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If I was to ever get a tattoo I would have the word cherish inked on my inner wrist as a constant reminder to be still.  Cherish is word that makes me stop and soak up the here and now.  It’s a word that reminds me to search for goodness.  

When my mind takes me down dark paths of anger, jealousy, or bitterness and I sense that my soul is about to get stuck in the quicksand of sad this one word brings me back to noticing the green of the grass and the blue of the skies.  It forces me to take my focus off the negative and instead search for the positive.

At times it can be challenging to find blessings to count. We don’t always have a choice as to where our anchor has been cast.

I don’t know where your anchor is sitting dear heart.  You might be here because you’ve just experienced a miscarriage or given birth to a stillborn child.  You might be having marital problems, found out your mom has cancer, or are living through the divorce of your parents.  Chances are you probably feel as if you are literally drowning in your sorrows.

You know what? Not a single one of us would have ever chosen any of the above circumstances as the place to set our anchors.  And yet here we are.  Tethered to the storm.  

But this “now” is the only place we have to live. The future and the past are completely out of our control so we must somehow navigate the tempest that whirls around.

Dear Soul… it’s okay to be scared of the storm.  To be mad at the storm.  To straight up hate the storm, cry out in anguish, and curse the swirl.

But we can’t just hunker down and pretend it doesn’t exist.  We must take action.  Search for blessings in order to protect your soul.  

Just think.

What happens when a hurricane approaches the shore?  That’s right.  People hustle to board their houses with lumbar so as to avoid severe internal damage.  They want to protect the structure.  Do the same with your heart.  Guard it fiercely from bitterness.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.  Proverbs 4:23

Can I challenge you?  Over the next week I want you to work on your mindset by cultivating a spirit of gratitude.

Each evening pause and review your day.  Search for three things to count as blessings.  Write them down.

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These blessings might be small.  They might be insignificant.  They might be overpowered by the grief in your life, but still…write them down.

Anchor your soul in gratitude for what the Lord has done.  You might not be rescued from the storm, but you can look around for the beauty in the midst of the upheaval.

Grief isn’t something that easily passes.  The storm will linger and revisit you over and over.  Some moments will feel like a downpour and some moments will feel like a hurricane.

Hold tight dear friend; in the midst of the tempest choose to cherish.

It will help ease your soul and still your mind.

I’m on the other side of the storm now- drifting in calm waters but I still continue to seek out the beauty of the moment.

I know another storm will eventually hit.  Because that is life.  And I’ll still cry out and lament, but I’ll anchor my soul by searching for evidence of God’s goodness.  Will you?

My Gratitude Journal

What are you thankful for today?  

I’m honored to be a member of Suzie Eller’s #livefree community.

Live Free Thursday

 

I need you

I Need You: How to Support a Loved One through Miscarriage & Pregnancy Loss

I need youI Need You: Support After a Miscarriage & Pregnancy Loss

Tonya brought boxes and boxes of Chinese food, Leighann brought a dozen hot, still-gooey, straight out of the oven cookies, Amber brought the most delectable chocolate cupcakes I have ever eaten (& offered me her uterus), Chrissi brought a beautiful flower for me to plant and Mary sent me the most heartfelt letter via email because she was hundreds of miles away.

I didn’t want them in my house. I thought I wanted to be alone. But like good girlfriends do, in they pushed. There I sat with my eyes swollen and my stomach contracting with pain. Their eyes were soaked with tears, too. They hugged me & loved on me & then departed. Words were sparse but love was abounding. I needed them.

My husband cried. He listened. He pulled me close to his chest and wrapped his arms around my body. He fielded phone calls and told people I didn’t want to talk. He protected me. He told the sweet people at my church not to mention anything to me in a public setting. She’s just not ready to talk. Private yes, public no. Please pray. He told me how much they cared. He took me to the doctor. He made sure I ate. He let me mourn. He mourned. I needed him.

My brother called. Every day. He left messages. He sent texts. I’m just calling to check on you, Sis. I needed him.

My mom, dad, father-in law, mother-in law, and step-father in law each offered to babysit my son. They took care of him while I layed beside the Kleenex box in my bed. I needed them.

The strangers on the internet understood.  The ones in the support groups and chat rooms  were brutally honest.  The bloggers who wrote about their losses gave hope. I needed them.

My Professor at University nodded her head and said I’m sorry with her gentle glance when I entered class for the first time after my loss. I needed her.

My girlfriend’s husbands hugged me. They squeezed a bit harder when I placed my head on their warm shoulders. They didn’t utter a word, but I knew they cared. They told my husband they loved him. They asked my husband if he needed to talk.  We needed them.

My doctor and the nurses at the office hugged me. Their cheeks were landing grounds for tears. One nurse sent me a text the next day telling me she was thinking about me. I needed them.

My best friend forced me to go on a weekend getaway. Just the two of us. It wasn’t fancy. Just a hotel with a pool. We were the oldest people slipping down the waterside. She even brought a book to read. She hates to read. We laughed we giggled. She asked how I was doing. I needed her.

I need you to know that you can’t take away the pain. Tears will still pour from our eyes & our hearts will still ache. But I need you to know that we need your love.

We are comforted that you recognize what happened: our unborn baby, and the hopes and dreams we had for this particular child of God, died.  Yes, as believers we will meet them once again in Heaven, but, In this moment and time, we are sad, we are confused, and we might even be angry.  Above all give us permission and space to grieve.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; Mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15).

Ideas for Offering Support to Someone Who Has Experienced Miscarriage or Pregnancy Loss

  • Hug
  • Pray
  • Say I’m sorry
  • Send a letter, email, or text expressing your sincere condolences
  • Flowers
  • Don’t bring it up in a public place. You can nod, whisper I’m so sorry, or gently squeeze our hands, but please don’t ask us about our loss right before the company business meeting. Talk to us in a private place.
  • Respect us if we don’t want to talk
  • Listen if we do want to talk
  • Let us grieve
  •  Drop off food
  • Offer to babysit our other children. Ask us twice so we know you are serious, but don’t force us if we say no.
  • Gift a book: Miscarriage Resources & Links
  • Educate yourself: Miscarriage Resources & Links
  • Ask us if we need anything from the store. There are physical side effects to pregnancy loss
  • Gift this book: Love You Forever. The story was written to commemorate the author’s unborn child.
  • Give an angel ornament or some other token of appreciation.
  • Ask our partner if he needs to talk. Listen.
  • Invite us to dinner or coffee the weeks after our loss. Invite us to talk. Listen.
  • Lead people to Stepping Stones Newsletter
  • Visit Miscarriage Resources & Links
  • Choose your words carefully. Read What Not To Say To Someone Who Had a Miscarriage
  • Invite your loved one to join Loved Baby Facebook Group
  • Understand that you can’t fix it but you can love on us.

 (Compiled by the Loved Baby Sisterhood)

xoxo

THANK YOU for caring and for showing your love to families when they go through this grievous situation.

Join our Support Group:

Loved Baby Support & Encouragement Group

Will you also consider adding your name to our email list?

Live Free Thursday

21While sitting on my front-porch last night- watching the fireflies dance through the starry summer night- I remembered my childhood.

Running through the grass in my front-yard with a mason jar clutched in my hand. My eyes fixated on one thing: those glimmering, and somewhat magical creatures, that only visited for a few months.

My brother and I teamed up and tried to catch as many as possible to put in our make-shift lanterns.

That was bliss.

Summer in the south is majestic.

But sometimes we are inclined to feel it up with busyness. And activities that require bags of supplies.

Life is but a series of small moments; the ones I best recollect are the simplest.

Ones that don’t require 8 steps from Pinterest.

Just a bit of connecting with nature. And a bit of savoring life.

So here is my bucket-list for the summer. I do realize that the effects of many of these will be me cleaning up dirt-stained bathtubs. But that is quite all right.

Cause after all, summer in the south is a gift to be cherished and sometimes that means letting your kids play in the mud.

I might not get to all of them. But I am going to try my hardest to celebrate the season in the most simplest of ways.

21 Things Every Southern-Child Should Do This Summer

Star gazing

Firefly catching

Blackberry picking

Skipping rocks

Imagining images in clouds

Spitting watermelon seeds

Shucking sweet corn and eating it raw off the cob

Flying off a rope swing into the ice-cold river

Looking for worms in the dirt and then going fishing

Making mud-pies

Playing in a creek-bank

Running barefoot through the freshly-mowed grass

Rushing through a water-sprinkler on a hot summer day

Listening to the croaking of a bullfrog symphony on the banks of a pond

Tasting a honeysuckle vine

Digging in the dirt. For no reason other than just to dig

Bubbles

Popsicles

Sparklers on the 4th of July

Water guns

&

Crashing into bed way past bedtime from the sheer exhaustion of just plain playing outside.

I’m thankful my parents gave me that messy, magical summer childhood of just enjoying life.

What would you add to the list? 

Love & Blessings,

Sarah

 

Where the Sad Girls Go, How to Love Someone Who Is Depressed

by Jennifer Renee Watson
It is a pleasure to introduce you to Jennifer- one of my kindred spirits.  I met this gorgeous minister’s wife, mother, and award-winning writer at a writers conference last February.  She politely invited me to sit beside her and we chatted up writing, lipstick, grief, and cheered each other on as we met with publishers and agents.  You are going to love her honesty.  On the Loved Baby Pregnancy Loss Support Group we’ve been talking an awful lot about depression after loss.  Read Jennifer’s take on supporting someone through the darkness. It’s one of those things people don’t like talking about in broad daylight.  Thanks Jennifer for taking the shame out of this affliction.
And if you want to join our Loved Baby community–please click on the above link to connect with other women who have experienced the death of their womb baby. And if you think you might be struggling with depression please visit the conclusion of the post.  I’ve collected some help-lines.  You don’t have to run alone.


 

The Lilypad“You don’t look pregnant anymore.”

I began to cry as we walk out of the doctor’s office.

“I’m so mad I could cuss.” I say, standing in the parking lot looking less pregnant.

“Do it.” My husband says, giving me permission.

“I can’t.”

“Then I’ll do it for you.”

And then he swears for me. I stand there in utter shock and then I double over laughing through the tears and say something snarky like, “You are going to split hell wide-open.”

We laugh through aching hearts and somehow I know that everything is going to be okay. We are going to be okay.

I think that is when I wrestled with my first encounter with real depression. Every fall it comes back and I wrestle trying to find words and look much like a Cymbalta commercial minus petting a cat and gazing out the widow.

I figured out where the sad girls go because at that broken moment, I was one of them.

I’m not sure if it’s connected to that time loss during multiple miscarriages, or just seasonal, but each year just as the leaves turn beautiful shades of orange and red and then finally let go giving way to winter. I become like the barren tree stripped of leaves and life, but it is still me, just the quieter version of me.

And in my head I go, that’s where the sad girls go.

Each year it becomes less of an issue, but I still go off–grid and have a hard time finding words. Even writing becomes difficult and I miss the more vibrant, spunky side of me. I stop making calls because I feel like I have nothing to say worth hearing.

The sad girls drift off inside of their head space and dream of brighter days. I feel so thankful that each year it becomes less of thing, but it’s still a thing. It’s real. But, I’m not sad. I feel hope rising to the surface of my heart because I know this will pass. It always does.

I’ve battled depression on and off for years and I remember thinking that my husband was strong enough to lift the dark cloud off of me. But, he couldn’t. Somewhere in my headspace, my winter months of darkness and bareness of joy, I wrestled with prayer and with God and stopped wrestling with others. My hands were up in surrender with the white flag raised, “God, If you can save me, throw me a lifeline. I’m desperate, I’ll take crumbs I don’t even need a full meal. I just need something.”

And God always came to my rescue. Sometimes it seemed like the sadness lasted for much too long, but it eventually left and my color returned. Laughter filled my lungs and a song spilled out from a renewed heart. When I couldn’t pray, I asked others to pray for me and had trusted friends to hold my hand on the journey. I never asked them to jump in my pit of despair with me, just maybe take me out for chips and salsa and give me a reason to change out of my yoga pants. And after the conversation became lighter and tears stopped, we would have a cake-date afterwards. Sometimes you just need to celebrate the small victories because if we can’t, our expectations might be a little too Hollywood, airbrushed fakeness, and not based on reality.

I’ve learned that letting others see my ugly and broken moments is receiving love when I’m the furthest thing from perfect. In the past, I wanted others to only see me when I was happy and living life to the fullest, but God has given me the truest friends and family that have been unwilling to leave my side at dark, broken moments. They love me just because, no strings-attached, no need to jump through hoops or fake anything. I just get to show up and that’s enough. Man, that’s nice. 

So, how do we love someone in depression crisis and soul funk?

  • Realize that it’s bigger than you. Ask really good questions about feelings and what they need from you.
  • Realize that if you are doing all the things that they “need” and it’s still not enough, take breaks for your heart and do whatever you can to not to go into crisis-mode with them. Someone has to be the strong one; Lord knows it doesn’t feel fair. But someone has to be the voice of reason and hear the voice of God if the other person’s judgment is murky.
  • If you feel yourself fighting so hard, fighting with your loved one as you walk on edge through the crappy minefield and look them in the eyes and say, “We are treating each other like the enemy when we are allies.” And join forces again. Keep reminding yourself that this is not who they are, but as they wrestle with change in their hearts, minds, hormones, and brain chemistry, everything is pretty much based on fear and a lie. The things that used to make them happy don’t anymore and they don’t even know why. That’s brutal.
  • Get help! You might need personal therapy, it’s so brave and should be celebrated, not an embarrassment. It doesn’t mean you are failing, it means you care enough to not give up. You need a friend that is sticking as close as a soul sister possibly can. Prayer journal, angry journal, or verbally barf on someone you can trust. Someone who can drop a truth-bomb like, “What is coming out of your mouth doesn’t line up with the Word.” Don’t let what you feel rule what you know to be true. Like, this too shall pass like a kidney stone with spikes the size of Texas, but it will pass. So, let me speak truth wrapped up in love and hold you while you cry. 
  • Figure out your default setting. For me shutting down emotionally is what I do. I’m working on it. When you feel yourself shutting down, ask yourself why. For me, my broken girl syndrome might emerge instead of the confident, godly woman that I have become. Anytime I felt backed into a corner, trapped, or embarrassed publicly, I would just check out and put up a wall to protect my heart. Or I would come out swinging. My default is flight, not fight. I hate conflict, but boundaries need to happen if someone is crossing lines and just expecting you to deal with it and be the nice one. Communicating is essential if you want to have something that lasts. Period. If you stop the lines of communication, you might as well stamp an expiration date on your healthy relationship.
  • When you love someone, you do whatever it takes to protect the one you love. A person in crisis no longer knows how to protect and cultivate your tender heart; they are focused on what they are feeling and what they need. So, it feels very personal and selfish. Try to focus on what you love about them, remember the better days and pray for better days to be restored.
  • Figure out their default setting. Harsh truth, anyone who is depressed doesn’t even know what their default setting is.So…there’s that. But, they do have a love language and things that fill up their tank.
  • Stop doing the same things. You need something to look forward to. Try to break away from your normal routine and do something fun.
  • Find a reason to hope and dream again, take your “wounded one” with you and live a little. No lists, agendas, or jumping through the hoops, just being together and chasing after joy and each other until hope returns.
  • Just because they are depressed doesn’t mean you have to be too. When I was going through my seasons of depression, I didn’t need my man, or friends, to join me and set up camp there. It was my depression and because I love them, I just needed them to understand, love me, and pray for me. Not push me or tell me I’m wrong for feeling that way. I never expected them to fix me, so it would be stupid for me to feel like I am the Junior Holy Spirit and able to fix someone else’s depression.

Guard your heart and mind and take your thoughts captive, it’s the only thing you are accountable for right now. I’m so grateful for a God that loves me just because I’m His and I’m enough for Him, even when I’m at my worst.

You are not alone. You might not feel Him, but God hasn’t left you.

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands, Your walls are continually before Me.” (Is 49:16)

I get it, I know what it is like to wrestle with this and win. Don’t go through this alone; let someone walk you through this!

Much love and prayers,

Jennifer Renee

Jennifer

Jennifer is a self-professed girly-girl who is convinced that coloring your hair is addictive and has an undying affection for refined sugar and red lipstick. She is a mother of two miracle babies and an out-of-box minister’s wife. Visit her Blog for more inspiration and real-talk.

 


If You Think You Might Be Depressed:

The loss of a womb baby is a taboo, misunderstood topic and many women feel very alone in their grief.  Scholarly research tells us that women are at an increased risk for depression and anxiety after a loss- and it doesn’t matter the fetal age,  “A woman who has lost her child at 11 weeks may be as distraught as a woman who has lost her child at 20 weeks,” says Martha Diamond, PhD (Research in Nursing & Health).  My friend Cayci says- it was the hardest day of my life.

