Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Noah's Pics: Edition Four

13 days wasn't nearly enough time with this one.

sometimes it feels like the cruelest tease. we were cheated out of a lifetime getting to know who this little boy would grow to be and the type of man he'd become.

we'll never get to hear what his laugh sounds like. we won't know what his first word would have been. we won't ever meet the person he decided to spend the rest of his life with.

noah was an angel boy the moment he was born. and this picture captures the essence of his sweet and peaceful nature. so content.

i wish i could be a lot more like him.

there was a lot we didn't get and it's easy to focus on what we don't have, especially when what we don't have is the one who completed our world. that's quite the void.

but today i choose to be thankful for what we do have.

we have a son. and for that, and the world of love he brought, i am grateful.

i'm not going to lie though, i'm dreading tomorrow. the day of thanks. because it's really, really hard to be thankful right now when we are missing so much. and a day focused around family, when you are missing one third of yours, doesn't feel right in any way, shape or form.

on this grief journey some days are tougher than others, and today is one of the tough ones. i'm feeling a little sorry for myself and just want to curl up under a down comforter and watch some seinfeld.

but that's okay. oftentimes thankfulness is sweetest when found in the midst of bitter heartbreak.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Our Little World Changer

(last friday it crossed my mind to write this post, but it didn't happen. so it's happening today, four days later. whatever.)

50 years ago last friday, on november 22, two great men died. and as i scrolled through my facebook status updates that day, this one caught my eye. it was posted by one of my most beloved professors from whitworth university.

C.S. Lewis, a brilliant professor and Christian apologist, is more popular and influential today than he was when he died. JFK, a political icon, becomes more obscure with each passing year. 

gives one pause to think about enduring legacy.

enduring legacy.

i immediately thought of my noah.

what if noah's 13 days living and breathing was only the beginning of what his lasting life will be?

what if on june 18th, 2063 noah hudson butler will be remembered with fondness and respect? what if someone even posts a facebook status about him, 50 years from now?

what if God can use a little baby, no longer physically on earth, to spread His love and goodness to the ends of the earth?

this unassuming facebook status gave me great hope. it reminded me that death cannot put a stop to the growing impact of noah's life. or any life for that matter. mine. yours.

each one of us will leave a legacy that outlives us. because life is too big to be contained by death.

so i look forward to seeing how this little world changer makes a mark on eternity.

live on, my boy.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Jesus Loves Us

a friend of mine posted on facebook that he and his new wife got a free hotel room upgrade on their wedding night and then added #jesuslovesus.

i was genuinely happy for them and thought that was super fun, but i couldn't help but be a little bothered by the hashtag. Jesus loves us. 

not because i don't think Jesus loves them, i wouldn't doubt for a second that he does, it just made me question what that had to do with getting an awesome hotel room upgrade.

and then i immediately felt that feeling that has come so often the last few months. the sneaky, devilish lie.

does Jesus not love john and i as much?

because if blessings come to those Jesus loves, and them exclusively, then how do we explain when horrible things happen?

does Jesus play favorites?

i think there is a false belief in the christian world that God rewards those he favors and punishes those he disapproves of. 

this has to stop. it's soul damaging. it's un-biblical. (read about abraham, moses, mary, david, the samaritan woman, JESUS for examples of men and women who were deeply cherished and loved by God, yet who's lives were far from painless.)

don't get me wrong, there's definitely something to be said about reaping what you sow. the natural consequences of bad behavior will, more often than not, play themselves out. ie. if you smoke cigarettes, you're running the risk of getting lung cancer. or if you are continually selfish and think only of yourself, there's a chance that could majorly come back to bite you in the butt.

but to somehow believe that the homeless man on the bus, who everyone wants to avoid because he smells a little funny and makes weird noises, isn't loved by jesus as much as the person who drives a bmw, lives in a million dollar home and seems to have everything in life come so easily - is flat out bullsh*t.

let's not delude ourselves. no one is better than anyone else. we're all human.

now, john and i are not perfect. we sometimes harbor un-forgiveness. we have a hard time trusting. we could be even more sacrificial in our giving. we don't always use our words in edifying ways. but we are wholehearted, Jesus followers. we seek justice, love mercy and desire to honor God with our lives.

there is nothing, nothing, we did to deserve losing our son. nothing.

this is a mantra i have to repeat over and over again. because sometimes i believe the lie that God is punishing us or doesn't love us as much as someone else living a seemingly perfect life. and believing that disgusting lie is so incredibly painful and rips through to your core.

i don't know much, but what i know for sure is,

my God is a God of grace,

my God does not dole out tragedy according to good/bad behavior,

Jesus Loves Us. All Of Us.

whether we get a sweet hotel upgrade or our firstborn son dies, whether we are a heroin addict or volunteer at a food bank, whether we have a loving family or our family abandoned us, whether we lead large crowds in worship or don't attend church at all, whether we've never had one single bad thing happen in our entire lives or if every day is a tragedy.

He Loves Us. 
no conditions. no limits.

the end.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dear Family and Friends

whenever i start thinking about what we are going to do for the holidays i get really overwhelmed. there are so many unknowns. anticipating what we are going to feel like or need on any given day is already difficult, then throw in a major holiday surrounded by family, gift giving, giddy children, party planning, house decorating, expectations, wish list making... it's too much.

speaking of a christmas wish list, what do i want this year? just noah. everything else feels meaningless and void.

this is going to be a very different holiday season than any other john and i have ever had. a little less jolly. a little less sweet.

and then i find myself worried about what others are going to think. will family be hurt if we aren't able to host house guests or a big meal? will people think we are overreacting and should just suck it up and be happy? "it's the most wonderful time of the year!"

last week at our support group meeting "the holidays" were a major topic of conversation. one woman made john and i exchange smiles when she said, "we had personal success when we bought one pumpkin for halloween and put it on the doorstep. it's not even carved, but it's there."

we totally hear you.

i have no idea where all my energy is going, but there's a black hole in grief that seems to suck every last bit of motivation, creativity and life-love completely out of my body and spirit. sounds a little dramatic, but whatever. it's true.

anyway, at support group while we were chatting about the holidays, inevitably family relations were a common thread. how do you communicate to family and friends what you're going through and shed some light on what you need? so they passed out this letter. and i'm thankful i have this forum to share it.

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for not expecting too much from us this holiday season.

The absence of Noah when the "whole family" gathers seems to accentuate our incomplete family. It is difficult to cope with the "spirit" of the holidays on the radio, TV, in the stores, and even at church. We will need the patience and understanding of our family and friends to help us through the holidays as best we can.

Our family traditions may be too painful for us to continue this year. We may want to change the way we spend Thanksgiving or Christmas. Please understand this and maybe sometime in the future we will have these traditions again. Whatever our thoughts are for coping with the day, please take our feelings into consideration when you make your plans. 

Please allow us to talk about Noah, if we feel a need. Perhaps the single most helpful thing you can do for us is to include Noah in the holidays. We want to hear his name, to have you recall fond memories of his life, to know that you, too, are feeling his absence and remembering him with love.

As we work through our grief, we will need your patience and support, especially during these holiday times and the special days throughout the year.

Thank you for not expecting too much from us this holiday season.


may i say that just today i was given a bit of hope about the holidays. after feeling very anxious about it all, my TSIL (twin sister in law) texted me and asked if john and i would like to join them in creating a new christmas tradition. like maybe putting together care packages for nicu families at seattle children's. or bake cookies for the nurses there. something we can continue to do with kiddos in the years to come. it's like she read this letter before i even posted it.

her idea was like a breath of fresh air.
sweet. thoughtful. proactive.

i am so grateful for the creativity and thoughtfulness of others, especially at a time when my mind is absolute mush. because i really want so badly to do special things, to honor noah, to make the holiday more about jesus and giving than receiving material crap, but i just have no clue how or any energy to make it happen.

thanks for continuing to remind me there will be bright spots of light this season. even in the darkness of grief.

oh great light of the world
come to impart
the light of your grace
to fill up my heart
-bebo norman-