HOPE in 2018

DSCN6035One of the best things about Facebook is reconnecting with old friends, and I recently had an interesting exchange with a few far-flung friends from my school days.

We talked about the word God is leading us to choose for 2018. We may all view this word a little differently, but essentially it captures an attitude or quality we want to try to develop or focus on more during the coming year.

I’ve done this for the last couple of years, and I’ve been amazed at how much God reveals to me about that word during the course of the year. During 2016, God impressed upon me over and over the abundance of JOY in him and his word. Because I was alert for joy, I discovered it more in Scripture, in books I read, in other people, in creation, in myself, and especially in God. I’m convinced we can’t begin to comprehend the incredible fullness of God’s joy.

As I prayed and considered a word for 2017, I began thinking about PEACE. Frankly, I didn’t really want that word and was a little concerned about it. Why would I need peace? What might happen during 2017? Choosing the word generated a gnawing anxiety. Even my vivid imagination never created a scenario in which I would lose my sister, my mother, and my father within the year. But that’s what happened.

My sister’s health deteriorated quickly and she was placed in hospice care. We siblings kept vigil at her bedside for five days, and she went home to Jesus on January 12. Less than a month later, while we were still reeling from that loss, we learned that my mom’s cancer had returned with a vengeance. Her only option was hospice care. After eight extremely difficult weeks, the Lord took her home on April 10. The grief of losing our mother less than three months after our sister weighed heavily on us, but Dad’s loneliness, after 68 years with his beautiful bride, nearly crushed him.

His struggle with memory difficulties had made him heavily dependent upon her, and we doubted he could remain in his independent living apartment. Surprisingly, he lived there successfully (although not without a few concerning issues) for six months.

He had survived polio as a baby, but it may have affected his balance later in life. Falls or near falls brought him to the emergency room too often in too short a period during October. He spent ten days in nursing care, while we worked with his doctor and others to determine the proper placement for him.

In God’s providence, we were able to move him into an assisted living apartment in the same building. It even had a window overlooking the parking lot—his most crucial requirement! He adjusted amazingly well.

On Christmas Day, my husband and I planned to pick him up and bring him to our house for lunch. When we arrived, he was experiencing a great deal of pain. I called 911. We spent the rest of the day in the ER and hospital. That evening we learned that his abdominal aortic aneurysm, which we’d known for some years could kill him instantly, was enlarged and bleeding into his abdominal cavity. He could survive for a few weeks or it could be a matter of hours. He initially was doing so well, we thought we might have him with us for a month or more.

Two days later, he entered the Comfort House. He was alert, able to talk and sit in the chair. During his first night there, his condition worsened and he became unresponsive. On the last day of the year, a Sunday morning, he went home to be with his Lord.

In God’s gracious providence, I’d lived over six decades without a significant loss. In his bitter providence, he took three members of my original family home to heaven within one year. I definitely needed PEACE in 2017.

For several weeks, I’ve felt compelled to focus on HOPE during 2018. In the recent Facebook conversation, one of my school friends encouraged me to go with HOPE. She expressed her hopes for me “to start sleeping better” and for a year “with less grief and many healing memories….of great book sales and many inspired words written down” as well as “spontaneous laughter” and so on. May it be so. That is my HOPE.


Little One Lost eBook

Little One Lost CoverLittle One Lost: Living with Early Infant Loss is now available in Kindle format on Amazon.

I also learned that the paperback is available to Canadian readers at the goDutch bookstore.

Signing books today!

Me and Bethany at my book signing in July. That’s my son-in-law, Nick, holding my grandson, Layton, in the background. It was 105 degrees on July 5, but it’s 31 degrees now with a forecast high of only 53!

This morning I’ll be signing copies of my book, Little One Lost: Living with Early Infant Loss, at The Sanctuary coffeehouse and Christian bookstore on the south side of the square in Pella. My daughter, Bethany, and I will be there from 10:00 until noon. Stop in for a free bookmark. I’ll also be giving Hugs and Kisses, mostly those of the Hershey’s variety.

Do you grieve the loss of a little one? Do you wish you could help someone who does? Reasonably priced at only $10, Little One Lost is the kind of book you’ll want to have on hand so you can give it to someone who needs to read its biblical comfort.

My prayer is that today God will send into The Sanctuary those who need to read Little One Lost. If you can’t join me in person, will you join me in praying for God to do that? May he receive all the glory!

Little One Lost is written in accessible language and short chapters so it can be easily digested by people lost in grief’s fog.

Here’s a summary of the book’s content:

Published by Reformed Fellowship in Grand Rapids, the volume contains a preface that explains why I wrote the book, an appendix defining medical terms often used in related discussions, and six primary parts.

The first chapter in Part One, Acknowledging Our Loss, relates my own story, “The Hole in My Heart,” which appeared in the March April issue of The Outlook and is found online here. Other chapters in this initial part are Society’s Paradox, Knit Together, and Common Occurrence.

In Part Two, Losing a Child, several families relate personal stories of their various experiences: Repeated Loss, Medical Dilemmas, Hopeless Labor, Father’s Love, and Delivery Distress.

