Monday, January 18, 2010

IOW Tuesday - Messages from God

A long time ago, before I was even a believer, I was browsing an "Elf Help" book. One of the pages showed an elf trying to get out a door with a HUGE stack of presents, and another elf was holding the door for him. The caption said: Be aware of the coincidences in your life; they may be small miracles. I have adopted that as a bit of a life philosophy, choosing to believe more in "God-incidences" then coincidences. And that's a big part of why I picked the quote for this week:

“Every happening, great or small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message.”

Malcolm Muggeridge

I have experienced this in my every day life, in big and small things. When Seth was in the hospital the first time, I frequently visited the vending machine down the hall. Many days the Reeses peanut butter cups were what kept me going. One particular day, we'd had a rough day. I don't' remember the details of that but most likely Seth had been re-intubated. I remember dumping out my wallet, I had the right amount of change but a portion of it was pennies and I was fairly sure the vending machine didn't take pennies. I had to try anyway. I put a penny in first and heard it clink clunk all the way to the bottom. Sadly, I reached my fingers in to pull out my penny. And I found a QUARTER! I literally burst into tears, thanking God. All I needed was 10 cents and He gave me 15 cents to spare! Some people would call that a coincidence. I call it a small miracle.

After Seth passed away, I was at a conference at our church. A woman came up to me, who I didn't recognize and introduced herself. She was a night-shift labor & delivery nurse at the hospital Seth where I delivered Seth. She wanted me to know that when Seth was in the hospital, she had gone over to PICU and prayed over him at night. Coincidence or miracle?
I know that I'm still missing out on some of the messages God has to give me. I"m fully aware that I do not know it all and I have a long way to go. But here's one thing I HAVE learned. God loves me. ME. I have a friend who says "I"m God's favorite.. and so are you." THAT is a lesson I have finally learned. I've learned it because God speaks to me, in the big and small happenings in my life.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son. That whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Please share what the quote above means to you and link up below!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Something silly..

Have you seen the Cottonelle over/under commericials? And the poll on Facebook? Well, I'm a member of "Team UNDER". I'm entering to win a month's worth of Cottonelle in a contest sponsored by Moms Blogger Club. Leave a comment on this post and YOU could win 1 of 10 Cottonelle gift baskets, drawing to be held January 29th.. Silly, I know. But I can't resist an opportunity to win something!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Not Me Monday - 2010 - Vol. 1

I've said it before, and I'll likely say it again, the good thing about NOT doing a weekly "Not Me Monday"? When I finally get one up, I've got LOTS of fodder for it! I suspect you'll enjoy hearing about all the things I did NOT do over the last month and then you can head over to MckMama's blog and see what OTHERS are NOT doing!

I did NOT, shortly before Christmas, drive into a median, DEAD center, effectively killing the oil pan on my minivan. To my credit, as a wife who actually LISTENS to her husband, if I HAD done that, I would have, when the oil light came on, PROMPTLY pulled over and called a tow truck. Of course, I didn't run into a median so all the rest is hypothetical.

If I HAD run into said median (as discussed above) and required a tow truck to bring me home, I would NOT have, while said tow truck was backing minivan into garage, broke my ONLY house key off in the back door lock. Such a break would NOT have resulted in needing to call my husband to come home from work and let me in the house. That would NEVER happen. (Because I AM a former girl scout and would be PREPARED with a spare key somewhere accessible).

In addition to the above vehicle drama, if I had to drive my husband's car to church (due to, you know, an incapacitated oil pan), I would NOT have left the headlights in my husband's car on during our service. This action would NOT have resulted in having my vehicle jump started 36 hours after having had another vehicle towed. Never happen. I would be WAY more careful than that vehicle-wise.

Heck, I could call this the Not-Me-Monday vehicle edition.. I think I'll stop there. And save up more fodder for next week! Head on over to MckMama's and see what others have NOT done over the past week (or longer).

Feeling Sad...

Loss is hard. Any loss of a loved one is hard. Losing a child, I sometimes believe, is exceptionally difficult because it is so unnatural. One of the things I've really struggled with is finding a way to keep Seth alive for our family. Yes, he is in Heaven now but he was still here; he was still Sean's little brother, and Cary's little brother; he still made Kayleigh a big sister. It is extremely frustrating to me when people refer to Kayleigh as our youngest.. She is NOT our youngest child..she is not the "baby". EVEN Kayleigh can tell you we have "Baby Seth in Heaven".

I am coming, rather slowly, to the painful conclusion that outside of my immediate family, and some extremely understanding friends, people are not going to join us in remembering Seth. I am still looking for ways to memorialize him in our lives. I have a few things floating around in my mind.. maybe a "supply drive" for the PICU at our hospital for his 2nd birthday the end of March. But sadly, I don't believe my extended family will be joining me in most of those efforts.

We were at a family members last night.. and they have an ornament on their tree that I assume (based on past history) was a gift from another family member. The ornament looks a lot like this:

The ornament I saw is dated 2009. And it has more snowflakes. Seven snowflakes to be exact. And the names on the snowflakes? My kids and their many cousins... Noticeably absent from the ornament? (To me anyway) Seth. I keep thinking that they must not know how much it hurts me to see Seth left off and out..

Remember the "Seth bear" we chose to include in our Christmas pictures? Let's just say that the extended family portrait didn't' work out as well and leave it at that..

I'm finally realizing that I am not going to be able to change it. I can't make them remember with us. I can't change it. Not being able to talk about Seth or acknowledge him with the people who love us, it's kind of like losing a little bit of Seth every day....

Saturday, January 2, 2010

TSMS - An open letter to Third Day

I haven't done a "Then Sings My Soul Saturday" with Amy at Signs, Miracles, and Wonders for quite awhile.. I'm trying to get back into blogging.. Still figuring out what this looks like now that I feel "better". Still missing Seth and trying to figure out how to remember him and honor his life. One of the things I realized is that I tend to hold back on sharing. I have this fear that I"ll run out of things to share and regret having used them all up. Yes, I realize how silly that sounds and I'm making an effort to challenge that thinking myself. To that end, the song Tunnel by Third Day was a hugely impactful part of our journey with Seth. I had the opportunity (through a bloggy friend) to send a letter via email to Mac Powell of Third Day. I did that and I thought I would share the letter here as well. First, the song:

And next, the lengthy letter (which also serves as a recap to Seth's story):

In August of 2007, my husband and I learned we were unexpectedly pregnant with our fourth child. The timing, honestly, seemed bad. I'd just re-entered the work force (part time, at our church), our then youngest was only 18 months old.. (due to some relatively minor fertility issues, our kids are all 3 or more years apart.. prior to this!). A dear friend of mine was in a fight for her life against cancer..

We had some early prenatal testing done, and on Oct. 2, 2007 my ob called to tell us that something was wrong with the baby. It was too early to know WHAT exactly but the least problematic of the options was Trisomy 21 and the worst options were "incompatible with life". Two days later, on Oct. 4, 2007, my sweet friend triumphed over her cancer by entering Heaven, leaving behind her 3 young children and her husband. I couldn't make sense of it, couldn't understand WHAT God was doing.. Had a HARD time holding onto hope. The afternoon after I'd heard Brandi had died, I packed my young daughter into the van to pick her big brothers up from school. The radio was playing in the background as I was too consumed with my thoughts to hear.. As I backed out of the driveway, I felt as if God said "Listen..", and the voice on the radio was saying "There's a light at the end of this tunnel, for you.. for you..". As I turned the corner, I saw a beautiful rainbow. And I held onto hope. That was the beginning..

More than once, I can remember hearing "Tunnel" exactly when I needed it and gradually, I accepted it as a message from God that there WAS light.. I couldn't see it but it would be there. He promises. It often seemed as each doctor's appointment brought more bad news. We eventually learned that Seth would be born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, requiring 3 open heart surgeries before the age of 3, the first one a few days after birth. I especially remember one day, driving out to work, upset and miserable. Crying out to the Lord, "YOU have to make it okay, help me get through this because I can NOT do it on my own." I turned on the radio to the opening notes of "Tunnel."

Seth was born on March 27, 2008. His first surgery was April 1. His recovery was hard but he came home, happy & healthy on May 16, 2008. I heard "Tunnel" less & less on the radio but smiled every time it came on, knowing that God was blessing me. Eventually Seth needed to go into the hospital for the 2nd planned surgery. Surgery was 9/11/08. On 9/17, Seth coded and suffered neurological damage. On 10/2 (exactly one year after we'd been informed something was wrong with our sweet unexpected fourth child), we placed Seth on comfort care and loved on him until he went from my arms to the arms of his Heavenly Father, early in the morning, on Oct. 12th. I remember that day in "snapshots". We packed up his hospital room. Kissed our baby goodbye, again. Thanked the nurses for loving us and caring for our boy and walked out of the hospital empty-handed.

Stunned, we slipped into our minivan, preparing for the drive home, and the task of telling our "big kids" that their baby brother had gone to Heaven. My husband started the car. The radio came on. "Tunnel" was playing. As we drove out of the hospital parking lot, into the sunshine, I knew, as sad & scared & hurt as I was, that God WOULD provide a "Light at the end of the tunnel".

God's grace has been SO sufficient for us.. as evidenced by the use of your song to touch my heart at times most needed. I can't hear "Tunnel" without thinking of Seth and God's faithfulness and love for our family. We are blessed to be on this journey and that day in October, when it seemed like the end, was in so many ways, just a beginning.

I'm sorry this is so long. I really wanted you to know HOW much your song impacted me. How instrumental it was on our journey.. How much I appreciate being able to hear it and remember Seth. It's impossible for me to truly convey how significant that all is but I hope I was able to give you a small glimmer.. thank you for your faithfulness to do what God calls you to! And know how much you minister to others!

I know this is long.. thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed Tunnel by Third Day.

Friday, January 1, 2010