Well, we made it home late last night from our Thanksgiving trip to Philadelphia, New York, and Long Island to visit with family. We were fortunate to have found street parking in both Philadelphia, and more impressively, New York city, to have not hit a lot of traffic, or to have Spencer's car break down. It was a nice trip.
Now that the Christmas season is in full swing... trust me when I say that Macy's on 34th street in NYC on black Friday will convince you that it is in case there was any doubt... I wanted to remind folks that there is one week left in the Pampered Chef fundraiser that Kara is so generously holding for us to raise money for Isaac's playground.
Here are the details again:
The fundraiser will run through December 6, so you have plenty of time to order and receive your items in time for Christmas. 10-15% of the sales will go towards Isaac's playground. If you are interested in booking a show, $3 (which will be matched by Kara for a total of $6) will be donated for each show booked. If you desire to sign up as a Pampered Chef consultant yourself, Kara will personally donate $20 towards the playground. As an FYI, all of Pampered Chef's unglazed stoneware is 20% off for guests this month.
If you are interested in placing an order, please go to Kara's Pampered Chef page at:http://www.pamperedchef.biz/karaduenasThen, follow these easy steps:
1. Click on the link for Our Products at the top of the page.
2. Click on How to Purchase.
3. In the field where you can look up an organization, type in Mountain View Community Church
To save time, the link below should take you directly there. If not, then please use the steps above.http://www.pamperedchef.biz/karaduenas?page=products-main
Please be sure to have your order shipped directly to you to ensure that you receive it in plenty of time for Christmas.Thank you to Kara for so kindly setting up this opportunity, and thank you to each of you who decide to do a little Christmas shopping from Pampered Chef.
My mind is still spinning from our trip, the laundry, setting up a few Christmas decorations... so a more "typical" post will be up in a day or two.
Ephesians 5:20 says, "...always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." I acknowledge that I have a lot to be thankful for... for Jesus and His finished work on the cross, for a wonderful husband, irreplaceable family and friends, the chance to have had a wonderful pregnancy and to have given birth to an absolutely beautiful son, for a secure job in tough economic times... I could go on. But thankful for everything? I'll be honest. I am not thankful for the fact that Isaac died. I would give anything for him to be here this Thanksgiving, and next, and for many Thanksgivings to come. I don't know how to reconcile this verse with circumstances that have unfolded these past few months.
Yet somehow, I can manage the idea of being thankful in everything a bit better. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Even though Isaac's absence is profoundly obvious and noticeable to me all the time, in the midst of the pain and the grief, my heart can still be postured in a state of gratitude. Right now, that is a daily, conscious decision that is often times hard to make, particularly on days like today where I just really miss him, but it's a decision that is possible to make.
There are many details surrounding my pregnancy with Isaac and his birth that I truly am thankful for... for the wonderful doctors who managed my care during my pregnancy; for the hospital staff who made all sorts of accommodations for us to be comfortable; for nurse Kathy who attended to Isaac's care and our every request for making memories with him; for the beautiful pictures that Bill was able to take; for our family making countless sacrifices and loving us so sacrificially; for our small group who in Christ-likeness has so faithfully prayed for us and with us, and who have so selflessly attempted to meet any need that has arose; for the chance to meet Isaac while he was still alive and to have the chance to spend time studying all of his little features, seeing evidence of both my and Spencer's physical traits. I know there are many, many more.
I was told that the holidays were going to be hard. And they are. I miss Isaac a lot today. Please continue to pray for us this holiday season; I know his absence will be a lot more evident and real to us during this time, and we could really use your continued prayers for comfort and peace.
This morning before work I was running on the treadmill listening to Josh Groban on my iPod. I don't know what in that sentence is more surprising... that I was running, that it was before work, or that Josh Groban was my music of choice. Anyhow, his song "Awake" came on and for the first time the lyrics really hit me. And yes, albeit discretely, I cried while running on the treadmill. The words brought me right back to the morning of October 7...
"Awake"A beautiful and blinding morning
The world outside begins to breathe
See clouds arriving without warning
I need you here to shelter me
And I know that only time will tell us how
To carry on without each other
So keep me awake to memorize you
Give me more time to feel this way
We can't stay like this forever
But I can have you next to me today
If I could make these moments endless
If I could stop the winds of change
If we just keep our eyes wide open
Then everything would stay the same
And I know that only time will tell me how
We'll carry on without each other
So keep me awake for every moment
Give us more time to be this way
We can't stay like this forever
But I can have you next to me today
We'll let tomorrow wait, you're here, right now, with me
All my fears just fall away, when you are all I see
We can't stay like this forever
But I have you here today
And I will remember
Oh I will remember
Remember all the love we shared today
I remember so vividly not wanting to forget anything about those moments that Isaac was alive, laying right there next to me. I knew our time together was going to be short, and I just wanted to be fully present so that I could take it all in. And it truly is only time that is teaching me how to carry on without having him here... with the limp, a piece of my heart missing it is a really hard thing.
Yet in the midst of it, I am still so incredibly thankful.... thankful for Isaac, for those moments we were able to share in those 9 months and 16 minutes...
"Mighty to Save" is a song that we frequently sing in worship at church. I remember it meaning so much to me when I was pregnant with Isaac, faithfully singing the words and truly believing what it was I was singing... that God is mighty to save, and truly believing that He was going to save Isaac. After Isaac was born, I had trouble listening to this song. In fact, I often turned it off when it came on the radio because, quite frankly, the song made me angry... I felt as though God hadn't saved Isaac, that He wasn't mighty to save.
