Resources for Pregnancy/Infant Loss {& a giveaway}

If you clicked on this post because you have or are currently suffering pregnancy or infant loss, first, let me say that I am so, so sorry for the loss(es) you have faced. I can’t even begin to relate to the depths of suffering that some of you reading this have been through, but I hope to (by God’s grace) offer some resources and encouragement that have helped in my own journey of grief.
My place in this community no one wants to find themselves in was earned this April, when my husband and I walked through a miscarriage of our first child. Since then, I have not written much because I’ve been trying to sort through all the questions (and there have been many) with the Lord before sharing them publicly. I have come to realize that some questions will never be answered fully, but I can rest on the promises of God that will never fail.
The resources I’ve gathered here for you are organized by category, not necessarily by which ones I liked the best. Also, keep in mind that some are particularly for grieving mothers, but others are for times of suffering in general. Don’t forget to scroll all the way down for a chance to win one of two gifts to help in your own grief journey.

Books

  • I Will Carry You by Angie Smith:
    • Angie and Todd Smith were parents to a little girl named Audrey, who died shortly after birth. Not only is the story captivating, but Angie Smith is a wonderful writer. I can’t say in words how much this book meant to me.
  • Empty Arms by Pam Vredevelt:
    • Compared to I Will Carry You, this book is focused more on what happens to a woman physically, spiritually, and emotionally after a miscarriage or stillbirth. I found it to be a good practical resource, written from the perspective of a counselor who suffered a miscarriage herself.
  • Fear and Faith by Trillia Newbell:
    • My sweet husband bought this book for me and gave it to me on Mother’s Day weekend, which was just two weeks after the miscarriage. For that reason, it’s extra special to me. The title explains the theme of the book, which is how fear and faith interact and how we can grow in trusting the Lord in spite of our fears. Trillia Newbell has experienced four miscarriages of her own, so her perspective is unique for being able to relate to women walking through those kind of fears.
  • Inheritance of Tears by Jessalyn Hutto:
    • I have to admit that I have not read this one, but I’d like to. I saw an endorsement that The Gospel Coalition gave on this book via twitter.

Videos

  • Of Thorns and Roses:
    • The beautiful story of Willa Rose Brawner, who died at 34 weeks in the womb. This one was particularly hard for me to watch because losing Willa is not all that BJ and SK have had to suffer. BUT their true joy in the Lord and their love for each other radiates through the sadness.
  • I Will Carry You
    • The “cliffnotes” version of the book.

Music

  • Trust in You by Lauren Daigle:
    • I had this song on repeat so many days following the loss of our baby. It reminded me that God is still trustworthy, even when he doesn’t “move the mountains.” I actually recommend her whole CD, as many songs on it helped me focus on His goodness during trials.
  • Though You Slay Me by Shane and Shane:
    • To this day I can’t listen to this song without crying. It meant a lot to me before this latest season of grief, but this year it’s brought fresh meaning. It reminds me that my pain is not without purpose in the Redeemer’s Hands.

Scripture (obviously this is a very brief snapshot of all I could list, but all of Scripture is THE best resource for a hurting heart):

  • Psalm 16 “I have no good apart from you.”
  • 1 Corinthians 4:16-18 “…an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…”
  • 2 Samuel 12:15-23 “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”
  • Revelation 21:4-5 “Behold, I am making all things new.”

Blogs and Articles

Products

  • Laurelbox:
    • I have not personally used their services, but I’m sure I will in the future for other hurting friends. Everything on the site is tailored to uplift hurting hearts. They are a little on the pricey side, but the gifts are stunning.

Now, for the giveaway. I have one copy of I Will Carry You and Empty Arms to send two readers, in that order. To enter, simply comment below and let me know 1) why one of these books would be a blessing to you OR 2) who you will give the book to if you are chosen. Winners will be chosen randomly by picking a name out of a hat (very technical, I know) on Saturday, September 19th. Entries will be accepted through midnight on September 18th. My intent is to offer a bit of hope and help through these books. I am praying for you!

I will carry you

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Big Picture World

Up on the mountain, it’s Big Picture world
Where everything makes sense
And all the pieces fit.

Down on the ground, it’s small picture world
Nothing fits
I’m holding puzzle pieces in my hand.

But this big God who is the Painter of Big Picture world
Is also the One
Who holds the pieces of the life of little me.

So in small picture world where I must live,
I’ll trust the Painter
Until one day He takes me to His mountain.

