Comforting Myself in My Grief

This is my comfort in my affliction,
that Your promise gives me life.
Psalm 119:50

There have been times in my grief where I just needed to do something.
Partly as a distraction of keeping myself busy,
partly as a motherly act of doing something in honor of a child I could not rock or nurse or read to,
partly as a balm for a bleeding & broken part of me that needed tending.


I have read. and returning to these books, or even just seeing them on my shelf, continues the comfort they have offered…

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I have written. blogs, forum posts, guest posts for various websites, devotional entries, private journals, countless letters to other grieving women – most of whom I have never met…

I have scrapbooked. when my first baby died, I made a scrapbook in her memory from pregnancy and the miscarriage, including pictures of the flowers we received, email quotes, the cards, etc. and someday yet to come I plan to make a “siblings” scrapbook including all thirteen of my children…

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I have sewn. for every child I have carried in my womb, we have bought an arrow to put in a leather quiver in my husband’s study – and I sew a personalized name tag for each arrow with the baby’s name and a Scripture for that child…

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I have painted. for instance, this painting which represents our four children here and the nine who have flown to the gates of glory…


I have metal stamped. for instance, jewelry (for me as their mommy, and also for their two grandmothers) and tears bottles

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I have gardened. there is something healing about whacking the ground with a hoe when your eyes burn with tears and your body throbs with a combination of physical & emotional & spiritual pain – I had a big vegetable garden at our old home, and while I have not yet had that at our new home, I have a little flower garden (which happens to be excessively overgrown and untidy at the moment) which has roses and a peony in honor of specific babies, as well as a bell and a birdbath in honor of others…

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I have decorated. these children gone too soon still beautify our home and life – when I see Victory’s chimes, Hosanna’s light, Mercy’s rose, Heritage’s flowers, Fidelis’s bell, and my babies’ names in various artwork around my home, I remember that they are still part of our family, still part of our covenant line, still part of God’s good work in our home & life & family & ministry, still honored here and loved tremendously…

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I have kept my babies close. until their decaying bodies are put with my own in the ground once our souls are reunited in the presence of Christ at His wedding feast, they stay close to me, in the sacred space of my own bedroom…



Putting my hands to physical toil and involving my brain in mental energies outside of crying or talking through my feelings, struggles, emotions, dreams (whether broken or yet whole)… that has been a way of seeking comfort myself when needing comfort in my grief.

As one whom his mother comforts,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
Isaiah 66:13

Other people of course do not always fill all the gaps I feel.
I can not always just sit on a street corner with a sign that says, “in grief ~ anything helps” and wait for someone else to fill my hands.
My hands are open to receiving comfort from others.
My hands are folded, my heart bowed low, my conversations continual with my heavenly Father to receive His comfort.
But my hands also often are busied in various ways to comfort myself with tangible things.

Comfort comes in many ways, many forms, many facets. Sharing ideas on what is comforting is just one of those blessed facets.
One of the beautiful things about living in Christ myself and living in a community of His people (both in real life and online) is that these varied aspects of comfort work together in harmony to produce something that can be most balming, most healing, most reaching.

You will increase my greatness
and comfort me again.
Psalm 71:21

So when you are in grief, use your hands.
Fold your hands and lift up the emptiness of your hands ~ in prayer to the Father of all comfort.
Open your hands and be ready to receive ~ open to the comforts that others around you want & try to bestow.
Busy your hands ~ fill those palms and fingers with tangible projects and good things that bless your own broken soul.

Let Your steadfast love comfort me
according to Your promise to Your servant.
Psalm 119:76

In Faith

Posting this kind of thing takes a lot of faith from me. So! In faith, I am sharing a recent belly bump picture, as well as a painting I did for Steven for Father’s Day which represents all 13 of our babies. The Lord is gracious, and that is enough.



…You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
Psalm 86:15

Tears Bottle, Tutorial

Psalm 56:8

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I have had people asking either to buy these little tokens from me or for a tutorial so they can make their own. Well, here’s the tutorial to the best of my ability! And if you rather, just send me a personal message, and we can talk about helping you get your hands on some I’ve made if you are less crafty yourself.

So to make your own little tears bottles, read on! Gather your supplies together before you begin, which may or may not involve purchasing some special things depending on the stock you have in your crafting stash.

