Sunday, December 30, 2007

What now?

Wow, I feel like so much has happened since I last wrote. Since we began this blog back in August, I have never taken such a long break from writing, but it has certainly not been due to a lack of anything going on in our lives. Quite the contrary, so much has happened I have not found free moments to stop and put down in words what is in my heart. Usually at night as I lie in bed, when my mind reflects back on everything that has happened, I think of all the things that I want to share and I attempt to store them away in some corner for safe keeping until I find a chance to revisit those thoughts and put them into words. But over the past few days as I've considered the many things I would like to write about, a question presented itself and began nagging at the corner of my mind. The more I put off writing, the more the question nudged itself to the forefront of my thoughts and discouraged me from actually sitting down to begin typing away on my little macbook. The question I was faced with was this: Why would people, especially those who don't even know me, want to continue reading my thoughts? After all, the namesake of this blog is gone. There was a purpose and a reason for writing as long as she was with me, but what about now?

I've turned this over and over in my head over the past few days, trying to understand why people continue to visit this little corner of the internet. I'm overwhelmingly grateful for the love and support we have been shown by the people who have become a part of our lives by traveling this journey with us, but now that it's over, I find myself considering "what do I have to offer that anyone else would want or need?" I don't know if I have a complete answer to that question quite yet, but maybe I have the beginnings of an answer.

In all likelihood, the vast majority of people who have come here to read over the past months will never lose a baby to Trisomy 18 or any other fatal condition. In fact, most will never even experience the loss of a child at any age. Yet over and over again, people have written and expressed that what we have gone through has meant something to them. At first this surprised me, but the more I thought it over, the more I realized how much that concept made sense after all. Why? Because there is something universal in suffering. No matter how vastly varied the details of two people's difficult circumstances might be, there are always going to be aspects of universality in the experiences. For example, if we are honest, we will have to admit that we don't understand God. Who has not cried out "Why, God?!" when faced with the unavoidable reality of suffering in this world? Who has not experienced the excruciating pain that comes with being seemingly at the mercy of suffering without any power to alleviate it?

It is this common bond that must play a role in drawing us together, even when the hardships we endure share very few similarities. This is why the magnificent stories of the Old Testament are more than just beautiful pieces of literature. They are alive and powerful in their ability to change lives, to speak to hearts, to unveil some aspect of God's love, justice, power, and wisdom even though thousands of years and hundreds of cultures separate us from those people who lived so long ago. In God's unfathomable wisdom, He knew that the stories He penned through the hands of His servants like Moses, David, Samuel and others would have life changing power for people in every generation throughout history. His faithfulness to Noah, Abraham, and Joseph has molded, encouraged and strengthened my own faith and helped me to face Poppy's sickness with more of an eternal perspective. The great thing about the people in the Bible is that as I read, I can see the big picture. I can see how God orchestrated the events of different people's lives in order to achieve His plan and purpose. I can see that even what couldn't have made sense to the individuals at the time, makes perfect sense in the light of God's overarching design.

So, what do I have to offer to anyone who stops by to read? Only this: the story of God's faithfulness to me. Even though Poppy is gone, that story will never end. I don't fully understand it, but I am so humbled that God could use what He has shown me to help somebody else regardless of shared circumstances. It thrills me to know that the journey God has brought us through might play some small part in a journey someone else is walking, about to walk, or has already walked. When I stop and think about it, all I can say is "wow." God's plan is bigger than me. End of story. I'm never going to fully "get it" but each new little part I see just makes me love Him more. Will I keep writing? I guess the answer to that is, for now, yes. I have no idea what the future holds or how long I feel adding to this site will be what I need to be doing. But today, the answer is that I still want to write. I still need to share the story as it continues to unfold of how God used and will keep using the little baby He gave us.

All of that to say, over the past 10 days since I last wrote, my experiences have been full. Christmas brought with it the usual busyness, but it also brought a greater awareness of what is truly important than I have ever experienced before in my life. I still don't know if I could ever actually choose to go through what we did, but I do know that I wouldn't trade the things that came along with it for anything in the world. I wouldn't go back to the comparatively care-free way of living I had just one short year ago because if I did, what I would be giving up would be so much more valuable than what I would gain.

In closing, I want to share a few verses from Romans 11 that have meant so much to me. This passage says "Oh, the depth of the riches both of wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen."

34 comments:

Mandy said...

Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your private thoughts. You are such an inspiration to many others, including myself. I check on you here often to see how things are going with you and your family. I too would not change our journey if I could. Madeline's life brought such meaning to our lives and brought us so much joy. I feel priveledged to "know" you and Poppy. Thank you again for sharing.

Mandy
GA
www.madelinegracehopkins.blogspot.com

Lisa LaFarlette said...

I must say, I am compelled to come here several times a day, just to see if you have written and what about. Why? I do not know exactly. After meeting you and Nathan, I felt like I have known you all my life - my friends. Though I only shared a brief moment of your lives, I feel you have all changed me forever. All your family and friends welcomed me and made me feel like a part of your family.

Maybe I come here to see that you are alright. Maybe it's to hear about God and how He has helped you through. Somehow, it shows how God has worked through Poppy to to give others strength, faith and courage through your strength, courage and faith.

I do know that I come here to feel inspired and closer to God. While it's easy to see how God blesses others, it's not always so easy to see how He blesses us. I see that God does incredible things and feel blessed that He allowed our paths to cross.

Thank you so much for sharing something so personal and being so honest. I am so grateful to know you.

Kenzie Stanfield said...

You do have so much to offer through your writing... and if you ever begin to feel it as an obligation and not as something you truly desire to do, then you will know when the time to stop will be. Until then, keep writing your beautiful words and sharing what our great God has done for your family through a sweet little baby girl!

Love and prayers continue!
Kenzie

Lisa LaFarlette said...

I must say, I am compelled to come here several times a day, just to see if you have written and what about. Why? I do not know exactly. After meeting you and Nathan, I felt like I have known you all my life - my friends. Though I only shared a brief moment of your lives, I feel you have all changed me forever.

Maybe I come here to see that you are alright. Maybe it's to hear about God and how He has helped you through. Somehow, it shows how God has worked through Poppy to to give others strength, faith and courage through your strength, courage and faith.

I do know that I come here to feel inspired and closer to God. While it's easy to see how God blesses others, it's not always so easy to see how He blesses us. I see that God does incredible things and feel blessed that He allowed our paths to cross.

Thank you so much for sharing something so personal and being so honest. I am so grateful to know you.

So Blessed said...

In your writing you offer hope and encouragement to others who are suffering and who read your blog. You are right that we are all bound together by the trials and pain of this life and we are also bound through the love of Jesus...and so it is up to us to be His hands and feet...to encourage others in their troubles. It is my prayer that you continue to see and feel His love in the people who reach out to you here on your blog. Your testimony is precious.

Amy said...

Even though we've never met, I continue to check your site to see if you've written. I had never really considered "why" until I read your words tonight. After a little thought, I think my reasons are twofold.

First, I come here to see how you and your family are doing. Although I don't know you personally, God continually brings you to my mind. The Bible talks about how when one member of the body suffers, the whole body suffers. There have been many times when I have been moved to tears or have found myself on my knees praying for you.

Second, God has used your words to remind me off all that He has done in my life as well. Although I've never lost a child, I have endured times of deep suffering. During those times, all I could do was cling to the Lord. Once the suffering has passed, I find that it is far too easy to switch my gaze and become somewhat self-reliant. You have become a tangible reminder of the incredible faithfulness of God, both in your life and mine.

Thank you for continuing to share.

Laurin said...

Angie, sometimes I feel funny writing on your blog since I actually see you , and you are one of my my most precious, closest friends. Anyways, I like to write and more so, I love to read your blog. I suppose I write b/c I think I will not remember what I want to say in response to your writing when I see you next. Enough of the disclaimer...
Truly, an eternal perspective and purpose encompasses you and Nathan. So wonderful to encounter!
This morning in church, we sang a 5th stanza of Come Thou Fount. I had never seen this part of the song, so because this hymn is my absolute favorite, I became very excited to be introduced to it. Here it is, encouraging me that one day, we will see Him face to face!
O That day when freed from sinning
I shall see Thy lovely face.
Clothe me then in blood washed linen,
How I'll sing Thy sovereign grace.
Come my Lord no longer tarry;
Take my ransomed soul away.
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

The Blog Marm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dee Dee said...

Amen.
I suppose, and hope that I am right, it warms our Father's heart when we receive Scripture, live it, learn its truth, and then quote it, with conviction. When we are learning,even through suffering, to LIVE His Word and passionately inhabit His Love.
May He be warmed to hear His Words come from your mouth and your heart, and may He heal your pain and overwhelm you with His blessing.

Emily said...

I am so thankful that you will continue to share your story. You are such an inspiration to me. Your strength is amazing and your relationship with our Heavenly Father is incredible. You have touched my life and I have never met you. I am so happy that I found your blog & I continue to pray for you & your beautiful family.
Emily

Anonymous said...

BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN
I ONLY HEARD ABOUT YOU THROUGH A
FRIEND AND I MUST SAY YOU HAVE BEEN
SUCH A INSPIRATION! I VISIT YOUR
SITE JUST TO SEE WHAT YOUR THOUGHTS ARE FOR THE TIME BEING..
I KNOW YOUR FAITH HAS PLAYED A HUGH
PART IN ALL THIS AND I KNOW YOU HAVE BEEN A BLESSING TO ME. I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY BUT GOD IS BLESSING ME THROUGH ALL THIS. I HAVE LOST A MOM, DAD AND A BROTHER
AND I CAN'T EVEN BEGIN TO IMAGINE
HOW YOU FEEL. YOUR HUSBND AND YOU ARE SO SPECIAL AND I KNOW YOUR
FAMILY ARE SO PROUD OF YOU!!
YES, YOUR POPPY WELCOMED "POPPY JOY"INTO HEAVEN WITH OPEN ARMS
AND YOU CAN REJOICE IN KNOWING THAT.KEEP WRITING AND I WILL KEEP
YOU AND YOUR FAMILY IN MY PRAYERS

A FRIEND IN CHRIST



WRITING AND I WILL KEEP YOU IN

laura said...

i too have been touched tremendously by your words and your faith. i have been blessed to watch you mature in your faith through this blog. we were in memphis visiting family over the holidays and you were continually on my heart and in my prayers. thank you for living out your faith in such a real way. i agree with what you said about not wanting to go back to "before"- i learned so very much from the Lord through my miscarriages and sick preemie babies. i would not trade a thing and i am thankful for the lessons.

julie said...

I too feel like laurin about writing on here seeing as how we see each other all the time! You know that your words have blessed me tremendously and I so look forward to getting on here and reading your thoughts. I come here to "check" on you, as odd as that sounds. I also come for selfish reasons. I come here to learn. Mostly I am learning to have total faith in the Lord and the importance of prayer. I am so glad you are going to keep writing for now. I am excited to see what the Lord is going to continue to do through you and Nathan!

Anonymous said...

I just want to say that I was lead to your blog by divine intervention. I have learned from an amazing example of how to cling to Christ in suffering. I remember the day my mom got the call that changed our lives forever...My dad was dead, he died on the job site. We were alone & he was gone. No goodbye's, no nothing. My mom went on and she got through but it left me with an intense terror of death. The depth of the pain was unbearable. I couldn't even step foot in a funeral home. I have become an adult & have struggled with this even though I am a Christian. Your testimony has shown me that intense loss is not the end. That we make a choice how we handle life's obstacles. Satan uses so many things to trip us up. One of those I think is our ability to not fathom eternity. If we could only look down where God is and see how short our lives really are..We would realize that we will soon be re-united never to be parted. I have though alot about that lately. Never to be parted, what a joyous thought. Thank you for sharing your story and your heart. I want to build a legacy of Jesus no matter what comes our way. I want to model that for my children as they face who knows what. That there is always Hope, always Jesus. Poppy Joy will no doubt affect my life as long as I live. She left a legacy of faith through her parents. Thank you!! Colleen

Emily said...

