Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Three Years - Just As We Are...

*If you've never read Isaiah's Story and would like to, start HERE.

It is difficult to know how to share one’s heart.  Should one be open and honest or keep deep thoughts and feelings close?  As Isaiah’s third birthday in heaven approaches, I hesitate to share only because over the past 6 months, I’ve questioned if bearing the heart is good.  The heart is sinful and imperfect.  There is risk involved in sharing.

I heard one person say that many draw and show strength in the beginning of a crisis because Christ supernaturally gives them strength in this time of need.  Praise God for this!  


But it is over time - when the focus has shifted away – that people finally allow themselves to be weak.  Maybe this is why I don’t share my true feelings as much anymore.  My heart is weak and often in need of redirection from God’s word.  It was easier to share when I knew God was my only source of strength in the trenches of loss.  Now I have to work harder to sort out what is from me and what is from Him.  Is it helpful or hurtful to share from a weak heart?  This is what I ask myself – and I guess lately I’ve chosen silence.

As I consider how we are doing, I could explain in detail the days that are harder or easier and why, but I’m unsure who that is helping.  I just want to make sure I’m living in a way that honors Isaiah’s memory and Christ.  It’s hard to know how that looks.  The burden of grief is always present in some shape or form – even if not fully felt each day – and I want to be honest with myself and others about that.  Yet it seems that ongoing, longer term grief is a thing most people hold close to themselves.  Maybe this is because others just aren’t comfortable with sadness that one should definitely be “over” by now.  So these days I usually choose not to share - though I have been trying to gather some words to share around Isaiah’s birthday. 

So here are a few thoughts.  They may be focused more on grief than on the many wonderful things about our daily lives – so please don’t be deceived that life is only sad for us.  Thanks be to God - it’s not!  But since it is “that” time of year for us, I will share from that place.  I’m not sharing for attention, but because sharing has been a source of clarity and healing for me in the past, and maybe that is a reason to continue sharing.  I guess it’s hard to know.

Three Years – Just As We Are….

I’ve come so far, but I’m still right there.  Some days I still want to tell the world about the precious boy we long to have here, but these days I usually choose silence.  Is there really anything more or new to say?  I relive the memories when they come.  I accept happy, joyful days as they come.  I usually deal with sadness quietly and alone.  I laugh freely.  It is hard that most around me never “knew” Isaiah or knew us when we lost him.  I love seeing my children grow, but hate not seeing Isaiah grow.  I still sometimes wonder if I will ever be myself again.  I try hard to cherish love and life.  I still yearn and work hard to try to understand the big picture.  I study my outbursts of anger or impatience and wonder if they’re still partly caused by grief that I don’t give due attention to anymore – or are they just from fatigue, etc.?  Regardless – they are sin.  

Important dates often cause sadness for grieving families - but I’m so thankful that many in my life recognize this.  What some may not realize is that many other things also trigger memories and grief.  For instance, April 2 – the day Isaiah was born – will always be “his” day that we remember and celebrate the short life he had.  But like I discussed here, Easter week has been rough for me the past couple of years.  Palm Sunday was the day he most likely died.  The days between Palm Sunday and Easter were filled with planning a funeral.  The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter was the day of his funeral.

Other things – like an unusually warm spring - bring flashes of 2012 and that Palm Sunday when our family took a walk in the sunshine…installed a car seat…all while he was losing life.  I purposely didn’t take a nap last Sunday (Palm Sunday).  When I awoke from a nap on that day in 2012, that is when I realized he wasn’t moving.  This year having Easter the same week as his birthday -- again – it is hard.  Isaiah died at 36 weeks 5 days.  Carrying a child with the exact same due date means that  36 week 5 day mark that I hold my breath on during pregnancies since is ON Isaiah’s birthdate.  It’s hard not to consider the irony of the possibility of this baby dying at that time again…and of course that is complicated by the fact that it is also Isaiah’s birthday. 

