Monday, May 30, 2016

Did a war kill my daughter?

This weekend, Mark gifted me with some time away...just to myself.  It was my Mother's Day gift.  I chose a tiny cabin nestled back and up in the woods with a beautiful lookout over the ocean and Twin Rocks in Rockaway Beach.  The cabin is owned and rented out by Twin Rocks Friends Camp and it is intended for private retreats for prayer and reflection.

Now, I am not really into praying or much of anything in the "spiritual reflection" department, but I have taken this time to do some thinking and to open my mind and heart.  I brought a book for this weekend titled Lord Willing?:  Wrestling with God's Role in My Child's Death.  It was a gamble purchasing this book, for I had no idea what it would really be about except what the title conveys.  But, I would say it has turned out to be the perfect book for me.  For the first time in a long time, I am thinking and opening my mind to some new perspectives on God's role in Vienne's death.



Let's see if I can explain the "theology" I have been banked on for the past few years, since she was taken from me.  In the beginning, I believed that God was all-powerful and had control over all ways of this world.  I believed that He had the power to intervene whenever He wanted to and that all plans were ultimately up to Him.  So when we prayed fervently to Him, along with hundreds of others, for Vienne's life, I felt that God blatantly told us "NO"...."No, He would not save her"..."No, He would not intervene".  I have spent the past 3 1/2 years feeling betrayed and abandoned and well, really, unloved.  Many questions have often screamed through my head..."Why her??"..."Why did she have to be taken in that way??"..."Why wasn't I even allowed to say goodbye?"..."Why so cruel?"

Then, from time time, another thought would sneak into my head that I have entertained from time to time, as well.  What if God isn't as "all-powerful" as I had been raised to believe Him to be?  Because why would a supposedly loving God who loves life and joy and beauty allow something of death and sadness and horror?  This doesn't line up with the God that I have been raised to know.  Why would He say "yes" to saving some and "no" to saving others?  How is that loving?  How is that bringing life and joy?  How is that wanting the best for us?  So, maybe just maybe, He is not as capable as I have always believed Him to be...because that is the only thing that really makes sense to me.  But then it also fills me with fear.  Fear of Who I have entrusted most of my life to.  How can I dedicate my life to a God who really has very little control in this world...how am I supposed to trust  a source Who has little power??  Why do we or should we pray, then?  It is so so confusing.

So.  This book.  Now, I am not finished with it...but I need to jot down some of my thoughts as I am reading it.  The author's name is Jessica so I will refer to her name from now on.  From what I am gathering thus far, Jessica seems to be hinting more towards the latter idea...that maybe God doesn't have as much influence in this world as we have all been raised to believe.  She points out that God created us intentionally with "free wills" of our own...so that we could make our own decisions...in the hope that we would ultimately choose Him.  Why do it any other way...otherwise, we'd just be robots.  And why do we have children anyway?  Have you asked yourself that?  Why did you really want children?  Well, for me, it was because I wanted to experience a love like no other...a burning-from-my-core self-sacrificial selfless kind of love...with the hopes that I would raise these children to make good choices and in hopes that they will love me back.  I am guessing this hope might be similar to why God created us.  But in allowing us to have our own free wills, He also allowed the enemy to be present in this world....and once the first humans made choices that defied God's wishes and reflected evil, Satan was given power in this world.  Our free will and choices give him power.  Jesus called him the "Prince of this World"...why?  Because as our sinful choices are made, they fuel his power in this world.  And, hence our world has been at war since the beginning of time.  A spiritual war.  And, I guess because of this, God does not always have the power??  Jessica referred to a story in the Old Testament about when Daniel was fasting and praying for help for 3 weeks without any answer.  And, then Daniel 10:12 - 14  says this:

12 Then the man said to me, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel, because from the day you first set your mind to understand things and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard. I’ve come because of your words! 13 For twenty-one days the leader of the Persian kingdom blocked my way. But then Michael, one of the highest leaders, came to help me. I left Michael there with the leader of the Persian kingdom.[a] 14 But I’ve come to help you understand what will happen to your people in the future, because there is another vision concerning that time.”

Daniel prayed for 3 weeks and didn't get any response from God...then after 3 weeks, he received a vision of an angel speaking to him, explaining that his prayers had been heard but that he had been blocked by the enemy (the Prince of Persia was thought to be an evil spirit)...finally it took Michael (one of the highest angels) to help get through.  I guess this shows that there is constantly a war waging and maybe God is always trying to get through to meet us and our requests but maybe He is often thwarted by an enemy who runs rampant in this world.  Maybe when God created man with free will, He submitted and sacrificed His own will for this world which allowed the will of the enemy to come in and rival His.  And, He did this all in the hopes that we would choose Him and love.  Confusing, right??

But I still have questions.  Like....how are some prayers answered and some aren't??  Is that really in the hands of the enemy??  Like which answers make it through the battle and which don't??  Or what about the Bible verses we all have read that say God is omniscient and all powerful??  And, if you have faith of a mustard seed...and...??  You know??  What about all that??

Ugh.  This is so much to think about.  I finally prayed once this weekend and I have asked God to show me.  Show me what happened that horrible morning that wrecked and changed our lives forever.  Show me what happened in the spiritual realm when we begged for intervention.  Was there an enemy spirit blocking the way and thwarting God's saving efforts?  Did God really actually want to save Vienne's life..but as hard as He tried, He just couldn't??  Was it maybe actually not God's will for her to die...but the will of a horrific enemy??  Was there a war being waged for her life that very morning???  So, show me, God!  Show me!!  Please.  I never ask anything...but please convey some answer to me.

"Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12)

Trying my hand at blogging again...for now...today.

Whew, it's been a while since I have blogged.  I have decided to start writing on my old blog and have changed the title from "Radical Mama" to "Bereaved Mama".  One of the reasons I had stopped writing on my blog "For Vienne" is because it had slowly morphed from a blog dedicated to memories about her and thoughts on her...to more about my grief journey.  I think it would be best to separate the two.

I am not sitting down with any eloquence or grand thoughts in mind.  I am just sitting and doing this. I needed to just do it.  I have had so many thoughts floating around in my head...things that I've needed to get out of my head but I haven't just taken the time to sit and let them pour out.  I am not even sure they will come now...but at least I have started.  That's something.

I don't yet plan to publicize this blog.  I don't need the attention.  But if someone were to stumble upon it, then they are welcome to peek into the inner depths of my mind as I grapple to find some sense and order to them.  But, if you are new, please tread lightly.  Basically - Be nice or leave.  ;)

Right this very moment I am sitting on a couch in a quiet little coffee shop in Wheeler, OR - it's on the coast.  Mark gifted me with a private weekend away, just time away for me.  I've never taken a trip like this before.  I have to admit, at first it is hard to adjust to.  I drove up to my little cottage in the woods and had a mini panic attack moment.  I sat on the bed and just thought "ok, what now?".  It was so quiet.  So remote.  So lonely.  But I am 2 days into it and doing better...finding my independent groove.

I have needed some "me time".  Time to just organize my thoughts.  Allow myself opportunities to openly grieve without fear of inconveniencing anyone or feeling rushed to sop up my tears.  I haven't cried, yet though.  I haven't really "gone there"...haven't felt the nudge.  I have found an interesting book to delve into though.  It's called "Lord Willing?:  Wrestling with God's Role in My Child's Death".  Appropriate, I'd say.  From what I am gathering, thus far, the author is going to tackle the big question of "was this God's will?" or "did God allow/cause this?".  These are questions I have often wrestled with and never found answers for, so I shove them aside in a messy corner and work hard at ignoring them, like I do with so much else of my grief.  So, I am interested to read what she has to say.  I am hoping for a good answer...not a fluffy Christian-y one.

