Some of the Saddest Last Words Ever Spoken

david-cassidy-2000

 

“So much wasted time.” According to his daughter Katie, these were the last words uttered by former teen heartthrob David Cassidy. He succumbed to liver failure on November 21st, 2017. The news of his passing, as well as every person who dies, reminds us all that we are only here for a short time, and then we vanish. I know that sounds awfully morbid and depressing. But it’s true. We experience it close to home and when we read the news. And Scripture affirms it. “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14).

Yet, most of us try to forget about this sobering truth. It’s like we push it aside purposefully and think death won’t happen to us for a long time. We live sometimes with reckless abandon when it comes to our Christian faith, not applying ourselves to the very Word of God. We always think we will have another day to make something right that we have previously wronged. Our mindset if often warped. We think things like……..

I’ll call her sometime and try to work things out. I’m just too angry right now at what happened.

Oh, you know what, it’s his fault. he needs to reach out to me first.

I’ll start praying more when the new year rolls around.

When I don’t have so much work to do, I’ll start spending more time with my wife.

I’ll stop looking at porn soon. I just need to get my fix for a little while longer.

Get the picture? We should not play such dangerous games with God. Time is running shorter every moment that passes. God can take us at any given moment.

Now, it would be really easy for us to point the finger at David Cassidy. His alcohol abuse and legal problems were well known. And while we can see clearly as to why such a lifestyle would be considered wasting time, we don’t often take the log out of our own eye first. Cassidy’s last words should not make us judge him harshly, but ought to break our hearts. And it ought to make us think more soberly about our own failures and sinful patterns. At least Cassidy had the humility to recognize that he had indeed “wasted much time.” He had the fame, the girls, the alcohol, and everything else that Hollywood excess is known for. But it took organ failure and being surrounded by loved ones on his death bed, to bring him to the place of agonizing regret.

At the end of one’s life, what does all that ill-gotten pleasure matter? What does it matter if you have wasted your time? What does it matter if you had numerous hit singles? What does it matter if the illicit sex felt good, or the drugs gave you a nice high? What does it all matter when you failed to love your family? And what does it matter if you constantly put other things before Jesus Christ? I am not sure what all was going through David Cassidy’s mind before his death. But his final words ought to bring us Christians to our knees and pray that we would stop wasting time. There is a line in the famous poem by British missionary C.T. Studd that goes like this: ‘Tis one life, it will soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.’

There is something more frightening than being on our death bed. And that is being on our death bed with regrets related to disobedience and wasted time. Time that could have been spent in the Word of God, praying, putting our sins to death, loving our spouses, and sharing the gospel. And what about spending time with church family and reconciling broken relationships? All too frequently we put these things on the shelf, supposedly waiting for a “better” time to deal with it. We foolishly assume that we will have time to take care of important things later in life. But folks, this is not Christianity. God does not give us “Time Outs” in our walk with Christ. He gives us commands to obey, and He doesn’t negotiate the time frame on when we start obeying them. The time is now. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). So let us get busy doing things for Christ that will last. Let us get busy now, so that we don’t regret it later.

Our biggest problem is that we often resort to other more ‘comfortable’ things so we don’t have to deal with the hard stuff. We end up watching too much Netflix, commenting on too many posts, tweeting about anything and everything, and stressing over matters we cannot control. Do we really want to wait until we have just a few hours (or minutes) to live before we realize that we wasted so much time? Do we really want to wait until we have stage 4 cancer to become diligent about eternal matters? Do we really want to stay angry and frustrated about the past and things that we cannot change? Do we really want to grieve the Spirit and harbor anger toward a brother or sister in Christ? I think not.

Lying on a hospital bed, surrounded by family, David Cassidy wished he had done things differently. We all have choices to make everyday. We either destroy our lives, and others around us, by giving in to sin. Or, we redeem the time we have by living for God. I hope and pray that Cassidy’s last words would be a wake up call to Christians everywhere. I pray that we would stop wasting time, do the hard and obedient things, and store up rewards that are everlasting.

And for those of you who aren’t Christians, you need to look to the God-man Jesus Christ, who redeemed His time on earth by living perfectly in thought, word, and deed. He spent 6 hours hanging on a cross, bearing God’s wrath for sinners like you and me. And He didn’t waste a single second of time doing it. He died, and then He rose from the grave 3 days later. All of this was purposefully planned. I urge you to repent of your sins, and receive Christ by faith. Otherwise, you will just be wasting your time on earth, and storing up wrath for eternity. And God doesn’t waste time when He is inflicting His wrath on sinners in hell.

Our days are already marked out by God beforehand. Christians, don’t put off obedience to the commands of God. Do them now. None of us will be on our deathbed regretting that we shared the gospel with too many people, or that we agonized in prayer too often, or that we humbled ourselves and asked someone for forgiveness. No, what we will regret are the times we did not share the gospel, or that we spent fighting with other Christians, or that we held a grudge against our spouse. Instead, how about we do these things to redeem the time:

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry (Colossians 3:5).

And also “aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).

And of course………..

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19).

