Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"Celebration of Zoe Carr"

Well here we are...you and I...friends to the bitter end. Slightly over-the-top, but I heard the big swell in the music and got carried away. Although, I'm pretty sure I could get emotional hearing bagpipes right now...so take that with a grain of salt. (You're still stuck on the fact that I'm hearing music in my head, aren't you? In full disclosure, that's the least of my hang-up's...so be grateful for the filter I'm now choosing to activate.)

I could go into the intricate details about what made this momma emotional today, but I'll just tiptoe in for now. Some friends came over to help me get the house in order after Hurricane Hospital, and although I hadn't necessarily planned to do so, we went through and gathered Zoe's things. We took turns being strong. I was so grateful to have them here with me. We will just leave it at that. 

Another thing we're doing may sound odd to you, but I decided I wanted to do the final touches on the room as planned before Zoe's last trip to the hospital. She'd so looked forward to having her new quilt from Aunt 'Nita...and her very own name on the wall...and a special wall with all the pictures of each and every extended family member so she and Zane could learn who everybody was. So...before it becomes just Bubba's room...we're finishing the "twins" room. Some day I will share some pics, but for now, I wanted to share something far more personal...our life with Zoe.

Chris and our friend, Tim Svoboda, made this video to celebrate Zoe's life...we showed it at the conclusion of Zoe's memorial service. 

For those of you that were there, I hope you enjoy this window into our world once again.  

For those who weren't able to attend, I would humbly ask that you curl up on the couch for the next 7 minutes, grab a kleenex...or 5...and spend some time remembering Zoe with us...we will never forget.

Zoe's Memorial Video

Monday, June 24, 2013


Calm down. Step away from the phone. Nobody's calling the men in white coats. 

I'm not hallucinating...but I guarantee I've "seen" more of Zoe in these past couple weeks than anybody EVER saw Elvis. Dude...you know who you are...move on people.

Let me explain.  In the midst of our heartache and intense sorrow since Zoe's death, we've asked the Lord consistently to allow us just a small peak into what He's accomplishing through Zoe's death. We realize we may never fully understand the impact her death had on those that knew her, but that doesn't stop us from asking. I wanted to share some of those moments with you tonight.

Another reason for this post is that today was one of those "eat-everything-chocolate-in-the-house" days. Yes, it started at Walmart again. What can I tell ya...clearly I spend too much time there. It ended with us stopping by the cemetery briefly as we found ourselves driving right by...it was our first time there since the burial. The filler of my day was equally emotional...hence my need to be reminded of a sovereign God working, specifically through Zoe's death.  

A little girl I've never really spoken to much came up to me last week at Bryce's baseball game and asked me, "Why did that girl die?" I fully expected to start sobbing, but God gave grace, and I was able to hold it together. I said, "Well, she was born with a very sick heart, but God kept her alive until we brought her into our family. The doctors tried to help her heart, but they couldn't make it all better. So now she's with Jesus, and it is all better." Maybe it was the innocence of a child...or maybe another miracle...but it was comforting to hear those words coming out of my own mouth, and who knows how He'll use it in her life.

A couple days ago, we took little Zane to see his first movie, Monsters University. (Thought about that whole "trouble sleeping/fears" thing halfway through the movie...nice...we were the family that was ridiculously laughing at all the wrong places as we tried to convince Z that these monsters were just SOOOOO silly!!!! Parents of the year. Follow up: no ill effects noted.)  Anyway, as we were getting our loads of popcorn, a man stopped with his son and said, "Hey, I hate to bring up a difficult thing, but did you just lose a daughter?" Good grief...I tell you I had to swallow hard...but again the words just followed, "Yes, we did...that was us." He went on to explain that they were at someone's house from Ty's travel soccer team a few days earlier. He saw they had Zoe's obituary there, and he read the whole thing and has been praying for our family ever since. "I just can't imagine the pain you're going through, but please know that we are praying for you every day!"...a guy I met by the butter. 

One of the most exciting things to come from Zoe's funeral was the memorial fund that was established in Zoe's name at Swallow's Nest Home in China. We never could have dreamed or imagined that so many hearts would be led to give in Zoe's honor. To date, more than $3000 has been donated. This is both overwhelming and humbling for Chris and I. We are so thrilled to be apart of what God is so obviously doing through you.  It was so exciting to share the news with the home's director, and I wanted to share with you her response! God is so timely with his care for His children.

wow, that's wonderful and we so need it. We have ortho surgery coming up on one boy, undescended testicle on another, club feet on another and reverse colostomy on another......think of you everyday.....

We have literally heard from people all over the world about the impact Zoe's death and her memorial service has had on their own lives, as well as the lives of their church and/or family.  You don't even need to ask anymore if you can share our story or blog...please do so...if it can point any one toward Christ and reaching out to those in need, we are all for it.

Roughly a week after Zoe's death, we received the following email from a friend:

have been praying for your family. Tonight I was visiting with some friends in Iowa City and the wife is a doctor on the floor you all were all on. She did not personally work with Zoe, but everyone knew her and your family. She told me part of the story of how a year ago the staff started talking about her (you informed them possibly they were coming and checking out resources) and waiting for her to come. She also shared that most of the staff there weren't believers (she is) and that your reactions and love and hope was drastically different and has helped some of them question things to hopefully point to God. She shared that you were the second family within the last couple of years to really make a impact on the staff. The other family was also from the Burlington area, and they had lost their son a couple of years ago and were believing Catholics. 

We so appreciate every card, every prayer, every text from all of you...but on days like today, I'm even more grateful for the merciful hand of God reaching down to wipe my tears.  May you sense His presence as well, and may Zoe's life and death continue to make a unmistakable impact for the Kingdom. 

I can't help but imagine our princess sitting on the lap of her Jesus. They sing...they laugh...they give nose kisses...and as she cuddles in close, I can also see Him leaning forward, directly her attention, saying, "Because you're here with me, big things are going to happen, Zoe...Watch closely...I'm going to use BaBa's sermon to help that other Daddy teach his kids about Me...oh look, there's a man that's hearing about me for the first time...your friends from the orphanage are getting the surgery they need...there's your sweet nurse~she's realized she needs to get back in church ever since your sisters were singing to you in the hospital...here's another...and another...this may never end!" 

Zoe just giggles...and snuggles back in...she's never been happier. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Letter to Zoe's doctors and nurses from her Daddy

Dear University of Iowa Children’s Hospital Medical Team,

My family would like to express our immense gratitude for your efforts in caring for our daughter Zoe during her recent stay in the PICU. Our experience with the doctors, nurses, and staff was exceptional and words cannot fully express our thankfulness for your incredible skills, compassion, and service. We know that you did everything humanly possible to save Zoe’s life, and for this we will be eternally grateful.

As you have done so much to minister to our family, we would briefly like to attempt to do the same for you, although in a somewhat different way. We’d like to do so by explaining the reason we ended up in the PICU in the first place.

We know that there are those who wonder why a family of six would adopt a little girl with a serious heart condition and in many peoples eyes little chance of survival. The answer for us is very simple. We adopted Zoe, and her brother Zane because all six of us were orphans at one time as well. No, not physical orphans, but spiritual ones. As human beings, we are born sinners and as a result were separated from our Maker and heavenly Father, God himself. And despite the fact that at one time we wanted nothing to do with him, he decided to adopt us into his family. Romans 5:8 explains how he did this: “But God demonstrated his love towards us in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

I am sure you know that our adoption of Zane and Zoe has been costly – financially, physically, and now emotionally and spiritually. However, our adoption of the Z’s pales in comparison to what it cost God to adopt us. His price was the greatest ever – the life of His one and only perfect Son, Jesus Christ. On a Roman cross 2,000 years ago, Jesus died so that we could be adopted into God’s family and live with him forever.

This leads to another ‘why’ question we know many people are asking about Zoe. Why did God allow her to die? Why would he have us adopt her, only to take her away less than three months later? To be honest, we don’t know all of the reasons for what God is doing through her life and death. But here is what we do know. We know that Zoe has touched hundreds if not thousands of lives. We know that she has brought smiles to people all across the world. We know that many people have been drawn closer to God as they have offered countless prayers on her behalf. We know that Zoe has changed all six of us, and many more, for the good. Most importantly, we know that God has used Zoe to point people to their greatest need, a relationship with himself. 

