Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Message to Me

Summer is upon us. No more school for a while. Ginny and I are embarking on some road trips this week. St. Louis and Louisiana, here we come. We continue to be humbled and grateful to those of you who have shared your stories with us or just let us know what Eliot’s has meant to you. Thanks.

A year ago today, we were in Little Rock, Arkansas still reeling from the realization that something was wrong with our baby. An ultrasound had revealed numerous anomalies, including a hole in the heart, and doctors were thinking it could all be related to a syndrome such as trisomy 18. It would be few more days until that diagnosis was confirmed. Those were tough days. Even with all that has since come, that day was the toughest single day of my life.

Granted, the day that Eliot left us would seem to take the cake, but I am still grappling with putting my heart and mind around that day; it seemed so surreal, and I could not take it all in, and so that day is something of a blur. But I vividly remember the pain of finding out.

Just a year later. But what a year. It encapsulated our parenthood, our every memory with Eliot. I was thinking what I would say to that guy that was me one year ago. If hindsight is supposedly 20/20, then I must need glasses. Because, I do not have all the answers for him; in all honesty, more questions than ever. But I view this as another positive produced in the last year.

However, I would have things to tell him. I would tell him the following:

➢ You are going to get to hold him (by the way, Ginny’s right, it’s a boy); and you’ll never believe how great it will be.

➢ You guys are his parents, so don’t be scared to tell the doctors and nurses to go away, you got him.

➢ Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to take him home. Don’t be afraid when he struggles. Don’t be afraid you can’t do it. All that time fearing is just wasted time better spent enjoying him. Just cherish him, and take it as it comes.

➢ This boy will usher in the greatest days of your life. Also the hardest. But there’s no way you would trade it, if it meant going without the good.

➢ His hair has a red-tint, so stop rolling your eyes every time Ginny tells you that she prays for a redhead…she’ll have the last laugh on this one.

➢ You’re right, your God is the only way you will come through this.

➢ But not like you think. He will show up through others, and they will be the only way you will come through this.

➢ Nope. I don’t have those answers for you.
But you just might come to grips with following the One who does, even though He does not provide them. He’s not all that you think He is. And that’s a good thing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

both and

Well, this is as good as law school gets- done with finals and not aware of your grades. I’ve got a one-week class right now that started on Saturday. Let’s just say one week has never seemed so long.

There’s a brief school break coming after this class, and we are excited to put more time into our idea of helping out special needs families. Ginny has been busy making jewelry. She has a show in St Louis weekend after next; then we are headed to Louisiana for a little downtime.

Right now we have been accumulating information from some churches and organizations already doing great things. This information has been really helpful, and we are excited to turn our efforts toward hosting a respite night.

Two weeks ago, I attempted to discuss how my heart had turned a corner in some regards. I intended to continue that dialogue last week but opted for a Mother’s Day moment. With that said, here’s the sequel.

When life is turned upside down, as it sometimes is, and everything held dear is tested, weighed, and held suspect- then certain issues that have long been fringe are shifted to center and await resolve. These questions, doubts, and wonderings can haunt, screaming out for answers; but answers to such do not come easy, if at all.

One such God-query has become my unwelcomed companion since losing my son. The discussion of such yields much better to a conversation over coffee than through a screen- but here goes.

We found out that “Baby Mooney” (we didn’t know it was a boy ‘til birth) had Trisomy 18 at thirty weeks of pregnancy. This discovery brought with it many crises. One of which was how to broach the subject with God.

The archives of this blog will surrender our approach. We asked for healing. We hoped for our own miracle. Thus, our prayers allowed for God’s sovereignty while, in no uncertain terms, asking Him to intervene, to act, to heal.

** I must digress to say that I, by no means intend to indicate that we did it right. Having come to know many others who have walked a similar road, I could never stand in judgment of anyone who has journeyed down this terrible path. I only desire to relay how we felt and what we learned; not to say, that the way we approached this news is the correct one.**

As is known, God did not do that which we asked. Days since Eliot have left me asking of God what he wanted from me. It seemed to me there were two distinct options for us at that time, both seemingly true yet completely in opposition.

First, scripture seems to provide ample things one can do when faced with difficulty:
Pray in Jesus Name (John 16:23)
Fast (Matthew 6:16)
Group Prayer (Matthew 18:19, 20)
OK, there are many more, but you get the idea. Generally, the tone of scripture seems to encourage us to ask for big things, believing for big things. Because God cares and wants to know our heart’s desires. Thus, we are not left to throw up our hands and say, “what will be, will be”; rather, we can bend the ear of an omnipotent God who actually wants us to approach Him with such requests.

Sounds good, but, now the flipside. Scripture also reveals a God who is in control. A being who is not surprised by occurrences such as Trisomy or terrorist attacks or whatever. The picture painted is of a deity who is able to work within horrendous circumstances for good, but His own hand controlled all along.

I must admit, that in the weeks beyond my son, and even still, I wish the second God was the whole picture. Why doesn’t He just say, “I am in control. What will be, will be. Just trust me.” But, oh no, He goes and tells us to ask, to believe, to have faith.

Buying into the definition #2 would have been much easier at the outset. I could have determined that my son had a fatal disease and that was the end of the story. I would have still believed in God. Accepting this as His plan, and taking whatever He gave. But this would not acknowledge that my God claims he can raise the dead.

Well, an occurrence at my church- which I will save the details for anyone who wants to take me up on the coffee offer- finally allowed me some resolve.

My God is a “both and” kind of God. His ways are not my ways. Thus, two things at odds in my head can be true in God. Are true in God. I have come to believe that my Father can perform miracles. When difficulties come, he has no problem with us asking if this cup can pass, and He is able to make it pass, whatever it may be. Simultaneously, we must acknowledge that He is always in control when He asks us to bear the cup.

I do not know why God has us ask when He knows what lies ahead. But this I know, I will ever more boldly ask the impossible of my Father. And, thereafter, surrender to His control of all things.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Ode to the Mothers

Apologies to the three of you who noticed that I did not post on my normal Wednesday. I finished finals on Tuesday, and have since been catching up on some things neglected such as: hugging Ginny, catching up on e-mail, and going to the bathroom (not in that order).

We are looking forward to the summer. Ginny has some jewelry shows lined up and I will be taking some classes. This Sunday for Mother’s Day we are joining some friends for a day trip to Shoji’s stomping grounds (Branson, USA).

Mother’s Day will be celebrated more than ever in our household. Some close to us have approached this holiday with reservation and questions as to our feelings. These are good questions, with hardships in life, each one deals with things so differently. But we will not be looking the other way this Mother’s Day.

It is certain to bring mixed emotions, as has every component of our experience as parents. But Ginny is a mother. There is a wild identity crisis when faced with losing a child. You were parents. Now what are you? Well, Ginny is a mother. Complete with all the experiences that only other mothers can identify with.

Motherhood is only gained, never lost.

And what a mother she was. And although, I would love to dwell on that fact, she would not allow it- with my anniversary letter, she is certain she has been the topic quite enough. And, even though, I would beg to differ, out of respect I assent. Suffice it say, her love for Eliot was pure and beautiful.

Instead, I want to focus on all you mothers. You blog-loving community of mothers. I know you’re out there.

We have been so encouraged by people who have told us how much Eliot’s story has challenged them to be better parents. However, truth be told, we believe that Ginny did nothing as a mother that was not inherent in the job description. To be a mother, one must love in self-sacrificing ways- putting another’s needs ahead of their own. This is what a mother does.

So, happy Mother’s Day to all of you blessed enough to count yourselves as mothers.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

If you pray...

Pray for Heather


Well, I am half-way done with finals. Two down and two to go. I swear I can feel my mother telling me I should be studying.

While on the topic of moms, Ginny’ s mother is in town. Ginny has devised a grand scheme whereby the two of them are going to sew some shirts. I can foresee a debacle. Maybe I’ll try to get Ginny to model the shirts for a blog pic; I wouldn’t hold your breath. Ginny is to attention as Matt is to mowing.

We have a new design. Hope you like it. Thanks Paul.

We continue to be amazed by e-mails and responses. Although the craziness of life has not allowed us to respond, we intend to…thank you.

I set out today to do an impossible task. I feel my heart has turned a corner, and I long to describe the process; but, as is typical, when something deep happens inside, relaying to another only leaves me knowing I described a finger-painting of the Picasso.

For the 6 months following Eliot’s life, my walk with the Lord has been in a weird place. As I have mentioned before, everything is viewed through a new lens. This is good; everything once held dear is now up for debate. Nothing escapes mandatory scrutiny when all that was your life is tested and tossed and put to the fire.

Worship (and by worship I mean my definition- songs, instruments, etc. & not the Lord’s- everything I do) was a particularly difficult process for me. I knew, despite my circumstances, that God was worthy of worship, but no longer would I sing something simply because it was on the screen.

Thus, I quietly prayed through many songs that I did not feel that I could sing. This was not an exercise of anger or my feeble attempt to get back at God. I just desired that my song be one from my heart. And so I quietly weighed the words of each song and sang along when I could.

It seems to me that many songs have a message comprised of the following:

God is able.
And God is going to come through for you.

Well, maybe it’s the law school, but I felt that these songs needed an asterisk with a footnote or maybe one of the pastors talking really fast at the end- like on a used car commercial- detailing the song’s stipulations.

This week was different. I sang the songs that I had earlier sat mute through.
However, I still think the talking head at the end of each song just might have a future; and for sure a purpose.
But I sang.

I sang because:
I worship God for what He has already done.
I worship God, not out of a heart of understanding, but a heart of surrender.

And, for the first time I was able to praise a God who could have healed my son but did not.

I’ll continue this conversation next week because my mom wins- I’ve got to study.