Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Our Christmas Blessing

Cory and I decided this year that we need to take a break from most of our annual Christmas traditions: decorations in the house; buying and receiving gifts; baking Christmas cookies and spending time watching children become excited for Christmas day. This year, as the pain has been so intense, we are venturing out of town to enjoy the beaches of Mexico.

Before we left for our vacation, this morning we were able to have an ultrasound to check on the health and development of our “BabyTwo” (as Cory calls “it”). We are thrilled to report that BabyTwo looks great and is developing very well.

We were able to see, quite clearly, that we will be having another boy, God willing, in May of 2010. Tears flooded our eyes in excitement, nervousness, and sadness. Excitement, in the thought of loving another child. Sadness, because Micah will not be able to play with his baby brother on this side of earth. Nervousness, of having another boy and the possibility of this baby resembling the likeness of Micah.

I have such a flood of emotions, one of which is feeling terrified to become a mother to another baby boy. I so long for Micah to be here to meet his brother and to watch the two boys grow up playing ball, running after each other and becoming best buddies at only 19 months apart. I pray that having another boy will keep me close to the memories of Micah’s life and will continually be a reminder of the love that I have for my first born. I am so thankful for this new life and that God has blessed us with another child as I know God created me to be a mother to His children.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Micah in the Snow


Tonight, I pictured what my life might be like if Micah was with us during this Christmas season. There are so many things I wanted to do with my son in a Minnesota winter—so many lost experiences that I thought we would share together.

I can picture us heading out together for some time in the snow. I can see him stumbling along in the snow in his snow pants and coat, so bundled up in the cold Minnesota air that one can hardly make out his little eyes and nose. I can feel those little arms embrace me again as we walk the streets of our neighborhood in the dark, taking in the sight of the Christmas lights. I can see his mouth agape as he consumes the sight of each house with Christmas lights, looking at each successive house as it was the only house that ever displayed lights. I can see his little hand raised to catch, with considerable curiosity, some falling white snowflakes.

I can picture us heading down the sledding hill near Lake Nokomis in south Minneapolis. I can hear his shrieks of delight coming from those little lips as we slide down the hill together. I can hear the big, hearty laughter interrupted by the silence that lasts only for that moment after our sled hits a bump in the snow and we fall face-first into the snow together. I can hear the silence only for an instant, until I hear again the sound of more gut-busting laughter. I can feel the cold on his rosy red cheeks after his daddy kept him out in the bitter winter wind far too long.

I can imagine holding Micah in my arms above the rows of onlookers at the Holidazzle parade in downtown Minneapolis together. I can picture the quizzical look on his face as he sits in Santa’s lap, not sure whether to laugh or scream at the old man and his silly red outfit. On the way home, I can see him sleeping in the backseat of our Toyota, tuckered out from all the fresh air and lights, his blonde hat hair shooting in every direction.

On Christmas morning, I can imagine Heather and I taking turns opening our son’s Christmas gifts, curious to determine which of his mother’s bargains he will play with first, only to discover he spends most of the morning playing with the wrapping paper. I can picture him chasing our dog Sadie around in his Christmas outfit, nearly knocking the Christmas tree over on multiple occasions, and getting far too close to the fire in the fireplace. I can feel what he feels like in my arms as he sits and patiently listens to me read the story of how baby Jesus was born in the manger.How we grieve the loss of our son and of our time together. How we mourn the loss of those desired experiences of just being mother to son, father to son. How we hurt so deeply because of the loss of the opportunity to love so unconditionally.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Micah Wessman Foundation

Following Micah's death, Heather and I benefitted from a tremendous support network. So many family members and friends provided us with their love through their prayers as well as other forms of practical assistance. We believe that not everyone who loses a child has (or will have) the same access to this support network.

Last week, we incorporated the Micah Wessman Foundation for the purpose of funding some ideas we have for providing practical assistance to families grieving the death of a young child.

Here is our mission statement:
The Micah Wessman Foundation is a Christ-centered ministry assisting families grieving the death of a young child. The Foundation provides assistance with practical immediate needs of grieving families, logistical and educational resources for their support networks, as well as financial support for those grieving families seeking to benefit from Christ-centered counseling or retreat opportunities.

The Foundation's mission statement is executed by providing the following forms of practical assistance:
(1) Care baskets to the family, which include items of practical assistance, such as day-to-day living necessities, gift cards to local restaurants and grocery stores, and books and audio media;
(2) Lists of local families, Christian counselors, and Bible-based churches who are able and willing to provide Christ-centered spiritual counsel and support;
(3) Logistical backup support and Biblical counsel to those individuals and groups seeking guidance on providing support to grieving families; and
(4) Scholarships to allow grieving families to attend Christ-centered grief retreats, such as Smile Again Ministries in Cross Lake, Minnesota.

The Foundation will be funded, in part, by some of the memorial contributions provided to us following Micah's death. While we don't know where the Lord will direct us in our ministry in the coming years, we believe that this Foundation will help us to honor Micah's memory.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Thank you friends- from Heather

I wanted to write a post to thank you for all of your prayers and ongoing support of us. I can’t even put into words what these past 4 ½ months have been like for us. It has been the worst, unimaginable nightmare. To face this challenge everyday has been the hardest thing in our lives.

At times it feels as though friends and family think that our pain is subsiding and that we have “moved on.” The pain we face has not changed. We continue to cry often and wonder how we are going to make it through the day or even the next couple of hours. I continue to pray my daily prayer for God to help me through the day –to somehow carry me through this seemingly insurmountable suffering so I can function to some degree of normalcy. Attempting to function normally is what Cory and I now call our “new normal”. There are days that I feel so numb and broken that I can’t even do the simplest tasks.

I am so grateful for the friends who continue to call, to email and to check in to see how we are doing. It means so much to us to know that people care and continue to think and pray for us. Cory and I often feel isolated by our grief as many people don’t know how to communicate with us or support us. We have learned that this is common and normal as most people don’t know how to treat people who have lost a love one. Most people, quite naturally, do not like to see anyone hurting, crying or experiencing the pain that we are dealing with. However, no one can take away our pain. Our pain is real and is constant. Our pain does NOT deepen if other people bring up Micah or our grieving; it is with us all the time. It is helpful to talk about Micah and not to forget him. He is our son and we want to remember every moment that we have spent with him. It brings us joy to share with our friends and family our memories of his life and our time together as a family. I would encourage anyone not to be afraid of our tears and pain but to embrace it and help us to remember. Thank you all for helping us through this long journey, we continue to need our friends and family to hold us up and to encourage us daily.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Favorite Picture

Here is one of our favorite pictures of Micah, taken about this time last year.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thankful?

This post is by one of Micah's grandparents-- Grandpa "Big Popi" Wessman.

It's the first holiday season since Micah's home going and I have asked myself, "can I have a thankful heart this season?" How can I be thankful when four months ago I watched helplessly as my grandson died? How can I be thankful when I watched as my kids went through such extreme anguish and sorrow?

Over the past four months I have focused significant time (at least for me) on reading. I have read numerous Bible passages. I have read several books, including "Grace Disguised" and "If God is Good." I have learned in this journey that everyone responds differently to grief. And one's emotions and thoughts can change from day to day.

Recognizing these realities, I share the following:
As I read through Job I related, in small part, Job's laments but was humbled and left in awe as I read God's response. I have gained a greater appreciation for the power and holiness of God.
As I read "Grace Disguised," I am struck with the reality that one has choices to make during periods of suffering. One can choose to grow from the experience or retreat from the experience. But one makes choices either for good or bad.
As I read "If God is Good," the trials we endure give us opportunity for growth. The author makes the following convicting statement, "Virtually everyone who has suffered little in life is shallow, unmotivated, self-absorbed, and lacking in character. You know it and so do I. And yet we do everything we can to avoid challenges, both to our children and to ourselves. If we succeed in our avoidance, we'll develop in ourselves and our children the sort of character we least admire." That was me. I prayed for comfort, not only for myself but also for my family. I did not ask for nor desired this journey of loss but in God's sovereignty I have this opportunity for growth of character.

In recent weeks God's spirit of peace has been especially close and powerful. He has given me a clearer perspective on life, not just this earthly life but that of our life to come.

So am I thankful? Yes. Not one of happiness, but grateful for God's power, His sovereignty, His presence, His strength and His providing me this unique opportunity for growth.

