"Everyday holds the possibility of a Miracle."

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Praying for Rainbows

This past week has been deeply emotional - I found myself holding back the tears and by the end of each day exhausted  - drained even though I hadn't let the tears flow outwardly.  I relived each day a year ago from the 23rd when our extended family got to meet Ethan and say good-bye; to the 24th when we got to spend one more day with him, just Mommy and Baba and our son, and then let him go; the 25th when we had to mix the sorrow of meeting with the funeral director, with celebrating with new found pastor life friend  the birth of their healthy baby girl - to telling our young sons that their baby brother was never coming home; the 26th was again full of funeral preparations - for myself selecting music to celebrate our love for our son and to grieve his loss, and writing what he was to us and our hearts for the funeral home memorial folder - to spending hours watching over his lifeless form as friends and family gathered to give us their hugs, tears, and love, and closing the casket over him before we left that night; to the 27th - the day we placed his body in the ground - the finality of being cut off from him while we are on earth - I so wanted to wake up from the terrible dream...  I have felt the finality of Ethan's journey from our arms to the arms of Jesus so acutely this past week that at moments I have felt as if I was drowning in the depths.  Lost hope seemed to pile upon lost hope, and the glimmer of God's promises were once again fading from my limited view, and then.... there were rainbows.  When I was young I received a heart prism from my parents - I have treasured it for many years and then the strand that I used to hang it from nails over a window or from a car visor broke and I put it in the back of my jewelry box to fix someday.  I dug it out this week and hung it in my bedroom window to catch the afternoon light - to remind me of the vision of God's promises when I am exhausted at the end of my day.  When we miscarried our first child in April of 2009 for some reason the first thing I wanted to do was to go and get a prism, and so we did; we went to the local gift store and found one shaped like a star - it felt appropriate - I hung it in my dining room window to catch the glorious morning sun  - reminding me of God's unfailing love born new each day.   This week I felt the desire to find a new one - to hang in my kitchen window - where I spend so much time uttering heart prayers, and I did - I found a beautifully hand crafted butterfly prism - rather 5 prisms made by an artist into one.  We were graced the week with a glorious late afternoon and as the sun dipped low in the sky its' light penetrated my kitchen window and set hundreds of rainbows dancing  - across my cabinets, ceiling, and floor - My boys and I grabbed each other's hands and had a silly moment of dancing in the rainbows - while my heart was crying out for God's promises to renew our lives.  Then God gave us one of His - spread across the sky it all of its glory after the rain of heaven washed the earth.   Rainbows - those reminders of God's faithfulness and promise of hope - His covenant - sacred promise to us.  As a family, we have chosen to enter a sacred heart covenant with God - trusting... believing...  even as our human minds find us spinning and sinking into despair.  And so I pray for rainbows - those moments that remind us that God is near - that all hope is not gone, and that no matter the storm - God's light always brings rainbows.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


