Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thoughts from Shots....the elusive line of exposure.

Thanks for the patience. I think one of my many New Year’s resolutions will to be write more frequently. Writing forces me to sit and trace a thought miles further than I ever would have. Often I am thankful for the destination to which I arrive- sometimes not. I have not attained the maturity to appreciate a jaunt that winds up with facing my own shortcomings. No matter the arrival point, always better for the frolic.

Hazel is smiling, cooing, and growing. Just last night she set a personal record for sleeptime. We have encouraged her that records are made to be broken. Needless to say. she is awesome.

Ginny is knee-deep in filling Christmas orders. She has surrounded herself with some great friends and co-workers who have allowed her to carry on the jewelry business with both hands on Hazel. Words cannot convey how fun it has been to see her actively mother again. She smiles a lot these days- even at 1am, 3am, and 5am.

We are heading to Lake Providence for Christmas with Ginny’s family. Therefore, I am taking bets on the number of times I turn down the opportunity to hunt. And with that one sentence, I offended an entire town. Should be a great time. By far, Hazel’s longest road trip. I’m sure there will be stories.

I continue to promise that this blog will include things that are a little more out of the box of what I have blogged about in the past. I intend to widen the scope of things I put on here by throwing out a thought, video or something I just thought was funny. This must be the goal because if I wait on a good thought, I am afraid this blog will quickly become annual.

With that said, more of the same.

Ginny, Hazel and I bundled up and ventured out to Hazel’s 2-month appointment yesterday. We approached this visit with great excitement as well as hesitation. On one hand, it was a normal 2-month appointment. That is amazing, and very exciting. On the other hand, we knew they were coming. Shots.

We had never done a round of shots. And we were fine with that. The experience of losing a child tends to push you one way or the other- middle ground now seems unattainable. Either we will be parents who worry about everything. Every fall. Every cough. Every germ. Every time we’re not around. And who could blame us? Or we will be parents who worry about very little. “Oh the flu? She’ll be fine in a couple of days.”

Honestly, I am not sure where we’ll land. But I hope it’s somewhere that acknowledges that we are not in control. If we were, he would be here.

For those of you who know me, be proud. I did not embarrass Ginny by threatening the nurse with a lawsuit or with death if she were to appear to screw anything up. This is actually not a joke. I have come so far.

And as three shots penetrated the legs of my baby girl, I saw it all unfold before me. The elusive line of parenting. A brief synopsis of all the inner-struggle that raising this little girl would be.

Because here is the truth about immunization shots. The Dr. is giving a small amount of something terrible to my daughter. The effects of polio are horrible. And there lies Hazel- introduced to a world with pain. If not fully understood yesterday, it will not take long for her to ascertain that although this world contains glimpses of beauty, it is not nice.

And the elusive line beckons. How will we parent Hazel? I know my default. I will gladly die in order to protect this girl. I want to keep any and all things far from her that would cause her the least bit of pain- emotional or physical. Yet, there I stand and allow another to cause pain and infuse my daughter with disease.

Because, what comes natural is not always best. Immunizing inflicts pain today to deter greater pain tomorrow. Introduction in small amounts allows the body to build up resistance.

In the same way, I want my daughter to rub shoulders with the world. I want her to taste the hurts, shortcomings, and pain of this world. I want her to know need. See need. Understand need. This is nice to type, but follow through will prove tough. I will be battling my default.

Where the line falls of that which I hope she is introduced to, and that which I hope she is never introduced to, is the elusive part. Many times it seems that the goal of parenting is total safety. This communicates many things- foremost that we are in control. Thus need becomes a foreign idea.

But this is a fallen world. Desperately in need. May my words and actions convey nothing less. I hope not to run or hideout or seek, at all costs, to avoid the pain. Instead, may I allow my daughter to see things as they are, even if that is terrible. And may the taste and pain of this world create in her an insatiable desire for something better.

I resolve to seek the line. It’s always easier to not wrestle with demarcation, and just keep it all out. But lack of immunization to the world produces those bewildered at life’s toughest lessons. And the pain of this world is coming. I cannot stop it. But I will be there at its introduction because it is I who allowed entry- in the smallest possible dosage that will achieve the objective.

So, I am thankful for theses thoughts that came from shots. If nothing else, it was these thoughts coming fast and furious that allowed me to not physically harm the nurse.

I welcome comments. And feel free to posts in the comments ways that you have seen this introduction done in effective ways or ineffective ways.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Ginny is good. Hazel is beautiful. More to come.

Sorry about posting the video again. I am exploring video podcasts, more for my knowledge then anything.

