10 Things Parents of Stillborn Babies Want You To Know (Part 7): Ask Us About Our Baby

QUESTIONS

 

There was no blood flowing in her little baby body. There was no healthy glow. Her little skull was sunk down. Her eyes were closed. And the bruises were too devastating to even imagine. If you are the parent of a stillborn baby, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You can get to the point where you’re not even sure if you want people to visit you in the hospital. You’re afraid they may be traumatized. That’s how bad it is. But yet, he or she is still your baby. Despite all the pain and chaos of that fateful day, you miss your baby something terrible. You have hard memories. Really hard memories. But you still want to keep them. God keeps your baby now, and He gives you precious memories preserved in thoughts and pictures. Thanks to my parents, I still have a beautiful picture of my Ariana. And she is beautiful. Bruised and beautiful. How often do you ever see those two words put together? Yes, bruises and all. She was my baby. And I wanted to show her off.

As I continue with this series of articles dealing with parents of stillborn babies, we move to point #9.

Parents of stillborn babies want you to………………….

 

#9 We want you to ask questions about our baby (eye color, hair color, height, weight, did you get to hold the baby, did they look like mommy or daddy, do you have pics, etc.)

 

An Unforgettable Supervisor

“Do you have pictures? We want to see some pictures of your baby!!” These were nearly the exact words spoken from the lips of my supervisor a little over 15 years ago. It was a phrase so shocking that I never, ever believed that someone would ask it about my baby girl, Ariana. And although it was shocking, it was also a breath of fresh air in the midst of intense suffering. Shocking because……..well……..I didn’t think anyone would want to see pictures of another person’s stillborn baby. Too disturbing, right? At least this is what I thought at the time. I mean, according to the world’s standard of “cute”, a stillborn baby doesn’t quite pass the test. No soft, color filled cheeks. No developing facial features. No healthy glow to make people say, “Awww, would you just look at how beautiful she is!” In fact, sometimes your stillborn baby’s most noticeable features are the bruises and the blood red lips. Not exactly Facebook material, is it?

She Knew a Secret

What my supervisor said to me on that day was a breath of fresh air. I needed to hear that someone……anyone……. wanted to see what my baby girl looked like. Yes, my dead, already-decaying baby girl. Other than perhaps your immediate family, most people would never think to ask you for pictures. I suspect she had her fears about how disturbing the pics might look. Anyone would be apprehensive of such a thing. Not only that, but what if there was a really awkward reaction when she looked at the photos? You know, something totally out of her control. Like she might cringe, or look away really quickly, or even make a sound expressing her shock. I don’t know if she thought through all of these possibilities beforehand, but in the end her decision was to make much of my baby. And it is every parent’s joy to have people make much of their child. So just having the courage to ask me for pics was worth more than I can put into words. She knew how disturbing the pictures would be to look at. But it didn’t matter to her. She knew that my stillborn was created in God’s image, and that I loved her. She instinctively caught on to the fact that I wanted to show off Ariana, but there was no way I could ever initiate such a thing. She took the first difficult step, and did the work for me.

One Reason You Don’t Ask

You may not ask us for pictures because you’re afraid of what you will see. You may not ask us questions about what our baby looked like because you’re afraid it’s going to conjure up horrible images in our mind. Both may be true. Depending on how soon after birth the photos were taken, they may be extremely difficult to look at. Especially for those who are a little squeamish. And yes, when you ask us about what our baby looked like, our brains may recall some of the more broken aspects of his or her physical appearance. But guess what? We wish you would ask anyway. It would mean more to us than all the money and gifts that could ever be sent. It would mean more than a thousand words of good counseling. Often times, it is the simple things that mean so much. Simply asking me if I had the chance to hold my baby would run circles around all the books on “how to grieve the loss of a stillborn baby.” 

We understand your hesitation. Really, we do.  Well……..at least to a point. I mean, when our loved ones die, we typically don’t walk around showing pictures of what they looked like after they died. We show them when they were vibrant and alive! But there is something unique about our situation. We don’t have any pictures of our babies when they were vibrant and alive. The day of their birth is also the day of their death. Parents of stillborns have such a hard time with this. The day of our baby’s birth is a joyous event and a tragic ending all at the same time. It is a cruel irony.

Don’t Be Shocked

We only had one day we could take pictures of our little one. That’s all. And not even a full day. We are talking hours here. Maybe not even that much in some cases. So, why wouldn’t we want to take pictures of our precious time with them? Why wouldn’t we want to preserve whatever memories we possibly could? And why would we not want to share our pictures of them? We understand if you can’t bear to look at them. We don’t want anyone to be uncomfortable. But please don’t be shocked that we love our baby’s pics. Don’t be shocked that we want people to bring up the subject. Remember, the only living pictures we have of them are ultrasound images from inside the womb. But who shows off their ultrasound pictures after the baby is born? No one that I know.

Grief Happens

There is another reason you don’t ask. It is because you think we will feel more hurt to be reminded of that fateful day of birth. Well, my response would be that we are already reminded of our babies every day. And we are ok with that! It is automatic. You don’t forget people you love. Nor do you ever want to. God has created such a beautiful bond between parent and child, that not even death can destroy it. As long as the memory centers of our brain are functioning, we will constantly remember our baby. That is why I believe Alzheimer’s is one of the most devastating of all diseases. To forget loved ones is such a heartbreaking thing to imagine for families.  So asking us to see pics isn’t going to create any more pain that isn’t already there. It may bring tears, but that is what grief does. Tears are healthy. In a fallen world, grief is essential. So remember this: what hurts far more than being reminded of our baby is not being reminded of our baby.

Daddy’s Hair Color

“She has dark hair just like her daddy” was the first thing my supervisor said after I showed her Ariana’s picture. But it was the way she said it that I remember more than anything. You know that kind of teasing voice that someone uses when they are trying to make you laugh? Especially when laughing is the furthest thing from your mind. She said it something like this, “Jamie, I see dark hair on Ariana, hmmmmmm……..(with a slight smile on her face)………….I wonder where she got that from??!!” (I actually still had some hair at that time!) It is a moment I will never forget. She knew that Ariana mattered to me. And she gave me some precious few moments that I cherish to this day. She asked for pictures. She made a reference to my baby’s hair color. She personalized Ariana for me. Priceless.

