alongside

Life can be so complicated and unpredictable. Today has been one of those days for me. My day started off with three MRIs: one for my brain, one for my neck and one for my back. My dear sweet husband took the morning off from work to hold my hand, comfort me, and pray for me because he knows that I am claustrophobic and that MRIs cause me great anxiety! Today was one of those days when I just needed my husband’s presence. As I went further into the MRI tube, he held my leg, and just knowing he was there brought me tremendous comfort. While sitting in the waiting room before my MRI and filling out my paperwork, I realized that today is February 13, my mom’s birthday. If my mom were still alive today, she would have turned 77!

We think we have to do something, but presence is a powerful action of its own. – Sarah Beckman

I have been thinking a lot about my mom lately. She died a few years ago after she was taken off of life support just days after Christmas. Family relations and emotions were all running high. Many friends called, texted and offered support. Whenever anyone offered to help I would simply ask for prayer. I would say that I was alright when in reality I wasn’t.

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In trying times, people tend to say they are okay and don’t need anything, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth! I will never forget the loving kindness of a friend who offered to stop by the hospital to bring food, and she would not take no for an answer. Not only did she bring me food, but she also took the time to listen to me. We prayed, we sang, and she sat with me as the Lord called my mom home. Her presence at that moment in my life was powerful and it is a gift that I will forever cherish.

How do we walk alongside someone in the midst of trying circumstances?

There’s a unique opportunity to love our neighbor when they experience a time of trial in their life. – Sarah Beckman

We all experience difficult trials in life, and we know people close to us that suffer hardships. How do we love and care for others well in their crisis?  The answer to this question is the purpose of Alongside: A Practical Guide for Loving your Neighbor in their Time of Trial. This must-read book is an invaluable resource for walking alongside those in need.

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This book is filled with questions to consider. It offers practical ways to love people through the storms of life and will help you figure out the best way to respond to the individual’s needs. You will learn to know your place in relationship to the person in need, and what you should do accordingly. It will also give a good understanding of possible needs and how people may be feeling, including general guidelines to consider and questions to help prepare for the journey ahead.

Part 2 of the book is dedicated to taking action. Know when to go, and when to pray. When I went to the hospital to give birth to my son whose heart had stopped beating in my womb, my sweet friends wanted to come to the hospital. While having my friends at the hospital that day was a kind gesture, what I needed most was time to grieve alone with my family. There is a chapter dedicated to respecting the person’s journey and includes information on privacy and dignity, and other chapters offer specific help, including being present, showing love through food, listening well and much more.

Finally, the book concludes with chapters on special circumstances, including: messy situations, when faith isn’t shared, when you’ve been there, when someone is aging, and terminal illness. In the appendix, there are scriptures for loving your neighbor which are divided into categories and a list of websites, books, and other helpful resources like meal coordination and online fundraising.

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For more information visit Sarah Beckman’s website.

A special thank you to The Blog About Network, The Blythe Daniel Agency and publishers for providing a copy of this book for review and one to giveaway.

I have one autographed copy of Alongside: A Practical Guide for Loving your Neighbor in their Time of Trial to give away! 

From now until February 28th, leave a comment below with either a way that you have come alongside someone in need or how someone has blessed you in a difficult time, to be eligible to win. Also, if you enjoyed reading this blog post please share with a friend.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you have a fantastic week!

This week’s Linkups:

 

Steadfast Podcast-Deep Wounds of Losing a Child

I have exciting news to share with you this week! Recently, I had the opportunity to share my testimony on Casey Tate’s Podcast, Steadfast. Many of you have read parts of my testimony of losing our son Little baby Liam, but there is just something special when you can hear someone’s testimony.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. -Psalm 139:4

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If you know anyone struggling with the loss of a child, infertility, miscarriage, or someone who just needs to hear a reminder of God’s faithfulness, please share my testimony of God’s goodness and faithfulness in the midst of suffering the loss of a child on Casey Tate’s Steadfast podcast.  The Deep Wounds of Losing a Child

God is so faithful! He is working in the lives of people all over the world. On Steadfast, Casey Tate covers a wide variety of topics on her Podcast from sex trafficking to physical illness, and everything in between. Recording the podcast with Casey was a lot of fun! She does a great job of pointing people to Jesus, and I am so grateful that I was able to be a part of this special ministry. All of her podcasts are available to listen to on iTunes.

