WWY~ Finding Hope and Healing With or Without a Rainbow

For the final WWY post in this segment, we will share our experiences with longing for another baby to fill our empty arms. Some experienced a subsequent pregnancy after loss. Some may be fearful of embarking on that journey again. Some may not be able to have another child, whether due to infertility or other reasons. Some may have found that having another baby, however precious a gift, was not the key to healing the grief. Can you experience hope and healing…even if there is no rainbow after the storm? Lori  will be guest posting on this blog and I will share some thoughts as well. We hope many of you will also join in, linking your own posts.

Written By Lori 

It is never, ever easy to lose a baby.

Ever.

 

And though as we discussed last week that we wished we didn’t compare our situations, or ourselves the reality is that we do.

So I’ll just be honest and say that when I lost Matthew, I felt like there was something even more especially cruel in his loss.

 

We’d tried to become parents for over a decade.

 

That’s over ten years, folks.  Treatments that didn’t work, diagnoses that didn’t seem to make sense, adoption situations that didn’t come to fruition…
One that broke our hearts because we were so.close.  The closest we’d really ever been…a nursery full of things for a little girl I’d been told in my heart was born and waiting for us.

 

A little girl I’ll never meet.

 

When we finally turned to IVF ten years after first beginning to build our family, I was skeptical.

 

And utterly surprised when it worked.  FINALLY!  The hard part was over!  I was pregnant and the child I knew God had promised me (we’d had many discussions, He and I) was only months away.
So, when Matthew died…in a very dramatic, very unexpected and very rare way, I felt that his loss was especially cruel.  I’d suffered all that infertility, had a perfectly healthy, full-term and beautiful baby boy…and he died the day after he was born due to what is essentially a little-seen fluke.

Cruel.   Just cruel.

I remember the day I dared God to heal my heart.  If I am honest, I was nearly blasphemous.  After Matthew died, we transferred our remaining embryo and it was not a successful transfer.

Yet again, another empty nursery and empty arms.
So, there I sat one Sunday morning, listening to how God heals and makes all things new.  I dared Him.  I told Him there was nothing He could do, short of pulling a Lazarus, and bringing Matthew back.

Knowing that just wasn’t going to happen.
Obviously, it didn’t.

But, in a way that only God can do, I was shown a redemptive and restorative healing I never believed was possible.

After completing our second IVF cycle, we were given our sweet little Luke.

I learned the truth in God making beauty of ashes.  Luke was a balm for our hearts, and one only given by the Great Healer Himself.

I’ll be very, very honest.

I don’t know what I would have done without Luke’s pregnancy and subsequent healthy birth.  It was tough– grieving so heavily the loss of one precious relationship while building so tentatively but expectantly another one.  It seemed like a blessing and a curse, at times, and it was difficult.

But I don’t know what I would have done without the hope in bringing another child into my arms.
In this online community of what we call our Babyloss Friends, I came across so many women who were struggling (and many still are) with trying to bring another child into their world…a living child they can hold and raise.

My heart aches for them because I know first-hand how a Rainbow Baby can bring a healing like nothing else can.  I can think of fewer things that show how God can make all things new.  Even a bereaved mother’s heart.

So, last year, when we lost our third child, another son we named Trey, I took it hard.

Hard because again, dreams I’d dreamed and hopes I’d hoped were stolen.  Trey’s loss triggered memories of Matthew’s loss, and I found myself terrified.

Terrified because I knew how much Luke’s birth and his life give healing to my heart.

Terrified because the odds were that I would not have that same healing after losing Trey.
Years of infertility left me at an age that just exacerbated my infertility.

We tried several more cycles, but none worked, and we decided that we were done trying to conceive any more children.

Done trying to adopt any more children.
Done with having any more children.
No Rainbow.  No more restoration and redemption of my heartache in the sweet snuggles of a new little brother or sister.

And here I am.

It’s not like having Luke made losing Matthew better.  Impossible.

But Matthew’s death left my arms empty.  Luke’s life gives them new meaning.

Losing Trey left me aching again.

Knowing there are no more children for our family has left me asking God how He’s going to help me heal this time.
With no ‘balm’ like we were given with Luke, I find myself wondering how on earth my heart is going to be rescued this time.

 

God rescued my heart when He gave me Luke.

I honestly don’t see how He can rescue it again.

 

But that’s just how God is, isn’t He?  He laughed at me the first time I dared Him…said, “Oh, yeah????  Watch THIS!” and then came Luke.

 

And though I know it won’t be in the form of another baby boy or girl, I know He is good.
He is unchanging.

He rescues our hearts.

I’m holding on.

 

Psalm 130:5 “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word, I put my hope.”

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Ok…this is Kelly popping back in. I love how honestly Lori shared her heart here…and the honest struggle with trusting God in the giving and the taking away. He is faithful in both. I just wanted to share a tidbit of my own journey.

We had our son Timothy. We lost Faith and Grace….and Thomas was our rainbow. We lost him, too.

I remember the years of struggle to trust God anyway, to  learn to hope and heal, the wrestling with bitterness…and, I remember the day I surrendered to much of it, weeping in the arms of our heavenly Father. His whisper that gratefulness would unlock the key to healing the bitterness sprouting in my heart. (Please note that this was more than a year into our grief for Thomas.) I also remember the realization that God could restore our family and our joy….even without another child.

I can’t explain what the Holy Spirit did in my heart that day, but I felt the surrender. I felt some of the heaviness lift.

And, God did begin to restore our joy…right there. We laughed. We lived. We started to accept the gifts of every moment we had with those we loved. Our little family.

Then God sent James. And, he came to stay.

But, whenever I share our story, He tugs at my heart, reminding that He could’ve restored our family as we were, without another baby. James was an unspeakable gift, a beautiful surprise. And, he has added great joy to our family, of course. But, it’s important to remember that God lifted some of the sorrow before his birth…He wanted that surrender from me…even before that precious added blessing came into our lives.

And, as excruciating as it was to come to that place of surrender, it was a sweet surrender indeed.

I just want you to know…that our God and His love are so big that He can restore and heal you…even if there is no rainbow after the storm. Even if…

It has been such a blessing to walk with all of you. Thank you for allowing us into the sacred places of your hearts. 



Walking With You ~ The Comparison Trap

February 4, 2013 ~ Mirror, Mirror ~ The Comparison Trap

Mothers often fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to one another. This is a trap many women fall into. We compare our families, mothering styles, fashion sense, careers or lack thereof, bodies, etc. Even mothers with babies in heaven compare the way we grieve our children. I know…sad…but we do it, if we’re honest enough to admit it. So, how can we find freedom from this? Sharing is a start…telling the truth…admitting the struggle. I think, then, we will see that we all love our children, regardless of how we choose to remember and honor their lives…whether publicly or quietly…with big parties or simple moments of remembrance. Be real on this week’s post, and let’s free ourselves from the trap of comparing!

This post is really for every woman, because if we’re honest, we all do it. Compare ourselves to one another…notice the ways we’re lacking. There is so much to say on this topic, I wasn’t sure where to begin. Until last night, when I was talking to a beautiful woman who spoke of the depth of her struggles and longing for children…pain so deep, she has attempted to take her own life more than once. I have been praying for her with such a heavy heart…and reflecting on her words. I wonder about our tendency to look at what others have with such longing, feeling the canyon of emptiness for what we do not have. It steals our joy. Whispering such blatant lies. And, yet, the longing is very real for the heart of a woman. Real and worthy of hurt, yes…but not meant to steal every ounce of joy, and deceive one into thinking her life isn’t worth living if she cannot have whatever it is she is longing for.

It may not be something as precious as having a child for some of us. It may be youth or beauty. Her eyes may wander to her flat stomached, tall young friend as they bounce alongside one another in exercise class. With a sigh and a shrug, as her eyes turn back to her own jiggling pouch, she wonders, Why did I eat those Doritos? Feeling the hopelessness settle in, wishing she would have just stayed home on the couch instead of subjecting herself to this. She’s just going to fail again anyway, and it’s easier to hide behind the food than try to change. She’ll never look like her friend. And, you can’t turn back the clock. Might as well at least enjoy yourself, right?…she justifies, slipping further under her stinky onion layers. Believing the lie. She felt good about working out, until her eyes wandered…until she noticed the woman beside her.

Mothers do it. We compare our kids…we compare ourselves to other moms. I am quite verbal with my children…and in weaker moments, I’ve even been known to yell from time to time. I’m not proud, but it has happened. All of my emotions get demonstrated…it’s how I’m wired. I try to reign them in, but sometimes they ooze. The benefits are a deep connection with my kids…and a great relationship. They will often talk to me openly about many things, and so do their friends. They feel, I hope, comfortable, safe, and loved here. God whispered to my heart when our oldest son entered adolescence that grace and love were needed much more than stringent rules. We have rules, yes…but we also have grace. The down-side is that my children sometimes take liberties with their words and cross the invisible boundary with me. I have a few friends who are more mild-mannered and quiet. Their children would never sass them, and they seem so obedient. In a frustrated exchange one day, I said to my oldest son “________________’s children would never sass her this way.” And, he said, “______________ would never raise her voice at her kids.”

Hmm. I didn’t like his response. And, he was right. For awhile it stung, because what he didn’t know is how I already internally battled the comparisons between my home-schooling, seemingly always patient, quiet, mild-tempered friends and me…willy-nilly, messy-housed, stay up talking to my teenager and his friends if they wanted to chat, cooking for them in the middle of the night, kids in public school, going shopping on a school night, feeding my children cold cereal and frozen pizza, bustin’ a move to some Just Dance with my middle-schooler, and even sometimes raising my voice…ok, like a banshee.

Eventually I have come to terms with the differences, and I’m ok with the mom I am, flaws and all. Because, while _________ may never raise her voice, she also may not enjoy the same heart-felt conversations.  It’s ok that I don’t parent like some of my friends. What matters more is that I parent in a way that pleases the Lord. He is working on my rough edges…and pouring grace over the places where I fall short.

I know this post is supposed to be about grieving mothers comparing themselves to one another…and I’m getting there. I guess the thing is…that this comparison dilemma is not isolated to grief. It’s what women do. And, it brings all sorts of destruction. There’s a reason He included covetousness in the top ten don’ts.

No.Good.Comes.From.It.

Only misery.

Now, as I said, mothers do it. Grieving mothers do it too. I know, it’s a bit disgusting to admit, but search your heart. I bet it’s in there. We compare each other’s experiences. We compare our responses. We compare where we are in the journey of grief. We compare our performance. We notice that Lyn has beautiful pictures of her child, and we didn’t think to take any. We notice that Mary cherished every moment of the time she had with her child and took all the opportunities to make memories that she could. She left nothing to regret. She did it with grace, while we stumbled along…just trying to survive, too oblivious to know we could. Bev did a balloon release. Ann seems like she’s healing so well, Penny is still a blubbering mess. Norma had her baby cremated after a private memorial. Louisa had a large funeral with family and friends, followed by a graveside service.

Do you do it? Does it stab your heart when you read of the way one mother walked this path…if she did it differently than you did? Do the regrets wash over you? The inadequacies? Do you feel them dark and accusing in your face…gripping your heart, distracting from the truth? What is the truth, anyway?

Hear me on this. The truth is….you are a beautiful woman, precious in the sight of God. Most of you on this walk are mothers…whether to babies on earth, in heaven, or both. Right now, I want you to really search your heart and see some of the yuck in there. I know it’s hard to look. But, you have to see it in order to do the next thing….LET IT GO.

You are not meant to carry these lies one more second. They exist only to steal your joy and distract you from what truly matters. However you walked this path…however you spent the time you were given with your precious children, you did it the best way you could do it in those moments from where you were in that season of your life. I didn’t do many things other moms do. I didn’t know I could. Every time I see beautiful pictures of babies whose lives were brief, or read about the ways you brave mothers honor the lives of your children….my heart aches a little. I’m so happy you know to do those things…so happy you are free to do them…and confident enough and knowledgeable enough. But, my heart aches because I didn’t. My heart aches for what I missed. And, I can’t go back. The only thing I can do is make sure that as many mothers as possible do have the opportunity to experience precious memories with their babies…no matter how briefly we are graced with their presence. And, Lord willing, that is how I will spend the rest of my days. I’m grateful for that privilege. But, I’m no better or worse as a mother because I can do now, what I couldn’t then. And, neither are you. You, beautiful momma, if the best you can do right now is brush your teeth and get out of bed, are no less a momma than the one who is able to write a book and speak on a platform at Women of Faith or the one who has beautiful scrapbooks full of memories from her time carrying her child/children. You love your sweet baby just as much as a mom who walks differently than you. Please stop judging each other’s performance or measuring love by the ways it is displayed or kept quietly in our hearts. And, most of all, please stop judging yourselves.

You are meant to walk in grace and freedom. The times I struggle most are when I take my eyes off Jesus and start looking around at others or my circumstances. Walk your walk with confidence….it’s the only walk you were created for, dear sister. And, no one can do it better than you. And, no one can be a better mother to your children than you. After all, God chose you for the job…and He never makes mistakes.

Colossians 1:9-11
For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy…



WWY Overcoming Guilt ~ Embracing Joy

January 28, 2013 ~ Overcoming Guilt and Embracing Joy

One area so many mothers struggle with is guilt, especially those who experience the loss of a baby/child. We want to address this struggle in this post. It will help mothers quietly battling guilt for living life and experiencing joy to know they are not alone. Other moms silently battle this as well. Whether it is the startling first time you really laugh after losing your child, or whether you have experienced the healing balm of joy for years, share your thoughts on this week’s post.

 

I am so excited about this week’s topic. First, because I know that we mommas tend to battle the guilt from time-to-time…or you know….everyday. Well, mommy guilt is not reserved for those whose children are on this earth. It’s not just for the days when we didn’t take time for devotions, fed our children chicken nuggets or frozen pizza…again, yelled like a banshee after being sassed or annoyed, rushed through the day, ate dinner on TV trays, etc. Nope. Moms with children in heaven have mommy guilt too. In fact, in many ways, those of us who have lost children are plagued with an extra measure of guilt.