Just a few weeks ago in a Florida hospital, the teen idol who once sang “Daydreamer” could only dream he had more time. Not just more time to exist, but more time to truly live…….with good and noble purposes. God gives us one reserve of time. And He desires that we use it for His glory. Let us repent of time wasted and begin redeeming it to glorify His Name.

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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! 

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The Prayers of a Devastated Church

 

CHURCH 2

 

A wicked man enters the parking lot, while everyone is quiet and praying,

They are talking to God and don’t know a murderer is near; They don’t know he’s coming.

I wonder………………

Were they able to pray that the horror would stop, that God would end the evil man’s slaying?

I mean………babies and children were murdered………in a church! This is all too mind-numbing.

Do the families wonder and pray this way?

Dear Lord, why did You allow this evil to happen? Why allow so much devastation and pain?

Broken lives and shattered families with no answers; we just wanted to worship You, and sing Your praise.

You had the power, and we know You are good; but an evil man entered our church and went insane,

You did allow it, and we don’t know why; we cannot comprehend; we do not understand all of Your ways.

Christians, let this be our prayer……………

Dear Lord,

Please help Texas and all of us to pray, even when we are confused and don’t fully understand,

Because we know that You are holy and good; You are perfectly wise in all of your decrees,

Your ways exceed our comprehension; we cannot fathom the things allowed by Your hand,

That goes for a church massacre and a sparrow falling to earth; even the gentle autumn breeze.


So, it is ok to wonder, Sutherland Springs……….

It is ok to wonder where your protection was. It is really ok, God understands. You can ask why. You can weep and you can cry. God understands.

He is a faithful High Priest. He suffered. He was tempted. He wept. Yes, Jesus wept. He understands………completely.

Jesus died on a Roman cross. This was brought forth by God’s hand.

The gospel, yes the glorious gospel, is where we must stand.

I know, you still wonder…………..

God, where were You? Why didn’t You stop this evil?

You wonder…………….

If He had the power, why didn’t He use it?

I do not know the answer, but I do know this……….

And I do not have to wonder……….

That in the midst of all your pain and sorrow,

And in the midst of having to face all of your worst fears,

Jesus cares for you and will never leave you. And one day He will wipe away all of your tears.

May God comfort and strengthen all of you at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. Our hearts go out to you all. We will be praying. God bless you.

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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 Day I Didn’t Protect My Baby Girl

DADDY

 

Daddies protect their baby girls. This is what they do. But I couldn’t protect mine. Long before she was even born, I had a mental list of all the things I would try to protect her from. Cuts, scrapes, and bruises from falling off her bike when she was young, to drugs, bad boys, and illicit sex when she got older. Later on, I would have added to the list things like bullies and online predators. But, in a small hospital in Northeastern PA, all these plans to protect came crashing down. All these “would be” teachings never came to pass. There was one thing I needed to protect her from that I couldn’t. I couldn’t protect her from her own strength. From her own lifeline to her mommy…….of all things. That is what she needed protection from. I didn’t do what daddies are supposed to do.

Thinking back to the very moment when I found out she was dead, I can almost recapture the same disturbing emotion……..if I concentrate hard enough. I can still hear the swooshing noises of the ultrasound machine. The deafening silence of the technician. And, even worse, the deafening silence of no heartbeat on the monitor. But my heart was probably pulsating into my shirt. And then……there was the look of fear on everyone’s face, including mine. A nightmarish feeling throughout my whole body. I wanted the technician to say something…….anything. And at the same time, I wanted her to just keep quiet. I wanted to delay what I thought would become a nervous breakdown. I was really scared. Yes, daddies get scared when their baby girl doesn’t move. It means he may never see her alive…….ever again. It means she got hurt really bad. It means he didn’t protect her.

I kept thinking “Are they going to tell me I am never taking her home?!” “Is this for real?!” “Are you telling me that I didn’t protect my baby from harm?! And how can I possibly ever protect her again, if she doesn’t come home with me?!” All of a sudden, nothing else in your life means anything to you. Money, stuff, sports, sex……….. nothing else means anything to you. Someone could tell you that you just won 10 million dollars, and you would feel dead inside. You’d push that green garbage out of your way. No desire at all for it. Money can’t buy back your baby. It cannot work a miracle. All I wanted was to protect her. But I didn’t. Simple as that. And it doesn’t matter how true it is that there is nothing I could have done. That doesn’t alleviate the agony of the whole thing. The agony has nothing to do with fault or neglect, or lack thereof. The agony is simply the fact that I never protected her. And protection is what daddies do for their little girls. And when they don’t protect, regardless of the circumstances, they live with unspeakable heartache. Their role goes unfulfilled.

I will never forget the feeling. But yet, I could never begin to accurately describe what it felt like. To be a daddy and lose your baby girl to stillbirth is a shock to your system. You don’t just “get over it”. Ever. I couldn’t make the darkness go away. I had to continually bear up under the awful reality. The reality that my baby girl is not coming home with me. I first felt the sting of this shock 15 years ago when I lost my precious Ariana. Seeing my baby girl just lying there motionless, it felt like every organ was wailing on my insides. A groaning lament that only I could hear. It wrecks your emotions something terrible. It is like someone sticking a knife in your head and ripping away the joy center of your brain, but leaving everything else intact. Something of this anguish will always be inside of me. Unfulfilled love. Unfulfilled joy. Unfulfilled expectations. And………unfulfilled obligation. And that is the obligation of protection. I wanted her to look at me with those baby eyes. I wanted her to look at me with the God-given instinct that she was safe in the arms of daddy. “I’m sorry that daddy didn’t protect you baby!” is what I would love to say to her now.

As a man, I am supposed to be the protector. And it ought to be a joy to take on such a God-given role. That is how our God designed things to be. But I couldn’t protect her in the womb. I couldn’t stop her from kicking so hard that she looped the umbilical cord around her ankle. Good daddies can, and will, warn their little girls of many things. Not that they will always listen and obey of course, but you still have the opportunity to warn them. Bad things might happen, but you can still at least try to wake them up to reality. You can still do everything under your power to step in and protect them.

And even if you can’t anticipate every possible thing that could happen to your daughter, you can still teach them about safety and common sense. You can be proactive. In fact, you should be. You can teach them how to use guns or pepper spray. You can teach them self-defense. You can teach them about unnecessary risks that they need not ever be taking. You can teach them how a teenage boy’s mind functions. You can teach about modesty in their clothing choices. You can teach them to scream at the top of their lungs “RAPE!!!!” when they are in danger. I would be teaching her all these things. Why? Because daddies are protectors of their baby girl. Even when she is 50!

Through the years, daddies can say lots of things to protect their daughters. These are some of the ways I anticipated protecting my baby……..

“Baby, you are too little for a real bike. You need training wheels for a while. I am buying you the one with training wheels.”

“No, honey, you are not allowed go to that party. End of discussion.”

“Princess, you are staying home tonight. The roads are too slick to drive on.”

“Sweetie, that skirt is too short. Go upstairs and change. Now.”

“Ariana, no Facebook for you today. And I’m taking your phone away for a few days.”

“I don’t care what Tina’s parents are letting her do. You are not going camping when boys are there!”

“I will not allow you to date that boy. He doesn’t love Jesus.”

And my personal favorite (the one I would have said most often)…………

“Repent and believe the gospel!” (If she believes this, it will protect her from hell)

Good daddies can anticipate and plan for all these things, then act accordingly. And although we can’t make her always choose properly, we can tell her why certain pathways are in her best interest to take. But one thing a daddy doesn’t say is……

“Baby, don’t kick so hard in mommy’s tummy! Stop! You don’t know your own strength! You are going to die if you keep doing that!”

I couldn’t give my baby a speech about the proper and safe way to kick while she is still inside mommy’s tummy. She didn’t know any better. She just kept kicking like crazy. Her own strength and perseverance killed her. Her lifeline to her mother was the very instrument of her death. What a handful she would have been had she made it out of the womb safely! A handful I would gladly receive any day.

The question for me isn’t “Jamie, how could you have possibly known she was going to kick like that? And even if you did, how could you have stopped her?” That’s not the issue. I didn’t keep her from harm. That is the issue. Her blood flow was cut off. I didn’t fix it. I didn’t fulfill my God-given role of being a daddy. It isn’t about fault or blame. It is about reality. It doesn’t always mean disobedience toward your role. Sometimes it just means unrealized. “It didn’t happen for you like it does everyone else” kind of thing. In other words, life can really suck sometimes! Move on. Go forward. Right? No, it doesn’t work that way. They don’t have a pain vaccine for parents who lose babies. One day, if we are in Christ, every tear will be wiped from our eyes. But now, pain hurts. A lot.

Every daddy can relate to this God-given “protection” instinct, regardless of whether your little girl is dead or alive. When she gets hurt (either emotionally of physically), you feel that protection instinct take over. And you would take any blame for her 1000 times over if you could. If she got busted for underage drinking, you’d go to jail for her if you could (and then lecture her, and ground her….forever…… after she hopefully bails you out!) You’d take a bullet for her, without even thinking. Trust me, you would. You’d give your only lifeboat to her as you drown. There are thousands of aching daddies who have little girls with cancer. And they can’t stop it from spreading! Some of these girls will never ride a bike, graduate from high school, or walk down the aisle. And I can tell you one thing for sure. If these daddies had the opportunity to take that cancer out of her body and put it into his body………………done. In the twinkle of an eye……………done.

I remember how tight I held Ariana after her stillbirth. I held her like a protective daddy. I had my chance to protect her from harm. But she knew nothing. I remember her body was flimsy. It felt like a rag doll. It was my last chance to hold her though, so I held on as long as I could. They give you time to do this at the hospital. I am thankful for that. They gave me a chance to be a daddy. Daddies are protective of their baby girl. I wanted her attention so bad. I wanted her to look just once. I wanted her to know that nothing bad was going to happen to her now, because I was holding her. I was protecting her dead body from further harm. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? But that is what daddies do. Even when their baby girl no longer has breath or a beating heart. Then they came in to take her away. Her next stop was the funeral home. Then the cemetery. I couldn’t protect her from being lowered into the ground either. Yes, I know she was dead. But they were still lowering my baby girl into the ground. Do you now see what I mean?

I wanted to teach her to ride a bike. Even more important, I wanted to protect her from falling off the bike and hurting herself. I wanted to show her how strong daddy was, and how much he loved his little girl. That he would never let her fall down and hurt herself. Maybe a little boy could deal with the bumps and bruises. But not my Ariana. I would have done everything I could to keep her from a skinned knee. Right now, I picture what her smile would look like when I catch her before her bike hits the ground. Oh how I can see the look in her eyes! I write that in the present tense because I am acting it out as vividly as I can. Then, I would tell her that Daddy would never let her crash to the ground. I would say, “Daddy loves you and doesn’t want you to ever get hurt. When you hurt, I hurt.” How else would she ever know that I was a loving protector, unless I really did protect her from something? How else would she know why I saved her from the pain, unless I explained my motives afterwards?

But Ariana did get hurt. She never saw any of my protection. And this was long before she ever got to ride a bike. I will never share that moment with her. I can hear her cute little voice shouting, “Daddy, you saved me!!” That has such an irresistible ring to it. And I would have saved her too………every time. No hitting the asphalt and “learning her lessons the hard way” for my little princess. No free range parenting on that one for me. But we never made it to the bicycle stage. I couldn’t save her on the day of her birth. Why? Because I am not her savior. All earthly fathers have limited capabilities. I simply could not help my baby. Where do I turn?

Conclusion

God Almighty is the only One who could have truly protected my baby from harm. But in His perfect and infinite wisdom, He chose not to. Sure, I have questions. But I trust Him. Yes, it is difficult. But I trust Him. No, my trust isn’t perfect. But He is perfect and I trust Him. He is the only all-sufficient Protector.

Psalm 20:1 says, “May the LORD answer you in the day of distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.”

And in Isaiah 41:10 we read “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Ariana is now with her true Protector. Ultimately, I could never fulfill that role perfectly. But now she is with the One who never fails, not even for a moment. If I had been a Christian when she died, I would have certainly grieved. But I would have grieved very differently. There would have been a peace in the midst of the storm. A peace that comes from knowing that there is no event outside of God’s control, and that Ariana’s death did not catch Him off guard. And knowing that no harm can ever again come upon her, for God is her refuge and strength. And one day I will see Ariana under the mighty protection of Jesus Christ!

I do grieve that I can never play a part in her earthly protection. Daddies long to be fulfilled that way. But now, truly I can say, nothing bad will ever happen to her again. Ariana was released from my faulty and limited protection to God’s everlasting and perfect protection. She is far better off.

I had a vague notion of heaven around the time of my baby’s death, even though I myself was headed the other way. But I had no clear understanding of the character, power, and magnificence of God. But now that the Holy Spirit has taught me some amazing things through the Word of God, I have a certain expectation of great things to come. I will see the same King whom my baby now sees.

I will see my Savior. I will see my Lord. I will see my Protector. And all of my unfulfilled love, joy, and expectations will be eternally and infinitely fulfilled in Him!

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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 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

A Simple Little Prayer When Thinking of Houston

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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

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

 

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!  (-:

10 Things Parents of Stillborn Babies Want You To Know (Part 4): Be a Good Listener

 

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People will say some of the most vile things over the phone. I know this all too well. I do customer service. I get paid to talk to people on the phone all day long. Most of my working life has been taking phone calls from people I have never spoken to before, and then attempting to help them with whatever their problem is……..as best I can. I’m thankful that people call. And I’m thankful to have a job. Nonetheless, it is challenging to hear some of the words that spew out of people’s mouths when they are not looking at you face to face. Since this is a family-friendly blog, I will not even mention some of the things I hear. Some of it would shock you to the point that you would think I’m lying. Really, no joke. There have been physical threats made against me (yes, I’m serious), insults of every kind imaginable, uncontrolled rage, you name it. Every day I go into work thinking, “I’ve heard it all.” But then, the carpet is pulled from underneath me again, and someone manages to outdo all the others with their tongue. Is it any wonder that we see these words in Scripture: “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:6).

The Phrase I Hate to Hear

With all of the garbage that I hear, there is one phrase I hear from time to time that bothers me more than any other. And it is this: Jamie, that’s NOT what I said!! You’re not listening to me, are you?!” That one hurts. In some ways, it hurts more than anything else they say to me. When customers shout vile insults, they are really just venting because they are not getting what they want. They are, in essence, having a hissy fit over the phone. Although it is sinful behavior, I don’t believe it is anything personal. They are just angry and frustrated. They may also be dealing with other difficulties in their life. I get it. I’ve been there and done that myself.

But when they tell me I’m not listening, it is personal. They are making a judgment about my ability to do my job. They think I am either being careless, rude, or neglectful. Or all three for that matter. No matter the reason for the accusation, I hate to hear it. Sometimes it is simply miscommunication. In other words, I was listening but I misinterpreted what they were asking me for. Or maybe they just didn’t phrase things in a way that makes sense. But other times, as much as I hate to admit it, they are correct in their assessment. I was stressed and distracted. I tuned out for a moment. I was preoccupied. Even worse, I put my own interests before theirs. A shameful thing indeed. In other words, I heard them speaking…….but I wasn’t really listening. And they knew it.

