The first day--I'm now a blogger

So, after spending almost an hour writing my first blog, I pushed the wrong button and erased it all. I'm an idiot.

After more than ten years, I am one step closer to being a published writer. I printed off twelve copies of my book and sent them to some of my friends after they agreed to read my story and get the manuscript back to me in a timely manner.

The editing actually began in March. Anxious for my wife, Lynnette, to finally see what I had been spending all my free time doing, I printed her a copy to read on our long drive to Disneyland over spring break with the kids. She read it and made a lot of notes and I spent a couple of weeks working on corrections before I printed five copies and gave them to family and friends to read.

One friend had experience with editing and I soon began receiving feedback that scared me. The manuscript was still much rougher than I wanted to admit. I was sensative and probably unresonably so, but she was thorough and insightful and brutally honest. When I got her copy back, I set it aside for a couple of weeks, wondering if I would ever return to it. As I thought about it, I realized how right she was and I took the majority of her critique to heart.

That began in May. Six months later, I finally finished, just last night. There is little doubt that I probably still have a zillion hours of editing ahead of me, but it is much smoother and cleaner and more meaningful. Tomorrow, I will have Lynnette help me with some of the content of this blog. I have a lot of things to say. I hope some of it will be worth reading. If I can find a way, I hope to post the first chapter of the book as well as a few other things, but as today was a stepping stone in a postive direction, I wanted to post this and say it has begun. Much more will follow. Ben

A Comic Foundry mini-review of our minicomic



The Fall 2008 issue of Comic Foundry magazine spotlights politics in comics; profiles Tony Harris, main artist on James Robinson's Starman (one of Isaac's favorite superhero books); and includes a feature on six new and recent minicomics, including our latest:



We're in good company, too, right alongside Sarah Glidden's How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less #2 and Gabrielle Bell's Lucky vol. 2 #2 (and just above a row of books that are new to me but sound interesting: Harvest is When I Need You the Most by various artists, Untitled (Dinosaur) by Joseph Lambert, and Jam in the Band Vol. 1 by Robin Enrico).

Our thanks to writers Brian Heater and Sarah Morean for including us among "some of the best books to hit the scene recently" and for running a picture of page 1 in its slipcover band!

This Time Last Year

On October 31, 2007, I remember sitting out on our front steps as the trick-or-treaters came around. There are too many kids in our neighborhood to go inside and wait for the doorbell to ring... it's just a steady stream of little (and not so little) people. I remember thinking how "this time next year we'll be trick or treating with a 5 1/2 month old... how fun!" I remember talking to our neighbors about when it was the right time to order nursery furniture, and being blissfully unaware that anything could go wrong in pregnancy once you actually got pregnant... that always happened to "other people." I was young, healthy, and doing all the right things.

Little did I know that two days later on November 2, 2007 I would be called back for an ultrasound that would reveal that our little one no longer had a heartbeat. I would be one of those "other people."

Little did I know that November 2, 2008 would be Isaac's due date. When I first found this out, I thought "God is so funny... it can't be a coincidence that He has Isaac's due date as Novemeber 2. Clearly, He wants to redeem that day and turn it from something heart-wrenching into something glorious. I need to start feeling at peace with this pregnancy."

Little did I know that this time of year would be more heart-wrenching than I could have ever imagined was actually possible.

Little did I know that I would be sitting here today, feeling as though twice over I should have a child here with me... and yet instead, I am joined by the emptiness, heartache, and grief that are all-too familiar to a parent who has suffered the loss of their child. I would take spit up and dirty diapers any day.

Needless to say, we're not "doing" Halloween this year; I am truly hoping that our house doesn't get egged and that the pumkin sitting on our front porch doesn't get smashed. I just don't have it in me to see all of the cute little kids dressed up with their Mommies and Daddies, when my heart is longing to just be able to hold Isaac again.

I have a feeling this next week is going to be really hard. Isaac's original due date is on Sunday; and because he was delivered a few weeks early, next Friday we would have been celebrating his first month with us. I've been told that holidays, anniversaries, special dates, etc. can be difficult, and I know this is only a small dose of what is to come. Please pray for us... that God would just meet us and give us just enough grace for each moment; that He would keep our memories of Isaac fresh, because truthfully, I am sometimes afraid of forgetting; that He would continue to surround us with caring friends and family who are willing to listen, to talk about Isaac, and to just "be" with us in the midst of our heartache; and like I have asked before, that God would start to restore our hope and our joy despite the painful reminders all around us of what we hoped would be, but isn't.

Some bots from class

Illustration Friday: Repair Robot



I've been wanting to participate in illustration friday for nearly a year now but never finding the time. Finally here is my first post for REPAIR. I drew a Repair robot, a mechanical little guy who will tighten your pipes or replace a bulb, or any other household hardware hardships you might need help with. Some quick character design blue pencil sketches, feel free to check back in the future i might turn him into something more.

Halloween Fun Punkin!



BOO!

I know I should be grading papers tonight—and I'm about to get back to work—but I just couldn't let the season go by without doing something to mark the arrival of Halloween, which is my favorite holiday. Last year, as a special treat for our blog readers, I posted some Halloween Fun Comics, a choose-your-own-adventure story that is included in Satisfactory Comics #7.

This year, because we're likely to get trick-or-treaters here in Burlington, I decided to do something people could enjoy without being on the internet.

