Sunday, May 31, 2009

Leaving the Right Words

Finding a family who doesn't have a blog or website will take some work. These days there are blogs about almost anything under the sun. But it is the blogs of families who are going through Interrupted Expectations that win my heart.

Right now, I am following a blog about a precious baby who is in the same CVICU that our son was in. Along with countless others, I check the blog several times a day to see how this family and Little Angel is doing.

We had a website while our son was in the CVICU. What a blessing it was to be able to update everyone immediately with a click of a button. But the real blessing came in the comments that we received from people. I remember one comment in particular - it was addressed to "Kidneys". It was a note telling our son's kidneys that it was time to start working. Another thing that I remember are the faces of various people who faithfully left comments. I don't remember what they wrote, I just remember THAT they wrote.

Here is my point: It really isn't about what you say. It is that you took the time to say it. You have no idea what it does to a family when they see 20 comments left on their blog. So, take the 30 seconds and love on a family who needs to feel your love.

Bible Verse

Psalm 34:18 "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jaundice

You may find it a little strange that I would put a blog about jaundice on an Interrupted Expectations site. But the truth is that this is a big interrupted expectation.  Anything that goes wrong with a brand new baby is scary and exhausting.

Jaundice refers to the yellow color of the skin and whites of the eyes caused by excess bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is produced by the normal breakdown of red blood cells.

We have experienced jaundice three times in our family. Actually we learned to just plan on it by the third! With our oldest, he was already in the hospital so the nurses handled all of it. With out middle child, her numbers got pretty high and she ended up with the "suitcase" with lights. We really hated this because she was to be under the lights at all times, except for eating. For the first few days of her life, we didn't get to hold her very much. With our youngest child, we were prepared and caught his quickly. Thankfully we used the "blanket" light for him and so he was able to be held much more. Praise God that our numbers never got high enough to be placed back into the hospital.

One of the biggest troubles with jaundice is having to return to the doctor every day, feeding what seems like non-stop, and not being able to love on a newborn because they are under a light and you are concerned about the "count". After just having a baby, this is very tiring and emotional.

Here are some hints for Mommies:
-Feed, Feed, Feed that baby. Forget about a schedule and feed that baby as much as possible. Our pediatrician wanted the babies nursed at least every two hours. The goal is to flush out the baby's system. By feeding more often, it will help the Mommy's milk supply increase sooner as well.
-Sunlight also helps to break up the jaundice. Place the baby's crib in a sunny window if possible.

Helping New Mommies:
-Watch siblings. The Mommy will be required to bring the baby into the doctor's office every morning until the bilirubin count peaks and begins to come down. Most doctor's offices don't make appointments for this so you just have to wait until a nurse has a free moment. This is not something that a new Mommy wants to take siblings to.
-Offer to drive to the doctor's office. Depending on the delivery, the Mommy may not be able to drive.
-Meals are a huge blessing.
-Come over and clean the house while the Mommy is gone. A clean house will definitely help brighten the day.
-Take siblings to the park or for a playdate. With Mommy nursing so much around the clock, sleep is very important throughout the day.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Remembering

I found this poem on the website of a fellow sister in Christ. It was too good not to pass along...

Remembering by Elizabeth Dent

Go ahead and mention my child,
The one who died, you know.
Don't worry about hurting me further.
The depth of my pain doesn't show.
Don't worry about making me cry.
I'm already crying inside.
Help me to heal by releasing,
The tears that I try to hide.
I'm hurt when you keep silent,
Pretending he didn't exist.
I'd rather you mention my child,
Knowing that he has been missed.
You ask me how I was doing.
I say "pretty good" or "fine."
But healing is something ongoing.
I feel it will take a lifetime.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Steven Curtis Chapman

If you have not heard the Focus on the Family interview with Steven Curtis Chapman, you must. It has been a year since the Chapman family lost their 5 year old daughter to a car accident. FOF is reairing the program "The God of all Comforts" on May 19th, 20th & 21st. You can listen to this three day program at the Focus on the Family Media Center. You will have to find the program under the tab "Shows".

You will not be sorry for taking the time to listen.

