Monday, October 7, 2013

Great Things

So the big race was last weekend! Tim and 11 other family members and friends ran a 199 mile relay in Jack's memory, and generous supporters donated 150 Lego sets to seriously ill children in the hospital. Thank you so much for your support! It was super hard to go into the Lego store for the first time without Jack, but I did it. I know that's not as hard as running almost 200 miles in the sweltering heat, or in the middle of the night, or up an almost vertical hill, but it was something for me.

As the racers gathered at our house before the race on Thursday afternoon, a bird flew into the kitchen! Through the garage, into the kitchen, and right onto the window ledge. There's a picture of it on the An Inch of Gray Facebook page if you want to see the little guy. It was calm. After a few moments, it flew out again. I couldn't help but think that our rare bird was stopping by to give his stamp of approval on the weekend to come.

The weather was much hotter and the course much hillier (mountainous!) than everyone expected, but the runners dug deep and finished strong. Way to go, Team Jack's Lanterns!

I want to tell you something my sister, Liz, shared with me yesterday. She is quite the runner, using her running as therapy and prayer time after Jack's death. Each time she runs a race in his honor, she safety pins a laminated photo of him to her back and takes off.

After each race, she likes to take a look at her bib number to see if there is anything significant she can learn from it in her Bible. For instance, if her bib number were #413, she might think of Margaret's favorite verse, Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." This might lead her to consider the ways in which God strengthens her, too.

This time, the team had the race number 149 on their bibs. This didn't stand out to Liz as significant or remind her of any special verse, so when she went to her Bible, she decided to go to Jack's favorite verse, Luke 1:37, "For nothing is impossible with God" and keep reading in case there was a Luke 1: 49.

There was.

 "For the mighty one is holy and
He has done great things for me."

Once again, Liz felt that her Jackie Boy was close, so close, because that verse sounds very similar to a line from Jack's Psalm of Thanksgiving that he wrote in 6th grade and is on the back of the prayer cards we handed out at his service. I want to share it with you today:

A Psalm of Thanksgiving
by Jack Donaldson

God, You are good,
Your goodness extends beyond
the bonds of eternity.

God, You have done great things,
Helping many in times of need.

God, you have done great things for me,
You have helped me in times of struggle.

God, You are merciful.
Sacrificing Your only Son for our life.
God, You are powerful,
You reign supreme over all of the nations,

God, You care about me,
Your love endures forever.

Even though it's hard to see it sometimes, God did do great things for Jack in his short life. And He still does great things for me. Many days I can see this, and that is good.


claire plante said...

So beautiful and wonderful, Anna! Thank you for sharing those great things from the weekend.

I find running very therapeutic as well, like Liz, and have been thankful for that. I always struggled when trying to sit still and "quiet my mind" to make room for prayers or meditation. There is something about the pounding and rhythm of running that inspires thought, prayer, and healing.


Julia said...

God does great things for you, Anna. And while that doesn't compare to holding or seeing your Jack on this Earth, He promises forever with your boy when you're through with your school here on this planet. My faith grows stronger everyday with yours. Thanks to Jack for sending birds. Julia

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing this, Anna. :-) I am so glad to hear of the many ways the Lord comforts you, from the special birds He sends to the Scriptures He brings to mind to the friends and family with whom He surrounds you! What an "amazing race" that was run in Jack's honor by so many who care for you all. :-)

We pray for and think of you all often. :-)


Your cousin Emily R

Alison said...

What a wonderful way to honor Jack's memory.
Much love to you and yours, Anna.

LauraBeth said...

Jack's Lanterns were in our prayers this past weekend...

And our prayers continue for you all...

With love, hugs, and prayers from the other side of town...

Rach said...

Going into that Lego store without your boy was a true milestone. "Well done" isn't the right phrase, but my sleep addled brain can't come up with the appropriate one. I'm sorry. I'm sorry you had to do it without your precious son.

Congratulations to the winners, and I LOVE that Jack came to give his vote of approval to all the runners and what they were running for.

