Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ryan Leigh

We have spent most of our recent blogs chronicling our loss of Noah Matthew.  We still hurt from the loss but life has returned to some sense of normality.  Today, however, we remember that we lost another child 2 years ago.  Ryan Leigh passed before 10 weeks old.

We light a candle in memory of Ryan and we cannot believe that it has only been 2 years.  On days like today we remember that life has not been all rainbows and butterflies, but that the sovereign grace of God has been a constant in our lives.  Jesus' love has never failed us yet, and we move forward in life with the confident hope that it never will!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Moments Remembered

It has been 3 weeks now since we lost our little boy. I thought I would share 2 things Mark and I shared at Noah's memorial service a little over a week ago. It was a beautiful service. Our pastor shared some very encouraging words. I read a poem, and by God's grace I got through it without falling apart. Mark performed a song by Matt Redman called "Never Once". During the song we all lit candles to honor Noah. So below is the poem, and the lyrics to the song perfomed at the memorial. We were glad to be able to remember and honor Noah in this way.

The Blessing of a son

Noah Matthew
A gift from God you were
With tiny hands
Arms folded over your chest
You arrived too early we thought
But the Lord knew best

     With you, our little miracle
Came much blessing
And overwhelming loss
We held you in our arms
And with hearts aching
We let you go.

          God gave us you
Not a lifetime to love you were we given
But 19 weeks was truly enough
A member of this family you will always be
God graciously gave, and has now taken away
So although we cannot comprehend
We trust His plan

 Never will we watch you play
Or laugh with you
But Dear Noah you must know
That you were loved
And we have been so very blessed

So pain we face now
Knowing each day you won’t play a part
Noah Matthew you’ve left a mark
And our lives are truly changed because of you
In our memory and hearts you will always last

We look forward to the day
When all this pain and sorrow will be washed away
When the Lord will truly fill this void
We will see Him in all His glory
And sweet Noah, we hope to see you

 But for now we will carry on
And NEVER forget you

"Never Once"

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Every step we are breathing in Your grace
Evermore we’ll be breathing out Your praise
You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

You are faithful, God, You are faithful
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Thursday, November 15, 2012

2012 Goals Update: Crunch Time

As will happen to many people next week, Katie and I looked at our calendar and thought, "Holy crap!  It is nearly Thanksgiving, which means it is nearly Christmas, which means only a month and a half to scrape together some justifiable response for our 2012 goals completion!!"  It is time to throw out another update, especially considering how poorly we are doing on many of our goals.  Perhaps just stating it publicly will help motivate us to complete a few of these in the little time remaining.

So lets jump into it:

(EPC=Estimated Percent Complete)

  1. Read 2 parenting books
    1. Our last goals update was in July.  The only difference from then till now is that we purchased the book "Shepherding a Child's Heart" instead of continually checking it out from the library.  So only two chapters into the first book.  Haven't settled on a second book.
    2. EPC:  5%
  2. Jog a 5k together
    1. We had given up on this goal because it wouldn't have been a good idea with Katie pregnant.  Even though Katie is no longer pregnant, we think it is too late in the year to start to train for a 5k and they probably don't even have one before the new year.  I am calling this one dead!
    2. EPC: 0%
  3. Pray together 5 nights a week
    1. This one has been on and off here or there all year long.  It is nearly impossible to estimate how much of this we have completed.  The idea of this goal was to set the habit of praying together every night before bed.  Sadly, though, this habit still is not ingrained in us.
    2. EPC: Roughly 25%
  4. Take on an active ministry role in a local church
    1. This goal is our one goal which is absolutely fulfilled!  We have been actively helping as youth leaders at Bethel Baptist Church of Fruitport since early Summer.  God has recently blessed even further and we are currently being considered for a one year position as Director of Youth.
    2. EPC: 100%
  5. Post on our family blog at least twice each month
    1. This goal has gone well for the most part.  Technically we failed to update at least twice in two months so far: June and August.  Even though two months only had one blog post, we have blogged more than 24 times this year, and we consider that a sucess.  Katie and I are both very open and social people, so blogging has been a rewarding practice for us.  We appreciate you taking the time to read and keep up with our family.
    2. EPC: 83%

It is easy for us to look at these goals and see mostly failure, but a little perspective reminds us that this is the first year we can even remember our new years resolution in November (not to mention 5 of them).  So, although we won't complete 3 of our 5 goals, we consider this progress, a step forward, and hope for even further development next year.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

10 on 10: November

Well we've made it to November,and I am late once again...So here is my 10 on 11 :). The end of October proved to be a very rough time in the Worth household. We had to say goodbye to Noah Matthew, our son that we never really got to know. God has faithfully been walking us through this trial. Yesterday we held a memorial service for Noah. So I captured some moments from before and after. Enjoy these precious pictures from the memorial/celebration of Noah, and the sweet moments I captured of my family!

