Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Different Levels

This special ministry Of Jacob's life God has blessed us with has so many levels. This past year, I have looked so many mommies in the eye and hugged them and God has used that to minister to them and me. I am grieving. That hug or conversation or card that was initiated by me is not only to help the recipient but also a help to me. As you know, I consider it a true blessing to use my son's life to touch others. Could it be selfish? Sure, it could be. Because I get so much out of it....they feel comfort in knowing that I "get it" and I get the blessing of seeing my son's life still at work here on earth. But I took my efforts out and God brought forth so many more opportunities that bared much more fruit than my efforts could have ever brought.

I have received a few emails and phone calls from some friends with some concern in their voices since these last local contacts God has brought our way. Right here in my home town, in a matter of a week, I hugged members of 3 different families at wakes, hospitals, and funerals who had losses, plus received at least 5 phone calls and emails from others who have had a loss or anticipate it. My friends are just concerned for how we are doing with it....many of them have said that they don't think they could do it. That's the beauty of it....it's not natural to be able to do it....that shows God's hand in it. What does this do to a mother who's sweet baby boy was born just over 9 months ago and passed not quite 5 months ago? Keep reading and maybe you can decipher it.

Levels. Levels build on the foundation of the Lord. God has blessed this ministry with different levels. Informing level, emotional level, family level, onlookers level, grief level, levels I don't even know about yet. It is ongoing.

When speaking with these mommies, God gives me strength to inform. It's not emotionless but it is factual...if any of you have had a conversation with me, I am not one to beat around the bush...I say it how it is or was because that's what I know. I can get carried away in details sometimes and lose my point (and this is evident in my blogging too) but it is the facts of Jacob's life that many of these mommies want to hear just to get a glimpse of what they may be able to expect or how we dealt with something. Is it drudging things up? No...it is what it is and I have no problem sharing it....the question is, do you want to hear it how it actually was? I've had two specific instanced where a parent asked if I went out without Jacob. Now this is quite the loaded question....how do I tell them that I did and he died while I was gone. I do not feel regret in our story but I do know how this may be perceived. I've told both of them that I didn't want to answer them but as the conversation led on, I just didn't feel right not to....I have nothing to be ashamed of...it is what it is. God made me realize that this is my story to share that HE gave me and who am I to edit the work of the Lord....that day was huge in my life and if given the opportunity to share the specifics of how God worked that day, then I can share it.

But the emotional level is kept very secure. The Holy Spirit has given me discernment on my role and limits in these families lives. I am a stranger. I am emotionally unable to feel what they feel because their baby is not my own. I felt that way about Jacob and no other. I am simply there as an encouragement of surviving it.....to hug and be there as a friend...not a mommy reliving the life and death of her son. I had no idea what I was going to do when I met sweet baby Rachel in the hospital. God has given me a true peace that my son Jacob now lives in the presence of the True King and no baby here on earth could replace him....Rachel was a true test of this and it stood strong....I do not have an unhealthy desire to see a glimpse of Jacob in other babies. Was I totally cold? No! The emotional part is very much the same as it would be for anyone to see a sweet baby not made to live in this world for very long. It is not easy for anyone to see a baby struggle for the next breath if there even is another one. It is not easy for anyone to see tiny white coffins, baby pictures and tearful eyes at a funeral home. It is not easy for anyone to think of what to say to a mother who's baby's body is no longer holdable. It wasn't any more difficult for me as Jacob's mother as it would have been prior to him...I thought it should be but it really hasn't been...if anything, it is easier...can't explain that....it just is. I can be a comfort to other mothers and not have to relive losing my own son. How can this be comforting for these families? I "get it" because of my child, not theirs. They don't have to worry about me or how I am feeling. I am purely there to be a support to them because I understand the kind of loss they are experiencing... (that is going to be hard to understand but maybe you will get it). The Lord keeps this emotional level under strict security and has not allowed me to actually feel my loss over again.

Another level is our family. The Grapes family was the first family we were blessed to minister to as a family. Jason came and supported the family members and the boys helped shop for a meal for them. We all attended the service together. It was OUR ministry as the family of Jacob Ryan...not just me as the mother of him. This was nice but it threw 3 more concerns for me in there....Jason, Joshua and Jonathan. How were they going to be? Does the Lord have their lives guarded the same way mine is? But again, the Lord sorted things out and allowed us to know our limits and we obeyed that and enjoyed this ministry together.

Then there are the onlookers...the balcony level. I have become more aware of this level as time goes by. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, husbands, friends, neighbors, church members, etc. of those who have lost a child have come to me personally and said how us being involved has blessed them. How we have helped like no one else could. This level is a testimony of how God uses our lives when we don't even have a clue. Again, I can take no credit for these instances....my efforts have been towards the parents, but the Lord used us in the lives of those who surround these parents and they, in turn, blessed me for noticing this ministry. Cool.