Glass Bottles (I like the miniature sizes, like medication vials, best but any size right up to a wine bottle would make a neat gift)
Corks for the bottles (you could do it without corks, I just personally like corks so much)
Something to tie the tags on (I used baker’s twine, but you could use small gauge wire or tiny ribbon or embroidery floss, etc)
Metal Stamping Blanks (of various sizes, and mostly just according to your creative preference)
Metal Stamping Alphabet/Numbers (I used 1/16″ stamps on these mini bottle projects)
Bench Block
Masking Tape
Hole Punch Pliers for Sheet Metal
Jump Ring (I used split rings)
Black Sharpie
Rubbing Alcohol (I have oodles of medical wipes, but you could just put some alcohol on a tissue or something)


For a few thoughts on bottles…
You can buy something like these on Amazon (which are basically the same sizes as the medication vials I have used), or go bigger here maybe, or even do something super schmancy like this… In fact, for bigger sizes, I love these ball shaped bottles, I love these vintage style bottles, tear shaped bottles would be a neat touch, a set of bottles with corks, or even these adorable 5 oz bottles with caps. Pick up bottles or vials at the dollar store or at thrift shops, and keep a stash for when you find yourself needing to give a Tears Bottle as a gift. You may like different sizes, shapes, colors, etc. for different people or different times, don’t limit yourself.
And if you’re like me (I particularly love the itty bitty Tears Bottle styles I’ve made thus far), and you go through lots of medication vials (three shots a day for months at a time can build up a stash if you squirrel them away into your craft stash!), use a flathead screwdriver to pull off the metal and rubber cap on the empty medication vial, then wash the vial and get the label off (with rubbing alcohol, paint thinner, or acetone… and sometimes a good bit of elbow grease). My favorite size vial is what my Pregnyl or PIO came in, but it’s totally just personal preference. Just try whatever you can get your hands on.

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Like I said, I really like using little corks, and if you buy bottles they may come with them already.
But if you go the repurposing route like I have done, you may need to carve your own little corks, which is tedious at best. I have a ridiculously oversized stash of all kinds of wine bottle corks, so I just grabbed one, cut it in half, and ended up making a couple little mini corks from it, just whittling with a sharp kitchen knife.

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Once you have your bottles and corks, pick out what metal stamping blanks you want to use for each bottle. I have tried various combinations of sizes and types of blanks, and I love the various different looks they give. Design from your heart and go with your gut.

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Gather your metal stamps, blanks, hammer, bench block, and masking tape.

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Make sure you set your bench block on a sturdy surface, and use a small strip of masking tape to secure your blank to the bench block while you stamp, so nothing moves. Be certain that you use the right letters/numbers in the right order, and orient the stamp the right direction. Place them carefully, because once you hammer, there it is! 🙂

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Stamp away! You can see that I have come up with the way I personally prefer the design, with caps and lowercase in certain places, etc. Of course you have to remember that imperfections and variations really make these marvelous and give them their unique appeal. It can also take practice to get your groove, so be gracious with yourself.

PSALM 56:8 ~ tears


Once you have stamped the blanks, unless you bought blanks that already have holes punched in them, this is where you add a hole with your sheet metal hole punch. Depending on the gauge and type of metal blanks, it will be easier or trickier to punch ~ but you can do it!

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Put discs together with a jump ring, which process may or may not eat up your fingernails. 🙂

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At this point, you want to take your black Sharpie and color in the letters and numbers you’ve stamped. It will look icky and messy. That’s the right way to do it, I promise.

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Now you just take a little rubbing alcohol (a prepared wipe, or just dab some on a tissue), and wipe off the excess. Now it’s looking pretty!


Now you can take your baker’s twine, string, floss, ribbon… and tie your stamped tags onto the neck of your bottle in whatever fashion you like best.

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Look at these beautiful little tokens, gifts, reminders of what the Lord does. He does not just know that we cry. He doesn’t even simply watch the tears stream down our cheeks. He doesn’t even stop at the compassionate action of drying our tears. No, He is the Lord, and He takes our tears and puts them in a bottle. He knows each of our tossings. They are written in His book.

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What a beautiful thing to have a tangible, lovely reminder of what our King does for us. What a comfort in our suffering.

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Easter Lessons

This year, we went out of our way to do a few more hands-on lessons and Easter preparations with the children. The older they get, of course the more they grasp ~ and it is delightful to hear their own 6, 3, and 2 year old sized insights into why we do the things we do.

On Good Friday, rather than doing our normal homeschooling routine, while the little ones had individual room time (learning to play on their own for a solid hour is a good skill to learn), Gabriel helped me clean the house. We washed windows, cleaned bathrooms, swept floors, mopped floors, did laundry, washed dishes, wiped down cupboards. And while we worked together, we talked about why we were working so hard, and why is this what we chose to do on Good Friday. When I asked Gabriel what he thought, he paused in thought, then profoundly said, “Well, today is the day we remember the whole reason why Jesus came. He came to clean our hearts. So I guess that’s why we should clean our home.” I wanted to just stop the conversation right there, and leave it at that ~ because my kid gets SO much of the Gospel story, and I love hearing his perspective on it. It’s beautiful. But we went on to talk about how Jesus served others, even though He was King of all. We talked about “our people” ~ and who are our neighbors. Gabriel even asked if he could wash my feet when we were done cleaning, because he wanted to bless me and serve me like Jesus.

