The word alone - miracle - stirs up some anxiety in me. When we were pregnant with Gabriel, we knew his diagnosis was fatal, and yet we had lots of people saying they were praying for a miracle. I never prayed that prayer. That's a huge confession for me - and it's taken me 3 years to actually say it on here. But, the truth is, I knew of another Potter's Momma who was religiously (no pun intended) praying for a miracle for her baby, and it never happened. I guess I never wanted to set myself up for even more disappointment.
So, I would kinda cringe inside when people would tell me that they were praying for a miracle for my own baby. I understand why they did that. Lord knows, we were all hoping for the best. I guess I didn't feel like I had a right to ask for such a thing. I remember after Gabriel was born, alive, and passed away two short hours later - the news broke out via Facebook that our precious son had indeed left this earth. It had rained all morning long while I was in labor, and then that afternoon the entire Tri-State area witnessed a double rainbow in the sky. Unbelievers were texting me saying that it was such an "obvious sign" from God, that all would be okay. Makes me cry just thinking about it.
But the pastor (and friend) that did our funeral services told me later, that he had several people who were "livid" because God hadn't heard, or answered their prayer, that my son would live - that God would perform a miracle in him. I didn't know how to feel about that.
Then, this past Easter morning, our own Pastor talked about miracles. It made me cry and shake my head in agreement. I took notes, knowing I wanted to share it with you all on here. So, here you go!
First, he reminded us all that Christ died so that we could uncover wholeness! We are constantly searching for "quick fixes" for our problems, but they never work; they never last. He talked about the white-washed tomb, where Christ was laid to rest - such a perfect image of how we go about our lives. Looking good and clean from the outside for all to see, but inside - decay and death. Just as a dirty cup has to be cleaned from the inside out, so do our hearts! We are all broken. And in this life, where people are constantly praying for their colds to get better, we are missing the point. Life is not about feeling better or recieving healing - it is about something much deeper!
But, don't miss this point - God CAN heal, DID heal, and still DOES heal people today - both in the Bible and in the present. BUT, that's NOT THE POINT. The point of everything in life is to GET OUR ATTENTION.
And my son's DEATH got people's attention. It drew people back to Christ. It improved Godly relationships. It forced people to think about death and Heaven, and changed the way they see life - with a more eternal perspective.
So, if you're praying for someone to receive healing, maybe even a miracle, that's okay. But, just remember that God hears ALL prayers, and even answers ALL prayers - but sometimes His answer is "No." And there's an eternal and profound explaination for HIS WAYS.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts," Isaiah 55:9.
*Need a church?? LifeHouse Church East meets at Leitersburg Cinemas. Three services on Sunday Morning: 8:45am, 10am, and 11:15am. We'd love to have you!! :)
I love to talk to Joel about his brother, Gabe. I wouldn't ever want him to hear about him from someone else, and to think, "Why didn't anyone ever tell me I had a brother?" So, we keep photos of Gabriel around our house and love to hear just how Joel remembers things we've told him about Gabe's short life.
The other day, Kyle was feeling sad, so I simply explained to Joel that sometimes Daddy is sad because he misses Gabe. And sometimes Mommy gets sad, because she misses Gabe. Joel just sat there and thought for a second and then spoke up, "I have an idea! Why don't we all just go up to Heaven to be with him??"
So, tonight as I'm getting Joel ready for bed, I asked him if he remembered his brother's name...
Joel: Yes, Gabe.
Me: That's right. And where is he?
Joel: In Heaven.
Me: Yes, he is. And do you know why?
Joel: (Thinks for a minute...) Because he is with Jesus, and they love us.
Me: (Stunned after that short and simple explanation...) If anyone ever asks you where your brother is, you can tell them that he is in Heaven, and he's not here with us because Gabe was very sick.
Joel: Momma, is Gabe a baby or a big boy?
Me: (Trying to decide how to answer...) He was a baby when he left us to go to Heaven, so he is a baby.
Joel: Well, when we bring him to OUR house, he'll be a big boy.
I was too stunned to continue our conversation. Wow. Well, yes he will. When we are reunited with Gabe, we will all be in Heaven. And the bible talks about having a glorious home there. What a nice picture - my entire family, together, forever.
So after a romantic dinner with my amazing hubby, we decided to head over to Target and the surrounding stores. Just a few moments into our adventure, I take a look around, notice all the St. Patty's Day and Spring decorations and realize that I haven't decorated Gabriel's gravesite since Christmas. I cannot even describe into words the amount of guilt that came flooding in. Kyle assured me that we would take some time to shop and devote some much needed time to our son...
A few days later I walked back into the store and the delightful trip I had imagined quickly turned into the reality that I was trying to find the perfect objects for my son's GRAVE. I watched other happy people looking and gathering items and just wanted to walk up to them and say, "Oh, what's that for? Probably something a lot less sad than a gravesite." I know. Mature.
I ended up choosing a few things for my Gabey baby and then made the quick decision that I also needed to spruce up my back porch area. This, obviously, was just a way to stop the more difficult task I found myself in. Here's what we ended up creating, something I was very happy with:
Found a cute little Easter rabbit, a flag with a tie-wearing boy bunny, and a precious pastel-colored bell wreath to hang near his flag. There were some St. Patty's beads left from a friend, along with some toys for my little man.
Okay, so back to the shopping trip... I start looking around for decorative items for our back porch area. I'm having a blast (cause it's so much more fun than what I WAS doing) and I'm trying to figure out what kind of "theme" to go with. Oh decisions, decisions. After much thought, and acquiring input from the hubby, I decided that birds would be a precious theme. Decided to get a hanging sign above our bench:
And some pretty garland perfectly placed around the bench, and a handsome perched bird to go on our side table...
And as I started assembling all my decorations, I realized that my chosen theme was PERFECT. The only piece of Gabey I have sitting on my back porch - a white ceramic angel... holding what?? A tiny bird....
Couldn't be happier with my finished product...
I woke up this morning with another headache. It's so exhausting, mentally and phsycially, to have chronic daily pain. As I laid in bed listening to my kids start to wake, I thought of Gabriel. I'm not exaggerating when I say that not a day goes by that I don't think about him, but on special days like holidays, he's usually my first thought. I try not to have "what if he was here" thoughts, but there's just no denying that there's a piece of my heart missing.
So, what's a grieving gal to do?? Gather the kids, put them in cute red clothing and take their picture! I told Joel to go upstairs and grab his "Gabey Bear" so that he could be incorporated into the photo as well. Enjoy this picture of my little ones. All of our LOVE, from here and ABOVE.
And here's a Valentine's Card I made two years ago, in 2010. My little man is getting so big!
Striving to be content in all things. It's a decision I have to make every single day. Thankful for the two beautiful children I have on this earth, but oh so sad for the two waiting for the rest of our family in Heaven.
Kyle and I have been reading "Heaven is For Real," and decided to buy the kid's version of the same book for Joel and Zoe to read. I highly recommend both. The book is about a little boy who visits Heaven during a near death experience, and he explains it the only way he knows how, like an innocent child. One of the most profound things he shares with his family is that he met his little sister, a child his mother miscarried - something that they had never even shared with him.
It's made me think so much about the baby I miscarried in July of 2010. I think since then, I've really emotionally dismissed that loss because it felt so insignificant compared to the loss of Gabriel, who was full-term, born alive, and died in our arms over the course of two hours. But if I believe that life begins at conception, there is another life that was lost and is now with Gabriel. Gabriel is experiencing Heaven with his sibling! Why have I never thought of all of this before?
