Archive for the ‘Thought of the Day’ Category

Chances we miss…
January 14, 2008

Has it been forever since I blogged?  Yes…can you tell life has been busy?!  October was a huge month for Tiny Purpose, followed by November and December which are full of holidays and preparations.  But today, I wanted to post something that I’ve been wondering about…I wanted to share this at the November meeting, but ran out of time…I didn’t want to share it at the Christmas party because it was our special night…and I don’t want to run out of time tonight…so I sit and share it this afternoon…

I read the book “For One More Day” by Mitch Albom this fall, and I found it to be poignant.  Over the Holidays, Oprah and one of the Networks made a movie of it–maybe you saw it, or maybe you’ve read the book…For those of you who haven’t, it is the story of a man who believes his life is over and after a tragic accident, finds himself spending the day with his mother, who had passed away. 

The part of the book that got me thinking was the idea of “one more day”…What would you do if you could have one more day with a loved one you have lost?  If you could have one more day with your baby, what would you say?  What would you do?

I have a hard time answering these questions…Would I go back to my pregnancy?  If so, I would want to be able to feel Hope move, which unfortunately I never experienced.  I would want to feel and experience a normal day of pregnancy with her and feel the excitement and joy of expecting your child that I was robbed of… I would take photographs of me pregnant…I even think I might have a plaster molding made of my very slight baby bump…I would tell her over and over again how excited I was, how loved she was, and how I couldn’t wait until she was here with me.

Or would I want Hope as a newborn?  The chance to hold her and look into her eyes as she look into mine…the chance to say “I love you” over and over and know that she is hearing my voice, and seeing my expression as I say it…the chance to watch her as she sleeps and hear her cry in the night…the chance to dress her in pink and frills… 

Even though I think the age of three is really tough, part of me wonders what Hope would be like at three and thinks maybe that is the age I would want her to be for our day…I would love to hear her chatter on about anything and everything…I’d love to see how her face had changed–did she still look like Kelly, or would I see some of myself in her?  What would be the important things that she would share with me about our time together and our time apart…

I have no idea what Heaven will be like or how old Hope will be when I get there, but I know that she’s waiting there for me and that we will spend eternity together there.  I know that when the day comes for us to be reunited, it will be a day that I could never have even come close to getting right in my dreams…but while I’m here, apart from her and wishing that I wasn’t, I can’t help but wonder what she would have been like and what our time together could have been like.

How would you spend the day if you were given one more day with your baby?  What would you say, what would you do? What do you wonder about as you dream of your baby…no matter how long it has been, we still all have moments when we wonder about the chances we missed…let’s share them with each other.

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Lessons from Lazarus pt. 5
September 5, 2007

The final lesson that Mrs. Weaver teaches from the death and resurrection of Lazarus is this: 

5)     The “end” is never the end; it is only the beginning.  “I can only imagine what went through everyone’s mind when Jesus asked that the stone to Lazarus’ tomb be taken away.  Martha’s response in the King James’s translation is “Lord…he stinketh!”  Martha wasn’t getting the picture…You see, Martha had faith for what could have been…she had faith for what would be…but what Martha needed was faith for what was happening now.  It is the same question Jesus asks of us today: ‘Will you believe?’” 

“We will all die.  Lazarus eventually did…But never forget: the end is not the end.  It is only a beginning.  1 Corinthians 15:55 was written to remind us of this: ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’  And yet death does sting, even when we know better.  It hurts to leave behind the people we love.  It hurts to be the one left behind.  We will all encounter many more hurts on our journey toward the grave.  Sometimes the story of our lives seems like one painful episode after another.  And Jesus knew that.  Even though Jesus knew Lazarus was about to be raised from the dead, he understood Mary and Martha’s pain.  He did more than understand it.  He felt it too: ‘Jesus wept (John 11:35).’  Because Jesus loved this family from Bethany, he wept and he weeps with us as well.  Though Jesus knows our triumphant outcomes, though he sees the joyful ending just around the bend, he still gets down in the middle of our sorrow and holds us close, mingling his tears with our own.”

What do you think about the idea of the end being just a new beginning?  What new beginnings can you see in your own life?  Do you believe that Jesus grieves with you because what hurts you hurts him?  Are you ready for whatever this newest chapter in your life has to offer, or can you only see what you have lost?