Grief. It is a level unto itself. The foundation is the Lord but grief is the ground level that this ministry is built on. I miss my son. I am still on this journey. Living life with a loss is rough road. This ministry is because of my grieving but it is not to take this journey from me or make it any easier. It blesses me tremendously but I still have my rough road. I still have my nights of disbelief. I still have my nights of rummaging through his belongings. I still have my unstoppable tears when I cling so tightly to his blanket that smells of him. Those moments where I just want to feel him on my chest again, hear his sigh, touch his tiny everything. This grief has nothing to do with Rachel, Johnathan, Kayden, Joel, Poppy, Miller Grace, Mary Grace, Maddox, Eva, Tristan, Isaac, Asher, Hannah, Emma, Christian....(it is sad how this list goes on). It has everything to do with Jacob. No one elses babies can initiate these moments. They are mine. and this ministry has opened the doors for me to grieve with others but there are moments that are just mine. It is my separate journey that I am traveling. This ministry is an offspring of my grief....not grief being an offspring of my ministry. (I just love it when that statement of clarity comes to mind...so profound....well to me anyways.)

So there is some of it. A few things that have been spinning in my mind. It is good. It is healthy. It is fruitful. It is the Lord's work. It is the life of Jacob Ryan continued.....


dollymama said...

Not much to say here Karen...except for AWESOME, Too AWESOME! Love you!

Kim (marygracesummons.blogspot.com) said...

God is so good and to see how he is using you and your whole family is incredible. With God all things are possible. Loved this post and am so happy to hear your obvious confidence in Christ. That Jacob, he is really something. His Mommy is too!
Love you girl,

Laurie said...

Oh Karen,

I absolutely love this picture of Jacob and I love him. I love what blessings his little life is doing in your life as you walk this road. A true and living testament that whatever was meant for harm, God turns it around for good and blessings abundant. I may not "get" the grief to the extent that is here, but I "get" the levels God uses to turn it to Good. He has done this over and over in my life with my trials. I wouldn't trade a thing either. I am humbled at how God is using you in these lives of others and can only imagine how much it blesses them as the Lord uses you and Jacob and your whole family in this ministry. I am praying for you to continue to receive the same measure of blessings as your ministry blesses others. God is so Good Karen. Thank you for sharing your sweet journey with me. I love you much.

Laurie in Ca.

Destini said...

I so appreciate you and your whole family. I appreciate the example you have provided and the way you live out your walk with the Lord. You are perfectly human with no desire to be anyone other than who the Lord wants you to be. You are so real, not hiding behind a plastic smile and happy face. I have prayed here for a long time and have stood along side your family encouraging you in prayer from the side lines for quite some time.

Each time I read a post, I am reminded of the scripture that speaks of not wasting your suffering. I admire how you admit your frailties, your uncertainties, you receive a response from the Lord, then he is given His glory and you receive a great blessing through your obedience. When you are at your weakest, He is at his strongest. When you become "nothing" He becomes everything. I know that we get only a tiny glimpse of daily life and we don't see the struggles and the tears. I know that for the most part I have no clue what it has been to walk in your footsteps. I just pray that with anything that comes my way I could handle it with the grace and perserverance you have shown. I pray that I would have the ability to cling to the one who loves us so dearly and not run away from the Lord in the times of struggle.
Again, I appreciate the testimony of your family and continue to pray that God would use your family to glorify Him.

Staci said...

God is truly amazing that He can use the life of someone so tiny to do great big things :) I loook forward to reading your blog and I am so glad you include pictures of Jacob at the end of your posts. From the first time I read your blog (back in March I think)I have always smiled as soon as I look at his picture. Jacob's life was a gift and you and your family are doing wonderful, beautiful things with that gift.

Sara said...

I love this picture of Jacob - so sweet.

I can relate. When I speak now to mommies who have lost an infant, it doesn't bring up the raw emotion that I felt when Samuel died. I feel for them, I want to help them, I want to pray with them. But it isn't like I am losing Samuel all over again. That already happened.

I think that what you are doing is just a blessing to the families you minister to. They are so blessed to have you there.

God bless.

sweetdreamerskh said...

You spoke so eloqently. God is using you and your family and you are being obedient. That is AWESOME. Isn't it wonderful how God can work? He can give us what we need, when we need it and be able to allow us to give things to others from God. You are so willing to be used by God that you are able to share Jacob with so many. Praise God for all He has done and all He is doing and ALL HE Is GOING TO DO>

mrsrubly said...

how awesome is it that God has brought YOU to minister to these precious families. i think this is awesome what you and your family are doing. someone just to BE there and "get it". i am very happy to read that you are able to do this.

Carla Burlando said...

Hi, I just wanted to introduce myself and let you know that I'm available to any of these mommies that need someone to talk to. I'm another mommy who knows and understands. We lost our first son to Trisomy 18 , 8 years ago. I would love to be available to these brave and grieving women. my email is ncburlando@hotmail.com Feel free to pass it on.

Beav's Wife said...

You make my heart smile. Your story, your willingness to share. You are such an inspiration. And, I just absolutely LOVE that picture. Hugs and prayers, Jenny

Kirsten said...

Amazing. And so true. Definitely beauty for ashes. Blessings to you and your family. I pray for God's continued and faithful provision of comfort, strength, sensitivity, energy, and hope as you minister to others. God does work in incredible ways.


Kathy said...

Beautiful Karen! Your words made me think of II Corinthians 1:3-7.

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. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

Your ministry is powerful and a gift from God. You, dear friend are a gift to all of us out here.

I have to agree the picture of Jacob is very, very precious.