Wednesday, June 24, 2015

From a Man's Perspective

This month we were blessed to hear from a man who has walked this grief journey. So often, women come to our monthly gatherings and wonder why husbands grieve so differently - or if they are even grieving at all! It was great to hear about the male perspective from someone who has experienced loss firsthand. Of course, we acknowledge that just as women grieve uniquely, each woman somewhat different than the next, all men will grieve uniquely. Still, it can be helpful to become familiar with some generalizations.

Men want to fix things, including the sadness that a wife feels during a loss. They know they can't fix it, but they still try. And when it doesn't work, they often turn to something else, like a job or hobby, where they can experience success at fixing something. While women often want to talk about what they're feeling or experiencing, often times men simply don't want to.  It can be helpful to take men at their word when they say they're doing just fine. The best we can do is be sure the man knows he has space and freedom to talk if/when he wants to. Not talking does not indicate not caring/feeling/grieving.

Our guest indicated that Father's Day, from the perspective of a loss, is not as hard for most men as Mother's Day is for most women. Rather than going crazy trying to create a meaningful Father's Day, perhaps asking the man what he'd enjoy doing, or if he feels it's important to acknowledge the day at all, would alleviate some of the stress and pressure women often feel as the "holiday" draws near.

Men want their wives to be happy. In general, men are supportive of things that make the wife happy, whether it is time with friends, pursuing an interest or hobby, or eating out.

Our guest helped us understand that many men do not bond with the baby very much until the baby is born. That is hard for most women to understand, as they often have a strong emotional attachment during pregnancy. This could explain, in part, why there is often such a discrepancy between the way women grieve after a loss and the way men grieve.

The bottom line was to keep lines of communication open, remember what the spouse was like in terms of emotional sharing before the loss, pursue healthy "happy" activities, and continue investing in the relationship.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Hope and Seeds in the New Year

We were blessed to hear from Cathy this month, as she shared from her experiences both as a master gardener and as a woman who has experienced both infertility and miscarriage. She was gracious enough to share her notes from the meeting, which we have below for you!

First, here is a link to her blog, on which she wrote about seeds and hope. Enjoy!

http://thearranger.com/arranging-seeds-and-hope/

1. IcebreakerDo you have a favorite hobby that you really enjoy, that feeds your soul?
For me it is gardening…Gardening is hope – I love to see a seed come to life or a plant growing.  I love to get excited and expect the fruit of that seed…Broccoli is growing right now and I can taste it on a plate with butter even though it will be several months…
I completed Master gardener training in 2006 – seed lectures -Seed Catalog…show examples – comes at the end of December/early January – seemed silly to me at first.  Why now in the middle of Winter would I order seeds for the spring?  HOPE..Is it ok to hope in the middle of Winter?  We have all experienced through loss what a “Winter” feels like…hopeless, lonely, long, hard.
Hope is a seed of sorts but I will explain that in a bit…

2. What do you think of when I say the word hope?  Definition of hope is: The expectation of future good.  Bible says in Proverbs 13:12 “ Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when desire comes, it is a tree of life”  (gardening reference!)  I grew up hearing the phrase “Don’t get your hopes up.”  This was said by those who loved me and didn’t want me to get hurt but it affected me…I decided it was better to play it safe…but this is really contrary to the Christian Walk…Jesus is all about HOPE and expectation.

3. My story brief….9 years infertility – our son Noah was born - 2 more years infertility – miscarriage(s) – 4 years infertility after that…  Infertility is not just one loss, although I had that kind too (miscarriage), but it is loss after loss every month…..So hard to continue to hope for good things/ gifts from God.  I wanted another baby, end of story.  But through it all I saw God birth other things in my life through my small amount of hope (the size of a seed)…ministry, hospitality, gardening, writing.  Have you seen God birth other things through your life during your Winter of loss?