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As we continue exploring how to minister to parents who have lost stillborn babies, we come to #5 on the list. Parents of stillborn babies want you to know…….

#5 We want you to know that we love talking about our babies as much as any other parent loves to talk about their own kids, and we want people to at least try to listen more when we do.

 

The Rudeness of Darting Eyes

You know the feeling you get when you are talking to someone about a really important matter, and you know they are not focusing on you. Aggravating, isn’t it? You know how you try to speak with even more emphasis, thinking they will suddenly start giving you their ever-precious attention. You talk louder. You look at them more intensely. It’s like you try to will them into looking at you. But it never happens, does it? Their eyes are still all over the place. They are looking above, below, right, left, diagonal, behind, in front of………..anywhere but at you. Women especially are all too aware of this. You have to experience more than just conversational ADD. You have to deal with perverted men who look at your body when you are talking, but not at your eyes. I’m sure this is a very frustrating, and sometimes even scary, experience. The fact of the matter is this: All of us want eye contact. And for very good reasons.

To ignore someone’s eyes when they are speaking is rude and insensitive, and it can be very distressing to the one who is speaking. Especially when you are relaying something near and dear to your heart. Like say, talking about your dead baby boy or girl, whom you love dearly.  The baby whom you would give your right arm just to hear cry even one time. The one you miss so bad it hurts. The one you never got to take home with you. The baby you think about every time you are in public, when you see another parent with their child. The one you had to bury a few days after the delivery date. Imagine all of that pain and devastation. And now……now…… you can’t even have 15 seconds of someone’s attention when you talk about your baby?! Devastating indeed.

Please Don’t Slight Our Baby

And you know what the real problem is when your eyes are not engaging us? It means that our words are meaningless to you. And to us, it even says that our baby is meaningless to you. To neglect someone when they are talking is more than just neglecting the speaker. It is also to neglect the topic of the conversation. Parents of stillborn babies are protective of their babies. Yes, even though they are dead, we are protective of them. We still love them very deeply. We don’t care if you slight us when we are talking about the Patriots game. We don’t care if you disrespect us when we tell you about the new job we got. It may be rude of you to do so, and it may hurt us to a degree. But we won’t lose any sleep over it. However, we have lost sleep over the loss of our babies. And when you ignore them right in front of our eyes by not listening, you add to the insomnia.

When we talk about our baby, we don’t want them to be slighted. When you ignore us as we speak about our stillborn, and you are interested in everything else around you, you are slighting our baby. You may not think of it that way, but it is the truth. That’s how horrible it feels to us. It makes us both sad and angry at the same time. You might as well walk to their grave site and kick dirt over the top of it. It gives us the same murky feeling inside our guts. To not listen is to count the topic of conversation as meaningless and trivial. Not worthy of your time or your attention. Remember this the next time you are talking to a parent who has lost a stillborn baby. Don’t think for a moment that- because we didn’t get to spend much time with our baby- it somehow means we don’t love them as much as other parents. This would be a grievous mistake. When I talk about my precious Ariana, it means everything to me when your eyes don’t float around the room.

One Simple Request

We are not asking you to take the pain away. We know you cannot do that. No one can do that. That pain will be with us to some degree for our entire lives. For those of us who know Jesus Christ, the pain will all be taken away when He returns. (I can’t wait for that moment!!) So for the here and now, we aren’t asking you for a miracle. All we are asking is that you give us a listening ear. That’s all. You may not realize it, but it would mean the world to us. We notice when people are listening, and when they are not. Trust me………if a customer can tell over the phone that I’m not giving them 100% of my attention, how much easier is it to notice face to face? Those precious seconds we offer up to you, and your response to them, will be remembered for a lifetime………..either with pain, or with a smile of appreciation.

All we are looking for is genuine, soft, warm, and engaging eye contact. The kind that makes the other person know that you care about them, and what they are saying. The kind of eye contact that lets them know that you not only hear them, but you are listening to them. Some of us parents who have lost babies know exactly what I’m talking about here. We know those rare people that can put a smile on our face as we brag on our babies to them. They enter our world. They enter our pain. They give themselves to us as we speak to them. They look at us with compassion. They are not easily distracted. They aren’t checking out the hottie twenty feet away from them. They don’t have an agenda, and they aren’t in a rush to get away from us. This is the sweet spot. Do you have someone in your life like this? I pray that you do.

Be Intentional With Us

We don’t expect you to have all the answers. We know that you were not in the delivery room with us. We know that you do not understand the experience of losing a baby to stillbirth. Think simple, not complex. There is one way really good way to enter into the experience of others. There is one best way to empathize with the suffering of parents who have lost a baby. It is to pay attention to them. It is to focus on them. Be an intentional listener. Give them the stage, and let them pour their heart out to you. Be willing to give them those precious moments they so badly need. We aren’t asking for months, days, or even hours. Most of the time we are asking for seconds. Yes, precious and few seconds. You cannot bring back our babies to us. But you can let our minds run with vivid imagination of just how beautiful our baby is. You can let us have our memories, and enjoy them to the fullest. Remember, those memories belong to us. Please don’t steal them away.

