Share Your Joy

In recent months, I feel like like my friends and love ones have been tiptoeing around me a little bit. I feel like when I walk into a room that’s bright and light, full of laughter and joy, people’s eyes go to the floor. They stifle their laughter and put on their mourning faces.

Although there is a time for mourning, those who mourn need joy too. We need joy. We need lightness in our lives, to remind us that joy really does exist in the world. I have been so thankful for one of my dear friends that asks me tell me as many good things as you just told me bad things.

I will be frank. I want to know that you’re expecting. I don’t want you to hide it from me. I want to celebrate that with you. I may go home and cry when I find out, or I may cry my eyes out in the car or in the bathroom, but it’s not because I’m not happy for you. It’s because I ache for myself.

Please don’t leave me out of your joy. Please don’t decide that I can’t handle your joy. I may have trouble handling it. I may not be able to come to showers, or I may need a long time to think about if I’m in a good mental place to hold your newborn baby on a particular day. I may “unfollow” you on Facebook, because I don’t know how a post about your pregnancy will hit me in the middle of the day. I mean, I cried because I saw a Penn Station today (it reminded me of a pregnancy craving). But I want to share your joy. I want to rejoice with you.

When you’re with those who mourn, please don’t hide your joy. I appreciate your sensitivity to my mourning, but please give me the option to participate. If I tell you that I just can’t handle it right now, please have grace with me. But, please, don’t forget to share your joy with me.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

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I am 1 in 4

It is estimated (stats from March of Dimes and WomensHealth.gov) that 1 in 10 women will lose a baby to miscarriage if they know they’re pregnant (other agencies estimate that approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage). 1 in 10 women struggle with infertility. 1 in 160 pregnancies end in stillbirth. 

There is so much stigma associated with loss or infertility. We struggle with feelings of inadequacy. We struggle with guilt and wonder what we’ve done wrong. We wonder if God is punishing us for some sin, remembered by us or forgotten.

When I joined the 25% with my loss, I was shocked at the number of women that I know who have experienced loss or infertility. Some I had spoken with about their experiences before I lost Cora, and some I had no idea that they had experienced loss.

Everyone mourns differently. Some people speak, and others don’t. I have chosen to speak, which you might find odd if you know me in real life. I’m an introvert. I’m a pretty private person. But I wanted to share her story. I wanted to acknowledge her existence and share it with the world, so that I didn’t just lost “a baby”. The baby I lost was wanted and had a personality and a name. There are things that I will not share with the world. There are things that I will not speak of, and that you will never see. I am still her mother, and her father and I have decided to keep the pictures we have of her secret. We have other mementos and memories that we will not share, because we don’t feel comfortable with it.

I wanted to speak so that others could feel free to speak. So that a conversation could happen about dealing with loss, about supporting people who have walked through loss. I know that some women don’t want to speak, and I honor that. I know that some do want to speak and don’t feel free to.

I plan on continuing to speak about her life, and am glad to speak about her. For the rest of the month, I want to walk with you all through the emotions that came through my loss and the kind of support I needed and still need after losing her. At first glance, that feels SO selfish to write. But, as I said before, everyone mourns differently; what was good for me might not be good for someone else. I don’t know what someone else may want or need, but I’ll include questions to help you think through how best to support someone you love that’s going through loss, or yourself if you are going through it.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

Why worship?

I’ve spent the past several days posting worship songs, and I didn’t explain why. I just told you “music speaks to me. I leaned on music when my heart was shattered.”

Music is more than a coping mechanism when we’re broken. Music is a form of worship when everything comes crashing down. I will tell you, I did not and often do not feel like worshipping God much of the time in light of Cora’s death. And yet. I was led time and again, through encouragement by old friends, scripture, and countless other sources, to put my energy into worshipping God.

When Husbandman and I have experienced has been very, very difficult. So difficult that I know that I could not have gone through it without my faith. And the examples I have in my Bible are of people reminding themselves in hardship to worship God. After Job lost everything, his livestock, all of his kids, he said:

20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:20-21

Job worshiped God. Job did not go before God and say “You took this from me. You did this to me. You slighted me. You’ve hurt me.” Job recognized that his world didn’t revolve around himself. He realized that his world revolved around God, and that’s where he kept his focus.

That’s been my goal: to focus on God and to thank Him for His goodness. That’s what worship is. It reminds us who God is. It keeps us focused on Him, and when we’re focused on Him, our pain is lessened. I still hurt. I still fight anxiety and worry about “why”, “how”, and “what next”. But when I worship God, I remember His goodness. I remind my heart of His goodness. And in the light of His goodness, I remember to cast my cares on Him. He doesn’t answer all of my questions with “yes”, “no”, or “this is why I allowed this to happen”. He answers my questions with “I am here”. And He is enough. May He be enough for you. May you recognize that He is sufficient for you in whatever situation you find yourself.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

Torn Asunder

This is the last worship song that I’ll be sharing this month, and it’s the one that touched me the most. I still have no words to express how this song has spoken to my heart.

