Please not that this is open only to residents of the greater Columbia metro area.
Our Wrap Your Rainbow page is now open for requests! This is a special project where Naomi's Circle will loan a woven wrap or woven ring sling for a year to the parents of a rainbow baby born after a loss. See our Wrap Your Rainbow page for more information and to submit your request. The submission page will be open until the end of February 2014.
Please not that this is open only to residents of the greater Columbia metro area.
Due to the ongoing winter storm, the Naomi's Circle PAL and HOPE support groups will NOT meet tomorrow night (2/13/2014). We will not reschedule, so stay safe and warm and we will see people at our meeting in March (3/13/2014). Group members can check in to our private FB group for more information. Please note that we do not have information about other support groups who normally meet this week. You will need to contact those group leaders directly to find out if they are still meeting. See our support group page for contact information.
"First Christmas" by Kristi Bothur
I hear that on the Earth below
This is a special season
With lights and songs and gifts and such,
And Jesus is the reason!
In the place I would have lived
Are strings of light that blink and shine,
But you should see the light up here
That glows from Jesus all the time!
In the place I would have lived
Carols play, and special songs,
But you should hear the music that
The angels sing here all day long!
In the place I would have lived,
Gifts are giv’n on Christmas Day,
But you should feel the joy we feel
Because God’s gift is here to stay!
In the place I would have lived,
Tears have flowed because I’m gone.
My family wishes I were there
To see and hear and feel it all.
But in this place where I now live,
It’s Christmas all day, all year long,
And the sights and sounds I’d see with them
Are pure, unblemished by all wrong.
So on this day that would have been
My first Christmas on the Earth,
Mama, Daddy, you need to know
I’m celebrating Jesus’ birth!
When you sing songs to worship Him,
I’m singing with the angels, too.
I’m never closer than when we all
Praise Him for our life anew.
I know this life began for me
Sooner than you thought it would.
I know your hearts are hurting now,
And you would change things if you could.
But in this place, where you’ll come, too,
We’ll be together, forever.
And there will be no more good-byes
When we celebrate Christmas in heaven – together!
By Kristi Bothur, mother of five (two on earth and three in heaven)
"For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
When we said good-bye to our babies, peace may have been far from our hearts. In its place was turmoil, confusion, and darkness. How could this happen? Why did it happen? Where was God in the midst of tragedy?
But the Scriptures declare that God's peace is available to those who present their requests to God in prayer. We also read here that God's peace transcends understanding. It is not something that makes sense to the world. Instead, it is surprising, and supernatural, and unexpected. It is a peace that guards our hearts with all of their confused emotions and our minds, with our tendency to doubt the truth of God's word in our hardest times.
In lighting the fourth Advent candle, we declare by faith that God's peace is real and possible - both peace within our hearts and peace between us and God. We declare that Jesus is the Prince of Peace promised by the prophet Isaiah so long ago, and the true and perfect peace is only possible in Him.
God, please fill our hearts with peace this Advent season. Help us to continue to present our requests to you, trusting that you do hear us, even when the answer seems so different than the desire of our hearts. Guard our emotions and our thoughts with your peace and help us to walk in victory in the days to come. Amen.
There's just no getting around it.
Christmas is hard when you are grieving, and even more so when the loved one you are grieving is a child. So much of the holiday seems focused on children and childhood - and then, of course, there is the fact that a baby is the central character of the whole season - even if it is Jesus.
If someone close to you is a bereaved parent, what can you do to support them through the Christmas season? While everyone grieves differently, here are three things that are on the wish list of many bereaved parents this holiday season:
1. They want to be understood. They need to have the freedom to do Christmas the way that is best for them. To skip the parts that hurt a raw heart. To participate and not have people think that coming to the party means they have finally gotten over the loss of their baby. To have their friends and relatives realize how hard this time of year is when your baby is no longer with you. A simple acknowledgement of this, whether spoken or in a note, goes a long way.
2. They want to know their baby is not forgotten. And if they have named their baby, they want to hear their baby's name, or to see it in writing. You never realize how much you take names for granted until you have a child whose name has no reason to be said. "I'm thinking of you and remembering _____ this year" is a wonderful gift to a bereaved parent, as is a Christmas ornament or another kind of memorial to remember a baby born to Heaven.
3. They want to know their baby's life had a purpose. If your friend's experience helped you in any way to appreciate life in a new way, or to give to others, tell them. Give to a charity in the name of your friend's baby, or just tell them what their experience has meant to you. Let them know that God has used their baby to inspire something good in you.
Don't be afraid to reach out to your friend this Christmas season. It will make a world of difference.
If you are a bereaved parent, what is on your wish list?
Christmas is just one week away. For some of you, it is one in a never-ending string of "firsts" this year. First hour without your baby. First day. First week. First summer. First fall. First Thanksgiving. First Christmas. Everything is raw this year, including this holiday.
For others of you, it's more familiar territory. You've done Christmas without your baby at least once. It "should" be easier this year. But while the raw pain has scabbed over, the dull ache is still there, and sometimes the scab is bumped or even ripped off and it's like no time has passed at all. And suddenly Christmas is, again, a day and a season to get through so we can move on to regular life with fewer triggers for the grief.
There are many websites out there with excellent advice on getting through the holidays. Allow me to share a few thoughts as well, as I approach my fifth Christmas since beginning the journey of pregnancy loss, of ways to make this Christmas special.
Adjust your expectations. Maybe all you can do this year is get through it. Survive. That's okay. But maybe you can do a few things. If not the tree, a string of lights. If not the Christmas Eve service, playing Christmas instrumental music in your home. If not the outside decorations, a single candle. You don't have to figure out your new normal yet. Just do what you can, when you can.
