Monday, August 15, 2011

I Heart Faces - Beautiful Eyes

Charlotte has the most beautiful blue eyes, so this seemed like a natural one to enter with a recent snapshot.
Link your own picture here.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Heaven Is For Real

I judgmental. I admit it. I make snap judgments about a lot of different things. I also suffer from the "I Went to a Christian College" disorder which can make some of us (me) think we know better than others. I'm working on it.
With that graceful preface, you can see why I would turn my nose up at something claiming that a child went to Heaven and then came back. I made my snap judgment that this would be a fluffy "walk into the light" story that had nothing to do with Jesus, and made blanket statements like "everyone goes to Heaven," or "all paths lead to Heaven."
But, my mother in law handed it to me, and told me that she also had presuppositions about the book and it surprised her. So, curiosity getting the better of me, I opened it.
I was humbled almost immediately. I went from an attitude of "This book is a big fat lie," to, "Could this actually have happened?" to, finally, "I believe this kid."
This is the story of a 3 year old named Colton, who was brought to the brink of death. Over the next few years, he told his parents snippets of his experience while he was in surgery, beginning with simply telling him angels sang to comfort him - only songs about Jesus, not "We will, We will Rock You," like he requested. Eventually he told them details about what he saw them doing while he was in surgery in a different room, and details about his time in Heaven that are straight from Scripture. Things a three year old - even a pastor's son, which he is - wouldn't ordinarily know. He spoke about things that defy our understanding of time, he spoke about meeting his great grandfather, and also about meeting his sister - a baby lost to miscarriage. He talks about Jesus sitting at the right hand of God the Father - who is really big. He spent time sitting on Jesus lap, being taught by Him.
I cried as I read about him meeting his sister, who told him she was so excited for her parents to join her. Tim walked in while I was crying, so I read him the chapter, and he is now reading it, and also believes this story. I won't say more, because I don't want to take away from it if you are planning to read it, but this book has changed my vision of Heaven.
I know that I can't wrap my head around what Heaven is like, but I always imagined it being really crowded for some reason...like every believer ever is in a snow globe trying to get closest to Jesus. But the way Colton describes it, it's so personal. He sat on Jesus' lap. He was sought out by family. He wasn't elbowing his way through crowds, or searching for those he knew. Everything was just right for him. It's making me think differently.
Most of all, Colton assures us, you have to know Jesus to go to Heaven. The idea of someone dying without Christ is absolutely devastating to him. Heaven is for real, and Jesus is the only means of getting there.
Read it. Let me know what you think.

What's Charlie Wearing Wednesday

Ten on ten and Wednesday landed on the same day...what a conundrum. So, at the risk of being repetitive and redundant (and repetitive and redundant...name that show), Here are more pictures from the same day! And, to be totally honest, one of the same pictures, cropped differently. Call me lazy.
We love classic prints around here, so I flipped for this Gingham number from Carters. I found it at Fred Meyer for $10, a bit of a splurge, but I made an exception since it included pants that could be worn with other outfits.
So there you have it...now I'm going to scramble and try to get ready for my day before this one wakes from her nap.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What's Charlie Wearing Wednesday

Aside from a coon skin cap and Art Garfunkel style hair, Charlie is wearing a chevron dress from GAP outlet.
We had a busy and fun day, playing with familyand later playing with daddy on his one night off this week.
Doesn't the picture of Charlie with Mitsuki remind you a bit of this, or is it just me?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

On hope, where it comes from and why we have it

I have been so blessed by the outpouring of support that has come from friends near and far. I was directed to a blog called 4 Day to Eternity, created by a family who lost their son Mason after 4 days with him. As part of their ministry, they send the book Safe in the Arms of God (truth from Heaven about the death of a child) by John MacArthur, to anyone who has lost a baby.
We know of the couple, Chris and Anna, because we briefly went to college together. If I remember right, Chris was a senior my freshman year. The college president happens to be John MacArthur. We were so happy to receive this book, knowing it was full of truths that would take us a long time to discover ourselves.
I think it's natural to wonder what happens to babies that die. I am so thankful for this book, which answers that question with biblical support, something vitally important to us.
We already know that God knows us from the womb. The passage assuring us of that was what we clung to as we waited in the hospital.
"For you formed my inward parts, you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made....You saw my unformed substance, in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." Ps. 139:13-14, 16
Excerpts from the book:
"You may think you 'made' your baby. Not so. God made your baby and breathed life into him or her. Your child is His creation." 19
"Your child has never been beyond the loving care and concern-or the watchful eye-of the Lord." 22
"He does not allow a conception that is beyond His sovereign plan and purposes." 23
Dr. MacArthur addresses the topic of the sin nature, inherent in all humans because of Adam's original sin. Having this sin nature means that eventually when faced with a choice between right and wrong, we will inevitably pick to do wrong. This begs the question, are babies condemned to hell because they are carriers of the sin nature, despite never having chosen to sin?
Because we are born with a sin nature; "we cannot say that babies who die go to heaven because they are 'sinless.' Rather, babies who die go to heaven because God is gracious." 72
Throughout Scripture, God refers to children as "The innocents." (See Jer. 2:34 and 19:4 for examples). "Though fallen creatures like all Adam's offspring, infants are not culpable in the same sense as those whose sins are will full and premeditated." 35
"The Scripture weighs very heavily toward the fact that innocent children are in heaven, redeemed and dwelling in the presence of God." 41
Though babies do not have the ability to accept Christ, Christ is gracious to accept them. Quoting John Calvin, MacArthur says, "Those little children have not yet any understanding to desire His blessing, but when they are presented to Him, He gently and kindly receives them, and dedicates them to the Father by a solemn act of blessing." 60
"The saving grace given to an infant who as no part whatsoever in his salvation is a perfect example of salvation, which is always wrought sovereignly by God through grace." 77
"If we understand God by His nature as a Savior (see 1 Tim. 1:1; 4:10), is it not the truest expression of God's heart that He chooses to save infants?" 79
I'll end with this:
"Yes, children are in need of a Savior.
"Yes, God has provided a Savior for them, Jesus Christ.
"Yes, all children who die before they reach a state of moral awareness and culpability in which they understand their sin and corruption--so that their sins are deliberate--are graciously saved eternally by God through the work of Jesus Christ. They are counted as elect by sovereign choice because they are innocent of willful sin, rebellion, and unbelief, by which works they would be justly condemned to eternal punishment." 89-90
These are small snippets of the comfort this book, written through searching of the Scriptures, can give. There is so much more, but I'll leave it here.
We know Isaiah is with Christ, free from all the pain and hardship, as well as the sin and temptation of this world. We do not grieve that he is with Christ, we grieve only for ourselves, for our empty arms, for the son we can't know until we are reunited. He has gone ahead of us...but we will be reunited in Perfection.
If you have questions, please let me know, I'll do my best to answer or direct you to someone who can.