Of course, despite all of this our hearts are still breaking. We love this little girl as if she has been a part of our family since birth. We are writing this the night before her funeral, knowing tomorrow will likely be the most difficult day we have ever experienced. But in the midst of our pain, we also have hope. You see, we are confident that Zoe is in heaven, and one day will be reunited with her. In reality, tomorrow we won’t say goodbye to Zoe, but only “see you later”. That’s because one day we will be reunited with her in heaven where we will live together as children of God forever. It is our sincere prayer that you have this same hope. If not, or if you are not sure, we would love to have the opportunity to talk with you more.

Once again, thank you for caring for our baby girl. We will forever be indebted to your efforts on her behalf.

In Christ Alone,

Chris, Eva, Landry, Bryce, Peyton, Ty, & Zane Carr

My Better Half Speaks

Zoe's BaBa hasn't been silent either since our angel went to be with Jesus.  I figured you might be ready for an Eva break...so I'm giving him a chance to speak...doesn't happen much around here. (As a matter of fact, our sweet nurse, Jenny, told Chris one day that she'd listened to about half of one of his sermons, and her initial response was, "WOW...I've never heard him talk this much before! I was shocked!" Chris replied without hesitating, "You know my family...I never get a word in around this bunch! On Sundays, I've got 45 minutes where they can't interrupt...I take full advantage.")

The Sunday after Zoe's funeral was Father's Day.  Chris preached the following sermon entitled, "Fatherhood in a Broken World."  I can unashamedly say that it's worth your time. 

Enjoy my silence...it won't last long! :)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Now That's a Mom...

On the flip side of my last post, we also saw the underbelly of the PICU life at times. 

I want to stress that the majority of our memories would be those of constant encouragement from every angle possible. But I wanted to give just a small amount of latitude to one of those "down" moments.  My goal is not to offend anyone, but to cause some introspection. 

As is the nature of the beast, we saw familiar faces daily...those whose head nods would speak volumes.  But there was also a daily influx of new faces with new stories that brought with them new heart aches.

It was one such person that caught my attention late one evening. As I sat down for a breather in the family lounge, I caught the tail end of her story. In hushed tones, she explained the state of their special patient. It seemed from the weary expressions and vocab that this PICU visit was another one of the surprises I've mentioned previously.

"...and this entire time, that mother has stayed right by her side...not leaving for one second...refusing to leave with any other family members...NOW THAT'S A MOM!"

I'm confident that this gal thought very highly of this mother, as did all the other gals seated around that table...or at least they seemed to affirm as such with their head nods and nonverbal acknowledgment.

It struck me as...off...as if implying the opposite would also be true...mom takes a break=not a good mom.

Granted these are extreme circumstances we're talking...parents aren't thinking straight...emotions run high. But can I humbly suggest that sometimes the most loving thing a mom (or dad) can do is step away?!? 

I'm not suggesting a shirking of responsibilities...not even hinting at a neglect of family in any way...actually not even remotely proposing the popular "Me Time." Just calm down and don't hate.

What I am suggesting is that the needs of EACH of your children are important...your relationship with your spouse is vital...your ability to think outside the PICU box is crucial for your own mental stability. In our situation with the death of Zoe, I shutter to think how much more crushing the weight would've been if I'd closed off myself from the rest of the world in order to sit at her bedside. 

Please don't misunderstand. We were there...a great deal. Our other 5 kids made significant sacrifices. Chris and I had to set personal feelings and preferences aside innumerable times. We all were sleep, exercise, and fun deprived...all for a very worthy cause...and we'd do it again. But there were times...quite a few times...when we knew it was best to just...step away. No matter what would transpire with Zoe's heart condition, we knew we would have to pick up our lives together once our PICU stay was complete...we needed to salvage our family...during, so it wouldn't collapse...after.

So if it's not straight QT, what's the DL on the whole "real mom" thing?

Love. Unconditional love. No matter what it costs. No matter what you get in return. BUT...this kind of love will look and sound as different in every momma as the DNA that runs through her veins. 