I love you heart. I love the idea of meeting up at Starbucks for a long afternoon chat. It's not impossible. ;) God is bigger than us. He is weaving a beautiful tapestry on the other side of this mess we see. It's amazing. It's bigger than us. Your words bless me, your willingness to continue to seek God and continue to let us watch as more of His plan for your life is unveiled is precious. I am grateful to, even over the miles, call you friend and to imagine that Poppy and Miller Grace could be friends, too... just smiling down because they can see what we cannot and they are loving watching as we strive to discover the secrets of Heaven.

Emily said...

I love YOUR heart, I meant to say. ;)

Mandy said...

I, too, feel compelled to visit to see if you have written. You have touched my heart. Poppy has touched my heart. I have never met you, though I feel as though I know you. What do we share? A kindred love for our Father. What do you have to offer? You are correct! A story of God's Faithfulness. You've blessed the reader's beyond measure with your thoughts and honesty. Thank you for continuing to write.

Tracy said...

I love reading your blog because you always inspire and amaze me with your great faith. You have shown me that God does not give you anything that you can't handle and that good can come from something painful.
Thank you for writing. If you continue to do so, know that I will be checking in :)

Brandi said...

Angie,
I second what Laurin and Julie have written that I sometimes feel strange about commenting on your blog when I could just tell you in person. But sometimes it's easier to write things than to say them face-to-face. And I whole-heartedly agree with what Julie said about reading your blog to learn. Whether it was a goal of your blog or not, you have taught me and so many others life lessons about God's power and grace. I love reading your thoughts and words, and I'm glad that you will (for now) continue to post.

Christena said...

Angie,
I'm one of those strangers who found your blog along my own T18 journey. I read every legacy page on the T18 Foundation site and found your blog through Tristan's blog back in early November. I continue to follow your journey because your beautiful, honest words paint the canvas of such a wonderful woman and family. You're able to articulate so well those human experiences that can be so hard to put into words... fear, doubt, joy, gratitude, grief and faith... you are so human which allows all of us to connect with you... you are so selfless and faithful which is inspiring and helpful to those who are struggling along their own human journeys... whether they be similar to yours or not.

You have done a wonderful thing not just for all of us out in the blogosphere, but for yourself by using your words to paint a beautiful legacy for your precious Poppy Joy. You will always have these pages to turn back to, so that some details that might fade with time are preserved forever. I, for one, hope that one day, when the time is right, that you write Poppy Joy's book and that a publisher scoops it up. I hope that your words and your story keep touching and inspiring people that need to be touched and inspired.

Thank you so much and now I'll stop jabbering. I wish you and your family a blessed new year full of all good things!

Rebecca said...

Angie,

Thanks for writing... and I'm glad you're going to continue, for at least the time being.

Much love,

Rebecca

Just Me said...

I ended up finding your story through the "magic" of clicking on different links in the "blogging community". This is my first time commenting, but I have been reading for a few weeks. This post really touched me today because I have often wondered why I continue to read about people experiencing sadness and loss, when my job brings plenty of that. I was talking about that, and your story to a friend today. I was telling her the way that you handled Poppy's life and death. It was SO beautiful and inspiring to me. I think that's why I keep coming back--to learn, to be inspired, and reminded of God's blessings both in life, and in death. So, I guess this is "thanks" for the blessings you have shown me in 2007. Best wishes for you and your family in 2008.

Anonymous said...

My son, has a chromosonal disorder, I found your blog while researching his disorder. . .

I come to your blog because from the very first picture I saw of your family - - - I saw a picture of faith and love. . . and such inspiration, I am overwelmed with how you cling to Christ during this difficult time.

I think, if you can go through what you are going through, then surely I can make it too!

Thank you for your picture of faith and God's love. . .

Anonymous said...

My son, has a chromosonal disorder, I found your blog while researching his disorder. . .

I come to your blog because from the very first picture I saw of your family - - - I saw a picture of faith and love. . . and such inspiration, I am overwelmed with how you cling to Christ during this difficult time.

I think, if you can go through what you are going through, then surely I can make it too!

Thank you for your picture of faith and God's love. . .

radrev said...

Your words so touch my heart, Angie. They truly paint a picture of the love of a mother for her God, her family, and her newborn child. I found out about this site in early November through a co-worker who attends Bellevue. I was/am so drawn back here daily, and instantly grew to love you all and sweet Poppy Joy before she was ever with us outside the womb. Incidentally, I am getting married to my fiance, Adrian, on January 19th --- a local Memphian who was named after your grandfather (while his family never went to Bellevue or knew your grandfather, they had great admiration for him).

I am a Bible College and Seminary graduate and I have been pastoring a church in Batesville, MS for almost 4 years now. I love the Lord passionately, love family, love children, and, as an English language lover, am very drawn to eloquent and profound writing - so I was most drawn to your site and entries.

It's so interesting to me that you wrote this today. I have many, many times checked this site throughout December... and while praying for you all, I always hoped that you had written something. Anything. A reflection, a journal of grief or anger, a psalm of joy and thanksgiving for Poppy Joy. Anything. I so appreciate the authenticity you have shown and contine to show - and I think that real feelings and real emotions are good for Christians to express and share with others (why we love David's Psalms, right?). You're exactly right - the universality of pain and suffering is what binds us all during rough times. We, as readers of your journal, never know when our "valleys of the shadow of death" may come (in whatever form they come in), right? Granted, like you said, statistically speaking it will probably not be a specific trisomy baby (although my anut just had a Trisomy 13 baby - who lived a mere number of days).

On December 19, 2007 (exactly one month before my wedding), my parents found out that my dad has an advanced stage of Prostate cancer. He is a young and healthy 62 years old and repeatedly went every other year to have his PSA checked. They admittedly should have caught it about 8 years ago - and every 2 years since then that he went in to get checked - but they didn't catch it until now. I am the second oldest of 5 kids (I'm 33 yrs) - and my youngest sibling is 17 years old. Nobody is married yet - and no grandchildren yet. My parents are married and madly in love.

My parents told us all the news on Sunday morning, December 23rd. After my wedding in a few weeks, we are facing his radical protate removal and then radiation (both with the potential for very strong and real complications) - as well as the possibility of it having spread and so forth...

Your faith through this site has helped me tremendously. Different valley. Different circumstances. Same question of "Why, God?". Same human connection of suffering and great pain. I often read your journals and think, "Oh Lord, when I face rough times, my prayer is that I may have the kind fo grace that so clearly resounds through Angie's spirit."

He is faithful. And praise Him for his keeping Spirit on your family's life. Praise Him for His keeping Spirit on your heart of tenderness and sensitivity to him and His continaul guiding and directing.

My dad's name is Ken Groh. I would so much appreciate it if you would lift him up in your prayers (please pray for the situation and for his and my family's spiritual conditions). You and yours are forever in my prayers. I love you, Angie, my sister in Christ. Praise God that tonight may be the night when our sweet Jesus returns for us all - and we'll all be together again worshipping together around the throne.

Love you. Grateful for you.

Sarah Groh
Memphis, TN

kingfamily said...