However, feedburner is up and working.

More soon.

Acts Video

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.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oprah II

Well, as if you haven't gotten enough of us, looks like we may be doing an update on the Oprah Live show this Friday (October 31). So tune in if you are so inclined.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Believe it or not...

We are attempting to get the word out to our friends since we know they will kill us if we do not tell them. With no further ado:

Oprah is doing a segment on Eliot on the show coming up on Tuesday, October 28 (this date could change, and we'll let you know if it does). The show is on "Miracle children" and Eliot is the only one not still on this earth. Honestly, at first we were hesitant when approached with the whole idea. However, having already taped the show, we feel honored to tell Eliot's story through this platform. The Oprah crew did a great job throughout of simply telling Eliot's story and nothing else. And we are appreciative to them for the opportunity.

So, spread the word if you want, and tune in as the Lord continues to take a little boy and make Himself known.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Acts introduction Video

We are loving every second of life these days. Thanks to all of you who have checked in and written. We'll be writing more about life soon.

Below is an introduction video that a friend of mine and I did (echolite link on the side) to introduce the teaching on Acts.

Introduction to Acts from Matt Mooney on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Beauty is hard to capture...

but we did it.

Hazel Emerson Mooney

There's a new girl in the family! All went amazingly well. 7 lbs. 8 ounces! She is beautiful and doing great. Thanks for all the prayers. Pictures will be coming. Thanks be to the Lord.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Sure there's an election coming up, but let us know over on the right whether you think we're having a boy or girl. Better hurry, you only have until Tuesday!

Won't be Long

Hello good people. Well, as foretold, we took a little blog break. Thanks so much to all of you who have encouraged us along the way. This is our new blog. I felt it best to leave Eliot’s blog as it is. Without intention on our part, his blog has become a place all its own. The story of his life unfolds in each post, and the impact of that life goes on both in us and in others. So it will remain there. A monument of sorts to our boy.

Now with that said, we are not “moving on”, and really have no desire to do so. Eliot is as much apart of our lives now as ever. It is different, but it is true. We look forward to introducing this new child to his or her older brother- through pictures, video, and story.

So here we are. A new blog. I assure you this blog won’t be as good, and I will be exposed for not being as interesting as you thought when I had Eliot to recount to you. The name is intentionally ridiculous. Admittedly, I liked it when I thought of it, but that wore off in about 15 minutes. Alas, I couldn’t come up with anything else. Plus, it rhymes, is funny, and uses big words. So, if you don’t like it just assume that it is beyond your intellectual capacity or you just don’t get it.

Now on to the update. We’re having a baby! Ginny shares a trait with most of our movie rentals- overdue. She was due on Friday (October 10), but no one told Baby. Other than threats to run until labor begins, Ginny is all smiles and willing to trust the timing to one other than us. We will be induced on Tuesday (October 14) if God & Baby don’t pull a fast one. We cannot wait! We’ll be sure to put some picture up here as soon as we are able.

In appreciation of your valuable time, here is what has happened in the interim: I took the bar, passed and started a couple of jobs. Ginny has been busy making jewelry and making a person.

I am attempting to straddle of couple of worlds by working with our church and also doing some business consulting. Although neither really focuses on any aspect of law, it is precisely what I think I wanted. Unorthodox it is, but are you really surprised? Either the Lord is good by giving me my desire or He’s about to teach me that I really do not know what I want when I think I do- I guess He could still be good if that were the case.

The time it has taken to make this person who is hanging out in my wife has really been an enigma for both Ginny & I. Many friends and acquaintances have asked what it is like, and I must admit I do not know how to answer that question. We are so excited, but. That’s just it, it seems that life has now dealt us a “but”.

But we know that the joy this child is and will be cannot erase the ache. And what an unfair expectation to burden this child with if we thought otherwise.
But we know that things can happen.
But we know that trusting God does not equate with safety.
But we know that new stages of grief lie ahead of us as God-willing this child sees his or her 100th day, as well as every milestone we did not reach with Eliot: 1st steps, 1st words, prom.
And this worldview is not something that is going away. Nor do we pray that it does.

Because the truth remains that this viewpoint is not merely pessimistic or sad. We now see more clearly. The image has come further into view. And just because we do not always like what we see, that does not mean we ask that the picture become fuzzy again. Naivety is not bliss.

There have been many fears along the way that we have sought to battle. We pray and ask the Lord that we not walk in fear. And I must say that I think He has heard our cry. It has been a process, but we have been protected from many concerns that can consume. It cannot be normal to dread an ultrasound. And we joined Him in battling.

