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Blessed Be Your Name

Blessed be Your name in the land that is plentiful,
Where Your streams of abundance flow, blessed be Your name.
Blessed Be Your name when I’m found in the dessert place,
Though I walk through the wilderness, blessed be Your name.

Every blessing You pour out I’ll turn back to praise.
When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say–
Blessed be the name of the Lord, blessed be Your name.
Blessed be the name of the Lord, blessed be Your glorious name.

Blessed be Your name when the sun’s shining down on me,
When the world’s all as it should be, blessed be Your name.
Blessed be Your name, on the road marked with suffering,
Though there’s pain in the offering, blessed be Your name.

Every blessing You pour out I’ll turn back to praise.
When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say–
Blessed be the name of the Lord, blessed be Your name.
Blessed be the name of the Lord, blessed be Your glorious name.

You give and take away, You give and take away
My heart will choose to say “Lord , blessed be Your name!”

I have always loved this song. It was so easy for me to sing these words at the top of my lungs when my world was all that it should be. I had my sweet little girl in my arms and life was good.
But, as we walk this road marked with suffering and pain, it suddenly changes the meaning. Joel and I chose to sing this song at Cora’s funeral because we wanted the words to really ring true in our lives, even in the darkness. I remember singing the words quietly that day, still so numb and in shock as to what had just happened. I remember thinking,
Can I still honestly sing these words even with empty arms?
After a sweet time of worship on Sunday morning of the retreat, we ended our time together with this song. I just sobbed through the whole thing. I wanted so badly to go back to life as it was a year ago. I wanted so badly to not accept the fact that I was spending a weekend at a grief conference. I wanted so badly for Cora to still be here with us. Is this really part of your plan for my life God? Did this really happen? Am I really supposed to say blessed be your name when the most precious thing in my life has been taken away from me?

And during that time I felt Him simply saying,
Yes.
I will never fully understand His ways. And I am learning that is okay. Even though it seems like it would be so much easier if I could just understand His purpose and plan in taking Cora home. I am learning that I have to trust. Because I know who God is, I can accept what He gives and takes away–even when I don’t understand. That doesn’t mean I like it though! I have to determine to keep walking towards Him in the darkness. It is a choice I have to make every day.
My heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed be Your name.
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  • Angie - Love, love, love this post. It is the year anniversary of my daughter’s death today and I have those same feelings. I dont have to like it but as Job says – the Lord gives and takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord Job 1:21.

    my heart will also choose to say – Lord blessed be Your name.

    Praying for you!

    AngieReplyCancel

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  • Tara - Hi Jess, I’ve been reading your blog for months, but have never left a comment. Just wanted to say that your blog is one of the most encouraging, faith building blogs I have ever read. Reading your journey has strengthened my faith and I’m confident (I’m sure it has happened already) that people will come to Christ because of your story.

    Blessings,

    TaraReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - Jess,
    Thanks for being so open and honest. I pray that as people read this and are touched by your grief and your hope, that they would see it is not of your own strength, but (as you clearly say over and over) from Jesus. Like Tara, I pray that many would be touched through your ministry of vulnerability and your reliance on the Lord. May many come to trust in Jesus because of your and Joel’s faith!!ReplyCancel

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  • dawn - I often wonder that if I knew WHY…in my humanness would I be able to accept that reason as good enough? Maybe that’s why I don’t know WHY. I do know ways God has redeemed my son’s death in ways only He could.

    It is a choice. A choice to bless God anyway. A choice that blesses us too.

    Hugs to you. Wonderful post.ReplyCancel

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  • Krystal - Beautiful post!

    I, myself, have sobbed through this song during worship, but for different reasons.

    Thanks for sharing this!ReplyCancel

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  • Angela - I love that song! Those words really hit home when we had a Celebration of Life service for our beloved pastor and his oldest son (out of 6, 14 and under) who tragically died in a plane accident. And then a couple months later when our larger then life music minister died at a young age. It was so hard for our church! And I remember, like yesterday, hearing those words sang mixed with tears of grief. Yet, we contiune to praise! And know that God will use it all for His glory!

    I love reading your blog! And I keep you, your family and soon-to be here on earth baby in my prayers!

    Hugs from Florida,
    AngelaReplyCancel

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  • PamperingBeki - I still cannot make it through this song in church without crying.

    Your story this year has completely changed the meaning of it for me as well.

    God bless you Jess.ReplyCancel

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  • Lauren Kelly - That song is amazing and can speak to you on soooo many levels!!!!ReplyCancel

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  • Wendy - I just posted something like this on my blog yesterday…a dear friend lost her battle with H1N1 and I was reflecting on the same thing. By faith I CHOOSE to believe that God is good…

    God bless you and this journey.ReplyCancel

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  • Robin in Benton - Blessed be the name of the Lord – and blessings to you Jess. Throughout your journey and others that I know of I too have questioned the why and am still working on accepting without questioning God’s will. You are such an inspiration and I pray every day for you, Joel and Baby Mac.ReplyCancel

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  • LL - Hi Jess, and those who love Jess…I usually just read the updates, and sometimes the comments, spend some time reflecting, and then move on. However, today there is resonance for some reason.

    I haven’t lost a child, but I did lose my father to alcoholism. They are such different circumstances, but Dawn’s comment, along with Jess’s post, may have helped to put a piece of the grief puzzle in place for me. Dawn wrote, “I often wonder that if I knew WHY…in my humanness would I be able to accept that reason as good enough? Maybe that’s why I don’t know WHY.”

    Dawn – I think you got it. I think that is the very essence of why we must have faith in God’s plan for each one of us, because even if we knew the reasons why tragedies occur, comprehension and acceptance may just never come.

    Thank you so much for your ministry. I’ve learned so much.ReplyCancel

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  • Emily - You are amazing. God bless you for using your pain to BLESS Him. You are such a testimony and I hope that in the times you are overcome with grief, that will give you at least a little peace.ReplyCancel

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  • Kari - That song has been a tear-jerker in my life too. Those words never rang so true until my mom’s cancer diagnosis 4 years ago. I just remember over and over “He gives and takes away”. Such a gut-wrenching feeling because it was so true. We aren’t promised anything by Him but love and eternity. I hope God continues to heal your broken heart.

    kari in colorado (cousin Renae’s friend)ReplyCancel

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  • The Sieberts - Amen :)We love you guys!ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - Your words have brought me closer to God during a time that I so desperately needed to feel His presence. Thank you for that. Know that you are spreading His word and bringing people closer to Him every day. Your strength and honesty in times of weakness are inspirational. May God bless and keep you and your precious family.ReplyCancel

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  • Sheryl - what a beautiful post. each time i sing that song…i cry. He gives and He takes away and it is MY choice to keep saying blessed be His name.

    i have to tell you that i read the comment right above mine from anonymous. not that it makes things any easier but when you can see how your pain has helped someone in their walk with the Lord – that is the eternal reward.

    praying for you now.ReplyCancel

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  • Tina - Thank you so much for posting this today Jess. I have been struggling SO much this week. I can’t tell you how many times I have said that I don’t understand His ways.

    I really needed to hear the words you were lead to write. Thank you so much.

