Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Who is this guy?

Our cabin retreat was great. The weather cooperated. It was truly great to have nothing going on and nothing to do. I highly recommend it. We are headed to Dallas this week for the release party of the film series that includes Eliot’s short film.

We continue to get great response to the special needs ideas. It will be really fun to sit back and see what comes of it. It seems to have great things in store.

Today marks five months since we held him. We continue to strive to take the Lord at His word.

I have been hanging out in John lately. I call it “hanging out” in John because that sounds better than rarely reading in John. So, my snail-of-a-study has focused lately on the reactions of others to Jesus’ teachings.

I see myself in these reactions. Here comes this man pointing his finger at the religious and claiming to be God. He does not speak the words they expect, does not accuse whom they expect, and refuses to maintain the status quo. They have been waiting for the Messiah. But not this Messiah. He is quite unexpected. His lessons are tough and penetrating; not the bedtime stories they held dear.

The gamut of reactions reveal much of their disillusionment with this Jesus character. A sampling of responses from John 6-8 include;

→ “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” (6:60)
→ From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
→ “Who do you think you are?” (8:53)
→ “How can the Christ come from Galilee?” (7:41)

I am in the crowd. Jesus is not always the one I wanted to know. Not who I bargained for. His lessons are not always solicited.

If I am to take Him at his word, I am left to believe that Eliot’s entire story will benefit me. That every facet of my son was within his control- even his death. I am not there. I am just now recognizing the destination. I am the shuttle looking down at earth. The target in view, but light years away.

Jesus poses some questions of his own to the crowds:

→ Does this offend you? (6:61)
→ You do not want to leave too, do you? (6:62)

Am I offended that Christ is not the flannel board Jesus from Sunday school? Can I allow Him to be Him? Can I believe that He can do what He says He will? Or do I throw in the towel and move on when faced with His “hard teachings”?

Can I accept a Jesus who comes in unexpected manner with surprising content?

I can only echo Peter as He responds to Jesus when asked if he too is leaving. The reply, to me, does not seem to be a boisterous endorsement, rather an honest plea.

“Lord, to whom shall we go…we believe”

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Headed to our Walden

Well, this week is my spring break. It’s not too bad to be approaching 30 years of age and still get a spring break. With that said, I am taking full advantage. Ginny and I have enjoyed the week of just hanging out- watching basketball and movies, going to some favorite lunch spots, etc.

We are packing up the car right now (well, Ginny is at least) to go a cabin that Ginny’s family owns a few hours drive east of Fayetteville. It is quite rustic- no electricity, no people, no worries. It’s not too Grizzly Adams, most amenities run off of gas, but you get the idea. We’re taking the mutt and hoping he doesn’t toss his kibble on the curvy roads. Should be a great time. Spring is upon us and its signs are everywhere.

With my lack of outdoor savvy, I am sure there will be some great stories. You all may want to say a prayer for Ginny.

We continue to be so thankful to all of those who have surrounded us with encouragement. Whether via the internet or in person, someone we have never met or an old friend- we are amazed by the goodness of others to us. Having been submersed in a culture of the hurting, we hear many horror stories of people who feel abandoned or outcast because of their grief. We rejoice that many around us have gone to great lengths to encourage us in any way possible. We never tire of saying thanks.

We were able to tour the Children’s Therapy TEAM facility in Fayetteville this week. We’re continuing to build relationships and gain knowledge to serve special needs families. Feel free to pray for that endeavor.

Well it’s a little short this week, but the cabin is calling.

We must need a break because we’re heading to a place without a TV in the middle of March Madness.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


I forgot to mention that the video will also be available for download at the site listed below. So you can either e-mail us or go to igniter (around the end of the month) and download it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Bigger than Pinocchio's Nose

Thanks once again for all of the feedback on special needs; we continue to gather contacts and information. We have received some really great information from people.

We're enjoying the great weather, and are excited about an upcoming spring break. The break is next week and we are planning to go to a cabin with some friends over the weekend.

We have discussed a short film that has been in the making. We finally got to see it this week- absolutely loved it! It is a 6-minute film that basically tells the story of Eliot's life. We partnered with ignitermedia & worshiphouse. We want to say thanks to our friend Kent & also to Rob for somehow capturing a glimpse of our son's life in 6 minutes. If anyone is interested in the movie, we can get you a copy. It will be released around the end of the month. Just shoot us an e-mail. (

One day my dad was telling the story of Eliot and trisomy 18 to someone in his town. This person will remain anonymous- first and foremost because my father exercised wisdom; I do not who it was. Secondly, if I did know I would still allow anonymity for fear that at least one of my friends would feel the need to speak to him. I digress.

The identity is not the point; the reaction is. The mysterman’s reply upon hearing that Ginny & I were to have a sick son with a short-life expectancy was:

Wow. There had to be some serious sin somewhere.

It’s important at this juncture to know that one characteristic I love about my dad is his compassion. I don’t really know what he did. He didn’t get that far in the story. I think my reaction was pretty much the end of my dad relaying the story to me. However, the fact that my father is not in jail for murder, to me, shows his admirable compassion.

Seriously, upon hearing this story I had two competing emotions: both of them strong and equally compelling.

One of them needs little explanation. I wanted to go Chuck Norris. I wanted to see blood. Blaming me or Ginny or someone else for all of this was a little too much for me to handle at the moment. What a pompous thing to say.

I’ll note here that I include his comment not to stir anything up, but because I believe this person is not alone in his sentiment. Jokes aside, we all are at least tempted to think this bit of theology sounds right because it just plain makes sense. However, I am thankful for a God that makes no sense.

