Messages from Moms: Adrienne Graves {part 4}

Today in our Messages from Moms series, Adrienne Graves tells us a little bit about how her local church supported their family, and also how strangers who love Christ cared for them. The Graves family’s experiences reminds me that the Church (with a capital C!) isn’t a building…

The Red Rocks Church family was amazing to us, and to Emily, during our time at the hospital.  I seriously was oblivious to our needs at first, but they were not.  They brought meals to us for 5 months, along with our friends and family contributing, too.  Literally.  5 months of not having to worry about “What’s for dinner?”  And, not just a drop at the front desk type of thing, but some of the people who brought meals would come and spend time with us.  Yes, it’s uncomfortable for even people we know and know us to be in a hospital setting where a baby is gravely ill, but some of those who stayed with us didn’t even know us prior to Noah’s birth.  They became our friends while we were in the hospital.  

Some people are afraid to do that…they want to give you space, don’t want to be “a bother”.  Since Em was there every day, too, she built friendships with our many visitors from church.  They’d play with her and help her feel like a kid in the midst of this big unknown.  We didn’t actually attend church but once while Noah was in the hospital, and that was the day my older sister and I got baptized, so as far as Em making connections to church members during that time, it all took place at the hospital or if members offered play dates or brought their own kids to visit her, in addition to her brother.  This was huge!

  In addition to our church body we have an amazing core group of friends with whom we do life.  They rotated visits and always brought their kiddos along so Em would know she was special, too.  Some people may not think it’s appropriate to take kids to visit at a hospital, but it’s a children’s hospital!  It’s totally appropriate, and who knows, a visiting kid might just be inspired to be a medical professional some day just because they were allowed to see inside.  Once Noah passed away we started going to church again at Red Rocks.  Em made some really solid friendships with some of the kids there, all of whom were aware of her journey.  They didn’t shun her or think she was a freak because her little brother died.  They just chased her and tackled her, swung from the trees with her, and shared their snacks.  Kid stuff.  They were just kids together.

We had actually attended and served at a different church prior to Noah’s birth and overlapped attendance at that church and Red Rocks for several months.  We had no ill feelings or anything for the former church, but just felt we were supposed to support the start up Red Rocks was doing in Colorado.  That former church literally checked out after one week…Red Rocks along with family, friends, our neighbors, and even strangers from blog world all around the globe, surrounded us and walked through all the rough patches.  A classroom of children in Korea “adopted” Noah and Emily and sent handmade pictures, artwork, and beautiful Korean treasures to our family.  Our church and a sister church in Florida collaborated, and through a tremendous gesture of generosity, Jason and Emily and I hopped on a plane for a week and got away the Spring after Noah died for some time in the sun, at the beach, Disney World, and Sea World.  To a 4 and a half year old girl who had just lost her brother, Emily thought she had won the lottery.  It was important for her to be able to have both of her parents by her side as she laughed, and saw them smile again.







Thank you, dear Adrienne, for sharing your heart!

Tune in tomorrow to meet another phenomenal mom!

Messages from Moms: Adrienne Graves {part 3}

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Today we continue  our conversation with my friend, Adrienne Graves. I admire Adrienne’s candor, and I believe it is truly a gift that God has given her…through her ability to share honestly, the rest of us can learn so much {and perhaps learn to be a little more honest about our own feelings as well.} I asked Adrienne to describe her fury with God as she watched Noah struggling to live… 

  I remember sitting out in the hallway one night at the hospital and the tears were just flowing uncontrollably.  I remember being so angry because my faith and our reality were not lining up…No one knew anything, Noah was progressively getting worse, and I remember reading a comment or hearing someone say, “Oh, God will never give you more than you can handle.”  

And that’s when I snapped.  

Literally, “F-bombs” were going off in my head left and right and in that moment, there was nothing I could do to hide them from the God of the Universe who knows everything.  I said, “God, this f-ing sucks!  No one knows anything!  Noah is dying!  This is way more than I can handle!  Do You have any idea what it’s like to lose a son?!”  

At that point I had been Christian for 20 years, but it was the first time I had ever felt such profound peace.  God said, “Actually I do…”  And, with the peace came a realization that THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SECRET.  I couldn’t candy coat my feeling of disappointment with God and how this whole thing was unfolding, so I didn’t try.  I told Him in no uncertain terms that I was totally disenchanted with how He was running the Universe, specifically my world, at that moment in time.  In doing so, it wasn’t news to God.  He knew my wish list had a fairy tale ending, but He gave my heart a peace that He was still good, in spite of our circumstances, He saw a bigger picture, one more beautiful than I could comprehend, and even though we were walking our darkest nightmare, He was still good and very much in love with us, and with Noah.  

Being able to be real with God, allowing authenticity and candidness come into our conversation, if you will, was nothing different from one of the Psalmists of old.  The Psalms are cries of the heart.  Secrets revealed in words and recorded for us years later so that we could see what a real relationship with God could look like, not one candy coated with perfect behavior and religious rhetoric.  Jesus could not handle the cross.  (What, you don’t believe me?  Then why did He go back and pray the same prayer 3 times, asking God to “take this cup… Nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done.”)  

God does give us more than we can handle.  That’s called life on earth…a life we weren’t meant to “handle” on our own but with total surrender and trust in a good God that loves us and truly does have beauty in mind for all His creation.  

Tomorrow: We finish our conversation with Adrienne as she discusses how the local church helped her family cope with their life in the hospital and their grief after Noah’s death.

Messages from Moms: Adrienne Graves (part 1)

Last month, I introduced you to my wonderful new friend, Adrienne Graves.

Adrienne is, first and foremost, a child of the King. Next, she is the wife of her husband, Jason, and mother to three children: Emily, age 10, Ryan, 21 months, and Noah, who is in heaven.

I first became acquainted with Adrienne through the blog she wrote while Noah was in the hospital. You must read Noah’s story…you will absolutely fall in love with this tiny boy who has led so many hearts to Christ. During his 7 months on earth, he reached every continent in the world through Adrienne’s blog!

Adrienne has been gracious enough to share her heart with us here, in the hopes of providing greater understanding to the Church. Obviously, her motherhood has included rare, raw, painful experiences that most of us will never experience. However, we are, all of us, in the same Body, and we’re called to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. The best way to do this is through understanding.
I asked Adrienne to help us understand by first explaining how she dealt with the uncertainty of Noah’s illness…

Honestly, my eyes were opened during Noah’s hospitalization to my need to be both his mommy as well as his advocate.  It’s true, the doctors and researchers were stumped.  I’m so thankful God provided world class insurance during that season because the types of tests the doctors were ordering were no longer typical, run-of-the-mill tests.  (The doctors) were in uncharted territory.  As a result, I began to dig into research myself.  I also asked the question, “Why?” a lot.  I was not trying to be disrespectful to any of the team within the medical profession, but when a doctor hands you a list of 17 different disorders your child could possibly have, you don’t read the list.  You say, “I’m sorry, my job is to love on my son, not to research 17 potential disorders.  Please narrow this list down to one so I can know what we are dealing with here and why.”  

Noah was never given a diagnosis.  

I think at first I dealt with the uncertainty by seeking more answers, but looking back, those were the answers of modern medicine I was seeking.  Test after test after test came back inconclusive.  We found a biophysicist on the outside who helped us with further research which has opened my eyes to a whole new world of “modern medicine” but there still wasn’t a cure and there certainly weren’t any treatments doctors were willing to try.  I remember thinking the whole scenario seemed like a game of greased watermelon in a pool…no one ever had a hold on it.  But, in the bigger picture, where my world was crashing down around me and I was angry because I couldn’t “fix it”, I had a perspective shift.  I knew from the moment Noah was born that God was more in love with him than I could ever be, which is difficult to swallow for a mom, so even though the whole situation was out of my control and uncertain, a peace from God came over me as I literally trusted Him one step at a time.

Next: Adrienne discusses how Noah’s illness affected her marriage and her relationship with her then-four year-old daughter.