The days after Zion’s transition to Heaven were very full and busy with planning and hosting family and friends from out of town. With this being my first time ever planning a funeral, I can compare it to planning for a wedding in a way, just on a somewhat smaller scale. It’s too bad that families have to literally put grieving on hold in order to accomplish planning the arrangements. I truly will never look at funerals the same way, and a new empathy for those having to go through that process while grieving has definitely been birthed in me. So even though it was hard and agonizing at points, it surely added some notches to my “character belt”.
The days leading up to Zion’s services were filled with so many blessings; it was undeniable that God was showering His love upon us. Seeing the goodness in the hearts of others as they poured out encouragement, sent us cards and flowers, made donations and love offerings, cleaned our house, babysat our children, helped us prepare to host lots of family, and fed us wonderful meals was like a healing balm to our hurting hearts. Within just one week, the Lord completely covered all of our funeral expenses through the generosity of countless souls who eagerly responded to our loved one’s fundraising efforts. We were overwhelmed by seeing love in action as God truly did cover us in every way. And it was especially neat to see who sent something our way. Some gifts were from people we didn’t even know, and others took us by surprise because they were from people we would least expect (because we didn’t even know they followed Zion’s story). No doubt, allowing our child with Trisomy 18 to live, while choosing to trust God in the journey, has brought incredible blessing into our lives!
The evening of Zion’s visitation was so special indeed. Our guests were so patient as they waited in line to talk to my husband and I, and to fix their eyes upon Zion (most for the very first time). Zion looked so peaceful and very handsome in his all white “Heavenly tuxedo”. The testimonies and encouraging words that many shared with us truly lifted my spirits deeply! We also appreciated how some, after visiting, chose to sit down and stay for a while, abiding with us quietly as they watched Zion’s slide show in the sanctuary. And it was so special to share tears with many of you as we spoke about Zion and what a little missionary for the Lord that he truly was.
The Celebration service, the following day, was such a beautiful day indeed. From beginning to end, God was with us and answered our prayers. We were supposed to have rain, but it turned out to be a glorious day. My husband and I wanted to have well thought out speeches, but we simply didn’t have time to do more than rough outlines. We ended up speaking from the heart and we trust that God had us to share what He desired, as that was our prayer. One of my favorite memories was watching my 5 year old daughter “dance to the Lord” during the prelude to the service. I was truly taken aback at how she was so unashamed to get up and twirl before her Lord in front of all those people sitting in front of her! It truly exemplified her faith in God as she couldn’t hold back her joy and desire to move as we worshiped. We also were honored that all of Zion’s uncles and both of his grandparents played an active role in the service in some way. I was especially touched to hear my dad quote scripture for the very first time in my life, and from memory at that! And our pastor gave the most uplifting, yet convicting, sermon that was truly perfect for the occasion and the times we are currently in. We have included a link to the entire service for those who weren’t able to attend (at the very bottom of the page).
What happened after the ceremony though truly blew our minds. As we all walked to our cars, one of the funeral home attendants told us that we would be getting a police escort by the county sheriffs. This was something unexpected as we didn’t request it. I imagined that we would have one sheriff in front of the hurst leading the way. But no, little Zion had a true “Presidential style” police escort which had numerous officers working together in unison to give us a roadway completely unobstructed from any vehicles the entire twenty minute drive to the cemetery – including on the highway! As we drove up onto the highway and looked behind us to see a line of police vehicles stopping all oncoming highway traffic, we burst out in shouts of joy and awe as we praised God! Every on-ramp to the highway that we would pass by was also was stopped for us! We marveled watching how the sheriffs worked in tandem, taking turns racing up ahead of us after our procession passed by them to get up ahead to the next exit that needed to be stopped. They flew by our vehicle so fast I remarked that they were like swift, mighty angels preparing Zion’s way!!! I have never seen anything like it in over 40 years of life… and I’ve been to many funerals. I was speechless at how the Lord honored little Zion. My dear Aunt/Godmother Mary said that she believed God gave us a tiny little foretaste of the welcoming that Zion received in Heaven. That thought made my heart smile. We believe it was God’s way of saying to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
Zion even has the perfect little location at the cemetery. He’s in the little “infant’s area” – next to a new oak tree and a bench. It’s a beautiful cemetery that has such a peace about it, and we look forward to coming there to visit, walk, or just sit and stay a while. Our daughter is chomping at the bit to go back and make his grave her own by decorating it how her little heart desires.
And the praise reports and testimonies continue, even after the celebrations have ended – which is what many of you prayed for! Zion transitioning to Heaven happened to be the caveat to getting my husband’s entire (very large) family together in entirety for the first time in over six years. Many shared on social media how Zion encouraged them to dig deeper in their faith, or to begin praying for the first time, or returning back to God after straying. He had a special place in so many children’s hearts as countless parents told us how their children loved praying for our son every night. Zion’s purpose has come into perfect, 2020 clear vision: he drew us all closer to God.
Zion’s story truly has gone worldwide. I randomly heard from a friend from high school who lives many states away, how she had a random conversation with a friend about “her friend from high school who lost her son” and how that friend somehow knew right away that it was Zion! Our home nurse Sue went to the farmer’s market one day, and the workers unexpectedly brought up Zion’s passing to her – little did they know they were speaking to Zion’s nurse – what a small world!