If you think you, or your loved one is battling depression I urge you to seek help.  Your Ob/Gyn will be the best point of contact.  Many, many women spiral unto this dark place after pregnancy loss.

Also visit the National Institute of Mental Healths Site.  They have a wealth of professional knowledge on Depression in Women including a downloadable PDF Brochure.

NIH explains that people with depression have different brain chemistry than those without the illness. It is nothing you have done and you don’t have to fight the battle on your own.  If you had strep throat would you go see your doctor?  If you were diagnosed with cancer would you seek a professional? Likewise, if you think you might be depressed you should also seek support.  There should be no shame.

What are the signs and symptoms of depression?

Different people have different symptoms. The NIH says wome symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling sad or “empty”
  • Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious, or guilty
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Feeling very tired
  • Not being able to concentrate or remember details
  • Not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much
  • Overeating, or not wanting to eat at all
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems

Love & Blessings,

Sarah

    I usually write exclusively about grief and pregnancy loss on All-American Mom…but good grief.  Sometimes you just need a laugh.  Why I'm Not a Goat Farmer

We made it almost two months with our trio of goats, but today they were loaded into the back of a black pick-up truck and hauled away.

I consider myself a farm girl in the sense that I’m married to a full-time farmer. He’s a tractor-driving, overhaul- wearing, salt-of-the earth type man.

I like to ride around with him and enjoy the scenery.  I’m not opposed to hard work or getting muddy, but I’ve learned that I draw the line when it comes to goat manure.

I’m obviously not a full-fledged rural goddess.

Yep. That’s what my two-month stint as the proud owner of three goats taught me.

A kind neighbor man down the road gifted us the first two goats. And we acquired the third-goat- a one-eyed beauty I named Gypsy, after another neighbor learned we were running a goat sanctuary in our backyard.

We own a rather large farm, but I was determined that the goats should take up residence in our back yard.

“The kids would love it!” I exclaimed.

“They’d mow the grass with their teeth!” I coaxed.

My husband tried talking me out of the endeavor.

But I gave him a kiss and told him it would be just fine.

So, yeah. It is my fault the goats became our pets.

My husband built a fence.

My kids helped named them.

And we warmly welcomed Pickles, Brownie, and Gypsy to our backyard with a bucket of home-grown corn and a fresh bed of straw.

“Look Perry. Our kids have their first pets!” I gushed after we brought them home.

The goats climbed to the top of the swing-set fort.

They played in the water sprinklers with my kids.

We feed them ice-cream and peanut butter crackers.

I bragged about them on Instagram.

Goat

They were cute.

And my kids loved them.

But, have you ever heard the saying, “Don’t x#it where you eat.”

Well, the goats evidently invented that saying and it is their primary commandment for life.

You see, we’ve got about an acre of a backyard full of lush grass and vegetation.

We have a very small concrete patio. Yeah. The goats exclusively used the patio as their bathroom.

So every day I’d sweep. And I’d hose it down.

One day, while I was spraying the disaster, I realized I was wearing stilettos and cleaning up goat manure.

Those items don’t go together.

The goats quickly became a little less bucolic in my mind.

Then they started escaping their back-yard sanctuary. It appears we had chosen a highly independent breed.

People would come over for a visit and end up help us chasing goats around the yard.

Our kids’ babysitter even learned how to shepherd goats one night when she spied them out the window and feared they might not be able to swim.

It’s not that the grass was greener on the other side. It’s that the concrete perimeter around the pool deck was calling their name.

Have I mentioned they will only use concrete?

I sent my husband a scathing text message. I told him that he didn’t even need to try to fix the fence…we were finding a new home for those blasted goats.

So this week we wrangled the goats and took them to our front pasture to live out the rest of their days in the company of our llamas.

I told the kids we could still visit them, but that if they stayed in the backyard we would never be able to swim in the pool. They had a choice.

Turns out the pool trumped the goats.

Clearly we have strong allegiances to our pets.

Unfortunately, the llamas and goats didn’t coexist. It was a continuous game of chase.

llamas and goats

I think the goats also realized that the pasture was a concrete-free zone.

So they escaped.

And strolled into my front yard.

We have a stamped-concrete porch.

You get the drift.

Well, the goats almost lasted two-whole months on the farm, but this morning Pickles, Brownie, and Gypsy were locked in a cage and placed under the custody of the County Sheriff.

Goat Haul

He heard about their plight.

He says he came to rescue them. I say he came to arrest them for vandalism.

Whatever the case, the Sheriff is a real-deal goat farmer.

As for me…I’ve given up that title.

I’m a farm girl—but I do have limits.

Love & Blessings,

Sarah

 

Why I No Longer Say, “Happy Memorial Day!”

I’ve been guilty.

I’m thirty-three years old- a good patriotic southern girl with a firm respect for our military- but it didn’t hit me until last year that the words “Happy” and “Memorial Day” should never coexist in the same sentence.  

why I no longer say

I was at a family member’s BBQ. A wonderfully kind and compassionate family member was gravely bothered. Someone had called her out for saying “Happy Memorial Day.” She was concerned that she had offended someone.

I rolled my eyes. “Don’t worry about it. They are just being overly sensitive!” I assured her.

And I went back to watching my kids splish and splash in the blow-up pool.

But I couldn’t brush the issue aside. And neither could my other family members. We debated and quickly realized the error of our collective ways.

For thirty-two years I  gorged on hamburgers, devoured home-made ice cream, and wake-boarded and inter-tubed all day long on the river. As a show of respect for the day my Dad always purchases a brand-new American flag to proudly display on our dock.

It is a day where we enjoy our freedoms. And let people know that we love America.

But, I’d never really even paused to consider what Memorial Day is really all about.

The full gravity and solemnity of this day – the day that is set aside to honor the men and women who died in combat- had somehow escaped my consciousness.

My Poppa was a WWII veteran. He lied about his age when he enlisted so that he could serve the great US of A. He was the youngest Sergeant General in the Army.

He never really wanted to talk about his time of combat. He once confided in me that still, at the age of 80, he’d wake up with nightmares. He was stationed on the European front. Normandy. The Rhine River. Concentration Camps. I can’t imagine the atrocities he witnessed.

My great-great grandfather was a WWI veteran. I have, in my possession, tattered postcards that he sent my great-grandmother while he was overseas. In one of them Grandpa Tite wrote that if it hadn’t been for a field of turnips he would have died of starvation. That’s right. He stole turnips from a farmer so that he could live. I can’t imagine the atrocities he witnessed.

A young combat veteran, who did time overseas in Iraq, recently approached me and told me how hard Memorial Day is for him. How immensely uncomfortable it makes him for people to thank him for his service. He’s home now, with his family. But he lives with the vivid memories of his colleagues and superiors dying in combat. Dying to save him.

I can’t imagine the atrocities he witnessed and now can’t forget. “Don’t thank him,” he implores. Instead Remember the fallen soldiers and their families. He says, “Thanking a combat veteran on Memorial Day has always seemed awkward and somewhat hurtful.”

And then I see the images, floating around social media, of young widows- with clenched faces- lying on blankets atop the flower-covered graves of their husbands. Some of these women have babies in their laps- babies that will never see the face of the very father who died protecting all of our freedoms.

And just this morning I read brutally raw and honest commentary, published by the Chicago Tribune, titled I’m a veteran, and I hate ‘ Happy Memorial Day’. It’s powerful stuff. Read it.

I get it now. I’m sorry veterans and family members of the fallen.

I shouldn’t have ever said it.

I’ll say it all day long on the Fourth of July. I’ll thank you on Veterans Day. But today I’ll refrain from the word…because…

There is no “Happy” in “Memorial Day.”

It’s a day of remembrance.

Today is a day where we should pause, pray, and give gratitude to the 1.3 million brave men and women who have died to protect the very freedoms that we are privileged to enjoy on this beautiful day.

So in addition to all the fun and revelry in which we partake….let’s stop and remember.

 

The National Moment of Remembrance Act

Today, at 3PM EST, take a moment to stop.

It’s a time that is set-aside for us all to pause, reflect, and honor all the brave men and women who died in service.

 

 

 

 

TO THE DEAR MAMA WHO THOUGHT GETTING & STAYING PREGNANT WAS GOING TO BE EASY

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I was in my early twenties- a young idealistic newlywed, when my best girlfriend and I planned our lives. To be detailed we were sitting in my silver Honda Accord on our way home from a work road-trip in Nashville. She was driving us homeward and I was scribbling away. We deliberated for three full hours and we figured our husbands would go along with whatever we wrote down on that scrap of paper.  After-all, the most important thing was for us to be on maternity leave together.

It was a list we could easily, or so we thought, check-off. On both of our lists we included (along with specific dates) graduate with our advanced degrees, get a puppy, conceive a baby, deliver baby, maternity leave, return to work. The most taxing decision was the best month to give birth.

“We’d have a tan in summer,” one of us would say.

Then the other would counter, “Yeah, but it’s just so hot! We’d sweat so much.”

“But I don’t want a baby in January. January is peak flu season.”

We finally decided that giving birth in April would be ideal.

            We were both blissfully ignorant. It was the type of conversation that would make my blood boil today.

            Both of us graduated on time-check! Got our new puppies on time- check!

But then…when it came to conceiving babies I learned that you can plan and execute all you want… but it is completely up to God as to whether or not a child is conceived and whether or not you have a healthy full-term pregnancy.

Cause making babies is not a check the box type of endeavor.

I look back and roll-my eyes and want to slap my naive self.

            We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9

Getting pregnant- I used to think was an effortless, fun, and physically uncomplicated procedure.

I mean, if it wasn’t easy, then why are pharmaceutical companies bursting with pregnancy prevention options? Why are women making “choices?” It must be harder to prevent pregnancy than to ‘get’ pregnant, right?

Television shows depict countless numbers of teenage moms saying they wished they had just “crossed their legs” and other television shows depict mothers having a dozen or more children with the greatest of ease. My girlfriends and I used to sit around and chat over chips and spinach dip saying things like, “When do you want to have a kid?” and “I forgot my birth control yesterday. Hope I’m not preggo!”

It was as if we could as easily schedule the introduction of a child into our families as we could make reservations for dinner.

I mean just get under the covers or on top of the covers or in the back of the car. It doesn’t matter…sperm meets egg and a baby is conceived, right?

But, that is not the entire story. Conception and birth is a precious God-ordained biological equation. Our bodies are not an Easy-Bake-Oven!

This wasn’t a part of my plan

When infertility, miscarriage or stillbirth strikes, most of us find ourselves in a state of shock and denial and have no idea what to do with the array of emotions that immediately begin descending upon our minds.

“Getting pregnant” might seem easy for everyone else, but for us it can be challenging and riddled with anxiety.

And intense grief.

We learn about IVF, charting our cycles, sperm count, and progesterone. Some of us become introduced to the anesthesia, the procedure of a D&C, or live through the pain of an ectopic pregnancy.

“This wasn’t part of my plan! I thought this was supposed to have been easy! Isn’t having a baby a part of “happily ever after?” Why can’t I just sleep with my husband and then nine-months later deliver a crying baby?

Sigh.

I’m sorry Mama- an easy, carefree pregnancy is not our reality.

