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Posts from 20160417085624

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Almost every Monday I leave my Rotary meeting at the Women’s Building and turn south going down Broadway. Today, for absolutely no known reason I drove across Broadway and into the parking lot of the Children’s Park. I wondered if any flowers were in bloom. There were several cars there already and adults and children in the park. Through my rear view mirror I noticed a van across the parking lot, where two children and a mother were standing. The mother was carefully dividing a bouquet of flowers between the two small children (maybe four and five years old). Mother was holding a third child in her arms. I just sat in my Escape and watched as they went down into the park. She stopped to read several signs and then they walked to the west side of the circle path around the girl statue. There the children stopped to place their flowers and then they all stood quietly listening to their mother. Perhaps she was praying, or just remembering. After a few minutes they all walked on around the circle and the children skipped and ran to a spot to play. I was so moved by the moment that even now as I write this I need a Kleenex. I drove away wondering why they put the flowers there and not at the cemetery – and I realize that even as I write this that there are many possible answers to my question. The best part of all this was that the children were able to have a moment to honor the memory of a lost loved one and then go on to play, because after all that is what children do best – and the job that God has given them to do. Today I saw a complete picture of the Children’s Park. Today I felt the Children’s Park and what it must mean to so many. I’m so thankful I was given the opportunity and gift of being a part of it coming to fruition. God is very good.

In 1951, my grandmother gave birth to her third child, a baby girl born with spina bifida. Six weeks later, the baby died. When I first heard about the Children’s Park, I thought, “What a special place for people who have lost a child.” Then I realized that it wasn’t just for those who had recently lost a child. So, for Christmas 2004, my grandmother’s children and grandchildren gave her an engraved sidewalk stone at the Children’s Park , to honor the memory of her baby who died 53 years before. It is the most meaningful gift we could ever give her. She later told me that she had always wanted to find a way to publicly remember Baby Jill, in some way, other than the gravestone at the cemetery. After the stone was placed, I took my grandmother to the Children’s Park to see it. It was the first time she had ever been there. She said that, when she was attending Hogg Junior High School in the late 1930’s, she never would have dreamed that the “hole in the ground” just to the north of the school would someday become such a meaningful place to her.

The Children’s Park meaning to me is very complicated. It is a meaning of life and death. It is a meaning of a beginning and a end. It is a meaning of a happiness and sadness. I always go to the park with my son and still to young to know the true meaning himself he is just a child when he there. And watching him be a child is exactly what the park is for me. I remember the life of my child that is no longer here and others children, and thank God we have somewhere so beautiful for all the world come to remember children not with us anymore. I think the park means different things to everyone and maybe that is the way it should be. It should mean to you what it needs to mean to you.

Working with people who’ve lost a child, I’m often asked how long it takes to heal… Recently my mother-in-law asked me to “celebrate” Zack’s 21st birthday with her and my two sister-in-laws with a visit to his grave in Colleyville and a “girls” weekend. I was hurt when asked because I could rarely recall, if ever, discussing Zack with my sister-in-laws, and seldom with my mother-in-law. I was also offended because to me a girls weekend of fun and frolic didn’t involve anything that celebrated Zack’s life. Having moved away from Tyler, we have not had the opportunity to visit the new Children’s Park except through the website. We were recently in Tyler and got our first opportunity to visit. I invited my mother-in-law along thinking I would share with her how I felt about celebrating Zack’s birthday. She didn’t know where we were going and was surprised when we rolled into the parking lot. She thought the park had been built with funds raised by the school children across the street. As we began our stroll I told her we were going to visit Zack and began to tell her the story of the park and Glory Babies. You see, we’d mentioned our involvement in Glory Babies to them and had invited them to previous annual remembrance walks with what we’d perceived as not much interest on their part. But as we talked, I realized because they’d not asked much about it, we failed to share with them completely what Glory Babies truly meant to us. As we walked along and read the children’s names and marveled at the butterflies that Saturday, we ended up shedding some tears and sharing a lot of things left unsaid over the last 21 years. Things not said, not necessarily because no one cared, but because no one knew how to begin. As we left the park, we each had received long withheld healing and a new plan for celebrating Zack’s birthday. Craig’s family would represent Zack at the Walk the first weekend in October. Having never been to one of Glory Babies remembrance walks, I know that Craig’s family will celebrate Zack’s life in a way they never expected and receive a blessing far greater than a visit to a tombstone and a “girls” weekend could ever bring them. As we walked up the incline to the parking lot I had the eeriest feeling. As I turned back towards the park I heard children’s laughter on the wind that quietly blew through the park, the patter of their feet as they splashed through the water and their giggles in the flutter of the butterflies wings and I realized that you never completely heal from losing a child, you just find new ways to “hold” your child. “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Ecc 3:1

I’m from a small town about 40 minutes outside of Dallas. I moved to Tyler in 2005 to go to college. At the time, Tyler was the last place I wanted to be. I didn’t know anybody and I was struggling with some depression. But I quickly came across The Children’s Park. It became a safe haven for me. I was brought up in church. My parents were youth pastors and everyone in my family was in some type of ministry. But it wasn’t until this past July that the Lord got a hold of me. I teamed up with Him and He ever so gently showed me what was holding me back from receiving His love. It’s been an amazing 9 months learning to souly lean upon Him. For a really long time I felt like something was missing. I looked for love in all the wrong places. No matter what I tried to fill my pain with, I always walked away feeling so much emptier. I finally gave up on my quest for love and let the creator of love himself, reign in my life. About a month ago, the Lord revealed my calling to me. I felt like I was supposed to somehow work with single mothers. Long story short, He opened door after door for me and I ended up being able to help out at the pregnancy resource center at the TJC campus. Well, one day I was in the office just reading my bible and I looked down and I saw the book “Letters to my Glory Baby”. I just kind of looked at it and went back to what I was doing. But I couldn’t get the words “Glory Baby” out of my head. I knew it was familiar but I couldn’t connect it. For the last 3 months I’ve been going to The Children’s Park at least once a day. I find that it’s the only place I can really sort through my thoughts. God’s beauty is in every inch of that park. The next time I was at the pregnancy center, I saw the book again. I picked it up and started reading it. As the tears were falling down my face onto the pages, I began to realize how much the Lord really does care about each one of His children. I went to the park after work that day and just sat in awe in His presence. I began to think about how much peace and hope that park has brought me over the past couple of years. I looked up and saw all of the children playing in the park. There were about 20 of them, each with the biggest smiles imaginable. It was amazing to me to realize that even in my not knowing what that park was created for, I still knew it was God’s handiwork.