Friday, August 8, 2008

Not Our Plan

This is not at all
How we thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you
We had so many dreams
And now you've gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say
And nothing we can do
Can take away the pain
The pain of losing you

(If you are listening to the music player right now, you know that the verse above is from the Steven Curtis Chapman song, "With Hope." And by the way, I hope you were able to see the Chapmans on Larry King Live last night - 08/07/08. We did and were greatly encouraged. What a family. What a story. What a God.)

This is not at all how we thought it was supposed to be. If I'm being honest with you, I have to admit that it took not more than a split second when Nicol found Luke that horrible night for this thought to enter my mind and then spill out of my mouth. Right there, in our bedroom. Right then, as I did CPR.

This is not at all how we thought it was supposed to be. This. Losing our son. At ten weeks. Not our plan. Not our idea of a good thing. Not... at all the way things are supposed to be. No! No! No!

This is not at all how we thought it was supposed to be. I remember thinking... Have we done something? Are we being punished? Is this the chastening hand of God? What is happening? Has God turned away from us, removed His protection? I mean, come on, the very hour Luke was taking his last breaths I was praying with Nicol and Summer, as we were putting her to bed, that God would protect our children all the days of their lives. Literally. That very hour. And now this? Where were You? Why didn't You do something. Why didn't You fix it? You could have. You could have made him breathe again, God. We believed that you were going to. Where were You? Oh, God, why?

This is not at all how we thought it was supposed to be. This happens to other people. This is someone else's nightmare. This is someone else's story. Not ours'. Not our baby. Not our Luke. No! No! No! Oh, Luke, buddy!

This is not at all how we thought it was supposed to be. I'm told this thought is quite normal. I'm told it's okay to ask all these questions. God is big enough to handle it. And besides, He knows what's going on inside of my head and my heart, so don't stuff it. Let it out. Let it all out.

I've found that this is true. It's all very normal and there's nothing wrong with it. Go and talk - no, listen - to people who've been shattered, whose lives have been turned upside-down and inside-out by some senseless, impossible-to-understand, radically-life-changing event. We all have the same thoughts. Read some of the books that are out there. You'll find these and similar thoughts in all of them. And it is okay to ask the Why? questions. Just read the psalms. David did it all the time. God is big enough to handle them and, more importantly, He's right there with us. He's near to the broken hearted. He saves those who are crushed in spirit. He cleans out our wounds and binds them up... and repeats the process as often as we need Him to... as often as we allow Him to.

I've found something else to be true as well: This is not at all how God intended it to be. His plan never called for anything like this to happen. Ever. The Bible says that God looked over everything He had made; it was so good, so very good! (Gen. 1:31, The Message) Perfection. That was His plan. Death was never, in the words of Nicholas Wolterstorff, "...a normal instrument of God's dealing with us." It's not as though God says, "You there have lived out the years I've planned for you, so I'll just shake the mountain a bit. All of you there, I'll send some starlings into the engine of your plane. And as for you there, a stroke while running will do nicely." No way. His plan was good, so very good. Says Wolterstorff, "God is appalled by death" and "my pain over my son's death is shared by his pain over my son's death." Appalled. Shared pain. That's my God.

This is not at all how we thought that it was supposed to be.

We miss our boy. We don't understand this and we never will, not in this life at least. We had our plans. We had our dreams. We're sad that he and Summer won't be able to grow up together. I'm sad that Nicol is going to miss out on the special relationship that only moms and sons can have. I'm sad that I won't be able to play golf with him, or watch The Final Four with him, or see him play basketball, or sweat it out the first time he's on a bicycle without training wheels, or see what God would do in his life, or see him at the same fun stage of life as Summer is in right now. I'm sad that we won't have family vacations together, that his great-grandparents, and all of his aunts and uncles and cousins didn't get to meet him. I'm just sad. But I take comfort in knowing that...

This is not at all how God intended it to be.

Despite the sin and brokenness of this world, God has made hope possible. He's overcome. He's made a way. Jesus is making everything new again. The Chapman song doesn't just draw out the theme I've talked about so far. It tells me that

We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end
We can breathe with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
There's a place where we'll your face again
We'll see your face again

There is hope. God's ways are good and even though our world has been rocked by the awful effects sin and death and brokenness, We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It's an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us. (Hebrews 6:18-20, The Message)

Hold on with both hands and never let go. It's the only chance we've got of surviving this thing.

(If you're interested, I would highly recommend Lament for a Son by Nicholas Wolterstorff, whom I quoted in this post. The book reveals his journey thru the grief of losing his son, Eric, in a mountain climbing accident. Our counselor gave us a copy about a month after Luke died, and it was a great help to us. It's an excellent resource for everyone to have.)


Mami Sue said...

You're right. Our God is grieving with you. I pray for your family often as I do Angie's fam.
Thank you for sharing your grief here with us.
In Christ,

Mocha with Linda said...

What a testimony you and Nicol, Todd & Angie, and the Chapmans are to the rest of us. I have grieved so much for all of you. Thanks for sharing your heart.

Misi said...