But I hate to admit, I forgot about the feet-washing, because by the time we were done cleaning the house, the little ones were ready to be done with solitary playtime, and we needed to move on to the phase of dirtying things back up again. Funny how we do that in my line of work: we clean things up so we can make them dirty again!

So after a little lunch, Evangeline was ready for a nap, and the boys & I got out supplies for some crafts that would hold more lessons.

We had already dyed Easter eggs with Grandmama, Auntie, and cousins, complete with super sweet and thoughtful conversations about the metaphors, symbolism, and just plain fun of the tradition. My children and I have talked numerous times this week about the symbolism we can see in the eggs… how they symbolize the rock which closed the tomb, but new life can spring forth from it… how we can take plain eggs and give them new clothing, as we do when we take on new life in Christ… how the yolk in a cracked egg can symbolize the glorious light of Jesus’ resurrection from the dark tomb when He burst forth in glorious array…
Click here to read about Easter Egg traditions throughout the life of the Church, following the Lenten season. Even plain old Wikipedia had some great thought-provoking things about Easter Eggs, or Paschal Eggs. And for some fun nuances on Easter Egg traditions, click here and have some fun with the kids in your life.

Romans 6:4
We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death,
in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too might walk in newness of life.

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Thanks to Ann Voskamp’s diligent sharing each and every year, I finally felt like my boys were old enough this year to really grasp & enjoy a couple more unique & detailed hands-on projects.

First we had a snack of nuts and figs, while we made a crown of thorns (using a small grapevine wreath and a few dozen coffee-stained toothpicks) and talked a lot about the events of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Three year old Asher was nearly in tears (I love how his forehead crinkles and his chin quivers when he feels genuine sorrow), talking about Jesus being tortured, bleeding, and dying. He finally smiled again when I reminded Him that this was why Jesus came, and this is how He worked to save US from OUR sins. And in his sweet little voice, Asher proclaimed, “I sure love Jesus, Mommy.”

Matthew 27:29
…twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head…

Mark 15:17
…twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on Him.

John 19:2, 5
And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head and arrayed Him in a purple robe. So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe.

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Next we went out on to the back porch and put together our own little Gethsemane. Using a small moss planter (I used this, and don’t let the word “large” fool you!), we filled it with soil. Then we set our tomb carved in the rock in the corner of the garden (I found that aquarium accessories could offer some neat options, like this cichlid stone), before filling the rest of the garden with plants. We used some little succulents we got at a local store along with some pretty decorative moss, and then Gabriel used small smooth stones to make a little pathway through the garden to the tomb. Last of all, the boys went on a stone hunt outside to find something that would serve as a tomb cover.

John 19:41
Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.

Luke 23:55-56
The women who had come with Him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how His body was laid.Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

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On Good Friday, we used last week’s palm branches and our homemade crown of thorns to decorate our dinner table, when we ate lamb and roasted vegetables and matzo ball soup, along with the Seder plate with all  its elements and plenty of wine.

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Our kitchen island was cleared of all other decorations, and that is where we laid our own little Gethsemane. On Friday evening we closed up the tomb. On Saturday morning we found a little soldier to keep guard outside the tomb. And the children looked forward to seeing what would come of it on Sunday morning.

Matthew 27:59-60, 66
And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. … So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

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Come Sunday morning, the children came downstairs to find the guard fallen down, the stone moved away, and a piece of linen folded inside the tomb.

Matthew 28:2-8
And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.He is not here, for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay.Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead, and behold, He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him. See, I have told you.”So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell His disciples.

Luke 24:1-12
…On the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb,but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel.And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?He is not here, but has risen. Remember how He told you, while He was still in Galilee,that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”And they remembered His words,and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles,but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

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They found a table set for a beautiful little breakfast. Fruit salad, hard boiled eggs with sea salt, mimosas, Easter story cookies, and Easter tomb rolls (the kids had helped me make those all on Saturday, which was really wonderful). Candles and music and the excited rush of gathering and eating and praising God together, singing Christ The Lord Is Risen Today. Gifts for each one at their place ~ books and chocolates.

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Once the morning feasting was done, it came time to don our Easter clothing (clothing is hugely metaphorical and meaningful in Scripture and the history of the Church) ~ even the Easter sermon mentioned this, because we had three baptisms during the service and these Scriptures were emphasized.

Ephesians 4:17-24
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about Him and were taught in Him, as the truth is in Jesus,to put off your old self,which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Colossians 3:12-17
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Galatians 3:27
 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.


And so we got dressed in new matchy-matchy clothes (and my heart ached in all the heaviest and bestest of ways, because I have been given a family to clothe, and children who can wear sickeningly matchy outfits!), and talked about putting on Christ, putting off our old selves, putting on the new self in newness of life and the beauty of holiness, putting on love above all other things.