Conclusion

Active listening involves more than just the ears. It involves your eyes as well. It involves your body language. Your entire self is needed to truly love someone else as they speak. And when you are aware of this, your will give better attention to our words. Your mind and heart will be in it as much as your ears and eyes.

To be a good listener means loving the person who is speaking. But it also means loving the one the speaker is talking about. Especially when they are talking about their own baby. A baby who died before anyone could listen 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!  (-:

 

 

When Mommies Awaken Startled

 

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Sometimes mommies awaken startled, without warning, in the middle of the night,
Having just realized that something awful is happening, something that just isn’t right.

She wakes up daddy…….

Honey, the baby isn’t kicking. And it seems like she hasn’t been for almost an entire day.
Something is definitely not right. We need to do something…….let’s get on our knees and pray.

Daddy looks on, shocked and with a look of disbelief, in the quiet darkness of the room.

Mommy says trembling………..

It is really strange, knowing a baby is inside of me, to feel only stillness in the womb.

Daddy now just trying to hold things together.

Mommy makes her point clear…….

She was kicking so much every day, and now I am so worried. So scared. I hardly even know how to pray.

She looks more intensely……

I don’t know what to do. Would you please pray? Do you have any words? I don’t even know what to say.

He hesitates trying to say the right words.

And then she, with anger and more urgency…….

Please hurry! Cry out to God now! I cannot feel her kick and it is scaring me to death!

My precious baby might be gone forever, even before she takes her first breath.

Daddy wants to make sure, so he walks toward mommy, eyes welling with tears,
He remains silent, not knowing what to say, as he ponders the worst of all his fears.

But mommy is the one carrying the tiny life within; her heart is breaking. So he says……

Sweetie, are you weeping?

Softly muttering to her…….

Please relax and lie down for a moment. Let me feel your belly while I pray. Perhaps the baby is only sleeping.

He reaches down, placing his hand gently on mommy’s tummy, hoping somehow she is mistaken,
He wants so badly to feel the baby kick, but it never happens. And now he is totally shaken.

He tries to be brave, pretending he has it all together. But he doesn’t. His life is being shattered.
Their little girl is not moving, and he has this sinking feeling……..

We cannot lose her. She is all that ever mattered.

Then, you race to the hospital, barely able to focus, hoping it is all just a false alarm,
That there really is no problem, that your baby has experienced no real physical harm.

Nothing else matters to you; all you want is for your baby to kick, as you hope and pray….

Oh Lord Jesus, please give us a miracle!

But with every passing moment, as your worst fears are confirmed, mommy says….

Help me! I’m going to go hysterical!

The time has come. You have finally arrived at the doctor. It felt like an eternity waiting.
You tell them there is no kicking, no energy, no signs of life; you feel like hope is fading.

Mommy and daddy, restless, tired and stressed; mommy is even very sick and exhausted, and just feeling very crummy.
But that doesn’t matter to her. All she thinks is…….

‘Why is this happening? Why this horror? Is there any life in my tummy?’

But she already knows the answer, as the doctors must only confirm the horrible thing she already knows.
Mommies know before daddies, but daddies hurt too; there is no pain like losing a baby, as the saying goes.
Mommies have to carry a dead baby, and then deliver a dead baby. Unfathomable pain.
So when babies stop kicking, mommies know. But they are certainly never to blame.

When mommies awaken startled, they always know.

They always know.

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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!  (-:

10 Things Parents of Stillborn Babies Want You To Know (Part 3): Please Use Our Baby’s Name

 

As she exits her car on a gorgeous summer day, you notice her immediately. “Hey, it’s that girl from work!!” says that little voice in your head. And as you inch ever closer to your car after a quick shopping spree, you now see her approaching you. She makes direct eye contact. “WOW!!” you think to yourself. Standing about 20 yards away from you is your biggest office crush! She looks so amazing that you feel like you could almost pass out. In the moment, you are thinking about how often you have interacted with her in the company break room……….laughing, joking around, telling stories, even a bit of harmless teasing. She is the girl that you dread to ever say something stupid around, or offend in any way. She loves Jesus. She talks to you about church all the time. You’ve even discussed Bible passages with her. She never talks about a boyfriend. And you haven’t seen a ring on her finger either. You are certain that she is “the one.” And, to top it all off………..the proverbial icing on the cake……… she just so happens to be ultra cute! You’ve thought about asking her out, but just haven’t found the right words yet (i.e. you are too scared to act). And now, this startling reality hits without warning: you are going to cross paths with her on the way back to your car, and there is no way to avoid it.

As she moves closer, you smile at her (probably a goofy one), so as to be friendly and lower her defenses a bit. Your heart starts thumping like you’re in Spain running with the bulls. The sheer magnitude of the moment is getting to you. After all, you have been praying for a godly wife, and now you think this might be a sign from God that she is the one. “How can I impress her?!” “What can I say when she approaches me??”

She smiles back as she recognizes you, totally clueless as to how nervous you are. But soon, you are going to have to………GULP………say something to her. She waves at you. You politely wave back, with your hand trembling profusely. This is not your average “I ran into someone today” kind of moment. This one is a big deal! You don’t want to screw up. So, you decide to just keep it simple. Your brain is screaming to you, “Just say ‘Hello’, followed by her name!!” That’s it. I’m a genius! Simple, but effective. It’s a cakewalk. She will just love it. You become overconfident. You start thinking about how important it is to remember people’s names, and how it’ll show her your amazing ability to remember the important details. Phhheeeewwww!! No problem, right? I mean, what could possibly go wrong now?? Like you said………cakewalk.