Wish We Had Cuter Pictures

People go crazy over cute pictures, especially baby pictures. And now that we live in the age of social media, it is easier than ever to satisfy everyone’s visual itch. And this quest for “cuteness” starts long before the baby is born. Mommies all over the internet are taking pictures of their baby-filled tummies. Tummies at 6 weeks, 10 weeks, 20 weeks, 30 weeks, and on and on. And it is completely innocent too. It is all about the baby, a little preview of what’s to come. These mommies are giving everyone an appetizer before the meal. They are simply displaying to the world that an adorable, tiny human being hides just beneath the surface.

The anticipation of birth increases with every picture of her growing tummy. The day inches ever closer. Family, friends, and co-workers are all getting excited for that special day when the baby will arrive. They can’t wait to see the baby pics. And when that day finally comes, all of the anticipation is so worth it. The joy is overwhelming. Except, that is, if you are the mommy of a stillborn baby. Now, every time you see those old pictures of you looking preggers, you feel the pain of loss. The pain of what could have been. You never thought your only pictures to show off now would be ones that people would quickly scroll past- in horror – if you put them on Facebook. Tragic. My heart goes out to all you mommies.

Conclusion

Society places way too much value on outer beauty. Beauty that contains perfect skin, with no blemishes. No defects are allowed for. Even little babies do not escape these cultural thought patterns. No, blood and bruises are not beautiful. They are disturbing. Especially when you are looking at a baby. But here’s the thing. The beauty comes when you look past the bruises and realize there is so much more to your baby. The beauty comes when you realize how much love you have for your baby despite the bruising. The bruises are temporary. Love is not.

I saw Ariana up close and personal. I held her flimsy body tight. I saw her placed in a casket. I saw people lower her into the ground. But she is not just a dead body buried in a grave. She, and all other stillborn babies, are with God as living souls. And one day, when Jesus Christ returns, they will have their physical bodies join their souls. But for now, they live in our memories with the physical traits that we saw them with. Even as damaged as they were, they are the memories we have. They are preserved in our hearts, our minds, and in pictures. Would you consider asking us about them?

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Your likes or comments are always appreciated! I will do my best to respond to each one. And if you enjoy my posts, I wouldn’t mind an extra subscriber either. (-:  God bless you, and thanks for stopping by!  – Jamie

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A Simple Little Prayer When Thinking of Houston

FLOOD

 

Dear Heavenly Father, cause us as the body of Christ…………

To remember the plight of our neighbor, and pray fervently for Houston,
To unite, join hands, pull together, seek the comfort of others, and pray,
For the devastation we see is for real; it is not made up and it is no illusion,
Cause us to approach Your throne boldly for Texas; there is so much to say.

Dear Heavenly Father, remind us as the body of Christ…………

That we must stop devouring one another and fighting over trivial matters,
That the city of Houston needs us, that they need us to give, pray, love, and serve,
For when God’s people stop loving and stop praying, all hope suddenly shatters,
Remind us to learn from the example of Jesus; let us watch Him and observe.

Dear Heavenly Father, motivate and inspire us as the body of Christ………….

To have compassion, to bear one another’s burdens, and redeem our precious time,
To take advantage of these critical moments; moments when others truly need us,
To remember the suffering; for if we neglect them it is just like committing a crime,
Inspire us to pray for hurting people; failure to pray is to throw them under the bus.

Dear Heavenly Father, teach and empower us as the body of Christ…………..

To serve wholeheartedly, sacrifice often, pray consistently, and love better,
To see the city of Houston as Jesus does; teach us to weep with those who weep,
To do good to our neighbor by the power of the Holy Spirit, and not the letter,
Empower us to love the city of Houston; this is what You command of your sheep.

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Your likes or comments are always appreciated! I will do my best to respond to each one. And if you enjoy my posts, I wouldn’t mind an extra subscriber either. (-:  God bless you, and thanks for stopping by!  – Jamie

The Brightness of the Son Eclipses All

ECLIPSE

 

The anticipation was overwhelming, and the people’s response was not to be believed,
The world watched with utter fascination, as the moon passed between earth and sun,
But many did not dwell on its Creator, of whom no human mind can fully conceive,
The brightness of His glory eclipses all, for He is truth and light; He is God the Son.

Even such a mind-blowing stellar event cannot compare to the brightness of Christ Jesus,
For created things can never rise above their Creator; He stands infinitely far above all,
His face shines like the sun in full strength, and with His blazing eyes He sees us,
Earth and sky will at once flee from Him; His majesty makes them seem so very small.

Upon that day when they finally see Jesus, there will be no protective glasses for unbelievers to wear,
They will hide in the mountains, and call for rocks to fall on them; they spurned the cross and all it stands for,
They rejected Christ and will forever be consumed by His holy fire; He will not give them even one kind stare,
For they have turned away from the King, and treated redemption like it were something cheap, to be bought in a store.

The creation of the sun, stars, and the billions of galaxies; all of these came from the mighty Word of God,
He sets everything in motion and decrees from eternity past the time of every eclipse, long before the world even began,
And one day Christians will see Him with unveiled glory; no need for glasses, no need to fear or put on a facade,
For God loves His children, those who trust in Him; for the perfect Lamb has rescued them from the terrible fall of man.

Remember the transfigured Jesus before His terrified disciples? Remember Isaiah’s reaction to seeing the pre-incarnate Christ?
Well……..the brightness of that eclipse you witnessed is like a light bulb, unable to be perceived when in the presence of its Maker,
I hope the sight reminded you of Jesus, of His infinite power and wisdom; and that He came down from heaven and was sacrificed,
For if you only see the eclipse as an end in itself, not pointing to the King, then fear for your soul; you are an unforgiven lawbreaker.

