Sunday, August 2, 2009


By way of catch up: Ginny is still feeling the effects of making a person, but looking forward to feeling better here in a couple weeks. While on the subject of making things, Hazel is currently getting in 4 teeth (she already has 2). For those without children, suffice it to say that she apparently is not excited about this occurrence and thought she was managing just fine without them. She is also pulling up and desiring that any and everyone hold her by the hands while she practices walking.

Pulling up. Falling down. Getting mad. Being cute. This is pretty much the cycle of Hazel's awake time. You've got to love it.

There was a story on Eliot and 99 balloons today in our local paper. You never know what is going to actually show up in print with these things, and we were thankful to the author for capturing the spirit of how we feel.


Below are the words that I spoke at Avery's funeral. I sought and received Shane & Carissa's approval to post these words. We have often been asked what we would say to families in such a situation. Thus, it is our hope that posting these words may, in some way, encourage others under the same plight, as well as assist those who surround them.


What does one say- when there is nothing to say?

We read in Job that his friends traveled to be near & to comfort him in a time of great loss. And upon their arrival they simply sat with him in silence for 7 days.
That seems appropriate for today. Words do not.

However, I desire today to simply and frankly speak to Shane & Carissa (and to you too Kaitlyn). And I also desire to speak to you- friends and family of Avery.

I come not as a well-studied authority on our topic today. Rather, Shane & Carissa are my friends. And also much of this is all too familiar to me. We- the early grievers of our children- are a tight-knit bunch. And so I am compelled to speak at a time that silence would be my preference.

For Shane & Carissa have arrived at a destination where my wife, Ginny, & I are waiting. Though the destination is the same. The route…both before and after…is always much different.

I do not pretend to know what you guys have gone through. Or what hurt lies ahead for you both.

Yet, though our specific routes will differ
- truly, even your own individual routes will be different-
Even still, I hope my comments on the climate and on the lay of the land will somehow serve to help your journey.

I will not try to make it all better. I am confident I cannot.

But I will speak of truth.
And there is truthfully a reason to hope today.
We must cling desperately to the deck of truth as the waters of grief, hurt, and anger rise around us all.

And only by the hope found in truth do I stand here today- still, myself, holding, white-knuckled- on to this deck of hope and longingly waiting for the truth to be born out.

Let us not forget that all of this is to celebrate Avery’s life. To commemorate. To honor her precious, wonderful life.

Yet at the same time, none of this is for her. It is for us who miss her.
And how do we not miss a life that changed our own?
I have no hesitation saying that each one of us will leave here today forever changed by this girl’s impact on our own lives.
So, Today. And all of this- it is for us.

Because Avery is not here.
Heaven is not a warm, fuzzy designed to make us feel better at times such as this.

It is a core tenet of Christendom declared and counted on by belivers for ages.
Proclaiming in a world of loss that...
Jesus Christ has overcome the awfulness of death and offers eternal life.

Will you have eternal life with Christ? I don’t know; maybe you should give pause to that question yourself.

But I will tell you this. Avery does.
Eternal life with Jesus Christ. Her healer. Her Father. Her Lord.

It is because of this reality that
I Thessalonians 4 reads…
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.
We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
…And so we will be with the Lord forever.

And now, to you Shane & Carissa, I say…
Good job. Good job.
You loved her. You loved her well.

Avery was not alone in the fight for her life. You fought with her. Beside her.
You decided to give her life.
You realigned your entire lives.
Because. Well…Avery.
You quit jobs.
Went without sleep.
Made horrible financial decisions.
Because. Well…Avery.

Well done. You made the right decisions.
You are her mother. You are her father.

With Avery you get something you are not likely to get again:
Not with KK.
Not with any possible future children.

You get to see the whole picture. It is all there, encapsulated in a beautiful life.

And you get to look at the whole, and you get to evaluate how you did Mom. How you did, Dad.
And you did good. Well done.