It also has been a privilege to pass along many of Zion’s unneeded items to families in need. The donated breast milk that Zion had left was given to a family that had newborn twins – this dear mother drove six hours round trip (with two twin newborns in the car) to pick up our milk and then quickly turn around to head back home – God bless her!!!
Another story we love came from a dear friend from our church. She had a special affection for Zion and our family. Her story began as she was picking out flower pots in a store to contain her beautiful Zinnias that she wanted to display at Zion’s funeral. She was praying for God to direct her as to which one to pick – and she felt drawn to this unique, blue pot with a fish scale-like pattern. At first she dismissed the pot because of the odd design, but then she explained that she felt God speak directly to her heart that the pot was meant for the occasion because Zion was a “fisher of men”. She described how she was overwhelmed with tears and God’s presence right in the middle of that store aisle. So, needless to say, this flower pot will be one that I will now cherish for the rest of my life, all because of that special testimony.
These two people (below) are incredibly special to me because I attribute a lot of my spiritual growth to them. God brought them into my life literally immediately after I was saved in 2012 – and they have been discipling me ever since. I was greatly blessed by their mere presence in our home during the celebration events because they have been, and have promised to continue to be, spiritual pillars that we can lean on in the trials – they have also vowed never to leave or forsake my husband and I from the moment our “Goddad” married us. I wept like a baby when dropping them off at the airport because I secretly wished they could stay forever. (People who walk in and are filled with the Holy Spirit have that life-giving effect – they are hard to come by). We have been eternally grateful to them ministering to my husband and I on the phone as we traverse the difficult times in our grieving/transition process. Thank You Lord for the gift of ongoing, never-failing discipleship! We love you both!
I’ve been amazed at how God has given some people dreams about Zion – including his daddy and sister! What has been most intriguing about these dreams are how everyone has reported that Zion was healed (not needing a trach), or that he could “walk” and “talk” in the dreams. I have to admit, I’ve been a little jealous that others have had dreams like these when I have yet to have one. I actually haven’t had dreams in quite some time – I think because my body isn’t used to sleeping deeply since we’ve had to listen out for Zion (or the phone to ring) every night for 16 1/2 months straight. But I can’t help but be happy that at least someone is dreaming about Zion, and getting to witness just a tiny glimpse of what he might be experiencing now in Heaven.
“How are you all doing?” And “How are the kids doing?” are the top two questions we get. I will share for myself, since I can’t really speak to what my husband is feeling internally. But I will say my husband has been really strong – he seems to be doing well from what I can see. For me, the best way I can describe my current state is that I sort of feel like I’ve lost part of my identity. Of course, my true identity is in CHRIST. However, while here on earth, stuck in this body of flesh, I still have tendencies to place my identity in things here in this life – sad, but true. And while Zion was here, he consumed a lot of me and my time. But not out of compulsion – it was my JOY to care for Zi. I felt privileged to be chosen to be his mom. Doing his cares was how I loved him and it brought me so much satisfaction. I admit, I might have been just a little bit obsessed with caring for his needs. In a moment though, that was taken away from me. So it’s like a large piece of me has been removed, which has obviously shifted greatly who I am today. With Zion gone, I feel like I’m clumsily trying to grope my way into finding who I am now, on the other side. The good news is that I know that Jesus will fill the gaping hole in my heart that has been left by Zion. And He promises to hold me by the hand as He guides me into my new life as a family of four, again.
My children are doing amazingly well overall. My three year old understands that Zion is “in the clouds, in Heaven with God.” He has mentioned that he wants to “get him (Zion) down from there (Heaven)”. So he seems to be able to express that he is missing his little brother. He has been wanting me to “hide him” a lot lately – where he seems to be trying to crawl back into my belly. I believe it’s his way of wanting extra security as he tries to process and understand the change in his life. My five year old daughter I haven’t seen cry once (although she claims she has cried a couple times by herself in her room). She has what I believe is a big faith, and fully understands where Zion is, how wonderful Heaven is, that Zi is fully healed and happy, and that we will see him again when we go to spend eternity there with him. So, I assume for her, she doesn’t see the need to cry in light of all that good news! But she does express missing him and smiles so big as she watches his videos. She also has been drawing some amazing pictures of Zion with God. (An example is below). I have a lot of lost time to make up for with these two. They missed out on a lot of my time and presence when Zion was here, so I almost feel like I’m starting all over again with the two of them. My focus moving forward is on quality time with them!
Zion had a way of making everything going on in the world just stop, as he drew you in through His beautiful blue eyes to know our Creator. I thought the last blog update would be my final one, but I simply couldn’t not share how we continued to see the goodness of God even in the days after Zion’s death. We hope this serves as a final blessing to you all!
For the Lord has chosen Zion;Psalm 132:13,14
He has desired it for His habitation.
“This is My resting place forever;
Here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
I bring near My righteousness, it is not far off;Isaiah 46:13
And My salvation will not delay.
And I will grant salvation in Zion,
And My glory for Israel.
A Song of Ascents.Psalm 126:1-3
When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter
And our tongue with joyful shouting;
Then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us;
We are glad.
Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense,Romans 9:33
And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”
Awake, awake,Isaiah 52:1-2
Clothe yourself in your strength, O Zion;
Clothe yourself in your beautiful garments…
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.Psalm 50:2
Blow a trumpet in Zion,Joel 2:1,2
And sound an alarm on My holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
For the day of the Lord is coming…
Zion’s Celebration of Life (full service):