Miscarriage: When Your Friend Has One

Because miscarriage is so incredibly common, chances are high that you either know someone who has had one or you have had one yourself. I’d like to share a few practical ways God used others to be an encouragement to me when He called me and Isaac to walk this path ourselves, almost five years ago now. While there are many, many ways to do this, I have limited this list to the specific things that I personally experienced. Hopefully some of these ways can help you know how to better interact with and comfort a friend who has had a miscarriage.

1. Say something

We’ve all had those thoughts of “I don’t really know what to say” when someone we know is grieving the loss of a loved one; the temptation to just not say anything is great. When it is a miscarriage, the temptation to not say anything is even greater. For some mysterious reason, the situation just seems incredibly awkward and tricky and we don’t want to make things more difficult than they are. So “mums the word” often becomes the default course of action.

However, I am learning that we tend to over-analyse the need to have the perfect words of encouragement to say to a friend who has miscarried. Because of this tendency, we then fail to take advantage of an opportunity to show our love and care for her.

When a friend loses a little one, the glaring need at hand is not to be the one to speak the words that will somehow magically ease all pain. Rather, more often than not, we need to extend intentional encouragement and comfort by simply being there for her. In many cases, this action comes in the form of saying something…anything. In fact, it’s ok to stumble with the words, perhaps even as they come out of your mouth. It’s ok to be honest that you don’t really understanding what they’re going through. It’s ok to keep it simple. It’s even ok to say “I don’t really know what to say.”

But please say something.

Yes, it might be awkward, but please, say something. Even the words “I don’t know what to say” can be some of the sweetest words to the ears of one who has lost a baby—that baby who was fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s sight, even in its most undeveloped and unperfected state. Even if it has been months or years since your friend has miscarried, it isn’t too late to express your care for them and acknowledge that the baby’s life mattered.

Saying something is one of the most significant, yet simple, ways to do that.

2. Be willing to just listen

This one comes on the heels of my previous point. For some reason, the topic of miscarriage is kind of hush-hush. No one talks about it…at least not very openly. While there may be many reasons for this, I don’t believe it is because people don’t care. Instead, I think it is mostly because people just don’t know how to react to a miscarriage: they don’t know if the mom wants to talk about it, if it will make her cry, or even if it is too personal of a topic to bring up.

However, I don’t think it is too broad of a generalization to say that most of us who have gone through a miscarriage do want to talk about it. Yes, there probably will be tears, even if it happened years ago. Yes, it is an intensely personal subject. But we want to talk about the precious life (or lives) that changed our lives forever.

The day after our miscarriage, one friend asked if she could come over and just be with me, since I was home alone for the day. She brought something hot for us to drink, and then we sat on the couch and just hung out for the afternoon. It was a simple action, but it still means the world to me that she was willing to give of her time to sit with me during those lonely hours immediately following our miscarriage.

Another friend, despite having her own burden that God has called her to bear, wasn’t afraid to ask me, even months later, how I was doing with it all. In so doing, she provided me with rare opportunities to talk about it. And then she listened while I talked. She was such an amazing blessing from God.

Don’t be afraid to be the one to bring up the subject.

3. Pray and send a card

If you don’t live nearby, do something to express that you care: send a note, a card, a text, a special song, some flowers, or even a care box filled with some special dark chocolate. Even if the person isn’t a particularly close friend, if you feel led to do something, don’t hesitate to act: small actions communicate a lot!

When we miscarried, we received numerous cards from people we had met maybe once before, but who wanted us to know that they were praying for us. Several years later, I came across that small stack of cards that had been stashed away in a drawer. As I read them all over again, I was once again reminded of the very specific way God poured out grace, strength, and comfort on our hearts through those cards.

4. Remember dates

There can be multiple days that stand out in a mom’s mind when she thinks of her miscarriage: the date of the actual miscarriage, the due-date, or the day she took that positive pregnancy test, to name a few. For the grieving mom, sometimes these dates are commemorated on a yearly or monthly basis. Sometimes even a particular day of the week could be hard. Each mom is different in how she handles these days.

Take some time to find out what days and dates might be hard for your friend and then remember them. As those days come around on the calendar, take a minute to let your friend know you’re thinking of her. Send a text or give her a hug the next time you see her. These are small actions that can speak volumes.

5. Be an encouragement when there’s a new pregnancy

Finding out that we were pregnant again was one of most exciting things ever: we’re going to have a baby!

