Dealing with Anxiety: Coffee Series

Dealing with Anxiety @ AuthenticVirtue.com

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why are thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore I will remember Thee from the land of Jordan … the LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.” Psalm 42:5,6,8

Every once in a while I catch the blues; you know, the Eeyore-like tendency to see the world colored in grey, fearful, and unhappy? And don’t worry, I sometimes felt this way before my time in the hospital.

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Scriptures for the High-Risk Pregnancy

5 Scriptures that Give Peace During a High-Risk Pregnancy @ AuthenticVirtue.com

5 Scriptures that Give Peace During a High-Risk Pregnancy @ AuthenticVirtue.com

Across my medieval hospital desk I have index cards with various Scriptures written across them. I intended these to be read to me while I labored and birthed Uriah in our cozy home, with Dalton next to me, and a trusty midwife helping us along.

Now, the verses bring comfort in another way. My water has been ruptured for 19 days now and this is our 18th in the hospital (with 8 weeks to go, Lord willing!). There have been days when these verses were constantly being browsed over; during the first week especially I needed reminders of God’s goodness, control, and love.

Below are 5 verses which seem to always be finding their way from the plastic, gray drawer and across the fake wooden top of the desk. These are the top 5 verses I have found comfort in during our high-risk pregnancy.

“Because of his strength will I wait upon thee: for God is my defense.” Psalm 59:9

I love this verse; the whole chapter is of David spilling out his woes, fears, and impressions of his enemies, yet, in the end he determines that he will wait on God because He is his defense. Realistically, I don’t have enemies; I’m not being hunted by villains or persecuted by crooked family. But I do have enemies of the heart: fear, doubt, and faithlessness constantly harassing me. Simple, ordinary fears pummel high-risk pregnancy (fear of labor, fear of the unknown medical questions, fear of the worst case scenario). Because the strength of my enemies I will wait on You, LORD God, because You are my defense and so much stronger than the strongest foe I face. 

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, love, and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

I know that 10 weeks of bed rest is the perfect time to bond with my little, rest, and prepare for the upcoming labor and life to follow. But it is so easy to let the days be consumed with the spirit of fear! I love that God has not only not given us fear but He has given us power, love, and a sound, controlled mind. As Christians, we can literally say to our mental minds, “Is this thought powered by fear? Because, if so, it is not of God and it no longer needs my attention.” We can confidently enjoy God’s gifts of power, love, and a sound mind; we don’t need to be a doormat to fear-filled thoughts.

“And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man [with help] from the LORD.” Genesis 4:1 

I love this verse because it is simply so simple. The very first birth of the entire world was followed by words spoken by a woman who had never before experienced labor, never talked with a doctor, and never even heard the term “breech position.”

And at the end of her experience she said simply, “I have gotten a man from the Lord.” By His kindness, by His great creativeness, by His power, and by His help, she received a man-child.

And guess what, sweet, preggo person? So have you. It’s the very same Lord Who walked with Adam and Eve, Who gave them a child, and Who helped her through labor that is giving you your child.

During my high-risk bed rest, labor and pain, and all the unknown days ahead I want to remember, “I have gotten a man [with help] from the LORD.”

“I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more. My mouth will show forth Thy righteousness and Thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof. I will go in the strength of the LORD God: I will make mention of Thy righteousness, even of Thine only. ” Psalm 71:14, 16

This has been one of my go-to verses from the moment we discovered Uriah may have health issues. And once I was admitted to the hospital for an early membrane rupture I again turned to this verse (I was actually repeating it to myself as we drove to the hospital).

Why? Because it gives me purpose. I will hope continually (as in I will keep on hoping when hope seems ridiculous). I will praise You more and more (because You Lord are worthy of praise even in what looks like our tragedy). I will speak of Your righteousness and salvation all day (because these are the only things worth speaking of and there are people in this hospital Who need to know you and the numbers of them are unknowable!). I will go (to bed when I feel restless, to the ultrasound when I don’t want to hear bad news, to get another heparin shot …) in the strength of the LORD. I will make mention of Your righteousness only (because it is this righteousness which makes our lives worth living).

See how deep, how real, and how applicable these words are? They’re life-giving and doable and beautiful.

“All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.” Psalm 25:10

Finally, a last reminder of God’s amazing purpose and kindness in our perfectly imperfect pregnancy. From a human standpoint our pregnancy has looked riddled with “mistakes.” A misdiagnosed miscarriage, a 20 week diagnosis of Hydrocephalus, an early rupture at 24 weeks with a following discovery of Lobar Holoprosensephaly, topped with 10 weeks of hospitalized bed rest and countless unknowns until our little miracle makes his appearance.

From a human viewpoint, it looks bad.

But, sweet people, it is anything but. All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth. All of them. From the moment Uriah Lee was conceived, fashioned in the image of God, and formed with the Creator’s own hands, his path has been covered with God’s mercy and truth.

This isn’t a mistake. This isn’t an oversight. This isn’t a punishment. This isn’t bad. This isn’t the end of the world. This isn’t something to change or even wish away.

This is a path God has given us and it is filled with mercy and truth. Every day is filled with His grace. Every moment I spend in the hospital is overflowing with His goodness. Every hour Uriah remains in my womb is a gift. And every day following his birth, whether hard or easy, healed or disabled, is full of mercy and truth and graciously given by God.

And it’s the same for you, preggo Momma. I don’t know what sort of pregnancy you’re experiencing. I’m not sure if you’ve been labeled high-risk or are experiencing some trauma.

But, God’s Word is true. And every path He lets His people walk … you can guarantee it’s covered with mercy and truth.

What Scriptures brought you comfort during a hard season of your life? Share with us below in the comments — I love hearing from you! 

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie

Encouragement and Coffee Time with Psalm 142

Scripture for the heart and encouragement with AuthenticVirtue.com

“I cried unto the Lord with my voice; with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication. I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path.

In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me. I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. I cried unto thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.

 Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are  Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.” Psalm 142, KJV

This week’s favorite Psalm was definitely Psalm 142. It was a good week full of quality time with Dalton, sweet friends, an awesome mail day, and a visit with the doctor that gave us a few answers and hope for Uriah’s health. Plus, a whole week without contractions and labor is a huge blessing!

However, there are moments when life feels hard. Preterm labor is a constant unknown when your water has broke. Infection is always a looming possibility. The extremely rare threat of the dreaded pro-clasped cord hangs above my head like a dark, menacing cloud. Then, out of the blue, some conflict arises (and you know how I hate conflict) and I cow and fail to speak up and that brings all sorts of dreaded feelings and issues. To sum it up, life can still feel hard and lonely and full of hurt even when it is full of blessings, light, and life.

When I opened my Bible this morning I cried out, “Oh, Lord, help me!” I’m reading through the Psalms and eventually came across Psalm 142. It’s simple and to the point: sometimes, only the Lord can understand and comfort us. Sometimes, human sympathy and understanding, though there, falls short. Sometimes, all we can do is “show Him our trouble, pour out our complaint, and cry unto the LORD …” We can know that we were heard and understood. The longings and cries of our heart are seen and known.

Isn’t that utterly beautiful?

With love, blessings, renewed hope, and coffee,

Frannie

Respect and Acceptance: the gift all wives must give

Join me as I talk about marriage and the two gifts every wife needs to give her husband @ AuthenticVirtue.com

Respect him, accept him as he is. 

It shouldn’t have been a light bulb moment but this single thought opened a whole new idea of marriage to me. My darling man and I have been married long enough for us to see neither of us are perfect; yet, here I was learning a new lesson of loving him more perfectly.

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5 Ways to Care for Someone Enduring a Miscarriage

5 simple, loving ways to bless

5 simple, loving ways to bless

“Some people say it is a shame. Others even imply that it would have been better if the baby had never been created. But the short time I had with my child is precious to me. It is painful to me, but I still wouldn’t wish it away. I prayed that God would bless us with a baby. Each child is a gift, and I am proud that we cooperated with God in the creation of a new soul for all eternity. Although not with me, my baby lives.” -Christine O’Keeffe Lafser

It was a quick moment, the time we were told we had lost our baby at 8 weeks. It haunts me every time I settle in for an ultrasound; what if it happens again? What if we don’t see our baby?

God, in His amazing mercy, didn’t allow our miscarriage to take place. It was a misdiagnosis; human error coupled with miscalculated conception dates and a worthy (but relatively) low-tech machine brought about 2 weeks of waiting for the release of our little one. On top of that, my subchorionic bleeds (blood clots) made me believe I was actually going through a miscarriage, a long, painful process of sending away the bassinet, storing baby clothes, and announcing to the world that we were, in fact, not going to be having a baby in December.