It started with one of the best demons from our Demonstration book, the Dark Abbess.



(Well, actually, it started with a bunch of sketches and doodles. I was originally thinking that I might make a punkin with the werewolf from "The Graveyard of Forking Paths.")



But once I'd settled on the Dark Abbess, I had to figure out how to make the shading work. I couldn't put her pupils in the middle of her eyes and also carve out the eyes for light to come through...



... but it looked like this was going to work. (I did have to upgrade to a bigger pumpkin.) And so, with a little handheld pumpkin jigsaw knife and a regular old craft knife, I started carving, and about an hour and a half later, I had this:



Let's turn off the lights and enjoy that the way it's intended to be seen. You can click this picture to enlarge it.

Thank You

I feel as though there are a number of long over-due thank yous that I need to share...

Thank you to each of you who has so faithfully prayed and encouraged us. We still need and appreciate your prayers and encouragement, as this process is still incredibly difficult, painful, and just plain heavy. The words that you leave here and in e-mails to us have helped me to put my feet on the floor each morning... and some days that in itself is a major feat.

Thank you to our family for your unconditional love and support over what has been a very, very difficult year.

Thank you to the blog reader who left the beautiful bracelet for me at Isaac's memorial service. I have searched back through comments that have been left and e-mails looking for who you are, and for the life of me cannot find the message you have left. If you see this, please e-mail me because I would like to send a more personal thank you than just this "shout out" on my blog.

Thank you to those of you who have contibuted to the playground being built in honor of Isaac and for helping us to remember and honor him in this special way.

Thank you to Bill Millios for the beautiful pictures of Isaac and the wonderful slideshow.

Thank you to Danielle for the beautiful blog makeover.

No real updates to share, except that Spencer has returned to work. He runs a mentor club at his school, and there is one boy in particular with whom he has developed a strong rapport. Yesterday, this boy apologized to Spencer for not making it to Isaac's memorial service because he wanted to come, and said that he cried that day because he was just so sad about what happened. I thought it was sweet that a middle school-aged boy felt that way.

It has been difficult for me with Spencer having gone back to work; I really dislike anything feeling like it is going back to normal, mostly because I feel as though it's not how things "should" look. Regardless of what I am doing, thoughts about how different things should be always creep in. I remember straightening my hair on Sunday morning thinking to myself, "I shouldn't have the time to be doing this right now; I should be feeding Isaac, have spit up on my shirt, and should be trying to get him ready to get out the door... not have twenty minutes to spend on my hair." I know in time those kinds of thoughts and that "mind chatter," as a friend described it, will begin to subside, but right now it's very present and to be honest, very difficult.

Thank you for continuing to pray for us in what feels like a very lonley time, when the world just keeps on moving when it feels as though our world has been shattered. I know I have asked before for just continued prayers for comfort and peace, and for God's presence to be very real to us, but truthfully, I don't know what else to ask you to pray for. So thank you for continuing to pray for those things, for God to heal our hearts that feel so broken, and for Him to show us how to navigate this "new normal" in our life... what it means to be a family of three that to the world looks like a family of two; how to be parents to a dear child who we desperately wish was here with us but isn't; how to move forward while we miss our sweet Isaac so much; and how to somehow allow God's goodness and grace to radiate through our story.

Doodles from class

Tryin to keep that post count on the rise.




Reality and Dreams!

I heard a story on NPR today regarding members of the "white supremacist" movement who hope that Obama will be elected president. They argue that his election will energize their movement and convince the general public that they have been right all along. This NPR report includes the following, "Part of the problem is that Obama is playing into the neo-Nazi and white supremacist narrative, said Brian Levin, who studies hate and extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
What the groups were saying — "Jews and blacks coming out of the urban areas are going to take over this white nation of ours" — has occurred, he said.
You only have to look to the Internet to see how white supremacist leaders such as David Duke are using Obama to rally their troops. Duke has called Obama a "visual aid for hate groups."
He says an Obama presidency would provide indisputable proof that whites have lost control of America.
"This is a cultural and racial battlefront," said Levin. "Barack Obama is symbol No. 1 of the worst the future has to offer."




The degree of hate and ignorance in the land creates a great saddness in my heart.


On the other hand, we just completed a 3000 mile road trip that took us to the "heartland" as the pollsters refer to the midwest. Everywhere we traveled...Ohio,Indiana,Illinois, Iowa...we encountered people who were kind and welcoming to our interracial family. We visited the "Field of Dreams" movie site in Dyersville, Iowa where thousands still come every year. For 14 weeks in the summer of 1988 Hollywood invaded this corner of Iowa to make a movie about dreams and fantasy and baseball that became a Academy Award nominee for "Best Picture of the Year" in 1989. The house, the cornfield, and the baseball field are just as they were depicted in the film. There is no admission, no video displays, and no guided tours. There is a simple sign telling the story of the site and a small building where one can purchase a baseball, hat, or t-shirt. The site is beautiful in its' simplicity. John and I hit a few balls and ran the bases. "This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that was once good, and it could be good again. Oh people will come. People will most definitely come." Those words were spoken by James Earl Jones in the film and you can see the video clip by clicking here.

Diagnosis

Many of you have left comments or have e-mailed me asking what, exactly, was Isaac's diagnosis. In an effort to answer your question, I thought I would give a "reader's digest" version of our story.