And then? Then the party really started. Gabriel pointed out, “there sure is a lot of joy around church and everywhere today!” and I couldn’t help but laugh. Because isn’t that just exactly, precisely the way it should be?! May the joy of the gospel, and of the Resurrected Christ, and of the hope He has given His people, shed forth from your homes, your families, your churches, and your wanderings until He comes again and everything is made new and all is set right.

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To the glory of the Father, amen. Allelulia!

He Bottles our Tears

Have you ever been comforted by this Scripture,
knowing that your tears are not overlooked,
and they are not even simply dried,
but they are bottled by the Lord our God?!

I know I have.

He keeps an account of our tossings, our wanderings~
He keeps our tears, as precious~
He writes these things in His book~

What a comfort to know that our sovereign Father is so magnanimous
that even the tiniest things are so incredibly precious to Him.

One thing I have done recently is make tangible little reminders of this
for those who are enduring suffering, grief, countless tears.

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(If you too would like to have tangible reminders like these, you can either contact me to make you some, or you can stop by next week for a detailed picture tutorial.)

Uniquely Wrapped

So we bought a dozen bottles of wine to give as some gifts this year, and I was trying to figure out an interesting way to wrap them. Not that using a wine bottle sized/shaped gift bag from the Dollar Store isn’t good enough (because it is!), but I thought perhaps I could do something a little more unique, and maybe even more economical or useful, if I really thought hard. 😉

So this is what I came up with.

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I found these two different fun ideas for wrapping wine bottles with fabric (here and here), and found that each could be accomplished on a normal sized wine bottle using a very economical flour sack kitchen towel (and each has a handle for carrying the bottle, which would be really handy if giving them out at church or whatnot). I am still trying to figure out which wrapping version I like best, and also what I want to do for gift tags (right now I’m playing around with paper bags, red & white baker’s twine, and jute webbing)…


but it’s pretty fun… and I love being able to make small, simple things extra fun, useful, and/or pretty.

What are some fun ways you’ve seen (or done!) something uniquely wrapped lately?

Dabbling in Various Domestic Endeavors

I may not have a Pinterest account, but I sure love coming up with new ideas for the beautifying of my home, the loving of my family, and the nutritious & delicious filling of our bellies! Enjoy a wee glimpse into a few of my recent crafty endeavors.

Creative Juices

Here are some of the ways my creative juices have been flowing in recent months and weeks.

Christmas gifts (I also made gifts for our nieces’ and nephews’ spring birthdays, but can’t show & tell those yet):

There were also Family Night in a Bag gifts, some themed gift basket type gifts, dry erase/chalkboard roll-ups/placemats, some photography and other artwork… but I didn’t take pictures of everything. Definitely had a good time crafting and sewing my way through the autumn months though!

Curtains for the kitchen area and master bedroom, which happened right before Christmas since I had no more gifts or holiday crafts to do:

What am I currently doing to create? Well, making a couple of things with Tiny Ten’s real name on them (arrow tag, metal stamped jewelry, baby spoon, and Christmas stocking), sewing some little things for the nursery (think pink!), stocking up the freezer with homecooked goods (I’ve got around twenty dinners in there right now so I should be able to give myself permission to take it easy after she’s born for a while; plus desserts, snacks, and bread to boot)…

And oh yeah… I guess I’m helping to make THIS too. 🙂 Only for a few more weeks though! She’s nearly here.


Creativity comes in various forms. Sometimes I try to be creative with housekeeping or cooking. With coloring pages, hikes in the woods, and phonics lessons. With musical arrangements I play and songs we sing.

Sometimes, though, I get to pull out all the stops and practice creativity with crafts. That’s probably one of my favorite kinds of creativity, and although I don’t get to practice it every day of the week, I enjoy it when I do. 🙂 I have a couple of wedding gifts to make soon, which will involve “alphabet photography” ~ one of my favorite creative things to do in the last year or so. I also will get to sew curtains soon (hurray!), which is exciting.

I recently refinished four antique ladderback chairs and they are now the chairs we are using in our family eating area. Love love love them. I also just stained nearly a dozen frames that my dad made for stitcheries I have done over the last fourteen years, and will get to varnish them soon and then hang them. I have cranked out a few metal stamping projects as well, with more to come on the horizon.

But I think perhaps my favorite creative outlet recently is in a new art creation I came up with one day… it involved buying canvasses for 50% off at Michael’s, and then buying books for mere cents at Good will, and digging up some craft glue to mix with water… and after some creative juices got flowing, and I had some naptimes in which to do the crafty work, I had a great new piece of artwork for each of my boys’ rooms. And I think I’ve inadvertently created a new art medium that I am loving for future pieces for myself as well as for gifts!

Gabriel’s canvas is covered in antique sheet music and pages of Psalms & Proverbs.

Asher’s canvas is covered in illustrations from children’s books and pages of Genesis.