Servant to All

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Sometimes in the midst of walking with a family, there are moments when my own cup is filled in the pouring out. There are many moments really.

He came to pray with the beautiful parents waiting to fill a lifetime of love into the moments they were given with their son. I met him after the introductions were made beside the hospital bed.

While snapping pictures and preparing for the coming birth off to the side, he stepped beside me, looking into my eyes as we shook hands.

“I’m the doula.”

I’m used to people not knowing the meaning of the title…or this sacred work. I waited for the question.

“Doula,” the pastor repeats. “It is a Greek word…correct?”

“Yes,” I answer, “a biblical word.”

“It means servant,” he said, eyes focused and shining…like they do when delivering a holy message.

My eyes locked with his.

He continued…

“Mark 9:35 says, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’ This is an amazing ministry you have been given.”

“Thank you…I’m honored to serve in this way.”

Only our Father can send a message that humbles us and lifts us up at the same time. A word of encouragement in the midst of days of pouring out.

Because He sees. And, because…although I would never call my flawed, stumbling along self great…it is a great honor to be used as His vessel…even in the smallest way. To wash tiny baby feet, to wipe the sweaty brow of a laboring mother, to gently caress the tears from her face, to speak love and truth in the dark moments.

To be a doula…servant to all.

Day ONE ~ Origami Owl PAIL Bracelet and Remembering Heart ~ SGM Christmas Extravaganza Giveaway

Christmas is hard for those missing someone they love at Christmas. It can be filled with the lonely ache for so many, so many for whom someone or something is missing from the perfect Christmas picture we hold up as an ideal. Growing up, my mother faced many challenges, keeping our family together…raising three children, often on her own. But, at Christmas, she always made everything special. No matter if her husband was out, missing late on Christmas Eve, after having too much to drink, or in the midst of another divorce. No matter how hard she had to work, or how much pride she had to swallow, gifts were filled in the space beneath our beautifully decorated Christmas Tree. And, we were together.

My mother celebrates Christmas in heaven now, but each year on the SGM Blog, we carry on her tradition of celebrating our Savior’s birth, by doing a week of giveaways to add some ray of light, even in the heavy of missing.

For the next five days, we will be announcing a special giveaway for someone missing a loved one this Christmas…and all winners will be chosen on Friday evening.

Today, we are giving away an Origami Owl PAIL Ribbon/Footprint Bracelet:

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And, to another winner, the beautiful Remembering Heart Necklace from Grief Watch:

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To enter, leave a comment below telling which item you would like to enter for (you can also enter for both!) and who you’re missing this Christmas.

For additional entries:

Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media and leave a separate comment that you shared.

Like the Sufficient Grace Facebook Page

Like the Kelly Gerken Facebook Page

Follow SGM on Twitter

Make sure you leave a comment here for each separate entry…as only comments will be counted in the random.org drawing.

Thank you, and stop back…tomorrow, we will have some other goodies to give away!

Also…CYBER MONDAY SALE on Sufficient Grace. Today ONLY, Sufficient Grace can be purchased on the SGM site for the bulk rate price of $8….without buying the minimum amount of 10…you can get this rate even if you buy ONE book!! Just use the Bulk rate button. This is ONLY for Monday, December 1, 2014.

And…if you are local, we will be hosting our special Walking With You Christmas gathering. With yummy desserts, and special ornaments making at SGM in Deshler, Ohio at 7pm.

Even if you aren’t local, we also would love to add your baby’s ornament to our tree. You can give a donation of $5 with the donate button on the Support Sufficient Grace link…and we will add an ornament with your baby’s name to the SGM tree. You can choose a teal snowflake or a silver dove. Leave your baby’s name, and your ornament choice in the additional instructions when donating. Also…include $2 additional donation if you would like us to ship your ornament after Christmas.

SGM Christmas Extravaganza 2014

 

It’s that time of year again. Time to remember together…and time for the SGM Christmas Giveaway Extravaganza 2014!!

Beginning on December 1, 2014, we will be hosting the SGM Christmas Giveaway Extravaganza 2014, a week of giveaways for those missing someone at Christmas. The holidays can trigger those memories and missing like no other time of the year. This is a little something we like to offer, to bring just a sliver of joy and remembrance to hurting hearts at Christmas…to let you know you aren’t walking this path alone.

We will be hosting a very special Walking With You Christmas support group gathering on Monday, December 1, 2014 at 7pm for those who wish to join us. We will share some dessert, chat about our babies, and make/hang ornaments on the SGM tree. If you can’t be there in person, we are offering an opportunity for those who want to help support SGM and add their baby’s name/ornament to the SGM tree to donate $5. (We will mail ornaments to all who wish to have them mailed to them after Christmas for an additional $2 shipping). Last year, it was such a blessing to see our babies’ names adorning the tree. To donate, use the button on this page. Please add your baby’s name and information in the notes.
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How do we remember our babies (Faith, Grace, and Thomas) who are in heaven?

Each year, we fill three shoeboxes with gifts for Operation Christmas Child, which we then donate to the pile of boxes collected by our church for their annual donation. We fill two little girl boxes in memory of Faith and Grace and one little boy box in memory of our Thomas. It is a small thing, but it blesses me to be able to buy some little gifts in their memory and give them to another child in hopes that it will bring some joy. It is something tangible we can do to remember them every year. When my boys were younger, they loved taking part in the gift-giving. It was a beautiful way to include them in remembering their sisters and brother, and help others.

This year, due to a full schedule of serving through SGM, we missed our church’s deadline to donate shoeboxes, but we plan to do an Angel Tree donation instead.

A Christmas tree should tell a family’s story. Each year, the memories come flooding back as we take out the ornaments and remember all the milestones our children have achieved, the sweet hand made ornaments adorned with school pictures, baby’s first Christmas ornaments, Our first Christmas Together ornaments, and for those of us missing those we love, In Memory ornaments. They are a special way to include those who have gone home to heaven in our story. For they are very much a part of our hearts and our lives…and should be in the memories when we unwrap the ornaments each year and hang them on the tree that tells our family story. I shared a great deal about some of those special ornaments on our tree on this post. Here are a few more ornaments that have been added to our collection. Several of them came from some of you, my dear online friends and fellow mamas. They touched my heart, and are treasured among some of the most precious gifts that I have received.

These beautiful ornaments were a gift I received a few years ago from Jess:

And these three from Sarita:

And, this sweet ornament for my Thomas…

(We will be giving away some beautiful memorial ornaments on the upcoming SGM Christmas Giveaway 2014 beginning on December 1st.)

I also hang ornaments each year in memory of my sweet mother, Kathy, who went home to heaven four years ago. She adored Christmas, and she is so much a part of every Christmas memory for me. These Christmas giveaways are one thing I do to honor her memory. Even in difficult times, mom loved to make Christmas a fun celebration and she loved to give.

 

Other ideas of how to survive the holidays when missing your child or loved one at Christmas:
Give to a favorite charity in your child’s name.
Make new traditions.
Slow down. Make time to soak in the season. Listen to Christmas music, sip hot cocoa, look at the lights. Breathe deeply.
Give grace to yourself, as the missing may be more intense.
Give memory packets or other comfort items to your local hospital in your child’s memory.
Take part in a local memorial celebration. Some support groups, hospitals, and even funeral homes host gatherings for those who are remembering a loved one at Christmas.
Donate a special book in memory of your child to the local library.
Hang a stocking with your child’s name on it, and fill it with special memories, messages from others, or random acts of kindness written on slips of paper.
Take care of yourself…and take breaks when needed. Watch a movie, go shopping, sit in the park, turn the music up, take a bubble bath. Whatever your mode of escape or self care. Indulge a little.

 

Don’t forget to stop back on December 1, 2014 for five days of giveaways that will hopefully bless and encourage you this Christmas season.

There will be special ornaments, books, gifts, a copy of Return to Zero, doTerra essential oils, and a grand finale. Something for everyone missing a loved one of any age this holiday season.

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.

A Cover Story ~ What The Picture Reveals

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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. ;)

Help Send SGM to PLIDA 2014

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 each year to hundreds of families, and a growing number of hospitals.

