Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Beauty for Ashes

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me...to grant consolation & joy to those who mourn in Zion - to give them a garland of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, & failing spirit - that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified." Isaiah 61.1 & 3

How can one measure this past year? How do you put to words all that has transpired since that Sunday when Jesus welcomed Isaac home? I awoke this morning to a flood of memories, remembering each moment of that last day with our son. I'm so grateful we were home with him. I'm so grateful that Jordan & I were together with Isaac that entire day. I'm so grateful that those final moments were peaceful for our boy & the room filled with the sound of instrumental hymns & the prayers of family & friends. Yes, I wish there could have been some other way...that God would have miraculously healed Isaac's heart & body, that the doctors would have been baffled to find four chambers pumping away instead of three. But just as He promises to know all our days before even one of them begin (Psalms 139), I know God's plan for Isaac was perfect & that our son lived out the life planned for him to the fullest.

Nevertheless, this past year has been the hardest of my life. You hear of tragedies in the world, of the loss others incur. They grieve you & pull at your heart. But when your own sweet child, whose life you've completely trusted to God with genuine hope that the saving miracle will come...when his journey ends...when his gain comes at your loss...when his healing comes on the other side of eternity...it hits you with a force you can't describe & rocks you to the core. True, I'm forever grateful that Isaac no longer has to suffer, to undergo surgeries, to be bound by the machines that keep him alive. I'm overwhelmed to know this very moment, he is perfect in heaven with Jesus. But it doesn't change the physical loss of him here on earth. All those dreams, all those hopes, reduced to ashes on the ground. Completely spent. Burnt up with no life of their own remaining. Ashes.

If I could express one thing today on the anniversary of Isaac's death...one truth that I've learned through this year...it would be this: God is faithful to give beauty for ashes! He is true to His Word. God has taken the ashes that remained from our journey & all that died on August 5, 2007, & He has brought forth true beauty from them. He is not ignorant nor indifferent to what we go through. HE CARES about what has died in your life. HE CARES about those things that are now only ashes on the floor. This year has taught me first hand that treasures are to be found in suffering. Though the journey can be almost unbearable & the pain more real than you ever imagined, when you elevate God above those circumstances & choose to trust His Word, precious gifts are to be found. And on the days when you don't feel you can hold on any more, God's grip on you is even tighter. He will never walk away from you nor let you go! (Isaiah 54.10 & 30.18) God is mighty to save, He is faithful to complete the work He has begun in you. Our Lord gives beauty for ashes. He takes the remains of what has died in your life, those fragile pieces of dust from the dreams you once had...even when it is with the smallest of faith, when you lift Him up above the physical despair that surrounds, He brings forth the most beautiful treasures to be found. Peace. Joy. Hope for tomorrow. And the experienced assurance that He IS true to His Word & He IS faithful to never let you go. Were I to write all the treasures that have come forth from our ashes, you would not have time to read them.

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me...to give a garland of beauty for ashes...that He may be glorified!" (Isaiah 61.1&3)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


The view from my window is beautiful: clear, blue skies, trees blooming everywhere, birds chirping away winter's chill. The sun shines brightly & there's not a cloud in the sky. Spring has arrived. There's something in the cool breezes & sun's clear light that calls my heart back to Chapel Hill. Something about it pulls at the deepest parts of me to return - to that place of describing the window's view to a little boy who had yet to experience fresh air, to the familiar ICU walls & medical alarms, to waiting by the cherry blossoms for the shuttle to arrive, to those 5-minute croissant breaks outside in the butterfly garden. To simply being with my son as he experienced each new day. It has caught me off guard & yet is treasured just the same.

Peace has enveloped our home these past several weeks, allowing in the treasured memories of our sweet boy while holding off the deep pain of his absence. We delight in knowing he's whole & complete, free of pain & strain in Jesus' arms. We've passed the deepest depths of grief's pit to start the long climb up again. God continues to show Himself near & faithful.

But there's something about today...something...that just makes my arms ache for my little boy. Something that calls the depths of me to return to that spring in Chapel Hill. I can't quite define it. All I know is that today...I just want to curl up next to Isaac & hold him tight.

At times I feel like the children of C.S. Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia," having wandered from the wardrobe, filled with memories from the journey there - the friends gained, obstacles conquered, tears shed, & new joys experienced. Our 5ish months in that distant land (or Holland as once we called it) remain vivid in my mind & dear to my heart. There's a sweetness to those days with Isaac in Chapel Hill. Some would ask, "don't you miss home?" To be honest, I really didn't. Our family is our home & as Isaac needed us at UNC, it had become our home. The hours reading him books & holding hands with Isaac would wake us in the morning, while visits with the PICU staff became much like catching up with old friends. And as our journey took us from hospital to house, our feeling of home followed. Amazing...to have our darling in the place we had long prepared for him. Those days were a gift & a blessing.

Then in an instant, that world was to be left behind & the "now" at times showing very little evidence of our time there other than the change in our hearts & souls. Life moves on, passing people on the street who don't even know of this distant land. And yet the littlest thing - a kiss of the breeze on your shoulders, a song's melody, the smell of a child's clothes, the sound of an alarm - & immediately you're transported back to that place forever captured in mind & time. While the wardrobe no longer grants passage to that place, its memory sweet remains.

Spring is in the air. And on its gentle breeze, the daydreams & longings for the most precious little boy. Something...calling me back to that place & time that will forever remain the sweetest in my heart. So for now, I'll cherish these images of my son: his playful hands, his expressions full of personality, the peace of him sleeping & the joy every time he'd wake to look into my eyes. Thank you, great God, for the treasure of them. I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Memories

As we celebrate on this, Resurrection Sunday, we find ourselves more grateful than ever for the gift of Jesus's victory over the grave. Through it we are saved & through it, we are able to hope in seeing our sweet boy once again. Because of His resurrection, death is defeated & we have the hope of spending eternity w/our son, worshipping in God's presence evermore. In honor of today & in memory of our sweet boy, we're reposting our blog from last Easter. To God be the glory for all He has done.

Easter::Reflecting on God's Miracles

(Originally Posted 4.10.07)

"Another Sunday has come & gone. Sweet Isaac is now six weeks old!

I've found myself in a state of reflection on this, the crux of our faith. It's Easter, the celebration of Christ's resurrection! The past several weeks have taught me in a profound way the depth of God's love for us. As we've journeyed through this trying time, watching our sweet boy struggle more & more each day, we've found rest in God's loving arms. He also has watched His Son struggle & suffer. Through the pain & tears, we've heard His gentle whisper, "I know your pain. I've been there. I will see you through." Because of love, God sent His only Son on our behalf. Because of love, Jesus bore the cross & sin's consequence of death in our place. The perfect sacrifice, Christ rose from the grave, conquering sin & death. Because of this, we can be reconciled to God &, because of love, live our lives for Him. What an awesome & loving God we serve!

Easter rejoices in Christ's victory & celebrates new life. Watching Isaac this weekend, I've been overwhelmed by God's power & the new life He has brought to our sweet boy. By all medical accounts, he should not be alive. Last Sunday, we watched our little boy slip further & further away, unable to stop his decline. Empty-handed, we had nothing left to do but wait to say goodbye. And pray. Pray like we'd never prayed before: prayers of surrender & thanksgiving, prayers of longing & pain. Through it all, God did not leave our side. Because of the cross & Christ's victory, we could come directly to God with our requests, our burdens, & lay them at His feet. Because of "Easter", we could face death with the hope of new life shining through our tear-stained eyes. Holding our dying little boy, we could honestly sing "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" & "It Is Well" because the truth contained in the lyrics did not pend on our ever-changing circumstances, but on our ever-steadfast God.

In the quiet of our hospital room, Jordan & I now understand the depth of Easter unlike ever before. The love of a God who hears. The power of His Son's sacrifice & resurrection. And the sweet pleasure of watching our precious child, still alive & now recovering towards health. What a miracle! Isaac has been given new life. Though we still don't know the end of the story, we do know that God brought him back from the clutches of death & has touched his tiny body. Every doctor & nurse who cared for him last week has been awestruck & dumbfounded. "It's a miracle!" "He's a completely different baby!" "In my 20 years of this, never have I seen someone come back from where he was, let alone to be doing so well!" And to all of that, we give praise to our God, the Great Physician!

Thank You, Lord, for Your great love & for the hope we can find in You. Thank You for Your Son, for the new life we can have through Him. And while the road ahead is still long & unknown, thank You for one more day with our sweet boy. You are a God of miracles & for that, we give You praise!"

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Isaac

Beloved child::

One year ago today, God's miracle met us face to face. On a rainy night in Chapel Hill, our eyes beheld your precious face & looked into your eyes for the first time. At 3:40am, we held our breath as you entered this world with quiet strength. And from the moment we saw you, sweet boy, we were certain: you were perfect.

Sweet boy, we've never loved anyone more! You opened our hearts in ways indescribable & showed us the beauty of completely loving someone without limit. And that love simply grew by leaps & bounds with each passing day. Our lives are full because you have been here. It was amazing to see you grow, to see you open your eyes that became bluer with each passing day & your hair become so red. As soon as it was safe, we held you more than anyone has ever been held. You barely touched the bed once we could have you in our arms. What a joy to hold you! You'd always surprise us...sleeping soundly & the next thing we'd know, you'd be awake & looking straight at us with the sweetest look on your face. It always warmed our hearts to see you looking at us.

Isaac, you are the bravest little boy! No one has more strength than you. We remain amazed at all you endured with pure innocence & peace in your eyes. We would have given anything to take your hard road from you...oh, sweetheart, we would have given anything. On the days we were most afraid for you, its amazing...you seemed so at peace & at times, would look at us. Silently, you communicated volumes to us - that you were going to be alright & we could trust God with you. You taught us so much & showed us strength when ours was gone. "And a child will lead them..." Mommy & Daddy love you so much & could not be more proud of you if we tried. Even the doctors & nurses fell in love with you, coming to visit you every time they were on campus & calling in on their days off just to check on baby Isaac. What a charmer you are! You are the darling of our hearts & of all who know of you.

Do you remember the day we brought you home? You slept the whole way! But once we had you settled, wrapped in your fuzzy car blanket, & rocking in your glider...your eyes opened with happiness shining through them. You were home! You were safe! Every moment home with you remains precious in our minds. You loved playing with Daddy...you would light up for him in such a special way. If you were hurting or sad, he'd simply put his hand on you & speak into your ear...and you'd relax so peacefully right away. A father's love. Mommy always enjoyed wrapping you up after a bath, snuggling you warm in your frog towel. Remember how you loved light? Whether a lamp or a window or the shiny birthday ribbons from Maima, they fascinated you! It was probably incredible to see the lights of heaven that day Jesus took you home. Did you love to see them, the shiny golden gates & all the precious stones shining in the light of the King? We can't wait for you to show them all to us...

We miss you, Isaac. We're overjoyed that you no longer have all the tubes & tests, that your heart has been made complete & you can laugh all day long. Sweet boy, you changed our world. You changed the world. We know you're happier than we can fathom. We do miss you though. And given the chance, we'd have you back in our arms & home again in an instant, tubes, machine, & all! You were worth every bit of it! It was our absolute joy & honor to take care of you, sweetheart. Sometimes the love of a parent rejoices in their child's gain even when it comes at their own loss. We cry only because we love you so very much & miss you...miss holding you, kissing your cheeks & belly, rocking you while you sleep & playing with you while you were awake. We love everything you are, Isaac.

A year ago, rain fell from the sky. Today, its beautiful outside. The shining sun turns our thoughts to you & the beauty you must be beholding this very minute in heaven. We love you, Isaac. We are so proud of you. We miss you but will see you someday soon.

Happy birthday, Isaac!

::Daddy & Mommy

A Tribute Remembering Our Son


Monday, January 28, 2008

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