Tuesday, October 23, 2007

spiritual detox

Conor and I were talking tonight about church. It's been almost five weeks since Copeland's birth - as of tomorrow - and four since her death. I can't believe she's been gone almost four times as long as she lived.

I've had zero desire to walk back into our church since her memorial service was held there that September day. I haven't totally been able to understand why, although I've chalked it up to the fact that the place now has memories for me that I'm simply not ready to revisit. It's different than the place we went before her birth. Now it feels sad and somehow less whole.

But, after our conversation tonight, I think that's not really what it is at all. At least not totally.

Our pastor, as I've said before, challenged me recently on my legalism - my need to earn grace, to work to please God, to do the "right" things. Since that conversation, when he pointed out the fact that I was extremely entrenched in a works-based theology, I've found that a lot of the things I used to do in life make absolute no sense any more. That what used to feel like the "right" choice is no longer so clear. That a lot of the normal, moral things I'd done before as a Christian almost seem ludricous in light of the actual Gospel.

If, in fact, Jesus is it - if there's no way to the Father except by Him - and if, in fact, the Cross, and what He accomplished on it, was sufficient, then what the heck is all my working supposed to mean? Church, for me, is fun. It's social. I see a lot of great people - godly people - who make me smile. I get to wear cute clothes. I enjoy standing in the midst of a crowd of believers I know and care about singing songs that make me happy. But mostly, church is compulsive. It's what you do if you're a Christian. It's normal. It's required. Required. What else makes that list of prerequisites for people who claim to be followers of Christ? Bible study? Scripture memorization? Prayer? How do I reconcile this incredible need in me to do the normal, "right" things Christians do and still believe in the idea that only Jesus' blood makes me, well, a Christian?

John Donne wrote a poem in 1635 called "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning." It's beautiful, and perhaps a whole lot more romantic than religious, but it seems strangely relevant tonight. Donne ascribes the characteristics of a compass to the people mentioned in the lines below:

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two ;
Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th' other do.

And though it in the centre sit,
Yet, when the other far doth roam,
It leans, and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.

It seems to me that these lines could just as easily have been written about the way we, as humans, can view our relationship to Christ. He dwells within us, if we receive Him as our Savior, and we are connected to Him, as the two parts of a compass might be - we belong to Him. He is, indeed, a "fix'd foot" that "hearkens after" us when we "roam."

Jesus is our "fix'd foot." He is the only True thing upon which we can lean. He is that stable point upon which all our journeying can rely for safe homecoming. And yet we get it backwards. We try to allow our own notions, our own ideas - even what we would consider our own, good theologies - to be the fixed foot. It doesn't work, anymore than swapping the ends of a compass would. Only one is meant to stand firmly in the center. It's like letting our "rights" and "wrongs" define Jesus, instead of letting Jesus define our "rights" and "wrongs."

Going to church is a good thing. A right thing. Perhaps. But for a girl who's terribly legalistic, maybe it's not that easy. Maybe doing the "right" thing becomes the "wrong" thing when it isn't based entirely on the Person of Christ. Maybe all the 'good' things we Christians do are just as likely to be strongholds in our lives as the bad.

I'm not saying that we aren't sinners. I'm not saying there isn't plenty of black and white in the world - good and evil, truly wrong and truly right. But for me, as I continue to see the grip legalism - doing the "right" things to make God happy - has had on me, it couldn't be more obvious: Jesus is the only lens through which I need to be making my decisions about any of that stuff. Jesus. He is the fixed foot. He is the cornerstone, the solid rock, the way, the truth, the life.

James wrote that "faith without works is dead" (2:26). Hallelujah! But just as Paul's salutation often began, "grace and peace" for a specific reason - peace cannot be attained with grace coming first - faith must begin the equation here.

67 comments:

Anonymous said...

we continue to pray for your family daily.

Darby Stickler said...

Boothe, I think if we're all honest every Christian struggles with this. I heard Ravi Zacharias about 3 weeks ago on the radio and I about had a wreck trying to write it down for fear that I might forget. "We are not saved by good works, we are saved for good works". Just like you said, one can't come before the other. I loved this post and I think I need to print it off. The hard part for me is examining my heart and trying to decipher which comes first. Love you and praying for you today!!

Kim said...

Boothe - Nothing we do will earn us a spot in heaven. God doesn't keep a tally. It's about your relationship with the Savior, not going to church, praying before meals or stepping on cracks. It is your heart.

God's love is evident in you. It radiates from your writing and isn't diminished by your struggle. Be angry, grieve as you need to. That "fix'd foot" will carry you when you stumble. You have angels all around showering you in prayer. Can you feel it?

Elizabeth S said...

Wow. I, too, have been struggling with this very thing. Even in the last few weeks. Your words spoke to my heart, again. Thank you for still being willing for God to use you. He is.

Anonymous said...

Boothe,
I went to church this weekend and thought about you. The pastor said, that suffering is a gift granted to us, for it is in suffering that we begin to truly know Christ since He suffered so much. Your suffering is making you one with our Savior and you will be amongst a finite group that gets to be in His presence one day and hold your baby girl again. I too lost a baby girl to Trisomy 18 on Sept 18. in a miscarriage at 15 weeks. I wish I had as much faith as you do -- i have learned more from you than I have in a lot of church services. Your faith is inspirational and I admire it so.

Laurie said...

Boothe, I have been praying daily for you and your family as you walk in this valley. There are no quick answers for this time. Jesus is the one who guards your hearts and steps.
Christianity is not a performance for the world to view and rate, it is a personal, one on one relationship with Him. Struggle is a very real part of this relationship and legalism wants us to believe that if we perform our prayers and faith the "right" way, there will be no struggle. I believe the body of Christ wrestles with this daily. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He has not changed, we the church have and have lost sight of the simple truth of the gospel. Even Jesus went off from the crowds to be alone with His Father. He is our example of "Be still, and know that I am God." It is okay to question our motives, knowing that God never changes and He is a safe refuge in times of trouble. Our salvation in Jesus is a free gift that cannot be earned, only accepted. It all begins at the foot of the cross and has not changed. You can trust the simplicity of the gospel. And it will bring you through this valley into the light again, in His time.
Love and prayers continue for you always.
Laurie in Ca.

Jesse's girl said...

My husband has been doing a bible study based on the book, "The Pressure's Off" by Larry Crabb. He asked me to read one of the chapters and discuss with him, and I was blown away. I have grown up in a Christian home, always attending church on Sunday, praying before meals, going to church camp in the summer, joining bible studies, etc. This book points out, as you did, that these things are not "bad" but are not necessary, and certainly can be bad if you think they alone make up your entire Christian faith. It says instead that the only thing we should care about is drawing close to God and bringing Him glory.

Then the question comes up...how do I draw close to him without reading my Bible? How can I bring Him glory, if I am not passionately seeking His face, in church? Can't these Christian "tools" be used, or must I do it on my own? I struggled to understand the concept for at least a month.

But what I learned is that we clearly can't do it on our own, because without Him, we are nothing. Everything should bring us back to Him. And if we do turn to Him for everything, we are seeking His face, and then do bring Him glory.

You seem to grasp this concept and truly live it without even recognizing that you do. Your words touch people and point them to Him. Your heart pours out love and faith that could only come from Him. You are not afraid to show your true self to Him, and turn to Him for everything. You live out what many of us struggle to even comprehend. God is using you and your precious family in mighty ways for His kingdom; Glory to God!

We are still praying for your family. :)

Kathy said...

Dear Boothe, I continue to pray for you and your family and know that God is bringing you through this one day at a time.

What an awesome gift to have our Heavenly Father show us such PERFECT love!!! There is nothing that I can do that will ever make Him love me more but there is never anything I can do that will make Him love me less!!!

Bathe your heart in that and don't worry if it's not possible to get your head around it. Everything else on this earth comes with a price tag which is why we all must learn to accept this amazing, amazing GIFT!!! It is almost inconceiveable to us yet we open ourselves and receive His love. I hope you can bask in it today and everyday dear Boothe.

Thank you for allowing all of us to walk along this journey with you, thank you for raising the deep thoughts and questions and helping us all take a look at our faith and grow in our walk with Christ. Please know that the Lord has brought forth many prayer warriors for you, Conor and Sellers!

Ashlee Tomes said...

Boothe,
As always, your honesty and willingness to be so frank about your feelings is so inspiring and comforting to me, yet another grieving mother. I, too, take a "little white pill" every morning to help my roller coaster of emotions stay somewhat in-tact as I attempt to go about my "normal" routine every day. I guess it's a great thing that we can have a little help along the way when our emotions, especially the anger part, could easily take us over.

It's been 6 weeks today since London was born, and I think about what I was doing at this time on that day. You know what I mean...every Tuesday is like this for me, and every Thursday is yet another week that she left us.

Two of my best friends are due with their babies this week, and one of them had hers this morning. I want to smile and rejoice with them and be happy. But...as I see the perfect little beings, will I be able to ignore that mine is not here and wasn't "perfect" enough to experience this life. I find myself, as the weeks roll on, becoming more angry than I was in the beginning. It's almost like as things become more "normal", I am faced with the reality that London will never ever be with us. So I catch myself watching her videos over and over and over again just to see her movements or to hear her voice...the sound of crying or grunting that I long for.

As I catch myself venting about my own grief and experience, I want you to know that you're not alone. I will continue to pray for you and your family as I continue to pray for myself. God bless you and hang in there.

Ashlee

Anonymous said...

