Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Whew...What a Year!

I can't believe a year has passed since my last post.  Yes, we're still here!  We're still meeting regularly.  And you are still remembered. 

So what has been happening?

Well...we moved meeting locations for starters.  I opened a little shop called Plume so we have been meeting here since last November when I opened.  We're closed for business on Wednesday nights and I think the meetings have been working out well.   When I had the idea for the shop, I always knew I not only wanted it to be a beautiful shopping experience...but a beautiful place to gather.

So we've been working hard the last few months on a new gathering space at the shop that will hopefully be finished in September.  In the meantime...we'll continue to gather around my counter.

Allie Pennington & Suzanne Cary have taken on more administrative roles to help me with the ministry.  I'm so thankful for them.  Allie will help lead the infertility portion of the ministry and Suzanne will help lead the loss portion.

The Crossing shared this video at a Sunday service back in March and I feel blessed to have been able to share.  God is using this video to help reach more women.  We've had many new ladies come these last couple months.  So if you're're in good company.

If you haven't seen it, you can watch a small portion of what God has done in my life here:

I look forward to the remainder of 2014 and seeing the ways God will grow this ministry.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Project Hope

I believe that one of the ways God mends our hearts after loss and one way he can make us whole even in the midst of infertility is by serving others.   When we step outside of ourselves, maybe at first for only the briefest of moments, something beautiful happens.    Healing begins.  I had been praying about a way the ladies of GracefulWait could come together for a service project when a member of my church sent me this blog way back in January 2012.
I was touched and immediately knew Project Hope was something I wanted to contribute too.   I knew it would take lots of work and prayer to pull it off so I filed it away, and kept praying about it.  Fast Forward to March 2013!  I was finally able to start organizing and talking to others about Project Hope and how we could make it happen in Columbia.  The support that followed from GracefulWait ladies, The Crossing Women’s Bible study and church at large, and some complete strangers was overwhelming. 

Donations started coming in March. 
Picture Frames.
Scrapbook Materials.
Precious Time  given by so many women.
Women who knitted & crocheted.
Women who sewed.
Women who helped me plan and prepare.
Women who decorated boxes & lovingly helped me fill each one.  
Women who felt connected to this cause for many reasons…
…a personal loss, a daughter with a loss, a friend.
Women who prayed.

Not only for this project but for the women who would be the recipients of the work of our hands.  
That they would feel God’s love through us.
The work of His hands.
That they would know they are not alone. 

That their babies will not be forgotten.
Enough cash and materials were donated to complete 30 boxes.  In May & June I had the privilege of delivering the boxes to Boone and Women & Children’s Hospitals here in Columbia.    

Each box contained:
Letter from a fellow mommy of a baby in Heaven
Hand knitted or crocheted hat & booties
Hand crocheted  heart pin for the mother to wear in memory of her baby
Handmade & stamped bronze HOPE pendant by Clayful Impressions
Framed Jeremiah 29:11 Scripture Card
Baby Hair Keepsake Bag
Packet of Remembrance Seeds
Handstitched “hope” pillow
Embroidered lovie blanket 

Here is a slide show of pictures of some finished boxes and their contents.
If the video is not working from your phone or ipad, click here to watch directly from YouTube

Thanks again for your prayers, time & donations.

I’m purposefully not giving any names because I know I will forget someone;  there are just so many people to thank.  I hope you know how humbled and grateful I am for your generosity…and how much these boxes will mean to a family who loses a baby.
While this first run with Project Hope is not exactly the same as Laura’s original ideas…{I had to take a stab at it using the resources I knew I had available}…I believe this is only the beginning.  Laura is working on some plans in San Antonio to move her vision for Project Hope forward and to reach more hurting families.  God willing, she hopes to create a more formalized process in putting these boxes together perhaps Nationwide!   So stay tuned!    
Project Hope returns to Columbia this fall!

much love, Kelly.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fear {Part 2}

Well, better way delayed...than never.  Here is the long promised Fear {Part 2}

There were periods in my life when I would look at the uncertain future and see one that might not include babies.  One where I would not become a mother, or perhaps I might suffer a loss.  And if either of those things happened would I be forever sad?  Forever longing?  The fear of that life was almost unbearable at times.  

Would I cry every time I saw a mother holding a her baby for the rest of my life?   

