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Friday, February 26, 2010

Ransom's Story, Part 1

Ok wow. I wrote A LOT during this time. I'm going to have to divide it into more readable parts. I'm also leaving out the Extreme Makeover story, which is and isn't related. I also realized that I can't share Ransom's story without sharing Aspen's, so it begins with the loss of Ransom and ends with the birth of Aspen. Enjoy!

The entries are separated by the bolded titles, and took place over many months. (I should've found the dates, but I'm telling you, I wrote A LOT.)

HE GIVES AND TAKES AWAY


Friends and Family,

Today we went for an ultrasound to find out the sex of our baby. Instead, we learned that our baby’s heart had stopped beating and that our baby is with Jesus. Obviously, we are grieving and devastated by this loss. However, we desperately want to praise our Lord in this storm and thank Him for the brief life He entrusted to us. Because our child is too old to miscarry, we will soon choose a day to induce labor and deliver our baby. We have not decided how we want this day to take place, so please pray for wisdom and guidance. We ask that you allow us a couple of days of privacy as we grieve.

We do not want the loss of this child to be a secret. Please share our story with anyone and everyone you know who can pray for us as we walk through this difficult time.

To my dear sweet pregnant friends, please know that my loss does not at all diminish the joy and excitement I feel about the impending births of your children. I am so excited to meet your little ones!

We will likely plan a memorial service soon after delivery and will make you aware of the details.

Thank you so much for loving us.

Blessed be His name,

Jennifer, Quincy, & Ephraim

LABOR AND DELIVERY

Dear Friends and Family,

We wanted to let you know about the upcoming labor and delivery of our little one.

Tuesday morning at 7:00 a.m. we will go to St. Luke’s Hospital to be induced.

We want to let all of you know that you are welcome to be at the hospital, in the waiting room, at your workplaces, or in your homes but still with us… praying for us, praising God, reading the Psalms and praying them over us. We plan to try to read through the Psalms as we labor. We know that this will be one of the most difficult days of our lives but strongly desire to experience the fullness of it. We realized that we will not experience the joys and pains of raising this child but we are so blessed to have the opportunity to experience the labor and birth of this child. Most of you know our views and opinions on natural childbirth and how powerful and magnificent Ephraim’s labor was. With that in mind, we realize this labor can and will be just as powerful and magnificent. We will be given medicine in order to be induced but we will not accept pain medication. We want to feel the fullness of the experience. As this will be our first, and God-willing, only hospital birth, please pray for compassionate nurses and medical staff who will respect our wishes not to be offered pain medication. We aren’t sure yet whether we will invite you to come into the room as we labor but we may ask some of you to join us at particular moments. We obviously don’t know what to expect so please don’t be offended if we decide to just be alone. The labor may be an all-day experience so feel free to come and go if you need to do so. Don’t be afraid to bring your babies around us. The gift of life is so precious and we are enormously grateful for the lives of all those around us, lifting our arms up in this time. Please don’t feel pressured to be at the hospital. Be where the Lord leads you to be. We trust and believe that He has our best interests at heart.

We are hurting… but we are praising God for this pain.

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains…” C.S. Lewis

We are desperate and already grateful for the shout of God.

We will try to send you details about the memorial service sometime tomorrow.

Ever hopeful,

Jennifer, Quincy, and Ephraim

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BABY

Dear Friends & Family,

We are ready to see you. God has used these past couple of days to draw us near to Him, give us comfort, peace, and a new perspective.