The emotion in a dead-heat with anger was genuine sadness. Sympathy for anyone who claimed to know God and thought of Him this way. I mean it keeps me up at night. I want to defend God. To set the record straight. I want this person- and the many others who serve such a small god- to encounter a god bigger than Pinocchio’s nose. I want them to know the living God.

Pinocchio’s nose grows when he lies. It only reacts to Pinocchio. If he lies, the nose grows. No lie, then nothing happens.

Once again my contempt for the so-called prosperity gospel is illuminated. The flip-side of believing that doing such & such means that God will bless you, is the idea that if you do wrong, God is waiting, ruler in hand to rap your knuckles.

Now, God can and does punish sin. He even reserves the right to do so on this earth. Scripture does contain examples where sin resulted in punishment by God- even to the extent of losing children. I do not deny that God can so act. However, that’s the point, I cannot limit God by saying that He always does this or He never will do this. He is God. I believe it would be futile to assume I know the reasoning behind his actions and allowances.

I cannot know the why’s of God. I can only hope to know God.

And this I know of God. He is greater than Pinocchio’s nose. He is not just reacting to me. Instead of rewarding my good and punishing my bad, He overwhelms with love in the midst of my filth. For anger, pride, lust, and selfishness- his reaction is forgiveness.

Where one might see punishment, I see the work of God. Eliot’s life was, without a doubt, the greatest proof of my faith. Sounds more like a work of God than His penalty.

(John 9)
As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

My Vote's for Half Full.

Thanks for the feedback on last week’s information. We continue to gather information about special needs and get more excited with each step forward. Input from the blog-world is what originally pointed our hearts in such a direction. Thank you.

Ginny had the opportunity to share Eliot’s life & lessons with a women’s group this week. She vetoed my being the only male in attendance; such opportunities continue to reveal to us how difficult it can be to even begin to convey what the Lord has done. But we continue to try to do just that.

Our experience has allowed us to witness the gamut of responses that persons illicit upon news of tragedy. We ourselves, have responded a variety of ways at different times; one day so convinced, and the next not sure of anything. If we have gathered something from grief, it would be that such is wildly unpredictable, not following script or template.

Many a reaction centers on the question of why? Implying a larger theme often uttered, even if only whispered within our heads.
Why is there so much bad? So much heartache?

This question comes naturally enough. However, I have recently been pouring over pictures and video of Eliot (more than usual); I remembered a ritual in which Ginny and I would often participate. As was not unusual, we would just stare at Eliot, attempting to take him in, attempting to savor his presence, acknowledging the urgency of such an exercise. Now, this was all unspoken between us, but we both knew what we were doing.

At a point in this exchange, one of us would often say something to the effect of:
“Look at him. He doesn’t know he’s sick. Look at how beautiful he is.
Look at all that is right.”

It was true. There was so much right about him.

One chromosome somewhere along the way had gone wrong. That eighteenth chromosome had placed information in each cell of his tiny body that was error. The list of problems he was born with was horrifying. The medical description was, “not compatible with life”. Our description was beautiful.

It is just such a revelation that makes me think we have the question upside down. I am left to ask:
Why is there so much good?
It is only my familiar experience of joy that allows me to question when pain comes. Otherwise, pain would be all I have ever known and could never surprise.

Philip Yancey’s commentary on Chesterton’s Orthodoxy puts it this way:
Evil’s greatest triumph may be its success in portraying religion as an enemy of pleasure when, in fact, all things we enjoy are the inventions of a Creator who lavished them on the world.

Chesterton portrays all of our interactions with pleasure as sacred remnants of a day gone by- a time before the fall.

Why is so much right with the world? A beautiful sunset. A laugh shared with friends. The taste of chocolate. The act of sex. Pleasure, joy, and beauty are here. Their presence invites perception; while not as obvious as the injustices, the good is right there beside them.

The good and bad side by side. I pray that I would see them both. Acknowledging the bad, and believing in the good.

Truly, our message as believers is one that is two-sided.
For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.
To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.
(II Cor 2)

If I only lament my son, I have not accurately remembered his life. Joy and pain, good and bad. I place my hope in the source of all that was good.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Here comes some info...

An approaching test and watching the basketball Hogs have set me back a bit. We want to share a few upcoming things that we are excited about.

→ We have partnered with some friends ( to do a short film about Eliot. It is not quite ready, but we will let you know when it is. We are excited about this opportunity to share the joy and wonder that God provided through our son. After all, we feel our only role is to tell his story. It will be around 5 minutes long and is created in a format that is typically used by churches. However, if anyone is interested, we’ll let you know how you could get a copy.

→ The blog can now be accessed at . The old address will still work, however, this should be a little easier to remember. The name corresponds with the name of the short film and stems from the 99 balloons that we released at Eliot’s funeral to commemorate each day of his life with us.

→ Lastly, we are excited to share some ideas of what has been percolating in our heads and hearts as of late. Having continuously stated that we are seeking what it is we want to point our hearts toward, we have come up with an idea.

I stress this at this point, it is only an idea, and we are working on research and fleshing out the logistics. With that said, we are looking into creating an organization that would work with special needs children. Having had the honor to take care of Eliot, we feel as though this is an area in which we could be passionate. We are looking to start locally by offering a night of care for families with special needs children, whereby, volunteers and professionals would look after the kids while the parents got a break.

We are only in the planning stages, and have a lot of work to do; however, if it’s the Lord’s will, we think it will come together, and if not, we’ll trust that as well. The long-term goal would be to serve as a resource for special needs ministries and non-profits. Feel free to say a prayer that we would know where to follow.

If you have any helpful information or are local and want more information, feel free to e-mail (

Well, kind of information overload, but we wanted to let you know.

Matt & Ginny Mooney