Would I ever be complete?   

What would my life look like without kids? 

I was so overwhelmed with fear of what I might never have, I couldn’t focus on what God really did have in store for me.

Why did I have such fears?  I said I was a believer, but was I really?   When I look back I realize that my faith was shaky.  I either did not truly believe or had never really stopped to contemplate God's promises and what they meant in my life.  What they could mean to me if I did end up living a life without biological children, or any children for that matter.

Time passed and I was weary from all the fear.  I began seeking after God and getting to know more about who He is.   Eventually, something changed.  God revealed more of himself and I felt a certainty growing within me. 
I found this verse:

"I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.”
Psalm 27:13 & 14

My faith and confidence grew based on this Psalm of David.  I held tighter to the truth that I would see the goodness of the Lord in my life, even if that didn't mean children.   I felt more confident than I ever had before that I would be OK.  And not just OK, but good.  That God would not leave me in despair.   It wasn’t easy.  It came with kicking and screaming and tears and pain.  It wasn’t as graceful as I had hoped but peace came...the fear subsided.  I knew without doubt that whether or not I ever became a mom, my story would have a happy ending. 
Perhaps an earthly happy ending, but most certainly an eternal one.

I don't mean to throw the cliche' in your faces that so many well-meaning people do: 
"Stop trying so hard and it will happen." 
"Adopt a baby and then you'll get pregnant." 
"Pray harder, and God will hear you."
"Have more faith."
"Let go & let God."
As a woman who suffered from infertility those words are like nails on a chalkboard. 
The evoloution of my faith wasn't like that.   It wasn't about what I let go of.  It wasn't as if I ever let go of the desire to become a mom.   I never stopped trying.  It was about what I gained in the process.   What I grabbed hold of along the way.    I felt a confidence that I had never felt before that if I didn't become a mom, God would fill that space with something.   With more of Himself.  I can't explain it other than it was the Holy Spirit settling my soul.  Telling me, "Don't worry, all will be well."

Thanks to my awesome-cool sister-in-law Heather and her recent posts on fear as well which you can read here  and to a good discussion at our GracefulWait meeting last night for reminding me that this post has been sitting in my "draft box" for three months now since I wrote Part 1, trying to decide how to finish it. 

Heather reminded me of one of my favorite verses 2 Timothy 1:6
"For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands."

as she writes from her heart about 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power, love and self discipline"

I have always loved the phrase "fan into flame"...
I want to write something that has that title.  I don't know what exactly. 
It's poetic. 
It sounds pretty. 
But it also speaks to me. 
About perseverance.
About holding on to the Spirit of God during the darkest times. 
About letting God's flame be a fire underneath us, pushing us forward...even if it starts as the tiniest of sparks. 
Even if our fanning begins with the faintest of breaths...
...barely mustering the strength to just exhale and blow...
I love imagining this tiny flicker that over time becomes a raging fire.   
A fierceness that cannot be contained.
That speaks of the great gift God has given us.
The gift of not being afraid...  
                                    "through the laying on of my hands."
Isn't that enough to just give you chills?

Many of you are just beginning the walk of infertility, or maybe you just had a loss. 
Some of you may feel like you are nearing the end.
One last try.
One last cycle.
One last hope.

Where ever you may be I pray you find peace and confidence.
Peace in the wait.
That your fears will subside as your confidence in God's goodness grows. Whatever your future may hold. 

                                              "Fan into Flame."


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fear {Part 1}

Whether we are grieving through infertility or the loss of a precious baby, along with the grief there is another emotion I came to know well during the six years we waited to bring our first children home from the hospital.


This fear is not the fear for our physical safety. It's not the fear for our lives. It's the fear of brokenness. The fear for our hearts. 

The fear of what our futures will look like if we are not allowed to write our own story. If we must learn to live in the life God plans for us. A life that doesn't look anything like what we dreamed of. A life without children of our own. A life in which we are only allowed to raise some, or perhaps none, of our children here on earth. A life of any number of other various trials that are sure to come our way.