    I think and pray for you often.ReplyCancel

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  • meg duerksen - i wish we could go back to a year ago also.
    for you.
    and joel.
    that song will always mark a change in my faith too jess…when i had to really think about what it meant.

    love you jess.ReplyCancel

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  • Amber - You know, this is one of my favorite songs ever. And I have often wondered if I would think of it the same if the road was suffering and pain. I really feel blessed to have found your blog (through Etsy, months ago). I continue to be amazed at your faith and your witness for the Lord, even though your heart is aching. My heart aches for you, and I still pray for you and your family often. Thank you for sharing your faith and trust in the Lord, even through your wilderness.ReplyCancel

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  • Ravan - Jess- I know you don’t understand why God would take your sweet baby from you so early…and neither do the rest of us, but I don’t think you will ever truely know what a huge impact your story has had on people you don’t know, and people you’ll probably never meet.
    It’s because of your story, and your Cora, that I have a renewed relationship with God. It’s because of yours and Joel’s strength and faith through all of it. I am forever in debt to you, Joel, and Cora.
    Thank you so much Jess for letting so many people in on such a hard time in your life.
    RavanReplyCancel

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  • Nikki Sherer Burns - I will never sing this song again the same way. I am grateful for this post even though in my gratefullness comes your sadness. You are such an instrument for the Lord.ReplyCancel

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  • Lindsay - My husband and I chose this song for our son’s “celebration” service as well. For the same reason – we wanted those surrounding us to join us in living the words. We frequently discuss how difficult it is now to sing the songs we once sang so freely in worship service. The words have a weight and depth now that they didn’t have before.

    We are hoping to go to the grief conference you and Joel went to. I think it will be good for both of us since we are handling our grief so differently.

    I visit our site often, but I post rarely. I think of you every day. Praying for you…

    I hope Ayden has met Cora. I believe they would be a cute little team together.

    LindsayReplyCancel

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  • aleanaomi - This is my life song. I have been challenged so many times when it’s tough to CHOOSE to say. It was a apart of my wedding, it was apart of my 3 year struggle to have a baby, it came on in the car right after we found out we were expecting. It’s been a hard song this past year as we have had many heartaches, none that can compare to yours but heartaches all the same. I think sometimes this song becomes my final release to God. He has it played in my life at the just right moment to remind me whom I belong to and whom I receive blessings from. Blessed be His NameReplyCancel

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  • writing4612 - Yes. We are still supposed to praise Him through the good times and bad. God is still Holy, mighty, awesome, etc. no matter what we go through. He doesn’t change.

    My mom has always said that I get to choose whether I let my circumastances make me bitter ot better. I choose to let them make me a better person. I’m glad you have too.ReplyCancel

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  • Stacy - You are truly an inspiration to all of us and I can only hope and pray to have your grace and faith during difficult times.

    God Bless you always.ReplyCancel

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  • Gail - Hey sweet friend–thanks again for sharing your heart. Sure love you, and continue to hurt for you.ReplyCancel

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  • Jane In The Jungle - I too love this song…and it is a choice to make daily, to trust but not understand.

    Praises.ReplyCancel

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  • Christina - Thank you Jess. That is one of my favorite songs as well. Thank you for writing this post.ReplyCancel

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  • Jon (dh) - It has been a bit of a rough week and Jack(5 yr old) asked me to take him to the cemetery so he could leave some flowers and toy cars at Knox’s grave. As we were driving there, I was thinking about the group of us singing this song and what an indescribable thing it was. I really don’t have the words for it. Those word can be so hard to say, but then He is all we can cling too so yes we can say them. It was incredible to sing those words with you all and everyone else and to know we shared that gut-wrenching feeling of having our child taken away, but at the same time feeling the presence of the Father while we blessed His name….RachelReplyCancel

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  • Diana - Amen! And AMEN!

    Prayers daily for you guys.ReplyCancel

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  • Courtney Cloud - Praying for you daily. Your blog gives me so much hope for the future. We are choosing to say “Blessed by Your name” along with you.ReplyCancel

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  • TRICIA @ The Zoo - Deuteronomy 4:29-31 (New International Version)
    29~ But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30~ When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the LORD your God and obey him. 31~ For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath.

    This is a passage that I have been thinking of a lot lately. The Lord is faithful, even in the most difficult times. What an amazing gift. Your continued faith through the most painful time a parent would never dream fills my heart.

    Thank you for continuing to share your journey with us.

    With love and prayers,
    XO*TriciaReplyCancel

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  • Trish - every time i sing this song, tears well up in my eyes. it is a hard song to sing when struggling with pain and grief. with that being said, i feel that some of those tears are tears of joy that even through those hard times, my God is still a constant in my life!

    the ladies at my church are doing the Esther bible study by Beth Moore. LOVE IT! It’s about woman and an interesting fact is in the book of Esther God’s name is not mentioned once. It seems as though he is not there. But even when he chooses to remain silent it does not mean he is anonymous. He is there and faithful.

    i love reading your posts… you wear your heart on your sleeve and to read your pure honesty during your darkest days is heart wrenching, but at the same time, I catch a glimpse of the Holy Spirit alive in you!

    Blessed be HIS name!!!ReplyCancel

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  • Al's World - I love this song and I think the fact that you can sing this with certainity during our lows in lives is exactly what the Lord wants us to do. You are an inspiration…keep singing those praises!ReplyCancel

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  • Cherry Tree Lane - You give new meaning to the word FAITH.

    Thank you for sharing.ReplyCancel

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  • The Schilling's from Cimarron - Love you! You always make me think clearly and reinforce for us what is really important! We miss you and am glad you can still be so open with your feelings with us on your blog. Once again I am so proud of the you and your faith. You have continued to teach us so much! Hope to see you soon, and as always we love you and think of you daily!

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  • Anonymous - Thank you. I needed these words right now. We buried our fourth miscarried baby this week. Our hearts are broken, our arms aching to hold these babies.
    You know that pain better than anybody.
    And yet *you* are the one encouraging us to praise the Lord in our pain. To *choose* to rejoice in Him and in His plan.
    Thank you.ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - You are an amazing lady Jess.

    Krissy Hunecke
    Batavia, ILReplyCancel

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  • Linkis Family Love - we sang that song today at church. i will always remember you now, when we sing it…one of my favorites, too. you are one heck of a christian woman, and inspriation…never forget the difference you and joel are making in this world, and you don’t even know it.
    from: edwardsville, IL.
    -Kelli Linkis <>< <ReplyCancel

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  • Miss Em - Still praying for you and loving you even though we have never met.ReplyCancel

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  • La Familia Garcia - I LOVE this song and it is so good to sing on good/bad/any day! I love your pictures of your sweet Cora sometimes I think she looks JUST like Joel and sometimes JUST like you!! Congrats on the new little one!ReplyCancel

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  • TheConnorClan - you are an inspiration! I follow your blog and your faith is inspiring. We lost a baby when I was four months pregnant and I know that our little girls are in heaven praising Jesus! God Bless You ;)ReplyCancel

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  • Jenn - One of my best friends just recently lost her infant son only 90 minutes after he was born. This same song has been their rally cry throughout the whole pregnancy, and I cannot hear it without crying. Your title hit the nail on the head…. My heart will CHOOSE to say, Blessed be your name. What a discipline– to CHOOSE to praise in the midst of grief. My heart goes out to you– and countless others– who make that choice daily.

    Recently heard a sermon by John Piper that was so encouraging re: suffering…. you can find it on his website (www.desiringgod.com) if you search under the title “Live to Die”. I think you might enjoy hearing his perspective.

    Blessings to you and Joel and Baby Mac!ReplyCancel

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  • balmingilead - Thinking of you both today. This song is one of my favorites, too.
    I will be praying for you during this holiday season.
    Amy@balmingilead.typepad.comReplyCancel

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More from the retreat…


There are so many things that I heard last weekend that keep running through my mind. I feel like I have jumped back into the busyness of “normal” life and haven’t had time to process everything. I didn’t take any notes at the retreat, so I have been trying to write down a few things I want to remember. This one thing has really stuck with me:

I don’t want grief to define who I am.
I want Christ to define who I am.
What defines you? Isn’t it so true that we often let our circumstances define who we are?
The hole that Cora left in my life when she died is a huge part of who I am. It always will be. Grief is a raw, hard thing. It is something that I have to face everyday now. But, do I want it to dominate my life?
We laughed with this group about how so often you feel like you are walking around wearing this big blinking sign that says, “MY CHILD DIED”. It is like a warning when you are approaching and it creates so much awkwardness. If you are happy you feel like people think you are fine and ready to move on. If you are sad you feel like you are a burden to everyone around you.
Joel and I talked during the retreat about how we don’t want to let grief control our lives, our family, or our relationships. While there will still be those days when we are so sad that we would rather pull the covers over our heads than face another day, we don’t want grief to define who we are. We want people to look at our lives and see Christ. We want Christ to be glorified, even in our grief. We want our lives to be defined by Him.
It is easy to say that, right? It is so much harder to live out. I went away from this weekend realizing there are no easy answers. There is no quick fix to my grief. Not even at a conference for grieving parents. But what I did realize is that I need to be constantly filling the hole that Cora left in my life with Christ. Studying His Word and learning to know Him better. IN HIM is the only place that I am going to find true comfort and answers to my questions as I grieve. And as I spend time with Him and allow Him to overcome even my deepest sorrows, I am allowing Christ to define who I am. That is what I want people to see in me.

Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat–I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how.
Luke 9:23-24 (The Message)
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  • Anonymous - You both are so strong. I have been following your blog for many months… since before your precious Cora took her place in Heaven with the Lord. Let me tell you, your light shines so bright, it’s almost blinding! I know I can always come here for inspiration and hope, and I just wanted to thank you for sharing your love of Christ through your storm.
    PS. Congrats on your baby news! It’s apparent you’ve got one seriously blessed bun in the oven to have you two as parents! ;)
    Warmest Regards, Nichole in TulsaReplyCancel

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  • The Frisco Russells - This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyCancel

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  • The Frisco Russells - Beautifully Written ~ still pray for you daily. In Him , Wendy Frisco TXReplyCancel

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  • Christine - What a beautifully written post, Jess, and how very true. Although I’ve not experienced the loss that you have, I can relate to wanting Christ to define me. Thank you for that reminder. Praying for you as always…ReplyCancel

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  • Trasie Bressler - You both amazing me and I admire your faith in the ONE that created us so much. What an amazing walk you have with him and I long to have that as I grow in him daily.

    Many Many Blessings,ReplyCancel

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  • Rachel E. - Wow! That is so insightful. Thank you so much for sharing what you’ve learned from the retreat, Jess. How is Baby Mac doing?ReplyCancel

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  • MICHELE - Jess and Joel-
    Sometimes I don’t know what to say because your story breaks my heart. It has from the moment I heard Cora was in the hospital. I spent countless hours then and now praying for your family and trying to understand all of it as well. I know we were never that close, but small town schools make you “friends” in a different way.
    Anyway yesterday I attended Judgment House at my church and when we got to the Heaven scene their was this sweet, beautiful, happy, bouncy little girl singing and dancing with Jesus and through my tears I saw Cora. How wonderful it must be up there for her, but so sad down here for you. I hope that this message brings you comfort. And know you are STILL very much in my heart and prayers!!!ReplyCancel

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  • Sarah - I see Christ in you. That’s what made the biggest impact on me from the moment I I heard of your family. You, Joel and the rest of your family show that Christ is at the center of your lives. I saw that every moment I got to spend with you guys while in Kansas.ReplyCancel

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  • Trisha Larson - Jess-

    I’m pretty much at the same place as you with my grief. Nate’s death will always be a part of who I am but I don’t want to live a life full of grief. I want to live the life that God intended for me. I want to make Him proud and defy the expectations that Mommy’s who have to bury a child become sad, depressed and bitter people for the rest of their lives. I want to enjoy my life. I want to feel happy. I’m fighting for it so hard.

    Thanks for sharing this journey with me. It’s healing for me to see people struggling on the same path. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone.

    Hugs,
    TrishaReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - You are such an inspiration..

    KimReplyCancel

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  • Amanda - maybe that’s why you are such a joy and blessing to be around…because I DO see Christ in all you do and say. I am so blessed by you every single day. You are making it, and you are doing it in a way that is causing the Lord to look down and say “well done, Jess, well done”. I am so proud of you, so proud to call you my friend.ReplyCancel

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  • Bri!!! - Awesome! Since going through this miscarriage, I found an amazing talk that has helped me. I think you would enjoy it. I love the analogy. It’s linked on my blog, but here is the direct address.

    http://www.lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-646-11,00.htmlReplyCancel

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  • PamperingBeki - I remember talking to you about this on the phone one day. When a person becomes “the lady who lost the baby”…. You don’t WANT it to be your sole identity! But it’s such a huge part of who you are.

    And in that way, a small town is a blessing and a curse. You couldn’t ask for a more loving and caring community. But there is very little annonymity too. I’d imagine sometimes you just want to go to WalMart without that big glaring sign around you neck that screams to everyone…

    If anyone can adjust their identity to point to God, it’s YOU. You are a shining reflection of Him every single day.ReplyCancel

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  • Mandy - i admire your strength so much. this was a beautifully written post.ReplyCancel

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  • deyoungsters - Your faith is so beautiful, Jess. I’m always encouraged and challenged when I come to your blog. I keep you guys in my prayers!ReplyCancel

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  • Courtney - Very well said. I’m sorry you are in this situation and I wish it would go away and Cora would be here with you again. After your child goes to Heaven life is never the same. It doesn’t get easier ever it just becomes your new normal. I will never understand what it is like to have my family complete but I can truly say that “my heart is full.” I know you too will have a very full heart.

    Courtney MayfieldReplyCancel

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  • Lindsay - “We want Christ to be glorified, even in our grief.” Jess, even though I know this is a daily struggle for you all it is so plain to see in your posts. You are an inspiration to others to let Christ define our lives.ReplyCancel

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  • Nancy - I can only pray I have 1/2 the faith & hope that you guys have…your blog is a reflection of how you walk DAILY with our God, and it amazes me!
    Keep writing!ReplyCancel

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  • Lacie and Stephen - This is a post that hits so close to home for me! My husband made the comment the other day that it seems like our time is now measured in BBB and ABB (Before Babe B. and After Babe B.) instead of BC (Before Christ) and AD. It may seem off topic, but it is just an illustration of how we get caught up so much in our grief that the Christ part becomes less evident.

    Lacie Hutchins
    Wichita, KSReplyCancel

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  • onebadrunner - You have modeled that for so many of us. When we don’t know what to say. When we don’t know what to do. We see Christ in you and know you are well protected.ReplyCancel

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  • TRICIA @ The Zoo - Your strength and faith through this most difficult time continues to amaze and encourage me.
    Thank you for continuing to share this journey with all of us. Christ IS shining through you both. Even when you feel like you’re struggling. We can see him.

    Thank you. Blessings to you.

    With love and prayers,
    XO*TriciaReplyCancel

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  • Carla - Powerful post. Thinking of you and Joel often, hugsReplyCancel

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  • Juliann - Thanks, Jess. Your reflections are an encouragement to me, and also a conviction – not to let circumstances define me. I really fall into that every day. I continue to pray for you and your husband. May God’s grace cover you.ReplyCancel

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  • thezipfs - Wow, Jess! Thank you so much for your post…I really needed to hear that today! Lately, I have found myself saying that when my house is messy, my life, my mind, and my heart is messy. I knew my logic behind that thought was sooo not what Christ wanted me to be thinking. In other words, I was letting my circumstances around me define me…I WANT CHRIST TO DEFINE ME! You have a way with words that teach me (and so many others). THANK YOU! We are always praying for you and Joel and love and miss you guys so much!
    Love, Kim ZipfReplyCancel

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  • Anne - You are an encouragement to many more than you even realize. Thanks for your strength and trust in the Lord. What a blessing you are! Our family prays for yours often, though we have never met. God is good, ALL THE TIME!!!ReplyCancel

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  • Bob - Always blessed as I read your thoughts. Thanks for sharing your journey! BobReplyCancel

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  • Marla Taviano - Oh my goodness, Jess. This was such a blessing post!! Thank you for sharing! Love and hugs!ReplyCancel

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  • Heidi - I just want to say thank you. Thank you for sharing what you have been learning, it helps me to put things into a new way to look at life.ReplyCancel

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  • Nancy Guthrie - Beautiful Jess — I’m loving reading your lingering thoughts from our weekend together, and I’m holding you close in my heart.

    P.S. tell that big guy of yours that I’ll make him a double burger with cheese any time.ReplyCancel

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  • Christina - What encouragement…thank you. I’m not walking the same path you are, but I appreciate the words of wisdom that you share which can so easily transfer to all kinds of suffering or grief. Jess, these are beautiful words…”And as I spend time with Him and allow Him to overcome even my deepest sorrows, I am allowing Christ to define who I am.” I pray that He will indeed fill you up, and I pray that I can learn from your example.ReplyCancel

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  • Everday Edwards - Hello, I ran across your blog today from a friends site and I have read your story. I just have to say that you are an amazing woman and you have such a testimony and you have your faith in the right place. Jesus Christ! I will be praying for you and your family.ReplyCancel

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  • Beckypdj - I was praying on the way to work this morning that people would see Christ in me.

    I can relate to the statement you made about feeling happy and people thinking you are fine and ready to move on. I have been on this grief journey almost two years now and there were times I felt happy, but was almost afraid to act like it. Not because of disrespecting Peyton’s memory, but because of people’s expectations for me to be better from then on. I thought I might let them down. I’ve gotten past thoughts and feelings like that, thank you Lord.ReplyCancel

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  • ErinnMike - This was such a great post. There is another blog that I follow that I think could use some of your strength…

    http://sweetgirlies.blogspot.com/

    If you ever have some free time, I think she could use some of your positive thoughts.ReplyCancel

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  • Laura R - It is such an honor to read your blog and watch Jesus work in your lives. You are an inspiration. Thanks for sharing your journey with us:)ReplyCancel

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  • Jamie - simply said…beautiful words.ReplyCancel

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  • Karina - I am not even religious, and yet there is never any question to me that you are someone who has faith in Christ.

    Yes, you are the Jess who lost Cora, but it is also plain to me that you are someone who sees her life and the lives around her in a bigger context.

    More powerful, to me, than the sign around your neck proclaiming your loss is the one that says you are a mother.

    I think you should know that you inspire others, not just those who share your faith – I share with you the bond of motherhood, and as a mother you inspire me too.

    Strength, insight, and a beautiful way with words have ensured you a wider reach than any one denomination.ReplyCancel

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  • Carla - Karina’s comment echoes very strongly with me. I think of you daily Jess. I think of Cora all the time, I see her in so much of the world. She is a formidable little lady who has touched more lives than most of us ever will. You and Cora have taught me so much and Cora’s influence has made me a better mammy to my little girl. You both mean so much to me and my family. Take care of yourself. Thanks for sharing so generously xxReplyCancel

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  • Nan - Another fabulous book on the subject of the fruit borne of suffering is John Piper’s The Hidden Smile of God. It’s a blessing to hear what God is teaching you through his truth applied to your sorrows.ReplyCancel

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  • Nan - I was also going to say that many people who face long-term illnesses have to come to the same point that you have come to. Do I want this to define me and be the thing that people know me for or do I want them to know me as the one who trusts Jesus no matter what. I’ve had a short struggle with a physical affliction recently and even through it, God has been teaching me what it means to live in and on Him alone, not being ruled by my circumstances. While sickness and death are not usually a direct result of sin on our parts they are a result of the Fall… sin in the world… as Christians we cannot put the name of our afflictions over us as the name written over us by the Hand of God is “Child of God,” “Bought and paid for,” “Beloved.”

    Thank you again for allowing God to encourage and teach others through your struggles and joys.

    Romans 8 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us…..No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

    You and Joel are living proof of the glory being revealed in us.ReplyCancel

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  • katherine - I don’t know you but I’ve been reading your blog long enough and following your story and I do see Christ in you. Your love for him and desire to bring him glory is so evident. He is glorified through you and both your joy and your pain.ReplyCancel

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  • Nic - I am almost done reading the book “When Jesus Speaks Into your Sorrow”. I haven’t lost someone but it was given to me by a friend to help me process some other issues in life. I’ve thought of you so many times as I’ve read it and wondered if I should send it to you. I don’t know you but have followed your blog. When you posted that you just went to her retreat and have her books I was SOO EXCITED!! She will be the resource I suggest as I know people that are experiencing grief of many kinds. I’m so thankful you guys had a great weekend and added friends to your journey!! Your posts are always touching, encouraging, and full of HOPE!ReplyCancel

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  • Susan - Dear Jess,

    What great joy it was to read how God truly met you and your husband this past weekend at the retreat.

    I knew this would be so deeply touching.

    My daughter in love shared your blog with me, she reads it daily.

    I shared this post with a very dear friend of mine who lost her son to NB also. He was 11.

    She was deeply touched by your testimony of HOPE.

    Truly our identity is in “CHRIST alone.”

    What an amazing revelation that is for us all.

    Thanks for taking the time to share this with us.

    My son is a cancer survivor.ReplyCancel

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  • Trinity - I am going to let me mom know about these books. Her father, my grandfather, passed away in August. Then 3 weeks later my family moved to Richmond VA which is 3 hours away. She was so close to my sons, seeing them nearly every day of their lives so in a way she has lost them too. Thank you for sharing your pain…the good, bad and ugly of it. You are a blessing.ReplyCancel

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  • Tiffany Ann - Amen and amen….Suffering purifies us and makes us reflect Christ more to this world. His ways are definitely not our ways, but my prayer is with you…that CHRIST would define who I am in all things and that everyone around me would see HIM above all else. Blessings on you..ReplyCancel

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  • aubregary - I want to thank you for helping me to help someone else. My neighbor just lost her husband 6 days after he was diagnosed with Liver Cancer. They are very young and still newlyweds. She is devastated. I didn’t know what to do and after reading your blog I ordered her the book “Hope”. I just know this book will help her through this hard time. Thanks.ReplyCancel

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  • Carpenter's - I don’t want grief to define who I am.
    I want Christ to define who I am.

    I need to have this in my bathroom when I put my makeup on in the mornings. I have a hard time b/c I feel at times I only have my babies to talk about. When in fact I need to talk about all the joys he has brought to me and my family.

    Thank you, thank you for this reminder!ReplyCancel

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I couldn’t help but pull out these pictures today…





I am missing my sweet little cuddly cow.

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  • Maria - No words. Just hugs.ReplyCancel

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  • Heidi - Cora was truly a gift god had shared with you. May god keep you strong. Thank you for sharing such treasured pictures of Cora. Bless you all of you including your little bundle.ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - Greetings from IN, I know we have never met nor probably ever will but I just wanted you to know I am praying for you. Cora is absolutley beautiful. Thank you for sharing her with complete strangers. What a blessing she continues to be. I have read your story and wept and have also been amazed at your vulnerability and trust and love in Jesus Christ. I am glad that she is having a perfect day and at the same time please know my heart aches for you. Will continue to pray for great blessings and peace in your life.
    Your sister in Christ,
    LauraReplyCancel

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  • Susan - She is adorable. I felt the need to post the same kind of post on my blog today for my son. You are not alone in finding this day hard.ReplyCancel

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  • Liana - I was thinking of you today as my little frog and pumpkin hopped around the retirement home this morning on a Trick-or-Treat visit to the great grandparents. I know it doesn’t make it any easier for you– but I want to know how your life and witness has changed me as a mother. I am doing a much better job of appreciating EVERY moment, silly, sad, frustrating or the like with my boys. I’m trying to live every day to the fullest and just be in the moment.

    I know that doesn’t change your situation, but please know that you are loved, prayed for, and deeply respected by many across this country. Stay strong and thank you again for being so honest about your journey.ReplyCancel

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  • Olivia - We miss her too. I thought of her little cow costume last night and wished so much she were here to Trick of Treat with her cousins! We love you and pray for you always!ReplyCancel

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  • Amy - Wish you were here so I could hug you. Love you.ReplyCancel

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  • Julie - Jess, I am praying for you today. I thought of your cute, cuddly “cow” yesterday and looked back at your blog from a year ago to see her again. I miss her too and can’t imagine what your heart must feel each day. You are loved and prayed over.ReplyCancel

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  • mary - That first photo is absolutely perfect in every way. I have always followed your blog as a reminder to pray for you, but recently I have noticed your photography talents as well. Impressive!! Praying for you on this child-centered day…ReplyCancel

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  • Stacey - Thinking of you! Thank you for sharing Cora’s precious pictures. Hugs!

    Stacey from CAReplyCancel

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  • merlin - Pictures worth a thousand words.ReplyCancel

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  • Marie - My heart aches for you.ReplyCancel

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  • The Tenbrink family - I don’t know you. You are friends with someone who is a friend of one of my friends. I am also a KSU grad and I teach 3rd grade. I have 2 kids (ages 2 and 5 months) and I have been following your blog since my friend asked me to pray for you when Cora was diagnosed. I’ve always wanted to leave a comment to you to let you know that I am praying for you on a daily basis, but I have never felt more compelled to let you know until today. My heart aches for you and your strength and faithfulness astound me. I want to thank you for being such a role model for everyone and for reminding me to never take anything for granted. I recently had a baby. A daughter. The very first thing I bought her when I found out she was a girl, was a set of hair bows from an etsy website that sent proceeds to Cora’s playground. Everytime my daughter wears them, I am reminded to cherish my time with her. Cora was a gift from God, and through Cora, God has been glorified. Because of you and Cora, my family is closer to each other, and to God. Please know that Cora is in in Heaven, where there is no despair, doubt, disappointment, loneliness, or sadness. My name is Katie, and I am blessed to have such a great role model in my life. Thank you-and know that I will continue to pray for your family.ReplyCancel

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  • Rebecca - I don’t think I’ve ever left a comment, but I have been reading your blog for awhile and I have tears in my eyes looking at your sweet baby in her cute cow costume. Prayers for you as you go through today.ReplyCancel

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  • Melissa - She’s beautiful! {{hugs}}ReplyCancel

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  • Todd and Courtney - Your cuddly cow is so cute. I wonder what she is dressed up as this year in Heaven? :) I check your blog all the time. I feel like I know you two. Praying for you every single day.ReplyCancel

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  • Carla - Oh Jess, hugs from across the miles. I don’t have any other words xxxxxReplyCancel

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  • Mandi - These photos are precious and I’m sure they bring back lots of sweet memories of Cora. I can only imagine how badly you want to be dressing her in her costume and holding her in your arms right now. Praying for the healing of your broken heart.ReplyCancel

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  • Brandi - Cutest little cow I’ve ever seen. Praying for you!!!ReplyCancel

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  • The Boccias - Tears are falling. Big hugs.ReplyCancel

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  • Trasie Bressler - I don’t have any words but my heart aches for you but smiles as I look at these pictures.

    Many Many Blessings!ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - so sorry for your pain…

    KimReplyCancel

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  • Diana - words cannot even convey… love and hugz and MANY prayers for you guys….ReplyCancel

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  • mandie - when your daughter went to be with Jesus i sobbed. up until that point, i had never cried for a person that i did not know personally. not like i did with cora. i pray for you and your husband and your babe to be quite often. may the Lord comfort your mama heart.ReplyCancel

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  • chelsea - no words either. praying for comfort. we love you all.ReplyCancel

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  • Nicole - She is simply beautiful! Thank you for sharing her pictures…they took my breath away. Sending good wishes your way that God sends his richest blessings to your family.ReplyCancel

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  • Kristi REDISKE - I knew this would be a hard day for you-I have looked at her pictures from last Halloween and wondered how you would make it. I know the Lord is Blessing you but sometimes our heart just is broken. Praying for you.ReplyCancel

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  • Marla Taviano - Oh, Jess. She is so beautiful.ReplyCancel

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  • Farris Family - She is such a sweet baby girl~ My heart is sad for you on these days~ God will and has kept yall strong.ReplyCancel

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  • ran shae - she is so beautiful! my heart aches for you. i just can’t even imagine the pain. i am praying!ReplyCancel

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  • Karen - I can’t even imagine the missing her you must be doing tonight. May God bless you.ReplyCancel

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  • Jenifer - Preying for yallReplyCancel

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  • Beckycain6 - I have been reading your blog since Cora had her ear infections. I am humiliated to confess that I do not believe I have ever commented. And yet…..I have been praying for you…crying when I read so many of your words…….and could not believe that beautiful, gorgeous baby with the soft brown hair and precious eyes is not here.

    I am grateful that you have allowed your faith to carry you. I am thankful, as well, that our Father is finding ways (like with the retreat) to give you both strength.

    And, I just want to tell you that I have 4 children, but I admit that Cora may just be the prettiest baby I have ever seen, and I just cannot believe she is gone. I’m so very sorry. I can’t imagine how much it hurts you both…….

    Just know that there are people, total strangers, that are praying for you and loving you guys. Heaven is so lucky to have the presence of your pretty, pretty baby……..

    And I am so, so sorry……

    Romans 15:13. Praying God will grant you continual hope and peace. Grace,
    BeckyReplyCancel

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  • Misty Rice - Awe…. my heart aches looking at these. So lovely.

    Im sorry mommy…. its so painful, I can only imagine.

    Oh how I wish I could turn back the clock and give you one more day. One more hug. One more snuggle and kiss from your little girl.

    Praying and hugging you tonight.ReplyCancel

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  • PamperingBeki - I thought of you so many times this fall, along with your cute cuddly cow, and the pumpkin pictures.

    Love you. Wish so badly I could make it alright.