You have such a talent at expressing things through this blog. God will continue to hold you through this tough time. We will continue to pray for you and your family.
Mary T. Miller
Birmingham

Jaclyn said...

Boothe-
I know it is not a coinsidence that somehow I came across your story. My husband and I have been a bit divided lately on spiritual matters and your posts have helped me so much. I was raised in your traditional bible church where you didn't question anything in the bible, you go to church every Sunday, rules are rules etc. My husband has been searching a lot lately and has been questioning heaven, hell, accuracy of the bible... He has not wanted to go to church so my baby and I have been going ourselves. You have helped me see that it is ok to question some things and dig deeper- that digging deeaper doesn't mean you don't love the Lord. I feel like Jeremy, my husband, is on the fence.. on the verge of either walking away or dropping everything and devoting His life to ministry. I know that must sound crazy.
I am learning to have an open mind and to ask the hard questions. I am praying that Jeremy and I can come together so that we can lead our daughter, in agreement, down the right path.
Thank you for your posts. You have helped more than you know. I pray for you and Connor daily.

Jaclynrunderwood@gmail.com

Lyric said...

Wow. A "fix'd foot"...powerful imagry and a profound truth.

Thank you.

My prayers for you and yours continue.

Katharine said...

Boothe,
I first heard about your family from a friend at church, Alston Wise, who I believe is a friend of yours. She told us about you on that Tuesday that Copeland was born. I've been praying for you, reading your posts, and at times weeping for you. I cannot imagine the anguish, both physical and emotional, that you are experiencing. You are so articulate, and I have appreciated your thoughts and experiences so much.
I have many thoughts, but I don't think I can articulate them in an interesting way. So I'll keep it very simple.
It is encouraging to see the Gospel going forward in your life...the real gospel. He has you, Boothe. The one who calls you is faithful and HE will DO IT.
After my fourth baby, I had postpartum depression, more than I ever had before. I couldn't pray or study the Bible or really reach out to God, though I did want to. During that time of great weakness, the Lord's Supper came to have great meaning to me. Up to that point, I had never really "gotten" the Lord's Supper, except as a rememberance. I had no emotional attachment to it, no heartfelt response to it. However, in my depression, I came to long for the physical act of taking Jesus to myself...an outward sign of an inward reality. In my foggy mind, it was the only thing that made sense, and I longed for it every week. The rest of the service became a blur. I was never so grateful for this means of grace that our Jesus gives to us.
I hope that you can take hold of every means of grace available to you, however that may look for you at this time. My heart is with you, Boothe!
His love can never fail...

Lauren said...

I love John Donne, too. The poem you cited is my second favorite. My favorite is a holy sonnet:

Batter my heart, three-person'd God; for you
As yet but knock; breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

I love this sonnet. It is very much about what you're talking about--we are nothing without Christ, not righteous in the least little bit through our own efforts. We need him to come in and be our righteousness, amen?

Anonymous said...

After losing my 6th pregnancy (7th child) I was unable to return to church, my emotions were just too raw. I tried a few times but could never get through a service without crying. Now, 4 years after my last loss, I'm a parent to 2 through the miracle of adoption. I still struggle with getting to church. I consider myself a Christian and try to be a good person and hope that one day I'll get it all back together.

You're family is in my prayers~
Franklin, Tn

AuntieB said...

I, too, am finding the term "fix'd foot" very powerful.

Know that there are still brothers and sisters lifting you up. And we'll stand in the gap until you can stand on your own.

"I'll be standing in the gap for you. Just remember someone somewhere is praying for you. Calling out your name, praying for your strength. I'll be standing in the gap for you." - Babbie Mason

Anonymous said...

Glad to see you are writing this week. We are praying

Karen said...

Boothe,
I believe church is largely for fellowship. It IS social! There is a very intentional reason for that. It is helpful for most people to be around godly people - people that hopefully inspire them to be and do better. However, there is a time for everything, and I could be wrong, but I don't think there is anything sinful about you not wanting to go to church right now!! I said church was largely social, but mostly it is worship. That is what confuses, and misleads, so many people. Church has always been more fellowship than worship for me. Oh, I learn a lot, and I am probably more conscience of my sins for atleast a couple days after going, but I love that heart-warming fellowship! I have learned in the last couple years much more about worship than fellowship. When you can't go to church, the fellowship gradually falls by the wayside and the worship rises to the top. You see the difference in having people hold you up at your weakest, and falling into His arms. Nobody can comfort you, even people who have been through T-18, like He can. I tried for a long time to have people make me feel comforted (and I have not had a child die), but people can not help but fail you! Maybe this is His timing, you never know. Maybe you actually don't need to be at church at this moment. Maybe you need to concentrate on the worship. Fellowship can be very distracting.

Anonymous said...

Boothe, I am you. That girl with a pure heart who wants to please God so much that it is so automatic in nature to "do good things" to "please him". I never saw it as legalistic. But I too was once told that by a women bible study leader. I had a hard time with that. I still do. I struggle with the fact that God would repay my "good things" with what my life has encountered and that I have endured. I am no better than Job. But I still live daily with my pain (whether out loud or quietly). And right now, I haven't stepped back into a church. I dont love God less, but after the passing of my mother and the relational loss of my son. I question a lot, though I know God still loves me and its apparent with every waking day and the miracles he sees me through (big and small) Yet - I grieve still. My heart is with you. Thanks for sharing your life with us.
~Shelia (old PLG co-worker of Connors)

Sarah said...

Your transparency in your struggles bless me over and over. While I have never walked your road, I have struggled over church attendance vs. legalism, as well. However, I am now in a congregation where church isn't only attendance, it's healing. It's my church family. In the middle of my greatest struggle, no doubt, it was torturous to still feel the need to "put my happy face on" for people who may have no idea what road I was on. But to be embraced by my church family was so therapeutic.

It sounds like you have the basis for winning your struggle. Jesus is all we need. That's that and that's enough. The rest will fall into place -- and I pray he will hold you in his comforting arms as you figure out the rest.

Mc Allen said...

Boothe, I know that there have been sooooo many replies to your blog, the response from the world over your precious family has been to say the least astounding.Do you even have the time to read these?? You have just totally surmised the struggle I am in w/ my walk at this very point in time and back and forth over the past 5 yrs. I am a Born Again Christian of about 5 yrs, have 4 daughters that I homeschool and I am in a battle right now (because of my what I myself have deemed) legalisistic override. My sweet husband doesnt suffer from the same affliction so therefore I am in constant comparison. Not right, just true. I am no closer to an answer than I was 5 yrs ago, but thankfully my Lord and Savior has bestowed limitless Grace for me in my infinite Humaness. Is it possible that you send me your email address, mine is we_allens@yahoo.com I would love to chat w/ you... Ell

Susiewearsthepants said...

I am so glad you blogged about this. I have recently had a loved one giving me a hard time about my irregular church attendance. I work full time, I have two kids, and I am taking three college courses. I don't always make it to church. Does this damage my relationship with God? I don't think so. He knows where I stand in my heart. As much I appreciate the concern, my relationship with Jesus is my business.

Anyway, I agree with what you are saying. Still praying for your family.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes God strips all....all the things that so easily propped us up in times of ease. These feeble and sometime false christian ideals will not hold us in the darkest of times. But then the fire comes to burn....feeling like all we have is ashes, but He will give us beauty for ashes."Come, let us return to the Lord. for He has torn us, but He will heal us;He has wonded us ,but He will bandage us." We can not truly have resurrected life until we have gone to the grave. The grave is a dark...but it is where we truly find the True God...The One we will now worship not for what He does for us but for who He is. We are no longer motivated to do and to give so we may get from Him. We now can allow Love(and this must come from Jesus) to be our motive and without this Love all else is just clanging cymbals. Dear Boothe...sit in the dark, sit in the nakedness,the emptiness until He fills you with His Love, He brings His Light and His Robe of Righteousness to clothe you.
He will give you sabbath rest...
Heb.4:9-10 There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered HIS rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.
Blessings..and many prayers

{Karla} said...

I am continuing to pray for you.

Blessings,
Karla

Amanda said...

Wow Boothe. What deep and true feelings-feelings that I face myself! Thank you for being so open, and letting your heart pour!

Shanon J said...

Boothie, I am so glad you broke some breakable things on your back porch. It's good that you allow those raw expressions of grief, it is apart of your healing. You can just lay there on the floor and let God love you and heal you... your heart is in the right place as always so you don't need to be doing any "works" Just like you can't go through this grief on your own and overcome it with solely your own strength and works... you can not earn God's love by being perfect... the only way to get through life, I think, is to ride upon his back like a child rides upon his fathers back.. he will carry you. that is the whole point.. I know you know all this, but I just want to encourage you to focus on letting God love you out of this. I am so proud of you and your precious family.
Love you Much
Shannon

Emily said...

I have nothing profound to say. I am guessing you probably need a listening ear (or reading eye, in this case) more than you need a mouth full of advice right now anyway. You're doing it. You're working through your grief. You're listening to your God and your heart. It's all you can do. Know you are lifted up and I am just an email or a phone call away.

Heather Smith said...

I totally agree. If we aren't doing the right things for the right reasons, then they just become things we do. God has been showing me a lot about this lately. He's had me step back from some things, and now I fully appreciate them and recognize them for what they are, ways to fully worship God and serve Him because I love Him. And I love Him because He first loved me. Thanks for sharing your heart with us again today.

Emily said...

