No-bake Chocolate Cookies
Almond Bark Pretzels
Yummies to share with our friends tomorrow.
Service Notes for Elihu Siloam
October 8, 2010
(worship song: How Can I Keep from Singing Your Praise)
Welcome (by my husband):
We want to thank you so much for joining us today at the park as we honor our little boy with a memorial service. Later we will release balloons and watch them drift into the sky hoping with a childlike faith that someday we will arrive Home to embrace our son (and brother). As we release them we will delight in Elihu (yep, that’s his name) and in God’s mysterious ways. We look back at Elihu’s short life and hope forward until that magnificent day when we all finally make it Home.
C.S. Lewis says, "I am a soul, I have a body." Oh, how wonderful God's mysterious ways! I marvel at the REALITY that when my body reaches its finish line here, my soul will not. My end will really be my beginning! Just like Elihu’s.
(prayer for the service)
God's Gift of a Name (from me):
A few weeks ago I got on the computer to look at baby names because I really wanted our son to have a name. When my husband asked me what I was doing I was embarrassed and said, “nothing.” I was afraid that he would think I was being dumb for wanting to name a child we had never seen. I wanted our son’s name to have true meaning. We got Asher’s name from Deuteronomy 33 and really loved how God blessed Asher in the Bible. And in Numbers 25 Phineas also received a blessing from God that we loved. So I wanted this little boy to have a name with special meaning. Although I found some really cool meanings the names were a little too different. Until I found:
אֶלִיהוּא ‘Elihu’ *Hebrew – “my God is Yahweh”
I knew that was his name. And I definitely got that confirmation the next night in bed. I told my husband earlier that evening that I wanted to name our son Elihu and told him the meaning of the name. He told me that he liked it and didn’t think it was stupid that I wanted him to have a name. As I was getting into bed that evening I grabbed my library book, Disappointment with God by Philip Yancey. I wasn’t ready to really read the book but I thought I’d open it to a chapter and start reading to get an idea of what to expect. And I opened it to Chapter 25 and Mr. Yancey called Elihu a brash young man who ridicules Job’s desire for a visit from God.
“Do you think God cares about a puny creature like you? Do you imagine that the Almighty God, the Maker of the Universe, will deign to visit earth and meet with you in person? Does he owe you some kind of explanation? Get serious, Job!” Then a storm draws near and a Voice like no other booms out. God himself has arrived on the scene and has come to reply to Job’s accusations of unfairness.
God’s “reply” [to Job’s questions], in fact, consists of more questions than answers. He doesn’t address their debate on the problem with pain, he plunges instead into a magnificent verbal tour of the natural world. He seems to guide Job through a private gallery of his favorite works, his own creation.
In his book Wishful Thinking, Fredrick Buechner sums up God’s speech. “God doesn’t explain. He explodes. He asks Job who he thinks he is anyway…God doesn’t reveal his grand design. He reveals himself.” The message behind the splendid poetry boils down to this: Until you know a little more about running the physical universe, Job, don’t tell me how to run the moral universe.
“Why are you treating me so unfairly, God?” Job has whined throughout the book. “Put yourself in my place.”
“NO!!!” God thunders in reply. “You put yourself in my place! Until you can offer lessons on how to make the sun come up each day, or where to scatter lightning bolts, or how to design a hippopotamus, don’t judge how I run the world. Just shut up and listen.” (pg 212-213)
I was shocked. I wasn’t expecting to hear so directly from God. The fact that I had picked that specific name and my husband agreed and then I read the opening to the chapter was amazing. A small miracle. I really felt like God was speaking to me. That He had brought the name Elihu to my mind and heart and then prepared to tell me His Truths.
Last weekend at an Anne Graham-Lotz conference (AGL) she asked us “How do you know you are hearing God’s Voice?” And this is what she said:
1. God’s Voice is Biblical – After reading the opening to Chapter 25 in Disappointment with God I was prompted to go to my Bible to find out who this Elihu was and what he had to say to Job.
In Job 32:1-9 Elihu talks about how wisdom doesn’t come from age it comes from the spirit in a man and Elihu has held his tongue long enough. He wanted to speak Truth to Job and his friends about the power and sovereignty of God.
2. God’s Voice is Powerful – First God used Elihu’s words in Job to chastise me. I pictured my little Elihu (a young boy) talking to me – “Mom, why are you questioning God? The God who loves you? The God who loves me? Who created me? Who knew me before one of my days came to be?” God humbled me with His words. How could I question God’s love for me and His love for my child?
Job 33:12-13 tells me that God is greater than I am; why do I complain to Him?
And in Job 34:10, 12 I am told that it is unthinkable to assume that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice.
Job 34:26-Job 37 goes on to show God’s mighty power through a storm and proclaim His glory through His creation.
3. God’s Voice is Personal – Then God used Elihu’s words to Job to comfort me. Job 33:4 says “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” So even though our little boy did not breathe the air of this earth, it was the breath of the Almighty that gave him life. God did care about my baby boy. God gave Elihu his short little life. He is loved. He’s in heaven basking in God’s glory. He was fearfully and wonderfully made – and now I really know that full well. I needed God to be direct with me and He was gracious enough to do that. Even though I know the words of Psalm 139 it wasn’t specific enough for me. But in God’s mercy He gave. me. specific. He heard the cries of my heart. And although my questions weren’t answered I was at peace. I have humbly come to accept His love and grace through this trial.
And now for Elihu’s middle name…
I had been questioning God: Why did this happen? What’s Your plan? What did I do wrong? Am I being punished? But I was reminded this past weekend at AGL that God doesn’t work that way. Jesus talks about this in John 9:1-3
1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
3"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”
This is not about me (as are most things). And I now know that God sent us this child so that His work and glory might be displayed in his little life, in my life, in Jonathan’s life, in the lives of our sons.
Then Jesus spit in the dirt and rubbed the mud on the blind man’s eyes and had him wash in the pool of Siloam and he was healed – he could see. And I too was blind and God used this experience to open my eyes. My big lesson: to know that a relationship with Jesus is personal. That he cares for me specifically, not generally.
So that’s why we are giving Elihu the middle name of Siloam (one who has been sent) because I truly believe that God sent Elihu to open my eyes – to humble me before God, to cause me to bend to His will, and ultimately to cast my anxiety on Him because He really does care for me and He cares for my Elihu Siloam.
(prayer of thanks for Elihu Siloam)
(start song Fly; hand out balloons; release balloons)
(worship songs: Call to Me; What a Day That Will Be; Great Big God)
Hi Everyone ~
This Friday would have been our due date. But God had different plans. Instead of celebrating the birth of a baby we want to look back and hope forward. Look back at the short life of our son and hope forward to the day we will finally embrace him in heaven.
So we are having a party. ;) And you are invited to join us on Friday, October 8 at 10am out at the park. We will have a short ceremony for our son to talk about how we decided on what to name him, sing praises to our God, and send some balloons up to our son in heaven. And there will be cake. ;)
You are all special people in our lives and we want to share this day with you.
Jonathan and Jessica
But the yearning, the grief, never totally goes away. It's there under the daily happiness, the joy of a husband and another child. I marked off that baby's birthday every year. I grieve for that little soul. And sometimes I apologize to it, not because I believe I'm responsible, but because it never got to live. It never go the chance to be a real person. We never got to really know each other. It wasn't just the death of a baby, it was the death of hope, "The thing with feathers," as Emily Dickinson said, and it - and I - never had a chance to soar.I think this hit home for me because, like with most losses, I won't forget. It will never really go away although there will be more and more days that I won't think about it - it will never go away. I do feel like my baby never got to be a real person and I feel that way more about other people's view not my own. It wasn't real to other people so was it really real? And I did lose hope. Honestly, I am scared to hope. But I've been blessed with a gift of clarity from God (I will talk about that closer to the due date of our baby) that has put peace back in my heart.
Miscarriage was the shadow to a brightly lit subject. People didn't like to talk about shadows. They liked to talk about hope, and the unraveled pregnancy had no language, wasn't suitable for discussion.When I lost my baby, I did feel like I was living in the shadows. In the shadows of mothers who were still pregnant. Who had life inside of them. I felt as though people didn't want me to talk about it because I was casting a deep dark scary shadow over their brightest light. And so I didn't. I isolated myself because I didn't want to be that shadow. And that isolation caused my days to grow so dark.
I felt dismal with isolation. An acquaintance approached me and said she'd heard from a friend. She said, "I'm so sorry. We've all been there." We. Our world, our important world of unnameable injuries. She and I had never had much to say to each other, except for prickly social frivolities, but now she seemed essential, a compatriot. I let her hug me. In the years after that day, if I saw her crossing a street or waiting ahead of me in a line, it was like getting a glimpse of a favorite teacher or aunt.Through that horrible isolation women who have gone through a loss like this before me were really the only ones that could comfort me. They were the only ones who knew the grief that I was experiencing. They were the only ones who's words really meant anything and the only words that could offer any hope or comfort. Some of these women were strangers and some were just acquaintances and they had all carried a weight of grief. And that comradery really helped me in my darkest times. Just knowing that I really wasn't alone. And then there's Esther, a dear sister in Christ. She lost her baby the same time that I lost mine and we were both due a week apart. I would never have known Esther if we didn't lose our babies. I feel like God gave her to me as His light. We've been able to be brutally honest with our feelings, with our loss, with our weaknesses and our strengths. We've been so blessed to have each other through this awful time. I thank God for her every day. God shows His goodness in such strange ways.
"My Own Private Elba," I called it, as I lay in bed after my D&C, wondering why I was being doubly punished: first by the death of this first baby we already loved so desperately, and then by all the friends and realatives working so hard to erase all traces of it. I think I agree with you that one needn't "got through it to get it." But I also suspect that, with a handful of shining exceptions, the people who best knew how to be with us through all the had endured it.I, too, had my exceptions - women who haven't gone through a miscarriage but have given me so much love and support.
Pro-choice women have trained themselves to think that life begins at viability; when we miscarry, we're disturbed to find ourselves mourning a child rather than a mass of developing cells. Feminists are generally much more comfortable celebrating happy outcomes than they are grieving for a lost fetus, for fear of acknowledging its personhood.(Emily Brazelon)I found this to be an very interesting point. That we grieve our children not a mass of cells or even a fetus. We grieve a child - the hopes and dreams of who they might become. As Dahlia Lithwick states it [historically women don't talk about miscarriage whether they are pro-choice or pro-life]. It's a lonely road and it's important for us to open that door and share (without judgment) so that we can be healed. So that God can use us to breath hope into another through Jesus Christ.
The greatest contributor to emotional reaction is that a woman looks at the early pregnancy as part of herself and when it is lost, there is an emptiness, searching and incompleteness feeling because the fetus is not viewed as a separate being. Also, the connection to the fetus is much stronger for the woman than for her partner and there is a great difference in the intensity of the grieving process between the mother and father. A woman becomes isolated because of this and often has no emotional support for her feelings. Even the usual social rituals of a death notice, a funeral, and friends offering sympathy are absent because very few people usually know of the event. This prevents accepting the reality of the loss. If there was any ambivalence about the pregnancy in the first place guilt becomes a major component of the grieving process.
Workers is this field have identified four tasks to be accomplished to work through the grieving process in a psychologically constructive way. The general time it takes is as much as 12-18 months after the loss.
- Accept the reality of the loss -- if the miscarriage takes place before friends and family know of the pregnancy, sharing the loss with others may help or even some sort of commemorative steps either public or private. If the pregnancy loss is further along, a burial ceremony or even just holding the fetus can help.
- Allow experiencing the pain of grief -- if the grieving process is suppressed, it is more likely to result in psychological reactions. The woman needs to consciously grieve for lost dreams. This process will wax and wane but should not be suppressed by drugs, alcohol or even the rapid attempt to become pregnant again so as to relieve the pain more quickly.
- Adjust to the new situation without the lost child -- a woman must change her perception that part of herself is lost. She needs to resume her role and self-identity at least as it was prior to becoming pregnant.
- Reinvest emotional energy in new relationships -- a woman recovers and benefits from building new ties and nourishing the relationships already present.
While all women experience physical changes in their bodies after a pregnancy ends affecting her mood, a woman who has lost a baby through miscarriage faces another risk factor for serious postpartum depression. Not only must a woman endure the physical and psychological stresses that occur due to hormone changes, but they do so without any of the rewards that come with bringing their baby home. A woman may not have the support of her partner who is grieving as well. There are no excited visitors to greet a baby and give congratulations, and certainly no baby to hold and care for. She is trying to cope with not only her postpartum changes, but with the loss of their baby as well.
Then, I read in the New Testament, Hebrews 12:15, "See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled"(NASB). Somehow, God spoke to my heart with this. I realized I wasn't experiencing the grace of God because I was holding on to my bitterness. I was causing problems in my marriage by keeping this bitterness as if it were a treasure. I was driving away friends on a daily basis. That day, with many tears, I knelt in my apartment and told God I was sorry for not trusting Him and asked Him to please reveal to me the purpose of my loss.
It would be nice to be able to say that immediately I felt great and that I understood perfectly everything I wanted to know. Not so, but I did feel better. Over time, I came to understand how one person's sorrow can be helpful to both that person and to others. Another part of the New Testament, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."