However, it is important for those of us around you to remember. You are Avery’s mother and father. Present tense. And she will always be a part of your family.

And while I applaud you for the job you have done, with all that I am, I now encourage you for the road ahead.

When all is in disarray and upside down and wrong side up. I implore you to remember this order: God and then each other, than all else.
• Always first. God. Take your questions and all of your heartaches straightway to him. He can handle them, even welcomes them.
He is the sole source of true comfort. All good things come from him. I have often sought & wrestled for understanding that has not always come.
But what has come is the reality that I understand God less, but know him more.
• Next. Each other.
With your eyes focused on God, allow that which could tear apart, to instead pull you two closer together. Closer than you were. Closer than you imagined you could be.

And now to those listening in. To the friends and family of Avery. The friends & family of Shane, Carissa, and Kaitlyn.

Good Job. Well done. Shane & Carissa have constantly mentioned how people surrounding them have responded and rallied around them in amazing ways.

But I implore you as well.
Now is the time you are needed.
From today forward begins the hour for which you have been placed in the lives of Shane & Carissa.

Do not hide behind the notion of giving them their space. While it was much easier to understand your role before now: bringing them meals, getting them a place to stay, going and visiting.
Your role- although less defined- is just as important:
a shoulder, a call, a note, a listening ear.
Not just this week. not just this month. But for this life.
You will be the ones that remember, that cherish Avery with Shane & Carissa.

It is my firm conviction, Shane & Carissa, that you will not get over this. And, in fact, that is not even the goal to which we strive.

Rather, we who call Christ Lord
Believe in Redemption.
We look to Jesus as our template.

The cross is awful.
His death is gruesome.
But…God wasn’t finished with the story.

Thus our real hope for today and for tomorrow is that God does the hard work that only He can do. The toil of making beauty from ashes.

He- who gave his own son- is our hope.
may we all fix our eyes on Him as we miss this beautiful life.


Stephanie Jeffers said...

This was beautiful and moved me in a way that words cannot fully express. May God bless your friends and may God bless you for delivering such a gift to them during this difficult time. Thank you and your friends for sharing this and providing myself and countless others similar healing.

dragonflyz in June said...

That was absolutely beautiful, it brought shivers down my spine. You have a way with words that will just speak to the listeners (and readers) heart & soul.
God Bless you, your family and your friends.

Trisha Larson said...

I wish that you would have spoken on our behalf at Nathan's funeral. That was absolutely amazing.

Our friends and family hid behind the "we're giving them space" and "we don't know what to do" comments. It was so hard for us to be alone. To feel like no one cared. That's why I started my blog. To help teach people what to do if they know someone that loses a child. It's turned into more than that now but that's what the intent was.

I wish that at every child's funeral they would tell all of the friends and family that they need to help these parents in tangible ways just like you did. I think that it would really help.


Anonymous said...

awesome words. thanks for sharing.

Joy said...

Beautiful words, Matt. Well done.

Mommy_Of_YaDa said...

Thank you. Absolutely Amazing! I followed Avery story and fell in love with her as I did with Eliot. It's good to know Shane and Carissa have friends such as Matt and Ginny.

Anonymous said...

I love this video... :)

Carey said...

this is somewhat of a long comment, but reading your words made me think of something I read a couple weeks ago and wanted to share it...

"our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering. the love of God is of a different nature altogether. it does not hate tragedy it never denies reality. it stands in the very teeth of suffering. the love of God did not protect His own Son. that was the proof of His love--that He gave that Son, that He let Him go to Calvary's cross, though 'legions of angels' might have rescued Him. he will not necessarily protect us--not from anything it takes to make us like His Son. Alot of hammering and chiseling and purifying by fire will have to go into the process."

Elizabeth Elliott
Passion & Purity

Faith said...

still recovering from the effects of making a baby...
and that baby already has 4 teeth...
that must have been SOME pregnancy...
Then I got it...