When my Heart is Asunder

When my heart
Is torn asunder
And my world
Just falls apart
Lord You put
Me back together
And lift me up
To where You are

There is hope
Beyond the suffering
Joy beyond the tears
Peace in every tragedy
Love that conquers fear
I have found redemption
In the blood of Christ
My body might be dying
But I’ll always be alive

You have turned
Mourning to dancing
You have covered me with grace
The struggle here
May last a moment
But life with You
Will last always

There is hope
Beyond the suffering
Joy beyond the tears
Peace in every tragedy
Love that conquers fear
I have found redemption
In the blood of Christ
My body might be dying
But I’ll always be alive

When the age
Of death is over
And this world
Has been reborn
I’ll be there
Beside my Savior
This is our GREAT
And rich reward

There is hope
Beyond the suffering
Joy beyond the tears
Peace in every tragedy
Love that conquers fear
I have found redemption
In the blood of Christ
My body might be dying
But I’ll always be alive

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

Pregnancy Loss

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance day. This one day of they year, we pause to remember children who are lost and the families that mourn them still. I can imagine, so close to my loss, that I will still feel the loss of my daughter for the rest of my life, although my grief will change as time goes on.

For those of you who have lost children, in the 6th or the 41st week, I pray for your today. I pray that the Lord would give you comfort and peace. I do not know your exact pain, just as you do not know mine, but I am thankful that we are able to support one another as we walk a road of pain together. Something that people safe often in regards to grief is “time heals all wounds”. This phrase is not true. Wounds that are not treated correctly do not heal with time, they often get worse. In our Griefshare meeting yesterday, another phrase was offered. Time spent with Jesus heals. Spend time with Jesus. Bring your confusion and pain to Him. Choose to trust Him with your pain, even if you don’t feel like it.

For those who love someone who’s lost a baby, support them. Feel free to grieve their loss yourself, but be careful to think about them and pray for them. Offer your support. Don’t forget. Even years after, don’t forget.

“13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

Deep Love

When I’m in the depths of grief, I need reminded that God loves me. I need reminded of my faith; of the sacrifice Christ made for me when He died on the cross. I believe with my whole heart that God chose to allow His only Son to die to pay the penalty for my sins. His only Son.

I never thought I would, but I know what it’s like for my only child to die. I know how badly it hurt that Cora died. I know some measure of the pain that God experienced when He allowed His only Son to die for my sins. And knowing that God knows how I feel comforts me. The reminder that God is still sovereign and that I am still His comforts me. And I pray that you know that comfort as well. I pray that you know that no matter what is going on in your life that Christ died for you, and that all you have to do to know Him is to accept that gift by confess that He is Lord and that you have fallen short.

“…because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 

How deep His love is for us indeed.

How Deep the Father’s Love for Us

How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

When my Feet Fail

The song “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Hillsong United has been popular since 2013. The song feels good to sing, and when you listen to it on the surface, it feels good to hear as well.

When you take a long, hard look at the lyrics, the refrain goes:
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Asking for God to take you “deeper than my feet could ever wander” is asking to get thrown in water that is too deep for you to handle. It’s asking to get placed in water that will drown you if your focus is not correct.

Think of Peter in Matthew 14:22-33. Peter tells Jesus to call him out on the water with him “if that is You”. Jesus said to him, “Come” and Peter stepped out on the water. Peter then noticed a “strong wind” and began to sink. He stopped focusing on Jesus.

That is what happens to us when we mourn and take our eyes off Christ. The wind is blowing pretty heavily in my life right now. My stress level is high, and the rest of my life feels like it hinges on test results that have yet to come. Will I be able to have another baby ever? Do I have an illness that will affect me forever?

I am having a difficult time. Have I told you that? I’m a mess. I’m having a hard time. And when I take my eyes of Christ, I start to sink. I start to flail around and become so frightened that I’m paralyzed. Every day this happens to me, usually multiple times a day. What if something else bad happens? What if I start to feel more overwhelmed. What if? 

When we ask Christ to call us out on the water with Him, may we remember that it isn’t “safe”. It is not within our comfort zone. When we’re called out on the water and we’re scared, may we remember that Christ is still good, even when we feel like we’re in over our heads. And He is right there when we cry, “Lord, save me!” like Peter did when he began to sink. May our faith grow as our trust grows. May we remember that trust doesn’t grow without the opportunity to trust more and more as God takes us out of our comfort zones.

When my feet fail, like they do daily, may I turn to Christ. 

“Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will standAnd I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

[6x]
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh, Jesus, you’re my God!

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

I Need Thee Every Hour

Another song that I listened to on repeat in the days following her loss was “I Need Thee Every Hour”. This song, penned by Annie S. Hawks and Robert Lowry, is a plea for God to be near. When my mind was so muddle by grief and pain, I could hardly come up with my own words to pray to ask God to be near. This song is a plea for the Lord to draw near; an expression of total dependence on God. When I had no words to express myself, I hid in this song. I cried as I listened to it over and over again.

I Need Thee Every Hour

1 I need thee every hour,
most gracious Lord;
no tender voice like thine
can peace afford.

Refrain:
I need thee, O I need thee,
every hour I need thee.
O bless me now, my Savior;
I come to thee.

I need thee every hour;
stay thou near by;
temptations lose their power
when thou art nigh. [Refrain]

I need thee every hour,
in joy or pain;
come quickly and abide,
or life is vain. [Refrain]

I need thee every hour;
teach me thy will;
and thy rich promises
in me fulfill. [Refrain]

I need thee every hour,
Most Holy One;
O make me thine indeed,
thou Blessed Son! [Refrain]

I am thankful that God is near when we need Him most, even when we don’t have the words to express our needs. I am thankful that we have music available to us when words fail to express our deep need for God, even in suffering. I am thankful that when I lived my life trying to just make it through the next ten minutes, that someone else had written such apt words and music with which I could worship. 

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

It is Well

One of the things that has helped carry me through this loss is music. Music has always been a very special part of my life. When I’m scared, I sing. When I can’t sleep, I pray and praise God for who He is, often through going through songs that I’ve loved in my heart and in my head. When I’m scared of the days to come, I find great solace in music. I believe that God designs each of us to worship in a certain way. Some worship through painting or writing, and some through singing. I have been singing since I was a little girl, and hope that I never have to stop. I find the mingling of voices in a church choir to worship God a small glimpse into what I think Heaven will be like when we’re in God’s presence. There is something beautiful about singing with those that we love, each lending our own unique voices to a piece written by someone else and sung by many others in their native tongue in times of pain and in times of joy.  

“It is Well with my Soul” was written by Horatio Spafford. Spafford was a successful businessman in Chicago, and had a great deal of real estate holdings. After the loss of his son and the loss of his property holdings in the Great Chicago Fire, Spafford scheduled a European trip for his family to help them recover. He was delayed in his journey, and sent his wife and daughters ahead. He received news shortly thereafter that all of his daughters drowned on the journey, and that his wife alone survived. He wrote this powerful, hopeful song as his ship sailed over the very place where his daughters died.

(http://www.sharefaith.com/guide/Christian-Music/hymns-the-songs-and-the-stories/it-is-well-with-my-soul-the-song-and-the-story.html)

This song speaks to my heart. Spafford lost everything, and at the very site where his children drowned, he praised God. He praised God as he reminded his soul of God’s goodness.

It Is Well With My Soul

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well (it is well),
with my soul (with my soul),
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

Refrain

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

Refrain

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

Refrain

And Lord haste the day, when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Refrain

As I live daily without my own daughter, I am thankful for the reminder to my soul that all is well, because of who God is. I am thankful for the reminder that no matter the trial, God is with me. It truly is well with my soul. 

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media. 

A Story of Stillbirth- Hope

That’s our story so far. Husbandman and I are back at work full time, and I’m physically fully recovered. We’re still waiting on test results, but the likelihood that we’ll find out exactly what caused our baby girl to die are slim. (And if I’m completely honest, I am really struggling with not having test results back yet. I really want to know what we can know.)

There have been a few days that I haven’t cried since we lost her, but many more days that I have. Sometimes, the grief comes out of nowhere and takes me by surprise. Some days I wake up sadder than others, and some days I remember to laugh.

I’m used to wrapping up stories in a neat bow, but the truth is that this story won’t ever really be “over”. I have been changed by Cora’s life and death, which means that every experience that I have for the rest of my life will be colored by her’s. And I’m okay with that. Allowing my life to be changed by the fact that she lived means that I won’t forget her, and that’s a good thing.

Husbandman and I choose to see our story as one of hope. We have chosen to see her life in the light of our faith. We could easily focus on the sadness of what we’ve experienced, or we can focus on the hope of our salvation in Christ Jesus. Our faith doesn’t mean that hard times won’t come. Christ only lived into His thirties, He told people that to follow Him was to renounce all of their physical possessions, and He wasn’t the CEO of a major carpentry business. He spent His time with social outcasts and slept where His head fell. He chose to die on a cross, the death of a criminal, to pay the price for my sins so that He could redeem me, the very one who is responsible for him being on that cross. I will not deny my faith in Christ, because He does not deny me.

Today, we choose hope. We choose to hope in Christ that we will be reunited with her when we die. We choose to hope in Christ that her life will bring others closer to Him. Tomorrow, we choose to hope as well, and all the days after that.

We encourage you to choose hope with us, regardless of your circumstances. We encourage you to choose hope in Christ Jesus because of a personal relationship with Him. It’s not easy. It hurts. But, it’s worth it. It’s good.

Throughout the month of October, I’m writing a series titled “Hopeful Grief” with a fabulous group of writers, doing the Write31Days challenge. To catch up, or see new posts, click here. Interested in last year’s Write31Days posts? Click here. Know someone that this series may touch? Share as you see fit. 

You can also sign up to receive notifications when I post something new, using the link to the right. If you’d like, you can sign up for extras too, such as exclusive newsletters and personal updates, by using the “Click Here” button to the right. Want even more? Connect with me on social media.