Anxious to see you all for group in a few weeks…anxious to know how you’ve been…if there is anything you need, or if you want to talk, just call…Thank you for sharing this part of the journey with me…I know what the book “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World” by Joanna Weaver has done to stretch me and I hope that you haven’t minded my sharing this chapter of it with you…Alaina

Lessons from Lazarus pt. 4
September 4, 2007

When I read the fourth Lesson from Lazarus, I felt a little overwhelmed…believing and obeying are things I’ve always felt that I did, but as you know by now, I’m learning more and more everyday what faith is all about…and usually it’s with a little help from the people around me!  But the idea that the God of the universe seriously wants to interact with me and be involved in every aspect of my life is something that I’m still trying to really grasp…and really put into practice in my everyday life…and that leads to the question of whether or not I let him work in my life…Mrs. Weaver’s fourth lesson touches on this very idea…

4)      God’s plan is released when we believe and obey. “The house in Bethany was most likely filled with people following Lazarus’s death…But when someone brought the news that Jesus was coming, it was Martha, who ran to meet him… With all of the anguished honesty of deep sorrow, Martha poured out her grief. ‘Lord,’ she cried, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask (verse 22)’.  Instead of trying to rewrite the story of her brother’s death—instead of putting a comma where there was a period, or a period where there could be a comma—Martha was putting the quill of their lives in Jesus’ hands.  Do whatever you want, she was saying.  Punctuate as you please.  Thy will be done.  It is this kind of surrender and that kind of resolve that sets in motion the miraculous…  We are an integral part of the writing process of our lives…  Think about this: faith and obedience go hand in hand.  It takes faith to choose obedience, and if you’re like me, it takes obedience to choose faith when you’re quaking with fear.”

Punctuate as you please.  Thy will be done.  It is this kind of surrender and that kind of resolve that sets in motion the miraculous…

This statement is so powerful to me…the concept of believe and obey can change so much in our hearts and our lives.  Could you have said at the time of your loss–“Okay, God–punctuate as you please”?  Or even today, wherever you are in your grief journey–“Thy will be done”?  I thought I was at the time of my loss, though maybe I only did to a certain point…I believe I am today, but am I giving Him my all?  What about you–regardless of where you are with a relationship with God, what does the idea of letting him be in control mean to you?

Faith and obedience go hand in hand.  It takes faith to choose obedience, and if you’re like me, it takes obedience to choose faith when you’re quaking with fear…

Tell me this–does the statement on faith and obediance ring in your spirit?  Do you have the faith to obey what God is trying to work out in your life?   Or do you have the obediance to choose faith, even when it seems foreign, or you’re unsure?  Can you look back on the steps and stages of this chapter of your life and see the Lord working in and around your life, and yet still struggle with him at the core of who you are? 

Open yourself up to see what He’s been doing in your life.  You might be surprised by what you find.  Hoping this is touching you wherever you may be in your grief journey–hoping these lessons are stretching you.  Let us all know if they are…Alaina

Lessons from Lazarus pt. 3
September 3, 2007

Were you as blown away as I was reading the responses to pt. 2?  I love how hearing what speaks to each one of you and I love seeing how a different perspective can bring a fresh healing or outlook to my own situation as well as to yours!  Today I’m going to dig right into Lesson Three of the story of Lazarus–courtesy of Mrs. Joanna Weaver! 

3)     God’s ways are not our ways, but his character is still dependable.  “We can only trust people we know, says Martha Tennison, popular speaker. ‘If you’re struggling to trust God, it may be because you don’t really know God…You find out what you really believe in the darkest hours…You find out that the God you know is the God you can hold on too’…Even when his stories don’t unfold the way we think they should.”  Know this…God’s grammar is a little different than the grammar we’re used to.  He has two simple rules for us to follow:

a.      Never put a period where God puts a comma.  “Too often, according to Ray Stedman, we interpret God’s delays as God’s denials.  But the story of Lazarus tells us that ‘a delay in answer is not a sign of God’s indifference or his failure to hear.  It is a sign of his love.  The delay will help us and make us stronger.’  While God is never late, I’ve found he’s rarely early…Waiting four days to visit Lazarus and his sisters might have made him late for a healing, it made him right on time for a resurrection.  So never put a period where God puts a comma.  Just when you think the sentence is over, the most important part may be yet to come.”

b.      Don’t put a comma where God puts a period. “There are times in every life when God writes the end to a chapter, when he asks us to say good-bye to something or someone who has been important to us…Endings, in a sense, are inevitable.  Dead ends, failed possibilities, and brick walls will disappoint us all.  And when those endings come, we can fight them…Or we can accept them as Jesus did, coming from the Father’s hand.  Laura Barker Snow writes beautifully about these times: ‘My child, I have a message for you today; let me whisper it in your ear, that it may gild with glory any storm clouds which may arise, and smooth the rough places upon which you may have to tread. It is short, only five words, but let them sink into your inmost soul; use them as a pillow upon which to rest your weary head…THIS THING IS FROM ME.’ The Father knows best.  His periods may not be our periods.  His commas may not be our commas.  His ways may not be our ways.  But God is the One telling the story and we can trust him to take the tale in the right direction.  We can have faith that everything really will turn out all right.”