Vigil candles for the memorial service

Programs for Noah's memorial...I really like seeing his name written out.

A banner in celebration of Noah :)

Many people came to support us, and honor and celebrate Noah.

The candle I lit in honor of Noah Matthew....All  other candles were lit  from  this one.

Mark and I in front of Noah's banner. Mark has been a WONDERFUL support and comfort to me during this heartbreaking time in our lives.

Auntie Heather came over after the service to help babysit. This allowed Mark and I to have a much needed date night! A big thanks to Aunt Casey and Uncle Ben who also helped occupy our little monkey :).

Caught red handed with a cell phone. I just love her face! 

Dinner fit for a 1 yr old princess :)...Mark and I enjoyed dinner out! 

Home from our date! So it's daddy and Eden playtime. Don't worry Eden actually enjoyed this haha. What a little goofball!

I enjoyed capturing these moments! Happy November everyone!

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Week of Heartache

::: A note to Noah :::
Noah Matthew Worth, my precious little boy!  I miss you beyond words.  I will never experience the joy of watching you grow up, or seeing you play soccer with your daddy.  Somehow though, for reasons that I cannot comprehend, God had other plans for you little one.  Your life, although short, has had an impact on many.  As each day passes, I continue to grieve your loss, but am thankful for the time I had with you! You will forever be a part of this family, and you will hold a special place in my heart. I hope and pray that the Savior's arms are holding you now and forever!
 Your Mom
Noah's arrival was like nothing I have ever experienced, nor want to again.  Unlike the joy of a full-term pregnancy, there was no joy in hearing his first cry, or seeing movement.  Everything was still.  Too still.  There was sorrow and grief, and more tears between Mark and I than we had ever shared before!  Monday October 29th, was by far the hardest day of my life!  But as I look back, God carried us through with such GRACE. He allowed us to have some healthy distractions while in the hospital.  Whether it was sharing Eden's birth story with our nurse, laughing with her, or having Eden come see us.  It was so good for us not to dwell every minute on the overwhelming reality we were facing.  The Lord also graciously gave us the wisdom to think through the decision that had to be made, about what we would do with our little one after he arrived.  He provided the time we needed alone to weep with our little boy.  I must share that God gave me a wonderful amazing husband who helped carry my burdens in the midst of his own grief.  In the throws of contractions he encouraged me, and told me what an amazing job I was doing!  He held my hand, and told me to breath deep and look into his eyes.  He so badly wanted to take on my physical pain, so that I didn't have to do it alone.  He did not pretend to be superman.  He supported me, but allowed me to see his vulnerability.  God gave me exactly the right husband, he was a tremendous support and still continues to be.

As each day passes, we continue to find ourselves in the valley.  One night I went upstairs and just collapsed on my bed in tears, Mark soon found me and we grieved together.  It is hard when we are both  overwhelmed with grief.  How is it possible to find the strength to be there for the other person?  We have completely come unraveled together, and times when there were no words the silence was filled with weeping.  I must say in the moments of uncontrollable emotion is when Mark and I are so completely united.  We come to the end of who we are.  We can't possibly hold on any longer.  So we lose it together, and the Lord just holds us. That is why we believe the Lord blessed us with the body of Christ.  It is a beautiful thing when we feel the love and support of others.  We simply can't do this alone!  The only reason this valley is bearable is because of the tremendous help of our friends and family.  Not only has the Lord been holding us continually, but it is through others that we tangibly feel HIS love!

We have found that "healthy distractions" are a wonderful thing.  Mark and I have so much enjoyed the friends and family who have visited us.  As much as we need to cry, there are times we just so badly need to laugh. We need to play a game, go to the store, hangout with friends, or just watch TV. We need to know that life can still be enjoyed in the midst of tragedy.  "Normal" everyday things are great, if balanced with time alone.  Even taking Eden on her first Tricker-treating experience was nice.  It allowed us to take part in something "normal", that so many others were taking part in. It was kind of a last minute decision, but we really enjoyed it. Plus, we got to enjoy the candy ;).

For us both, it seems that indulging in a few "comfort foods" this week has been very sweet, and helpful.  For example, the morning we left the hospital Mark took me out to breakfast.  That is NOT something we do, pretty much ever. But to be honest, we felt like we could just use a nice breakfast out, and a place to talk and process things together.  Although our budget  probably wouldn't have allowed it, in the moment we set that aside.  Also, a few times this week we have gotten Cappuccinos.  We have discovered we both enjoy them!  We're not into the gourmet coffee shop ones, but the cheap and extra sweet ones from the gas station are just great.  These are simple things really, but in the midst of all that is going on they have brought a little pleasure our way :).