One more thing...
A dear friend sent this to me in the weeks immediately following Miller Grace's passing and I thought you might appreciate it. It was written by Michael Crelinsten, Father of Alexis, who left for Heaven at the tender age of nine. It seems that these words only make more sense to me with each day that passes.

The Gap
The gap between those who have lost children and those who have not is profoundly difficult to bridge. No one, whose children are well and intact can be expected to understand what parents who have lost children have absorbed and what they bear. Our children come to us through every blade of grass, every crack in the sidewalk, every bowl of breakfast cereal. We seek contact with their atoms, their hairbrush, their toothbrush, their clothing. We reach for what was integrally woven into the fabric of our lives, now torn and shredded.

A black hole has been blown through our souls and, indeed, it often does not allow the light to escape. It is a difficult place. For us to enter there is to be cut deeply, and torn anew, each time we go there, by the jagged edges of our loss. Yet we return, again and again, for that is where our children now reside. This will be so for years to come and it will change us profoundly. At some point in the distant future, the edges of that hole will have tempered and softened but the empty space will remain - a life sentence.

Our friends will change through this. There is no avoiding it. We grieve for our children, in part, through talking about them and our feelings for having lost them. Some go there with us, others cannot and through their denial add a further measure, however unwittingly, to an already heavy burden. Assuming that we may be feeling "better" six months later is simply "to not get it." The excruciating and isolating reality that bereaved parents feel is hermetically sealed from the nature of any other human experience. Thus it is a trap - those whose compassion and insight we most need are those for whom we abhor the experience that would allow them that sensitivity and capacity. And yet, somehow there are those, each in their own fashion, who have found a way to reach us and stay, to our comfort. They have understood, again each in their own way, that our children remain our children through our memory of them. Their memory is sustained through speaking about them and our feelings about their death. Deny this and you deny their life. Deny their life and you no longer have a place in ours.

We recognize that we have moved to an emotional place where it is often very difficult to reach us. Our attempts to be normal are painful and the day to day carries a silent, screaming anguish that accompanies us, sometimes from moment to moment. Were we to give it its own voice we fear we would become truly unreachable, and so we remain "strong" for a host of reasons even as the strength saps our energy and drains our will. Were we to act out our true feelings we would be impossible to be with. We resent having to act normal, yet we dare not do otherwise. People who understand this dynamic are our gold standard. Working our way through this over the years will change us as does every experience - and extreme experience changes one extremely. We know we will have recovered when, as we have read, it is no longer so painful to be normal. We do not know who we will be at that point or who will still be with us.

We have read that the gap is so difficult that, often, bereaved parents must attempt to reach out to friends and relatives or risk losing them. This is our attempt. For those untarnished by such events, who wish to know in some way what they, thankfully, do not know, read this. It may provide a window that is helpful for both sides of the gap.

ali said...

this is so great. i just went through this not that long ago. i know that you are probably reading a lot of books right now but "GRACE WALK" by steve mcvey truly changed my relationship with the lord especially as all of this goes. pleeeease read it. buy it today! please!
love you

April said...

At my church on sunday we had a guest singer, Mitch McVicker, he was a good friend of Rich Mullins, (a christian singer in the 90's) they were in a car accident together. Rich died and he survived. He was sharing how he has had to deal with that. Why did he survive etc. He made reference to Lamentations 3:18-26 So I say, "My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the LORD."
19 I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. 20 I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him." 25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
He was saying that he feels God is not so much about making sense as He is in making us into what He wants us to be. Just know that we are all lifting you before the Throne, and you are loved my sister in Christ.

Anonymous said...

HI Boothe, I have a child that died too, however, GOd brought her back to me that day (June 3). However, now she has NUMEROUS problems b/c of her brain injury. She may stay an infant her whole life and my heart has been breaking since the day she was born. I struggle so much with why and I am so angry. I know your pain.
My baby has a blog ilovegiuliana.blog.com. I look forward to reading more of your blogs. God bless you.
Vanessa

scrappynhappy said...

Boothe, Connor, Sellers, and Copeland too. I love you all whether you are here or in heaven. Your family and the struggles you are surmounting inspire me deep in my soul.

God bless you all,

Phyl

Steph said...

Boothe...

As Ephesians 2:8&9 says, "We are saved by grace through faith, and this not of ourselves,it is the gift of God, not by works so that no one can boast." However, don't forget what follows in Ephesians 2:10, "We were created in Christ Jesus to do good works which He has prepared in advance for us to do."

I recently had a friend recommend a book to me "Classic Christianity" by Bob George. It might help you, too.

I'm praying for you.

Your sister-in-Christ,
Stephanie Reis

kristin and matt said...

boothe,
thank you for your continued thoughts and frankness with us...y'all are definitely still in our hearts and prayers.
love,
kristin (etter) horlings

MrsGrumpy said...