I feel like the principals of God’s style of grammar go hand in hand with Sunshine’s comments about believing UNTIL…One of the comments that Mrs. Weaver rights is as follows: “I wonder what Mary and Martha felt when they finally received word from Jesus.  They’d been waiting for days.  But instead of the Master, the only person they saw walking up their path was an out-of-breath courier with a message that must have rung hollow in their ears: ‘This sickness will not end in death.’  It’s hard to hope when hope is dead.  It’s hard to believe God’s promises when your brother’s body is lying in your living room.” 

We have all found ourselves in that place where the “rubber meets the road” and we find out what we are truly made of…as well as whether or not our value system, or outlook on life, is correct.  What do you think about the ideas of UNTIL that Sunshine wrote about with the last part and how does that fit in with your thoughts on God’s grammar lesson?  Do you feel like your grief journey started after a period or comma in the story of your life? 

What does the statement “God’s ways are not our ways, but his character is still dependable” mean to you?  Do you feel like God is dependable, or is he not to be trusted?  Do you find yourself wanting to know more about him, and yet still struggle with the why’s and why not’s in your heart?  Do you wonder if you really know him?

Share what your thoughts are on these lessons–I know what they have been doing in my heart and even more so with the fresh perspectives from your responses!  Thank you for being transparent!!  More to come…Alaina

Lessons from Lazarus pt. 2
September 2, 2007

Can you believe I’m back again today?  I can’t–ha-ha!  This week is the Fulton County Fair and we always get a lot at the campgrounds and enjoy the whole week…so needless to say I haven’t been home very much since Friday!  But I am committed to finishing the Lessons from the story of Lazarus.  Though no one as commented on yesterday’s post, I’m hoping and praying that you are reflecting on it and are maybe journaling on your own??  Be brave and share what you are thinking and feeling with the rest of it–we love to know where your individual journeys are taking you. 

Mrs. Joanna Weaver’s second lesson from the story of Lazarus is this (told again in her words!)…

2)     God’s love sometimes tarries for our good and his glory.  In the New Testament book of John, chapter 9 we find the story of Jesus and the man born blind.  “ ‘Rabbi,’ the disciples asked Jesus,’who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’…A reasonable question…the religious teachers of the day had developed the principle that…where there was affliction, there had to be sin.  The religious elite as well as common folk were big on cause and effect…We want explanations…we want to know why.  ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ Jesus answered in verse 3, ‘but this happened that the work of God might be displayed in his life.’  Because of a fallen world, a man was born blind.  But because of that man, Jesus Christ was glorified.  While we may never understand why God’s love (or miracle, or answer to prayer, or the evidence of his work in our lives) sometimes lingers, we can rest assured that God’s love is always at work.  He may not move according to our schedule, but he is right on time for what is best.” And what is best is all encompassing—God knows what is best for us and those around us at the same time.

What do you think about the idea that God’s timing is completely different from ours?  The blind man that Jesus healed in this story spent his whole life in darkness until Jesus came along…What are the differences in timing in your story that you question?  Do you wonder why you found out you were pregnant at all, if you were going to miscarry within a matter of days or weeks?  Do you ask in your heart why you had to endure the pain of this loss at all, when it could have been a textbook pregnancy, or a false alarm on the part of your physicians? 

How does the topic of Hope figure into this discussion on timing?  In my own story, I know that from the first sign of a problem until my labor was induced, I believed that everything could change in an instant, if it was God’s will.  There is a delicate balancing act to believe with Hope and Faith that God will intervene and still be aware of the realities of a situation.  How did you handle this balancing act?

Once again, I’m anxious to hear/read any thoughts you have!  Thinking of and praying for you guys…until next time…Alaina

Lessons from Lazarus pt. 1
September 1, 2007

Hello, wonderful ladies!  Let me start out by reminding you that not a day goes by when I’m not thinking about and praying for you…you are all special to me and I want to be sure you know that!