Please pray for the Chapman family as May 21st will be the first anniversary of Maria's death.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Remembering a Classmate at Graduation Who Has Died

Graduation is supposed to be an exciting time of year for classes. Together they have triumphed over hard teachers, school rivals, and made memories that last a life time. For some classes though, graduation is a firm reminder that time has truly passed and that their class is not complete. Whether is was sickness, car wreck, or an accident of some kind, a life was taken that should been walking across the stage with them.

Personally, I have dealt with this and have seen it handled very well in some incidences and not so well in others. Here are some suggestions that I felt were very special for the classmates and victim's family.

-Leaving an open chair with the cap and gown laying on it.
-Each graduate walk in with a white rose which is then placed in a basket to be laid at the classmate's gravestone
-Planting a tree at the high school in memory of the classmate
-Placing balloons and flowers around the memorial tree on graduation day
-Dedicating a song or slideshow to the classmate

I think that it is very important that the graduation be just that - a graduation - and not another funeral. But I do know how much it means when a loved one is remembered at a time like this.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Verse

II Timothy 2;13 (Living Translation)

"Even when we are too weak to have any faith left, He remains faithful to us and will help us."

God, give me faith when I feel too full of doubt to have any.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Thoughts...

As I stated in Thursday's post, I still have times of doubt with God. I struggle with God's will and knowing that when I pray that, it could be extremely painful for me. My faith gets rocked at times pretty hard. If it was God's will for my sister to die and for my heart to hurt like no other, what else???

Once again, God comes around me with His loving arms. This time in the form of our church service. One of the songs that we sang talked about how God is stronger than all. The Holy Spirit kept reminding me "I am stronger than your doubts."

Our Pastor talked about a guy in our church who lost his son and wife within two months time. He asked him how he was doing. Here were his words from Habakkuk 3: 17-19

17 Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
able to tread upon the heights.

Lord strengthen me. Lord keep my feet grounded in You.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thoughts...

Just in the last week, we have been hit with news of families we know who are going through Interrupted Expectations. One family - the mom just found out that she has breast cancer. The other family - their anticipated baby arrived with the extreme medical issues that they have been preparing for. The baby is clinging to life.

Honesty...I know that God is the God of healing. God is sovereign and can do all. But what I struggle with is what about when He doesn't heal? What about when the interrupted expectations don't turn out the way we pray?

I was feeling very empty and knew that I needed to get in the Word. I turned to Matthew 5-7 for my devos today. I cried out to God to please give me something. Matthew 7:7-8 was loud and clear.
7 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

God said, "Keep searching for the answers. Don't give up. I will give you peace. I will fill your cup. I hear you." Thank you God!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Card MInistry Kit

Dayspring Ministry has a wonderful kit designed to help you comfort and encourage someone through grief in the first year after a loss.

The Comfort & Encouragement Card Pack includes all the tools you need:
- 1 Comfort & Encouragement Booklet
- 12 premium cards appropriate for ministry during loss
- 1 keepsake box for storage and organization

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Guest Post: Choices in Grief

Written in the words of a mom who lost a child:

From all the studies that I have done, losing a child immediately - without any warning - is the worst. The only thing worst is losing more than one child.

I have discovered that a person has three choices when “Interrupted Expectations" come:
1.) You can despise the moment and rail against it. By doing this you wonder: "Why did this happen to me?", "Why am I going through this?", and one can even blame God.

2.) You can become discouraged by the event, lose heart, and give up. By looking at it this way you want to give up and throw in the towel.

3.) You can endure it and be trained by it. I felt this was the best way so I have worked very hard to handle my loss this way. Everything that happens to us is for the eternal purpose of God.

I can remember worrying about my daughter for years. I wanted her to be perfect and set a good example for everyone else. I thought she belonged to me and that it was my responsibility to raise her. That worrying didn’t help because God had another plan for her. I still have to remind myself several times that she was on loan to me. I find peace in knowing that God knew exactly when He was going to call her home.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Suggested Book: Confessions of a Grieving Christian

There are two books that really touched my Mom after the death of my sister. Here is one of them:



Description: On May 13, 1995, God called Zig Ziglar’s oldest daughter, Suzan, home after a prolonged illness. Journeying through his own grief, Ziglar realized many things about himself, his family, his priorities, and God. In this comforting book, he uses his experience to encourage readers to deal with the reality of loss and learn to take up the threads of life again as they find consolation and inspiration in the Giver of all Peace.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Verses

I love these verses from Psalms 40

1 I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
3 He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.

Focus on the verbs following the word "He". "He turned to me" - God looked me in the eyes. Verse 2 says that "He lifted me" - I didn't have to do anything but hold on. "He set, He steadied, He has given".