However, there remains something. Not fear. Because it is my deep-held conviction that God desires to remove fear. But this thing that remains, He is not taking away. And why would He. It is He who put it there.

That something, that “but” are spectacles of clarity. I think we see things as they are. We are not guaranteed or even owed that this child’s birth and life go smoothly (even though our Dr. jokingly comments that her faith hinges on it). In fact, if we want to count on something it must be that some things we hope against are coming.

This life is wild and terrible at times. But thanks be to the God who is in control and is with us. For we see more clearly, and we cannot wait for this child!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Some of Ginny's recent thoughts

Ginny has been doing some writing & blogging, but she has no desire for others to actually read her thoughts. The joy for her is solely in recording them. With that said, due to my begging, she allowed me to share a few on here. Oh yeah, and she doesn't capitalize.

the safe myth
(friday. august 29, 2008)

my in-laws are wonderful people. not long ago the family went out to this local mexican spot to grab some dinner. the whole group was there: my husband, his parents, his sister & her 2 little girls. as is routine in restaurants, we got seated, the waiter took our drink order then made his way back to take the meal order. then, as is routine with my in-laws, my mother-in-law pulls her purse into her lap & begins to search for it. my father-in-law is looking, in anxious anticipation of it. it is of vital importance to their dining experience & i have never seen them eat out without it. then, she finds it & sets it as a centerpiece on the table.
the travel size bottle of anti-bacterial hand gel, claiming to kill up to 99.9 percent of germs.
she coats herself with it, then he coats himself with it & they attempt to get everyone at the table to coat themselves with it. there truly is nothing like the aromas of alcohol & sizzling fajitas colliding together. i politely decline.
i can only speculate on how the restaurant gel routine came about. maybe my father-in-law saw a very convincing commercial or possibly my mother-in-law had a friend tell her of the preventative powers of the gel. regardless of how they got there, they have their gel. i guess we all have our gel. something that makes us feel better about the inevitable "germs" that are out there in the world. i would venture to say that for most, the deep-rooted issue of the "gel" is one of fear intermingled with control. we fear something, something we don't like or would be unpleasant for us & that fear leads us to think we just have to control the situation to make it right or clean or safe or healthy or better. it's sort of like when we learned about "if-then" clauses in grade school.
if i put on this hand gel, then i will not eat germs.
if i have a net on a trampoline, then i can bounce & not get hurt.
if we pass laws against abortion & homosexuality, then the country will be morally "safe".
if i eat right & exercise, then i will not get cancer.
if i study & search enough, then i have it all figured out.
i have no problem with any of those things. they are wonderful things. safety nets, hand gels, healthy lifestyle, knowledge, laws speak of responsibility & stewardship, both of which i am a huge fan & both of which honor God. my issue is not with the "if"s, but with the "then"s. we have this tendency in our western comfortable culture to hang our hat on those "then"s. everyone feels above them, the harm, hurt, accidents, pain, sickness, death that is a natural part of our mortal lives & the fallen world in which we live. we feel above it all because when the fear of those things creep in, we go into super control mode. more hand gel! taller nets! a newer vitamin! harder helmets! i can control this fear! i can make my world safe!
the truth is that the Creator of us, of the universe, of all that we are & see & experience is the only One in control. He is the only one that redeemed what went wrong in the garden on the cross. He is the only One that sees past the momentary "unsafety" & hurt to the character being built in us in adversity. not us, we can not make all things right or safe & believe a lie when we think we can. only One can....and does.
i am no expert on the matter & in fact more times than i'd prefer, i give into that sneaky lie. for instance, nearly 3 years ago this "if-then" statement was floating around in my mind as matt & i thought about starting a family.

if i do everything right while i'm pregnant, then i will have a healthy baby.

a few months later, i was pregnant & i did everything right. i drank no caffeine. i didn't drink alcohol. i didn't smoke or get near anyone who did. i took a prenatal vitamin every day. i exercised just enough, not too much & not too little. i drank a ton of water. i ate foods rich in vitamins & folic acid & dha's & steered away from fast food. my showers were never too hot. i never lifted anything remotely heavy. i got plenty of rest, never lying on my back. i made sure to not stand for too long or sit for too long. yep, i went through every "if" you could think of or read about. yet still, God Himself held in His hand my "then". my "then" was not a healthy baby. my "then" was a sweet beautiful, amazing, sick baby boy who lived for 99 days.
thinking we can do enough to be safe & do enough for our kids to keep them safe is simply a myth. only One holds our days in His hands.