There it will all come together and I’ll stand in awe,
That He painted
Little me into the Big Picture of His glory.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” -Psalm 8:3-4

Something Worth Celebrating

This is a story with a happy ending, but it’s not the one I wanted… 

I wish that I was writing this post, complete with a cutesy baby reveal photo, to tell the world that Phil and I were going to have a baby. 
A few weeks ago, that cutesy pregnancy announcement was the plan for today. The day before Mother’s Day would have marked 12 weeks of pregnancy, when the risk of miscarriage drops significantly. 
Unfortunately, that is not what this post is about. Sparing all the gory details, we went in the day before I should have been 10 weeks, on April 24th, and the doctors could not find a heartbeat. The baby measured at only 9 weeks. We had already been twice when everything with the baby seemed perfect (that little heart was beating 180 beats per minute just a week and a half before!). Here is a picture of him (I had a “hunch” it was a boy) at 7 1/2 weeks.

Two and a half weeks after this picture was taken, we cried in the ultrasound room as the doctor confirmed that there was no heartbeat.

I don’t ultimately want to write a sad post the day before we celebrate mothers, as they should be celebrated. But I want to take a moment to celebrate this gift we were given, and to allow our friends and family to join us on the path we are walking at the moment. Because starting on March 12th, when we got our first very faint positive pregnancy test, we celebrated life. One of my regrets is that we were so busy that we didn’t get to celebrate with as many people as we would have liked to. 
When the little person growing inside me was the size of a poppy seed, we prayed for him or her. We asked for God to protect this child and to allow us to hold him or her. We prayed for him or her to know God’s love as we do. And we thanked Him for the gift of allowing us to be parents. 
On this side of things, it’s hard to see how in the world our prayers mattered. Did God hear? Did He care? These are some of the honest questions that have run through my mind over these past two weeks. I still have many questions, and not many answers. But deep down, I know He is who He says He is. 
And if He is who He says He is, there is hope. There is hope for today, hope for tomorrow, and hope for eternity because of Jesus. And if there is hope for eternity, I do believe that I will get to see this baby of ours again. Jeremiah 1:5 promises that God knows us before we are even formed in the womb. So I have to believe that He loves this baby far more than Phil or I ever could have. Right now, in the middle of the struggle, that is a hard truth. I’d rather be posting that cutesy photo than writing this… But, there is hope. There will be a happy ending, on that great day when all things will be made new. 

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” -Revelation 21:1-5

Lizzy & Jane {review}

I have a confession to make. I’ve never actually finished a Jane Austen novel. (I cringe because I can hear the collective gasp of those who read this…) It’s terrible, I know! I’m working on it. I picked up a copy of Pride and Prejudice this weekend and it’s on my list for the year. 
The good news is, I didn’t have to have read a single Austen book to thoroughly enjoy this gem. The main characters are, as the title suggests, sisters Lizzy and Jane. Lizzy, the younger, is the head chef of Feast, a successful restaurant in New York. Jane, the older of the two, is battling the same form of cancer that their mom died of years earlier. When the novel begins, they are not exactly the best of friends. Lizzy only goes to visit Jane to get inspiration for her cooking, which appears to be lacking. 
While there is a lot of messy history to wade through, Lizzy and Jane timidly find middle ground during Lizzy’s visit. As a whole, the novel celebrates the strength of family ties that hold us together in the midst of life’s hardest struggles. 
I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. I felt that the pace was reflective of real life and real relationships. My favorite aspect of the book was the depth of the characters. Katherine Reay brought each character to life in a way that made me feel like I could really know them. 
One thing worth mentioning about this book is that it is not overtly a “Christian” novel as one might expect from Thomas Nelson publishers. It inspires faith quietly through the faith of Lizzy and Jane’s mother. I don’t see this as a negative necessarily, but would love to see more of how their mother’s faith influences them after this story ends. Perhaps the story might continue through a sequel? Either way, I look forward to reading more from this author in the future. 
Highly recommend for those who enjoy “drama” or inspirational fiction. *I received a free copy of this book in ebook form through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.*

Bookends

One of my hobbies (besides reading, of course) is thrifting. I enjoy yard sales, antique shops, goodwills, and anything else along those lines. It is so FUN to find something great at a cheap price! I have no shame, either–haha! It’s like a game to me to be frugal with my purchases of clothes, shoes, purses, and yes, books.

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I walked into a small, local antique shop after dinner out. While browsing noncommittally, I found a pair of globe bookends that I immediately fell in love with. The only problem was, they didn’t have a price on them! We were nervous to ask about the price because I wasn’t sure we were ready to spend much on them. But, to my surprise and delight, they were only $9! So now they have a place in our home where we can enjoy them. 