Oh, but He was.
As I was leaving work this past Thursday, "Mighty to Save" came on the radio, and for some reason that day, I decided to listen and not turn it off. I thought about what the word "save" means. To make safe... to keep from danger or harm...to safeguard. Like I said, isn't that what every parent wants for their child? As I realized this , I just began to weep. My tears were both of sadness that I can't be the one to provide that safety for my son and the reality of the loss of Isaac hitting so hard, but also tears of gratitude that my God, who is much greater than I, can provide safety for Isaac... and has... and will continue to for all eternity. In the greatest sense, Isaac is safe. He isn't here, and oh I wish so badly that he was; I continue to struggle deeply with the fact that God didn't heal him on this side of heaven. But he is safe... safe in the arms of God, as John McArthur puts it in his book. He's more than safe... and for that, I am so thankful.
More on the idea of thankfulness in a few days...
Seriously, can you just picture whoever "produced" this song pouring their heart and soul into this instrumental melody and then handing it over to Lil Wayne and watching him do what he do?
It's ridiculous how incongruous to the melody so many Top 40 lyrics are. The melody says "The world is beautiful and I'm in pain", but the lyrics say "I like to have sex in bars."
The tiles above were created by Kaye Mackay, a dear woman who read my blog and sent Spencer and I this baby memorial tile, as well as a birth verse tile, after having read about Isaac. For anyone who has been to our house and seen them in person, you know they are beautiful. She designes tiles in all sorts of shapes and sizes for a whole host of occasions. You can view them here http://www.engravedeuniques.com/.
In addition, Kaye has also graciously offered to help support our efforts to fund Isaac's playground. Starting tomorrow, 10% of the sales on any orders (except the 16 x 8 family tile, as those proceeds are currently being donated elsewhere) via the website during the week of November 22-29 will be donated to our church for Isaac's Playground. So, another Christmas shopping opportunity at its finest! These tiles make great gifts, particularly because they are so personal (and beautiful!)
Here's how it works.
1. Head over to Kaye's website http://www.engravedeuniques.com/
2. Take a look around, and feel free to place an order if you so choose. I am sure you will agree that her work is beautiful.
3. Be sure to mention "He will carry Me" in the comments section while checking out on the website. This part is very important!
On a side note, please also don't forget that you can still place a Pampered Chef order with Kara, and a portion of those sales will also be donated for Isaac's playground (see post entitled "Christmas Shopping" below.
Thank you all for your support... through these opportunities, your prayers, your encouragement. We appreciate it more than I could every convey on here.
Stay tuned this weekend for an updated on how this week at work shaped up...
As I wait, I realize I have the tendancy to second guess myself. I spent the day reworking the first two chapters, slashing and burning and trying to make it shorter, but in the end, I'm not sure its any better, just shorter. I am interested in gaining more insight from the other readers.
This has been a very spritual journey so far, but this week has not been my best. I want to believe the direction I am moving in is the right way, but sometimes the roadblocks and limitations frustrate me. I feel like I just need to step away from writing for a week or so, go to a bunch of movies, try to escape the world that's bugging me for a while. I'm afraid I'm getting cranky and my wife would probably agree.
The last time I did this, I went to the bookstore, Barnes and Noble not far from my house. I normally love bookstores, but I returned home both empty-handed and heavy hearted. There are so many books there. How am I going to get noticed?
I ran into Mike Ramsdell last Thursday at Costco. He is the author of The Train to Potevka and has now sold more than 800,000 copies through Costco and other bookstores. He is a really nice guy and I enjoyed my visit with him.
Anyway, I hope to get moving again soon
Last Tuesday, I finished writing my indie romantic pro-zombie epic parable, WARM BODIES. By "finished" I mean finished the first draft, ie, I wrote the last paragraph, but I still have editing to do. I expect to finish that this weekend. Then I send it out to some people for feedback, make revisions, and hopefully have it all finished and printed before Christmas. This is the plan. Cross your fingers with me on this, as we all know anything can happen in the Holiday season.
Who is Jim Cummings? He's a voice actor whose gravelly voice has become so ubiquitous it's now nearly impossible to go through a day's worth of media without at least one of those "Hey! That's Jim Cummings!" moments.
