Category Archives: Blogging

So Here’s The Thing…

Thirteen months.  It has been thirteen months since my last blog post.  Thirteen months since I let a day pass without writing…then two..then a week…then 2012 is halfway over and not a single thing has been written!  THIRTEEN MONTHS!

Truth be told, I set out to be perfect.  I wanted to write a post every day, each week, all year long.  I have several amazing girlfriends with far more children and responsibilities than I who are able to wax poetic daily.  They don’t simply write posts; they inspire, they encourage, they are consistent.

I love to write.  Since I was a young girl, words have gripped me in inexplainable ways.  I will choose a book over a movie anytime.  Something about putting thoughts to paper has always brought great joy and focus to my heart.  I don’t claim to be a brilliant writer by any means.  Writing is simply the venue the Lord has given me to sort my own thoughts and analyze my life experiences.  When faced with a blank page and words begin flowing, all the madness of life seems to fade and for a brief while, the scrambled things come into focus.  Many times, the Lord has brought words and passages to mind in the midst of writing that He would use to work in me later on.  So much of my writing during Isaac’s life was words He would give in the midst of writing sessions to later use in ministering to my weary heart.  Its nothing that I have earned nor take credit for.  Its just the way He has wired me.

So here’s the thing:  As I said, I want to be perfect.  Not to impress or gain attention but to accomplish every goal I set.  Since I was young, I’ve had an innate desire to get it right every time, all the time.  To set a goal and fully achieve it.  Type A, anyone?!  So when I set out to be a consistent blogger, I was gung-ho.  Posts were flowing, lessons being learned and in need of sharing if for not other reason than to record His workings for myself.  But then it happened.  A day would go by, then a few.  Writers block would creep in and suddenly I was faced with inconsistency.  My pride bruised from imperfection.  One would logically think, “Just pick up where you left off and keep on writing.”  But no.  It turned into anxiety, embarrassment.  I couldn’t just write any post.  It must be epic!  Profound.  Worth the loss of days.  As each day passed, my self-inflicted pressure continued to rise.  Thirteen months later…

This is but one of countless examples in my life that has caused me to face my frailty head on.  How often I strive for perfection, to have everything all together, all the time, on my own.  Were I truly honest, it is a struggle that has impacted my walk with the Lord.  I fail and my natural response is embarrassment, discouragement, inaction.  At its core, isn’t that the human experience?  In the Garden, Eve desired to be like God by eating the fruit, to become perfect.  Yet once she sinned, rather than running to the arms of the One who loved her most, she hid in shame.  We seek to be complete and self-fulfilling all on our own, as if we will impress God with our “grandeur”.  Yet every ability, every gifting, every good and perfect thing to be found in us ultimately comes by His generous hands.

It may seem like a silly issue, inconsistent writing, but it has been a simple lesson on a greater issue for me.  The Lord desires my communion with Him, not perfection of my own accord.  After all, I will NEVER be perfect.  ‘Tis the human condition: broken and in need of a Redeemer.  So whether it be a large life issue or simply a blip in the blogosphere, He is teaching me to move ahead.  Lay down the discouragement and press onward, further knowing my desperate need of Him and His gracious delight in me.

So here’s the thing:  I won’t be perfectly consistent in writing.  I will set goals and sometimes fail in achieving them.  Writers block may come and go.  But when the words do come again, rather than being silent out of my shame of inconsistency, I will simply pick up my pen and scribe again.  After all, anything of merit in my words comes from Him.  I simply want to be faithful in expressing what He has given.

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Filed under Blogging, God, Patience, Struggles, Thoughts

Still Here…

To say the past few months have been a whirlwind would be a ginormous understatement.  In a blink, time has flown from being massively pregnant and traveling to DC to now being a mother of two amazing kids.  Evan Garrett turns 3 weeks old tomorrow and though he has only been with us a short time, I could not imagine life without him in it.  I am completely smitten with this precious little boy and amazed at the love Eliana shows him daily.  Jordan continues to astound me with the incredible father he is to our kids and how he finds little ways daily to encourage and love me.  Simply put — I am blessed beyond measure and comprehension.

I hope to blog more regularly in the days and weeks ahead as I adjust to our family’s new routine (and hopefully gain more sleep).  There are pictures to be posted, stories to be told, posts to catch up on, and hilarious pregnant moments to share.  But for now, know that the Leinos are having an amazing summer.  Thank you all for your prayers on our behalf as we waiting for Evan’s arrival and the joy you have shared with us since his birth.  More to come soon!

