I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord
Psalm 27: 13-14

Friday, May 25, 2012

Amazing witness...

On Monday we celebrated our dear friend Jeff's life on this earth.

Can I just say...I was beyond moved that every seat in that church was filled. 

I am so sad that this was the reason for the gathering...but moved beyond words!

One could not step in to that sanctuary with dry eyes. 

One of Jeff's family friends delivered the eulogy.  I was blown away.  The description this man gave, the image of Jeff he revealed...the friendship and respect for Jeff seen in this man...there are no words as to how beautiful he spoke of Jeff.  And of Jeff's amazing faith in God.  And his pure desire that lost come to know the Lord. 
I knew how very much he loves Tamara and the kids..but I learned a side of Jeff that although I knew...I didn't know HOW deep his faith ran.  Without wavering.  And with impact.  And with a focus on others and not himself.

Greg said something that has permanently etched itself in my brain.  "Put self on the shelf".
I can't walk away from that small piece of wisdom, with such amazing impact.

This life isn't just about us.  And when we have the faith of God, when we have his truth in our hearts...is it not then for us to share so that others may experience such a freedom?

Yes, losing Jeff was a shock.  His battle with this wretched cancer was...I can't think of the right words, but really, it was wrong.  It just felt unfair and wrong.  For ANY victim of cancer.
But Jeff had his rock-solid faith, right to the very end.  He clung to that.  He knew he would be okay because he knew he was right with God and trusted Him unfailingly.

Jeff's impact on others did NOT end the day he entered heaven.  His life mission to reach out to the lost and the less fortunate will not end in vain.  Satan did NOT win through cancer.  As a matter of fact...he lost even more.  Because I have to believe with all my heart that in the service for Jeff, lives were touched and more saints of heaven were gained, returned and secured.

This amazing man has a testimony that will carry on.  It will not be forgotten.
And it sure as heck challenged me in my faith and my walk with the Lord. 

I am so grateful for the beautiful words that Greg shared that day.  I am so grateful for the life Jeff led.  I am so grateful that through his family he will carry on.  And I am beyond grateful that I know because of our faith in Jesus, and our acceptance of him in our lives through our confession of sin and simply inviting Him in...we live.  Even at the end of our days on this earth...we will live.  The life we were meant to live.  We will rejoin with family and friends. 
I am exciting to meet the children I never held here on earth, I am excited to see Zac's eyes one again and hold him, I am excited to family that have passed before me, and I am looking so forward to hearing Jeff's unforgettable laugh.

The thing with Satan...he can try to win through bitterly painful loss and trials, but because of God and His role in our lives...no matter what...Satan loses.  He's a LOSER!

My heart aches daily, hourly, for my sweet friend Tamara and the children.  That is the side of pain and loss that can not be "clich├Ęd" away.  Yes, God's word is a balm, but right now...pain and grief are raw and real.  And a person who has lost is aware of the word of God...but at the moment just needs to hear "this sucks beyond imagine...and I will be here for you!" 

When Zac passed away...I KNOW peoples intentions and words were not meant to harm or hurt.  But referring to Evan as "at least you have Evan"...was a daggar to my soul.  Evan is never an "at least".  And the reality of it is...Evan's life is not responsible for taking away the pain and fact that Zac is no longer on this earth.  That is a burden that Evan does not require.  Evan does not replace Zac, just as Zac would have never replaced Evan.  Losing a child, losing a husband, a wife, a parent...nothing is supposed to "replace" that and suddenly make everything better. 

Though step by step, day by day...slllllllowly...we allow God's healing to take place.  One day at a time, we feel His love, His comfort, His sorrow.  Baby steps at a time we learn it is okay to laugh again.  To feel again.  That even now, He is in control.  He loves us.  He hurts with us.
In the throws of sorrow, that is hard to accept when the questions of "why" happen.  When we know He could have healed and changed events. 
And knowing our answers will never be found on earth is a hard pill to swallow. 
But step by step we remember our faith and trust that we had in the depths of the valley, and we reconnect to where we feel betrayed (yes, betrayed). 

Our God loves.  He loves without bounds and questions.  He wants to carry us through the pain, not just the easy days.  He wants us to allow Him to pick us up and walk with us. 

Pain and confusion and questions have a way of putting up a guard.  It's a natural defense.  But slowly and bit by bit...we let that guard down and trust Him again.  He is the same today as He was in the midst of our valleys.  He does not change.  He will not lie.  He will become that balm our broken heart needs. 

But right now, pain is real.  Loss is real.  Confusion and questions are still center in the mind.  And lets say it like it is...it sucks.

I pray for peace and comfort and healing for Tamara and the kids.  I pray for what I can only imagine one of the most bitter-sweet days in Tamara's life...delivering her and Jeff's fourth child without Jeff physically present there.  I pray for the kids as they grow.  That their faith will not falter from the pain of losing their daddy.  I pray for their protection and their faith.

I know the pain of losing a child.  But knowing THAT pain does not put me in a place of understanding Tamara's pain of losing her husband, friend, partner.  I can not fathom.  And it breaks my heart for her and for the kids.

