Author Archives: Elizabeth Laing Thompson

Elizabeth works from home as a writer, editor, diaper changer, baby snuggler, laundry slayer, not-so-gourmet chef, kid chauffeur, floor mopper, dog groomer, and tantrum tamer. She is always tired, but it's mostly the good kind.

Writing Can Help You Through the Pain of Pregnancy Loss


Christian help for miscarriage and infertility

Image courtesy of congerdesign on Pixabay. 

I have a forever place in my heart for other women who have shared in the suffering of infertility and pregnancy or infant loss. Today I am honored to share a post from my friend Sarah Philpott, author of Loved Baby: 31 Devotions Helping You Grieve and Cherish Your Child After Pregnancy LossWhen Sarah suffered two miscarriages, she wrote and prayed her way through the pain, and as God brought healing to her heart, she turned her loss into a ministry to help other women who have loved and lost. How I wish I’d had Sarah’s book to comfort and guide me when I lost my little one six years ago. I couldn’t agree more with her encouragement to take the time to write through pain—in the days after I lost my little one, I wrote a poem, “Still,” that somehow brings me comfort even now. I know Sarah’s post will be an encouragement and comfort to all who have suffered miscarriage and infant loss—and indeed to anyone who is grieving any loss. Life is filled with griefs of all kinds, and writing and praying through our pain is a powerful way to heal. Sarah has generously offered to give a signed copy of her book to one blessed reader—please join us on Instagram this week to enter the giveaway!


Mourning is an expression of sorrow. And sometimes our sorrows are so sacred that we don’t necessarily want to speak our inner thoughts.

And our sorrows stay put. Simmering in our minds.

Simmering can be good. A steaming pot of soup perched atop the stove. Chopped carrots circling the diced potatoes. Basil releasing its aromatic magic.

But simmering can also be bad. Especially if words of negativity or sadness bubble within our souls. Brewing. Fermenting.

Do you ever let thoughts brew in your mind for too long? Thoughts of shame or anger. Thoughts of fear and disappointment.  Thoughts of sadness and longing.

Dear Soul, can I encourage you to do something? To help release your pain.

Write through the wreckage. Admit your pain. Mourning is a must.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4).

Why write about grief?

Writing forces us to acknowledge truth. Even if that truth is painful. After my two miscarriages I started writing my story. Putting into words “My baby died in my womb” was no easy task, yet it helped release me from the bondage of minimizing my pain. Death is worthy of grief. And grief must be mourned.

Writing also provides us a place to process our internal dialogue. To make sense of the madness. To grieve. Many people, myself included, report that writing helps us to finally know how we feel.

If you keep a closed pot simmering on the stove it eventually boils over. The same is true for our thoughts. If we repress our internal dialogue long enough we eventually erupt.

Can I tell you something? Writing my stories of pregnancy loss was emotionally taxing. It forced me to revisit painful memories that I would have rather numbed. But writing my story—and owning my emotions—helped me move forward. I’m not saying that I got over my pain, but I am saying that it helped me move to a place where eventually sadness and joy coexist.

It gave me comfort to relocate my thoughts from my head to the paper.

It’s not just my miscarriages that I’ve written about, but tragic deaths of loved ones as well. The paper was a safe place I could be vulnerable.  To speak the unspeakable.

This mere act of expressive writing is healthy for our souls. The American Psychological Association has published research chronicling the healing power of writing. In fact, expressive writing has been correlated with strengthening the immune system and mind.

So I am going to challenge you. To help you mourn. To help strengthen your mind.


Let’s keep in touch! Sign up for my newsletter and I’ll send you 7 family devotions and a free ebook, How to Find God—and Joy—When Life Is Hard.


I invite you to write through the wreckage.  

Unpack your mind and put the words down on paper. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It’s not a pretty story, is it?

So be raw. Be honest.

But your story also includes glimmers of humanity. Remember the goodness that other people have displayed. The sorrow they showed. The hugs they gave. The fact that you cradled a loved baby within your womb.

Write about the hope you have for a new day. The day when you will greet your baby in heaven.

Keep your words private or make them as public as you desire. Share them with a confidant or tuck the papers into a secret place.

Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. This is just your truth.

I warn you…you will write about things that are tough to admit. Anger. Jealousy. Bitterness. Fear. But you must acknowledge those emotions so that they don’t spew forth in an avalanche of rage or depression.

