"Sabrina, do you miss Nicholas and Olivia?"
"Really? Why not?"
"Because they're always in my heart."
"So if I give you a hug, and Nicholas and Olivia are in your heart, I'm giving them a hug too?"
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Luke 1:42 (NKJV)
I've been thinking a lot about Mary. The Bible can be sometimes maddeningly mysterious, leaving out the details that I as a mother would really like to know. Did she have a midwife, or did she give birth for the first time, as a teenager, completely by herself? Where did the swaddling clothes come from? Did she have to clean herself up or did Joseph enlist the help of the village women to attend to her needs?
As I contemplated what it would have been like for her to be the mother of the Messiah, it struck me that she probably didn't know he was going to die. She knew he was the Son of God, the Saviour, and even though his life was threatened on many occasions, she carried the knowledge of his divinity in her heart. I imagine she was as shocked as any when he was actually executed and passed away. I can relate to her.
She was selected as worthy of the honor of raising the Son of God, a child destined to die an untimely, terrible death. As someone who has been given children whose lives were not lived as long as I expected, Mary brings me a new perspective. I have not been robbed. I have been chosen.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Monday, December 8, 2008
I realized about halfway through the morning that I had been so crazy over the last couple of days because somewhere around today (I am NOT going to add another anniversary to my already too-long list of dates, so I choose not to remember the exact date) we found out that Olivia was going to die too.
I think that may have been the bitterest day of all. How can you shatter something that is already broken? I stood on my back step on a cold December day, about a week after my son died, Olivia's car seat in hand, and forced myself to say, "Your will be done, Lord. I don't have the strength for this" as I prepared myself for the diagnosis from the doctor that this mother's heart already knew.
Sometimes I get so annoyed that this is still a part of my life. What is the antidote to grief boils?
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Nicholas, we remember you every day, but today, on your New Birth Day, we release you again to eternity, just as we did for the first time a year ago.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
1. You have the right to experience your own unique grief.
No one else will grieve in exactly the same way you do. So, when you turn to others for help, don't allow them to tell you what you should or should not be feeling.
2. You have the right to talk about your grief.
Talking about your grief will help you heal. Seek out others who will allow you to talk as much as you want, as often as you want, about your grief. If at times you don't feel like talking, you also have the right to be silent.
3. You have the right to feel a multitude of emotions.
Confusion, disorientation, fear, guilt, and relief are just a few of the emotions you might feel as a part of your grief journey. Others may try to tell you that feeling angry, for example, is wrong. Don't take these judgmental responses to heart. Instead, find listeners who will accept your feelings without condition.
4. You have the right to be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits.
Your feelings of loss and sadness will probably leave you feeling fatigued. Respect what your body and mind are telling you. Get daily rest. Eat balanced meals. And don't allow others to push you into doing things you don't feel ready to do.
5. You have the right to experience "griefbursts."
Sometimes, out of nowhere, a powerful surge of grief may overcome you. This can be frightening, but it is normal and natural. Find someone who understands and will let you talk it out.
6. You have the right to make use of ritual.
The funeral ritual does more than acknowledge the death of someone loved. It helps provide you with the support of caring people. More importantly, the funeral is a way for you to mourn. If others tell you the funeral or other healing rituals such as these are silly or unnecessary, don't listen.
7. You have the right to embrace your spirituality.
If faith is a part of your life, express it in ways that seem appropriate to you. Allow yourself to be around people who understand and support your religious beliefs. If you feel angry at God, find someone to talk with who won't be critical of your feelings of hurt and abandonment.
8. You have the right to search for meaning.
You may find yourself asking, "Why did he or she die? Why this way? Why now?" Some of your questions may have answers, but some may not. And watch out for the cliched responses some people may give you. Comments like, "It was God's will" or "Think of what you still have to be thankful for" are not helpful and you do not have to accept them.
9. You have the right to treasure your memories.
Memories are one of the best legacies that exist after the death of someone loved. You will always remember. Instead of ignoring your memories, find others with whom you can share them.