I have learned over the last year that my biggest spiritual struggle lies in feeling that Christianity failed me when Vienne died.  My theologies of God and Jesus and Christianity, that I had accumulated and formed throughout my life, set me up for great failure and really wrecked my spiritual response to Vienne's horridly tragic and sudden death.  I had always known that tragedies happen (duh, of course)..but for some very naive reason, I had foolishly let myself believe that if I covered my children in prayer and faith and enough Jesus, that they would be protected.  I let myself believe that if I spoke it and had enough faith, that it would come to be...that my faith could move mountains.  I let myself believe that "when two or more are gather, God would hear my prayers" and act in my favor in answer to those prayers.  I never ever thought that He would tell me NO...or even consider that maybe He wasn't able to answer in the way I pleaded with Him to.  I let myself blindly reside inside an insecure unstable "Christian bubble" that was doomed to pop...and it did.  Holy hell did it pop.  And, unfortunately, it burned much of my faith down to ashes.

What do I believe?  Where is my faith right now?  Well, I still believe the basics - I believe in God and I believe that He sent His Son, Jesus, here to die for us.  I believe in the Trinity.  And, that's about all I can say right now.  I do not agree with most Christian theology anymore.  I struggle with the Bible.  I believe that it was inspired by God and written by very faithful and well-meaning believers.  I do not believe it is the handbook for life and the end-all answer to all things anymore.  I believe that it was written by people in different times, influenced and biased by their societies, circumstances, culture, and time.  Things that made sense and were applicable then are NOT always applicable now. Just because it was written in the Bible does not mean that when you read it, it is exactly meant for you.  I think it is foolish and naive and ignorant to believe that now...but I used to rely heavily on the words in that book.  When I felt inspired by a passage, I strongly felt that it was meant for me.  I do not feel this way anymore.

This is the most fragmented nonsensical blog and I think I'm going to end it now and write another one.  I just had to start somewhere.  This was it.  No grace or beauty or thoughtfulness..just a pouring.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

For now...

Well, I have to take my last post back and regretfully admit that I just do not have the time I wish I had for this blog right now. Right now is the time that my 18 mo. old toddler needs all of my attention during her wakeful hours and my home and husband need me during her sleeping hours. When she is able to entertain herself for longer stretches of time, maybe I will get back into the swing of things.
For now - best wishes and I will hopefully commit back to this sometime in the near future.




Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Updates and Getting back on track

This is my attempt to get this blog rolling again.  I have NO idea how it's going to look this time around, but figure that this is just my outlet for anything that might be on my mind for the day/week.  I have been gone from this for a long time because, well, I just really didn't feel like organizing my thoughts this summer.  But, I do enjoy the times that I am productive enough to get something jotted down, so I am going to give it a try again!
Time is especially limited for me, these days, because Vienne is down to just one nap a day - a short 1 hour and 15 minute nap, at that.  Naps are basically the only time I have to get a lot done - ie:  make and eat lunch, tidy up, maybe get a workout in (yeah right), read my Bible and journal (ahem), check and respond to emails, get some cooking done/started....and, yeah, blog.  haha.  I have a friend (ahem, Lacey) who, in my opinion, seems like a super woman to me with two kids (one being a newborn this summer) who has already started a regimented workout routine, knits amazing projects, makes skincare products and sells them on etsy, cooks for her family and roommates, does housewifey things, and manages a blog a few times a week!!!  I am utterly perplexed and humbled by what she gets done.  How does she do it...well, I'm planning to ask  when I can get her out here for a visit.  I am a pretty organized person but there is NO WAY that I could get done half of what she gets done.  I feel like such a lazy ass.
Ok, anyway, enough of that.  :D
Updates.  How about some updates about this family of mine.  Well, this week Vienne will be 17 months old!  That is crazy to me.  She is quite the fun little lady with loads of personality - aren't they all?  She is completely buzzing all about the house now, full of creative insights each day.  We have discovered that this girl loves to organize, loves to clean (I'm serious...hand her a rag and she will wipe any surface), loves to play dress up, loves to dance, loves loves water and the outdoors, loves her soccer ball and is learning to kick it...especially on the beach...and much more, of course.  She is still pretty shy and hesitant out in public, but is opening up a bit more each time.  She is not really talking or doing many of the "normal" things kids do at her age, like pointing to her nose or body parts when you ask, trying new words, running, or eating lots of foods, for example.  Of course, we are not concerned about these things, we have come to learn that Vienne does things in her own time...she is a watcher.  She soaks it all up and then one day she just lets it all out, at once.  I know she is listening and watching and learning a ton and she responds very well...but she doesn't seem to feel the need to prove anything to us yet.  She is still very petite, as well which just tells us that she will be a small girl.  At 16 months, she was only 18 lbs. but, as the doctor said, she is developing just fine.
Anyway, so that's Vienne.
As for our family, we have a vision of some big changes ahead.  Mark is making some huge career changes which will give us the opportunity to move to Portland when things really take off.  Right now, the job is kind of slow-going but we are hopeful and prayerful.  We have listed our house and if we don't find buyers at the time that we want to move, then we will look for renters.  All of this is in God's hands and we are striving to remain faithful to His provisions and His will for us.  It has been a stressful summer to say the least, but we know we are well taken care of.
As a housewife, during all of this change and stress on our finances, I have been doing all that I can to manage our food and household expenditures in a frugal and wise manner.  I have been brainstorming for frugal meals and ways to keep the household going in an affordable and health-conscious way.  Not just because of finances, but more out of the heart to keep our household safe and healthy as well as lessen our carbon footprint, I have been making further adjustments along with the rest.  For example, I finally purchased my first 50lb. bag of bulk wheat berries to mill our own flour for baked goods, I have finally started making all of my cleaning products (save dishwasher and laundry detergents...which totally bombed for us...such a bummer....will try new recipes soon), shopping mainly at our local Farmer's Market throughout the summer, using whatever scraps that the critters left behind of our sad little garden...etc.  
These past few weeks I have finally really been getting into sprouting and I think I will write more on that later.  Fun stuff!
I've also been dealing a lot with my health lately and I think I will write a post on that sometime soon for anyone who can relate to hormonal imbalances as well as digestive issues.  Woohoo.
For now, I will bring this update to a close and insert a few recent pictures.


starting to love her books

soccer on the beach!

playing dress-up in one of mom's shirts (what a distressed look, huh?!)

going out for our 4 year anniversary!

anything can be a phone

picked up a rag and literally started cleaning the car!  that's my girl!

more cleaning....start 'em early!

dress up in dad's shoes

Monday, July 6, 2009

BIG weekend for Vienne!

I know this is turning into a blog mostly about Vienne lately....but, that's what mostly dominates my mind anyway!
So, this weekend we had quite a few big firsts from her.
1.  I laid her down for her usual afternoon nap on Saturday before we were to head over to a 4th of July bbq.  Unfortunately, this turned out to be one of those random fluke days that Vienne decided to skip her afternoon nap (she does this from time to time).  The days she chooses to do this, she typically lays in there, in the dark, and "chit chats" to herself for a half hour and then cries and whimpers for the next 30 minutes.  I usually make her stay in there for an hour.  Well, this day she was in there for the entire hour giggling, singing, and chattering LOUDLY the entire time.  I mean giggling so hard I could have sworn that someone was in there tickling her!  Finally, after the hour was up, I went in there (in frustration at her) and found her standing up and bouncing on her mattress!  This is a first, people!  This is the first time she has sat up from the laying position and then continued to pull herself to standing!  No wonder she was laughing with glee the entire time.  She was so proud!  All I could do was laugh right along.
2.  My girl is walking!  Well, not entirely confidently all around the house.  But, she is solidly 'island-hopping' - like from the table to the chair to the cabinets to the wall and so forth!  No more needing mom or dad to steady herself and hold her hand!  Check out the video of her walking between us but just using us as stopping points.  Pretty exciting!  We finally started baby-proofing the house this weekend.




video

3.  Vienne might be proving to be an artist!  Maybe like her mommy?  So, during one of her naps this weekend, I pulled out some paper and pencil to sketch a bit.  I left it laying on the couch that afternoon.  Once she was up, I left her playing in the living room while I cooked (living space and kitchen are one huge open connected space where I can watch over her....love it!).  Anyway, I look over and find that she has picked up my pencil and brought it over to the paper and started drawing on it!  First off, let me clarify that we have never taught Vienne how to use a pencil yet.  We've never played with crayons or anything.  So, as you can imagine, I am just overwhelmingly shocked that she has succeeded to not only pick up the pencil and hold it the right way, but to also put the writing end onto the paper and then continue to draw with it!  She covered the paper w/mostly scribbles....and not once did she touch the couch or cushions with that pencil.  Well, after she was finished and I picked that paper up.....look below at what I discovered on it!!!
NOT KIDDING!  Do you see the two stars???  Two!!  Crazy, huh?!  Now, I must admit that I have been pretty reserved in boasting any exceptional behavior from her until this point.  I even admit that I used to think that she might just be behind most of the 'typical' kids her age.  She has never exhibited the need to rush forth with anything, prove anything, or acquire new skills quickly.  But, now I'm starting to rethink things about her.  I am wondering if she is just that quiet smart little one who sits back and really watches everything.  I've always known that she is extremely watchful and observant, I guess I just never put it together that she was actually learning so much from that watchful behavior!  I am excited to see what else she pulls out in the months and years to come!


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

First Steps

Vienne Juliet is 14 mo. old today.

My little baby girl is pretty much walking now!  Very exciting times in our home.  She's been walking, holding onto our hands for a few months now - but now she is walking back and forth between me and Mark!  And, last night for the first time, she let go of the edge of the table to walk towards my open arms!  That was huge!  Any day now I know she is just going to let go and walk towards something that she wants instead of towards my arms of security.
She has also been sleeping on her tummy every night and naptime and now I find her on her hands and knees once she is awake.  Perhaps she will finally start crawling after she is walking!?  That would be funny!  Or at least this position is teaching her to sit up on her own....finally!

As far as first words, Vienne has been saying "Mama" and Dada" for quite some time and also says "num num" on occasion and just added "Bob" to the vocabulary.  "Bob"?  You ask?  Oh yes, Bob is one of Grammy's puppies.  

Vienne has been mimicking me more and more, which has been totally cute.  She now picks up her comb and tries to rub it on her head.  She has picked up my makeup brushes and shoved them at her face.  Last week she started using her spoon quite accurately.  And, of course the organizational skills of hers continue to grow and grow.  Have I mentioned these?  This girl loves to organize - to put things away, in their place or at least some new place she has assigned them.  Rarely does she make a catastrophic mess because she is always putting things in containers and back up on shelves and in little holes.  Yes, of course we have covers on the outlets!  Her favorite toys are tupperware containers and boxes along with tiny little objects to sort in the boxes and then shut them away with the lids.  The other week we were in a little health food store and I set her down on the ground to walk along a shelf that was at her level.  The shelf was filled with display boxes of granola bars and such.  A normal baby would probably pull everything out of those boxes and strew them all over the floor.  Nope.  Not my Vienne.  She re-organized those boxes in her own terms - removing bars from one box to put them in the next.  Not one granola bar was on the floor, nor even on the actual shelf....each of them were in different boxes from their original spot.  It was so funny.  Of course, I had to put everything back where it belonged before we left - but I was quite impressed.

Growth-wise, Vienne is still so very small.  I'm not really concerned because she still has a decent amount of chunk on her thighs, belly, and cheeks.  I just wonder when she will have a growth spurt!  She is 14 months now and can still fit into 9 mo. size clothing!  And  last night I just happened to check the tag on one of the jammies she regularly wears...it is size 6 mo.!  I put it away for principle's sake!  And, man oh man, her feet have never grown!!  She still wears a size 2 shoes!  That is the same size she was wearing a year ago!  Surely saves on the pocketbook!  But it's kinda weird, isn't it?  At her 12 mo. checkup (which was actually at 11mo.) they said she was "perfect" so I'm not going to think twice, I guess.  

And I think that about sums up June for us!  And, here's a video of those first steps last week along with a few cute pictures!

video

Summer finally arrived here on the Oregon coast!

Getting my girl out to enjoy the beach she lives at

Organizing garlic into the jars while she eats lunch on the counter

Took a morning walk to check out the low tide and the tide pools around Haystack Rock

Being coy


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Vienne Updates - June '09

Well, this past week has been full of a few new things from our precious little girl.  

Last week, while visiting Grandpa in Portland, Vienne took her very first 4 steps on her own, away from her Daddy's secure hand.  It was very exciting and showed us that she may just be closer to fully walking on her own than we thought!  She has grown very skilled at scaling the walls and really only needs one hand on the wall or furniture to get around.  I think it's more for her own security than anything else...like she doesn't realize that she really can do it on her own.  One characteristic I've really been noting about this little girl is that she is in no rush to acquire a new skill...or at least hasn't been up until this point.  She takes her own leisurely time and doesn't need to prove anything.  It's funny.  Most kids I see are just so dang determined!  She's totally skipped the crawling stage...and if I haven't mentioned before, we've already gotten a lot of flack about that one!  Like you can control whether they crawl or don't!  It's funny - this girl can pull herself up to standing position and pretty much navigate around any obstacle as long as she can have a grasp on one edge of it...but, if laying on her back she canNOT sit herself up to save her life!  When on her back, she is like a beached whale flapping her arms until you sit her up or pick her up!  Isn't that weird??  I know she'll learn it on her own, soon enough...but it is strange.  She'll be walking on her own soon, but won't even know how to sit up on her own....like a turtle flipped on it's back! 

Well, along with this new realization that she is sooooo close to walking, she has just actually given up the interest in scaling the walls in preference to holding our hand and walking her all around the house, in circles, back and forth.  It's terrible and tiring.  And, of course since I am not game to do this for more than one loop around the house, she has begun to reveal her first selfish tantrums!  I experienced the very first full-body fit just the night before last.  It was sooo strange for me to watch!  Let me explain - this girl has been sooo mild-tempered and easily consoled and distracted.  Now, she knows what she wants and it's all that's on her mind and she will scream to get it...finally showing that 'determination' that I thought she lacked!  I was a kindergarten teacher for like 4 years...I've seen my fair share of fits, so I don't give in too easily.  I just stood over her and watched her thrash until she calmed down, panting and gasping for breath.  Then I held her until she was breathing normal.  Once she was calm and content, I let her walk just a bit.  But, I want to nip this in the butt as soon as I can...I am not one who will placate her through her tantrums and give her what she wants.  But, man oh man, it is so ugly to see this new side of your child!  I should also add in, though, that that night we discovered a new tooth that just broke through the surface that day...thus, most likely explaining her dramatics and moodiness.  Poor girl.  

So, this week has been interesting...pushing a little toother forth and enduring many little fits.  It's hard to get much done now when she's awake cuz she's so moody if she doesn't get to walk about, holding my hand.  Eventually, I just sit her on her bum, or leave her holding onto the couch and tell her that if she wants to walk that she needs to do it on her own. Yeah, that's not getting across to her too well...but, that's my mentality!  Anyone have any suggestions for how they've dealt with their baby's tantrums??

Through all of this, Vienne surprised us the other night by sleeping fully through the night!  What a treat for me!  So, despite the fact that she is breaking a tooth forth, I am going to go ahead and start weaning her from her one night time feeding...which, I know, is against the books.  "They" instruct you to wait til their body is not going though anything traumatic, but I think she is ready and I want to follow through with what she accomplished the other night by doing it all on her own.  So, that's my new endeavor...maybe this Mama will be more refreshed and rested through the days!  yay!

Here are a few pictures...



This is my "mild baby" - the one who sits on the counter and plays with garlic cloves for 20-30 minutes while I cook.  But, this is soon to change, I am learning!

So close to doing it on her own.

Bored with that...now wants my hand!

Starting to whine and getting close to a possible fit...

This is her yelling for me since I walked out of the room...haha

Playing 'pat-a-cake'