4.  To hope is to take a risk.  When we allow ourselves to hope, we risk many things: Getting hurt, looking silly, failing, not being successful…….What makes you afraid to hope again?  The Bible tells us how many times we should forgive (70x7) but what about How many times we should hope - even after loss? 
I Corinthians 13 is the love chapter, but there are always three characteristics woven together – Faith, Hope, and Love….we know that the greatest is said to be love.  
I Corinthians 13:7 says  “Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. “ 

5.  Romans 4: 16-22 (18) New Testament reference to Abraham saying “Who contrary to hope, in hope believed so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “so shall your descendants be…as numerous as the stars.”  We are the “seed of Abraham” that is referred to.
HOPE is the open door which God’s miracles can walk through, but we need to keep the door open by continuing to hope the best we can…through the strength that God can give us….reading His word, getting together for support with others who have walked the same journey, plugging into a church body.
Psalm 39:7 “ And now Lord what do I wait for? My hope is in you…”

6. Dried flower example….looks hopeless, no life, finished producing….Seeds are shaped like little arrows and are actually new plants when put in the ground with love, sunshine, water, soil.  Even when things don’t look promising, when they look hopeless- small seeds of hope can be inside of our hearts too, planted and ready to grow into something beautiful if we will always HOPE!


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

We are in 2014!!

I apologize for the lack of posts lately…we have still been meeting each month, and have had some great speakers share their experiences and how God has encouraged them and brought healing. I'll try to get some notes uploaded soon :)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Survey May 2013

We handed out a survey at church, hoping for some feedback as we continue to seek the best ways to meet the needs of people who experience miscarriage, stillbirth, and infertility. We'd love to hear from you as well!  You can email us at glorybabies@hotmail.com



The Glory Babies ministry is assessing the best ways to walk with women through the journey of miscarriage, stillbirth, and infertility.  If you have experienced one or more of these losses, please give us some feedback as to what was or could have been helpful to you during your time of grief. Mark as many as you would like, but please indicate which was the most helpful.

   Did        Would Have
  Help         Helped
______      ______         one-on-one meetings
______      ______         group setting with people who can relate
______      ______         email contact
______      ______         phone contact
______      ______         blog community
______      ______         prayer partner
______      ______         other:_________________________________

Any additional comments you have about your experience and the support you received or wish you had received will be very helpful to us. Feel free to use the back of this survey for those comments, or contact us via email. We appreciate your vulnerability and support!

Melissa and Amy

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Several month update

We've had an unusual several months, with the holidays, weather cancellations, and many people out sick. However, we're still meeting once a month, and you are welcome to contact us via phone or email (glorybabies@hotmail.com) if you need anything!

Our prayer for you is that you will be filled with God's love, seeing it play out in your life in specific and practical ways. Even in the midst of very hard times, His blessings are all around us. But if we do not notice them, we miss out on the encouragement they can bring.

Hope to see you soon!

Friday, November 16, 2012

November 2012 - His purposes

Disclaimer: for some people, in their current stage of grief, this topic will rub you the wrong way. It will feel wrong, mean, too painful; the enemy - the one who steals, kills, and destroys - the one who delights in your pain - he wants you to move further from God by reading this. 

However, this is truth. The gals who met last night had a great conversation about this topic, but I will point out that their losses, while still painful, are a little ways back. Time doesn't heal things. God heals things. But with God working in our lives, the passage of time brings increased comfort.

On to the post!  This is pulled from My Utmost for His Highest, November 10. I will copy it below:



Fellowship in the Gospel


After sanctification, it is difficult to state what your purpose in life is, because God has moved you into His purpose through the Holy Spirit. He is using you now for His purposes throughout the world as He used His Son for the purpose of our salvation. If you seek great things for yourself, thinking, “God has called me for this and for that,” you barricade God from using you. As long as you maintain your own personal interests and ambitions, you cannot be completely aligned or identified with God’s interests. This can only be accomplished by giving up all of your personal plans once and for all, and by allowing God to take you directly into His purpose for the world. Your understanding of your ways must also be surrendered, because they are now the ways of the Lord.
I must learn that the purpose of my life belongs to God, not me. God is using me from His great personal perspective, and all He asks of me is that I trust Him. I should never say, “Lord, this causes me such heartache.” To talk that way makes me a stumbling block. When I stop telling God what I want, He can freely work His will in me without any hindrance. He can crush me, exalt me, or do anything else He chooses. He simply asks me to have absolute faith in Him and His goodness. Self-pity is of the devil, and if I wallow in it I cannot be used by God for His purpose in the world. Doing this creates for me my own cozy “world within the world,” and God will not be allowed to move me from it because of my fear of being “frost-bitten.”
http://utmost.org/fellowship-in-the-gospel/

We talked about how it is ok to call out to God and share how we're feeling - just like the Psalmists did in the Bible, but that our attitude should not be one of expecting God to do things our way. At the end of our sadness, anger, and disappointment, we have to land on the truth that God is good, regardless of the bad in life. When we catch a glimpse of how short our lives are, and how long we will have in eternity, free from pain, we realize that however God chooses to use our lives for His purpose and glory is just fine. Pretty incredible that He would choose to use us at all!  

This is not meant to minimize pain or loss or say that what you're feeling is irrelevant. Rather, there comes a place in our journey when we are ready to hear that God is working His purposes in the world and His purpose in our lives, and that we can trust Him.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

September 2012

This month we read the blog post below, and then talked about each of our own struggles and questions we ask ourselves. We brainstormed ways to change our own questions to reflect faith, hope and love. I highly recommend this activity for everyone! It applies to all circumstances, most certainly including infertility or the loss of a baby.

Changing the Question


I met with a friend the other day. We have an interesting history that dates back to college, which was somehow over ten years ago. (How is that possible? Will I feel like a bonafide adult any time soon?)

She told me about a training she had a long time ago that dealt with the questions we ask ourselves. She said we all ask ourselves questions, and that our minds try to find answers to every one of those questions. But when we ask bad questions, or questions that only have negative answers, we are wearing ourselves out, depleting our energy and stamina, and causing stress.

There's a process for modifying/transforming our questions. It includes evaluating how the questions make you feel in your mind, body, and soul.  I'm giving it a try....

Original question
"What is wrong with you?"  (Asked of me, by me, about myself, accompanied by anger or frustration or disappointment or despair.)

When I ask myself this question I feel upset, feel like a failure, think I'll never change. My body feels sluggish, tired, tense, heavy. My soul feels guilty, dirty, ashamed, foolish.

The first transformation is to include faith in the question and make the question more neutral.  I'm not really sure how to do this, but here's an attempt: "How is God changing your life, showing His strength in your weaknesses?"

This question says that I believe God is here, is part of my life, and isn't just ignoring me as I repeatedly fail. I still feel sad, discouraged, and tired. Still somewhat guilty, but not ashamed or dirty.  Those feelings are not positive, but they are less severely negative. Step in the right direction....

The second transformation is to include hope in the question. "How is God changing my life, giving me strength to glorify Him more every day?"  The hope in this version of the question is found in the every day part. The idea that today is a bit better than yesterday, and tomorrow will be a bit better than today. I'm not regressing, and I'm not stuck in this icky heart place. I'm moving in the right direction whether I can discern it or not.  Interesting to me that in this transformation I switched from the external "you" or "your life" to the personalized "me" or "my life."  Like I'm less accusatory and feel safe enough to acknowledge that it's me we're talking about here and not some dumb slacker. (Does that even make sense? Hmmm....)

This question says that I'm not stuck. Change is not just possible but is reality. My reality. I actually am moving in the right direction. All of this hard work is not wasted. I feel optimistic, encouraged, empowered, and on target because I'm moving closer to the goal of Christians - glorifying God. It's not about me or my actions, but about God and revealing Him to others as I bring Him glory through my life. 

The third transformation is to include love in the question. (Faith...hope...love....)  "How is God actively showing me love as He changes my life, giving me strength to glorify Him more every day?"

This question says I have value; I am loved by the King. Loved not just enough, but so much that He changes me and gives me what I need every moment of every day. I feel treasured and protected. My body wants to sit up straighter, pay attention, look straight ahead, and confidently take the next step. My soul feels at peace, not lacking in anything.

Once you have gone through these question transformations, you're supposed to ask yourself the final version of the question as you lay down and fall asleep. In time your brain will come up with an answer, and it will be a life-giving answer instead of a life-draining answer.

Let's give this a shot :)

August 2012

Pam Ramsey shared with us this month - a blessing as always! Below are some of the things she mentioned.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts usin all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 

There is a purpose in pain. Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything - a time to mourn, and a time to choose thankfulness.  We have a turn to comfort others because of our pain.  If we allow the grief to continue longer than we should, it will paralyze us and become a stumbling block. 
**We are not suggesting anyone in particular is allowing grief to continue longer than it should, just reminding ourselves that while God is ultimately for our healing, the Enemy would love to keep us in one stage longer than is best for us. 

Linda Dillow wrote a book called Calm My Anxious Heart. In it she describes a teacup theology. The basic idea is that God gives you a portion of your life each day - just the right amount, containing just the right blend of experiences, knowing what is best. While we may not like everything placed into or allowed to be in our cup each day or each season, when we trust God we can turn to Him for comfort.  Jesus asked for His cup to be taken from Him, but God said no. So Jesus accepted it. We would be void of hope if He had NOT accepted it!

