Monday, August 31, 2009

The Circle

The grieving process seems to be a circle. It goes around and around, and never stops. It pauses briefly at each feeling - sometimes the feeling lasts a week before it continues. The main factors in this circle include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. They begin to feel like part of my life... and I am not sure that I like it. At first these factors were visitors and I embraced them because it seemed like the hospitable thing to do. But to stay - I didn't invite them to stay, let alone become a ongoing circle. So I decided to talk to God about them last week. God gently - oh, so gently encouraged me to slide one out of the circle and see what happens. Ironically I find myself starting with "denial." This particular visitor can really throw me out of shape. It makes tears come in torrents. And it makes anger come in bushels. Denial finds me bargaining with God-if only I had done this or that Kira wouldn't have died. It sends me spiraling into depression. Weeks later I come floating back up to the facts of life and acceptance. So I am trying to replace denial with God's grace. When I feel it in my face - I calmly think of the events leading up to Kira's death and say: "God, this is part of my life now. Part of my memories. I can't do this by myself-God. But, with your grace I am okay with it. It did happen and it is alright". And so I am able to stare denial in the face and say: "you know, I am tired of being in denial. You tell me things that aren't true and I choose to replace you with God's grace." I can testify that it is working. Maybe later on God will nudge me to slide another one out. Perhaps removing denial destroys the circle and the rest will need to leave and be replaced with other attributes of God. I haven't figured it out yet.

I had a chance to put my words to practice last week. We went back to Hershey Medical Center and had a meeting with Kira's doctor, nurse, and the PICU counselor. It was good and very hard at the same time. I dreaded going back; the day before our visit God gave us three specific happenings that were totally overwhelming, making it much easier to go back. We thank God for these three people and for the influence God has had through them. We had some questions for Kira's doctor and received the same inconclusive answers. We find ourselves grappling for reasons - but there aren't any. The situation was unavoidable. In a way that inevitability makes it easier because there is simply no way to associate blame. The visit did bring back unsettling memories and lots of tense muscles. We are still trying to un-string the muscles. The visit was hard on Marlea but she really enjoyed it. Not many kids get to see inside the PICU at Hershey! It has made a life-long impression on her. She hooks up all kinds of stuff to her dolls' mouths. Anna was okay, but also ready to leave. After her nap later in the day, she spent about an hour walking around the house screaming - just for fun. I guess it was her way of getting it out of her system because after that she acted okay and happy. It also made us reflect again on the faithfulness of God those days in the hospital. We literally felt like he was with us in the room with Kira. And the truth of the matter?... He was!

Marlea's birthday is tomorrow. She was so sad tonight about not having Kira on her birthday. Please pray that God will feel close to her tomorrow and that we can have a good day. It will be hard for Merlin and I too. The girls and I have a tradition of decorating the cake together and we had so much fun doing Kira's in February. Merlin has been feeling better again the last several days and we thank God for that. Thanks for your prayers!

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, August 24, 2009

Six Months

Six months used to be a long time. In six months, we went from snow and cold to the end of summer. School had three more months to go six months ago, now it has only several days until it starts again. Six months ago we wore coats, gloves, and mittens. Six months ago I vividly remember walking into Hershey Medical Center. My sister was with me. I had a coat on, long socks, and a sweater. I remember feeling the bitter cold wind since my coat was open. The cold stung my face and blew hard swirls inside my coat. I didn't care, it was so much less pain then what I was feeling in my heart. My heart was full of more pain then I ever knew in my life. My life, a few days before was happy and full of life. Now I was walking toward this building where my daughter lay lifeless. My sweet little girl who just a few days earlier had been running around after her big sister. I knew as I walked that I would be faced with hard decisions in the next hours, and that I actually wasn't counting on leaving with my daughter. I thought it would be the undertaker that took her home, not me. The cold seemed to go with the pain I knew would be mine to embrace in the next twenty-four hours. So I embraced the pain the cold gave me almost willingly. I silently thanked God that at least the weather matched the circumstances in my life. I bowed my head and pressed on toward that door of the hospital, determination driving me on. Determination to be the mother God wants me to be - strong, courageous, and gentle. To be the mother my little girl needed even though she couldn't see or hear me. Even though it was only my touch that mattered to her body. That night I pressed on - up the elevator - down the hall to PICU. To my heartbroken husband. To my ever-faithful family and friends who were with us night and day those five days in the hospital. Most of all to my little girl who needed me in her last night on this earth. I laid beside her most of the night - heartbroken. I went through the events of the next day with basically no sleep. I watched the last brain tests knowing what the outcome would be. Together, Merlin and I endured the torture of telling Marlea that Kira was going to die. We held our daughter as her heartwrenching wails reached to heaven and literally the whole way down the hall. We by the grace of God and your prayers endured the most horrible pain a parent can endure. Surrounded by our family and friends we said good-bye to our little Sunshine and Jesus took her home. We quietly said good-bye to the nurses and doctor, gathered her things, and stumbled out to our vehicle. The ride home was unbearable. We were so tired, heartbroken, and drained. The thought of coming in the door - all four of us without Kira was horrible. Determination straight from the throne of God was our only sustenance. And it was there along with lots of grace. I don't look back and say: "Wow, I don't know how we did it". There was no other way but God. He was an is so real to us.

There is more to this story that needs to be told sometime. I don't feel like the right time is here yet. I pray that God would give me the foresight and grace I need to complete the story. I don't feel as if the story is finished yet in our lives. Some of the things we felt that night six months ago are sacred, personal to both of us, and yet we both feel they need to be told for the glory of God. I will say this: I don't feel like we would have been able to physically and emotionally experience God like we did that night without your prayers. I am indebted.

A few days ago I found Marlea on the floor holding Anna. She was singing a song. "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey, if you only knew Kira how much I love you, please don't take my sunshine away." She looked at me sheepishly and grinned. The pain was radiant on her face. I turned away, wanting to hide my tears. Remembering the many times she sang that song to Kira. She wanted to sing it to Anna, but it felt like betrayal to Kira to use Anna's name instead. In a way, it gave me a clear picture of the pain she still faces every day. The pain that comes out in other ways besides words. Pray that God would continue to give us wisdom to know how to guide her in the right direction. Next Tuesday is her birthday, and she already can't wait; she loves opening cards that have M-a-r-l-e-a written on the front.

Thanks to all of you for your extra prayers and thoughtful actions today. I spent the day sewing for my mother and it felt so appropriate to be doing something for someone else. Most of all, I felt God strongly encouraging me to enjoy our children that are still here. I did, and in a way it was so much fun and made the day bearable. None of their names are Kira, but I saw sunshine on their faces!

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, August 17, 2009


Rest-is there anything like it on earth for us to experience now? I ponder things; I try to figure out the days ahead, and my mind wanders. That is not rest. I work all day, and when I sit down I think about what I could be doing...that is not rest. I go to a party with my children and husband, and run after children all evening (I wish to have to run more!). That is not rest. On Sunday, I think I will rest. Instead, I care for my family. Although I love it - it is not rest. My heart wants to rest, my mind wants to rest, and my body wants to rest. Rest, is there rest anywhere? Does a mother ever really rest with both eyes shut and her brain turned off? More than that, can my heart rest? Can I be so okay with disappointment, pain, and reality that I feel rest? Can I in my simple humanness effectively turn my struggles over to Jesus and just rest in Him? My desire to fight is gone. My desire to be me and who I want or think I should be is gone. My desire to control my circumstances is gone. What's the point anyway? It is so much easier to rest in Jesus. Rest brings peace, no struggle, less stress, and a joyful attitude toward life. Rest is way at the bottom of the struggle; it's a giving up of my will. In it's place comes a filling of God like I have never experienced before. I feel no need to get upset with the trivial things of life. I feel in its place a passion to live for God - a passion to encourage those around me - a passion to keep my eyes set on Heaven. I feel more mercy from God than I ever did before. Endless mercy! It makes rest even more peaceful. The ultimate rest is Heaven. But I am amazed at the rest Jesus has to offer me here on this earth. It is just a taste of Heaven! "Come to Me all who labor and are heavy laden AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. For I am gently and lowly in heart, AND YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" Matthew 11:28-30

A few months ago Marlea and Kira were playing doll and dress up. They both had/have imaginary husbands. They both came to me with longing looks on their faces. The words that came out of their mouths astounded me. "We want husbands. You have daddy, but we don't have husbands". I could hardly keep a straight face. I said something about praying for one for when they are older. I keep that memory and tuck it in my heart. Remembering that Kira's wish came true and she is being loved perfectly by her heavenly Father.

Merlin continues to struggle physically and all of us emotionally. Pray that we would have a clear picture of what God wants in our healing process. We thank God for the healing we have experienced both physically and emotionally. We continue to thank you all for holding us up. We have never felt forgotten in our current's almost six months.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, August 10, 2009


Disappointments-we face them every day. Today I feel disappointed. I am disappointed that life isn't turning out like I thought it was going too. I feel disappointment in my heart from not being able to understand God's whole picture from the beginning of my life. If He would let me see it, then I would know and wouldn't be disappointed because I would know what to do when. Instead, I am dealing with disappointment. My heart feels uncertain of what to feel when because it has disappointment in it. I find myself wary of trusting God. I find myself wondering why God gave us choices in life. I can choose to trust-I can choose to feel disappointment. Why do I think it has to be my way...why do I think this is God's plan B for our lives? What if this is God's plan A? Am I going to be okay with that or am I going to feel disappointment in God for the rest of my life because I think this is plan B? I want what I thought was plan A. I am disappointed that we now have to live in plan B; or I can choose to believe that God is sovereign? If I choose that avenue, I feel peace, trust, and life is okay. To believe that God is sovereign creates a strong thread that winds me tightly in my Father's embrace. I picture me there-not because I have to, but because I want to. Choices He left up to us. I feel broken there - yet loved. I feel tears because with that embrace I choose to believe that God knows what is best for me. My disappointment is replaced with an amazing sense of trust, security, and loyalty for my heavenly Father.

Last summer the girls had this hang up on getting mad at people who came close to our porch. For those of you who don't know us, we live at a bed and breakfast and our front patio goes right out onto the parking lot for our guests. One morning last summer Kira was out there with me and along came one of our guests. Kira, without batting an eye said "Hey old man!" I could have died of embarrassment. I appreciate this guest and his family very much and felt terrible that my two-year-old daughter would talk like that. I still don't know from where those words came. The worst part of that statement is with the consideration that children usually repeat words from their parents; so one could assume that is how we talk when no one is around. That of course not being true, but how could we prove that when our two-year-old pops off a statement of such disgrace? Fortunately for me, my guest was very gracious and understanding! Any amount of graciousness couldn't take away my embarrassment!

The past week has been fairly stressful for us again. As a result, we are feeling weak. Merlin is not doing very well tonight and I feel disappointed that the doing better is not holding out like I would like for it to do. Please pray that we would be able to melt our will to His. Please pray that Marlea would feel the security and love of Jesus.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Love of God

One evening when I was filled with pain, I opened my devotional and found these words from Ephesians 3:17-20: "I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope." I want this. I want to know, experience, and to have Christ at home in my heart. I want roots - deep, long, unmovable ones. I want to understand - and yet the Bible says I never will fully. I want the power, the boldness, the energy that goes with it. I want God to be glorified.

As I repeatedly read this passage I cried and cried. I don't understand the things God has allowed into our lives. But neither do I understand the love God has for me, as His child. And His love is so much greater then anything else I know. The small taste I have and know about is that if I really can grasp that God loves me like this, anything that happens in life will be okay, because with love God has my best in mind. But I am human and so little compared to God. So therefore, I will never quite get it? And yet I read - then I will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. I chose again to love, to believe, to trust.

At the mountains this past weekend I was reminded of Kira so much. One picture in my mind that I have of her is - she was out in the lawn, a huge lawn following her daddy who was playing a game. Nothing else mattered except trotting after him. So what that there were other children and things to play with. It was daddy she wanted to be with so it didn't matter how long or hard she had to walk. On the flip side I think of this and it reminds me vividly of the loss of this picture for Merlin and I. But I enjoy the memory. It is embedded in my mind, and it reminds me of what I want to be like with my heavenly Father....

Thanks so much for praying for us again this past weekend. I can say it was probably one of the most draining emotional times for numerous reasons, and yet I so strongly felt the love of God, and His grace. We could feel your prayers, we could feel God. Marlea didn't seem to think it was a big deal because Kira was there anyway. Sometime we will understand more and I know we will be surprised.

Marylu and Merlin, Marlea, Anna