Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Baby Cry, Battle Cry

I just read an incredible devotional by Joni (paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident as a teen in the 60s - as a result, she has never had children). She was reminiscing about her first Christmas after her accident and how she felt so abused by God that He would take everything from her like that. And she went on to talk about how He began changing her heart over that year and what her second Christmas was like. You can read the whole thing at http://www.joniandfriends.org/blog/monday-dec-20th-update-joni/ but that statement that stood out me was:
Last Sunday our pastor said, "When the angels appeared over Bethlehem, theirs wasn't a lullaby, it was a battle cry." He's right. The birth of Christ may have ended the enmity between God and man with the announcement, "Peace on earth and goodwill toward men," but our adversary, the devil, only sneered at the peace-offering in the manger that night. It only heightened his war against God and His people -- Herod's slaughter of innocent babies in Bethlehem only proved it. And 2000 years later, the war is still raging. So friend, join me on the front lines. Nothing God ever asks of you is 'unreasonable.' It's why I pray that this Christmas week, no matter what your affliction, you'll find peace, once again, in celebrating all that the Father has graciously given us in His Son, our Savior. What a glorious and generous gift!
Once again a reminder that the coming of the Child brought with it such anguish, "Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted..." and that we are in a battle, not against flesh and blood. Praying peace for your hurting heart, that the wonder of His Sacrifice will shine through the sorrow.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Story, No Baby

If you find Christmas a hard time of year to cope with simply because of the focus on the Baby, here's a fresh look at the Christmas story from the Gospel of Mark, skipping right past the manger into the heart of the message...
The Messy Girl and Her Messiah/ - Thank you, Lysa Terkeurst, for sharing!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Grieving Christmas

One of the hardest parts of Christmas for me for years went beyond the "I want my baby" thing of watching adorable little ones dress for Christmas pageants, thinking of all we were "missing" on Christmas morning under the tree and so forth. For me the hardest part was that the very point of the holiday was focused around the expectation of birth, an infant Jesus, a pregnant and delivering Mary (and here she was a virgin and God gave her a baby when I couldn't even get pregnant with the help of doctors in the midst of a loving marriage)! :dry:

Gradually God helped me change my focus. I asked the Lord to help you be able to look past a pregnant Mary or a Baby in a manger, to remember the reason for this season is because our Father willingly became a grieving Dad to pay the price of my eternal adoption! ♥

My heart hurts for all the pain surrounding this season. How can I specifically be praying for, supporting, uplifting and encouraging you through the next few weeks? Have you found any "coping strategies" that make getting through the holidays more bearable?

Stepping Stones has recently shared a beautiful poem and encouraging letter about Christmas and Infertility at http://www.bethany.org/pdfs/SteppingStonesExtra_December2010.pdf - I pray this link will be a blessing to you today.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Win Gotcha Day Cards!

(In)Courage has shared a beautiful story of Adoption Adventure today. Leave a comment over there and you could win a package of "Gotcha Day" cards to share with friends building their families through adoption. :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hope, You Won Unforgotten Children

Hope (anewlife2004), last month you shared a comment on my blog in memory of your precious children, Zoe & Addie. You are the winner of my gently used copy of "Unforgotten Children". Please send me your mailing address by the end of the month so I can get the book in the mail to you.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day (Book Give Away!)

In recognition of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day, I would like to give away my (gently used) copy of Kristie Verret's new book Unforgotten Children: A Testimony of God's Healing through Miscarriage. I just finished reading this copy a week or two ago. It is a personal story of growth and reflection through loss. My favorite quote from the book is:
Each hardship left a gaping hole in my heart. Those holes HAD to be filled, whether I liked it or not. But if I didn't choose to fill them with God and His truth, then satan would begin to automatically fill them with lies leading to my feeling of separation from God.

For a chance to win, please leave a comment here, along with a valid email address or other contact information so I can get your mailing address from you if you win. If you have a child awaiting you in Heaven, I would love to hear your baby's name and anything else you want to share about him/her. {hug} The contest will remain open through the month of October, and a winner will be selected in early November. Please feel free to post this link or pass it on to others who might be in need of the encouragement of this book. (Leave me an additional comment for every way you pass along the link - emails to friends, facebook, twitter, post to your own blog, etc. - and receive an additional entry for each time you help spread the word!)




Remembering with love, Noel Alexis, Joel Samuel and Hannah Rose. Eagerly awaiting our reunion in Heaven!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mommies w/ Hope

Mommies With Hope is hosting a give-away this week! Be encouraged by one Mom's story of love and loss, then enter to win Becky Avella's book, And Then You Were Gone: Restoring a Broken Heart After Pregnancy Loss, a Starbucks gift card or a HOPE magnet.

"And our hope for your is firm, because we know just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort." 2 Corinthians 1:7

Friday, October 08, 2010

Win I Will Carry You

Enter for a chance to win a copy of Angie Smith's I Will Carry You.

From the Christianbook.com website:

"Angie and her husband Todd (lead singer of Dove Award winning group Selah) learned through ultrasound that their fourth daughter had conditions making her "incompatible with life." Advised to terminate the pregnancy, the Smiths chose to carry their child and allow room for a miracle. This is Angie's faith-filled story of losing her child, interwoven with the biblical story of Lazarus to help those who mourn to still have hope - to find grace and peace in the sacred dance of grief and joy."

This contest runs from September 15, 2010 through October 15, 2010 and is open to U.S. residents. Enter at http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/giveaway?code=464283

Friday, October 01, 2010

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awarness Month

The month of October has traditionally been set aside as a time of awareness and remembrance for children who have died during pregnancy or early infancy. In just over two weeks there will be a specific day, Oct. 15, where state governors will issue official proclamations, public observances will take place, and individual grieving hearts will quietly light candle to celebrate the much-to-quickly-passing of the earthly lives of our children. To look for information on local observances or to find out more about National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day please visit october15th.com

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Are Children Replaceable?