In our cups there are many roles and many aspects of our lives. We as women are made to be nurturers, made to be relational. We may have desires, even God given desires, that aren't in our current role. Will we accept that or kick and scream? Sometimes God fulfills those desires or roles in ways that don't seem obvious or expected or even usual or normal.

In relationships, we have the ministry of presence - just being with others and giving them space to process life and learn about God and others.  In our abilities, we need to focus on what God has given NOW, remembering that we cannot redo today. There are many good things that may not be for us to do in the current season.  In our physical being, we have to realize that most of how we are physically is unchangeable. We need to accept how God made us and have confidence in God instead of in our bodies.  Finally, in our circumstances, it is what it is! Our choice is in how to respond and react. Sometimes we expect ourselves and others to get to a better place more quickly than is reasonable or realistic.

We can't bring God glory if we're focusing on what ISN'T what we want. What will we choose to do when we start to struggle with something? Lean on God or go down the bad spiral? Would we truly be happy or content if we had what we're unhappy about today? And honest reflection reveals the answer...probably not.

Philippians 4:11
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

Matthew 10 tells us that Jesus came not to bring peace, but a sword. If you love __________ more than Him, the Bible says you're not worthy of Him. Are we more consumed with or passionate about anything besides Jesus? If so, we are out of balance. Perhaps we need to confess that we've allowed other things to supersede our priority of God in our lives.

Leslie Weatherhead said that the opposite of joy is not sorrow; it is unbelief.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss, in her book Lies Women Believe, said "God's will is what we'd choose if we knew what God knows."  Often, God's grace and mercy come in a different package than what we'd expect.  Luke 22:42 reminds us of the choice Jesus made "Not my will, but Yours be done."

(DeMoss) "God lives in a place of praise. If we want to be where He is, we need to go to His address."  "I've learned that in every circumstance that comes my way, I can choose to respond in one of two ways: I can whine or I can worship! And I can't worship without giving thanks. It just isn't possible. When we choose the pathway of worship and giving thanks, especially in the midst of difficult circumstances, there is a fragrance, a radiance, that issues forth out of our lives to bless the Lord and others."

We can minister to others when we choose to bless the Lord as we accept and praise Him in ALL things. (Notice this says IN all things, not necessarily FOR all things...there is a big difference!)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

July 2012 - God is bigger than...bedtime routine?


Thanks to a caring and wise friend who gently shares truth with me, I am contemplating applying one of the basic things a Christian should do on a regular basis. Are you ready for it? I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that I couldn't reply to her with "yes, you're right, and I'm already doing that."

Forgive.

I need to forgive.  It helps me, frees me, opens up communication between the Lord and me, not to mention making it millions of times more likely communication will open up between the other person and me.

Since yesterday's post I've really been thinking about what I can do differently in how I react to things that I am fully convinced I am right about. I'm sure that sounded prideful; I didn't mean for it to be prideful.  One CONSTANT conflict at our house is bedtime routine for the kids. We've agreed (many times) on the window of time they should be in bed, and we've discussed (many times) the parts of bedtime that have to occur before they are in bed, including about how long each of those components last.  However, when my husband is involved, the kids consistently go to bed late. And I feel like I suffer the brunt of the consequences that night as the bad guy, as well as the next day, as they generally don't sleep longer if they go to bed later. No, they are just cranky, whiny, dramatic, and less obedient than usual.

The 400 tactics I've employed thus far to remedy this situation have failed miserably.

Then tonight I had this revelation.

God is bigger than bedtime routine.

Thanks again to the book Kisses From Katie.  Tonight I read her take on how God used ordinary people and did amazing things. And do we think He no longer does those things? If we ask Him to do big things, shouldn't we expect big things, even if they look way different than what we expected?

I know, I know. She's talking about a huge ministry in Uganda and being mom to 13+ children (each time I write about the book the number will go up, as I keep reading about more she adopts!!), and I'm talking about bedtime routine. Cut me some slack, ok? We're starting small and working our way up....

So the revelation was that God can multiply the minutes my children are sleeping. He can make them wake up rested and ready for the day. He can do that regardless of what time they go to bed and regardless of how much or how little my husband cooperates in the bedtime routine process.

Wouldn't it be better if I drop the expectations, anger, hurt, bitterness, and cold shoulder and instead respect him as leader of this home? Even if I totally don't agree with him?  Even if it feels there's a much larger principle at stake here that is being completely overlooked?  Yes. Yes it would be better.