Notice that they are not actually on a shelf, as that would mean I don’t have enough books to fill all of my shelves! 😉 But, book lover that I am, books even become home decor with a little help from this beautiful work of art.
Is anyone reading this a fellow thrifter? What are some cool book lover odds and ends that you have found? 

Connected {Review}

Let me just tell you, I am so excited to write about this book I finished today. I highly recommend it (sorry, getting ahead of myself already). 
If you know me, you may or may not guess that I’m an introvert. That doesn’t meant that I don’t LOVE people (I do!) or that I’m a recluse. It simply means that I enjoy and “recharge” by time alone, usually with a book or a journal, or both. Lately I have been trying to find the balance between doing what God has called me to do and having time to rest. I don’t want to be exhausted from busyness, nor do I want to be lazy. What to do? 
My biggest takeaway from this book was in the beginning, when Erin talked about how being loved is different than being known. Our culture values love, but it struggles with understanding that true love begins with really knowing a person beyond the mask(s) he or she might wear. God can see through every mask we might try to put on. He knows our fears, failures, and sadness, and yet He still loves us. 
Last week I wrote a review on a book about fasting. That review was part of a bigger picture of what God has been doing in my life recently. Over the past several weeks, my constant prayer has been, “God, I want to KNOW you. Like, really know you. I want to know your presence so deeply that I miss you when I’m not close to you. I don’t just want to know about you; I want to know you, God.” So when this book began with talking about “knowing and being known,” a light bulb turned on in my head. 
God is not hiding from me. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Jeremiah 29:11-14, which says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord…” So, this need to connect, to know and be known, starts with God. He loves me in spite of knowing everything about me–what greater gift is there? 
The knowledge that God invites us to know and be known by Him is the springboard for every other relationship. Because we are fully known and fully loved by our Creator, we need not fear reaching out to know and be known by others. Will it be messy? Yes. Will it be inconvenient? Sometimes, yes. But we need each other. 
Erin Davis does a fantastic job of talking about the hurdles to connecting, to our need for connection, to the practical aspects of connecting with others. I realized while reading this book that true connection with other people is not something to pursue instead of rest. Rather, it is part of resting because I can be real with someone without fear and without performance. I have been greatly encouraged to seek deeper connections within my circles, and I can’t wait to see what God brings forth as He stretches me in this area. 
I’m not sure I did the book justice in this review, but trust me. It’s worth reading! I have already recommended it to a friend who I plan on meeting with to discuss it once she is finished. If anyone else reads it, I would love to hear your thoughts! 
*I received a free copy of the book in ebook form through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.*

A Woman’s Guide to Fasting {review}

Growing up in the Southern Baptist Church, I can’t remember hearing much teaching on fasting. (To be fair, it could be that I wasn’t paying close enough attention!) The first time I was really introduced to it was in my freshman year of college. I didn’t even hear the “prompt” in a sermon; I heard it secondhand from a friend. The main idea was that you give up one meal a day for a certain period of time, or give up one day of eating altogether for the next three weeks. I went with the three week option. Unfortunately, I had no idea what the true heart of fasting was. 
So for one day out of the next three weeks, I drank water but did not eat for 24 hours. Looking back, I cannot remember growing spiritually at all from that experience. How sad! 
A friend recently recommended this book to me and I’m so glad I read it (p.s. As of now, you can still get it off of Amazon for only .99)! Nelson explains what fasting is not, and what it is. She lays out some of the challenges and how to “successfully” complete a fast. The main idea that she emphasizes over and over again is that God is not pleased with a ritual of not eating. If we fast, thinking that we are somehow earning his favor, all the while doing our own thing, we have completely missed the point (see Zechariah 7-8)! The gospel says that we are forgiven and adopted as one of God’s children SOLELY based on the blood of Jesus, who lived a perfect lived that we should have lived and died the death that we deserve. If anything other than Jesus makes us think that we are somehow pleasing God, we are far from Him. 
“Merely ‘not eating’ is dieting, or worse, starvation–it is not fasting…Fasting is giving up something perfectly good and acceptable because you want God more. It is a spiritual discipline with a physical act.” 
This book is a great resource for women wanting to explore the discipline of fasting and integrate it into their lives. The author combines spiritual truths with practical advice and celebrates fasting as another discipline of the faith. Just as we walk with God through prayer, Bible study, and worship, we can walk with him in fasting (as he calls us), knowing that it is by grace we have been saved. Praise the Lord!