Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Praise You in This Storm

Keziah finally has her first tooth! She's been working on them forever and finally yesterday I felt a sharp little razor coming out of her gums. When Micah got his first tooth, Erik and I did the "spoon test" - putting a metal spoon in his mouth to see if we could hear the unmistakable "clink". Yesterday morning I did the spoon test with Keziah and, CLINK - she passed with flying colours! I won't even attempt to take a picture of the tooth at this point, but here's Keziah sporting her latest scrunchy smile face which you will see several times over in this post...

She has taken her first crawling "steps" but still doesn't seem to realize that this could be a great mode of transport. In the last couple of days she's figured out how to push herself up to a sitting position from lying down. The other morning I was quite surprised to find her sitting happily in her crib. So, I know this is a good step towards crawling. I'm going to predict that by next week she will be on the move...

I'm glad to announce that Micah is doing much better in all aspects since I last posted. He hasn't had any full-on accidents in the last several days, but still has one or two partial accidents per day where he is wet enough to need a change of clothes. He is once again starting to tell me when he needs to go pee which is a major improvement in itself. M&M's and stickers are great incentive :) Sleeping is going quite well too. Bedtimes are sometimes a challenge still (last night it took over an hour before he finally dozed off...) But for the most part he has been doing really well staying in his bed and falling asleep without us sitting in his room or singing him to sleep. That's encouraging. And the separation anxiety has significantly lessened this week. He has been spending time upstairs with Grandma every day. A few days ago he still insisted that I come up with him, but in the last couple of days he's been more than willing to go up on his own. Praise the Lord for that too!
Thanks to those who have been praying for Micah in this way - especially to little Hailey who prays faithfully for Micah every single night!!

A little update on Doug, Elissa & Caleb - The little guy is gaining weight and filling out! He wants to eat all the time! Just like his Daddy, I guess... :) Elissa is still moving slowly, but is doing more and more with her left arm every time I see her. She hopes to have her jaw unwired in the next week or two and has decided that she doesn't want a second surgery. Their home life is very busy and demanding with all the care that Caleb and Elissa still need. And Elissa's days are filled with all sorts of different doctor and physio appointments. Thankfully, Doug has been granted an extention on his leave from work and will be home for at least another month.

We have been spending lots of time as a Toews family in these weeks - sharing suppers, watching videos of Nathan, telling stories... I can't say that things are getting easier, but life is moving forward and our new reality is feeling more "real" with each passing day. For me, some days feel OK and other days are really sad. And I think Erik would agree that it comes in waves like that for him too. Last night Rosanna was here and we watched a Nooma video together about grief. Rob Bell shared about getting a phone call with the news that a close friend had been killed in a car accident. He talked about how he replays that moment in his head over and over - the exact words of the caller, where he was sitting, how the phone felt in his hand. I can relate to that. I don't know why I replay that first moment in my mind all the time. It's like I'm afraid of forgetting the shock and sadness of that moment; as if I need to remind myself of the hugeness of what happened.
In the video Rob also talked about how we experience grief and that whatever we're feeling right now is OK. I have this certain expectation of what grief looks like, and it feels strange to not be in that space all the time. I don't cry very easily and it feels wrong to be so dry-eyed. Instead I just have a heaviness in my heart and an ache in my gut and this thickness in the back of my throat... The way we deal with our grief depends on so many things: the individual relationships we had with Nathan, our personalities, and the realities of life that we have to deal with now - which, for me, means two demanding children.

This week I have been mostly saddened when I watch my kids. When I see Keziah making new milestones and Micah growing older by the day, I realize how much Nate will miss out on them growing up. He loved my kids and he was always excited about each new part of their growth and progress. And every day is one more day since Micah knew his Uncle Nathan and I continue to pray that he will remember.

This morning when Erik's alarm went off there was a Casting Crowns song playing on the radio. I've heard the song a couple dozen times but the words have never been so applicable before...

I was sure by now that You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen" and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as your mercy falls I raise my hand and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I'll praise you in this storm and I will lift my hands
For You are who You are no matter where I am
Every tear I've cried You hold in your hand
You never left my side and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry, You raised me up again
My strength is almost gone, how can I carry on
If I can't find You?

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

I have struggled with God's control in all of this. I know God is in the business of answering prayers, of caring about even small things and working them out for us - and yet in this one BIG thing that REALLY mattered, he seemed absent. We believe in our heart of hearts that God is good even though his ways are not our ways, but his ways seem even more confusing to us than they've ever been before. But still we trust that God is walking with us.

When I looked at the CD booklet for Casting Crowns this morning, I noticed that they had written a little introduction to the song - about the mother of a little girl who was dying. The last couple of sentences stuck out to me:
"Sometimes God calms our storms. Sometimes he chooses to ride them with us."


Janelle said...

EVERY SINGLE time i hear that song, i think of you & your family. what a difficult song to sing, but it's so true. HE IS OUR HELPER. and He will ALWAYS choose to ride with us through every single moment...good or bad. That's just awesome.
we love you guys & we keep praying that the healing process will be one that unites your family even more, and that each of you will have God meet you right where you need Him...because like you said, it will be different for every single one of you.
but not a day goes by that you are not on our hearts. and I will keep praying that God will continue to calm the storms in your hearts.

Kara said...

Hi Jamie,
Your posts are always so honest and open - thank you for pouring your heart out. I admire your honesty and it's neat to see how God is working in your lives despite the grief you are very much feeling. I love that Casting Crowns song. I remember a few years ago singing that song as a reminder of the truth that God really does not let us walk alone, but very much walks with us. You and your family are still in my thoughts and prayers. Blessings to you!

Yvonne&Eric said...

I'm glad that things are getting better with Micah. That must be a relief for you. Congrats Keziah on her first tooth! Love her scrunchy face:)
I've seen that NOOMA video - it's a powerful one. We're still praying for you all wishing that you didn't have to live each day farther away from when Nate was here. We pray that God gives you comfort - that you have a deeper realization that as absent as he seems - he is still there "riding the storm with you".

Michelle said...

We sang the I Lift My Eyes Up worship song in church on Sunday and I was totally thinking of you guys the whole time I was playing it. We said an extra prayer for you guys that day!

Great news on the progress of the kidlets! No matter how big or little we are, God answers our prayers! Keziah is an absolute doll! I'm aure she'll be flying around the house on her hands and knees in NO time!!

I'm glad you guys are finding comfort in each other and that a little at a time, things are getting just a bit easier. Praying for you always ;o)

kelly said...

So glad to hear the progress Micah is making again, and the new things that Keziah is learning - yay for her first tooth!
Thanks for sharing those thoughts on grief, what you thought it would be like and what it really is like for you.
I appreciate your words and openness as you go through this.
continuing to pray for you.

Karen said...

I very much appreciate your honesty and openness in your posts, Jamie. You give insight into all sorts of things, and lately, it has been about what it's like to be in a grieving family. You are a gift to that Toews family, I know! Thank you for sharing so deeply about your journey through this! And, thank goodnesss that things are finally settling down for Micah and Keziah! Also, praise to God for the improvement in Caleb and Elissa! It's great to hear!

Leanne said...

I too remember the phone call that I received, how shattered I felt...and I'm not even directly 'involved' (I don't know how else to say that...hope it doesn't sound callous). The picture of Nate and your kids made me weep. Tragedy strikes everyone in different ways, and you describe the waves of grief that wash over, that hit you hard, very well. Dark times do have moments of small comforts...and yet it's still unfair, still a mystery, it still takes so much courage to continue to have faith.
I hope that your honesty and your vulnerability throughout all of this provides you with comfort. And I continue to pray for your family, for your roles as wife, mother, sister in law, daughter, etc. May God continue to grant you strength and comfort.

Amber said...

Jamie, with tears in my eyes I don't know what exactly to write. Just know that we will continue to pray...I know I've said that a hundred times, but I really do mean that I am committing myself to praying for your family.

Trev & Rebekah said...

I love the quote at the end of your post. One thing that was told to me when I was greiving the loss of a friend was to "walk through the pain and not around it!"
We continue to think of you and your family often. We don't understand God's ways or timing either but trust that He has a plan and purspose through all this.
I love the NOOMA video too. IT's powerful. Jamie, keep writing about your feelings and the journey you are on. We are here to walk with you and pray for you.

Donna said...

Your post are always so honest and open. I am sure it has been great to write about your struggle. I almost lost my husband about 3 years ago and I know being able to express myself would have helped. It is great that your family is so close.

I am glad to hear Micah is doing better. And that Keziah is a beautiful girl. Praying for your family as God brings you to my heart!

Liane said...

We had bought that CD and when I had my first miscarriage all sudden I "noticed" the song too. We often wonder where God is, when we go through hard times and forget that he "rides the storm with us"
We will continue to pray for you and your whole family!

Nichole said...

Jamie, that song has gotten me through many, many rough days. Laura first gave me a copy of it after Noah was born. I was just thinking about posting it on my blog this morning. Hope you don't mind if I do! Praying for you always, Nichole

Andrea said...

Another version of that quote I've heard is "Sometimes God quiets the storm, sometimes He quiets the child." I love that.