The past few weeks, I’ve been working my way through a devotional called “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World” by Joanna Weaver…for those of you who are interested in a devotional that will totally convict your heart and change your relationship with God to one that is REALLY intimate and REALLY personal, this book is for you!  I’ve had to take 4-5 days per chapter to reflect and let God reveal everything he wanted to tell me through that chapter…it’s been a working summer for God and I…

Today, I read the chapter “Lessons from Lazarus” and the whole outline of the chapter was so good and so appropriate for us as hurting moms, I thought I would share it with you guys…Here we go—I’m going to break this down into 5-6 daily posts, rather than one GIANT post—that’s the goal, anyways!:)

The story of Lazarus and his sisters, Martha & Mary, can be found in the New Testament–this part of their story can be found in the book of John, chapter 11.  These three siblings are special friends of Jesus and when Lazarus suddenly falls ill, his sisters send word to Jesus, believing for a miracle of healing.  Jesus tells his disciples specifically that this sickness will not end in death, but then he takes 4 days to journey to the family’s side–not exactly hurrying, if you ask me.  When he arrives, Jesus finds that Lazarus has been gone for 4 days and after he comforts the family, he steps to the tomb and calls, “Lazarus, come out!”  Lazarus is resurrected from the dead and his family and friends rejoice. 

Mrs. Weaver uses this story to spell out for us some important lessons we can learn for approaching the tragedies in our own lives…I’m using most of this info directly from the book–it was too good to paraphrase!

1)      God’s will does not always proceed in a straight line.  “This means that I will not always see a clear connection between point A and point B.  I won’t always see the pattern in what happens to me.  I won’t always understand the plan…but God always has a plan—it may not follow human logic and it may even seem to go against what we believe about God…Why  would God allow such sorrow to come to a family who loved him so much?  Why would he withhold the power to heal when he’d healed to often before?…There are no easy answers, nor are we guaranteed any explanations.  We are only given the promise ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.’ (Revelation 21:4)…Trials are real and bad things happen to good people.  We who are Christians do not escape life, we overcome life: ‘In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.’ (Romans 8:37)…”

I know that some of the questions she poses above are questions we have asked, whether in our hearts, journals or out loud.  I’d love to hear what you think of these verses she’s posted in response…Do you believe that God will wipe the tears of mourning from your eyes?  Do you believe that God can help you overcome your grief and conqueror your past, present and future?  Or is it still hard to wrap your heart and mind around where God has been in your life over the days, weeks, months, years since your world seemed to come down around you?  What does the all-encompassing truth of his love for you mean to you?

I’m anxiously awaiting your thoughts…please post and share what’s on your heart or mind!  Let these questions give you a starting point, but don’t feel you have to answer any or all of them–just blog and let us work through the tough stuff together.  I’ll be back tomorrow with the next lesson from the story of Lazarus…Alaina

“Summer”
August 18, 2007

Today, I had the pleasure to read “Summer”, the latest book in Karen Kingsbury’s Redemption/Firstborn/Sunrise series.  The series chronicles the lives of the Baxter family, and honestly, Karen Kingsbury leaves no stone unturned in the stories…a daughter with a child born out of wedlock, a mother diagnosed with cancer, a daughter who discovers her husband’s affair just as he is murdered, a son and son-in-law whose lives are forever changed by 9-11, a son given up for adoption searching to find his biological family…there is so much going on with this family!  But the reason this series is so powerful is that the theme running throughout all of the books is God’s amazing grace and how he is ever in our midst, working all things for our good.  This latest novel is no different, though it addresses a new challenge, a new loss.

Two of the Baxter sister’s have discovered that they are pregnant together and without giving away too many of the details or too much of the plot, an ultrasound reveals that something is wrong with one of the babies. 

 I began this book knowing (thanks to my aunt’s who had read the book before loaning it to me) that the story of this precious baby was parallel to that of my precious Hope Elizabeth’s…knowing Karen Kingsbury’s work, I was excited to read how she wove the story together, how she detailed the emotinal process each family member took and I hoped it would be a book that we could recommend for our Tiny Purpose families to help them as they heal…I was not disappointed on any of these points, though I was surprised by the lessons God reminded me of as I read…I hope you don’t mind as I share them with you today…

1)  God is still God, God is still good, even when things don’t go your way…when we are walking through the valley of the shadow of loss, fear, heartache, and grief, it is so easy to become entangled in the “Why’s” of our situation, to try to understand things that are absolutely out of our control and our understanding.  But the bottom line is that we can believe God for a miracle, we can believe that good things will come our way because we are good people, but we also have to believe that He will still be with us even if the miracle is not what we wanted…even when the bad times come, he is still sovreign and still in control of the situation.  The bible promises us that God “works all things together for good for those who love him” (Romans 8:28) and it also promises us that He will “never leave us nor forsake us” (Joshua 1:5) because he has “carved us in the palm of his hand” (Isaiah 49:16).  You are never alone, and never somewhere that he cannot work on your behalf.  And just because the miracle is not the exact one you asked for, it doesn’t mean miracles are not happening all around you.