At our last GracefulWait meeting we began discussing Hannah's Hope. Jennifer Saake introduces the book by talking about fear in the valleys as we, who face infertility and loss, must take the road less traveled; not by our choosing.  She leads her introduction with Psalm 23.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."   -Psalm 23: 1-4
I had some time to meditate on this Psalm further, in preparation for our discussion.  A counselor from The Crossing gave me an audio recording of a lecture by Douglas Green, PhD from Westminster on Psalm 23 a few years ago when I was personally struggling with fear. I pulled it out and listened again.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters"

Dr. Green, along with the NIV bible commentary notes that at the beginning of the Psalm the Lord is leading beside quiet waters, he makes me rest in green pastures. He knows what I need, and I have all that I need.  I pray not to be a frightened sheep but an obedient follower.   I pray for the wisdom and courage to follow the one who will lead me in the right direction. His path is the way to peace and happiness. Anytime I try to create my own path I find discontentment, heartache, pain.
"He restores my soul."

"He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake."

The Lord knows what is best for me, what restores my soul. And he does all this because He promised it to us.  Because he loves us. All the goodness he bestows upon us is for his Glory. He is a God that cannot and does not lie, therefor he guides us on the path of righteousness to uphold his glorious name.  We can have faith in His promises because of his good name.

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,"  
As we near the Valley of the shadow of death the Lord draws closer, no longer leading us, but walking through the Valley with us.  In times of fear, danger, sadness, and even actual death, God's promise is to be with us.  He does not move us around the Valleys, but walks through them with us, as we retrace Jesus' steps before us. 
"For you are with me;"

Here is an excerpt from Jennifer's introduction of Hannah's Hope:                "God provided green pastures where my aching soul could draw comfort from the recognition that my loving heavenly Father approved the course before allowing me to take my first step... there was one fork in the road that did require my decision:  Would I choose bitterness and self-destruction, or growth and renewed hope?"

While Jennifer does not specifically mention fear here, we know that bitterness and self-destruction are just two of the many manifestations of fear in our  lives.  Emotions we experience in our darkest valleys.  How does the fear of an uncertain future manifest itself in your life today?  Where ever you might be in your faith, will you contemplate Jennifer's question for yourself?  

"Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life," Psalm 23:8  
If we trust in God's promises, including that He gives us everything we need to restore our souls and that he is with us during our fearful trials.  If we can become more confident that goodness and love will follow us in life because of our trust in the Lord, in spite of infertility and loss.  How does that encourage you in your present circumstances? 

I know this trust is hard and it doesn't come overnight.  I will share more about my personal struggle with fear & trust during infertility in Part 2 of this post.   

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hannah's Hope

Sometime in 2006 I really started to feel infertile.  My  husband and I had been married since 2002 and trying to conceive since about 2003.  But in 2006, it really hit me.   I started searching for any guidance on infertility in the bible and first read the story of Hannah.   Shortly after that I went into the local Christian Bookstore to purchase completely unrelated study materials for another project I was working on.  As I made my way out the door, on a rack of seemingly random placed miscellaneous books there was one with a beautiful cover that caught my eye.   Hannah's Hope.

I had already paid for my other purchases but having just recently read  about Hannah, I stopped to pick up the book, curious.  It was the lone copy.   I read the tag line:  Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage and Adoption Loss.  

I started crying and bought the book.

I felt like God had placed that book right in my path, at that time, on that day for me to pick up and read.  He knew what I needed before I did. I never dreamed going into that bookstore that I would leave with a book on infertility and God's provision during it.

The book helped me so much during the height of my infertility years.  I've been sharing it with others ever since.

GracefulWait Ministry will be starting a new book discussion of Hannah's Hope this month.  I'm very excited to once again dig into this book and be reminded of what God has to say to us through the story of Hannah.  If you or anyone you know is struggling with infertility, miscarriage, infant loss or a failed adoption attempt I recommend it.

Jennifer Saake discusses many of the emotions, sins, questions and issues we face as women trying to grow our families in the midst of infertility and loss.  Chapters include discussions on Envy, Jealousy, Bitterness, Anger, Fertility Treatments, Marital Strains, Faith, Waiting and Worshiping among others.  Also included at the end of each chapter are relevant scriptures and a section directed to the support givers for those with infertility, offering practical advise for helping loved ones through various emotional struggles and real world situations which can trigger pain and sadness.

You can read more reviews, a sample from the book and purchase your own copy from Amazon here.