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Filed under Blogging, Eliana, Evan, Family, Jordan, Patience, Pregnancy, Random, Thoughts

Top Ten Of 2010

New Years’ Eve is already here!!  This year has simply flown by at warp speed.  In reflection of 2010, I’m taking a cue from the lovely Tasha Via and posting the Top Ten viewed blog posts of 2010.  It’s amazing to look back and see all the year held for our family, all the lessons learned and joys experienced.  So sit back, grab a warm cup of cocoa and enjoy some retrospective reading!

1. He Saw Me

2. Charlie Baer

3. Blue Steel

4. Speaking Engagements

5. The Gift of 24 Weeks

6. Comfort (Part One and Two)

7. Family Pictures at Duke Gardens

8. Officially Official

9. Whirlwind of a Summer

10. Beauty For Ashes

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Whirlwind of a Summer

What a summer it has been!  So much has happened since June.  Family trips to Annapolis, MD, Washington D.C., Lynchburg, VA, Tampa, FL, and Myrtle Beach, SC.  Ran a half-marathon in Virginia Beach.  A Leino family wedding in Traverse City, Michigan.  Moved to a new apartment closer to Raleigh.  A Roddy family reunion in the Outer Banks.  Patience began Green Belt Six Sigma training with UNC Hospitals’ PICU team.  Leino Studios continues to grow.  Wow!

Now that life has settled back down to a normal-ish pace, we’ll be back to regular blogging.  Many stories & pictures to come in the days ahead.  For now, we’ll leave you with this pic of our sweet Eliana who is now just shy of 15 months.

 

 

 

 

 

Oh and by the way….we’re pregnant.  🙂

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Comfort (Part Two)

All I could do was cry.  Cry for Charlie.  Cry for the Baers.  Cry for every person on this planet who has lost someone.  It was quite a sight – some red-headed chick bawling her eyes out in front of a Buffalo Wild Wings.  “Why, Lord?  Why does there have to be so much hurt?  Why did Charlie leave so soon?  You could have healed him.”  Quickly the sorrow turned to anger.  It was surreal in some ways, like experiencing the full span of the grieving process in a few minutes.  How I ached for my friends.

Within minutes of Josh’s call, I was on the phone with my mom and in the hugging arms of my dear friend, Cathy (she’s practically my big sister…love her to pieces!)  Both these godly women gave me such comfort, reminding me of what I already knew but emotions blocked at the moment.  God is good.  He is always good.  He loves the Baers and my family so much.  He loves little Charlie just as he loves every child He creates.  And because of what we went through with our son, we could now come alongside this family as they begin the grieving journey.  “Comfort others with the comfort you yourself have received.” Once again, amidst the tears and sorrow, I experienced the promised comfort of the Holy Spirit, that “peace that surpasses all understanding.” (Phil.4.7)

As the days have passed, I’ve pondered over and again the homecoming of these two sweet boys and heartache in general.  At its core, it is simply part of the human experience as we are mortal beings living in a fallen world.  Loss is part of life.  While it comes in various forms at varying seasons, loss is loss.  It hurts.  It changes you, whether for the better or for worse.

During our drive back from Myrtle Beach for church on Sunday, my mind was racing with these thoughts, asking God to make further sense of it all for me.  We pulled up to Journey right on time.  The service was AMAZING!  Pastor Jimmy concluded his series on spiritual warfare, Supernatural.  Wow!  The message was so equipping, so saturated in Scripture.  And the worship, well, there are no words.  Through the morning, Jimmy kept referencing passages from 2 Corinthians.  I’d been trying to figure out what to study next in the Word and felt that 2 Corinthians was calling me.  Monday morning came and as I opened my Bible to begin studying that day, I could not help but smile.  Just three verses in, God spoke right to my heart:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Cor.1.3-4)

God’s love is so beautiful, His timing always perfect.  In that moment, He seemed to make it all so much clearer for me and put to words what He had already been stirring in my heart.  Suffering is a thing of life – a horrible, tragic thing.  But within suffering are hidden treasures to be found.  By God’s grace and power, He has opened my eyes to see the beautiful things that have come from our journey and loss of Isaac.  Had we not walked that road, we would not understand God’s love and peace as we do now.  We would not appreciate Eliana as profoundly as we do each day.  Without Him by our side, we could never imagine such deep and complete healing to be possible.  Yes, we still miss our son terribly.  But our hearts have healed and in remembering that bittersweet season, the sweetness outshines the bitter.  To God be the glory for it!  Had we not spent those 130+ days in the hospital, we would not be able to empathize with other families in that same situation.  I would not even have the opportunity to be part of a Parent Advisory Board at a hospital, let alone make a difference on it.  And had we not been parents of a HLHS baby, the Baers would have gone through the past few months without personally knowing another family who knew exactly what they were going through.  I’ll never forget Josh’s words, “I know we didn’t call much, but just knowing you all were there meant the world to us.”

Suffering is so much more than loss.  It is a beautiful opportunity.  It holds treasures to be found and in Christ, we can discover them.  We serve the Father of compassion, the God of ALL comfort.  He comforted me in all my troubles and because of Him, I now can comfort others in any trouble with the same comfort that I received.  In truth, He has given me a gift.  He has turned my mourning into dancing, taken the ashes of my loss and made them something beautiful.  Does He desire we suffer?  Absolutely not!  But as a wise woman once said, “God is faithful to redeem what He allows.”  What could have been my undoing has become a gift that I can give to others.  It does not take the pain away nor negate the weight of our loss, but it redeems it.  To God be all the glory for the redeeming work He has done.

Please join me in continuing to pray for the Baer family.  The road ahead is long and marked with grief.  It will be hard.  It will sneak up on them at times, as it still does for my family.  But what joy to know that God holds their every moment, captures each of their tears (Psalm 56.8).  And one day, He will wipe away every tear from our eyes.  He is the God of all comfort, the Father of mercies, Lord over all.  That, my friends, is comfort.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.  He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”  (Revelation 21.1-7)

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Filed under Blogging, Friends, HLHS, Journey Church, Struggles, Thoughts

Comfort (Part One)

Lately, I find myself at a loss for words.  Even now in typing this, my thoughts seem to collect for a moment and flit away the next.  They’ve been churning in my mind for a week now.  Hopefully they will all come out clearly…that or you’ll at least be amused at my scatterbrainedness. (is that a word?)  Buckle up.  Its a longer one.  Here’s the first part of “Comfort”.

It all goes back to one week ago when I was preparing to speak on a parent panel at UNC.  They were hosting at two-day conference by the Institute for Family-Centered Care (IFCC).  As part of this panel, I was privileged to speak to medical staff and case workers at UNC about my experiences as the parent of a critically ill child, reflect on what was positive in our experiences on the PICU, and what could have been improved upon.  I’ve shared our journey many times before and at much greater length in different situations, but for some reason this time struck me differently.  Perhaps it was sharing it with actual PICU staff.  Perhaps it was speaking those words within the same hospital that cared for our son.  Perhaps it was hormones.  Whatever the reason, there was something about that morning that brought so much more detail back to memory of our time with Isaac at UNC.  It left the memory fresh in my mind and strong on my heart.  (Thank You, Lord, for that precious little boy!)

Then Thursday came.  Around 10 o’clock that night, I was out to dinner with some great girlfriends in Myrtle Beach, SC.  We were laughing, sharing stories, and applauding Ailene who had preached a strong word on Joshua earlier in the evening at Barefoot Church’s Ladies Night Out. (seriously…if you haven’t gotten a copy of her study yet – get to it!)  Just as we ordered our late-night dinner, my phone rang.  It was my friend, Josh Baer.  “Hey Josh!  How’s it going?”
His words caught me by surprise and knocked the air from my lungs with the force of a semi.

“Um…Charlie didn’t make it.”

Everything stopped.  In an instant, grief washed over me for my friend as all the emotions of Isaac’s homecoming flooded back.  They were so fresh from speaking on the panel just the day before.  No!  NO!  Charlie was supposed to make it!  He was supposed to have the better outcome with HLHS.  The cocktail of emotions was choking.  Grief, sorrow, confusion, anger.  Even though I knew this was a chance for Charlie simply because of his diagnosis, I had hoped and prayed dearly that it would not be his fate.  Certainly not so soon.

In moments, another emotion swept in to join the mix: guilt.  Why did we get so much more time with our son than our friends?  Why were we able to take our baby home but they weren’t?  In a moment, I was reminded of the frailty of life and how fortunate we were for every day Isaac was with us.  I still don’t understand the why, but rest in knowing:

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139.13-16)

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Filed under Blogging, Chapel Hill, Friends, HLHS, Struggles, Thoughts

Thanks for the post suggestions, everyone!  You’ll definitely be seeing your ideas in upcoming posts.  We’re feeling a tad under the weather in the Leino household, so this is it for today’s blogging.  Here’s a new pic of our sweet girl to hold you over until tomorrow. 🙂

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Filed under Blogging, Eliana