A little more than 2 years ago I experienced the hardest day of my entire life.
It was the day that Elizabeth & I lost “Blue.” That was the nickname we affectionately had for our unborn baby. Our first baby. Every week we tracked what fruit he/she was growing to the size of. When blueberry came up, “Blue” kind of stuck. It was never meant to stay – we just never got the chance to give another name. 2 years ago today Blue would have been born.
I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was so confident that there was nothing wrong. I remember calling Elizabeth that day and telling her not to worry – that I had prayed – that everything would be fine. That day was going to be a good day.
I’ll never forget that moment when they couldn’t find the heartbeat. The realization. The denial. The anger. The confusion. The deep, overwhelming sadness.
It felt as though a part of me had been ripped out. To say the next few days were tough was an understatement. Elizabeth and I went completely inward. We shut the doors on everyone. There was just so much pain – we didn’t know how to deal with it. The next few months we lived that way. Sort of like an emotional zombie – I went to work, went to church, came home, went to bed. Nothing mattered much, and I felt incredibly numb to most things.
Thinking back about it now is still hard. 2 years later, I still think about Blue. About what kind of big brother or sister he/she could have been to Evan. About how I would do anything to cradle that sweet baby in my arms just one time. I couldn’t protect this baby, and that has changed me forever.
I let my grief consume me for a really long time. I struggled with feelings of anger. Why did this happen to us? Did I not pray hard enough? Where was God? But mostly, I struggled with feeling like I was missing something – I felt incomplete.
There has been a lot of time in-between then and now. And many things have changed. In those two years we have experienced more loss, but also have experienced life, with the birth of our son, Evan.
We had prayed that God would give us stronger faith…the kind of faith that is just as strong when nothing seems to be right…faith that endures…even with such a loss as that of a child. We had to decide to trust God – To believe that His Word is true – that He is good and comes to bring abundant Life.
Evan was a gift. We gave Evan his name as a declaration. Evan means “God is good.” And that is how we have chosen to live – trusting and believing that He is good.
I have also reclaimed joy and peace in my life.
They are decisions in my life that I make every day. It doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle. It doesn’t mean that I have put our experiences with loss completely behind me. To be honest, I’m not convinced that I will ever be “over” them. These are my sweet children. And I carry them with me wherever I go. I see them in Evan’s sweet smile and wild spirit. In Elizabeth’s patience and gentle heart.
We aren’t living with closed hearts anymore and are so thankful for the friends and family that have covered us with prayer and love. What would we do without you?
Last night I put Evan down for bed and just watched him for a few minutes as he slept and thanked God for all that I have been given.
We are so blessed.
Our “story” isn’t always composed with chapters that we would have chosen had we been given the pen to write them ourselves- but we can remain confident in the knowing that hope exists in the truth that the Author who writes our story, has written a truly great, and a truly magnificent ending.
Our sweet boy Evan Isaiah turned one today!
A big recap will soon follow, but to sum it up – our day was filled with morning pancakes, family, visits from best friends, cupcakes, hot cocoa, cookies, and lots of laughter.
I made this video, which we showed at Ev’s party today – its a brief look at our first year together. Wow how the time flies! Enjoy!Read More»
Evan & I made this video. We normally don’t get to sit together on car rides. This was an exception, and we had fun.
Toys. Babies love them – and parents love to buy them. I remember when Elizabeth was pregnant, the geek side of me came out in a big way and I was researching toys and checking out what the newest things were – what technology was just coming out, etc. I wanted Evan to have the coolest toys. Or at least – what I thought were the coolest toys. I planned – saved – and picked out some of the most awesome, amazing, super cool devices and playthings a child could have.
Most of those toys or contraptions sit in a corner of our house, completely ignored by Evan – collecting dust.
Instead, Evan decided he liked other toys better. Cheaper toys. Toys that Dad did not purchase. His most favorite toy is the mallet from a xylophone (Glockenspiel) he received from his grandparents.
I don’t know what it is about this toy – we affectionately call it (the mallet) Stick - but you should see his face when he discovers it amongst his other toys. It lights up in a way that brings me back to Christmas morning when I was 10.
So yeah, he loves it. And he brings it everywhere with him. I can’t explain it – and I don’t try.
Isn’t that funny? Despite all the technology, all the research – I am yet again reminded that Evan (and you’re child too), has a mind of his own. He likes what he likes. He isn’t biased by all of our knowledge and thinking yet – a toy is great when it meets the requirements that he has for it.
Wow. Groundbreaking right?
Because – maybe as parents, we can get out of the way a little bit, and let our children make some of these decisions – allow them to make these discoveries on their own. For me, it was realizing that no amount of trying to force Evan to love the $199 toy I bought was better than the $20 xylophone (or mallet of the xylophone for that matter). One was better, and it wasn’t mine. One path yielded more happiness – and it wasn’t the one I had chosen.
Now, I know this all seems a bit overstated and silly, right? Don’t all kids pick the toys they like/dislike – and is any of this really a big problem/issue? Or is there really any huge significance to Evan loving a toy xylophone mallet? To these questions, I would agree – It isn’t a big deal yet, but the idea behind it has huge implications – and at least a great deal of significance for me as a Father as I consider the future.
It made me think this way – this may be a small concession of my will vs. Evan’s. I wanted him to play with the expensive cool toy – he wanted Stick. But as Evan grows, this will continue to play out in our lives over and over again. Before its too late, I want to have carefully thought about how to handle/react to these situations in the manner that is best for my son. Blogger “Jo White, aka MediaMum” put it this way:
That’s just the beginning. Kids grow up. They make bigger choices. Classes, part-time jobs, internships all enter the picture, along with social choices. It actually never gets easier. The kids get bigger, but so do the choices. It’s never easy to just let them make all their decisions.
When do you start giving your kids control over what they choose to do? Perhaps you let them decide, but you bend their ear relentlessly about whether their choice is the ‘right’ one or not. During the teen years perhaps the parenting becomes more about your ability to nag than the ability to physically have influence and limitations on the choices your kids make. Perhaps we overcompensate with our opinions because our children get to the point where they have the same rights in society that we do?
When do we step back and let them make their choices, just as we make ours, and allow them to see what happens?
As Evan grows up, I am going to think back to today – to how much my precious little wildthing loves Stick, and how that was never my plan – never what I chose, but how happy it made him. I tried to teach him – and he taught me instead. Maybe by remembering this, I will find the right balance of influence / suggestion / decision making / nagging. That’s the goal, right?
If you are still reading and thinking to yourself, “Wait – I thought this was about buying stuff? Where is the advice about buying things???”
My practical advice is to not get too consumed with consuming. Of course we are going to go and buy new things for our children – Evan has a small mountain of things – but don’t get so worked up over making sure they have x toy because it’s awesome, or that they love y toy the most because Grandma Sue bought it special for him/her. They will love what they love. It may just be a stick.
If you are still reading and thinking to yourself, “Wait – I am still confused – I don’t know what to buy. I need help!”
Take a chance on your very own xylophone set. They say teaching kids music at a young age aids in better overall development!
Christmas is coming. Judging by all the store displays, you would think it’s next week!
It’s hard to believe how different things were last Christmas – We were so anxious for Evan to come. So excited about our new family life together. Now, here we are almost a year later and are already planning his first birthday! How crazy. Time certainly flies.
Christmas time – Are you as excited as we are?
**PS – don’t forget to enter our Tiny Prints Christmas Card giveaway – 50 Christmas Cards for Free!
being a father is
a deep and connecting force, capable of shaking mountains
seeing the world with new eyes, and an appreciation for the curiosity and wonder of childhood
a sacred responsibility, not to be taken lightly
an unwavering need to protect from the cruelty and unfairness in the world (though you know you can’t always)
sacrifice without obligation, placing the needs of your family before your own
recklessly silly, full of wild fun, laughter, and abandon
rediscovering what it means to love and be loved back
being a father is
a beautiful heaviness
Evan’s first trim for family photos today! What a big boy!