Sunday, March 26, 2017

Words from the Service...

In honor of our son, Garrison Isaac's passing in my womb at 19 weeks over 3 years ago (Jan 31st), I'm revisiting my blog and finally posting. I had forgotten I had actually put the following together in March 2014 and saved it as a draft that I just now discovered in my blog's folder. I never would have thought we would find ourselves in such a difficult journey then and now as we've had 2 more pregnancy losses in 2016. We're constantly leaning on God's guidance and protection through it all, that's the only way we keep our sanity :)

So here we are...

I've compiled all the readings and order of service for Garrison's memorial together for everyone that would be interested to read. I know some of you were there, some weren't able to make it or some were far away in virtual internet land.  It's a lot of text so don't feel compelled to read it all. Following this is a VERY touching story that my mom wrote those days after the service with photos included from that day called "From a Distance", a.k.a. This Will Make You Cry A LOT (so grab a kleenex).

I hope all of this paints a better picture of what we've been through, what we've learned and where we're going for you to see and understand.  Possibly for anyone else that has also gone through a miscarriage and could bless you and help you. 

 Garrison Isaac Johnson Memorial Service
February 6th, 2014
Gone to Heaven January 31st, 2014
Mountain View Funeral Home

Pastor Officiating
Bo Noonan
New Community Church
Tacoma, WA

“We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.”
Psalm 30:20-22

Order of Service

Prayer and words from the Pastor
We would like to thank people for coming, to pray for Garrison and for the opportunity to honor him. While he was with us only a short time, God used his life, his strength and his joy to help us learn so much about ourselves and we’re so thankful to have him for the time he was with us.


William & Leah’s Hope for a Child (Shared from Bo)
We would just like people to understand a little of our story. We have been married for 7 years, been trying for a child for almost two years. When we found out we were expecting a baby we were overjoyed, the opportunity to be a father, a mother, raise a child in Jesus and experience what it’s like to know the fullness of family experience that God has gifted us to help us grow as people and provide comfort to us, through His love. Soon after being pregnant Leah began having issues that jeopardized the pregnancy, which lead to bed rest, her bed rest soon became a struggle of constant prayer, drawing closer to God in faith that he would be ok. God used this time in our life to break down the old us, and taught us so much about ourselves, and how strong we could be, by leaning on Jesus. We named him Garrison, for his strength, when he hung on throughout the pregnancy, and after William’s father Gary. We named him Isaac for laughter, giving us joy and surprises every step of the way, even when doctors were convinced we were having a girl, but in our hearts we thought he would be a boy, and blood test results proved it and we laughed with joy.


The Gift of Garrison Isaac
Writings from the parents

From Leah: 

What I’m Thankful For
Feb. 6th 2014 By: Leah Johnson
Thank you so much for being with us today and honoring Garrison’s life. The past 4 months have been a difficult and trying time for us but incredibly rewarding.  God has given us so much strength as we’ve had to make big changes in our every day lives, expectations and desires. As well, the opportunity to be Garrison’s mom, as hard as it was, has been a blessing and I wouldn’t wish this time away for anything. This is what God has shown and taught us through Garrison’s life in this bittersweet season that I’m incredibly thankful for.

I’m thankful for having an Unshakable Peace
-From the first signs of concern, I have had an amazing sense of peace and calm about the pregnancy. I knew that no matter what, God had his hand on Garrison and He knew what he was doing and by that I felt at ease. I still had some anxieties but overall I knew I could only do so much because God was in charge.

I’m thankful for William’s care and concern for me and Garrison while on bed rest
-I was amazed at how well he took over the household duties, cooking, cleaning, bringing me meals and being such a protective and loving husband. I honestly didn’t know he was capable of so much until now. Through this I feel incredibly confident of what he’s capable of for now and the future and know that it is all by the strength and grace that God gave him. I am truly blessed by it and have a deeper love and appreciation for him because of it.

I’m thankful for all the praying friends and family near and far
-We’re amazed by the blessing of having so many people pray for us and Garrison. From both our parents churches, our relatives and friends and churches in other states and of course everyone here in WA, it’s a blessing to know so many people care about us. William calls all of you “Prayer Force 9000” J

I’m thankful for our family that took care of me and Garrison while on bed rest
-My mom had a change of employment soon after we were advised that I need to go on bed rest. Even though this change was hard for her, it was a blessing to have her available to come take care of me and be my mom. Cleaning, decorating for Christmas and being with me to talk has been very encouraging and a blessing.  As well, my brother in law Ted, sis in law Beth and my mom in law, Becky have also been available to come take care of me, bring me food and do household chores which has been a huge blessing too.

