hope for a mom's heart, by merri ellen wright: a review

I'd like to share with you one of the most encouraging resources I've read dealing with "help & healing for those grieving pregnancy loss or early childhood death" (as the subtitle reads). My dear friend, and our church's Women's Ministry Director, shared it with me, after our pastor's wife passed it along to her as a helpful resource. And I want to do my part in spreading the word about this 2011 release from Iron Sharpeneth Iron Publications, A Ministry of Ironwood Camp in Newberry Springs, California.

The book is Hope for a Mom's Heart by Merri Ellen Wright. And it is a refreshing spring, a heart-to-heart with a woman who loves and understands graciously.

Merri Ellen looks forward to the reunion with her Savior and three precious children who got to see Him face to face before she did. She is a pastor's wife who makes her home in Utah with her husband and four other children. 
Merri Ellen, picture courtesy of her daughter via facebook.
Doesn't she just look like a person we'd be friends with?
Beginning with a tender presentation of the gospel, Merri Ellen then broaches the subject of loss, sharing Scripture and personal testimony as she gently shepherds the reader through the stages of grief and healing. I was so thankful that she ventured beyond a mother's grief to the grief of the father and the family--siblings, grandparents--and others. Talking openly with our kids--crying together, praying together, looking forward to heaven together--as they've wanted to and needed to, has given us a family bond that we would not have had otherwise. 

Merri Ellen tastefully offers spiritual truth as well as practical suggestions for "going on," including ideas for making a memorial for your child. I loved this, because she included several of the things we have done, things that have been particularly helpful to us as a family, in her list. 

Their family planted a tree on the church property for each of the three children they lost. After a woman in our church was killed in a car accident along with her child and unborn child, the family made a memorial garden complete with a beautiful waterfall and reflection bench. It's absolutely beautiful. 

I personally wanted something that blooms in February, something fragrant and uplifting for the annual remembrance of our little rosebud, Kali Grace. We call it our "Kali bush," but it's actually a winter bush honeysuckle (or, Lonicera fragrantissima). There is nothing so sweet in February, and I'm thankful both for my gardening friend, Mrs. Shaffer, who had a shoot to share in the spring of 2008. I remember not wanting to cut it back at first but was then reminded of the beauty of pruning and how painful things produce fruit. And even tonight I was out there with the clippers, shaping up our Kali bush, anxiously awaiting the fragrantissima of this memorial planting.

Mother's Day 2008, Alan bought me this beautiful painting, Under His Wings, by our friend Ron DiCianni. For a while it hung in our room but has found its home in the nursery with fresh green walls and blue & white accents. 

It reminds me of His whisper on that fateful day in February: "It's okay, Michelle. I have her." And it is okay. In fact, I can honestly say that I would rather have held her in my womb for sixteen weeks, to know that there is a precious little girl in our family tree, and that she is with her Father in heaven, doing what I long to do: praising Him perfectly. Merri Ellen mentions this precious thought too, in the chapter called "Your Child Now."

And we started last year to make a donation "In Loving Memory of Kali Grace" to Piedmont Women's Center. There was nothing that could've been done to prevent the homegoing of our baby with Trisomy 18, but there is much to be done to prevent the early death of many unborn. You can read more about Kali Grace under the label "rosebud." 

After an encouraging chapter on helping others who are going through the loss of a child, she shares vignettes of others' stories that helped her realize that she was not alone, that others do understand her grief and feelings. Absolutely, we each have a unique story, unique details, but if we think we're the only one who has ever ... we're shutting out a unique bond of other sisters in Christ who we have for mutual encouragement. I know for me, one of the most healing things for me personally was following through with Nancy Leigh DeMoss's suggestion at the end of each lesson in A Thirty Day Walk with God in the Psalms: praying for someone else.

At the end of the book, Merri Ellen offers a plethora of additional helps: collections of hope-filled verses, medical Q&As, symptoms of denial, what not to say, ways to memorialize, prayers to pray, suggestions for husbands in helping their wives. And at the very end of the book, there are pages for you to make it your own, recording your story, verses of hope, letters and prayers, and current thoughts. 

 Thank you, Merri Ellen, for sharing your story, for opening your heart and the Word to us. I feel like we've just had a very good talk and consider you my dear friend. 

Hope for a Mom's Heart a beautifully written book, a fabulous resource for believers who have gone through miscarriage or the loss of a child by other means, a tasteful gift for a mom whose arms are painfully empty perhaps given along with a meal or a special plant or some jewelry. I hope and pray it will find its niche and meet needs in many a woman's heart. 

Will you help me spread the word? One simple way: "Like" this book on facebook, by visiting here.

Grace and peace, dear friends, 

what's missing ...