And those of us who have experienced loss or infertility are now changed souls.

I am no longer naïve. I look at those mamas with their swollen bellies and I realize the sacredness of what is being allowed to grow in their bodies. I also look at them with jealousy. I wish I too could have that blissful ignorance.

I miss the baby that I cradled in my womb.

I also miss carrying a baby in my womb and not shaking with fear every time I look in the toilet bowl.

I want to be in control! I want to know the end-game.

But I have to surrender that desire of control. I am not the one who creates and sustains life.

I am not in control.

You are not in control.

God is in control.

God is the creator of our universe. God is the creator of our children. God decides whether those babies will be born on Earth or born in heaven. And God has a greater plan than you or I can ever understand. Even though tears are pouring from our eyes we have to trust.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

I’ll be honest, that verse made me angry and confused the months after my loss. I kinda wanted to rip it out of my Bible. And then set it on fire. But not pour water on it. Just let it burn. To be frank…it pissed me off. I mean, how can the death of my baby be a part of a grand plan of goodness?

Sigh.

I’m not certain. I don’t specifically know why pregnancy loss is a part of my story. I don’t specifically know why I was chosen to be a part of a sisterhood of women who have had a baby perish in their womb. I don’t know why some women get cancer. Why a family of five was killed in a car accident last week. Why this?  Why that?

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

All I can do is trust in God. I must learn to accept the sufferings, trials, and tribulations the same way that I accept the joys and blessings.

It’s a walk of faith.

Not one of us has ever been promised an existence on Earth void of pain. Earth is not the place where perfection and pure happiness exist; that is why we long for heaven- a place where suffering is no more.

Right now you are suffering. And suffering hard.  Dear Mama, it is okay to cry, mourn, scream, shout, and cry again. It’s okay to be angry at this out-of-our control life.

Suzie Eller, in the Mended Heart says, “When you love a person deeply and you lose them, on this side of heaven there will always be a missing piece. That sense of loss remains a part of who you are, because the person you have lost is a part of you.” (page 88)

And that is oh so true. On this side of heaven you will continue to have a pierced heart. But please know that heaven- the place where perfection lives is ours for the taking. Perfection is where your baby now resides. Our suffering is nothing in comparison to the glory that is our future.

That. Is. Hard. To. Take. In.

I consider that our present sufferings

Glory is that there is a new Due Date that is calling your name. Your life seems completely out of control right now, and when it does you gotta grieve.  Cause you know what…it does suck.  I mean let’s call a spade a spade.

But, you gotta also look ahead.

Because what is ahead is great.

Will you do something for me?

In your mind create an image of your baby. Now imagine your little creation sitting in Heaven. Maybe they are sitting in the lap of your Mama or your Granddad. Isn’t that peaceful?

            Now take your mental image a step further. Put your baby in your lap.

Yeah.

Your lap.

Breathe in that sweet scent. Hold those tiny fingers.

 I know it’s hard to conjure up this image. Your doing it with tears pouring down your cheeks.  You want this to be reality not just in your mind.

But IT IS going to be a reality. You sitting up there in Heaven rocking your baby. Cause, in just a little while…that is where you can be. For an Eternity. Reconnected with your babe.

In those moments when your soul starts spinning faster than a hurricane try to pause and look ahead.  Focus on something in the future that is positive.  That is promised.

Because you know what? There is nothing on this Earth that is promised. Nothing we are in control of. The only thing we know for certain is that our end-game is us meeting up with our baby…in the presence of God.

This isn’t going to take away the pain, but it will give you a place to throw anchor when your world is spinning out of control.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

Love & Blessings,

Sarah

 

Once I spyed that pink line I typed in my information into Baby Center and boom…the day that would change my life appeared. I’ll never forget any of my four due dates…June 20th, November 9th, January 30th, and once again- June 20th.   My two mischievous children were both born as the hot sun rose in the middle of June.  But the two other “due dates”  go by with only a memory of what ‘should have been.’  But I’m comforted because I know that I have a new due date…when I meet these two kiddos in heaven!

But many women ask themselves, “What am I supposed to do on this day when I should have been spent giving birth or throwing a birthday party?”

Let me introduce you to watercolor artist  photographer, mother, and AMAZING woman Shalmai Keim.  Please read the story of her precious Silas Jude here.  It’s the story of her life-threatening  pregnancy.  I asked her to guest blog on All-American Mom blog because how she spent her time on Silas Jude’s due date pushes us to spend our due dates loving on others in spite of  sadness. 

I know you will be blessed as your read her words…..

Pouring Blessings on a Baby: What One Inspiring Woman Did On The Date that Should Have been Her Due Date

Blessing a baby on her due date.

Blessing a baby on her due date.

Today was a tough day. My heart is heavy and my eyes are swollen. Today was Silas’s due date.

If it had all gone to plan I would have three beautiful boys today.

Instead I mourn what would of been.

I had many moments today when I shut my eyes and I would see him. I would see myself holding him as a baby and what would be his toddler years. I would see his big eyes looking up at me and I would hear him say “I love you mom”.

Those little snips are so painful yet so sweet. It’s hard to know I will never hear him say those words here on earth.

I didn’t know how I was supposed to spend my day today. I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel or think. I braced my self for impact. After sitting on the bathroom floor (in tears) with my husband this morning it came to me. The Lord led me to the idea that I was to bless a baby boy born today.

I was to buy some cute baby boy stuff and take it to the hospital to bless a boy born today in honor of our Silas. I also got some thank you cards and special gifts to hand off to my nurses.

My plan was to just drop it off at the front desk. I didn’t want to go up stairs. But when I walked in there was no one there.

I paced the floor trying to find someone to help me but no one showed up. So I decided to head up and drop it off. I kind of remembered where to go.

The scent quickly brought back many memories. I walked up to the nurses station in the maternity ward and told them what I was hoping to do with the gift. As the words escaped my mouth, tears started to shed.

The nurse who I never met said “Keim”. She knew who I was. She said how different I looked from what she remembered. She called a nurse who had cared for me over and told her it was me. The nurse quickly hugged me. She was glad I was doing well and I just thanked her for all of her care.

I was crying like a baby this whole time. I said another thank you, left the cards and gift and said my goodbyes.

As I walk out of the elevator trying to put my self back together, I see my wonderful Dr. heading my direction. She asked what I was doing there, I explained, she hugged me, she held back the tears, and with words of encouragement she said to me, “You are so strong, what a great way to honor your son today.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Shalmai says of the above:

I wrote the story on my due date, March 27th, 2015. After I posted this I got contacted by the nurse and told me she gave the gift to a mother with a new baby boy. The mother left me a single yellow flower and a card. Later I found out that the mother was a single mom in not a super stable financial situation. So my husband and I felt like God led us this way to bless this new mom and her baby boy.


“This is the reason we do not give up. Our human body is wearing out. But our spirits are getting stronger every day. The little troubles we suffer now for a short time are making us ready for the great things God is going to give us forever. We do not look at the things that can be seen. We look at the things that cannot be seen. The things that can be seen will come to an end. But the things that cannot be seen will last forever.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 

  Isn’t her story brave? Isn’t it beautiful?  Isn’t it inspiring?

Maybe we can all follow her lead. I challenge you to bless another on the would-be-birthday of your child.

If going into a hospital is still a bit too difficult for you please consider these other ideas.

  • Donate to a child who is the same age as the one you lost.  Perhaps send a toy or book to a local school or church with a note asking the teacher to gift the item to a child in need. Read how one mom chose to honor her son- who would have been seven- here. 
  • Bless a living child by making a donation in your child’s honor to  Bethany Christian Services.  They are a leader in keeping families together through adoption and foster care.
  • Consider donating money to HopeMommies.org.  Their ministry  sends Hope Boxes to women who have experienced pregnancy loss.  You can even visit their website and have a box sent to a women you know who has recently experienced loss.
  • Help a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy by donating to a crisis-pregnancy center that helps provide women with options and long-term support.  One that I support is:
    Full Circle Women’s Services

Love & Blessings,

Sarah

I love to collect stories and highlight them on allamericanmom.net of how we can be a friend to others in affliction.  Meet my friend Leighann.  She hasn’t ever experienced pregnancy loss or infertility, but she did walk alongside as her best friend- Kathryn walked that walk and fought that opponent.  I think this is an important perspective for us to read.  This story shows us that friends feel shame when they can easily get pregnant and you can’t & that our friends truly grieve for us when we are down on our knees in the mud-pit of life.  Our friends are also our biggest cheerleaders. Thanks girls for sharing your story with us and showing us how to support, pray,  cheer, and accept that sometimes you’ve got to wait. And thanks also Leighann for filling my mouth full of cookies when I went through my miscarriages.


Being the Cheerleader While Your Best Friend Fights Infertility

being the cheerleader(1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My best friend and I met 10 years ago at my sister’s basketball game. I asked if I could braid her beautiful blonde hair and the rest was history.

In the 10 years of knowing her, we fettuccine alfredoed a guy’s car, scourged bathroom wallpaper, survived bad relationships, ate unfortunate mounds of raw cookie dough, danced until we thought our toes would fall off, lived together in two cities, ran countless miles, almost got kicked out of intramural basketball games in college, survived a would-be human trafficking taxi ride, prank ordered every fast food chain drive-thru within a 30 mile radius, went on several road trips, and much much more.

We experienced life together – college, careers, engagements, new homes, and marriages.

You know what they say – first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes so and so with the baby carriage. I was the first to start pushing the baby carriage. When a positive pregnancy test confirmed my suspicions, she was the first person I called. She, in a panic, told her boss an elaborate story that landed me in a proverbial car wreck, and came straight over to be my person (for Grey’s Anatomy fans, I was Yang and she was Meredith).

Fast forward a little.

I had a one year old, and I was exhausted. My world centered around this little blonde headed, brown eyed boy, who kept my OCD on cartwheel mode. She and her husband were trying to get pregnant on their own without success, and I said “encouraging” things like, “Are you sure you want to have kids this soon? “ and “You should enjoy being married for a few more years” and “Go travel and take lots of pictures for me.”

More time elapsed.

I was reliving childhood memories at the zoo and aquarium and trick or treating and birthday parties with my two year old.

She was taking pills and getting shots from her husband.

One night I convinced her to go to a basketball game with me, but due to her strict hormone schedule, I had to agree to give her a shot. I sat in the middle of a girl’s locker room, watched her pull out enough drugs and needles to land us in jail, and mentally prepared myself for sticking a long needle in my best friend’s butt.

That situation, so common place to her after months of it on end, changed me.

It’s one thing to know what your friend is going through and pray for her and love her, it’s another thing to stick a needle in her.

More time passed.

My son turned three and a few months later I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. We weren’t trying to have another child. In fact, I was trying to figure out how to avoid pregnancy without being on birth control. I paced and prayed and prayed and paced, and then I called my best friend. I knew how much it would hurt her, but I also knew that she loved me and would put on a brave and happy face for me.

She wore that face well for 9 months.

She helped me tell my sister that I had a bun in my oven by placing a hot dog bun in her own oven. (You can imagine my sister’s confusion.)

She threw me an elaborate baby shower and bought me my first pandora bracelet with charms representing my children. She was there at the hospital when my daughter was born and again at home, binge watching my favorite shows right beside me while I breastfed.

