In the midst of some of my deepest sorrows, darkest grief, and most despondent years, the Lord provided many encouragements for my heart through books, blogs, and online forums. Reading gave me comfort, and was always at my fingertips. When I asked how you comfort others with the comfort you too have received, I was immediately noticing how reading your words was a blessing. And then of course I responded with my own words, opening myself up again to share my experiences, before sharing some of the tangible blessings that I personally found paramount & pertinent in my miscarriage sufferings. Perhaps it is because blogs tend to be word-centric or perhaps it is simply because I have the written word knit so much into my life & self & history… but words are not only part of how I minister but also a huge part of how I am ministered to. The Lord uses words to heal me, bless me, challenge me, grow me, and put me back together when I am broken.
In light of this, let me share some of the particular conglomerations of words that have given me comfort as I tried to keep from drowning in the waves of grief, as I rode the storms that came and went with my many miscarriages. Again, not an exhaustive list, but the cream of the crop from my personal tastings.
Samuel Rutherford’s The Loveliness of Christ has been something that I have not only read through, but referred back to often, and given repeatedly to other bereaved women as well. While the encouragements in this dear little book are not isolated to the grief of miscarriage, so many of them are excessively pertinent, as you may begin to grasp here.
Nancy Guthrie’s The One Year Book of Hope was a lifeline to me when I was sinking. I shared some thoughts and snippets from it here on my blog occasionally: like here, for example, and here again between readings of it (because I did read it two years in a row).
C.S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed spoke both to my husband and to me in specifics that are quintessentially foundational when traveling the road of grief. He put into words so many things that we suffered and felt but had not articulated. I put together a bunch of quotes from this book here, so of course they are drastically out of context; but I hazard a guess that if you too are living out a storm of grief, they will resonate with you in your own context there.
Jerry Sittser’s A Grace Disguised was another book with which we personally identified, and found many of his poignant paragraphs echoed in our own hearts and experiences. Again, I shared quotes out of context here, but trust that you would find them good teasers at the very least, and possibly inspire you to pick up a copy of the book to read them within their context. It’s that pertinent.
Mrs. Cowman’s Streams in the Desert was revisited numerous times during my years of recurring miscarriages and unending grief. My leather-bound copy is well loved, notated, shared, and oft returned to like an old friend. It truly has been a place of comfort, a place where my tears have dimpled pages in sorrow and in thankfulness.
Hannah Hurnard’s Hind’s Feet on High Places (and to a lesser extent the sequel Mountains of Spices) was an allegory that blessed my heart and challenged my faith in its own ways. A very pertinent telling of a girl named Much-Afraid’s journey through hardships, with the companions of Sorrow and Suffering at her side, following the Shepherd in her steep climb to the High Places. To say that it hit home numerous times, to the point where I had to set the book down and revisit it at a later moment, is a bit of an understatement.
While it seems that the days of bloggers have much slowed in recent years, I found empathy, companionship, friendship, and compassion through the world of blogs. My mother and I found stories of other bereaved women, where their babies died at various ages & from various things, but the grief and the suffering was so similar, woven throughout them all. The open hearts and honest glimpses that these women shared allowed me to work through my grief in a likewise open and honest way, which was not only healing for myself but I have since learned that it has greatly blessed other people ~ Mrs. MK, Jess Mac, two different Butterfly mamas, and many more either plowed paths that I followed or walked alongside me… and that has continued to bless me even years later, and even after some of their blogs have fizzled almost completely. While my platform here on my own blog did not originate as a place to simply process grief or walk with others through grief, it has definitely played a large part in that journey. The theme of Joyful Domesticity retains its original intent: that of pursuing and proclaiming a joyful heart in my domestic life and calling. And much of that has been greatly impacted by my grief, my sorrow, my bereavement.
I have also had the joy and privilege of working with other women on various blogs & websites through the years, such as Grieve Out Loud, Faces of Loss, and Mommies With Hope. I have also guest-posted throughout the years in various places (including a reproductive immunology support group and my reproductive immunologist’s patient testimonial series) to share my story and my testimony, and while that has been a double-edged-sword type of challenge, God has definitely used those opportunities for my good and my healing, while also using my feeble words and experiences to lift up others who are downtrodden. While many of these aforementioned sites do not have the present activity they once had (I think a lot of places have turned to Facebook groups through the years, which is not a place where I participate… so it is my own choice that has left me out of those group aspects most recently…), it has been a blessing to come alongside other women, even when I was not yet “on the other side” ~ trudging through the tearful trenches together was a blessing. Pushing and pulling one another through the muck was a bittersweet joy.
There was a time when I spent roughly two solid years in a loss forum section of an “i am pregnant” website. It was the first place I learned how online communities could not only function but also bless my socks off. Interestingly, it was my mother who introduced me to the site, encouraged me to sign up, and she even got to know the women from that loss group alongside me as I shared stories with her of these bereaved mothers who, like me, desperately longed to grow their families. Some of these women were Christians, some of them weren’t. It was a wonderful place to encourage sisters in their faith as well as to share faith with those outside of Christ’s family. The Lord not only used that place to lift me up, but I learned through the years that He also managed to use me in the lives of other brokenhearted women. We prayed for one another. We shared life stories with one another. We followed one another’s cycles and losses, spoke of each others’ babies by name, sent care packages to one another. We rejoiced when someone finally got their rainbow baby after loss(es). I remember when one woman on there suffered her fifth miscarriage, and I was horrified that anyone would ever have to suffer so many losses. She and I even talked on the phone numerous times, and we almost met in person one time (although it never quite worked out). I did end up meeting in person with one woman I met on that forum, and not only have we stayed friends, but we have had playdates and she did photography for me when God finally filled my arms with my own rainbow babies. I didn’t have people in my real life circles who knew what I was going through in an experiential way, but God provided the community I needed to fill that specific hole in my heart & life. I am so thankful He did that.
After a while there, my mother found and shared with me a Christian-specific infertility & pregnancy loss forum, started by the author of the book Hannah’s Hope. The forums of Hannah’s Prayer have been a place where I have shared in ministry (the giving & the receiving) for six years. I love being on the leadership team there, where we moderate forums, encourage other women in their own hard journeys of infertility & loss, and where we take seriously the ministry of prayer for one another. I have formed true friendships there, including with numerous women whom I have had the privilege of meeting in person. I even helped write & co-edit a Christian devotional e-book for women going through the pregnancy-after-loss journey, Rainbows & Redemption, along with a handful of specifically-chosen women we met in the forums of Hannah’s Prayer. Where I have had a hole in my life that in-person friends and acquaintances could not fill, the Lord has provided a community of Christian women to step into that gap. His hand has been obvious, and His work of healing has been plain. He has used this place to work in me, and continues to use this place to work through me. I can not describe the privilege of being on both the giving & receiving ends of His grace here. I continue to feel Him at work, and I praise Him for that!
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?
And not one of them is forgotten before God.
Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered.
Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
… … … … …
The Lord has used many things, many people, many places as He has ministered to me, fed me, upheld me, and remembered me. I pray that He might even use this place, this servant of His, and some of the things that I have shared here to likewise minister to you.
Next time, I will share with you some of the things I have done myself in my own journey of grief. Please don’t hesitate to chime in with a comment to share your own pertinent thoughts. Today, can you share any books or blogs that God has used to comfort you in your grief?