We've all had a recipe that didn't quite turn out the way we remembered it from the last time. Just this week I was laughing with my mom about this. She and Dad sat down to enjoy Gramma's recipe for Tuna Pasta Salad. It's tangy and the only dish I actually like radishes in. But something didn't taste quite right. Finally they realized, she'd forgotten to add the tuna. Too funny. 

With varying responsibilities--being a wife and mother of young children, keeping our home in some semblance of order; piecing together flexible work responsibilities of writing, tutoring, and substitute teaching; staying engaged with the Women for Missions, Inner City, and Children's Ministries at church; and just building relationships--I've got plenty on my plate right now. But it's seemed recently that something wasn't quite right.

Well, I just started re-reading John Piper's Let the Nations Be Glad, and what that something was hit me on the very first page.

"Missionaries will never call out, 'Let the nations be glad!', who cannot say from the heart, 'I rejoice in the Lord.... I will be glad and exult in thee, I will sing praise to thy name, O Most High' (Psalm 104:34; 9:2)."

In the midst of all the details and duties and devotion, I'm afraid I've left off being sincerely glad. 

Piper's next sentence is: "Missions begins and ends in worship." And by his third page of text, he's identified at least one plausible reason for lacking joyful worship: "It is possible to be distracted from God in trying to serve God. Martha-like, we neglect the one thing needful, and soon begin to present God as busy and fretful."

That one needful thing, the "better part," is sitting at the feet of Jesus.

And I think, how have I been presenting God to those I'm serving? To my own children? To those in our 2nd grade Sunday School class? To those in my discussion group in Inner City? To the students I teach? To my own easily-deceived heart? "Busy and fretful"? Or kindly sovereign and worthy of worship? Honestly, I'm convicted.

Gladness in Christianity is much deeper than a Pollyanna put-on. It is both an intentional and supernatural attitude. Joy is Spirit-fruit; it grows from a soul planted in God. "In His presence, there is fullness of joy."

And so I pray, 

Lord, make me a joyful Christian. I know in my head You deserve my joyful worship, help me desire to give you glad praise in my heart. Stir me to exalt in You. I want to be exuberant! Oh, to reflect an accurate image of Who You are to those around me! "I will be glad in You" only as I spend time in sweet fellowship with You. Renew my spirit, refresh my joy, strengthen our bond. For Your glory, our mutual gladness, and the advancement of Your pleasure-filled kingdom, 


I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

Have you noticed a lack of joy in your life recently? If so, is that lack reflective of a lack of fellowship with God in His Word and prayer?

What is your favorite refresher? A specific psalm or hymn? A prayer?

Lord, teach us to pray...

Ron DiCianni's Lord, Teach Us to Pray hangs at the very heart of my house. You'll see it as soon as you walk in my front door, in that hallway connecting nearly all the rooms in our little mill house, a position which is almost actually the center point of our home. 

Lord, Teach Us to Pray

It's a reminder to me of my place as "a fruitful vine in the very heart of [our] home" and my calling to be a godly mother to my little "olive shoots," two of whom have been grafted in, one of whom is fourteen months old and absolutely wild, at least if the 150 baggies he pulled out of their box today and threw all over the kitchen floor is any evidence. He's also very sweet and innocent in his pleasures too, though.

My post today is short and sweet: Lord, teach us to pray, and help us teach them to pray. 


Alan recently challenged our two older boys to pray for 5 minutes a day. They didn't think they could do it, so he lowered his challenge to 2 minutes, not wanting to discourage them but wanting to whet their appetites for the relationship of prayer. Even at 2 minutes, Jordan was still not sure how in the world...; in fact, he was convinced he couldn't do it. 

So I asked him to bring his composition notebook (which he repeatedly and adorably calls his compassion notebook and, after attempting to correct him once, I decided I like what he calls it). We opened to the last page so we could always find it quickly. And I wrote out a long list of family names, a few pastors and two missionaries.

"Mom, I can pray through that in like 30 seconds." Still not convinced.

So I showed him that simple PRAY acrostic:

Praise --God for Who He is and what He does
Repent -- of any sin, ask God to forgive you
Ask -- this is where you'd pray through your list of people, the requests we wrote down and any others you want to add
Yield --and then you submit to God and tell him you want to obey Him no matter what today....

"Okay. Start the timer." 

So I did. And left him alone...

"I'm done, Mom! Stop the timer."

And guess what!? We looked at the timer, and it said, 


He got the sweetest, biggest grin all over his face and gave me an unsolicited hug. "Thank you, Mommy!"

And my heart is huge. Thank You, God. That made my day! 

Lord, teach me to pray, and teach me to teach my children to pray. May they also teach me to pray, and may we all pray more and more.


Do you have a particular method of prayer that helps you stay focused? Please comment below! 

Have your kids encouraged your heart recently? I'd love to hear about this too!