Popi
November 22, 2009

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thankful for our Living Hope

Following Micah’s death, I thought I would spend a lot of time at Micah’s graveside at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis. It turns out I haven’t. While I know that other grieving parents feel close to their child at the gravesite, this has not been the case with Heather and me. For Micah, Lakewood Cemetery has no current significance whatsoever. He is not there; our point in going there is simply to remember him and to grieve our loss.

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I am so grateful for the living hope we have in the resurrection. I am grateful for the fact that, through Christ, we will someday see Micah again. One day, Lakewood Cemetery will have significance to Micah—it will be the location from where his body rises and meets his Savior. In 1 Peter 1:3, Peter says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”

In the book of 1 Thessalonians, Paul is encouraging the church at Thessalonica not to grieve as unbelievers do, those who have no hope. Why? “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-17.

Similarly, in John 6: 39, 40, Jesus tells his disciples, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” In a recent sermon, Pastor John Piper notes that the Greek word for “nothing” in verse 39 is unusual in that it is a gender-neutral word. Based upon the context, it appears that Jesus used this specific word to indicate that He will lose nothing of us and raise us in our bodies. http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByDate/2009/4398_Behold_Believe_Be_Raised/
Jesus cares about our bodies, even Micah’s little body, and will raise him up, as he died, on that last day.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul describes the significance of our resurrection. “…For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts o the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?

Pastor Tim Keller interprets the phrase “death is swallowed up in victory” to mean that the resurrection does not merely end suffering, though it does that. Tim Keller, The Problem of Evil and Suffering. The “swallowing up” of death means that everything sad, everything horrible, everything heinous will be “brought up” into the resurrection. In the resurrection, Jesus will use everything about sin, death and evil to make the resurrection better. The resurrection will not merely be compensation for evil, death and suffering, but restoration. While I have no sense, at this time, as to how Micah’s death will be “swallowed up” in Christ’s victory, it is our hope in the restorative power of the resurrection that keeps us going.

About the resurrection, Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote, “I believe like a child that sufferings will be healed and made up for, smoothed over, that the whole offensive comedy of human contradictions will disappear like a pitiful mirage, a vile concoction of man's Euclidean mind, feeble and puny as an atom, and that ultimately, at the world's finale, in the moment of eternal harmony, there will occur and be revealed something so precious that it will suffice for all hearts, to allay all indignation, to redeem all human villainy, all bloodshed; it will suffice not only to make forgiveness possible, but also to justify everything that has happened...” Dostoevsky, Brothers Karamozov. Page 235-236, cited by Keller.

We are so grateful for this living hope in the resurrection. We can go on living in the hope that Lakewood Cemetery will prove, someday, to be a significant place for our little Micah.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dedicating Our Children to God

Heather and I had the privilege of dedicating Micah to the Lord on Mother’s Day, 2009, at Bethlehem Baptist Church. We were excited to share this day with our friends and family. The Lord planned for Pastor Kenny Stokes to lead the dedication service at the downtown campus that morning and to dedicate Micah.

In dedicating Micah to the Lord, Pastor Kenny recited the following words of dedication:
“Together with your parents who love you dearly and this people who care about the outcome of your faith, I dedicate you to God, surrendering together with them all worldly claims upon your life in the hope that you will belong wholly to Jesus Christ forever.”

During the days leading up to the dedication service, Heather and I recall having discussions about whether we could “surrender all worldly claims” upon our son’s life. Were we really called by God to relinquish all worldly claims on our son’s life? Certainly, our prayer was that Micah would belong “wholly to Jesus Christ forever.” But does God really call us to give up all of our claims? Don’t we have at least some entitlements to our son, such as health and longevity?
Our society assumes we, as parents, have certain entitlements to our children. Parents complain to teachers or coaches when “their” children are not given each and every opportunity for athletic or academic successes. Christmas card letters written by boastful parents suggest that they live vicariously through “their” children’s grandiose achievements.

Jesus knows and understands the love that parents have for “their” children. In fact, He alludes to this love in discussing the high cost of being His disciple. In Matthew 10: 37, Jesus says, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Jesus’s words are particularly remarkable because He demands that we prioritize our relationship with Him above all else—including those personal relationships that we hold most dear to us.

In making this remarkable claim about the cost of being a disciple, Jesus assumes that we will naturally hold our sons and daughters closest to us. Indeed, Jesus was confronted with suffering parents on several occasions throughout his ministry, and he seems to have often responded sympathetically to the plain of these suffering parents. We know that he healed Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:21), he raised a widow’s only son (Luke 7:11) and healed the official’s son (John 4:46). Jesus understood the suffering in each of these parents. In each of these instances, Jesus listened to their pleas for a miracle and granted their requests for “their” children.
Most parents are given, by God’s common grace, a desire to love their children. Jesus indicated, through word and deed, that we should love our children. For us, it was a tremendous blessing to be fully invested emotionally in Micah during his short life. This engagement was a good, God-given blessing, despite the significant, seemingly bottomless grief caused by his death.

The prayer dedication recognizes, however, that all of us, including our little children, ultimately and eternally belong to the Lord. Romans 14:8 says, “For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” We do not possess our children—they ultimately belong to God. All of our worldly claims on our children – no matter how much we love our children, and no matter how much we hurt when they are gone, are ultimately subservient to the claims of our Creator and Sustainer.

Job’s response to the devastation in his family is a great example to us, because his response includes not only (1) the natural emotional response of losing his children but also (2) his recognition of the superseding claims of the Creator. Following the tragic death of his children, Job tore his rob, fell to the ground and worshipped God. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21. Job could have had a possessive attitude not merely with his material possessions, but particularly with regard to his children. But Job’s perspective on God’s sovereign provision over him, taking the form of both abundant provision and unspeakable, cataclysmic loss, is largely the reason why we find his attitude so exemplary. While Job mourned the loss of his children, he never questioned God’s sovereignty or God’s goodness. Job didn’t resolve his grief by deciding that he, in fact, wasn’t suffering all that much, or that his children were not worthy of his love and affection. His response was to fully mourn his loss while still continuing to trust in God’s goodness to him.

For us, fulfilling the commitment of Micah’s dedication means to fully mourn the loss of our little Micah while also trusting in God’s goodness to us and God’s goodness to Micah. It means to become fully emotionally invested in the life of our second child, now in utero, as well as any future children, without regard to the risk of loss. I pray that I have the same attitude as Job—worshipping our Creator and Sustainer because whether we live or die, we ultimately belong to the Lord.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Our Week at Smile Again Ministries

Heather and I just returned from 5 days at Smile Again Ministries. Smile Again Ministries is a ministry created and run by Pat and Judy Misener for grieving parents and siblings. http://www.smileagainministries.com/index.html.

In 1988, Pat and Judy suddenly and unexpectedly lost their teenage daughter Michelle (“Mickey”). For the past 12 years, Pat and Judy have been counseling parents through Smile Again Ministries, even while Pat served as a pastor for several different churches. This past October, they opened a lodge in the Brainerd Lakes area, which they have called “White Tail Lodge.” The Lodge is located on a beautiful 15-acre property on a small lake, and is ideal for hosting up to 2 families at a time. Grieving parents and siblings can come to White Tail Lodge for 3 to 7 days at a time to receive extended grief counseling. At Micah’s birthday celebration, many friends and family members donated toys in Micah’s memory to Smile Again Ministries. We were able to provide these toys to Smile Again, and the toys will become a permanent part of the children’s play area at White Tail Lodge.

Not only did Heather and I enjoy long walks together around the White Tail Lodge property, but we benefitted significantly from our counseling time with Pat and Judy Misener. Here are a few thoughts that came out of our time together:

1. First, we talked about taking the steps necessary to make our marriage a priority. According to various statistics we have seen, the divorce rate among couples who have lost a child is between 80-85%. The Miseners are among the 15-20% whose marriage has survived the loss of their daughter. While there are many ways in which we want our lives to be a living legacy to Micah, perhaps the best legacy to our son is to stay together. When we see Micah again, we would like him to say to us, “Well done, Mom and Dad. Even though you were grieving my loss, you guys stuck it out together. I am so proud of you.”

2. Second, we need to make the choice to live to God and die to bitterness. Pat and Judy said that Micah’s death will cause us either to become better or bitter. While we can (and should) work through this period of asking, “Why God?”, it is crucial that we choose to trust God even in the midst of our questioning and pain. Clearly, the Miseners have become “better” (i.e., more reliant on God and His grace) because of how they responded to the tragic death of their daughter Mickey. While we can struggle with God over the “why,” we must keep the “Who” (Jesus) always foremost in our minds.

3. Third, we feel called to provide practical assistance to grieving parents. Following Micah’s death, so many friends and family members surrounded us with love and practical support. Whether that support took the form of emails, telephone calls, home-cooked meals, restaurant gift cards, or cleaning and household supplies, we were so blessed. However, not everyone who loses a child will have the same support structure that we were blessed to lean on. Based upon the experiences we’ve gained we hope to provide practical experience to others. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. In addition to maintaining a strong marriage, we hope that one of Micah’s legacies will be our love and practical support towards those who lose a child or sibling.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Trusting in the Audacious Claims of the Bible

We received a gift of a framed card that reads, “When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.” This card is on a bookshelf in our home surrounded by numerous framed and unframed pictures of our little son. In many different ways, including the wonderful birthday celebration we had for Micah last week, we certainly treasure memories of our son. We are so grateful that Heather was able to be a “stay-at-home mom” during Micah’s short tenure here on earth. We are so grateful for our many pictures and videos of him. We are so grateful for these memories.

Many friends and family members have shared how Micah’s death has made a deep and positive impact on their lives. Several friends of ours who have young children have told us of the opportunities occasioned by Micah’s death to talk to their children about death and about eternity. Many of those who attended Micah’s funeral were moved by Pastor Kenny’s sermon to focus on how life is “not about us.” We are grateful for the fact that Micah’s life and death has caused people to consider “the big picture.”

But the source of our comfort is not chiefly in our memories of Him, nor in the positive influence that his life and death have had on others. The source of our comfort mainly lies in the words of this 2,000-year old book, the Bible, a book that claims to have in it the very words of God. The audacious claims of this old Book about God and his love for Micah have made all the difference.

This book claims that the same God who created the earth desires to be in a personal relationship with each of us. The book claims that the creator of the universe cares about each and every one of us. The book claims that, in order to create a personal relationship with us, God took the form of a man, Jesus, and came to earth. Jesus taught his followers how to live and how to have a personal relationship with God. Before Jesus, the garbage in our life that makes us imperfect in comparison to the perfectly loving and powerful creator of the universe made a personal relationship with God impossible because of the incongruity between our character and God’s character. But the book claims that through the suffering and death of Jesus, Jesus himself took the punishment for our garbage, for our sin, and that through this suffering and death we can have a personal relationship with a holy and perfect God.

Finally, the Bible claims that for those who have been made “perfect and Holy” by Christ Jesus, we can look forward to an eternal life with Jesus. 1 John 5:15 says, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” For those who pass from this earth as followers of Christ, this heaven is immediate. Jesus told one of the criminals who was with Him on the cross that, “…today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43.

Micah was too young to have the opportunity to make a conscious decision to follow Christ. But based upon numerous promises found in scripture, we believe that the work of Christ on the cross “covered” Micah, and now Micah has the gift of eternal life. The central promise upon which we rest our hopes, the truth that brings us greatest comfort, is the audacious, counter-cultural claims of the Bible that Micah is happier now, in Heaven, than he ever was with us during his short time on earth.

In Psalm 16:11, King David says, “You have made known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” In Philippians 1:23, the Apostle Paul indicates that these pleasures far outweigh any benefit to him of remaining on earth. “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” Jesus Himself stated, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:1-3.

Because of the work of Jesus, Micah is now in God’s presence. The pleasures that Micah is now enjoying make all of our greatest earthly pleasures inconsequential. “That [Micah] missed earth’s pleasures of marriage and children and food and friends do not cause him the slightest regret. He took a much shorter route to the One in whose presence is fullness of joy and at whose right hand are pleasures for evermore. “ John Piper, Funeral Meditation for Owen Glenn Shramek, found at www.desiringgod.com.

The audacity of our Christian faith is that Micah is now better off than he ever was during his 9 months on earth. Our only hope, ultimately, lies nowhere outside of this 2,000-year old book. Our hopes for the future and our hope for significance through this otherwise meaningless, seemingly indiscriminate suffering rises and falls together with this Jesus of Nazarath, who died for our sins, who rose again from the dead on that Easter morning 2,000 years ago, and who now reigns and rules over all things, from the decisions of world leaders to little peas stuck in the throats of little boys.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Micah

Today, Micah, you turn one.
Happy Birthday, little son,
for whom eternal and infinite joy have just begun.
Oh how we wish we could see you,
Oh how we wish that we could get a Skype call through.

To see you on Jesus’ knee, listening to His stories patiently.
To see you smiling, crawling, baby talking and perhaps even walking.
To see you with Jesus, family and other new friends,
Traveling through majestic valleys and beholding beauty without end.

To hear you, in Heaven, let out your big laugh
Like you did when your mommy gave you a bath
Or to hear your little voice, jabbering and singing
Oh, what great praises to Jesus you must now be bringing

Oh, how I long to feel your little hands grasp around my finger
Or to lay down and snuggle together—and to just linger
In the unspoken bond of a father’s love for his son
To somehow believe again that our time together on earth had just begun

Our love for you is so great, so complete,
that our hurt seems without end.
Our wound of grief will never fully mend.
While we are back to life again, it has been quite a feat
And on some days, with some people, all we can do is pretend
Surely, without Jesus, we would face this life in defeat.

For you, Micah, Heaven is a place does not have to undo
All the garbage that us “adults” put ourselves through
For you, pain, grief and sin
are distant memories, never to be encountered again.

And so we ask the Lord to free us from the fears
of so many birthdays missing you-- of so many tears.
October 30th is, out of all of our days, a day to treasure.
To remember God’s grace to us, truly beyond measure.

To help us look forward to seeing you at that Great Reunion.
But until then, keep us focused, lest there be any confusion--
That our lives are but mist, and His, not mine.
To be filled with less banality, and more divine
That until that day we be trusting, faithful and brave.
When we, at last, will see you give us your little wave.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Glimpse of Joy- From Heather

Ever since Micah’s death, Cory and I have been crying out to God and seeking His direction for our future. We have struggled with finding joy and seeing God’s goodness through all of this horrific pain and suffering. The only thing that Cory and I could imagine that would bring joy back in our lives would be to have more children.

God is good. God has been listening to our cries and prayers for our future. We recently found out that we are expecting our second child. It has been quite a surprise to both of us as we anticipated another long journey of miscarriages and infertility.

We found out that I was pregnant a day after one of our worse days of grieving Micah. I was feeling like there was no hope and no reason to continue on in this painful world. I cried out to God to take me home to be with Micah. I also cried out with anger toward God questioning his goodness. Cory remembers me asking angrily, “God, why are you so mean to me? ” and “Why have you taken all of my joy away?”

The day that I found out I was pregnant, God’s goodness was evident to me. I was both guarded, emotionally, as well as surprised. I knew that this was God’s way of clearly showing me that “joy will come in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5). I continue to struggle with a rollercoaster of emotions: from the grief of missing Micah and knowing that Micah will not be here with us to meet his new sister or brother, to the terror of the possibility of losing another child, to the thrill that we will have more children. Despite all of the feelings, I see a glimmer of hope to continue on living. I know that Micah would want us to trust in God’s plans for our future.

Two weeks ago, as I was getting ready for my 8-week ultrasound to see the baby’s heartbeat, I opened up my daily devotional reading. It was no coincidence that the verse for that particular day’s devotional reading was from Philippians 4:6, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. I have clearly heard God’s voice during these past several weeks. He has called me to trust Him and to give all of my fears and anxiety over to Him. I continue to pray that God will give me peace in trusting in his promises for my life and our future family.

I continue to mourn and grieve Micah’s loss each day. My pregnancy does not lift my heavy heart. My pregnancy has, however, given me a glimpse of joy and hope to go on living—to wait patiently until God takes me home, when I come face to face with Jesus and my precious son, Micah. Oh, how we long for that great reunion!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Jeremiah 29:11

In our house we have a picture frame with a few verses and several pictures from our wedding day. One of the verses in the picture frame is Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (ESV) Other translations of this verse say that the Lord promises “to prosper you and not to harm you.” (NIV)

It seems that this verse is often used in the context of peace, prosperity and happiness (such as at our wedding). But the context of this verse suggests that the verse is more applicable to our situation now, following Micah’s death.

The book of Jeremiah is about God’s calling the nation of Israel away from its idolatrous ways. Despite the repeated efforts by the prophet Jeremiah to call the nation back to God, the nation trusted in its own strength. Jeremiah prophesied that the nation would eventually come to ruin. Indeed, we see that the nation was eventually destroyed, and much of the nation taken into captivity. Jeremiah 31:15 says, “Thus says the Lord, a voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children. She refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.”

Before Micah died, I would have told you that I don’t believe in the so-called “prosperity gospel,” the idea that those of us who are followers of Christ are not only spiritually blessed by reason of our being Christ’s disciples, but financially blessed as well. But as I reflect upon my own heart, I realize that there has been this sense that I have been waiting for “my ship to come in.” If God is in control of our universe, and if I seek to magnify him above all else, why wouldn’t he want to prosper us? Why wouldn’t he want to give us many healthy children? We wouldn’t he give us the desires of our hearts?

But God has made it abundantly clear that he is not prospering us, as we think of the term “prospering.” Our lives are living proof of the bankruptcy of the prosperity gospel as a human-centered misinterpretation of what it means for God to “prosper us.”

The promise given to the nation of Israel in 29:11 is equally true for us today. As the nation of Israel can attest to, it was not a promise that members of that nation would not go through pestilence, famine, war, enslavement and death. But God promised that He would comfort them through His new covenant with them (Jeremiah 31:31). Jeremiah 31:13 says, “I will turn their mourning into joy—I will comfort and give them gladness for sorrow.”As it relates to my relationship with Micah—there is now no joy, and there can be no joy, on this side of eternity. My only hope for the prosperity promised by the words of the prophet Jeremiah is to wake on the mourning of that eternal day to the faces of my Savior and my son. After our long night of weeping is over, joy will at last come in the morning. Psalm 30:5.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Who Do I Love More?

C.S. Lewis lost his wife only a few years after they were married. Lewis struggled with how the Lord called him to love the Lord even through his suffering. “Lord, are these your real terms? Can I meet [my wife] again only if I learn to love you so much that I don’t care whether I meet her or not?” C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed, P.79-80.

In Grief Observed, Lewis questions the sincerity of his faith before his wife died. Similarly, I have asked myself this same question: Before Micah died, did I really believe it, or was I just pretending? The stakes seem so much higher now following Micah’s death. I can’t skate along in an easy, comfortable “Christian” life any longer. The love I have for my son Micah is immeasurable, and my grief now seems boundless. Yet despite this seemingly boundless grief, or in the face of it, God has sustained us. I am so grateful for the ability, from God, to sing praises to God following Micah’s death. God has given us strength to love Him even during these times when our love for Micah felt so near and our love for God felt so distant.

Jesus said, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37. While Jesus is not calling us to “hate” our children, He is calling us to “count the cost” of following Him. There are many ways in which Christians “count the cost” of being a disciple of Jesus. In each way, God calls us to love Him more than any gifts he gives.

For me, to count the cost is to give up my hope for Micah’s future—what I had considered Micah’s entitlements to health, a long life, and a lot of love. It is loving Jesus even though it was Jesus who took Micah away from us so suddenly, so unexpectedly. It is treasuring God’s purposes for Micah above my own—however laudable those purposes were. It is trusting in God’s promises of Micah’s eternal salvation with Jesus even as his little (physical) body now lies in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis.

God’s sustaining power in our lives over the past 3 months is evidence that He has given us a greater love for Him. If I focus solely on MY love for MY son, and what happened to MY son, I become bitter and angry. We feel sorry for ourselves. But if I lose my “self” and focus on Jesus, on His plan for my life and His goodness towards Micah, I have an eternal perspective which frees me from my anger, bitterness and self-pity. If I give up Micah to Jesus, receive Jesus now, then at some later date will I not only get Jesus, but I’ll get Micah as well.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Front Door

I thought I was a going to be a good dad. I planned to do all I could to help my son to become the Man of God I prayed he would become. During his short life, my son loved to get in the pool or the lake and make swimming-like motions with his arms and legs. When I took Micah in the water, I made sure that I would keep his head well above water so that there was no chance of his coughing in water. I loved to take Micah in our running stroller. I made sure that he was properly strapped into the stroller, and that I had a safety strap around my wrist so that, even if I should trip and fall, my son would be safe.

I envisioned a future in which I would help Micah with his homework. Fix his broken bike. Help him with relationship problems or college decisions, financial matters or employment. I wanted to be the “fix-it” man for my son.But on that Sunday morning, July 26th, 2009, I learned that I am absolutely powerless, on my own, to carry out my dream of being the “fix it” man for Micah.

After running an errand to Target that morning, I returned home to find my wife giving mouth-to-mouth to my unconscious son. Just as I began assisting Heather, the medics arrived. It all happened so fast. In that whirlwind of activity, all of my strength, my knowledge, my love for my son didn’t make a difference. My memories of those moments are filled with terror and disbelief. I remember watching with absolute helplessness as our son passed away, 80 plus years before “his time.”

After a half hour of failing to resuscitate my son, it was determined that Micah should be rushed to the Children’s Hospital. Wanting to help, I found myself doing the only thing I could—holding the door for my son who, along with those paramedics, left our house, never to return. Whatever sense of control , strength and self-reliance I had went out that door along with my son.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Pain of Separation

Regardless of what type of person Micah would have become, I would have loved him unconditionally. Whether he would have become athletic, intellectual, talkative or quiet, married or single, productive or dysfunctional, I would have loved him unconditionally. I would have loved him (and I continue to love him) unconditionally because he is my son.

So it is with God and His unconditional love for each one of us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16. "The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient towards you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." 2 Peter 3:9.

The pain is now nearly unbearable because I can’t physically love my son anymore. I can't demonstrate to my son that, regardless of his actions, his abilities and his personality, he is deeply and unconditionally loved by me. While I trust that I will see him again, even so, I am physicially separated from him for the rest of my earthly life.

I say that my pain is only nearly unbearable because I trust, through faith, that (i) I will see my son again and (ii) God fully knows and understands the depth of my pain. God the Father separated Himself from his only Son, Jesus, so that the full weight of my sin might fall on Him. At His death, Jesus felt the full weight of this pain of separation when he cried out, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachtani--which means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Matthew 27:46. If Jesus felt this pain of separation, certainly the Father did as well. While Jesus and God the Father were separated for only 3 days, the nature of that separation was infinitely greater than my separation from Micah because of the unfathomable, infinite closeness of their relationship.

Dustin Shramek, a friend from church who also lost his firstborn son at birth, recently pointed me to Zechariah 12:10. That verse says, "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son." God himself, who knows what it is like to be separated from His Son, likened mourning the death of Jesus to mourning the death of one's firstborn son. Because God knows what it is like to be separated from His one and only Son, I trust that God will continue to give us the grace we need to meet the challenge of grieving Micah, our firstborn son.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Is Sorrow Better than Laughter?

King Solomon said, “sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart.” Ecclesiastes 7:3. Jesus said, “blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4.

In what sense are we blessed? Shortly after Micah died, a picked up an issue of a local business magazine. In that particular issue, the magazine was listing the earnings of the top executives in the area. The magazine listed those executives who, in the opinion of the authors, were “underpaid” and those who were “overpaid. “ Before Micah died, I would have been interested in this article. But it did not take long for me to lose interest. In fact, the more I thought about this article, the more I was repulsed by the inconsequential nature of the entire subject.

In the end (and in this sense, I mean the real end), who really cares about being overpaid or underpaid? Who cares about deadlines, savings accounts and the stock market? The death of your son—your future, your energy, your love, your desire, your hope, your dream—puts life into perspective. Does being overpaid or underpaid, having a big house, salary or car really matter, in the end? How much of my life has been spent on inconsequential matters? Trial by fire refocuses one’s attention on breathing, eating, loving, marriage, family. On life. On eternity.

Among other things, a “sad face” is good for the heart because the alternative—anxiety about the “here and now” --- is not good for the heart. Our “sad faces” have opened my eyes to the inconsequential matters in my life and focused my attention on eternity.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Safe in the Arms of Jesus

Our earthly lives are now far less sweet following the loss of our son. Our earthly lives will be less joyful now than they were while Micah was still alive. But our grief is not infinite in depth—I look to the future (perhaps the distant future) with the assurance that at my death, or when Christ returns, I will see our son again.

I believe that Jesus has saved Micah, eternally, despite the fact that Micah has done nothing to earn his salvation. And yet, according to scriptures, that is the very same amount of works required of me to get into heaven. Ephesians 2:19 states the central theme of the gospel: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Micah is now in heaven because salvation is a gift.

Micah is not saved because of infant baptism, because he was dedicated or because his parents are believers or members of a particular church. If any of these things were true, then Micah’s salvation would be the result of works, not faith. He is saved because of Jesus’ redeeming work on the cross.

According to the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus has claimed all children as members of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus clearly goes out of his way to love little children. Jesus rebuked the disciples when the disciples tried to turn children away. Jesus wants all of us to develop the same sense of humility and dependence demonstrated by little children. Mathew 18:3-5 says, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

In Matthew 18, Jesus likens new believers to natural children. In that chapter, Jesus cautions adults against doing anything that would harm a young believer. If a man who owns 100 sheep (children) loses 1 of his 100 sheep, according to Jesus, the man will leave his 99 sheep and go looking for his 1 lost sheep. Why? “…It is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:14.

This passage is more than just an analogy about protecting young believers from harm. As pointed out by John MacArthur in “Safe in the Arms of God,” Jesus states that “God no more wants a spiritual child to perish eternally than God wants a natural child to perish eternally. The analogy works…only because the underlying premise is that God protects and preserves the little ones who enter His presence.” MacArthur, p. 58. If we are to become dependent on God, like our children are dependent upon us, doesn’t it follow that God will look with favor upon a child’s humility and dependence?

If God seeks humility and dependence, my son was ready for heaven. My son was totally dependent upon us. He loved to be held and fed by his parents. He loved to cuddle with his mom and dad. He placed his trust in us and was dependent upon us. Micah is now dependent upon the one on whom all of life depends. Micah is now safe in the arms of Jesus, and I look forward to the day when I can join him.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Waiting for the Lord

In "Trusting in God Through Tears," Jehu Thomas Burton discusses his spiritual struggles following the death of his son. "No amount of discussion with someone else was going to persuade me to trust in God. I had to reach out in faith and choose to trust Him even when there was zero evidence or reason to do such...As I long to be with Him, I must wait until His appointed time. I must hold onto His promises of deliverance and of eternal life. These are documented in His Word and are my hope, a hope rooted in the trust that God will deliver what He promises." Burton, 103.

The Word teaches me to hope in God and in His redeeming power. And the Word tells us to wait on God. Psalm 27:13-14 says,
"I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!
Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!" Similarly, Psalm 130:5: "I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope."

Even when we don't see God's goodness, we must wait upon the Lord. Now. Next week. Next year. 10 years from now. Until we see the Lord face and face, when at last all we have lost will be made new, we must wait for the Lord. During these days when we still find ourselves, out of habit, expecting to hear our son cry at night, see him after work or feed him at his meal times, we must wait for the Lord. Even now, when we don't understand the end that God accomplished through Micah's short life, we must continue to wait and trust in His goodness to us.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

God's Presence & Purpose in Job 23 and Psalm 139

Job's sense of God's presence and purpose in Job 23 is in sharp contrast with David's sense of God's presence and purpose in Psalm 139. While Job never doubted God's sovereign power over his life, Job sought God out to understand the purpose for his sufferings.

1. God is everywhere--forward and backward.

Psalm 139:5: You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
Job 23:8: Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him.

God orders all of David's steps, and David knows it. All of the things that David has done (behind) and things that David will do (before) are structured by God. In contrast, Job doesn't perceive God's work in his life. What is the underlying purpose between what will happen (forward) and what has happened (backward)?

2. God's hands are upon us.

Psalm 139:9-10: If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me and your right hand shall hold me.
Job 23:9: on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him.

David knows that whatever we do and wherever we go, God is sovereign over all. All things come about through his hands. Job, on the other hand, doesn't understand what God is doing. Job does not see God at work in his life. We see Job asking the question--What is your purpose behind all this suffering?

3. Darkness and Light

Psalm 139:11-12: If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night, even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
Job 23:17: God has made my heart faint; the Almighty has terrified me; yet I am not silenced because of the darkness, nor because thick darkness covers my face.

Job doesn't understand why God has brought him through these sufferings -- he is "in the dark" with regard to God's plans. Psalm 139 points out that, unlike Job, God is himself not in the dark. God cannot be fooled; there is no plan or scheme that is outside of his knowledge and his powerful hand.

About Job 23, Matthew Henry writes, "Job knew that the Lord was every where present; but his mind was in such confusion, that he could get no fixed view of God's merciful presence, so as to find comfort by spreading his case before him. His views were all gloomy. God seemed to stand at a distance, and frown upon him."

We, like Job, are "in the dark" with regard to God's plans for our son Micah and for us.
But Job's struggles are a blessing to us because while we struggle with God's purposes for allowing Micah to die, we know that our questioning of the Lord is not a provocation to God. We, like Job, can trust in His sovereignty even while not sensing his presence or understanding his purposes.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Living Weak

As Heather and I went for a walk along the Mississippi River earlier this week, we walked past several runners and bikers with "Live Strong" paraphernalia . As far as I can tell, "Live Strong" is the motto of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Given the compelling story of Lance Armstrong, his achievements fighting cancer, and his Tour De France victories, it is no surpise that his Foundation has a big following among the fitness crowd.

More than 100 years ago, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote a famous essay called "Self-Reliance." In it, he said, "Trust thyself, every heart vibrates to that iron string. Discontent is the want of self-reliance. It is infirmity of will."

Live Strong. Self-Reliant. I can't think of phrases and ways of life that are completely contradictory to how I now live my life. Rather than a Live Strong/Self-Reliance mantra, my day-to-day mantra is more like "Live Weak." To the extent that I used to rely on my own efforts, my own self-will, I can do it no longer. I certainly don't have enough strength to face my son's death on my own. I can't bear it alone.

But thanks be to God, for I trust that He gives us strength because of our own weakness. The Word of God is filled with promises to us, the weak and broken-hearted.
In Matthew 5:3-4, Jesus says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted." 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." I have never felt so weak-kneed, empty of my own will, stripped of self-confidence. I pray that because of my weakness, God gives me strength to get through this. Oswald Chambers says, "Complete weakness and dependence will always be the occassion for the Spirit of God to manifest His power." How we long for the Spirit of God to manifest His power in our lives.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Smile Again Ministries

We will be donating some of Micah's memorial contributions to a new ministry for grieving parents called "Smile Again Ministries." http://www.smileagainministries.com/index.html.
Having experienced firsthand the tremendous grief associated with the loss of a child, we realize the significant ministry opportunities that exist for ministering to grieving parents. We can not think of a ministry better suited to receive donations in memory of our precious little son.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Grief Observed

Grief does not seem to have a logical progression, but we trust that God is at each turn.

It is perhaps counterintuitive, but on some days the pain is more intense now than it has ever been. In the weeks following Micah's death, we were not capable of grasping the magnitude of the loss because it was so new. We were also provided with the God-given human response of shock throughout those first few weeks. Now, the shock is wearing off. After these 6 weeks, we continue to "wake up" to what happened to us, to the horror of the events of that day, and to finality of our loss. After the last few months of joyous noises in our house--of a little boy laughing at the dog, of crying before naps, and of loving parents singing and reading to their little boy--the house is now so painfully quiet.

C.S. Lewis talks about his experience with grieving the loss of his wife in writing the little book, Grief Observed:
"I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process. It needs not a map but a history, and if I don't stop writing that history at some quite arbitrary point, there's no reason why I should ever stop. There is something new to be chronicled every day. Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape. As I've already noted, not every bend does. Sometimes the surprise is the opposite one; you are presented with exactly the same sort of country you thought you had left behind miles ago. That is when you wonder whether the valley isn't a circular trench. But it isn't. There are partial recurrences, but the sequence doesn't repeat. "

Many days seem like walking through deep dark valleys. The pain casts darkness over our ability to walk the path immediately in front of us. Without a lamp--that is, without the ability to see into the future-- we don't how long this darkness will last, where the path will take us, or what predators we must face. Right now, darkness clouds our horizon because our future has been intertwined with our hopes and dreams for our son and for the life that we planned to enjoy with him.

