Capturing Sacred Moments ~ Colleen

At Sufficient Grace Ministries, we have the honor of walking on the sacred ground where heaven meets earth…again and again with families as they say hello and goodbye to their precious babies.

We enter in with families, walking with them awhile on that sacred ground. Empowering them with options. Helping them to tell their story.

Capturing the sacred moments…of lives that are brief.

It was a great privilege to walk with the Burkhard family as they treasured the life of their daughter, Colleen, a couple months ago. They knew their daughter’s life would be brief before she was born. They knew she had the same condition as her older brother, Colin…Meckel-Gruber Syndrome. They chose to use the time they were given to plan, to soak in precious memories, to dress their baby girl and to pour a lifetime of love in the moments they were given.

As Colleen’s father, Larry (who was originally hesitant to get the photographs), powerfully said, “I like to relive the moments in the pictures, because the pictures tell the story. Her story. I love to see the people in the background, the people who were there with us.”

The love is evident as mother and father, husband and wife…lean into one another, after a long labor, and the birth of their baby girl.

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There is nothing like a mother’s kiss…

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A family, fitting a lifetime of memories and love into the moments…

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Generations of love filling the room…

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Beautiful handmade jewelry covering tiny wrists…
Because every life matters…


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Because the most painful of goodbyes comes from a heart that loves so deeply…

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A mother’s love lives on. And, a mother’s heart continues to dream her dreams of you…until heaven’s sweetest reunion…until we meet again.

*Photos by SGM Remembrance Photographer, Kelly Gerken ~ Edited by SGM Remembrance Photographer Angela Keck
Copyright protected, property of Sufficient Grace Ministries.

Breaking the Silence ~ The New Dreams of You Memory Book for Miscarriage

stacie at sgmWe are proud to have Stacie Tackett as part of the SGM Perinatal Hospice and Bereavement Support Services team. Her story is a powerful one, and we believe hearing it will help to change the hearts and minds of hospital staff and others who care for mothers experiencing a miscarriage (the loss of a baby prior to 20 weeks gestation). Stacie is now a certified SBD Birth and Bereavement Doula. She was sent to the www.stillbirthday.com training along with others from SGM. But, the preparation for her to serve mothers carrying the heavy silent pain of miscarriage tenderly in their hearts began years ago, in the same time period I was saying goodbye to Faith, Grace, and  Thomas. She finds SGM a way to honor and remember her four tiny babies in heaven waiting for her.

My experience has been with stillbirth and neonatal loss. Holly experienced termination and stillbirth. We have never experienced a miscarriage. But, SGM hears from hundreds of women who have walked this path, and there are thousands more, who carry the burden alone. Recently, at an SGM training, Stacie candidly painted the picture of what it is like to lose a tiny baby. She speaks with honest and raw courage, sharing the parts that are hard to say and hard to hear, but so worthy of acknowledging. We look away. We look away from the hard things. All the time. We shake our heads and close our eyes, and say, “No, that’s too much. I can’t go there.” We look away, as women who experience miscarriage carry a cloak of shame and sorrow, in silence.

Sufficient Grace Ministries challenges you to have the courage to ”go there”. To have the courage to look when others turn away, to feel…even when it hurts…for those who don’t have a choice, but to see and feel the pain, because it is their reality.

It was her first pregnancy. And, they were filled with excitement and hope. In their early twenties, happily married, planning a new life together. There had been some concern about finding the heartbeat at one appointment, but then at another appointment, the baby’s heart was beating and all seemed well. They were hopeful.  She started spotting the day after a doctor exam. The doctors reassured her that she was fine, and this was to be expected.  She called the next day and they very firmly told her again, “Everything is fine. We just saw the baby and it’s fine”.  Afraid to call again she waited for the spotting to stop.  Four days later, the bleeding and cramping continued.  Early Sunday morning, after six hours of laboring at home, she delivered her 13 week old, tiny, perfectly formed baby into her own hands. In Stacie’s words, “a perfectly formed baby with a big head and pointed little butt, with clear skin and tiny blue veins”. Shock and a myriad of other emotions consumed her momma heart, as she did what most mothers who experience miscarriage are instructed by the doctors and books to do. She put the baby’s remains in a brown paper lunch bag, to take to the hospital (for testing, if necessary), not realizing that would be the last time she saw her precious baby. Stacie and her husband, Ryan, waited in the ER, and went to the front desk when it was time. The woman at the desk was horrified by what she carried with her, and by her entire situation. Her baby’s body was taken away, and she was left alone in a room, bleeding for hours. No one came to explain anything to her. No one came to comfort her. No one came to offer her something. No one came to give her a change of clothes as she sat in a pool of the evidence of her devastation. She left the hospital with nothing, wearing clothes stained in crimson. And, when she speaks of the agony of not getting to say a proper goodbye to her child, you feel a piece of her pain.

She said something very powerful, something that we plan to have her share at each hospital training we attend. Something, that cannot be denied. For in our current culture, there are many views about what is worthy of being called “life”…when life begins, what value it deserves. We believe every life matters, and should be treated as such. Stacie’s words may help to change the hearts of those who care for mothers experiencing a miscarriage, regardless of their definition of life.

“Whatever you think about life and when it begins, whether this is just a fetus or a baby, a mother is always deserving of dignity. She and her child still deserve your compassion and decency. To her, that is her baby. Don’t act disgusted. She is to be treated with kindness, not ignored.”

I believe that most hospital staff want to help, to be supportive of grieving mothers. Many just don’t know how. Nurses who go into OB have a heart for mothers and babies most of the time, and may even go in with the expectation that some stories will not have a happy ending. Some babies are lost. But, most miscarriages are not seen in the OB. They may happen at home, in a doctor’s office, and often end up in the ER or OR. It is our understanding that there is very little training for ER and OR staff in handling these situations other than in a clinical light. They probably didn’t take the job with a focus on baby loss. So, sensitivity to such things seems secondary. They may not be comfortable with the very intense emotional aspect of loss, and in order to cope, deal with the situation as clinically and mechanically as they can.

SGM has the opportunity to work with a few hospitals in our area, and we plan to continue to visit as many as we can, to help bring the needs of mothers experiencing loss at all levels to light, and to encourage hospital staff in the art of compassionate care for grieving parents. In our area, the idea of offering bereavement training in the OR and ER along with OB is a bit revolutionary. Hospitals are seeing the need, and we think we can make a difference.

As part of our efforts to reach out to even more families experiencing loss, we have adapted our Dreams of You Memory Book to offer another option, more specifically for families experiencing the loss of a baby prior to 20 weeks. We will still offer our brown Dreams of You Memory Book for babies older than 20 weeks and through early childhood. But, we now are thrilled to now have the Ivory colored Dreams of You Memory Book for Miscarriage. It is much like our other memory book, but tailored for smaller babies with some different wording and with pages that were not relevant to early loss removed. There are also some blank pages in the back.  We also offer tiny wraps, crocheted by Marlene, that can fit in the palm of your hand, so that mothers can honor the life of even the tiniest babies with dignity, if they would like to have something to wrap their little one in. Please pray for this outreach, and pray for the 1 out of 4 mothers carrying the pain of miscarriage in silence.

SGM wants you to know that we see, and mothers who have lost a little one, you are not walking alone.

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Happy Birthday, Sweet Thomas ~ The Day Jesus Came Near

Happy 14 years in heaven to our sweet Thomas Patrick, who taught us about believing without seeing, and clinging to the hem of His garment. You brought heaven as close as a whisper, sweet boy. Today, we celebrate your life together as a family…your birthday and mine. Dreaming our dreams of you…until we hold you again.

Every time I look at this picture, I remember the day Jesus came near and kept His promise never to leave or forsake us. He came to carry our sweet baby home, and filled my heart with peace. That’s how I know He is who He says He is. That’s why I cling to Him still. I can never tell the story of Thomas without sharing the hope of the One who met us there, filling my heart with songs of joy in place of sorrow. If you ask me how I know that Jesus will carry you through the darkest valley, my answer will always be, I know…because He carried me.

Today, we will celebrate Thomas’ life and birthday mine (which was July 12th) together as a family, with dinner and a movie.

And, we remember always, the day Jesus came near…

Dreams of You, Dreaming Big, and How You Can Sponsor a Family

You may have heard of the Dreams of You Memory Books we provide for grieving families who face the loss of a child due to miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death and other childhood illnesses.

You may have even received one of these beautiful books, with an antique leather bound-look binder format so it is easy to add or change the book to match a parent’s unique beliefs, tastes, and wishes. It includes places for parents to journal the dreams they had for their baby, their journey of loss and healing, letters to baby, pages to record the baby’s statistics, memorial service, baptism, footprints, mementos, etc. Also included are inspirational poems and comforting scripture from the Bible, as well as the author’s personal story of loss, grief, hope and healing.

You may have heard how mothers and their older children have found Comfort in a soft, fleece bear. You may have held our Comfort Bear in your own arms as you ached for your sweet baby.

What you may not know, is that Sufficient Grace Ministries provides the Dreams of You Memory Book, Comfort Bears, and other materials FREE OF CHARGE TO ANY PARENT WHO COMES TO US. We do not charge families for our products and services and God has blessed our desire to continue to provide these services for grieving families.

In order to help cover the costs of the growing number of Dreams of You packages we are sending all over the country, we have developed a new sponsorship program. While several local hospitals provide our products for their patients (hospitals pay a suggested donation amount to cover the cost), we would like to get our Dreams of You products into the hands of hospitals all over the country! (O.K., maybe we’re dreaming big, but we have a BIG God!) Many larger hospitals would like to offer the products, but lack the funding to make that possible. We have developed a way for those wishing to donate to “sponsor” hospitals, families, or a certain type of product. You can help by sponsoring, if you are able. Another way to help is if you are willing to show the Dreams of You Memory Book to your local hospital, and/or find sponsors in your area.

Please click here for more information about how you can sponsor. And, as always, if you are a grieving parent and would like to receive ANY of our products or services, please just email us and we will get you what you need. Our services and products are FREE to families. We also have a new address for orders, so if you are ordering a product, please email: sgm.shipping@gmail.com.

As we have grown to the point where we have sent Dreams of You packages all over the United States, some to Canada, and even one to Singapore, our needs continue to grow. In order to meet those needs, we are hosting several events for Operation Support Sufficient Grace 2010…our annual fundraiser season. Please prayerfully consider helping to support these events and/or spread the word on your blogs. And…you can also help us spread the word about the Dreams of You Memory Books. We want people to know we are here. We want to reach out to more families. So, please consider sharing here or on your own blog if you have been blessed by a Dreams of You Memory Book…or by Sufficient Grace. And, if you do share, please let us know.

To read more about the story of how the Dreams of You Memory Book and Comfort Bear came to be, please click here. Thank you so much for the continued support and prayers you have poured out on this ministry. You are such a blessing to us and to the families we serve!