To all unbelievers, whether you are an atheist, a Jew, a Buddhist, a Muslim, of even a regular churchgoing hypocrite,
Look to the Light, look to the heavens and be saved, look to the Christ who died and rose again, so that you might live,
Look to the One the recent eclipse merely pointed to, the One who bled and died for sinners, go to Him and admit,
That you have worshiped lesser things, maybe not sun and moon, but yourself; repent and turn to Jesus; He will forgive.

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Your likes or comments are always appreciated! I will do my best to respond to each one. And if you enjoy my posts, I wouldn’t mind an extra subscriber either. (-:  God bless you, and thanks for stopping by!  – Jamie

Our Stillborn Baby’s Greatest Gain

BABY 22
The next time you visit your stillborn, and you’re crying at the site of their grave,
Remember: your baby is more alive than ever; they have no crying, no tears, no pain.
He or she is now in perfect joy with all the saints, those whom Jesus came to save,
You must remember that the day of our greatest loss was our baby’s greatest gain.

Jesus has a special love for babies, and He knows each one by name,
Right now they are with Him in spirit, and one day with glorified bodies.
They can’t stop being near our Savior, for in heaven He is worth all the fame,
Our littles are well taken care of; no need to worry daddies and mommies.

So for those of you in Christ, you will one day join your baby at the throne,
And see for yourself the majesty, beauty, and wonder of His glorious Name.
At that moment all your heartache will be lifted, and you’ll finally be at home,
And you’ll realize that the day of your greatest loss was your baby’s greatest gain.

They are now with their Lord and Savior, far better than being here on earth,
God has many plans for them, and an infinite number of days to work with.
Our babies love to praise our God and King, for they have been doing so since birth,
You may or may not believe this, but I tell you the truth; heaven is no myth.

The joy of heaven is Jesus Christ; our babies know this and experience it every day,
They have just begun to enjoy His glory, and I hope one day you will do the same.
For when we finally see His face, shining like the sun with beams headed our way,
There will be no question, that the day of our greatest loss was our baby’s greatest gain!

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Your likes or comments are always appreciated! I will do my best to respond to each one. And if you enjoy my posts, I wouldn’t mind an extra subscriber either. (-:  God bless you, and thanks for stopping by!  – Jamie

 

A Warning To Men Behaving Badly On Facebook

Image result for men typing hands

 

I do not enjoy writing posts like this. But I feel compelled to do so. Some of you men are in spiritual danger. You need to be awakened. While women do bear a certain amount of responsibility for what I am about to address, this post will be directed toward my own gender. It is addressed to both married and single men. Men who profess to know and love Jesus. Men who want to be gratified in the flesh through Facebook interaction with the opposite sex. Men who are in grave danger, because you are playing with fire. 

Over the last few months, I have been grieved by men behaving badly on Facebook. I am seeing comments made on female Facebook profiles that prompts me to write this. I am referring to the comments you make when a female posts a new picture of herself. And I am not referring to just any picture. I am talking about pics that are mildly provocative, or in some cases blatantly provocative. There is a very real danger here that some of you guys are either blinded to, or even worse, are willfully engaging in. Either way, it is time for you to respond to the Word of God, and put to death what is earthly and sensual in you. If you are born again, bought with the blood of our precious Savior, you will heed this warning. Before writing this, I prayed for your repentance. I know the struggle very well. God saved me from a life given to sexual sin. He can do the same for you. I want you to know what true freedom is like.

Are You the Flirting Type?

Some of you guys are the flirting type. And I don’t mean the type of flirting that is normal, healthy, and acceptable. After all, if every type of flirting were wrong, then hardly anyone would ever meet, date, and get married. DUH. But men, those of you who are behaving badly on Facebook, your flirting is different than this. To those of you who love making suggestive comments on female threads, especially when they post a new picture of themselves, and THEN say you love Jesus, you are in danger. Why? Because, as R.C. Sproul says, “A profession of faith doesn’t justify anybody. It’s the possession of faith that justifies.” If you are engaging in sinful and unrepentant flirting, you may be deceived into thinking that you are truly a redeemed man. But this may not be the case. Redeemed men love Jesus. And if you love Jesus, you will also love and respect women who are created in His image. So, if you find yourself gawking at, lusting over, and commenting on sexy female photos…….examine yourself. (2 Corinthians 13:5)

You Can’t Hide From God

You love it when females post the sexy pictures, don’t you? You know, the ones with the provocative clothing. The ones you are just dying to compliment. The ones that get you sexually charged, especially when you make suggestive comments on them. Trust me. I’ve seen the comments from some of you. And here’s what you need to know: Your suggestive comments are not going unnoticed by God. He not only sees you commenting, but He knows the depths of your perverted motivation behind the act. Men, please wake up. You are making an idol of a pleasure that is wicked and fleeting. You are choosing a sexual “high” over the King of kings and Lord of lords. Sin always has pleasure attached to it. If it didn’t give you pleasure to comment on her picture, then you would just stare at her without commenting. And, of course, there would be enough sin in the staring to condemn you anyway.

The Reason You Comment

But I believe there is a reason why you go a step further than simply looking. When making suggestive comments, it fuels your lust even more. Making those provocative statements gives you more sexual release. The exchange gives you a sort of “sexual connection” to the woman.  If you make a comment like “Wow, hot stuff!”, you know that she knows that you are turned on by her. If you simply looked and lusted after her, she would never know. God would know, of course. (And He matters more than anyone!) But if you type a comment, now she knows you think she looks “hot.” And you may even fantasize that she is now turned on because you think she is hot. And that knowledge alone produces all manner of wickedness in you. It makes your hormones rage even more, and your mind race with uncontrolled lust. What a vicious cycle this is. I know this sounds like I am being hard on you. But trust me, I’ve been where you are. Before I got saved, the danger took place in “chat rooms.” Remember those? Well, now, it’s a different medium. But the heart behind it all is still the same. Your flesh is weak and satan is a roaring lion. Neither one will let you go easily. You need this warning.

Easy To Justify, Right?

I know……….it’s very tempting, isn’t it? I have red blood running through my veins just like you. We don’t always know temptation is coming. We are simply scrolling. Yes, the very innocuous act of “scrolling.” And then, out of nowhere, some girl from across the country who you are never going to meet has posted a pic that is a bit too alluring. Maybe for her the pic was just “cute” when she and her friends were hanging out on the boardwalk. A picture she may even think is innocent, with no ill intention to provoke men to lust. But unfortunately, her good intentions don’t help you when she is standing there in a teeny bikini. And all of a sudden, it happens. You get sucked in like a vacuum pulling up dirt.

What’s The Big Deal?

Guys, if you’re not careful, Facebook can be a breeding ground for this type of deception. The common scenario works something like this. Her picture is enticing. It catches your eye. And then, your hormones begin to kick in. You better keep scrolling or look away because next, of course, is your heart. You are in danger of worshiping yourself over God by gratifying yourself at another’s expense. You’re tired. You’re stressed. And it would feel great, wouldn’t it, if you could just flirt a little? Ya know, just a tiny bit? You know, tell her how good she looks. What harm could that possibly cause? I mean, it’s not like you two are going to be vulgar on Facebook or anything. At least not publicly. Your comment is just going to get lost in a sea of 100 other comments from men anyway. So what’s the big deal? It even looks like she is enjoying all the comments! You’re just being “friendly” like everyone else, right? Well, no.

The Words of Jesus

Here’s why it is a big deal. “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). So there you have it guys. When a girl is wearing revealing clothes, and you keep staring at her picture, you are committing sexual sin. As Jesus said, you are an adulterer at heart. And when you compliment her, you are diving head first into further sin. If she were to see you in person and make sexual advances toward you, you would not be able to fight her off. You would welcome her advances, and in fact, invite them. Men, start guarding your heart! (Proverbs 4:23) I tell you this because I care about you, and I don’t want you to become enslaved to the deception of sexual sin.

It’s All Her Fault

Oh, but you say, “Jamie, she flirted with me first!” Or “She shouldn’t be showing off her tummy when she takes selfies!” What about this excuse? “I didn’t start making provocative comments. It was her.” Or how about “I was caught off guard. Really, I was!” Ok, then I give you these words from God: “For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, And her mouth is smoother than oil; But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, Sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, Her steps lay hold of hell. Lest you ponder her path of life— Her ways are unstable; You do not know them(Proverbs 5:3-6). You are never just “caught off guard.” You have a worship problem. When you say you love Jesus, and then cater to the sexual advances (verbal or physical) of cute women on Facebook, you do not love Jesus. You don’t love those women. You love yourself. Period. 

Jesus Died For Facebook Sins

You can’t blame Facebook. Facebook isn’t the problem, of course. Your sinful heart is the problem. Facebook is merely a tool for you to get what you want. So, put the sin to death when you first recognize the temptation. When you see the mini skirt, keep scrolling. As God told Cain, “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” So go ahead and master it. The Holy Spirit has infinite resources to keep you from falling. But you must be active and engaged, as the Scripture teaches us! Remember, we only have a brief moment to decide if we’re going to take a close gander at her, or instead keep scrolling. So…….just keep scrolling. Look away…….scroll down…….close the laptop. Pray. And as you do, think about how Jesus hung on that cross and took the punishment for all the lustful thoughts and actions of every Christian throughout history. And that includes the thousands of lustful looks and comments on Facebook.

The Progression of Sin

And don’t forget the progression of sin as described in James 1:14: “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” Men, listen to me please. Your sin doesn’t originate from Facebook. It doesn’t originate from women in bikinis or mini skirts. It comes from within your heart. The skirt just gives you the opportunity that your lustful eyes, and commenting hands, were waiting to latch onto. I know that stings a bit. It is meant to. You cannot control everything you see posted on Facebook. But you can decide (through the work of the Holy Spirit) to obey Christ by not feeding your lust.

What To Do Now

If any of this describes you, you already have something to pray about, don’t you? You could pray that God would give you pure and holy desires, and that He would grant you repentance over social media sins. Or you may even need to pray that God would save your soul. it’s quite possible that your persistent, unrepentant Facebook lust indicates that you do not really know Jesus. But it is not too late. Get right with Jesus now.

I love you and do not want you to end up in hell. I myself am still a sinner who is saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. I have to battle the sin of lust every day, just like every other man. I want you to know Jesus, and the power of His resurrection (Philippians 3:10). I want you to be forgiven. Repent, turn to Jesus, and have your sins blotted out.

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Your likes or comments are always appreciated! I will do my best to respond to each one. And if you enjoy my posts, I wouldn’t mind an extra subscriber either. (-:  God bless you, and thanks for stopping by!  – Jamie

A Letter To My Beautiful Bride: Happy Anniversary From Your Undeserving Husband

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                               Dear Leah, my beautiful bride,

It was a rather simple day, much like any other, as I walked toward my computer, wondering what to do, not knowing my life story was being rearranged,
As God was working something amazing for His glory and my good, as I clicked onto a Christian dating site, my world would forever be changed.
I began searching for a woman, a woman who loved Jesus, who loved Scripture, a woman with character, a woman who cared about right and wrong,
I found you, and so much more; God gave me a woman who loved Jesus, who was a beauty to behold. You stole my heart; I wanted to break out in song.

From the day I first saw your profile picture, an Asian beauty, standing in a pretty yellow dress; I never could have imagined that you would see anything in me,
I never thought that God would so richly bless me, that you would one day pledge to be mine in marriage; Am I imagining this? How can this be?
My mind is still swimming in elation, still thankful every day to my great God and Savior, that this Asian beauty, Leah Francis, has become my bride,
On that very special day, in June of 2008, you graced your way down the aisle toward me; you chose to spend your earthly life walking with me, side by side.

Thank you Leah………….

For marrying me, even with all of my many imperfections,
For caring enough about me, to lovingly offer me correction.
For helping me to be a better husband, one who treats you with care,
Oh Leah, to think of life without you, is a thought I cannot bear.

Thank you Leah…………..

For putting up with me when I’m a total mess,
For lifting me up when I am depressed, and………
For loving me when I am stressed.
And though I have been for you a very difficult test,
Your love doesn’t judge me; you always give your very best.

And thank you Leah……………….

For watching me dance………horribly I must say………and patiently listening to me sing,
And for the day you said “YES” to my nervous marriage proposal, and accepted my ring.
For laughing at my jokes, even though few…….well……none of them are really that funny,
For being so kind and encouraging, making our home always feel so bright and sunny.

You may not think it’s true, but I think you are truly stunning,
When I see your beautiful face, it makes me come-a-running.
I cherish every moment with you; I love to hear your every thought,
How gracious God has been to me! I’m enjoying every moment He has brought.

Nine years after our wedding, it still feels to me like a dream come true,
That I get to call you my bride, grow old together, and share my life with you.
You are too good for me, and I received far better than I deserve, a woman who loves Jesus, an Asian beauty who stole my heart,
I have to pinch myself every day, because I still can’t believe you looked into my eyes and spoke these words, “Till death do us part.”

I hope you enjoy this little poem, even though you’re worth so much more,
For you are more than just beautiful, kind, and gracious; you are the woman I adore.

 

Happy Anniversary Leah!! I love you!!

Your undeserving husband,  Jamie

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Your likes or comments are always appreciated! I will do my best to respond to each one. And if you enjoy my posts, I wouldn’t mind an extra subscriber either. (-:  God bless you, and thanks for stopping by!  – Jamie

10 Things Parents of Stillborn Babies Want You To Know (Part 6): The Power of Parental Bond

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Death does not break the bond between parent and child. God is the one who created this bond. And stillbirth does not, and cannot, sever it………ever. You don’t have to change a diaper to be a parent. You don’t have to be awoken at night to a crying baby to be a parent. You don’t have to suffer through a “Walmart fiasco” when your child can’t have their favorite toy. You don’t need to read stories to your little ones at night to qualify as a parent. You don’t need to have tons of cute pictures and videos to upload on social media to qualify as a parent either. Those things happen for most parents, but they are not an option for parents of stillborn babies. But, you know what, we are still parents. And nothing will ever change that.

As we continue on in this series of posts dealing with stillborn baby loss, we come to this vital piece of the puzzle for those who have lost stillborn babies. It is crucial for us as the parents, and others who are part of our lives, to know that we really are parents. And it is so important to us that everyone clearly acknowledges this. Otherwise, we suffer needless heartache. When people don’t have this understanding for parents of stillborn babies, it makes things so much more difficult than they have to be. As weird as it sounds, we feel like we have to accommodate you. We feel like we have to make you emotionally comfortable in talking to us. Like we have to offer the perfect explanation so as to remove all the awkwardness from you. Like we have to justify calling ourselves parents, or referring to our baby. Strange, but unfortunately true.

With that said, we come to #8. Parents of stillborn babies want you to acknowledge………

#8 We want you to acknowledge the powerful bond that we have with our babies, and want you to refer to us as their parents.

 

Yes…….We Really Are Parents

Should be obvious, ha? I mean, doesn’t a stillborn baby have the mother and father’s genetics? Isn’t a stillborn baby comprised of sperm and egg? Doesn’t a stillborn baby grow in the mommy’s tummy? Isn’t a stillborn baby created in God’s image? If you really think about it, why would we be referred to as anything else besides the baby’s parents? But parents of stillborn babies know exactly why I mention all of this. Sadly, many people don’t think of us as parents, at least not in any meaningful, life-changing way. Well, unless of course, we have other children…….then most folks will boldly pronounce us as “Class A” Parents. Top of the line, real, living, “just like us” kind of parents. But even then, an odd distinction is made between living children and stillborn babies. People don’t want to engage you as much regarding your stillborn. Somehow they miss the fact that your eyes just lit up with the mere thought of being able to talk about your baby! They just blow right by the opportunity. And it never gets easy. It is always frustrating beyond belief. Your baby’s memory gets sideswiped like a car on a hit and run that just drives away like nothing serious even happened.

No Bedtime Bible Stories

I don’t have any living children, but the sense I get from people is that a stillborn baby just isn’t as deserving of all the conversation as other kids are. Why is this? Most people make no favorable comparison between a living child and a stillborn baby. What a crying shame this is. It’s almost like the real reason someone is considered a parent is because they have ongoing celebrations and hardships that parents of stillborns do not have. For example, we can never talk about our stillborn baby as being a 2 year old toddler who is out of control, or a 10 year old who made the honor roll again this year, or how long it’s taking to potty train them, or how enjoyable it is to read them the Bible every night. Parents of stillborns do not have these particular joys, heartaches and stresses. We have different ones. We don’t have an experience that the majority of parents can relate to. And because of that, they do not typically acknowledge us as being like them.

Getting Your Hands Dirty

If you haven’t gotten your hands dirty (so to speak), and you haven’t dealt with all the things parents normally deal with, then you just simply fall short. Even worse, it feels to us like our precious little baby is the one who falls short. If you’ve had a lot of experience (diapers, crying fits at night, cute pics, sports, discipline issues, etc.), then you get acknowledged by others as being real parents. And your baby is acknowledged as a real baby. Otherwise, for the most part, you and baby get overlooked. Yes, there are compassionate people out there who are the exceptions. But sadly, those people are few and far between. Achievement and experience should not be the deciding factor in whether someone qualifies as a parent or a baby. Because if that is the case, then all miscarried, aborted, and stillborn babies have nothing to show. And that is tragic.

The Not-So-Terrible 2’s

But what if you were not dealing with the difficulty of child rearing? What if you were only dealing with the difficulty of not being able to rear a child, because your only baby is dead? What then? Is it your lack of experience in raising children that determines whether or not you should be called a parent? Is it somehow an easier burden to deal with a baby’s death than it is to go through the struggles of parenting? I don’t remember where I saw it, but there is a saying out there that goes something like this: “A new mommy can’t sleep at night because of her crying baby. But a mommy of a stillborn can’t sleep at night because she doesn’t hear her baby cry.” Parents of stillborns would do anything for our baby to be with us, even if that means they would have a screaming fit inside Target when they turned 5 years old. We would do anything to have seen their first poopy diaper. We would have loved for our baby to go through the “Terrible 2’s.” But they never made it to 2 years of age. We would have savored even 2 hours with our baby. This is reality for most parents of stillborn babies. Even parents who have other children rarely hear their stillborn acknowledged in the same way as their other kids. This should not be.

So, How Many Kids Do You Have?

This is one of the hardest, most dreaded questions a parent of a stillborn baby ever has to answer. You might be thinking that this should really be easy for us. But it isn’t. We have to be thinking before we answer. And we only have a few seconds to contemplate how we answer. We don’t have a straightforward, one-size-fits-all answer for every person who asks. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve agonized over the fact that I did not acknowledge my daughter when people have asked me “The Question.” I can’t understand why I even do it. That is the most difficult part. I know I should say something like “Yes, I am a dad. And I have a beloved, beautiful baby girl named Ariana who died as a stillborn. I love her and miss her very much!” But most of the time, I do not say this. And even though I can’t pinpoint exactly why, I suppose it is mostly fear. Fear of the type of response I am going to receive from others. Fear of really awkward silences. Fear of people looking at me like I’m crazy for thinking I’m a father when my baby never even took a breath outside the womb. Yes, all these possible outcomes can dart through the mind at lightning speed when you are the parent of a stillborn baby.

Conclusion

So please remember this: God formed our stillborn baby’s inward parts. And just because those parts were stillborn, God still formed them inside mommy’s tummy. Nothing will ever change that. Not even the most awkward conversation. And not even the failure of a father to acknowledge his beloved baby girl, all because of the social fear and awkwardness involved. If death itself cannot break the parental bond we have with our stillborn baby, then it is absurd to think anything else will. God is the One who creates this powerful bond. It is His design alone. And no one can ever undo what He has done.

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Your likes or comments are always appreciated! I will do my best to respond to each one. And if you enjoy my posts, I wouldn’t mind an extra subscriber either. (-:  God bless you, and thanks for stopping by!  – Jamie

Happy Mother’s Day to My Mom, Who Now Loves Jesus

JOYCE

Dear mom,

Happy Mother’s Day, I hope you enjoy your day and don’t spend it worried or stressing,
I hope you find great joy in Jesus today, as you bask in what Christ has given you, which is every spiritual blessing.
I have seen you grow over the last few years in the knowledge of God through the Scripture,
Your Bible is worn out whenever I come to visit, and that sight is for me a very beautiful picture.

I hope you know what a joy it is for me to have fellowship with you, knowing that you are not only my earthly mother,
But because we are in Christ, with God as our Father, this means you are forever my dear sister, and I am your brother.
How wonderful it is to hear you on the phone proclaiming your devotion to the gospel of Jesus Christ, the King of kings,
Not worrying about the opinions of others, the cares of this world, or anything else that falls under the “lesser things.”

Thank you, mom, for all your hard work with dad, raising me, caring for me, and watching over me,
And even though we did not know Jesus back then, He is working in us now, He has set both of us free.
How wonderful it is to see how far He has brought you, transferring you from the domain of darkness into His glorious light,
I hope we spend the rest of our lives giving praises to His Name, for He has saved us by grace alone, rescuing us from our plight.

Mom, I don’t know how many more years the Lord will give me on earth with dad and with you,
But God declares the promise of eternal life to those who trust in Christ, and His Word is always faithful and true.
I know that when one of us dies, the loss is only temporary, for one day we will both be in the presence of the King, together with all the saints,
And we will forever worship the Lamb of God, without sickness, without sin, without crying or pain, and absolutely no restraints.

You inspire me to be bold in my faith, for I know that you speak to other family and friends about the glorious gospel,
By telling them they must repent and believe, even when they have no interest, and often act offended, like they are hostile.

But you continue to hold to the truth, regarding salvation, the sanctity of life and marriage, not knowing how anyone will react,
And you tell them that Jesus is the only Way, that His Word is the truth; I have even seen you give total strangers a gospel tract.

You have increased in your love for Christ and for others, all of this over the last few years,
The love you have shown for Leah and I, and the rest of the family, could bring me to tears.
You have shown kindness and generosity, sacrificed and given your time, proving that the Holy Spirit is your guide,
And I know you would do it all over again, if it meant that others would benefit, and that Jesus Christ would be glorified.

Thank you mom, for always thinking and praying for Leah and I, for showing us hospitality when we visit, and for cooking all of your amazing Italian food,
For letting me know that God is in control when I’m stressed, and that He loves me; this shows me that you are becoming more like Jesus, that is all I can conclude.
Thank you for recording all those sermons every time I visit, and watching them with me; it warms my heart to know that we both enjoy listening to good preaching,
And don’t you ever think you failed me in any way, just because you came to Christ late in life; you are finishing well mom, and all of your love is providing me some really great teaching.

Thank you for being there when my precious Ariana died, for always remembering her birthdays, for holding her and helping me through the difficult pain,
For comforting me with words that only a mom can give, everything you spoke was done with love and compassion, it all mattered to me, none of it was in vain.
We all know that you are a precious gift from God; Gina, Steph, Leah, Dad, Mike, and all of your grandkids would  agree,
That we all love you; you are cherished by all of us, and most importantly, remember that Jesus loves you; that is a guarantee!

                                          With much love in Christ,

                                                 Your son,  Jamie

10 Things Parents of Stillborn Babies Want You To Know (Part 5): Don’t Change the Subject

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“Hey, did you guys hear about Johnny??!!”
the proud father excitedly asks his fellow co-workers. “He hit 2 home runs, and he pitched a no hitter in Friday’s game!” “In fact, it was the first no hitter in the schools entire history! I can’t believe it!” The crew gives him a nod of acknowledgement, as if to say “We heard you just mouth a few words in our direction, so we are simply agreeing with what you said.” Then, it’s simply business as usual. No congratulatory words. No excitement. No further questions. Just a simple nod is all little Johnny gets from the crowd. Waiting for any kind of response turns into an agonizing silence. The father waits with annoyance. Nothing. Not a peep. Dead silence. And I mean a dead, awkward, rude, painful, you-gotta-be-kidding-me kind of silence. Apparently, this father’s excitement for his son’s athletic performance is not catchy. He is hurt, but there is nothing he can do about it. He can’t force them to be interested. By not hearing a word of congratulations in response to his son’s great story, the father feels like he was dissed……..treated with contempt. The hurt cuts deep. And the hurt isn’t primarily that he was dissed, but that his son was dissed.

As we continue on with my series on how to minister well to those who have suffered the loss of a stillborn baby, the next two points will be condensed into one overall point.

Parents of stillborn babies want you to know…………….

 

#6 We want you to become more comfortable in conversation, and not change the subject so quickly whenever we talk about our precious babies.

#7 When we bring up in conversation that we had a stillborn, we want you to know that simply saying “I’m sorry” is a much better option than total, dismissive silence.

 

Children Deserve Better

The poor, stressed out daddy now figures he can at least brag to the people who attend the same book club meeting he does. He’ll tell them about his son’s amazing performance. “Surely they won’t ignore my own flesh and blood son,” he thinks to himself. “After all the time we’ve spent together. After all the times I listened to their pathetic stories.” This one is a shoe-in, right? After he arrives at the meeting, he goes through the above scenario again. The father repeats, “My son Johnny hit 2 home runs today, and he pitched a no-hitter!!” But this time, things are different. There is a response. As the leader of the discussion group looks toward the others, he says “Oh ok, good for him. Hey, did any of you guys see how many passing yards Brady had last night? He is on my fantasy league ballot, and I missed the box score.” Ouch. The son is dissed yet again. This father may never get over this hurt. And he may hesitate to share anything valuable again. He feels like no one cares about his son. He is feeling the pain of rejection. Not for himself per say, but mostly for his child.

More Than a Baseball Game

As bad as the above example is, imagine that you were talking about more than a performance in a baseball game. Imagine you were talking about the day your child was born. Even more, imagine if you are talking to someone about the day your baby was born……..and died. No parent wants their child to be ignored, either in person or in conversation talking about your child. Especially when you are talking about the painful ordeal of seeing your baby come forth from the womb……….dead. No life. No breath. No smile. No crying. No anything. Then, imagine you try to talk about your baby with others, and instead of being given the gracious liberty to do this, you are shut down because someone had a “more important” topic to discuss. They don’t even give it a second thought. This is so disheartening to parents of stillborn babies. When you ignore our conversation so flippantly, you are communicating to us that our baby is second class. That our baby doesn’t matter. That our baby is too much of an inconvenience to even talk about, or listen to someone else talk about. You communicate to us that you believe that our baby is still born, but not still loved.

Babies Come From God

We all love to talk about things we love. I know……..I’m a genius to figure that out. And since parents love their kids, they also love to talk about their kids. Logical, isn’t it? And parents love for people to listen to them when they talk about their kids. And for good reason. Scripture says, “Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him” (Psalm 127:3). They are the fruit of a mommy’s womb. They have DNA of both mommy and daddy. They are the miraculous, beautiful result of the one flesh union the Bible talks about (Ephesians 5). And most importantly, babies are human beings created in the image of Almighty God. He has planned for the existence of each and every baby who is ever conceived. Notice I didn’t say born, but conceived. Scripture clearly teaches that life begins at conception, which means that every life of every baby began at conception……..not when the first breath was taken outside the womb.

Could this be why stillborn babies are ignored so much? Is it because he or she never breathed outside the womb? Is it because some people don’t consider them to have ever been fully human? I don’t want to get too far into the abortion issue on this post, but my point is worth considering. Here’s what the Scripture says about personhood in the womb……

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).

King David’s personhood is spoken about long before he ever emerges from the womb. Notice the personal pronoun “my” repeated twice in the above verse. If you are the parent of a stillborn baby, remember that God says they were a person from the very moment of conception. It is a good thing to remind the people in your life of this fact as well.

Love Comes From God

God is the one who implants the love within us that we have for our babies.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7).

And even those who don’t know God savingly still have that parental instinct to love and care for their children, and to be zealous for their well-being and their reputation. No matter what the circumstances are of a baby being conceived, or what kind of physical and mental defects the baby may have, or what kind of problems they are born into, they are precious, beautiful, and always a gift from God. He gives the gift of children with the responsibility for parents to love them. And He is the One who empowers us to love them. The fact that parents of stillborns continue to love their babies many years after their death is a God-given emotion. And despite how painful it is sometimes to love a baby you never had the chance to play with, I still wouldn’t trade this pain in for anything. And I’m sure other parents would agree. The pain is evidence of the love we have for them. The memories are even more evidence. Dealing with the pain keeps our eyes focused on Jesus. He dealt with much worse pain. He can handle ours. And one day, He will completely heal our pain.

Sacred Ground

God knows His precious little ones. And the Bible clearly teaches that personhood begins the moment sperm and egg unite together. Remember, God is sovereign over this baby being conceived. He knows and loves the stillborn baby more than even the parents ever will. God is certainly not responsible for sins anyone commits in the conception of a baby, but He does decree the baby’s conception. In fact, He decrees all things that come to pass. No baby is ever a “mistake.” I was not a Christian when my precious Ariana was conceived. Having sex outside of marriage is clearly forbidden by God. But her birth was still known and decreed by Almighty God. This is a great mystery, of course. But it is the truth of Scripture. So, when a parent of a stillborn baby starts talking about how they had a baby who died during the birth process (or shortly before), remember that God knit this stillborn baby together in mommy’s womb (Psalm 139). Please regard this conversation highly. Not only to minister and show compassion to parents who are deeply hurting, but because the baby is the handiwork of the Almighty. When you listen to someone speak of how much they love and miss their own child, and how much pain they are suffering, you are standing on sacred ground.

We Sympathize With You

It may be uncomfortable for you (we know this). You may not know exactly what to say (and it’s ok, we understand). But other times, you may be thinking about that job promotion, or the fact that you really just want to go home and get something to eat. These things may be true to one degree or another. After all, we are all human and have needs. Conversational skill takes time, education, and effort. Ministering to others effectively takes lifetimes to learn. We don’t expect you to be perfect. But we want you to know that it is hurtful when you remain silent when we just want you to ask a question. Just one question about our baby. It doesn’t matter what it is. Just some type of acknowledgement would be worlds better than total silence, or changing the subject altogether. Little things like that mean so much to hurting people.

Saying “I’m Sorry”

If we bring it up in conversation, you can be absolutely certain that we want to talk about our babies. And we do not desire to have a one-way conversation. We are talking to you. We want you to be a part of the conversation. We are inviting you into our world to bear a little of the burden we have experienced, a tiny piece of our suffering in having a stillborn baby. At that moment, we are giving our hearts to you. We are sharing some of the most intimate, painful details of our life with you. It is a golden opportunity for us to vent our hurts, to take joy in bragging about our baby, to remember and cherish those moments we had with them. Please let us have that experience by listening and speaking words of compassion.

And if you don’t have a clue what to say, just look at us in the eyes softly with compassion and say “I’m so sorry that happened to you.” That’s all. Nothing more is needed. But anything less might be taken as dismissive silence. And that is not good either. As grieving parents, we do want some type of response. And if you simply make eye contact and say “I’m sorry”, you will minister more to us in those few seconds than you will ever know. We certainly don’t expect you to have the same raw emotions as we do. And we don’t even want you to pretend to have the same emotions either. We just want your ears, your eyes, your mouth, and most of all………..your heart. Even if only for a few moments.

We Can’t Help It

Parents of stillborn babies can’t help being hurt and upset when their baby is treated like a second rate conversational topic. No matter who you are, whether your children are living or dead, God has given parents such an immense love for them that we simply cannot help how we feel. We make no apologies for our hurts. Parents of stillborn babies cannot help the fact that blogs like this one have to be written. Everyone else in the world may change the topic, or remain silent. But you can bet your bottom dollar that’ll never be us. We will never stop talking about our babies. Despite all the awkwardness, we will keep trying………always. Our babies are worth it. They may have been stillborn, but they are still loved. And they always will be. So everyone might as well get used to it. Stillborn babies never had the chance to enter a human conversation. Hopefully, the parents are doing their best to make up for lost time.

Conclusion

David Platt once said……..

There is a unique pain that comes from preparing a place in your heart for a child that never comes.

Platt is right. And since the stillborn child never comes, the parents will work tirelessly to bring that child to others. And they do it through conversation. It is the only way for them to give others a glimpse into a life that ended way too soon. Don’t make parents regret that moment of opening themselves up to you. It is much too precious to them.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! If you enjoy my articles, you can subscribe to this blog by email. It’s free!  And no spam at all! Simply find the box that says “Stay In Touch!!” and enter your email address. The box will be on your upper right (computer), or bottom part of your screen (phone). I appreciate your support!  (-:

Which Sermon Has Made the Greatest Impact on Your Christian Life?

Image result for preaching a sermon john piper

 

I want to know which sermon has had the greatest impact on you. I want to know which sermon God has used to sanctify you more than anything else you have heard. The one that kept you up at night after you heard it. The one that you couldn’t wait to recommend to everyone at church, because you just knew their faith would be strengthened. I’m talking about the sermon that you’ve listened to dozens of times, and it never gets old. The one that convicts you every time you hear it. The one that makes you want to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” And most of all, the one that makes you appreciate and savor the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ above anything else you’ve ever heard. After all, Christ is the reason that pastors preach. He is the reason Christians listen to good sermons. We want to know Him and the power of His resurrection (Philippians 3:9). We want to love Him better than we do, and find out what pleases Him. Jesus is the One the Holy Spirit points us to when we hear Biblical preaching. That’s the kind of answer I’m looking for here. I really desire your feedback on this.

Which sermon are you thinking about now, even as you read this? Who’s it going to be?

Charles Spurgeon? John MacArthur? Martin Luther? Conrad Mbewe? John Piper? Paul Washer? Alistair Begg? George Whitfield? Al Mohler? Voddie Baucham? One of the Puritans (Watson, Bunyan, Sibbes, etc.) Jonathan Edwards? A sermon by your own pastor at your local church? The list could go on and on. But I do have one simple caveat: No heretics allowed. Your answer must be the name of someone who preaches the one true gospel. He must be orthodox when it comes to the main thing. Sorry to state the obvious, but it had to be said. So, Rob Bell……not allowed. Joel Osteen………not allowed. Benny Hinn……….well, I think you get the idea. Prosperity preachers need not apply. And if you have in mind that William P. Young guy who wrote The Shack, I plan on………..ahem……..accidentally skipping over that answer when I scroll through the comments.

This survey isn’t necessarily about the most popular preaching. It isn’t about sermons that tickle your itching ears. It’s about sermons that have increased your love and worship for Jesus Christ. It’s not about comfortable sermons that make you feel good about yourself. It’s about sermons that reveal how bad you truly are, but make you look to the cross with joy and adoration that you are a forgiven sinner. We, as the body of Christ, have been so blessed over the centuries with great preaching! It is a gracious gift from God. Listening to good preaching is one of the primary ways we grow in our sanctification. And I think it’s a good idea to let others know sermons that have helped us the most. That way, they can listen and benefit as much as we have. So do your brothers and sisters a favor, would you?

I believe it’ll be a great tool for others to use, especially new believers. Believers who may be unfamiliar with some of the great names throughout church history. Believers who do not yet possess good enough discernment when they google search sermons to listen to. Let us do good to one another by helping each other make wise choices. Please use the “comment” section below to give me your answer. I am looking for the name of the preacher and the title of the sermon. That’s it. Don’t worry about when and where it was preached. Name and title will suffice. If you would like, you can give a brief explanation of why the sermon means so much to you. But it isn’t required. I will publish the results after several weeks.

I am really interested to see what you have to say! Thank you so much for participating and God bless you!