Sunday, November 23, 2008

We're not that great

If the size of this post is daunting, please skip to the bottom and read what I am encouraging you to do.

Well, I would apologize for the delay in updating the blog, but it would be insincere. We have been focused on incorporating Hazel into our lives, and it has been a fun challenge that does not afford much time for reflection- or going to the bathroom for that matter.

Thanks to all of you who have recently gotten in touch with us and shared your own story. We greatly appreciate it. I do apologize for the wonderful e-mails and calls that have not received a reply. Apparently a lot of folks watch Oprah. Please do not confuse our lack of response with a lack of desire to respond.

I am striving to make this blog about things other than just my family. However, this week I fail because, for now, this is what I am learning.

Within the thousands of e-mails, letters, and blog comments that we have received there have been a few common themes. One of them is something to the effect of commenting on how great Ginny and I are- either we were the greatest parents, or so wise to enjoy the time we were given, or my favorite- how we are “great Christians”- whatever that means.

While we really do appreciate the gesture, we constantly remind folks that the video was only 6 minutes long. Also, for some reason, the guys at IgniterMedia didn’t seem to focus the video on my problem with pride, lust, and just basic sin. This is not an attempt to feign humility and therefore really do the opposite. It’s just the pent up grimaces and desire to set the record straight.

One of the many powerful things that have impacted various parents about Eliot’s story is the encouragement to slow down and hug your kids; however, the lesson has often been misinterpreted when others think that we have somehow overcome this very struggle simply because we have been taught otherwise. Although the lesson has been learned, we strive to apply it each and every day.

So, here’s an update for all of you who have felt like lousy parents after seeing our story. We’re right there with ya. Just days after Oprah, and awash in e-mails of how we were the ideal parents. I woke up. I woke up mad. I was frustrated with this little girl who would not allow me or her mother to get over one hour of sleep. Not the “ahh schucks” frustrated. I mean really angry. It was the first time I had felt this. I am sure it will not be the last. It then took about 5 minutes for me to begin to feel like something I hate to step in. And I talked to God about it, and He forgave me.

I actually never imagined that I would feel this toward a child of mine. Especially in light of what we have walked through. But I did. So there. If anything is great about my parenting, I am pretty sure it is not me.

I am Israel. Always forgetting what I already learned. We are truly battling to live in light of what we know. Not always easy as the defaults attempt to wade back into our lives with this new little one.


We recently had the opportunity to “dedicate” Hazel before our church. It was really pretty fun, and somewhat emotional for both Gin and I. We had never done that. Here was the voice over that we read as her picture was behind was up on the screen:

Hazel Emerson Mooney. You are one amazing girl. It is proven by the fact that you got your mom up on this stage. She hates that.

You are our second child and are so we honored to get to know you more each day from here on.

Please be patient with us…as we have love for 2 just waiting to be poured out on you.

Although your birth was amazing, we pray and await your 2nd birth when you will begin to walk with our Savior.

Our prayer is that He would enable us to parent you in light of the lessons He has taught us…most importantly that you are not ours, but His.

We love you. He loves you.

Job 1:21 God gives. God takes. God’s name ever be blessed.


A shout out to the mothers…

I want to make you aware of something that I think is pretty cool. A husband (who will remain anonymous) is doing something really cool for his wife for Christmas. You can read all the details here.

Basically, out of an agreed conviction from his family that they will not spend money on Christmas this year, rather, they plan to set the amount of money they would have spent aside and give it away. Thus, this means that gifts are required to not cost him money.

He is asking for mothers to write a letter to another mother. He is gathering all of these letters and giving them as a gift to his wife (if you participate, he will give you the end product as well).

Here’s the thing. What will make this project special is mothers who are willing to be gut-level honest in their assessment of motherhood as they know it. The more honest, the better. I don’t do this often…OK, never. But I am asking you to do a couple of things:

1.) Spread the word…Tell the moms in your world to participate (e-mails, blogs, etc.) This really only works if the word is spread.

2.) Write a letter….I think the process of doing this for mothers is the appeal. Anything that forces you to think back and reflect on what you have gathered along the way, is a good thing. And we have been witness to the fact that your own story- when told- can allow others to believe that their world is not as lonely as they once thought.

