Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Faith's Lodge

"FAITH - Sorrow looks back. . . Worry looks around. . . Faith looks up."
For those of you who didn't know, Paul and I went to Faith's Lodge last weekend. We left the boys with Gramma and Papa and traveled up to Danbury, WI on Thursday evening. We are only about 75 minutes from Faith's Lodge, though I know that people from all over the country travel there.

Faith's Lodge was dreamed up and built by Mark and Susan Lasek after their first daughter was born into Heaven because of an umbilical cord accident. While I don't know whether the Laseks are followers of Christ, they named their daughter Faith because they knew they'd need a lot of faith to get through life after her death. It's amazing how this couple has used their love for their daughter to touch so many people.

Faith's Lodge is a beautiful retreat for parents and families who have a sick child or a child who has died. It is situated on 80 wooded acres. The planning and building took a few years and the Lodge will have it's second anniversary in June. It is a beautiful "home" with eight suites, a movie room, kitchen, dining room, library, craft room, and family room. It is an amazing place! Here's a picture of the back of this little cabin in the woods. Paul and I sat in the middle set of chairs, right outside our suite late Friday morning and had devotions. A barred owl listened in from about 100 ft away.

About 30 minutes after we arrived, we felt totally at home. Carla, the "house mom" for the week, played a big part in this. As a mom who has lost three of her children, she truly knew our heart ache. There were five other couples there, all who have lost a baby. It was heartbreaking to hear each story. But I think we learned a lot from each other, despite differences in beliefs. We were also blessed to have Sherokee Ilse, the author of Empty Arms and international speaker on infant loss and her business partner, Tim Nelson, the owner of A Place to Remember with us on Friday and Saturday. They have co-written a book called Couple Communication After A Baby Dies - Differing Perspectives which we all received.

Paul and I spent much of Friday making a variety of crafts to remember our babies. (Paul, thanks for being such a real trooper, since crafting isn't your favorite activity.) These are the stones we made for Felicity and Jeremiah. We left them at the Bridge of Hope with the stones of all the other children who's parents have visited Faith's Lodge. It is such a heartbreakingly beautiful place.

We made a garden stone to remember Felicity.

Paul burned this piece of wood and I made an ankle bracelet with Felicity's name on it.

On Saturday, we had a long session with the other couples, Sherokee, and Tim. It was really emotional as we each told the in-depth story of our child's life and death. The time at Faith's Lodge is usually very unstructured to accommodate each family's needs. Our weekend was a special weekend paid for by First Candle, which is why Sherokee and Tim were there. (The Lodge usually asks that families donate $25/night, but does not turn anyone away if they can't afford to do so.) We were not required to participate in anything we didn't want to and that truly is the beauty of Faith's Lodge. Paul and I were able to build some relationships as well as retreat together to spend time alone.

I love how the lodge gives us so many opportunities to remember our children. We made so many things with Felicity and Jeremiah's names on them. There is also a journal in each suite where you can write your child's story. We never made it up to the full-size tepee they have out on one of the trails, but we were told we could take a marker with us and write on the walls of the tepee if we wanted.
On Sunday, Mother's Day, we left late morning. That morning it was "nice" though to be around other grieving moms and know that I wouldn't be the only one with tears in my eyes. The hardest thing though was knowing that we were the only one going home to living children. All the other couples had lost their first child. I can't imagine that pain.

This is a beautiful quilt we got to pick out and take home with us made by The Thimbleberries. What a beautiful remembrance of our babies and our time at Faith's Lodge. I've already ordered a quilt hanger for it, so we can hang in on the wall.
I can't say enough good things about Faith's Lodge. If you are a grieving parent I encourage you to check it out. They have schedules of who they take and when so that while you're there, you're in the company of other couples in similar circumstances. The only advice I'd give is to stay there as long as you can. We could have checked in on Tuesday and stayed through Sunday, but couldn't due to Paul's work schedule. We hope to go back to Faith's Lodge again in the future and know that we will be praying for this unique organization.


Julie said...

Dear Rachel,

I was so touched and blessed to read of your time at Faith's Lodge. What a unique gift of time, remembrance, healing, touching the sacred. May the Lord Jesus continue to comfort you as you need each day and continue to carry you when you don't have the strength.

Thank you for sharing your grief. It does help all of us around you to understand and grieve with you. We may not be able to lessen what you feel or understand it all, but we feel some of your loss, too.

God bless you today.

In His Grace,

Julie Mason

Sara said...

Faith's Lodge sounds like an amazing place. You got to do some amazing and beautiful things. And yeah, it was in my home of Wisconsin:) I love the garden stone. I am so glad that you and Paul had this time together. I continue to pray for you Rachel. I am so glad the Lord brought us together through this difficult time.

Jennifer Ross said...

I would love to go to Faith's Lodge someday! It sounds like you both had a wonderful time, with so many special memories that you got to make together.

Persuaded said...

that quilt is positively amazing... i am thankful that there is such a place as faith's lodge for folks who must endure as you♥

Sara said...

You asked about the retreat, well as things would have it... there were about 5 other younger ladies there and one of them had a baby boy just a couple weeks younger than Samuel. She chose to sit by us all weekend. It was just so hard, even after she knew my situation, I don't think she at all understood how I was probably feeling. I did have to just get up and leave a few times. It was so hard to focus at all with a cute little boy looking at me... all of the sounds, etc... too difficult. Those are the times I wonder what the Lord is doing in that situation. What is His purpose in that? I have no idea, but He was faithful to sustain me as usual... for that I am thankful. I can't wait till seeing a baby just doesn't cause such heartache to come flooding back... all of what we are missing with our babies. I know you understand that.

By the way I love the picture of you and Paul looking at the garden stone. You can just see him caring for you. Precious. Thinking of you and praying for peace and strength for you... one day at a time friend.

Erika said...

Rachel, I am so glad you were able to go to Faith's Lodge and especially over Mother's Day weekend. I hope to make it there myself one day...

Sending you lots of love and prayers.


Erika said...

oh, i forgot to add my blog link since it's not in my profile: