Team Sebastian Wagner Spring 2021

2020 NILMDTS Fall Remembrance Walk

Please consider joining us on May 1st for a virtual remembrance walk for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. NILMDTS provides heirloom quality remembrance photography for families whose precious babies won’t be leaving the hospital with them. They also gift families with remembrance boxes and train nursing staff on how to provide beautiful photos for families when volunteer professional photographers either aren’t available or can’t  access families (like this past year with hospital visitor restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic).

Would you like to join Team Sebastian Wagner on May 1st from anywhere in the US (or world! I’m not sure about shipping outside the US, but the folks at NILMDTS are always quick to answer questions – you can email tgem at walk @ nilmdts . org … remove spaces or click on any of the links to find the same address listed)? Click this link to register. You can start your own team to walk in remembrance of another child(ren) as well. Click here! If you register by 1/29 with the code VWSPRING , you can save $5 on your registration fee.

Not really wanting to do the walk? That’s okay! We would surely appreciate your donation toward the work of NILMDTS by clicking the link here.

Thank you!

If You’re Happy and You Know It… That’s Okay!

And if you’re not, it really is okay if others are.

This isn’t the Mother’s Day post you’d expect from me – at least if you know anything about my family. My mom died 11.5 years ago. My son died a little over two years ago, and he is joined in his rest by 6 miscarried siblings.

Spend any time on social media today, and I should be a total wreck!

But here’s the thing – I’m not. Christ has gifted me with so many treasures in this world. Oh sure, my living kids, my amazing husband who works so tirelessly for our family, but also waking up this morning, devices to help me breathe while I sleep or the anticipated surgery this week to help me regain full function in my hand that likes to fall asleep if I ask it to work. Heck, even that hand that likes to fall asleep – just as it is. On the outside, I have a lot that I could complain about… I just don’t want to.

For the last week, I’ve seen a lot of “trigger warnings” on Mother’s Day posts.
“Don’t forget those who have lost a mother.” “There is no one more deserving of being remembered on Mother’s Day than the one who had to give her child back.” “This day may be difficult for those who long to be a mother – be gentle.” And yes, absolutely, we would all be so much better off with a huge dose of gentleness foe everyone around us. There’s even a specific holiday for those of us who have had children die – Bereaved Mother’s Day – so that we don’t have to feel sad today. But I guess we need to feel sad today, too?

There are also those who had babies. Not in the midst of infertility or miscarriage or without their mom there to teach them the ropes. I’m talking the seemingly Hallmark card picture of motherhood. Do we have to take away from celebrating others’ happiness in order to protect anyone outside of that? Can’t we just allow pure honor and happiness and joy #nofilter?

When we try to include everyone, we end up sabotaging everyone in the process. Let’s celebrate moms today, step back if it’s too hard for you personally, but raining on someone else’s happiness doesn’t make your grief load lighter – it just imposes it on someone who would likely help you bear it if you didn’t dump it on them first.

So much this!

I read this amazing article today that’s a few years old, but right on time for where I am.  I’m going to link the whole article, but this poem she quotes within the post really struck a chord with me.

I walked a mile with Pleasure; she chatted all the way.
And left me none the wiser with all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow, and ne’er a word said she,
But oh, the things I learned from her, when Sorrow walked with me.

Really, the whole post is just excellent.  I’ve read it a few times, and every time I find myself nodding along with one part or another.  Thank you, Kendra, for your words!

You Are What You Eat

Or more fully, you believe in and function on what you consume.

Pretty sure most would agree that this has been a pretty rough season of life for us. Along with the loss of our baby, our oldest child has been having a hard time – part grief, part pre-existing him-ness. I’ve had some health stuff creep up. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

One of the things that I was encouraged to do after Sebastian died was to find a group of other loss moms for support.  So I joined a group on Facebook of others moms (and a couple dads) who have lost babies to miscarriage and stillbirth.  For the most part, this group has been a lot of newer loss parents sharing their stories and their baby’s photos, talking about how they’re getting through or asking about gravesite or memorabilia display – things that others who haven’t been here don’t necessarily want to listen to and talk about.  Every now and then there are those who are despairing so deeply about going on with their lives after losing their baby – those are most painful when the loss was decades ago.  And one of the rules is that you cannot speak about religion until you’re talking about your own experiences or are asked how you are getting through.

I also looked into going to this organization’s local gathering until a speaking with a friend who had been there.  My friend, A, went with her mother-in-law after A’s brother-in-law (MIL’s son) died from cancer.  This group is for all loss families – miscarriage, still birth, infant an child loss from birth until mom dies.  A said these meetings were so depressing.  She strongly encouraged me NOT to go – that I wouldn’t find the hope in Christ that I’m used to and looking for… I’d find deep, inconsolable grief and pain.

I love these women (and men). My heart breaks for them in their despair. I can offer e-hugs for what it’s worth. Talk about the physical healing or the slow yet fast marching of time. But I can’t offer the real hope I have.  Every opportunity that even has a shadow of an opening, I HAVE to talk about the hope I have in Christ.

But I’m calling into question the idea that it’s super important to get into a group like this right away – someone to walk with you through what they’ve been through. The more time I spend in these groups (oh goodness… here comes the lynch mob), the more depressed I get! Last weekend was H-A-R-D.  Did you know there’s a “Bereaved Mother’s Day?”  The idea behind it is that Mother’s Day can be hard for those who have lost a child, so lets recognize that – that mothers are mothers whether you see their children or not.  Great idea!  Really! Pretty sure that’s what October 15th is about (Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day), but of course that doesn’t include those mothers who lost older children. Regardless, back to my point. Leading up to last Sunday (which was also 3 months since we lost Sebastian), post after post, sappy meme after sappy meme with phrases like “empty arms,” “broken heart,” “I’ll never be the same again.”

A steady diet of this can bring nothing BUT despair! Are my arms empty – yes.  Is my heart broken – to an extent, sure. Will I ever be the same again – no… but is that a bad thing? I need a different diet!

This doesn’t make me better, but my diet HAS to be Jesus.  It just has to be! He didn’t bring me to this valley of the shadow of death to leave me and my heart among the evil of sin. He is WITH me.  HE comforts me. His Word promises this to me – and God doesn’t lie.

So when I’m having a bad day – when the tears come easier than my standard smile and laughter – I feed my soul. We live in an age when there’s so much information available at our fingertips at all times. If I have internet access – I have the Bible in hundreds of translations.  I can listen to the sermons of trusted pastors with a couple taps on my screen.  There are podcasts and YouTube videos and chat windows with supportive Lutheran friends who haven’t lost a baby… but they’ve been found and held and loved and cherished by a Savior – and they remind me I have been, too.

You are what you eat. Be fed! Be filled up! Listen to Christ saying I’m here, I’m with you, and I love you as my own… because you are.

Some of God’s Greatest Gifts are Prayers Answered, “No.”

Tonight at Bible study, we talked about how we can comfort others (and personally handle) when the answer to their heartfelt prayers seems to be no. Or at least not yet… but it might as well be no to the prayer.

So many times we inadvertently land ourselves in the place of turning God into a genie. If I pray hard enough or the right way or I’m faithful enough, then He’ll give me the desire of my heart. I don’t think that’s the intentional plan. At least I don’t know anyone who would admit that they are trying to gumball machine the Lord: perfect prayer in = heaven-sent reward. But it’s an easy trap in which to fall prey. 

It’s just as easy to become ensnared in its counterpoint: if I don’t receive that for which I prayed, it must be because God is displeased with me. Worse, it’s that God doesn’t care – for me in particular or at all in general. Nothing could be further from the truth! 

When we put our trust in feeling, we put our trust in human reasoning, something we know is not impartial, and something that isn’t Truth. Our trust must be placed in what we have been given as unfailing: God’s Word. But God feels far away – He feels like He dumped me in this pit of yuck and ran off. Those times feel horrible! But what Scripture say?

Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust. O  my  soul, you have said to the Lord , “You are my Lord, My goodness is nothing apart from You.” As for the saints who are on the earth, “They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.” Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god; Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer, Nor take up their names on my lips. O Lord , You  are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance. I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; My heart also instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord always before me; Because He  is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalms 16:1‭-‬11 NKJV

And again…

Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the Lord , but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside; for then  you  would  go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people.

I Samuel 12:20‭-‬22 NKJV

No matter what sin (wickedness) we commit, God still loves us. No matter how far away He feels, He will not forsake us. When Satan throws every manner of evil and despair against us, Christ is still Truth and trustworthy.

Thanks be to God!