Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hope for the Mourning Event This Week

On Friday, October 2nd, we will hold our annual “Micah Party” celebration. As in each of the previous 6 years since our son Micah’s death, we have gathered friends and family members to remember Micah and grieve his passing. We typically hold this event on the last Saturday in October to correspond with Micah’s birth (Oct. 30). This year, we moved the date of the event up in the year to correspond with what has become another annual tradition—a spaghetti feed for the “Hope for the Mourning Running Team” and their families. In each of 2012, 2014 and again this year, we have entered a team of runners in the Twin Cities Marathon family of races. Each of the runners is asked to raise funds on behalf of Hope for the Mourning. This year, we have a total of 27 runners who have all committed to raise funds on behalf of Hope for the Mourning. We are so grateful that these runners and their families would take the time and effort to not just train for and run in the races, but also commit to raising funds on behalf of Hope for the Mourning. Those Served: Over the past few years, the traffic on our website has continued to increase. In our age of social media, website traffic can quickly increase exponentially. In our case, the number of “hits” on our website has surpassed our expectations. We are grateful for the opportunity that the website provides us to share the good news of Jesus Christ to those website visitors. We have reason to believe that most of the visitors to our website are either grieving parents or friends and family members of grieving parents who are seeking guidance as to how to help fellow grieving parents. Once on the website, these visitors find a link called “request care package.” This link allows the visitor to request a care package either for themselves, if they are the grieving parents, or on behalf of the parents they know. This care package includes three books on grief written from a Biblical perspective, two restaurant gift cards, and some additional information, depending upon the location of the recipient. We also provide a response card to allow the grieving parents to follow up with us. We ultimately want to come alongside them, even if only be phone, to grieve with them, pray with them, and try to encourage them wherever they are in their walk with our Lord Jesus Christ. The Responses: Heather and I, along with our other board members, wish that we could meet with each of these grieving parents individually. Even in the absence of face-to-face interaction, however, we have been encouraged by numerous responses that indicated that the packages are impacting families. Please allow me to quote a few of the responses we have received: “…We received the Care Package you sent after losing our son, James, at 21 months. We were so touched to receive such a kind gift. The book I found to be most comforting was “Holding on to Hope.” It came to me just when I needed it most—during a very difficult & grief-filled week…We would like to donate $500 in his memory… We are so grateful for the work you are doing in honor of your little boy, Micah.” “We received the care package…What an incredible gift and such an encouragement for our family. It’s comforting to know that there are others out there who understand our grief. We are so grateful for the books you sent along in the package. Your ministry is so incredible and we are thankful for it.” “I'm grateful to you for the books and restaurant gift cards. I am reading anything I can get my hands on that may help so I appreciate that. [I had lost faith in God after our daughter passed, but now believe that God may have allowed it for a purpose.] Also as you know, cooking is the last thing on your mind. I haven't cooked an actual meal since before [our daughter] passed. Our Financial Need: The number of families served continues to grow every year. The numbers of parents served has increased from 72 in 2013, to 116 last year (2014). Already this year, we have sent 135 care packages, which puts us on pace for more than 160 care packages. By reason of the costs of the books, the restaurant gift cards ($75 worth in every care package), and shipping costs, the average care package costs approximately $100. We therefore have an annual budget of approximately $16,000. Thanks for Financial Contributions: As it relates to our annual fundraiser, we want to thank our runners and their families. We also want to thank five different companies, whom we consider our “Corporate Sponsors” of this event. Through the generous contributions of these five companies, the costs of the annual Marathon fundraiser has been covered in full. As we finalize the collection of our individual running sponsorships, we have been blessed to be able to tell our runners that all contributions received are going directly to Hope for the Mourning. These corporate sponsors are: Strong Tower Wealth Management, Church Mutual Insurance Company, Emergent Networks, Plantscape, and Erickson & Wessman. Should you wish to make a contribution, you can do so either by paying through paypal, on our website, or by personal check. Our mailing address is 5930 Lone Lake Loop, Minnetonka, MN 55343. We continue to be so grateful for friends and family members like you. We will not know, this side of eternity, how meaningful your support has been to us. None of us will know the extent of the impact that little pea had in clogging the throat of a boy. It is with mixed emotions that we state we are so grateful for the connections we have made with many of you—friendships that have been formed and forged only by reason of the deepest human grief possible. We love you and your friendships, and look forward to the day when God will fully redeem and restore us. On that day, we will have it all, for we will have these deep and lasting friendships, and we will have our children restored to us as well. Thanks again for your support. Cory and Heather Wessman

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Was It Me?

In the immediate aftermath of Micah's death, both Heather and I struggled with whether God was punishing us for our own past sins by taking Micah from us. The Lord used the words of our pastor to encourage us through, among many other words of scripture, the precious words of Jesus in John 9. When asked by his disciples why a certain man was born blind, Jesus responded, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him." But what does it mean that God's works will be displayed through the suffering of the blind man, and through Micah's (untimely) death? Does it have anything to do with us? This past year, I have been greatly humbled by physical suffering, as I have written about previously. Through that suffering, God has shown me the degree to which I have grown self-sufficient, self-indulgent and even self-aggrandizing. Praise God, he has intervened in my life so as to keep me from a path of destruction. Physical suffering changed my course to make me dependent on God. In this matter, I have been blessed to see that God's intervention is indeed an act of love. Hebrews 12:6 says, "The Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." It is ultimately for God's glory that God will use life circumstances to make me into a more Christ-like follower of him. I am indeed one of the many reasons why the Lord took my son Micah--but it was not for past sins, but for future glory. Our past sins have been wiped clean by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. God is not requiring an additional blood sacrifice by taking your child or my son. But one of the ways that God demonstrates his own glory is through how He uses suffering to change the day-to-day lives of those who claim Him as Lord and Savior. If you trust in Jesus, you can be assured that God will use life circumstances to make you more like him. I pray that all of us would use sufferings, large and small, to recenter our lives on the glory of God and seek to understand the works He is accomplishing through our lives.