I’m thankful for my faith being strengthened.
-I’ve never in my life leaned onto Jesus as much as I have now for understanding and strength. He has revealed his word to us through scriptures in the “Jesus Today” book given to us by my parents which we read together. From the very first day, it has brought us comfort with verses and encouragement of hope and reliance and trust in God. I took several verses like the one in the service program which I memorized then wrote them down on index cards and taped them around our house for us to see and dwell on.
-We have a calendar hanging in our room created by an amazing painter and for the month of January there is a picture of Jesus’ hand on a pregnant woman’s belly with the outline of the baby inside. We saw that and were comforted of knowing that Jesus’ hand was/is on Garrison and is taking care of him. As well, we’re reminded of exactly who God is by breaking down the walls that we’ve confined him in.
-I got an email from cousin Adrienne where she shared Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you…”, she reminded me that no matter what the doctors say we know that God’s plan is good and brings  hope and a future for us so there is nothing to fear! She said she was praying for God’s glory to shine through every dr appt, visit and experience, for God’s peace to reign in our lives and for his word to continue to breakthrough and fill our hearts and minds with his TRUTH. I can say without a doubt that God has certainly answered all these prayers and is continuing to do so.

I’m thankful for God’s perfect Timing…
-We are grateful for the amount of time we had with Garrison, he was with us long enough for me to feel him move around in my belly and be comforted to know he’s there and have that experience.

-We had a breakthrough while praying for Garrison after our last ultrasound, when the diagnosis was grim and we felt numb to the situation. We declared in Jesus’ name for healing and a miracle and felt God’s presence in the room. I no longer had this passive attitude for the concerns about Garrison, instead we believed that we need to fight for him and what God is capable of. He can do a miracle just like he did 2000 years ago, he is still active and working in our lives so we shouldn’t believe in anything less. We have a choice to fight for Garrison and the chance to live; we can no longer just stand by and wait. For those 3 weeks after the visit we prayed together every day and night in Jesus name over the baby, the most praying we’ve ever done in our marriage. I know that God did a miracle in our lives, maybe not exactly as we hoped; instead Garrison is alive now in heaven and completely whole and perfect. 

-We are thankful for our financial stability through William’s job and God providing for us so we didn’t have worries of me being on bed rest and not being able to work.

-As difficult as it was, losing him at home which was several days before our next ultrasound appt, was an experience that showed me how much God loves us by the people that were there to take care of us. The paramedics that came to our house, Sionna and Christine, the L&D nurses, Jennifer and Andrea, the midwife Bernadette, and the chaplains, Wendy and Russ, who were waiting for us as we arrived, were all absolute angels.  They were caring, patient, attentive, sympathetic and understanding As well, my sis and bro in law were able to come see us and waited with us as we were cared for at the hospital till 3am when they took us home.

I believed God was preparing me for something big…

-In the week leading up to Friday, I felt more comforted by hearing a wonderful sermon by David Jeremiah, called “The ups and downs of life”- He read Psalm 30, which spoke to me. It reads “Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me…Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help.” 11 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.”  He also read Job 1:21 21 “…the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”  After hearing this, I was comforted and knew that if God were to take Garrison that day it would never be for nothing, I trust in the Lord to do what is in his plan and am grateful for what God is doing and will continue to do.

-A week ago, while feeling like I was at my breaking point, being tired of bed rest and physically strained I saw a post to a link on FB from my cousin Adrienne, to a song by Hillsong United. That day she was going into the hospital to have her daughter Charlotte and called this her “anthem song”. I had heard the song before but not really listened to the word but then I clicked on it the link and read the lyrics on the screen and began to sob, believing this was for me to see and hear just at this moment of struggle.  I felt touched by the Holy Spirit and knew he was breaking me, taking away all my pain and sorrow and letting me trust him completely, beyond what I could fathom and believing that he was preparing me for whatever was coming next..

Finally, I have joyful Anticipation for the next season of our lives…
-Our wish for the next season of our lives is to continue to honor the gift that Garrison has taught us by making some God-inspired changes. We want to start saying “yes” to more opportunities of spending time with our families, getting back to church, joining a community group, etc and to stop making excuses of being too tired, stressed, depressed, over-worked, etc. We want to stop being afraid of the outcome, of being judged or worried about what others think.  We want to make more God-inspired changes at home, with our time and energy that we know will bring us closer, keep us stronger and help us be more like Jesus….like my aunt Pam says “To hold each other tight and press our ears to heaven.”

What Garrison the Stronghold Taught Me
Shared by William

Pray day and night
As Jesus into our life each day. Thank him for all blessings, good and bad. Ask forgiveness and his help relentlessly knocking on the door, just as the woman with the oil, or the woman as she tugged on Jesus’s garment.

Be a servant
To Christ, to spouse and children, family, friends, and community. Be a servant to all in heart, willingly and desiringly to help the world around us. The desire to make things better and others to feel loved.

Our time here is fragile, but God is not.
While we lose people we love, people suffer, all around, every day. Our time here together is fragile, so embrace it, do what God has planned for us. Live life to the fullest, it’s better in him each day. With His people, speaking to Him, in His will. So when you look back you know, you did the best you could, and it’s up to God now.

While our time is fragile, we did the best we could, and God did the rest. In faith, God took Garrison Isaac as he laughed in the comfort of his mother’s womb, and this day, he lives on, in heaven, with Jesus, with his Grandpa Gary and loved ones, looking down on us, he’s strong. He’s laughing and he feels our love and hears our prayers, forever, Amen.

Love is what matters most.
Love in Christ, love with family, love together, quality. More time together, forget dollars, possessions, pride, the sins of man, radical change and re-prioritization to love God, family, and people first, above all.

Be a Garrison, and fear not
God doesn’t want us to be afraid, for he knows the plans for our lives and they are good, even for baby he gave him love, and laughter, and peace to take him outside the struggle when it was time. Being strong doesn’t mean not crying, or longing, it means, have hope and faith that God’s plan is good and he will be here, when it matters most and always forever.

A true stronghold has no walls
There’s no need to put up walls in our life, fear of not being loved, fear of being judged, fear of not doing the “right” thing by the standards of man. Tear down the walls that separate us from God, family, God’s people, loved ones, family, friends and everyone else. In faith, open your arms and except everything, just as Jesus did for us all, on the cross, without fear, with God’s strength, from the inside out. Let it come rushing in and be a stronghold for Jesus.

Forgive and be free
Forgive all and forgive ourselves. Everything is all part of His will. God knew these things and set them forth before we were even born. Gods ways are beyond our understanding, but he uses times like these to take the dark things and make them light, so that he may draw us closer, in love, with Him. 

Song and Reflection
“Oceans (Where Feet May Fail” by Hillsong United
This is a song that spoke to Leah, from a band we have loved for many years. It’s an uplifting song that is about relying on God’s strength during struggle. We heard this song just before we lost Garrison, and felt that God was preparing us for the great unknown. 


Following thoughts and a prayer for Garrison
We want to pray that Garrison is with loved one’s, with Jesus, that we know that God took him, when he was still in joy, that there was no struggle, and that through the love and prayer from everyone around us, family, friends and parents, that we was a beloved baby, and that he feels our love, and that we thank him that he was so strong for us, that he’s looking down on us, feeling our love, until one day we are reunited, forever.


Lullaby to Garrison (Sing-along)

All Through the Night
By Sir Harold Boulton
We got a book of lullabies for Garrison, to sing to him in the womb, he moved around a lot, and this one we sang to him that put him at ease one night, to allow Leah to sleep.

Sleep my child and peace attend thee,
All through the night
Guardian angels God will lend thee,
All through the night;

Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,
Hill and vale in slumber sleeping,
I my loved ones' watch am keeping,
All through the night.
Angels watching, e'er around thee,
All through the night
Midnight slumber close surround thee,
All through the night

Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,
Hill and vale in slumber sleeping
I my loved ones' watch am keeping,
All through the night.

Blessings from Family and Friends
--Processional to burial-- 

Reading from Psalm 37 by Bo Noonan

Closing Prayers, thoughts, and releasing of doves at grave site
(Yes, we got to release DOVES, we had no beforehand knowledge of this going to happen :)

Words shared from Bill Straley, associate at the funeral home
This is sweet old man, Bill, shared some wonderful words and visions of Garrison's spirit being now in heaven though his body is still here on earth. 

Placing of the casket then parents and family partaking of placing earth on top
Also a very touching end to the service, where Bill gave anyone the chance to place a small spade-full of sand on top of Garrison's casket.


by Jody Lee Collins (grab a kleenex)

“Mommy, where is that man going?”  The little boy leaned in for a closer look.
His busy mother glanced up. “What man?”
“The man with the flowers.  He’s carrying a bright, colorful, big pile of flowers.”
“Where is he, honey?” She stretched her eyes, looking in the distance.
“Right there.  And he’s all dressed up. “The little boy put down his toys and pointed.
“Oh, oh. I see him, honey.  He’s wearing his Sunday best, too.  It might be a party, but wherever he’s going, it must be important.”
“He’s not really smiling, tho’, mama.  I don’t think it’s a party.  People are usually smiling at a party, but he looks a little sad.”
The boy and his mother watched and waited.
The Sunday best man held the flowers carefully as he walked through a doorway.  All was quiet inside; someone came up to say hello.
“Now he’s smiling, mama.  But his eyes look wet and it’s not raining.  In fact, it’s very, very cold out today.
Why are his eyes wet?”
The little boy was still, watching, wondering.
“There are other people coming in to the room, but no one has any presents, just more flowers.”
The mother turned her head.  “I see, honey.  Yes, it must be a special occasion.”
“Where do you think he’ll put the flowers?  They look very heavy and he’s being very patient.”  His mother agreed, “He is being patient, indeed. And quiet.”
“I wish I was there to help him, mama.  I’m strong—I could help him and maybe I could make him smile.”
The eager boy shivered, as if he was cold, but it was just excitement.  He felt he was witnessing something very, very special.
His mother reassured him. “Yes, you have a strong name; I think he feels you there with him already, son.”
“Look, he’s stopping. Oh. Oh, the flowers, mama, he put the flowers right here in front where I can see.
And right next to a card with some writing on it.  Mama, that’s my name!   Are all these people here for me?”
“Why, yes, I guess they are.  The flowers must be for you, my precious, strong, laughing boy, my Garrison Isaac.”