Friday, April 27, 2012

The Hope of Easter

A few weeks ago while taking a shower, I found myself thinking about Samuel's buried body.  Normally I try really, really hard not to think about his body -- about what it might be like now.  The thought turns my stomach.  (Samuel wasn't embalmed, something I found out when we got his death certificate in the mail.  Ever so kindly, Bryan's bosses took care of so many details for us so we wouldn't have to, and this was one of them.  I don't mind that he wasn't embalmed; honestly embalming seems a bit weird and seems to reflect our culture's fear of death and decay -- but those are normal parts of life.  Our aversion to them seems to mirror the superficiality of our world -- our concern with appearances and not the heart and soul of people, but that's a tangent and just my opinion.  The point is, Samuel's body has not been preserved in his casket.)  At times since Samuel's death, I have been haunted by images of his decaying body, but it hadn't surfaced in a long while, thankfully.  And usually when it does come to mind, I am pretty able to set it aside and not go there.  But this particular morning, I couldn't seem to muster the ability to move on.  That's when I realized it was Easter.  And somehow it felt fitting to think of my baby boy's body early on Easter morning. 

As I let the water run over me, I thought of my Savior's body in the tomb, of how three days later it would have started to decay and how Mary Magdalene, Mary, and Salome would have been prepared for the unpleasantness of a body that had been dead three days.  But when they arrived with their burial spices, He wasn't there!  The tomb was empty.  He was risen (Luke 16).

It's because of that truth that I don't have to worry about my Samuel's body.  Because Jesus rose, so will Samuel.  I Corinthians 6:14 says, "And God will raise our bodies from the dead by his marvelous power, just as he raised our Lord from the dead." And II Corinthians 4:14 says the same: "We know that the same God who raised our Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself along with you."  We have the hope of Heaven, of resurrection, of eternal life because of Easter morning.  Jesus defeated death, and because of that, so will we.  As Paul says in I Corinthians 16, "Our earthly bodies, which die and decay, will be different when they are resurrected, for they will never die.  Our bodies now disappoint us, but when they are raised, they will be full of glory.  They are weak now, but when they are raised, they will be full of power....flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.  These perishable bodies of ours are not able to live forever...our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die."  Therefore I don't have to worry about the state of Samuel's body; it's irrelevant.  I will never see his earthly body again.  But I will someday see his resurrected, glorious, heavenly body.  That's the one I should think about.  That's the one I should dream of.  That's the one that houses my sweet Samuel, not the perishable one buried at Sawnee View Gardens.

It is Easter that gives me this comfort, this assurance, this hope, this truth.  It is Jesus that washes away my fears and instead envelopes me in peace and patience, waiting for the day when I can once again hold my sweet son -- in a body that I never have to fear to lose.  Because of Him I can say, "O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?" (I Corinthians 16:55).  Thank you, Jesus, for Easter!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Pictures of Easter 2012

We had such a fabulous Easter, and here is the documentation to prove it.  :)

Grammie (Bryan's step-mom) came in town for Easter.  It was wonderful to have her here!
Somebody loves her Daddy
Visiting Uncle John and Auntie Jaye (Bryan's uncle and aunt)
My Easter Bunny with her Grammie
Grammie and her boys
With my Easter fellows
With Jonathan
My littlest Easter joy

With Kathy
Our last holiday with the fabulous Thiels before their big move to New Braunfels, TX  :(
Joel discovered a passion for basketball on Easter.  He shot hoops for over 2 hours all by himself.  And an hour and a half in, he still hadn't made a single basket.  Bryan came out to coach him, and eventually, Joel made one.  He was OVERJOYED, and all of us were screaming and cheering.  In the end, he made 5 baskets and loved every second of his hard work and effort.  I couldn't believe his determination and patience with it. 
Working hard and getting better and better

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Blog Confusion

For some time now, I've been feeling really confused about this blog.  Until a few months ago, the purpose of the blog was really clear to me.  We started it out of necessity when Samuel was four days old.  We spent every spare minute of his first few days emailing the many people who care about our family, and it was exhausting writing essentially the same email over and over and over.  And we worried about who we'd forgotten, who might be hurt they were out of loop, etc.  It wasn't time we had or the things we needed to be focused on.  So when Samuel was four days old, we decided a blog was the solution; we could keep people informed about Samuel, his prognosis, and how we were holding up, and we could be free the rest of the time to focus on our son.

Once Samuel died, my perspective on the blog shifted.  It became a place for me to process my grief.  It was basically a journal, and the fact that other people might read it was completely incidental.  It was healing for me to write, and I wanted a record of my grief.  I did it for me -- because it was good for me.

The blog has always been about Samuel in some way -- his struggle for life, our struggle with life once he died, our longing for another child, and how Anna's entrance into our family surfaced grief, made us lonesome for Samuel, and was a tremendous part of our healing.  This blog has really been Samuel-centered, and that's the way I wanted it.

But as time has gone on, as grief has become a gentle presence in our lives instead of a dominant force, as Anna has become an integral part of our family and less and less a a stirrer of our grief, I have become really confused about what this blog is and should be.   Having a blog, two and half years later, devoted purely to our grief feels a little...self-indulgent?  affected?  I don't know -- something that doesn't sit well with me.  At least not if I want to post with any degree of regularity.

As much as I love writing and find it to be good for my soul, it's hard to imagine just jumping ship and abandoning the blog all together.  But I'm having a hard time figuring out what it becomes.  I've been struggling with it for months now.  Should it be an online journal of our family that I keep for my sake and the sake of our kids?  Should it be somewhere where I write about what God is teaching me and how I'm growing?  About parenting -- something I'm incredibly passionate about?  A mixture of all of it -- grief, family, and faith?  I don't know.

I guess the other element that has me all discombobulated is the whole audience thing.  It's been so clear to me since September 2009 that I wasn't writing this for an audience (and in August 2009 I was writing it for prayer support).  If people happened to read it, then fine.  But I wasn't writing for them.   I didn't announce my blog or try to share it.  I didn't try to gain readers (ewww -- the idea is totally unsettling to me).  But that's not really what most blogs are for.  People blog for an audience, to be read.  And I'm uncomfortable with that for me -- at least at this juncture.  (To be fair I must admit that it's a double blessing when someone is encouraged or challenged by what I write -- to know it helped me and someone else is always truly gratifying.  But I have never made that my focus.)  I don't want to do this for accolades or encouragement or to boost my pride.  Something in me is revolted by the very idea of that.  Really, if I'm totally honest, I have something against trying to garner up a group of people to read what I write -- advertising myself or ideas or claiming to have wisdom others should listen to.  It feels like self-promotion, and I am simply uncomfortable with it in every way.  I have friends who blog for an audience, and they do it beautifully, naturally, and humbly.  But I also know people who don't.  And I am afraid of joining their ranks.  I know I don't ever want to sit down to write and think "if no one reads this or comments on it, then it's a waste of time" because that's not true for me.  The value of writing for me is that it helps me process, it helps me see more clearly, it draws my heart to Jesus.  And I don't want to be waylaid and lose sight of that.  So, I'm confused.  Where do I go from here?

I'm not sure how to resolve my confusion.  Maybe at its essence that's what confusion is because if you knew your way out of it, you wouldn't be confused anymore.  I've talked to Bryan about it.  I've talked to my mom.  They can both envision a future for this blog pretty easily, but I can't yet.  I realize I don't have to know exactly what "it" is to keep writing.  That's what I've been doing since December -- writing anyway despite my lack of clarity.  But I would like to have a framework from which I approach the blog -- something that guides and directs what I include and what I don't.  Something that gives it cohesion.

All I know to do for now is write when I feel like I need or want to do so, but my entries might be all over the place.  And they might be sparse.  I just don't know yet.  I am praying for wisdom.  I want to be a light for Jesus, and if writing can be part of that, then by all I means I want to do it.  I also want a record for my kids of their childhood, of our love for them, of our hunger to show them Jesus.  And I continue to want a record of my grief.  So how this blog may or may not blend all those things, I guess I'll have to wait and see.  And in the meantime, I'll keep asking for that wisdom!