But I distinctly remember one day at work soon after we found out. I was terrified—absolutely terrified–that it would happen again. I began to panic. I had to share this burden with someone.

And I had to do it now.

I hid in the bathroom for a few minutes of privacy and pounded out a desperate text to a friend, telling her that we were expecting and then begging her to pray that God would give me a peace and a quiet trust in Him, despite my fear that the worst would again happen. It was a subtle yet certain comfort to know that not only was she rejoicing with me with the news, but she was also praying.

A new pregnancy is an incredible roller-coaster ride of emotions for the mom–emotions about the past pregnancy, emotions about the new pregnancy, emotions about so many what-could-have-beens, emotions about so many what-might-yet-bes.

Let your friend know that you’re rejoicing with her, but that you haven’t forgotten about the past.

Pray for your friend. Pray for the life of the new little one. Pray for a confidence in God’s sovereignty and goodness, no matter what. Pray for a peace that surpasses all understanding. And pray that the Lord would deem it to be a good gift to grant your friend the gift of holding her baby, alive and healthy.

During this month of remembering pregnancy and infant loss, let us be intentional about reaching out to those moms around us who have lost precious little ones. May we be the hands and feet of God’s love and comfort to them.

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To Rejoice and To Weep

The announcement that they were expecting was adorable. The added twist in saying that they were expecting twins made it even more delightful, for it is not every day that the Facebook algorithm brings up a “We’re expecting twins” announcement! I’m truly happy for the couple who now has two precious little girls in their family!

But along with the joy in my heart came a twinge of sadness, for I couldn’t help but think back to the time when we were also expecting twins. The thrill of finding out we were expecting was only heightened by the discovery that there were two! For close to twelve weeks, I carried our two little treasures, created in God’s image and precious in His sight.

But then mysteriously, there was no more growth; there was no more life. God had taken our twins from us.

Rejoicing with each other

In these bittersweet moments of genuine joy tarnished by aching sadness, Scripture’s words echo in my mind: “Rejoice with them that do rejoice…” (Rom. 12:15). It is amazing how God knows our tendencies to think only of ourselves. It is even more wonderful how He deals with that problem by providing a specific remedy for it: He has commanded us to rejoice with others! As hard as it can sometimes be, rejoicing with each other is a very tangible way of taking our eyes off of ourselves and focusing on the other person. It is so hard, but we must do it: rejoice with those who rejoice.

The struggle to rejoice with others was, oh so hard those first few years after our miscarriage. There were the newborns everyone oooh-ed and ahhh-ed over, the pregnancy announcements, the couple who seemed to be able to have kids without even trying, the couple who didn’t want to get pregnant but did, the baby showers. The tears often flowed freely…mostly at home, once I was finally was away from inquisitive looks. However, sometimes the hot tears came in public, unbidden, revealing my struggle to rejoice with those around me.

Each of these baby-related situations felt like a knife being jabbed deep into my aching heart, for they reminded me that my arms were empty when they should have been full. However, even in the midst of the pain, I also had the opportunity to rejoice with those around me.

As we walk alongside each other as sisters in Christ, we have the opportunity to walk with each other in the joyful times. Many times, this requires us to find genuine joy in each other’s rejoicing, despite our own sorrows that threaten to hold us back.

Weeping with each other

But we all know that life isn’t just about rejoicing–there are both happy times and there are sad times. And so I must mention the second part of Romans 12:15. Many of you probably have already finished it in your mind: “…and weep with them that weep.”

Yes, weep.

Weeping has the idea of the intense shedding of literal, physical tears. In this context, it is done on behalf of another because of the sorrow they are going through.

Walking with each other as sisters in Christ means coming alongside each other not only in the joyful times, but also in the difficult times–those times when nothing in life seems to make human sense, when our hearts cannot help but cry out “Why, Lord?”, when we walk through a valley and we emerge from it forever marked by that time spent in the valley. Sometimes the most significant encouragement and comfort is found in knowing that we’re not alone as we grieve.

And so we are commanded to weep with each other.

Giving the gift 

I’ve been on the receiving end of both of these commands: when we were first expecting our twins, I know there were those who rejoiced with us, despite their own sorrows that I know they had; I also know there were those who came alongside us and wept with us as we walked through the darkest days of our miscarriage.

By God’s grace, I am slowly learning what it means to also be on the giving end of this command: to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.