Not only have I craved time alone with Mark, everyday activities with others, and comfort food. I soon realized that I wanted some kind of change in my life. Maybe this is more of a woman thing :). I think as women when we are working through a hard situation, or starting something new, there is something exciting about changing something about us too. For me, it was a haircut. I have wanted one for a while, but somehow felt this week was a very appropriate time to get one. Change is so very good for me. By no means do I want to move on and forget the situation we are in, but being refreshed in a new way seems to have been helpful in my healing thus far.

So whether you have faced similar tragedy, or not. Remember there is no road map for grieving. It comes in all shapes and sizes; in huge overwhelming waves of emotion and simple tearful moments of sadness. I have to constantly remind myself that this is not a one day, week, month or year process! Surely I know with the Lord's help the days will get easier. But there will always be a place in my heart that aches for Noah.  I simply will never forget him, and I don't want to.

I am realizing that grief is not meant to be carried alone. So please I beg you in the Lord, continue to lift us up in prayer!

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Father's Grief

Expressed below is the raw truth about how my grief affects me; some of it ugly, some of it good:

"Grief will be expressed."  In times of great sorrow, this fact is inevitable.  My grief has caused me to weep without control; to cry out to the Lord and beg of him; to lose patience without warrant; to praise God with a deeper passion than I previously knew; to depend on my wife in a whole new way.  My grief wants me to be sad, because my sorrow feels like a testament of my love for Noah.  It fears moving on with my life, because to move on feels like forgetting.  My grief is never fully gone, just temporarily contained.  Even in the midst of the best distractions (playing with my daughter, laughing with my wife, watching sports), my grief weighs on my chest like a pending exam. 

I must not ignore, suppress, or hide my grief, because it will express itself.  Failure to face it would allow it to fester inside of me, to grow into a monster that would be destructive to myself and my relationships with others.

They say that grief can be a wedge.  I take that to mean that grief is something that can take a crack and turn it into a crevice.  Nothing has helped me with grief as much as the strength and depth of my marriage to Katie.  We are in no way perfect, but we have always communicated and worked on our issues as they arise.  This healthy practice in marriage has eliminated cracks for grief to wedge open.  Grief doesn't always draw a couple into a deeper relationship, but it often is the wedge that splits two people apart.  I couldn't heal in this process without my wife!

I have not allowed myself to ask the question "Why?", although I cannot say I never will.  I feel it is not my place to know why; rather, I entrust that question to God.  I trust Him, knowing that He is good, just, merciful, loving, powerful, and righteous.  He determines why, and does not always share it with me.  But I rest in the knowledge that what He does, and why He does it, is right!  My grief would have me ask "Why"; it would assume I deserve the answer, but I am aided by my knowledge of the book of Job: real grief caused for reasons he could not comprehend, yet God never explains why.  Job questions why and God simply replies with "Who are you to question Me?" 

It is said that grief is a process, and that much I am sure of.  It doesn't disappear overnight; it can't be dealt with in a day.  I am not, however, convinced that I have to go through all the stages of grief in order to properly grieve.  I don't feel that just because I never got angry or depressed that I somehow did not grieve as much as someone who did go through those things.  How much I loved Noah, and how much it hurts now that he is gone, is not lesser because I choose not to get angry.  I suppose, however, that it is still to be seen all the stages that I will go through.

My grief needs to be informed of the positive.  I remind it that much good has come of this situation.  There are incredible blessings that have come along with this heartache.  I was blessed with a son; a son that I got to love.  We have been blessed by the overwhelming proof that we are part of the loving family of God, who have all poured out their love and care for us.  I am blessed to be deepened in my dependency on God; and amazingly we have been able to share our faith with people we wouldn't have been able to without this loss.  My grief must be reminded of these blessings, and so many others, in order that it is not allowed to blind my heart.

Finally, two simple things have alone been of greatest comfort in my grief: ears and arms.  It is a great comfort to me to be able sit with someone who I know cares and have them just listen to me express my grief.  Often people feel the need to say something comforting, and although I appreciate their words, nothing comforts me like a person who actively listens.  Secondly, the arms of a heartfelt hug are of nearly equal comfort to that of listening ears.  Nothing, including ears and arms, will take away my sorrow, but knowing that someone cares and wants to bear some of my burden is very comforting still.

My prayer is that by sharing the depths of my grief uncensored others who will go through grief may benefit from these thoughts, and that we can resonate together to turn our loss into gain for the Glory of God!  Remember, we have a Savior who knows loss and grief intimately.  Jesus bore it all on the cross, and there is no depth of grief and sorrow that He has not experienced, and that He has not overcome.  In Him, we have victory over all tragedies.

Mark Worth