I ask that you pray for this sweet woman who never once wavered through Jeff's illness.  She stood strong in her faith alongside Jeff.  She cared for Jeff on his down days and never left his side.  She is a woman of strength and loving beauty.  A true example.
Pray for her as she prepares for her delivery.  Pray for their three children and for this little one on the way.  Pray for the family...parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, etc.  Pray for dear friends who were ever present through Jeff's illness.
Cover them in God's love and protection.

Remember that saying I mentioned that Greg said through his eulogy?

Put self on the shelf!

Live for more than just earthly wants and gains. 
Live for what truly matters.  Your relationship and our walk with God.  Being there for those who need it.  Living outside of yourself.  Being the hands of God.  And His arms of comfort. 

I will never forget the words spoken of Jeff, and the man of faith he was. 

He continues to touch my life, and I am honored and blessed to call him friend.

Friday, May 18, 2012

In loving memory of a dear friend...

I hate cancer.  I hate that it has no boundaries.  No regard for anything but destruction.  I hate that it has no limits, no prejudice, no care of who it affects and who it takes.

Yesterday morning we lost a very dear friend to cancer.  A young, vibrant, loving, man.  A man who loved his wife of 8 years.  Who adored his three young children...and another due in July.  A man who valued his friends and family.  A man who was genuine, and caring, and funny, and silly, and serious.

He just turned 37.

His wife turned 35 today.  The day after her husband passed away.

8 weeks before his child is due.

Cancer took his body.

But it did not take his life. 

Cancer did not reign victorious.  Jeff's faith assured that.  Heaven reigned victorious in gaining a true saint.  A true man of God.  A man who did not waver in his faith.  Who did not turn his back on God, his faith, his beliefs when days were dim. 

We witnessed a true miracle in the beginning of Jeff's battle.  Stage 4 cancer, given months to live...Jeff proved God is a God of miracles.  That cancer could not be found in Jeff. 

But it returned. 

Yes, there are so many questions.  So much confusion. 


And why this loss?

And the painful answer for those left behind on this earth...there is no answer that will take away the pain.  There are no answers on this earth.

But Jeff lives.  He lives fully.  He lives free.  He is no longer in pain.  His life has only just begun.

The night before Jeff passed away I had spoken with my dear friend, Jeff's wife.  We talked about a few things.  I tried to get an understanding of how things were looking.  Brett and I arranged to go the next morning to visit with Jeff.

We did not make it. 

Literally as we were leaving, our sister-in-law (a relative of Jeff's) messaged me saying Jeff had passed away that morning.

Why didn't we go the day before.  Why didn't we have that last moment.
The questions one always asks.

But no one believed this was what was going to happen yesterday morning.  This wasn't how it was supposed to happen.

Brett and I sat and cried. 

One day I will share about a personal experience I had had the night before and the morning of Jeff's passing.  Before I knew Jeff had passed away.  But for now I will wait.  For now I want to share that with my friend Tamara first.

Yesterday afternoon, EVERY cloud in the sky reminded me of an angel.  EVERY could was a whispy sillouhete of an angel.  And how fitting.  Because an angel most certainly entered heaven yesterday.

What an amazing man of faith.  He never wavered.  He never stopped trusting God and His word.  He never gave in to bitterness.  He never doubted.
His life has always shined light...but in this while...he shone brighter than ever.
His life is a testimony.  His life is a witness.  His life had value and meaning.  HAS value and meaning.
He was and is loved by so so so many, and his physical earthly presence will be missed deeply. 

I can hear his laugh.  His laugh that could make anyone join in laughter. 
I can see his face...his smile.
I can see him whole, healed...
But mostly, I hear his laugh.

I ask that you please keep Tamara and the kids tightly wrapped in prayer each and every day forward.
For this little one waiting to enter the world.  This little piece of Jeff preparing to enter this world.
Pray for comfort.  Comfort beyond understanding.

Jeff, you are truly loved, and you will be deeply missed.
Yet I know...we'll hear your laugh again one day!
Thank you, Lord, that through You, we will hear Jeff's laugh one day as he greets us at heaven's gate.

We love you!  And we miss you!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Love notes to my boy...

Often I write about my struggles of the joy and grief rollercoaster.  Today, on Mother's Day, I want to write my boy, my son, my everything a little note...


The second I knew of you, I loved you.  That moment of seeing the photo of our two tiny embryos being transfered to me...I loved you both with all of my heart.
Hearing "you're pregnant"...I cried.  Tears of utter joy and hope.
Seeing you and your brother's heart beats...I was lost...to love.
Feeling you both kicking up a storm inside of me...I was in awe.

There you two are!  Evan and Zac on transfer day!

So many years of negatives...SO excited to see positive!

Yes, our journey has not been a typical journey.  Yes, we have both lost...me, a son; you, your brother.  But we honor his fight for both of us...and we shower each other in love!
In Memory of Zac Michael

Earthly snuggles while saying "see you again".  Thanking Zac for his fight for you and me buddy!  He fought for us!