How grateful we are for the promises of scripture.
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me,
your rod and your staff
they comfort me."
Psalm 23:4

Regardless of how deep our grief is and could become, God promises that there is no depth of grief to which He cannot reach. How I love God's infinite power and reach--for while the suffering seems to me to have no bottom, that doesn't mean that God has'not measured the depth of my grief, and has (and will) give me strength to reach the bottom of it. While he doesn't tell us what the future holds, or that we won't be without conflict or suffering, we are promised that the grace he will give us in the future will be sufficient to walk through this valley of darkness, however long it takes, and whatever obstacles we meet.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

"It is NOT About You"

At Micah's funeral, Pastor Kenny Stokes repeatedly encouraged us to remember that, "It is not about us." This phrase has been a source of encouragement between Heather and me as we continually seek to trust in God's sovereignty.

Earlier today, we met with the Chief Doctor at Children's Hospital along with another member of the Hospital staff. It was a very productive meeting, as the Doctor provided us with more details surrounding what the Hospital believes to be Micah's cause of death and what the Hospital is doing now to look into the care Micah received. In the course of the meeting, Heather asked the Doctor if there was anything that she could have done to save Micah. In response, the Doctor said, "It is not about you... There is nothing that you could have done."

I am quite sure that the doctor did not (1) realize the significance to us of these words or (2) wanted to encourage us to consider God's sovereignty. But God is sovereign over all things, even words. In this small way this morning, God reminded me that he is in control. None of us -not Heather, not me, not any doctor ultimately had control over the little pea in Micah's lung. It became lodged there--and stayed there--because God purposed it so. It is not about us.

Another blessing from today was Heather's CPR re-certification class. As we previously indicated, Heather needed to be re-certified in CPR before she could go back to work. As it turned out, the CPR class was modified. It turns out that the class was far less intense then in previous years. We made it through--another blessing.

The Changed Cross- from Heather

I was reading in my devotional book "Streams in the Desert" the other day, and I discovered a poem that really ministered to me regarding my questions to God about "Why me?" and "Why do I have to go through this?" The poem is called The Changed Cross and I typed it below.

A weary woman thought that the cross she must bear surely was heavier than those of other people. She wished she could choose another person's instead. When she went to sleep, she dreamed she was taken to a place where there were many different crosses from which to choose. There were various shapes and sizes, but the most beautiful one was covered with jewels and gold. "This I could wear with comfort," she said. So she picked it up, but her weak body staggered beneath its weight. The jewels and gold were beautiful, yet they were much too heavy for her to carry.
The next cross she noticed was quite lovely, with beautiful flowers entwined around its sculptured form. Surely this was the one for her. She lifted it, but beneath the flowers were large thorns that pierced and tore her skin.
Finally she came to a plain cross without jewels or any carvings and with only a few words of love inscribed on it. When she picked it up, it proved to be better than all the rest, and the easiest to carry. And she looked at it, she noticed it was bathed in radiance that fell from heaven. Then she recognized it as her own old cross. She found it once again, and it was the best of all, and the lightest for her.

I am constantly reminded that God is in control of my life and God knows best the cross I need to bear. I may look at other people's life and desire less pain, more joy, children, etc; but God knows that the trials and suffering that I am going through is to shape me and mold me into the person that he wants me to be. And I trust that he will bless me with good as His word states in Romans 8:28 "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Thank you ALL for your prayers today. We made it through! We are exhausted with all of the emotion, but God was ever present!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

One Month

It has been one month since Micah went to the arms of Jesus. We miss our cute little boy so very much. We miss his big, toothless smile. His cackling at Sadie. We miss how he would pull at his ear when we was tired. I miss how he would coo and kick his legs in delight at seeing me come home from work every day. We miss bath time and story time.

Thanks for all of your prayers, your emails and phone calls, for following the blog, and all your support. Please continue to pray for us, particularly next Wednesday. That day, we meet with the head of medicine at Children's Hospital in the morning, and Heather will be taking her CPR recertification class in the afternoon. Thanks.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Castaway from God?

At the end of the movie, "Castaway," Tom Hanks's character (the "castaway") is sitting in a dark room with one of his friends, lamenting the fact that, because of his years spent alone on the deserted island, his ex-girlfriend is now married to another man. When his friend asked him how he kept the will to keep living, the Hanks character responded, "I just kept on breathing." While I understand this it is only a Hollywood script, I've often thought that a Christian would hopefully have had a better response --perhaps referencing a Biblical passage or a deep theological truth.

During these days following Micah's death, I feel that, on many days, the best I can say is, "I got through the day, and the best I can say about it is that I am still breathing." Even after digging into scripture, after the encouragement of emails and sympathy cards, there are days that we still don't feel the presence of God. The grief is just too great. No great spiritual discernments; no breakthroughs in our grief; no great achievements at work or at home.

But God is present in my life whether I feel his presence or not.
"You know when I sit and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar. (Psalm 139:2)
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make by bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, "Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,"
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you. (Psalm 139:7-12).

While I often feel like I am a castaway, I continue to trust, through faith, that I am never cast away from God's presence.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

God's Sovereignty and God's Purposes

At the end of the book of Job, God answers all of Job's questions about his sufferings by discussing not the "Why" but the "Who." God's response is essentially, I am who I am, and there is no other. In response, Job says of God, "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted." Job 42:2.
The sovereignty of God is so important to me because I fight the fight of faith to believe that my son's death is not ultimately because of a pea. I fight to believe that (1) God caused Micah to fall out of his high chair, aspirate the pea and develop pneumonia and (2) God chose NOT to heal him, even though He had the power to do so. Because God is in control, he is able to accomplish His purpose for Micah's life.
Why, God, did you purpose for Micah to live on this earth only 9 short months? If God is in control, then I must come to grips with the fact that God's purposes are not necessarily consistent with my human-centered purposes. Using my human reasoning, I cannot think of any reasons, alone or together, that are sufficient justification for the loss of my son. But God is not ultimately concerned with our purposes for Micah or with our sense of Micah's entitlements to a long life, a college education, a good job and his own family.

I cannot now understand God's plans for glorifying himself through Micah. But my hope is that God, the maker and sustainer of all things, sovereignly fulfilled his purposes for Micah. My hope is that many, many years from now (perhaps thousands), I will come to understand what purposes God achieved through Micah's short earthly life.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

No Aspirin!- from Heather

I heard back from the Medical Examiner the other day and he notified us that the Aspirin issue was in fact a false positive, which was a relief! He also made his final conclusion on the reason for death and they are ruling it an accidental death from the fall, which lead to Micah aspirating the pea, then developing pnuemonia, and choking. I am relieved to know that the case is closed from the Medical Examination standpoint but we continue to have questions relating to Micah's care and why he ended up dying from all of this. I called the chief medical doctor at Children's and set up an appointment for the beginning of September to discuss in detail the events leading up to Micah's death. I am hoping to get closure and our questions answered so we can continue our grieving without the mystery of "how" he died.
Thank you all so much for your encouragement and prayers during this time...we feel so loved and continue to daily need prayer. I have felt that it isn't getting any easier to grieve our son and in fact some days seem to be more difficult. We appreciate you all so much!
I continue to cling to one of my favorite verses:

Romans 15:13 (ESV)

"May the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Living by Faith

We trust that God is with us and will give us the strength to get through each day. But we have struggled with sensing God's presence with us, particularly over the last few days. Where are you, God, in the midst of our great sorrow?



In Psalm 6:6,7, David cries:

"I am weary with my moaning

every night I flood my bed with tears;

I drench my couch with my weeping.

My eye wastes away because of grief;

it grows weak because of all my foes."



We feel like David- weary from our grief. During these difficult days we don't FEEL God's presence. We am finding out what it means to live "by faith, not be sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7. We must continually fight the fight of faith, day-by-day, moment-by-moment to trust in God's goodness to us when our experiences and emotions tell us otherwise.

We are appreciate of your comments to us on the blog. We are encouraged by your continued prayers and support.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Promise of Heaven

In our grieving, we are clinging to God's promise that we will see Micah again. We wish that scripture was more clear about the exact nature of Heaven and of Micah's current life. Is he growing older, or while he be a 9-month old until the Second Coming? Does he need to eat? Does he still like to giggle at dogs? Does he like to throw his food to the dogs? Is he able to swim? Does he sit in the grass and pull the blades? As Micah's parents, we want to know not only that he is happy and safe, but also what life is like for him. While we wish scripture was more clear on the subject, scripture does give us three promises that we can cling to:

1. We will see Micah again in the presence of God.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul says,
"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word form the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words."

We do not need to grieve as the world grieves. We live in the hope that God will bring Micah (and all our other loved ones who were in Christ) with Him at the Second Coming. We will be caught up together WITH THEM (our predeceased family and friends) in the clouds. We will ALWAYS be together worshipping the Lord. What sweet assurance--that we can worship Jesus Christ together with our little Micah.