Boothe, this is my first post to you after reading your blog for a couple of weeks. I found it through another website. Two months ago, on August 26th, 2007, I lost my light, my strength, my husband. He was only 37 with two children at home. All has been basically lost for me since then. But, when I think of my husband, I think not of a man who walked into a church less than 10 times in his life...I think of a man who "got it" who lived the words of Jesus, without having to be reminded. His church was his heart. His works will not be forgotten by me, or by a lot of people who told me things he had done for them or given to them that even I did not know about. My heart breaks for you as you struggle with this. It's a sometimes very lonely road. Laura

Carly said...

We think of you daily. The program from Copeland's memorial service sits on the shelf in the hallway. I pass it every day, more like a hundred times a day. It makes me sad to see it, yet I can't move it and I can't look away. However, it also makes me think of you and the faith you possess. It makes want to be a better Christian. We are still praying for you.

Anonymous said...

May God bless you and your family and may He keep you in His loving arms now and forever.

Ann V.@HolyExperience said...

You are loved.
You are held.
You are known.

Unwaveringly.

You are upheld, sister.

Linds said...

Boothe, I have started writing you emails many times, and then stopped for one reason or another. I know about grief. Or I am learning about it slowly. Everything about it is "slow".I didn't lose a child. I lost a husband.Different. Very different. I cannot imagine losing a living child, just as you cannot imagine losing a husband. And only those who have lost can understand the differences. Thank God we have our faith.

I have just read John Ortberg's new book which is called "It all goes back in the box" and this really does deal very clearly with the good works conundrum. I really recommend it. We talked about this in my housegroup last night,and everyone battles with this concept, so you are not alone.

Thank God for a great pastor at your church! I will continue to hold you and your family up in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Boothe, every time I read your blog, I take away something lasting. I will continue to pray for you and your family. Thanks for always being so honest and expressing emotions most of us just feel. I have grown spiritually since I began reading your Godly words.
Tampa, FL

Jaclyn said...

I woke up this morning with Copelands song running through my head over and over. She has not and will not be forgotten. I love you all and pray that today you find a piece of peace.

Laurie said...

Prayers continue for you here today that the Lord is guiding your steps as you continue seeking Him in this most hard time. I think of Copeland often and her face is etched on my heart. Continue to do what you must do to get through this time. There is no right way, but the Lord is there with you.
Peace and Love,
Laurie in Ca.

Gretchen said...

"Maybe all the 'good' things we Christians do are just as likely to be strongholds in our lives as the bad.

I think you hit nail on the head here, Boothe. What a heart-filled post. I am not checking in as frequently as I had been, but I want you to know, that even though we haven't met, I've not stopped thinking of or praying for your precious family. God be with you all as you continue to heal and face each day anew.

Anonymous said...

Still praying for you.

Anonymous said...

Boothe, I am a high school teacher and I assigned my students to read your blog. The response from them was like nothing I've yet seen. You have changed so many lives through your faith, through your struggles, through your doubts, through your fears, and through the love you and your family have for Copeland. Thank you for writing this.

Anonymous said...

Boothe, I appreciate your honesty in how you feel. Espeically your story about throwing pots. My bestfriend told me of how she threw some pots off of her front porch as well during a trying time in her life. Since then, when I have come to my wits end about issues in my life, I have texted her at a heated moment and said, "I want to throw pots and take one of your 'pills.'" We "kid" about it between us, but that is real life humanness. When I shared your story about Copeland with her and how you have participated in "pot throwing" as well, she reminded me that even Jesus threw tables! That was comforting to be reminded that it is okay to be angry, even Jesus got angry, as long as the anger doesn't lead to sin. As she put it, like throwing people around! It is better to bust up pots than hurt someone. She wanted me to share that with you and I wanted to convey as well, that we all want to throw pots. In Christ's Love...

Jenny said...

Though you probably don't feel it, you are such an encouragement to many. I especially appreciate what you write. I can relate to the breaking of things... when my parents separated when I was 15, I would throw cider bottles against the side of our house. There is something so calming and therapudic in the sound of shattering glass. :)

I too still pray for you, dear heart.

(And I love the new look!)

Anonymous said...

Boothe,

I have read and re-read you latest post many times. As I too right now am going through a challenge in my life with my health. I once was able to do just about anything I wanted and for the last 2 1/2 months have learned to rely on my husband and children to things I once did. Thank you for being so honest about your feelings, you do give me hope and help me feel better. I really wish I had an opportunity to meet you, as I would love to just talk over coffee (or tea)! Please know that I continue to pray for you and your wonderful family, you also give me hope and help me to not deep into a "feel" sorry for myself mode! Your sharing keeps me going.

With love from KY

Tracy said...