    God bless you.ReplyCancel

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  • Traci - Praying for peace and comfort for you and Joel. Soon you will have another baby to cuddle with and share stories of Cora.ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - Such darling photos of Cora.ReplyCancel

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  • The Moffats - Tears. Lots of them.ReplyCancel

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  • Krystal - Oh how my heart breaks for you…I am soooo sorry. And praying for you right now.ReplyCancel

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  • beckley - I bet you are.

    grace and peace be yours amidst.ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - Ditto to what Liana said…
    Hugs from WIReplyCancel

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  • Christine - Words hardly seem sufficient, but you and Joel are never far from my thoughts. Of course you miss that most precious little cow. However could you not? Praying for you tonight as we so often do. ((Hugs))ReplyCancel

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  • Angie - Those pictures of sweet Cora are so adorable – she makes one cute cow!

    Praying for you tonight and for the upcoming holidays as well.ReplyCancel

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  • Ruth - That’s the most beautiful, cuddliest cow I’ve ever seen. Thank you for sharing her pictures.ReplyCancel

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  • Don, Aimee, Kaitlyn and Kysen - Thinking of you especially on holidays! You are such an inspiration to me to make me a better mom!ReplyCancel

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  • Our Life in Pixels - Memories and pictures can be the sweetest and the most bitter things. Thoughts and Prayers for you!ReplyCancel

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  • Jennifer - Cutest cow ever! I was just checking in on you today to see how you were doing. My little sister died 27 years ago and I still miss her like crazy, especially at times like this when I can almost picture what she would be doing if she were here. Even though we know she is in the best place ever, we are still left missing her. Hugs to you. One day at a time!ReplyCancel

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  • Pilgrim Days - Those are adorable pictures. What a cutie!ReplyCancel

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  • Emmy - My heart breaks for you. What a precious child.ReplyCancel

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  • Christina - All I can do is cry…what sweet memories. I’m continuing to pray.ReplyCancel

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  • Liz - What a precious picture. Made me cry.ReplyCancel

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  • Lauren Kelly - So incredibly precious!!!! And she’s that sweet cuddly cow now walking hand in hand with sweet Jesus :)ReplyCancel

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  • Diana - Sweetest comfort from our Father upon you today in Jesus’ name.ReplyCancel

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  • Erin - My name is Erin and I live in Ohio. I can’t even remember, at this point, how I came across your blog, but I am so glad I did! I read it often and pray for you and your husband as you travel this difficult journey.
    Though I have never lost a child, I find strength and encouragement in your story and more importantly your faith. My husband and I have been trying to have a child of our own for almost two years. Though our stories are different, I wanted to let you know that the inspiration, joy, and praise you have given me through your words has been one of the greatest gifts God has given me. Throughout our journey, I have prayed and begged to find someone who was hurting like I was but was still able to remain positive, hopeful, and joyful in her relationship with God. I have been praying for someone who could hurt and show her rawness but still praise the Lord. Though we have never and probably will never meet, I want you to know that you have touched my life. Your little Cora is beautiful and, though your story may not be what anyone could imagine, please know that you are touching lives and inspiring many people through it!!! God bless you and your family!ReplyCancel

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  • kimberlysayre - Cora is beautiful! My aches for you. Thinking about and praying for you today.ReplyCancel

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  • Townsend Crew - All of our hearts continue to break along with you. It just sucks! That’s all that can be said! I love when your scrolling header on your blog comes up with the pictures of Cora in her cow costume. Your kick-butt faith continues to inspire me!ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - Jessica, she is a beauty! I thought of you yesterday. Hugs to you and Joel. xoxo

    Jenna Gudalis (friend of the Byrne’s)ReplyCancel

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  • dg darling - SO CUTE!!! I wish she was here for you…{{HUGS}}ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - All Saints Day today…lit a candle for Cora at church. Prayers as always.ReplyCancel

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  • Robin in Benton - Nothing that I can say that hasn’t already been said. Tears, love, hugs and prayers to you today.ReplyCancel

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  • Austin - So precious <3ReplyCancel

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  • Kelly - Keeping you in my prayers ((HUGS))ReplyCancel

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  • Marsha - Hugs and prayers!

    Marsha in VAReplyCancel

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  • SadMommy3434 - I, too, have no words. ((((HUGS))))ReplyCancel

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  • Micah - These are absolutely precious.ReplyCancel

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  • John and Elisa Seaba - by far. the cutest cow ever!! thinking about you!ReplyCancel

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  • meg duerksen - the cutest cow i have ever seen!ReplyCancel

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  • Judy - My heart is just so sad for you and Joel and all the grandparents and aunts and uncles and friends who would have loved to see Cora dressed up this year.
    May Jesus continue to uphold you and bring you peace through all these difficult firsts.
    Keep sharing her pictures! I love seeing her beautiful smiling face!ReplyCancel

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  • Ali - Speechless and in tears.

    Sending you hugs from Ireland

    AliReplyCancel

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  • Christina - That is the sweetest little cuddly cow I have ever seen! Love & Hugs from NJReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - Thinking about you and thankful that you have such love, support, and faith. She is a beautiful girl.ReplyCancel

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  • Janet - OH! These photographs of your precious angel broke my heart today. Sending special love from South Africa!ReplyCancel

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  • Karina - She is just perfect. I am so sorry you hurt. Thank you for continuing to share your heart.ReplyCancel

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  • Susy M. - She is so beautiful and am sure the perfect little cow in Heaven.ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - she’s adorable.ReplyCancel

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  • Jill - God bless you!ReplyCancel

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  • Damian, Marla, Clara, Oliver and Isabel - Jess, I still keep up with your posts because of the profound impact your little angel’s story had on my life both emotionally and professionally. My littlest girl, Isabel, still asks to look at pictures of baby Cora on a regular basis. Clara and I remember very good times from when you were her kindergarten teacher. Thank you for sharing these beyond-sweet images of your little doll. I hope you are well. Just so you know, I plan to focus on children in my practice and oncology/neurology in particular. I pray often that your littlest gift will be healthy, sound and share many years of love with you.ReplyCancel

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Joel and I have been involved in small groups ever since we were married.
And it seems like it is always the same with every group.
It takes about a year for everyone to feel really comfortable with each other.
It takes that long for people to be open and real and vulnerable.
It takes that long for those people to become more like family.
But it is amazing how this time it was so different.
In one weekend we gained a new family.
In one weekend we were vulnerable with each other, there was no avoiding it.
We shared our deepest hurts and struggles.
We shared our grief.

These are the eleven couples we spent the weekend with.

Eleven amazing couples. Each and every one of them.
Starting the first night together we shared our stories.
We sat in that big living room and told all about our sweet child.
We told about the tragedies and nightmares that we each had lived through.
Each story was different, but equally horrific.
We cried together.
And although listening to all those stories was really heavy,
there was something so neat about it.
We could relate.
We understood each other. And we felt instantly connected.
We loved being able to meet Bob and Lauren.
They too lost their first child, Robbie.
Shortly after Cora went to heaven, they sent us Nancy Guthrie’s books.
Lauren has encouraged me so much.
She is so willing to share her story and answer my questions.
She is the one who e-mailed me and told me about the Respite Retreat.
And the best part was they were going to be there too!
Joel and I spent lots of time talking to them.
Their love for the Lord and dependence on Him is so evident.
We are learning so much from them.
We are so thankful for David and Nancy
and their willingness to share their lives.
The Lord is using their story to reach so many, including us.
Joel and I feel blessed to have met and shared our lives
with these eleven couples.
If we were honest, we would do anything to not be a part of this “club”.
But this is our life now and these people really get us.
That was refreshing.
We are so thankful to have some new friends to travel this road with us.
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  • Anonymous - Thank you for continueing to share your journey with us..I continue to think of you, pray for you daily..

    KimReplyCancel

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  • Lauren Kelly - Awwww, so neat and loving that baby bump!!!!! :)ReplyCancel

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  • Marla Taviano - Life is hard, but God is good. Praying for you guys!ReplyCancel

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  • PamperingBeki - What an amazing blessing to have others you can relate with.ReplyCancel

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  • Bri!!! - Wonderful. It’s so amazing to be understood. I went to get an ultra sound on Wednesday at 10 weeks. We were SO EXCITED to be pregnant because with our first it took us 3 years of treatment and this one came so easily. Well, there was no heartbeat and I was devastated. However, there is so much strength in being understood. I had no idea how many of my friends have gone through the horror of an ultrasound gone bad. Or miscarriages of a baby that was so wanted. I find peace in this understanding that I share with these other women. I’m grateful you too are finding that peace. May God bless you. I can’t wait to meet your next little one God is sending to you. GOD BLESS!ReplyCancel

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  • TRICIA @ The Zoo - Hi Jess and Joel.

    What a blessing to have people in your life who not only love and support you, but that can truly relate and understand. Amazing how God sends us the people that we need exactly when we need them.

    With love and prayers for your family,
    XO*TriciaReplyCancel

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  • Karina - I’m so glad you have found some solace in kindred spirits, although I wouldn’t wish so much grief on anyone.

    You look wonderful, btw, that baby bump is so beautiful!ReplyCancel

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  • Erica - what a blessing to have these new couples be a part of your life.

    and you look SO adorable!ReplyCancel

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  • The Sweigart Family - How amazing that must have felt to be in a room where EVERYONE new how you felt. I’m sure there was GREAT comfort in that.ReplyCancel

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  • Nancy - Sounds like an amazing retreat ~ a gift from God.
    God bless you! Your blog is becoming part of my daily blog ritual!ReplyCancel

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  • Claudia - It’s amazing how we can relate to other through the same experiences … no matter how hard I try to get my girls on our bible study group to share, to connect, I know it takes time and I know it takes big moments in life that are similar to relate to one another.

    I love how you phrase the fact that you would do anything not to be a part of this club but this is your life now. That’s call acceptance and is a wonderful step that only God can help you take.

    I admire your strength and your willingness to share your feelings as you go through this.ReplyCancel

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  • Trasie Bressler - God Bless you!ReplyCancel

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  • Dina - Amazing…I’m so glad that God allowed you all to find each other…what a blessing:-)ReplyCancel

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  • merlin - I love to see the smiles, that there can be joy in the sorrow. And I love to see your baby belly.ReplyCancel

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  • meg duerksen - i was crying by the first paragraph! i am SO HAPPY you went to this! what a perfect place…beatuiful…healing…safe. i feel so loved for you seeing that group of new friends.ReplyCancel

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  • dawn - It’s the club you didn’t want to join–the bereaved parent club. I’m in it too. However, it is such a blessing to connect with others in the club. There is an immediate understanding of each other’s hearts.

    This retreat sounds awesome, and an amazing gift. So glad you got to go prior to your new one coming…

    I too love that book. What a neat thing the Guthries are doing.ReplyCancel

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  • Jennifer Rutherford - Thank you Jesus for community!

    Praying for your family…and you do look super cute!

    Blessings,
    JennReplyCancel

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  • Judy - Thank you so much for sharing about your weekend and the book that touched your lives so much. I know it’s such a personal story to share, but I know several people who desperately need to know that they are not alone in this journey of grief. They need to know about these resources. They need a copy of that book. They need other people in their lives who have walked this road…I’m passing this info on to Alex’s mommy and Olivia’s mommy! I’ll bet Alex and Olivia are playing with Cora right now :)ReplyCancel

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  • onlymehere - Thank heavens for groups like these. I’m so glad you’ve found friends who understand. Those of us who have never lost a child can never fully understand how deep your pain is. God bless you on your journey as you continue to touch my heart and others. CindyReplyCancel

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  • All Doll(ed) Up - Jes-
    What an amazing time to be with people who can say, “I know how you feel…” I am so glad you guys were able to do this. Praying for you- hope you are doing good! We will need to set up another lunch date soon!ReplyCancel

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  • mommaof4wife2r - love that the lord continues to use what has hurt us to mend others and still us…wow. you guys rock. we love small group…so glad you guys have a fab one!ReplyCancel

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  • laney - …how is it that i can sit at a computer far away from you…and still feel such a strong connection…i have never lost a child…i have never known pain like yours…i have never seen you…and i probably never will…at least not on this earth…and there is the thread…the thread of someday…someday i wll hug you and i will tell you face to face… i prayed for you…and you will know me for you will have known my prayers…that is what Jesus can do…and oh…i am so glad…ReplyCancel

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  • Heather at All A Flutter - That is an amazing event! Meeting others that have lost a child is so important in this journey. It took almost 2 years after my son passed away before I met another mother that had lost her baby, and finally making that connection made a huge difference in my life. I’m so happy you were able to attend, and able to make friends that understand.ReplyCancel

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  • Sue - Well done to you both for facing up to all of this so bravely! Keep your faith close by, it’s the only thing that gets you through something like this.

    By the way, you are looking so stunning. That bump is so neat and tiny.

    Sue xReplyCancel

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  • respite retreat reunion » The Macs - […] You might remember that a few years ago we had the opportunity to attend David and Nancy Guthrie’s Respite Retreat. It was such an emotional weekend but played a huge role in the healing process for us. You can read a little more about that weekend here and here. […]ReplyCancel

This past weekend Joel and I headed to Nashville, Tennessee for a Respite Retreat. This retreat is hosted by David and Nancy Guthrie for couples who have faced the death of a child. Nancy is the author of The One Year Book of Hope that I told you has been so helpful to us.

We joked on our way there about what we were going to say to people who asked us what we were doing in Tennessee. You know, the well meaning flight attendant who wants to know if you are on vacation or visiting family. What would be their reaction when we told them we weren’t actually in Nashville to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame?? Instead, we were coming for a weekend retreat for grieving parents. It would be just another of the many awkward moments we face these days. Thankfully, no one asked.

We picked up another couple from the airport and drove an hour outside of Nashville to this big, beautiful house. It is called The Hiding Place. Such a fitting name.
You (God) are my hiding place.
Psalm 32:7
There were eleven other couples, including Nancy and her husband, who joined us for this weekend. We each had our own little room in the house.

The majority of the weekend we spent in this living room. Sharing our stories, grieving together, learning how to move forward with the Lord’s strength, and just getting to know each other.

It was a hard weekend. A weekend filled with many tears. There is so much that I am still processing. But, we are SO glad we went. We needed this time to grieve together. We needed this time to lean on and learn from so many others who are walking in our shoes. We needed this time to be reminded that Jesus himself speaks into our sorrows. There are no easy answers, but we can rest in the fact that we are grieving with HOPE.
We came back emotionally exhausted. Not quite ready to face the busy week ahead. Yet, at the same time feeling like we had some new tools to help us keep moving forward. I have so much more that I will share with you soon.
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  • PamperingBeki - Oh Jess, what a blessing to get to go to that retreat!

    To me, it was ironic about what you said about the flight attendant. Back in my own flight attendant days, I was based out of Memphis and flew sooooo many families to and from St. Jude children’s hospital.

    I saw many of them regularly and got to know them a bit. It was always heartbreaking to see the families go home a final time without their kid if the child didn’t make it. But there were the cases too where the child would fly home with the biggest smile because they were cancer free.

    *You* are such a blessing to more people than you’ll ever know.
    In God, there is hope!ReplyCancel

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  • runafteryou - What a beautiful idea for a retreat. As a grieving mother, I always feel kindered in some way to others who’ve shared this great burden. I hope the benefits of this retreat stay near your heart.ReplyCancel

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  • The Mershawn's - I think that’s awesome.
    So glad there are people out there willing to help others along the terrible long road of grief. And so glad that HOPE is still there.
    What a tremendous ministry. I’m so glad you guys were linked with them. Thanks for sharing. Still praying for your sweet family.ReplyCancel

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  • Brittany - Wow, what a weekend! I am so glad that you are looking at God’s grace in your healing process. I am so inspired by your faith and your willingness to work through your pain, while remembering Cora everyday.

    We live near Nashville, I am proud that there is a ministry to reach out to grieving parents. What a blessing.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Prayers,
    BrittanyReplyCancel

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  • Lori Danelle - Wish I had known you were coming to town! We could have met up and I could have shown you around. Glad to hear your enjoyed yourself despite the heaviness of it all.ReplyCancel

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  • Trasie Bressler - God Bless you!ReplyCancel

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  • Heather - what a BEAUTIFUL house. it must have been an amazing experience. you and joel were no doubt a huge inspiration for those other couples.

    xxReplyCancel

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  • Marla Taviano - What an incredible ministry. I love hearing stories of how God’s people are using their heartache to reach out to others.

    Praying for you this week!ReplyCancel

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  • Marie - That is a beautiful thing.ReplyCancel

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  • Rachel - I am thrilled that you were able to have this time with others who are also in the same shoes. Granted, I know that you, Joel and the other parents would much have rathered that instead you gather with their children. However, I am grateful to Our Lord for the ministry that was done this past weekend and for friendships formed and bonds made, and therapeutic times. Continuing in prayer.ReplyCancel

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  • Al's World - I am so glad that you were able to get away and experience this together…praying for healing in your heart and soul!ReplyCancel

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  • Maria - I am so glad you were able to go. I pray for you oftenReplyCancel

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  • Whimsical Creations - What a beautiful place for a retreat.

    hugs!ReplyCancel

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  • Kate Starr - What a good God indeed, giving us respite and strength!! Indeed a blessing to retreat, despite the tears.ReplyCancel

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  • Robin Cotton - God is Good!! Praying !ReplyCancel

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  • Jane In The Jungle - So glad y’all were able to get to the retreat! Beautiful house and so appropriately named.

    Hope you were treated to our Southern hospitality. I’m in Chattanooga, Tn.ReplyCancel

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  • The Perfect Trio - We were in Nashville this weekend too! I wonder if we passed each other….probably not. I surely would have noticed you!

    I pray for you all the time!

    MelissaReplyCancel

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  • Harper Loyer - Thats great that you got to go and experience this with other families who actually know what you are going through on a more personal level. God Bless your family!!!! You are in my thoughts and prayers on a daily basis!!!!ReplyCancel

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  • Stephanie - What a wonderful retreat. I am glad that you were able to connect with other couples who have been through the same thing. Praying for your family!ReplyCancel

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  • Sarah - It looks like a beautiful peaceful place to share your loss, pain and tears with others who have been and are going through what you are.
    Always praying for you.ReplyCancel

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  • Christy Vogt - There is definitely nothing like having people to share and cry with who are walking through the same trials. So glad that God gave you this opportunity.ReplyCancel

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  • Barclay Kathryn - How awesome that there is something like this offered for families that are grieving.ReplyCancel

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  • Melissa Moss - What a great blessing for you and your husband. I understand how hard it must have been to face you grief but how healing it must have been too. Even almost 5 years after the loss of my little girl Emma Noelle I still have not given myself a chance to truly grieve. I would have loved the opportunity to talk to others who have gone what I have gone through. So few understand what it is like to lose a child. Thank you for sharing your story because it does help those of us out here that feel so alone.

    Melissa Moss
    melissamoss79@live.comReplyCancel

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  • Nicole Robinson - I’ve posted a few comments over the last few months. I still feel like a stranger watching someone else’s life, but I am drawn to your story and your witness over and over. God is doing great things through your personal tragedy. God is touching so many through your walk. Thank you for continuing to share. Our God is mighty and perfect. His healing and His timing are so amazing.ReplyCancel

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  • Lauren Kelly - Sounds like it was a very much needed weekend and retreat away!!!!!!ReplyCancel

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  • Jen - sounds wonderful..and what a beautiful place.. perhaps we will look into something like this.. thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - How awesome for you! I read Holding on to Hope by Nancie Gunthrie a few years ago and thought it was awesome! Keep looking upward to God! God Bless!ReplyCancel

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  • Claudia - What a blessing to have this time with other couples … I know the grief is not a blessing in itself (I can only imagine) but all these instances where you can share and learn in God’s love is a blessing after all.ReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - Thank you for continuing to share your life with us out in blog world! I have followed your story all this year and pray for you all. I am very interested in what you gleaned from this retreat on grieving as I am going through a very hard time with a huge loss in my life. So if and when you share on this blog, I know it will be a huge blessing for many.
    Praying for you and your new baby!ReplyCancel

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  • BEK - You are an amazing couple and I am so glad you are willing to share your story!ReplyCancel

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  • merlin - Because of your willingness to share, you are changing lives, helping leave God-impressions on other people. I see grace in your life, God’s grace. I ordered the Hope book after your post and then when I saw this one about the retreat I became impatient for my book to arrive. It makes my spirit soar to see how God’s love is woven from one to another and also to complete strangers in distant parts of the country. I sit back and think how Hope’s, Gabriel’s and Cora Paige’s lives together reached me….it is overwhelming. I can not begin to understand the ways and plans of God.ReplyCancel

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  • JenReece - Glad you enjoyed the retreat. I hope Nashville treated you well (that’s where I live!) God will take care of you!ReplyCancel

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  • Sincerely, Stephnie - I hoped the retreat will give you the “tools” you need to get through this. As always, you are inspiring.

    StephnieReplyCancel

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  • Anonymous - So glad you were able to have a weekend retreat! Isn’t The Hiding Place beautiful? I live in Clarksville just a few miles down the road from where you guys where this weekend. I also wanted to let you know that I received the two black letter burp cloths that I bought from you the other day. They are beautiful! Thanks! Praying for you guys!
    Jennifer W.ReplyCancel

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  • Susan - Oh what a blessing to read you made this retreat.

    I have not lost a child, but because my son is a cancer survivor my life is filled with friends who have lost children.

    I am also the sibling of a child my mom lost.

    I feel in love with Nancy. I’ve read several of her books, and have personally contacted her.

    God has truly used her testimony to help so many people.

    I had a friend who did that weekend a month or so ago. She loved it.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    Praying for you now~

    (so nice to meet you, I’ll be back!)ReplyCancel

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  • Diana - What a blessing to have this retreat available to you and that the two of you could go! Such a lovely house, wow!

    I have never lost a child, but my mama died of cancer back in 1971 when I was 14. And now my beautiful stepmom just learned a week ago she has cancer.

    Many prayers for you that God’s love and grace continues to surround you and hold you both close!ReplyCancel

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  • Sue - Well done to you both for facing up to this so bravely. Totally different, I know, but after losing my husband, I found solace in spending time with other widows. They just get you. They know that they don’t need to say anything (that they can’t say anything) to make you ‘feel better’. They’re in the same boat, just trying to get by from day to day.

    I’m really glad you and Joel had this time together and I’m sure that, while it must’ve been really tough, you’ve gained so much from it too.

    Big hugs, Sue xReplyCancel

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  • respite retreat reunion » The Macs - […] but played a huge role in the healing process for us. You can read a little more about that weekend here and […]ReplyCancel