Miscarriage: What to Say?

In our miscarriage story, I shared how I felt lonely and that few people spoke with me about it. It was painful. At times it made me feel that my family and friends didn’t care. As I began to let go of my bitterness, I stopped holding these people to a standard of giving me comfort. I forgave.

But I also realized something. About a month after the woman stopped me in the hall at church, my sister-in-law spoke to me after a church function with another women by her side (this woman had 5 miscarriages before having her first child). She apologized for not saying anything or asking me how I was dealing with the miscarriage. She couldn’t imagine what I was going through or what it was like to lose a child….she didn’t know what to say.

For some reason compassion swelled in my heart. I was blessed and freed by her apology. But it also opened up my eyes to the other side of a miscarriage. Many people keep quiet simply because they don’t know what to say. To be honest, I know I would have been in the same boat prior to losing Addison.

This is one of the reasons why I am open to sharing about my experience with losing a baby. After we had our miscarriage it seemed women came out of the woodwork saying they’d had a miscarriage too. Some statistics say that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in a miscarriage. Still so many women say nothing of their experiences because grief hurts. Love is risky.

The problem with this is women grieving a miscarriage feel they’re alone. They need to be heard. They need to hear the experiences of other women. Now, when I meet a woman who’s had a miscarriage and I share I have too, there’s an instant bond. I don’t have to tell her what I experienced or how I felt. She’s been there too. She understands.

But where does that leave those who haven’t lost? I believe, they still have a role to play.

What do you say when a family loses a baby?

  1. The most important thing is to say something. That family, the woman especially, needs to know you’re there and willing to hear. So many people often avoid those experiencing loss, because it’s uncomfortable and they feel ill-equipped to help if they haven’t experienced the same thing.
  2. Be wise in your words. While most of the time saying something is better than saying nothing, be careful what you say. Comments about “Maybe next time will be better” or “I guess this wasn’t God’s timing” do little to help and can cause the couple more pain. Those statements feel insensitive and seem to diminish the pain of the family.
  3. Help them. Offer to cook dinner. If they have already collected baby items, gently ask them what their plans are for them, if they need help going through them, or offer to store the items for them. If they have older children, offer to babysit so that the parents can take time to talk and process their grief together.
  4. Grieve alongside them. If the family choose to name the baby call the child by its name. If there’s a funeral or memorial service–big or small–join in. This lets the family know you see their pain, you support them, and confirms in their hearts and minds that this baby was real.
  5. Understand that a new baby doesn’t replace the one they’ve lost. For us, Joey is a huge and precious blessing that we cherish all the more because we lost Addison. But in no way, shape, or form does Joey replace Addison. We still miss that child. We still grieve for that baby. Addison was a person as much as Joey is and neither can be replaced by another.
  6. Pray for them. Pray that God would heal their hearts and that they would see His character and perspective. Be gentle and patient here. Grieving is a process that ebbs and flows, sometimes it moves forward and then falls back. Don’t expect everything to be “back to normal” in a few weeks or month. Healing takes time.

I am so grateful for the outpouring of support I have received in sharing our miscarriage story. So many women have shared their experiences and how God has healed them.

I know there are so many ways to help and support those healing from a miscarriage. Let’s stop grieving from being an isolated experience. Help me help others know how to respond to a miscarriage or other loss, so…

If you have experienced a loss what is the best thing someone did or said as you grieved and healed?

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Advent Resources for Families

Advent Resources for FamiliesIf you know me, then you know Advent is one of my favorite times of year and I will talk your ear off about how great Advent is.

I feel deeply that advent calls to the heart of a sojourner. The longing, the hopeful expectation, the crossroads of already, but not yet. It’s a mournful, yet still hopeful cry that says, Come, Lord Jesus, come!

The desire for all to be made whole, for Christ to come again and call his people home. Advent is for the wait. The reminder that as we come to celebrate Christ’s first advent, his birth as a baby, we are to look forward to his future promises in his second advent. We live in this tension of promises received, but still lacking our complete glorification.

We sing,

Come, thou long expected Jesus,

Born to set They people free;

from our fears and sins release us,

let us find our rest in thee.

It’s a beautiful season.

Advent Resources for FamiliesAdvent Resources

Advent has definitely seen a resurgence in some Protestant denominations, but mostly in the evangelical camp. I’m glad our subculture is beginning to remember liturgy and traditions can be helpful means of remembering and teaching Christ in the life of the Church. I’ve found CRI Voice to be a good introduction to the season of Advent.

I wanted to share a few Advent resources and traditions we’ve done throughout the years, as well as a few new things I’ve found.

The Jesus Storybook Bible & the Jesse Tree

When my children were young, I tried reading through Ann Voskamp’s Jesse Tree devotional and hung the printable ornaments. The length of those devotions were a bit long for the little ones, but the ornaments were a favorite and became known as “hanging promises.”  We eventually started reading related portions of The Jesus Storybook Bible.

Many families have found this works well for them and you can find a variety of Advent reading plans to go along with The Jesus Storybook Bible. You can find more ideas here.

Advent Wreath & Candles

Our advent wreath is one of my favorite parts of the season. It’s a beautiful reminder of how Jesus is the light of the world and in light the darkness scatters. We get to see that beautiful truth as we light a new candle each week. At the beginning of Advent, it’s dark and we can hardly see the little faces peering around the table, but by Christmas Day the light is bright enough to shine throughout the room.

It’s a simple and beautiful way to show our children how Jesus makes the darkness flee and how darkness can be a representation of sin and in Jesus’s redemption that darkness flees.

The circle wreath reminds us God is eternal and is mercy and love is unending. The four candles on the wreath stand for the four hundred years between the prophets and the coming of Christ. They also symbolize the hope, love, joy, and peace Jesus brings (as well as many other things). Three of the candles are purple, symbolizing royalty, and one pink (usually used for the third week). The white center candle, called the Christ candle, is lit on Christmas Day in celebration of Jesus entering the world and being the Light of the World.

There’s plenty of options when it comes to Advent wreaths. I bought a frame from Hobby Lobby, stuck it on a plain wreath, and added a few sparkles here and there.

Advent Resources for FamiliesAdvent Music

In some traditions, people withhold from playing Christmas carols, hymns, and songs until Christmas Day, which is the first day of Christmas and continues until Epiphany. The idea is to keep in the remembrance and mood, so to speak, of the Advent season, the already, but not yet, waiting to sing the more celebratory songs once Christmas arrives.

In our house we play both, but I do tend to lean more toward Advent songs in the first few weeks. Here’s a list of Advent songs.

I’m a big fan of Spotify, so of course I have our own Advent playlist on there. My goal is to find the perfect version of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, so right now there’s about 20 different versions. I might be exaggerated a little. You’ll also notice a lot of Andrew Peterson on my Advent playlist. These songs aren’t particularly made for Advent, but definitely have echoes of the season (I love me some AP music).

Advent Resources for FamiliesHere’s a few of my favorite Advent and Christmas albums:

Most of these are on Spotify and Amazon Prime, but a few are on one or the other and Behold the Lamb is on neither. But it’s good enough, you’ll want to buy it anyway. ;)

Traveler's Journey: Advent Letters for Young SojournersTraveler’s Letters

This is one of my children’s favorite things. One year we received a package on our doorstep from someone named Traveler. Inside the package were Advent candles, a few letters (and more came later), and a book, Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress for children.

Traveler's Journey: Advent Letters for Young SojournersIt’s been such a treasure and wonder for our family to dig into the Advent season as a sojourner and for our little ones to begin to understand this life of faith is a journey and to long for Jesus’ kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven as we wait for Christ to come again.Advent Resources for Families

You can find all the letters ordered and compiled, along with a few of our favorite hymns and poems below.

Traveler’s Journey: Advent Letters for Young Sojourners

Advent Resources for FamiliesAdvent Books

There are so many Advent devotionals and readings out there I’m sure to leave out a few good ones. This is a list of Advent books that either I’ve used or have heard great things about from friends.

If this is your first time observing Advent or you’re looking to try something new, I hope you find something that works for you. But even more I hope you know the love of Christ and are encouraged to pursue him in the longing and waiting of Advent.

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The Daily Work of Hope

I lose my hope perspective ten times a day, at least. I get weighed down by the crumbs of life…those bread crumbs that stick to your feet when you’re just trying to cook and the smear of peanut butter as you brush against a wall. The things that seem no matter how you wipe them just keep coming back. There’s always more work, something else required of me, some way I can see I’m failing, and that suffocating frustration of when my life feels too boring, too much, too menial and I begin daydreaming of the things that will take these feelings away.

A trip to the craft store, diving into a book or binge watching a show, a few hours alone at my favorite coffee shop, getting out alone for a walk, taking in the breeze and beauty without having to make sure everyone is safe and accounted for. Those things are good and can be helpful tools in realigning myself to the truth, but if I keep looking to those things as the fix, my conventional savior, I’ll always be disappointed and left dry.

Those things can give me space to refuel, to pause and reflect, but in those longing daydream moments they don’t really do me any good. They increase my despair or loneliness, bitterness or jealousy not because they are bad in and of themselves, but because in my heart I’m saying, “If only I could do or have xyz, then I’d be alright/happy/could do this life.”

But the truth is those things will continue to fail me if I’m looking to them for satisfaction of my soul. 

My hope is built on nothing less,
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness 
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

And so, I must do the hard work of turning from myself and turning to Christ, the source of ultimate joy and satisfaction. It’s not easy. Jesus isn’t a quick fix to a perfect life or a continual intravenous drip of happy. But looking to Jesus, the author and perfector of my faith, I can boldly say, “I can’t, but You can.”


I can’t do this day. I can’t take one more question, one more failure, one more thing to stress over.

I can consider him who endured and know in Christ’s power I can endure. And this faintheartedness, this despair to give into sin and apathy—the vanity of life, I can look to Christ and see how he endured for the sake of joy and I too can endure.

To consider Him—not myself, not others, not my circumstances, but Jesus…to do the daily work of living, enjoy life, and not grow weary in doing good in fulfilling the role he’s placed me in. To remember the joy set before me in the new Jerusalem, to turn my eyes upon Jesus look full in his wonderful face, to know this weight of glory.

It sounds so basic. Turn from looking inward and look to Jesus. Basic but essential. Even if I have to do it hundreds of times a day.

And I will.

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It’s all meaningless, so why try?

Yesterday, I was complaining to my husband how the most exciting part of my day was wearing real pants and going to Victoria’s six month appointment. Oh, and making homemade iced coffee.

I was disappointed because I had to cancel an exciting outing to the post office to buy stamps, because Tori wasn’t having it after her shots. Meaning buying stamps would have to be pushed to another day, pushing back the project I needed the stamps for another day with another errand with kids who were cooperative today, but may not be tomorrow. Yay. #momlife

We speak mostly in gifs while Joe is at work and after going back and forth for awhile, he sent me this one:

via GIPHY

Always opening the door, always a door to be opened. I replied, “That’s pretty much #momlife.” And Joe responded with, “maybe mom’s need to read more Ecclesiastes.”

“All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”

Ecclesiastes 1:8-9

So I sat down and read the whole book of Ecclesiastes. At first glance, it all seems to say, “It’s all meaningless, all of life is utterly vain and then you die. Doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, wise or foolish, lazy or diligent in your work, in the end you’re going to die and you won’t be here to see the fruit or effect of your life’s work.”

Sounds uplifting, doesn’t it? An anthem for the long days that seem to suck the life out of you.

Enjoy your life, because in the words of the great Johnny Cash, “sooner or later God’s gonna cut you down.”

But with a closer look—a gospel look—the Preacher ends with “the end of the matter; all has been heard” (Ecc. 12:13a). We know how this life ends. This earth is passing away and we are but a mist, a vapor, like the dust to which we’ll return.

But for a believer, death is not the end but the beginning of a great new adventure,

“The death of the righteous, that is, of every believing and repentant sinner, is a most excellent blessing of God.” 

William Perkins

What about today? I’m not dying. (Lord, willing.) Amid lukewarm coffee, sleep deprivation, uncertainty, monotony, chores, and a life that feels like you’re just opening a door to find one more closed, what do these ecclesiastical lamentations mean?

“Fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13b

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

 

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the Prophets.

Matthew 22:37-40

Yes, life feels futile. Yes, life is repetitive. Yes, the daily details are quite often boring. All our accomplishments will soon fade, our castles in the sand will wash away. Any hope we have in our work or riches or position will not sustain us.

But put your hope in the Lord “where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Mt. 6:20).

Fear God. Serve Him. Love others.

Life is full of hard, boring, dull, tiresome days. We wipe tables, wash dishes, attend one more pointless meeting, start another load of laundry, call another client, hold babies who won’t sleep, and reheat that cold cup of coffee for a third time.

Life is full of beautiful, surprising, joyous days. Saturday morning family cuddles, surprise visits from friends, a finished cup of coffee, the beauty of community, foggy sunrises, peonies in full bloom,

In all the days—the mundane, heartbreaking, and glorious—fear God, love him, and love others. This life will soon pass by, but if the Lord is our God, even the days we want to throw up our hands and shout, “Meaningless! It’s all meaningless!” even those days are an opportunity to love God and love others.

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,

Only what’s done for Christ will last,

And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,

If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.

- C.T. Studd,

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A Promise for Christmas Eve

During this Advent season my family has been receiving letters from Traveler, a pilgrim on his way to Zion. This is our last letter from him before Christmas. A promise of Advent for Christmas Eve.

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The way is long. I’d grow weary and despairing if I knew not Christ is my prize. The waiting is hard. We know not when he comes, but until he does we will travel on.

Endure, my good friends. Long for the end to come. There is hope in the darkest night, because God is good and his presence is never far off.

Though there be mourning, there will be dancing. Though there be evil, there will be justice.

Though there be hunger and thirst, there will be satisfaction overflowing. Though there be pain and suffering, there will be wholeness and healing.

Though there be toil, there will be rest. Though there be darkness, there will be light.

Watch for the light. We know not the hour or the day he is coming. But we know, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt, because His promises are sure and good, that he is coming.

Praise God in the sun and in the rain, giving thanks in all circumstances. Hold fast to the faith.

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We go, like our forefathers and the saints before us, not knowing where, trusting in the promise made in the stars. We stand in a hope that is sure, in a colossal, unfading, unbreakable love.

From where I sit, I see the light of Kingdom come. It’s breaking forth across the horizon. Embers of sky aglow. I see it! Zion within my grasp!

O tired pilgrim, do not yet give up hope. He is coming, for now we toil, but one day the trumpet will sound and He will come riding on the clouds.

Home is on the horizon. He is coming, for now we wait.

Beseech and pray, for he is coming.

Your faithful friend and pilgrim,

Traveler

God has given no pledge which He will not redeem, and encouraged no hope which He will not fulfill.”

Charles Spurgeon

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