Today I am delighted to share with you a guest post from Lori, mom to Matthew, born onto earth on November 28, 2009 (after a 10-year-infertility battle) and born into Heaven the very next day. Lori has been amazingly transparent on her blog through this grief journey and now adds to the delicate balance of learning to live after loss, the joyful/nervous anticipation of baby Luke due next January. Her recent reflections on the book of Job blessed me this week and I pray they will minister to you as well:


So, I'm just going to put it out there. I've been very, very aggravated with the story of Job since Matthew died.

And if I'm really honest, a little aggravated with God's mentality (or what I believed it to be) in the whole resolution and ending of Job's story.

Because while there are many lessons learned, pieces of wisdom and insight to be gleaned and comfort found (although I admit, still some questions!)...one thing has just really, really bothered me.

At the end...when Job's faithfulness is 'rewarded' and he is 'doubly blessed', I've been aggravated with the notion that everything he lost doubled and some new children could make it all better. More specifically, he lost seven sons and three daughters...and getting seven new sons and three new daughters was supposed to be a reward? Like those children were just replaceable with seven new sons and three new daughters?

I've often thought, "No wonder Job's wife felt like cursing God. Her babies were gone and she thought God did it." I don't believe that's the way to go about it, but I have to admit I could sure see her perspective.

So anyway...I've not been happy with the resolution of seven new sons and three new daughters. They don't replace those first children, nor could the space in Job's heart or his wife's heart be filled with 'new children'.

I had a CASA meeting tonight and was driving home. I had the radio on and it was XM station 170, Family Talk. It was some preacher, and I didn't necessarily recognize his voice. I listened mindlessly for a few minutes (long day!) and then decided I'd put some music on. So right as I was about to turn the channel, I heard the guy say something about death and the book of Job. I stopped for a second and he went on to further say that for anyone who's ever lost a loved one, and more specifically, a child, the book of Job should present problems at first. Well...I was hooked. And listened. He said that if we paid attention, all the stuff Job had in chapter one was replaced and in double the quantity by the end of Job. All but the children. I'd never actually paid attention to the number of children Job was again given, if I think about it. I just knew he'd been given more children and somehow life was good again. So, the guy goes on and says, "If you have ever lost a child, this should bother you. Children are not replaceable."

I teared up.

He then noted that we had to dig a bit deeper, though and note the significance. Job received seven more sons and 3 more daughters--NOT 14 more sons and 6 more daughters, as would fit the double blessing recipe.

Why not? Everything else was returned and he was doubly blessed. Why not the children too?

Because, just as this guy said...children are NOT replaceable. Job WAS doubly blessed with children...it's just that the first seven sons and three daughters were waiting for him in Heaven and his 'double blessing portion' of children, if you will, was there on earth with him now.

He *was* doubly blessed with children...but half were just waiting in Heaven for him.

As my Matthew waits for me.

And oh, my sweet Matthew....mommy waits for you.

I too have been doubly blessed...with one in Heaven waiting for me and one inside me kicking around for more ice cream.

There are no coincidences, friends. That random man's words were meant just for me.

Maybe for you too?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Infertile in Colorado?

If you are (or know) a Christian woman living near Denver/Colorado Springs and are currently living through the daily heartache of primary infertility (no living children), could you please email me at jsaake AT yahoo DOT com immediately? A producer for Focus on the Family is looking to speak with someone in that area and I would like to put you two in contact with one another.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Creative Desires

"God had the desire to create new life, and he wanted to create it in His own image. If He, being perfect and complete had this desire to create, how could it be selfish or wrong? And because He created us in His image, with many of His attributes, it should come as no surprise that we share His desire to create. If we yearn to take part in the miracle of creating a new life 'in our image' with attributes like our own, and want the intimacy of nurturing our child to maturity, that is only natural. This yearning is God-given and a part of how we are created. It’s no wonder that we can feel jarred and confused when we are unable to fulfill it."
- From, The Ache for a Child, by Debra Bridwell




Friday, August 20, 2010

adoption loss through death

Many of us within adoption circles, especially within the Christian adoption world, know of Steve and Mary Beth Chapman, their work in helping to fund adoptions though their organization Show Hope, and of the tragic death of their 3rd adopted daughter, Maria, at age 5. Mary Beth's new book, Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope is currently being offered at 1/2 price through Monday, Aug. 23, at CBD.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day of Hope


Have you ever seen those beautiful photos of a baby's name written in sand? Did they sting your heart as you looked to your own empty arms? Did you realize they were in honor and remembrance of precious babies who left the wombs or arms of their mothers much too soon?

If you or a loved one has suffered the death of a baby at any time from conception through infancy, Aug. 19 is an anual day set aside to stop and remember with love. Feel free to visit august19thdayofhope.blogspot.com to grab your own free memorial butterfly photo like this one I'm posting in memory of Noel Alexis (age 15), Joel Samuel (age 9) and Hannah Rose (age 8) along side many other Mommies honoring their sweet children in Heaven today.
 Praying for every heart aching over the death of your baby, asking our Father, who holds our children in His arms, to hold our hearts just as closely.
(Also remembering my days of "envying" even mothers through loss because the sting of infertility, of not being anyone's Mom, even to a child awaiting me in Heaven, hurt so deeply. If this is where you find yourself, grieving without a specific child to grieve, I'm praying for you today as well!)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Grace

God is bigger than my fears, is not limited by my "negative thinking" and His goodness is not confined to my expectations. While His plans for my life may unfold very differently from the plans I had made for myself, He can still be found in the midst of my sorrow when I am willing to yield my heart to His best.

