for here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come. ~ Hebrews 13:14

a good friend, ashlee, reminded me recently about *hope*. it was timely, and good… she is in the same “club” as myself… among those who know sorrow as a constant companion… those who are never far from tears, but yet know deep joy and true hope. She reminded me that it is our purpose to remind women that there IS hope, even in painful and hard times. Hope through Jehovah Roi. Jehovah Shammah. Jehovah Rapha.

When she said that my whole being cried out “YES! yes… that IS what I want to do with my life… in all my relationships… for my family, for Jeremiah… in this blog, for *you*… bring hope!!

But how often do we throw words around without really a deep understanding… words like “kindness” or “hope” or “faith.”

I realized how shallow my thinking is on many things when I first heard Dr. Dan Allender say, “kindness is *not* niceness… it is an open-armed invitation for you to find peace in my presence.” … wow… do you agree with me?? does that not shatter your perception of yourself as a mostly “kind” person??

Anyway, back to *hope*… I want to enter on a journey toward hope, and invite you to join me. But it must be a completely honest journey… true hope comes through a struggle with reality… with unbelief… a struggle with darkness itself.  The hope i want isn’t a fake smile plastered on my face and light talk about summer vacations… i want to know it in my soul and feel it in my bones…

which incidentally reminds me of what Dr. Allender said about hope… i have to add that when he said this, I was there listening to him in person, I just about laughed out loud at his brutal honesty… but that’s why I love him so much.  this is what he said (a paraphrase): “this is reality: “things will not ultimately get better”… you WILL die and it will NOT be pleasant… there will be spilling of body fluids… pain… it will be just awful... How then do we have hope? If it’s not about things getting “better”?

If kindness is not merely niceness and hope is not merely optimism…  and Jesus sets the stage for ultimate “kindness” (for it is through Jesus absorbing the totality of God’s wrath through his death on the cross, that God the Father is able to offer us the gift of kindness: “an open armed invitation to find peace in HIS presence.” Again, I think of Rembrandt’s painting, “The Return of the Prodigal.”)… then how does Jesus give us a true understanding of “hope”?

it is this confidence: “From this blood… this death, I WILL see life come.”  (see John 6:53-54)

Hope looks at the reality of death… the reality of pain… the reality of evil and darkness… yet sees a day of redemption, of *resurrection* coming.

Hope is a “memory of the future.”

There is no true hope without the resurrection. And for the resurrection to be good news, you have to accept the free gift of God’s forgiveness… and in accepting, repent… “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out…” ~ Acts 3:19.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9

More verses on HOPE:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, ~ 1 Peter 1:3
so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. ~Titus 3:7

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace,comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. ~ 2 Thess 2:16-17

we.. groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.~  Romans 8:23-25
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. ~ Romans 12:12

Dangerous waters

Growth requires a swim in murky, dangerous waters. ~ D.A, {To Be Told}

Lately, the topics of prayer, anger and forgiveness have been coming across my path- intersecting, overlapping and creating a tangled mess in my mind… I hope the words that follow will be an unraveling that is both healing and redemptive.

After Tirzah died, I honestly have not struggled with being angry toward God… All I’ve felt toward God is an overwhelming thankfulness and deeper experience of His goodness than I’ve ever known before.

But *wow*, have I struggled with bitterness and resentments in other areas and in other relationships!! It has been a deep, dark, struggle of anguish.

I feel almost tangibly this truth: God made women to be Fierce. I believe that there is a *fierceness* inside each woman. The Hebrew word for “Helper” in the Bible (when it’s not referring to a woman), refers to God Himself…. in the context of **War**… God in battle, redeeming His people from disaster. Therefore, God’s design for women to be a “helper” is not in the category of “housekeeper” ie, one who folds laundry and cares for children… “Helper” is a category that reflects the nature of God as Redeemer… Women as “helpers” are meant to bring God’s Word into our homes and families… calling each other to the task that God is most in love with- and that is giving mercy.

And I believe that is how our God-given fierceness is meant to be lived out… as Fierce Warriors fighting the powers of darkness crouching outside and inside our homes… Fighting with the spiritual weapon of God’s Word… fighting FOR mercy, redemption, and goodness.

But… if we don’t understand this role… or we get distracted… our fierceness will be directed somewhere… and if it’s not directed at fighting against darkness and for good… it likely will be focused on people around us.

So anyway, through all this pain and anger, God has shown me that I was fighting the wrong battle.

For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms. ~ Ephesians 6:12, NLT

And so I have come to realize that all my prayers for God to use Tirzah’s life for His Kingdom, and my desire to minister to other women, will be utterly ineffectual if I allow a root of bitterness to grow or fester.

I have been reading about Rembrandt’s painting of the Prodigal Son, in a book by Henri Nouwen… I felt like this book was written just for me. The parable came alive to me… as God’s Word truly is living, and active, it pierced my soul.

Here is the story in Luke 15: The Parable of the Prodigal Son

{In this story, notice that both sons are lost, and have left the presence of the Father}

photo 2And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them.

Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.
And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need.
So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!
I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”‘
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
But the father said to his servants,’ ,’Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.
And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.
For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.
And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant.
And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’
But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.
But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’
And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.
It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'”

God has brought me through a process of “cleansing the temple”… He has been uncovering the dark areas of my heart and “turning tables” in a sense, to bring the darkness of my sin, into the light… Showing me that my anger has been like that of the Elder brother… and through this journey He has brought me to my knees… back to the posture of the Prodigal child.

In his book, Henri Nouwen says:
“The parable that Rembrandt painted might well be called “The Parable of the Lost Sons.” Not only did the younger son, who left home to look for freedom and happiness in a distant country, get lost, but the one who stayed home also became a lost man. Exteriorly he did all the things a good son is supposed to do, but, interiorly, he wandered away from his father. He did his duty, worked hard every day, and fulfilled all his obligations but became increasingly unhappy and unfree… Outwardly, the elder son was faultless. But when confronted by his father’s joy at the return of his younger brother, a dark power erupts in him and boils to the surface. Suddenly, there becomes glaringly visible a resentful, proud, unkind, selfish person…

Nouwen wrote of the elder child: “Here, I am confronted with my own true poverty. I am totally unable to root out my own resentments. They are so deeply anchored in the soil of my inner self

Can the elder brother in me come home?

More daunting than healing myself as the younger son, is healing myself as the elder son. Confronted here with the impossibility of self-redemption, I now understand Jesus’ words to Nicodemus: “Do not be surprised when I say: you must be born from above.” Indeed something has to happen that I myself cannot cause to happen. I cannot be reborn from below; that is, with my own strength, with my own mind, with my own psychological insights. There is no doubt in my mind about this because I have tried so hard in the past to heal myself from my complaints and failed… and failed… and failed, until I came to the edge of complete emotional collapse and even physical exhaustion. I can only be healed from above, from where God reaches down. What is impossible for me is possible with God… I must be found and brought home by the Shepherd who goes out to me.

So how do we forgive others? By coming to Jesus for forgiveness and recognizing that we ourselves are forgiven. This is how to not hold grudges, how to not be bitter. It’s that simple, but at the same time impossible apart from God.

I believe God has allowed this journey to show me a glimpse of the depths of evil that my heart is capable of apart from grace… and thus to bring me back to the posture of the Prodigal son… to my knees, clinging desperately to Him for lifewhen i am clinging to HIM, I’m not reaching out for what others owe me (isn’t that what anger is, in essence: making someone PAY?)… I’m allowing his comforting, welcoming embrace to enfold me (because I see my NEED for it afresh)… THIS is the posture that prevails with God in prayer. This is the posture where I abide in Christ… and experience the fullness of unity, which allows me to in turn MIRROR the welcoming embrace of the Father for others.

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. ~ Romans 15:7

There IS grace for the Elder child in me to come home *one day at a time*; grace upon grace. EACH DAY I must see the Elder child in my heart, and surrender to the kneeling posture of the Prodigal child, abiding in the embrace of God. This is the only way to enter the *true* battle (instead of brother-against brother) and to prevail against darkness. The battle will be fought and won on my knees… Clinging to Christ.

trip to Miami

Our trip to Miami was our first family trip without Tirzah… we had a wonderful time in the sun and on the beach, but we felt the loss of Tirzah not with us. On the flight to Florida, there was a newborn baby girl in front of us… crying. I told Ryan what my dad would say: “music to my ears!! I haven’t heard a baby cry all day!” … and then a tear fell down my cheek, because it would be the most beautiful music in the world to hear Tirzah cry just once. The only one who saw my tear was her older brother across the aisle.

It was sad to see other families there with small children… who all had siblings to play with on their family trip… and then to see Jeremiah without his sister… was hard. Tirzah will always always be missing from our family. And I think we will especially feel it in the “happy” times. Jeremiah was thinking about Tirzah too. One day as we were walking back to our room, from the pool Jeremiah said: “Tirzah is not in your tummy… she came out.”

We visited a little church in Miami on Sunday night called, “Crossbridge Church”, and I cried as we sang this worship song, by Casting Crowns:

The sun cannot compare to the glory of Your love
There is no shadow in Your presence
No mortal man would dare to stand before Your throne
Before the Holy One of heaven
It’s only by Your blood
It’s only through Your mercy
Lord, I come

I bring an offering of worship to my King
No one on earth deserves the praises that I sing
Jesus, may you receive the honor that You’re due
O Lord, I bring an offering to You

As I sang, I thought of how I’ve said recently that Tirzah is my alabaster jar… my offering of *immeasurable cost*, broken before the feet of Jesus… for His glory…  how I have prayed and pleaded with the Lord that her life, and my sorrow would all be for His glory, and His Kingdom… I pictured the day that I will be holding Tirzah’s hand, and kneeling before the throne together… and knowing that this gift is blood-bought… the Holy blood of the sinless-Lamb.

And then on the drive back to the airport i listened to a song by Selah, “God be with you”, and I thought of that vision again… my *long awaited* reunion with Tirzah:

Till we meet, till we meet,
Till we meet at Jesus’ feet

Till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

love…. with ferocity and abandon

When I woke up on Wednesday morning, it was 4:00 am, Jeremiah was calling for me… I never went back to sleep (although Jeremiah did!). About 5:30 am, by God’s providence, the following story was staring me in the face:

When I read this it reawakened all my grief in a flood of tears… that sent me reeling all day long. I felt like I was struggling just to breathe. I wanted Tirzah, and I wanted this baby (who died 2 days before Tirzah’s actual death)… I’m thankful that they’re together in heaven and that they know so much joy. so. much. But it still hurts to not have them here.

This is the short synopsis of the story I read: a young girl, at age 17 became pregnant… and was excited to have a baby. She made lists of everything she needed. She started a journal of letters to the baby. Her boyfriend simply ignored the pregnancy until she was 21 weeks… then he demanded an abortion, or else he would never having anything to do with her again. She was manipulated and coerced. At the same time I assert this, I am not claiming her innocence before God. But I AM looking at the full story.

In her words there is a story of heartache and grief… I am convinced that her grief must be similar to my own. Except she wanted foot prints and hand prints and didn’t get any… She begged the nurses…

She didn’t get flowers, meals, and cards, and necklaces… But she lost her baby too.

Before the abortion, she didn’t know what it would be like… there was an insidious lie… now she knows. And now there’s no way for her to grieve the way she needs to. She is silenced by the guilt, and the shame… but she wants her baby back, just like I want Tirzah back.

I now believe that post-abortive women are truly a category that is unseen, unheard (or just avoided)… despised from both sides… and while everyone is busy arguing right vs. wrong, this woman’s pain is *missed*.

Her pain is too messy and the horror too striking to sit in it for very long. So she sits alone. Or turns to addiction in one form or another… to be her companion… and sit with her.

So now I have deep compassion for women like this one… I want to have open arms for women like this, because Jesus has open arms… “Come to me, ALL who are weary, and heavy laden, and I will give you *rest*”… His forgiveness is offered to all, and gives true rest.

He gives rest, because He took our guilt AND our shame to the cross, and it was nailed there… and once we accept that free gift, God will never bring those things against us, EVER.

I understand that there are looming questions: How does God fit into the death of a baby? Either by still birth, or abortion… and how could God allow babies to be formed with deformities and disabilities? How can He *exist* and be *good* and *all powerful* and these things happen??

Belief in God clearly influences perspective on abortion, because if there IS a God, he designed even the babies with deformities, loves them eternally,  gave them an eternal soul, and has a plan for their lives… no matter how short, just like I believe and experience for Tirzah, though I don’t understand the fullness of how plan… but how do I know she didn’t have some deformity? Tests didn’t show anything, but we don’t know why she died. And I’m still so thankful for her life and to be her mother. I cannot imagine any mother of a baby born with anencephaly saying that she wished she had aborted at 20 weeks… Each one will say that their baby was a *gift* and they are *so thankful* for the short time they had with their baby.

The God I believe in says he has chosen the weak and despised things of the world for His own… That’s *me*, and that’s *each of these babies*… each of the aborted babies is an eternal soul that God has chosen for His Kingdom. I truly believe that is in large part how God is fulfilling his promise to Abraham to have a people in number the same as the “sands on the sea shore”, and a people from “every tongue, tribe and nation”… through the eternal souls of babies miscarried, aborted, still born, and infant deaths. And each of these has a soul that is just as valid as mine. It feels like a mystery to imagine how that can be true because we feel our soul so connected with our conscious thought that results from a fully developed brain. But I believe it is true, and there is a mystery to it… like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly… and will one day be unveiled.

But back to the story of that Wednesday… God used this girl’s story and my unspeakable pain to give me a passion for ministering to post-abortive women. I’m not sure how yet or when… but I’m seeking the Lord… It’s my desire and heart to step into the messiness of women’s lives and offer real help… too often people offer “prayer” as a substitute for tangible help (and I’m NOT discounting prayer, but only when it’s used as an excuse for inaction)… In James 2 it says “if a brother or sister is poorly clothed or lacking in daily food {or has an unplanned pregnancy??}, and one of you says to him, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that??”

Here is the paradox: as I lay curled up on the floor, weeping, begging God to take me… He answered No. And He gave me a passion for living in proportion to my desire to die {I need to insert here: *in that moment*, I AM NOT suicidal!!}… Prior to this day, I could read Paul’s words in the book of Philippians and agree in my mind, but this was the first time I had this very same experience, and could honestly say that these words are from my own heart:

to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.  I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.  But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.  Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus,…  striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,  and not frightened in anything by your opponents… For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake. ”

~ Philippians 1:20-29

I pray that this experience will produce a great and lasting boldness for the truth of the Gospel of God’s grace through Jesus Christ… and that I will not be hindered by such things as mere awkwardness or men’s approval… because when I’d truly rather be with Jesus… and Tirzah… really, who cares??  As Isaiah 22:2 says, Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he??

So the kingdom and power of Darkness here on earth ought to tremble, because as long as the Lord gives me breath and life on this earth, I plan to attack the realms of evil with a ferocity and such an abandon, as if I have nothing to loose.

A story of redemption ~ by “Anonymous” (I am so honored to share!)

1 John 1:9 ~ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Think about that one… If we confess our sins, he forgives… Wow! What an amazing GOD we have to be able to take the pain and unrighteousness away!

Many years ago, I was that young lady walking into Planned Parenthood… Yep, I said it. That was me–––I was that girl. I walked into a place that I thought was a woman’s health care center. I was taught that it is the place you go in order to stay healthy, you get your physicals there, birth control, all of it, and since I was low-income with no insurance that’s what was recommend for me.

I remember finding out that I was pregnant. The shock, the horror and the tiny piece inside of me that was ecstatic. My mother, wanted me to go get tested so she took me to Planned Parenthood and it was confirmed. Soon I was in a separate room with the doctor, who right away asked me if I wanted to abort and she felt that was the best situation for me. I was given a week to decide.

AFor one whole week, I pondered. When you have the media, schools, clinics, family, and friends telling you that it is all right, that it is your choice and that you have that right as a woman. You believe it. You have nothing else to back it up. Even the little voice that says it’s not okay is hidden behind the woman’s rights. So, I did it…

I said goodbye to a part of me that I was told wasn’t even alive, that it was just tissue. I remember the pain, the tears, the cramping. Blood, so much blood for weeks. I remember the loss and it became so unbearable that suicide was the next best thing. I remember sitting there on the porch with three pill bottles of pain meds, writing in my journal of all MY pain–––then I’d take another pill, and another one, and another one until they were all gone and sleep came. But what I really wanted was peace and forgiveness!

I woke up the next day. I woke up. Yes, with the worst hangover of my life but I woke up. My heart, even though it hurt, along with my head, and of course my body from being crouched like I was, it was beating. I knew then that GOD had plans that I couldn’t even begin to understand. I asked for forgiveness to a GOD that I knew had to be real.

Isaiah 1:18
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

God healed me. And now looking back, I know I had more options. I know that I could have saved my baby and given him or her to a glorious couple. But without morals, without god, who can sin? If you don’t know god and you’re taught that it is okay or you’re pressured into it you don’t realize what your doing is actually wrong because everybody tells you how right it is. That is my point… I have learned through GOD, Yahweh that I have no rights to this body that which he gave me a vessel, and my body is for Him. I don’t have that right to pick and choose what life is to live and what is to die. That is his right alone. I know that He has forgiven me, and He has so much love that it burst out of my pores. I ask of you, if you have ever made that horrible choice- to abort your baby, ask God for forgiveness… and forgive others. I have received forgiveness from my Heavenly Father, as well as forgiven myself, and those around me. I also, forgive you too.
Matthew writes, for if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. –––So I have.
He’s always waiting, wanting, to be part of your life. Allow yourself peace.

I’ll part with this…

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come!

God has cleansed my spirit. Has forgiven my sins and will always continue to hold me in his arms. I am thankful that I have Him in my life. If you are… someone like me, know…you are not alone. If you need too… reach out to Catherine who has wonderful healing words. May GOD bless you and give you the courage to speak out.


For post-abortive support check out:

unsavory emotions

{excerpts taken from “To Be Told”, by Dan Allender; pg 169-172}

We live between two kinds of prayer, between gratitude that strays to presumption or desperation that strips away self-righteousness. Are we to be grateful? Of course, but seldom do we permit any blessing to remain as an undeserved gift from God…

But there is also desperation… When we’re in that state, we utter our deepest finest prayers. The prayer for mercy asks God to lift our face and remove our stain. Desperation introduces us to our shame, and much of our story involves shame

Entering the narrative before God means, first, that we must enter prayer as a struggle. We do not merely utter a string of sweet words according to a prescribed sequence, such as Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication… But the prayer that pleads for exposure and engagement throws our desperation at God’s feet and wrestles naked with him for the blessing of a new name. This is prayer that heals.

Healing prayer is a wrestling match, true. But that’s not all it is… You can’t enter only so far and then stop, capping the process by imagining Jesus’s loving face bringing comfort and good cheer. That’s not wrestling with God, nor is it healing prayer.

Certainly, Jesus does bring healing, and he does smile on us and bring comfort. So there is a place for imagining Jesus’s face in the scenes of our past suffering. But many choose this path as a type of spiritual lobotomy. Such imaginings can be a shortcut to shelving the story as a finished product, never to be taken down and read again.

Shelving the story replaces a deep sense of anguish and anger with tranquility and peace. That is not Jesus, nor is the removal of anguish and anger a sign of healing. Remove anguish and you remove mercy. Erase anger and you erase a hunger for justice. Jesus doesn’t take away anguish and anger; he transforms heartache to passion and anger to righteous defiance. Instead of shelving these unsavory emotions to get them out of sight, Jesus transforms them…

To lose anguish is to be one step closer to robotic inhumanity, as if such a spiritual lobotomy could make a person happier….

Instead, in healing prayer we enter the scene of our tragedies with profound particularity… Healing conversations with God lead straight into the unstated gaps of the story that we find too painful to name. It goes where none of us would dare go without Jesus…

To cast Jesus into the scene too quickly prevents our heart from entering the real war. It is not that we don’t think Jesus was present. We know He was. It is the fact he was present and did nothing to stop the harm that steeps our rage in self-righteousness. Why does he not answer these questions:

  • Why didn’t you keep my parents from divorcing?
  • Why didn’t you stop the abuse?
  • Why didn’t you prevent the accident?

God will answer no such questions, no matter how often and how passionately we ask. Instead, he invites us to weep with him and receive his mercy. And He roars in anger with us and calls us to take up his sword to wage war against that which broke our heart.

Healing prayer simultaneously soothes us and arouses us to battle. Jesus was both lion and lamb- furious and bold, gentle and meek. Prayer heals when we submit our story to his sorrow, when we join his tears and surrender to his anger and embrace our calling to destroy evil. 

don’t forget the dad

If you know someone who has lost a child and you’re afraid to mention them because you think you’ll make them sad by reminding them the child died…they didn’t forget they died.  You’re not reminding them. What you’re reminding them is that YOU remember they lived and that’s a GREAT, GREAT gift.

~ Elizabeth Edwards

I just came across this link that a friend, who has also lost a baby, sent to me:

Here are a few of the most helpful points:

1. Don’t forget the father.  In the case of a stillbirth, the mother must also recover physically from the delivery.  It can be easy to focus on her physical healing and forget that fathers hurt just as much.  Also, fathers may feel pressure to be strong for the mother – help him to grieve as well.

(Our very loved counselor, Cyndi Mesmer, gave Ryan and I matching bracelets that say “Tirzah Catherine”… that was very special, because that was the first time I think that Ryan felt specifically remembered in his grieving)

2. Acknowledge that this baby is a loved member of this family.

3. Let the family know you remember their child on special dates: anticipated due date, anniversary of birth day, holidays, etc. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are especially painful.

4. Remember them and their child in the months and years to come.  It doesn’t matter how much time has passed – they still love and miss their child daily.

5. Having subsequent children does not replace or take away the love for the child who has passed. These parents have been forever changed by the experiences they have had – just as if their child had lived.

6. Don’t expect them to be the same people they were before they became pregnant.  Accept them for who they are now and love the new person who has to be the parent of a heavenly child.

Most of all – remember that hugs and prayers go a long way.

If you know someone who has lost a child and you’re afraid to mention them because you think you’ll make them sad by reminding them the child died…they didn’t forget they died.  You’re not reminding them. What you’re reminding them is that YOU remember they lived and that’s a GREAT, GREAT gift.

