creates a whole new context for one's life."

He continues this sort of analogy in chapter 5. Sittser talks about a couple named Andy and Mary, whose daughter, Sarah, was born with cerebral palsy. Sarah's health and development are not good, and their marriage is suffering.

Sittser writes, "Andy and Mary will never 'recover' from their loss. Nor can they. Can anyone really expect to recover from such tragedy, considering the value of what was lost and the consequences of that loss? Recovery is a misleading and empty expectation. We recover from broken limbs, not amputations. Catastrophic loss, by definition precludes recovery. It will transform or destroy us, but it will never leave us the same. There is no going back to the past which is gone forever, only going ahead to the future, which has yet to be discovered. What ever the future is, it will, and must, include the pain of the past with it. sorrow never entirely leaves the soul of those who have suffered a severe loss. If anything, it may keep going deeper."

Sittser continues on to talk about how that sorrow is in fact a sign of strength and authenticity; and how in Matthew 5, Jesus tells us that, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

I suppose all of this just really resonated with me. It resonated with me that "recovering" isn't really an option because a deep, tragic loss forever changes you. It doesn't mean that you will be remain forever in the pit of sorrow and despair; because by God's grace, He meets us there and carries us through.

What hit me the most was when Sittser talked about how catastrophic loss has the power to transform or destroy us, but will never leave us the same. I am keenly aware that I will be forever changed. And as I spent time thinking about being transformed or destroyed, so many pieces of scripture came to mind...

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
~ 2 Corinthians 4:7-9

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:11

I thought a lot about that Ecclesiastes verse... about how in His time, God will make beauty from ashes. He has already started to... by His grace, God has allowed me to see glimpses of how Isaac's life and legacy are being used for good. He has set eternity in our hearts... a yearning for heaven that I had never known before; a complete shift in how I even view time. And all the while, I still can't get my head around how this fits into God's great plan. I don't understand why Isaac couldn't have been healed. But part of the grace God has shown me has been in the fact that He is enabling me to start slowly becoming more okay with not getting an answer as to "why," but to simply trust Him.

I am excited to finish the rest of this book... to read more about Sittser's journey and all that God has shown him.

I know I am not finished this book yet, but I have to say, that of all the books I've read, I would rank it up there with When I Lay My Isaac Down. This book is great if you've experienced a loss, or if you're the friend or loved one of someone who has and you're seeking to understand their pain. Sittser's honesty and authenticity about his pain, but also about the hope he has in our God, has just really touched my heart.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Before I get to Google, I wanted to say that I am glad that my list of ways to help someone who is grieving the loss of a child (or anyone) was so helpful. For those other parents out there who have had the painful experience of burying your child, I am glad that much of what I shared resonated with you. And for those who are friends and loved ones of someone who has lost a child, I am glad that many of you found my suggestions helpful.

I also wanted to say this: If you were reading and found yourself thinking, "Oh rats. Did I say that to her? Did I share the right verse?" or "Did I send the right card to my friend... I think it was created my Hallmark... uh-oh!" that my intention was never to make you second guess yourself. I would rather you say something than nothing. We know that the people's intentions are truly good. I also know, though, that being in the position of having lost a child offers a unique perspective on some of those things, and so my hope in sharing what I did was to give you a peek inside the heart and mind of a mother who misses her son terribly, and to equip you with some information that you might find helpful.

Okay. On to Google.

A few weeks ago I was at home, just killing some time, and yes, I decided to Google myself. I was curious to see if when I did, my blog came up. Here's the crazy thing. As I started to type in my name, one of the options that popped up from the list of options Google gives you as it tries to predict what it is you want to search for, was "Stacy Delisle blog." WHAT?! I couldn't believe that people has been searching Google for my blog!

Then I decided to Google Isaac. We have a birth certificate for him, and wanted to get him a social security number because we really want him to count. And, if in the future anyone ever did a genealogy or something on our family, we would want him to be included. So I googled him. And wouldn't you know that "Isaac Timothy Delisle" and "Isaac Timothy blog" both popped up.

It was one of those moments that I started to both laugh and cry at the same... chuckling that my sweet little boy can be Googled, and crying over the fact that the only way he will be really known is through me, Spencer, and my blog. I wish so much that he was here, and that his future accomplishments could also be Googled.

It's a cool (cold?), rainy day here in Maryland today, and it just seems sort of fitting. I am pretty exhausted from a crazy schedule and form things just having been more difficult lately. I am just missing Isaac a ton today...