I'm crying as I write this. What an inspiration you are.
May God continue to heal your heart.
I have a son his name is Joshua Troy Lightfoot and HE.IS.MY.LIFE. I can only pray that I would be so strong as you are if he goes to be w/ Jesus while I am still living in this alien world. You are right "this is NOT how it's supposed to be"! That's why Paul say's we are aliens here. God didn't plan this.
Peace to you and yours.....Misi
Thank you for opening up.

Kelly said...

Nicol - I have been reading Angie's blog and read about your precious Luke.

I have been praying for both of your families.

We sat with our boys last night and watched the Chapmans as well. What a great encouragement for you.

Grieve with Hope...

Sara said...

I'm a reader of Angie's blog and made my way to yours. I am so sorry for your loss. I dont have any magic words, but wanted you to know, I'm thinking of you and your beautiful family.

Shawn said...

Powerful, Greg. We love all of you, including Lukey whom we miss so much.


Cheryl said...

praying for you, Nicol, and Summer.

noahandlylasmommi said...

I am so thankful to have found this page. I also lost a baby but never got to know my baby in this world. It brings me so much peace to know that because I am a believer I will get to know my baby someday. Your family is in my prayers everyday.

Julie Doody said...

HOPE! What a simple but yet profound word. Without God we have no HOPE! I am so glad that you and Nicol do have that hope. Not that it's always going to be easy. We continue to pray for you both. Love, The Doody's

Mare said...


Remembering you all in my thoughts and prayers.

AllyZabba said...

Thank you for sharing from your heart. You truly have touched so many who may not know the hope that you have in Jesus. We continue to pray for you.

Erin said...

Thank you for sharing your heart...and your hope. Will be praying for continued learning and healing for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

You are such a blessing! Praying for peace, comfort and strength for all of you.

Believe it or not, I started by following Angie's blog and then found may way to yours.

Holly in Dalton, GA

Anonymous said...

You are such a blessing! Praying for peace, comfort and strength for all of you.

Believe it or not, I started by following Angie's blog and then found may way to yours.

Holly in Dalton, GA

Matt and Cristin said...

God is so awesome! Continue to hold on with both hands to His promised hope and never let go! We're praying for your family...that God would continue to comfort you and continually remind you of how much He loves you and how precious He thinks you are.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you. Especially for the NW quote, and reference to his book. I've read alot of his stuff but was not aware of that work. Blessings, comfort, peace, and restoration are my prayer for you and your family.

Tammy C

Elizabeth said...

Greg and Nicol,

Scott and I have been praying with and for you since the night Angela called us to share what she feared was happening to your sweet boy. We praise the Lord with you that He continues to give you His strength and continues to guide you through the Word. At all times He is trustworthy.

We will continue to pray for you and your family. Thank you for sharing your heart through this blog.

Elizabeth Rhyno

Tasha said...

Oh how my heart hurts for you!I thought about you guys all day today.You were just on my mind in everything I did.I am pretty sure that was God.Because every time I thought of you I lifted you in prayer.Could you feel it?I wish I could do more.I wish I could take away your pain.I really do.I was in the car earlier this week and Press ON came on the radio.I had to pull my car over.As Todd and Nicol were singing I just kept thinking Wow,when this song came out how ever many years ago could they ever have imagined what this song would come to mean?

When the valley is deep
When the mountain is steep
When the body is weiry
When we stumble and fall
When the choice is hard
When we're battled and scarred
When we've spent our resources
When we've given our all

In Jesus name,we Press On
In Jesus name,we Press On
Dear Lord with the prize
Clear before our eyes
We find the strength to Press on

May these words bring you comfort tonight.Love to you all~Tasha in Indiana

Michelle said...

Hi, I found you through Angie, and have been praying.

I was thinking the other day about mountains and valleys; how we love to be on the mountaintop with God, it's such an awesome feeling, and no-one wants to be in the valleys, as it is dark and lonely. But, all the good soil from the mountains is washed into the valleys. The flora is more abundant in the valleys. There is more growth in the valleys. But we don't see that until we get up higher again and look back.

Just wanted to share it with someone..

Stacie said...

My heart just breaks for you all b/c I can "feel" your pain through your words.

Many thoughts and prayers to your family as you take it day by day in this new life without precious Luke here, even knowing you'll be with him again one day.

Just know that sharing your story, your pain, your fears and tears have comforted others who've been there, too.

South GA

Beckycain6 said...

Hi Greg and Nicol,

Great post. It tore at my heart. I'm praying for you all.

Have you ever read the book "The Shack?" It is not biblical or the "Word," but it is a nice, inspiring story about a man who loses his little 6 year old in a very horrific act. It is an easy read and pretty thought stirring.

I'm hoping for time to pass. For length to exist between the tragic night and the days where you can smile more. For a wide, great divide to exist between your questions, your pain and your a place of standing firm in days of "okayness." (I sort of made that word up---er, for effect, of course.) I just hope, basically, that time will pass so that you both can enjoy singing and praising and laughing with Summer....and visiting with family and vacationing and golfing and goofing off--without the pain and guilt that your little buddy Luke should be there too. I pray that you'll come to a place where you'll know with conviction that God has you in the hollow of His hand, and that He has Luke with Him....and will reunite you all in His time and in His way....according to His own, hand-written story. I pray for His peace to wash over you and give you relief from your thirst.