After all, my husband cannot ensure a quality night's sleep for the kids. Neither can I. Neither can the most brilliantly crafted bedtime routine or meal plan or activity plan. (Not that I really have the latter two items...just carrying this idea a bit further!)

I've been doing one right thing while simultaneously doing a wrong thing. At best they cancel each other. And at worst I'm making it all but impossible to make any progress.

So I'm going to do my best to let go of bedtime routine. Let go of my opinions, ideas, researched facts, proven techniques, etc., and let my husband be the leader. It's pretty dumb to keep getting so upset about something. I can't change him...and I've known that for a long time...I can only change myself, and I can change how I react. That requires a shift in focus. My husband is no longer thwarting my plans. God can deal with him if he is wrong. And God can deal with me if I am wrong. Ok, so God can KEEP dealing with me as I KEEP being wrong.   :)

Did that make sense? I hope so. And I hope to apply this idea to a bunch more pressure-filled areas of marriage.

God is bigger than bedtime routine.
God is bigger than planning ahead.
God is bigger than having regular time as a couple.
God is bigger than generational curses/hardships/trials.
God is bigger than doctors and diagnoses and ailments.
God is bigger than clutter.
God is bigger than the boogie man, He's bigger than Godzilla or the monster on TV...and He's watching out for you and me. (Thank you VeggieTales)

I can act and react with love and respect, trusting God with any necessary heart change. It's not my job to point out principles or truths or nearsightedness.  At least not right now. Not until I can do it while still trusting that God is the only one in the business of heart change.

It's not my job.  I could write an entire post on that idea alone. And maybe one day I will.

______________

On the topic of forgiveness - even if we are ok with God, we need to forgive people who were hurtful, insensitive, or neglectful during and after our losses. Forgiving doesn't say that you are ok with the offense, nor does it imply that you are at peace with your loss. 

When we forgive another person, we can pray for them authentically. God can heal in an instant what we think could never be healed.

April 2012 - A Little Mad and a Lot Confused


The following devotional was the basis of our conversation at the April gathering. 


Proverbs 31 Ministries
 
 
Lysa TerKeurst
April 5, 2012
God, I’m a Little Mad and a Lot Confused
Lysa TerKeurst
“From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2 (NIV)
When God doesn’t seem to be answering our prayers it can be hard. Sometimes, down right awful.
One minute I’m determined to trust God.
In the next, I feel myself slipping. The “why” questions tumble in so hard. My heart hurts. My eyes leak. And in those raw moments I just feel a little mad and a lot confused.
Ever been there?
I don’t want to oversimplify what to do in these times. I know from prayer requests I’ve received over the years many of us are facing really tough issues. Situations where the answers aren’t easy or clear cut.
But I have discovered a few things that help me when God seems silent …
* Press in to God when you want to pull away.
When I really want to hear from God but He seems silent, I sometimes find I want to disengage from my normal spiritual activities. Skip church. Put my Bible on my shelf. And let more and more time lapse between prayers.
But the Bible says we will find God if we seek Him with all our heart. Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (NIV). All my heart includes the parts that are broken. Bring it all to God.
He can handle your honesty and will respond. But we have to position ourselves to go where truth is. Go to church. Listen to praise music. Read verses. Memorize verses. And keep talking to God.
* Praise God out loud when you want to get lost in complaints.
In the midst of what you’re facing, find simple things for which to praise God. I don’t mean thank Him for the hard stuff. I mean thank Him for the other simple, good things still in the midst. A child’s laugh. A bush that blooms. The warmth of a blanket. The gift of this breath and then the next.
Psalm 40:3 reminds me God will give me a new song when I make praise the habit of my heart and mouth. “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD” (NIV).
* Put yourself in the company of truth.
That friend that speaks truth? Listen to her. Stay connected to her. Let her speak truth into your life even when you’re tired of hearing it. Stand in the shadow of her faith when you feel your own faith is weak. Let her lead you back to God time and time again.
Proverbs 12:26, “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor …” (ESV).
It’s okay to feel a little mad and a lot confused. Our God is big enough to handle our honest feelings. But don’t let your feelings lead you away from God or away from His truth. Press into Him. Praise Him. And put yourself in the company of truth.
As you stay with God in these ways, you will become ready to receive His answer when it comes.
Dear Lord, thank You for hearing every ‘why’ my heart sends up to You. Forgive me when I retreat from You and Your Word. I want to trust You more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.