The Macs

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

still processing

This past weekend Joel and I headed to Nashville, Tennessee for a Respite Retreat. This retreat is hosted by David and Nancy Guthrie for couples who have faced the death of a child. Nancy is the author of The One Year Book of Hope that I told you has been so helpful to us.

We joked on our way there about what we were going to say to people who asked us what we were doing in Tennessee. You know, the well meaning flight attendant who wants to know if you are on vacation or visiting family. What would be their reaction when we told them we weren't actually in Nashville to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame?? Instead, we were coming for a weekend retreat for grieving parents. It would be just another of the many awkward moments we face these days. Thankfully, no one asked.

We picked up another couple from the airport and drove an hour outside of Nashville to this big, beautiful house. It is called The Hiding Place. Such a fitting name.

You (God) are my hiding place.
Psalm 32:7

There were eleven other couples, including Nancy and her husband, who joined us for this weekend. We each had our own little room in the house.

The majority of the weekend we spent in this living room. Sharing our stories, grieving together, learning how to move forward with the Lord's strength, and just getting to know each other.

It was a hard weekend. A weekend filled with many tears. There is so much that I am still processing. But, we are SO glad we went. We needed this time to grieve together. We needed this time to lean on and learn from so many others who are walking in our shoes. We needed this time to be reminded that Jesus himself speaks into our sorrows. There are no easy answers, but we can rest in the fact that we are grieving with HOPE.

We came back emotionally exhausted. Not quite ready to face the busy week ahead. Yet, at the same time feeling like we had some new tools to help us keep moving forward. I have so much more that I will share with you soon.


Blogger Beki - TheRustedChain said...

Oh Jess, what a blessing to get to go to that retreat!

To me, it was ironic about what you said about the flight attendant. Back in my own flight attendant days, I was based out of Memphis and flew sooooo many families to and from St. Jude children's hospital.

I saw many of them regularly and got to know them a bit. It was always heartbreaking to see the families go home a final time without their kid if the child didn't make it. But there were the cases too where the child would fly home with the biggest smile because they were cancer free.

*You* are such a blessing to more people than you'll ever know.
In God, there is hope!

October 28, 2009 at 3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a beautiful idea for a retreat. As a grieving mother, I always feel kindered in some way to others who've shared this great burden. I hope the benefits of this retreat stay near your heart.

October 28, 2009 at 3:55 PM  
Blogger The Mershawn's said...

I think that's awesome.
So glad there are people out there willing to help others along the terrible long road of grief. And so glad that HOPE is still there.
What a tremendous ministry. I'm so glad you guys were linked with them. Thanks for sharing. Still praying for your sweet family.

October 28, 2009 at 3:56 PM  
Blogger Brittany said...

Wow, what a weekend! I am so glad that you are looking at God's grace in your healing process. I am so inspired by your faith and your willingness to work through your pain, while remembering Cora everyday.

We live near Nashville, I am proud that there is a ministry to reach out to grieving parents. What a blessing.

Thank you for sharing.


October 28, 2009 at 4:40 PM  
Blogger Lori Danelle said...

Wish I had known you were coming to town! We could have met up and I could have shown you around. Glad to hear your enjoyed yourself despite the heaviness of it all.

October 28, 2009 at 4:41 PM  
Blogger Trasie Bressler said...

God Bless you!

October 28, 2009 at 5:37 PM  
Blogger Heather | Cookie Mondays said...

what a BEAUTIFUL house. it must have been an amazing experience. you and joel were no doubt a huge inspiration for those other couples.


October 28, 2009 at 6:16 PM  
Blogger Marla Taviano said...

What an incredible ministry. I love hearing stories of how God's people are using their heartache to reach out to others.

Praying for you this week!

October 28, 2009 at 6:21 PM  
Blogger Marie said...

That is a beautiful thing.

October 28, 2009 at 6:41 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

I am thrilled that you were able to have this time with others who are also in the same shoes. Granted, I know that you, Joel and the other parents would much have rathered that instead you gather with their children. However, I am grateful to Our Lord for the ministry that was done this past weekend and for friendships formed and bonds made, and therapeutic times. Continuing in prayer.

October 28, 2009 at 7:31 PM  
Blogger Al's World said...

I am so glad that you were able to get away and experience this together...praying for healing in your heart and soul!

October 28, 2009 at 7:51 PM  
Anonymous Maria said...

I am so glad you were able to go. I pray for you often

October 28, 2009 at 7:52 PM  
Blogger Melanie @ Whimsical Creations said...

What a beautiful place for a retreat.


October 28, 2009 at 7:52 PM  
Blogger The Starr Family said...

What a good God indeed, giving us respite and strength!! Indeed a blessing to retreat, despite the tears.

October 28, 2009 at 8:11 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

God is Good!! Praying !

October 28, 2009 at 8:16 PM  
Blogger Jane In The Jungle said...

So glad y'all were able to get to the retreat! Beautiful house and so appropriately named.

Hope you were treated to our Southern hospitality. I'm in Chattanooga, Tn.

October 28, 2009 at 8:31 PM  
Blogger jonahbonah said...

We were in Nashville this weekend too! I wonder if we passed each other....probably not. I surely would have noticed you!

I pray for you all the time!


October 28, 2009 at 8:47 PM  
Anonymous Harper Loyer said...

Thats great that you got to go and experience this with other families who actually know what you are going through on a more personal level. God Bless your family!!!! You are in my thoughts and prayers on a daily basis!!!!

October 28, 2009 at 8:51 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

What a wonderful retreat. I am glad that you were able to connect with other couples who have been through the same thing. Praying for your family!

October 28, 2009 at 8:57 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

It looks like a beautiful peaceful place to share your loss, pain and tears with others who have been and are going through what you are.
Always praying for you.

October 28, 2009 at 9:00 PM  
Anonymous Christy Vogt said...

There is definitely nothing like having people to share and cry with who are walking through the same trials. So glad that God gave you this opportunity.

October 28, 2009 at 9:53 PM  
Blogger Barclay Kathryn said...

How awesome that there is something like this offered for families that are grieving.

October 28, 2009 at 10:50 PM  
Blogger Melissa Moss said...

What a great blessing for you and your husband. I understand how hard it must have been to face you grief but how healing it must have been too. Even almost 5 years after the loss of my little girl Emma Noelle I still have not given myself a chance to truly grieve. I would have loved the opportunity to talk to others who have gone what I have gone through. So few understand what it is like to lose a child. Thank you for sharing your story because it does help those of us out here that feel so alone.

Melissa Moss

October 29, 2009 at 5:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've posted a few comments over the last few months. I still feel like a stranger watching someone else's life, but I am drawn to your story and your witness over and over. God is doing great things through your personal tragedy. God is touching so many through your walk. Thank you for continuing to share. Our God is mighty and perfect. His healing and His timing are so amazing.

October 29, 2009 at 8:20 AM  
Blogger Lauren said...

Sounds like it was a very much needed weekend and retreat away!!!!!!

October 29, 2009 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

sounds wonderful..and what a beautiful place.. perhaps we will look into something like this.. thank you for sharing!

October 29, 2009 at 10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How awesome for you! I read Holding on to Hope by Nancie Gunthrie a few years ago and thought it was awesome! Keep looking upward to God! God Bless!

October 29, 2009 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger Claudia said...

What a blessing to have this time with other couples ... I know the grief is not a blessing in itself (I can only imagine) but all these instances where you can share and learn in God's love is a blessing after all.

October 29, 2009 at 10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for continuing to share your life with us out in blog world! I have followed your story all this year and pray for you all. I am very interested in what you gleaned from this retreat on grieving as I am going through a very hard time with a huge loss in my life. So if and when you share on this blog, I know it will be a huge blessing for many.
Praying for you and your new baby!

October 29, 2009 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger BEK said...

You are an amazing couple and I am so glad you are willing to share your story!

October 29, 2009 at 11:59 AM  
Blogger merlin said...

Because of your willingness to share, you are changing lives, helping leave God-impressions on other people. I see grace in your life, God's grace. I ordered the Hope book after your post and then when I saw this one about the retreat I became impatient for my book to arrive. It makes my spirit soar to see how God's love is woven from one to another and also to complete strangers in distant parts of the country. I sit back and think how Hope's, Gabriel's and Cora Paige's lives together reached is overwhelming. I can not begin to understand the ways and plans of God.

October 29, 2009 at 1:01 PM  
Blogger JenReece said...

Glad you enjoyed the retreat. I hope Nashville treated you well (that's where I live!) God will take care of you!

October 29, 2009 at 3:29 PM  
Blogger Sincerely, Stephnie said...

I hoped the retreat will give you the "tools" you need to get through this. As always, you are inspiring.


October 29, 2009 at 3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So glad you were able to have a weekend retreat! Isn't The Hiding Place beautiful? I live in Clarksville just a few miles down the road from where you guys where this weekend. I also wanted to let you know that I received the two black letter burp cloths that I bought from you the other day. They are beautiful! Thanks! Praying for you guys!
Jennifer W.

October 29, 2009 at 5:29 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Oh what a blessing to read you made this retreat.

I have not lost a child, but because my son is a cancer survivor my life is filled with friends who have lost children.

I am also the sibling of a child my mom lost.

I feel in love with Nancy. I've read several of her books, and have personally contacted her.

God has truly used her testimony to help so many people.

I had a friend who did that weekend a month or so ago. She loved it.

Thanks for sharing this.

Praying for you now~

(so nice to meet you, I'll be back!)

October 29, 2009 at 9:11 PM  
Anonymous Diana said...

What a blessing to have this retreat available to you and that the two of you could go! Such a lovely house, wow!

I have never lost a child, but my mama died of cancer back in 1971 when I was 14. And now my beautiful stepmom just learned a week ago she has cancer.

Many prayers for you that God's love and grace continues to surround you and hold you both close!

October 30, 2009 at 12:34 AM  
Blogger Sue said...

Well done to you both for facing up to this so bravely. Totally different, I know, but after losing my husband, I found solace in spending time with other widows. They just get you. They know that they don't need to say anything (that they can't say anything) to make you 'feel better'. They're in the same boat, just trying to get by from day to day.

I'm really glad you and Joel had this time together and I'm sure that, while it must've been really tough, you've gained so much from it too.

Big hugs, Sue x

October 30, 2009 at 2:08 AM  

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