Meanwhile, she was going through IUI procedures that were failing. I watched my friend start to crumble a little, in small amounts, every day.

And then I waged war. I had to fight for her when she couldn’t fight on her own. I became her cheerleader, the annoyingly cheerful and loud kind. I threw God’s word at her left and right, I sent encouraging messages, I quoted the prayers my son was praying for her, and I got my church behind her praying. I made God weird promises like “I’ll sing solos in church if you’ll give her a baby” and I frequently told the devil where to go and how to get there.

Another year passed.

My son was in Pre-K. He was learning to read and creating art projects that I proudly hung on my fridge. My daughter was a year old and making mischief at every turn.

My best friend, however, was going through IVF procedures. The first IVF round produced twin embryos.

She arranged for my husband to video my reaction as my son told me to call in at work because she was in a car accident. I called her immediately, and we squealed and cried and cried and squealed. I asked her politely to name her twins after me.

The next day, I photographed their special news. I made signs that said “future mommy/daddy” and “due in November.” She requested a picture with my son, her prayer warrior. She hung those pictures on a string in their would-be nursery and invited their families over to announce the big news.

A few days later the doctor called and said it was an unsuccessful chemical pregnancy. She took those pictures and a letter I had written to my future twin nephews/nieces and buried it in her yard.

I baked cookies and grabbed my pom poms again. This would not break her, I wouldn’t allow it.

She painstakingly went through two more IVF procedures unsuccessfully. After the third failed try, something changed. I found myself really angry with God. I gave him an earful and he listened, and then he started talking to me through her.

Somehow, this woman who had lived in an emotional desert for years upon years, renewed my hope again and strengthened my faith.

In her tattered uniform and pitiful pom poms, she had become my cheerleader.

Fast forward to present day. My best friend is now a mother to a beautiful, brown headed, brown eyed adopted daughter, and despite her choosing to forgo naming her after me, she looks just like me.

This is the first year my best friend won’t sit at home on Mother’s Day, avoiding church – the first year I won’t be sending her a message saying “I know God’s plan is for you to be a mother, just keep waiting and wishing and hoping.”

This year, my best friend gets to celebrate, and guess who will be there on the sidelines waving pom poms like a banshee? Her annoying cheerleader.

God has a beautiful way of reminding us that his timing is never our own. I knew all along his plan was to give my best friend a child, but I didn’t realize that his plan for her life also included me.

He wanted me to learn about faithfully waiting; there is a time for barrenness and a time for babies, but regardless, he still needs me to cheer.


Leighann Giles is a wife, full time mommy, and part time photographer.  She enjoys spending time with family and friends, writing, gardening, and working with her youth group at church

You want to help women on Mother’s Day?  Join the #HonorAllMoms Call-To-Action

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without debt

I just received a wonderful email from my English “mum.” I like to imagine that Carol was sitting in her newly blossoming garden sipping on Yorkshire Gold tea while typing the letter.

Carol shared with me a listing of scriptures she gathered for a talk she did to a group of mothers in Africa.  She shared them with me for the #HonorAllMoms campaign.

She wrote, “We can be spiritual mums, foster mums, adoptive mums, grand mums to so many people as well as birth mums. What a delight it is to serve our Lord in such a special way!”

I must agree! It is an absolute delight to be any one of the mothers she mentioned.

Some women are called to the special task of being a mother via adoption.

Did you know there are 143 million orphans in the world? I can’t even wrap my mind around that number. It’s more than the current population of Russia!

There is such a need for families to invite these precious children into their lives.

But, one of the biggest obstacles to answering this call is having the finances. Adoption can cost upwards of $50,000.

So how can you afford to answer this special mission?

Well, Julie Gumm can help you. This self-proclaimed coffee-adict is the mother to four children; two biological children and two siblings who she and her husband adopted in 2008 without any dept.   Read that again…”without ANY debt.”  Wow.

She is shares her knowledge with us in the new book, You Can Adopt Without Dept: Creative Ways to Cover the Cost of Adoption.

Whether you are considering foster adoption, domestic adoption, or international adoption this book will help you navigate the practical aspects- including finding an agency, finding grants, tax information, and creative ideas for fund-raising.

It’s an easy read that is chock full of usable, relevant information. She and her husband based their own personal journey by using the tried and true methods of financial wiz, Dave Ramsey.

Ramsey says of the book:

I receive calls on my show all the time about how you have to go into debt to adopt. Julie Gumm is living proof and a testament to the fact you can adopt without ANY debt. I highly recommend reading “Adopt Without Debt” if you are considering adoption.
- DAVE RAMSEY
Best-selling author, national speaker and nationally syndicated talk radio host

Pretty swell review, right?

I suggest that you visit her Julie Gumm’s website for a bit more information. She has kindly provided readers with a litany of resources.

And dear soul who is reading this post and knows that God has called you to grow your family through the action of adoption… I do pray that blessings flow forth as you embark upon the amazing journey of bringing a child-chosen especially by God for YOU- into your family.

I’ll also pray for patience…I hear you need quite a bit…it can be a long road.

And, if you are interested in the book….good news awaits!

GIVEAWAY ALERT

I have two copies to gift to two lucky families who have a heart for adoption.

This giveaway will end on May 12th.

You can have your name entered in the competition by:

“liking” the post on facebook

“sharing” the post on facebook

“commenting” on the post & provide advice for families considering adoption or telling me why you want the bookadopt

“tweeting” the message (just make sure you tag me…@SarahLPhilpott)

You name will be entered every time you do one of the above.

 

Much love,

Sarah

Have you experienced pregnancy loss? We welcome anyone into our Loved Baby Support Group for Women & our Loved Baby Support Group for Men & Women