One week ago I didn’t know what to do. What to say. How to help.
One week ago I hadn’t ever really grieved. Hadn’t cried so hard my eyes, throat and chest hurt. Hadn’t ever seen my friends all doing the same.
One week ago I had never hugged my friend and the children’s pastor at my church so tight I never wanted to let go.
One week ago I didn’t know just how great my church really was, is and probably will always be. One week ago I was not as proud as I am now to say I’m on staff at Lakeview Covenant Church.
One week ago I was sweating after class, getting a phone call from my husband that life had changed forever for our good friends, Chris and Christy. Their 3 month old, long-awaited for, much prayed for, much prepared for baby boy didn’t wake up from his morning nap.
One week ago I had never held a dead child, much less a sweet baby. That sweet babe was rocked in his momma’s arms all day until dad arrived from his trip to Michigan. Momma shared him, asked me to say goodbye to him. So I did.
One week ago I had never fallen to my knees so many times. 168 hours of pain, sadness and the inability to shake the feeling that just .7 miles away, a family has been shattered.
One week ago people starting praying, bringing food, cleaning bathrooms, taking care of the other 3 children, putting onesies away and gathering photos. One week ago people starting asking “how can I help?” and figured out a million ways to love.
One week ago I heard Grandpa Bob say, “It’s times like these when we really start to love each other the way we should.”
I heard Christy say, while holding baby Isaac’s body, “God is still good. Don’t worry you guys” (tears streaming down her face) “I won’t forget that. Even now.”
I heard my own children ask, “Are you afraid to let us go to sleep Momma?” “Are you still sad about baby Isaac?” “Why didn’t I die when I was a baby?”
I heard people at the visitation and funeral say, “This church takes care of people.” “Christy sure has a lot of running friends.” “I came from Edina. Chris and I used to work 2 offices apart. I had to come.”
One week ago, I knew Chris and Christy could run forever. But I didn’t know they could stand for 5 hours to greet, weep and hug the hundreds of people who came to church to support them.
One week ago, I knew I loved these friends of mine, and our community group which has met for almost two years. But I didn’t know the extent we would go to show love at at time like this. One friend moved out of her house for three days so family from out of town could move in and be 2 blocks away from Chris and Christy’s home.
One week ago, I knew my friends loved Jesus. But I didn’t know that they could place a hand on their baby’s stomach, in a casket and point to the Cross while singing, “through it all, through it all, my eyes are on You.”
we sang this song at the funeral and it’s worth a listen…
One week ago I knew Christy loved babies, especially her own. But I didn’t know she could still hold her relatives’ and neighbors’ babies without a painful look on her face.
One week ago I knew Chris and Christy had friends and wonderful ones at that. But I didn’t know the dozens, hundreds and even more who love them. The flowers (dozens of arrangements), the bars and cookies (counters filled at the church) and even the ice cream (tubs of it) donated by Bridgeman’s for the funeral told us how. At the touch of a text button, goods for a family waiting room at the church (chapstick, CLIF bars, waters and someone thought of makeup remover pads) showed up in 24 hours. Even a refrigerator. After 3 emails and a handful of text messages, those bars and cookies showed up. The woman coordinating the kitchen for the meal after the service had to turn people away from helping serving.
One week ago, and this may be the most important, I knew God was faithful. That He provided. That He comforted the brokenhearted. That He could help the mother who miscarried twice one year apart. That He could give that same mother twins less than a year after the last miscarriage. That He could walk my friend Linda through the sudden death of her husband and replace dreams of a retired life with her husband with visions for other ideas. That He could strengthen those of us who suffer with energy to serve. That He loves us through one another.
But this week I know more than ever that God is real. He gave strength to my friend to sing and preach really, the song “How Great Thou Art” to begin the funeral of baby Issac. He gave Chris strength to speak and even make us laugh at the funeral. He gave laughter even the day of the death of Isaac as we remembered funny things, even as Christy was still holding Isaac.
Isaac means laughter. And I “happened” to being a chapter this week in Lauren Winner’s book “Wearing God” called laughter. Here is a quote from the Common Prayer: A liturgy for ordinary radicals:
Lord, to laugh in the midst of trial and to rejoice in the darkest valley is another way of saying, “our hope is in You.” Fill us with laughter and joy while we work for peace and strive for justice…
Help us to live so foolishly for you that we draw onlookers and those who would deride us. And while they watch and mock, change all our hearts that we might learn to laugh at the foolishness this world calls normal and run away with the circus that is real life. Amen.
Kids I’m joining the circus. I’m cleaning other people’s toilets. I’m up at 6 playing Battleship with my son. I’m visiting the widow across the street (good thing since her brother just died). I’m crying in the middle of renegade rows and push-ups (back to back mind you). I’m running 15 and 16 miles, praying for Chris and Christy every step. I’m asking for people to empty garbage cans. I’m putting on jammies at 5pm and making the kids chicken nuggets. I’m calling my BFF crying in the van on the ride down the Hill, watching the waves crash on the shore line and still driving to the Y. I am going to watch Anne of Green Gables with my daughter. I’m taking a nap.
And I’m praying that if I ever have to go through anything as hard as what my friends are going through, I will praise Him. Give Him credit. Rely on Him. And none of us will forget that He is good. And that He can grant us the ability to laugh in the midst of trial.
I’m running away with the circus… around 6am Friday – want to join me?