Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Walking With You: Thankful

Walking With You is an outreach of Sufficient Grace Ministries, led by Kelly Gerken. Walking With You is a group of mothers who have lost a baby or child who gather together each month to share our stories, to encourage, and pray for one another as we walk this path together. Our hope is that you will be comforted when you join us here...and maybe that we can offer some grace for the journey as we look to the Lord for comfort and strength.

Kelly writes: "This month we are focusing on our gratefulness for the gifts we were given and the ways our lives were changed by the lives of our babies. I know that many people are busy, so this can be as simple or in-depth as you wish. I hope you will link your own post with us, sharing ways that you are thankful. I do think that reflecting on gratefulness is very valuable...especially in the throes of grief. Grief is big and consuming. The simplicity of counting our blessings refocuses a grieving heart from the giants of pain, sorrow, and hopelessness to the hope, comfort, peace, and eventually joy that waits for us on the other side of the valley. The comfort that waits for us in the arms of our Savior."

I am going to re-post something I wrote back in July, documenting all the ways I saw the hand of God in our journey. It has been a blessing for me just to go back and read what was on my heart at that time, and remember God's grace all over again. Tomorrow, while I am sad not to be bringing Eliana with me to meet all our relatives at Thanksgiving, I am so thankful for the short time we had together, for the beauty she brought to my life, and for the promise of our reunion one day in heaven. I am also immeasurably grateful for my husband, two wild little boys, and Eliana's little brother or sister growing safely inside, precious gifts from our Loving Father.

Here is my previous post:

Throughout our difficult journey, the hand of God has been evident in so many ways. In the midst of our sadness, He has truly given us reasons to be thankful and rejoice. He has been our light in the darkness, and I want to display that light for the world.

and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 61:3

Here are some of the many examples of God's goodness and grace:

1. Even though we didn’t get to keep Eliana, He answered my prayer, and our desires by giving us a baby girl.

2. Even though she wasn’t with us long, He allowed her life to continue long enough for us to find out we had a daughter and fall in love with her.

3. They almost had me wait until 21 weeks to have my ultrasound, but instead they did it early, at 17 weeks and I am so grateful to have known her more fully for a longer period of time.

4. We brought our kids with us to every prenatal appointment, but on the day we found out the bad news, a friend had agreed to keep them for me because it was a longer appointment with the glucose screen. I am so thankful that my children heard about it from us, instead of the technician, and didn’t have to experience the initial shock or my reaction to the news. It was definitely so much better that way.

5. I had the most amazing angel nurses at the hospital, and especially my day nurse who took lots of pictures and talked me through every step of the way.

6. Even though I wanted the induction process to go quickly and get it over with, God knew that I needed more time to process before giving birth. It was 21 hours from when we arrived at the hospital until she was born, and I was in a much better place emotionally when she arrived than I would have been earlier on. I am eternally thankful that I was able to experience my time with her in the best way possible.

7. They talked with me a lot about the possibility of the placenta not coming out and needing to have an immediate D&C after the birth. We prayed about this, and it came out without any complication. That was very important to me, because the last thing I wanted was to have to be under anesthesia during the precious fleeting time we had with her right after the delivery.

8. We were hoping to have some indication of what went wrong for peace of mind’s sake, and when she was born, it was very clear that the cord was both wrapped and knotted. The doctors say it is still not conclusive, but we feel assured that it is likely the cause of death. Of course it doesn’t make losing her any easier, but we do feel blessed to have an idea of what happened.

9. I am thankful God allowed me to live in this time period, with the current knowledge about the best ways to handle infant loss. I know in the past mothers weren’t encouraged to hold their babies or hold memorial services. There are so many things I have been encouraged to do to honor Eliana’s memory, and I know the healing process would be so much more difficult if I had to face it in isolation.

10. I am so thankful beyond words for a special friend who visited me in the hospital, brought me flowers, and lots of food after we came home. She is the one who was taking care of our kids the day we went into the hospital. The coolest thing of all is that she told us after taking her children home from our house, her oldest son was asking a lot of questions about what happened to our baby, and over the course of the conversation He made a decision to receive Christ! She shared this with us in the hospital before Eliana was even born, and it was so amazing because I had just been telling my husband and mom that what I wanted most of all was for Eliana’s life to have an impact on this world to reach people with the gospel! Our first little convert was that very day. Praise the Lord!

11. I feel that left to myself, I can’t even imagine the state I would have been in during our time at the hospital and immediately following. Before this experience, I had sometimes imagined what it might be like to lose a child, and I felt it might be the one thing that I could not endure. I always hoped I would never know that pain, but when it came time for me to face it, I was not alone. I have said this before, but it was a truly supernatural experience the way God carried us through the early days. I think our hospital room was filled with a myriad of angels, and a blanket of peace was wrapped tightly around us. Our hearts were broken, but we were not without hope and comfort. I am so thankful to have experienced God on such a deep and personal level, and to discover the true meaning of so many of His promises.

12. God showed His love for us on our first Sunday back at church. Instead of having a regular service, a band called Ineloquent played, and their whole concert seemed to relate directly to our situation. It was as if they were there just for us, which I know is not a coincidence.

13. We wanted Eliana's funeral to glorify and magnify God, and the Holy Spirit was very present with us that day. We had our current pastor and the pastor from my home church speak, and it flowed together so beautifully, finishing with my 3-year-old niece spontaneously singing amazing grace from behind the curtain in the nursery. I was so blessed by the service and I know many others were touched as well.

14. I know God had a hand in the timing of all of this. It all happened just after the semester ended for my sister who teaches college. She was able to come for the funeral, and stay with me for a week afterwards helping during a time when I could not have handled it on my own. I am so grateful that she was able to do that for me and I know it was part of God's plan.

15. Soon after we got back from the hospital, I picked up my Bible and began reading Psalms. I was convinced this was the assigned reading for my Bible study group, though I later found out it was actually Proverbs. I know God specifically led me there because He wanted speak those Psalms directly into my heart.

16. Two little boys and a house full of toys. The day we came home, my in-laws offered to keep our boys, but we both wanted to bring them home. It was the most amazing comfort to hug them tightly, hear them laughing, and watch them play. Tucking them in that night was emotional, but so beautiful. The love we have for them has been deepened by our loss, and we are so grateful for the way they fill our hearts and our days with this love. In many ways they have been my lifeline, the reason to get up in the morning and face each day.

17. We have been so touched, beyond words by the outpouring of love we’ve received from so many friends and loved ones. My sisters gave me two special gifts: an angel holding a baby, and a “reunion ring” designed as a heart with a tear-drop shaped hole in it that will only be filled on our reunion day. My mom also gave me some special gifts, and we received meals, gifts, cards, phone calls, visits, and hugs from so many people it is too much to list. God has blessed me greatly through my mom's group at church, our church family as a whole, and other friends and family.

18. I am so thankful for my husband and the wonderful gift He is from the Lord. These types of trials are never easy on a marriage, but He has been such a source of strength and encouragement. He has been so willing to pick up the slack with the kids and other responsibilities. He is patient with me in my grief, and loving to me through my sadness. I'm so blessed to experience all of our weeping and rejoicing together as one.

I know I will think of more things after posting this list, but I am just in awe of God’s grace to us in our trials, and all the evidence that He is still in control, working all things together for our good in the tapestry of our lives. I once heard that like in a tapestry, all we can see of our lives is the back side, with all the loose threads and changing colors that don’t seem to make sense. God can see the front side of the tapestry, where all the things that appear to be a mess are woven together into a bigger picture that is perfect and beautiful. Someday when this life is over, we will see it as He sees it, and understand the full purpose He has for our lives. I don’t know what my tapestry will look like, but I trust that God's work is always perfect!

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:12


  1. Beautiful post, Jess. I was drawn to the Psalms right after Jenna died too. God showed me so much I had never seen before. Thank you for counting your blessings and the things you are thankful for. Lots of love and hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


  2. Jess,
    This is so beautiful. I am opening the MckLinky back up to link this post. My eyes are filled with tears as I read your words of gratefulness for the life of your beautiful Eliana and the God who carries you. Also, your gratefulness for the family who walks this path with you...and the dear friends who also walk with you, in love and compassion. Your words have touched and filled my own heart this Thanksgiving morning. Thank you...

    May God continue to comfort and carry all of you with His love and grace...

    A Blessed Thanksgiving to you,

  3. Glad you reposted this. I really like you list. It is truly wonderful and it was so nice to read. That verse in Corithians is one I like. To me, it definitely helps to know that one day we will know things fully.

  4. Jess, I just wanted to thank you so much for the beautiful ornament you made in honor of Noah. I got it the day after we had put up our tree, so it was so nice to have the ornament to hang on it. It's so beautiful and a great reminder that my sweet boy is safe in the arms of Jesus. THANK YOU!!!!

  5. I enjoyed reading your list and I'm thinking that maybe this is something that my hubby and I should sit down and do to focus on the blessings from the day and days after Lily died.

  6. I can't get that e-mail address to work that you left on my blog so that I can send you my address for Lily's ornament :) Can you send me an e-mail at

    Thank you and that was so sweet of you!