……………..

As we continue with part 3 of my series on ministering to parents of stillborn babies, I tackle the all-important topic of names. Just how much does it matter to a parent to hear the name of their baby spoken? Even if, and especially if, their baby is dead. And why does it matter so much in the first place? Let’s find out together……

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

 

#3 We want you to use our baby’s name as much as possible. It is like beautiful music being played in our ears.

 

Tina, Tish, or Tricia??

Our parking lot friend (we’ll call him ‘Clueless Guy’ for now) is now just seconds away from his big moment with the office cutie.

She finally approaches him…….

Cute Girl From Work: Hey John! How are you?

Clueless Guy: Ummm….good…..good”

(your brain now frantically working in overdrive……….Tina????? NO. Wait……Tish????? NO. OH NO. God help me!!)

Then you try to stall her for a moment as you stutter through the next sentence……

Clueless Guy: Yeah, umm, I’m just- uhhh- getting some, ya know, shopping done.

(Brain still pacing crazy fast as you think to yourself…….is it Tricia???? YES, YES, That’s it!! Or wait, is it?? AARRGGHHH!!! I have to take a chance!! Right?? After all, she used my name. And I just know it’s Tricia anyway. I got this one. Thank you Lord!)

In the meantime, she is still awkwardly and patiently awaiting your next piece of conversational genius. As you look into the beautiful eyes of your hopefully future wife, you say…….

“Sooo……..how are you? And it’s…… Tricia, right?”

And just that quick, it is over. You feel so relieved! Time for a fist pump!

Until that is……..she answers you.

“Oh, I’m doing ok as well, but actually, my name is Tasha, not Tricia.”

Oops.

<painfully awkward silence>

<pin is heard dropping>

Way to make an impression dude. Since she is a Christian, hopefully she forgives you. Just don’t say “Tricia” again when you see her in the break room Monday morning. That could be her breaking point. And you may want to wait before asking her out on that first date. Oh what pain we needlessly put ourselves through sometimes!

————-

So What’s the Big Deal?

While the above “boy meets girl” scenario is fictitious and maybe even a bit exaggerated, some guys can probably relate to the terror. But the story is meant to demonstrate something very obvious. And it is this: What a pleasant sound it is to hear our name spoken………correctly! We expect it. We delight in it. Our name has great meaning to us, and the people we love. We often take it for granted when someone simply speaks our name. And when they don’t, we notice. And for good reason. We carry our names with us our entire lives. They automatically go with us wherever we go. They stay with us at every stage of life. They don’t change even when we change. We have heard it spoken so many times that, well, we just get used to it.

We are told to use people’s names often, especially for really important things. For job interviews, we are told to remember the interviewers name, and then repeat it back when shaking hands. On a first date, we are told to use his or her name a lot, sprinkling it through the conversation whenever possible. It shows that you are thinking about them, and not so much about yourself. When I gave my wedding vows, they had me repeat this phrase, “I, Jamie, take you, Leah, to be my lawfully wedded wife, etc.” And that is no accident either. Names have great meaning. And we can’t even escape them when we die. They show up on our tombstone. And in the memories of our loved ones, either for good or bad.

Happens to All of Us

All of us have trouble remembering others’ names from time to time. For example, we run into an old friend eating at the local Starbucks, and we cannot remember their name. So we just say “hello”, hoping they don’t notice our ignorance. And then, we go home racking our brains, trying to remember who they are. We go on a scavenger hunt with Facebook, looking to see if one of our friends is also friends with them. We ask other people who may also know this person. “Hey, do you remember ‘what’s his name’ from our flag football team? Ya know, the tall guy who could never hold onto a pass?! I saw him today at Starbucks! Do you remember his name? It’s driving me crazy!!” Or we see the same new person at church 5 weeks in a row, and it seems like every week we keep asking them the same question, “I’m sorry, I know we’ve already spoken a few times, but what is your name again?” We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Sometimes we just plain forget. It happens. Other times, we have simply failed to do our homework, and neglected to commit their name to our memory.

 

It is Like Music to Our Ears

The famous author Dale Carnegie once wrote, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Strong statement indeed. And there is some truth to what Carnegie is saying here. Yes, there is a sense in which hearing our own name is like music to our ears. We feel appreciative that someone took the time to learn it. We feel like people really care about us when they say our name, don’t we? We feel a deeper connection with them. The relationship moves from arms length to an all-out embrace. Lasting bonds of love are sparked with the simple use of someone’s name. Hearing our name spoken can turn a somewhat detached relationship into something more personal. Or a sour relationship into something sweet. Or it can even be the seed of a beautiful, romantic relationship eventually leading to marriage.

