CourtnetyGraveStone_photo2The last three weeks have been difficult for me. I didn’t see it coming – this old familiar pang of grief and raw emotion that seems to be consuming the silent moments when everyone else is sleeping.

I didn’t know that after this many years, and so many miracles, the pain would still be so evident. At first, I thought it was the book or maybe even the speaking engagements. And then I realized that though those may be contributors, they are not the cause.

I’ve just about come to the end.

This July 2nd marks more than a release date for my book, Nothing to Hold but Hope. It would have been my daughter Courtney’s 18th birthday. I’ve been forced to deal with the feeling of missing her every year, but this time it’s different.

I’ve just about come to the end.

I’m the mother of a stillborn daughter. I kept her warm in my arms for four hours after her birth. I memorized the structure of her face as I ran my hand over it. I touched her hair, kissed her cheek, and then said goodbye. When the nurses carried her away from my hospital room that day, they took most of my heart with her. It will never be returned.

Since then, I’ve been envisioning her life. I’ve thought about her birthday parties, ballet classes, and first day of school. I’ve gone over the details of how we might have celebrated her sweet 16, and wondered how her father would have handled her dating. Or not.

Because we are involved in youth ministry, and have friends with children of similar ages, I know where she would have attended school and even the names of those she probably would have called her friends.

This year would have been her senior prom. The hustle and bustle of graduation along with the party to follow should be consuming my time right now. But it isn’t.

I’ve come to the end.

You see, I can no longer envision her school friends, because school would have been over. I can no longer think about her future plans because she may, or may not, have chosen college. I don’t know when or if she would have decided on marriage. I have no guess of when a baby of her own might have been in her future. I can no longer count the milestones because nothing else in her future would have been as certain, or expected, as the first 18 years.

There is part of me which feels as if I have lost her all over again.

I’ve come to the end.

As the tears pour out on my pillow at night, I feel a strange sense of calm. Though I might be dealing with unexpected grief and sadness because of saying goodbye to comparisons dealing with nothing more than “what if’s” and “what could have been’s,” I’m washed in the truth of my hope.

The apostle Paul tells us that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8)  My beautiful daughter has been absent from her earthly body for nearly 18 years, and that means she is present with Him. My Lord. My Jesus. My Savior.

And, someday, I will be absent from my body and present with Him. I will then make up for lost time with a daughter who never knew the imperfections of her mother. What she will know is that her mother pressed on for the case of Christ knowing that He held a little girl named Courtney in the palm of His hand, and that sweet girl would be her added reward when she finally reached her eternal home.

I’ve come to the end of measuring her earthly life, but I’ve not come to the end of using what I’ve learned to fuel my passion in ministry. I’ve learned that we can hold tight to hope when we having nothing else, and that Jesus is the certainty we all need to survive.

If you are hurting over unexpected pain or grief of any kind, please know that you are not alone.

Grab on tight to hope today and refuse to let go. It will nourish your weary soul.




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Nothing to Hold but Hope will be available July 2nd. More details to follow…



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