2) Sometimes when things hurt, it’s because they matter so much…as I read the book, I was reminded yet again of how much losing Hope Elizabeth hurt.  Though four years have passed, and I believe with all of my heart that the Lord has worked a miracle of healing on my heart and mind since losing my daughter, sometimes I forget just how much it hurt to receive a fatal diagnosis for my unborn child…how much it hurt to wonder whether I had made good choices throughout the pregnancy…hurt to deliver my daughter, knowing that she had already passed…hurt to acknowledge that my hopes and dreams for her would never be realized in this life…hurt to know that life was marching on without her as though her too-short life had meant nothing.  The loss of a child is a deep hurt, that I think never goes away–yes, we move on with our day-to-day lives, and yes, we move farther away in time from the loss, but as I laid in bed this morning, crying as I read this book, I told God yet again “This loss hurts so badly…”  Take the time to acknowledge the hurts and sadness when it comes…it is a vital part of the journey of grief we will continue to travel.

3) No one is stronger than our God…The mother in this story repeatedly sings the song “Jesus loves me” to her two children as she awaits the arrival of her third child, knowing that this baby can hear every precious word.  As the family spends time together with their new sibling, the oldest child begins to sing the best lullaby he knows…”Jesus loves me this I know…for the bible tells me so…little ones to him belong…they are weak, but he is strong…”  The mother hears these words that ring of a truth that strikes the deepest parts of her soul…though our bodies are weak, and especially that of a tiny baby, it’s okay.  No one is stronger than our God.  It is my prayer that no matter where you are in a relationship with God, or what you may or may not believe about Him, you never stop looking for the truth and that these words encourage you.

I pray that as you go throughout your busy schedule this weekend, you take time to reflect on what God has done in your life through your loss…take a few minutes and remember what it felt like to live your pregnancy, good times and bad.  Pull out your photo albums, or keepsakes–whatever you may have, it is a treasure!– and spend some time remembering your precious baby…it is worth the pain to remember that if love was all your baby needed, he or she would be here today–your love would have sustained them.  If anything I’ve written today touches a cord with you, share it with the rest of us…or plan to share it at group on Monday night.  It helps all of us heal to hear what we are each doing individually.

 I didn’t expect to spend the morning in bed, crying as I relived some of the moments surrounding the birth of my daughter…but I can also say that sometimes, that is exactly what I need to face…thanks for letting me share my thoughts with you…Alaina

What a week!
April 14, 2007

Hello!  I know it has almost been a month since I last blogged…I can’t believe Monday is a group night again!

I just wanted to let you know that we have had six new mom’s contact Tiny Purpose in the last 2 weeks, really.  Please be thinking of Holly, Kelly, Nicole, Gerri, Andrea and Amy.  I belive the first five of these women are planning on attending group on Monday, so you’ll be able to meet them and learn a little more about them and their precious babies then.  Amy is a family friend of mine who lives in Tennessee, so she is far from family and us!  As she attends her son’s funeral today, please be thinking of and praying for her and her husband…

Also, let me remind you that the Gathering to Remember is on Saturday, April 21st at the Christian Mission from 9am to 1pm.  We have a lot of wonderful things planned and I know the speakers will minister to your heart as they share their stories of infirtility and loss, as well as their journey through grief, and how they have had “beauty come from ashes”.  This year’s theme is “Expecting Joy” as we recognize that we have a lifeline to help get us through our grief.  Registration is required–call the Christian Mission at 517-263-7430.

Before I log off, I want to leave you with a thought for this weekend…Who walks beside you and gives you permission to be who you are and where you are in your grief journey?  If you are hiding your pain or hiding from people, then discover how God will meet you in your isolation.  If you are suffering and need to cry, then weep with all your heart.  If you feel like relating to others to help them through a similar journey, then connect.  And if you are seeking hope, help and healing to press on in your future, then start today. (adapted from Grieving the Child I Never Knew by Kathe Wunnenberg)

No matter where you are in your journey, we are here to help!  Don’t hesitate to email or call (see www.tinypurpose.com for contact info)…Tiny Purpose is here to support you however you need the most. 

I’m looking forward to Monday!  Love, thoughts and prayers, Alaina