A Cover Story ~ What The Picture Reveals

Full SG Cover

It wasn’t our first photo shoot. It was one of several during a phase of my life where gravity is making itself quite known and I have never weighed more, other than in pregnancy, of course. Not a season where photo shoots are relished. We needed a cover for my upcoming book, Sufficient Grace, and we needed it quickly. The options from our previous shoot, the ones where only part of my face was showing as I re-enacted weeping over my bible, were not working for the publishing team.

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We tried several ideas.

Me holding three candles.

Me holding three baby bracelets.

A gorgeous picture of a bold, red petunia growing defiantly through the railroad tracks. Because that’s what sufficient grace is…beauty, where it doesn’t belong. Where you would never suspect it. I will save that gem for another post.

A storm was gathering the evening I donned my black lace dress to stand in alleys and tiptoe into the dirty reservoir, with my worn, tattered bible clutched close. Ever close.

I agonized over the cover. How will we ever capture what this journey has meant for me…for my family? How can one picture encompass all of the grace and grit?

Rachel Sharpe, my ever patient, ridiculously talented, up and coming birth photographer extraordinaire, and SGM Remembrance Photographer….said we needed to drive out into the country. The sky, darkening behind us.

I wanted it dark. A storm brewing is exactly what those days felt like. A storm, surrounding one girl, with only her worn, tattered bible to cling to for shelter and comfort.

“One more,” she said. “Can we do just one more?”

We drove to the country road. I couldn’t see what she saw from behind the lens. I just stood in the middle of the road, holding the same bible I clung to years ago, the one filled with teardrops, as I grieved for Faith and Grace and wept through the days I carried Thomas and the days I longed to hold him again. The bible my Dinah gave to me, many years ago…a lifetime ago.

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The wind blew my hair back, and my mind wandered to those days, as I felt the question, spoken with such accusation, “Where is your God, now?” The days I searched for Him. The days in my own fierce storm…the storm of my life, when I looked to Him. I held my worn bible tightly, lifting my chin. I can handle the storm, when my eyes remain steady on the One with grace that is always sufficient.

The storm can be viewed today as behind me…with a future ahead. Or harkening back to those days of birth and loss, it can represent the upcoming storm. And, me…standing in the midst.

The lines on the road. So much behind me, and yet…so much ahead.

Looking back on that time, years ago…the lines…the wondering which direction to go…our choice for the life of Thomas…our choice whether or not to stay married…our choice of which voice to listen to – the doubtful sneer of the accuser or the gentle whisper of my Father, still and small. I’m not looking at the road in front of me for direction. I’m looking off at something else. Someone else…for direction. I am armed, prepared, protected from the storm behind me…with my tattered bible in hand.

The dress, the heels…well, aside from the fact that every girl needs a little sassiness… they represent beauty in an unexpected place. That’s the grace He gives. That’s what this walk looks like. Heels and black lace on a country road.

Someone else commented that the telephone poles looked like crosses. I have often described that season of grief as the heaviest cross we had been asked to bear…so far. And, of course….we know that the cross signifies, always and most importantly our salvation…the blood our Savior spilled, so that we could be saved…redeemed…His.

In the end, no matter how strikingly gorgeous many of Rachel’s pictures were…this is the one. This is the one that tells our story.

I hope you will read it, and find encouragement and hope in the pages of my humble offering! Sufficient Grace is being published by Comfort Publishing, and will be released October 7, 2014.

It is NOW available for pre-order:

On our page: http://sufficientgraceministries.org/sufficient-grace-the-book/

Midpoint Distribution: http://www.midpointtrade.com/book_detail.php?book_id=82149

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sufficient-Grace-Kelly-Gerken/dp/193838847X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1410356896&sr=8-2&keywords=sufficient+grace

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sufficient-grace-kelly-gerkin/1119458376?ean=9781938388477
(And, yes, they spelled my name wrong. Humility. ;)

When You’re Feeling More Like Discouraged Elijah Than Wonder Woman

Weary souls wandering, stumbling through your days. This post is for you.

The last couple weeks, I have endured a wave of spiritual attacks on all fronts…both outwardly, in the form of circumstances, but even more so, within. It wasn’t long, before I went from feeling like a Wonder Woman Grace Rebel dodging bullets….i.e. No weapon formed against you will prosper (see Isaiah)…

wonder woman bullets

To discouraged, defeated, depleted, wanting to give it all up and throw in the towel, Elijah…

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Do you see him there? Not even able to lift his head.

That was me, a couple days ago…heavy with despair…burdens…and relentless-accuser-spewing-lies-in-your-face-discouragement. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally. Done.

Have you been there, in that pit?

Elijah has. I have.

In his mind…After being rewarded for his dedication to serving the Lord by being hunted down as his life is threatened, Elijah feels so alone. So done.

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (I Kings 19:4)


He doesn’t even want to go on. He wants to quit all of it. Even his own life. (Don’t worry…I wasn’t ready to quit life.) But, I have been there. And, so has Elijah…the great prophet, zealous for God. He doesn’t look so zealous in the picture, does he? Remember that picture. Because life on planet earth…and even life as a servant of the Most High God may hold moments more like discouraged Elijah than we realize…than we Christians will often admit.

So what does God do, when his little son or daughter lays alone in the wilderness, unable to lift his (her) head?

Then as he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. And the angel[b] of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.”
~ I Kings 19:5-7

He sends an angel to minister to Elijah…to feed him when he cannot go find food for himself. To strengthen him when he is too weak to life his head. Why…because the journey is too great for you. For me. For Elijah. The journey is too great.

Just that He knows that. Just that He sees, the Lifter of my head…sees. He doesn’t expect me to be able to handle this journey. He knows it is too great for me. So, when I fall. When I curl up and retreat to the pits of despair, feeling all the heavy that was never meant for my shoulders to bear the weight of…He comes, to feed me. To nourish me. To tell me He sees. He knows.

After Elijah eats, he is strengthened for a time. Then retreats again to a cave. God asks Elijah…

What are doing here?

So he (Elijah) said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

I’ve served you Lord…with all my heart. And, everything is falling apart around me. I am alone. Hunted down. Weakened. Attacked. And…left alone. All I can see are the ways I fall short. Defeat. Discouragement.

Should I even be doing this? None of this was in the plan. I wonder if part of what Elijah is really saying is, “Have I lost favor with you as well? Why is this being to allowed to happen? Have I failed? I’m in this cave, hiding…because I don’t know what to do.”

Then He (God) said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
I Kings 19:11-12

God wasn’t in all the noise. The accusations, the loud and whipping winds, the broken circumstances, the doubt, the storm, the fire, the pain. He was in the still, small voice.

The steady, never-changing, always faithful, truth-filled, peace-breathing…still, small voice.

Sometimes, nothing makes sense, and we just have to curl up in a cave for a bit, and listen past the noise…for the still, small voice…the only One strong enough to quiet it all.

It is good to remember who our God is.

When Human Beings Disappoint

I’m one of those people. You know the ones. I like to believe the best about people…to believe that others will do what they say they will do. And that they will be the people they profess to be. You can imagine the disappointment experienced on a daily basis from this assumption. It is a [...]

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Help Send SGM to PLIDA 2014

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We have a dream, a vision, to change the way we care for bereaved parents walking through the loss of a baby at any gestation and through infancy. We are seeing that vision become reality as more of our volunteers become trained birth and bereavement doulas and remembrance photographers, offering support and beautiful memory-making resources [...]

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To the Nurses, the Caregivers…We See

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Yesterday on the SGM Facebook page, we shared a blog post from Adventures of a Labor Nurse called, When There’s Nothing to Celebrate. Her words were real and raw and so true in describing what it is like for the caregivers when a baby dies. Most nurses don’t choose to work in OB to deal [...]

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Mother of all Mothers Book Review/Giveaway!!

You are the mother of all mothers

CONTEST CLOSED: CONGRATULATIONS TO CECILIA LONG!! Please email your shipping address to sgm dot shipping at gmail dot com   “You were chosen to be your child’s mother. Yes – chosen. And no one could parent your child better in life or in death than you do.” ~ Angela Miller, You are the Mother of [...]

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The Wounding Human Beings Inflict…and What to Do With all the Broken

We who wander on planet earth have all been wounded at some point by another human being. The deepest cuts, the ones that take the longest to heal, are from those we love. We all wound one another at some point. With our words, our actions, our indifference. We all take the sacred gift one [...]

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Why Can’t You Just Get Past It?

“I don’t understand mothers who lose a child. Why can’t you just get past it?” People have whispered these words about me in conversation, especially in the early days after losing our babies, measuring grief “performance” by how much I spoke of my children or how easily tears came, or whether or not I was [...]

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Finding Purpose in the Pain

SBD-SGM

I have walked with thousands of mothers over the course of the last decade. Mothers who have said goodbye to their sweet babies, who often, after the initial shock and devastation of grief, find themselves longing to mother…to birth something beautiful from the pain, to find the purpose in her child’s life…and through her loss. [...]

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Operation Support Sufficient Grace 2014

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Some beautiful, amazing support has been displayed during Operation Support Sufficient Grace 2014. Our last big fundraiser of this season is coming up, and we would love to see the outpouring of support continue for this organization. We do not take government grants or support, so our donations come mainly from individuals and some private [...]

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