In Part Three, Bearing Infertility’s Loss, three families share their different perspectives on living with infertility: Empty Womb, Childless Marriage, and Supernatural Children.

Part Four focuses on Finding Our Comfort in these chapters: Not Lost, Biblical Comfort, Covenantal Comfort, Confessional Comfort, and Only Comfort.

Part Five, Grieving with Hope, deals with a variety of aspects related to grief, including guilt: Hopeful Grief, Guilty Grief, Being Forgiven, Forgiving Others, and Family Grief.

Part Six explores Healing Our Pain through Prayerful Work, Graceful Acceptance, Remembering Life, Compassionate Care, and The Hope in My Heart.


Little One Lost redux

One week from today, October 6, I’ll be signing copies of Little One Lost: Living with Early Infant Loss at Pella’s new The Sanctuary Coffeehouse and Christian bookstore.

If you regularly read this blog, you’ll know that I did a book signing on July 5, one of the hottest days of the year. It was a Thursday evening, but all the special “Thursday Nights in Pella” events were cancelled. The usually bustling square was as quiet as a ghost town. Yet I had a steady stream of faithful friends, family, and acquaintances who braved the sweltering heat to purchase a book and ask me to sign it. I went home that evening with zero books and the owner’s encouragement to come back and do another signing.

Marketing wasn’t an extremely high priority for me during this past hectic summer. But when I heard about plans for an October 7 walk to raise awareness of infant loss, I thought it would be appropriate to schedule another signing about the same time.

You may not know this, but October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Pella Regional Health Center‘s Empty Cradle program is sponsoring A Walk to Remember at 2:00 p.m. on October 7. My book is now available at The Sanctuary and I’ve scheduled my book signing there to coincide with the same weekend at Empty Cradle’s memorial walk.

One never knows how many (or few!) people will show up for a book signing, but I’m confident that the temperature will not be 105 degrees this time. Stop in and see me at The Sanctuary Coffeehouse next Saturday morning. If you live out of town, fall is the perfect time to visit Pella (our famous bakeries are just a few doors from the bookstore!). It’s not too early to think about Christmas gifts for friends or family. You may want to have a few copies of Little One Lost on hand to give to other people when the need arises. Even if you don’t buy a book, please stop in for a free bookmark or just to talk. I’d love to visit with you or hear your story!

I’ll be at The Sanctuary, 717 Main Street, in Pella from 10:00 until noon on Saturday, October 7. Hope to see you there!

Off the launch pad

Yesterday was the local launch for my book on infant loss: Little One Lost: Living with Early Infant Loss, published by Reformed Fellowship in Grand Rapids, MI. It was an amazing day.

In the morning, I was with Evelyn Nikkel at KCWN’s radio station for more than an hour of on air time that consisted of prayer, discussion, and appropriate music. During that time frame, a listener from Ottumwa called to say how meaningful she found the discussion because she’d had ten miscarriages. Since she was on her way to Des Moines, she actually stopped by the station and I had the opportunity to chat with her and sign a book for her. Later Evelyn offered another free book to a listener and I spoke on the phone with someone whose nephew and his wife lost their baby at five months, while he was serving in Afghanistan. During the broadcast, I prayed five times and Evelyn played touching music. It was an emotional morning.

Many people told me they listened to part or all of the broadcast and several asked about an online podcast. Evelyn gave me a CD recording, but I hope to check with her next week about posting the audio file on their website. If that happens, I’ll post a link on my blog.

This morning I received an email from Francine, a young woman who had shared her story with me and is now doing missionary work in Papua New Guinea. She’d heard the broadcast by clicking on the “Listen Live” button on KCWN’s website. While it was 7:30-8:45 am here, it was 10:30-11:45 pm there. Thanks for staying up so late to listen, Francine!

Yesterday afternoon was fun, although unrelated to the launch. I participated in a conference call editorial meeting for the Messenger, newsletter of Mid-America Reformed Seminary. As usual, I have lots to do in little time, but I’m excited to be working on some fun stories.

In the evening, I had dinner with my friend and fellow writer, Angela, with whom I’ve met regularly for 18 years. Angela and I arrived early at Branches Christian Store to discover that I’d already sold a book, even though they weren’t there yet! Before 6:30, we’d sold another one. I’d ordered 30 books, which had arrived on Saturday, and after the signing I took home zero!

I’d given away a few in connection with the radio broadcast, I’d sent some to people who contributed to the book, and I sold some prior to the signing, but 14 sold at the store. The owner wanted to keep the last two to sell on commission for me since people who heard the broadcast may request it.

It was a lovely evening with a steady stream of supporters (and purchasers!) that allowed me to speak to each one individually. Angela and I had a few moments to chat early on, but the evening was completely free from boring lulls.

Thanks to all of you who came out on such an incredibly hot evening, especially since city festivities were cancelled! Thank you to all who listened during the morning radio broadcast. And thanks to all you faithful blog followers and regular readers.

Primary thanks go to our Heavenly Father, who gives us the hope of salvation through Jesus Christ his Son, and daily equips us through the renewing work of his Holy Spirit!