But it was just GORGEOUS up there. It's set back in the woods, down a winding driveway, up on a hill. It personifies the Northwoods, in every way, from the antler chandeliers, to the wooden log furniture, to the fireplaces in every room! Everything inside had a woodsy theme. We had a lovely room with two soft queen beds and a pull-out sleep number couch! Even our own fireplace! There was a sunny and spacious library with both children's and adult books. A large living room, dining room and amazing kitchen. Personal rooms both upstairs and down. The kids' favorite rooms were the craft room, playroom, tv room, and library. They had an amazing time with all the other kids whose families were also attending the weekend. Malachi was by far the oldest, but he didn't mind, and taught the younger children new games.
The first day there we had a facilitated group discussion with a social worker, up in the very top of Faith's Lodge, in a cozy room named Natalie's Nest, after a young girl who has passed on. Prior to this, Jamie and I had never attended any type of "grief group" or anything similar, but it was actually very healing. Each of the 5 families took turns telling their stories, and there were lots of tears, empathy and understanding. We also talked about grief, and our regrets, etc... I think I cried more listening to their stories then when I told ours, which surprised me. :)
We spent the whole time together as a family, getting to know the other families, and talking about the babies that we miss so much. It is healing to realize yet again that we are NOT alone, and that so many others go through the same heart-wrenching pain that we have. It was encouraging to find new friends that share our faith, (there was a lot of talk about heaven) and while the sadness and loss is very evident, they also weren't bitter. There were many God-things that happened; the neatest of which is that one of the moms who was there volunteers and heads up making knitted things, and special boxes. They are given to families that lose a baby, at the very same hospital that I was sent to after having Ezekiel! After comparing notes, we figured out that the stuff St. Mary's Hospital gave us for Ezekiel, including a cuddly teddy bear, was from Janelle, who lived for 8 years right by my grandparents! Such a small world... I love how God orchestrated that we would meet in person. I don't believe it happened by chance who came to Faith's Lodge this particular weekend.
We made lots of special things in Samuel and Ezekiel's memory with the crafts they provided. Lots of painting of birdhouses, "love light" candle jars, heart rocks, stepping stones, and more. It was therapeutic in and of itself to just sit, paint, create and talk about our boys who are so loved and missed. It was healing for me. I needed it, to just bring myself back to that place, and be okay thinking about it, sharing my regrets and griefs, my fears, and struggles. Especially with how my grief from Ezekiel is so different than my grief over Samuel, and that it feels like it should be the same... that I'm somehow letting Ezekiel down. All I know is the peace I have been given is definitely from God! This weekend just shows me again His love for us, how He wants to bring us wholeness, but yet dependence upon Him, and not self-reliance. I honestly wouldn't want to be at any other place in my life right now. Reflecting on all that I have been through, I am so thankful to now be here, and feeling closer to Jesus than I ever have before.