"for YOU have delivered my soul from death, indeed my feet from stumbling, so that I may walk before God in the light of the living". Psalm 56:13
funny thing about fear
(monday, june 9 2008)

so it's been since february that i've posted anything. which, in reality doesn't matter because if all goes as i'd like with this little blog it serves as only a place where the nomadic thoughts in my head actually have a temporal residence. as strange as it sounds, my desire is for no one to even read it...

so, the big thing right now in my life is that i am currently in the process of growing another person inside of me. that's right i'm pregnant. i am 21 weeks, which i must always stop & do the math to know that i am just about 5 months along. in october, eliot will have a little brother or sister. it's been so long now since eliot was here with us. 1 year & 8 months since i have held him. not every day, but most i want to scream to everyone around of the great ache that is still deep within my heart. i step past pictures of him that line our shelves & am so weary of remembering. i want to touch him & be with him. i don't know what people think & i am not concerned with their opinions of me...but it seems as if they think that now that so much time has gone by & now that we are expecting another baby that everything is okay. everything is not okay. this pregnancy & this little baby forming in my womb is another leg of grief, of the missing eliot. it is no replacement. no words can express the difficulty & uniqueness of being pregnant with your second child when the first is no longer here. the journey is filled with hope & expectation, fear & anxiety, joy of new life intermixed with the lingering pain of life lost. this child will only know his or her older brother by pictures & the stories we tell of his amazing life. in a way this child will enter into life with some form of grief already there to deal with. what will it be like for him or her to grieve & miss eliot?

matt & i go into this pregnancy with a distinct past. we are 1 for 1 for having unhealthy children. we are 1 for 1 for losing a child. with those stats, some fear is inevitable. we fight it daily & pray, trusting, that God is fighting this battle for us. the funny thing when i think about fear is what in the world do i have to fear? nothing. i have walked through every parent's absolute worst nightmare and yet i sit here as somewhat of a survivor. a survivor whom Christ has carried through each moment. i realize that doesn't mean i want to walk through it again. i also realize it doesn't exempt me from walking through it again.

"for i hope in You, O Lord; You will answer, O Lord my God" Psalm 38:15

posted by ginny mooney at 11:30 am
(thursday, january 10, 2008)

after my husband & i had been married for a few years, we looked around at our lives & the lives of those we knew & were convinced of one sole desire. we did not want our lives to be "normal". what does that even mean? at the time, we had no idea. our thoughts were basically we don't know what we want, but we know what we don't:
we don't want a picket fence life.
we don't want to keep up with the jones'.
we don't want our conversations with people to center around our new car or curtains.

so, on these random thoughts, we began praying for a life that was not normal.
as those prayers went up & time went on, other "not normal" thoughts came. i told my husband one day that i had a pressing feeling that we, at one point or another in our life together, would have a special needs child. his response was at the very least deprecation. after all, we hadn't started a family yet & what kind of feeling is that for a young married couple? each time that thought surfaced, i successfully dismissed it as a possible foreshadowing of a distant future. maybe kid #5, when we were advanced in years & could love him or her in our old age along with all of our other children. i pictured the sweet face of a chid with down syndrome or maybe a wheelchair? what i didn't know was what i never could have pictured.

fast forward a few more years & i'm pregnant, at the halfway point. we pop in the ultrasound video to show the eager audience of family. the black & white portrait of the little one inside my belly tosses & turns on the screen. we, the proud mom & dad to-be, describe the details of crossed legs, spine, face, profile, beating 4 chamber heart, of the floating star of the show. as we narrate, we leave out a few particulars. like how most umbilical cords have 3 blood vessels & this one only has 2...& how those black blobs in the brain are actually cysts that are sometimes "normal" & sometimes not. a few months and many pounds later a specialist sat us down & said "things had progressed".

what we got was not normal. it wasn't the way we had pictured a not normal life, i mean we wanted no picket fences for petes sake. it wasn't even a special needs child to love & live a long life with. in an instant "not normal" was actually "not viable with life". it was a baby with a beating heart that had a hole in it, clenched fists, & sweet life inside my own that was terminally ill. we knew all this bad news about this kid before we even knew if it was a boy or girl.

it was a boy. his name was eliot. he was awesome & i believe is even better now. the 99 days he was with us were incredible, miraculous really. i spent 3 months & 10 days staring at the cutest "not normal" there ever was.
he left us for the much better 15 months ago. in his absence, my husband & i live with a constant ache in our hearts of missing him. this blog is about my learning to live with that ache.

an author named jerry sittser talks about how loss & saddness actually expand the soul. this is my journey of expansion.