Monthly Archives: November 2012

Thanks-Giving

As I have gotten older, I have come to appreciate Thanksgiving more.  I think growing up, it felt like a short stop on the holiday highway from Halloween to Christmas.  And, for the record, I do not consider Halloween any sort of holiday.  I know that in other cultures, there are traditions and customs that are celebrated in more of a holiday fashion.   I can not intelligently speak to the history behind it or where it all comes from.  So, to clarify, in my household Halloween is nothing more than dressing up in a costume and getting candy.  That is not a “holy day” to me at all.  As we went through the fall celebration season, I looked around my house and decided that going forward, I am going to de-emphasize the Halloween part of fall and emphasize the Thanksgiving part.  Halloween décor will be up for the week prior and that is it.  I can not control stores pushing the Christmas season, which ultimately short-changes Thanksgiving.  I’m going to water down Halloween and try to focus on a holiday that celebrates gratitude.  I think it is incredibly meaningful and a great way to begin celebrating Christmas.  In light of where our society is at with Christmas, we all need a little more thanks-giving.  I have lots of feelings about Christmas and not nearly enough space to right about it.  If you have been reading the blog, you probably have a good idea of what my thoughts are anyway.

This year especially I have a new-found love for thanks-giving, which is why I feel even more strongly about the celebration of it.  It has been sustenance through this storm of life.  I know I included my thoughts on thanking the Lord to some extent in previous posts—especially when Reece was in the hospital.  I am not exactly sure why being thankful in the midst of turmoil can produce such a calming and peaceful effect other than God wants us to do so.  It was a surprising realization to me, but the Bible specifically states in all things to give thanks (1 Thess 5:18).  In the past, I think I viewed being thankful as an obligation, versus a necessity for getting through life.  When I follow the mental trail of the things I am blessed with, it is incredibly affirming and humbling to know how well I am provided for and how God covers my family and me in his love.  I heard a cheesy-but-true statement on the radio the other day: What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for today?  I generally don’t like statements that strong-arm me into doing something.  I want to give thanks with a grateful heart, because when it’s not genuine, it does absolutely nothing.  Without the heart gratitude, the words become a place marker for the rest of me to catch up and genuinely mean it. But this statement I heard has stuck with me.  I think how I viewed the whole pilgrims-and-Indians story (or at least what the text books told us in the 80’s and 90’s) was that they were given all they wanted and stopped to give thanks.  I’m not sure I focused on the provisional aspect and whether or not it was in line with what they wanted.  I’m sure we never discussed it in that amount of detail growing up.  Regardless, throughout our year and even before–well before–we were provided for.  Reece, I am learning even now, was so well provided for.  How can I not be thankful?

If you would have told me a year ago that this holiday season Reece would be gone and I would feel gratitude, it would have been a tough sell.  However, reflecting on all that has happened, I am grateful for many things.  I am grateful that I feel grateful!  I am thankful for being blessed with all three kids, my husband, my family, my friends, Terry’s job, our home…I could go on and on.  Here are some things that I feel a sense of gratitude for, as I reflect on this last year.

1.)    I have a Savior; I need a Savior.  Because of Him, I get to see my son again.  I am only separated from him briefly.  It is only because of Jesus that this is the case.  Thank-you, God, for sending your Son.

2.)    God sent a Son who suffered.  He chose to save us in a way that I can personally relate to.  I am humbled that he chose this way—of having a child suffer and die.  He could have saved us in many other ways and he chose the most painful way imaginable, in my opinion.  I would not be able to make this choice myself.   I fully admit that if I had been able to do anything to save Reece and spare him from suffering and a physical death, I would have.  That includes allowing many others to perish.  Yep—I’m that selfish.  I emphasize #1 again—I need a Savior.  Thank-you, God, for demonstrating your love through sending your Son to die.  I can not imagine how painful it was for you, but I have a taste of it in my own life.

3.)    We had a baby in the midst of it all—not part of our planning.  We were thinking in our minds that we would try to get pregnant in the summer of 2012.  Going through pregnancy in the midst of this, while we always were thrilled to be pregnant again, was a stressful thing.  I would not have chosen to be pregnant during this time and often felt like God must have some great big plan, because this pregnancy was so specifically placed in the middle of it all.  I still am working through mixed feelings of delight over Scarlett and deep sadness over Reece.  Still, God provided for our desire to have three children, knowing we would not be able to take on a pregnancy in the midst of our grief.  We found out we were pregnant just a month before any of Reece’s blood work began.  Thank-you, God, for knowing what is in my best interest, even when I do not.  Thank-you for having a sovereign plan over my life.