2. We will recognize Micah immediately.

When Jesus was transfigured along with Elijah and Moses before Peter, James and John, these three disciples were able to recognize Elijah and Moses. Matthew 17:1-4. This is noteworthy, of course, because Peter, James and John never personally met Elijah and Moses, and none of them knew what Elijah and Moses looked like.

As described in his book "Heaven," Randy Alcorn believes that we will recognize one another immediately "perhaps as a result of distinguishing characteristics emanating through their physical appearance." Alcorn, Heaven (adapted), page 49. If we will recognize Elijah and Moses through distinguishing characteristics, how much more will I be able to recognize my son Micah?

Will we recognize Micah because of the big muscles he developed from years of swimming? (At only 9 months of age, Micah loved to swim in the lake!) Will we recognize him by his smile? His toothless smile? His "spiky" white blonde hair? I wait in eager anticipation of that first appearance of my son and my first embrace with my son.

3. Our relationship with Micah in Heaven will be much closer than the relationship we had with Micah on earth.

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul describes how the spiritual gifts of that age will pass away at the second coming. All of our current abilities and gifts will pale in comparison to the new reality that will be the New Heaven.

"...As for prophesies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. ...For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." 1 Corinthians 13:8-12.

Our sensory perceptions on this earth are imperfect. So also are our closest personal relationships. But Paul says that we will no longer see "in a mirror dimly." During Micah's short life, Heather and I tried to demonstrate our love for our son by how we cared for him. But Micah was obviously too young to communicate with us. We believe that Micah understood, as much as he could, our great love for him. Unfortunately, we were not able to verbalize our love to him.

According to this passage, in Heaven our relationships will be perfect-- we will be able to perfectly communicate our love to our son, and he will be able to understand our great love for him. We look forward to that day when we will be able to hold him again, to tell him how much we love him, and for him to understand our love for him.

Friday, August 14, 2009

God's Answer to My Anger

I have felt increasingly angry about Micah's death. Angry at the medical personnel. Angry at God. In fact, there are times when I think, "If God would take me now, I would have a few, short questions for God as to why He took Micah's life when He did." I really want to shake my fist at the Lord and ask, "Why?!" Heather and I have so longed for a child. Why did God give Micah to us, only to take him away after 9 months?

In the course of all human history, I am not the only one to feel injustice, pain and sorrow. And I am not the first parent to lose a child to disease, war, murder, or suicide. I've realized that I am not the first parent to have questions of God.

Scripture provides us with a glimpse of whether I even would be able to ask my questions of God.

In Isaiah 45, verses 22-25, the Lord says,

"Turn to me and be saved,
All the ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.
By myself I have sworn;
From my mouth has gone out in righteousness.
A word that shall not return:
To me every knee shall bow, every tongue swear allegiance.
Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength;
To him shall come and be ashamed all who were incensed against Him.
In the Lord all of the offspring shall be justified and glory."

Only in the Lord are ALL righteousness and strength. As unrighteous as Micah's death appears to me now, someday I will know God's way for Micah, and realize that this way was (and is) supremely righteous. I will not be able to use God's promises of righteousness and strength against him ("A word that shall not return") because I ultimately will see God's righteousness at work in the death of my only son. All who were "incensed" with the Lord through Micah's death will be ashamed.

Instead, immediately upon my perception of God, I will fall to my knees and worship the only true source of righteouness. I will, along with Isaiah say,
"Woe is me! For I am lost; For I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts!" Isaiah 6:5. And with the seraphem, we will worship God for his righteousness, crying out "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory!" Isaiah 6:3.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Still No Answers-from Heather

I had a phone call on Monday from the Medical Examiner who performed Micah's autopsy and he said that they discovered Asprin in Micah's system. He had called to question me to see if we had possibly given him Asprin. This was quite disturbing to me as we don't even have Asprin in the house and I know that it is not safe for children. He warned me that it could be a false positive but they were going to resubmit the blood work to see if it was infact Asprin and if so, was there a lot in his system. He stated that none of the medical records from Children's indicated that Micah was given Asprin and there would have been no reason any medical professional would have administered it. How frustrating! I wish we could just get some closure from the medical standpoint, but it keeps going.
The Medical Examiner also indicated that they found pneumonia on his left lung...which was a suprise to us as we were told it was only in his right lung. And how could he developed pneumonia in his left lung when he was treated the day before with high doses of antibiotic? There seems to be more questions than answers at this point. I struggle with trying hard to figure out what happened medically and just letting it go. I know that regardless this was part of God's plan but my doubt and frustrations with him being gone seems to take over. I pray that we can get closure with the reason for death and get some final answers so we can begin to heal at a deeper level. I just miss him SO much and this isn't getting any easier!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Does Jesus Weep With Us?

We trust that Jesus understands our grief and is weeping along with us.

Following Lazarus' death, Jesus appeared to Mary and Lazarus' family. When Jesus saw Mary and the others weeping, he was greatly troubled. When he saw Lazarus' body, he wept.

Jesus is the "I am." Before the world was created, He was. He is above space and time. Jesus knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead and he wept anyway. He wept not because the "end result' was that Lazarus would be confined to the grave, but because he sympathized (or empathized ??) with Mary and Lazarus' family.

The "end result," in our case, is a joyful reunion between Micah, Heather and me. Even though we trust that we will someday see him again, we grieve and weep because we love our son and we miss him. And even though Jesus knows the same end result, he understands our grief and weeps along with us.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The power of medicine and the power of God

We were recently notified that some of the medical staff in the intensive care unit and the emergency department at Children's Hospital are still thinking about Micah's case. They, like ourselves, are trying to determine how this small incident of a fall could turn into such a tragedy resulting in death. Why weren't the doctors and paramedics able to get him to breathe and live again? Even with the aspirated pea in one of his lungs, why wasn't he able to use his other lung to breathe? How did the pneumonia spread so fast, especially given that he received medical care, with high doses of antibiotic, in each of the previous four days?

Whether or not our modern medicine should have saved him, the plain fact of the matter is that modern medicine, in its own right, absolutely failed my son. How much have I (and we) trusted in modern medicine? But is modern medicine the sustainer of life or is God?

When going to war, King David could have based his decisions on the size of his army vis-a-vis the size of his opponent's army. Instead, he trusted in the Lord. "Some may trust in chariots, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." Psalm 20:7. King David was victorious in battle because the Lord, not David, caused it so. Psalm 22.

Pontius Pilate thought that he had control over whether Jesus lived or died. John 19:10. But Jesus made it clear to Pilate that ultimate authority was in God's hands. John 19:11.

Three weeks ago, I thought that Micah was in good health. That Micah would go to kindergarten. That I would grow old with Micah. That Micah would be at my bedside when I died. God had other plans. Micah's death was not ultimately because of an aspirated pea, pneumonia, or a fall from a high chair, but because of God's sovereign (currently unknown) plan.

"Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me [Micah],
when as yet there was none of them." Psalm 139:16.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Strength for Each Day

Two weeks ago this morning, Micah stopped breathing and was rushed to Children's Hospital, where he died the next day. We are so overwhelmed by grief that we have been unable to plan our lives in the absense of our little boy. It is difficult to plan one day ahead. We have found that it is too overwhelming to think of going through our future without our little boy. The thought of going through weekends, upcoming family events, Micah's birthday, the holidays, and EVERYDAY is awful.

Instead of looking to the future, we have tried to live day-by-day, moment-by-moment. We are constantly bombarded by anger, despair and deep emptiness. We have found that we need to constantly immerse ourselves in the promises of scripture. To hold on to Jesus. To trust that he will give us the strength to keep going.

Psalm 73:6 says,
Whom have I in heaven but you
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart [and my son Micah] may fail
BUT GOD is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

We have found that our only hope for the future is to trust that God gives us the strength to make it through each day. Our future is centered around the strength that God provides us through Jesus Christ. At Micah's funeral, one of the hymns we sang was "Day by Day."

