Thursday, May 21, 2009

Long weekend in Lake Providence & a question for you.

Thought I would drop an update. We are heading to Lake Providence for a wedding this weekend. We will be the ones with a U-Hail trailor, truck, and a babyseat. Should be a fun drive.

Lots of thoughts for Ginny and I swirling around lately. I expect these thoughts could give birth to some blog posts soon. We recently have been challenged in some great ways to live out what we profess. We're interested to see where we are led by way of these thoughts. Should be fun. If this all sounds cryptic. Well, it is.

I still have not forgotten that I owe an explanation by way of a post to some folks who I have promised to do so and respond to their question of how eliot's life and all that it entailed actually glorified God at all. It is a great question. And obviously, I have many thoughts on this topic...but I have yet to respond. I can only attempt to explain my failure to respond by pointing out the fact that I have a couple jobs, a baby, and by restating the fact that I am irresponsible.

It is such a fun time with Hazel right now. I mean every day is just so great. She has maintained her greatest skill: eating. Her smile cannot be explained. Her hair is fighting to continue its 7-month stand atop her head. Although, gravity will soon win out, we are enjoying it while it last. She travels well. Sleeps sporadically. Hates changing clothes (especially the sleeves). She scoots backwards. Cannot crawl forward despite all efforts otherwise. Pretty much she is awesome.

Hope you all have a great weekend.

Enjoy those you love, and forget the fact that the house is messy.

By way of question, I will pull a temporary cop-out and ask you to explain how our son's life (and ultimate death) glorifies God. Be careful. Bumper sticker theology will not suffice for this one. Don't let that last statement scare you off. Give it a shot. Why does it?


ViolinMama said...

Hey! Loved the update.

For me, the answer to your question is why I rewatch Eliot's video frequently, and pass it on. It is YOUR words...."that God took something so lowly in the eyes of the world to show TRUTH" (ok, I don't think that is word for word). That is how Eliot glorified God.

Though I can only imagine the pain of losing a child, or any life, and wanting to blame God (and, some days doing so, or being mad, etc) I can't look at my own children, thinking of God's love for them and me, and not think that their life is not His Truth, and their life and death not bringing Him glory and helping reveal His glory. Otherwise, where is the meaning?

Eliot's life brings God so much glory - his story touches others, reaffirms life, and introduces many to God's word and glory through his video. All Eliot did in 99 days is more than I've done in 31 years, and I hope something I can create in my children.

And, since I'm ripping off YOUR words to answer your question, I might as well rip off Job's words since you've used them as well...God is glorified because God gives, God takes, God's name be ever blessed.

God does not cause our pain, he is with us as we walk through it. Even though faulty DNA cells shortened and labored Eliot's life, God worked through his little life. God knew what Eliot would do, be, and feel before he was ever conceived. He did not allow faulty cell info to plague your son - our bodies are now faulty thanks to original sin and to dust we shall return (just like God does not cause cancer, etc)but God walks with us every painful step and if we can look through the pain - manifests Himself gloriously. And though Eliot, He did. He took, as you said, a lowly thing and showed truth. That is pretty AWESOME. What a legacy - and what a blessing to your family and Hazel.

God Bless you guys and have a great weekend getaway!! Sorry to re-quote your words to answer the question!

chris mitch travis cana said...

i feel compelled to respond...

I also share that Cana's life AND death is glorifying God. But i also recognize that it was not her will but God's for her to BE born. She simply breathed in and out until God, in His mercy, accepted her last breath as a yes to Him.

I also feel that WE (parents with the loss of our babies) are asked to CONTINUE to show others HOW God is wonderful. He IS good. He IS all about OUR good. And He IS to be glorified by us living the rest of our lives making sure we do everything we can WITH CHRIST as our strength, to show others HOW to live in that glory and truth. Quite simply, if God is LOVE and we are called TO love, then we say YES Lord...not my will but THY will be done. Even if that means suffering. Because in humble obedience, there may be suffering..and in that suffering, Glory. The CROSS is our perfect example of obedience + suffering = glory.

I can do the math. I've lived the math. AM living the math.

that's my story...that's HIS truth and His glory.

courtney said... do i follow the previous two comments. powerful.

i've known your story, but have never commented.

eliot's life and death is a strong reminder for me to hug my children tighter, spend quality time with them, make sure they know i love them, re-evaluate my priorities. eliot's life and death reminds me what a precious gift from God my children are.

