Monday, June 29, 2015

In the Event of Miscarriage: A Liturgy

Having served as a hospital chaplain in a high-risk pregnancy unit, I have felt the nudge to share with you a miscarriage liturgy for some time.  Sadly, the statistics bear that 15-20% of all known pregnancies end in miscarriage.  While it is as common as one in every four known pregnancies, there is often little said about it.  Words, however, are very important.  What others say or don't say can make a world of difference to those who have experienced it.  Further, securing a safe place to share is essential.

For those of you who want to be that safe space for a friend or loved one, or for those of you who are hurting from a miscarriage and have wondered how to invite God in, I offer you this miscarriage liturgy.  It appears below in abridged form from the book Healing Liturgies for the Seasons of Life.  It is used with permission from Dr. Abigail Rian Evans.

Dr. Evans' resource is a favorite of mine because it offers various liturgies for inviting God into our trials and milestones.  The liturgies are largely composed of prayer, scripture, and sometimes symbolic action and come from a variety of church traditions.  Dr. Evans' passion for the intersection of faith and medicine is apparent to the reader, and it has also made her a memorable professor of mine.

I have led this liturgy at hospital bedsides.  You do not need to be a minister to led it, however; you just need a desire to bring comfort and approach God.  Feel free to draw from it as needed - simply sharing these scripture references can be powerful.

A LITURGY AFTER MISCARRIAGE OR STILLBIRTH (from the Anglican Church of Canada)

Suitable Readings

Baruch 4:19-23     I have put my hope in the Everlasting.
Jeremiah 31:15-17     Rachel is weeping for her children.
Psalm 42     Where now is your God?
Psalm 91:9-18     He shall give his angels charge over you.
Psalm 121     My help comes from the Lord.

Romans 8:31-39     Nothing will separate us from the love of God.
I John 3:1-2     We are God's children.

Matthew 18:1-5, 10-14     Not one of these little ones should be lost.
Matthew 5:1-10     Blessed are those who mourn.
Mark 10:13-16     Let the little children come to me.
John 10:11-16     I am the good shepherd.


(Adopt with discretion for the circumstances.)

Loving God, we come in shock and sadness.
By grace and power you gave us opportunity
to create new life;
now we feel our human frailty.
Hear our cries of disappointment and anger
because of the loss of this new life.
Be with us as we struggle
to understand the mystery of life and death.
Receive this little one into the arms of your mercy,
to abide in your gracious and eternal love.
May we give ourselves over to your tender care.
In Jesus' name we pray.  Amen.

(The mother and/or father may offer a personal prayer or reflection.  The following can serve as models if helpful.)

O God, you have loved me into being.
Hear my cries for my loss.
I wanted to bring new life into the world.
Now I want to cry forever
and wash your earth with my tears.
Move me from this darkness
and bring me to the light of your love and peace.
In the name of Mary's son.  Amen.


God of all creation, I wanted this child
with all my heart, my soul, and my body.
I feel guilty even though I am not to blame,
I feel unworthy, and alone.
Give me strength to trust in your faithfulness,
make me open to the comfort of family and friends,
and in time free me from the bondage of grief.
Bless me with the desire and power
to live again in joyful expectation.
I ask this in the name of your Son,
my friend and my Savior.  Amen.

I pray this liturgy blesses you or someone you love today.  Feel free to pass it on, but please do so with sensitivity for the subject at hand.  If interested, you can find Dr. Evans' book here.  Also, watch for my upcoming article on how to further support someone who has had a pregnancy loss.  I will share practical knowledge and tips from my training.  Be sure to subscribe via email to my blog so that you don't miss an update.

Monday, June 22, 2015

8 Simple Activities for Summer Family Fun

At first glance, summer brings the basics.  There's sunshine, a break from school schedules, and hopefully an adventure or two squeezed in there.  But when I think about what I really want from summer, I want the chance to breathe, recoup from the rush, and enjoy some quality time with my family.

We all know there's power in goal setting.  Have you set any goals for this summer?  For me, rather than getting too lofty, I'm ready to set some simple goals for simple pleasures.  These goals are courtesy of my upbringing on the Indiana prairie.  While I now live in the New York metro area, I've never forgot them, and I don't want my children to miss out on them either.

Here are 8 simple activities on my bucket list for summer family fun:

1.  A watermelon seed spitting contest in the backyard.  Have your children spit where they'd like to see watermelons grow - they'll get a kick out of that.  Seedless watermelons are not allowed!

2.  Lying on the grass in the summer sun so that you can smell the earth - hot dirt and cut grass give off an aroma that's not to be missed.

3.  Staying up late to watch (and catch) lighting bugs.  I love the giggles from the legs that tickle as they crawl on hands and up fingers.

4.  An evening trip to the ice cream store.  Whether it's Dairy Queen or your favorite custard stand, these stores are a magical place for fond memories...

I'm part of the Today Show Parenting Team!  For ideas 5-8, head over to the Today Show Parenting Blog and VOTE FOR ME! :-)

Sometimes finding enjoyment and fulfillment isn't all that complicated, especially when you're with the ones you love.  Will you join this Indiana girl this summer?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day from our house to yours!  Enjoy your day, and watch for a new post next week!

Friday, June 12, 2015

WINNER Chosen!

Thank you to all who applied for this week's giveaway!  Jamie F. of Indiana is our lucky winner of the Gift and Award Bible and the Believe Storybook: Think, Act, Be Like Jesus! For those of you who might purchase these resources on your own, note that you can specify a pink or blue cover for the Bible - it's a special gift.  May God bless your homes today, and may we all continue to grow in Christ.  We are giving our children an imperishable and live-giving gift when we do!

Monday, June 8, 2015

End of the Year GIVEAWAY!

It is with great pleasure that I announce my best giveaway yet!  From now until Thursday morning, you will have the opportunity to register to win a Bible your early reader shouldn't be without, plus a faith-building resource that will enable you to expertly teach your child!

The Bible is the Gift and Award Bible.  It's in a new version that will particularly appeal to early readers.  The version is called the New International Reader's Version.  It's short sentences and simple words, adapted from the New International Version (NIV), are easy for kids to read and comprehend.  It also has a dedication page that's perfect for a "graduation" gift as your child moves up a grade this year!

Here's a favorite verse in the NIrV so that you can get the feel of it:
"'I know the plans I have for you,' announces the Lord. 'I want you to enjoy success. I do not plan to harm you. I will give you hope for the years to come'" (Jeremiah 29:11).

The second book is the Believe Storybook: Think, Act, Be Like Jesus.  A senior pastor, Randy Frazee, who ministers in partnership with Max Lucado is the author.  This thick, hardcover book is a unique and impressive teaching resource.  Rather than being arranged chronologically, the book is topical. It covers core beliefs, practices, and virtues of the Christian faith.  For each topic, there is an Old Testament, New Testament, and "Jump to Jesus" lesson, which serves as a bridge between the two.

I particularly love the "Jesus Answer" page at the end of each topic, which basically enables us to be good Sunday school teachers to our children!  A key idea and corresponding scripture verse is identified as a takeaway.  Parents will love how accessible this resource is, and children will love the beautiful illustrations!

To register, scroll down to the bottom of my homepage to find the entry form.  If you have trouble accessing it, you can also enter here:  Every entrant will have the opportunity to unlock bonus entries to increase their odds!  Please note that your entry information will remain confidential.  The only thing you will receive from me if you register is an email invitation to join my listserv, which you can accept or decline.

I carefully selected these resources.  Zondervan provided me with free copies in exchange for my honest review.  Don't miss this amazing opportunity to get these two books for free yourself, books that you will proudly keep on your bookshelf for years to come.

God bless and good luck!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Are You Mind Full or Mindful?

I love this question.  I love it because it poses an insightful distinction - and one that's all too relatable.

How easy is it at the end of the year, when everything is wrapping up, to live stressed out, racing around from one activity to another, with our minds always jumping ahead?  While our activities are good, our memories are priceless, and our hearts are in the right places, I still feel the need to slow down and actually drink in what I'm experiencing.  I want the benefit of a clear mind.

Children need this benefit too.  Studies show that children today have fifty percent less free time than children thirty years ago.  They are also getting one hour less of sleep per night. As their schedules flood, they can experience increasing anxiety.

I learned these statistics from Mindfulness Educator Mary Lea Crawley.  I recently attended her discussion of the book The Whole Brain Child by Drs. Siegel and Bryson.  Mary Lea formerly worked at a local church before starting her own practice.  She teaches children a mindfulness technique that is currently endorsed in California school systems and practiced around the world.  While the technique itself is secular, I see some Christian resonances.

Mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment, on purpose, with kindness. Focusing on the present moment uncovers rich rewards:  

  • Breathing and heart-rate slow
  • Brain chemicals balance
  • Ability to focus and concentrate increases
  • Ability to respond rather than react increases
  • Empathy heightens

It's clear that the benefits are not just mental.  Mindfulness can positively impact our physiological state and relationships with others.  It can also enhance our spiritual lives by opening us up to the blessings of the moment and promptings from the Holy Spirit.  

Here are some ways that you can foster mindfulness in yourself or your family:

  • Get active!  Moving the body helps rebalance the different parts of the brain.
  • Focus on the breath.  Take some time to simply concentrate on breathing in and out.  Ask your children, "Where do you feel the breath in your body?"
  • Stop and listen to sounds in your environment.
  • Pause and feel your feet connecting to the earth.
  • Observe your surroundings.  See how many different shades of a particular color you can find around you.
  • Mary Lea also mentioned an activity she uses with children:  She puts glitter in a jar filled with liquid.  She shakes the jar and asks the children to watch the glitter settle.

Each of these activities helps to center the mind and bring awareness to the present moment.  It is a continuous discipline, but there are incentives to keep trying.  First, children typically mirror our mood, so the more peaceful we are, the less anxious they will be.  Second, the more we practice, the better we will get at doing it.  There is brain science behind both of these assertions.  Finally, I am reminded of scripture's prompting to "Be still and know that I am God..." (Psalm 46:10).  I want to let go of the clutter to grasp what really matters - like the divine invitation awaiting each of us.


If you would like to learn more about Mary Lea, you can visit her site at

Readers, stay tuned next week for a giveaway!  You will have the opportunity to win two fantastic new faith-building resources for your children, which would make great end of the year gifts by the way!

TODAY Video Clip