At present time, Cummings is the current narrator in several McDonalds radio ads, all the Schucks Auto Supply radio ads, and the Cheeze-It commercials--and that's just off the top of my head. In addition to his inescapable presence in commercials, a quick scan of his IMDB reveals that he's been in just about every animated film, TV show, and video game since the dawn of time:
- 101 Dalmatians: The Series – Colonel, Mayor Ed Pig, Jasper
- 2 Stupid Dogs – Super Secret Secret Squirrel's Morroco Mole
- The Addams Family (animated series) – Lurch
- Adventures in Odyssey – Larry Walker
- Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears – Zummi Gummi (Originally Paul Winchell), Chummi Gummi
- The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius – Mayor Quadar, Ultra Lord, Cap'n Betty, Atilla The Hun
- Aladdin – Razoul, also in the TV Series
- All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 – Jingles
- Anastasia – Rasputin (singing voice)
- Animaniacs – Narrator and several one-shot characters
- Atlantis: The Lost Empire – Additional voices
- The Batman – Temblor
- Bah, Humduck! A Looney Tunes Christmas – Taz, Gossamer
- Baldur's Gate Series – Minsc, Firkraag, Gorion, Tazok, Abazigal, Gromnir Il-Khan, Demogorgon
- Balto – Steele
- Bonkers – Bonkers D. Bobcat, Lucky Piquel and other characters
- The Book of Pooh – Winnie the Pooh, Tigger
- Bee Movie - Title Narrator and Graduation Announcer
- Brother Bear 2 – Nita's father, Lead Raccoon
- Bump in the Night – Mister Bumpy, Destructo, Closet Monster
- Buzz Lightyear of Star Command– Senator Aarrfvox
- Cabin Boy – Floating Cupcake
- Captain Planet and the Planeteers – Sly Sludge (Hanna-Barbera episodes)
- Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue – Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger
- CatDog – Cat
- ChalkZone – Skrawl
- Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers – Monterey Jack, Fat Cat, Professor Nimnul, Wart the Lizard
- Clive Barker's Jericho – Arnold Leach
- Codename: Kids Next Door – Vin Moosk
- Courage the Cowardly Dog – The Great Fusilli, Cajun Fox
- Cro – Phil, Ogg, Murray
- Curious George – Chef Pisghetti; Jumpy Squirrel; Mister Quint
- Cyberchase - Mr. Zero ("A World Without Zero")
- Darkwing Duck – Drake Mallard/Darkwing Duck, DarkWarrior Duck, NegaDuck, Warden Waddlesworth, Herb Muddlefoot, Professor Moliarty
- Dead Space: Downfall - Captain Mathius
- Dexter's Laboratory - Red-Eye (in Photo Finish)
- Duckman -- Big Jack Mcbastard
- DuckTales - El Capitan
- Earthworm Jim – Psycrow, Bob the Killer Goldfish, and other various voices.
- Fallout – The Master, Set, Gizmo
- Gargoyles – Dingo and other characters
- Goof Troop – Pete
- The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy – Additional Voices
- Hercules – Nessus
- The Hot Rod Dogs and Cool Car Cats – Scarhood.
- House of Mouse – Pete, King Louie, Big Bad Wolf, Censor Monkeys, Ed the Hyena, Gorilla, Kaa, Razoul, Tiki Masks, Weasels, Zeke, Cheshire Cat, Roquefort, Mister Stork, Jasper, Colonel Hathi, Cyril Proudbottom, Otto, Shun Gun, Boomer, Porcupine, Sexton Mouse, Deacon Owl, Gideon
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Captain of the Knights
- Icewind Dale - Arundel, Hrothgar, additional voices
- Invasion America – Major Lomack
- Iron Man – MODOK, Whirlwind, Dreadknight, Backlash and President Bill Clinton.
- Jackie Chan Adventures – Hak Foo (Season 1)
- The Jungle Book 2 - Kaa, Colonel Hathi, M.C. Monkey
- Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II – Pete, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Ed
- The Land Before Time VII: The Stone of Cold Fire – Sierra
- Laputa: Castle in the Sky – General
- The Legend of Tarzan – Tantor
- The Lion King – Ed, Scar (singing voice in last part of "Be Prepared")
- The Lion King II: Simba's Pride – Scar, additional voices
- The Lion King 1 1/2 – Ed
- The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning - King Triton
- Marsupilami – Maurice, Norman
- My Friends Tigger & Pooh – Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Beaver
- The Mask – Doyle (Lieutenant Kellaway's partner), Kablamus, various one-shot characters
- Mickey's Speedway USA – Pete
- The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – Winnie the Pooh, Tigger
- Ozzy & Drix – Chief Gluteus
- The Pagemaster – Long John Silver
- Pepper Ann – Mr. Carter (Pepper Ann's science teacher) and some one-shot characters
- The Pirates of Dark Water – Skorian, Ioz (season 2)
- Pocahontas – Chief Powhatan (singing vocals), Wise Man
- Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World – King James
- The Princess and the Frog - Ray
- Project G.e.e.K.e.R. - Mister Moloch and Will Dragonn
- The Powerpuff Girls – Fuzzy Lumpkins
- Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness – Boris, Hans
- The Replacements (Disney Channel series) – Various
- The Road to El Dorado– Hernán Cortés, additional voices
- Road Rovers – General Parvo
- Rude Dog and the Dweebs – Satch
- The Secret Files of the Spy Dogs – Bald Spokesperson, Flea Leader, Von Rabie, Catastrophe
- Shrek – Captain of the guards
- Shrek the Third - Shrek (ADR work)
- Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas - Additional Voices
- Small Soldiers - Ocula
- Sonic the Hedgehog (SATAM) – Doctor Ivo Robotnik, SWATbots, Nasty Hyena member (Fed Up With Antoine)
- Spider-Man – Shocker, Chameleon
- SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron – Mayor Manx, Feral's Sergeant
- Tales from the Crypt - Judge Vic "Leave 'Em Hanging" Johnson
- TaleSpin – Don Karnage, Louie, Trader Moe, Covinton
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Shredder (1991 and European Vacation Alternate), Leatherhead, Genghis Frog
- TMNT – Various voices
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time – Leatherhead and Shredder (Arcade version only)
- Teen Titans – Master of Games, Wildebeest ("Winner Take All")
- The Spectacular Spider-Man - Crusher Hogan
- Taz-Mania – Taz, Buddy Boar, Bushwhacker Bob, Wendell T. Wolf
- The Tick – Thrakkorzog, Barry Hubris, Stalingrad, Captain Decency, Mister Mental, Multiple Santa, Leonardo Da Vinci
- Timon and Pumbaa – Ed, Additional Voices
- The Transformers – Afterburner, Rippersnapper
- Tweety's High-Flying Adventure - Taz, Yosemite Sam
- Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light – Witterquick & the Bearer of Knowledge
- Wacky Races – Dick Dastardly, Private Meekly, Clyde(Originally Paul Winchell), Big Gruesome, Rock Slag, Gravel Slag (Originally Daws Butler)
- Where's Waldo? (TV series) – Narrator
- What's New, Scooby-Doo? - Cyrus T. Buford, Crawdad Mike, Broderick Bosepheus
- Widget the World Watcher – Megabrain
- Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa – Dakota Dude
- W.I.T.C.H. – Tridart, Harold Hale, Zacharias
- Ys: Book I&II – Dalles
And what's so disturbing is, his voice is ENTIRELY recognizable, even when it's changed dramatically for different characters. So once you're attuned to that thick, sandy, nauseating smoker's baritone, you will start to notice it...everywhere.