10. You have the right to move toward your grief and heal.
Reconciling your grief will not happen quickly. Remember, grief is a process, not an event. Be patient and tolerant with yourself and avoid people who are impatient and intolerant with you. Neither you nor those around you must forget that the death of someone loved changes your life forever.
Friday, November 7, 2008
The beginning of the end.
Or, the beginning of the ... beginning? Forgive me for being eternally optimistic, but there has been no ending here. We celebrated Sabrina's birthday in a way we were not able to last year. We have been loved on and cared for by family and friends. God has been present, cushioning us and protecting us from November in many expected and unexpected ways.
I look outside my window and am comforted by my Christmas lights. My brother bought them and put them up after Nicholas' funeral as a gift to us. I didn't let Corrie take them down this summer because I love to see them and be reminded. I read the comments on my blog posts and am encouraged by Corrie's mom. She always has words of love and grace when I need them most. I treasure each one of them. An aunt leaves me a voice mail and tells me she loves me. Friends tell me they're thinking of us and praying for us. I know my dear friends on the prayer team are holding our family up in intercession.
I still have a lot of questions. I heard a great quote that "trust means that you will have unanswered questions." I choose to trust and believe that there are very good answers somewhere to my questions. I still miss my children. They are as close to me as breath. Nothing will change that.
I have learned that there are very few things in my life that are truly under my control. November and its memories are not under my control. They exist, just as they are. What I can control, is how I respond to them. That, my friends, is what replaces despair with hope.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I missed a whole month of Olivia's six-month life. Now, I know that I was at the hospital with Nicholas and that was just as important, but I remember thinking at the time, "I'll have the rest of Olivia's life to enjoy her and spend time with her...I don't know how long I have with Nicholas..."
I can't even say what I would have done if I knew then what I know now. How do you balance your time between two terminally ill children?
Sunday, October 19, 2008
I remember Nicholas getting sicker and sicker. Taking him to the hospital in the middle of the night. Missing Sabrina's 5th birthday party. Not understanding what the doctors were trying to tell us in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Being surprised that God actually took Nicholas and didn't heal him.
This is where my circling starts. If I know God to be good, and Jesus to be a Healer of "all who were brought before Him", then my logic follows that Nicholas and Olivia, who were brought before Him countless times in faith, should have been healed. I was expecting it, believing in it, putting all of my hope into it.
When they died, one by one, I shifted into needing to bring meaning to their lives by holding on to the goodness of God and how they fit into His plan. But, as time went by, and I felt safer asking God those big questions of "why?" and "how could You?", I realized I was mad that I couldn't understand how something like this could happen to someone who loves Him and seeks to serve Him.
But I keep coming back to God's goodness. Without the sovereign rule of an infinitely wise and loving Creator, life has no meaning. Without God, even a God that I can't understand, there is only despair. I can't live in a world where babies die for no reason. Even if I can't know why, at least I know there is a "why" that I will see in its entirety when I meet them on the other side.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Kieryn Hope Elizabeth, we have waited a long time for you to come. We are so excited you are here! You came into being when all we could do was hold on to hope.
And you look so cute in Olivia's sleeper!
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
I take a step forward and celebrate with dear friends. Next step. I relinquish the jealousy that rises up. Another step. I keep my sorrow to myself at the announcement of more baby news. I don't always want to be the reminder to those carrying new life of the worst that can happen. Step by step, my Lord walks with me, taking the hit of those landmines exploding all around.
And He enables me to find joy in the presence of new life, the hope that comes with increase, and peace in the promise of good things to come.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Psalm 27: 14(AMP)
I've been going through and working with my photos and home movies lately, with the final goal being complete backups to put into the safety deposit box, and memory DVD's and photobooks created so that all that can be remembered of Nicholas & Olivia is not forgotten.
We're also heading into the time of year in which this journey began. As I posted previously, I don't feel the need to dwell there, in "this happened around this time last year", but as I go through pictures and movies I remember.
God is so good. What I remember this time is the hope. We were so full of hope! If you were to look back on the events of a year ago with bitterness, you would think our hope was foolish. But if you can look back on everything that happened through the lens of the Truth, you can see how God used hope to strengthen us, sustain us, hold us up, and pull us through.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28 (NKJV)
Monday, September 22, 2008
It opens up to hold pictures of all 3 of my children, so I can keep them close to my heart. It is also such a symbol of how our friends identified with us in our loss.