I am reminded of the passage in Philippians 2 where we are called to think of others before ourselves, being motivated by Christ’s example of selfless and humble love. Rejoicing and weeping with each other often demands such an attitude of sacrificial love, for we tend to think that life revolves around us and what we are going through. If we allow ourselves to get caught up in our own needs, we will fail to see the needs of those around us. But we are called to step out and show love to the other person; we are called to come alongside each other–no matter what life’s circumstance may be–and walk together in it by rejoicing and weeping with each other.

Perhaps God has called you to walk down this road of infant loss or miscarriage. May He enable you to find true joy in how He has blessed others, despite your loss; may He also bring along those who will freely offer the gift of weeping with you.

Or perhaps you’re on the sidelines, watching a family member or friend go through the grief of experiencing an infant loss or miscarriage. Please take intentional steps to come alongside them and to “weep with them that weep.”

God has not called us to rejoice in His blessings all by ourselves; neither has He called us to walk through the deep valleys of life all alone. As sisters in Christ, we have the incredible privilege of extending the gift of coming alongside each other to rejoice and to weep with each other. By His grace, may we learn to do so freely and generously.

This post was originally posted on Angie’s private blog, In the Meantime.

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Wrong Theology Leads to Wrong Thinking

I balanced my feverish, crying 10-month old on my hip and tried to block out the noise of my 2- and 3-year-old children who were clamoring for my attention. It had a been a long week with six days of a high fever and no clue as to how much longer this would last. 
I was stretched thin. I was worn out. 
I was going to lose it. 
As my emotions started to kick in, I knew I needed help beyond my control.  “God, please help me!” I prayed. 
I wanted out. I wanted this fever to go away. I was so tired of caring for little people.

Focusing on my circumstances was not going to be a good solution. 
I knew that. 
Especially since I had just read an article earlier about how to focus on scripture when I felt weak or overwhelmed. So, ever so dutifully, I ignored the persistent questioning of my preschoolers  and spoke above the cries of my infant while firmly quoting Psalm 23 out loud and marching around the house with the fervor of a saint. I felt my soul quiet momentarily but then as I heard the crying and needs continue on around me (despite my prayers and use of scripture) the overwhelming exhaustion and emotions took control. 

Suddenly I was angry with God. I had tried to turn to Him but my soul hadn’t found the rest I was hoping for. Wasn’t He supposed to bring rest? It felt like He hadn’t answered my prayer. It felt like He hadn’t been there to help me. I was confused and, to be honest, I felt abandoned by God. 

Over the next day I kind of avoided God. I didn’t want to spend time with Him or talk about Him. My faith felt weak. How could something so simple shatter my trust in God? 

The answer? Wrong theology. That’s how. And I had a bad case of it. 

Twenty-four hours later, my husband took our still feverish baby for a bit and I sat down with my notebook and Bible. I began to write out my fears, putting them under the label of wrong theology. It looked something like this:  

Wrong Theology:
#1- God wasn’t there. 
#2- God didn’t help to take the struggle away.
#3- God didn’t answer the way I wanted.
#4- God didn’t calm my soul.

Then I started looking up scripture to challenge these thoughts and correct my wrong theology.

Right Theology:
#1-  God was there. I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Heb. 13:5)

#2-  God never promises to take the struggle away. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Cor. 12:8-10)
#3- God doesn’t have to do things my way. His thoughts and plans are bigger than mine. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Is. 55:9)
#4- It’s MY job to quiet my soul by continuously speaking truth to it. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. (Ps. 43:5)

My wrong theology had told me that if I went to God and desperately demanded for Him to quiet my soul, while also quoting random scripture, He would do so! I believed that if I did the magic formula the struggle would dissolve; He would either change my circumstances instantly or immediately change my emotions. Taking the time to dig into scripture finally helped me to see that seeking to trust in God doesn’t always mean that my soul and emotions will automatically be on board.  I had wanted to be a super-christian, but God wanted me to keep on coming to Him. 

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has said “Anything that makes me need God is a blessing. We want to be confident, strong and capable. God wants us to be needing and dependent.” 

 And so, I must continue to take my troubled soul to God and His Word even when the road doesn’t get easier and His ways don’t seem to make sense. Will I trust Him when the storm continues to rage or will I, like Peter, be told “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:31).