I waited over 10 years to be a part of Mother's Day.  I had many tearful days, and many Mother's Days where I would go in to emotional shut down and hiding.  I wondered.  I prayed.  I screamed.  I fought.  I struggled.  I hoped. 

I will never understand the struggle, but I will always be grateful for you. 
I will hide many scars, but I will NEVER hide my love for you!
I may ache, but I will love...unending and without limit.
And as the years go, we may have our disagreements and arguements...but it will never change my love for you. 
You are precious.  You are a gift we never dreamed of.  You are more than I ever knew I wanted...needed.  When I look at you I see life.  I see dreams.  I see future.  I see a world of chance and opportunity for you. 
When I pray for you, I pray for peace, for love, for hope, for wisdom, for a kind and tender heart, for compassion, for fairness, for the strength to choose right over wrong.  I pray for the people who will enter your life.  That they will be an encouragement, not a discouragement.  I pray they will build character, not tear it down.  I pray that they honor your faith, not cause you to question it.  I pray that they will respect you as you will respect them.
I pray for the woman that God is preparing for you.  Your wife.  Your best friend.  I pray that she will cherish you, honor you, help you through lifes ups and downs.  I pray that she will look at you with eyes of love and admiration all the days of your lives.  I pray that you cherish her more than a princess.  That you never stop showing her how proud you are to have her at your side.
For whatever, and who ever God places in your path, I pray that their lives will be forever touched by you.  By the kindness of your heart. 
I pray that when my time on earth comes to an end, you will remember me with love and respect.  That you will never have for a second questioned my love and loyalty to you.
That you will know without a doubt how truly, very proud I am of you. 
That as you would drift off to sleep, I would pray over you, and shed tears of pure gratitude and love for you.  That you will carry on each of your days living them in your best.  That you would not let sadness or sorrow hold you captive in your yesterdays, but will help you forge ahead in your tomorrows.
You are more precious than words can ever express.
You are loved by mommy and daddy more than you will ever comprehend.
We are so very proud and so very, very, VERY honored to by your parents.

On May 11, 2009...we heard words we waited so long to hear..."Evan can go home today!". 
After 66 looooooong days in NICU, we were finally able to bring you home!
What an emotional day it was. 
We knew leaving those doors meant leaving the only place we got to be with your brother.  That leaving that unit, we would leave a part of our hearts for many reasons. 
We were excited, and nervous. 
You still weren't even 5 pounds!  We had to rig your car seat just right to be able to get you home!
I will never, ever forget that day.  It felt like your discharge check up would take forever.  I kept wondering if they would find some other reason to have you stay longer.  But we were piled up with information pamphlets, with all your extra items from your basinette drawer, your clothes, milk that was stored there...we had a LOT to take home.  But all we cared about was that you were COMING HOME!
It still feels so surreal!  Walking out those doors.  My heart soared, though another part of my heart ached knowing we were coming home without Zac too.  That was and is reality.  But it didn't mean that I couldn't enjoy every moment of walking out of that hospital with you.  After 4 months of living at the hospital between my 5 weeks before you boys were born, and then your 66 days in NICU...I never went a day without being at that hospital!  So, yes...leaving was bitter-sweet....but I was glad to be going home...with you between us!
Ever so tiny in your car seat!  Just under 5 pounds!

Our final walk through the hospital coridor.  Together!  Going home!

Snuggled in your own basinette!  You were so unbelievably tiny in there!!  We would just stare at you and watch you breathe!

From that point on, life has been a treasured gift.  Of waking to your sweet voice.  Of watching you growing FAR too fast!  Of seeing the drive and strength you possess.  Watching you wanting to learn about everything.  Watching you exploring.  Feeling your little arms around my neck, and your hand in mine.  I am so truly blessed and grateful to hear you call me mommy.  My heart overflows with love, and my eyes can't contain the tears of thankfulness.

You are so precious.  Don't EVER doubt my love for you.  I will never give you a reason to ever doubt..  I am with you always.  I will always be your cheering section.  I will always have your back.
You are my heart and soul.  And nothing will ever take that away or change that.

I am thankful for these 3 years years we've had together.  I am grateful to God for Him sparing your life.  He has such a special purpose and plan for your life...and I will be praying as you discover what that plan is!  I will never stop praying for you and over you.

I love you my sweet boy.  I love you more than you will ever know!  And I will never stop!!!!

Holding mommy's finger.  Such a teeny tiny hand!

Our very first snuggle with our 2 pound wonder.  4 days old (28m 5d gestational age!)

Some kangaroo time!

Moving ahead 3 years!  Now you are intrigued with catching all kinds of bugs.  I now have to put on a brave face!  Here you are desperately trying to catch some ants!

On a walk a few days ago.  Some piggy-back time and some cuddles!

Look at you growing up!  It's hard to imagine how quickly you are growing!  From 2 pounds, to riding a 2-wheeler bike with training wheels!  Wow...

Forever my pal!!!  xoxoxoxo