I was delighted to discover that I have come full circle. From the chaos surrounding my first baby, to being overwhelmed with the joyful abundance of twins and lacking the capacity to fully take it all in, to coming face-to-face with his quiet peace.
We toured his house, whispered secrets and bits of wisdom to each other, and the Holy Spirit healed another piece of my broken heart.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
A time for every purpose under heaven.
In my previous post, I wrote about experiencing a separation from what was then to what is now. A friend of mine commented that God had promised me a new day, and that I am walking in it. That so resonated with me because it describes this new place in which I seem to have found myself.
I am not in denial. I know very well that my twin babies died one after the other last winter. Neither am I in avoidance. I look at their pictures, think about them, engage in conversation about them, talk to them. I have visited the hospital wards where they took their last breath.
But that was then. Time has done its job of steadily moving me from season to season. I hope it's not too soon to say, but I believe that I have entered into a new season of accepting what has been and being comfortable with where I am now. I wish my twins were here. I think they would have been really delightful children. But their absence from my life has subsided from being something that I'm missing out on to something that just is.
Each season comes with new questions. "How can I do this?" changes from despair to practicality. Now we are asking ourselves, "What do we do with their room?" and "Are we going to try to conceive more children?" The choices we are considering now do not supersede or deny Nicholas & Olivia's existence at their specific point in time. They are simply in a new season.
Friday, September 5, 2008
I kept trying to write this post from the perspective of what we were doing last year this week, but it just wouldn't write. I think I'm in a place right now where I need to leave those memories there because I'm here now. Does that make sense?
This is a new place for me. I've been vaguely aware of a growing sense that I am gradually moving forward from what has been toward what will be, but don't know how that can happen without leaving my babies there. How do I live in this place and still be Nicholas & Olivia's mom? How do I keep them alive in memory and spirit where I'm at now because I cannot be there and here at the same time?
Monday, August 25, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
But in an effort to be authentic, I should tell you that I still indulge myself occasionally in being angry at my Creator who took my children from me. On Tuesday, seven months after Olivia's death, I was overcome by a grief storm triggered by a number of things. After a day of seeking the Lord and enveloping myself in the peace and comfort of my home, He revealed to me that I was still mad at Him.
I didn't know what to do with that. I can't do this thing without Him, and now I didn't know if I could do it with Him either. What was amazing, though, is that He met me there. He reminded me that I could be mad at Him and still be in relationship with Him. That He could heal that too, if I would let Him.
So I did. And I realized part way through the next day that I wasn't angry anymore. That my perspective had been restored. What I've discovered over the last couple of months is, the sooner I submit all my emotions to my Saviour, the sooner He can heal them and establish me in peace. And now when I examine what my thoughts were about during that time, I am grateful for His perspective, because now from the other side I can see that they were just not right and could only lead to deeper despair.
God, You are so good. You lift me up, turn me around, and set my feet on higher ground.
**SIGH** I took some time to remind Sabrina that not all babies go to heaven, that in fact, very few of them actually do. We just know more of them than other people. So, we prayed for all the babies tonight, and in my own prayers I ask the Lord to restore Sabrina's innocence and to surround her with babies to play with and enjoy.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
We are thrilled to welcome into our family Gavin Nicholas, our newest nephew. We have been waiting for him to arrive for a long time and he made his way into the world late in the afternoon on August 8, 2008. We are blessed indeed!
Monday, August 4, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Sometimes I think that losing a child is kind of like being abducted by aliens. You get sucked up into something that you NEVER wanted to see or know about, have things done to you that you NEVER wanted to have done, experienced things that someone should NEVER experience, then get dropped back in to "life as usual" here on Earth. Now you are someone who knows things, who has seen things, and live life looking through a different lens.