On us, three weeks later

It's been nearly a month since Isaiah was taken Home. How are we doing? I don't really know.
Most of the time we're fine.
Physically:
I'm pretty much healed from the delivery. This helps a lot, I think, with the fits of anger I had the first two weeks after he left us. My appetite, after an initial decrease, is back to normal. Unfortunately, my hair, which has just started growing back from my post-Charlie-pardem hair loss, coming back in wild wings in awkward places, is now falling out again. This is very frustrating, not to mention disgusting. I can't pick Charlie up from the floor without then having to pluck obscene amounts of hair from between her toes and fingers...sigh.
I am still very tired. No one told Charlie that mommy's body is recovering from chaos, and filling to the brim with excess hormones, so she's being the busy 10 month old she is, and I'm doing my best to keep up on about 6 hours of sleep a night.
Emotionally:
Initially I had such a great perspective on this whole thing. The baby center we were in plays a little lullaby every time a baby was born, and as I labored to birth our stillborn son, I surprised myself with being happy for those mommy's who were marvelling over their new baby. I had expected to be bitter, but I was so glad that they were spared from my pain. I also surprised myself to discover that it's now that I'm bitter. I see pregnant women everywhere, and experience varying levels of jealousy, from slight (generally people I know) to extreme (strangers). I see people carrying newborns or playing with their baby boys and feel a lot of self pity. Why did this have to happen to us, is a common refrain in my mind.
I've learned the things that will set me off - some I can avoid (gazing at the baby boy clothes at H&M and thinking of what I would be buying had things gone differently), some I can't (pregnant women are every where. You can't dodge 'em.)
I often want to feel numb. I have a stack of cards and a dried rose from a flower arrangement waiting to find their place in the keepsake box from the hospital. Although the box is sitting in my line of vision most of the day, I dread opening it, and feeling the pain that, in a way, I've buried in it. As long as I don't open that box, see his tiny footprints, the notes from our nurses, the reminders of the son who went ahead of us, I can contain myself. I don't have to feel.
It's a really hard thing, grieving for someone who was such a large part of you, but whom you never knew. I don't really know how to do it. For 19 weeks he was growing in me, reminding me he was there first with cravings for salty foods, then spicy foods, then with the nudges that a mother can't get enough of. Then he was gone. In my arms for the briefest moment, then presented to me as ashes in a little wooden box. It's almost surreal. I told a friend recently that sometimes I feel like I'm recovering from a disease. I was hospitalized, sent home to recover, then sent a nice big bill as a reminder. There's no baby at my breast, no first smiles to wait eagerly for, just another bill to stress over.
Tim is experiencing this in an entirely different way. When he told his coworkers that we lost the baby, the reaction, for the most part was, "Oh yeah, I knew someone who had a miscarriage once. That sucks." and on they go with whatever work related thing they have.
To say "That sucks" to someone who actually held his dead child in his arms doesn't cut it. I watched my husband sob when the nurse sadly said, "A little baby boy," as she wrapped him up for us to hold. Tim clung to him, holding him longer than even I did, kissing his face, gazing at his hands, already missing the boy we'll never know. So, I'm beyond frustrated that his coworkers aren't more sympathetic, and even more so that some of them hold grudges over having to cover for him for those three days he took to be with me in the hospital and at home while we grieved.
Reading this through, it kinda sounds like we're a mess. Sometimes we (usually me) are. But day to day, we're doing really well. We have hope and faith that Isaiah is with Christ in Heaven, and that eases the blow of his loss immensely. It enables us to pull ourselves, or eachother, from despair. To seek strength in the Lord. To be better parents to Charlie, not taking her for granted. This post was written purely from my human response to my loss, but there's a lot more to it.
We have hope, and I'm going to tell you about it. Read on, friends.