Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It's Coming!

Joe and I are beyond excited to announce that the details have been finalized for Luke's special memorial! We are so, so excited about the role we have gotten to play in helping to design it, and the location where it will be and the people involved in its creation.  It has been a work in progress over the past several months and we just recently found out that everything we wanted it to be has been approved by Heartland's management! So...stay tuned for more details as we will be posting them and the progress on it very soon here on this little blog!

To those of you who have so generously contributed to Luke's memorial fund, we thank you with all of our hearts.  We have just recently started the thank-you note writing process for this as we wanted to wait until we knew all of the details were finalized before beginning.  We are thrilled and so thankful for your help in making this a realilty for our family.

For those who are interested in contributing to Luke's memorial fund but have not done so yet, there is still time.  We are asked frequently about this and the answer is yes, you can still contribute and be a part of helping us honor our sweet little guy in a more permanent fashioin.  Please feel no obligation to contribute as we are simply honored that you are reading our blog! But if you are interested in donating to Luke's Memorial, all you need to do is send your check to:

Heartland Community Church
12175 S. Strang Line Road, Olathe, KS 66062
with 'Luke Leimer Memorial' in the memo line

We love you and thank you and are so excited to share with you the specifics of what it will be! Stay tuned...more info coming soon!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Weapon of Gratitude

By Sarah

I have done a lot of thinking recently about happiness and joy...where it originates, why it so easily departs from us, where it resides within us and why some people seem to have so much while others never seem to have any.  As I thought about this, I kept thinking of the verse in the Bible which talks about the Enemy's primary plan to defeat us in the most personal way.  He does this by stealing and attempting to kill any joy we might be feeling.  He robs us of our smiles, drives wedges and distance into our relationships, deminishes our passions, removes feelings of effectiveness and purpose from our careers, works to steal our desires, wants to thwart any forward progress we might be making, shatters our dreams, removes our security, interrupts our peace and especially decimates our hopes. He lies to us...and sometimes we fall for his tricks and believe him.

Our Enemy is hard at work with laser focus.  He knows when we are most vulnerable and weak- the times when we are most likely to give in and agree to the lies he is whispering to our hearts.  He wants us to not only be defeated, but more importantly to believe we are defeated.  He wants us to agree that there is no hope of things ever changing or being different.  He wants us to believe that our present circumstances define us and who we have been called and created to be.  He wants us to ignore Jesus' enduring message of hope, beauty and destiny.  Our enemy knows that if we do believe him, our lives will be miserable and hopeless- and that is exactly what he wants. He does not want us living in any way so as to be fully alive.

I think in my own way, I've allowed Satan to obtain a stronghold in my life in some of these areas these past few months.  My joy in life has been lacking.  I've allowed fear for our future pregnancies and our children's health to creep into my thoughts and take up residence.  I've also been completely swallowed by disappointment.  I've felt hopeless many days, and at times eaten alive by my grief, my frustration, my sadness, jealousy, isolation and sometimes full-on anger. Loving others well during this season has often required a great effort on my part and I fear my efforts have frequently fallen far short of the mark.

So just when I felt all but completely defeated in life, I came across a reminder which has become a powerful tool and weapon for me these last couple of weeks in my effort to push back against the crushing feelings of disappointment and defeat.  It's a really a simple practice:  it's gratitude.  I am learning that nothing cuts faster to the heart of my enemy's attack than gratitude.  Where he would have me believe I have nothing to offer, nothing more to celebrate in life, nothing good ever coming my way again- I can choose to consciously look around, notice the simple beauty in everyday life and be reminded that I do.   In fact, I have so much to be thankful for that once I begin reminding myself, my spirits cannot help but rise a little bit...and so the simple practice of being thankful becomes my weapon to push back against the lurking doom Satan would have me believe is just around the corner.

So that is what I am working on doing during this season of healing and renewal- being thankful...and I really do think it is helping me!  The more I pay attention to the good stuff, it helps me to keep the difficult and more painful things in perspective and not be overwhelmed by the heartbreak that is still very present.  Yes, the ache is still there and my heart wounds are fresh, but I have to remember that in addition to feeling those aches and sorrows, my heart still (amazingly) has the capacity to experience beauty, life, love, fun and wonder too...I just have to give myself permission.  And when I stumble upon these simple gifts in my day, soak them in and make a conscious effort to express gratitude to God for them, I am reminded that despite all of the heartbreak and struggles we've faced recently, my cup truly does overflow with blessing if I'm willing to open my heart and eyes to look and see.

Some things I'm grateful for today: blooming white tulips, warm breezes, the wiff of a pretty new perfume sample from a new magazine in your mailbox, homemade quiche, TV shows that make you laugh out loud, time with a dear friend early in the morning.....

Monday, April 12, 2010

Beauty in the Blooming

Beauty is truly all around us.  Spring has arrived here in Kansas and is in full bloom everywhere you look.  Trees are flowering, grass is greening, trees are budding and the sun is shining.  But my favorite spring 'happening' is taking place right in our own front yard.  Last fall, my dear mom and sweet friend Alison surprised us by wanting to plant some beautiful tulips for us in Luke's honor.  At that time, the days were cold. Darkness fell early, the wind was brisk and our hearts were shattered still trying to process how we would be losing our beloved sweet Luke in a matter of weeks. We were struggling to contemplate anything- let alone something hopeful and lovely like planting bulbs.  It was an overwhelming gift.

Then, after Luke's passing, some of my cousins and dear ones on my mother's side of the family pooled their funds and purchased an adorable little cherub for our garden.  A sweet little guy (whom we of course have named Luke) upon whose peaceful little hand is perched a small tiny little bird.  He is absolutely perfect and they gave him to us in memory of Luke- so that he would always be with us in our yard and garden in the years to come. Welcoming the growth and beauty around him while watching over us as our family grows and as we come and go.  Joe and I were completely blown away by everyone's thoughtfulness.

Our little Luke statue arrived shortly after Luke passed and you see, my extended family members were unaware of Luke's sleeping tulips that had been planted months before and were hopefully going to be blooming when spring arrived.  But Joe and I knew we had the perfect spot to put him when the time was right- but until then, I could not bear to put the little guy out in the cold snowy yard to wait for spring to arrive.  So he has been sitting on our counter in the kitchen keeping us company there....until recently. 

I remember crying my eyes out at how God was caring for us in such personal much that he was even seeing to it that we would have something beautiful to watch for in the spring.  Something beautiful that would both cause our hearts to hope and think of our sweet Luke at the same time.  Something beautiful that He would raise up from the cold, frozen ground when the time was exactly right.  Life that only He could bring forth...both from the ground and our hearts as well.  Even during the darkest season of my life I knew and believed with every ounce of faith I had that He would be watching over our lives and He would know exactly when to bring out the beauty...and it seemed only fitting that our little Luke angel should be sitting right in the middle of it all.... so we waited.

                     ....and we watched the special spot waiting for the miracle and beauty to begin...

...and then...all of the was time!

....and almost overnight - Luke's tulips were growing so tall and about to burst into full bloom...

and then...they did!  And wouldn't you know, the beauty was not just outside, but it also somehow managed to seep into our hearts and bloom there too.  There is nothing quite as amazing as the realization of new life springing forth in your own heart right when you least expect it....Especially after a particularly long, hard and difficult winter...both literally and figuratively!

I adore this photo.  Its of Joe wrangling the camera trying to somehow capture the tulips and the cirrus clouds overhead. You may not be able to tell, but that is Joe's head in the lower right still my heart!

He did such a great job! Got the tulips, "Luke" AND the cirrus clouds!  Great job Dad!

We deeply thank you Alison, Mom, Pam, Gene, Michael, Anna, Nathan, Kim, Bill, Carly, Will, Stephanie, Bill, Henry, Olivia, Brad, Carol Michelle and Bob for being so thoughtful of our little family.  Thank you for adding to the beauty in our lives and for creating a truly special and meaningful springtime ritual that our current and future family members will treasure watching for years to come.  Our hearts overflow with gratitude for your beautiful gift.

And a special thank you to God for bringing forth beauty all around us after our heart's long, long winter.  Thank you for the reminders everywhere that life continues and how if you watch closely enough in time, there will be blooms and blossoms everywhere- exactly when you least expect it.  We thank you for being the God of renewed life and beauty. We have never been more grateful.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

3 Months

My Sweetest Luke,

Today is Easter...and I'm afraid this one has been a little bit bittersweet despite our best efforts.  Your dad and I miss you so much Luke and speak of you often...wondering what you are up to, what you would be doing if you were here with us now.  Oh how I wish you were here with us, going to church, breathing in this beautiful fresh spring air, enjoying all of the colors that are appearing....the birth of a new season. It seems that everywhere I look, I see things that I wish I could show you or teach you, grass, wind, rain, thunder, why we celebrate Easter...  But instead, your dad and I drove around this morning in the sunshine with our windows down looking at and taking pictures of all of your beautiful cirrus clouds that were overhead.  They were amazing and a special reminder from God that you are up there with him where beauty is everywhere around you.

Luke I miss you so much. I talk to your pictures, and remember your birthday like it was an hour ago.  I think about you all the time and wonder how much you would be growing and wishing you were here with your dad and I today and every day.  Today being Easter, we all are celebrating life after death, resurrections and renewal, victory, power and grace.  You were a gift to us sweet boy.  Every minute you were with us both inside my belly and out. 

Happy birthday Luke.  We treasure you and love you more every day.  I wish I could hold your hands and kiss your sweet face and tell you everything in person, but that will have to wait until our reunion and I am looking forward with all my aching heart to that day.  This year I'm celebrating Easter with a mending heart and a much deeper personal appreciation for what Christ did for us all on the cross.  It's because of what he did that I am able to celebrate your resurrected life in heaven with Jesus today too.  My heart overflows with gratitude.

Love and kisses to you my sweet little guy.  I miss you more than I can say.

Impact and Connections

We have come a long ways over the past several months.  No question.  We are extremely blessed to have you all as our friends, encouragers, supporters and companions on this difficult path we have been walking for the past seven months.  Your blog comments, emails, phone calls, letters, prayers, words and companionship have been one of our primary sources for our courage and strength.  In the days and weeks ahead, we are going to finally begin making our way through and will be working on responding to you personally.  Your kindnesses and thoughtfulness have added so much beauty to our world and we long to convey all that your efforts have meant to us. We just wanted to let you know that although we may have not responded or replied, your words and efforts profoundly impacted our lives and continue to lift our spirits day after day.

So with that said, to those of you whose faces we know and love and to those of you whom we love but do not know by sight yet, we remain entirely humbled by all of the love God has poured into our hearts and lives through you and we look forward to connecting with you very soon.  May God richly bless you and keep you close to His heart and under the protection of his wing. Happy Easter everyone!

With deep gratitude,

 Joe and Sarah

Thursday, April 1, 2010

No Fooling

by Sarah

Today is April 1st... April Fool's Day. 

I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about what God is doing in my life.  What is he showing me? What is the lesson he is wanting me to grab onto from this season?  Why did Luke have to die? Why did we have to go through loving and losing him? Why couldn't he be asleep in the next room? Why? I know some of these are questions we will never have answered to our satisfaction and understanding this side of heaven, but they still roll across my mind more frequently than I care to admit. Sometimes I feel like by even asking, I'm not living by faith...but maybe sometimes having faith is moving forward even though you are still asking the questions...just trusting that maybe someday there will be clarity.

I am working hard to open my heart to learn what God has for me in this I can be open for what is ahead. I want to allow myself to be transformed through this experience of loving and losing my sweet boy. I do not want to miss the forest for the trees.  I want my eyes to be open...I want my faith to be deepened...I desire to trust Him with everything I've got and live accordingly.  But actually living by faith is scary.  It is scary to close my eyes and continue forward not knowing where we are going while struggling with accepting where we've already been.  It is scary to believe him when he says his plans for me are good plans...even when they don't feel that way today.  It is just. plain. hard.  Especially when I feel like sometimes God is far away and is being very quiet when I need him to be his loudest and nearest.  Sometimes I feel like He's forgotten me.  Even though I know that is not true- in my head.  It still feels that way sometimes- in my heart.

So over the past few weeks, I've been trying to cling to and remember times where God was faithful to me in my life. There are many examples, and today happens to mark the anniversary of a couple big ones. (The irony of it being April Fool's Day is not lost on me!) I'm choosing to hold on tight to my memories of times when God brought me through impossible seasons and pits in my past, and when He answered prayers in ways beyond what I could have asked for or imagined.  I'm choosing to remember and thank Him for how he provided for me in ways I did not even know I needed, let alone knew to ask for.  He has been so very faithful to me over the years, and promises that he always will be...yet I sometimes easily forget that when I'm in the midst of a struggle or things do not seem to be working out the way I planned. 

I look all around me and there are buds sprouting on trees, the color green is popping everywhere I look, flowers pushing up from the ground, a thunderstorm is in the forecast, the sun is shining and breezes are blowing the clouds across the sky....spring is here.  Life is beginning afresh all around me. It is breathtaking to behold.  And I just miss Luke like crazy...wishing he was here so I could introduce him to this beautiful season. 

Today as I was driving and feeling extremely heavy hearted, I felt God whisper to me and remind me that he is the one who restores life where there was once death.  He is the one who brings beauty back in the most unexpected places.  He is the one.  He never forgets and He has not forgotten that I'm still waiting for spring to arrive in my heart.  Despite all of my tears today, I was encouraged by the reminder that someday soon in my heart, life will push its way back through, colors will return, and the view will be beautiful again....there will be spring.  He has not forgotten- and never will.  No fooling.