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We all have a hard story. Whether or not we chose to tell it or let our shame consume us is a decision that will chart the course of much of our lives. God’s grace, his redemption, can change us from the inside out. Steadfast is a collection of brave women that want to tell you their story so you can know that you aren’t alone in your struggles; there is community among the broken. Join us every week and find the freedom that can only come from the steadfast love of our Almighty Father. – Casey Tate

Be sure to check out my post on Loved Baby:  a beautiful devotional book to help you grieve and cherish your child after pregnancy loss.

 

Little baby Liam

Much to my surprise, on Jacob’s 17th birthday and just a few weeks before my 40th birthday, we found out that I was expecting. After so many difficult pregnancies and losses, and years without getting pregnant, I was in shock and thrilled when my Doctor told me I was pregnant!!

I was considered a high-risk pregnancy. Because of my history, and my age, my Doctor, monitored me very closely from the beginning. On a routine blood draw, we found out my progesterone levels were deficient. So we immediately began supplementing with progesterone, and things seemed to be going okay. I was thankful for each day that I was pregnant. We had our first ultrasound, and everything seemed to still be moving right along. I got past the first trimester and began to let my guard down a little. When it came time to have another ultrasound and find out if we were having a boy or girl, I couldn’t wait! I was so excited!!! My mother-in-law and my youngest son Ian were with me, and all eyes were on the ultrasound screen as we awaited the news, boy or girl?  The tech told us that we were having a boy!

Everyone was so happy! Everyone, that is, except for the ultrasound Tech who kept taking measurements. We noticed that she kept measuring his spine over and over.  She seemed to be taking a long time, meticulously looking at his different body parts and re-measuring. She brought in the doctor… who informed us that it looked like he had a heart condition. But that was not all… In addition to that, he also had arms that were not fully developed, and his hands seemed clenched.

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So we were sent to a high-risk doctor for a level 2 ultrasound, and some genetic testing because the doctor said that our son likely had a chromosomal disorder. After the level 2 ultrasound and the genetic tests, we learned that our son had a two-chambered heart, instead of a four-chambered heart like you and me. They thought that he may have Spina-Bifida, which caused him to have an improperly formed spine. There was a cyst on the umbilical cord, and his cranium was shaped in such a way that would not allow his brain to fully develop. The Doctor said that his improperly formed arms and hands were backward. Our son was diagnosed with Trisomy-18, also known as Edward’s syndrome, a chromosomal disorder on the 18th Chromosome.

Ninety percent of babies with Trisomy 18 don’t live more than a few hours or days. Most boys with Trisomy-18 rarely ever live to see their first birthday and over fifty percent of them never even make it to birth.  The first thing the Fetal Maternal Specialist and the genetic counselor asked us was if we would terminate the pregnancy. This is considered to be one of the “hard cases” that made it okay to abort our son. Armed with information that our son probably wouldn’t survive, and if he did, that he would be severely handicapped, they expected us to abort him.

After all, many parents who receive this diagnosis for their unborn child chose to terminate their pregnancy. For us, we knew the difficulty of having a child with special needs. Our middle son Connor was born with clubfeet and many other health challenges.  For us, we knew the pain and suffering that our family would have to endure to choose to continue on with the pregnancy. But for our family, abortion was not an option! We firmly believe that our Heavenly Father is both the Author and Finisher of life, as is stated in the Bible in Acts 3:15.

We began telling others that Liam was a gift from God and that God would determine his future. We knew that the Lord had a purpose and a plan for his life, no matter how long he lived. The next several weeks were emotionally draining, not knowing what to expect, and trying to plan for what may be ahead of us. Instead of planning a nursery and a baby shower, we began to think about funeral arrangements, and how we would spend whatever time we had with our son.

A few weeks later, at a routine Doctors appointment, we discovered that little Liam’s heart had stopped beating. Liam was stillborn on March 21, 2011. We played worship music in the room, and after giving birth to him, we cherished every moment that we had with him. We had a photographer come and take pictures for us. We held him, we loved him, we cried and prayed over him and then released him to Jesus. We suffered much grief that day, but we did not grieve without hope. We know that our son Liam’s body is whole and that he never had to suffer the pain of this world. That he is waiting for us in heaven, and we can’t wait to see him again!