Going back to our story above (clueless guy in parking lot), think about how he must’ve felt when she remembered his name. And conversely, think about how she must’ve felt when he forgot her name! As our romantic feelings grow for someone, we cannot stop thinking about their name. We can’t wait to see them and say it back to them. And we can’t wait for them to speak our own name to us. This is the way it normally works. Our ladies man above, John, just happened to really mess things up. But that brings up a great point: If it’s important for a man to know (and speak) the name of a girl he is interested in, isn’t it safe to assume that parents delight even more in hearing the name of their baby boy or girl, whether dead or alive?

More Than a Statistic

Without the “name” dynamic in our relationships, we feel more like a statistic instead of a person. We feel more like an inanimate object instead of a person to be loved and respected. And who in their right mind wants that?! We are not to be treated like prisoners standing in a line holding a number. We are created to exist relationally with others, and part of that relationship involves the ongoing speaking of our names. Have you ever been somewhere and felt like you were just taking up space……….merely existing, and nobody noticed you? Horrible, isn’t it? And often times, just simply hearing someone call your name will cut through all of that perceived rejection.

So think about this for a moment. If it hurts us to feel like a statistic, imagine how a parent who has lost a baby feels when no one will use their baby’s name. We feel like our baby is being dishonored. We feel like no one understands our pain. And worse, we feel like people don’t care about our baby’s precious memory. Parents of stillborn babies especially have problems with this. Because very few people ever got to see their baby, those who did not rarely take the time to ask questions about the baby……i.e. their name, what they looked like, etc. Sometimes others will- albeit unintentionally- make our babies feel so impersonal. This kind of behavior just adds pain on top of pain.

Keeping Their Memory Alive

In my view, Dale Carnegie isn’t quite right when he says that a person’s own name is the sweetest sound for them to hear. He doesn’t completely capture the essence. For those who have lost babies or a child of any age for that matter, hearing the name of our little one is far more precious than hearing our own name. And I suspect that any parent would say this about their own children, whether or not their child is dead or alive. Compared to our own name, we would rather hear our baby’s name 100 times over. Why? Because our baby’s name is lovely to us, and brings back precious memories. Hearing their name paints an immediate picture of them in our minds. The way they looked when they came out of the womb……the color of their hair and eyes……..the collapsed skull……..the redness of their lips. The hugs. The cries. All of the pain. Yes, these are tragic memories for those of us grieving, but they are precious nonetheless. They are memories we never, ever want to forget. They are all we have on this side of heaven.

 

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Reflex Reaction

When I hear the name of my baby girl Ariana, it’s like a reflex. I don’t have to force myself to conjure up the past. Everything just comes flooding back with the mere mention of her name. It’s like when a doctor tests your reflexes. He can poke all these different areas of your knee, and you have no reaction whatsoever. But then, he hits that one spot, and your leg springs out at warp speed. You can’t control it. I might hear a hundred names every single day. Some of them will produce no emotion, and some will produce minimal. It all depends on the type of relationship I had with a person of the same name. But a child-parent relationship? Priceless. Absolutely priceless. For me, there’s always that one name that will capture my heart every time. And when people say “Ariana”, it sounds like this to me….. ARRR-EEEE-AAAHHHNNN-UUUHHH. It probably sounds slower to me when I hear it. Slower than it is typically pronounced. It’s because I am attempting to savor the moment. For those of you who are parents of stillborn babies, you know what I am talking about. What name brings you such priceless joy?

And when you hear that name, it’s like being transported back in time, isn’t it? You can almost feel like you are in the delivery room again, staring at and holding your baby. I am not talking about some weird, mystical experience here. It’s just that the emotion of thinking about it can be so powerful sometimes. It was over 15 years ago for me, and I can still vividly remember so many things about that day. And all of it can be triggered by hearing the name “Ariana.” I don’t even have to work hard at it. The floodgates are wide open,  producing memories that I cannot imagine living without. I don’t ever want to forget that precious little girl. And neither does any other parent of a stillborn baby. If I ever lose my mind to old age or disease, I pray that I never forget even one single memory of her.

Poet Jessica Blade captured this feeling quite well when she penned these beautiful words……..

I wrote your name in the sky,
but the wind blew it away.
I wrote your name in the sand,
but the waves washed it away.
I wrote your name in my heart,
and forever it will stay.

Conclusion

Most of us love to hear our name spoken. It isn’t being prideful. It is how we are created. God created us to respond to names. So when parents hear the name of their baby spoken out loud, we understand that great significance is being attached to our precious little one. To be sure, the name itself isn’t what gives our babies value. Their value comes from God Almighty, being created in His image and likeness. But using their name is one way of acknowledging the value they already have.

Hearing our baby’s name reminds us the love that is already in our hearts. It doesn’t create the love. Hearing it spoken can never hurt us, but only help us. Sure, it may bring tears. It may bring sadness. But that is part of the grieving process, a process which never ends on this side of heaven. We know that joy awaits those of us who are trusting in Jesus!

And believe me, if we could hear the greatest concerto the world has ever known, it would never come close to the feeling we get when we hear the name of our precious little one. Our babies have a name. And we love their name, because it reminds us of them. Our babies are more than just a statistic. They are more than just a Birth Certificate with some numbers attached to it. They are more than just a distant memory.

They are a body and soul created to live forever and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, the Name above all names.

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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!  (-: