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 I shouldn't be that sad 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 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.

The Kleinsassers

taken in Mexico - Feb. 2014