I’m not a superstitious person, so what can explain all of these irrational thoughts and behaviors?  One thing…the fact that I know that death can happen again.  As much as people want to pat your back and say it will all be fine and say that monitoring will shield you from more loss, the reality is that it can and has happened again.  In the moments I stop to make sure I’ve felt the baby lately, I oddly don’t have anxiety attacks or tons of fear.  Instead my mind calmly goes to trying to figure out how I will tell people that my baby has died again…how I will endure another silent delivery or plan another funeral.  I can’t explain why this is my response.  I’m sure the psyche does these things to somehow prepare for the worst.  Thankfully my mind does not sit here all the time.  These thoughts mostly come in flashes that I can redirect.  It is just my reality.  Honest and not pretty.  I will risk sharing it with you.

Maybe the complicated nature of April 2nd this year is part of why I haven’t been able to organize asking others to be part of celebrating and remember Isaiah’s birthday this year.  It’s a complicated day.  I will always love hearing about people doing acts of kindness in honor of Isaiah and hope they will continue to do so at any time of year.  But for this year I’ve only had enough energy to plan a few small things we will do as a family.  I’ve told myself that’s OK, but part of me still feels guilty for not working harder to help him be honored and remembered.  Some of you have already remembered, and that warms my heart.  Thank you!  Of course our family remembers him every day.  For this I am thankful. 

On the complete other side of all of these things, I want to honestly and joyfully share that most of our days are normal and fine…filled with love and joy and the crazy frustrations of a young family…not having anything to do with Isaiah other than his pictures being around our house, his name heard in passing here or there, or wondering what he’d be like right now.  

(This picture is almost a year old, but still a good shot 
representing my 4 kiddos.  One more to add soon!)

Overall life is good – and I know people are probably relieved to hear that.  Yet life will never be as it should be for us until we are in heaven.  I guess heaven is the reality we should all be yearning for.

So those are the thoughts I could muster to share today.  Though they may sound sad, I hope you can see around the edges that life is not all bad or all good…it is messy and wonderful all at once.  Maybe that is the definition of real life we must all embrace.


I can only imagine what an energetic boy you’d be, Isaiah, as you turn three(!).  We miss you.  I praise God and rejoice that you are celebrating your birthday and Easter in heaven this week – yet there is always pain in the offering of that rejoicing.  Loving and missing you always and forever, sweet boy.  Always. <3 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

"Jesus Mourns With You"

My Mom shared this article with me, and it really encouraged me as I've been contemplating if allowing ourselves to continue to mourn and feel grief deeply is Biblical. All I know is that I definitely identified with this:  ..."the more she pushed her grief down, the more it came out in places she didn't want it to, and in ways that she didn't understand or expect." If we don't tend to our grief, it will come out in other ways.  Though they come less often, when the waves of grief come, lately it seems harder to give myself permission to feel sorrow deeply if that is how I'm feeling...like I shouldn't be that sad anymore...like others won't understand anymore.  But I am committing to tend to that grief and approach my feelings honestly instead of constantly trying to put a "Christian" spin on it.

Yes - I will continue to choose to keep healing and will claim the wonderful promises of God to keep me going - but when it is time, I will weep - or be upset - or take time to remember -- even if it doesn't seem like the most logical or Christian thing to do at the moment (and I am not convinced that ignoring emotions IS the Christian way to deal with feelings).  I don't want untended grief to seep out in other areas of my life, and trying to change my feelings to be something more "acceptable" to God or others is counterintuitive.  If I am having emotions that may be more sad than happy or even mad, I've wondered if I need to take them captive just like I need to take my unpleasing thoughts captive to Christ?  The problem lies in how we do this.  With thoughts - I bring what I've thought to God and ask him to help change my thoughts and try to think about other things.  At some level I think we can do this with emotions, too, but if we don't actually feel them and just try to suppress or change or skirt around those feelings, they will probably come out in some other way.  God didn't create us with emotions only to have us completely ignore them (on the flip side - we should not be controlled by them either).  Sometimes facing feelings head on and FEELING them IS a good way to deal with them - and then take them captive - or whatever you want to call it. Once they've been felt - then we can take a less emotional look at them and process if what we felt is the pattern we want to continue in.