If you are looking for regular doses of encouragement like this, a chance to interact with me (Jenni) and with others walking through infertility and/or loss, a place to post your prayer needs, or want to look up resources such as local support groups, please join me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jennifer-Saake/98673046436

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Birthday Reflections 15 years later

On my 38th birthday I have written a reflective story about the joy and healing God has worked in my heart over the years. This article does include repeated mentions of our three living children, thus I have decided it is not appropriate to post directly to this blog, but it also speaks extensively of our three miscarried children awaiting us in Heaven and the bittersweet joy of healing. Grief is a life-long journey and the lives of our children who touched our womb much too briefly continue to touch my heart to this very day.
If you are prepared to read my post-miscarriage musing (but realize our living kids will be equally as featured) feel free to join me at Birthday Joy.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Embryo Adoption

When we started our infertility journey, "embryo adoption" was not even a concept explored by the medical or ethical communities yet. I still remember the phone call from a friend asking if we would consider adopting the sweet children they could not carry, created through IVF. Shortly after that phone call we watched Snowflakes develop, then Focus on the Family start talking about the plight of "unused" and sadly even sometimes "unwanted" extra embryos created through the IVF process. Eventually more and more agencies and organizations provided structured resources for those desiring to adopt frozen embryos.

One area that has been sadly lacking all these years is support for the genetic families who make the brave choice for life and offer the gift of hope to longing families through the loving (and often grievously painful) choice of relinquishment. I've known several families on both side of the embryo adoption equation and for the most part, placing families have quietly kept their emotional journeys to themselves as the spotlight has fallen on adopting families. How my heart has ached for families living this choice and yet I have had so few resources to suggest.

Today I am thrilled to introduce you to Placing Parents, a blog designed by a Placing Parent named Sheila, designed specifically to offer support to parents considering placing their embryos for adoption/donation. If you are already through your IVF journey and feeling the burden of love and responsibility for remaining embryos whom you cannot go back for another pregnancy attempt, you are no longer alone in the questions and highs and lows of considering an adoptive family for your unborn offspring.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Have You Voted for Hannah's Hope?

I feel both humbled and greatly honored that Hannah's Hope was nominated as one of the top four "best" infertility books of 2010 by RESOLVE. Public voting to select their single "Choice Award" winner closes tomorrow.

If you have been blessed or encouraged by this book, would you please take a moment and visit www.resolve.org/vote and cast your vote (one per email address) for Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage & Adoption Loss? Thank you so much!

Monday, June 21, 2010

True of False?

I've seen many "facts" about myself reported in others' reviews of Hannah's Hope. How well do you know me? Can you pick out the facts from the fiction? (Scroll down for answers.)

1. True or False: I am a pastor's wife.

2. True or False: We have lost a child to stillbirth.

3. True or False: I am dyslexic.

4. True or False: I have a degree in Christian counseling.

5. True or False: I grew up in Japan

6. True or False: We have two living children after our infertility journey.

7. True or False: I have been through in vitro fertilization (IVF).

8. True or False: I was homeschooled.

Scroll below to find the answers. If there are other things you think you have heard but just aren't sure about, or you are simply curious to know something about me, please ask! Here is something no one has written about me, but just as a fun "bonus" quiz question for one more chance to see how well you know me:

9. True of False: My favorite food is pizza





Answers:

1. False
I am not a pastor's wife. The truth is that I am the wife of an amazing man who loves the Lord as he serves Him as an internet and social media expert. Rick's loving faithfulness through nearly 18 years of "for better and for worse" humbles and blesses me beyond words.



2.False
I have never known the anguish of stillbirth or infant death and would never pretend to exactly understand such anguish on a personal level. To my many friends who have survived such horror, you have my deepest respect, sympathies and prayers, always!

By stating that I don't have firsthand experience with stillbirth or infant death, I am in no way trying to minimize the heartache of parents who become bereaved through other forms of loss. There is no "too early" to matter, no "young enough" to invalidate the substantial heartache of a parent who has faced the death of their child, the rewriting of their futures, in any manner.

In truth we know that we have at least three children awaiting us in Heaven: Noel (1994), Joel (2001) and Hannah (2001) all died through miscarriage. I say "at least" because there were several other suspected early miscarriages including the probable twin of our oldest living son, though these additional losses were never positively confirmed.

We have also known intense grief through the losses of seven children we had hoped to add to our family through adoption. Each kind of loss is horrid grief in its own right.

To anyone who has know the heart-shattering pain of the death of your child (sometimes emotional "death" when referencing adoption loss), I want to wrap you in a huge {{{hug}}} and remind you that your sweet child matters and is not forgotten.



3. This one is True!
Words were my enemy for years. While I still can't spell worth a hoot, isn't God's sense of humor great that He would choose writing as my passion? :D As my brother once told me, I'm not a poor speller, I just like to "round to the nearest vowel". :)



4. False
I am a college drop out. :)



5. True
I am an MK (missionary kid) and moved at least every two years through my growing up years, spending a total of seven years in three parts of Japan. My parents continue to minister with Cadence International (formerly Overseas Christian Servicemen's Centers or O.C.S.C.).

If you know someone in the military, please check out http://www.Cadence.org/ for support and resources!



6. False, but this one was a trick question. ;)

At the time Hannah's Hope was written, yes, we had two living miracles. We had a two year old son (he's now 10) at the time I started working on my book proposal for Hannah's Hope.

We learned we were expecting our daughter (she is nearing 7 1/2) a few days after submitting that proposal to the first publisher... See More I queried. I honestly was not too overjoyed about that pregnancy after two very recent miscarriages and the fear that we would loose her as well and I almost gave up on the book project all together because I was afraid that if God did allow us to bring her home, that as a mother of two living blessings that I was now "disqualified" from writing a book on infertility. I'm so glad God had bigger plans than my limited viewpoint!

