I got up at 6:30 so I could have me time before the chaos of the morning.
Thunderstorm, coffee, and devotions. I was so ready.
But the thunderstorm meant the dogs were scared to go outside so I had to go with them. A little redhead rose early because she was worried about a toy that had been temporarily confiscated the previous night as it was inhibiting her ability to listen. The husband humbly asked for help getting some dry cleaning ready.
6:30 turned into 7:15 pretty quickly. I think most moms have this experience all too often. But then everything settled. Not for long. But long enough for me to read a one page devotion, sip some coffee, and pray.
I know I have been able to rationalize not taking that five minutes.
“It’s five minutes. What can I do in five minutes? Is a five minute appointment with God really going to do anything for me?”
In countless moments, God has changed the world in an instant.
When He spoke it into existence.
When the seas parted.
When Jesus took his last breath.
When the curtain tore.
We as feeble humans often try to place God’s capabilities into the border of our human experience, and in our budget, five minutes is hardly anything.
But for God? The God who is above time because He Himself created time?
That same God will show up for those five minutes.
Ready for you. Listening to you. Loving you.
You can try to cheapen time all you want but you can’t cheapen the only One whose existence depends on it for nothing.
He loves you.
He is ready for time with you, however much you’ll give.
Because that time serves a Master and He will command it as He sees fit.
He will maximize it as He sees effective. He will work it for His good. And for the good of those who love Him.
Give Him five minutes, five minutes that bow to Him, that tremble at His voice, that will cease existing the moment He comes again.
This will be my third Mother’s Day since losing my daughter.
My third Mother’s Day since a piece of me went to heaven, where it will stay until I go myself and get it back.
My third Mother’s Day I am both dreading and looking forward to at the same time.
I am often asked how to best support grieving parents. These are some of the conversations for which I’m most grateful because they show the desire people have to care for some of the most emotionally vulnerable people in the world–grieving moms and dads.
Holidays and important dates are particularly difficult. You want to show support, but you don’t want to intrude. You want to offer help but not offend. You want to say something but not the wrong thing. You think maybe silence is better than the risk of insensitivity.
It’s understandable. We do not live in a society which handles grief well and a lot of it is our own fault. We don’t talk about grief enough. We don’t educate ourselves. We don’t even provide the education to talk about grief in the first place.
But I want to change that. The moment Sylvia stopped breathing in my arms, I became a grieving mother and my eyes have been forced open to a world which is isolating and not well understood. So part of my mission now is to start these conversations and give the education.
And Mother’s Day presents an excellent opportunity for that. It is a day that provokes a lot of feelings and feels so tender, both for grieving moms and those who love them. I wanted to share some tangible ways to show support for grieving mamas on this special/difficult/wonderful/horrible day:
1. Speak the name of her child.
So many people are scared to bring up the name of a passed child around the mom. I get it. Yes, she will probably cry. But those tears you see are not unique to her experience with you. She will cry those tears eventually, and she usually cries them alone, behind closed doors. But when someone speaks the name of her child, it gives her much needed permission to grieve her child out loud, with company, and she needs to do that from time to time. She is lonely. My goodness, she is so lonely. Her mind and her heart say the name of her child all of the time. Remind her you remember; you remember her child and you remember her.
2. Don’t leave her passed child out of the gift-giving.
If you are participating in gift-giving for a grieving mom, this is a perfect opportunity to acknowledge the life of her passed child and celebrate her motherhood. A small gift to represent the one she misses most is a beautiful idea. Some of my favorite gifts I’ve received to represent Sylvia have been purple (her special color💜) wooden flowers, a lilac tree, a garden angel, a necklace engraved with her name, donations to Congenital Heart Disease causes, a purple cross bookmark for my Bible, a handmade memory box, and countless cards filled with kind and supportive words, just to name a few. The monetary value means nothing; acknowledging her child means everything. If you are purchasing gifts on behalf of living children, also sign the name of the one(s) who passed. The day is about celebrating her as a mom, and she will always be the mom of that child, even if time and space separate them for now.