It might take you a few hours, a week, or even a year to finish writing your story. You might not ever even finish. Your paper will be tear-soaked. Expect this challenge to be painful, but also expect it to help ease your mind.

If you want to discuss or share what you’ve written with other women, I urge you to join the private, online support group  Loved Baby: Christian Miscarriage & Pregnancy Loss Support for Women.

In this sisterhood, you can share with women who’ve walked and are walking the very same journey you have been forced to trod. It’s helpful to connect with women in a safe community and to read the stories of others.

I also invite you to read Loved Baby: 31 Devotions Helping You Grieve and Cherish Your Child After Pregnancy Loss. I wrote this book to accompany you on this journey. It’s full of real talk and compassion.

How can you write about your story? 

Use these prompts to get your mind focused. You don’t have to write it all at one time. Just write a bit if that is all you can accomplish. Perhaps you are reading this and have faced a type of grief other than pregnancy loss. Write through that trauma.  You won’t find the answer of why, but you will find out more about yourself and how you can find strength.

Prompts:

  • The day I found out I was pregnant I was so (happy, scared, surprised, angry) ______________.
  • I told _____________________.
  • The day my womb baby perished I felt so _________________.  I was ___________________.
  • Physically I felt ____________________.
  • Emotionally I felt ___________________.
  • I never expected pregnancy loss to be so __________________________.
  • My greatest internal struggle has been_______________________.
  • ____________________(person, activity, a book, a scripture) has helped me throughout this time of grief.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like to read:

When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your MindChristian help for miscarriage and pregnancy loss

When They Can’t Find a Heartbeat

When All You Want for Christmas Is a Baby

The One She Needed to Write


Sarah Lewis Philpott, Ph.D, author of Loved Baby: 31 Devotions Helping You Grieve and Cherish Your Child After Pregnancy Loss, lives in the south on a sprawling cattle farm where she raises her three mischievous children and is farm wife to her high-school sweetheart. She is an award-winning writer and TODAY SHOW parenting team blogger. You can find her books on Amazon and in bookstores everywhere. Sarah is founder of the Loved Baby support group and #HonorAllMoms Mother’s Day movement. These days Sarah happily chooses to be a stay-at-home mom and spends her days cleaning up peanut butter and jelly off the counter, dreaming of traveling the world, and chasing her children around the farm. She doesn’t believe in sharing desserts. Life is too short to share chocolate! Sarah is a lover of coffee (black), rocking chairs, the outdoors, and Hemingway.

Connect with Sarah on Insta @SarahLPhilpott or FB @SarahPhilpott

sarah philpott headshot


When you can’t fix it for your kids


how to help preteens with depression

how to teach children to pray

You know those days when you send a sad kid off to school? Maybe it’s friend problems, or loneliness, or just the growing pains of life—but whatever the reason, they leave the house and it’s not better? Welcome to my morning. Everything in me wanted to pull her into my lap (though she doesn’t really fit anymore), tell her to stay home, then wrap her in spiritual bubble wrap so no one and nothing can ever hurt her. I wanted to fix it, to put on my Mommy Cape and swoop in and straighten out her whole world.

But of course I can’t.

So we talked for a while—I shared my stories of angst and loneliness and how God used those times to teach me what real friends are (and aren’t), and to help me find comfort and friendship in Him. To show me that He is the only One who is always reliable, never petty, never in a bad mood—but honestly, I don’t know if it helped much. In the end I did what my wise mother always did with me when I was crying and she couldn’t fix it: We prayed.


Let’s keep in touch! Sign up for my newsletter and I’ll send you 7 family devotions and a free ebook, How to Find God—and Joy—When Life Is Hard.


We sat on the couch and cried to God and begged Him to pay attention to her problems and give her comfort and wisdom and relief. We prayed as specifically as we could about all of her worries. And you know what? That’s the best I know to do for my beloved kids. That’s the greatest gift any of us can give our children, the gift that will outlive all our advice and intervention: Teaching them that God is real, a loving Father who is truly concerned about their everyday life. Actively engaged in helping them face their concerns. We can show them that when we bring problems—even preteen-drama-in-the-lunchroom problems—to Him, He cares. He listens. He draws near. So to all my fellow heavy-hearted parents out there, wringing hands over the growing pains we cannot fix, wondering what to say and how to help, let’s do this one thing for our kids: Let’s teach them to pray to the God who cares. The God who goes to school with them. The God who sits beside them in the lunchroom. The God who will walk with them every day for the rest of their lives. The Father who will be with them, comforting and guiding, even when we are long gone.

“When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son….
It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
with ties of love.
To them I was like one who lifts
a little child to the cheek,
and I bent down to feed them. (Hosea 11:1,3–5).


If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

When It’s Okay to Tell God What You Want

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My books:

When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind

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**Don’t forget to sign up to receive 7 free family devotions and a free ebook! (Click here.)** 

 


When You Wish You Had More to Give


Bible study about giving talents to God

Image courtesy of skalekar1992 and Pixabay

Bible study about giving talents to God

A young boy elbows his way to the front of the crowd and tugs on a man’s sleeve. Andrew looks down to see the boy holding out an open sack. Inside Andrew sees five small loaves of bread nestled beside two cooked fish. “I heard the rabbi ask for food,” the boy says with a shy shrug. “My mother packed this for me, and—she said I should share with someone who doesn’t have anything.”

Eyebrows raised, Andrew places a hand on the boy’s shoulder and walks him over to Jesus. Jesus turns and twinkles a smile down at the child; Andrew flashes Jesus a sheepish grin. “So…this boy has offered to share his lunch, but” —he casts a glance over his shoulder at the thousands of people milling around behind him, waiting to hear the rabbi’s next words— “how far will they go among so many?”

Jesus tousles the boy’s dark hair and gives him a smile and a wink. “Thank you, son. This is just what I need.” The boy looks down at his sandals, blushing with pride. Rubbing His palms together, Jesus turns to Andrew with an excited—almost  mischievous—glint in his eye. Andrew has seen this look before; a tingle of anticipation floods his veins. With barely contained glee, Jesus says, “Have the people sit down.”

He rolls up His sleeves.


Let’s keep in touch! Sign up for my newsletter and I’ll send you 7 family devotions and a free ebook, How to Find God—and Joy—When Life Is Hard


We all know the rest of the famous account in John 6—how Jesus goes on to turn a little boy’s lunch into a feast for thousands. He makes so much food that the disciples collect twelve basketfuls of leftovers!

We often look at our gifts—our talents, our possessions, our skills, our wisdom—and think, “They aren’t worth much. How far can they really go?” Let us never underestimate what God can do with our “small” offerings. We don’t have to give Him the biggest thing, the best thing, the shiniest thing—we just have to give Him whatever we have to offer. The smallest gift is still a treasure in His eyes. Our gifts may be small, but our God is big. And His powerful hands can take our small gifts and multiply them. Our mighty God can turn a little into a lot—more than we could ever imagine. What small gift can you offer to Jesus today?

Family devotion or small-group discussion application:

You could easily turn this into a family devotion or small-group discussion by reading this story alongside John 6:1–14 and Luke 21:1–3. Then ask simple application questions like:

  • Do we have to be rich (or grown-up or successful or…) to give to God? Does God care how big our gifts are?
  • Read 2 Corinthians 9:7. What does God care about in our giving? What does it mean to be a cheerful giver? What are some ways you can give more cheerfully and generously…at home? At school? At church? At work? In your friendships?
  • What are you good at? (Don’t just think about skills—think about character traits like encouraging or serving, too. See Romans 12:1–8 for a list of gifts.) How could you use those talents or traits to serve other people and honor God?
  • What talent or gift would you offer to God if you weren’t insecure or afraid?

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

My books, When God Says, “Go” and When God Says, “Wait.” Every chapter begins with an extended Bible story like the one you read in this post!

When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind

how to overcome insecurity

When Your Life Feels Wasted

These Days of Small Things 

Starfish Wisdom

8 Scriptures to Read When You’re Anxious

Too Tall Too Soon

**Don’t forget to sign up to receive 7 free family devotions and a free ebook! (Click here.)** 


Too Tall Too Soon


A poem for preteen girls…and the mamas who love them

Too tall too soon,

a wonder-eyed kid caught in a growing-fast body.
“So wise and mature,” the watching world exclaims—
and sometimes it’s true—
but I know how you sleep snuggling armfuls of stuffed animals
and half-believe in Big Foot and magic.

Or at least you wish you could believe.