Powerful. Gnawing. Nightmare inducing. Ulcer creating. What-if filling. Anxiety ridden.

Guilt.

 

And, second, because the truth is…we aren’t meant to carry this heavy burden. Jesus wants us to be free. To experience joy. To laugh and live…even in the midst of this sorrow. Life is, as my friend Angie Smith often says, a sacred dance of grief and joy. It is. And, it’s ok to laugh. Your child is laughing in heaven, and living and well. Better than you are, actually! It’s ok to live, mama. In fact, live the best possible life you can. Nothing would honor your child more. I have carried the guilt. I have felt the heavy yoke. I have been weighted heavy with the albatross of guilt and fear and what-if.

But, Jesus has a different plan. He desires freedom for us.

This post talks about what Jesus says about the yoke we carry…

Jesus said:

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-30

The yoke represents all the things we try to carry on our shoulders: brokenness we try to fix on our own, our sin, our hurts, disappointments, regret, responsibility for those we love, expectations that will never be reached – both those unmet by others and those we fail to meet, grief, pain, failures, illness…every burden of this life. When we carry it alone on our shoulders, it weighs heavily on our back, stealing our energy, wearing down our resolve. Our shoulders slump under its weight and every step is cumbersome. Our heads hang in broken despair.

Then, One who loves us comes alongside and lifts the heavy yoke from our weary shoulders. Relief washes over us as we look up into the eyes of our Rescuer. He walks beside us, carrying the weight of the burdens that we created, the very buckets we filled with all of our “stuff”. His yoke is easy, His burden is light. This is the yoke He means for us to carry…the one with Him doing the lifting while we find rest for our tired souls.

He never meant for us to carry all of the things we heap into our buckets and try to carry on our backs. The only part we are responsible for is the moment when we are asked to release the yoke. Sometimes, He comes alongside us to lift the weight of our burden, and we hold on tightly…thinking we must continue to carry all of this heavy weight. I have been guilty of this stubbornness, and He has reminded me time and time again to release the yoke that is not mine to carry. Sometimes I only listen when it gets so heavy that I begin to stumble under the weight. What freedom awaits for the day I learn to let go sooner, or better yet, never pick up my heavy-laden yoke at all.

Please don’t be afraid to heal. Many mothers express being afraid that their baby will be forgotten if they experience healing. Or feeling guilty if they laugh. Almost as if clinging to sorrow is something we must do to honor their lives. That is not true. Healing does not mean forgetting or diminishing the life of your child. Take it from one of the moms whose been walking this walk awhile. Life presents plenty of opportunity for sorrow. If joy should find you, embrace it and soak it in.

When my mother was really sick, I was gripped with fear. She was my constant. She was the first person to love me…and loved me the longest. She was always there. Fear tore at my heart, years before her actual death. Fear had always been a close companion of mine, along with his good friend, anxiety. They work so well together. What-ifs I didn’t even want to think darkened my mind, with their smoky lies, bringing doubt to further cloud the haze. The smothering haze. Then, something shifted.

However cheesy it may sound, God used the song “I Hope You Dance” to speak to my heart around that time, preparing me for what was coming. I wonder if my answer would’ve been different if I knew what waited for me. He whispered …will you dance? I don’t want you to sit it out anymore.  Will you promise that whenever you have the choice to sit it out or dance…that you will choose to dance? In fact…the more afraid you are, I want you to trust, press into My truth and dance. Whatever it is…if I ask you to go, will you be willing to go?

I swallowed hard, and answered yes.

Just when the ministry was beginning…just as I started to learn dance, she was diagnosed with the cancer that would take her life fourteen months later. I stumbled and flailed, but I kept clinging and dancing, by His grace.

You may not be ready to dance. And, that’s ok. Even scripture gives a time for everything. This Christian isn’t going to judge your performance in grief. Or try to measure your faith by your response from the deepest pit.And, I hope you don’t take my words that way, because I know all too well the guilt that comes from the other end of the spectrum. Feeling guilty for grieving and hurting…because Christians should be joyful and hopeful, after all. Blech…don’t get me started about that line of performance malarky that keeps us thinking it’s about our performance, our faith…instead of God’s grace. In truth, it’s just another form of bondage that keeps us from true freedom. But, dear sister, please remember…Ecclesiastes speaks of a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

Just don’t stop dancing. Beautiful one, you are made to dance, even in the midst of the pain. And, your dance, can only grow more beautiful through the desperate clinging. Allow Him to heal you and lift the heavy yoke. Allow Him to comfort your tears and pain. Allow Him to move your heart toward dancing when the time comes.

Saying yes to Him was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. ~ Psalm 126:5



Walking With You ~ Steps Back into Life

Welcome to Week 3 of Walking With You
Share about your first steps back into life. What helped you survive in the world outside as you took those first tender steps? Are there still tender areas for you today, living in a world that doesn’t embrace or understand the loss of a baby/child? How do you cope with those struggles? What advice would you offer those new to this walk to encourage and bring hope? How has this changed for you from the beginning? If you are in early grief, what do you fear/struggle with as you try to navigate a new normal….life without your baby?

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I wasn’t sure what I was going to write this week. Could I remember all those years ago, the first steps back into life after the loss of our twin daughters, Faith and Grace and our newborn son Thomas. It’s been sixteen and fourteen years since I took those first tender steps. But, something happened this week…a phrase spoken…that opened those old wounds, and I remember…for tonight, I traveled back there.

I was 21 years old the first time I would try to navigate a new normal. How heavy those steps were, leaving the graveside on that cold November day. I didn’t leave the house much in those early months, and was rarely left alone, as I mentioned. For months, I surrounded myself only with those who felt safe and would let me cry and talk about my children. That meant my mother and Ginny. The first time I went to church, I stayed in the bathroom through most of the service. I just couldn’t. But, I kept going. Until I could.

I remember being in awe that the world continued to turn and people continued in the busyness of life when my baby girls were dead. I knew I was forever changed. What struck me right away, was the people close to us who just expected us to get better, or stayed away, or cringed if we talked about them. We instinctively knew not to. I didn’t hang their pictures, for fear of making others uncomfortable. And, tried to put on a brave face when we finally ventured back into life with others.

With Thomas, I was even more protective in the early months, knowing that others would not understand. I was more able to go out in public, but I put on a “brave” face, covering most of it. I think of the verse in scripture about not “casting our pearls before swine”. It was too sacred to let people who didn’t really love us or understand to see the depth of our hurt.

It was many years that I put their pictures away, and sat quietly around most of our family who didn’t acknowledge our babies in heaven…perhaps as a way of coping with their own grief…too hard to feel the depths of it. Or maybe it was just easier to ignore. After all, they didn’t experience it, didn’t carry these babies or hold them in their arms. It has only been in recent years, that I speak freely about them, now that we have a very public and far reaching ministry. Thomas’ picture and the footprints of Faith and Grace are on our shelves and, pictures hang in the walls of my office. They are my children, just like the ones who walk this earth, and they are worth acknowledging. If someone is uncomfortable with that, that is their issue to work through.

I still wrestle with some of the hurts…the lack of support and understanding from family and others. We were so young, trying to navigate this path with very little guidance. We needed love and understanding…not judgment and distance. Sometimes, I’m in awe of the way God carried us through that time…with only a handful of close friends and each other to cling to this side of heaven.

God has comforted so much of our grief over the years…and as He speaks to our hearts about the beauty that rises from the ashes and as He restores our broken places, my own freedom and confidence grows. I don’t live to please others…or to perform a certain way…whether in grief, in healing, in serving, in parenting…or in any other way. I live to please the Lord and to serve Him. And, He views my children as precious and worth remembering and embracing. He values their lives just as He values my life and yours, the life of my husband and children, and everyone who walks the earth and lives in heaven. Every life is precious to Him…no matter how brief.

I will be honest…all these years later…remembering how difficult it was to take those brave steps back into a world without our children, and some of the lack of understanding from others…still stings. But, God is able to mend even those hurts. I pray for grace to cover us all, as I reflect tonight. May we impart grace and forgiveness to those who have hurt us…and may others learn to give grace to grieving hearts. Because….no one should ever judge another person and their performance in the depths of grief.

If you’re reading here, and wondering how to minister to a grieving heart, refer to this post.

It has been such a blessing to read your posts as you share about your babies and your various journeys. Thank you for joining this walk. Many have linked to the first and second posts, so please revisit those links to welcome and encourage those mamas. And, continue to encourage one another. One precious blessing of this walk is to know that we are not alone. Pray for and encourage one another, dear sisters. Love and grace to all…



Walking With You ~ Clinging in the Pit


This week’s WWY topic ~ Clinging in the Pit

Whether or not you are new to loss, talk a bit about early grief. What was it like, clinging for hope in the pits of despair? What did you cling to for hope? How did you survive the early days? What helped? What do you wish you could share with someone new to this walk, clinging in the pit? If you’re in the pit, currently, share your struggles. What can others do to encourage you?

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I haven’t written many new posts about the depths of despair…the days of fresh grief. Much of what I have to say has been written. But, tonight, preparing this post, I am taken back to a few of those days, playing in flashes, like scenes from a movie.

It’s 16 (Faith and Grace) and again 14 (Thomas) years ago

I am in the bath tub, tears streaming, as the water fills. The quiet sobs rising from my depths. My head leans against the cool side of the tub, too weak to hold up as the next wave rushes in. I’m not really in the tub at all, but in the midst of a tumultuous sea, as wave upon wave filled with the unspeakable pain of grief wash over me. I have no fight in me. In a heap, I hang my head and let them come.

Life is a haze. Everything covered in the film of broken dreams, an ache I never knew existed. Nothing matters. Nothing that used to seem so significant holds value. Numbness for the moments when pain subsides. Everything is lacking life and color. And, although I cling to hope and truth the best I can, there are moments when the grief is bigger than anything else…or that is the way it feels.

I crawl to my bible, tears streaming in the middle of the night. I don’t always feel like it. It’s like climbing a mountain in a hailstorm with 10 tons on my back to get to the bible. I know it holds the only hope of comfort there is, yet my arms are so heavy, it takes more strength than I can muster just to lift it.

Somehow, I do, and the tears stain the pages, as I cling. Sometimes I feel His peace wash over me like a soothing balm as His life-giving words combat the hopelessness that deceives. Sometimes, I have to learn to believe without seeing, or feeling. Still I cling, weeping on the pages.

I know He’s my only hope. The waves are strong. Sometimes it feels like I can’t breathe. I don’t leave my house. I don’t open the door or answer the phone. For two months…after we buried our twin daughters. My mother and Ginny take turns staying with me while Tim is at work. I am rarely left alone. I know life will never be the same. The hardest place to go is church. Not because I’m mad at God, but because being there brushes the most tender places of my heart…the heart that lays torn to shreds, ripped and raw. Worship. The music, stings. More than stings…my bedraggled heart cannot take it. I’ve talked to friends who felt the same…in grief. The heart is too tender…for anything that touches those raw places.

There were days Tim would come home to find me in a heap in the corner on the kitchen floor, crying like a little girl. After the loss of my mother six years ago, I would wake up curled up in the fetal position, crying. He would hold me until I could breathe again. When I woke up from nightmares in those early days, he would remind me where I was, and that it was ok. Again, I clung in the dark of night, when I wondered if He really met her and carried her home. Jesus whispered truth to my aching heart…shining light in the dark, truth to quiet lies….when again I crawled to Him, up the mountain, in the hailstorm. Tim held me when I cried through worship.

Sometimes, all these years later, he holds me still. And, still, I cling when doubt and pain rear ugly and big in front of me…weak, small me. Jesus whispers, “Fix your eyes on me. I am Who I say I am. I will never leave you, nor forsake you. I didn’t leave you in the darkest valleys…in fact, I was growing beautiful fruit watered by your tears. And, I didn’t leave Faith, Grace, Thomas…or your mother. I carried them home…and I am carrying you now…every step, every breath.”

Guess what…no matter how you’re feeling right now, He’s carrying you too. Even if you can’t feel Him…even if everything your eyes see in front of you on this earth spells hopelessness and despair. Cling to His promises…cling to His truth.

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From the Threads of Hope Study: Getting Out of the Pit

I have been in the pit, and through this ministry, I spend a great deal of time with others who are in the pit of grief. And, when you’re in the pit, it’s tough to think of anything other than the pain and sorrow weighing down on you, being heaped upon you as you sink further in.

Corrie Ten Boom – “There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.”

I love that…and I could also relate to what Gwen Kik shared:

After Hope died I felt as if I were hanging in a pit. The only think keeping me from falling to the depths was my grasp. On the edge of the pit was our Lord, offering His hand but I would not look at Him or reach for Him. I would only hold to the hem of His robe. Some called that faith. I called it desperation. He was all that I had to hold on to.

I hung there for many months before I had the courage to even look at Him. I remember the day clearly that I climbed out of my pit, into His arms and had a good cry. That was the beginning of my letting go.

When in the pit, we may not have the strength, desire, or will to even reach our hand up to take His…to even lift our head to look into His eyes, to even open our mouth to whisper…”help me, hold me, carry me”. Even that may be too much. Just breathing is a lot to ask in the smothering depths of the pit.

What I love most about Gwen’s picture is that the Lord is sitting outside the pit…waiting for her…offering His comfort and reassurance. Even when we can’t feel Him, even when we reject Him…He is there…waiting with unyielding love to gather us in His arms and wipe our tears.

I also love that Gwen says she clung to Him out of desperation. I think there’s too much emphasis placed on the strength of our faith. Faith isn’t about us…it’s about the God we trust in and what He is able to do. It’s not about how big or well we believe…or anything else we do. It’s not about having strong faith…and a faith that barely holds on out of desperation is not considered weak faith. Faith, after all is just knowing that He is the One to hold on to…it’s trusting in what we do not see. It is the “substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen”. Call me crazy, but holding on to the little tiny threads of His robe while grasping in desperation in the pit…where you cannot see the hope, the light, the promise…that’s the most beautiful faith of all. The dirty, messy, nitty-gritty faith that comes when the world is falling apart and there are no answers.

At least, that’s what I learned from my own time in the pit…

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.   In My Father’s house are many mansions;if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

John 14:6

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Last week, it was such a blessing to read about your sweet babies and to see the beautiful encouragement many of the mothers offered to one another on this walk. That is what this is all about, sharing our hearts and encouraging one another…so that each mother knows we are not walking this path alone. Thank you for the privilege of walking with you. I hope you will join us again this week. It’s a hard one, peeling back the layers. But, take heart…you are not alone.

Love and grace to all…

*Link your post below, or share your heart in the comments. And, please take the time to visit those linked here. Thank you!

 


Walking With You: Intro. and Where we are Now…


Welcome to the first segment of this WWY series for mothers/families who have lost a child. This week we are introducing ourselves and sharing where we are now in our “grief journey”. For a full list of weekly topics, visit this post.

Tonight, we are hosting our very first “in person” support group for families who have lost a child…of any age. I  am thinking of that gathering as I begin typing this post. I hate the word support group, and want to call it something else. Anything else. It will be more of a gathering of girls who get it, which is also what I hope for this online gathering. There will be no lofty goals, no brilliant answers…just a safe haven to share, encourage, experience grace, and walk together. Still…as I sat down this morning to write this post…I am struck with that support groupy image.

Hello, my name is Kelly and I lost a baby…well, three actually. Group replies in unison: Hi Kelly.
Ugg.

Did I mention I hate the name support group?

Ok…enough about that. I’m going to pray and anticipate God’s faithfulness where I fall short. He will meet us there. Now…let’s back up and do this in order, shall we?

I am Kelly, daughter of the King, wife to Tim, mother to five children, two boys (Timothy – almost 19 and James- 11) who fill my heart with joy and, at times, make me crazy on this earth, and three children in heaven…twin daughters (Faith and Grace) and one son (Thomas Patrick).

You can read more about our sweet babies here.

It has been sixteen years since we said goodbye to our daughters Faith and Grace, born still at 26 weeks gestation from a condition known as twin to twin transfusion syndrome. We were 21 years old when I held them…one in each arm…singing Amazing Grace. Twenty one years old when we stood by the grave on that cold November morning. We were babies, saying goodbye to our babies, clinging to each other…and clinging to God’s grace.

It has been more than fourteen years since we held our sweet Thomas Patrick. He was born full term and lived for six hours before going home to heaven from a condition called Potter’s Syndrome. We heard the words “incompatible with life” from the doctor diagnosing our son in mid-pregnancy, and chose to continue the pregnancy despite the fatal diagnosis. Holding our son, singing to him on his way to heaven…as He went straight from my arms to the arms of Jesus…well, it remains one of most sacred and precious moments of my life. His peace filled my heart beyond what my mind could grasp and His grace carried me…sufficient grace, meeting me there…just as He promised in His Word.

It occurs to me that it looks all tied up in a neat bow as I write it here. It wasn’t. It isn’t. If you’re reading here, most likely, you already know there’s nothing neat and tidy about walking through grief. It’s messy. And, although much healing has taken place in the hearts and lives of those in our family, there will always be those tender places of missing.

We started Sufficient Grace Ministries in 2004, and since that time, we have been able to reach out to families all over the world, because our children lived. Today, I will go the beautiful SGM office where their pictures hang on the wall, and package boxes filled with prayers and items of comfort and hope to be shipped to mothers with grieving hearts, far and wide. It is a privilege and blessing to be the mother of Faith, Grace, and Thomas, and I love to tell their story over and over again…to churches, women’s groups, hospitals, at events, on this blog, and to whoever asks. (In fact, I’m writing a book, telling their story, His story…and it’s almost finished.) Only God could write the story of their lives…and of this family. Only God would use three little babies to restore our broken places and teach us about believing without seeing. Only God would comfort thousands using two little girls who never took a breath on earth, and one sweet boy who only opened his eyes to see his mama for a millisecond.

But, even still, just last week, while watching an old episode of Everybody Loves Raymond on TV Land, I felt the hot salty tears fill my eyes and spill over when they showed the day Debra told Raymond they were having twins. I felt the ache. More than sixteen years later. The ache of what we missed. The re-living of the joy of that moment when life still held so much possibility, mixed with the sorrow of what would never be…at least not this side of heaven. It stung even more as Ray rejoiced in his manhood…that he could produce two babies. Oh…the simple joy of thinking that pregnancy means a baby…or two babies…or three.

God is making beauty everyday out of the ashes of our brokenness. He has and is restoring more than I even realized needed restoration in us. He does that. He multiplies…the blessing, the healing, the restoring, the teaching…whatever He does. It’s always more than we could conjure with our limited, human minds. And, I stand in awe.

That doesn’t take away the missing we carry until heaven’s reunion. The hope lies in the truth that He will make it all right one day. And, I cling to that hope, even as the missing washes over me in unexpected moments. We have to trust in what we don’t see or feel at times. And, walking this path has grown and stretched me to see beyond what my eyes look upon and my mind can grasp. There are precious gifts…even in the brokenness.

We cling to Him…even if…

Well…even if the healing doesn’t come. Please listen to this song. It encompasses what my heart wants to convey about clinging to Him…even if.

Please link your post below, or share your thoughts in the comments. And, please remember to take a few minutes to stop by the blogs linked here and offer a word of love and encouragement for those participating. It means so much to know we aren’t walking alone. Love and grace to all…



Topics for New Walking With You Series

We will be hosting a new Walking With You series beginning Monday, January 7, 2013 and continuing for six weeks. We’ve added some new topics for this walk. (Thank you to several of our BLM friends for suggesting topics that would be helpful to grieving hearts.) So, whether you are a seasoned mom who has walked this path of grief for years, or a mother newly thrust into this unknown valley, I hope you will join in and add your thoughts. One of the goals for WWY is for women to find hope in the knowledge that they are not walking this path alone. It helps to read about the experiences of others. We hope many of you will post on these subjects on your blogs each week with us…and come back to add your post to the linky on the weekly posts here. You can also share your thoughts in the comments of the weekly posts. And, hopefully, many of you will take time to leave an encouraging comment to the blogs linked here, each week.

Each week will have a topic to share. You can join in whenever you wish and for as many as you are able.

January 7, 2013 ~ Introduction and Where are You Now?

Tell us a little about yourself, your baby, and how you’ve come to this walk. Also, where are you now in your grief and healing? Are you new to this, still in the depths of fresh grief? Have you been walking this path awhile?

January 14, 2013 ~ Clinging in the Pit

If you are not new to loss, talk a bit about early grief. What was it like, clinging for hope in the pits of despair? What did you cling to for hope? How did you survive the early days? What helped? What do you wish you could share with someone new to this walk, clinging in the pit? If you’re in the pit, currently, share your struggles. What can others do to encourage you?

January 21, 2013 ~ Steps Back into Life

Share about your first steps back into life. What helped you survive in the world outside as you took those first tender steps? Are there still tender areas for you today, living in a world that doesn’t embrace or understand the loss of a baby/child? How do you cope with those struggles? What advice would you offer those new to this walk to encourage and bring hope? How has this changed for you from the beginning? If you are in early grief, what do you fear/struggle with as you try to navigate a new normal….life without your baby?

January 28, 2013 ~ Overcoming Guilt and Embracing Joy

One area so many mothers struggle with is guilt, especially those who experience the loss of a baby/child. We want to address this struggle in this post. It will help mothers quietly battling guilt for living life and experiencing joy to know they are not alone. Other moms silently battle this as well. Whether it is the startling first time you really laugh after losing your child, or whether you have experienced the healing balm of joy for years, share your thoughts on this week’s post.

February 4, 2013 ~ Mirror, Mirror ~ The Comparison Trap

Mothers often fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to one another. This is a trap many women fall into. We compare our families, mothering styles, fashion sense, careers or lack thereof, bodies, etc. Even mothers with babies in heaven compare the way we grieve our children. I know…sad…but we do it, if we’re honest enough to admit it. So, how can we find freedom from this? Sharing is a start…telling the truth…admitting the struggle. I think, then, we will see that we all love our children, regardless of how we choose to remember and honor their lives…whether publicly or quietly…with big parties or simple moments of remembrance. Be real on this week’s post, and let’s free ourselves from the trap of comparing!

February 11, 2013 ~ Finding Hope and Healing (With or Without a Rainbow)

For this post, we will share our experiences with longing for another baby to fill our empty arms. Some experienced a subsequent pregnancy after loss. Some may be fearful of embarking on that journey again. Some may not be able to have another child, whether due to infertility or other reasons. Some may have found that having another baby, however precious a gift, was not the key to healing the grief. Can you experience hope and healing…even if there is no rainbow after the storm? Lori Ennis will be guest posting on this blog and I will share some thoughts as well. We hope many of you will also join in, linking your own posts.