This time a year later, this waiting time of getting through the period of Ethan's birthday until the anniversary of the day he went from us to heaven is agonizing.  In many ways we are not where I had hoped we would be a year later - a huge part of me hoped that there would be more consistent hope and peace, and a glimmer of joy beyond moments.  I guess I had hoped, like the song, Praise You In The Storm says - that God would have swept in by now and saved the day, and on the days that it gets hard and I find my strength failing me that is my first cry out to God.  I discovered something yesterday that put me in awe of my creator God.  But I must go back to the beginning... Our everlasting symbol, on this Earth, for Ethan's presence in our lives is dragonflies.  When he was born Ethan was placed in a room in the local NICU that was in the wing with the theme Spring; the carpet had dragonflies on it, and there were dragonflies hanging from the ceiling.  My husband and I had a blanket made before Ethan was born and we had put a dragonfly on it.  After Ethan had passed and we were giving him one last bath, the hospital Chaplin came into his room and gave us a copy of "The Dragonfly Story" which he said would help us explain the concept of death to our two young boys.  Ethan's adopted "Auntie" Deb read it at his funeral.  Then last summer, we had the most amazing thing happen around our home.  We love to garden and landscape and really enjoy Japanese Gardens, and the peace and relaxation that they provide to the body and soul.  We can not make a true Japanese Garden where we live because of the really cold winters, but we are trying with what we have.  Last year I had no desire to be outside with my hands in the dirt, lovingly crafting our own peaceful place, until the day my boys came running in declaring that I had to come out and see this.  So naturally, I followed, though the insistent tugging on my arms kind of forced me to.  They pulled me all the way out to our Russian Sage plants, which were blooming in all of their lavender glory and I wondered what was so wonderful, until I really looked, and there golden and glistening in the sun were hundreds of tiny golden dragonflies.  We have never had dragonflies like those around or home before, in past years we had maybe one or two larger dragonflies, and I felt a message from heaven to my heart, that though Ethan is not in my arms now he is alive and whole in Heaven and I will be with him again some day.  Before Ethan was born we struggled with finding the perfect name for him, and finally settled on Ethan after a brother of mine, whom I sure would have been one of his favorite uncles.  While we were in the NICU and facing Ethan's passing from this life, a pastor friend of ours, after meeting Ethan the first time, had gone home and done a thorough study of his name, and returned to tell us that it meant, standing firm - having strength in the storm.  And that was our little guy, a fighter, and we were kept going by his strength.  Now the full circle moment of yesterday - I am gardening again, and was doing some research on Japanese Gardens and was surprised to find a beautifully crafted dragonfly bell; I was instantly attracted to it and intrigued as to why it was used in the Japanese Garden I was studying, and then I felt the hand of God as I read in the description that dragonflies are the symbol of strength and happiness in Japanese culture.  During the journey of this past year, the storm of grief and life has battered and howled around us, and yet we stand often not by our own strength but by the hand of God.  I have drawn from the strength of Ethan's fight during his young life, and now feel peace and the reassurance of God and the strength He gives me to keep standing and yes even praising in this storm each time my eyes find a dragonfly.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

With Arms Raised

I find it hard to believe that we have been on this journey for a whole year now - on Ethan's birthday this past week I found myself reflecting on what was happening on that day and I can still replay each moment like it was just yesterday.  At excitement felt at noon when I called my back up for the kids and my husband and I headed into the hospital - the closer and more intense the contractions got in the short 10 minute drive, and the hour we spent in the "holding" area as the nurse didn't believe I was in labor - my husband and I smiled at each other over this - they never did with any of my pregnancies - the contractions don't ever bother me much until we are pushing.  So we were laughing and chatting and anxious to meet our new son, until a more experienced nurse came in and proved that I was indeed in labor and far enough along that our son would be arriving very very soon - the other nurse had the good grace to look flushed.  We took it all in stride - it was all normal, until we realized that there was no amniotic fluid - which later explained the pain and the difficulty I had walking in the final weeks of Ethan's pregnancy.  Then the contractions stopped and I had to pushed by sheer will and bring a child into the world and watch time slow.  I knew he was out but the doctor's did not show joy on their faces there was no quick trip to my tummy - the room was silence, and then I heard "Did you expect him to be so small?".  My heart stopped - I remember asking over and over again into the silence "Is he going to be okay?" No one answered me - I wanted my son - I wanted to cuddle and hold him and breath in my baby mine and then they took him from me.  I never got him back - physically until the day he died in my arms.  From that point on he became theirs - their puzzle to solve and I sat helplessly by his bed holding his tiny hand, stroking his hair, and talking to him.  The deepest part of me knew - I knew that I was only going to know this precious child of mine for a short time as outwardly I clung to hope.  The day I was  checked out of the hospital leaving him behind we went home to check on a few things and change before heading back in to continue our vigil.  I walked into our bedroom and fell to the floor beside the cradle we had set up for him and sobbed - all the baskets of tenderly washed and folded newborn clothes, diapers, and other newborn baby things each tenderly chosen for him overwhelmed me and I knew that he would never be in our room - that he wasn't coming home.  It is a year later and still I feel and breath it all like it was yesterday.  I have joined a group of women that I didn't want to be a part of - but who of us do?  I screamed and cried and shouted anger at all of the lost hopes and the pain in our home.  I have begun to find peace and grace in the recent weeks - from the realization that God is still God and I still believe.  I can't explain why - I can't find an answer to the pain and this new reality of me and the sorrow I will carry for the rest of my life on earth - and I don't know that I need to.  Some questions are too big for me and I find greater peace in leaving them in God's hands because He knows and He understands and though I felt abandoned and betrayed by His love - I know that he loves and cares and hurts for our pain.  We sent balloons to heaven on Ethan's birthday - the boys drew pictures and my oldest wrote "I love you Ethan" and then they gleefully sent them up to heaven for their little brother.  My husband and I wrote our own words of love on ours and sent them along with our kisses up and out of site.  That is my deepest connection with my third beautiful son now - arms upraised to heaven - in hope - in longing - and in the wonder of grace at God's providing hand.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