Our family has a tradition of making a special cake for each of our birthdays. This cake is made for no other reason. We found a recipe for “Sweet Baby Carrot Cake” and have chosen this for our little angel. We are going to whip up a couple of these cakes and open our home to our friends and family for the celebration of this baby’s life. On Monday, November 24, 2008, from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., you are welcome to drop in, have some cake, and celebrate with us. We do not want this to be a time of sadness, but of rejoicing. Since this will probably be our baby’s only birthday “party,” we are asking that you bring a gift. Please bring a pair of new or gently used shoes in a children’s or adult size. Our family and church have been collecting shoes for children in need. We know that our loss can be a wonderful opportunity to collect and give to those in need, in honor of our little one. Please keep in mind that these shoes are for children who are old enough to walk and have no shoes. The first group of shoes is going to Ethiopia. (We will also ask you to bring a pair of shoes to the memorial service, which is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, November 27, 2008 at 10:00 a.m. at Parkwood Baptist Church. We should be able to confirm this tomorrow.)

Thank you so much for the outpouring of support we have received from you all. Thank you for your prayers. We are so grateful.

We just realized today that this email/post is not going to a “comprehensive” list of people so, please feel free to forward this and our previous emails/posts to anyone we may have missed, anyone who can be praying for us, or anyone who can benefit from our story. We are walking this path alongside the Body, not apart from it.

In Him,

Jennifer, Quincy, and Ephraim

MEMORIAL SERVICE

Dear Friends & Family,

The memorial service for our baby has been officially scheduled for Saturday, November 29, 2008 at 10:00 a.m. at Parkwood Baptist Church. All are welcome to attend.

We invite you to bring a pair of new or gently used shoes for a child in need, in honor of our little one. We would like to focus our efforts on shoe sizes that would fit school-age children to adults.

We welcome you to bring your children to the service if you would like to do so.

We thank you for your love and support in this difficult time and look forward to worshiping with you on Saturday morning.

Much Love,

Jennifer, Quincy, & Ephraim

LABOR OF LOVE

Dear Friends and Family,

We just wanted to share a little glimpse of the greatness of our God with all of you. There are many amazing and wonderful things that God has done for us during and even before this time, some of which you will hear about at Saturday’s memorial service, should you choose to attend, so we won’t spoil those surprises. We did just want to tell you a little bit of our labor experience and let you know that words cannot possibly explain what we experienced.

Yesterday was a long day. We thought and hoped that the labor would start and progress much earlier than it did. There were emotional and spiritual ups and downs throughout the waiting time, although a very prevalent sense of peace was with us throughout the day. Contractions began to be regular as we were reading the Psalms. As the contractions became more difficult, I began saying the name of Jesus over and over again. I asked Jesus to carry me, many, many times. He did. At the very brief, but most difficult point, in labor I began to weep. I remember saying, “My baby is gone.” I remember praying that Jesus would take care of my baby and that He would help me let go, let me say goodbye. Just as quickly as those brief moments of crying began, they ended with an overwhelming sense of God’s peace. I felt like I could see my baby as he was, perfect and holy, and with the Lord. I knew that his life in eternity was much more magnificent than anything he could ever have on this earth. I began thanking God and praising Him for His glory and His goodness. It was sort of an out-of-body experience but, I feel like I pretty much thanked God for everything that I could think of… I know that I thanked God for labor. I realize that many of you see things differently than we do but, I am so grateful that I got to have this labor without pain medication. Pain truly does draw us closer to God. I was in His presence. He descended on that place. When I started to run out of words, I thought of the song, “So High.” Here are the lyrics.

These are just words
and are not enough to contain You
Jesus just words
and can never suffice
To acclaim You
Father just words and I have so few
I run out too fast
To speak them to You
Father just words and I have so few
I run out too fast
To speak them to You

You are indescribable
You are beyond expression
And I run out of words for You
I cant think that high
So hear my spirit groan in me
A painful sense of urgency
To tell You that You are to me
So high

You are so high
You are so high
You are so high
You are so high

I told Quincy to play the song and to play it loudly. God gave me a peace that, by the end of this song, it would be finished. As the song played, I raised my hands to the Father, we sang and praised Him, and Ransom’s body was born into the world. It was not hard to say goodbye to this body because God had allowed me to see my child as he really is, perfect and holy, and with the Lord.

We encountered God in a way that we never imagined. Labor was not hard, it was beautiful. I told some of the friends and family who came into the room after the birth that I had thought this was going to be the most difficult day of my life, but it was the most magnificent. God was present. He still is present. We are basking in His glory and thanking Him for loving us so much.

We hope that you can praise the Lord of Hosts alongside us. We also want you to know that all the glory belongs to the Lord. We are capable of nothing. The Holy Spirit within us is capable of everything. Give God the glory.

Because of Him,

Jennifer, Quincy, Ephraim, & Ransom

THE MEMORIAL SERVICE

Dear Friends & Family,

The memorial service today was beautiful and exactly what we needed. For those of you who could not attend but have already asked us about it, below is what was shared and done.

Thank You,

Jennifer, Quincy, Ephraim, & Ransom

(PRAYER BY MARK FOSTER)

Hello friends and family. Thank you for joining with us today. I am Mark Foster, co-pastor of the Mosaic church, and friend to the Richardson family.

The Richardson's have asked me to share their words with you today, so that is what I will be doing.

First, if you know the Richardson family, you know that they do things together. They want Ephraim, their toddler, to be with them throughout the service… just as they would like for your children to remain with you if you so wish. With that in mind, please don't be distracted by the cry, squeal, or laugh of any child in this room. Don't feel the need to leave. Instead, we ask that you use that moment to praise God for the lives of the children amongst us. They will be doing the same.

The Richardsons want thank you all for your love and support through what has been the most difficult challenge they have ever faced. God continues to teach them that this journey of faith is not meant to be walked alone and they recognize that you have carried them through this time with your love and prayers. They specifically would like to thank Parkwood Baptist Church for opening their doors for this memorial service. They would also like to thank the Mosaic church, their home church family, for all of their love and support.

Several years ago they chose to trust God with the size of their family. They believe, as scripture says, that "children are a gift from the Lord, and that the man who has many is blessed." They did not understand the fullness of that decision until this baby. Through this experience, they realized that, if they trust God with life, they must also trust Him with death. Although they are deeply grieved by the loss of their beloved child, they have chosen to trust rather than blame the One who gives and takes away. They know that their child is with Jesus, and they further know that they will be with him again. This is why they can smile through the tears, and rejoice in sorrow. They do not grieve as those who have no hope.

Though the life of Ransom Everett Richardson was very brief, the Richardson family believes very firmly that God will use his life in a mighty way. God has already drawn them nearer to Himself, reminding them that He is the only perfect parent, and that He too, knows the anguish of losing a son. God did not choose them without a full and compassionate understanding of what He was asking from this family.

The Richardson family entered the hospital on November 25th with great concern about the impending labor and birth of the body of their son. God, in His infinite wisdom, took a day that they both thought would be the worst of their lives, and made it the most magnificent. They encountered God in a way that they never imagined. Labor was not hard, it was beautiful. God was present. He is still present. They have been blessed of God to be able to bask in his glory in the midst of their sorrow.

Early on in this pregnancy, the Richardson's chose the name Ransom, because of a book that they both love by C. S. Lewis. At that time, they did not know that their little son would also be a modern-day Ransom, and that God would use a sacrifice once again, to draw the hearts of the fallen close to Himself.

On the occasion of Ephraim's birth, on April 20, 2007, Quincy prayed the following prayer over his son, which you may recognize as Luke 1:13-17.

To Our Wonderful Maker on the occasion of the birth of our son, we pray that Ephraim will be a joy and delight to You and that many may rejoice because of his birth. May he be great in Your sight, Oh Lord. May he be filled with Your Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. We pray that he will bring many back to You, their God and that he would go forth in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for You, our Great Lord.

This same prayer was prayed again on November 25, 2008, over Ransom Everett, at his birth.

It is the greatest hope of the Richardson family that the life and death of this little one would be used to turn the hearts of many toward the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They are praying that, through this life, God will heal broken marriages and families. They are praying that God will encourage those of you who have not yet fully committed, to commit, and to run this race with reckless abandon, because in the end, the greatest things we will have done are the things we did for God's glory. They are praying that those of you who don't yet know God in an intimate way will unrelentingly seek after Him and the irrational hope and peace He gives. They are praying that God will give you a new understanding of pain, that you will no longer ask the question, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" but instead, you will know that "all things work together for the good of those who are called according to His purpose." They firmly believe that this loss, though devastating, is for good. It is for their good and for His glory. They know that their God loves them beyond measure and always has their best interests at heart.

Because they believe that this life is about something much greater than themselves, the Richardsons want you to know that should you, or anyone you know, experience something similar, they are completely available. If you have questions for them about the choices they have made, from the decision to allow God to determine the size of their family, to the decision to labor naturally with this birth and all of their births, they are more than happy to talk with you. They want you to know that they are available and that this story is not their own, but all of ours to share. They also want you to know that they want to talk about Ransom, his life, his death, and his birth. It would be unnatural for them to "just move on" or forget this little life. They want to share their story with you. They do not want you to feel like you should avoid the topic with them. In fact, avoiding it is worse than sharing it. Please give them opportunities to share with you.

One of the many gifts that God has given to them throughout this ordeal came in a dream. During the week that their baby went to be with Jesus, before they were aware of it, Jennifer had a dream. In the dream, she labored and gave birth to a baby boy in the hospital. The baby was so happy. He was smiling in a way that a newborn does not smile. He was laughing and joyful. He was also very tiny. Jennifer awoke from the dream very happy that morning. She thought it was unusual that she'd had the baby in a hospital, as they were planning to have him at home, but otherwise, thought the dream was so special and sweet. She immediately told Quincy of her dream. When she told Quincy that the baby was tiny, he remarked that "that wasn't good," but she reassured him that their little boy, though tiny, was so happy and perfect, that it was good. God gave them this peace and this vision before they even needed it. Ransom is indeed happy and perfect… and it is good.

Many of you have shared encouraging words with them and told them that you would not be able to handle something this difficult. They want you to know that they are not handling it. The Spirit of God within them, the same Spirit that is within you if you know Christ, is handling it. They have realized that that Spirit, through them, is capable of far more than they imagined and they want you to know that the same is true for you. We truly can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. They now ask that you stand, sit, kneel, lay prostrate, or do whatever you need to do to worship the one and only true God alongside them.

(We sangs the songs below and praised our God. Crystal surprised us by adding "So High" to the list and singing it for us. We were so moved by that gift of love.

Blessed be your name
Solid Rock
Come Thou Fount
Alone in the Silence
Beauty of The Lord
Hosanna
Marvelous Light
Sometimes

Thank you for being with us today and celebrating the life of the Richardson's beloved child, Ransom. If you weren't able to bring a pair of shoes today, or if you did, and want to help further in the future, you can make a donation to Tied Together through the Mosaic Church. Now go and glorify God with every moment of your lives!

(In Christ Alone)

2 comments:

  1. We lost our son years ago, 5 1/2 months into the pregancy. Very similar to your situation. The baby died in my womb, and we had to go to the hospital to deliver him. Only my husband and I didn't have an invitation for our families to join us, nor did we have a memorial service. I realize now that we should have done that. After 'Alex' was born, the nurse brought him to us in a pan. A pan! I regret that our beautiful son was not brought into the world in a celebration of love like you did for your son. Thank you for showing me how even a devastating event like this can be handled with grace and love...

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  2. Oh Deborah, I'm sorry I'm just now reading this. (I haven't totally mastered blogworld yet.) I'm sorry you lost your little Alex, but I'm so thankful that he's with Jesus. He had a sweet, beautiful life - he went straight from the comfort of his mommy's womb to the arms of his savior. What could be better!?!??! :) MUCH LOVE!

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