Monday, November 25, 2013

A Letter to Doug and Christina

Dear Doug and Christina,
November 26th, 2013 would be your second anniversary.  It was such a short time you had together.  From your first date to the day Christina left to be with Jesus was two years and three months.  You lived a masterpiece in that short time.  You laughed, you loved, you cried, you prayed.  I remember the night of the proposal.  So full of hope and joy. Your wedding was everything you had hoped.  It was intimate--tucked away in the Lake Quinault Lodge.  The honeymoon of your dreams in Kauai was a great start to your days together.

Doug, you entered Christina's life at one of her weakest times.  You wanted to be her encourager and much, much more.  Not only did you encourage her, you led her into marriage and into the "no fear" decision of having a child.   You did what few young men have to do.  You learned to care for Isaiah in the NICU.  You were the first to change his diaper.  You learned how to speak softly in order to let him sleep and grow.  You learned to touch him gently and firmly--to give security but not distress him.  You were the "Isaiah" expert.  And you cared for your beautiful wife through two surgeries, two weeks apart.  You moved between Isaiah's hospital room and Christina's hospital room, caring for both. 

It was a sweet move back to Port Angeles--bringing Isaiah home for the first time.  Isaiah grew and you and Christina enjoyed your first months of parenting.

Too soon, you learned that your young wife would be leaving this earth. You talked about your shared dreams for Isaiah, you comforted her at night when she was confused.  You prepared her food just like she liked it and you kept track of all her medications.  And you did it selflessly.  No one would have blamed you if you had said, "I can't do this."  But you did it.  All.  Beautifully.  You have moved into a place in my heart forever.

Christina, you let someone into your special world--a world that contained a radical walk of faith, cancer, and plenty of uncertainty.  You let go of the idea that you could protect everyone from feeling pain as you left us.  You loved Doug and Isaiah--to the very end.  You prayed so often for those two that I can picture those prayers as incense still before the throne of God.  Nothing wasted.  

Christina, when you shared with me that you were so sorry you had never had time to make Doug a wedding album, I wondered if I should do it.  I thought about it but it felt wrong.  Small.  So instead, I made Doug and Isaiah a little book about your life together.  All two years and three months worth.  It is the story of a first date, a proposal, a wedding, a birth, and a walk right into eternity.

I want to tell you both--well done.  Thank you for trusting God.  Thank you for loving each other.  Thank you for the gift of Isaiah.  Seldom does life come with such beautiful closure--but I feel it.

Christina, you live on with Jesus.

Doug, you live on here with joy and strength--forever changed because of your 2 years and 3 months with Christina.

Isaiah, your adventure continues--fueled by the prayers of your faithful birth Mom.

Much Love,

Mom (Grammie Jo)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

How to Pray for Your Children--Christina's Last Message to Isaiah

Opening his presents:)
This past week, we celebrated Isaiah's first birthday.  November 1st brought a flood of emotion for me. It's the anniversary of the start of Christina's final days with us.  One year ago, we were told that the UW medical team was ready to move.  A C-section, a NICU (newborn Intensive Care Unit), a brain surgery, and chemo all came into focus.  We were jolted into action.  My own faith was stretched as I watched my 7 week early grandson struggle to breathe.  I watched my beautiful daughter cry over her new son and wonder if his struggle to breathe was all her fault.  I watched son-in-law, Doug, cope with a new reality that most 26 year old men never face.  He moved between the NICU room of his new little son to the different hospital rooms of his young wife.

In the midst of it all, we saw God move and felt His strong hands hold us.

To celebrate Isaiah's birthday, I watched the last video we made of Christina.  She was a couple of weeks into hospice care and we knew we would not have her with us for many more days.  I had no idea how much longer she would be able to express herself well.  We had a beautiful time together.  We asked her questions and she answered--with clarity and humor and love.  Here is the last question I asked her that day.

“If you could speak to Isaiah as he’s growing up, what would you tell him?  What do you want for his life?  What are your hopes for him?"

With a long pause and then tears, Christina said,  "I would say---Isaiah, you are so loved.  (More tears)  There is great purpose for your life and you are loved most strongly, passionately, intensely, intimately by our Heavenly Father, and that will never change.  

Your Mom and Dad love you very much.  The most amazing miracle in our lives is you.  One we didn’t know how to pray for, ask for, hope for, but God knew and He had a plan specifically for you on this earth and in our lives.  

You have been the scariest part to surrender--your little life.  It feels out of our control.  But our lives aren’t in control anyway and our Heavenly Father is the one who ordains our journeys.  I am so excited for your journey and that I got to be a part of it, no matter how long it is.  From sweet belly rubs and prayers to cuddling with my newborn and seeing your smile light up a room and envelop your whole body.  You need to know that there is no greater blessing in my life and your dad’s life and in our family, grandparents and friends who get to observe our family’s life and what that has been.  

So for you, with greatest prayer always, my hope is for you to be deeply intertwined with the Spirit of Jesus and you feel Him from the beginning.  From now, you are already tapped into the Spirit, and I really feel that.  My prayer is that it just continues.  That He always has a hold of your heart and that you always give it to Him fully.  I can’t wait to see what that looks like and I pray for those things over and over again.  It is so fun. 

My most favorite prayer is that you will be a leader.  

You will be filled with compassion. 

I don’t see arrogance in you.  You’re just a baby right now (laughter).  It’s hard for a baby to be arrogant probably. 

I just see a lover of God and a lover of people.  I don’t know why I see that, but I do.  I love praying that prayer for you.  

I can’t wait to see what God does and how He works in your story to reach whoever He may put in front of you.  Whether that has to do with this story or whether that has to do with  your own things that come up and how you choose to enter in with the Lord and enter in with people and their journeys.  I can’t wait and

 it’s totally unlimited when you choose to follow Him."