Thank you for continuing to offer prayers on our behalf. God continues to be very present, and we are grateful for that.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

How to Help a Grieving Friend

The past couple of weeks I have been in a really tough place with my grief. I think one of the hardest things about that is that for so many, this is all "old news..." and for others, I feel as though they think I should be "doing better" by now. It's almost like there's this pressure to be over it, or in a better place with it all. To be grieving your child is a hard enough, and having that added layer that I have been feeling lately only tends to compound it. I know that the people who want me to be "better" are people who care deeply about me; but I don't think that they realize the pressure and hurt that it adds. It makes me feel as though this loss is something less than it is. And worst of all, it causes me to no longer want to be authentic for fear of judgement or for fear that I'm making other people's lives difficult by still having a hard time with the loss of Isaac... like somehow it's so hard on them that I am still struggling. But they are not the ones whose son has died. Recently, I read an entry on Molly Piper's (daughter-in-law of John Piper) blog about what her grief looks like 17 months after losing her daughter, Felicity. Within that time, she and her husband Abraham have also given birth to another child. You can find her blog post here. When I read it, I was encouraged in some ways...knowing that she is a Godly woman and is still struggling, even after having another healthy baby and even almost a year and a half later... Of course sitting here at 5 1/2 months I would be, too. Another blog friend who lost her twin boys e-mailed me a little while back and shared that around the 5-6 month mark was right when the shock of it all started to wear off and it really started to all sink in. Please know that my intention in sharing this isn't to be critical; I truly do believe that people are well-intentioned and that in wanting me to feel better, to move on, etc, that ultimately, people care about me and Spencer and don't want to see us hurting. But we are. And that is just honest and real. Some days are fine, and some are even good; there are days when we laugh... but many days are still hard. We are making progress with all of this, but at least for me, the past few weeks I feel like I have taken so many steps backwards. But I know that grief is like that. It's not linear progress. It's a roller coaster with ups and downs, twists and turns. It's hard, it's exhausting, and it hurts. For it to be anything less than that wouldn't be real. God has been faithful in being a steady presence in the midst of it all, and I know He will continue to be. The bottom line, though, is that every day I carry around the heart of a mother who longs for her son and misses him more than words could ever convey. And that's a heavy cross to bear. So I want to offer some encouragement to those of you reading who are friends and loved ones of someone who has lost a child. These thoughts come from things that we have found helpful, things that have been hard, and from other blogs I've read that have offered some great suggestions on this. I am definitely no expert or authority on this topic, but just wanted to share some things that we have found helpful. 1. Say something. There are a few people we've encountered who have yet to say anything to us about losing Isaac. They know that it happened, but have avoided it like the plague. That is incredibly hard. If you're not sure what to say, saying "I don't know what to say other than I am so, so sorry" is a great place to start. Bereaved parents what so desperately for their child to be acknowledged. And of course... say something to our Heavenly Father and pray for them. 2. Avoid "Hallmark" responses. This one may seem in direct conflict with #1, but it's true. These types of statements tend to minimize the person's loss. For instance, take the line "When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window." While that may be true, a grieving parent didn't want the door closed in the first place. They want their child back. And while whatever might be on the other side of the open window might be a good thing, it still doesn't take care of the ache of the closed door of losing a child. It's good to think carefully about statements such as these. While the intention may be to encourage, many "Hallmark" responses have the flaw of minimizing the loss. 3. Choose scripture carefully. I absolutely believe that the Bible is the word of God and that it is true. Every word of it. And there are some great verses of encouragement in there. What can be difficult, though, is realizing that the timing of encouragement from scripture is encouragement. A wise person that Spencer and I know recently shared that he never walks into the room of a grieving person and shares Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Why not? Because in the midst of the rawness of grief of losing a child, all you want is your child back. I absolutely believe in the truth of this scripture, but am only now getting to the place where this is of encouragement to me. When you lose a child, you often feel forsaken. And bereaved parents want to know they are not alone. So verses focusing on God's love, peace, and Him being near to the brokenhearted are generally good places to look to encourage. The time will come to use verses about God working all things together for good, but in the wake of a child's death isn't the best time because the bereaved parent's heart will likely not be ready to receive it. 4. Know that there is no timetable for grief. Through the books I have read, my conversations with other bereaved parents over e-mail and at the monthly support group I attend, and in discussing this with my counselor, the consensus is the same: people grieve differently and there is no timetable for grief. This is really important to understand. While as a family member or friend, you may feel as though you had your "brief history" with the child who has died and although it was sad, you know you will see them again in Heaven and so now it is time to move on, it's important to realize that it isn't that way at all for the parents whose child has died. For them, it's like a part of them has died. One of the books I read talked about how there's this piece of your heart that was specifically for that child, and that when they died, that piece of your heart was broken off and went to heaven with them. Along with the loss of a child comes the loss of so many other things... I talked a lot about that in my post entitled Ripple Effect. It's also important to know that grief is like a roller coaster, and that it is exhausting. So please, don't hurry your friend or loved one along. It may hurt you to see them struggle, but the best thing you can do is come along side of them and just be with them, letting them know you're there... not to judge, not to analyze it all, not to make them better, but to pray with them and for them, and simply to mourn with those who mourn as we've been encouraged to do in Romans 12. 