Rebekah said...

How did Eliot's life and death bring glory to God? I think that in God's infinite wisdom, He knew exactly how Matt and Ginny would respond to this situation. He knew that because of their child they would want to do something for other people, resulting in a wonderful ministry called rEcess. Eliot's death has created a ministry and helps and encourages families with special needs children. Matt, do you think that you and Ginny would have started the rEcess ministry if you had had a perfectly healthy child? Nothing is wrong with having perfectly healthy children, but so many more things can be done in this world when God chooses to let His people experience a little (or a lot) of hurt. To God be the glory through your wonderful ministry of rEcess.

Anonymous said...

What a tough question. I know for me it reminded me that we are made for eternity. To see how beautiful he was and to know that he didn't have long on this earth was heart wrenching. Eliot reminded me that we were created for something so much more than this world has to offer. What really glorifed God in my view was the faith of you and Ginny. I can't imagine that there is anything worse than losing a child; yet both of you had such faith and never wavered from it. Only God can bring peace where there would usually be bitterness.


Monkey Momma said...

Oh wow, what a question. LOL. Where to begin....

I've lost children through miscarriage, not once they were born breathing into this world. While my grief was/is real and I feel completely validated in it, I feel so ill-equipped to answer you. I have not walked in your shoes and fear my observations seem a lame attempt at what deserves to have such a perfect answer.

I just think that how God reveals Himself to me (through Eliot's life), might be different to someone else. I'd like to think that somehow God's grace shines through the fractals of your experience no matter who is witnessing, although the message might be slightly different for each person's need. That somehow our Father will make it fit somehow to each of us and our current struggle.

Personally, I found your blog when I was in the throes of grieving through yet another miscarriage after years of infertility. Denial, grief, finally acceptance of what is, changed to hope, to hopes being dashed - a harsh experience for me and my husband.

Honestly, as I think about my response, the way God showed Himself was more through you and Ginny, versus Eliot, so I don’t know if this even answers your question.You and Ginny reminded me that I was not alone in grief, that I did not "deserve" such heartache, and that somehow I had to find a way to move forward, despite the bitterness and confusion I was wading through. In other words, if Ginny and Matt could do it in the face of losing Eliot, then I could do it in my own little world, which didn't even seem to compare. You gave me permission to be angry and ask why, knowing that somehow that was okay in God’s eyes. You also taught me that it wasn't about getting through it gracefully, but getting through it...that there is another side to the pain and that was peace. Perhaps fleeting at times, but it’s there.

Through our loss, through your loss, through the losses of others' lives I witness, I feel extremely blessed to realize that it's okay to let the house be messy and to focus on the gift at hand - His holy presence in everyday life, whether at a comfortable peaceful stage or not. It's SO there, in every nook and cranny, if we're willing to just open our eyes without distraction. While I wish I could say that’s my lesson learned from you, it’s a lesson that I’m still learn-ING. Knowing me, that’s something that will be a FOREVER work in progress...

SaraMarie said...

That is the question, isn't it? So many of our unbelieving friends inquired of our faith throughout our son Ezra's life and after his death. They didn't understand why we continued to praise Him, worship Him, Serve Him. Its very difficult to explain it to someone who doesn't understand the power of the resurrection or the sovereignty of the Almighty God.

I would say that Eliot's life and death glorifies God because you remained faithful throughout that time. That doesn't mean that you didn't get angry or sad; we are human, and we react to loss with all kinds of emotions. But, you recognized His will, accepted it, and continued to serve Him, out of love and awe. That glorifies Him! It really is like Job, who lost everything, but persevered in his faith. We lost our sons, but our faith survived. Strengthened even, in our family's case. We cling to God instead of blame him. That brings him glory. Eliot, and Ezra, never had an understanding of the impact they would have on people who heard their stories. We, as their parents, remain faithful by sharing those stories so that others can see our faith in action. Seeds are planted. That glorifies God. He IS mighty to save. We are blessed in knowing our sons; and assured that they are with Jesus--and, as a friend of our's told us, their bodies got an upgrade.

Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Anonymous said...

You would be hard pressed to try and convince an unbelieving world how Eliot's short life was "Glorifying to God". An unbeliever only sees grief, devestation and loss at a life that was cut short. They cannot or will not look at what the bigger picture is, something that a believer has to cling to. When I think about it, this is how I see Eliot's life and death show God's power, love and strength.