We are training hospitals to use our comprehensive SGM Perinatal Hospice Birth and Bereavement Services, expanding SGM Branches in other locations. Entering in. Coming alongside bereaved parents.

Because no one should walk this path alone.

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Because every life matters.

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Every life is worthy of honor, worth remembering.

This year, SGM has the opportunity to attend the PLIDA conference in San Antonio, Texas, the worldwide renowned conference on perinatal hospice and palliative care. We wanted to attend two years ago, but the precious funds we gather from our amazing supporters are needed to continue this sacred work of supporting families. This year, we are facing the same dilemma. But, in our great passion to grow this outreach, so that more families receive compassionate care, more hospitals are properly equipped to offer resources and understand the needs of bereaved parents, more precious and tangible memories can be shared as parents say hello and goodbye to their precious babies, we feel it is important to attend this conference. And, not only to attend, but to have a table representing SGM at the conference.

So that the next family doesn’t come to us after their loss, saying…
“I wish we would’ve known this support was available. I wish I would’ve known you were here.”

This conference is the most effective way to help spread the word, that these amazing resources are here. And, to connect with other like-minded birth professionals in order to better serve grieving families.

How amazing would it be to see little SGM represented at such a beautiful and worthwhile event? (It’s possible. We might be little girls, but we have a BIG God!) Will you help us attend by giving a donation, and/or spreading the word?

You can use the donate button here to give to this campaign:

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 with the devastation of death and loss. They were attracted to OB to experience the miracle of life, the sweetness of a newborn baby’s cry, the victory and peace that settles over a mother after a long labor, when her arms are finally full and the pain is forgotten. Death doesn’t belong in the birthing room. Silence so thick you can barely breathe, and pain with no answers…pain that will not be eased with arms filled with new life. That kind of pain, only begins with the labor…the labor is the least of it.

I used to wonder when I was training to become a bereavement doula (a support person for a mother facing the loss of her baby, as well as a support person for birth in any trimester) and when we were building our SGM Perinatal Hospice Birth and Bereavement Services program, how the nurses who had endured and guided families through the agony of grief would respond to us…entering their territory. I wondered if a hospital did embrace our program how they would feel about an outsider in their world. Would they feel as if we are taking away from the work they do….or insinuating we can give something they cannot? Would they resent our presence? Would we get in the way? Would it be difficult to earn their trust?

It hasn’t been that way at all, as far as I’ve seen. Most of the time, we are welcomed with tired and grateful eyes. I’ve walked into hospitals in the wee hours of the night, and held an exhausted nurse, relieved to no longer be in this alone, to finally release the carefully held back tears as I wrapped my arms around her. I’ve answered questions in the hall about what babies typically look like at 15 weeks, and how I can support a mother in grief who has made poor choices in her care and if I wrestle with those situations later. I’ve talked through it with them, listened while their own experiences bubbled to the surface as we walked with the family. I’ve asked for their help in some cases, when my gloves didn’t fit, my ink pad wasn’t working, or when a baby was too fragile to move on my own. God bless the nurse who taught me the tuck and roll maneuver. (I’m sure there’s a much more technical term for it!) We’ve taken turns keeping each other up in the hallway after a 15 hour labor that resulted in miscarriage. I watched several shifts of caring nurses go through that day/night. We measure and weigh babies together, marveling at the intricacies and miracle of life and creation, seen even in the tiniest little ones. In many of the small hospitals we serve, this may be the first time a nurse has encountered loss. It is a rare occurrence in smaller hospitals without NICU and maternal fetal medicine facilities.

Often, we hear from grieving parents about the things done wrong by medical staff and caregivers, the wrong words spoken, a lack of compassion given. Because, in reality, the painful things stand out more in our memories. But, this post is about the nurse in the hallway, searching for anything to ease the pain of a mother who must say goodbye to her precious baby. The nurse with all the questions and sometimes even accusations hurled at her as friends and family try to make sense of the tragedy. The nurse, who sometimes has made every effort alongside the doctor to save a baby who no longer breathes and never will again. The nurse who is glad we are there with clothing to fit a little one, and a fresh set of hands, and the eyes of a mother who has walked through this wilderness more than once, the nurse who walks by while we’re taking pictures to offer a gentle suggestion of another shot we could try…the nurse who will be there to offer her loving, gentle care long after I leave the hospital. She does it all, even while wiping up the blood and recording all the statistics, holding a bed pan as a worn out mother vomits.

The nurses in hospitals we’ve trained, who’ve sighed with relief, saying again and again, “We aren’t alone in this anymore. We don’t have to struggle with a camera to get pictures while also caring for our patients.” The thing is…they had done it, before we came…they had struggled through…because they want to give their patients everything…the best they have to offer. The nurses without bereavement support programs like those offered through Sufficient Grace Ministries, who continue to make time to hold a mother’s hand, to offer reassurance to grandmothers and fathers in the hallway and in the delivery room, even while juggling the demands of other patients. I’ve watched them walk from a celebratory birthing room to a silent one. The wipers of tears, the ones who hold the hair back while a mother vomits, the ones ready with a cool cloth, a cup of water, the steady anchor in the storm. The nurse who snapped a picture during the only moment when my son Thomas opened his eyes, sixteen years ago.

It takes courage to enter into the wilderness with another human being…to not look away…to allow yourself to feel compassion, even when it hurts. Those who can do that, who can offer exceptional care…and find the courage to show the compassion that doesn’t look away, those are the heroes.

We just want you to know…we see. We see you giving beyond what you have left to give…giving even in your own exhausted, broken state. We see you, and we are honored to walk alongside you in the wilderness. We are so grateful for each of you. And, the mothers you serve…even if they never say so…they are grateful as well. Thank you, amazing caregivers.

For more information about bringing SGM Perinatal Hospice Birth and Bereavement Services to your hospital, visit this link:
SGM Birth Professionals Training

For more information about our programs:
SGM Perinatal Hospice Birth and Bereavement Services

To order materials for your bereavement program:
For birth professionals ONLY(hospital staff, nurses, physicians, doulas, midwives, funeral home directors, remembrance photographers, chaplains, bereavement coordinators, hospice) visit the
SGM Birth Professionals Dreams of You Shop

Finding Purpose in the Pain

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. After all, a mother is made for mothering. That’s what she does. When her baby is not with her, she is left with an ache that begins in her arms and settles deep into her bones.

Through that longing, beautiful organizations are sometimes born. Outreaches that make the experience different for families walking through loss…outreaches that offer hope. Support. Resources. Something beautiful to hold as you endure the missing.

Sufficient Grace Ministries is one of those organizations, but we were not born during fresh grief. It took me many years to wander through my grief wilderness. To heal some of the wounds. To learn who I was again. To feel the pain of and taste the salty tears. Because in the oozing and bubbling up, in the tearing open and pouring out, healing happens. And, it is not a fast process. I had to learn to laugh again, to know the restoration of joy and perseverance of hope planted deeply into the human spirit. We need hope like breath. I needed to see my marriage heal and grow stronger. To nurse babies and nurture my earthly children. I needed to walk awhile in my own shoes before I was ready to walk alongside someone else.

It was eight years after our losses before we started SGM. And, even then, it was not to satisfy my broken…but to reach out to help meet the needs of another grieving mother.

Everyone’s timetable may be different. But, I do get to watch the walk of many in this wilderness, through companioning others in grief. And, one thing I notice is that in our very real need to create beauty from the ruins, sometimes we skip a few steps in our own healing. In a recent article in Still Standing Magazine, I touched briefly on the desire to see purpose born from our pain and loss…purpose from the lives of our children.

“You don’t have to lead an organization or stand in front of a group to see that your baby’s life changed this world. (In fact, sometimes I think in our longing to see a purpose born from pain, mothers can rush into “creating” something. It is good to take time to heal. Joining an already existing organization may be a healthy alternative to building something new in fresh grief.) It doesn’t have to be something giant that the entire world witnesses. You just have to look deeply into the eyes staring back at you in the mirror. You are his mother. You are her mother. Even if right now the pain of that is fresh, know that someday, the gift of that truth…the gift of being their mother…will so outweigh, out value, and overshadow everything else. Don’t be afraid to let it…to embrace it.”

Unfortunately, what sometimes can happen when we create something with a desire to see that purpose, to form a legacy for our children, as the grief moves to the next phase (which often includes a desire to put some of the heavy away and learn to live again), when we enter a new season of our grief, the outreach birthed from the pain can fall away, if the purpose wasn’t built on well-prepared foundation. Some also find, once entering into the wilderness with another grieving heart, that the heaviness is too difficult a burden for shoulders already bending under the weight of fresh pain. While our children are part of the beauty born from outreaches to help others, they and our grief cannot be the sole purpose behind the ministering. We have be ready to minister to the person in front of us, to help carry her bucket. There is a season for that…a season after our own healing…when we are ready to enter in with someone else. But, it is good to take the time to allow that healing…that festering and bubbling up pain, without covering it with a mask…that leads eventually to a stronger foundation, where we’re free to live again. And, ready to tiptoe back into the ocean of grief without drowning ourselves. We have to learn how to swim in this sea for awhile, before we’re ready to help someone else to shore.

If you are feeling the desire, the very REAL longing to birth beauty and healing from your child’s life, there are many healthy ways you can reach out to others. I don’t believe it is effective for us to keep “re-inventing the wheel”. We will help bring about greater change by working together, respecting one another in what is already being built and finding our place in the building process…every single brick has such value and meaning. Everyone has something to contribute.

1. First of all, know that you do not have to start some large organization to bring meaning to your child’s existence. Your sweet baby has already changed the world with his or her time here. In the gentle ways your heart has changed. In the way you cherish every moment of life with those around you. In the way you learn to laugh and live again. Second of all, there are many organizations already in existence you can get involved in. Your local hospital may have needs, or a local support group. You can begin there. I would suggest being part of the support group yourself before trying to start your own. Finding community first is important.

2. Sufficient Grace Ministries has branches throughout the country and we’re looking for others who are well-along in the grief journey and in a place where they are ready to help support a family. We hear from others sometimes who say they were inspired to start an organization after seeing our work. What we would love, if you’re inspired and at a healthy place in your journey, is for you to join with us in this sacred, amazing work. We provide training for birth and bereavement doulas (who receive training from SGM and are also certified through stillbirthday.com), remembrance photographers, crafters of items and more.

You can apply to serve as a birth and bereavement doula or remembrance photographer in an already existing SGM branch in: NW Ohio, NE Ohio, SW Ohio, Columbus, Central Kentucky, St. Louis, Central New Jersey Shore, Massachusetts (near Boston), Maryland, Southern Michigan (Detroit), and possibly New York. Nebraska is also in the works. Just follow the links below to apply and also we will need 2 letters of recommendation.

SGM/SBD Birth and Bereavement Doula (support person to walk alongside families)

SGM Remembrance Photographer

We also have needs for seamstresses to make Comfort Bears and burial gowns and crocheters to make wraps, hats, and gowns.

If you are further along in your grief journey, you can learn about starting a branch of SGM in your area here.

Please note that Sufficient Grace Ministries is a faith-based organization. Although we serve families from all faiths and walks of life without discrimination, we do ask that those serving with us also agree with our Statement of Beliefs.

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3. If you aren’t looking for faith-based organizations, can get involved in an organization that’s been established, that has helped your family through loss. There are many to choose from, and can be local or online. Many different perspectives are offered at Still Standing Magazine. Stillbirthday.com is a great resource. There are organizations like MEND, Faces of Loss, SANDS, and others.

4. You can create something beautiful with your hands as well. Paint, draw, write, sing. Let it all pour out and mix together until something is birthed from all that’s oozing from you.

5. When you’re ready, listen and show love to one mother. One friend. That is the best way to change the world. One heart at a time. Just being there. Just loving the person in front of you, and helping to meet one need.

6. Some people like to do random acts of kindness in their child’s name. That is a simple and life changing way to see your baby’s life make a difference in someone else’s life. We don’t have to travel the world to find our mission. It is often right in front of us.

No matter what, your child matters. Every life is precious. Every life matters. And, every life impacts this earth greatly.

Operation Support Sufficient Grace 2014

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 grant funding. SGM currently needs about $3,000 a month to make our budget. But, those needs are growing exponentially. We are looking into the possibility of purchasing a building, a monthly expense, we do not currently have. We also need to hire some staff to help run SGM on a day-to-day basis, and to be available to families for hospital calls. We will still mainly have volunteers, but we need a couple staff members to keep things running in order to have this outreach work effectively. (The recent addition of our beautiful summer intern, Emily, has been a huge blessing!)

SGM Spring Auction: $1,970
SGM Ice Cream Social: $1,600
Donation by Amie and Edward Gardener: $4,300 collected and donated. Edward ran in the Boston Marathon in memory of his son, Matthew and in honor of SGM.
We also received a $587 donation from the Whoo’s Your Doula? Fundraiser hosted by Katy Larsen
Many others have donated as well to help support SGM already in 2014.

SGM Golf Outing 2014: Still collecting donations!!! And, we could use your help!

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Do you know a business, own a business, know a family that’s been supported by SGM, or are you a family that’s been supported, and you would like to give back in memory of your sweet baby?

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You can sponsor a hole $100 or share a hole sponsor $50 in memory/in honor of a loved one or your business or even your family. We will put a sign with the name of your family member or business on the golf holes at the event. You can donate a door prize, sponsor dinner, offer a large raffle prize, or donate in any amount.

My least favorite part of ministry is promoting/asking for support. I do it, not because I enjoy it. And, certainly not because I’m comfortable with it. But, because, without donations, we cannot continue to give to families, and without promoting this organization, people will not know the resources are available when they have a need. I recently met a colleague in the baby loss support community, who was shocked to find out how small SGM was compared to how much we give away to families worldwide, and how incredibly small and stretched our budget is compared to the services we provide. (We have a big God!!) Last year, more than 500 families were sent Dreams of You packages worth $25-$100 last year (not including shipping costs). More than 30 families received in person support from SGM through trained birth and bereavement doulas and remembrance photographers. We want to do more. We want to train more hospitals, and more SGM support staff…in more states…so that families can receive quality care. The vision is there. The opportunities are there.

But, we need the support to make this happen. Please pray for the many needs of SGM…and prayerfully consider donating. We would love to see families who are able to show support for an organization that has hopefully been a blessing to you donate in memory of your little one…or in honor of a loved one. We would also love to see some businesses and others in the loss community moved to give with signs at our upcoming golf outing fundraiser.

We also have team spots open if you would like to join us for a day of golf and fun…and honoring sweet babies in heaven. Plus, I would love to hug you in person! You can learn more on our event page on Facebook.

Donate online or by check to: Sufficient Grace Ministries; P.O. Box 243; Deshler, Ohio 43516

We are also in need of more volunteers for our various branches: NW Ohio, NE Ohio, SW Ohio, Columbus, Ohio, St. Louis are, Central Jersey Shore area, Central Kentucky, and more states coming soon (in New York, Oklahoma, Maryland, Massachusetts, Texas, Michigan, and more!)
You can learn more about becoming a doula or photographer in an already established region on the links below, or how to become a Regional Coordinator in and area that does not currently have a branch of SGM.
Information/Application to become an SGM/SBD Doula
Information/Application to become an SGM Remembrance Photographer
Information/Application to become an SGM Regional Coordinator
For more information about our upcoming events, please see our Coming Events Link on the SGM Page.

Thank you for your continued love and support!! Blessings to all!

Live from (Corning), New York

I stepped off the plane, and noticed the hills, a contrast to the flatlands and cornfields back home. I thought it must be one of the most beautiful places on earth in the autumn, when the leaves on the trees peppering the hills are full of color. I was greeted at the airport by three adorable children and their daddy. Faces I’ve come to know through my computer screen. The beautiful family of my dear friend from One September Day, September McCarthy.

I checked into my hotel room, which would become a bliss filled retreat of solitude and prayers, and whispered worship from my heart…and naps, and bubble baths, and a place to sleep away the migraines that have recently plagued most of my days like a true thorn in the flesh. I met new sisters in Christ, who truly felt like sisters as we told our stories under the glittery snow fall, while live music wafted through the air. I felt so many Daddy’s little girl moments from our heavenly Father. You know the times when He sends gifts straight from heaven…and just for you.

It was nourishing and refreshing and lovely. Every moment.

When September first asked me to come to the Raising Generations Today Conference, I was so honored and excited, and just utterly in awe of the grace of our God and His great faithfulness. Years ago (in 2009 to be exact), September emailed me to share her story. That was our first conversation. I lost twin daughters and a son. She lost twin sons, and a daughter. (She experienced other losses as well.) We were both touched by twin to twin transfusion syndrome and Potter’s Syndrome. And, we were both women of faith, clinging to our God, and new to the wonderful world of words and inspiration and sisterhood of blogging. It was a whole new world for us, and my heart was immediately knit to hers and many others. (Even if she is a Steelers fan.)

I have felt so loved and cared for and lifted up this weekend. I hope that my tiny offering was at least some small encouragement to someone else, because I certainly have been encouraged by the gathering together of women this weekend. Real women, who love Jesus and love their families. This amazing conference began by September inviting women into her living room to walk alongside one another through the joys and trials of motherhood, offering hope and encouragement for every face and season of mothering. She is a woman walking the walk. And, God did a mighty thing. He sent sponsors and he sent enough women to sell out the tickets.

At Sufficient Grace, we understand the same simple treasure and desperate need to just walk alongside a woman in the midst of her brokenness. To love her and speak truth and grace…or just to sit beside her in the grief for awhile, in a safe place. A harbor from the stormy world. There is power…and healing in the willingness to enter in and tell the stories…and swim awhile with someone flailing in the dark, deep ocean of grief.

I am in love with the concept of Raising Generations Today. And, so honored to have been included in this beautiful gathering.

I met some amazing new friends…writers, speakers, mothers, lovers of Jesus. Real women.

When it came time for me to present my workshop, a few beautiful faces trickled in. There were maybe 10 of us in the room during the workshop. I am used to small groups, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. About 300 women were at this conference. Statistics say 25% of them have lost a child, but the baby loss topic is hard. And, if you’ve lost a child, it takes so much courage to willingly open that wound. I was grateful for the women who were courageous enough to step into my workshop and swim together in the sea of grief for awhile.

Afterward, most of the group followed me upstairs for a Heart to Heart session so they could share their stories with me, and each other. I hoped the tiny offering was some comfort. It never feels like enough to me. And, after, I struggled a bit…as I always do when finished speaking. Overanalyzing, wrestling with spiritual battles and my own flaws, second guessing.

I was wondering if September would be disappointed in my small turnout. She later shared with me some beautiful observations from the mothers who attended my workshop. Words that refuted the lie that numbers matter. Because to God, one heart…one soul…is worth everything. Worth giving His only Son in exchange for the salvation of that wounded soul. And, I remembered the truth. That my offering may be small. I may be small and so not famous, but God has shown me that there is immeasurable value in offering a safe place to tell the stories of brokenness and healing…to say the names the world seems to have forgotten…to honor brief lives…to hug mothers whose hearts carry a heaviness so deeply ingrained in their weary depths. To be allowed the privilege of serving as that willing vessel….well, there aren’t words for that.

God doesn’t care about quantity. He is much more interested in quality. He’s the kind of God that will leave the 99 to chase after the one broken soul.

My favorite part of the entire conference came from a beautiful woman featured on the Mom panel, named Traci, who oozes joy despite the brokenness she once came from. She oozes joy because she has been rescued and restored. When asked what she would say to another woman, walking in a place of brokenness, she confidently and boldly proclaimed truth that rang in deepest part of my woman soul:

“I don’t care who you’ve been or who you think you’ve been, you are intensely loved by Jesus.” ~ Traci Veek

What more needs to said than that?