Remember a key life lesson we pass on to our children is this..."the world does not, in fact, revolve around you." This may sound harsh to your ears...maybe this is the thing that sounds "off" to you! 

Honestly, it sounds loving to me. Because at the end of the day, I want my children to love others unconditionally too. I want them to serve others...to think of others' needs above their own. I want them to be willing and eager to figuratively...or literally...sing until their throats go raw if it provides just one person some measure of hope and comfort.

I can assure you of one thing. As amazing individuals as I know the Carr kids to be, they will not wake up on their first morning as a new parent and think, "Ok...my needs are no longer the most important anymore. It's all about you, ya little mooch." (ahem...did I say that out loud...) Yea...habits are habits.

SO...love...not proximity alone...lovingly live life together...including all the crummy moments and all the wonderful moments...all the while, putting others above yourself.



Take One For The Team!!!

I want to take the opportunity to share some additional thoughts about life in the PICU.  I say “life” because very few people experience the initial sleepover we had on our first visit…the one where Zoe marched right out of there in her white paten leather cowgirl boots! When I was surprised that our sweet nurse wasn’t sure how to discharge a patient, Renee kept saying, ”You don’t understand…kids don’t just eat graham crackers, order dinner, and walk out of the PICU!”  Little did I realize…

Maybe you all don’t live in the na├»ve and selfish Eva World that I do…well, that would just be awkward anyway…the housekeeper is a train wreck, and the chef evidentally prefers things grown in a box. Plus, I hear there's rarely any vacant rooms, and the staff is demanding...best to steer clear.

Maybe you excel at bearing one another’s burdens; maybe you write cards to those that are hurting; maybe you actually pray fervently for those who are struggling in intense pain of every kind. To be honest, I thought I did too…before May 22, 2013.  As we continued to sit there all day, every day, in this place we would soon call home, we witnessed all manner of heartache.

A car accident claimed the life of a young mother, while her sweet baby girl fought for hers. Her “big” brother, all of 5, had to be told…along with a long parade of extended family members…that his mommy “was an angel now” and that the doctors would do everything they could to save his little sister. (The grief counselors’ words…not ours)

A mom (along with family and friends) had her world rocked to its core when her 15 year old son was completely healthy one minute…then air-lifted by helicopter to the U, the next.  When she arrived, she found him clinging to 100% life support.

I’ve already told you about my new friend who’s been in the PICU since mid-March with her sweet newborn as they navigate complex heart and anatomy issues.

A 10 year old girl had emergency surgery on a brain tumor.

A 12 year old girl had open heart surgery…she’d been living a normal childhood 6 months before.

Babies came and went…untold stories never forgotten. I could go on and on.  And even though I wasn’t as familiar with their stories, I saw the same heartache when I visited the PICU this past Tuesday.

It didn’t take long…maybe just hours…before you truly began to understand what it really means to “weep with those that weep.”  Had I ever truly borne the sorrow of another? Carried the burden of the suffering on my back with my own sweat and tears? I would have to honestly answer with a resounding “NO!”  Talk about conviction.

We did the best we could to change that. Our pain was not more important than theirs…our wounds did not run deeper…our patient was not, as much as it pains me to admit it, more vital to our world.  We prayed with some…we cried with others…we shared stories…we sang loud enough to provide some comfort, but hopefully not to annoy. (No promises there.) We truly were living life…gut-wrenching, crummy life…together.

Always feeling like it was never enough, I was nonetheless grateful for the eye-opening opportunity God gave us to understand what it means to be His hands and feet…and arms…definitely arms.

People are grieving all around you. Some from the physical loss of a loved one…some from the emotional wound of betrayal…still others grieve a life not-lived, a dream not-realized.  I, for one, will choose to engage…to not live in ambivalence. 

We need to be the church. It’s not optional…it’s expected…by the one who started this whole deal. 

Man up. Take one for the team.

Friday, June 21, 2013


Everybody’s got a name for it…the elephant in the room…the 900 lb. gorilla in the room…the question no one wants to pose…

“Soooo…how are you doing?”

I hate it. Just keepin’ it real, peeps. Because, although asked with the most genuine sincerity and concern, it never takes a prisoner alive. In that moment, I have a decision to make.  Fudge the reality for the sake of the questioner…pull myself up by my britches and try to navigate through the tumultuous answer…or just lie. It’s that simple.

To be perfectly honest, you’d also get varying degree of answers from different people that have to deal with yours truly. My kids would probably say I’m doing mostly ok. The hubs would express some concern. My friends would say I’m handling it great. Me…I’d claim to be the hottest mess of all hot messes that have ever been messed with…in the heat. (That sounded better in my head) . I should also mention that I went into this trial a non-crier. If you know the Carr family, that pretty much makes me an outcast.  Although I’ve definitely been known to breakdown over these past couple years…I’ve still got a long way to go to catch up.  Anyway, just tuck that little 411 in your back pocket…Eva is not a crier…crud. So take that girl and have her randomly bursting into tears at the blink of an eye….yea, that’s it…now you’ve got it figured out.

My own response would vary from day to day…or more like…moment to moment. You see, that’s what grief does to you…creeps up when you least expect it…when you’re most vulnerable…when the ugly cry-face can cause the most discomfort. As a matter of fact, I can illustrate my point exactly.

On Tuesday of this past week, I had to make the fated journey back up to the hospital for a doctor’s appointment of my own.  I was heavy-hearted when I started the journey…even texted a couple friends and asked them to pray for strength…and the anxiety had increased to a Vadar force, the closer I drew.  By the time I arrived, I was taking deep breaths and pleading with God to calm my spirit. My best friend, Denial, and her ugly cousin, Avoidance, walked me straight into the waiting room and plopped a squat beside my alter ego, Distraction. (You know some Hollywood types will be stealing my names within the next year. Lame.)

Regardless, the Comforter did answer those prayers, and the 2 hour visit sailed by. I was even able to talk about Zoe and the whole journey with the nurse at length.  Remarkably, she had a harder time than I did.  Huge moment. When it was time to leave, I felt overwhelmingly compelled to venture up to the PICU to encourage another mom that’s been there since March with her sweet babe…and to personally thank the nurses that had cared so well for Zoe.  Again I asked for peace and comfort…again He gave it.  I can assure you, you’ve never known another friend so faithful…who will all your sorrows bear.

What a sweet reunion God provided with those amazing individuals.  Smiles of recognition.  Arms stretched wide open. Hugs of encouragement.  Words of comfort. Acknowledgement of shared pain when our paths crossed ever so briefly. All because of a sweet little China doll that has changed our lives forever. Our lives are now inextricably linked because of her, and I’m forever grateful for it.

 “Zoe’s mom”…that’s how they know me there. It’s got kind of a ring to it, don’t you think?  No one can take that from me. It’s a gift I will always cherish.

Interestingly enough, the gal I went to see had stepped out of the hospital for a little bit. I knew why God led me there. Healing…encouragement…comfort…peace. I left the hospital that day much different than the last time…with a smile on my face and a small measure of peace in my heart. 

Fast-forward a few hours…HOURS, mind you. I had to run to Wally World to get a prescription and a few odds and ends. I was sailing through the store until I swung into the kids’ section to grab some shorts for Mr. Z.  Suddenly, I found myself surrounded by every cute thing Zoe had wanted me to buy…and even some she’d not noticed, but would’ve looked so sweet on her.  I was overcome with emotion as the room began spinning out of control. There I was…sobbing…in the middle of Walmart, of all places. It seems laughable that I’d just spent some considerable time at the place of her death, yet couldn’t make it through…have I mentioned…W.A.L.M.A.R.T.!!! I struggled to breathe and had to take a good amount of time before I could even move. 

I’ve thought a good bit about the two drastically different encounters with the reality of Zoe’s death, and I can only come to one conclusion. I went in prepared for one and not the other.  I knew, without a doubt, that going back up to the U would be heart-breaking. I knew I needed to pray and be bathed in prayer. I knew the enemy would be attacking with despair…with hopelessness…with anger…with bitterness, and it would be a battle. I went into Walmart…careless. I put on the armor in one and went fully unarmed with gaping wounds into the other.  The vultures were circling, and I didn’t realize that I was the carcass fresh for the eating…until it was too late.

Soooo….how’s it going?!? I’m still a hot mess…of epic proportions…but my God is the God of all comfort, and He continues to pick me up and carry me in His gentle arms every time these knees buckle.  Some days it’s just more often than not…but He never gets weary.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

survivor's guilt

I'm sure somebody's going to send me an email explaining why this is not the correct usage of that phrase...yippee-skippy...for now, we will live on the edge.

You see, it's not that I feel bad that I'm alive, and my daughter is dead...although I would've gladly taken every fear, every heartache, and every pain from her, if that were possible. More to the point, though, is the heavy realization that I would not be doing the things I'm doing if she were still alive. Every ball game...every workout...every meal at home with the family...all seem to be a glaring reminder that Zoe's gone. Don't get me wrong...I love all those things! But considering the fact that those were all things I'd been sacrificing during Zoe's hospital stay, they're a constant reminder that my loyalties are no longer divided...no compromises any further needed...no sibling suck-it-up sessions required. So there you have it...survivor's guilt.

When you mix that with a twist of responsibility guilt...and a pinch of heavy grief...you've got yourself quite the cocktail. Trust me...no one wants the hangover that one provides. [Just a clever analogy, people...relax] 

If you're cruisin for a bruisin, you'll just relish the addition of this reality: due to the demands of Zoe herself, Zane has very little use for me. Zoe insisted on my care 98% of the time...therefore, everyone else had, what has now been affectionately coined, "Zane duty." Although I'm sure this will change with time, it's especially heart-wrenching these days.  

I find myself pacing throughout the pile-laden house...a gazillion things to do...with literally no concept of how to do them. I'm not sure why I'm telling you this...maybe I just want to admit it to myself. I thought I understood sorrow and grief...I can assure you, I was sincerely mistaken. I can also promptly add...wouldn't wish this understanding on my worst enemy...not that I have those...just sayin...

I found myself glued to the clock last night, as the one week anniversary of Zoe's death was quickly approaching. Why?!? What good would that do me? Zoe is still gone, whether I mark her TOD or not.  As if making note of it would merit me the favor of those that continue to weep with us.  I was prepared to be overcome with sorrow all over again.  And there was, indeed, no shortage of tears. I even cried myself to sleep watching videos and looking at pictures. But something interesting also happened. My loving Comforter wept with me and spoke words into the very heart of my Father on my behalf...words I could not utter, still found their way to His ears.  

I remember thinking, "It was one week ago that my world fell apart." I'm so thankful that the very next thought that supernaturally came to mind was this..."Hold up...wait a minute...that's not true! Everything may have crumbled around me, but I'm still standing! I should be huddled in a corner somewhere, but here I am...able to love on my family...in spite of the pain.

My momma's heart was most definitely broken last Friday, but my world...my life...most definitely did NOT fall apart. 

Do I still feel like someone took a jagged edge to my gut??? No doubt.

Do I feel like I've got the worse flu epidemic in the history of the civilized world? Call the CDC.

But has my world, indeed, crumbled into an irreparable heap?  I will answer that with the words our family stood and read at Zoe's funeral.

"But we have this treasure (our life with Zoe) in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed...So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen..."

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

When Dr. Pepper and Jif aren't enough...

It's a good thing I'm not sitting in front of a doctor right now answering questions...

"Do you randomly burst into tears?" Yep. 

"Do you struggle to get out of bed?" You betcha. 

"Do you know what day it is?" No clue.

"Is it difficult to eat with your whole family...minus one?" Very. 

"Do you blame yourself for things that were clearly out of your control?" Yes, yes, and oh my, yes.

I'm not exaggerating when I say they'd bring the white coat and pills and haul me away. 

The ache runs deep, and I wonder if there will ever come a day that I don't have a hard time swallowing. The very definition of "depressed" is what I see every time I look in the mirror. 

Yet I'm still trusting in, and depending on, a gracious and compassionate Father that is sovereign in all things. That's really the crux of the issue. How do people cope with such tragedy without this Rock to lean on? I want to sorrow well...to reflect His grace to those around me...but it's seems impossible to do so when I can't get past my own pain.

Monday was, without question, the most difficult day of my life. We were surrounded by innumerable family and friends, which initially made it easier to function. We were able to share some private time with Zoe before the casket was closed and were also incredibly blessed to have an unexpected caravan of people from Indiana come to celebrate Zoe's life with us. Some had never even met Zoe but loved her all the same. This created the largest "family" procession in the history of funerals. It was awesome.

Many good friends made the service especially meaningful to us, and we were able to worship and remember together in the midst of great sorrow. The songs, prayers, words, and pictures were sweet nectar to a broken spirit. To sing the words, "There's a peace I've come to know...though my heart and flesh may fail. There's an anchor for my soul. I can say, 'It is well'..." with an auditorium full of heart broken people was a tremendous statement of God's powerful presence smack in the middle of extreme tragedy.

Perhaps the most poignant moment of the service was watching the video of Zoe singing Jesus Loves Me. She knew it. Our little princess absolutely knew that the God of the universe loved her. This truth makes me swell with gratitude and amazement. I just know that she went straight to the lap of my sweet Savior and sang this right to His face while He just smiled into her beautiful face. I bet He gives the best eskimo kisses and tells the juiciest secrets. This makes even the most crushed spirit fill with joy as I can hear her giggling all the way to Iowa!

The same large, yet intimate, troupe traveled the few blocks to the cemetery where we laid her fraile body to rest. My dad said some comforting words as I remember thinking, "I'm so glad I know she's not in this expensive box we are lowering into the ground...I'm not sure another breath could escape my lungs if that were true." 

People gathered together for some food and fellowship at the church as we processed the next phase of our lives...without Zoe. Believe it or not, we actually shared quite a few laughs with family as we sat around the table...mostly teasing my dad about the endless supply of boat carcasses that dotted our lawn for the majority of my childhood. Laughter does a heart good, my friends.

The one thing we were certain about going into the services on Monday was that we did not, under any circumstances, want a receiving line. Yea...Chris somehow escaped but as I stood to hug a friend goodbye, a line the length of the Great Wall formed in the blink of an eye...and there I was...hugging. My favorite. :) Now if you were a line-former that day, please don't feel badly...it really was so sweet and precious that people wanted to share in our grief with us and offer prayers on our behalf. I promise. I just had to chuckle as I looked up at the line and thought, "I'm gonna kill Chris for ditching me!" HAHAHA! It was even funnier when Jason said he appreciated me pushing him out of his  comfort zone as he led our worship without a guitar in hand, and I replied, "Yea, well...I just hugged a whole line of people without throwing up! So...we're even!" :)

It was a couple hours before I got the announcement that Chris was "done"...:)...not kidding...honestly gotta give him props for hanging tough as long as he did.  I asked for a minute alone before we left...to breathe...to think...to pray.

I quickly found myself standing in the exact spot where Zoe's casket had laid just a few hours before. I'm not really sure how I got there, but there I was...looking up at the cross. I poured my broken heart out to God, knowing He'd been waiting for this moment. Through a waterfall of tears and cracking voice, I sang to my Rock...over and over...

Our God is greater
Our God is stronger
God, You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer...awesome in power
Our God...our God

And if our God is for us
Then who could ever stop us
And if our God is with us
Then what could stand against

Praying I will allow that same strength and power to raise me up in the days ahead.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Today I Bury My Baby

Well, friends...this is a day I did not anticipate, nor do I welcome. This day could have never come, and it would've been too soon.  Even as I type this words, the tears are flowing and my faithful friends, Dr. Pepper and peanut butter are in abundance by my side. I'll probably even add cookies and muffins to the plate before too long. Might want to go ahead and call the workout police...multiple infractions over here at the Carr Castle.

I have remained largely silent since my last blog post on Friday evening, and it wasn't because I thought we were on a break. :) There simply were no words. There still aren't, but it's difficult for me to be quiet...even if what I'm saying is drivel. I also remembered that those cavemen/women without Facebook were most assuredly missing the 411.  SO...here we are.

