This upcoming Thursday, April 23rd was the official due date of our daughter Zoey Grace. As many of you may have read in previous blog posts, Zoey Grace’s little heart stopped beating at around the 20 week point in her incomprehensibly short, yet extremely well-loved, life. This has been a life-altering and soul-shattering event in our life and every day. This Thursday will be one of many milestones that we have and have yet to cross. Milestones for us can simply be dates passing, watching a family member open presents at a baby shower, or watching a friend’s newborn get baptized. These milestones give us opportunities to discover something about ourselves and how deeply Zoey Grace has touched our lives.
One milestone moment that wrecked us both recently happened as we were cleaning and packing up our house in preparation to move. I stumbled across a small rock stashed in a desk. While storing a rock in a desk seems odd, I recalled that this rock was given to us at the end of a marriage retreat we attended at Hume Lake in September 2013. The marriage retreat was a great time for my wife and I to get away during the first year of our first daughter’s life. At the end of the retreat, they handed out these rocks as a physical reminder of the time spent as a couple and the things we learned together. I do not remember the exact reason, or if it was prompted by the retreat leaders, but my wife and I chose to write on the rock something that we wanted more of in our marriage. A word that would encompass things we had learned from the retreat about each other, about our marriage and how we wanted to move forward in our relationship towards each other. That word was…
When I looked at the word we had written on the rock, my heart swelled in the way you might feel when finding an heirloom that has been lost for a long time. Something that has deep, personal and spiritual meaning that you thought was lost but you suddenly found again. Written on this rock was a word that we wanted to define our marriage and little did we know how much grace would invade our life together in a few short years after we wrote those words. I showed it to my wife a few days later (who had forgotten about the rock entirely) but when she saw it and remembered the moment we wrote it, she crumbled under the cosmic weight of the small letters on that tiny rock. This stone was a milestone we had set as a reminder to ourselves, but it came to mean something completely different when Zoey Grace came into our lives.
In the Bible, stones and milestones are very important to telling the story of Israel and helping people remember. In the opening pages of the book of Joshua there is a story where the Israelites cross the Jordan river as they entered into the Promised Land. In response to crossing the river, Joshua instructs the Israelites to go back and set stones in the river as a reminder of their crossing.
This will be a symbol among you. In the future your children may ask, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you will tell them that the water of the Jordan was cut off before the Lord’s covenant chest. When it crossed over the Jordan, the water of the Jordan was cut off. These stones will be an enduring memorial for the Israelites.
Joshua 4:6-7 (CEB)
In honor of Zoey Grace, and as a sort of milestone moment as we pass the official due date of her birth, on Saturday, my wife and I will be walking in the March for Babies in Sacramento. In a way, this is a sort of “crossing the Jordan” moment for us as we step further into this new life and cross another milestone in our journey. We’re setting another stone down as we walk with Zoey in our life. Each new milestone, real or symbolic, is another way we can remember Zoey Grace and tell her story when people ask “What do these stones mean to you?” We have also started a team with the goal to raise $1000 for March of Dimes as we walk on Saturday. If you want to join our team and support the cause of bringing life to healthy babies you can join our team and donate at our page in honor of Zoey Grace. By joining our team you can help us tell Zoey’s story and be a part of our milestones along our journey.