First, he was born. Period. The medical community at large had a grave message of what Eliot's outcome would be. They I am sure told you all the statistics, grim outcomes and what they felt you should do. However a mighty and powerful God placed your hearts and minds in the place to know that His will is greater and more purposeful. To be able to know that God will have a purpose for Eliot when the world see's otherwise shows his transformative power.

Second, you have memories and love in your hearts for your son. God gave you the gift of 99 days with him. 99 days of memories, pictures, diaper changes, baths, bedtimes, feedings, dressings, smiles and more. He blessed you with those wonderful gifts. That alone shows me what a loving God we have. Even though ultimately Eliot left this earth much sooner than one would hope, that you have those wonderful memories to cling to.

Thirdly, Eliot's life shows God's love and care for His children by how you and Ginny have chosen to live your lives since his passing. You've started rEcess, made 99 balloons for others to see, spoken countless times about grief and loss and looked deep within yourself and grown deeper in your faith. God has used your son to not only show his love for you, but for countless others as you work through Him to help others in the world.

Anonymous said...

how your son's life (and ultimate death) glorifies God. Why does it?

although i know that his life was more than this vid we can find in the internet, it is enough to watch and follow this little cut to be encouraged.

i am encouraged by elliot!
i am encouraged by your life
and by the words you share.

i've been reading your blog since a since quite a time now.

i am going to be a pediatric nurse in september, when i've finished all my exams.

and through my time as a student there have been hard times in caring for kids and their parents.

but it made me see things differently!!!!

there are so many recious kids that don't even have a family come visiting.
it's wonderfull to see you caring for him.

eliot had this kind of life that impacts others!
not this kind of short impact!

...he glorifies god

in helping an other person.
in simply helping me.
my family.
in austria

- and as i read far more than that!

i'm thankfull for him.


Anonymous said...

now that I have seen, I am responsible
Faith without deeds is dead
now that I have held you in my own arms, I cannot let go till you are

I carry you in me

I will tell the world, I will tell them where I've been
I will keep my word
I will tell them

brooke fraser, albertine
just a short ad


thelyttlesinpa said...

1. Your choice to carry Eliot to term glorified God.
2. Your choices to trust God and celebrate Eliot's life glorified God.
3. Your responses to each circumstance God brought your way through Eliot glorified God.
4. Your stand for Christ, and the truth in His Word, glorified God.
5. The answers to prayer glorified God.
6. Every breath Eliot took glorified God.
7. Every kind word spoken or deed done by friends and family on your behalf glorified God.
8. Your acceptance of God's plan glorified God.
9. Every birthday party for Eliot glorified God- it showed you understood that each day was a gift from God.
10. Your energy and enthusiasm in caring for Eliot glorified God.
11. Every hour Eliot lived was a testimony to God's power, grace and love.
12. God's provision for your needs (physical, spiritual, emotional, relational) brought glory to God. You relied on Him!
13. Your weakness glorified God because you understood the true source of Strength- our great God!
14. The ways you've been able to encourage others (like me) who are facing the same kind of loss brings glory to God!
15. Eliot's every feature- even the "flawed" ones, brings glory to God and speaks of His awesome creative abilities! (didn't you just marvel at everything that worked perfectly in Eliot's body?)
16. Gazing into the face of your son, who would soon be with the LORD brought glory to God. (What a great God who provides a way for us to be with HIM).
17. Your understanding, and proclamation, of Christ as Risen Savior, brings glory to God.
18. Eliot's life, against all odds, brings glory to God.
19. Your continued praise of Him, even after losing Eliot, brings glory to God!
20. Your willingness to reach out to others brings glory to God.
21. Your grief brings glory to God- it reminds you to rely on Him. He also lost a Son, and grieved terribly. Because of that loss, and the grief, we can have HOPE!
22. God's ability to use the "foolish" things in life to confound the wise brings glory to Him! Only He can use the pain and grief of losing a child for a greater good!
23. Your ability to move forward, incorporating Eliot in your life, and in his sister's, brings glory to God!

The list could go on, but I'll stop here. I don't think one thing that has occured, even the ugly stuff of grieving, that God cannot use to bring glory to Himself. That is the business He's in!

I challenge you to make your own list of things that you can praise God for in regards to Eliot's life and death.

Please know I continue to think of you and pray for you. This exercise was a good reminder for me. My daughter Janessa is in Heaven with Eliot and Jesus, and I miss her dearly. I'm glad that we serve a God worthy of all glory, power and praise. Because of that, we have a living Hope!

Bob Hansel said...

I would think that by you still serving him, praising him, and sharing him (God that is), proves there is a God... despite what you went through.

Susan Skitt said...

That there can be joy even in sorrow, the joy of the Lord is our strength (Neh. 8:10)...

That is the first thing that popped into my mind although I could think on this for a very long time and try to explain all the things God has been teaching me over the last eighteen years walking through my own personal valley of the shadow of death (remembering as Ps. 23 says, "I will fear no evil, the Lord is with me)...

When I first saw your video (and BTW I have a link to it on my blog), I was moved beyond words to see the faith and trust of a young couple and the joy of celebrating life that God can bring, whether for ninety-nine days or ninety-nine years, life is a gift and when we know Jesus as our personal Savior we are given the gift of eternal life.

In Christ's love,

JPTG said...

I'm a "lurker" speaking up here, following your site after I found you through Magdalena Robert's site. Perhaps I'm oversimplifying below, but will give it a shot.

God was glorified through/with Eliot- Jesus said "let the children come to me" and he saw the goodness, strength, and potential of Eliot's soul, dating to even pre-conception physical life. He chose Eliot to come to him, as much as he chose you and your family to take this experience and turn it into all the positive and inspirational messages you have done so. Your eloquent writing, your faith in and love for Him to begin with- all served as 'stepping stones' for his choice of you as a family unit. He knew that together, you and He would accomplish a Christian outreach & 'following' spanning the globe. You and Eliot continue to make each other proud, Eliot is performing wonderful acts in Heaven, just as you are here on earth.

Suzanne said...

Eliot was glorious. He was fully present for his 99 days. For his 99 days, he lived life fully. If there is something in your experience that teaches truth, I think it is that you and Ginny both chose JOY over despair, and you enJOYed Eliot for the time you had. One day at a time. This actually took a lot more courage than sad-sacking it around and lamenting. The experience that you have shared publicly teaches deep TRUST in the process of life. Although I do not pretend to know what God's truth is, I think that JOY in the face of unimaginable pain and hardship must come pretty close.

All of our moments are numbered. Through Eliot and you, we are learning to embrace life AS IT IS, in all it's apparent fragility. To have the moments that we are having, as we are having them. Thank you.

Amy D. said...

What a question. I believe the ultimate glory of God is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and thinking about Eliot's life and death and especially his eternal life reminds me of the gospel.

We have a gracious, wonderful, merciful God, who gave Eliot to parents who are believers in the gospel. As believers they do not grieve without hope. Their hope in the midst of grief is displayed to the dark world, causing many in darkness to see a great light.

And meanwhile, Eliot is in the presence of his heavenly Father, bringing glory to God in ways we can't even imagine. Who knows what kind of unfathomable things happen in that land, as Paul said, things which mortals are not permited to speak-wonderful, awesome, joyful things.

Eliot's life brings glory to God that we can articulate. It is also bringing glory to God in ways we will not know until we join our loving Lord Jesus, who died for our sins.

Chris said...

I hope this doesn't sound like a "bumper sticker" response...the answer is that God is glorified through pain and suffering and even death in that we exhibit through it that Christ - rather than health or any other of God's gracious gifts - is our treasure.

That we deserve nothing but punishment for a lifetime of sin and that He has given us everything in Christ. To be brokenhearted (over sin and pain and suffering) but always rejoicing (in and through Jesus).

And God has been glorified in and through your pain and suffering for that very reason - that those who are walking with Christ would be reminded afresh that this world is not our home, and that those who don't would be made to ponder the source of your deeply rooted hope.

lishun said...

God is glorified through the way both of you responded to the arrival of responded in a manner that could only have been with the grace of God. Too often we hear of families being torn apart by grief or from the stress of caring for a child with special needs. Your family chose to let God take the wheel, go to Him for strength and in making Him large in your lives, He has used your lives for His glory.

I wish you all the best and may God continue to be evident in your family.

Anna said...

I think Eliot's story gives you a platform to reach more people. Think about it. If you had not experienced such grief, I do not believe that you would have such a platform. Similar to Kim Phuc (if you don't know her, google her) ... she endured ENORMOUS pain but because of that pain she has had a worldwide platform. Joni Erikson Tada...same for her. Without her disability, she wouldn't be known. I think sometimes God allows us to go through great pain so that we can have a great platform for Him. People want to hear from people that have "Been there" and "experienced that." You guys have, and now you are using it to share Christ's love with others - THAT is awesome.
When thinking of your story, I am reminded of the fact that God gives and God takes away. I think sometimes people walk around thinking that "all these bad things shouldn't happen to all these good people." The truth is, at our core we are all in reality, "why do all these good things happen to us bad people?"
Anyways, I supposed I strayed from the question a bit...but, now you know how God is using your story in my life :) I have much more I could share, but I'll let it rest for now :) Thanks, and God bless!

Anonymous said...

This question is as awesome and limitless as our loving Heavenly Father is to us. HOW did Eliot's life glorify God? How does Eliot's life glorify God? How will Eliot's life glorify God?
From the very moment his life began, he was loved and he became a light shining the way for some who are lost. God knew his mommy and daddy would love him in earthly terms, not allowing a precious moment to pass without feeling the joy and pride every parent feels. The celebration of each day, a gift from God to be shared and shared again. God knew the millions of strangers who by chance met Eliot as a result of the inspired message of his life. Little, strong Eliot was born with a purpose. His life continues to shine on God's LOVE, His mercy, His healing, His Comfort,His promise, His HOPE. Eliot is with Jesus, but he continues to shine his light toward HOME. Eliot is well and whole and with Jesus. Eliot reminds me of another infant who came to change hearts and love them to the Lord.
I know in my own life, sorrow for my children has crept in... But our Heavenly Father is Faithful. When I feel weak, God is my strength. When I feel sad, God is my joy. When I feel alone, God fills my heart.
I don't think there is a simple answer... Eliot lived his life according to His purpose. I think his life will continue to restore hope and faith in some who are lost to Him. How special to be Eliot's mommy and daddy... to be part of His plan. I can't begin to understand all that He has for us while we live this life. I thank God for Eliot and how his life is now and will continue to be an amazing testimony of His limitless love.

Grace said...

I saw Eliot's story for the first time today and I could not stop crying after watching the video several times. I dont think I could be strong enough to enjoy every moment with Eliot that way you both did. I was amazed by your strength. I have a 7 1/2 month daughter and I just wanted to hug and kiss her. I am so happy to see your daughter and how much you are enjoying her. Eliot's story made me really think about how lucky I was to have a healthy pregnancy and baby. Best of luck to you both.

makingthingsvisable said...

I have two saints who, like your beautiful Eliot, lived on earth for only about three months each. I remain staunchly convinced that their lives glorified God better than perhaps mine will if I live to be 100.

Why? They keep us gazing heavenward.

Only eternity can answer the suffering of a parent who has lost a child. Heaven-- the fact that our babies are there, and that our suffering united with the cross of Christ is efficacious in getting us and others there-- is the only possible explanation for such a brief life.

Our babies' short lives remind us of the fact that God is a very good Father, who like any parent of a critically ill child, will allow his children to undergo great pain if that pain will save their lives. Though God is close to those who suffer here on earth, he will continue to allow our anguish if it will keep us and others out of hell. From the other side of the veil, our tears will be sparkling diamonds

nita said...

I just saw your you tube video, here is my answer from a random stranger. I love Heavenly Father, also i'm a health care professional who has worked w/special needs kids in the past though I now work in a nursing home w/older folks:

~ your love/service to your son is what God wants for all parents to have for their kids
~ the way you told Eliot how proud you are of him, ie w/his accomplishments and how his mother was so proud of him at the graduation (ie when you said she was as proud as if he'd found a cure for cancer or won a heismann)

~ where I used to work, a state facility for those w/severe disabilities, our former director uoted something that said "it is a true measure of society in how we care for those who can't care for themselves"

~ 99 happy days you filled w/joy for your son, ie taking the daily photo and celebrating his time of birth each day. I look at my life (40 yo) and those of my patients (Oldest pt has been 104) and think how important it is when we are blessed to have so many years on this planet to truly use them wisely!! As did little Eliot and as did my 104 yo lady who was always watching out for her fellow patients!

~ hope many can learn from Eliot and his life