What brings me back, your wisdom, your love for Jesus, and your trust in Him. We will all go through different trials some huge some little. Your trial is tougher than most of us have ever known, yet you cling to our savior you perservere, you give us hope that God will cary us through all hardships. God's grace is sufficient, you are an example of that and an encouragement to others. My biggest prayer is that God will use Poppy's story to bring others to know and love His Son. This is why I come back. Thank You.

erin said...

i finally figured out how to put you in my "reader" so that anytime you post it pops up. i can tell you that i was happy when your name was bold today! i dont know you and will probably never meet you but i feel that just like boothe and copeland you and poppy are a part of me, i think of your family often and am grateful to have shared a small part in your story. if my words have meant anything to you as you have thought of the many people who read this that dont know you then i am glad :) your sweet baby has touched my heart and bc of her and your faith i am closer to God. i love my daughter more, i hug her longer, i watch her more closely, i am more grateful for her. i am tearing up as i write this. i thought i loved her more than life before i met you and boothe and now i am convinced of it. please keep writing bc we want to keep reading :)

http://maggiemaeupdates.blogspot.com/2007/12/remembering-poppy.html

erin said...

my link got cut off :)

http://maggiemaeupdates.blogspot.com/
2007/12/remembering-poppy.html

Anonymous said...

You have the gift of being able to put your thoughts into words in a way that continues to be a blessing to me, Angie, and most likely to many others, as well. You have developed such an intimacy with your precious Lord that has become increasingly apparent in your writings. It seems from reading these comments that God continues to use what you have to say in the lives of many, including myself. Some of your posts have made me smile, many have brought tears, but they have, without fail, shared the peace that passeth all understanding, the encouragement and sustaining love that can only come from a relationship with Jesus Christ. People need the Lord and we can see Him in and through you and Nathan. I continue to pray for you, Nathan and your family!

Nancy G.

Anonymous said...

Amen... I have been blessed by your blog... your life... and Poppy's. Thank you for sharing, and continuing to share.

Amy
(aka DANDELION SEEDS)

Anonymous said...

Twenty-four years ago the Lord took my six year old son home to live with Him. My life changed on that day. I still share the life that I had with Jeremy. You will be able to share your experience with Poppy the rest of your life. Hopefully through sharing your experience people will start to understand how short life really is and to enjoy every minute we have with each other. May God continue to guide your life. Use your experience to help someone else. Trica in Alabama

Risha said...

I want to thank you for sharing your life and your deepest thoughts. I know that God led me to your blog. Your words have challenged me in so many ways-- most importantly to strive for complete trust in my Heavenly Father. I have to be honest and say that, as a mom, your story is my worst nightmare. Because of that, I worry constantly. It has been such an encouragement to me to read your testimony of how God has upheld you during all of this. And, as a result, I have realized I need to learn that He would do the same for me, should He choose a similar path for me. I have also been challenged to do a better job at showing my love for my family. You have been in my prayers. May God continue to uphold you. I hope that you continue to share the lessons from this journey.

Bobbie said...

I just wanted to say, that I read your blog because I too have lost a child. He was premature 15 weeks. He lived 8 1/2 months. He was awesome. and the experiences that I experienced with him I wouldn't trade for anything. I know God had a reason and I feel honored that he picked me to be his mother. But, I read your blog because well, to be honest. It helps to see someone else thinks things that I do. It helps me not to feel as though I am going crazy. I hope that makes sense. But, yes, keep blogging and teach. You are teaching with your blog. The love you have for God and your faith is awesome. Here is a link to JT's site if you would like to check it out no pressure. But, I thought i would share him with you. http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/johnathanpoling

Know you are in my heart and my prayers.

Bobbie Poling

Trish Hagen said...

I am writing back on a post that you obviously wrote almost a year ago. I first want to say your writing is inspiring you have such strong faith and endurance to pursue God's purpose for your life. I am now on the road you traveled as our son Max was diagnosed 10 weeks ago. I thank you for your thoughts and was wondering if you would be comfortable sharing your email with me I would love to ask you some questions about the choices you made. If your not comfortable please don't feel bad. we are just starting to figure out a birth plan and I am getting so many mixed messages about our choices. thank you
Trish crew4him@gmail.com
ourmiraclemax.blogspot.com