Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and for many, it is the first "first" of the holiday season.
The first Thanksgiving without your baby.
Maybe this was supposed to be your baby's first Thanksgiving. Maybe you should still be pregnant. Maybe your baby was with you last Thanksgiving, but isn't now.
Whatever your situation, Thanksgiving may seem impossible this year. Not only the being with family and being acutely aware of the number of seats around the table, but the whole point of Thanks-giving.
When your guttural cry is, "What is there to be thankful for?" but you don't want to ask the question because some well-meaning acquaintance is going to start listing things that you know are blessings and that you "should" be thankful for, but face it - they aren't your baby.
When writers and preachers remind us that we are not commanded to give thanks "for" all things, but "in" all things (1 Thessalonians 5:19), because that should make it easier since you don't have to be thankful your baby is gone, just find something to be thankful for within it. Only even that doesn't always work.
So today, I want to point you to a different command, five verses earlier in 1 Thessalonians 5:14: "And we urge you, brothers and sisters...encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone." This Thanksgiving, that may describe you. Disheartened. Weak. In need of patience from others...and yourself.
If giving thanks is hard this year, that's okay.
If praying is hard this year, that's okay.
If "celebrating" anything is hard this year, that's okay.
There will be other Thanksgivings, other holidays, when both time and the healing work of God has eased the pain that threatens to rip you apart right now. (It will get easier, I promise!). But this year, be gentle with yourself. Be patient. Do what you can, and don't have over-the-top expectations of how you "should" feel.
Because while it is God's will for us to give thanks, He also has a heart for the disheartened and the weak. He is close to the brokenhearted and those who are "crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18), and if all you can do this Thanksgiving is breathe and let Him sustain you and be your strength, that's okay.
Because leaning on Him for strength when you have no strength of your own is worship, too.
As we approach Thanksgiving, we would like to say a public "Thank you!" to some of those organizations who have been partnering with us in this ministry. Today our thank you is to Spring Valley Baptist Church of Columbia, SC, which hosts our monthly Naomi's Circle Pregnancy Loss support group. This includes providing childcare, which allows many to attend who might not otherwise be able to. In addition to that, SVBC has been helping us financially for several years, allowing us to build our lending library, acquire books to give to parents, print brochures and books, and maintain our presence on the Web so that parents can find us and, through us, the support and resources they need. Most importantly, they pray for us and the parents touched by this ministry. Thank you, Spring Valley Baptist Church, for standing with parents of babies in Heaven and being God's hands on Earth to us!
Are you thinking of year-end giving? We would love for you to consider Naomi's Circle. The main financial need we have is funding for our Mommy to Mommy Outreach, providing fifteen Brie Bags per month to three Columbia-area hospitals (Palmetto Baptist, Palmetto Richland, and Lexington Medical Center) and preparing to provide Hope Bags to local obstetrician offices, beginning in 2014.
Every three months, we make purchases for the next quarter's Brie Bags. Our biggest expenses are the Embracing Evan bears (approximately $8 each) and the book Empty Cradle, Full Heart (including shipping, also about $7 each, which the publisher Loyola Press gives us at a discount). We also purchase fabric for the bags, diapers, and hats and we purchase Jenga-style blocks (usually at consignment stores) for our Hope Bag memorial key chains. Our ongoing quarterly M2M Outreach expenses come to about $300 every three months.
Would you be willing to help? Because we operate as a ministry under the umbrella of Spring Valley Baptist Church, donations to Naomi's Circle through the church are tax-deductible. See our Donations page for more information about how to give online through Spring Valley Baptist Church. If you would like to invite us to share with your church or civic organization about our ministry, or if you would like to give of your time and crafting skills for this ministry, please contact us through our M2M page or via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Naomi's Circle has a new outreach that we want to share with you called "Wrap Your Rainbow". Frequently, a baby born after a loss is called a rainbow baby. We have acquired several rainbow-colored woven wraps of various sizes that we want to share with local Columbia-area moms (and dads) of rainbow babies.
Details are on our WYR page, but the main idea is that every two to three months, we will open our website to requests. If there is more than one request, then we will have a drawing, and the winner will be loaned a woven wrap for the next year, at which time she (or he) will need to return the wrap to us, to be passed along for the next Rainbow Baby. Please feel free to share this with others locally! We hope it will be a special way to encourage parents of rainbow babies and also a way for people to be introduced to babywearing. Our current "window" for requests will be open until November 14.
Naomi's Circle News
Here you will find articles intended to help you in your journey. Some will be reviews of websites and books. Some will be devotionals, some general articles, and some will be guest bloggers. Feel free to comment and let us know if there is something you would like to see addressed here.
Week 1: Devotional
Week 2: General article about loss
Week 3: Testimony/guest blogger
Week 4: Website/book Review