Boothe,

You don't know me...I just happened to stumble upon your blog a couple of weeks ago. I went back and read all of your blog...starting with day 1. I can't imagine the pain that you are going through right now. I don't know of any "one thing" to say that will make you feel better. I think that the only thing that will make you feel better is time. You will always miss Copeland, but I pray that with each day you will hurt less and less.
Thoughts of you and your sweet family have weighed heavy on my heart. I will be praying for you and I hope that you will find peace soon.

Tracy from Dallas, TX

Anonymous said...

Dear Boothe,

While at church yesterday, we were asked to light a candle for a person who has gone before us, but who while they were alive created a positive impact to those around them. While I ran through a number of family members, it was Copeland and another "little angel" in heaven for whom I ended up lighting my candle. So, I write to today to encourage you to continue to post and spread Copeland's positive light in our world.

Stacey said...

After the death of my son who was 8 months old (cancer) I didn't go to church for about 4 months. The people/pastor/staff were all very loving and supportive, I just couldn't go. Then I went and felt awkward for a while. That was 7 years ago. Don't sweat it for now - just be gentle with yourself. It will get easier, you will learn to re-define who you are. God doesn't leave, He's big enough to let us be human. Nothing deep here, just letting you know from a voice of experience that it will be ok. By the way, I found a metal pizza pan slammed against the washer very therapeutic, and I didn't have to clean up anything afterwards. You just have to rotate it occasionally so that it doesn't bend over your thumbs :)

Mindy said...

Oh, I needed to read this today. Thank you again for your openness.

And still praying...

anne said...

Sometimes we are simply called to obey - doing what we know we are called to do...even if it doesn't seem right.

kim said...

Boothe,
I read your blog last week sometime and I have had you on my heart all week. We go to the same church and the words of the visiting pastor yesterday made me think of you. I can't imagine what you must feel deep in your soul to return to church, but I thought you may want to listen to the message form yesterday. I couldn't get your family out of my mind when he was speaking. I just thought I let you know.

Anonymous said...

Booth,

I have come back to revisit your posting on spiritual detox a number of times. My husband and I are missionaries in a foreign country. Two years after we were married and while we were far from our home and families, we were diagnosed with infertility. Our particular infertility is irreversible and at this time, non-treatable. In other words, we are unable to have biological children. This is not the same as your loss, but for me the diagnosis was much like the loss of a child – a child I had dreamed of, but that I would never have. I grieved the loss of knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would never get to experience a child growing within me, never know the joy of feeling those first movements that so many of my family and friends were able to enjoy, never see my child’s sonogram, never get to tell family and friends that we were expecting, never get to nurse my child, and, truly, the list goes on.

Because of our role in the church, I had no choice but to attend and participate in all activities regardless of my grief and my anger. I can admit that I was angry at God. I was angry because I felt He was punishing me and I did not know why. The “Why Me??” question filled my everyday and many times my every moment. Seeing all the young girls, frequently without husbands, in the parks “playing” with their children made me fume. I am not a violent person, but if I heard one more time “Just wait” or better yet “It will be okay” I thought I would hit someone. I hated going to church. I hated the face that I felt obligated to put on as if I was OK, as if I would be fine, as if I had patience, as if I was not so angry at God.

Does this make me legalistic? I was always the good girl. I tried to make everyone happy. I was not a rebel. I went to church every time the doors opened. I was active in many activities, helping with classes, going to short to medium length mission trips. I did not do all these things thinking that if I did, I would get what I wanted in life. BUT, when I was told that I would never carry a child, my first thoughts were to the list of things that I had done and why God was choosing to punish me (and my husband) and bless so many (underage and unmarried girls) with children of their own.

I think in times of extreme stress and grief most will tend to turn to those things that we find comfort in. For me, that means order and lists and rules – all things “legalistic” – not just in my spiritual life, but in my life in general. Does this make me bad or wrong? I really don’t think so simply because I am aware of it. Being aware makes me know that I have to fight against it. For me, and I suspect for many others, the “why me?” question, the legalistic tendencies are part of our grief, not part of our life.

On a side note, I would encourage you to continue going to church, simply because you might find comfort in the ritual. And afterward, when you are able to start feeling again, it will be easier to continue going to church instead of trying to get back to going to church. As much as I hated going, there were the odd times where I felt better having gone. Gradually, those times became more frequent and, now, while I still cringe at the young, unmarried girls who come to our building for help, I no longer feel the anger that I once did. The sadness and the grief are still there just smaller.

After a period of time, I was able to look back and see all the angels that God put in my path while I was struggling. I was not gracious to most of them and for that I beg forgiveness. Finally, just under a year after our diagnosis, I was able to see that God still loved me and had not forgotten about me due to one particular angel who came to me in the form of a psychologist. I did not know her and she did not know me. I chose her simply because she was a Christian woman and I did not want to speak of my grief to a man. On our first visit as I cried my way through “my story”, I noticed that she was also crying. She then told me she was unable to carry her three children to term and left the hospital 3 times without a living child. She and her husband adopted and they are now the proud grandparents of 5 grandchildren. God sent me to the perfect person who truly did understand what I was going through!