Regardless of what is the "right" way to process emotions as a Christian (because I have no idea what that is), we need to be honest.  Jesus understands us perfectly and already knows how we feel.  We must approach him honestly.  The point is - whether you call it "taking your emotions captive" or working through things" or whatever -- the place we need to go is Jesus.  He already knows every detail of our feelings, and he is "moved by the depths of our sorrow" and weeps with us.  We are messy - but he understands and accepts us just as we are.

*disclaimer to say that I am not always in this state of grief -- just when the waves of grief attack.  As time marches on, it continues to be hard to know how to process those emotions when they hit.*

Take a moment to read this short, excellent article:
"Jesus Mourns With You"

Monday, March 10, 2014

Isaiah's Kindness Project - 2014

I can't believe it.  I can't believe so many months have passed.  I can't believe that our rainbow baby is almost a year old.  I can't believe that our sweet Isaiah has been gone almost two years.  I haven't spent much time writing this year.  I suppose things have been busy with a new baby in the house, but I also decided early on that I wouldn't write just to write.  I would write when it came to me...when something inside was bubbling up to be said...when God prompted my heart to share.  I guess that time is now.

I came to the computer to write a post about Isaiah's Kindness Project - to ask if you'd like to remember him with us as his second birthday in heaven approaches.  It is so wonderful to think back on the AMAZING acts of kindness that occurred last year in honor of Isaiah's first birthday.  (If you haven't sent me your story, please do!  I know I am missing some, and I'd love to have it included on that post).  Instead of only memories of loss and sorrow accompanying the calendar days leading up to the loss of Isaiah, we also have the memory of wonderful acts of love and kindness shown to others by many of you last year.  Thank you - for helping bring joyful memories to a hard time of year for us.

It was very good for me to go back and re-read the kindness project announcement from last year.  With the last month being especially hard for me, it was almost like it was written for me...

"...As we've lived this year without Isaiah, of course we miss knowing him and getting to see him grow in these ways.  Of course we "see" him in the shadow of those sweet babies that are his age.  Of course it seems wrong that there is this hole in our family.  Of course I am desperate to keep fresh in my mind what he looked like and felt like...

...Yet amidst all of that, we praise God - that he has brought much grace, healing, and peace.  We will never "get over" losing Isaiah...we will never "move on"...but we will choose to embrace the peace and healing our Lord offers as we work through our loss.  We will celebrate his short life here.  We will celebrate the glory he experiences now.  We will choose to continue to live.  We will choose to remember."


Lately I've felt trapped in wanting to choose to be sad instead of choosing to "embrace the peace and healing the Lord offers."  Early on it was like this sometimes, too...wondering if being sad was the only way to feel close to this boy I only knew from the inside for 36.5 weeks.  I know it's OK to be sad - but it is also important to CHOOSE to have faith and hope...to celebrate...to live....to remember.  Reading that post reminded that last year at this time I was in a place to have the strength to do that - and I'm ready to do that now, too.

As I think about asking others to partner with us in remembering Isaiah, fear edges in that some may believe that two years is too long to mourn and grieve a death.  But we aren't just mourning and grieving death...we're honoring a LIFE.  So for those of you who are still reading - thank you for understanding - or at least trying to understand this.  Though it may show in different ways over time, we will never stop remembering our child.  Thank you for shouldering that with us.  It isn't easy for us to say that we'll never be the same again, either.  But we won't - and we shouldn't.