Our story actually begins on Labor Day of 2007, when I found out I was pregnant with our first child. Having conceived very easily, I was blissfully optimisitic that clearly, on or about May 9 of 2008, we would welcome our first little one to the world. Of course, we called our parents right away, marked the baby's due date on the calendar, and started thinking all about the "next times..." the next time we go to the beach we'd have a little one with us... and so forth. My first few prenatal appointments went well, and I remember both hearing and seeing our baby's heartbeat for the first time. I also remember asking my doctor what the risk of miscarriage was once we had heard the heartbeat, and he told me that it was extremely low... less than 1%.

So I was surprised one Friday afternoon when the kind ultrasound tech called and wanted me to come back in to double check a few things that didn't look quite right on a previous ultrasound a few weeks earlier. She said it was more of a peace of mind thing than an actual concern. Nonetheless, I was terrified. Spencer met me there, and we were blindsighted by the news we received: your baby's heart has stopped beating. That was November 2, 2007. At 13 weeks, my child was no longer with us. We later found out that this baby had triploidy... a whole extra set of chromosomes. The concern that was seen on the ultrasound photos? An omphalocele... and if you remember anything about Isaac, this should sound familiar. However, we were told that the omphalocele was simply a marker of this baby's genetic abnormality.

We waited the couple of months my doctor recommended and then, again, got pregnant easily. I remember taking a pregnany test "just for kicks," thinking that this wasn't our month at all... I was wrong. So on February 26, 2008, we learned that we were expecting Isaac. Again, I was excited, but much more guarded. I remember calling and telling our parents, but we decided to wait much longer before telling other people. I did share the news with one close friend, mostly because I was just really scared and really nervous, and needed a girlfriend in which to confide and with whom to pray.

The first few weeks went off without a hitch. I felt a little more nauseous this time, which was very welcomed because it was a marked difference from my first pregnancy in which I didn't feel nauseous (or really anything) at all. We saw and heard Isaac's heartbeat, and everything seemed to be going well.

In late April, I went away to New York with my mom and sister for the weekend, and the whole time just felt like something was"off." I don't know how to explain it really... but I just noticed this weird drop in any pregnancy symptoms. I was about 12 weeks at this point, and thought it could have simply been my symptoms tapering; but because of my previous experience, I wanted to be sure.

So, I called the doctor and on April 21, went in for a heartbeat check. Spencer met me there, just as I was being called back. The nurse couldn't find Isaac's heartbeat on the doppler, so they very quickly sent me for an ultrasound. I remember asking the tech if there was a heartbeat and she said yes, but she seemed very concerned and preoccupied with other things she had found. She asked if we had had our first trimester screen yet, and I explained that we hadn't, and hadn't really planned on having one. I then asked her if she noticed anything that was cause for concern and she said, "Oh, yes..." and turned the screen for us to see. Now I am not one who can usually make out what is on the ultrasound screen, especially early in pregnancy; but there was no mistaking the large cystic hygroma she pointed out around Isaac's head and neck (measuring to the tune of almost 9mm), or the omphalocele by his abdomen. We met briefly with my doctor, who immediately referred us to a genetic counselor.

As we sat and talked with the genetic counselor, my head was spinning... we were hearing things like "5-10% chance of viability" and "even then we wouldn't know about this baby's quality of life..." She took our family history, we talked about what these markers could be pointing to, and she recommended that we have a CVS test done to check Isaac's chromosomes. So we did. And it hurt like crazy.

A few days later, we received the preliminary results that Isaac didn't have Trisomy 13, 18 or 21, and the more thorough results we received about a week later indicated that all of Isaac's chromosomes were normal, and that we were having a little boy. We were so excited... excited that there wasn't anything genetically wrong with our baby, and excited that it was a boy.

We had additional visits with my doctor, and then had our first fetal echocardiogram. Since I was only 17 weeks, it was difficult for the cardiologist to see very much, so she recommended that I go for another one in a few weeks.

During this time, we prayed and prayed... we had learned that Isaac's cystic hygroma had shrunk and praised God for it; we continued to pray that Isaac's heart, brain, lungs, limbs, and everything else would be developing normally. At this point, I truly felt like Isaac was going to be okay in the long run... that he may require some surgeries shortly after birth to correct the omphalocele and that it might be a long road, but I really thought this would all be fixable.

In late June, at 20 weeks pregnant, we went to Children's National Medical Center for our "marathon" day of tests, including a fetal MRI, another fetal echocardiogram, and an in-depth ultrasound. This is the day our lives were changed, our mindset was thwarted, and we learned that things were not at all as good as we were hoping they'd be.

The good news was that Isaac's heart and brain looked normal, as did his limbs. But the rest of the news we received was devastating... the omphalocele contained all of his intestines, his liver, and several other organs. In addition, his spine was severely curved (termed "kyphoscoliosis"). consequently, his chest cavity was extremely small, and he wasn't developing the amount of lung tissue that he should (termed "pulmonary hypoplasia" or "hypoplastic lungs"). We met with several doctors, including a pediatric surgeon, who essentially told us there was really nothing they could do for Isaac. With his chest being so small, there wasn't even really room for lungs to develop, and with his spine being so curved, there really wasn't a way to repair the omphalocele. That day, we were essentially told that our son was going to die... perhaps in utero, perhaps at birth or shortly thereafter.