Finally, I got goosebumps from your sister's reading. Wow. God is so powerful!


Japolina said...

What a lovely post. Thanks for sharing.

Momza said...

"The tender mercies of the Lord are real and do not occur randomly merely by coincidence." ~D. Bednar

No doubt, Jack's loved ones are being blessed. So happy for you all.

Momza said...

"The tender mercies of the Lord are real and do not occur randomly merely by coincidence." ~D. Bednar

No doubt, Jack's loved ones are being blessed. So happy for you all.

Unknown said...

Congrats to all on the race! But I'm not so sure I agree with you about who had it harder - those who ran, or you walking Jack-less into the Lego Store...

Thank you for your hope and inspiration.

Suburban Correspondent said...

That Lego Store visit must have been hard. I bet Jack was proud of you.

Unknown said...

Your boy was wise beyond his years. What a wonderful way to honor him by all you are doing for others. Thanks for sharing Jacks life and your family's story with us, you are a beautiful writer.

Anonymous said...

I"m not a religious person, more skeptical, and maybe spiritual sometimes. But when I read personal experiences such as yours, they leave me less skeptical and doubtful, and in awe of what could be. No doubt in my mind Jack is letting you know he is watching over you and he is okay. Thank you for sharing and pushing my skepticism aside.

ella said...

Oh Anna, I love everything about this! Of course I wish none of this was necessary, but what a wonderful weekend. Jack must be so proud of his family. Tears.


Anonymous said...

When my husband was diagnosed with Acute Leukemia and told he would likely die in 2011, I found your blog. I was twenty weeks pregnant with my third baby--my first boy--and I am an English teacher, and somehow walking with you each day made my walk less lonely.

Gavin had a bone marrow transplant on 2/8/12-- one day after my 35th birthday. The unknown donor donated on my 35th birthday. In my heart, I believe there are no coincidences.

Anyway, I want you to know how touched I was when I saw all of those Legos for the Leukemia kiddos this morning. Even my 35 year old husband built complex Lego sets when he was sick, so I am certain that they will be put to good use. I am sure you have already been told that they are the best toy because they can be kept sanitized and they completely occupy the kids.

You are amazing, and you inspire me beyond words. I will hug my baby boy extra tight today when I get home and think of your Jack.

Christy said...

Oh Anna. What a lump in my throat after reading this. Love the bird. Love the fact that they raced for Jack. Love that we all gave legos to kids in his honor. Love you!!! xo

Anonymous said...

Wow, Anna! As always, your words are so lovely and uplifting. Reading this I was reminded of a tweet I read by Pope Francis. (I am Catholic. Isn't our Pope cool? He tweets!) "We ought never to lose hope. God overwhelms us with his grace, if we keep asking." Pope Francis. These words describe you and your family perfectly. Your eyes, ears, hearts and wide open to Him awaiting signs of His and Jack's love. And He does not disppoint. I have no doubt that when all of you arrive at the pearly gates you will hear those words that all us Christians long to hear, "well done, good and faithful servent!" I marvel and Jack's psalm. I am absolutely blown away that a young boy would write such thoughtful, heart-filled words. There is no doubt God needs him for something important right now. I can only imagine the Mansion He has prepared for all of you-continuing to be His good and faithful servents in the midst of such loss. May God continue to lift all of you up and I can't wait to read your book. You insoire me! I love you, Anna. Karen from Memphis

Anonymous said...

Great photo of the bird, and great window seat, too.

I echo what others have already said about how significant the visit to the Lego store was. It truly was an act of strength and courage.

What a wonderful accomplishment for Liz and the other runners. Hopefully they're resting up and taking good care of themselves, all of them. It's neat that she looks up verses based on her bib number. I would never have thought of that, but that's a great idea.

Anonymous said...

PS I wouldn't want to pry, E in Vermont, but if you're reading this, I hope that you're doing okay as you face some very serious life challenges. Wishing you peace.

cynthiasolc said...

Praise be to God!

I too am so grateful for the gift of running as prayer. Also, for knowing that we can offer everything we do throughout our daily life to God.

I wanted to share this prayer with you, which is included in the Original Mother's Manual. It brings me such peace each time I read it.

To a Child in Heaven

My darling, you have gone to heaven to be eternally happy, and are now in joy in the company of the holy innocents there. It was a thing hard for me to understand when you were taken from my arms, for parting with you has caused me grief that few can know. Yet in all my grief I am happy, very happy for you, because I know the joy that is yours. Your joy is now my joy, too, because I can always feel that I had a part in bringing it to you. Now that you are in heaven, I realize that you are mine in a truer sense than you could ever be on earth. I cannot lose you now through sin. While parting with you was hard, I would not wish you back because I know that you are happier than I could ever make you here with me.
Help me, as you now can with your intercession that I may be completely faithful to all my duties here on earth merit to receive you again in eternal joy where there will be no more sorrow or parting from those we love.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, lover of little children,
Hear my prayer!

joyfulchallenge said...

Goosebumps. Beautiful!
Way to go, Mom, on going to the Lego store. I know that had to be hard.

Anonymous said...

The bird flying in gave me tears, of course it was Jack. And that passage from Luke so similar to Jack's psalm - oh my! There are no coincidences. Much love from Amanda xxx

Stimey said...

Wow! So many LEGOs! What a wonderful, amazing thing! Congratulations to you and to Jack's Lanterns. Huge accomplishments, all—including walking into that store. As always, love to you

Anonymous said...

Hello, I don't know you but I read your blog. I wanted you to know that right after my father passed away suddenly, my mother opened her side door and a bird flew into the house. The bird flew to the large front window and sat there quite awhile. It then flew back to the side door and my mother opened it and it flew out. It was quite a peaceful experience (considering a bird flapping hysterically around your house is the typical "bird in the house" story). My mother believes it was my Dad letting her know he was OK. I hope that little bird who visited you was a peaceful reminder that Jack is watching over you and is OK.

Unknown said...

Your faith is inspiring and he was a tremendous young man.

Anonymous said...

Oh this is so weird and I hope I don't sound like a total freak but I you and your family on my mind when I was falling asleep last night. I was thinking of you feeling bewildered about Jack being in the water and that you should do something super hero-ish but couldn't. Then I fell asleep and I dreamed about a bird being inside our apartment. It had perched itself on a shelf in my kitchen then I realized there was a kitten inside so I was protecting the bird from the kitten, then I realized I'd lost track of the bird and freaked out that the kitten had killed it but it hadn't, they were just sitting together on the it was weird to read this on your blog that you really did have a bird in your house!

Sybil@PeaceitallTogether said...

What a talented writer Jack was...just like his mom :) God has and will continue to do great things for you!

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Wow, look at all those Lego's, it is all so beautiful and the little "Jack" bird was such a blessing, then the verse.....God is good!

Unknown said...

Love this! Going into the Lego Store is HUGE!

Andrea Mowery said...

What a beautiful post, Anna. I love Jack's poem. You are blessed by this boy and the love he continues to bring to your life. Much love and prayers to you.

Unknown said...

These are great things indeed, dear, dear friend.

Kim Poncin said...

The bird in the house....I mean it's just so amazing. So thankful that you share these little signs with us and don't merely shrug them off as coincidence. Jack is still with you all in spirit. How could he not be, when you as a family, do so many great things in his name?!
You are right when you said God did great things for Jack in his short life. The greatest of all of those is that he put Jack in a family who would love him so fiercely for all of his days on this Earth and who still love and honor him as He sits alongside His heavenly Father.
Sending you all a huge hug from Purcellville.

LisaAR said...

This gives me chills--good chills! I do believe God allows for signs to comfort us and bring us peace, and from the bird to the verse, I see that here. How beautiful.

I continue to think of and pray for you and your family.