I am frequently reminded me of how I seem to have become an alien here on Earth and a citizen of another place that very few people understand. There are not many people who really want to know what's "out there", and I think that most would prefer not to be reminded that I've been abducted by aliens. Twice. Within a few months. They just don't know what to do with it.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
These are the meanings of Nicholas' & Olivia's names engraved on a large piece of slate that is now placed in our garden. What this means to us is that they haven't been forgotten and never will be.
We had pink carnations for Olivia and tealight candles for Nicholas. For those of you who don't know the details of their memorial services, these were the items we chose to represent the beauty they brought into our lives the short time they were with us.One of our good friends, who lived next door to us when I was pregnant with the twins, brought a strawberry plant each for Olivia and Nicholas, already bearing fruit. What a wonderful living reminder of the sweet things they brought into our lives:
Friday, July 18, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
A while back, I predicted that this milestone was going to be really difficult. Now that it's almost here, I'm surpised to find that at this point I'm pretty excited about it. We're having a party with our family and friends to remember them, and planning this party is something that I can actually do for them as their mom. I get to talk about them, and show others pictures of them. I can acknowledge that they really did live here with us for a time, and all within the comfort and support of those who love them too.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
The beautiful thing is that it couldn't be avoided. Grieving was something I had to experience. And in the experience of it, I discovered that feeling my pain instead of suppressing it was the best thing for me. I had been afraid to feel any kind of negative or painful emotion because it felt out of control - I didn't want to go to a dark place I couldn't come back from.
Grief was the ultimate test. Here were painful emotions to big for me to suppress. There was no alternative - I had to enter into it and hope that I would emerge on the other side. And to my surprise, I did. I also discovered that when I acknowledge the sorrow and grief when it comes, feel it, and release it to God, I would feel better. Hopeful again.
That's something I never experienced before Nicholas and Olivia graced my life. I can honestly say that I am a happier person now. Yes, I carry great sorrow, but I also feel great joy. I love deeper, and get more excited about life. When I was not acknowledging my emotions, and actually trying to control them, I didn't feel much of anything.
Why do we avoid pain and grief? Because it's unpleasant. But maybe the unpleasantness is the signal that we have something we need to bring to Father to take care of. What I do know is that without knowing loss I could not know abundance. Without knowing pain I could not know pleasure. Without knowing grief I could not know joy.
Sometimes I don't know what to do with the sad memories, but You do.
I remember the desolation of looking up at Olivia's hospital room window as I left to go home for the evening. I remember weak cries and sweaty foreheads as my babies struggled to breathe. I remember limbs and muscles as limp as noodles. I remember the sound of the cough assist machine and the whooshing sound from Nicholas' BiPAP mask when it came loose. I remember how that mask made his little nose red and raw, too.
I remember standing helpless as a "medical 25" was called for Nicholas in the middle of the night - his tiny body surrounded by medical professionals trying to keep him alive. I remember when my babies would get too uncomfortable to be held. I remember asking for more and more morphine when Olivia was declining and in distress. I remember having to authorize and carry an "advanced care directive" (a "DNR") and a letter for the Medical Examiner & funeral home in case Olivia passed away outside of the hospital.
Oh Lord, I need Your grace...I don't know what to do with the sad memories, but You do. These are things that should not be part of a parent's experience, but You have promised to make beauty of my ashes, to turn my mourning into dancing, to give me double for my former trouble. Father, how grateful I am that I do not have to carry the burden of these memories on my own. I am trusting you to come and be my God of all comfort.
Friday, July 4, 2008
if we were able to come to a place where we didn't feel entitled to everything we got from God, would we grieve the loss if He chose to take it away?
if we didn't feel that God owed us those things that we think we should have, would we grieve the loss if we never received them?
if we could live in a state of complete trust in our Creator's knowledge of the deep longings of our heart if we understood His desire and ability to fulfill them?
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
I would like to set you free today. You can just listen to me and you don't have to offer me anything. Really. I am well aware that "time heals all wounds", that my children "are in a better place", that I need to "keep on going".
I would like to set you free today. You do not need to take on my sorrow, nor are you accountable for my happiness. You can talk about my children - please, talk about my children! They are still my children whether they are here or not.
