#shoutyourabortion or #embracethejourney

When I was pregnant with my twins, I remarked that I felt like a walking pro-life billboard. My daughter had been given a fatal diagnosis and the remaining four months of the pregnancy were an emotional roller coaster.

Depending on what source you find, it would seem that more than 90% of babies with her diagnosis are aborted. For many, they are only given the option of abortion and don’t realize they can question it. Others believe they cannot handle the emotional roller coaster. Still others just want to move on and “get over it” to start again. Responses range, obviously- we’re all individuals with our own way of thinking, after all.

I had a lot of time to think about the statistics I found, and about reasons people give for abortion.


The following is a post I wrote after speaking at a church about Sanctity of Life:


I have many memories from my childhood and teen years of various “pro-life” events. I remember sitting with my parents at the Friends For Life booth at the county fair, and the January trips to Washington D.C. for the Rally and March for Life on the anniversary of Roe-vs.-Wade. As long as I can remember, we were somehow involved in pro-life efforts.

I’ve heard many arguments in favor of abortion, and many rebuttals against those arguments. Perhaps the most common argument I’ve heard is, “Well, you don’t know unless you’ve had to choose.” I can honestly say now that I do know.

When you think of the reasons someone might be in a position to choose an abortion over life, you may think of many reasons you’ve heard. An unplanned pregnancy may result from carelessness or poor judgment, failed birth control, or even rape. Abortion may be given as an option in a planned pregnancy if there is an abnormality or birth defect. Occasionally, it may be a case in which the mother’s life is considered to be in danger, though these situations seem to be argued much more often than they actually occur. Over all, the reasons primarily boil down to either inconvenience or emotional turmoil.

About two years ago, my husband and I decided that we were ready to start a family. After about a year, we finally got the first positive line on a home pregnancy test. We were absolutely thrilled. We loved our baby immediately. I secretly hoped for twins, and it had been a joke with our mothers since we became a couple that we were going to have redheaded twin girls. At the first ultrasound, we were shocked to learn that there really were two babies growing inside. It was a strange mix of emotions, but above all, we were immediately in love with our babies.

On December 15th, at about 16 weeks gestation, our doctor expressed some concerns that our daughter (though at the time she was known as “Baby B”) hadn’t developed properly. He told us about a neural tube defect called Anencephaly. It’s a defect that occurs within the first month of pregnancy when the neural tube should be closing but doesn’t, leaving the skull open and brain exposed. It’s always fatal (though there have been very few cases of babies living with anencephaly for a few years). “Incompatible with life” is the term they use. Our doctor referred us to a high risk specialist in Lexington for the following week to confirm.

On December 21st, the fear was confirmed and we knew that one of our babies would be incapable of surviving after birth. I don’t think I have the words to describe the devastation that we felt. We wanted both of our babies. The specialist promptly began discussing our options and any risks. He told us that we could do “selective termination,” terminate the entire pregnancy, or proceed, knowing that the baby would not be able to survive. We quickly let him know that “termination” was not an option. He made the comment that many parents choose termination because it’s so difficult to handle emotionally.

I later learned that somewhere between 90-98% of babies diagnosed with anencephaly are aborted. This falls into the “emotional turmoil” category. The remainder of our pregnancy was surely filled with emotional turmoil. It was an emotional roller coaster. We had one healthy baby and one that we knew could not survive. It was hard to make future plans for our son because it didn’t seem fair to our daughter, but it didn’t seem fair to him if we didn’t.

The questions that are fun and exciting in a typical pregnancy cut deep. When someone would ask when I was due, I was reminded how short my time was with my daughter. When they asked if I was having a boy or a girl, I’d say “one of each,” only to listen to further comments about how exciting it would be and how I’d have my hands full, and what a challenge it was. What they didn’t realize was how much I’d wanted that challenge. If I wanted to avoid the extra comments and told people that I was expecting one of each but my daughter wouldn’t be able to survive, people just didn’t know how to respond. The look in their eyes would say they wanted to run in the other direction just to avoid having to say anything else. If I said I was having a boy, I wouldn’t be acknowledging her. I could never do that. I needed the world to know that she existed.

Though we immediately knew that abortion was not an option for us, the journey we took from that moment was certainly not easy. It was painful, and still is painful. We don’t regret our decision. We know we did everything that was asked of us in allowing Carys to live until God said it was time for her to go home. She changed our lives (and the lives of many others) in ways we never could have imagined. God had a plan. God always has a plan.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

New International Version (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

It doesn’t matter what storm we are facing. Even when it hurts and we’re so weary that we feel like we just can’t go another step, or even when we struggle just to hold our head up and face the crowds, we have a Heavenly Father who loves us and wants good things for us. We won’t always understand why we’re allowed to go through the storms, but if we cling to Him when we feel like running from Him… we’ll start to see the beauty in the storm. There’s an awe-inspiring power that is evident from the midst of a storm, that a person just can’t appreciate from the shelter of a cave. There is beauty in and after the rain. If we try to take the easiest way out that we can find, we may miss out on the most rewarding parts of the journey.

If you are reading this and you have missed out on the rewarding parts of the journey, it’s not too late to cling to the Father. Even now, after it’s all said and done, there is much to be experienced. You’ve still experienced a loss, but you can grieve your loss from the arms of the Creator. He knows your pain, He hurts when you hurt. There is peace in knowing that some day, if we’ve chosen to seek Him with all our hearts, following His commands to love Him and love others with that deep, agape kind of love… we have hope for a future in Heaven- a future filled with a greater peace than this world has ever known. Praise God, Heaven is for real!

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A Monday Prayer

Heavenly Father,

Thank you.

Thank you for the many blessings you have given us. Thank you for your presence and for met needs. Thank you for loving me in spite of my sinful, selfish nature.

Thank you, Father, for making the incredible sacrifice of your Son for my salvation.

I want to please you. I want to feel proud of my attitudes and actions regardless of what I face. I recognize I need your help, Lord. I know I can’t do it on my own.

Scripture says if I ask for wisdom, you’ll give it.

James 1:5 (NIV)  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Please give me wisdom, Lord. Help me to understand the steps I need to take and when to stand still so that I may be in your will and in a position to reflect you to others.

Scripture says you’ll give us comfort so we can comfort others.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Thank you for the comfort you have given me in my own troubles. Help
me to recognize the opportunities You give me to share that comfort with others.
Help me to look beyond my own situation to see what You are preparing me for through it. Use me and my experiences to show others Your love.
Scripture also says you will give your people peace.

Psalm 29:11New  (NIV) 11 The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.

I don’t expect a lack of pain on this earth, but I ask you for your peace. When anxiety begins to overwhelm me, help me to remember your words. (Phil 4:8)

Philippians 4:8 (NIV) 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.

Help me to focus on what is pure, true, and helpful in my journey to serve you and teach others your love.

In Jesus’ name,



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The Biggest Mistake Christians Make


Recently, I have been struggling with feeling very discouraged about all the trending topics in social media and the news. I see posts and comments daily criticizing Christians for our faith. We are frequently villainized and our opinions are discounted simply because we claim to follow Christ. We are, rather ironically, called bigots by those who refuse to make an effort to understand our point of view. We are ridiculed, stereotyped, and called ignorant for our beliefs. We are accused of being hypocrites by people with a limited understanding of God’s word- even people who have convinced themselves they are experts on the topic.


The part of all of this that really makes me feel a bit sick is that there is an element of truth to all of that. The body of believers has not been presenting as a unified front. Much damage has already been done to our witness. Not all people who claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ sincerely understand what all that entails. Not all people who claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ live a life striving to be like Christ, as we’re commissioned to live.

All through school, I followed the rules and continually made an effort to please my teachers and personal sense of accomplishment by living up to set expectations as best I could. I know. I’m a nerd. I can’t help it. It’s my personality (and actually, I’m quite content being a nerd). I can think of many times in school and beyond, when a few other people made irresponsible decisions and lost privileges for the group as a whole. I always had trouble understanding how some people could act like they just don’t care how they represent others, or about how the consequences of their actions may affect more than only themselves.

Considering this thought from a more experienced point of view- maybe for some, it’s just that they don’t realize their behavior makes a difference for the whole. We all come from different histories with different learning experiences and different personalities. Most of us don’t even realize the impact we can have on those around us- but we all have one.

There are many different spiritual maturity levels among individuals claiming to belong to the Church. Some accepted Christ but never made an effort to mature, and some spent time in the world and with spiritual leadership but then made choices to live how they want to live. Still others strive daily to live a life pleasing to God. But as in many situations in life, a few people can ruin a good thing for the group. A portion of the group can destroy the reputation of the rest.


