Choosing thanksgiving for Isaiah’s life

In case you missed it, in our last post we shared that we learned Isaiah passed away peacefully in utero this week.We are going in to start the induction process tonight. Before we go, I had a few things on my heart I wanted to share.

Both secular sources and Christians say that there’s something powerful about gratitude –  something about the act of giving thanks that changes us. Scripture says, “I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD” (Psalm 116:117). Sometimes choosing to give thanks is more of a sacrifice than other times.

There is still so much I don’t understand about this pregnancy and the “whys” of God allowing certain situations. Isaiah’s whole life was a surprise to us, and though we never felt the timing was ideal, we knew that we would love this child when he or she arrived, just as much as we love our girls. My pregnancy with Evelynn was a surprise too, but as the months went on and we knew we were expecting a healthy little girl, we found it easy to thank God for the unexpected blessing of her life. I felt strongly that God had a special purpose for creating her and the timing of her life and birth.

I admit it’s been harder to affirm this time when everything seems like such a disaster. I have struggled to find joy in this pregnancy, and after we received our news, I wondered, Why did God give us this surprise, only to give us a baby boy that has Trisomy 18? But I know there is value in thanking God for Isaiah’s little life, no matter how short it was and how broken his little body was. I want to keep the practice, even if I don’t feel like it or see the “why” in the moment.

Though our hearts are heavy yesterday and today, Dan and I can still see evidence of God’s hand already. Here are some things I’m thanking Him for:

  • We had already planned previously last week for the girls to spend this weekend with their Nana. They are safe and loved this weekend, enjoying time with her, and we didn’t need to worry about childcare.
  • We had a restful night of sleep last night, the best both of us have had in a long time.
  • Because I had some forewarning with Isaiah not moving, I had time to prepare my heart for the news, and also time to put some things in order for work and our home.
  • The doctor’s office was so accommodating, fitting us in to get an ultrasound.
  • We were worried because we hadn’t yet had our planning meeting with the Fetal Care Coordinator, Sonja, to lay out our wishes for Isaiah’s birth. However, she was available yesterday and was able to spend time with us. She also made the call and got us scheduled to have a photographer from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep come take keepsake pictures after Isaiah’s birth. This means the world to me.
  • The sunshine this Saturday morning is beautiful. After days of gray, dreary rain, I’m loving seeing the sun and the fall colors it brings out on the trees.
  •  The other weekend our pastor talked about “adversity friends”, the kind of friends who rally around you in times of difficulty. What a precious gift our friends and family have been to us in this time, with their acts of love, their words of kindness, and their prayers. They are teaching us how to love others in their times of adversity.
  • We knew we favored burial for Isaiah over cremation. After talking with Sonja, we were discouraged about looking into options for burying him because the cost is so excessive. One of our wonderful pastors helped us find a local funeral home that provides a casket at cost for bereaved families of infants, and a cemetery will donate the plot. It means so much to us to know we will have a place to go to honor and remember him.

When I was driving to Bible Study last Tuesday, I found myself praying two things: that Isaiah would know that he is loved, and that the Lord would take him peacefully into His arms.

I had no idea God would answer those prayers so quickly.

dsc_8361Earlier this week, a sweet friend gave me the gift pictured here. She wrote me later, “You are sharing Isaiah with the angels. Looks like they get to be the ones to teach him how to walk.”

When I opened her gift, it reminded me of a story I read years ago in one of Dr. Walt Larimore’s memoirs, Bryson City Secrets, about the miscarriage he and his wife experienced. (You can listen to Dr. Larimore share his story here, and I highly recommend it.)

After his child’s death, Dr. Larimore was devastated. In his words, “I cursed my Father. I fumed, I wrestled. And He was quiet. He said nothing.” Dr. Larimore sat down in his quiet time chair, and began to search God’s word. He doesn’t remember what He read, but he walked away with the sense that “God is good, that He is right, that He is righteous, that His love for us knows no bounds. And in all that He does and allows, whether good or bad, if we love Him and are called according to His purpose, He works it for our good.”

Dr. Larimore continues, “I felt arms come around me, and I had the sense that I was sitting in a lap, that I was being comforted by someone who loved me and understood pain.”