4.)    I have five years, three months, and eleven days of spending time with Reece on earth.  It could have ended during the pregnancy.  It was strange, in light of the circumstances, that it did not.  Reece’s time here was a gift to us as parents and all that know him.  Thank-you, God, for allowing us to know Reece for five sweet years before taking him to be with You.  I anxiously await the day when I get to look into those gorgeous blue eyes again.

5.)    I am blessed with three children.  I love each of them dearly.  I had nine weeks with them here on earth together.  In those nine weeks, they were probably all three together three times.  I have one picture of them together.  At times, I have felt anger over this.  I still feel a longing to have them be together and for our family to feel that wholeness.  Yet somehow, over these last few months, I have come to appreciate that I actually do have a picture of them together; that I do have a few nights when they were all under one roof.  I choose to see those few weeks as a gift.  Reece may have never made it back to our house, but he did.  As stressful as it was, it provided times for us to be together as a family.  Thank-you, God, for the moments I experienced with all three of my kids together.

6.)    Even though I know Reece suffered, I know he was provided for.  He stood in his furnace and God was with him.  As I reflect on the last year, the last five years, read my journal entries from Reece’s life (as limited as they are), remember things that he said to us over the years and during his time in the hospital, I know God was with him.  Thank-you, God, for providing for Reece in ways that only You and he will know.  Thank-you for the few things that Reece shared with us that permeate our souls and provide deep understanding that you were always with him and that he knows and loves You.  Thank-you, for being his perfect Parent.

7.)    I know where Reece is at and that he is healthy and happy.  I have no doubts.  Thank-you, God, for promising Heaven, to those who believe in Jesus.  Thank-you for reassuring us that Reece is with you there.

8.)    I have a loving family who is supportive.  They came together in this time and showed love and care for us and for Reece.  Reece loves them dearly.  Thank-you, God, for our family.

9.)    Reece passed away from a complication of a complication of a complication of a complication.  There is nothing I feel aligned to in regard to pointing fingers at why he passed away.  It is not a distraction in that way.  I don’t feel focused anger at any one thing, because where do I start? Adenovirus?  GVHD?  BMT?  MDS?  Each contributed to Reece’s body failing.  I certainly struggle with what happened, but in regard to how to direct my efforts going forward, I’m more concerned about focusing on his soul and his faith.  I know God will restore his body someday.  Everyone has a body that will eventually fail.  Thank-you, God, for resolving this part mentally, for me.

10.) God is sovereign.  He gets my life way better than I get it.  It takes a whole heap of pressure off me—a person who struggles with anxiety—to figure everything out.  Included in my life is faith in Him.  Faith is a gift. Thank-you, God, for being sovereign over all things and for giving me faith in you.

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Speaking of Answered Prayers

I want to thank everyone out there who continues to lift our family up in prayer.  It is needed, felt, and appreciated.  I have been told by many people that the early childhood period of parenting and life goes by so quickly…, “The days are long, but the years are short.”  Our life right now feels somewhat in reverse–the days are short, but the years (or months so far) are long.  However, this last month or so it seems that the days get longer and longer, too.  We certainly are still in need of prayer and are encouraged that some prayers are being answered at this early stage.  We are, in fact, surviving.  That feels monumental right now.  We are also able to have many laughs and what would appear to be “normal” moments.  They are only moments, though, but we will take them.  We are thoroughly enjoying the girls.  We are thoroughly missing Reece.

I was at the home of a close friend last week for a playdate with the girls.  We really haven’t had any playdates at our home since Reece passed away.  I intend on having people over at some point, but we are still in the very slow and not very steady process of packing up many of his things.  More things need to be put away before any playdates can happen.  So we headed over to our good friends’ home.  One of the girls we visited, Stella, is the only child who saw Reece after his transplant.  She visited him in our home when Reece was couch-bound and constantly asking for warm blankets.  He spoke very little during that leg of his journey.  In fact, the two of them barely spoke to each other during the visit, but sat on the couch together and watched Scooby Doo.  I am sure it was awkward for both of them, but it meant so much to Reece to see her.  His demeanor was very different as a sick child, but he talked about their visit after she left and how much he liked seeing her–and he grinned about their time together, which was his way of showing happiness in the midst of a very challenging place in his health.

So while we were at her home last week, Stella and I were in the living room together while I was feeding Scarlett a bottle.  And this was our conversation:

Stella: Can we come over to your house sometime to play, even though Reece isn’t there?

Me: Yes, you are always welcome to come over to our house.

Stella: I bet you were sad when Reece died.

Me: Yes, I still am sad.  But I am so glad that you were able to come and see Reece when he was in our house.  I know he didn’t say much to you, but he was so happy that you came to see him.