~ Elizabeth Edwards

To weep with those who weep (a guest post)

I recently read this blog post: “To Weep with those who weep.” …. It is written by a man, Luke Parrott, whose sister Lindsey had 2 terminal pregnancies in 15 months. Each baby girl, lived 10-12 hours before passing away. I think that his words are VERY MUCH NECESSARY.  (below is an excerpt, emphases mine, and the link to the full post is at the bottom). :

There is one shared experience of the entire human race that should unite us but deeply divides us all.  It is a socio-emotional factor.  It is the common experience of pain.  Pain can be an invitation to embrace others but it is more commonly used as a way of distancing.

It wasn’t until I watched my own sister and brother-in-law walk through two terminal pregnancies in the last 20 months, that I have felt the anguish of pain, suffering, and death.  I have held my only two nieces in my arms for only a few minutes each.  I have only held them both two times.  Once when they were full of life.  Once when they had passed on to death.

In this grief of my own, I have become deeply sensitized to the grief of others.  All pain and suffering is different for each human.  We cannot really know what the other is experiencing.  But our pain feels the same.  Our grief rips us both apart inside.  Our tears are the same.

Nothing is more painful for a grieving heart than to experience it alone.  And nothing is more painful for a grieving heart than to see others distance themselves from your pain.  What pain needs is very simple:  presence.  And that presence does not need any words.  It just needs to share in the pain.

I have now learned that when I hear pain, I choose to listen.  When I hear suffering, I want to be present.  When I observe grief, I want to partake.  Because that is what I have needed in my life during this season.  I don’t want to sleep through someone else’s suffering.  I want to be there with them.  Fully present.  Weeping as well.

Jesus weeps with us in our pain as he did with Mary.  He invites us to weep with Him.  And as we weep with Him, we realize we are weeping also with those who are in pain.  Those who suffer.  Those in grief.  To follow Jesus is to enter suffering.  It is to be present in pain.  It is to stand in solidarity with the one who weeps.  To ‘weep with those who weep’ is to weep with Jesus himself.

I wonder if we can only find unity in our humanity if we are willing to weep together.  To enter one another’s pain.  I think my country and our world needs this more than ever now.  Do we have the courage and vulnerability to enter the pain of others (even if we don’t understand it), grieve together, and allow that pain to be transformed into something new—for both of us?

the one whom my soul loves

I love to plan ahead and think about all that a new year might hold.

And to think that I was in this very place just one year ago, not knowing what 2014 would hold.

My word for the year was “Broken.”

Of course now, looking back, that was prophetic.

Not just Tirzah’s death- that was the climax. But everything leading up. Every ground that I thought I stood on threatened to shatter. And i found that I stood on Christ Jesus my Lord alone. And all these prior chapters in the story prepared me- BY FIRE- for the tragic death of Tirzah, my first born daughter.

He knew what i needed in preparation- in order to look to Him immediately, and to Him alone- as my rock, when all around me was quicksand.

And i’ve learned that the goal of life is not to escape pain- *this* is where God is near, and precious, and He does refining work.

And I see that it is NOT the goal of parenting or my hope for Jeremiah- to prevent all suffering in his life- although I am just beginning to realize that whole new lever of suffering, which is a mother watching her child suffer. But Jeremiah *will* suffer and will be wounded in this life (at times even *because* he has *me* for a mother). But God will work redemption in his life, as He has done in mine, through pain, death and suffering. And it will only be a gift of the Spirit to give me this kind of faith.

And so 2014 holds it’s own story of death, resurrection and ascension.

I pray that 2015 will be full of ascension power. Spirit power. As I remain broken, on my knees before the Lord.

I was touched by the Spirit to tears this Christmas Eve, at Moody Church singing the lines of the Christmas hymn, “before Him lowly bend…”

And struck at how low we must bend to bow before Him, who came so low to us- a baby- born not in a palace (though he was King of kings) but among the refuse of cows and horses.

This must be my posture in 2015. I come to this new year on bended knee before Jesus- my God, my King, my Redeemer…. the “One whom my soul loves”….. my very Life. On bended knee I cling.

My word for 2015 is humble.