If you are in the Columbia, Missouri area and would like to join GracefulWait for this book discussion, please contact Kelly.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Divine Love

In September 2010, during the inception phase of GracefulWait I heard a young woman from my church speak and share her testimony.  By God's grace she had struggled with and beaten Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.   She shared this quote:
"Unerring wisdom ordained your lot, and selected for you the safest and best condition. Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there. You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances. Be content with such things as you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good."
- Charles Spurgeon
I would first say that I don't consider myself a theologian.  I'm a regular girl.  I can't say I'm a follower of Charles Spurgeon because I've never read anything he's written other than this quote.  But I can say that this quote IMPACTED me.   Then, when I first heard it, and I was preparing for one of our first GracefulWait meetings.  But again now, as I revisit, while preparing for our next meeting over 2 years later.  Knowing my own story, but also having had the priviledge of meeting so many other women in the last two years and now knowing theirs.  
I've read and re-read it. 
I've dissected it. 
I've digested it. 
I've been brought to tears by it. 
I think about those long six years.
The Uncertainty. 
The Sadness. 
The IVF. 
The Bedrest. 
The Fear.
The Premature Births. 
The FET's. 
The Miscarriage.
The Pain. 
The Birth of my Final Child. 
All circumstances that divine love not only placed me in, but deemed suitable.  Even as a woman who is fortunate enough to write this on the far side of infertility and to say that my family is now complete, I'm still brought to tears by it.   
I now have three living children who bless my life.  But I still remember what it felt like.
It hurt.  A lot.
Unerring wisdom ordained my lot.  
Selected for me the safest and best condition.  
Divine Love placed me in the most suitable circumstances for my good.  
These are hard concepts to swallow.  Particularly when you don't feel like your story has a happy ending.  How can the death of my child possibly be for my good?  How can living a life without children possibly be for my good?   In earthly terms it's so very difficult to answer these questions.  I can't even begin to. 
But time has helped me see with clarity more of God's plan. I am not the same person I once was. My faith is stronger. I understand the beauty of God's grace and mercy more thoroughly. I will struggle with sin until the day I die, but I like to think I'm a little more like Jesus today than I was 10 years ago. I'm more confident in the Heaven of which the bible tells, and that Jesus is my Savior, and by His wounds we are healed. I know its about what He did for me, not what I am or am not doing. I am more convinced that the bible is truth.  

The Lord makes no mistakes.

The Lord works all things for my good.
The Lord loves me.

Would my faith be the same had my story taken a different turn?   Had my premies not survived?  Had I never have been able to conceive at all?  I can't answer that.   My children are here with me now but I'm acutely aware of the fragility of tomorrow.  I write this not because I live in dread of some trial that is surely around the corner.  I don't.  I write just to say that this awareness makes me more thankful for my faith, today.  Everyday, is another day I can strengthen myself with God's promises, to face any uncertainty that lies ahead.  
In times of fear, doubt, anger, sadness, dissatisfaction...I can only pray and turn my thoughts back to an eternal perspective.  Where the ultimate good does not necessarily mean happiness and healing on this earth.  We were created to yearn for Heaven.   Remembering that helps me to understand a bit more why sometimes the most suitable circumstances for my good are those that bring me to my knees and draw me nearer to the divine love of Jesus.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What IF?

For those of us with infertility, who frequent blogs, the web and other social media support sites, we know that the capital IF is the biggest "if" we face during certain points in time.  I've been trying to think of new ways to support the women in our group who have infertility and are still waiting for a glimpse of what their family might look like.

I came across this video this week. 

To me it's a very emotional, real portrayal of all the questions I know you've had at some point, and will continue to have. Questions that I myself faced very painfully.

 I want you to know I haven't forgotten what it feels like.
 She asks the question..."What if I redefine what it means to be mother?"
 Will you pray about this and maybe take some time today to journal about the concept of being a "mother" to others? Doesn't have to pertain to children. But as women, we are mothers at heart. What are ways you have mothered other women or children outside of your home? What are ways you could mother other women or children in the future?   If you feel led, post a comment here on this blog to share with others.
 I would also add my own "What if"?
"What if Everything in the bible really is True? What if Jesus really is who he says he is?"
Keiko's video also reminded me of this song, that I love and thought I would share with you also this morning.

How does the answer of whether or not the bible is true and Jesus is real, being "YES!" give us HOPE in our current struggles?
Love you.