Friday, November 13, 2009

Growing, Trusting, and Remembering

God is growing me and growing my heart.  He is revealing to me the ways in which I am not fully surrendered to Him, the ways in which I still cling to my own desires and resist giving Him my hopes.  It is painful to see that there are still parts of my heart that I withhold from Him, that I haven't been trusting Him as completely as I thought.  I have so much to learn still, so many ways in which I need to grow, and I need God's grace to cover over my failures and shortcomings.

As I sit here and listen to Caleb and Joel talk about Samuel in the other room, I ask myself the same question I've been asking for a couple of weeks now: "Can I trust God?"  The last few months have taught me that I can't trust Him to do what I ask.  I can't trust Him to answer my prayer the way I ask Him to.  So despite the deep heartbreak of losing Samuel, can I willingly walk forward in life and trust God with whatever is ahead?  Can I trust that His answers to my prayers are good?  If He never answers another prayer the way I ask Him to, can I still trust Him?  Is He enough for me if everything else in my life is stripped away?  I am working my way toward a solid "yes," but the journey is taking me longer than I thought it would.  The one thing I am confident of is this: though I can't trust God to do what I want, I can trust God to be God.  I want that truth to be enough for me.  I want to be able to move forward in life without fear -- without fearing what heartbreak may be around the next corner -- instead, resting peacefully in the truth that God is God, and I can trust Him no matter what comes my way.  I am working on this, but it is a slow and painful process.

This past week Bryan and I ordered a Christmas stocking for Samuel.  It arrived on Wednesday and has his name embroidered on it.  It was bittersweet to get in the mail.  We want to make Samuel a permanent part of our family, and so we want him to have stocking and to be celebrated on his birthday every year and at Christmas.  We don't yet know how we will do these things, but we are talking about traditions we can start that will help us remember Samuel, rejoice in the time we had with him, and bless others in the process.  We are trying to come up with ways we can serve and bless others through Samuel's life -- be it gifts of time or money or love.  We don't know yet what traditions we will create, but we know we want Caleb and Joel to think of Samuel as their brother always, and Bryan and I want to remember him in ways that are honoring and life-giving.  So this is on our hearts a lot lately.

This past week held a couple of other memorable moments as well.  Bryan and I started looking at gravestones for Samuel -- horrible -- and spent some time remembering Samuel's last hours.  I have found great comfort in knowing that Bryan shared my memories of that August morning -- that I wasn't the only one carrying around the weight of that day -- but we had never talked about Samuel's actual death together.  It was good for me to be able to talk about that morning with Bryan and not have to try and describe the horror of those hours because he already knows just how awful they were.  We talked about how, despite the blessing and peace of that time with Samuel in our arms, it really was just horrific.  I won't go into details because it's not something for others to enter into lightly or without a reason to enter that pain, but holding our son while he died was...indescribably awful.  And it was healing for me to relive that morning with my husband, to know he saw the same things I saw, he heard the same words and sounds, he held the same precious but broken son in his arms and felt all the ways in which Samuel was unwell like I did.  He lived those dreadful hours with me, and I don't have to carry them by myself.  I am so, so grateful for my Bryan and how he has journeyed with me through Samuel's life and death.  What a gift.

The other significant moment in this week was me holding a baby for the first time since Samuel died in my arms.  Our small group friends, David and Beth, let me hold their beautiful daughter, Chloe, who was born 10 or 11 days before Samuel.  I was scared to reach out for her and take her, but I also really wanted to hold her.  I have always loved, loved, loved babies and holding them, and I have found that when I see a baby, I still want to scoop the little bundle up.  When we were at Egleston and knew Samuel was dying, I feared that I would lose this love for newborns, and I am grateful to find I haven't.  Holding Chloe was emotional and hard for me, but it was also precious and healing.  It was good to have the weight of a baby in my arms, and though I wish I could have held and cradled and comforted Samuel everyday for the last three and half months since his birth, it was healing to rejoice in the miraculous life of Chloe (and she is especially miraculous, but that's not my story to tell).  It is good for the soul to rejoice with those who rejoice, and I am so thankful for those who have mourned with us as we mourn.  I see once again the blessing of community and walking through life together.

As God grows my heart, both for Him and for others, I find again how much I need Him.  I need Him for each moment of every day, and I am repeatedly humbled by His care for me, His love of me, and the people He has placed in my life.  Can I say yet again, it is a good God we serve.


  1. I never ever have words after reading each post. But I do have abundant thankfulness for your witness to His love, provision, and healing. I'm seeking to be more thankful for the slow, sometimes painful, humbling sanctification process... To be wholly His in every way is my desire and I'm praying for grace in this. I need Thee every hour... that was actually a hymn I listened to daily when praying for Samuel in August. Thankful for His fullness in every grace and thankful to see it so clearly in your family's life and faith. I love you.

  2. In light of the seriousness of your post, I hope you won't take my comment as disrespectful, but your post reminded me of a story and I would like to share it with you.
    In the final days of Samuel's life, when I was glued to your blog for updates, my consuming prayer was that you and Bryan would get to hold Samuel. Garrett was born by unplanned C-section and I didn't get to hold him until about 5 hours after he was born. That was hard for me, so I couldn't imagine weeks without holding Samuel. Reading your words about the horror on top of the blessing of getting to hold Samuel reminded me of when Garrett was born (bear with me for the comparison!).
    I had longed for a child for a little over 2 years before we were able to conceive Garrett. By the time we reached his due date, I had placed motherhood on such a high pedestal, I couldn't even reach it! And then so many of my dreams were "crushed" right from the very start. His birth was nothing I had planned. Short of some life-threatening thing, it couldn't have gone more opposite of my expectations. After almost 2 days of "labor" I found myself staring up at the bright lights of an operating room as they coaxed my reluctant, enormous first child from my womb. When the doctor held him over the drape for my first glimpse of my miracle child from God, something dropped on to my cheek. Something gross.
    I should have known right then and there that mothering my sweet boy (and later, girl) was going to be nothing but gross moments interspersed very occasionally with moments of pure joy and blessing.
    It was an interesting and very unexpected reminder that we very much dwell in a fallen world. I am always struck when in those precious few moments when we are blessed to get a glimpse of God's glory, there is always a reminder of the harsh reality of our broken world. I have no doubt that Jesus walked in your midst that August morning and you glimpsed a bit of heaven, but at the same time you held the broken body of your beloved son. And that's a very hard balance to come to terms with. As long as we make our homes here, the brokeness of this world surrounds us. But our hope is that it only surrounds us, not overwhelms us. And that one day all the broken, gross things of this world will be our past.
    Be patient with yourself Kathryn. You are doing just fine. And our Lord is so, so proud to call you His daughter. And He is taking care of your little boy until you can get there.

  3. Thank you for continuing to share your thoughts and feelings. I feel closer to God each time I read them. Praying.