For Such A Time As This

After Ethan's death my husband and I strove to live one day at a time.  It was very difficult putting one foot in front of the other, and doing the tasks required of that day - it was way to much to think about beyond the next 24 hours.  But being human our minds would drift off to the what is going to happen next and the waves of anxiety and panic would set it.  For the sake of pure survival we had to learn to push away thoughts of tomorrow or even 2 hours from now and focus tunnel vision on what we were doing at that moment.  As almost a year has passed that tension and anxiety has eased a bit, but the pain remains.  The past is full of pain and I don't want to relive it in my thoughts, and thoughts of the future are full of yearning for things that may never be and that causes heartache.  The safest place to be is in the present - totally in the moment.   I have found the need to immerse myself in the here and now - to sink myself into it and let it envelope me.  But that has also not been easy - I would try - really try to keep my thoughts on what was at hand instead of what had been or what may never be and I found myself exhausted by the end of each day from the never ending thought correction ping-pong.  Then a finger print of God moment happened.  Last summer we went on a forced vacation for a family wedding - it was hard because we had been planning this trip with the thoughts of driving 30 hours with three boys - one 6 weeks old - going on the trip at all was heart wrenching and as we left I felt a moment of sheer panic at leaving.  While on that trip I met an amazing woman who was a bright spot in a deeply emotional time and I was thankful for that.  The thing is I did not realize was how much God was going to use her in my life.  Recently she sent me the book "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp - in the hauntingly beautifully poetic way she writes she is sharing her heart wrenching journey to live fully right where you are.  As I started reading I thought that this is what we are trying to do - to live every day in the moment and it was hard and not a lot of fun.  As I read Ann's words I came to realize that I was forcing myself through the days by sheer force of will and was focusing on tasks - there is no joy in that and it certainly is not a path to peace.  I am still savoring her words - but I have come to realize that I was going through living each moment completely wrong.  Instead of focusing on the tasks that keep me in the moment I am instead focusing my thoughts into one long prayer of thankfulness each day.  This past Thanksgiving holiday I said that I could not find the words to thank God for what He had done in our lives through the losses of our precious babies, but I can now utter thankfulness for those things that fill my life each day and give it fullness.  Things as monumental as my wonderful husband and two healthy boys, and as simple as the glorious sunshine streaming through my dining room window, the return of the finches to our backyard after a long winter, or the purr of our cat as she curls up in my lap at the end of a long day - my heart stretches, warms, and sighs contentment.  I never thought I would say that - that what I was feeling was content at this point in my journey - it is still a daily lesson I work through but I can say that my heart is beginning to feel peace.  Today as I write this I utter my thankfulness prayer beginning with gratitude for the person and words God used to pour healing on my heart for such a time as this...