The month Hannah's Hope finally hit bookstore shelves, we found out God was surprising us with our 3rd living blessing! It was a high-risk pregnancy with lots of preterm labor scares, he was a month early and my cervix tried to rupture during delivery, but God was abundantly gracious to bring both of us through that pregnancy to live birth. Our younger son is now nearly 4 1/2.

I had a medically-necessary hysterectomy about a year and a half ago, so though we had always dreamed of "at least 4," we know there will be no more biological children added to our family. Due to my health limitations is is highly unlikely that we would ever be approved for adoption, so unless God has an amazing miracle planned out for our future, our family is now complete.



7. False
While we did a lot of talking, played countless scenarios in our minds, prayed through many of the "what if" possibilities of IVF and made some specific choices about the parameters we felt God would have us work within should be ever do an IVF cycle, God never actually took us down this path.

I underwent several surgeries and other procedures, took many fertility-related drugs, and our oldest son is the result of IUI with injectables. In my chapter on making decisions (10 I think?) I shared a lot about the parameters we would use if we were to go through IVF. It was certainly an option in our minds, and not one we took lightly, but it was never a path God led us down. I'm not a stranger to the process, even helping a friend or two with her injections and going to appointments and ovarian ultrasounds with a few gals, but IUIs w/ injections was as far as my own journey went.

Our daughter was conceived shortly after an extensive surgery for Endometriosis (where I was told I had less than 5% chance of ever conceiving again even with medical aid, and that if I could conceive I would certainly not carry another baby to live birth) but with no other medical aid beyond progesterone support and blood-sugar regulating medication.

Our youngest son was God's evidence to us that He truly is the author of life and planner of our family. He was conceived during the first season of our entire marriage where were were not actively striving to grow our family. What a joyful surprise!!!



8. True
I am a homeschool graduate and am now blessed to be a homeschooling mom to our living miracles.



9. False
Pizza is actually one of my least favorite foods, mostly because it (at least the traditionally red sauce kind) has always made me sick. In recent years I have learned to enjoy most white sauce pizzas, but if we are eating with friends and red sauce is the only option, I don't eat.

My favorite foods are tomatoes (I know, weird since I don't do well with red sauce on pizza!), mushrooms (though I have to be careful with many kinds due to allergies), just about any kind of fresh fruit and the greater majority of veggies, or well-made sushi!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day Prayer

Thanking God that He is the Healer of broken dreams, the Redeemer of pain, the Man of Sorrows who is acquainted with grief, the God who sees, the Father who loves us so fiercely that He willingly enter into the world of bereavement when He paid the price of my adoption with the life of His only biological child...

May the God of All Comfort enfold you tangibly with His overwhelming love this Father's Day.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Please Vote for Hannah's Hope

Hannah’s Hope has just been named as one of the top four nominees for "Best Book" for the Team RESOLVE Choice Awards.

RESOLVE opened voting for the Team RESOLVE Choice Award for Best Book today. You can vote for your favorite infertility book and favorite infertility blog at www.resolve.org/vote. Voting will close June 24, one vote per email address.

The winner will receive notification after the 4th of July holiday weekend. The winner will be presented with the Hope Award for Best Book at the 13th annual Night of Hope, September 28, 2010.

I am overwhelmingly honored by this nomination and want to thank each person who took the time to share Hannah's Hope with RESOLVE. I would be greatly blessed by your vote and no matter the outcome I'm excited that HH has received this national spotlight and praying many hurting hearts will find hope in Christ as a result.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Preparing for Father's Day

Tim Nelson, author of A Guide for Fathers When A Baby Dies, offers a personal perspective on facing Mother's Day and Father's Day after the death of your child. While the blog is not Christian based, it is very simply and straightforward advice from one dad who has "been there" through a journey no parent could ever imagine to all other dads walking in these same painful shoes. I pray that you will be blessed and encouraged there today.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Best Infertility Book?

RESOLVE is looking for the "best book" about infertility and family building. If anyone would like to nominate Hannah's Hope, here's the info you will need for the simple, 3-question survey:

Book title is Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage & Adoption Loss
Author is Jennifer Saake
And yes, it is available for purchase online

Thanks for your help! :)

Pastor's Perspective on Miscarriage

Getting Through a Miscarriage
by Steve Burchett, as posted at http://bulletininserts.org/miscarriage.html

Sadly, miscarriages are common. Experts say that about 20% of recognized pregnancies end in a miscarriage, but the actual percentage is higher if one includes those that happen without the mother knowing.

Members of my church recently went through a miscarriage, and it brought back memories of the three my wife and I have endured. The first stands out above the others because we learned about it at an ultrasound when we didn't hear a heartbeat. "I'm so sorry," the doctor softly said. Those words were kind, but our real comfort through each miscarriage came from other sources:

God and His promises

"The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away." (Job 1:21)

I had heard (and said) that verse numerous times at funerals, but it became very dear to me the first time my wife miscarried. "God has done this," I reminded myself, which doesn't imply that God is unloving. Scripture declares God's goodness and that He always does what is best for believers (Ps. 100:5; Rom. 8:28). Seeing God as both sovereign and good gives hope to the hurting believer—The Lord reigns, so He has "taken away" the child, and He is good, so he has loving purposes for not keeping the baby alive. The tears rightly flow, but hope remains.

There is a level of mystery in the ways of God in a miscarriage, but looking back, I affirm with the apostle Paul that since God gave His Son for His people, He will certainly give them everything they need (Rom. 8:32), even when they lose a baby (Rom. 8:37-39). Because Christ was with us in the trial, my wife and I never lacked anything we needed, and we were able to say with Job, "Blessed be the name of the Lord."

The church

The hugs, prayers, and tears (Rom. 12:15) of other believers are precious to the suffering saint. I especially appreciated the meals the ladies of our church provided. These were not necessary, but they were tangible demonstrations of love that allowed my wife much needed rest.

I have heard people going through trials say, "I think I'll skip the church meeting this Sunday." There may be a physical reason why that is reasonable, but God has given us the church to comfort us in our affliction (2 Cor. 1:4) and to direct us to our Savior (Col. 3:16).

Hymns

Be still, my soul: your God will undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.
(Katharina von Schlegel, "Be Still My Soul")

The themes of the Lord's sovereignty and providence in the above hymn might strengthen those facing a miscarriage. There is no command in Scripture to listen to hymns as a way of enduring suffering, but I speak from experience: Sound theology centered on the greatness of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ brings a right perspective and joy. I'm not against short choruses that repeat simple truths, but after each miscarriage, I was helped significantly by theologically rich hymns.

One another

I can only speak about this from a husband's perspective. After the third miscarriage, which I heard about over the phone, I remember thinking, "What am I going to say to my bride when I see her face to face?" Thankfully, I didn't preach a sermon to her on the sovereignty of God. Our discussion on that subject would, necessarily, come later. By God's grace, I said exactly what she needed to hear: "I love you."

Husband, you cannot fully grasp what your wife is going through both physiologically and emotionally when she has a miscarriage, but you should remind her that you cherish her and will do whatever is necessary to provide for her needs. And when your grieving process is over, and hers is not, remember Paul's words: "Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them" (Col. 3:19).

Copyright © 2010 Steve Burchett
Permission granted for reproduction in exact form, including web address. All other uses require written permission
www.CCWtoday.org

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Church Recognizes Pain of Infertility

I haven't had any personal experience with this church (beyond very prompt and helpful email replies to my inquiry about their upcoming service), but ran across a post on Facebook that I wanted to pass along. They write, "Next Week (May 30th) lesson in the series of 'Family Matters' we will talk about the Pain of Infertility. Look forward to seeing you there!"


In personal email, Pastor Rob Helton states, "the main part of the message time that day will be couples sharing their stories." The service should be posted to their website after the 30th and I am hopeful that it will be a podcast that will be of benefit to many. :)

Zoar Baptist Church is a Baptist Church in Shelby, NC. "We offer a contemporary and a traditional service."
1740 South Lafayette Street
Shelby, NC, 28152
704-482-4151
www.ZoarChurch.com

Having just posted about Infertility in the Church a few days ago, I was especially thrilled to find a wonderful example of a church that can both rejoice with those who rejoice and still grieve with hurting hearts! If anyone lives near this church and is able to attend on Sunday, I would love your feedback!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Infertiilty and the Church

Came across this article and thought it was worthwhile to share. The Lookout Magazine - Fertility Intervention and the Church

Looking for a tool to share with your own pastor? I recently posted a letter to pastors concerning Mother's Day that might be a helpful starting place.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Heaven Born

Today I've been blessed to hear of three different give-aways for moms of HeavenBorn babies. Most are time sensitive, so please go, visit, share with hurting hearts...

Give Away for I Will Carry You: the Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy (1 copy randomly given away to one comment on the Holy Experience blog today, comment by 9EST)

If you don't win that copy, anyone who is willing to register for a Barnes & Noble account can receive a free digital copy of I Will Carry You here. (I did not see an expiration date, but I would expect this to be a limited time offer.)


Forever My Child $50 gift certificate give-away
from We are THAT Family ends Thursday. FMC offers:
~Memorial Jewelry for Miscarriage, Stillbirth, Pregnancy and Infant Loss to honor the tiny souls that touch and change your life, but gone too soon.
~Pregnancy and Fertility Jewelry with genuine gemstones and symbolic charms.
~Hand Stamped and professionally engraved unique Mother’s Jewelry, Family Jewelry, and Men’s pieces to honor ALL your children, both on earth and in Heaven.

May I once again ask for votes for the Health Hero award? We are currently in first place, but the abortion advocate who is in second is rallying voters too and is quickly closing in on retaking the lead. I humbly thank you for standing with me for the life of unborn babies with your vote. Voting closes this Friday and it looks like it will be a close race all the way.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

History Calms Anxiety

A friend of mine posted an interesting link on the history of Mother's Day yesterday. I wasn't too interested in reading it at first, but after a quick skim was amazed at what I began to find. I pray that learning some of this history may take a bit of sting out of Mother's Day for hurting hearts and help relieve a measure of your anxiety about tomorrow. And even if this knowledge changes nothing about how you feel about the second Sunday of May, please know that you are in my prayer this weekend. {{{hug}}}

Tomorrow will mark 100 years since Mother's Day became an officially recognized holiday in the United states. I was surprise to learn that this date was actually created for and by some of the very groups of people for whom the yearly observance has become most painful in modern day.

Mother's Day was started by a single woman who never had children, to honor her deceased mother, Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis. Ann Marie had 11 children, but only 4 survived to adulthood, so as a bereaved mom, 7 times over, she knew much great and heartache and grief in motherhood!

This Day was originally intended to be a memorial day for mothers who had died, as well as a way to bestow honor and dignity on all women who were homemakers.

If your heart is hurting this Mother's Day, please feel free to visit more articles that I pray will encourage you this week.

Friday, May 07, 2010

When Mother's Day is Difficult

Guest blog BY HOLLEY GERTH

On May [9]th, we’ll celebrate Mother’s Day once again. For many, it’s a time of appreciation and joy. For others, it can be one of the most difficult days of the year. This is often true for women facing infertility, families who have recently experienced the loss of a mother, and many other painful situations. I’ve learned what it’s like for Mother’s Day to be difficult through my work as a writer for DaySpring.

Each year we receive letters about our “Difficult Mother’s Day” cards. One woman expressed her appreciation and then said, “I spent seven very painful Mother’s Days longing for motherhood while dealing with infertility and the losses of eight children through miscarriage and failed adoptions. I’ve also seen my own mother’s grief and struggle through Mother’s Day after the death of her mother. And I have many friends in less than- ideal situations with their children.” [Interesting sidenote from Jenni: I'm pretty sure I was the author of that note as it describes my situation well and I do recall writing to DaySpring about their wonderfully sensitive line of Mother's Day cards.]

I’ve learned what it’s like for Mother’s Day to be difficult through my experience as a graduate student in the counseling program at John Brown University. As the final step to completing my degree, I’m doing an internship through the women’s ministry and counseling center of my church, which has almost 10,000 mmembers. I’ve walked the journey of grief with many and I’ve found that experiencing sadness on special occasions is common. These days often serve as reminders of what we have lost or do not yet have.

Finally, and most importantly, I’ve learned what it’s like for Mother’s Day to be difficult through my personal struggle with infertility.

So as Mother’s Day comes this year, I’d like to share a few thoughts with you. These are taken from my own journey as well as my training at DaySpring and in the Counseling program.

Embrace Your Emotions
First, if Mother’s Day is difficult for you then give yourself permission to grieve. When holidays come, we often put expectations on ourselves to feel a certain way. We may think, “This is a special occasion. I have to put on a happy face and make the best of it.” But it’s okay to feel sad and even cry. As the authors of The Empty Chair: Handling Grief on Holidays and Special Occasions say simply and powerfully, “We grieve because we loved.”

It’s also helpful to realize that emotions are not good or bad. They are just messengers that tell us about what’s going on in our lives. Sadness tells us "You’ve lost something or someone important to you.” It’s not a sin to feel sad. Jesus often experienced sadness and the Bible says he was “a man of sorrows, and familiar with grief” (ISAIAH 53:3 NIV).

Sometimes we need to help others understand our sadness. People who are trying to comfort us may say things like, “At least your loved one is in a better place now.” Words like these can make us feel guilty for being sad. People who say these things are often really trying to tell us, “I care about you. I want you to feel better. So I’m going to say anything and everything I can think of that might help.” Sometimes we need to gently share with those around us that what we really need is for them to just be there and listen.

In Psalm 13 King David pours out his heart to the Lord and asks, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?” He ends by saying, “I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.” Does that mean we need to go from feeling broken to blessed in just a few lines? No, absolutely not. But it does show us something important about emotions. They are meant to be detours rather than destinations. If you continually feel sad over an extended period of time, or it seems as if there is no hope, then you may want to consider getting help.

Seek Support
Sometimes we need to be alone to experience our emotions, but usually it is wise to seek support. From the very beginning of creation, God said it wasn’t good for man to be alone. This is especially true when we are grieving. Jesus modeled this when he was in the Garden of Gethsemane. He brought several of his disciples with him and said, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and
keep watch with me” (MATTHEW 26:38 NIV).

Support can take many different forms. Hopefully, you have close friends and family members who can walk through this time with you. It’s important not to assume they know you need their comfort. Unless they have experienced a similar loss, they don’t know what it’s like. So don’t be afraid to call them or tell them what you need. You won’t be imposing. They probably want to help but don’t know what to do.
Even family members and close friends can grow weary at times, so it’s helpful to have other sources of support. Counselors can be a great source of support because they’re trained to work with loss. Support groups can also provide comfort. You can learn from those who are further down the road and offer help to those just beginning their journeys.

Of course, our strongest supporter will always be God. This may not feel as if it is true, especially during a time of loss in our lives. Right now you may be angry at God, disappointed in him, or feel as if you don’t have any faith left at all. That’s normal and many godly people throughout history have experienced similar feelings. God understands that you are hurt. It’s okay to bring all of those emotions to him.
Normal grief and mourning can turn into serious depression. One of the symptoms of depression is withdrawing and isolating ourselves from others. If you find you are cutting off relationships, have no desire to be with other people, and are spending much more time alone than usual, it may be a sign that you’re experiencing depression.

Do Something Special
While doing something special when you are sad may feel a bit overwhelming, it’s important because it will help you be proactive rather than reactive in addressing your loss. Many people think that it’s better to avoid or bury their grief. But the opposite is actually true. Healing only comes when we acknowledge and embrace our losses. As Dr. Gary Oliver says, “If you bury an emotion, it’s always buried alive.”
The kind of action you take depends on your personality and the nature of your loss. For example, if you lost your mother then you might write her a letter. If you lost an unborn child, you might donate to a crisis pregnancy center in his or her honor. You and your spouse might look at photos of the sister you lost to breast cancer or visit a place where you used to go together. You may think, “But that will make me sad!”

That’s okay. Experiencing grief is part of healing. Grief and Trauma Counselor H. Norman Wright even recommends a “programmed cry” in which you set aside a specific time to grieve and place yourself in an environment where you are able to do so. He says in Recovering from Losses in Life, “Some of us have never learned to cry. We are afraid to really let go with our tears. We live with fears and reservations about crying. We cry on the inside but never on the outside.” Each time you allow yourself to grieve through tears, it will become a little bit easier to do so.
You can also simply do something nice for yourself. If you enjoy going to restaurants, then have a special meal with a friend or spouse. If you like taking long walks or bubble baths, make time in the day for that activity. Part of getting through grief is taking care of you. As long as it isn’t something harmful or numbing, doing something special for yourself can help you through a difficult day.

Hold Onto Hope
At one point in my journey it seemed as if I couldn’t take another step. In addition to infertility, I was facing several other losses. I felt as if I were in a dark cave. But then I sensed the Lord gently and lovingly speak to my heart, “You may be in a cave, but you still have a choice. You can sit in despair or you can diamond-mine your difficulties.” I decided I was not leaving that time in my life empty-handed. I was taking every hidden blessing I could find. Of course, I still had difficult days. But choosing hope made a difference.

As a reminder, I now wear two rings. The one on the fourth finger of my left hand represents my commitment to my husband. The one on the fourth finger of my right hand is a simple silver band inscribed with the word “hope” and it represents the commitment I have made to God and myself to hold onto hope no matter what happens.

The story of an inspiring woman named Terrie also reminds me to hold onto hope. She endured the loss of four pregnancies and waited seventeen years before adopting a little girl. She told me, “I think one of the most important parts of this journey is learning to trust God. I don’t mean the flippant kind of trust.

It’s easy for people to say, ‘You just need to trust God.’ It’s much harder when you’re in the middle of all this pain. But he is trustworthy. Through it all, God has given us an amazing story. I wouldn’t have chosen this road, but he has been with us. I can look back and truly say every step was worth it.”

I don’t know how my journey will end and you probably don’t know how yours will either. I also don’t know how many of you will be silently grieving your losses as we sit in church together on May [9]th. But I do know that God sees each one of us. He knows how many hairs are on our heads and how many cares our in our hearts. Whatever you’re going through this Mother’s Day, you’re not facing it alone. As King
David, a man who experienced many losses in his life, expressed in Psalm 34:18 NIV, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” May God surround you with love, fill you with hope, and give you strength for each moment—especially this Mother’s Day.

Holley Gerth is an award-winning writer and editorial director for DaySpring. Her new devotional book, Rain on Me: Devotions of Hope and Encouragement for Difficult Times (Summerside Press), is now available online and in bookstores.
Holley is also a counseling intern for the women’s ministry and care center of a mega church with close to 10,000 members. She has been married to her college sweetheart, Mark, for almost nine years. Holley is not a morning person and once put chocolate on her alarm clock to bribe herself but ate it and went back to bed.
You’re invited to find encouragement any time of day on her blog, Heart to Heart with Holley and more from Holley specifically about Mother's Day at blog.dayspring.com/2009/05/when-mothers-day-is-difficult-.html.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Letter to Pastors for Mother's Day

Dear Pastor,

Infertility is a medically recognized disease that affects men and women equally. It is defined as the inability to conceive or retain a pregnancy during a one-year period (6 months for a woman 35 years of age and older). According to the CDC, there were 7.3 million people diagnosed as infertile in 2002. That number represents one in eight couples of childbearing age, some of whom sit in your congregation each Sunday. This number shows a 20% increase since the last count of 6.1 million in 1995. In addition, every year in the United States there are approximately 2 million women who experience pregnancy loss, ranging from miscarriage to stillbirth and infant death. Infertility and loss is often such a private matter and not openly shared; it can often be a cause of a crisis of faith. The desire to reach what many label, “God’s highest calling” – a mother and father - can be a strong one.

This letter is sent to you as a reminder of the upcoming Mother's Day and Father's Day services- special days that celebrate family. It is a definite time for rejoicing and honor, but at the same time can bring about moments of anguish for those enduring the road of infertility or loss. We’d like to ask that you please remember in your sermons and prayers those who have lost mothers and fathers, mothers and fathers who have lost children, mothers and fathers and children who are estranged from each other, and men and women who are unable to be mothers and fathers. It will not only comfort them; it will remind the moms and dads in your congregation who have been blessed that their children truly are wonderful gifts from the Lord.

Thank you for your consideration.

Warmly,

Hannah’s Prayer Ministries
www.hannah.org

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Hope in Negative Prenatal Diagnosis

Angie Smith, wife of Christian singer Todd Smith (Shela) has a beautiful blog called Bring the Rain about the negative prenatal diagnosis, birth and death of one of their daughters, Audrey Caroline. (As a note of caution to sensitive hearts, living children are both pictured/referenced on the blog and Angie is currently pregnant).

Last week Angie release a new book called I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy. While I haven't had a chance to read it for myself, it already has 15 5-star reviews on Amazon! Since her blog is so well-written and God-honoring, I can't imagine that this book would be anything less than a beautiful source of honesty, challenge and loving encouragement to families facing negative prenatal diagnosis and/or infant death.


One reviewer lost a 15-year old daughter and said I Will Carry You is appropriate for any grieving parent. Praying this book will be a blessing to you as well. Please post and share in the comments if you have a chance to read it yourself.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Surviving Mother's Day

Mother's Day was one of my most dreaded days of the whole year while going through infertility. I've written about this one holiday probably more than just about any other. This year I want to hear what you have to say about MD? While living through infertility and/or grief over adoption loss or the death of your child, what one thing has been the most helpful, healing, or hurtful to you in your Mother's Day experiences?

If it was a helpful experience, what made it so meaningful to you and how can we learn from your story to hopefully bring encouragement to others? If is was a painful experience, what might you or others involved in your day have done differently to prevent a measure or heartache or how will you approach May 9 differently this year as a result of a prior bad experience?

Monday, May 03, 2010

Woman's Health Hero Nomination - Please Vote for me

I was blessed to be nominated as a Woman's Health Hero and I need your help! (Head's up to my friends who are sensitive to mentions of pregnancy, the sponsors of this award do promote pregnancy-related books on their website, so please be for-warned before following this link.) Out of all entries, just 20 names will be inducted into a Health Hall of Fame. Two Hall-of-Fame selections will receive special honors as either Staff Pick or Audience Choice award determined by the public (that's you!).