Writing is so therapeutic. Keep doing it. You do it well, and it will bring comfort to you and those who partake of it..

Praying for each of you. Be still and know that He is God,

The Morris Family said...

As we too continue to face this "giant" of grieving, (our 3yr Joel 1/23/07), I read a scripture this morning and I was encouraged, the scripture is my only hope, its alive, and it speaks and meets death in the face!!! John 19:41, Now in the place where he as crucified there was a garden.... In our darkest our, "a death" for us there is a garden, that means it is not over, a garden is a place where there is growth, a harvest, fruit and it comes by a seed going into the ground, life comes forth!! May the Lord allow your mind and heart to meditate upon the truth of his word and may you have the strength to abide within it!!
Cindy Morris

Anonymous said...

You don't know me and we'll probably never meet. I found your blog through Angie. I think about your family and Angie's family and the Chapman family every single day. I hear a song on the radio--I think of you. I hear a news story--and think of you. I imagine how your families must be dealing with this, I wonder how you do it. I wonder what I would do if I were faced with the same situation, and I decide that I couldn't. I could, in no way, ever survive what your families have gone through.

I will never understand why any of this had to happen to any of you but you are all truly amazing people and much better people than I could ever be.

taralous said...

I too found you through Angie's blog. Thank you for being so REAL. Through your openess, we who can't fathom what you have gone through, can cling to the HOPE found in Christ, and know that if we ever did go through this at anytime, GOD IS THERE. I'm praying for your family and God's comfort and joy to spill over in your lives. You are all a blessing...

Donna P said...

you are loved!!!

So Blessed said...

So many times things in this world are not at all how we hoped they would be...but, when we all get to heaven they will be better than we ever hoped or imagined. We have to hang on to that promise. I am so sad for your loss of your precious son and I am praying for your family.

Maria said...

I am humbled by your honesty and your determined faith. Thanks for letting me walk this journey with your family--hundreds of miles away.

TressaMOMof3 said...

Praying for you all.

Andrea said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I too have thought many of those same thoughts with our Wyatt. It was not our plan to have him go. It's so hard to know that all of those wonderful dreams we dreamed of will not come true in this life. How grateful I am for Jesus Christ. He gives me the hope of a glorious resurrection with my sweet little Wyatt. He gives me the hope I need to make it through another day without him. Jesus knows first hand about grief and can help us through this difficult time. I also believe he is grieving with us and is aware of what we are going through. He is full of love and understanding. He will do all he can to help us. I appreciate you sharing all of your wonderful words.
Wyatt's mommy

Pam said...

Selah's music, when Nicol was still in the group helped us through such a hard time in our lives. When I was told about Angie's blog, I was so saddened by their grief. I was stunned to hear of your Luke's passing. I cannot imagine the depth of your grief, nor the grief of your entire family. I don't have great words to share, only that I pray that our Lord will hold you close as you grieve.
In Him.

Kristy said...

Greg and Nicol, I came across your blog on Angie's. When she first posted that Luke had died, I remember I was reading it late at night. I cried and cried. And then she posted that beautiful video of Nicol singing with Luke in her arms, and I couldn't believe that the baby in her arms was no longer here. I am so sorry for your loss - and can only imagine the pain you are in. The words you write are really an inspiration to all who read. I pray so hard for your family - for God's peace and for His comfort. I know my words are just feable words, but I truly pray that your pain will be lessened, by the God of all comfort.

Candie said...

What a beautiful post. I'm crying as I write this because it speaks to my heart. "With Hope" was played at Emmalee's funeral and it just speaks volumes to anyone who has lost a child. There is a beautiful book called "Mommy, Please Don't Cry...There Are No Tears In Heaven" by Linda DeYmaz. It's written from the viewpoint of a child in Heaven and it's awesome! I would be glad to send you and Nicol a copy if you'd like. If you ever get a moment and would like to read about Emmalee, please go to

Jen said...

Thank you so much for your honesty and the rawness of this post. I facilitate a pregnancy and infant loss support group and felt led to print and read this post at our monthly meeting tonight. I have to be very careful about what I share as this group is not a "Christian" group, however, I am a Christ follower as well as quite a few members. Regardless, I read your post outloud and I wish you could have seen for yourself the impact your words, your God-breathed words, had on the grieving Mommies and Daddies that surrounded me. Your journey through pain and your willingness to let the Lord work through all of this has touched more lives than you will ever know this side of Heaven. So though it's painful...thank you for sharing your heart. God Bless your family abundantly, many prayers are lifted for you daily.

Emily said...

I just found your blog. I'm so sorry you lost your son.

We lost our son, our firstborn, September 2008. He died just hours before I went into labor at 39 weeks after a perfectly healthy pregnancy. Everyone was expecting us to bring a healthy baby home from the hospital. This is no how things were supposed to be!

Jessica Kirkland said...

I loved what you said about "death" not ever being God's plan for us. You're right, he intended for us to have life, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. What a touching story and testimony. I am so very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing that piece of your heart.