Late Friday evening, our sweet Zoe went running into the arms of Jesus. Her poor little body couldn't withstand one more thing. She was in her 2nd high-risk heart surgery, and it was just too much. They'd already equipped her with the Berlin heart device, had added a shunt to aid in the flow to the lungs, and were planning on adding an oxygenator to the device should her lungs not be able to function at full capacity due to the issues she'd developed there. Surprisingly, Zoe's blood pressure wasn't able to stay within functioning parameters, and every time the doctors would try to remove her from the bypass, her pressures would plummet. They really couldn't figure out why this would happen and were certain that there were even further issues with Zoe's anatomy that they'd not yet learned that were causing the problem.  Therefore, in spite of every effort known to man, our sweet angel was no more. 

With tears in their eyes, the doctors told us that it appeared that nothing would've ever worked, given the apparent systemic problems that had gone undetected. In the end, it wasn't her heart...it wasn't her lungs...it was more likely, too much damage over too long a period of time. Ultimately, it was God's plan.

It's surreal. I'm sitting in my living room at 1am, writing you this little note...a room that was full a few hours ago with family and friends that have gathered to celebrate Zoe's life. The outpouring of love and compassion from our family and friends has been unbelievable. We are so thankful for each word said and each prayer lifted on our behalf.

But is this really happening?!? The last two days have been filled with horrors that no one...especially no parent...should ever have to endure. Choosing caskets, picking cemeteries, choosing plots, picking out clothes for burial, deciding what special things to include in the casket, trying to choose what to wear to the funeral of your sweet baby who loved bright colors...this cannot be real.

People keep telling me when to eat and sleep. We're planning services, picking music, caring for our other children...trying to be sensitive to their need for normalcy when the death of the innocent smacks you square in the gut...I don't want to do this. I want to go back in time...back before it was hard to keep breathing. I feel like I'm floating through sludge...desperately trying not to get pulled under for good.

"Mom, what will we do after tomorrow?" 

"I don't know, babe...I just don't know."

Sometimes the ache is so tangible...like my entire body will cave in. The sorrow fills up my throat and chest in such a way that I wonder how people around me aren't being pushed away. I shake my head with fury and give way to gut-wrenching sobs. 

I know the truth...Christians need not fear death because Christ has overcome the grave. I don't fear death...but I'd really like to give it a swift kick in the behind. Now before you go all Billy Graham on me, I truly believe Zoe is with Jesus this very minute, and I'm so very thankful she sporting the pinkest skin you've ever seen and is running so fast, the angels can't keep up! I find some level of comfort from these foundational truths.

I can't, however, come to grips with the fact that she is gone. No more yelling at Zane for messing with her stuff...no more running from the other kids, screaming with laughter. No more reading "No No, David!" No more Zoe/Momma hugs and secrets. No more convincing Zane that something's not scary because he saw Zoe do it first. No more birthdays for Zoe Lynn Carr. 

Gotta tell ya...I'm not okay with this. I desperately want her back. In the most bizarre ways, it felt like she'd been part of our family for her entire 3 years. She was so happy. She laughed and sang all the time. She trusted us completely and loved us all wholeheartedly...and we felt the same about her. 

Some have suggested that we knew this was coming.  Given her heart condition, it was a long-shot at best. It was a super long road, full of pot holes the size of Texas. It was shaky ground on the most solid of days. But I tell you right now...I was shocked to my core when they told us she wasn't going to make it. I completely expected God to heal her, whether supernaturally or through the medical team and procedures she had at the U. 

"Expecting a miracle,"...that's what we always said. We knew He could do it...no doubt. I thought I understood the sacrifice we were called to make. But we are at a whole other level of sacrifice here...very unexpected and very bitter-tasting.

I'm still desperately clinging to the promises of Christ, knowing that He is working even this situation out for our good and His glory. 

I just wish His plan would've included Zoe remaining in my arms...I was giving Him the glory then too.

But as I mentioned in my last post, God's ways are higher and greater than anything I could imagine. Perhaps He can do even more incredible things through her death than through her life. I sincerely pray my grief does not get in the way of that. 

"All of my life...in every season, You are still God. I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship."