Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Isaac - the baby - he's 16


Isaac was born on October 24th 1996, one month before his sister Carrissa would be 1 year old. His daddy picked out his name.  He said since all of the other kids' names began with 'C' and this would be our last baby, his name should end with a 'C'.  We searched through the Bible to see if there were any names we liked and Isaac was the name we agreed on. Isaac means laughter and from the beginning he provided much of that.
 He was born in Lafayette, Indiana.  Before his first birthday we moved to Lincoln, IL to attend college.  As a toddler, Isaac had the longest curly locks and was the most cuddly boy ever.  He is the only child to this day that I can say honestly LOVED naps.  This has not changed much to date.
From a very young age he wanted a sports ball in his hands.  He did not care what kind but he had a genuine love for basketball.  We bought a Fisher Price Grow With Me Basketball Hoop and he would play ball from sun up to sun down if we let him.  He loved to play ball.
Gene, his dad, had an accident at work when Isaac was 4 years old. He had been playing basketball and landed wrong from a rebound and ended up with a double compound fracture, several surgeries and a lot of time laying flat on his back.  This created a huge fear for Isaac.  He became very worried about playing basketball.  We were able to get him signed up with Tae Kwon Do to help with his free time and extra energy but the basketball hoop scared him.


About 1 year after Gene's accident he was still having some issues regarding his leg.  The doctors in Illinois referred him to a surgeon in Indiana.  Since we were originally from Indiana we decided we would move our family back there. As soon as we returned we saw advertisements for Little League Baseball Signups.  We asked the kids if they wanted to play and CJ and Isaac said yes.
At the first practice Isaac was watching the catcher.  He seemed as though he really wanted to try that position.  The catcher that the coach had playing was struggling with the heat so Isaac asked if he could try.   That day Isaac found a new love.  He seemed to be a natural at baseball.  He loved playing any position and had an uncanny ability to tell what kind of a pitch was coming and how to hit it.  It was a lot of fun to watch him play.  He made the all star team that year and has been an avid player since.





Isaac still really loves baseball.  Sometimes its been hard for us to watch because he hasn't always been given credit for his talent.  For example, he is left handed and even at this age he is still an amazing catcher, he is not allowed to catch any more because, "there is no such thing as a left handed catcher." He has always been able to make up for the little disadvantages that come with being left handed.  He has resigned to playing that position now.  He loves to play center field.  He is able to run fast enough to back up the right fielder, left fielder and the infield and seems to know exactly where the ball is going.  His 8th grade year he went until the very last game before he struck out.  He is truly a great player.
The day his brother, Corey, passed away Isaac's team had a home game and he decided he wanted to play in it.  Several of our friends and their families took him to the game.  Isaac's coach said he actually played the best game he had ever played.  He has a true love for baseball.  

When we moved back to Indianapolis the church we were attending had UpWord Basketball program, we were able to talk Isaac into playing.  He successfully participated in that program for several years.  When he was in 3rd grade his older brother started wrestling.  Isaac watched him for a year and was his "wrestling dummy" at home, where he learned a lot.  The next year Isaac started wrestling.  One thing we've learned about Isaac through these experiences is that he can be successful at anything he puts his mind to.  He is a very talented athlete.



Isaac enjoys his family and friends.  He likes to have fun.  Sometimes he is misunderstood because he has very high standards for himself and gets very mad when he doesn't meet them.  People see this as disrespectful rather than what it really is.  He is very sensitive and gets his feelings hurt, people see this as a him being cocky or too sure of himself.  He presents very self assured emotionally yet is not.
Isaac took the death of his oldest brother very hard.  He had been home with Corey during the last big snow and they had a snow ball fight in the house.  They would frequently listen to music on the computer together and I could hear them both singing to the music in perfect harmony from the other room.  The last song I heard them sing together was the day before Corey died.  They were singing, Learning to be the Light by Newworldson and White Flag by Chris Tomlin.  When Isaac spoke at Corey's funeral he discussed these times that he shared with Corey.
Isaac has a special relationship with his other 2 siblings also.  Because they are all so close in age they have been good friends from the beginning.  Isaac and CJ share a lot of the same interest: Music, Computers, Sports, etc.  They have always been close to the same size, until this year, so they have always been able to be partners when at wrestling practices or meets.  They are always in each other's corner, literally.
Isaac and Carrissa have become a lot closer since CJ left for college.  They have always shared a special bond but it has strengthened in the past several months.
Isaac has been a joy to parent.  We can not always meet every desire he has.  Sometimes I feel bad because I think he could be further along in a given area if we had more resources.  But he has always overcome and over compensated.  Isaac wants to be a chiropractor and plans to study pre-med along with following his baseball aspirations.  He is a very intelligent young man and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for him.

Isaac, CJ and Corey at the zoo.  
Every time we went to the zoo they 
would pose for a picture like this.
do we look alike




Graduation 2012

CJ's home and a little taller 
than before he left.










Isaac, Carrissa and Bri going
to the Austim Walk in memory 
of Corey.
Isaac, CJ and Dylan after
 camo night with Purple Rain.



First day of school 2012.
 Pool boy 2012




Tattoo before color


Isaac getting his self designed tattoo
in honor of Corey.

Isaac (very tired) after having his long
hair straightened.



I want to share a story from 
when Isaac was really little.
Corey always had a wealth 
of knowledge and he was telling
us how every few years your 
taste buds change and you may
like different things so its good 
to try food you didn't think
you liked because you may 
like it after a while.  
Isaac thought that Corey 
said BUGS rather than BUDS.
He asked us if he would feel 
the "taste bugs" come out 
so he would know when 
he should try the yucky foods?
   
Isaac's long hair
(not straightened)

Monday, October 15, 2012

GIFTS


G.I.F.T.S.

Great

There are a few gifts that are far greater than any others during the past 6 months of the intense rawness of grief. I want to address these first.

Of course it is wonderful to have people around the first few days. What people do not understand is the first few days a grieving person in numb. They, generally speaking have no idea who is around and who isn't. Of course there are those few people that make large impacts I do not want to discredit them. (Grandparents who assist with funeral planning, sister who made picture boards, those who assisted with the programs, people who donated so that the funeral could happen etc.)

My real point is that the most important is those people who stay around. Not that we need a house full of people all of the time, but we do need people who continue to check on us even after 6 months.

Another gift that made a great impact is the people who prayed and continue to pray for us. I often tell people, I know the only reason we get up out of bed each day is because there are people continuing to pray.

Inspired

Several gifts that have been given have had deep meaning. There are things that have happened over the past several months that have not been discussed with people other than close family and intimate friends. No one has facebook-ed, instagram-ed or blogged about these things so there is really no way someone miles and hours away would know. I know that not everyone has the same spiritual beliefs but there is no way that anyone could have given such meaningful gifts without divine intervention.

God had to have directly spoken to or nudged these two women and they had to have listened and acted.

The first picture is of a visual prayer board. I am going to give a brief reworded explanation from the person who created it. It is a prayer in canvas. In the background is Revelation 21:4. She then said, "I do not even pretend to know what you all are going through. But please know you are loved and thought about."

The significance of this is deep for me. There is a song that played on the way to the funeral home. It is by Phillips, Craig & Dean and called When the Stars Burn Down

When the stars burn down and the earth wears out 
And we stand before the throne
With the witnesses who have gone before
We will rise and all applaud

When the hands of time wind fully down
And the earth is rolled up like a scroll
The trumpets will call and the world will fall
To its knees as we all go home

Star of the morning,
Light of salvation Majesty
God of all mysteries
Lord of the universe
Righteous King

There will come a day standing face to face
In a moment, we will be like Him
He will wipe our eyes dry
take us up to His side

And forever we will be His
Singing blessing and honor
Glory and power
Forever to our God
I had never heard this song before but it hit me like a ton of bricks. To me it said, "Dana, you will see him again." I have listened to this song frequently since that day in March. If you notice the bold part of the Lyrics and compare it to the verse referenced on the prayer canvas you will note it is the says, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”


All I could do is send my friend a message and tell her thank you for listening to God. He knew what I needed to hear right then.
How else besides her being INSPIRED by God could she have ever known. WOW This was an amazing thing to be a part of. Also note on the prayer canvas the dove and the admission tickets.



The next inspired gift just came today, six months after the funeral. So we are at the anniversary day of the funeral and I receive a package in the mail from a friend who lives several hours away. She would have no way of knowing that I needed to refocus on the fact that I can still see Corey in the faces and actions of my other children.


Also, Corey is buried in the Field of Valor next to the Eternal Flame. I am not completely sure if this friend would have known that. I know she drove hours to come to the funeral, but where he was actually buried was not mentioned at the funeral.
In the note attached she said that while she was out she saw this and thought of me. I have to believe that she thought of me immediately because she was listening to God he pierced her heart for me.




Friends

As I stated above, friendships have been a very big part of our healing. There have been a couple of friends who come to my house or we do something outside of the house every week. There are people who call or text each of us weekly just to check in. I get messages on facebook and by text etc. These have been wonderful gifts, especially after the months have passed and all of the rush of people, food and donations are gone. 
We are also absolutely gratefully for Corey's friends who have continued to keep in touch. They message us. They also continue to post on his facebook page. This is super helpful for us. This shows us that he did have true friends and had made an impact on the lives of others. 

The picture above is a gift that came from one of the friends who has continued contact with me. This was a very special gift because Corey loved animals. As a young child he wanted to be a wildlife biologist. As he grew up and became more self aware, he decided to study mortuary science. He still enjoyed animals his entire life.


 Another friend who makes weekly visits to me has encouraged me to work on my creativity. She brought materials to me so I can work on crafts while I'm healing, which has been healing in a number of ways.  I have made rugs, blankets, paintings and drawings.  





Treats





Early on in the grieving process I received a box that contained this gift.  First of all, I LOVE bamboo. Secondly Corey loved watching wind chimes when he was little.  As he got a little older and began having more sensory issues the noise of the chimes would really upset him.  Even if we were in a store and he could hear them across the store he would have a panic attack.
He would have loved this bamboo one because it doesn't have the high pitch chime of the glass ones.  I am excited to have it hanging in the corner with all of my plants from the funeral.






I love all of my plants from the funeral.  They brighten up the room and I really enjoy caring for them.  I have not been extremely successful but I am learning and they are growing (for the most part).  I appreciated all of the planters we received at the funeral.  It made the service all the more beautiful.


Special

These, along with several other gifts have meant the world to us.  On Easter we had some friends over for dinner and then we all put this pond in our back yard in memory of Corey.  We planted all of the Lillies around it.  A friend brought over a light that lit up at night.  It was beautiful and brought us much peace to sit and enjoy the sound of the water from the fountain etc. We had various gifts delivered that meant a lot to us.  We received a prayer blanket, stones with sayings on them, and a large Hersey Chocolate bar.  (that was for me)

   

The best gifts of all were and continue to be the friendships and love we have seen from the people around us.  We have several very committed friends and a super supportive church family.  We can't say enough to show our appreciation.  


Philippians 1:3   

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you

Who is this God people are talking about?

Names and some details are changed to protect the innocent and the not so innocent.  I want this story out there for people to read and gain understanding but I do not want to fully disclose certain details.

I know of a  young lady who lived a pretty rough childhood and really struggled with who God was and what part He was suppose to play.  One thing that was very clear to her is He was not the God everyone else said He was, not in her life anyway.  We are going to call her Sam.

Sam was the first born to her parents who had been married for several years.  In early childhood she witnessed domestic violence between her mother and father. One day he stuffed her mom into the dryer.  There were some times when her parents were not arguing but she usually had to be in another room during these times because they had friends over.  

The house always had a  very funny smelling smoke filling the rooms and loud music playing when their friends were over.  Sam was not allowed to tell any of her grandparents about these parties. One time she ran into the room because a noise outside scared her and found a bunch of pills on the table that everyone sat around. 

She was taken to her bedroom and given a spanking and told not to come into the room again.  She cried herself to sleep that night not because she was spanked but because she was hurt and angry.  
This type of situation went on for several years.  Until one day after an extremely loud night Sam's parents asked her to come downstairs.  She was told that she was going to stay with her grandparents for a week and while she was gone her dad would be moving out.  When they asked her how she felt, she said she was a little sad and a little happy all at the same time.  When her mom asked her why she was a little happy she said, "Because daddy won't hit you any more." Her mother began to cry and picked her up and held her for a while..  

Sam was all packed and ready to go to her grandparents house, she loved it there.  Her grandmother took her shopping during the day and her grandfather would hold her in his lap and they would watch sports and eat ice cream together at night.  While she was at her grandparents house she would hear the Bible being read and old gospel music playing all of the time.  Then on Sundays her and her grandparents would get all dressed up after breakfast and go to church.  After church they always went to a restaurant and had a big lunch then home to watch sports.  

Her grandpa always told her she was beautiful and she could be anything she wanted to be.  She spent a lot of time at her grandparents house over the years.

Soon both Sam's mother and father remarried.  Sam's mother never had any additional children it was her and her younger brother John.  Her father and step mother had 2 additional children.  Sam felt very depressed during this time in her life.  She felt like she didn't belong anywhere.  Her mother and step father had a lot of secrets she was not allowed to discuss.  Her father and step mother had their 2 children and it seemed as if they did not really have room for her and her brother in their lives.

When Sam and her brother would visit their dad their clothes always smelled smokey so the kids at her dad's church would make fun of them.  At least when she went to her grandparent's house they would wash her clothes or buy new ones so she wasn't embarrassed going to church in smokey clothing.

During this time in Sam's life she would watch her mother get beat up at least 1 time per week.  She would get the backlash of anger from the arguments.  She felt as though love was about physical abuse, or tolerating it anyway.  Then she would go to her dad's house and see a very loving and overly physical couple.  She felt as though she had no where she belonged.

There were times when the abuse would get to a point where she would need to be removed from her mother's care.  During those times she was usually placed with her counselor from school.  There were 2 times when she was placed in a residential facility. One of these times was after she spent two weeks in jail because she stabbed her step dad in the back with a small kitchen knife for severely beating her mom.  

Sam began babysitting at 11 and working at 13.  Adolescence was a very difficult time for Sam.  She didn't feel like she fit in anywhere and she was angry young.  She was being abused by people who "loved" her.  She was told she had to keep secrets that a young teen should never have to hold onto.  Sam had been in abusive relationships of her own by this time.  Some times she was the victim other times she was the abuser.  

Sam had been sexually active with over 80 young men some consensual and others not.  One time she skipped school and went to visit a friend.  He had friends waiting until she arrived.  Her friend made her whatever each of his friends wanted.  After a hospital exam at lease 7 different DNA strands were found.  She had changed schools multiple times and had learned way too much about manipulating the world to just get by.

There were people in her life that would say things about how God could help.  She would hear stories about God making things better.  People would say they just trusted God and then things changed.
Many times Sam tried with her all to do as these people said.  She would read her Bible and give her all to God.  Nothing would change, in fact, sometimes things would get far worse.  

The doctors tried medications, social workers tried counselling and other home placements, nothing worked.  Sam would feel such desperation that she would consider killing herself.  She rarely laughed or displayed any emotion at all.  It felt dangerous to be too open, vulnerable.

In the work I have done I have heard many many stories like this and have lived through one myself.  I do not feel like I am at liberty to disclose my full story due to people who would not be able to accept their part in it, yet are still a part of my life in some fashion or another.
My point of sharing this story above is that my story mirrors this in many ways.  Even as an adult I have struggled with people who tell me to just trust God or have faith and things will be fine, depression and anxiety will disappear.
I was listening to our local Christian radio station this week and they were having a pledge drive.  A lady called in and was saying how this station lead her back to Christ and her entire life has changed now.
These stories seem crazy to me.  As someone who has sold out to Christianity, yet still has problems, is still haunted by my past and has never experienced this entire life change. I get angry!  Where is this God?  Who are you talking about?  Why hasn't He saved me from pain and rejection?  Why haven't I been cured from depression?  Why do people close to me have to struggle with addictions?  Where is real life in all of this?
It all seems too sugar coated and false. I think Christians, presenting the Gospel in this way are setting people up for failure.  I fear that people who only hear this part of the story will loose faith when a major trauma comes.  
My husband and I lost our oldest son this year.  I have met several others who have also lost children. There are some that blame God. There are some who are Christians and chose to have the funeral services at their church now they can not walk into a church building.  These type of situations along with many others happen frequently.  How many people give up on God?  It is easy to blame Him and or just loose faith all together.
My point in sharing all of this is to say that it is not always an outer life changing situation that comes with the decision to follow Christ.  It is a heart change.  We can not pretend that just because we wholeheartedly make a decision to become a Christian that our circumstances are going to change.  It is a disservice for us to present the information in a way that a non Christian may get the idea that their circumstances are going to change in any way.  God does perform miracles but not everyone receives them.  He can change circumstances but it is not always in His will.
The devastating part is when we realize that even though we believe we still have freedom of choice as does everyone else.  We, even as God fearing Christians, still have to face consequences of not only our decisions but the decisions of others.  As with the story above, the rippling affects of others choices can be long lasting for victims. I am not trying to discredit healing in the name of Jesus.  I am trying to discredit the fact that it does not happen the same way for everyone.
Our family experienced a life spinning, world turning upside down trauma that no one should ever have to face.  It was hard to not blame God at first.  Could he have changed the circumstances, yes, but he didn't.  Now we will forever face the consequences of others actions in the devastating situation. If I chose to believe that God predestined every step for every person, at this point in my life I would choose to not follow Christ of be a believer of any "higher power."  Because I have learned that our salvation is predestined but not our every step then I can have faith knowing that even though I sin and sometimes cause others pain or they sin and cause me pain I can still have the promise of salvation.
One thing that is a blessing in all of the turmoil is that God does command His people to be his hands and feet.  He wants us to flesh out his love, mercy, patience, kindness, grace etc so that all will know he does care.
I found this song that really speaks to how I feel about this topic.  Sometimes God chooses to calm the storm but sometimes he calms his child.  In my family's life right now it feels like he is trying the approach of calming the child (children) although we desperately wish he would calm the storm.  Then again he may be calming the storm because it really could be so much worse even in the moment it doesn't always feel that way.
Be Blessed and Be a Blessing.





Monday, October 8, 2012

Our son CJ made this video for us last Christmas.  They tried to play it at the funeral and it wouldn't work with their system.  I am SO grateful that he made it because now I can hear each of the kids voices any time I want.  As hard as it may be.
Thank you CJ, Carrissa, Isaac & Corey.  I love you guys forever and always.
This isn't the entire video but the entire thing will not download. :(


video