Many of the dotors with whom we met encouraged terminating the pregnancy; that was never an option for us. Isaac is our child and he deserves a chance at life, just as anyone else. We also know that God is a God of miracles, and that He is bigger than medicine and could change all of this if it was His will.

And so as we continued the long road of many doctors appointments and ultrasounds, we prayed... prayed for Isaac to be healed, prayed for the chance to enjoy seeing Isaac on the ultrasound monitor, prayed that Isaac would be born alive... but over and over again, prayed for a miracle.

During those months of appointments, we learned of other smaller complications, like how the omphalocele was adherent to the placenta and therefore Isaac was sort of "stuck" in a transverse position; we also learned that because Isaac wasn't able to move around freely, the umbilical cord never really had a reason to grow very long, and only measured around 7cm.

At about 33 weeks, I ended up in the hospital having contractions, and thankfully the doctor was able to get them to subside with a few shots of terbutaline. I remained on an oral form of the terbutaline for the duration of my pregnancy. Because of this little scare, my doctor decided to move up my c-secion date by 10 days... this was also devastating to me. I knew that Isaac was safe inside me, and truthfully I didn't want to have to give up 10 days with my son. But, I also recognized the importance of my c-section being carefully planned with all of the right people there, and so an emergency c-section situation wouldn't have been good for anyone .

On October 7, our beautiful sweet Isaac was born at 8:33 am and was alive and with us until 8:49 am when he went to be with Jesus. He was so peaceful the entire time... never struglled or appeared to be in pain, and we are so, so grateful for that. We were so fortunate to have family and close friends there to meet him, to have a wonderful nurse who helped us make lots of memories with him, and a talented photographer who took hundreds of pictures. We got to hold and just love Isaac for as long as we wanted. Saying goodbye to him that night was the hardest thing I have ever had to do; but I wouldn't trade anything for the chance to have gotten to meet my son, and to love him for his entire life... snuggling with him, telling him how proud I am of him, how much we wanted him, and how much we love him.

And so the diagnosis? "A sequence of giant omphalocele, kyphoscoliosis, and hypoplastic lungs, severe." Essentially, the neonatologist's assessment is that the omphalocele was so large that as Isaac's spine grew, it sort of had to grow around the omphalocele (which was sort of pulling him forward). She called it a "deformation" of the spine rather than a "malformation." These two issues, in turn, caused his chest circumference to be so small that he wasn't able to develop enough lung tissue to breathe on his own. We have been told that this was an extremely unfortunate random thing that occurs at 4-6 weeks gestation, that it is not genetic, and that there's no reason to believe it will happen again. I sort of can't get past the fact that an omphalocele was present with both my first pregnancy and with Isaac, and this is definitely something I want to bring up with both my doctor and the genetic counselor.

So in the end, we're left with having found the narrowest odds, and to be honest, that sometimes makes me really angry. I don't like the fact that my child was the 1 in 10,000 (the occurance of a giant omphalocele) and that the other complications made it so that surgery wasn't an option.

I guess the bottom line, though, is just that I miss my son terribly. I had thought that having so much foreknowledge would have better prepared me for this; but the truth of the matter is that it didn't. It allowed us to be prepared on October 7, but nothing can prepare you for the depth of the heartache of losing a child.

I don't really know anything different to ask you to pray for today... it's all the same, really... For peace, for comfort, for God to be near to us (when truthfully I feel really abandoned, even though I know I haven't been). Please also pray for us as Spencer as he goes back to work tomorrow... this is hard both for him to be getting back into the grind, and for me, as I am pretty resistant to wanting anything to go back to "normal." Please also pray that God would begin to restore our joy and our hope in the midst of our brokeness.

work in progress

No Time to Blog...

I don't really have time to write a real post.



I have a ton of papers to grade, and a few non-blog writing tasks I ought to address before I do anything substantial over here.

Please substitute me for longhair '70s Barry Allen in the picture above, and replace dinner with paper-grading, and slow things down about a million times. Also, put bags under his eyes. Or mine. And replace his manic look of inspiration with a weary thousand-yard stare. Ugh.

Hero

I remember when I was growing up playing with my She-Ra dolls while our neighbor played with his He-Man figures. It seemed like the idea of playing make-believe with superhero dolls was a good idea. Then there's the ever-famous "get-to-know-your" question of, If you could have one superpower, what would it be? I never knew how to answer that question.

While I was in the hospital after delivering Isaac, one of the doctors who delivered him came to visit. He sat down and talked with Spencer and I for a while and said something I won't soon forget: You two are my heros. Yesterday I had my two-week post-op visit with the other doctor who delivered Isaac. She looked at me and said that same thing: You are my hero.

I appreciate so much the fact that the doctors who delivered Isaac value life, and see our decision as one that is worth admiration... not because it was our decision, because in our minds, there was never really a choice; but, they acknowledge that Isaac was a person, one who had value and was worth being giving an opportunity at life. I have a hard time, though, with being dubbed a hero.

You see, often times, being a hero requires great sacrifice; and to be honest, I never wanted to give Isaac up. I still don't. I would still much rather be his mom and have him here with me than be a hero, and I often wonder why this story couldn't have ended differently with Isaac being healed and still being here with us. It's not that I don't trust what God is doing with all of this, because I do. I won't pretend to understand it, but I trust in His soverignty and the fact that He knows best. I know that our circumstances don't dictate His character, and that somehow, this is all for our good and His greater glory. And in my head, that is all straightened out... it makes sense.

