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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When Cora went to heaven we were given SO many books.
Lots of books on grief and grieving.
Many of them have been helpful to us now,
but at the time we were so overwhelmed we didn’t even know where to start.
We knew we needed something.
But, reading book after book about grieving just didn’t sound that great.
But when we received this book in the mail, something jumped out at us.
This book has been a lifeline for both of us.
I love this definition of HOPE that Nancy shares in her book:
the expectation of a favorable future under God’s direction.
And Joel and I are actually going to have the opportunity to meet Nancy and her husband. We are so excited to learn more from them. I will tell you more about that soon…
All the Etsy orders are mailed. PHEW!
You girls are awesome!
Thanks for keeping Cora’s in business.
Now we have a bunch of empty hangers, so it is back to sewing.
And thanks to you, business is booming at our local post office!
I couldn’t have done it without her.
If you placed a Cora’s order it should be arriving soon.
If you missed what you were hoping to get, keep checking back.
We are working on more dresses already!
I love this.
I wonder about heaven so much more than I ever have before.
It is hard to even imagine what it will be like.
I know it is something I will never be able to grasp with my finite mind.
Heaven can only be grasped by faith.
But I do know that Cora is going to be waiting there for me.
To me, heaven is now the face of my little girl.
And it is going to be SO much more.
I love these words:
“But in my mind’s eye I can see a place,
Where Your glory fills every empty space”
How awesome that will be!
However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”
1 Corinthians 2:9