I don’t pretend to have had a miscarriage; countless women do lose their little one’s and it’s an experience I can never fully relate to; yet, our experience has shown me a side of loss I had never known. However false our miscarriage was, it was still a real, heartbreaking two weeks we walked through.

The misdiagnosed miscarriage taught me ways to comfort those facing loss (along with other lessons). Below are 5 ways to encourage, bless, and carry a grieving couple during their miscarriage.

  • Acknowledge the loss … and please never hint that baby was lost for a reason or due to chromosomal abnormalities

If a couple announces their miscarriage then please acknowledge their loss. We had to announce our miscarriage because we had announced our pregnancy and it was too awkward receiving congratulations when I was secretly crying tears of loss.

Perhaps, if you are intimate and the conversation arises naturally, acknowledge the loss of life and the loss of promise. Losing a baby means losing so much more. You’ve lost the chance to experience labor. You’ve lost taking first day of school pictures. You’ve lost the opportunity to drive your 16 year old to the DMV for a permit test. Losing a baby is a true loss and it is genuine, real, and heartbreaking. Acknowledging that loss is multifaceted can communicate how deep and real their grieving is.

And please, do not tell the grieving mom that many miscarriages occur due to chromosomal abnormalities. And do not remind her that “there is a reason for everything.” Please don’t. I know this is a well-meaning set of words but it can be devastating. Hearing the hint that baby is better off not being born because he/she may have developed abnormally is not healing. The last thing a mother wants to hear is that phrase; to me, it didn’t matter what abilities/intelligence our child could be born with, at least he/she would be alive and loved.

  • Prepare a meal, or a hot pad, or a coffee 

In other words, practical gifts can be life-giving. There were moments during our experience when I felt physically, emotionally, and mentally drained — I could barely force myself to shower let alone set the table and prepare a healthy meal for my beloved.

If you have a grieving friend, offer to bring something practical their way. During my pregnancy, I had a sweet friend popover an extra homemade chicken pot pie and a huge box of decaf Keurig cups. This same friend lent me her hot pad in case cramps and pain needed some practical heat. That gesture was huge and incredibly life-giving.

Shortly after we had announced our miscarriage a darling friend drive several hours to bring me lunch and a latte’ — her sweetness brought life and joy to me when the days seemed quite long and draining.

  • Bring flowers

It’s simple, sweet, and incredibly encouraging. The same friend who brought me the lunch and coffee brought along a bouquet of flowers. The beautiful blooms kept my kitchen cheery and seemed to spread energy throughout our house … energy I didn’t have but desperately needed.

  • Send a card or Facebook message

Again, if a couple has announced their miscarriage than reaching out to them privately is totally welcome. Sending a card or Facebook message can be healing. The grieving mother may not respond for days (or ever) but knowing that she has a community of support is life-giving.

I cannot tell you how I appreciated the notes received. (Sometimes from complete strangers!) Some days I didn’t respond to the words, I was too tired and too occupied with managing my loss; however, it was nice knowing I was not alone.

  • Ask how they’re doing

Eventually, loss will begin to heal. While a grieving mother may not want every conversation to revolve around her loss (she probably would like to be treated normally) she does not want her loss forgotten about. A baby is a baby, whether it dies in the womb or from natural causes at age eighty. Life is life and it is worthy of being remembered. Maybe you will be led to send a small card on the anniversary of the loss. Maybe, every once in a while, you’ll ask how the couple is doing. Maybe, you’ll send a little gift card along with the message, “Still thinking of you; you’re wonderful.”

Whatever it is, acknowledging someone’s loss and genuinely caring about how they are is an appropriate way to bless and aide in healing.

Knowing someone facing loss can feel awkward; sometimes, we don’t know what to do or say. But if you feel led there are many ways to encourage and give life to those suffering with a miscarriage. From simply acknowledging the couple’s loss to being practical and offering words of encouragement or gifts, you can make a difference in the middle of sorrow.

How do you feel about comforting those with loss? Is it an awkward situation or do you thrive in bring healing to others? What are some ways you try to bring life to those hurting? Share your ideas in a comment below — I would love to grow in this area! 

Love, blessings, and coffee,

Frannie