But my heart... oh, how my heart has such a long way to go. My heart just hearts. I just long to have my son here, to be able to hold him, rock him to sleep, sing to him, snuggle with him and kiss him, and to tell him again just how much I love him and how proud I am of him. I know that is not what God has ordained for us or our sweet Isaac, but my heart still wishes it was.

I am not sure how familiar you are with the lyrics to the song that I have playing as you first come to this blog. The song, Homesick, by MercyMe, was one with which I never really felt any strong personal connection... until now.

You're in a better place, I've heard a thousand times
And at least a thousand times I've rejoiced for you
But the reason why I'm broken, the reason why I cry
Is how long must I wait to be with you

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

Help me Lord cause I don't understand your ways
The reason why I wonder if I'll ever know
But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same
Cause I'm still here so far away from home

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

In Christ, there are no goodbye
And in Christ, there is no end
So I'll hold onto Jesus with all that I have
To see you againTo see you again

And I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

Would you please continue to pray for our homesick hearts, that God would just continue to bring us comfort and peace, that He still would continue to restore our joy and our hope, and that He would just be near to us as we continue to navigate this really uncharted territory.

Aftermath

It would be dishonest to describe this week in any other way than just plain difficult. It feels as though things have started to settle down a little and have started to return to "normal" in some ways, and that has been a really difficult thing for me.

Now that Isaac's memorial service is over, there really isn't a place for me to focus my energy as much, and that has been hard... mostly because I am not ready to be finished being Isaac's mom. I know that in reality I will never stop being his mom... that I always will be. But the truth is, it's difficult not to have practical ways in which I can love and care for my son. It feels so wrong to be picking leaves out of the flower arrangement by his grave when I want to be tucking him in for his nap; to be reading cards of condolences (which we do appreciate) instead of cards of congratulations; and to be lying awake at night deafened by the silence of our house instead of being awakened by a baby's cries. It just all feels so... wrong.

I know that God doesn't make mistakes... that Isaac's life was exactly as God had ordained it; I also know, as a friend pointed out, that Isaac isn't missing anything... he is in Heaven and is perfect and healthy and whole; it's us who are doing the missing. And so I know I can take comfort in the fact that he is safe and is in the most perfect place; but the fact that Isaac isn't here with us still leaves my heart broken and my arms feeling so empty... because I am missing someone: my son.

We would appreciate you continued prayers for comfort and peace; for hearts to simply trust in what God is doing rather than wondering why; and for God to begin to restore our joy and our hope.

Rehab!

Rehab is awesome!

Guess what, I finally moved into Second Phase! After six months, I finally get to go upstairs! Less rules, less restrictions, and no people walking around in life-jackets! The play room has leather chairs! They have movies other than TMNT! That one scary giant guy with the ponytail that looks exactly like Micky Rourke can’t get me up here!

The food is a little better too. Instead of hot dogs in slices of white bread with American cheese and maybe some Meth Sprinklins, we have some actually pretty decent hardshell tacos! On the down-side, the bathrooms are a lot smaller. Like, airplane small. Not much room to light up a crack spoon. I guess that’s probably the idea though.

Oh I should probably explain, I’m only in rehab because of my job. It’s weird, a lot of the people who get their kids taken away by CPS really like to go to rehab a lot! Difrent strokes for difrent folks, as they say. It’s not like I can’t relate… They just made me watch the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to kill myself if I can’t run downstairs to Phase One and score some heroin to wash that taste out of my brain. Uhhhhh….my nerves hurt.




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Building Isaac's Playground

Spencer and I can't thank you all enough for your continued prayers and words of encouragement. As you can imagine, our days are pretty up and down, and obviously there is a wide range of emotions that we each deal with. More than anything, we both just miss Isaac a lot, and are doing the best we can to figure out what life looks like without having our sweet little buddy with us. We could really just use your prayers for God's perfect peace to fill and comfort our hearts.

This past week, I was given a very generous offer to help raise so money for the playground being built in honor of Isaac at our church. Please read the letter below, and if you feel inclined to participate, you are welcome to do so.

Dear Stacy,

I want to let you know how much your story has changed our faith. The story of sweet little Isaac has touched the lives of many and it is NOW that I am wanting to give back. Since getting to know your family better, I truly understand how blessed any child would be to enter into your family. You are a wonderful mother with such a kind heart! I feel that your attitude, determination, and dedication to being a parent will benefit other children in days to come. We are praying every day that it is sooner rather than later! Sweet little Isaac is just precious! I know that with all of us working together, we will build a playground that any child could only dream of.

Your Friend,

Jennifer Bader
Homemade Gourmet Meal Consultantwww.homemadegourmet.com/jenniferbader
http://homemadegourmetmeals.blogspot.com/
Email: baderjenn@gmail.com

If you would like to help raise money for Issac's playground by participating in the fundraiser, please see these details:
1) Visit Jennifer's website at: www.homemadegourmet.com/jenniferbader
2) You can place an online order with distributor ID: #816211
( All orders placed are shipped to your door) and Isaac's Playground Fund will receive 25% of the total sales!
3) Email your order to Jennifer at: baderjenn@gmail.com
4) For recipe ideas, please check out Jennifer's blog at: http://homemadegourmetmeals.blogspot.com/

In addition, you can order one of the following dip chillers for the upcoming holidays! The dip chillers are $15 without a mix, or add a mix and pay $19.50. To order a dip chiller, email your order to Jennifer and she will ship immediately to you! $5 from every dip chiller purchased will be donated to Isaac's Playground Fund.




Slideshow (and a blog makeover!)

First off, many thanks to Danille from Blogs by Danielle for the BEAUTIFUL job making over my blog. Thank you so much for sharing your talent and gift with me.

We are also blessed by the talented work of Bill Millios, a photographer with the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation who not only took gorgeous pictures for us, but also put together this slideshow for us to show at Isaac's memorial service yesterday. And we are blessed by the talented work of Selah, and by the Smith's generosity in getting us the "boy" version of "I Will Carry You" for Bill to use. You will want to pause the music at the bottom as you watch and listen. We hope you enjoy these additional glimpses of our sweet Isaac...




"I Will Carry You"

There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies, wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?

People say that I am brave but I'm not
Truth is I'm barely hanging on
But there's a greater story
Written long before me
Because He loves you like this

So I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the One Who's chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But I know
That the silence
Has brought me to His voice
And He says...

I've shown him photographs of time beginning
Walked him through the parted seas
Angel lullabies, no more teary eyes
Who could love him like this?

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All your life
And I will praise the One
Who's chosen Me
To carry you

An Average Day

Walk into Ballard Market. Scope out from a distance--which entrance contains the panhandler? Choose opposite entrance. Buy day-old desserts and eat them in the car.

Steal Burger King chicken fries from 6 year-old during visit supervision. He doesn't need the calories. Fatass.

If a construction crane has to be taller than the thing it's constructing, what do they use to construct the crane? Next time terrorists want to attack New York, they should hijack construction cranes. And put a big boxing glove on the arm. Pow! You just got knocked out by Al Qaeda.

Get really hungry again. Order fish tacos from Taco Del Mar. Scowl at the incompetent taco-artist as he squirts all the salsa onto one side, unbalancing the taco. Smolder silently.

Realize that your entire day revolves around eating. Eat a quesadilla and fruit smoothie just before bed. Dream of apocalypse and car crashes. Wake in cold sweat. Pee in the dark. Go back to sleep. Dream of apocalypse and weiner dog armies.




Also, Monday is the deadline for voter registration. Go register now, loser. It's your civic duty to vote, no matter who you plan on voting for. Yeah right. Vote for Obama.

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A Letter to Isaac

This morning's service was beautiful, and we were blessed by the presence of so many family, friends, and even strangers. Thank you for sharing in both our joy and our sorrow as celebrated and honored Isaac's life.

Below is the letter I wrote to Isaac that we shared at this morning's service.

Dear Isaac,

I don’t know how to put into one letter everything I would want to tell you in a lifetime… but I want to try because Daddy and I love you so much. We are so proud of you.

From the moment we found out about you, Daddy and I were so excited to meet you. As you grew, I could feel all of your kicks and wiggles, especially when I would drink a fizzy Zazz or eat something sweet. I remember the first time Daddy could feel you kick, too. As you grew, I would feel you move in new places, and that made me so happy because I knew that you were growing and were full of life. I loved it. Some of the doctors we met with suggested that we let you go; but that was never an option for us. You are our child. We have loved you from the moment we found out about you, and wanted nothing more than to be your Mommy and Daddy and to shower you with as much love as one could possibly give in a lifetime.

I remember the day that Daddy and I chose on a name for you… Isaac Timothy. We chose the name Isaac for two reasons; first, because of the story of Abraham and Isaac in the Bible, and feeling as though we were being asked to take a large step of faith in entrusting you into God’s care; and secondly because Isaac means “he will laugh.” We both just loved the thought of you laughing with joy. We chose Timothy as your middle name because Timothy means “to honor God.” We knew that your life would be honoring to God, and we wanted your name to reflect that. The night we chose your name, Daddy made up a name certificate and we prayed as we named you… we couldn’t wait to tell people your name so that they could pray for you, too, and start to get to know you even more. We loved naming you because at that point, you became even more personal and we felt even more connected to you as your Mommy and Daddy.

While you were still in my tummy, every morning I would sit and write you a letter while playing you music. You really liked when I played Wonderful, Merciful Savior and How Deep the Father’s Love for Us. After the letter was finished, I would read it to you. On my way to work each morning, I would talk to you, telling you about the colors in the morning sky, or simply just how much I love you and how proud I am of you and to be your Mommy. Every night, Daddy would say good night to you… he told you how much he loves you and how proud he is of you, too. We wanted so much for you to hear our voices and know that it was your Mommy and Daddy who love you, Isaac. I hope that you heard us, and that in hearing us, you just felt so deeply loved.

Did you know that while you were in my tummy we took you all sorts of places? We went hiking at Sugarloaf Mountain and walked through the tree-lined path. On the Fourth of July we watched fireworks and listened to their big, loud “booms.” We took you to the beach and jumped waves with you in the ocean. You and I even sat on the beach in the early mornings and I would tell you all about the beautiful sunrise and the sounds the seagulls made. Over the summer after a big thunderstorm we would often see a rainbow; I wished so much that you could have seen them, too. I told you all about the beautiful colors and the way each one would stretch across the sky. Towards the end of the summer we went golfing with Daddy, and I know he was excited to share that with you. We went to weddings, and football games, on picnics, and to so many other places; yet there are still so many things Daddy and I would have loved to do with you. We just weren’t finished making memories with you yet.

October 7th was the greatest day of our lives. You were born at 8:33am; you weighed 4 pounds, 12 ounces, and were 17 ½ inches long. Not only did your body have weight, but your life has weight, and significance, and you matter. You still matter, sweet Isaac. You matter to the One who so uniquely created you. You matter to the people whose lives you have touched and who you have brought closer to Jesus. You matter to me and to Daddy; you will always be our first child and our son. We are so proud of you because you…your life… has made a such a difference, especially to us. The sixteen minutes you were with us were the sweetest sixteen minutes of our lives; and I am thankful to have had that time to whisper in your ear over and over again how much I love you… to have kissed your little nose and sweet cheeks, held your hand with all your perfect little fingers, and then to hold you for hours afterwards, just studying all of your perfect little features and seeing how beautiful you are.

Isaac, we miss you so much. My arms are heavy and ache with the emptiness of not being able to hold you and snuggle with you anymore. But, we are so thankful to have had the chance to meet you… to look at you and just take you all in; to look at your cute nose and realize it’s just like mine; to see how your toes are just like Daddy’s; to look at the details of your little hands and feet, and to be captivated by the beauty of who you are. You are the greatest miracle I have ever been a part of, sweet Isaac. We loved being able to kiss your soft little cheeks and little button nose, and to tell you over and over again how much we love you and how proud we are to be your Mommy and Daddy. We hope that you heard us every time we told you we love you, that you felt every squeeze, and hug, and kiss we gave you, and that we somehow managed to give you all the love of a lifetime in the time we had with you. The sixteen minutes we were able to share with you were the sweetest sixteen minutes of our lives.

We know that Heaven is the best place to be, and we long for the day when we will get to see you again. Please know that you hold the most special place in our hearts, and that we will never stop loving you.

Love,
Mommy and Daddy

More Sketches



IT HAS BEEN AWHILE

most of you know that i have been out of minneapolis for awhile now. i will be home to vote, and then back on the road. while on the road i made a dvd called "ARTISBAD" (suprise) which showcased all the time lapsed videos i have created in the last 6 months. tour has been good and i have been able to showcase my work and hand out these little beauties. i do however feel like the kid that comes up to me at the merch table giving me his demo and wanting me to pass it along to anyone in atmosphere. for those of you dont know i am selling merch for atmosphere..(minneapolis hip hop). it will be good to see everyone. soon ... real soon

papa

Desperate Candy Bars

Have you seen/heard these Kit Kat commercials?

This fairly mediocre chocolate-covered wafer bar is making a desperate bid to become an iconic snack staple by claiming to be the perfect companion for coffee.

The commercials involve people with annoying squeaky voices requesting Kit Kats with their coffee at various establishments, then acting outraged when they learn that the place doesn't offer Kit Kats. A guy tells a Donut Shop that it's "close minded" to sell Donuts and not Kit Kats. Girl tells a barista that they should replace their pastry case with a vending machine full of Kit Kats.

Really? Kit Kat, the B-list candy bar that no one actually eats and is only remembered because of a catchy jingle, is going up against DONUTS and PASTRIES for the hearts and minds of America's coffee drinkers?

I don't think I've ever seen a more desperate attempt for a product to force itself, uninvited, into the public imagination. I am inspired, and will now attempt to use the same strategy to promote my own products.


COMMERCIAL #1

(Woman lying a sunny beach reading a book)

(Man with annoying squeaky voice approaches woman)

MAN: Hey there, what are you reading?

WOMAN: Oh, it's just "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

MAN: Oh really? That sounds lame, how come you're not reading "The Inside", by Isaac Marion?

WOMAN: Excuse me?

MAN: Haven't you heard? Nothing goes better with lying on the beach than an Isaac Marion novel!

WOMAN: Umm...

MAN: Mind if I sit on your back while I apply sunblock to my bikini area?



COMMERCIRAL #2:

(Crowd is in the Sistine Chapel, admiring the ceiling.)

(Man with squeaky annoying voice walks in)

MAN (Shouting loudly, echoing in the large space): Hey! Where are all the Isaac Marion paintings?

TOURIST: Shhh!

MAN: But Isaac Marion paintings are perfect for walking around and looking at and taking pictures of! Christine's Chapel is STUPID!


COMMERCIAL #3

(Woman is in bed drinking tea and listening to Beethoven)

(Man suddenly crashes in through her window and shoves a CD in her face)

MAN: Don't listen to THAT! Listen to ISAAC MARION'S MOON COLONY!

(Woman screams)




Is this working? Am I replacing long-established classics yet?



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more fish...what can i say

Details for Saturday

I wanted to let you all know that the directions given on MapQuest to Cedarbrook Community Church are inaccurate. It would be best to use Google Maps or a GPS if you have one. Again, the date and time are as follows:

Saturday, October 18, 2008 at 10:00 am
Cedarbrook Community Church
23700 Stringtown Road
Clarksburg, MD 20871

We also hope you will be able to stay and join us for refreshments aftewards.

Again, Spencer and I can't thank you enough for your continued support, words of encouragement, and prayers. We need them, and we treasure them greatly.

Remember...

Today, October 15, is the National Day of Remembrance for pregnancy and infant loss. In honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, it has been suggested that grieving parents and family members light a candle at 7 p.m. in their respective time zones to create a wave of light around the world in memory of babies lost to pregnancy and infant loss. Would you join me in this today?

I am also "borrowing" an idea that I thought was beautiful from Angie's blog. If you have lost a baby due to miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, or any other type of infant loss, I would like to be able to pray for you today. Please feel free to leave a comment on this post with your name (if you are comfortable), the nature of your loss(es), your child's/children's names, and as much information as you are comfortable sharing. My comment would look like this...

My name is Stacy. I lost my first child to miscarriage at 13 weeks in November, 2007 due to triploidy. I lost my son, Isaac Timothy, on October 7, 2008 to several congenital anomalies. He was born alive and was with us for the sweetest 16 minutes of my life.
If you are reading this and haven't had the experience of losing a child, then I invite you to join me in praying for these dear families.
Psalm 121
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Witches




One week


I can't believe it has been one week since Isaac was born and went to be with Jesus. I miss him so much.

Lately, my whole concept of time has been completely altered... anticipating Isaac's birth in months, then weeks, then days, then hours... and now feeling as though the distance between today and when we met him is growing too long too quickly.While we were visiting Isaac's grave yesterday, I looked down and the temporary marker that's there and just studied it...

Isaac Timothy Delisle
October 7, 2008
Age: 16 minutes

Those words were just a dagger through my heart. Minutes. My son's life is measured in minutes. They were the sweetest 16 minutes of my life. That fact changes everything.

It makes me understand more clearly all of the scriptures that talk about our lives being but a vapor compared to eternity. In the past, that concept was too vast for me to wrap my mind around; now, to some degree, I understand. It makes it easier for me to distinguish the important from the unimportant, and seeing what truly matters. It helps me to understand when we are exhorted to "make the most of every opportunity..." because I think that time is something we often take for granted, seeing it as some sort of endless commodity, brushing important things aside thinking we'll get to them "later."

For us, there isn't "later." And it is a strange thing for parents to figure out how to say everything they'd want to say to their child in a lifetime in just a few short minutes... to hug them, kiss them, snuggle with them, and love them enough in 16 minutes to account for the years that will be missed. I am so thankful that, as some of you have shared with me, we were able to love Isaac his entire life... that the love we were able to give him was so raw, so deep, so pure, and so true. And I am thankful that we were able to just still hold him for hours later that day... to continue to snuggle with him, love him, and just take him all in.

Please continue to pray for us as we continue to navigate this uncharted territory... trying to understand how to grieve, dealing with so many conflicting emotions, and just really, really missing our son. We are grateful for all of your prayers and encouraging words.

Heavy

Heavy. It's the only word I know to describe my heart and my arms right now.

I am really missing my sweet Isaac today. In some ways, coming home from the hospital has brought some comfort; yet in other ways, I wish I could go back. It's the place where my son was born, the place where I held him, the place where it didn't feel as if the whole world was "business as usual" while my world had been shattered.

I miss holding him and kissing his little nose and his face over and over again... I miss the way it feels when he wrapped his little hand around my finger... I miss the softness of his little feet... and I miss the smell of my little baby boy. I want to be able to tell him one more time how much I love him and how proud of him I am.

We are so grateful for the outpouring of love, encouragement, and support that so many of you have offered us... and to many of you, we are complete strangers. We are also grateful for the way God continues to carry us... through his word, and through the encouragement and prayers of His people. We hope that many of you (those that are nearby at least) will be able to join us for Isaac's memorial service next weekend.






The Endorsement that Convinced Me



If you love freedom, this is all you need to see. Hellboy's candidate is my candidate. Never mind what Mike says.

If you want this original art for yourself, it's on auction until the evening of October 13. All proceeds go to the campaign.

You can also use that link if you don't want it for yourself, and just want to buy it for me instead. Because if you love freedom, you probably also love giving me presents.

UPDATE: It sold for $1,625.00. That's some very nice fund-raising.

Spacemen in space houses




Chula Tarantula Character Redesign

Doodles from class

Memorial Service and Isaac's Playground

Family and Friends,

A Memorial Service to honor Isaac's life will be held on

Saturday, October 18, 2008 at 10:00 am
Cedarbrook Community Church
23700 Stringtown Road
Clarksburg, MD 20871

All are welcome to attend.

In memory of Isaac, we will be having a playground built at our church, Mountain View Community Church. We just broke ground on our new facility, and the hope is that both the facility and the playground will be completed next fall.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made and sent to Mountain View Community Church for Isaac's playground. Please be sure to write "Isaac's Playground" in the memo line. Checks may be mailed to:

Mountain View Communty Church
3401 Urbana Pike
Fredrick, MD 21704
Attention: Pam Wilson-- Isaac's Playground

Please pass this information along to any and all who may be interested.

With deepest gratitude,

Stacy and Spencer

Meet Isaac...

Information about a memorial service and about Isaac's playground will posted shortly. But for now, we wanted you to meet our sweet Isaac...


We are so grateful for your overwhelming prayers and support today... our hearts are hurting, but you have helped make the load a little bit lighter.

~ Stacy and Spencer