 

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Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles that can Radically Change Your Family (A Book Review)


No matter the age of our children, it seems like there is always some new parenting challenge present. Currently, my husband and I are quickly wading into the deep trenches of the terrible-twos with our daughter: she laughs as we try to correct her wrong behavior and stubbornly persists in doing exactly what we told her not to do, over and over again. How do we deal with such behavior?

In these moments, it is easy to resort to quick and easy fix-it solutions that achieve the desired behavior. However, many times these solutions do not reflect what God has prescribed as the way we are to raise our children. For this reason, I am thankful for godly authors who take the time to study God’s Word and then help point us towards a better understanding of what it means to teach our children in the ways of the Lord.

One such book is Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family, by Paul David Tripp. Unlike many parenting books, you won’t find 1-2-3 step strategies and tips for solving specific parenting dilemmas. Instead, Tripp focuses on the message of the gospel and how it transforms the heart of the parent and of the child, providing strength and freedom to accomplish this ever-daunting responsibility called Parenting.

With that said, what did I take away for myself from this book?

1. I am a sinner, just like my child
In almost every chapter, Tripp makes the statement “I am more like my children than unlike them.”

In other words, our children aren’t the only ones who struggle with authority, bad attitudes, angry responses, and just plain old sin. We, the parents, also struggle with sinful attitudes and actions on a daily basis that we need confess and repent of. Recognizing that we are in need of God’s grace and forgiveness because of our own sin puts us in the position to walk in love and humility towards our children on a daily basis.

2. I am simply a tool
No matter what parenting technique or method I may try, God did not give me the innate ability to bring about lasting change in the life of my child.

The only way change can happen is if the heart is changed, and only the gospel can do that. I am simply the God-appointed tool in my child’s life to point him towards the transforming message of the cross. I cannot expect household rules, boundaries, and guidelines to accomplish what only the gospel can accomplish.

3. The Gospel plays out in the little things
When a child is caught doing wrong, it is all too easy to view this as a moment for frustration, irritation, or an “inconvenience that needs to be dealt with so I can get back to what I was doing.”

However, Tripp encourages parents to consider such moments not as inconveniences but as manifestations of God’s grace in our child’s life: it is an opportunity for us, the parent, to once again point the child towards the gospel and their need for God’s grace. These frequent and often-overlooked moments in our day are the little moments that contribute towards the big picture of pointing our child to Christ.

Parents, this is an outstanding book. Does it specifically address every problem we might face as parents? No. However, because Scripture is its basis, it points us to God’s revelation concerning His design and purpose for the family. For this reason, I believe all parents who desire to raise their children to honor and glorify God will find this book to be an incredibly helpful and gospel-centered resource.

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5 Games you can modify to play with your young child

Our oldest daughter (age 3) loves games! And of course, she wants to play mommy and daddy’s games, not just ones designed for her age level. My initial response was to say “no”, but as we opened the box and began to look at the pieces ideas come to mind of how we could adapt the rules to make a fun and  educational game for us to do together.

The perk about playing with a toddler is you really don’t have to keep score, just praise them when they get the concept or make a good move and they will beam!

1. Uno

Uno is a perfect game to start with for your toddler! Start with 3 cards each and play as you normally would. This game is perfect for encouraging them to remember their numbers and colors! If your kiddo is still learning his numbers/colors, place the cards face-up and help them choose the right card to play.

2. Dutch Blitz

Dutch Blitz is another great one for working with your toddler on colors and numbers 1-10! Divide the cards in half (or how many players you may have), make stacks of each number or stacks of 1-10 until the stacks are gone. Eventually you can start to play this game according to the original rules!

3.   Memory (use any card set)

Using any card set, place cards upside-down, take turns flipping the cards over to find a match (color, number or pattern). Whoever gets the most sets wins!

4.  Dice Games

Using as many dice as you want, roll at the same time as your toddler, have your toddler count to see who rolled the highest number.

5.       Code Names (Pictures)

This is probably one of our favorites! Lay out Code Name picture cards as you normally would, start with you saying a word that describes one of the cards, see if your toddler can figure out what one you have in mind. Once your kiddo grasps the concept, take turns describing a card with one word. It’s fun to see what aspect of the picture your toddler sees and describes!

 

I hope these ideas inspire you to adapt the games you have around your house to play with your toddler! Games are a fantastic way to incorporate learning activities into the day. Games also provide an opportunity for you to spend quality time with your kiddo!

 

~ Rachel 

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