Naturally the result of this is a deep, permeating, ontological horror:
As one starts to hear Jim Cummings in every character, every narrator, every commercial and every broadcast in every form of every media, one starts to feel like THE WHOLE WORLD IS JIM CUMMINGS----that everyone you thought you knew, all your friends and family members, THEY'RE ALL JUST CHARACTERS VOICED BY JIM CUMMINGS, and soon, inevitably, EVEN YOU WILL BECOME JIM CUMMINGS!
It's at that point that one leaps off a rope bridge or factory catwalk and lets out a piercing, hopeless Wilhelm Scream.
I woke up this morning around 4am and tried really hard to fall back asleep, but to no avail. I finally surrendered to the fact that it just wasn't going to happen and got up a little before 5 o'clock with plenty of time to shower, get dressed, have my coffee, check e-mail... and then it hit me. Again, these moments come out of nowhere. Usually before work I would sit and play Isaac music as I wrote my daily letter to him. It was the sweetest time of my day, feeling him wiggle and kick to the songs I knew he liked best. I never wanted those moments in the morning to end. Today, though, was different, and it was another stark reminder of Isaac's absence. I knew that it would always feel like he was missing; but the more I get back to my "normal" routine, the more I am reminded of it.
Thankfully, traffic cooperated this morning and I was able to make it to work with plenty of time get myself settled and situated, which included putting a framed picture of Spencer, Isaac, and me on my desk.
It's always difficult returning to teaching after you have been out for a day or two, trying to make sense of what went on during your absence. The substitute who had been in for me did a fantastic job making sure everything was organized, labeled, and prepared... and it went a long way to make that aspect of my day go a little bit better. The students were well-behaved, and it was clear that they were still very much accustomed to our class routines. A few of them were very sweet and made cards. One little girl, who tends to be a bit more quiet, came in at the end of the day to simply give me a hug and say, "I'm really glad you're back, Mrs. Delisle."
Of course it was difficult to be there. There were moments that it was all I could do to not let the flood gates open and just start sobbing; in other moments (thankfully my lunch break), my efforts were of no use and the crying happened anyway. I can't really put my finger on why. Perhaps it is because I took this job at a new school so that I could be closer to home "once the baby was born," and going back to work without Isaac here is yet another reminder of his absence. Or, perhaps it's just the fact that grief is unpredictable; it creeps up on you when you expect it, and when you don't.
Overall, it went... one class period at a time. God's grace is sufficient, and His power is made perfect in weakness. I truly believe that His grace was made tangible to me today through all of your words of encouragement and many prayers. It was so good to be able to check back on here from time to time and catch up on the comments. So for that, thank you. Please continue to pray for my transition back... I know that it's going to continue to be a challenge.
And now there's tomorrow... one day at a time.
sorry for the dry spell, been doing other things lately. some more work is on the way, heres a little doodle from class..trying to think about lighting at night.
Thinking about that has my heart racing and my stomach literally in knots. Please don't misunderstand; I genuinely enjoy my job. Yes, perhaps I am a little crazy, but I really do enjoy teaching in a middle school.
Right now, though, I can't stand the thought of going back. I don't know how I am going to manage dealing with the needs of so many people, mustering the energy to even put a smile on my face and have some level of enthusiasm when interacting with students, or having the wherewithall to be able to mentally juggle everything that I need to. I worry about how the students and the staff members will respond to me upon my return. And I worry about feeling so far behind with everything and not really having the energy to catch up.
But I don't think those are the real reasons I am dreading it.
Truthfully, I don't want to move forward. Moving forward to me means moving farther away from the time that Isaac was born, and I don't like that very much. Our lives returning to how they looked before Isaac came is just excruciating, because it is a very vivid reminder of his absence and how much we so wish that he was still here.
Right now, I have the freedom of being able to feel and just be however I need to be in each moment, and I really like that. I love being able to think about him whenever I want, to pull out my photo album and just re-live the morning of October 7 so that those memories stay fresh. Being at work all day doesn't really allow that. I enjoy having the time at home to work on his baby book, to read, to meet up with friends for lunch or for coffee or for a walk. This time has been safe... life has been a little slower and I have been able to focus my attention on whatever it is I would like. Again, being at work all day doesn't really allow that, either.
I could really use your prayers for my return to work tomorrow. I am terrified by the fact that I am not really sure I can make it through a whole work day. I am terrified that as I become re-engaged with work and all of its demands, that my memories of Isaac won't be as fresh... and I want to remember... vividly. I am terrified of things going back to "normal"... because nothing about this feels normal. Nothing about it feels as it should.
Over the last several months, I have come back to the passage in 2 Corinthians 12 where Paul pleads with the Lord three times to take away his thorn in the flesh. Much like Paul, I also remember pleading with the Lord (on countless occasions, not just three) to take away the pain and the torment and to heal Isaac. But instead of heeding Paul's request, the Lord replied,
So I suppose that would be what I would ask you to please pray for... for grace. That God would grant me just enough grace for each moment... grace to even be able to walk through the doors in the morning, grace to interact with my students kindly, grace to be forgiving of people who say the things I just don't need to hear or who act like nothing has happened, grace to be able to have moments in my day where my thoughts can rest on Isaac, grace to be forgiving of myself if everything isn't "just so"... you get the idea. God's power and grace really are going to have to do the work; I just can't.
Thank you for praying... thank you for your encouragement... thank you for continuing to uphold us as we continue to pick up the pieces.
As we were parking the car and surveying the people who were walking towards the direction of the theater, I realized that most of the attendees were about 15-20 years older than us, which was perfectly fine with me. It was nice not to be confronted with images of what I feel like our life should look like and what I deeply desire for it to be... images of a husband and wife with their infant in a carrier; images of a mom walking while holding her little boy's hand.
And then it happened. It always happens when you least expect it. And no, babies were not in attendance at the Jim Brickman concert.
If you have viewed my other blog that's linked to this one, you'll notice that there's a beautiful song called "Never Alone" playing as you read through the letters I have written to Isaac; it features Jim Brickman. And he played it... last night. And while it was beautiful... I was bawling.
I had first stumbled across this song as I was trying to find the perfect one that would convey what a mom would want to tell her son, and I just really connected with it. But last night, as I listened, all I could think of was Isaac... how much I love him and how much I miss him... how much I want to just be able to hold him tight again... and how there is so much more I want to say to him and love that I want to give him, but can't.
A few people recently have shared with me a quote (from the show ER nonetheless!), the essence of which I had also read about in one of the (many) books I am reading: "When your parents die, your and orphan. When your partner dies, your a widow. When your child dies, there are no words for that."
Although Webster may not have defined one in his dictionary, I believe there is one, well two actually... a mother or a father. It just looks different.
You see, when your grandparents die, are you suddenly no longer a grandchild? And once your parents pass away, are you no longer their son or daughter? You don't suddenly cease to be these things. And although burying your child turns the world on its head feels so against the "natural" order of things, is it really any different? I don't think so. Instead of being a mom who gets to raise her son, I am a mom who will always be missing him. But I'm still a mom.
The writers of the quote from ER were right about one thing though... When your child dies, there are no words for that. It truly is a time of unspeakable grief and heartache. I guess that's why Job's friends didn't say anything to him for those seven days in which they just sat on the groung and mourned with him.
Anyhow, as I mentioned a few posts ago, I have received another generous offer to help raise funds for Isaac's playground... and perhaps this fundraiser will help you with your Christmas shopping!
Kara Duenas is a Pampered Chef consultant and is graciously running an online fundraiser on our behalf. Here's how it works.
The fundraiser will run through December 6, so you have plenty of time to order and receive your items in time for Christmas. 10-15% of the sales will go towards Isaac's playground. If you are interested in booking a show, $3 (which will be matched by Kara for a total of $6) will be donated for each show booked. If you desire to sign up as a Pampered Chef consultant yourself, Kara will personally donate $20 towards the playground.
As an FYI, all of Pampered Chef's unglazed stoneware is 20% off for guests this month.
If you are interested in placing an order, please go to Kara's Pampered Chef page.
Then, follow these easy steps:
1. Click on the link for Our Products at the top of the page.
2. Click on How to Purchase.
3. In the field where you can look up an organization, type in Mountain View Community Church
To save time, the link below should take you directly there. If not, then please use the steps above.
Please be sure to have your order shipped directly to you to ensure that you receive it in plenty of time for Christmas.
Thank you to Kara for so kindly setting up this opportunity, and thank you to each of you who decide to do a little Christmas shopping from Pampered Chef.
In her book Holding On to Hope, Nancy Guthrie talks about the pain of losing her first child, Hope... "Even now, I can't say I'm healed. Part of my heart is no longer mine. I gave it to Hope and she took it with her, and I will forever feel that amputation."
I thought about this for a while. Over the last few weeks, I remember telling Spencer on multiple occasions that my heart hurt... that physically, it hurt. I suppose that's why I was so struck by Guthrie's statement. Part of my heart was given to Isaac... that part of me that resolved to love him at any cost... and that part of my heart will always be with him. And I do feel that amputation, as if part of me is somehow missing.
Another place I have been struck recently is through the words of a daily e-mail to which I subscribe. This e-mail was talking about grief and quoted Larry Crabb... "Knowing the Lord and His comfort does not take away the ache; instead, it supports you in the middle of the ache. Until I get home to heaven, there's going to be an ache that won't quit. The grieving process for me is not so much a matter of getting rid of the pain, but not being controlled by the pain."
I appreciated the fact the Crabb acknowledged that the ache is very real and is very lasting. Yes, in the Lord we have comfort and we have hope; but it can be all too easy to then simply write-off that ache that is real, and present, and lasting. I guess that ache sort of goes along with the limp that I spoke of previously.
In her book After the Darkest Hour, the Sun Will Shine Again, Elizabeth Mehern says this: "Burying a child stands the world on its head." A dear couple at church on Sunday shared this perspective on grief: "Grief is a normal response to abnormal circumstances."
There is nothing that feels normal or right about burying your child. In fact, it feels absolutely wrong. It goes against what we typically deem to be the "natural" order of things. Certainly, God is sovereign over everything, but I suppose we typically assume certain things in life; you expect to bury your grandparents, and sadly (I have a hard time even thinking about this) your parents. But you never, ever expect to bury your child. It stands the world on its head; it feels backwards, upside down, and completely abnormal. And to be honest, that's really hard and often feels incredibly unfair.
A few days ago I received an e-mail from Kathy, my wonderful nurse from the hospital who I have mentioned before. The subject line of the e-mail read: "Thinking of you..." and in the message she wrote, "I just wanted you to know." What a gift to just be given a beautiful, simple, tangible reminder that we are not alone and that others continue to think of us.
Last Friday, on what would have been Isaac's one-month birthday, I received a card and some beautiful gerbera daisies from a dear friend. In the card, she talked all about Isaac... specific things she remembers about him, like his long fingers and the way he smelled, and what she loved about him. Those words were like music to my ears and a balm for my soul. To know that he hasn't been forgotten is such a gift... because one of my greatest fears is forgetting.
And lastly, I stumbled across this passage in the book of Job:
When Job's three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. ~ Job 2:11-13
What struck me about this was that Job's three friends were simply with Job grieving with him; they weren't trying to speak or provide any answers (at least at this point anyway). They didn't offer up trite or pithy statements which are all too small to fill the vastness of the loss. They simply acknowledged Job's suffering and the magnitude of his loss, and were with him.
Spencer and I appreciate the numerous people who have simply just been with us. I think back to being in the hospital and being visited by a couple with whom we're very close. The wife turned to us and said, "I don't even really know what to say." And that was okay... there presence... just being there in the midst of our pain and our hurt... was of great comfort.
Thank you to the many of you who have offered us words of comfort and encouragement... who simply remind us that you're praying for us and thinking of us... who ask us how we are doing and allow us the space to be however we are, knowing that some days are better than others, and aren't afraid to meet us in that place... who are willing to talk about Isaac with us because you realize that we don't want to be finished talking about him and that his name is like music to our ears. We are grateful.
My mom came down to visit last Friday, and we had decided to get lunch at Chick-Fil-A. As we were eating, a girl around my age came in with her mom... and her newborn in a carrier. And where did they choose to sit? Right next to us. It was just more than I could take... I looked at my mom, told her we needed to leave, and she graciously did... finishing her salad in the car! The fact here is simple: it was excruciating to watch before me what I desperately wished my life looked like, feeling as though it should have been three of us at lunch that day... my mom, me, and Isaac... but instead there were two. Someone was missing. He still is...and truthfully, he always will be.
On an exciting note, I have been told by the folks at Mountain View, our church, that we have raised about $9,000 towards Isaac's playground!! We are blessed, and I am truly humbled by this. Thank you so much for your generosity. I've had an offer for another fundraising opportunity to raise additional funds for this project, so please stay tuned for details.
Lastly, someone posted a comment a little while back asking me to share a little more about me and Spencer and our life; for those of you who know us, this isn't new information. For those of you who don't, here ya go!
Spencer and I met at work. The elementary school where I was teaching at the time was hiring a new part-time phys. ed. teacher. I was in over the summer to work in my classroom, and the dear secretary said, "Stacy, you ought to meet this new phys. ed teacher! Look... here's his resume!" No joke... she handed me his resume! And I actually read it! You never know what to think when someone tells you someone is good-looking or that you ought to meet them, because people's thoughts on what "good-looking" is varries, but I have to say, this dear woman was right. In fact, the first few months he was working there my friends and I fondly referred to him as HGT... hot gym teacher! Anyhow, we had spent some time together during lunch, and he had come to leadership for Young Life a few times in an effort to get plugged in to a Bible study in the are. In late October of that year (2003) he asked me our on our first date, to Six Flags. We had a great time and I didn't want the day to end, so I invited him over for dinner. I went out on a limb there, but am glad I did.
We were engaged a short time later...5 months later to be exact... on March 11, 2004 (two days after my birthday!). Spencer proposed at a friend's parents' house. They had set up a bonfire on a beautiful starry evening... it was perfect. And I fell for the surprise! We were then married 9 months later on December 18, 2004. Here's a little wedding photo:
Since being married, we have had our share of joys and sorrows. I'll focus on a few of the joys...We bought and sold our condo in which we were living and bought a home in a neighborhood we absolutely love. We are glad to know that we will be very happy staying here for quite some time. We've had the opportunity to travel, which has been wonderful, and hope that those opportunities continue.
Some other random little things about our life I guess would include that we both are still teahcing. Spencer teachers phys. ed. at a middle school, and I teach 6th grade Reading at a different middle school. Spence is currently pursuing his Master's Degree in School Leadership and Administration. Outside of our careers, we were involved with the Young Life ministry for quite some time. I had lead at a high school for 5 years before Spencer and I spent another 5 years leading WyldLife, Young Life's ministry to middle schoolers. This is our first year not leading, and in some ways I miss it terribly. We both are also pretty active people, enjoying getting to the gym and just being active in general... Spence enjoys golf, I enjoy running. We are blessed with wonderful family and a phenomenal group of friends including our small group (through a church many of us used to attend, but then some of us moved and now attend a different church, but our small group still remains!).
So that's a little peek into our lives... we're slowly putting the pieces back together again. It really is a day-by-day process when your world feels as though it has crumbled; grief can be so unpredictable and is truly exhausting to work through. But the only way is through it, trusting that God will provide just enough grace for each step.
There's a blog I frequent written by Greg Sponberg, husband of the Christian singer Nicol Sponberg. They lost their little boy, Luke this year due to SIDS. In one of his posts he recounted words that they received after Luke died that had really meant a lot to them. Their grief counselor shared this:
My experiences tell me that you're going to walk with a limp. You'll be okay and you're going to make it. But you'll walk with a limp.
It would be dishonest to say that we are doing any better than limping. We are limping, but at least we're walking. And we are grateful for the many people who have come along side of us as we limp along our way.
Thank you for continuing to pray for us... that God would continue to meet is in our many questions and lack of understanding, that He would show us just how trustworthy He is, and that He would protect our hearts with His perfect peace as we continue to miss our sweet Isaac so, so much.
On Tuesday, October 7, I woke up early to write one last letter to Isaac before he was born and to play music for him one last time. And I prayed... oh, how I prayed that even in the "eleventh hour" God would unfold the miraculous; it wasn't too late.
I remember getting to the hospital and being greeted by our wonderful nurse Kathy and going back to the room that would be ours for the day. It wasn't long before I was in my stylish hospital gown and hooked up to an IV. Our family came to say hello and our pastors came to pray with us before we went back for Isaac's delivery. I remember being so afraid of getting a spinal... something that has terrified me for a long, long time; but what I had hoped would happen, did... I was too concerned about Isaac and what it would be like to meet him that it wasn't nearly as bad as I had thought.
Eventually, Spencer was brought into the OR as well, and my wonderful doctors began my c-section. We had both memorized Psalm 121 so that we could say it together during the procedure in an effort to be focused on something other than the doctors' voices and the tugs I was feeling. A little while later, at 8:33am, my beautiful... and I mean beautiful... son was brought over to us; and 16 minutes later, at 8:49, he was in heaven.
We were fortunate enough to have been able to have Isaac with us as long as we wanted, and so we kept him for quite some time... we made molds of his sweet little hands and feet, got his footprints on everything from our Bibles to Christmas ornaments, took hundreds of pictures, prayed with him, told him how much we love him and how proud we are of him, hugged him and kissed him, and did everything we could to take all the love we'd want to give him in a lifetime and somehow channel it into the time we had with him.
But it wasn't enough... time, that is. Truthfully, it could have never been enough.
Today is hard... I thought it would be. It's hard thinking that I should be celebrating my 1-month old, and instead I will be spending time at his grave weeping. It's hard thinking back to October 7, just one month ago, and already feeling like there's this vastness separating me from the last time I was able to see and hold and snuggle with my son, yet the heartache is still so real and so fresh.
Please pray for us today, that God would uphold us with His peace, give us enough grace for each moment, and would allow us to look back on Isaac's birthday with at least a small sense of joy and awe of our beautiful son.
I was asked to share other books that I have been reading surrounding the topic of infant loss...
In addition to Holding On to Hope, I read Empty Cradle, Broken Heart (the author escapes me) and I'll Hold You in Heaven by Jack Hayford. There was another book I read over the summer, I think called When A Baby Dies. I also got about half way through A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis over the summer, and need to pick it back up and finish it. I still have a stack of a few other books that I want to get through, in addition to working through Nancy Guthrie's devotional, The One Year Book of Hope.
It has been a little longer in between posts than I usually like, but truthfully there isn't a whole lot at this point on which to update. Everything is pretty much the status quo.
Spencer has been getting back into the swing of things at work, though isn't overly excited about being with other people's children all day. I imagine I will face a similar challenge when I return to work on November 19.
Physically, I continue to feel better. I am really starting to get the itch to work out again, but know I still have a few more weeks before that becomes a reality. It has been difficult to not be able to engage in the thing that I enjoy most and that is a huge stress reliever for me. In due time I suppose.
When not spending time with whoever it is that is visiting with me on a given day, I have spent a lot of time reading. Of course, much of my reading has focused on books dealing with infant loss and grief, and I have found comfort in reading words of others' stories and experiences. I am the type of person who hates checking out library books because I can't write in them; and yes, I am the type who writes in my books when I read. Currently, I am in the middle of a book entitled Holding On to Hope by Nancy Guthrie (I am also working through a devotional she has written). The focus of the book is "a pathway through suffering to the heart of God." Nancy has lost two children shortly after birth herself.
As I was reading today in the chapter entitled suffering, Nancy writes:
"Have you cried out to God in frustration, with questions about how he could have the power to heal and yet chose not to heal the one you love? Have you agonized in an effort to reconcile your understanding of a loving God with one who allowed the accident, the atrocity, or the abuse? I have, and we're not alone."
I starred this paragraph and next to it wrote, "YES, YES YES!!!!" That passage really sums up where I am... trying, often with frustration, to reconcile the conflict between my head and my heart in who I know God to be and the agony that He has allowed Spencer and I to face, all the while still missing my sweet Isaac so much that it hurts.
I can't really think of anything new to ask you to pray for for us... it's all the same things, really. Thank you for your continued prayers and words of encouragement during what has been a lonely and confusing and painful road to navigate...they mean more to us than you could know.
I thought I was done in March. I realize how naiive and foolish I was. I wish it was true, but reality is good, and generally hard to accept, at least for me. I anticipate there will still be many changes to come, but it feels good to be on this end of it.
I also spent some time talking to Bert Compton, my cover designer and friend today. He is starting some designs we are both very excited about. On Tuesday, I am meeting with another friend, Al Thelin, a photographer who will be doing a lot of photography for me for the book for a cool idea I have for making the book feel more like a package. I'll explain later.
"Uhh, sir? Your son performed the Three Fingered Stinging Dragon Technique on Timmy at lunch today. Yeah, so Timmy's paralyzed, and your son won't undo the technique...we really need you to come down here."
By the way, news from the writing front...
As I may have mentioned, I'm working on a full-length novel based on my one-hit-wonder short story, "I Am a Zombie Filled With Love". In fact, I'm almost finished with this novel, it's the best thing I've ever written, and I'm extremely excited about it.
It's called WARM BODIES.
"An existentially tormented zombie rescues a fiery teenage girl from being eaten by his fellow undead, taking her back to the zombies' airport city as a camoflaged captive. As he finds himself falling in love with her, he discovers a long-forgotten sense of purpose, and attempts the impossible feat of bringing himself, and the rest of his decaying world, back to life."
Amazingly, I expect to be done writing this book before the end of November.
Stay tuned, or as the British say, "chuned".
I didn't plan on writing a book, but the voices wouldn't leave me alone. I am a potter. For the past twelve years I have made my living exclusively by playing in the mud, making stuff. With one semester left, I dropped out of college nine years ago to follow my passions, and I still am.
I was just minding my own business when the voices came. I don't remember the day, but I remember where I was. I was working on the wheel when Isaac started talking to me; telling me his story. Over the next few years, he brought his friends and they had tea parties in my head, messing up my hair and refusing to leave me alone.
I am not a writer, but I am a dreamer and I've heard they might be cousins, or maybe step-brothers. As these voices continued to visit me, I began taking notes. The things they were telling me were beautiful and instructive and meaningful. But I am potter. They should know better. I spin mud into vessels, not words into tales.
But they kept coming and bringing more friends.
Five years ago, as I sat at my wheel, my hands stopped working; at least the way I had been used to. I was confused. I am a potter, after all. I need my hands to make stuff. The voices danced about me, telling me they needed a voice others could hear. I reminded them I was a potter, but they wouldn't leave me alone.
So I began.
In the evenings, I started to write. The notes I started eleven years ago were jumbled and crazy, but the voices straightened me out. Their stories needed to be told. The people of Niederbipp needed a voice.
I am a potter with busted hands, but my ears still work. They told me they could work with that.
They don't pay much. In fact, I have yet to receive a dime. (They tell me the check is in the mail.) I realize I didn't do this for money, or for fame. I did it so the good people of Niederbipp would have a voice.
I hope it helps.
Ben Behunin 2008
(From the Prelude at the front of the book)
I can so relate to that. Some mornings shortly after Isaac's birthday I would wake up and wonder the same thing... "Did I dream it?" Because to me, clearly, this just can't be real. It just seems too horrifying. Now, I wake up and often think, "I can't believe I didn't simply dream it." The fact that all of this isn't only some horrific nightmare is abundantly clear; I just sometimes can't believe it all actually happened.
Today we went to Harpers Ferry, WV to walk around and get some lunch. It seemed like a good idea for a warm fall day, and it was... not only to us, but apparently to everyone else nearby who has recently had a baby. There were strollers, baby carriers, and smiling happy families everywhere... and I was so envious. I just wanted to scream to everyone within earshot, "Don't you know what has happened? Don't you know that I just lost my son?! How can you look at me and smile?? That should be us, too. There shouldn't be only two of us here..."
And so it is experiences like that which serve as a clear reminder, that no, I in fact didn't dream it. I know that in time, there will be more joy restored to getting out on a beautiful day and nosing around a town we haven't been to before or taking a hike along the river, but right now doing those things are a vivid reminder that it feels like someone is missing, and that I am deeply missing someone... my sweet Isaac.
I love you and I miss you. I miss you so, so much and want more than anything for you to be here. I miss your soft sweet face, your fuzzy strawberry-blonde hair, your cute little turned up nose, your perfectly delicate hands and feet... I miss you holding on to my finger with your little hand, the way you felt in my arms when I held you... I just miss you so much it hurts.
I know all of these circumstances don't change who God is... He is always the same, and I know we can trust Him, even when things hurt so deeply and so badly and don't seem to make any sense. My head knows that... but my heart is just still really heavy. Thank you for continuing to pray for us...