Defiantly Hopeful

I remember having a dream when I was pregnant with our second baby. In the dream the baby disappeared right out of my arms. It was so unsettling I wrote the dream down in the journal I kept by my bed. I figured it was a way to mark it in time, should I ever need to go back to it. In the days that followed I was nagged a little by the dream. But since everything else was fine, I let it go. Things changed just as I was nearing the end of my first trimester. It was obvious something was very wrong. And a doctor visit confirmed it.

It was incredibly difficult for me to accept help from others during the weeks and months that followed the loss. I’ve always been more comfortable being the one bringing meals and making the phone calls. It felt incredibly wrong to be the one answering the door and picking up a ringing phone. It was hard for me not to respond with a dismissive “I’m fine” when someone asked how I was doing. But I had to. I had to let people into a loss that was so great my words often couldn’t encompass it. And when I couldn’t find words to answer the question of how I was doing, I was blessed to have godly girlfriends who could just sit and pray with me.

Allowing others to “be” the help I desperately wanted to give allowed me to heal. I didn’t feel so alone and overwhelmed in my grief. I still felt grief. I still cried a lot. But the comfort of my friends and my family was a soothing balm over all it. Years have passed and that’s what I remember most. Not the details of that awful doctor visit. Not having to update family that there would be no baby in the spring. But of feeling so incredibly loved and cared for at a time when I needed it the most. That’s what I see so clearly. And it was a gift to be able to receive it.

Whether you are allowed into someone else’s pain or the pain is yours to carry, remember that you are blessed whether you are giving or receiving. Love and be loved. Comfort and be comforted. Because somewhere in that cycle we get to encounter something very special. And we get just a glimpse of the love that God has for each of us.

Jennifer Ryan and her husband Bill live in Waconia, Minnesota with their three children: Maggie, Henry, and Oliver. Jennifer works as a writer for Westwood Community Church and is an active volunteer in ministry and in the schools. Throughout her life as she faced difficult circumstances, including a miscarriage, Jennifer was struck by how healing words were. Whether it was a card in the mail or a text from a friend, those encouragements held power that she kept coming back to. They reminded her of the truth of God’s perfect plan even in imperfect circumstances. They reminded her that she was loved and valued, even when she didn’t feel that way. And they gave her the strength to get up each morning and carry on. She knew she wanted to be a part of passing on that encouragement to others, and after much trial and error, false starts and bad ideas, she decided to make pendants that carried messages of hope and encouragement. She opened up a shop on Etsy in 2015 called UpWords Designs. “I pray for each person, even though I may not know what their circumstance is. God does. And my hope is that He uses the words I’ve written to bring His comfort to someone who needs it,” she explained. You can check out her shop at:

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