I would like to set you free today. I know you love me and it's hard for you to see me in pain. I want you to know today that God loves me like crazy and His grace covers all those things that you don't know how to respond to. Thank you for reaching out to me in the ways you know how.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Sabrina's name came from the main character in the movie "Sabrina" (the newer one with Julia Ormond & Harrison Ford). Corrie & I really liked the name, and for us it was associated with this beautiful girl with a good heart who ended up with the fairytale ending. Her middle name is Faith, because it was going to take a huge leap of faith to leave our comfortable life as a couple and invite a child in.
When I was pregnant with the twins, I knew that I wanted to have an Olivia, because to me it means "one of peace". I knew God was going to give us a peaceful experience with our next child since we had such a hard time adjusting to life with our first baby. By God's grace, Corrie liked the name too. Her middle name is Hope, which I think speaks for itself.
Once we found out that we were having a boy as well as a girl, we struggled to find a boy's name we both liked. Nicholas was a suggestion from a family member, and we both liked it as soon as we heard it. When I looked it up later, I saw that it meant "victory of the people". What a legacy to give a child! His middle names are Jan William, just like his dad.
I don't have the opportunity to speak Nicholas' and Olivia's names as much as I would like. I believe a name defines who you are and is a part in shaping your destiny. It is very much a part of you. I never thought that a part of grieving for departed children would be a realization that those names we chose with loving care would not be spoken as a part of everyday life anymore. I know there will be more Nicholas' and Olivia's in the world, but these two were my Nicholas and my Olivia. (or Nicky and Livvie, if you're talking to Sabrina)
I really miss being able to talk about my twins. I always have a Sabrina story to share, but I'm not often presented with opportunities to talk about Nicholas or Olivia. I love to say their names out loud, I love to write them, and I love to think about them and the little people that they defined. I think that's why I like writing in this blog. Here is my audience to use their names as much as I want.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Four never say, “Enough!”:
The barren womb,
The earth that is not satisfied with water—
And the fire never says, “Enough!" (Proverbs 30: 15-16)
My daughter Sabrina loves candy. I mean, LOVES candy. It is basically the only thing she thinks about, other than waterslides and amusement parks. Of course we enjoy giving her treats, but there comes a point when she asks for something and we give it to her, she wants two. Or if we offer two, she wants three. By then, if she doesn't get as much as she wants when she wants it she throws a fit and I get to the point where I don't want to give her anything at all because it never seems to be good enough.
God gently reminded me this weekend that the gifts of the children He has given me were an honor and a privilege, and not an entitlement. He didn't owe me anything when He gave them to me, and He doesn't owe me anything in return for the two that are with Him now. I then humbly offered deep thanks for the gift of being able to have two delightful pregnancies, and for the double honor of being able to be pregnant with twins. I remembered then that there are many women who yearn for even one successful pregnancy and I was still wanting more than what I had already been given.
It was the first time I could recall that I actually thanked God for enabling me to carry life within my body, and in doing that my soul found peace again.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Dads provide for their families at any cost. When I needed to be at the hospital to be with Nicholas, and then Olivia, Corrie not only took care of things at home, but balanced his time between work and the hospital to ensure that financial worries were not added to our burdens. He was also Sabrina's rock in the midst of all the confusion and the loss.
Dads get the things done that need to get done. When we were overwhelmed with Nicholas' death, Corrie's dad stepped in to guide us through the funeral arrangements. We were so grateful for his leadership and for taking us through those first steps of living life without our little boy. He supported us again through Olivia's arrangements too, when we were so weary and heartsick.
Dads lay down their lives for their families. When we needed my mom to help us for so many months, my dad enabled her to leave her responsibilities at home and come. While my mom was living out the heartache we were struggling with here, my dad carried it by himself at home, so that we could have my mom's care when we needed it the most.
Let's take the time to recognize the dads in our lives and acknowledge all those things they do for us that we don't even realize.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
I think I understand now.
I feel the need to explain ourselves. Not as a defense necessarily, but to provide some perspective into some of the decisions we've made that may not make sense or even seem wise. You see, when we were expecting the twins, we decided to sell our beloved VW Jetta and buy a minivan. A minivan. We were not "minivan people". We were Volkswagen people. We liked to be cramped and sporty and getting 1200km to a tank of diesel.
So here we were with this minivan, and 2 of the 3 children that we anticipated would fill it up were gone. Corrie, being the man of action that he is, promptly decided to take advantage of whatever value was left in it and trade it in for a truck. In the dark days before Olivia's death, once we realized that she was to end up in Jesus' arms with her brother Nicholas, we turned our shattered dreams toward plans of spending time together camping as a family. It's our favorite thing to do. So, we intended to buy a camper and needed a truck to pull it.
We bought our truck almost immediately after Olivia passed away. We couldn't even stand to look at the minivan; it was such a bitter reminder of all that we lost. But the truck just didn't feel right either. It was a flashy reminder of the bleak truth that you cannot put your hope in things, in items, in possessions.
Many months have passed, and we have purchased a new camper to go with our truck. Was it the wisest decision? I don't know. But what I do know is that Corrie, Sabrina, and I have a safe place to retreat and to reconnect as a family. No, we didn't have to buy a truck and a camper to make that happen, but it was what we knew at the time.
I could drive that minivan now and it would be OK. It could be a tangible reminder that we were all together here for a while. It could represent for us in reality what we are in spirit. Sometimes it's hard to look at the truck and not be grieved that we made that decision so soon; that we didn't wait for God to fill that gaping hole with what He thought was best. But most of the time I can forgive us for making a big decision in unfamiliar territory. If God can offer us that grace, then so can I.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
But that's not what I'm confessing. Having their room as their room is a comfort. It means to me that they are still an ever-present part of our family.
But I still have some of Olivia's laundry in the hamper. I keep it there, unwashed, unfolded, not put away, because when I peek inside it feels like it could be just another ordinary day and my twins are not dead. It's like they're just not here right now.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
Jesus assured us that God sees even the little sparrow when it falls. My little brown bird is in His gentle hands now.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Sabrina just learned to ride her bicycle without training wheels this week. As Corrie and I were teaching her how to balance and ride straight without crashing into things, our common encouragement was "Keep your head up!" or "Look ahead of you". Whenever she looked down at her feet or around her, she would wobble and start to fall.
I was struck by how true that is in grieving. Dwelling on memories or thinking about our loved ones that are gone is necessary and good, but when your main focus is not upward and ahead, you wobble and crash. This week, I wobbled too. When I was pregnant with the twins, there was another woman who worked with me who was pregnant and due at almost the same time I was. She brought her little girl into work this week and she was so bright and alert and strong and alive. She was such a representation to me of what I was missing. I was transported to a place where I should have been holding two beautiful children, one on each hip. I was overwhelmed with sorrow once again.
God is so good. After a quiet day of seeking Him I spent some time with my Sabrina. I have noticed recently that He magnifies the sweetness of the time we have together. He is able to pack all the abundance that I experienced with three children into one. As I continue to make the decision moment by moment to lay my grief at His feet and ask Him to turn it into something beautiful, He is so faithful to do just that.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
A common thread from people who are trying to empathize with me from their own experiences, or who are trying to encourage me in my choices, is to affirm me for getting back into the things I was doing before. What they don't understand is that I'm not the same person I was before. I have had my eyes opened; I have a new perspective. The things I did before have to be reconciled with who I am now before I can be "back". It is important for me that I am being true to myself in all I do. Living this life actively embracing the things that I learned from Nicholas and Olivia is my way to honor and remember them.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
**Please don't forget to check out the link to Molly Piper's blog that I mentioned earlier. She has added more posts to her series of How to Help Your Grieving Friend. They are well-written and contain good practical advice on how to navigate any potential minefields when trying to relate to someone who is grieving. Here you can get acquainted with her daughter Felicity.
**Sumi's Corner is beautifully presented and eloquently written. I encourage you to visit and get to know her daughter Jenna.
**My friend bookworm shares with us her journey of how to live life without her daughter Tabitha at One Book After Another. I admire her honesty and her courage presented here .
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Saturday, May 10, 2008
After Sabrina was born, my mom came to stay with us for a week. I was so glad for that. Her willing spirit and peaceful presence held our little family up that first crazy week as we were adjusting to our new life. It was the first time I can remember that I reached out to her in need emotionally as well as practically and it took our relationship to a level that, looking back, was something she may have been wanting for a long time.
When we knew we were expecting twins, we asked her to come and help "for a while". Little did we all know that a "while" would end up being six months! She came in July and we spent a week (or two?) sitting on the patio, talking about life and God and family. Once the babies arrived, she sprang into action. We three were a team, Corrie, my mom, and I. We set up shifts to ensure we were each getting enough rest and that there were always two adults around for each baby. Again, her willing spirit and peaceful presence was the glue that held us together. My mom is a woman of action - if there's something that needs to be done, it gets done! And that was such a comfort to Corrie, who is a self-confirmed neat freak. Between the two of them our house was clean, neat, and tidy, with bottles & formula always ready to go.
What I treasure most is that she committed to staying and helping us until I was ready to let her go home. She gave up everything for us - being with my dad, taking care of her own home, the job that she really enjoyed. And she still says she would do it all again.
In this day and age of fierce independence, rebellion, and selfishness, I marvel at a woman who put herself aside just to serve me and my family. Yes, I'm her daughter, and yes, I certainly did expect her to come and help for a time. I also understand that not everyone has the same life circumstances that allows for such a sacrifice. But she came, and she stayed through no sleep, Olivia's colic, her own time of intense illness, Corrie & I fighting under stress, Sabrina's acting out, and being apart from my dad. Then she came back to stay through Nicholas' illness, me living at the hospital, Nicholas' death and funeral. Then she came back to stay again through Olivia's illness, me living at the hospital again, Olivia's death and funeral. I couldn't have made it through all that without her.
But what she'll tell you is that she stayed because she enjoyed being with us and her grandchildren, and that the time she had with them is so precious that it more than made up for all the other stuff.
I guess what I'm getting at is that I think I get it. I think I'm starting to understand what a true mother-daughter relationship should look like. Now that I've seen the root of independence rearing its ugly head in Sabrina, I've been able to recognize that there were moments where I think my mom may have wondered just what to do with this kid who knew it all and didn't need anybody. She was too kind-hearted and so respectful of the boundaries I had set to push herself upon me.
One of Nicholas and Olivia's gifts was to my mom. They gave her a daughter who finally recognized her as her mother.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Sabrina and I have been reading through her Bible storybook and we got to this story tonight. Later on, I was meditating about being born a particular way just to display God's glory. I realized then that we have all been born to display God's glory in some way. Even Nicholas and Olivia.
The Message puts an interesting spin on it:
1-2 Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, "Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?" 3 Jesus said, "You're asking the wrong question. You're looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do.
Jesus reminds us that we are asking the wrong questions. We need to know that we are not defined by our circumstances, but are to look toward what God can do in and through them. I love thinking about my Nicholas and Olivia being created just to display God's glory.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
I really wanted to see her little feet mashed into sandals this summer.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Sabrina and her babies
How cute is this? I don't know if she was too impressed with the hat, but we loved it!
Corrie has chosen eternal life. In fact, he did so on the day Nicholas died. He knew what he needed to do to ensure that his family would be together forever. He's such a great dad.
I chose eternal life many years ago. But I hadn't started living in it until recently.
Living with an eternal perspective changes the entire way I relate to this world. This is not all there is. I do not have to worry and scurry, hustle and bustle, collect and keep, hoard and accumulate, try to get younger and richer, or sweat the small stuff. Or even the big stuff. Don't get me wrong - I am in fact human, and I do many of those things a lot of the time. But when I let God cover it with His grace, He makes all things right again. He restores my soul and resets my perspective back to an eternal one. Then I can put my priorities back into order.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
And when we brought those twins home, my heart was in it. I enjoyed them so much; the abundance of two babies, discovering how different they were, learning what would keep them healthy and would make them content. Being able to care for both of them at the same time. As they weakened and died, one by one, my hopes of redemption died with them.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Sunday, April 6, 2008
I celebrated my 33rd birthday here last night with good friends. Good people, and I thank God for them too - I don't know what we would have done without their love and support.