We have chosen the Kindness Project as an annual way to honor and remember Isaiah's life and also share love and kindness with others in order to bring glory to God.  We call it Isaiah's Kindness Project.  Would you consider participating in Isaiah's Kindness Project with us as we prepare to celebrate Isaiah's second heavenly birthday? 

Over the next few weeks - between now and Isaiah's second birthday (April 2, 2014) - we would love for our family and friends to consider remembering Isiaah by doing something kind for someone else.  It can be something large or small - planned or random - known or anonymous - to those you know or don't know.

If you'd like, feel free to print off one of these CARDS from the International Kindness Project (sponsored by the Miss Foundation on July 27th each year - and the inspiration for our project).  Then - if you wish - you can give the card to the person you serve with kindness to let them know that you're doing this in honor of Isaiah.  Last year some gave cards, some verbally shared with others - even strangers - about Isaiah, and others kept it anonymous.  Please do whatever you feel comfortable doing. If you aren't sure what to do for your act of kindness, HERE are some ideas to get your thought process moving.  Sadly I don't have the post done, but some things people did last year included:

-Paying for the dinner or coffee of someone behind them in line or for another family at a restaurant.
-Donating blankets, outfits, hand/foot molds, or other items to the labor/delivery unit at the local hospital to give to families who will endure future losses
-Donating diapers to a women's advocate shelter
-Giving grocery store gift cards to random people at the grocery store
-Choosing people in your life you want to bless, and visiting them or baking something to bring to brighten their day
-Giving gift cards to a friend in need
-Sponsoring a Compassion child
and many more...

Just remember that no matter how large or small, we are so very excited and honored that Isaiah will be the reason for some acts of kindness over the coming weeks.  If you are able and willing to participate, please share your experience with us (through blog comments, email, or facebook) so that I can document them to remember.  It doesn't have to be long, but maybe write about what you did, how you decided what to do, the impact it made on them or you, etc - and include a picture if it seems appropriate.

As the second anniversary of the day we met Isaiah approaches, we want to stop and remember our precious child - and also remember all that the Lord has done in our lives because of him.  Thank you for the constant love, support, and prayers you have given over the past two years.  And thank you for honoring Isaiah's life with us as he spends his second birthday in heaven.

Love,
The Kleinsassers

taken in Mexico - Feb. 2014

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

18 months - Just as We Are

Today marks 18 months since Isaiah was born into heaven.  Though grief ebbs and flows, overall if asked how I am doing I'd probably say, "pretty good."  Yet moving out of our house in the cities and leaving the place where he should've come home -- coupled with a move and the constant struggle of knowing how to share about his life with new friends in a new town -- combined with watching our sweet baby girl grow, yet wishing I could still be watching him grow, too...those things are hard.  So saying "we're good" can be a mixed bag.  We are good - but there are still hard moments tossed in.  This sounds familiar...I have a feeling this will describe much of the rest of our lives.

As this date has been approaching, I have been drawn to pause and remember those early days.  I must say that thinking on what we have lost and what Isaiah has gained still pierces my heart - even 18 months later (and probably always will).  It is not the same suffocating grief - yet when I really stop and remember the day we met and said goodbye - it still brings the same gut-filling ache as the moment I saw his still heart on the screen.  As we finally make our final choices on his headstone - on OUR headstone - I still stare at his name and am so sad that he is gone.  And yet - somehow - through the grace given only by God - there is still an overarching sense of peace...moments of joy.  It's not that I miss Isaiah any less...the grief just keeps changing. Somehow we have found a way to keep living.  Though it is messy and I will never be the same, at least I know that there is life past the depths of grief.  I would never have dreamed that could be possible 18 months ago. 

C - 18 months  
 
 
                                                                                  L - 18 months

At a milestone like this, it would seem normal to imagine what Isaiah would be like if he were here right now...a busy, 18 month old little boy toddling around the house getting into everything.  Though I do think on this sometimes, I much more often gaze at my 6 month old rainbow girl (who we are SO VERY thankful for and in love with) and wonder if she looks like him or what he would've been like at this age. 

                                                                                         E - 6 months.

Sometimes as I watch E grow, grief edges in as I re-realize that I have lost these moments with Isaiah.  In that sense, some of the grief is a little worse since she came.  Sometimes I feel bad about that - and I pray that I will never allow her to be overshadowed by his absence but will instead cherish those moments with her all the more.  On the other hand (and this may not make sense) - sometimes as I watch E grow and try to cherish those moments, it brings some healing to missing his.  Isaiah has helped me to stop and enjoy these moments with E...he has made me a better mom.  Even with the pain, I am so thankful that I was chosen to be his mom. <3

The kids and I were reading from Genesis for "History" class recently and in the listing of Noah's genealogy, the verses would list each person living x number of years and then dying.  But when we came to Enoch it said he lived 365 years and then was "no more."  The fact that he was no more and taken to heaven without dying made us all wonder why?  In digging a little deeper we find that God took Enoch from this earth before death because he was so pleased with him.  This also made me think of Isaiah (obviously not at all a good comparison, but it brought this to mind all the same).  Why was Isaiah allowed to go to glory so soon?  In trying to answer that question, I realized just how far I've come in 18 months.  Early on, many of my "why" questions related to me -- why he was taken from us? -- why God thought we would be able to endure this loss?  But now when I ask "why," I wonder more about him -- why this was allowed to happen to him? -- why are God's ways are so mysterious?  I honestly don't know that I could say that I wouldn't choose to have him here if I could, but on the other hand, I couldn't not want him to be experiencing heaven either.  There is such a mixture of feelings - but being able to trust God and know that things are as they need to be for now -- that has brought much peace -- even amidst continued grief.

So that is about where we are these days.  Keeping on - and always loving and missing you, sweet boy.  Always. <3




Sunday, May 5, 2013

One Year

With a newborn in the house, it has taken some time to finish this post.  Thank you for waiting for a post that has been on my heart for a long time...

April 2, 2013

One year ago today our hearts were filled with a simultaneous joy and pain.  As silence filled a room that should have been filled with a baby's cries, the internal cry of our breaking hearts was all we could hear.  Our beautiful child, Isaiah...born still...yet our joy and love for him was anything but still.  It abounded and continues to abound...our love for you, Isaiah...our beautiful son.


Today - remembering the sting of death that brought a dark, hovering cloud to our souls one year ago brings a sting of tears and memories of heart wrenching moments...but it is also a wonder to consider the months of processing, living, and healing that we have done since.

One year ago - I felt like I couldn't breathe.  My arms and heart literally ached from loss.  How is it that we have survived this year?  How could we choose to keep on living...to seek an understanding of grief and loss...to seek some healing of these deep wounds?  Though it was tempting to constantly want to return to the rawness of Isaiah's death in order to "remember" him, it soon became apparent that I couldn't truly live in that state of mind.  Remaining in the that state meant that I couldn't live in a way that would benefit those still here - that I couldn't live out the purposes God had for my life.  Remaining in raw grief wouldn't really help others remember Isaiah in a positive way...instead it would do the opposite.  I wanted to honor Isaiah's life....not his death.

Even though God's love for us surpasses understanding, becoming a parent helped me understand what God's love for his children might be like.  Losing a child has helped me understand it even more.

I love to consider these verses - a prayer Paul prayed for others...

"And I pray that you...may have power...to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."    Ephesians 3:17-19

This year God has gracefully given us power to understand a glimpse of that wide, high, and deep love.  I KNOW how much he loves us and that he felt/feels our sorrow with us.   Even though he knows why Isaiah's death happened, it doesn't change the fact that it hurts him to see us endure it.  So many of our friends and family cried and mourned with us over the loss of Isaiah...and God, too, mourned with us.  He perfectly understands and feels our sorrow.

It is hard to explain, but understaning more of God's deep love has helped me deal with our loss.  I can't really put my love for Isaiah into words.  When I think about it, I can't breathe.  Since my love for my children is only a shadow of the perfect love of Christ for HIS children, how much more does he love us?  Even though he allowed us to endure this horrible thing and it hurt him to see us go through it...he loves us more than we can imagine.  His love is beyond comprehension!  When I think about it, I can't breathe.  It may seem valid to think that it isn't fair that we lost our son and to shake our fists at God...but gaining a better understanding of his love helps dissipate those feelings of anger and despair that are natural in grief.

As we live through Isaiah's first birthday in heaven, I want others to remember him and to know the depth of our love for him...but ultimately I want you to be able to grasp how wide and long and high and deep the love of Christ is for YOU!  In order to come to know God, you must choose to accept this love.  I pray that you will consider this.

As this year mark of Isaiah's birth and death passes us by, on one hand I am sad that the time of people readily remembering him also seems to be passing us by.  Yet I know that so many will continue to remember.  Though much healing has taken place, there is no end to grief.  There is no erasing the scar in this life.  Yet one starts to get used to shouldering the sorrow that we will carry for a lifetime.  I will always carry Isaiah...for a time in my womb...for a time in my arms...always in my heart.

I am so thankful that we can look back over this year and see God's grace, kindness, and faithfulness.  He is forming beauty in our hearts where there once were only ashes.  May we continue to be a testament to what he has done...for he has done great things!

"He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted...to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion--to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."    Isaiah 61:1-3


Monday, April 1, 2013

Welcome to the World!

Welcome to the world Elisabeth Susanna Joy!  

Born March 28, 2013 at 2:20pm
6lbs 15 oz, 20 in






We are in love with you, our rainbow girl, and are so thankful that God 
has entrusted you to us in this life.  You belong to Him. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Reflections on Holy Week

I love Easter.  I look forward to it each year.  Easter helps me focus on Christ our Savior who is alive today - my savior and friend - who advocates for even me...one who deserves NONE of it.  He died to save us from the sin that separates us from our creator.  I love Easter.

Holy week - or the week leading up to Easter - (along with the Lenten season) - is a great time to reflect on the events of the time preceding Christ's death and resurrection.  But last year Holy week changed for me.

I remember posting one word on my Facebook status on Palm Sunday last year...Hosannah.  Hosannah means "save us" - and it was shouted to Jesus as he entered Jerusalem on a donkey - just days before he was crucified (this story is what is remembered on Palm Sunday).  What I didn't realize was how much I would need to lean on Christ to "save us" in our moments of grief that began that night - when we discovered our unborn child - whom we were expecting to join us in this life so soon - no longer had a beating heart.  It was the day after Palm Sunday that our son, Isaiah, was delivered silently into this world...loved...cherished...missed by so many.  It was the week leading up to Easter that we planned a funeral and woke each day to the shock that our son had died.  It was the day before Easter Sunday that so many graciously gathered to love and miss our child with us -- while still holding to the hope of Christ and proclaiming our faith not only in the fact that we would see Isaiah again - but that we trusted God - even amidst this storm.

I have been expecting the arrival of April 2 next week to be a hard time.  The anniversary of Isaiah's birth/death would seem to be an obvious time to remember...and it might very well be hard.  But grief is so funny that way -- it attacks when you least expect it -- and sometimes the "obvious" times that should be hard just aren't.  I definitely wasn't expecting Holy week to bring back so many memories this year...yet it has.  The date of Easter will change each year - but I do wonder how much I will associate with Isaiah's actual birth date and how much I will associate his birth with Holy week.

Praise God that we have the hope of Easter - that Christ rose and is alive - so that we can count on him for salvation.  Without it we would not have hope...hope to be saved from sin...hope to know our Lord...hope to be with Isaiah for eternity.  This Easter - this Holy week - please consider the hope that is offered through Christ.  Without it - this life is hopeless.