OK, enough car salesman, go do it.

I know, I know. Pictures will come.


C.S. said...

You ARE that great! You're just human :) I'll be keeping in touch! Can't wait for photos!

Kelly said...

Thank you SO much for being so open to all of us! We lost our 5 month old daughter Liberty in Oct. 2007..we have a 3 1/2 year old and now a precious 3 month old. Since losing Libby people seem to think we should suddenly be PERFECT PARENTS! We are so far from this. We try to explain to them that we do understand first hand how precious (and short) life is, however we still fall short of who God wants us to be DAILY! This also means that our OTHER children are not perfect. They aren't always fast asleep at 3am. They aren't always well behaved in the middle of the store. Our marriage is much stronger because of Liberty, but it is not 100% all of the time. It's nice to see that it's okay that we are TRYING to do our BEST but still falling short. It's nice to see another family with similar struggles get the word out that NOBODY is PERFECT.. EVER! What's really important is that we try to lose a bit less of ourselves every day so that we might grow to be more like Jesus every day..and that's our goal in this house.
Thank you for being so open and honest. You and your wife have the power to reach thousands..this is a great reminder that you are trying to do your best but you can't do it without God!!! Wonderful news! Wonderful!

In His Grace,
Kelly Turner and Family

Laurie said...

There is something about being a parent that magnifies all of our short comings. We all see it when it happens in our lives. Lack of sleep is HUGE. Loving that you updated with this info and the great idea of your friend. Also looking forward to some updated pictures of Hazel Emerson. And it is so wonderful that Gods forgiveness is unending towards us. Have a wonderful week.

Laurie in Ca.

Jen in Al said...

Thanks for the update! will be looking forward to the pictures:) To God be the glory! Amazing that he chooses to use us to fulfill His divine purposes. i can so relate to the feelings of unworthiness. you're right. amazing grace, huh? praying you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with Hazel rejoicing over God's infinite blessings that come in all shapes and sizes:) blessings, jen in al

Julie said...

It's good to "hear" from you both. And your post is so real...thank you for that. As other commenters have espressed - you are human and it is okay. We, too, experienced a loss prior to our 3 children. We lost our twins Devin and Elizabeth during my 5th month of pregnancy. We are not blessed with a 3 year old boy and 9 month old twin boys.

My husband and I talk all the time of how much we have to be grateful for and we are...but there are still those time where we are just mad, tired, frustrated and can't wait for bedtime to come!!! It's human and it's okay. We are all human - we all make mistakes and we all have days or moments we are just done. What Kelly (2nd post) said is so true to what I am trying to say.

Hang in there - you and Ginny are right where you need to be and doing a great job!!!

Christine.M08 said...

Thank you for sharing and your honesty. I have bounced around from several ministries and churches. I never really fell in love with a group of people or church until I came to Fellowship. Finally I found a place where people did not pretend to be perfect. People who are honest about their mistakes and sins. Finally I feel like I am in a place where I can be honest without being judged or told I am not a Christian. Thank You!

LucieP said...


I am so happy to see your new blog!

Adventures In Babywearing said...

This is wonderful and something we all can definitely relate to. Thank you.


Oliver said...

I love your honesty, Matt. It's a beautiful thing to see people be so real. And yes, it's crazy what emotions lack of sleep will bring out in us. Seth said he saw Hazel today - "she's so tiny" he said :) Sweet sweet baby.

Kari said...

You are great and perfect, and I don't mean to everyone who says so or even to me. When you look at that little girl every day just know that to her you are perfect and great just the way you are, imperfections and all! That's the great thing about being a parent, even though sleeples nights cause us to get frustrated at times we know that our child still loves us. I am a mother of a nine month old baby girl and there were times when she was first born that I just wanted to set her down, walk outside and scream. Trust me all parents with a new baby go through their frustrated lack of sleep faze. Can't wait for the next update and more pictures!

Ashley in MO said...

I became a follower of Eliot's blog long ago when I first saw his video on youtube. Then, again, I saw it on Oprah and saw that it was only a portion, so the message board that I frequent I encouraged everyone to watch the whole video.

Anyways, the reason I am leaving a posting for you is I wanted to let you know about a service called Many people on the message board that I belong to blog about their lives and families. Some have done this for years and have many posts, etc and they are transforming their previous years of blogs into books.

I thought you may be interested in possibly transforming Eliot's blog into a book and having it to share with his sister when she gets older. These books can be made into one or many so if you only wanted to do it for yourselves or family you are able to do that, also.

You can learn more at and I am in no way affiliated with them - just thought as precious as Eliot's blog was that you may want to turn it into a personal book for yourselves to be cherished forever!

Love and peace to you and your family at this time of the year.


Chris, Kristin, and Emily said...

I know it's hard to hear things that you may not be feeling or that you may feel you are not worthy of. We are all learning as we go. God doesn't give us the view of the future to get us through hard times. He gives us the answers we need when we need them. He gives us instructions as we can take them. I loved this post...the emotion and honesty. It's what we all feel as parents at times, but are afraid to admit.

I think that what so many people feel, and at least what I feel when I think of all you both have been through and how you have "handled" it. It is that you had the courage to ENCOURAGE others in difficult times. You took the short time you had with Eliot and made the very most of it. It reminds me to be more patient, to try harder when I am feeling frustrated (and even that anger too Matt!), to just believe that there are short comings I can over come...because I think about how very lucky I am. I think (?) that's what people are trying to say when they speak of what great parents you were to Eliot/are to Hazel, how you are good Christians, how you are to be admired in the face of struggle.

There are time when we all fail as parents, but fortunately, a wise man told me, that we all seem to turn out pretty well or people would not continue to have children!

God Bless your sweet family. I can't wait to see some more pictures of that sweet little angel of yours!

Melanie said...

i wrote a letter
thanks for the idea

rossmiddleton said...

Just wanted to drop a note, I'm sure among thousands of how much I appreciate your story and perspective of your son, Eliot. I have not lost a child, I have two but one of my best friends lost a premature delivered baby that lived for about 3 hours. I was there for all 3 hours of her life and it was one of the most amazing/worse moments of my life seeing my best friends child die in his hands. I can't wait to meet you and your baby Eliot in heaven. I pray God blesses you with as many children as you desire.

kristen said...

I know the feeling Matt.....I had a daughter on Oct 3. She keeps me up all night and I'm returning to work. I get very mad as well. But you know what.....I never sat to think and pray to God when I get those mad and angry feelings towards her. Thank you for showing me a different way to approach this.

Elle2702 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elle2702 said...

I love this blog. I believe you creep into my head and steal my thoughts. Then you write them better than I ever could properly express. I recently took a picture of my living room after watching Oprah. The room was destroyed with toys. I was having one of these days you are describing now, the bad day, the shameful part is I know better you know? I have had this loss and you hold your self up to be "that" parent, "that" parent that doesn't take their kid for granted, you feel, no you "know" you will be different. HA! You try and that is the important part, because you know, you've been there, but damn, your human and its hard!
Anyway, I wanted to document that day. I had to re-evaluate my wonderful mixed up world, and to be honest, I had felt I had forgotten or let my daughter's memeory slip away and it had angered me. Anyway...My husband laughed at the pic and took it to work, and everyone he knew who had grown kids, laughed and said, "Been there done that...totally normal." That quote is how I feel about you guys. Man, I would love to meet you both and sit down to a cup of coffee. We have walked a similar path, we lost our child before birth, but of the same chromosomal disorder. I have said it before, it doesn't get any easier, just sweeter. We have two kids now and I can't look at them with out oozing love or feeling the loss of my first. I still look at my little girl and say to my self, "I could have had two of you? Wow!" Yet, there is not a day that goes by that I don't struggle to be a good parent. I mean struggle, depravation can bring you to your knees...literally. I hear you and I am here for you! No one is perfect, we all struggle. I am just amazed at your struggles so far. It is just nice to know you do exist, there are others out there and you (and I) are not alone. I said before it does get better. Hold on, after three months things start to fall into place. You feel like you can get a chance to pee or as your wife thinks now...How will I ever get a shower on my own again? We all learn, we learn to cope and keep living.

p.s. I LOVE that quote from JOB, it is going in the permanent memory bank...and I am writing a letter! Also, you are that great, you just don't feel like it now...

p.p.s. Thanks again...I was having a down week, I guess you could put it...due to family rearing their self absorbed head and feeling as though, my white picket fences were out of reach. I have been asking myself why can't I...and fill in the blanks here, the pitty pot was filling fast. I love going back and reading Ginny's random thoughts and I say who needs picket fences anyway... I am going to make my own, my way and in my own color.

Randi said...

I've been holding your family in my heart for about a year and a half now (and I am a huge fan of your wife's jewelery business!). I am glad you wrote this post and may participate in the letter project. Now, get back to your little girl! :-)

Juliana said...

Hi! I am from Brazil. I have just seen Eliot's history on Oprah. It came in the right time for me and my life. I needed this menssage to keep going, to keep moving on. I added Eliot's film on You Tube to my personal profile on Orkut. So that can be a example for others, mostly in Brazil, like it was for me. Thank you for sharing. I can see now the really meaning of carpe diem.

Julie said...

It's difficult for people to see you as not perfect due to the fact that you have lived the grief most parents dread. my parents lost two babies (not twins) before having myself and my younger brother. for years my parents were praised for being the best parents and they would say thank you and explain they weren't perfect and they made mistakes like everyone else. when i asked my mother about it she explained that people are quick to see perfection when parents go on after the loss of a child. god bless your family!! you are wonderful and may sleep and restroom breaks come soon for you.

Mother Letter said...

Thanks so much for the plug Matt. I owe you... a few.

Kim said...

I finally made it over here to say congratulations on your new blessing from God! Hazel is just precious! Jayme Walker has kept me updated on you guys and although we have never met, I love you in the Lord and pray for you often!

Your post is honest and is all God's grace isn't it? Each day we endure and press on it is by God's grace...and that you can go through such trying times and still rejoice...that is God's grace in your lives for a watching world to see. I love that!

Thank you for your sweet testimony!

Suzana said...

Peace be with you (that's how we say, here in Brazil).
I translated your video. There's someone asking the texto to a church.
But I can't speak English. Is the text somewhere so theat I can correct the one I wrote?
Today I read James 2:23.
Thank you for helping me to be a better Christian.

Jen in Al said...

Okay, waiting for pictures...:) Blessings to you guys! Merry Christmas! jen in al

Chelsea Pang said...

Just getting out the word about the 12th annual Worldwide Candle Lighting event. Compassionate Friends offers the opportunity for grieving families to come together on one day to celebrate the life, love and light of those children gone much too soon. It is believed to be the largest mass candle lighting in the world. Last year tens of thousands of candles were lighted in memory of children around the globe in small gatherings and in the privacy of homes.

This year the candle lighting will be held on Sunday December 14th for one hour at 7 pm local time around the world, creating a virtual wave of light. It symbolizes that the light of these precious children will forever he held within the hearts of many.

If you want to post a message about your own loss you can see my blog at OR post on Compassionate Friends website on December 14th, their web site,

Chelsea Pang
Mother of Grace Ola, born still September 17th.

Beth G. said...

Hey Matt and Ginny,
I am sure you don't remember me but I worked with yall at Kanakuk at K-Classic (3rd term) right after yall were married. I went to Auburn and then lived in Texas while yall were there. Ginny worked at my favorite place to eat...

Anyway, I was forwarded the 99 Balloons video one day and was so sad when I quickly realized it was yall! What an amazing video.

I really appreciate your story and your honesty. Yall have allowed God to work through you and your family to touch so many peoples lives. He is using you to do amazing things for His Kingdom. I pray for your family and thank you for sharing your story and your honesty. Life is hard... the Christian life is HARD! We are human and I know I am SO thankful that His mercies are new everyday!

Your little girl is BEAUTIFUL! I know God will continue to bless you and your ministry!


natasha said...

I'm still in awe of your tribute to your beautiful son. I'm truly in awe of your faith and strength. Thank you for your honesty and openness. My husband and I lost our son 6 weeks ago, I was 29 weeks pregnant. Reading your blog and watching your tribute has given me more hope than I've had since we lost David Henry. Thank you.