And now, in our relatively small congregation, a young couple has just been diagnosed with the same type of infertility that we have. The young wife is struggling and while I am not a certified counselor, I do have a good crying shoulder and I will never utter the words “It will be okay” or “Just wait – have patience” to her. I don’t think that God “did” this to us so that we could help this couple. I do believe that God is using us to help this couple because He can do that.

I pray for you everyday. I pray that you can see the angels that God will send to help you. That you can look back and know in your heart that God loves you still and that through all this, no matter how sad or how mad you get, He will never leave you.

amy stanfield said...

I hear you on that one Boothe. There was a time in my life that I felt the need to simply "be" with Jesus and remove myself from the business of what I thought being a Christian was about. One of those things for me was church, and it was so refreshing to have the freedom in not going. It was a season in my life that some of my legalistic habits came unglued, and it allowed me to have a deeper appreciation and thankfulness for the church body when that time was over. It was hard to draw away, but it was necessary for me to really be able to know the heart and voice of Christ. I wasn't completed isolated, I had good friends and family around me to love on me, (as you do) and that was a blessing. There is a time and a season for everything, and I'm thankful that Jesus knows what we need in every moment, every season. I pray that you would continue to be able to give yourself the freedom and grace you need to process this season in your life in Christ, and as you continue to walk with Him. Grace and peace to you, continually. You're still in our thoughts and prayers.

Greg said...

Boothe,

Just today I stumbled upon your blog. I am very sorry to hear all that has happened. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

God Bless.

Jen Blessing said...

I just watched the video/song in honor of Copeland. I cried the whole song. My husband and I also lost a baby at 12 days. It wasn't to Trisonomy 18, but the doctors couldn't figure out what caused his problems. I am so blessed to have had him (Levi David) in my life. I rest on the knowledge that he is dancing at the feet of Jesus and being rocked in His arms. I will be praying for your family as you walk through this time of healing. Know that you are not alone as you walk through this. I pray God's Blessing on you and your family and that the loss of your precious little girl will bring others closer to Jesus. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to talk. Sometimes it is nice to have someone that really understands what you are going through! (even if it is a total stranger)
In God's Amazing Grace and Love,
Jen Blessing

Anonymous said...

hi Boothe, just wanted to say hey & that im thinking of you. i know every holiday comes with an empty spot, even the little ones like halloween. just want you to know that i think of you often & will never forget Copeland.
Jennifer

Jenny said...

Boothe,

My brother (Greg G.) told me about your blog. I'm sorry about your loss. Thank you for being so open and honest about your faith.

Andrea said...

Boothe,

I have been reading your blog since right before Copeland's birth and, of course, read from the very first post up. Thank you for your candid words on grief and love and faith.

I pray for you so often and, when I read a new post by you, often cry "with" you.

Your Father loves you. He does. And He's growing you (and so many others through your words, as evident from the comments directed to you). And He grieves that you're grieving.

I pray He will give you an abundance of grace and peace - so that you may continue to simply put one foot in front of the other on this journey.

As far as church and medication - don't sweat the small stuff. You're being fitted for eternity (an eternity where Copeland is too). Church is great for being surrounded by those who love Him and you - and tangible evidences of those loves - but if you can't go, then you just can't go.

And praise God for godly pastors!

I am praying for you and your family. And I remember Copeland through your blog. When I close my eyes and think about her, I can see her face (as shown in your pictures here). I hope you find comfort in that.

Andrea

Mag's Meaning said...

You don't know me... but someone passed along a link to your blog and your you tube video. After crying through the video, I came back to the blog and started perusing. I ran across this post about "detox." I'm in that spot right now... My husband and I moved from the Houston area to this small South Texas town in August... and we haven't started searching church, yet... It's caused me to go into some confusion over what I believe- since I've had time to consider it... and now I'd say that I'm at a similar spot you're in... I'm that one foot wandering away--- and I'm feeling that tight stretching feel of someone who can't do the splits--- that it's time to get back to two feet together. Pray for me as you read this... that I will get back to that One thing- Christ *alone*.

Hugs-
margaret

Julie said...

I USED to be the Queen of Striving, performance and legalism. But praise God He has been setting me free.

I have seen Him rock my world and transform my thinking. In fact I just wrote about what He is doing in restructuring my thinking towards prayer on my blog.

If you want to read a little of how God has set me free from my legalism, you can see some of it on my blog.

It is for freedom that He came..... We put ourselves in the bonds of slavery, not Him.

blessings,
Julie

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