Day by Day, and with each passing moment
Strength I find to meet my trials here.
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment
I've no cause for worry or for fear
He, whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best
Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure.
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour
All my cares He fain would bear and cheer me
He whose name is Counselor and Pow'r
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid
As they days, they strength shall be in measure
This is the pledge to me He made.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Victory over death

Heather and I have received many condolences to "remember Micah fondly." We greatly appreciate the condolences, and we will certainly remember our Micah fondly. However, these memories in themselves are not the source of our hope. If memories were our only consolation in death, then death would certainly be the victor over us and our son. But memories of our son are not our only hope. Our only hope for victory over death is Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:54-57 says,
"When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

A close friend of mine explained to me that after he lost a family member unexpectedly, the prospect of his own death was far more palatable. In death, not only could he embrace Jesus face to face, but he could also reunite with his family member. For me, now that Micah has passed away, my desire for Heaven has increased significantly.

I have wonderful memories of Micah during his 9 short months on earth. But they are no substitute for the walks, the play time, the story time and the meal time that I have already missed with my son over the past 2 weeks. If I live another 45 years on earth, I live in the hope that these 45 years would pass quickly. I will live in hope that through Jesus Christ, I will see my son again.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A blessing from Mexico

Earlier today, Heather requested that people provide us with any blessings (however large or small) that came from Micah's death. I (Cory) recently received this message from my friend from my Wheaton College days, Jonathan Rockness. Besides being a father himself, Jonathan is a youth pastor at a church in North Carolina. Jonathan recently took his youth group on a mission trip to Mexico. Here is his message:

Well this will be hard to put into words, but I'll give it a go...I was in Mexico, leading a group of youth on a mission trip when I got the news late Tuesday night. All day Wednesday I felt deeply burdened by the news. I have always had a soft spot for Cory and taken joy in his joys. Now I was finding that I took great sorrow in his sorrows. I wasn't even going to tell my wife until we got back from Mexico because I didn't want the sorrow to distract her. However, Wednesday night, our group was singing "It is Well With My Soul," a hymn written by a man in the wake of losing his family. I really had to question if it would be well with my soul if I were in Cory's shoes. This led to a pretty emotional reaction for me, as I was unsure of the answer (I have a one-year old and could not get her out of my mind either.) Well, I think my emotions opened up our kids to the work of the Holy Spirit, because before I knew it there was an outpouring of emotions within our group. After singing we prayed and began sharing what was going on. God was moving in a magnificent way -- convicting people of sin, helping them deal with undealt with family issues, and comforting those with anxieties and fears. It was not emotional -- it was spiritual. I have never been a part of anything like it. The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, was at work and we were being blessed in an awesome way.I must also say that going into the week I had been dry spiritually. My affections were not for God. I think that the devastating news rocked me into getting back in touch with God and with my own soul.I also realized during the worship time, that our God knows the pain of losing a son. I had begun to wonder how God could put someone through this...and that is when I realized the obvious -- he put himself through this for us. My prayer is that Cory and Heather may know more intimacy with God as they have this most brutal pain in common with Him.In short, I honestly believe that Micah's passing helped open up 35 young people and adults to the work of the Spirit. I know it did that to me. Isaiah 61:1-3

Request from Heather

In order to find some joy out of Micah's death, I have decided to begin journaling a list of blessings, small or big miracles, or anything that will make me smile as a result of Micah's passing. I am requesting that if anyone has a story or just a word or two that has brought happiness to any of you as a result of Micah's death, please share it with me! I have been struggling with the tremendous amount of grief and sadness over the past week and a half but I keep hearing little things that bring a smile to my face. Micah brought me so much joy in his 9 months of life and I want to continue to experience that joy even after he has left us! Thank you.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

From Heather

I just got off the phone with the paramedic that responded to our house on that Sunday morning. (The hospital gave me her phone number if I wanted to contact her in the future). She expressed her sympathy to me on the phone and told me that she was aware of Micah's passing through continued contact with the hospital. She also shared we me how difficult this whole tradegy has been on her and her partner that responded. She said that as paramedics, they are trained not to "bring work home" and since they are involved in so many accidents and deaths that they become "numb" in a way to each situtation. However she expressed how Micah's situation really made an impact on herself and her paramedic partner. She also admitted that she has been dealing with feelings of guilt in wondering if she could have done something different to have saved Micah. I had an opportunity to ask questions about why there weren't able to get him breathing and a heartbeat for over an hour and a half. She explained to me that the blockage in his Right Mainstem Bronchi (the right lung area) from the pea was completely occluding his right lung but as many doctors have explained to us that the left lung, in theory, should have compensated for the right. She told me that even if I had done the heimlich maneuver, it wouldn't have worked because it was so far down into the lung area. I feel so blessed that so many people are caring for us and were somehow touched by my sons death. It doesn't make my grieving easier or less but to know that people that I don't even know were impacted from this amazes me daily. She also shared with me that what happened to Micah is completely unheard of in the medical field and they have never seen anything like this happen.
As it was written by Cory in his last entry, in a way there is some comfort in knowing that there are no real answers to what happened and why it happened, and it is clear to us that is was God calling Micah home. It was His plan before he was even given to us, that Micah would only live 9 precious months on this earth with us. I feel so blessed to have had those 9 months with Micah but selfishly I wish he was still here with us.

Cause of Death

We believe that Micah's cause of death had something to do with the pea he aspirated the previous Thursday. However, we are still unsure of the medical cause of Micah's death. Doctors we speak with seem baffled as to how this could happen. The medical examiner has not yet provided their findings to us.

In a way, this has made it easier for Heather and me. We believe that God had numbered Micah's days on this earth to only 9 months. As Pastor Kenney has repeated to us numerous times, Micah's death is not "about us." It is not up to us humans. Rather, it is God's sovereign plan that Micah is now glorifying God in Heaven rather than on earth. It has been much easier to see and trust God's will in this because of the fact that Micah's death was so sudden, so unexpected, and so medically unexplainable. We have not cast blame on each other or others. While it in no way minimizes the loss we feel for our son, it has helped us trust in God's plan for Micah's earthly (short) life and heavenly (long) life.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Grieving in God

With each passing day since Micah's death, the weeping decreases and the pain increases. I think that weeping allows us to release emotions. We want to weep but cannot. Instead, we are physically ill and we have no energy to even make decent conversation with well-meaning friends and family.

We need God's mercy in our hearts right now. "And the Peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:7. I don't know how a nonbeliever could grieve through this. If it were all up to chance, if God was not in control, if it were up to humans, then Micah's death would be beyond comprehension in its tradgedy. While I still don't understand "The Why," I trust in God's promise that His Peace will, day-by-day, guard me against unbelief in this darkest hour of my life.

Why?

Last Monday afternoon, I held Micah's body in my arms for some time after he passed away. I combed by hands through that long, blond hair that we are so fond of. I wept and wept along with my parents, Heather's step-father, my brother Scott and Pastor Kenny Stokes.

After a number of minutes, Scott read aloud to us the following passage from Romans, Chapter 11, New Living Translation:

33 Oh, how great are God's riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!34 For who can know the LORD's thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice?*35 And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back?* 36 For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.

One of my greatest struggles over the past week has been to somehow "justify" my son's death through a tangible type of result--evangelism, a certain number of people being saved, etc. But the Lord has shown me that my grief is so great that I cannot possibly find reasons that are sufficient, at least in my own mind, to justify his passing.

Someday, I will ask Him why --why did you take away my treasure, the miracle that you provided to us? Why the happiness and joys of 9 wonderful months, only to have it lost to the pain of death? I trust that someday I will know why. For now, I can only trust in His promises and grieve. And grieve. And grieve the loss of my most beloved little son.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

2 Corinthians 5:1-10

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened--not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Though the fig tree should not blossom
nor fruit be on the vines
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord
I will take joy in the God of my salvation

God, the Lord, is my strength
he makes my feet like the deer's
he makes me tread on my high places.

From Mommy and Daddy

For 9 months, you have been our pride and joy
our sweet, sweet precious little boy
a miracle from the start
your smile has stolen our hearts

We loved to see your little hands and legs race
when you saw your mom's and dad's face
or when we picked you up from your nap
or when you watched your dog Sadie
run her lap

O son, how we will miss the bedtimes
the t-ball games and the nursery rhymes
the first day of kindergarten
We wanted you to grow up big and strong
to be a good student, to throw the football and
hit the golf ball straight and long.

But the Lord has taken you home long before we thought
The Lord loves you far more than the love we brought
And while our pain is sweeping and deep
it is only for ourselves that we weep

For you, Micah, are now drinking in the Lord's presence,
swimming in his eternal ocean of love
laughing in the joy of eternal salvation
and smiling into the face of Jesus.