You will be allowed to vote on all entries between now and May 14 (extended one week from the prior May 7 deadline), 2010. The entry that receives the highest overall ranking will win the Audience Choice award. Last year's Audience Choice winner was my dear friend Lisa Copen from Rest Ministries. I would be delighted to add a similar honor to my "resume" as I continue working on writing my book on the life of Paul as encouragement for living with chronic pain/illness.

Will you please help me by heading to www.ourbodiesourblog.org/blog/2010/05/comforting-those-with-fertility-challenges-jenni-saake and selecting the "thumbs up" voting button at the bottom of my profile? Thank you so much! :)

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Depression

This week on Facebook I came across the following status update:
DEPRESSION is not a sign of weakness it is a sign that you have been trying to be strong for too long. Put this as your status if you know someone who has or has had depression. Most people wont, but its mental health week and 1 in 3 of us will suffer some point in our lives. Show your support...♥

Depression is something very few people are willing to talk about, but I believe it impacts many more people than most of us realize. I can't even count the number of times, several just within the past few weeks, where woman have sat down with me and secretly shared their struggles with depression. It's a journey clouded in shame, something we worry others will look down on us for, judge us over. Sometimes we hide behind a facade of being outgoing, the life of the party. Sometimes it drives us deeper into our own shells.

For much too long the church as a whole has perpetuated the idea that depression is rooted in the sinful inability or unwillingness to allow God to bring joy to our hearts. I do believe that depression often is entangled with spiritual struggles, but often broken spirits comes as a result of the imbalanced hormones and true medical issues that trigger depression in the first place.

I hope to provide several resources for coping with depression in coming posts, but today I want to start simply by letting you know that if you are facing depression, you are not alone. And so I'll start by opening my heart and sharing my own story, beginning in 1991/92. At this time I don't believe I was living in full-time depression, but I did experience frequent, terrifying panic attacks in conjunction with hormonal imbalance triggered by the onset of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I developed a host of fears and phobias and cried frequently, but also had times that were very upbeat and joyful.

As we progressed into 1993/94, joy evaporated. I sunk into a deep, black depression in the wake of infertility grief and all the daily losses of learning to live with debilitating chronic illness. At my lowest, I seriously entertained thoughts of suicide on a regular basis. :( God used my husband, Scriptures and the book The Ache for a Child by Debra Bridwell to begin my healing.

In hindsight I would highly encourage anyone who is where I was then to immediately seek medical and emotional aid though frank conversation with a competent physician and solid, Christ-centered counseling. It is truly a testament of God's grace that when I did not know enough about depression to understand how desperately I needed that help, that God, Himself the Great Physician and Wonderful Counselor, stepped in and brought about the miraculous healing I needed. Hannah's Prayer Ministries was born as a result of this season when God brought me up out of the pit, out of the Valley of the Shadow of Death and set my feet on a firm place to stand beside the quiet waters.

After our first miscarriage (Dec. 94) I had a different depressive episode lasting about 5 months. This time I was simply was void of feeling. Unlike the utter lost-ness, despair and hopelessness of the prior depression, this new grief-based depression over the death of our first daughter left me unable to laugh, cry, smile, be angry or "feel" anything - I simply was numb month after month. My breakthrough and healing here began with the final admission to myself that we had indeed been blessed with parenthood, even if only for a short season on this earth. To actually hear myself say, "I had a miscarriage," a statement that brought about days of gut-wrenching and unstoppable torrent of tears, was a huge milestone. Choosing a name of our daughter, thus "giving her an identity" I could relate to, was another step in overcoming this round of depression and beginning to work through healthy stages of grief.

Noel would be nearly 15 now and I still miss her, grief being a life-long journey. But my depression in the wake of her death was more than just a "stage of grief" and would be medically classified as postpartum depression (PPD), though I had no bring-home baby at the end. I still do not fully understand why, of all our 10 very painful losses, it was only Noel's death that triggered a full depressive experience like this, though I think some issues like our infertility, the fact that she was my first and (at that time) only child, and other life circumstances may have all been contributing factors.

Over the years depression has visited me in milder and shorter seasons, off and on, at various times, often linked to hormonal changes or health complications. My latest real journey through depression came with the conception and birth of our daughter who is now 7. (She is our second our of 3 living miracles.) This time ANGER best defined my experience of peri/post-partum depression. There were many elements that set the stage for this struggle, including secondary infertility, 2 miscarriages a year prior to her conception, a major surgery just a couple months before her conception, significant hormonal imbalance, having to stop our planned adoption due to pregnancy, high risk pregnancy with ongoing perterm labor scares and 13 weeks of bedrest, and out-of-control migraines during her first year or so of life.

It wasn't until after her 2nd birthday that I began to truly feel a connection with this sweet little girl I had prayed and longer for my entire life. I wasn't until after the birth of her little brother the week of her 3rd birthday, when I experienced the normal joys of new motherhood again, that I fully began to grasp and appreciate all I had missed out on, emotionally, over the prior three years. I was a functional mom while dealing with depression, falling into the mild to moderate spectrum of PPD this time, but it was an ugly journey non-the-less. My heart aches for several friends who have experienced postpartum (or any other kind of) depression at deeper levels, including several who have been hospitalized for their own protection (as I likely could have been in the early 90s).

If you or someone you love is walking through the valley of depression, please know you are not alone! Depression is not a sign of spiritual lack or weakness and it is a battle that can be won. Keep watching this blog for future posts spotlighting depression and offering helpful resources. And since the Bible has been my Light through my darkest days of depression (though I have to admit to actually throwing God's Holy Word across the room in my anguish a time or two) I would love to invite you to share the Scriptures that have most blessed and encouraged you in the comments section below.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Welcome to New Blog Location

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