In our situation now, it seems like there are few Christians who truly live as Christ-models. Sure, we get the basics, but tend to justify things that shouldn’t be justified while looking over things that should be given attention.

So, now to what seems to me to be the biggest mistake made by Christians today:

We are not fulfilling the Great Commission.

The body as a whole has not been a living example of who God is. We’re not showing people what God’s love is about.

By recent history, the church overall has seemed to look the other way when faced with many sinful situations, even within the church itself. We’ve been so concerned with wanting to not offend others, to not make situations uncomfortable, to not lose church members, to not lose tithes, or to not be called out for our own poor decisions, that we hesitate. When we hesitate, we often decide to not respond at all.

Scripture tells us that if a fellow Christian is making sinful decisions and we know, we are to go to them and lovingly discuss the issue with them. If they do not listen, we are to take one or two from the church to discuss it again. Does that ever happen? Or do we look the other way so we don’t have anyone do the same to us?

Let’s face it. We are human. We are individuals who, by design, only see from our own perspectives. If we are striving for wisdom, we will make a strong effort to understand the experiences of others, but it does take effort. It doesn’t always come easily.

Because we are human, mistakes are easy to make. Maybe that’s why the Hebrews were instructed to not stop meeting together with other believers. Maybe that’s why Solomon wrote about the benefits and combined strength of like-minded friends in Christ.


Where is it?

We’ve become so timid about approaching fellow Christians about sinful, selfish behaviors that when we DO take a stand on a specific issue, we look like hypocrites.

Notice how that is in bold AND italics?

Perhaps this has something to do with the “don’t judge me or you’re a hypocrite!” mentality that seems to be floating around these days. Side note – is it REALLY judging if God has already proclaimed the judgment in advance? Anyway. That’s another topic…

But, what happened? I’ve heard before that if a frog is dropped into a pot before the water is heated to a boil, it will die before jumping out because the change is so gradual, it doesn’t recognize the threat until it is too late (ok, I don’t know that it is true, and I wouldn’t encourage trying it, but I intend it simply as an analogy).

Have we as a whole really been so comfortable in the water that we don’t snap out of it until something we find shocking happens?

Christians. Seriously. Are we handling “current” sins wisely? Lovingly? It’s easy to become defensive and not present ourselves in a very Christ-like way (especially from behind a keyboard).

We have been called to show others God’s love. Are we picking and choosing which sins to protest? Why are we not holding one another accountable? If we love one another, we need to do that. We need to lift each other up in prayer and offer encouragement. Is that happening as often as it is needed?

Pro 27:6 KJV Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

If we don’t love others and build a mutually respectful relationship with them, what on this earth makes us think they are going to suddenly repent or even try to see our point of view? If we are viewed as the hypocritical enemy, why would they want to listen?

We are not the enemy and we can’t act like we are. I’m not claiming to have all the answers, but I am pleading for Christians to evaluate where we now stand from a different point of view. I have very intentionally left out the naming of any specific sins in the post. Sin is sin. Simply put, sin is choosing to do what we want over what God asks of us. Sin is being selfish.

So. Speaking to any Christians reading this, please allow me to be an accountability partner for you today.

Are you choosing what God asks of you over what YOU want? Or are you indulging in something God has guided you to leave behind you?

Be careful about where you put your energy. Stand firm in what Scripture says, but do it in Christ-like love, and in all things- not only the ones most uncomfortable for you. After all, the frog was comfortable too.



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Stay Focused: A Perspective For Christians on Same Sex Marriage

sterlingpr / Foter / CC BY

Dear Christians,

While those of us who believe scripture as it is know what God has said about giving in to temptations such as homosexuality or adultery, let us not forget our purpose.

It is our job to teach others who God is by loving them.

Contrary to popular social media posts and water cooler conversation, this does not mean to accept and glorify behaviors God has already condemned, but it does mean to offer friendship and spiritual support to fellow humans.

Do I believe that homosexual marriage should have been legalized? No. But I also don’t believe intimate heterosexual relationships should be treated as casually as they are in today’s society, or that marriages should be filled with animosity and self-centered pride. It’s not how God designed it.

Scripture doesn’t tell us to go to others who don’t claim a personal relationship with Christ and give them a list of all their sins. We are commissioned to go and share God with them. God is love, and God is perfectly capable of speaking to their hearts to let them know what may be detrimental to them.

Scripture does, however, instruct us to go to fellow Christians if we see them acting in a way that goes against God’s commands for us and lovingly encourage them to make important changes.

Either way, there is no room for hate-filled speech. Stay focused on the Great Commission- and be prepared to stand up for our own rights as Christians.



Matthew 18:14-16 New International Version (NIV)

14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

Dealing With Sin in the Church
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’


 Matthew 28:19-20New International Version (NIV)

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”





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Sin is like…

A quote about what sin does from Love Isn’t Selfish, the book (available on Amazon at http://goo.gl/pFrRll (affiliate link)).

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“Stop being afraid”

stop being afraidHave you ever felt utterly hopeless as you look around you and see the enemy coming at you from every angle? What do you do when that happens? It can be easy to give in to anxiety and depression or make rash decisions in an attempt to alleviate the fear.

Life can be scary, and satan likes to play on our fears and insecurities. He likes to whisper to us and try to convince us that we’re on our own. He wants us to think that our situation is dire and we have no hope.

But he’s wrong.


2 Kings 6:15-17

15 Meanwhile, the attendant to the man of God got up early in the morning and went outside, and there were the elite forces, surrounding the city, accompanied by horses and chariots! So Elisha’s attendant cried out to him, “Oh no! Master! What will we do!?”

16 Elisha replied, “Stop being afraid, because there are more with us than with them!”

17 Then Elisha prayed, asking the LORD, “Please make him able to really see!” And so when the LORD enabled the young man to see, he looked, and there was the mountain, filled with horses and fiery chariots surrounding Elisha!


When you feel you are surrounded by opposing forces… when you feel afraid and overwhelmed… When you feel exhausted and vulnerable… Pray.

Ask God to open your eyes so you may see God’s presence surrounding you. Even when you can’t see, He is still there.

Whatever you are facing, whatever you fear, you are not alone. God loves you, He has plans for you, and He is stronger and bigger than the enemy will ever be!


“Stop being afraid, because there are more with us than with them!” 



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A Sore Thumb


From another room, I recently heard our oldest ask his dad, “why are you looking down?” As his dad responded that he was looking down at a sore thumb, I almost chuckled to myself. It always amazes me how God can use such a simple question from a child to speak to our hearts.

“Why are you looking down?”

Sometimes we have emotional or spiritual sore thumbs. As the saying acknowledges, sore thumbs stick out. Incidents that would otherwise occur without being given much thought tend to strike a nerve when a thumb is sore.

Is there any topic that, when someone even mentions, you immediately feel defensive? Maybe you’re exhausted and feel unappreciated. Do you feel defensive if anyone even seemingly implies you need to do more? Maybe you are doubting your abilities as a parent and feel defensive if someone comments on parenting styles or your child’s behavior. Or, do you have a sore thumb when it comes to feeling loved?

Is it hard to believe someone could love YOU? Maybe you have felt so very unloved by others here on earth that you have started to believe the lie that it is you who is simply unlovable. It is a lie. You are lovable. You ARE loved.

Why are you looking down?

It’s easy to get caught up in looking down at the problems and insecurities you may face. All it does, however, is keep us so focused on the negative that we begin to lose hope. By all means, be aware of your surroundings, but after surveying the scene, lift your eyes.

Whatever is your sore thumb, take it to Jesus.

Focus on what scripture says is true.

Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
8 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.


Psalm 121 (NIV)
A song of ascents.

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.


Why are you looking down?



Photo credit: Internet Archive Book Images / Foter / No known copyright restrictions
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Sin & Sacrifice

John 3:16 (NIV)

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

sacrificeLeo Reynolds / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Have you ever thought about why sacrifice is necessary for atonement for sins? For that matter, have you wondered about what sin really is?

I used to just think “sin” meant anything you do wrong – like it was just broken rules. I’ve come to realize, though, that I didn’t have a very complete definition of what sin really is. But first, let’s back up even further.

Scripture begins by saying God created. HE created all that we are, all that we feel and experience, and all that surrounds us. He created us – in His own image. How incredible is that?

As in the description of the book, Love Isn’t Selfish, “Because scripture tells us clearly that God is Love (1 John 4:8), we know that God, by very nature, is relational. Love is an action, emotion, state, and characteristic that requires interaction with another being. Love does not exist alone. Scripture also tells us that we have been created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). We were created to love Him in return, though loving Him will never be forced upon us because love isn’t selfish.”

Love isn’t selfish. Love is about the other. Sin is what blocks love – it’s anything that stands in the way between you and God. It’s any time you choose self over love. God IS Love. Sin is selfishness.

To boil down the gospel, maybe that is a good way to start. God is love, and sin is selfishness. When we make willful selfish acts, the only way to demonstrate our love again is to sacrifice something, so we’re no longer focusing on self.

That can be a difficult concept, right? Yet, we return to the original thought in this post. Sacrifice. The act of putting your own wants and desires behind the needs of another. Not being selfish.

So God is love, and sin is selfishness. Sacrifice demonstrates love because sacrifice is selfless and God, in His infinite love, gave us His only Son as a sacrifice for OUR sin. All we have to do is sacrifice whatever stands in the way of accepting His forgiveness. Pride. Control. Fear of not “measuring up.” We have to choose to let go and accept God as our Savior, Father, and Lord. We have to choose to follow and serve, sacrificing our own selfish desires when needed.

The gift of forgiveness has already been given. All we have to do is accept and live accordingly, putting God’s will before our own!


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Judge Not!!

judge not
Joe Gratz / Foter / CC BY-NC

Matthew 7:1-3  (KJV)

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

As a Christian, I must say. I’m so beyond tired of hearing this verse thrown around like it’s an all access pass against anyone else sharing their opinions or sharing what Scripture says about actions that are spiritually detrimental.

Seriously. Enough is enough.

If I say I believe abortion is murder – the taking of an innocent life, I have a right to believe it is, and I know what scripture says about that. It doesn’t matter if the baby has a fatal defect, wasn’t planned, was the product of rape, etc. I know such decisions aren’t easy. I get that. I know it’s not easy to deny the flesh. We’re human and we all have a sinful nature – that’s what our own natural selfishness is. It’s part of being individuals and being human.

It’s our sinful nature because we will ALWAYS be tempted to do the things that are easiest for us.

We will ALWAYS be tempted to do what causes the least amount of pain or discomfort.

We’ll ALWAYS be tempted by what feels good.

We’ll ALWAYS be tempted by what we think will allow us to feel loved by those we want to love us.

Always. Some temptations are easier to resist for some than others, but we will always have that temptation there.

I love my children. Telling them they are doing something wrong – something I believe will be detrimental to their physical or spiritual health is not just because I enjoy being critical of them. I hate that part, actually. Telling them they are doing something detrimental is BECAUSE I love them. It’s because I want to protect them that I “judge” them.

*GASP* Did I just say I judge these little people that I love so dearly?


Let’s look at the rest of the passage though, shall we?

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

So, in judging them, I’ll be judged by the same standards. Okay, great. For example: speaking calmly when I get really frustrated and tired. I’m working on that, I’ll admit. So when I remind my 3-year-old to do that, yes, I need to judge myself too.

By the same token, if I share something in a blog post saying what I understand to be “right” (spiritually and morally healthy) or “wrong” (spiritually and morally detrimental), I expect to be judged by the same standards. Believe it or not, it IS because I love you. It’s because I WANT good things for you.

If it is something you don’t want to change, you may likely feel guilty and angry. It’s your right to feel guilty and angry, but I didn’t do that to you. If you believe I’m wrong, you have no need to change anything, and therefore no reason to feel guilty and angry.

I do not have control over your feelings. I can’t MAKE you feel anything. If you’re angry, I didn’t make you feel it. Your own beliefs about the situation did.

The last portion of the passage above says,

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Basically, if you’re going to point out something that is detrimental to someone else, check in with yourself first. Judge yourself and see if you’re doing anything God has asked you not to do. Pray for wisdom and guidance (James 1:5). If there is something you feel convicted by the Holy Spirit about, you’d better be making it right before you try to tell others what is healthy/unhealthy for their spiritual health. None of us are perfect (myself undoubtedly included). We’re all human, and we all have a selfish human nature (because seriously, do any of us REALLY know what it’s like to live in someone else’s mind and understand their history, way of thinking, etc.?).

In closing, anger ALWAYS has other emotions attached. If you feel angry because something has pointed out something that you are willingly doing or have willingly done and therefore are left feeling guilty, hurt, discouraged, etc., there is hope and there is healing. It doesn’t matter what you have done, God loves you and hasn’t gone anywhere.

John 3:16 (KJV)

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

God loves you and hasn’t gone anywhere. He provided an opportunity for redemption. For You.

1 John 1:9 (KJV)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Satan likes to throw our pasts back into our faces and stir up those feelings of hurt, discouragement, and guilt, but if you have accepted God’s forgiveness, you don’t need to worry about it. It’s been covered by the blood. Keep your chin up, Praise the Lord anyway, and keep moving forward!

Philippians 4:8 (KJV)

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

In Christ’s Love,


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Maranomi – The New Normal

As we come to the end of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, I wanted to share a post I wrote a few months after our baby girl went to Heaven in 2011.


After The Rainn

Saturday, August 27, 2011


The New Normal

There is no word for this. There is no word for this beautifully excruciating state of being, in which a parent has been separated from her child by death. There is no term to express the existence of a parent on earth while her child lives in Heaven. Why is that?

A person who has lost a spouse is a widow or widower. A child who has lost her parents is an orphan. They have terms to describe the change that took place in that moment of loss. They have terms to label their “new normal.”

I don’t.

I’ve thought quite a bit about the phrase “new normal,” as I have heard it referenced many times since we began this journey last December. I look back at what was once normal and it seems … young. In a way, it was like graduating from grade school and going directly into college. It’s a whole new level… a whole new normal. What was true then is still true now, but it’s so much deeper and more expansive. While I knew such a loss was possible, I had no way of fully knowing the impact of it until I experienced it for myself. I had no way of knowing the unique mixture of joy and sorrow, and peace in pain. It’s more than just being sad and missing someone.

The new normal is ever-changing. Who I was before is being continually re-defined. I don’t think there’s really a point when it is possible to say, “ok, I’ve moved on, I’m good now.” When a rock is thrown into a lake, the ripples continue after the initial impact. Maybe I should say, rather, when a rain drop hits a lake…

The new normal is an odd mix of anticipation and sorrow, with renewed purpose and utter exhaustion. The new normal is being surprised when tears suddenly spring up in my eyes at the most random reminders that she’s no longer with us on earth, yet feeling joy that she was my baby girl. As painful as it has been, I can’t make myself wish for the old normal. The old normal didn’t include my babies, and in the old normal, I hadn’t caught a glimpse of Heaven.

There should be a word for this.

If I were to choose or create a word to label this new normal, I’d want it to reflect how the experience is never truly over, but it is ever-changing and developing. I’d want it to reflect how a parent’s way of relating to others morphs into something different and the view of the world and its priorities shifts significantly. I’d want it to be clear that, although a sense of humor may still be present, there is a continual, unspoken somber air that clings to the parent of a child in Heaven. We’ve glimpsed the other side…. And the other side seems more real than this one.

A term to describe a parent who has lost a child would need to incorporate the idea of a challenge, a journey, and being broken. It would reflect a new character and a new’ way of relating to life.

I think of the story of Naomi and her daughter-in-law, Ruth. After losing her husband and sons, Naomi returned to her former home. When the women there saw her, they said, “Can this be Naomi?”


“20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she told them. “Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi? The LORD has afflicted me; the Almighty has brought misfortune upon me.”” (Ruth 1:20-21)


Naomi, whose name meant “pleasant,” told them to no longer call her Naomi. She was different. She preferred to be called by a name that meant bitter. “Bittersweet” is a term I’ve found myself using frequently over the past months. We know God is working, even through the painful parts of the experience. I’m not sure how to take Naomi’s response. I hope she eventually found the joy in the sorrow, though I don’t get the impression from that brief passage that she had yet. I hope that when she saw her faithful daughter-in-law, and as she held her grandson, Obed, she felt the sweet that went along with the bitter.

Regardless of whether or not Naomi found the sweet with the bitter, it is evident that she was a changed woman. Loss does that. Painful life experiences open our eyes to deeper truths about our existence.  According to Paul, our sufferings produce perseverance, or the ability to keep on keeping on. (“ 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5)

            “We also glory in our sufferings.” Glory… as in magnificence, splendor, wonder, etc. … in our sufferings. The sufferings are part of the journey. It’s easy to become bitter at the sufferings… but then we miss out on the glory of them. Sufferings lead to perseverance, which leads to character, which leads to HOPE. Thank God, we have that hope (‘cause wow, what a mess I’d be without it). I have hope because I know the story isn’t over. My identity is not bitterness alone.

Though I’m no longer who I once was, I’m not entirely bitter. There is some sweet in the mix. I’d rather have had my daughter with anencephaly than not at all. God gave us so much through her, and it has been bittersweet. I’m not a Mara… I’m a Mara-Naomi… a Maranomi.



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