3. Understand time is irrelevant.
Time is a grieving mother’s worst enemy. The day her child breathed for the last time, her world stopped, shifted, and changed. Irrevocably. If she’s blessed, she is surrounded by people who also loved and loss her child, people who will always mourn with her. As time goes on, those people will continue to miss the child, will still feel the sting of absence, but they will also be able to heal. Their worlds, which also changed that day, will slowly start to shift back to their original state. But a mother’s heart mourns differently. Her world’s shift is permanent. Therefore, the amount of time that has passed is irrelevant. The amount of days between her present state and the last time she saw her child will not and can not make the pain go away. The unnatural, unexpected, and traumatic experience of burying a child means her grief process will probably look completely different from the others you’ve witnessed. While everyone handles grief differently and there are always exceptions, most moms who have lost a child will tell you that even though they learn how to better live with the pain, it doesn’t go away. It doesn’t get better. The hole doesn’t close. Time does not heal all wounds. Therefore, holidays do not get easier. Please understand that if you mourn her child with her, you may very well find that time makes it less painful for you. That’s okay. As moms, we don’t expect you to suffer exactly as we do; we know you can’t. We just need you to understand that we still ache, still hurt, still suffer just as much as the day we said goodbye.
4. Respect how she wants to spend the day.
Because of the pain this day can bring, it is a good idea to adjust your expectations regarding details like traditions, “fair” time spent between different sides of the family, and even the attendance of a grieving mom altogether. As beautiful as family customs and wanting to spend time together might be, a mom who is grieving is thinking more about how she is going to survive a day like this than she is enjoying it. Knowing she is not expected to please anyone for the sake of tradition or meeting a time standard will alleviate extra stress. If you’re willing to ask her how she’d like to spend the day and accommodate accordingly, that’s great. Maybe she wants to go to brunch. Maybe she wants to go throw axes. Maybe she wants to wear pajamas and watch Netflix. It might not be conventional, but time spent with her will be meaningful. It can also be as simple as telling her your plans, inviting her, making it clear she is wanted, loved, and welcomed, but that it is completely understandable if she’d like to spend the day in her own way. Just avoid putting her in a position which makes her feel like she’s “doing it wrong.” There is no such thing.
5. Ask her significant other how you’d be most helpful.
Chances are Mother’s Day is a difficult time for significant others as well. They desire to make the day both lovely and respectful for the one they love. However, they are most often grieving themselves. The emotional energy it takes to plan a day like this can be stressful. Asking them how you can help will not only give you valuable insight into the heart of the mamas, but it will also give you a chance to check in on their partners and give them a sense of much-needed support. Even if they don’t have something for you to do, the effort will mean a great deal.
6. If she does not have a living child…
Celebrate her. Get her that gift. Write her that card. Send her that text. She IS a mom. Mother’s Day is her day. She deserves to be, she needs to be, reminded of that. And that reminder is a gift. Don’t miss the opportunity to give her something so significant on a day she is constantly reminded of what has been taken away.
7. If she has living children…
She knows. Trust me. She is fully aware and wholly grateful for her living children. In fact, those very humans are what gives this woman the will to get out of bed most mornings. There have been many occasions, including Mother’s Day, I’ve been told different variations of “focus on the kids who are here” and “at least you have two other kids.” As best intentioned as those directives might be, they are devastating to a grieving parent. What we hear instead of your best intentions are accusations we aren’t thankful for and attentive to our kids. We hear you urging us to repress our pain. Moms in general are predisposed to guilt. We feel such a responsibility to make our children feel loved, adored, and seen. Every day I struggle to give the best of myself to my living children while actively grieving the one I lost. Comments like those above only add to our guilt.
8. Visit her child’s memorial.
If there is a public memorial dedicated to her child, whether it is a place ashes were spread or a cemetery, go visit the spot. If this is something that has been on your heart to do, don’t wait for an invitation. It is not easy to ask someone to do something so uncomfortable, so painful. My faith means I believe my Sylvia is in heaven and I will see her again and most people in my circle have the same belief. Regardless of that belief, and knowing in my heart she really isn’t there, visits to her spot are important to me. It is one of the only tangible things I have left. With that said, visiting her spot wrecks me every single time. Two and a half years later, I still have the same exact response both emotionally and physically every time I go. It takes a lot out of me and days of recovery, so my visits are far apart. When I know someone is going to visit to check that everything is okay, to lay flowers, to bring a pumpkin at Halloween or a wreath at Christmas, it is such a statement of love and support for both Sylvia and for myself. I have asked anyone who goes to tell me, not because they need my permission, but because I need the reminder that even though grieving can feel like such an isolating experience, there are moments I am not alone, and it gets me through to the next reminder.
9. Let her be.
I don’t mean this as “leave her alone” (unless, that is what she asked for, then absolutely leave her alone). I mean just let her be. Be what? Whatever it is she is. Sad, happy, angry, depressed, joyful, excited, in despair. Allow it. Expect it. And expect she will be more than one of those things, most likely conflicting, all in the same day and often at the same time. Again, you don’t have to go and stay exactly where she is, but you can make it less difficult for her to be there. If you can’t go with her, stand next to her. She will notice. She will be thankful.
10. Know you aren’t overlooked.
I know supporting a grieving mom is difficult. We aren’t an easy breed. Offering support can feel precarious. If you are a fellow mom in the life of a grieving mom, please know that we don’t overlook how special this day is for you. We love you. We celebrate you. We pray you never have to experience anything other than a purely joyful and celebratory Mother’s Day. We don’t want our pain to decrease your joy just as you don’t want your joy to increase our pain. We may not be the easiest people to celebrate with, but know that we are acutely aware what a blessing motherhood is, how precious it is, how all-consuming it is, and we, just like you, are thankful for it.
On behalf of grieving mamas everywhere, thank you for seeing us and for loving us. This walk is not easy. We are trying, and we know you are, too. Thank you.
I thought you might benefit from some insider information into the lives of nurses.
I am not a nurse.
I am just a regular person who happened to live in a hospital for a total of four months by my daughter’s side. My little girl’s name is Sylvia. She was born with severe Congenital Heart Disease.
I would love to give you some insight into how the dozens and dozens of nurses whom I met spent their time (in between card games).
The same nurses who sustained her life with countless medications, needed at countless time intervals.
The same nurses who knew her first Christmas would be spent in a hospital crib so they dressed her in a beautiful red dress and hat to surprise me.
The same nurses who had infinite patience for my constant questions.
The same nurses who many days never sat during their 8-12 hour shifts.
The same nurses who forwent their. Lunch breaks to stay by my side.
The same nurses who would drop a minute to exhale in a flash to help a nurse in another room.
The same nurses who looked to me first as the person who knew Sylvia best, always validating my role in her care as the mom.
The same nurses who not only cared for my baby girl, but also kept track of my sleeping and meal schedule, encouraging me to practice self-care so I could best care for my daughter.
The same nurses who cried with me when we were told Sylvia’s major surgery did not go well and she would need to be placed on ECMO.
The same nurses who painted her nails and put bows on her head while she laid in a bed, motionless, on life support.
The same nurses who hoped with me that her native heart function would heal.
The same nurses who mourned with me when we realized that wasn’t going to happen and Sylvia was listed for a heart transplant at seven months old.
The same nurses who waited in palpable anticipation for the call that a heart was available.
The same nurses who gathered around me when I found out Sylvia had a massive stroke. My husband hadn’t arrived from work yet, and they sat with me, across from the doctors, cried with me, and asked all the right questions when the anguish of my heart made it impossible for me to speak.
The same nurses who became my family, because four months of living in a hospital and having only them to talk to will do that.
The same nurses who spoke to my baby girl everyday, who played her music, who read her books, even though all she could do was lay there, eyes shut, for months.
The same nurses who crocheted baby sandals for her tiny little feet.
The same nurses who went up against doctors when they had to because advocating for Sylvia was more important than agreeing with a superior.
The same nurses who always made sure they had a heated blanket ready when the monitors showed she was getting stressed.
The same nurses who helped save her twice when she coded in front of my eyes.
The same nurses who celebrated with me when there was a victory and lamented with me when there was a setback.
The same nurses who would turn my daughter’s body for her because she couldn’t.
The same nurses who would contact each other on their days off to find out how Sylvia was doing.
The same nurses who came in on their day off when word spread Sylvia’s body was too tired and it was time to take her off life support.
The same nurses who watched as our family members, including my two-year-old daughter, kissed Sylvia goodbye.
The same nurses who passed my daughter to me for the last time.
The same nurses who watched as my daughter took her last breath in my arms.
The same nurses who bathed Sylvia’s lifeless body, cleaning wounds of the brutal battle she fought so well.
The same nurses who wrote testimonials of her strength and grit for my pastor to read at her funeral.
The same nurses who carried her casket in the church and cemetery.
The same nurses I still love and speak to two and a half years after Sylvia’s passing. Because we endured hell together.
Because we loved Sylvia together and we miss Sylvia together.
Because I know they wish they could change the crippling despair I have that stops me in my tracks every single day.
Because without them, I would not have been strong enough.
Senator Walsh, we live in a world where assumptions abound. This type of behavior almost always results in the disrespect of someone.
In this case, you’ve disrespected nurses.
And that means you’ve disrespected my family.
Shame on you.
Part of me is glad for you. Comments like these are heavy with naivety and inexperience. It implies you’ve never had to experience the up-close life of a nurse. I am thankful for the good health you and your loved ones have experienced. I challenge you to educate yourself on the experiences of others who haven’t been so blessed.
If that hasn’t been the case, your comment can then only be one of ignorance or manipulation to further your political agenda. As a senator representing so many who have been blessed by nurses and even nurses themselves, you need to get your act together.
I am appreciative you’ve acknowledged being out of line. Although I understand you were talking about a specific subset of nurses, these comments were offensive to men and women everywhere who wear the title “nurse”. In general, this is a profession that deserves way more respect that it is given, and we all could do a better job at that.
After all, I doubt the hands they are dealt on a daily basis are ones most of us could handle.
*This site does not necessarily reflect the views of Faith Lutheran Church in Troy, Michigan.
*This is not a political post. This is a humanity post.
Palm Sunday. Each time I hear it, memories from childhood of waving palm branches in the air through the aisles of church and singing, “Hosanna! Hosanna!” flood through my mind. My innocent little self felt such excitement just loving on Jesus and showing off my greenery.
However, “Hosanna” is not simply a cry of praise and adoration, though it certainly is so. It is also a cry for salvation, a plea for rescue.
The people of Jerusalem greeted Jesus with such celebration, but also with desperation for deliverance. They praised and they pleaded. This day was the perfect picture of what our earthly relationship with Jesus should be: acknowledgment of His sovereignty and confidence in His ability and desire to save us from sorrow.
Until, like the people of Jerusalem, we see Jesus puts the plan in motion to deliver us from our struggle, but He doesn’t take the path we asked Him to take.
Until, like the people of Jerusalem, we see that His ways don’t look like our ways.
Until, like the people of Jerusalem, we see Jesus implement a long-term plan for the good of His Kingdom as opposed to a quick fix for the good of our now.
Then we turn, like the people of Jerusalem.
We mock. We scorn. We rebuke.
We pick up the hammer and drive in the nails.
Oh, we of fickle faith.
We are the just same as our Jewish brothers and sisters. We are quick to ask, but slow to accept. We believe in earnest He can provide reprieve from our turmoil, but hesitate to buy into His course of action if the battle plan does not match our own.
Perhaps the most amazing part of the Palm Sunday story is Jesus’ response to the celebration of His entry. Luke 19:41 tells us that as Jesus entered, surrounded by such triumph and trust, He openly wept.
His tears fell as He looked upon His children knowing the very same voices praising His name would soon be calling for His torture and death.
His tears fell as He looked up in His children knowing the very same souls who were trusting Him that day would reject His sacrifice and forfeit themselves over to The Enemy.
His tears fell as He pictured the eternal torment and pain they would endure all because they rejected the gift of life He would soon present to them after an excruciating execution.
He wept and He weeps.
He weeps, still, each time a child of His Creation rejects that gift.
He weeps when those who love Him endure the pain and suffering in a fallen Earth, desiring nothing more than to bring us Home, but knowing He can accomplish so much soul-saving through the gifts He has given us.
As His children, we can and should cry out, “Hosanna!” We are still in a state of praising and pleading. For Jesus wants to hear what our hearts desire. He yearns for us to bring Him our laments. He grants rescue to those who love Him. Not all of us will experience rescue the way we would like, but a Shepherd never leaves a lamb behind, even if that lamb must wait a little longer in the harsh elements before their deliverance.
But mark His words.
He WILL rescue you.
He WILL exchange His crown of thorns to give you the crown of life.
May we, with the help of the Lord, live everyday shouting, “Hosanna!” Let us praise and plead! For though we struggle here on Earth, our Father is good. He has, does, and will continue to rescue us according to His perfect will until the last day, when the final rescue will silence the suffering of our hearts for eternity.
*Anything posted on this site does not necessarily reflect the beliefs and opinions of Faith Lutheran Church in Troy, Michigan.
Each year as the hustle of the holidays draws closer, I tend to notice women (myself included) draw closer to the lies this world likes to tell us this time of year.
The shopping, the decorating, the cooking, the baking, the hosting, the parties, the EXPECTATIONS.
The world puts so much pressure on us to “do the holidays right.”
We strive and shop and rise early and stay up late to make sure all of the details are sorted and perfect.
We don’t want to disappoint our kids, so we overspend.
We don’t want to disappoint our neighbors so we decorate every inch of the front yard.
We don’t want to disappoint our husbands so we make all three pies.
We don’t want to disappoint our friends so we RSVP yes…to everything.
We don’t want to disappoint our moms, so we put out the creepy naked cherubim China from Grandma.
We don’t want to disappoint our in-laws, so we….nevermind. I’m not going there. 😂
So much time, energy, and thought is put into this time of year. The food, the gifts, the decorations…all fun and festive…all temporary.
The Lord put the story of Mary and Martha on my heart after making a Target trip on Friday. I was already able to see the holiday tension begin to bubble in the one hour I spent there:
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42 (NIV)
Martha. Sweet, sweet Martha. I mean, I get it. The SAVIOR OF THE WORLD WAS THERE FOR DINNER. If that’s me, I’m shining the silver, butchering the cow, and hand-sewing placemats from the fanciest silk worms in all the land. I don’t know how to sew, but for my Jesus, I’d learn.
But every single time I read this story, I am cut to the core of how very intimate and secure Jesus desires our relationship with Him to be.
Put down the silver. He doesn’t care about the silkworms. Simplify the meal. He doesn’t need anything fancy.
He looks at you, His child.
Give me TIME. Give me YOU.
Sisters, as the roar of the hustle and bustle begins to turn up, please don’t miss this. Don’t miss that the most precious and meaningful relationship we are called to foster is the one that requires absolutely nothing of you.
This world wants to take everything from you.
Your Jesus has already given everything to you.
This holiday season, please, enjoy the celebration. Remember that Thanksgiving is not about what we’ve done but what has already been done on our behalf. Remember that Christmas is not what we give but what we’ve been given by our Father.
Enjoy. Celebrate. Gather. (Go to the Gala–it is amazing!)
But remember to also BE STILL.
Come out of the kitchen. Remember everything we need to have a joyful season has already been given to us. Take the time to sit down with Jesus.
And just be with Him. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
A year ago today, I walked into a hospital, knowing that in hours you would be in my arms.
Just eleven months prior, I had walked out of a hospital, without your sister in my arms.
There are so few words to describe how I feel today. But you deserve my very best try.
Those two pink lines three months after your sister went to heaven were certainly a surprise. Of course there were moments your daddy and I talked about the possibility, about when we might be ready enough…brave enough…healed enough.
We prayed about it, spoke to doctors about it, expressed our thoughts to a therapist about it.
People had opinions. They always do.
But we gave it to God, expecting He’d tell us when we were ready.
Because people have opinions, but God has a plan.
The truth is, He was never going to tell us our hearts were ready.
Instead, He told us when He was ready.
And He told us the day I saw those two pink lines.
In that moment, I wondered what God was thinking. What was this plan? Hadn’t I just come to the conclusion I wasn’t ready and asked Him to tell me when I was?
And then September 13th, 2017 arrived.
And everything made sense.
So many people asked during my pregnancy if looking forward to your arrival helped the pain of losing Sylvia.
With loving and curious hearts, they wondered if the promise of you was beginning to heal the loss of her.
I understand why they asked.
But if I’m honest?
The answer is no.
Being pregnant with you did not lessen the ache of being without her.
Feeling your kicks did not negate the sting of remembering when her little feet were in my belly.
Anticipating your arrival did not give me peace about her departure.
You do not make me feel better about losing Sylvia.
You are no replacement for her.
Because you, my son, are YOU.
You were fearfully and wonderfully made.
You will not take her place because you have your own place to take.
You will not fill her shoes because your feet are different and need shoes of their own.
You were made for a purpose and that purpose is not to heal the pain into which you were born.
Your purpose is not to make it better.
Your purpose is not to fix me.
There will never be anything or anyone this side of heaven able to ease the pain of losing Sylvia. If there was, what an unfair pressure that would put on everyone in my life. On Daddy. On Lillian. On you.
You are not responsible for my healing anymore than you’re responsible for my grief.
I am wholly, desperately, gratefully, genuinely in absolute love with you, and not because you made my loss easier, but because you’ve made my life richer.
I am thankful to our merciful Father that He has given me the gift of you.
No, you do not take my pain away.
But, baby boy, you give me joy.
You can’t heal my wounds, but you strengthen my steps.
You can’t dry my tears, but you make me laugh.
You can’t erase the haunting of the past, but you make me excited for the future.
I will always be Sylvia’s mom. And that part of me will always mourn.
But as much as I am wholly hers, I am wholly yours.
Your place in my heart belongs to you and you alone.
On this day, I grieve her.
On this day, I celebrate you.
I love you, Rowan. I’m so thankful for you. My little man cub, my Bubba, my son.