5. Ask specific questions. I have a friend who is great at this. She listens well, and so she knows what to ask. She doesn't just ask how I am doing... she asks things like, "How was the 7th for you this month?" or "How did things go when you visited the cemetery with your family?" She also isn't afraid to ask me the harder questions... "How are you doing with your anger about this?" More often than not, my brain is mush. There are so many thoughts swirling around, that to only ever be asked "How are you?" would be really hard. Plus, "How are you?" has become just the polite thing to say to each other, often times just in passing. Asking specific questions not only communicates that you are listening well, but it also communicates that you really care and you truly want to know how the person is doing. 6. Know that he/she may not be him/herself. I mean a couple of different things by this. First, know that the grieving parent may be a scatterbrain, may be exhausted, may seem like they're going to explode. Grief is just plain exhausting and it's a lot of work if you're going to grieve well and do the work rather than just stick one toe in then pack it all up in a nice neat box and put it on the shelf. That's when it becomes a ticking time bomb. Just know that your friends who have lost a child are doing the best they can, and that often they really may be exhausted. They may forget things or seem scattered. Be patient with them and know that it's normal. Secondly, it's also important to realize that if you're waiting for the "old Stacy" (or whoever the bereaved parent is) to come back, you may be waiting forever. Losing a child changes your life. It changes everything. That's an explanation for another blog entry at another time, but just know that your friend or loved one will likely be forever changed by the death of their child, and part of navigating grief is figuring out how to integrate the death of your child into who you are and the tapestry of your life. 7. Offer specific, practical help. Your friend or loved one is most likely too tired to ask. Or, if they are at all like me, already feel like their grief is a burden to you, and don't want to burden you with anything else. Offering to bring a meal, clean their house, run to the grocery store... all of these things are so helpful. While saying, "Let me know if you need anything," is kind and well-intentioned, it can be too much work for the grieving parent to even know what they need. All they feel like they need is their child back. I know we greatly appreciated all of the meals we were brought through the month of October, and for our dear friend who cleaned our house on a weekly basis. These things were just set up for us, really without us even having to ask. Some dear people knew what we would need, and just did it. Having those burdens carried for us freed us up to just be... and in the wake of the child's death, that alone is a lot of work. 8. Be present. Many parents who have lost a child feel lonely and forsaken. It's really important to communicate to them that they haven't been. In addition to sharing scripture that speaks to that, being with the parents who have lost a child is important. Of course, there are times when they will likely want space and will want to be alone. Please know that if you are an expectant mother or the parent of small children, this may be especially true. It's nothing personal. But, often, parents who have lost a child will likely want company. So call, and set a specific plan. Offer to come over and bring dinner; offer to come and play a board game or watch a movie. Offer to take him or her out for lunch. Offer to go to the cemetery with them. And know, that if you make the plans, the bereaved parent may, an hour before your supposed to be there, call and say that they just can't do it today. Know that it's nothing personal, be patient, and keep offering. I appreciated so much, particularly once Spencer went back to work and I was still at home, that friends would come and take me to lunch, or my mom would come and take me to the outlets, go to the cemetery with me, play speed scrabble, or would just be here at home with me while I watched tv or took a nap. 9. Talk about and remember their child. I am not really sure what else to say about it than that. Talk about what you remember about the child. Talk about how beautiful he/she was in pictures. The Friday before my birthday, some friends spent some time talking with me about Isaac and what he meant to them... the tears just started coming and I was so grateful. On anniversaries, visit the cemetery and leave flowers. Send a card to the parents on anniversaries. Parents who children are living get to hear their children's names all the time; but for the parent whose child has died, it can be a rarity. And when you hear that child's name it is like music to your ears. It is such a gift. Don't be afraid to bring up their child who has died; more than likely that child is always on their mind anyway... at least mine is. 10. Repeat. Grief can be a long, complicated process. Those who have lost a child need to know that you still care even when the rest of the world has moved on. It's a difficult thing when you feel as though your world has stopped, and the rest of the world is racing by. Bereaved parents need to know that people remember... one of the greatest fears is that their child will be forgotten. Let them know that you haven't forgotten. I hope that the above suggestions are helpful and are able to provide some insight into the heart of a grieving parent. My intention with this post was never to be critical, but rather, to share honestly about where I am and to provide some thoughts that I hope are helpful to the friends and loved ones of parents who have lost a child. Another great place to check out for thoughts and ideas on this is Molly Piper's blog (her blog is great!). You can find a specific series of posts on helping a grieving friend here. If you are a bereaved parent and have other suggestions you have found helpful, please feel free to leave a comment. If you're the friend or loved one of a bereaved parent and you have received some positive feedback about something you have done for a bereaved parent to support them, please feel free to share that as well.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tough Time at Work

This week I have just been tired. I am not sure if it's because my 1/2 marathon training is amping up, if I am still not yet recovered from my time at Outdoor Ed last week with my 6th grade students, or just what. I think that part of it, though, is that I am having a hard time with my job right now.

In college, I decided to pursue elementary education as my major because, in all honesty, I wasn't sure what else to declare. My mom was a teacher, my dad is a teacher, my grandmother, two aunts, great aunt, and stepmom all are or were teachers. I figured I would just get into the family business. :) I also liked how being a teacher seems to be a good fit for your family life as well, at least it worked out great while I was growing up.

When I started my career, I loved it. It was my life. I worked at the elementary school where I student taught for five years before making the switch to middle school. The girls with whom I started my teaching career have become such good friends. I loved the switch to middle school and being able to focus on just one subject. I also liked seeing a greater variety of students. Most of all, I really enjoyed the first middle school where I worked. It was in a great community, the same community in which Spencer and I were leading WyldLife. The only downer was that this school was a 50 minute commute from home.

When I found out I was pregnant with Isaac I didn't think that commute would still be reasonable. I was also looking to switch to a non-classroom position. I ended up accepting the position I currently hold (though still a classroom position) at a school only 15-20 minutes from home so that I could spend less time commuting, and more time with my son. I had my initial interview on a Tuesday, a second interview on a Friday, and accepted the job the following Monday.

That same Monday, only a few hours later, we had the ultrasound that changed our lives forever... it was the ultrasound that revealed Isaac's omphalocele and large cystic hygroma.

It's hard working in a place when the primary reason you decided to work there was to be more available for your child... and Isaac isn't here. To be honest, it has been a hard transition for me. The staff members at this school are very friendly; I think it's just hard working with people you aren't as close with when you're going through the most traumatic and painful experience of your life.

More so, though, I am having trouble being with students all day. I know that going back to any job after the loss of your own child would be difficult; but it feels like there's an added layer as a teacher. I spend six hours each day nurturing other people's children when I am so desperately longing for my own son. I think it has made it hard for me to want to go the extra mile for other people's kids when mine isn't here. And that's all on top of the need to be so "on" all day when on cool cloudy days like today, all I want to do is curl up in bed with a cup of hot tea and a book. I am not sure if that makes any sense or not, but it's real, and it's hard. It's particularly hard when I know that I should be doing my job at work as if unto the Lord; and outwardly I think it looks like I am. But inwardly, I am struggling.

I could just really use your prayers. I am worn out. I don't enjoy my job right now, and that's a difficult thing for me. In fact, while driving to work this morning, I thought about how I was glad that today I have two blocks off instead of one. I look forward to the time I can leave, and each week I find myself just longing for it to be the weekend again so I can be home, I can rest, I can have the time and space to grieve if I need or want to, and I can focus on the things that really matter to me.

Thankfully, our spring break isn't too far off... until then, thank you for praying :)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Consider Him

It feels as though it has been forever since I have last written, even though it's only been five days. Thank you so much for your birthday wishes. Despite it being a difficult and challenging week, there were some definite joys as well. I have a great family and great friends who certainly made me feel celebrated this week.

This morning at church our pastor preached from Hebrews 12. It's a book and a chapter with which I am pretty familiar. To be honest, this morning I was just tired... tired from it being an emotionally challenging week, tired from being on an overnight with our 6th grade students from Wednesday-Friday, tired from a busy (yet fun) weekend. Don't get me wrong... I enjoy going to church and I love our church. It was just one of those mornings where I felt like I could have really used some extra sleep.

Thankfully I was there. Because God had something to say to me.

Our pastor made all kinds of great points from this passage from Hebrews, but ultimately, what hit me was a verse I have read over tons of times, but it never really affected me until today:

Consider him who endured such great opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. - Hebrews 12:3

Truthfully, there have been numerous times over the last year that I have indeed grown weary and started to lose heart. Who am I kidding. There have been times I have felt flat out defeated. But this verse reminded me of something...

The "him" in this verse is the same one who in the garden of Gethsemane said, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death" (Matthew 26:38)

It's the same "him" who, as he hung on the cross cried out, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46)

Jesus has been there.

He has been there. The author and perfecter of our faith... He knows what it is to be overwhelmed with sorrow. He knows what it is to feel forsaken.

We can trust Him.

Sometimes I have thought that if God really knew how it felt to lose a child, then maybe He wouldn't have let Isaac die... maybe he would have provided a ram in the thicket and spared him instead, just like He did for Abraham.

Guess what? He does know.

The more this process is being worked out, the more I know I need to trust Him. And the truths of which I was reminded today really validated that. When life feels like it's spinning out of control, or the pain is just too deep... consider Him. He has been there. He knows.

There's a dear woman who e-mailed me last week. On Thursday, she had her 20 week ultrasound, and it was discovered that her sweet daughter has a form of dwarfism. She was sent to a maternal fetal medicine group on Friday to confirm the diagnosis. Not only was her daughter's diagnosis confirmed, but she and her husband were told that their daughter has a lethal form of dwarfism and will not live long after birth. This brave momma has resolved to give her daughter every chance at life, and plans to carry her to term.

I had the honor of talking with her for a while on the phone today, and as I listened to what she was saying and the questions she was asking, my heart just continued to break for her. I remember so clearly the day we had an ultrasound and found out about Isaac's anomalies... and the day we were at Children's being told that Isaac wasn't going to live. It was just total chaos in my head as everything just started to unravel. This same dear woman is in the thick of that right now... wondering how to even answer people who ask about her pregnancy, how she is going to be able to say goodbye to her daughter, and wondering what her daughter's birthday will even be like. It is just so hard, and it hurts so badly.

Would you please pray for her? By my estimation, she is due at the very beginning of August. Would you please pray that she and her husband would consider Him and that God would be their calm in the midst of a frightening storm. That He would allow them both to enjoy their time with their daughter while she's in her momma's womb. And that He would perhaps perform a miracle and heal this dear little girl.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


They say that 30 is the new 20. We'll see.

Yesterday (March 9th), I turned 30. On Saturday, my dad, stepmom, sister, brother-in-law, and stepbrother came to celebrate my birthday. On the way to dinner, we stopped to visit Isaac since it was March 7, and it meant so much to me that they came.

Yesterday Spencer and I both took off work to celebrate my 30th birthday. My sweet husband organized a totally terrific day. He had been talking up this surprise day for a week, and I am not one to usually like surprises when I know they are coming. But I have to say I really enjoyed it this time.

My sister works at a high-end clothing store called South Moon Under, the type of place you love to look but never buy (at least I never do), and instead look for these same brands of clothes once they're on clearance at Marshalls, Ross, or TJ Maxx. But yesterday, Spencer called my sister and organized a shopping trip for me to go pick out some new clothes. It was great, and thank goodness my sister was there to help! I am a terrible shopper. :) She had my dressing room all ready for me, complete with some bottled water, Zazz (my favorite!), flowers, and some birthday cake! Spence and I took a mid-day shopping break and had lunch at The Cheesecake Factory before finishing up. It's nice to have some new clothes that fit and that look cute! And, Spence was a real trooper to handle all of that shopping!

Overall, though, this birthday has been hard, and I didn't really expect it do be. Sure, there's the whole thing of leaving my 20's, a period of time in my life that marked some pretty great things: graduating from college, getting married, starting my teaching career. But there was something, someone else who was part of my 20's... Isaac. I know that he will always be part of me, always be part of our family, but he won't be present in my 30's. Of course, my head knows that he is in the most perfect place, but my heart wants him here.

I think I am also having a hard time with the fact that I had always hoped to be a "young" mom. When I was younger and envisioned my life at 30, I envisioned having children at home and having the joy of raising them. I find myself even now saying "them" so I don't know if I had always hoped to have had more than one child by now... I don't know. But I know that for some reason, this birthday has intensified Isaac's absence. And that's just really hard.

