Thursday, December 31, 2009


I guess, or at the very least hope, that faith is what this year has been about.

I started it with faith that we still could possibly adopt a little girl from Kyrgyzstan, but knowing that it probably wouldn't happen and to build our family, we'd need to have a few other plans in place.

One of those plans required more that God would finally bless us with a miracle and that the miracle of modern medical intervention would help. Friends, that faith was hard, after so many, many years of disappointment. Though some days it may not have seemed like it though, faith was what I had. Faith that I was destined to be a mother. Somehow.

When we found out we were pregnant, I had faith. Faith that it would be ok. Faith that God ordained this baby and faith that He was nothing less than a God-given answer to years and years of prayers.

When we found out about his kidney, I was scared, but I had faith. Faith in what the doctors said, faith in what I read, and faith that still, God had given this child to me and it was going to be ok. And it was.

When he seemed too small, I had faith. Faith again that Dr. Sweeney knew what he was talking about and all would be fine. Faith that if I just took it easy, continued to eat well and focused on nothing but growing and nourishing Matthew, he'd be healthy and happy. And he was.

When we were in the hospital, I had faith. I had faith that I was in the care of incredible people and that I was merely hours away from the most incredible gift--finally, kissing and holding Matthew.

When Dr. Shonekan realized something was wrong, and they were wheeling me in the OR at warp speed, I had faith. I prayed to God, out loud and for each hand that touched my body--each person who was contributing to bringing Matthew out and each person caring for him. I prayed God would guide their hands and lead them to success. And He did.

When Matthew was born, and the room was eerily quiet and they were doing CPR on Matthew, I had faith. I kept telling John, the nurses, the doctors, myself--anyone who would listen--that Matthew would be fine. "He'll be fine." "He's going to be fine." "He's a fighter. He's strong. He's God's child. He's going to be fine. He's ordained. He's going to be fine." But he wasn't.

When they brought him into my recovery room before they put him in the helicopter, and the Georgetown NICU doctor tried to tell me that my baby was very sick and they were going to try some procedure, I barely listened because I had FAITH he was going to be ok. She didn't know what she was talking about. He was going to be FINE. I felt it with every inch of my body. When I touched his face and his shoulder, and felt the softest skin I'd ever felt, I had faith that there would be some issues we'd have to face, but he'd survive and I was ready to check myself out of the hospital that minute to go up to Georgetown with him and John.

When mom and Connie came in and told me that John had called...and it wasn't good...I felt like I had been literally ripped apart and stabbed with burning pokers. And I felt, right then and there, my faith...gone. Shattered. Destroyed.

I wasn't even bitter, yet....more stunned. Totally and wholeheartedly STUNNED that this had happened. My faith had moved a mountain, I thought, and THIS was how it turned out? Absolutely unacceptable to me. Period.

And yes, the questions began. But not the ones everyone thought I was asking. I wasn't asking, "Why?" I wasn't asking, "Why us?" Not even curious about the reasons this happened. questions were bigger, harder, scarier and worse. "WHERE?" "WHERE ARE YOU GOD?" "WHERE ARE YOU????????" "WHERE IS MY BABY?" The thought I hate the most? "I don't even know if you are real. All these years of belief...all these years of living for what I thought was YOU and I don't even know if you are real. And if you aren't, then Heaven isn't. And if Heaven is, where is it? And WHERE ARE YOU?"

This is what some might nonchalantly call a crisis of faith, but to me, it's so much more. It's the difference between life and death.

So, the days and weeks that I've been living recently have still been riddled with dark and scary questions and I feel like, for my own sanity's sake, I have to try and answer some of them before I close this book. These thoughts may ramble, but humor me and skip them if you like, as they really are for me to remember and look at in dark minutes and times. I have this picture in my head--that this is all a test...a test of whether or not I'd hold to the promise I made to God. He called me on it, and He's now seeing how I react--and I'm embarrassed and ashamed of myself so many days because I doubt I'm doing as I promised Him I'd do. But in this picture, it's about a year from now, and I am able to look back at these days and see God SCREAMING at me, "HERE I AM." So that's what I'm working toward...friends, please pray that I am able to find this success.

  • One of the first 'signs' that God may have sent was when we went to pick out a site for Matthew's burial. We looked at a couple of places, and then mom said, "Well, look...there's a butterfly. That must mean this is the spot." Butterflies hold a special place in my heart, for I always think of my mom when I see them. But to see one, on a cold November was like my mom was saying, "Yep, this is a good spot."

  • Of course, the 'angel wing' at church on Matthew's funeral was a big one.

  • The first person I told I was pregnant was Hannah Pratz, our school nurse. The first person I saw when we pulled into the parking lot for the funeral was Hannah Pratz. I have not seen her in months, yet she was the first person I saw.

  • The church was FILLED with people...people I knew and didn't. God's army of angels in full force.

  • A special woman who lost several children, and who I thought had a different purpose in our life turned out to be a Godsend and comfort to me. She sent me a precious bracelet the morning of the funeral, and I realized our paths and worlds were even smaller than I thought.

  • As I said, I asked John for days, "Where is Heaven? Where IS it?" One day, randomly, John brought home a book one of his co-workers (another Marine, and let me tell you how truly humbled we have been by the amazing and faithful support of fellow Marine/Navy families) gave was Randy Alcorn's 'HEAVEN' if God wrote me a note Himself.

  • The Saturday after the funeral, I still was asking "Where is my Matthew? Where is Heaven?" and lo and behold, a beautiful dish garden was delivered and was from some dear friends of ours. Inside, there was a beautiful angel statue and it said, "Angels are always near to those who are grieving to let them know their loved ones are safe in the arms of God." God telling me Matthew was safe in the arms of God.

  • I picked up Hanging on To Hope by Nancy Guthrie. I have had this book for years. I've started it and stopped it. Never got past a few pages...but the week Matthew died, I picked it up, restarted it, realized that she lost not one but two babies and her book was meant for me. I never even realized her grief was like all the years I've had the book. John and I now do her daily devotional before we go to bed.

  • In her introduction, Nancy mentions that her sister-in-law had suffered tragedy and Nancy had asked how she got through it. "Manna" was the answer...God provided her daily manna. The next day, John and I were in Chick-fil-A and he went to the restroom while I waited in the lobby. There, in a stack above the trashcans, were several newspapers. The title? MANNA...Good News From Heaven. Seriously, how often do you hear the word Manna, much less in two different days and situations?

  • I also read another book a dear friend sent, A Grace Disguised. One day I came to the part where he said he chose to believe in a bigger picture. I was moved by that paragraph, and before I went to bed, changed that to my FB status. Then, when we went to bed and did the devotional, Nancy's devotion for the day used the term, "the bigger picture" with regard to God's plan and how we fit in it. John even said, "Don't you see that as a sign?"

  • People email or call or send a FB message at EXACTLY the right time. Constantly. I'm just amazed...

  • A good friend sent me the perfect Bible verse: John 11:40--Did I not tell you if you believed, you would see the glory of God? He sent this after my FB status was "Lori Ennis is surrounded by angels." I made that my status because I received a blanket from old friends at a special school I used to teach at...randomly and lovingly sent by people I haven't 'seen' in years but are still part of a legion of angels God sent.

  • Today has been a rough day. Driving home from my appointments this morning, I just cried out to God, "I'm TRYING! I AM TRYING, God....don't you see how desperate I am? Don't you see how desperately I am trying to believe, have faith and glorify you? I AM TRYING, God...I AM TRYING."

What song comes on, less than a minute later? This, by Kutless:

What Faith Can Do
Everybody falls sometimes
Gotta find the strength to rise
From the ashes and make a new beginning
Anyone can feel the ache
You think it’s more than you can take
But you are stronger, stronger than you know
Don’t you give up now
The sun will soon be shining
You gotta face the clouds
To find the silver lining

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
And I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do

It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard
Impossible is not a word
It’s just a reason for someone not to try
Everybody’s scared to death
When they decide to take that step
Out on the water
It’ll be alright
Life is so much more
Than what your eyes are seeing
You will find your way
If you keep believing

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
And I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do

Overcome the odds
You don't have a chance
(That’s what faith can do)
When the world says you can’t
It’ll tell you that you can!

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
And I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do
That's what faith can do!
Even if you fall sometimes
You will have the strength to rise

Friends, I have seen miracles happen this year. My son, my precious and beautiful son was given to me and I became a mother. That's what faith can do. That's what I will cling to in 2010.

Matthew, this ends your book....but never your place in my heart or our family. In posts and writings to come, you will be mentioned and loved...cherished and remembered. I wish more than anything in the world I had you with me, but know that even if you aren't, you will never be more precious to me than you are as my first child. My miracle, my monkey, my wiggle-worm. And if people really love me, they'll remember you to me as well...the thought of you brings me joy and I don't ever want to lose that.

Thank you, Lord, for the miracle of my son. I am forever grateful.


  1. Lori I have no words other than faith. Have faith that things have to get better. I hold you in my heart and think of you constantly. Love ya!

  2. Lori, Faith has been on my mind and heart as well. I keep you, John and Matthew in my heart. Love sent from your virtual friend. B

  3. I will remember Matthew with you and to you. He is as dear to my heart as you are sweet friend. I love your heart and I thank our Father for you. The new year holds much for your story and I can't wait to be a part of it. Thank you for honoring me with the gift of your story.

  4. Faith is so critical and important to me as well. It is my daughter's middle name also for good reason. Faith in the Lord will see you through this. It's ok to question because you're human. But God is faithful and fully reliable. He has proven that in my life over and over again and He will keep doing that for you as well. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Heb. 11:1 I'm so glad you have your faith to sustain you right now and am praying your testimony will encourage and strengthen others. You are a gifted writer. Thanks for sharing. Matthew was such a gift and so precious. May God grant you the desires of your heart in 2010!

  5. Lori:

    Sometimes I think it may take my whole life to learn what faith really is, and what it means to trust God. Or maybe it is just that God continues to give us new opportunities to trust him in new ways because he is at work for good in our lives.

    Sharing your sorrow in the loss of your precious Matthew, and holding on to hope with you—


  6. So as I cry once again over your post, I pray, asking God to give you comfort and strength, and now also to bolster your faith.

    1 Peter 1:6-7 (NIV) In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith -— of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire -— may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

  7. Lori,

    It is easy to praise God when everything is going right, it isn't as easy when things seem to have gone terribly wrong. Despite feeling like you don't know where God has gone at times, you've continued to seek Him and you've continued to praise him when it's hurt. He is holding on to you, and He won't let go! You are in my prayers, and I will remember Matthew with you too.


  8. A beautiful, introverted look into your heart. It was almost too personal for me to read. I felt like it was a conversation, a spiritual war, if you will, between you and God. I'd glad you felt you could share it. God knows so well how to make Himself real to us in ways we can "get". I still remember the dream I had about Ellie one night and blogged about it and it turned out it was the night she was born. He is REAL, Lori, so very real. I can't imagine that I would be any place other than where you are right now, though. I know He will lead you through it. You'll always be in my heart, as will Matthew. We, your friends, promise to never forget.

  9. Lori -
    you are an amazing, loving, incredible faith filled woman -- you have moved the angels who surround you more than you know -- you, John, and Matthew -- your story will echo in our hearts and minds, and your faith and your choice to continue to look forward and find your next miracle is nothing short of inspirational -- while this book is closing, i know that another is opening, and on the library of life, the two will sit next to each other and always be in your heart. May 2010 bring you what you truly deserve -

  10. This is such a beautiful post, and you describe so perfectly so many of my own thoughts, questions, and frustrations. I too started questioning God, even His existence, and it was only because the existence of this world without God didn't make sense to me that I keep fighting to believe. I'm still fighting - every single day I remind myself "I DO believe" as if repeating myself will erase all doubt. All I know is that I'm thankful that God only requires mustard-seed faith, because at times that's all I can muster.

    Thinking of you...

  11. Dear Lori,
    We will always remember Matthew with you and to you. We were so excited to experience the journey to Matthew with you. My heart broke for you when Matthew went home to our Father. Our excitement and joy for you as you start this new chapter for your family, will not replace the love we have grown for you and your Matthew.

    I'm so excited to see what God has in store for you in 2010. May God bless you and hold you tight as you travel this new road. I hope 2010 brings some healing to your broken heart and new joy in the form of a sister or brother for your Matthew.

    By the way, I like your new blog design... very sweet!

    Happy 2010!

  12. So hard to comment on this one through the tears I have of feeling your pain. I've never experienced writing so movable. Someone out there needs your will be able to help them, I just know it! I know that can't be comforting knowing God will use you to help someone. But, as Alisa was there for you, you'll be able to tearfully, cheerfully hold someone else's hand.

    It's evident He has not forsaken you. He knows and feels your pain and He loves you!


  13. Lori, We have never met but we have several mutual friends. I have been reading your blog and praying for you constantly.

    I had been hesitant to give you this link to another blog but after reading this post I think you would really enjoy it and get a lot out of it. A friend of mine lost his wife shortly after the birth of their daughter this year. The loss is different - it was his wife, not his child. But his faith has been tested similarly to you. My dilemma is more that you will find pictures of his baby and I wonder if that would be painful for you to see. But I think that his words about his faith, and particularly his healing and moving forward make it a good match for you. His most recent post talks about time, and counting the days since his wife died, and what that means. The daily grappling between brain and heart. And of course the age old question about whether things will ever seem normal again after a tragedy.

    As someone who has lost two babies myself (and I also did IVF at Shady Grove and saw the WONDERFUL Dr. Sweeny during my recent pregnancy) I can understand how fragile you are and how one thing might be healing and another damaging. If you don't enjoy the blog, please accept my apologies. I know how hard it is to see things related to parenting when you just lost your own child, your mind, soul, lifeline :(.

    Here is the blog:

    I am going to message you on Facebook. I live in Great Mills and also work in education (in Calvert County). I am good friends with Amanda Walker and would love to make you a dinner or meet you for coffee or whatever you need.


  14. I do not personally know you, Lori, but our hearts & lives are entwined when you joined the group you spoke of , that of mothers who have lost children. I have been following your blog and want you to know you are never far from my thoughts. I don't know why it's comforting that strangers email you, but it is! Our funeral was also filled with people I'd never met. I was awestruck by the outpouring of love and I'm so glad you are experiencing that warmth now. Faith is so hard right now, but like you said, examples are everywhere. God amazes me with those things. I still experience them now, 8 years later. I am glad you have faith for Matthew's siblings...that's all that kept me going for years.

  15. Lori,
    Your post spoke to my heart. I have been at the point of asking God the hard questions of "where are you? do I believe in you?" We lost 3 unborn children before adopting internationally. The pain is gut wrenching, but we also saw many miracles along the way. Your story inspires and witnesses to others. That is a miracle, too! We continue to pray for your family.