Do something in honor of your baby. Make an ornament. Buy a stocking. Donate to the Angel Tree or Toys for Tots, something for a child the age your baby would have been this year. Or donate to a ministry that is reaching out to other hurting parents. Let your baby's life inspire you, whether in creating something beautiful, or blessing the life of another child or another parent who has lost a child.
Talk about your baby. If you can't do it with family or friends, find a place where you can. A support group. An online forum. In the comments below. In a journal or on a blog. With your spouse. With God. You're allowed to talk about your baby.
Feel. Don't be afraid of your emotions. The best way through grief sometimes is to realize what you are feelings and to ride that wave all the way. Tears have a purpose in our healing. What's more, they are valuable to God.
Reflect on the cross. It may seem strange at Christmas, but the baby in the manger would mean nothing without the cross of Calvary and the empty grave. Victory over death. If the image of a baby threatens your emotions and your heart, focus on the cross instead, and the gifts of peace and life that Jesus came to bring.
I pray that this Christmas would be a special time for you, to reflect on your baby's life and the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Have a blessed Christmas.
What has helped you get through Christmas?
"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.' "
When we said good-bye to our babies, we experienced a grief and sorrow unlike any we had known. At times we felt like we were drowning in it. It felt like we would never be happy again. Indeed, it sometimes felt like being happy, or smiling, or laughing would be a betrayal of our children in Heaven, as if we had forgotten them.
But the Scriptures seem to make a distinction between happiness and joy. Happiness seems to be dependent on our circumstances and the things that happen to us. Joy, however, is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is a natural quality of our lives when we trust Christ and abide in Him.
In lighting the third Advent candle, we declare by faith that joy is possible on this journey. We choose by faith to believe that there are many things to be joyful for, especially the coming of our Savior to rescue us from sin and sorrow, and that deep joy and deep sadness are not mutually exclusive, nor does sorrow indicate a lack of faith, but rather, a depth of love.
God, fill our hearts with your joy this Advent season. Help us to trust you in our sorrow and not to be hard on ourselves when the joy, and even happiness, bubbles out. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit, who grows joy in our hearts as we abide in you. Amen.
Our Mommy to Mommy Outreach continues to have an impact in local hospitals. Tuesday, December 3, Rachel Raper and Sarah Hackett made more deliveries of Brie Bags and Embracing Evan bears at Palmetto Baptist and Palmetto Richland Hospitals. This time, they were joined by fellow Naomi's Circle member Alexa Bigwarfe who was donating copies of the book Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother.
This fall, Alexa spearheaded a collaborative effort of more than thirty mothers and several fathers who compiled their experiences into this collection of stories and "survival tips" for parents unexpectedly thrust onto the road of pregnancy, infant, and child loss. Five members of Naomi's Circle are featured - Alexa, Sarah, and Rachel, along with Naomi's Circle founder Kristi Bothur and her husband Eric. With the Foreword written by infant loss expert Sherokee Ilse of Babies Remembered, the book released during Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month in October and immediately shot up to the #1 place on Amazon in the "Motherhood" category.
Help is needed with both of these outreaches - Mommy to Mommy needs funds to pay for books and bears for the Brie Bags, and Alexa is now raising the funds to donate Sunshine After the Storm to hospitals and support groups across the country. To help with Mommy to Mommy outreach, see our "I Want to Help" page, and to assist with donations of Sunshine After the Storm, visit the Sunshine After the Storm website at http://sunshineafterstorm.us/.
Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
1 John 3:16 "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters."
When we said goodbye to our babies, most of us at some point asked why. Why did my baby die? We ask it on two levels - physical and spiritual. We want to know what went wrong physically. And we want to know why God didn't stop it. Fully fleshed out, many of us want to know, "If God loves me, why would He let me hurt like this?" The question itself reveals a fundamental belief about love - that the truest expression of love is the protection of the object of that love. When we find ourselves hurting, we begin to distrust the one who supposedly loves us.
What if that belief is wrong? What if the truest expression of love is not in what one is protected from, but in what one sacrifices for the beloved? Over and over again in Scripture, we are told that while God's love is shown in many ways through His care and provision for us, the truest expression of His love is found in one place - the cross of Calvary, where the Son of God laid down His life for us. An act of love that began with the Incarnation, God taking on human flesh - the story of Christmas.
In lighting the second candle of Advent, we recognize by faith that the greatest expression of God's love is not in how well he protects us from earthly harm, but in how far He went to bring us back to Himself - sending Jesus from the splendor of Heaven to the squalor of Earth, to be born into poverty, raised in obscurity, to die in humility, and to be resurrected in glory. We choose by faith to believe that God does love us, regardless of how our circumstances make us feel.
God, fill our hearts with your love this Advent. We are hurting, and you could have kept us from it, and so it is easy to doubt your love. But help us lift our eyes from our painful circumstances long enough to set them on the cross. Assure us of your love so that, in that knowledge, we can face our circumstances with renewed strength and faith in You, especially in this Christmas season. Amen.
2 Corinthians 1:8-10
"We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. On him we have set our hope..."
1 Peter 1:3
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through thine resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead..."
When we said goodbye to our babies, we also entered a season of suffering far beyond our ability to endure. We also despaired of life and felt the sentence of death in our hearts. For a time, at least, we felt hopeless. We may still feel that way, unable to see the good our future holds.
In lighting the first candle of Advent, however, we declare by faith (because it is so hard to see) that our hope is not in our children or other loved ones or any other circumstances. Our hope is in God - not in what He can or might do for us, but in God himself. Because he is good. Because he is love. And because the baby Jesus grew up to die for our sins and to be resurrected from the dead - something our circumstances can never change.
God, fill our hearts with hope this Advent season - hope in our painful memories, hope in our present longings, and hope in the uncertainties of tomorrow. Help us put our hope in you, no matter what. Amen.