I can not put into words how much it meant to me that she talked about Reece, that she said his name, that she acknowledged the sadness, and that she said what she felt.  I was also glad to be able to share with her how meaningful her visit was to Reece.  Kids are so beautifully real about things.  I wish that adults could be as transparent.  It is perfectly acceptable and welcomed to talk about Reece, by name, to us.  We are still his parents and he is still our son and part of our family.  We talk about him every day and think about him nearly every waking moment.  We laugh and cry about him.  We love it when people share memories of him or simply ask how we are doing.  We love hearing his name and hearing about him. I know there is the worry out there that one will say the wrong thing and so the tendency is to avoid or shy away or act like nothing happened at all.  Or maybe it is such a painful topic that it is easier to avoid the encounter altogether.  Saying the wrong thing is highly unlikely.  It’s better to take the chance of saying the wrong thing, versus not saying anything at all.  If you or your kids knew Reece personally, we treasure the memories that you share, because very few people over the course of our lives will have memories of him.  If you walk up to me and say nothing more than his name, you will have blessed me more than you can imagine.  That’s how much it means to me and that’s how much we miss him.

So speaking of answered prayers, I am embarking on the journey of writing a memoir about Reece and his journey through transplant.  I have often reflected on a year ago when I was feeling led to write a blog and my motivations for doing so.  At the time, part of my reasoning was to have details to share with Reece as he got older.  I wanted him to be able to read what he went through and to be able to explore his journey in greater detail.  As I look back at the blog a year later, I realize that in light of Reece’s passing, likely a big purpose for it was to support writing this book and remind us of steps along the way. It’s not exactly the way that I expected it to be used, but I am so grateful that I wrote it now, so I will be able to go back and remember things that would have faded by now.  I know this will be a difficult thing to write, but I am confident that if I can do it, it will be purposeful to me, meaningful to our family, and hopefully powerful and God-honoring for others to read.  My blog posts will likely be even more sparse due to this, but I will continue to do some updates from time to time.

There have been some clarifying moments for me and I know they are in some way answers to prayers lifted on our behalf.  So, thank-you.

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Parental Advice

My last post that was written a couple of weeks ago was something that weighed on my mind over a period of time.  I mentally “wrote” parts of it for nearly two months in my head.  It took much cognitive basting before I could actually sit down to type it out, as it is not a subject matter that I take lightly.  The devil has become this commercialized figure in our society that we, as a whole, feel comfortable joking and laughing about.  People dress up like him for Halloween; many don’t believe he even exists.  However, I find it irresponsible to bring his name to my blog in any sort of nonchalant manner.  He is a creepy dude and I don’t like giving him much “air time”.  The day I actually blogged about it, I felt compelled to write about the subject.  I can’t exactly tell you why it needed to happen on that particular day, but many of my posts have been like that.  I will have something brewing for some time and then it just pours out of me.  I mention this part to illustrate the point that my last post wasn’t done on a whim or without some careful consideration.

My reason for circling back about the journal entry is what happened the day after I posted it.  I was crawling into bed late the next night and felt like I needed to read from the Bible.  I opened it up, turned to the Book of Jude, and was hit on the side of the head with the following passage:

“But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him,  but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”  Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do not understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals–these are the very things that destroy them.”  Jude 9-10

When I read that, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  It was apparent that God was telling me that I do not know what I am up against and that it is his job to deal with Satan, not mine.  I can resist temptation and the products of the devil’s work, but my job here is to point to God in all facets of life, not focus on the devil.  Focusing on the devil is not where I can be fruitful, it is where I could get lost and potentially consumed and potentially take others down with me.  And God is right–I have no understanding of what the devil is all about other than he vehemently opposes God and would love to drag me down to the depths.  In that moment that I read this passage and even now as I type this, I felt miniscule and weak, as I should.  I never assumed that I would be going forward and doing something in opposition to the devil without God’s help, but to have him blatantly point that out to me in his Word was quite humbling, to say the least.  God continues to be so parentally good.  As I reflect on how he handled it with me, it was done out of total love and protection for me.  He wasn’t belittling me, he was warning me to not get involved in matters beyond my human comprehension.  Point taken.

I don’t feel compelled to write about most of my personal prayer time or experiences with the Lord.  But I feel like it is important to point this out, since I chose to write about the subject matter.  In fact, I was so taken by this passage of Scripture, I nearly took the post down immediately.  I could and still do feel the weight of the message to me and I don’t take it lightly.  It has stayed up, but only because I wanted to follow-up with this and for therapeutic purposes.  I also know that the post reflects my raw and true feelings and that taking it down doesn’t change the way I feel–since God knows my heart, I will heed his warning, but respectfully leave my post where it is at.

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