Saturday, July 18, 2009

Rambling through an "acceptance" speech.

I want to come here and say things that are profound and meaningful. I want my posts to resonate with meaning and insight. It's hard for me to post when I don't think I can live up to those expectations (which I'm totally aware I put on myself).

My last couple of posts fell into a provided category.. I just don't feel that creative lately, left to my own devices. Oh, speaking of my last couple of posts -

I was so honored to be Lynnette's latest "Getting to Know You" featured blogger. Lynnette was one of the first bloggers I found and followed after losing Seth. I appreciate her friendship a lot. Mind you, she featured me with GRANOLA! I hope that wasn't supposed to be a statement about me. Ha ha. I appreciated all the lovely visits from Lynnette's readers.

And with that "acceptance speech", one of my kidlets has just asked for the "bathroom bucket". I should go make sure he/she is okay.
Updated to add: Above mentioned child (nameless to protect the innocent ill) writhed and moaned on the bathroom floor for awhile, ulitmately throwing up. This morning un-named child is feeling MUCH better. Yay!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Walking With You - The Power in a Name

Today, in Walking With You, Kelly has suggested we share how and why we picked the names of our babies. I feel like in order to share the real story, I need to give some background.

Sean was going to be Sean for as long as I can remember. The middle name was tweaked over time but wound up being Monte, Leland's middle name and the name of Leland's father. Sean means "God's gracious gift" and having had a miscarriage and some minor fertility issues, I DID appreciate the gift that Sean was.

Cary was named Cary Donald in honor of my maternal uncle and grandfather who both passed away between our having Sean & Cary, as sort of mentioned here. Cary means "from the marsh" which is a little random but with Cary it was more important to honor our extended family than worry about what his name meant.

Kayleigh was our first (only) "gender-surprise" baby. If she had been a boy, she would have been Kyle Steven. (Kyle means handsome, near the chapel). Kayleigh is the girl name I'd had picked out forever and her middle name is Ruth, my mother's middle name and after my maternal grandmother. Kayleigh means pure.

Originally we were not going to find out Seth's gender. And for some reason, I had it in my head he was a girl. My first choice for name was Ruby Grace. But with Seth, there were so many unknowns, we did decide to find out gender. A BOY? I don't have a boy name! I did not want to use Kyle because at this point we have Sean, beginning with a sh sound, and Cary - /k/ and Kayleigh - /k/. I did NOT want another /k/ name. I know that sounds a little silly but it was a factor. I said it didn't HAVE to be an "S" name but definitely NOT a /k/.

Sean made it his mission to find us an S name. He first suggested Sam, not a favorite and then Seth. Hmmmmmm, I like Seth. Seth means "Appointed one" and it's biblical. So we chose Seth for his first name and Douglas for a middle, as Leland and I both have Uncle Dougs in our families.

I feel like, especially since this post is about SETH's name, that I want to emphasize how important the biblical meaning of Seth's name was to us. We clung to the fact that being "appointed by God" must mean SOMETHING. Regardless of what Seth's life looked like to us, he was appointed for a purpose. We were blessed in being able to get Seth dedicated at our church between his surgeries. Our pastor shared a verse at Seth's dedication, from 1 Timothy 1:12, "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service." (Previously shared here)

We were and are so grateful for the opportunity to have Seth enter our lives! I still am trying to figure out a way to help his name "live on". To that end,I don't have much to offer in the way of resources today. Please visit Kelly's post at The Beauty of Sufficient Grace to share the joy of other baby names.

I leave you with a picture of the print that my brother and his wife gave us after Seth's service.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Walkin' down Memory lane.. on foot, of course.

I realized something today. I am having a harder time remembering the happy moments with Seth. Not an IMPOSSIBLE time, just harder. So I've decided I'm going to try and get back to Wednesday's Walk Down Memory Lane with Lynnette and see if I can capture some of those, and other memories. I also want to remember some of the good memories our "big kids" have of Seth..

Today I had a moment memory with Kayleigh. We were cuddling in the rocking chair and she said something about Seth's feet. "Seth's feet were little." Yes, Kayleigh, Seth had little feet. "Not like MY feet." Not like your feet? Are your feet big? "Yes." "Mama, when Seth's feet get bigger, he wear MY shoes."

Tee hee, "He wear MY shoes." As if Seth would want to wear her little girl shoes! We DID talk about the fact that Seth was in Heaven and so he won't be wearing Kayleigh's shoes anytime soon. It was a sweet moment. I really treasure the times that my "big kids" and especially Kayleigh share Seth memories!

Kayleigh fell asleep in a weird position and I couldn't resist getting some pictures.

In Other Words Tuesday - July 14, 2009

“If all you ever attempt is that which
you know you can do,
or have the resources for
how will you ever discover
what He can do? ”
by Anne Graham Lotz

I'm having a bit of trouble with today's quote. Honestly, I am having a difficult time remembering voluntarily attempting something in which I had to trust God for the outcome. Well, there is this past Mother's Day when I shared a bit of my story during our church service (details here). But at the time, that didn't FEEL voluntary. Oh, it was and my pastor gave me LOTS of opportunities to say "No" (Thanks, Glenn). But because I knew that it was something God was calling me to do, I felt compelled to do it, making it not about "sharing MY story" so much as speaking to God's glory.
I guess that's the crux of it though. Even in the things I don't experience voluntarily, I have learned how MUCH God can do. I'm doing a Tuesday morning Bible study at our church currently. Today we watched a video in which Priscilla Shirer talked about the fact that we have a "supernatural God". One of the things that crossed my mind is that for a mom to survive the loss of a child and be able to still experience joy is supernatural. While I may not have gone out on a limb on my own, I have certainly experienced some of what God can do!
Some of those experiences have come even in the small steps of faith I make. In taking a deep breath and reaching out to others, even through this blog, I am privileged to see God work in amazing ways, showing His Glory and Love. I am waiting, sometimes patiently and sometimes not so much, for God to reveal what He would have me do as a result of Seth's time with us. I have been longing for some kind of ministry to serve others or share compassion upon others going through similar losses. I don't know what that looks like. I would not be surprised if, when the opportunities begin to present themselves, I feel woefully inadequate. I hope that I take a deep breath and am reminded by the Spirit within me to rely on the supernatural powers of God!
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
See what others have had to say about this quote by visiting Nina at Mama's Little Treasures.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Blog hop - 3 Random things

So I was kind of stressing about this.. how am I going to come up with THREE Random things you don't know about me? (One of the unforseen flaws of blogging transparently!) But then it hit me, depending on who "you"are, there could be LOTS you don't know about me!

  1. The church I currently attend, I attended regularly for a year and a half before I truly felt comfortable there. Prior to ever attending a Sunday service, I attended a Ladies Bible study for a full year!
  2. Before we had Sean, I wanted one, maybe two kids. (Leland claimed he wanted ELEVEN). After Sean was born, I would have been thrilled if God blessed us with five. I still would be (but I doubt that's going to happen at this point.)
  3. My "career" desires have changed a LOT in my lifetime. Not necessarily in order: nurse, actor, lawyer, mom, teacher. The only one of those things I've done (as an "out of school" adult) is be a mom. Now I think about maybe going back to school and becoming some kind of counselor/social worker.

Oh, there. That wasn't so bad. I think I actually listed way more than three. Play along! It's fun.

Enter your link here

MckLinky Blog Hop

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Not Me Monday - July 13, 2009

Are you feeling guilty for leaving the windows open to catch a breeze when you know the air is on? Feel like a bag lady for wearing the same shirt for days on end? Get tricked by a fake news story and feel foolish? We'll don't! Not Me! Monday was born out of my desire to admit some of my imperfections and reveal a few moments I'd rather forget. You may find it therapeutic to join in and do the same thing! (As hosted by MckMama at "My Charming Kids")

I have not gotten so far behind on the laundry that a few days a week or two ago, I went bra-less. If that HAD happened, I would certainly have NOT left the house in that condition. I would most definitely NOT have gone to Target in search of a last minute birthday party gift, NOT wearing a bra.

I have not (recently) let all 3 of my kids eat ice cream sandwiches for breakfast. In spite of what you may think after reading this post, ice cream sandwiches are NOT a breakfast staple at our house!

I did NOT, just tonight, take Kayleigh half-way across town to visit a friend, knowing that Kayleigh is fighting a nasty cold. I'm certainly NOT the type of mom to compromise her child's rest & well-being just because a friend has traveled two days out of her way to see us.

I did NOT rush through this Not Me! Monday post just so I could get my link up and join the other's at MckMama's blog!

Nine months, Sixteen Cities

No, this is not a travelogue.

Today it's been nine months since we kissed our sweet boy goodbye and he left us for his permanent home in Heaven. Honestly, I was NOT going to do a "9 months" post. Contrary to what you may think from reading this post, this post, this post and maybe even from taking a gander at these pictures, I am not obsessed with doing a "monthly countdown." But a couple of things happened today that I wanted to share.

First, let me say; I think we're doing quite well. Nine months ago, if you could have showed me what this journey would look and feel like today, I probably wouldn't have believed you. Or I would have naively thought we should be FARTHER along. Don't get me wrong. We still feel a hole in our family. I still miss Seth every single minute but it doesn't HURT as much as it did earlier. (It still hurts but it's not an all capital HURT anymore!) What I marvel at every day is how confident I am in God's love for me, for our whole family. It amazes me that we could walk through such a dark storm and feel so much closer to God. I know in my head that's how it works in God's economy but it still surprises me.

This morning at church, worship was led by Sixteen Cities. They've led worship at our church before and I enjoyed them then almost as much as today. But at one point today, I could almost see how much God was enjoying the worship of our church and it brought me to tears. In additon to that, we were singing a song that has been a big part of this journey.

The chorus: Saviour, He can move the mountains
Our God is mighty to save, He is mighty to save.
Forever, Author of salvation,
He rose and conquered the grave, Jesus conquered the grave.

This is difficult for me to share but early on, when we sang that song, I couldn't. And I would cry. Because it didn't feel like God saved Seth. Or that the grave had been conquered. But as I have been reassured that God loves me and wants my best, I have been able to see the Truth more clearly. Seth was saved from SO much. He no longer has to endure pain or heartache. He's free in Heaven, and he's there because Jesus conquered the grave. It did take me awhile to get to that point. Time. And the Grace of God.

Earlier this morning (like 4:30 am earlier), Sean crawled into bed because he'd had a nightmare. When we were awake later (like 6:00am) and hanging out in the livng room, I asked him if he remembered his nightmare and wanted to talk about it. He had dreamt that Kayleigh and then I, and his dad, and Cary all "floated into Heaven" and left him here alone. It was heartbreaking to say, "Sean, I can't tell you that will never happen. But I CAN tell you it's not very likely." What I wish I had thought to say (and this is my chance because Sean reads my blog!) was this:

Buddy, even if that DID happen and we all went to Heaven leaving you here on earth, feeling alone. You would NOT be alone. God would be with you. God WILL be with you. He will walk every step with you. All you have to do is ask Him too, press in and acknowledge His Grace.

If that's where we've come to, nine months into our journey since losing Seth, I think we're doing okay. Thank you, Lord Jesus!

Friday, July 10, 2009

TSMSS - Seth's song

I have been participating in Then Sings My Soul Saturday over at Amy's Signs, Miracles & Wonders blog for a couple of months now. A few weeks ago I decided to share about my kids' songs. Each child in our family receives a "special" song from mommy, just for them! You can read about Sean's song, Cary's song, Kayleigh's song and the lullaby they all share. And that brings us to Seth's song.

Honestly, I've been almost dreading getting to sharing Seth's song, for a few reasons. I fear it will be misunderstood. But truthfully, that doesn't bother me as much as this next thing. And this is going to sound silly but I almost fear reaching the end of being able to share things about Seth. I feel like I only have so many tales to tell and stories to share before I will have shared it all. In my head, I know that's not exactly true. I will ALWAYS be Seth's mom and as long as that is true, I'm sure there will be things to share. But since I'm new enough on this journey that I'm still re-capping events that occurred, I don't know what being able to share Seth in the future is going to look like. So, currently, everything I share is one more thing I give away, and I feel like I'm eventually going to run out. Seth was a huge part of our lives though, and still is. I love him so much and I want the world, or at least my small corner of it to know him, so share I must! And with all that spewed out said, here it is:

The video is not great, the audio is okay, the song actually starts about 2 minutes in, and the bit at the end doesn't apply! :)

When I was in high school, we did the musical Snoopy!. (I did props. Yes, I was a theater geek in high school.) All the days we spent in the PICU sitting by Seth's bedside, I would rub his little head and whisper quietly "Poor, sweet baby." That got me thinking about this song. I actually came home, looked up the song online, printed out the lyrics and memorized them! (This was all during Seth's first hospital stay). I would then sing it to him, while sitting by his bed, eventually when rocking him. To this day, I can't sing it without crying..

Poor Sweet Baby from Snoopy! The Musical
Lyrics by Hal Hackady
Poor, sweet baby
Poor, poor, sweet, sweet baby
Show me where it hurts, I'll tell you how to make it well
I've won lots of loving cups for playing show and tell
My poor, sweet baby
Poor, poor, sweet, sweet baby
When you need a shoulder come and try mine on for size
I'm real good at holding hands and Really great at drying eyes
Just try me Cry me all your tears
Why deny me The pleasure of dryin'em Stoppin' you cryin'em
Don't despair for Smiles are what I'm there for
You won't have to look for me, I'll always be right near
Near to kiss and cuddle you and Whisper in your little ear
Don't fear
There, there, Baby Poor, sweet baby
Poor, sweet baby Mama's near.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Walking with You - Our Earthly Goodbyes

Warning: this post includes our final picture of Seth, taken at the funeral home during visitation.

I'm trying to participate in "Walking with You" at The Beauty of Sufficient Grace. I missed the last two as they were about experiencing a difficult pregnancy and meeting our babies. While my pregnancy with Seth was high-risk and stressful for me in the amount of appointments and the uncertainty of his medical issues, once we knew he had HLHS, I felt assured that he would live. When he was born, our meeting was brief due to his being rushed off to NICU, but we had lots of time with him before he went to Heaven, months, and I thought we'd have longer. I did join in on the first one and you can read about our First Steps on our journey with Seth here.

So today Kelly suggested we share about saying goodbye and the memorial service. (How long do you have?). We said goodbye in stages and I've shared about some of it here on my blog as we journeyed through it. I've just spent way too much time reading through those posts trying to find one to link back to. Let's just leave it at read anything in October 2008, okay?

So, we asked for a DNR and put Seth on comfort care on October 2, 2008. I spent much time that afternoon tearfully calling family and friends telling them Seth was dying. My mom, sister, and dad who all live out of town, rushed to our sides. We didn't know how long we would have and I asked my mom & sister to make some preliminary phone calls, telling them I would like to have Seth buried in "BabyLand" at the cemetery closest to our home.

Leland and I basically moved into the hospital during that time. I was so grateful and Seth's last night with us, he spent in my arms. That was extremely special for me because, while I had slept at night with ALL my babies in my arms at some point or another, I didn't often get to with Seth. He was on a g-tube and a continuous feed at night and that made it difficult to cuddle him at home as the tube would pop out and leak, etc. So I got to hold and cuddle Seth the entire night, from midnight (when the nurses and Leland called and had me rush back to his room) until 5:30am, when Seth went from my arms to the arms of Jesus. That was Sunday morning, October 12, 2008. After phone calls to family and close friends, Leland and I packed up our hotel hospital room and went home without our baby.

We told our big boys that their brother was now in Heaven. Our pastor and his lovely wife came to our house that afternoon. I was and am so grateful for the gentleness and kindness of our pastor as he guided us through planning a memorial service. We offered some suggestions for scripture we would like to have used, Leland and I picked the worship songs we wanted to sing. My mom and dad ordered the casket from Trappist caskets. It was hand carved and prayed over by monks.

As I look back on it, I wish we had thought to do a balloon release. Other than that, I have no regrets. I remember actually being shocked at the number of people who were there and SO thankful. Several of the hospital staff attended, a few of Seth's doctors were there. Mostly though, I remember being numb. There was an element of "I can't believe we're doing this". At times, it just felt like going through the motions.

I remember the day of the visitation & burial and the memorial service almost in "snapshot" moments. The boys and I picked out items for them to give Seth. Cary picked a small stuffed animal. Sean wrote Seth a letter. Together the boys and I went to the florist and bought flowers for the burial, because Cary had specifically asked if he could pick out the flowers. (Cary had also asked if Seth could be buried in our backyard!) At the cemetery, our pastor did a short graveside service. I remember that Leland walked off for a bit, overcome with emotion. My friend, Cathey moved up to sit with me.

At the memorial service, I remember Cary crying through the slide show. I don't remember much of the actual service, which makes me sad. I do remember walking out to the parking lot at the end of the service. We were almost last as I remember not wanting to leave the church. As I think about it now, I didn't want it to be over. It felt like our last chance to publicly remember Seth and I didn't want it to end.

I don't have much to recommend in the way of resources. Kelly offered quite a few suggestions at the bottom of her post. We did receive quite a few books and I can recommend some of them. My FAVORITE book was Things Unseen by Mark Buchanan (and given to us by our pastor). Also read From Grief To Glory by James Bruce. I also signed up for the daily emails from GriefShare, and I still receive those and find them helpful.

I only have one real prayer request. Well, beside the "usual" which is for fully restored joy. I long to find a ministry to honor Seth. I don't know what it looks like but I almost envy Kelly for Sufficient Grace Ministries. I yearn to do something like Micah House. But mostly I want to do what God wants us to do to honor our boy and our journey. Prayerfully, we'll find it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

In Other Words Tuesday

This is such a terrific quote. I found myself thinking a lot over the last few days about these words and wondering what IS passionate wholehearted love for God? I don't really have the words to answer that question. I feel like I KNOW that wholehearted type of love when I see it, I am blessed to know many people who have that type of love for God. So I got to thinking about the flip side of this; what does it look like to NOT have "passionate whole hearted love" for God?

I DO know what that looks like. I started to type "Unfortunately" at the beginning of the sentence and quit because truthfully, it's all been part of my growth. I've always KNOWN about God but it's only been the last 12 or so years that I sought out and found my relationship with my Lord. And that relationship has evolved significantly over that time. There was a pretty significant amount of time when I did "read the Bible, attend church, and avoid 'big sins" and I most absolutely was NOT passionately whole heartedly in love with God. A lot of that time, I was plumb miserable. And I knew it. I KNEW that there had to be more to my relationship with the Lord than what I was experiencing. I didn't know how to get it. And believe me, I TRIED. And there's the crux of the matter, I tried.

"We love because He first loved us." 1 John 4:19 Did you catch that? HE gives us love. Our love comes from Him. I don't MAKE it happen, it doesn't matter how hard I TRY. Love comes from God. When I finally completely surrendered my life to Christ, when I admitted that I couldn't do it, God infused me with love.

I know I'm not doing my experience justice with words. What it basically boils down to is, I can't MAKE myself love God. (And you can't either!). God provides that whole-hearted passionate love. In my case, reading the Bible, attending church, and avoiding the "big sins" laid the groundwork but they were certainly NOT passionate whole-hearted love for Christ. In opening my heart fully to the Lord, not only did I begin to love God whole-heartedly but I truly began to realize and feel God's love for me.

One last part of the quote I want to address. The phrase "big sins". In the eyes of God, sin is sin is sin. 21"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment (Matthew 5:21, 22). Anger and murder are the same in God's eyes. Sin is sin is sin.

Debbie at Heart Choices is hosting In Other Words Tuesday today. Check out what she and others had to share about these great quotes.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

TSMSS - Songs for my kids

Happy Fourth of July! I see that some of the TSMSS participants are doing Fourth of July themed. I could have done that.. but the song that I had already decided to do does speak about the true freedom we have, in God, so I'm proceeding as planned! (And I don't have time to figure out a second option this am anyway).

So, I've been sharing the songs that I sing for my kids. Each kid has gotten their own song that I've sung to them, mostly when they were babies but we still visit them on occasion. So far I've shared the songs of my 3 "big kids". Sean's is here, Cary's here and Kayleigh's here.

There is one song all four of my kids shared though. When Sean was born, I didn't know many lullabies. But I DID know Amazing Grace so that was what I sang to him. I remember being at a hotel in Southern California with a friend and her 16 month old daughter when Sean was 16 months. Sean woke in the middle of the night, distraught, screaming. I spent a LONG time singing this song to him, carrying him and pacing around our small hotel room. But it was nice to have something I could DO for him, and eventually, with the help of Amazing Grace, Sean did calm down and we were all able to get (some) sleep!

Head over to Amy's at Signs, Miracles and Wonders to see what other songs are making other's souls sing on this Fourth of July!

(Come back next Saturday for Seth's song!)