A Year of Sorrow And the Sweetness of Jesus

Isaiah 41:10 has been a verse I run to all year long:
fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

This past weekend we were able to celebrate our precious son Haddon’s first year with Jesus. As we were approaching the 31st of March I had no idea what the morning would feel like when I first woke up. Haddon would have had his first birthday, I would have loved to have rushed into his nursery and woken him up with a “happy birthday big boy!” and see him light up and giggle, not really understanding what a birthday means but just enjoying such a greeting from mommy.

But Saturday arrived and as I opened my eyes there was a peace from the Lord as I awoke in a quiet home that my heart longs to be filled with baby chatter; my son is with Jesus, where there is joy unending. It’s been a whole year of delight for him that is unimaginable to me here on earth. I wouldn’t exchange that for him to be present at a party, even when I miss him to a point that feels unbearable.

I opened God’s word to Psalm 33, a chapter that has been a light in the darkness of this year. When we first lost Haddon this is what God used to remind me that all His work is done in faithfulness and that He loves righteousness. That’s where I rested in many days of sorrow. I use the truths from Psalm 33 when I have to battle these sins: jealousy or envy of other parents with little precious newborns, when I’m so thankful a NICU baby makes it but my heart aches to compare how my son didn’t, when I struggle to think the woman in the checkout lane could be more thankful for her children she snaps at, when I stand over Haddon’s grave and when holidays come and I can’t pick out a special outfit (ah the little plaid shirts and ties). But the Holy Spirit does his work, I’m so thankful, and reminds me that God’s work for my child is done in faithfulness and he is not jeopardizing his righteousness to bring us through this deep sadness. Ever.

This weekend I reflected on how God brought me closer to himself because I was able to watch Haddon as he passed away. There is something about watching a life pass that came from your very own womb; it makes the fact that all things belong to the Lord permanently sealed in your mind.
Here are some photos from Haddon’s Birthday, March 31, 2012.

Haddon's bday 1Haddon's Bday 2Haddon's Bday 3Haddon's Bday 4Haddon's Bday 5Haddon's bday 6

Haddon’s first Birthday

6 months ago I figured that Haddon’s birthday couldn’t be harder than any other day. I mean, we are always thinking of him, dreaming about him, crying together about him. But, March comes tomorrow, the last month i carried him when i was so close to his due date and when i saw him for the first time, and it is already bringing knots to my stomach and lumps in my throat. Part of me doesn’ t want any more than one year to go past…to look too far ahead without him can sometimes seem very dark. We are talking about his birthday lately, Ernie and i, as it’s getting closer. There will be lots of writing prepared for the day. A lot of precious memories between Ernie and I will be shared together when we wake up. We will battle for faith to remember his reality of seeing Jesus Christ for who he is is far greater than planning a birthday party or tasting cake for the first time.

A Reason To Hope

haddon's feet
A season has come where I often weep
My eye wastes away with little sleep
I rage war against doubt and hopeless fears
My pillow is drenched with endless tears
But when a spear to the soul conveys my grief
O, the Almighty God brings sweet relief.

My little one has departed from me
and has joy that will last for eternity
Yet sorrow upon sorrow builds in my heart
for the years I must wait while we are a part
But my child sees Christ, and endless bliss
And I could never ask for more than this

So Lord we wait for your return.
And trust your promises are firm.
You know the grief of weighty loss
Your son bore sin and death on the cross
You tell me: “Remember! My Son conquered death!”
And so, never fear your baby’s last breath.

Goodness and Mercy in The Shadow of Death

(written December 9, 2011)

Coming across a promise of God that is stated in the Bible is very different for me now. I feel like I have to stick my circumstance into the verse and read it that way in order to process it. One caught me today in Psalm 23: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” The psalmist is so certain, surely, goodness and mercy will follow me. So, God’s goodness and mercy, it’s not just only there in the good days, but all your days. When I read that I rewind it for a second and say to myself, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, including the day Haddon died.” So, because all my days include a death of my firstborn, I’m glad the psalmist includes all my days and I’m glad he includes surely, telling us it’s not just a sentimental thought to use however you want. And as I sit here tonight, having some fears about getting back into our day to day routine (sometimes it’s just the normal days that are so difficult without Haddon), I can read about God’s  goodness and mercy that are promised me tomorrow.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” is written after the psalmist writes “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” The goodness and mercy of God follow you, even through the valley of the shadow of death? I’ve seen the valley. God promises his goodness and mercy in the very shadow of death. When we sing in church, and any song includes a “valley”, like a trial or suffering, I have to fight back tears. There’s so much meaning behind singing of God bringing me through a valley now, because it’s real, it’s not a general valley. I remember a few days after Haddon went to be with Jesus and we had all our family in our house. I was doing fine, then heavy grief hit me like a train and I panicked. What do you do? People picked it up rather quickly I think that I wasn’t doing well and started to leave, and I went to my bed. I wept so hard, harder and even louder than I have in my whole life. So as I read about God’s goodness and mercy following me all the days of my life, I think about that day, my lowest day. God promises that even on that day there was goodness and mercy.
Practically, I wonder what God’s goodness and mercy look like to me. And how do they follow me everyday? There could be several things mentioned here. I feel like trusting that there is goodness and mercy following me every day, means I have to also be trusting the bigger picture. I think it means I have to remember God has given me salvation that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading made possible through Jesus, and that there is coming a day when Christ will return and the suffering I’m experiencing now will result in the praise of Him. That’s another promise found in 1 Peter chapter 1, and that’s what I think of when I read about goodness and mercy following me, leading up to his great return, and we get to see all trials and suffering bring glory to him, and seeing that suffering will also be no more. That’s  another promise in Revelation 21.
So (as if I haven’t typed it enough times in this post) “surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life”, including the difficult days of getting back into routine tomorrow.

When He Returns, With Him I’ll Rise

(written December 9, 2011)
I’ll have to admit, when Haddon’s grave marker came I didn’t feel ready to see it. Even though I wanted him to have one, it was difficult to see something that was going to remind me of his body, which is not where our hope lies, but our hope lies in his life now with Jesus. But I’m thankful it didn’t take me long to come to love looking at it and feeling so proud of his name that is printed in big letters. Also, our quote we decided to use on it will always remind us of what’s to come: Jesus Lives and So Shall I, When He Returns With Him I’ll Rise. I remember the first time I heard this song was very soon after Haddon passed, it was a sweet thing that the Lord brought to my ears in time of sorrow. Ernie and I both found this to be very fitting to add to his grave marker, in hopes that it will encourage others who come to the cemetery to visit their children’s graves. Ernie told me a few days ago that there is a new grave of a baby next to Haddon, and the service for this baby was just ending as he was walking up to visit Haddon’s grave. We especially hope that our words we placed on Haddon’s grave can be used by God to comfort them in their grief that has begun only days ago.

I thought I’d also bring up a fear I have, and how the Lord is growing me in it. I know at some point my memories with Haddon in the hospital will not be as detailed, and they won’t feel as if they were yesterday, sometimes that brings great fear. Usually, about once a week, as I’m trying to fall asleep, my mind goes back to the hospital and replays the nearly 5 days we were there as if I’m testing myself to see how much I’m remembering and what it is I’ve forgotten. I feel like I don’t really realize that’s what I’m doing until I’ve reached the end and I’ll think oh why do I do that? So, this is where I pray to have truthful thoughts that reflect God’s word. On this earth, my memory is affected by sin, which brings about forgetfulness or blurry memories, and a lot of precious things to me won’t always be crystal clear after time. This shows my need for Jesus, not only is my memory affected by sin, but everything is. Also, if I really think about why I’m so afraid to lose details about Haddon, what it comes down to is me fearing that it affects him somehow. His brothers and sisters will have memories with us and we will treasure those, so I don’t want to lose any short moments we had with Haddon and my heart frets. But this isn’t what God wants for us, when the things he gives us on earth are gone or begin to fade, he does not want us to fret or put our firm hope in them. My hope is not in detailed memories of Haddon, but that he is standing with Jesus, and we know that when those of us who belong to Jesus actually see him face to face, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2).

The Grace of God and A Carton of Eggs

Tension grew in my hallway as I walked the cold tile to the bathroom. One conflict between siblings grew to a wrestling war and I needed to step in, as I notified the other sibling that she needed to wait on the toilet. One brother broke away in anger, leaving the other in tears and I leaped into the air, grabbing him in time before he was out of reach. While simultaneously trying to comfort one and instruct the other, my peripheral vision was alerting me to their sister splashing in puddles of pee, making it known that she had never actually made it to the toilet in the first place. I wondered how to best juggle the crying, the pee and the disobeying when my other daughter, last but not least, whispered “here, mommy” as she handed me an open carton of 18 count eggs she had climbed to get from the fridge. My one free hand caught the egg carton and I released my son, leaving the wild scene for a second because I felt like the loss of moral due to slimy yolks everywhere would be a little too much. We made it to nap time, somehow, by God’s mercy, you guys

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That afternoon seemed like a good representation of what life is like around here sometimes, and I wanted to welcome you to this blog with that little story about us. Around here we also know the Jesus offers grace that is greater than our sin. We love adoption and all the ways the Lord is growing us through it. We love our first born, Haddon, who is in heaven with Jesus. We have a really good Daddy and husband who loves the Lord. We drink a lot of coffee, mostly me, mom.

Here is where I love to encourage others in what the Lord is teaching me, whether it’s through deep valleys or peaks of joy.

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