Sometime later, Dr. Larimore took care of a little boy who was diagnosed with bone cancer. Little Danny was a child of great faith, who loved Jesus and His word. His cancer progressed, and eventually he was on hospice, close to death. During his last visit to Danny, Dr. Larimore took his hand and prayed that Danny’s passing would be peaceful. That’s when Danny opened his eyes and said, “It will be, don’t worry – I know I won’t be here much longer, but Dr. Walt, I know where I’m going.”

“Where?” Dr. Larimore asked.

“I am going to Heaven,” Danny replied.

“How do you know?”

Danny was quiet for a moment before replying. “Because Azar told me so.”

“Who is Azar?” Dr. Larimore asked.

“You don’t know Azar? He is my guardian angel, and he comes here and sits with me and we talk about Heaven.”

“What does he look like?”

“He’s big and he’s strong, and he has golden hair, and he carries a big sword. Azar is my angel and my family’s angel. It is Azar who says He will take me to Heaven.”

Danny continued, “You haven’t met him? Are you sure?”

“Not that I remember,” Dr. Larimore said.

“That’s very interesting.”

“Why is that very interesting?”

“Well, because he says he’s your guardian angel too, and your wife’s and Kate’s [Dr. Larimore’s first daughter],” Danny explained.

“Azar was with you the night that you lost your baby, and it was Azar who took your baby to Heaven. It was Azar who held your wife as she wept.”

Dr. Larimore writes in his book what else Danny said:

“Azar told me about it. He said that one day you were very sad, Dr. Larimore. Azar told me that he was with you. And he said that after you had wrestled with him all afternoon, you finally crawled up in his lap, and he held you close while you cried. He told me he cried with you. …Azar took your baby to Heaven, and then he came back and was with you that day. He comforted you.”

…I could not remember telling anyone the story of my afternoon after the loss of our unborn child – not even Barb.

I remember being touched the first time I read this story, and it has new meaning now. I love that Scripture tells of us of God’s tender care for His smallest people:

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10)

How we look forward to meeting our son. Heaven is sweeter with him there. Thank you, Lord, for Isaiah’s life.

– Stephanie

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9 thoughts on “Choosing thanksgiving for Isaiah’s life

  1. Dear Stephanie, Dan, Evelynn & Sienna,

    Yesterday (10/21/2016) I received a prayer request email from EPM with a link to your blog…I am so very glad that our Precious Lord led me to Isaiah’s story. I’ve been praying for ALL of you through the night and today and will continue to pray until the Lord tells me to stop!!

    You are destined to help other families because of your journey with Isaiah (2 Cor 1:3-5). Please, allow us to continue to walk by your side in the days to come by continuing to blog. And, PLEASE, consider talking to Randy about how you (Stephanie & Dan) might go about writing a book about Isaiah. Who knows how many desperate mothers, fathers, and families might read your telling of Isaiah’s story and allow another “Isaiah” the privilege of life.
    With much love through our Lord Jesus,
    Cyndy Powell

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    1. Cyndy, thank you for your kind words. That you took the time to write means so much to me. An excellent book others have recommended to me and which I have started, is “I Will Carry You” by Angie Smith, telling of her and her husband’s journey in giving their daughter life. -Stephanie

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      1. May our God of joy, peach & comfort engulf you in His mighty arms and flood through your entire being with His Spirit!! One of my very favorite poems is “Foot Prints.” I am envisioning His foot prints in the sand as He carries you & Dan through & past these deep waters. I can hear His gentle voice saying “Peace. Be still.” And I can see Isaiah, whole, pure, and smiling as he runs with our Savior in Heaven!!

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    2. Cyndy, by the time I received this particular phone call, I had had 2 miscarriages and 2 babies, but not until a sweet friend call to tell me about her miscarriage did I begin to grasp the verses in Corinthians you referenced. Her words to me were, “I knew you would understand.” I had struggled with “why?” and had little understanding. But when she said those words and I could try to comfort hr from a place of empathy, Paul’s words rang in my head and heart. It was another step in the journey of healing. Thank you for your beautiful words.

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  2. Dan and Stephanie, my heart aches for you both. I am so touched and blessed by your story and Isaiah’s life. He will join our three that have preceded us to heaven. Thank you for trusting God and for relying on Him. HE is faithful! Grace and peace to you.

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  3. Thank you for these precious words of encouragement for all of us. Thank you for sharing your hearts, your love and your faith. Thank you for trusting your precious son to Jesus’ care knowing you will all be together as a family for eternity. Thank you Father for this little life you took to yourself and thank you for the impact this little one has already had on his family, me and many others.

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