Dear Grieving Mother at Christmastime,


I see you. I hear your cries, as they were once my cries. Your pain was and still is my pain. Your precious baby or sweet child will not be forgotten, and will always be an important part of who you are. I will remember with you and walk this journey alongside of you.


Grief has often been described as an ocean. Author Vikki Harrison quotes,

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”

The waters tend to be calm during quiet times as we navigate life after a loss. Just when you think you have a handle on grief an important date pops up, a song playing on the radio that brings up memories and bittersweet emotions, or the holidays sneak up and come crashing down around us knocking us off our feet. It is during those times that all we can do is swim and fight to stay afloat. 


The holiday season comes and everywhere you go you are told to be happy. “Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!”

Is it possible for grief and joy to coexist?

For many the holidays are the hardest to smile through. Whether your loss was during pregnancy or your child was well over 18 you are faced with reminders that someone very important from your life is now missing. Christmas carols on the radio are about children’s laughter in the air. The malls are filled with young children whose smiling faces are eager to meet Santa with their sweet demands. Cards fill your mailbox adorned with photographs of your loved one’s children. You are happy to receive these cards and love the families that are in your life immensely, but a part of you is missing your child’s smiling face, or wondering what your child’s smile would have looked like. The heart that once beat inside your own body is no longer. It’s a strange place to find yourself in, teetering on the thin tightrope of jealousy and pain. It is then more than ever that we need our church community to help us grieve while keeping us accountable.

Loss can give rise to anger, discontent, jealousy, and bitterness if we are not careful to keep our hearts aligned with God’s.


A few days ago, I was listening to Christmas music as I prepared my 10-year-old son’s breakfast when the song, “Mary Did You Know” came through the speakers, filling the room and touching my soul. For the first time in my life I stopped and listened to the words and began to fall apart. I began to think about Mary as a bereaved mother, not the typical way we are used to seeing this young woman during the present season. Though Mary was faithful she was human and therefore could not have known every bit of what the future held for her oldest son. Her son was God himself who came to Earth as a babe. He had to be held by a woman He himself had created. He had to be nursed and nurtured by those He nurtures. One verse in the song asks the young mother if she knew as she kissed her baby’s face that she was truly kissing the face of God? That made me think did she know that in some 30 years she would be grieving at His feet?  In Luke 2 while Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord they met a man named Simeon. Simeon was described as a righteous man. Led by the Holy Spirit he went to meet the couple and the young Messiah. He took Jesus in his arms and praised God.

“Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” ”Luke 2:34-35 NIV.

I wonder what Mary was thinking as this man spoke to her. Did she understand what he was telling her? If she knew what this meant would she have treated Jesus a little bit differently? Did she kiss His face more often? Did she hold him a little longer during the sleepless infant nights? Did she hug him a little tighter when he was a young boy with scraped knees? 


Burying a child is one of the hardest things a parent has to do in life and I can’t imagine that this was any different for Mary. “Standing close to Jesus’ cross were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.” John 19:25. Another version of this verse reads “25 By the torture stake of Jesus, however, there were standing his mother and his mother’s sister; Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene.” Mary stayed close to her son and watched helplessly as He was tortured and killed. Memories surely flooded her mind as she grieved. Did Simeon’s words now hit home to her, as the sword of grief struck her heart? Is it possible to survive a wounded heart? The answer is yes, with community. After a loss we often find ourselves wanting to hide and suffer in solitude but we need others more than ever in our times of need. One of Jesus’s last words as he was dying on the cross was to make sure His mother was not alone, and more importantly that she was with fellow believers. Mary had other children but Jesus left her in the care of one of his disciples. His brothers at the time did not believe. “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”

John 19:26-27 NIV. Later in Acts we find Mary surrounded by many believers praying constantly. It is believed she was among those who got to see Jesus’ face again after the resurrection.

Can grief and joy coexist? Is there a secret for a Christian to have joy while suffering through the loss of a child? Can we be both joyful all the while grieving?  

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” 1 Peter 1:6.

Peter explains what while we will suffer many different trials in life we can rejoice in our salvation. We have been saved and that is something to be joyful in even in the midst of grief. Grief is a normal emotional response to a loss and one that should not be rushed as there is no timeline to how one will cope. It is OK to feel the emotions, the sadness, the aguish all the while being joyful in Truth. Mary may have seen her precious boy’s face again on earth, something we will not get to do. We will see our child once more though, and there is hope in that!

On Choosing Joy

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may mature and not lack anything.” James 1:2-4

Many years ago, a desperate and afraid teenager girl was handed a card on the streets of Camden by an elderly woman who stuck out like a sore thumb. The double-sided laminate card resembled one of those bookmarks that sold for 25 cents at the school book fair in elementary school. You know the ones that sat right by the register and were adorned with some sort of animal. For an extra 10 cents you could get one of the 3D lenticular effect ones that move depending on the angle it was held. The thought brought her back for a moment to a time when things that were complicated were interwoven with routine and stability. She looked down at the card in her hand. One side held a bible verse that was quickly dismissed and the other side was neon pink with the words “Choose Joy” written in cursive. “Ha!” she said bitterly as she tossed the card into the street. In that moment she couldn’t think of one thing to be joyful about. Her baby boy was dead, she was homeless, broke, and in a bad state. Anger and resentment started to build up inside her towards the woman who handed her that card. Easy for you to say, she thought.

 She has seen the term “Choose Joy” before. In fact, at one point it was sprawled on her binder written in whiteout. It is one of those mottos thrown in the same category as sayings like, “Follow your heart” and “Live, Laugh, Love.”

These words look great on mugs but do they hold any real meaning?

There is a big difference between happiness and joy. Happiness often depends on external factors, in other words happiness happens to us. Even though we may seek it and pursue it, feelings of happiness is not a choice it’s an emotion. God made us with big emotions but his intent was for us to use them as gauges not guides. When we make decisions based on how we feel we can miss so much of what God has planned for us.

The bible warns of this in Jeremiah 17:9 which reads: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” All of our lives many of us were fed the lie to “follow our hearts” when that very mentality separates us even farther away from our Father.

 If we walked into every situation in life applying the “how does it feel” method instead of God’s truth we are setting ourselves up for failure and to live a life full of inconsistencies. The truth is many days we aren’t going to feel like doing things. We may not feel like working out, spending time with a friend, going to church, serving, or spending time with God. If we live life based on how we feel each day nothing beneficial would be accomplished.   

Our emotions are meant to turn us to God and lucky for us, through Jesus, we were given a better way to lead our lives, through the Holy spirit. Thank the Lord, many years later the scared girl (me) in the story above was given a chance to find out what it meant to “Choose Joy.” When we spend more time with our Father and learn to listen and live spirit led lives wonderful things begin to happen. I’m not saying that it will always be easy or that I will always want to be obedient. Sometimes I drag my feet kicking and screaming like a toddler. But Father knows best and, in the end, it’s always worth it.

Joy is a choice and an attitude of the heart and spirit. James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may mature and not lack anything. “

Is it possible to feel joy in difficult times? I believe it is all about shifting your perspective. Gratitude is at the heart of Joy and if you look hard enough there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for. Waking up every morning in prayer followed by reflection in a gratitude journal is one way to remain Joyful. Philippians 4:13 is one of my favorite verses. “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” The bible refers to Joy as contentment in Christ above all else. It is faith that God will give us strength in hard times and if we give up our worries and burdens to Him that is one less weight, we need to carry for ourselves.

Everlasting Father, I thank You for the breath of life that I am fortunate to have every morning. Remind us to continually rejoice in our salvation and to bring everything to you in prayer. My lips sing praise and I give thanks for all you have done for me, Father. Weeping may last overnight but joy comes in the morning. I praise you for strength to face another day. May I continue to praise your name forever. Amen.

A Mother’s Worry

I don’t know about you but from the moment those double pink lines appeared on the pregnancy test held in my shaky hands I began to worry. For years I attributed these fears to the death of my firstborn son and a subsequent miscarriage but the more I talked to other moms I realized that I was not alone and that fear was a very common denominator amongst us. The reality of all the worries attached to motherhood is even something seasoned mothers share with the rest of us. I distinctly remember a day where I was walking down the cereal aisle at the grocery store with my growing belly when a well-meaning elderly woman said to me, “Enjoy your peace now because once your baby is here you will never stop worrying. Even when they are an adult.” I smiled and thought little do you know I’m already consumed with worry.  We have all heard this saying, and may even have shared the adage ourselves as if it’s a sign of solidarity amongst one another. Something we can all relate and agree too.

The list of a Mother’s worries is never ending. We worry about miscarrying or eating the right foods during pregnancy.  When we are finally holding our babe in our arms, we are worried about how much they are drinking, if their poops are normal, and if they are urinating enough. We worry about germs, vaccines and pesticides. Once they leave our arms and go to school we worry if they will be safe, will they make friends, will they do well in school, and will they make good choices. I have yet to enter the season of parenting a teenager but I can only imagine it comes with a whole new list of fears.

The word worry comes from an old English term meaning to “strangle or choke” and that is exactly what it does to us. Fear literally chokes us out from experiencing the peace and joy of the present moment.

While it’s something many of us moms admit to struggling with it still feels like a very secluded place to be in. Mama, you are not alone and there is a freedom to be found from this struggle and that is through Jesus. 

““Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”” Matthew 6:25-27 


Can any one of you add a single hour to your life by worrying? The answer is no. In fact it does the opposite. Recently at church one of our pastors shared a quote with us that hit home. “Worry is our way of trying to control the future with our minds.” In the end no amount of worrying is going to change the future.  If we allow it to it will fill every nook and cranny of your mind until you can no longer focus on the present.

That’s what the enemy wants. He wants us so preoccupied with future what-ifs that we are distracted from what matters right now. Our spouses, our kids, our jobs, our devotion. He wants us so choked out of fear that it makes actual struggles worse because not only do you carry today’s load but you are carrying tomorrow’s with a thousand other nightmares.

Paul tells us in Philippians to not be afraid but to present our worries and fears to God. He is our counselor. He carries our burdens and gives us rest. We can use anxiety and fear to grow in faith, and God wants us to use this time to trust in Him.

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”-Corrie Ten Boom

Is it easy handing over our worries and living in complete trust? Of course not, it’s something we need to pray for and ask for daily. Just know He cares and He listens. 

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8


We can choose where we park our minds and I want to park it in a place of Love and truth not fear and unknown. What are some worries you need to hand over to God? Take the time to present your needs to Him now.

Father thank you for adopting me as your child even though I am not worthy. So many times I forget you are with me. Help me put your Word first before my fears. Help me to live in the present and not worry about tomorrow. I know when concerns arise you will provide and guide me through the unknown. Help me to trust you more and worry less. Amen.

*Anxiety disorder is a mental health disorder that often requires professional help. If you are struggling with excessive worry and physical symptoms please seek help and know that your Father will walk with you along that journey.*

A Nurse’s Hands

Not long ago I was out at the mall with my son when we passed by a mall kiosk. I was in kind of hurry so I looked down and tried not to make eye contact. It was clear out of my peripheral vision the woman was trying to get my attention. Before I knew it, she waved to my son. Shoot I’m done for now, I thought. I was right, my sweet boy will say hello and talk to just about anyone. He has been this way all of his life. At 3 years old he proudly yelled in Starbucks after a nice older man held open the trash can lid for him, “See mom! Stranger dangers are NICE!” True story and today was no different. The woman asked my son if he was enjoying his summer and I could see she was holding a bottle of luxury hand lotion. Once he was finished giving her a detailed account of his summer, she quickly made eye contact with me and asked if I was interested in trying the lotion, for free, of course. I felt obligated at this point seeing as her and my son were now besties, so I obliged.  

As she began to massage my hands with the thick cream that smelled of lemon and green tea from the $25 a bottle lotion she held, she made a face. “Your hands are very dry! What do you do for a living?” “I’m a nurse,” I answered. She nodded, “That explains it.”

Often unpolished, dry, and cracked from constant handwashing a nurse’s hands are vital to perform an array of tasks. It is a physical and very hands on trade.  A nurse’s hands hold steady as we inject a vaccine into a squirming toddler with gentleness and accuracy.  Hands that guide our stethoscopes over the hearts of babies and the elderly alike. With these hands we squeeze the bulb of a sphygmomanometer to get a precise blood pressure reading on a patient with a splitting headache.  Our hands pass out lifesaving medications, dress wounds, remove stitches, and apply oxygen masks. Our hands have seen more bodily fluid then one would like to admit. These hands have applied pressure to stop bleeds and held urgent lab reports. Hands that cramp up at the keyboard from the massive amount of documentation required and hands that administer chest compressions 2 inches deep during CPR, desperately trying to save a life.

Anyone who has been to a doctor’s office or hospital has witnessed a nurse performing one or all of these tasks, but our hands can tell you stories far more than what meets the eye.

These same hands that perform lifesaving tasks do much more than you will ever learn in nursing school. You see these hands have held a sick child rocking them to sleep when their parents couldn’t be with them. These hands have held the hands of the dying and embraced mourning family members. These hands have brushed the hair of those who could not do so themselves and patiently fed those who could no longer hold a fork. These hands have held story books and played peek a boo trying to make a child smile.

These hands have held the salty tears from our eyes after particularly hard shifts and have been clasped together tightly as we fall on our knees and cry out in prayer for our patients.

I don’t ever expect to be remembered by my patients but if I am, I hope it is for these things and not the skills that are required of me.

I left the mall that day with a bottle of expensive new hand lotion and a smile on my face. At least I know the next time I hold the hand of a patient I will have the softest hands they will have ever held, or at least that’s what the saleswoman told me.

I would love to hear from you! What are some things you hope to be remembered for by your patients?

Monday Devotional: Encouragement for the Working Mother

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21.

Over the weekend I came across a quote that stopped me in my tracks, or should I say stopped my thumb from swiping up. It was a quote from Annabel Crabb, an Australian journalist, television host, published author, wife, and mother of three. With a resume like hers I think it’s safe to say she understands the burden many of us working moms feel when she stated the following:

“The obligation for working mothers is a very precise one: the feeling that one ought to work as if one did not have children, while raising one’s children as if one did not have a job.”  

Finding the perfect work/life balance can sometimes feel like you are a hamster on a wheel with no end in sight. Get 8 hours of sleep, exercise for 30 minutes a day, work 8 to 16 hour shifts outside the home, cook balanced meals for your family, fold the laundry, drink 8 glasses of water a day, spend time with your children, help at the PTA events, go on date nights with your spouse, and maintain relationships with your friends. Even those of us who are lucky to have spouses that share the load many of us still feel like we are failing in some, if not all, areas of life. If that is you, sweet mama, you are not alone.  

We often exhaust ourselves trying to find the perfect balance. We buy the pretty daily planners and schedule our lives out down to the second then we wonder why, even though we have checked each task off as done for the day, we feel as if we have failed as wives, mothers, and employees.

God never intended us to live life as tasks to be marked as completed.

The truth is no scheduled daily planner or self-help book will help you reach that level of perfection. On our own it’s downright unattainable.

The reason why we feel as if we are coming up short is because we are looking within ourselves for perfection when we should be looking to Jesus.

The writer of Hebrews beautifully explains this in the ending prayer found in Hebrews 13:20-21. God will always equip us to carry out His will. In fact, I don’t believe He calls us without equipping us. He chose you to be the mother of your children and to be where you are in your career right now so have faith that He will give you what you need in each unique moment. Every morning when you wake up and you wonder how you are going to get it all done, I encourage you to invite your Father to walk along side of you. Invite him into every part of your life. Your marriage, your parenting, your work, your health, and even in rest. He is with you every step of the way.

Father I thank you for blessing me with my beautiful children and a career to help provide for my family. I know that you called me to be a mother and to be where I am in my career at this moment. Thank you for equipping me in all of the places you have called me, even though I don’t feel equipped most days. Thank you for giving me grace in my faults and for me to be able to give that same grace to my children and those I work with. Please Jesus help me to be your light and put you first in all I do. Amen.

Pursuing Friendship in the Wake of Rejection

“I gotta go straighten up, I’m having the girls over tonight,” she said as we got off the phone. I sat there with the phone pressed against my ear long after the call had ended. She was having her friends over and I wasn’t invited.

Throughout life, each one of us has experienced exclusion. From classmates chatting excitedly about this weekend’s sleepover to friends planning get-togethers without you to coworkers talking excitedly about last night’s dinner in the break room. This particular conversation on the phone, however, stung more than usual.

The woman on the other end of the call was my childhood best friend.

This day it became apparent that I was not one of “the girls.” As the night went on, her social media profile filled with pictures of the ladies on their fun night together. They were smiling, laughing, and enjoying wonderful fellowship. Each picture was followed with the hashtag #jesusgirls.

Oh, how I wanted so badly to be a part of the #jesusgirls that night. Rejection slithered in like a snake and began feeding me lies. Que the feelings of abandonment and the negative inner monologue that many of us have unfortunately had.

Rejection comes from the Latin word rēicere which literally means “to throw back.”

And that is exactly what it tempts us to do. We can be thrown back into the shadows of despair. We retreated. We stop attending social functions. We cancel plans. We put up walls out of fear of further rejection. That’s exactly what I did. I even convinced myself that I was comfortable in isolation and that I preferred to be home on the couch eating a Ben and Jerry’s and binge-watching Netflix. Fear of rejection kept me in a place of familiarity and isolation.

Retreating from relationships out of fear doesn’t actually help us in the long run though. Trying to do life alone is detrimental. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity and one who falls and has no one to help them up.” This verse emphasizes the benefits of companionship, friendship, and that sharing of life that brings relief from isolation.

It continues in verse 12 which says, “though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

The nerdy nurse inside of me couldn’t help but think of the human heart when reading that verse. The chordae tendineae, commonly known as the heart strings, are a group of elastic/collagen strands in the heart. To prevent the valves in our heart from blowing out under the extremely high blood pressure within the ventricles of the heart, these strands hold and support the valves to remain closed or open while the heart pumps vital blood to our body. Since the force of the blood is so strong one cord would not be sufficient enough to do this job, so there are multiple strings working together, supporting life. Isn’t God amazing?!

Just like the heart, we need people in our lives for support. We need them in the good times and in the bad times. We need them to keep us from blowing out under pressure, much like the strings in our hearts.

It didn’t take long for me to crumble under life’s pressures in my isolation.

I began longing for friendships once again. I cried out to my Father. I immersed myself in His truths and protected myself against the lies. In Christ, I found comfort and healing that I never could have found from another person. God used this season of loneliness to draw me closer in my relationship with Christ. And in that, I found freedom. Freedom from rejection and the chains that come with.

As I realigned my identity in Christ, I once again embraced His love for me. 

From a place of fullness in Christ, God gave me the courage to start branching out again. I started by simply keeping plans that were made with friends. I determined to make my yes a yes and my no a no. I accepted invites to things I normally would never have said yes to. I accepted coffee dates on my only day off of work while my house was a mess. I joined Bible studies as well as began leading one.

None of these things are easy for someone who has dealt with relational rejection. These simple things were difficult and awkward for me internally. I had to fight the lies that told me I was unloved and would never fit in. God has been faithful to me. Throughout this journey, I have met people that I never would have met and formed relationships that would have otherwise never happened if I didn’t say yes.

Once we step out of our comfort zone and pursue relationships from a place of love, things begin to change. 

As we navigate through life we form many different types of relationships. Some of these relationships are lifelong and some are for a season in our life. Each relationship formed in your life needed to happen in order for you to be who you are today. God is using the joys, sorrows, rejection, and acceptance to draw us closer to Him.

Looking back now, I’m grateful for my friend on the other line that day. I will park my mind in a place of sweet memories and gratitude of the journey God has used to grow me closer to Him and to others. I now know that I don’t have to be a #jesusgirl to accepted. I am already Jesus’s girl — and because of that, I will never be alone.

Please share your thoughts with me below!

  • How have you faced relationship rejection?
  • What do you think God wants to teach you in the midst of that rejection?

This post was featured on GirlDefined. See guest post here.