Sabrina and I went for a walk today and we tried out her new scooter. And I listened to her talk the whole way. I hope she never stops telling me things and asking me questions.
We went out for a drive as a family this afternoon and I listened to Corrie share his heart while Sabrina sang to herself in the backseat. Then we stopped at our favorite place in Lockport and ate yummy greasy food together in the truck. What could be better than that?
God is so good - He doesn't let me grieve all the time.
"During those couple very tearful days, I read a page in the One Year Book of Hope (Nancy Guthrie) that encouraged me greatly. (Thank you Susan!) I know that tears are good, that God is loving me as I cry... but sometimes I feel weak and lacking in faith. This second day in the Brokenhearted section was wonderful.
Along with relief (of crying), there is also the uncomfortable loss of control that is a companion to tears, isn't there? Some see tears not only as a loss of control but also as a lack of faith. It is as if the physical manifestation of tears gives evidence of a spiritual deficiency- that if our faith was big enough or deep enough or developed enough, we simply wouldn't be this sad. It is as if we think our grasp of spiritual realities can erase the hurts of being human. But when you've lost something or someone who is valuable to you, when you have been forced to let go of a dream or live within a nightmare- that is something to be sad about. So let yourself be sad. ...
Thank you Lord, for keeping track of my sorrows (Psalm 56:8) and for filling me up when I feel so low. Thank you for those wonderful relationships that you have blessed me with and for using many different people to fulfill the needs in my life at this time! I love you Lord Jesus and praise you... for the good days that remind me of your peace, and for the bad days that remind me of your grace. Please gently remind me each day as I seek you, that your grace truly is enough. I pray that you continue to bless us and that you will steadily bring new life to this family."
I definitely couldn't have said it better myself...
Grief does not fit in to a "feel-good" culture. So many of the writers of blogs I've visited that are writing about grief and loss express that they struggle to be normal; that they want to be normal women. And it struck me this morning - how did we become a society that couldn't accomodate grief and loss? How did we get to a point where we have rejected the half of ourselves that feels pain and called that normal? We have tried to remove ourselves so far from it that we don't know how to relate to those that can't.
Up until now, I've been the kind of person that could conquer anything by force of will. Even negative emotions. And I couldn't understand those who weren't able to live the same way. Now I'm finally up against something bigger than my will can conquer. I'm no longer capable of "managing" my emotions to appear as someone who is worthy. And to that I say, Thank God! It's been painful, but I've been forced to tear off the mask, the one that I've been wearing for so long I didn't know it was there. What's underneath feels raw and exposed. Vulnerable.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
I know that I am not alone - but it is good to read something that someone else has written and think "yes, that's how I feel, too..."
Monday, March 31, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
The last time I wrote about our testimony, I left off at Olivia's death. But our story doesn't end there. Since then there an outpouring of love has continued to grace our family. We have received generous gifts of financial support, gifts of prayer and emotional support, gifts of time with family and friends.
Where does the "closure to the work" come? That's where we struggle. How do you close a work as precious as new life? Where does the story come to a natural end? In the book of Matthew, Jesus said
"And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved."
That's how I feel. Like new wine. I have been ripped from the vine, crushed, pressed, and left to ferment. And the old life, the one before our twins, doesn't seem to fit right anymore. I guess the epilogue to my testimony is that I wait expectantly for new wineskins.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
Thank God for Sabrina. She prepared for Easter dinner as the party it should be. She wanted streamers and hats and decorations and cake and balloons. Being the precious only surviving child she is, we usually indulge her in these kinds of things. OK, we didn't have streamers and party hats and decorations but we did have cake and balloons. Sabrina wanted to let the balloons go for Nicholas and Olivia to have. It was an idea from her grandma in Kelowna so she could connect with her brother and sister at their funerals. And now I think it's going to become a ritual of our family celebrations.
We let go 5 brightly colored balloons on that beautiful Spring evening. And do you know what? Those balloons all floated away together. They stayed together and played together in a bunch until we couldn't see them anymore.
We are all together still.