The reminders have been everywhere this weekend. They were in the nail salon when I got a pedicure on Saturday and the pregnant girl was next to me. The guy doing her pedicure has three children, and he and his wife are expecting their fourth soon. They were talking all about it, those "dreaded sleepless nights" and I just started crying. Yes, the girl doing my pedicure did notice and asked why, and of course I explained. I just wanted say to the others talking, "I have a son, too, but he isn't here... and I would give anything for those sleepless nights. Please... feel fortunate." Other reminders were in random comments from people saying things like, "Well my dad always says it's better to be one year older than six feet under." And yes, this person knows about Isaac.

You see, when you lose a child, you don't only lose a child. You are left to deal with shattered dreams and hopes that won't be fulfilled... it's back to that ripple effect. I suppose, too, that when I stopped to think about my birthday, I just immediately started thinking about Isaac's birthday and all of the joy that came in meeting him for the first time, and the pain that reached into the depths of my soul when we said goodbye to him that night on October 7. I really, really miss him.

So I could really just use your prayers. God has been so faithful in carrying us through this, and I know He will continue to. I suppose it's just one of those times where I am finding myself taking twenty steps back, sitting back in the pit of grief. I know I won't always stay there, but I didn't expect something like my birthday to trigger this either. Thank you for your prayers for peace, for God to continue to meet us in our sorrow, and for Him to show us how to continue to have hope. I am confident that He will.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

5 months

Dear Isaac,

I can't believe that it has already been 5 months since you were born... since I first laid eyes on your beautiful face, first held your little hand, and first snuggled with you. I can't believe it has been 5 months since I last kissed your sweet little nose, tickled your soft little feet, and last held you. I miss you more than words could ever express. But I want you to know that you matter... you still matter... our lives, and the lives of so many others, are better because of your sweet little life.

I love you, Isaac. I am so proud of you.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Holy Ground

As I have written before, I am doing a bible study with some women at church on the book of Joshua. This week we read Joshua 2-5. The last verse in Joshua 5 (verse 15) struck me:

The commander of the Lord's army replied, "Take off your sandals. For the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.

A similar command is given to Moses when God appeared to him in the burning bush:

"Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." - Exodus 3:5

Every Sunday, usually before church, Spencer and I visit Isaac at the cemetery. The beautiful white satin cross that my dad and stepmom brought him on the day of his burial service is still there. We've taken down the artificial poinsettia we had there during the Christmas season, and have been faithful to bring fresh flowers. With this weekend's snowfall, we didn't take any, and I was feeling guilty about that. But while we were there, I noticed the snow sticking to the bottom of my boots as we walked over to Isaac's grave. And clear as day this thought came to my mind: Build him a snowman, Stacy.

So I did. I didn't have a carrot for a nose or raisins for a mouth, but I did find some sticks for arms. I drew eyes, a nose, and a mouth instead. It was a little snowman, maybe 1-2 feet high, but it felt good to leave something there for Isaac, and it the midst of a snowstorm, a snowman seemed to fit better than fresh flowers anyway.

It was peaceful while we were there this past Sunday... I think the snow has a way of doing that. Sometimes, though, we've encountered others who have been in the cemetery during our visit who have greatly taken away from our time there.

A few times it has been joggers... joggers running by themselves who feel the need to just stare at us. Other times, it has been joggers running in pairs who are talking really, really loudly over their iPods in order to hear each other. Most recently, it was a man who appeared intoxicated, riding a bike, swerving all over the place, singing at the top of his lungs. And on every occasion, I have wanted to just scream: Where you are standing... this place... this cemetery... this is holy ground! My son is buried here. It is holy ground."

No, it's not the land of Canaan where Joshua is standing, nor the mountain of God where Moses was. But that cemetery... for us it is holy ground. We know Isaac isn't really there, but it is a place where we can go and feel like we're just a little bit closer to him. Tending to his grave site gives us a small opportunity to still parent him in some way. I wish that the random joggers talking over their iPods or the random guy on the bike knew that.

This week, a sweet friend, who I have never met in real life but would love to, is anticipating the one-year anniversary of her sons', Blake and Ethan, birth on March 5. Just a few short days later, she, her husband, and their daughter will mark the one-year anniversary of their death. You are welcome to visit Devon's blog here. Please lift them up in prayer, as I am sure this is to be a very difficult week for them.