Lord I want to be a vessel that others see You in. May they be amazed at what You have done.

Guest Post: When Mother's Day is Difficult - Day 4

This blog is a continuation of Guest Post: When Mother's Day is Difficult
Click to read Day 1, Day 2, or Day 3


Hold Onto Hope

At one point in my journey it seemed as if I couldn’t take another step. In addition to infertility, I was facing several other losses. I felt as if I were in a dark cave. But then I sensed the Lord gently and lovingly speak to my heart, “You may be in a cave, but you still have a choice. You can sit in despair or you can diamond-mine your difficulties.” I decided I was not leaving that time in my life empty-handed. I was taking every hidden blessing I could find. Of course, I still had difficult days. But choosing hope made a difference.

As a reminder, I now wear two rings. The one on the fourth finger of my left hand represents my commitment to my husband. The one on the fourth finger of my right hand is a simple silver band inscribed with the word “hope” and it represents the commitment I have made to God and myself to hold onto hope no matter what happens.

The story of an inspiring woman named Terrie also reminds me to hold onto hope. She endured the loss of four pregnancies and waited seventeen years before adopting a little girl. She told me, “I think one of the most important parts of this journey is learning to trust God. I don’t mean the flippant kind of trust. It’s easy for people to say, ‘You just need to trust God.’ It’s much harder when you’re in the middle of all this pain. But he is trustworthy. Through it all, God has given us an amazing story. I wouldn’t have chosen this road, but he has been with us. I can look back and truly say every step was worth it.”

I don’t know how my journey will end and you probably don’t know how yours will either. I also don’t know how many of you will be silently grieving your losses as we sit in church together on May 10th. But I do know that God sees each one of us. He knows how many hairs are on our heads and how many cares our in our hearts. Whatever you’re going through this Mother’s Day, you’re not facing it alone. As King David, a man who experienced many losses in his life, expressed in Psalm 34:18 NIV, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” May God surround you with love, fill you with hope, and give you strength for each moment—especially this Mother’s Day.

About the author: Holley Gerth is an award-winning writer and editorial director for DaySpring. She is also the author of Rain on Me: Devotions of Hope and Encouragement for Difficult Times. Visit Holley online at Heart to Heart with HolleyThank you Holley for allowing me to share this article with others!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Guest Post: When Mother's Day is Difficult - Day 3

This blog is a continuation of Guest Post: When Mother's Day is Difficult
Click to read Day 1 or Day 2


Do Something Special

While doing something special when you are sad may feel a bit overwhelming, it’s important because it will help you be proactive rather than reactive in addressing your loss. Many people think that it’s better to avoid or bury their grief. But the opposite is actually true. Healing only comes when we acknowledge and embrace our losses. As Dr. Gary Oliver says, “If you bury an emotion, it’s always buried alive.”

The kind of action you take depends on your personality and the nature of your loss. For example, if you lost your mother then you might write her a letter. If you lost an unborn child, you might donate to a crisis pregnancy center in his or her honor. You and your spouse might look at photos of the sister you lost to
breast cancer or visit a place where you used to go together. You may think, “But that will make me sad!” That’s okay. Experiencing grief is part of healing.

Grief and Trauma Counselor H. Norman Wright even recommends a “programmed cry” in which you set aside a specific time to grieve and place yourself in an environment where you are able to do so. He says in Recovering from Losses in Life, “Some of us have never learned to cry. We are afraid to really let go with our tears. We live with fears and reservations about crying. We cry on the inside but never on the outside.” Each time you allow yourself to grieve through tears, it will become a little bit easier to do so.

You can also simply do something nice for yourself. If you enjoy going to restaurants, then have a special meal with a friend or spouse. If you like taking long walks or bubble baths, make time in the day for that activity. Part of getting through grief is taking care of you. As long as it isn’t something harmful or numbing, doing something special for yourself can help you through a difficult day.

Continued Tomorrow...

About the author: Holley Gerth is an award-winning writer and editorial director for DaySpring. She is also the author of Rain on Me: Devotions of Hope and Encouragement for Difficult Times. Visit Holley online at Heart to Heart with HolleyThank you Holley for allowing me to share this article with others!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Guest Post: When Mother's Day is Difficult - Day 2

This blog is a continuation of Guest Post: When Mother's Day is Difficult
Click to read Day 1

Seek Support

Sometimes we need to be alone to experience our emotions, but usually it is wise to seek support. From the very beginning of creation, God said it wasn’t good for man to be alone. This is especially true when we are grieving. Jesus modeled this when he was in the Garden of Gethsemane. He brought several of his disciples with him and said, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me” (MATTHEW 26:38 NIV).

Support can take many different forms. Hopefully, you have close friends and family members who can walk through this time with you. It’s important not to assume they know you need their comfort. Unless they have experienced a similar loss, they don’t know what it’s like. So don’t be afraid to call them or tell them what you need. You won’t be imposing. They probably want to help but don’t know what to do.

Even family members and close friends can grow weary at times, so it’s helpful to have other sources of support. Counselors can be a great source of support because they’re trained to work with loss. Support groups can also provide comfort. You can learn from those who are further down the road and offer help to those just beginning their journeys.

Of course, our strongest supporter will always be God. This may not feel as if it is true, especially during a time of loss in our lives. Right now you may be angry at God, disappointed in him, or feel as if you don’t have any faith left at all. That’s normal and many godly people throughout history have experienced similar feelings. God understands that you are hurt. It’s okay to bring all of those emotions to him.

Normal grief and mourning can turn into serious depression. One of the symptoms of depression is withdrawing and isolating ourselves from others. If you find you are cutting off relationships, have no desire to be with other people, and are spending much more time alone than usual, it may be a sign that you’re experiencing depression.

Continued Tomorrow...

About the author: Holley Gerth is an award-winning writer and editorial director for DaySpring. She is also the author of Rain on Me: Devotions of Hope and Encouragement for Difficult Times. Visit Holley online at Heart to Heart with HolleyThank you Holley for allowing me to share this article with others!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Guest Post: When Mother's Day is Difficult - Day 1

This blog is written by a woman who is reminded every year in May that she is not a Mommy yet.

On May 10th, we’ll celebrate Mother’s Day once again. For many, it’s a time of appreciation and joy. For others, it can be one of the most difficult days of the year. This is often true for women facing infertility, families who have recently experienced the loss of a mother, and many other painful situations.

I’ve learned what it’s like for Mother’s Day to be difficult through my work at Dayspring as a card writer. Each year we receive letters about our “Difficult Mother’s Day” cards. One woman expressed her appreciation and then said, “I spent seven very painful Mother’s Days longing for motherhood while dealing with infertility and the losses of eight children through miscarriage and failed adoptions. I’ve also seen my own mother’s grief and struggle through Mother’s Day after the death of her mother. And I have many friends in less-than-ideal situations with their children.”

I’ve learned what it’s like for Mother’s Day to be difficult through my experiences as a counseling intern who works with women each week and co-leads a grief support group. I’ve found sadness on special occasions is a normal part of grief. These days often serve as reminders of what we have lost or do not yet have.

Finally, and most importantly, I’ve learned what it’s like for Mother’s Day to be difficult through my personal struggle with infertility.

So as Mother’s Day comes this year, I’d like to share a few thoughts with you. These are taken from my own journey as well as my training at work and in the Counseling program.

Embrace Your Emotions

First, if Mother’s Day is difficult for you then give yourself permission to grieve. When holidays come, we often put expectations on ourselves to feel a certain way. We may think, “This is a special occasion. I have to put on a happy face and make the best of it.” But it’s okay to feel sad and even cry. As the authors of Empty Chair, The: Handling Grief on Holidays and Special Occasions say simply and powerfully, “We grieve because we loved.”

It’s also helpful to realize that emotions are not good or bad. They are just messengers that tell us about what’s going on in our lives. Sadness tells us, “You’ve lost something or someone important to you.” It’s not a sin to feel sad. Jesus often experienced sadness and the Bible says he was “a man of sorrows, and familiar with grief” (ISAIAH 53:3 NIV).

Sometimes we need to help others understand our sadness. People who are trying to comfort us may say things like, “At least your loved one is in a better place now.” Words like these can make us feel guilty for being sad. People who say these things are often really trying to tell us, “I care about you. I want you to feel better. So I’m going to say anything and everything I can think of that might help.” Sometimes we need to gently share with those around us that what we really need is for them to just be there and listen.

In Psalm 13 King David pours out his heart to the Lord and asks, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?” He ends by saying, “I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.” Does that mean we need to go from feeling broken to blessed in just a few lines? No, absolutely not. But it does show us something important about emotions. They are meant to be detours rather than destinations. If you continually feel sad over an extended period of time, or it seems as if there is no hope, then you may want to consider getting help.

Continued Tomorrow...

About the author: Holley Gerth is an award-winning writer and editorial director for DaySpring. She is also the author of Rain on Me: Devotions of Hope and Encouragement for Difficult Times. Visit Holley online at Heart to Heart with Holley Thank you Holley for allowing me to share this article with others!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Guest Post: Helping Those Who Hurt

This is written by a mom who lost a teenage daughter from an accident. Written in her words, these are specific things that people did to bless her and her family.

1. Every year around the anniversary of our daughter's death, people send flowers to let us know they continue to think of us.

2. Also at this time, a co-worker continues to puts a card in my mailbox with a personal note telling me that they remember and are praying for us.

3. Emails from classmates of our daughter with encouraging words and letting us know that they haven’t forgotten her. This is one fear that we have. We don’t want her forgotten. We want people to talk about her.

4. Memorial Tear Necklace - This is a necklace that you can wear signifying a tear drop for your loved one. This was given to me by a very special family.

5. The first few months after the death of our daughter, my co-workers took turns contacting me weekly - either by a visit, phone call or a card in the mail to let me know they were thinking of us.

6. We got a letter from a complete stranger who had lost their son a few years before our daughter's accident. She just wanted to let us know that she felt our loss also. Many years later, I still receive notes from her.

7. One of my students from many, many years ago will call and visit during that “terrible” week. She just will ask “How are you doing”. How special!

8. Some of the most special gifts we received were trees or bushes for our yard. I give them extra tender loving care because I want them to last. Sadly to say that one this year isn’t going to make it.

9. Having death affect us so personally has taught me how to help others with their loss. I now write several people to help them after they have lost a child.

10. Even so many years later, my co-workers wrote me a note this year to let me know that they still care and miss my girl.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Guest Post: If Someone You Love Is Hurting - C.A.R.E.

Written by a beautiful lady who has the "Interrupted Expectations" of infertility.

If Someone You Love Is Hurting--C.A.R.E.


Connect – When someone is hurting, we often don’t know what to say or do. This can lead us to act as if nothing has happened or avoid the person experiencing the loss. We don’t want to cause more hurt, so we stay away. But this actually makes things worse. Find some way to connect and acknowledge the loss. Even simply expressing, “I don’t know what to say but I’m sorry and I care about you,” can make a tremendous difference.

Accept – When we try to help someone, it’s easy to try to direct their emotions or give advice. We might want to say something like, “You’ll see them again one day in heaven.” But statements like these minimize the loss. In order for healing to happen, emotions need to be shared freely and openly. Remember that emotions are not a sin. They are just messages about what someone is experiencing. Accept others and allow them to express sadness, anger, fear, frustration, and other emotions in your presence.

Respond – While it is helpful to express your concern, it is also important to respond to the loss by doing something. You may say, “Let me know if you need anything.” But the person may be too sad to pick up the phone or may not want to impose. You can do something practical like bringing a meal, babysitting, or running an errand. You can also do something more symbolic like donating to a charity in honor of the loved one, writing down a special memory in a letter, or giving a thoughtful gift.

Extend – Remember that people are often flooded with attention when a loss first occurs but support usually decreases over time. So whatever timeframe you think you should reach out to the person, extend it. Most losses take one to three years to grieve. Some losses, like infertility, don’t have a definite ending point. So put reminders on your calendar to continue being in touch and acknowledging the loss. Grief usually peaks at about one year after the loss but by then everyone else has moved on. By remembering and continuing to reach out, you can help bring comfort and healing.

About the author: Holley Gerth is an award-winning writer and editorial director for DaySpring. She is also the author of Rain on Me: Devotions of Hope and Encouragement for Difficult Times. Visit Holley online at Heart to Heart with Holley