I remember a friend of mine explained that she always "felt" the baby she miscarried was a boy, and that she named him. In the book, the little boy shares that his sister in Heaven didn't have a name, because his parents never gave her one. I'm now comfortable enough emotionally to share that I always felt my first July baby was a girl. And I have decided her name is Mercy, because she escaped the hardness of this life by the grace of God.
Somehow, I've found more healing since giving her a name. And I can't wait until Friday, when I celebrate turning 30 by having three more stars added to the top of my foot - four stars total to symbolize the four children I have.
Reading the bible with Joel the other night really solidified my decision to honor my children in this way. Genesis 15:5 reads, The the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, "Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. This is how many descendants you will have!"
Joel's really into rhyming words... The other day he was going through everyone's name, "Daddy Patty, Mama Llama, Joel Bowl, Zoe Oh-ee, what's Gabe's name?" I said, "He's Gabey Baby, remember?" Then Joel started talking about Gabe. More than he's ever talked about his brother. He told me that he knew he was in Heaven, and that I'd put him there (??), but wanted to know if he'd be back tomorrow. He told me that it made him sad that he wasn't here. I was stunned. I just kept folding laundry, trying to stay quiet, to allow him to say as much or as little as he wanted. It was so incredible to hear.
Then I asked him if he thought we should have another baby. Yes, of course we should. "I need a brother." "And we should name him Sam?" "Yes, Mama."
As a parent, you feel priviledged to speak to your children about Jesus, but it's a special kind of honor to talk to them about someone who is actually with Jesus, a sibling they only met for a few moments... two and a half years ago. I am so grateful that he remembers his little brother. I am so thankful that having a brother who has passed away gives my son more perspective about Jesus, Heaven, and eternity.
Last night, something amazing happened. I saw my child's face. I saw the face of Gabriel, not as the newborn I gave birth to, not the face I saw taking his last breaths, no. It was the face of a two year old little boy, smiling sweetly down to me, seated right next to Jesus.
I have been feeling very overwhelmed lately. Zoe is back to being very fussy and rarely content. Joel is struggling daily to master potty training, which as any parent can tell you, is very draining. Kyle has been amazing and so helpful and we even spent all day yesterday accomplishing everything I could think of that may ease my anxiety. Still, after groceries were purchased, the pictures were sorted, the house was cleaned and organized, I still felt literally paralyzed in my anxiety. I went to bed early.
I heard Zoe crying sometime in the night and after I went in to check on her, my anxiety was at an all time high. I woke Kyle up, asking him to pray over me. He prayed that Satan wouldn't have a foothold in my life and that Jesus' presence would be a source of calm and comfort. He prayed that angels would be watching over us, our children, our home. He prayed that an angel would guard our room and sit out on our bedroom balcony. And as he spoke these words, I began weeping. I tried to find comfort in what he was saying, what he was asking. And as I imagined angels guarding my home, I thought of my very own angel. And then I saw his face.
You know how people say they know a thought is from God, when it jumps in their head faster than their own mind could think of it? Well, seeing his face was kind of like that. I saw it so clearly, and it was so HIM, that I knew I didn't dream it up, that it was actually him. I hope that makes sense.
So what did he look like? Oh my goodness. He was the perfect mix of both Joel and Zoe. Joel's hair is white blond, while Zoe's came out dark brown, and Gabriel was right in between. It made me think about how often people question how dark Zoe's hair is in comparison to Joel's and that if Gabey was still here, he would literally be the missing link between them.
His face was precious and dear and chubby. And his smile was loving, with sweet big eyes. The best way to describe it would be to show you pictures of my kids and tell you that he was a mixture of these:
So, what's new with everyone? Here's an update on the Dingle household! Kyle and I have been together nine years in January. He continues to be the most amazing husband on this planet. He is encouraging, hilarous, and handsome as ever. He is still teaching fifth grade, and is loving it. At the end of every school year, his favorite student is always the one who gave him the most trouble. He has such a heart for the hurting. I love him dearly, and fall even more in love with him the longer I know him. I'm so fortunate to have him in my life, my daily constant reminder of what unconditional love looks like.
Joel will be three and half next month. He continues to be an easy, happy, loving little boy. He's still larger than most kids his age, wearing size 5 clothing, hovering about a head above everyone else. He has completely mastered peeing on the potty, but has yet to do #2. Some days it feels like I'll be packing diapers for him when he leaves for college, but I know he'll do it when he wants to. He is a very smart little guy, completing puzzles way advanced for his age. His 150+ puzzles are now so easy for him, that he completes them upside-down. He loves to talk about the alphabet, sound out words, and spell his name. He has the dearest face and the kindest temperment. Yes, he has his moments, but overall he's an eager to please kinda guy. He's, not surprisingly, an amazing big brother, constantly asking to give his sister kisses.
Gabriel would be two now, running around and getting into things. Sometimes I look around while Joel is playing joyfully on his own, and Zoe lays on her mat smiling at her toys, and I imagine another little boy opening cabinets and climbing the tv stand and then I think about how lovely it is that I can go upstairs and shower with the easy two kids I have now!!
Zoe is the absolute most precious baby in the world. I'm sure all Mommas think this, but I just can't get over that God gave me the prettiest little girl ever created! She's almost four months old (OMG) and has become a very happy, cuddly little one. She sleeps very well, just like her older brother, going to bed at 7/8pm and not waking up until 7/8am. She takes three naps for me during the day, and stays pretty happy after eating 5oz. Like most girls, she loves to "talk" and has started to belly laugh. She has rolled over from her belly to her back two times, and now rolls to her side when you lay her on her back. She's completely used to falling asleep while I literally kiss all over her face and cheeks. I want her to be able to fall asleep on her own, but find myself rocking her and cuddling her way more than I did Joel. I guess the third time around, you realize just how quickly they aren't babies anymore. I'm obsessed with smelling her and dream about how I can bottle her scent. My favorite is the smell of her hands, after being balled up. Crazy, I know. Love her so very much and can already see the difference in the love a momma has for her little girl.
I'm doing pretty well these days. My head knows how truly blessed I am, but sometimes my heart still aches. Contentment is something I continue to strive for, but I feel it more and more often. I'm still pretty OCD when it comes to everything being in its place, and I've been lucky enough to be given a toddler who agrees with this philosophy. I have the best friends in the world, who lift me up in prayer and make me laugh so hard I cry.
There are three reasons I think you should see this film:
1. Crying is good for the soul, and the healing process. And you will cry. You might be like me, and just tear up while you watch, and then as soon as it's over - the flood gates open. The song playing during the disc menu doesn't help...
2. The movie addresses complex grief issues that people don't often understand - like how we blame ourselves for our loss, that grief can take on various forms such as anger, how loss brings up underlying emotional scars, how loss effects different people in different ways, and how the loss of a child effects all your relationships.
3. I love Natalie Portman.
Although I may no longer sound sane, I'd like to share something with my readers. As much as I miss my Gabe, and as often as I think of him, I've never so much as had a dream about him. But, the other week, I had what I'll call an encounter...
Kyle came home from work, exhausted. He came into the living room and sat beside me on the couch. I was holding Zoe in my arms, leaning her against the pillow on my left, and I could feel Kyle on my right, as he put his head back and took a much needed nap after a busy day. Joel was sleeping soundly upstairs. I figured since everyone around me was sleeping, I'd go ahead and shut my eyes too. A few minutes later, still very much awake, I had a distinct feeling that the gap between Zoe on the left side of my lap, and Kyle touching the right side of my body, was now occupied. It felt like I had my baby on my left, my husband on my right, and snuggled in between was my Gabriel.
Even as I type this, it brings me to tears. It was a very concrete sensation. For just a moment, I know that Gabriel's spiritual presence was with me. I felt like my entire family was together in that moment.
Call me crazy, but I hope it happens again soon...