Too tall too soon,

and even I forget how your old soul is still so young—
one minute your brilliant insights could end world hunger,
the next you are so hungry your whole world is ending.
Our days start with weep-giggling and end with giggle-weeping,
till you give my heart whiplash,
and neither of us knows if we want to hug it out
or strangle each other,

so we try a little of both.

Too tall too soon,

and others your age are already all-knowing eye-roll masters:
too cool to smile; too cynical to pretend, let alone believe—
but you know, and I know,
that rainbows are squeal-worthy,
and any day now our Hogwarts letters are coming,
and birthday cake tastes better shaped like a unicorn.

(But we have to know it in secret.)

Too tall too soon,

but my girl, you will never be too tall
to fit in these arms,
to rest your almost-taller-than-me head on these shoulders—
and your problems will never be too big,
and you will never be too big,
because no matter how you grow,

you will always stay my little girl.

a poem for preteen girls and their mothers


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Freeze-Frame

Let’s keep in touch: I’ll send you a free ebook and 7 family devotions! 


When It’s Okay to Tell God What You Want


When it's okay to tell God what you want

Photo by Jeremy Yap on Unsplash

*Read to the end for a chance to win a free audiobook!* 

Confession: I struggle with the word surrender. At least I struggle with the way some people use it. The way many Christians talk, it seems like surrender means we are supposed to achieve a Zen-like place where we no longer want…and no longer feel. We should be completely, perfectly happy exactly as we are. No wants. No needs. No regrets. No desires for the future.

But honestly? I don’t see that definition—or that example—in the Bible. When I read the Psalms, I read heartfelt pleas from unhappy people begging God to change their circumstances. Wondering where He is in the wait. Thanking Him for what He has already given, yes; maintaining deep respect for His sovereignty, always (or maybe I should say usually!)—but not giving up on what they’re praying for. Not letting it go until God gives the final “No.”

how to pray through grief

I don’t see David, living on the run from the murderous King Saul, praying, “Never mind, God. I know You told Samuel to anoint me as Israel’s next king, but don’t worry about it…I’m good. I’ll just live in caves as an outlaw forever. I surrender to being trapped in this situation.”

I see David saying,

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
(Psalm 13:1–2)

We don’t see the man whose son was tormented by demons saying to Jesus, “Lord, I’m content for my son to continue throwing himself into fire and water. I’m surrendered to his illness.” No, we see him kneeling desperate before Jesus and pleading, “Lord, have mercy on my son” (Matthew 17:14–20).

Jesus urges his followers to be persistent in prayer when He says, “Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7 HCSB). Jesus even tells the story of the feisty widow who basically annoys her local judge until he gives in and gives her what she needs! Jesus concludes the story by saying,

“And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.” (Luke 18:7–8) 

What can we take from this?

It’s okay to ask.

To want.

To need.

To feel.

It’s okay—and hang with me, because we’re going to talk more about this—to be unhappy.


Let’s keep in touch! Sign up for my newsletter and I’ll send you a free ebook, How to Find God—and Joy—When Life Is Hard


Our goal is not to shut off our feelings and hopes so we can robotically surrender to whatever happens…our goal is surrendered faith. And what is surrendered faith? Surrendered faith is about learning to hold onto conflicting emotions at the same time: hope in one hand, submission in the other. Hope that God can change our situation…but submission if He doesn’t change it now (or ever).

What do I mean when I say “submission”? I mean that even though we’re sad, we still thank God for our other blessings, and we do not resent Him for saying, “No for now”—or even “No forever.” We submit to God’s almighty, mysterious timing and ways, acknowledging that He knows things we do not (Isaiah 55:8–11)—even as we continue to plead our case. We fight to be content in the sense that we are okay—we choose to get up every day and live a Christ-focused, selfless life—even as we still pray for and long for The Thing we desire. We don’t shut off our feelings and hopes and mindlessly surrender to whatever happens…we seek surrendered faith.

Hope in one hand, submission in the other: it’s a picture we see many times in the Bible. And what does that picture look like? What does it feel like?

It looks like people tearing their robes and mourning and grieving for things that are lost…but then getting back up again. Learning to live a different life than the one they had planned. Choosing to still live and love and serve God in spite of heartache and loss. (See 2 Samuel 12:12–25. It’s a complicated story, but in it we see both persistence in prayer and surrender to God’s sovereignty…and, eventually, the grace of a second chance.)

It looks like Paul clinging to contentment and gratitude even through persecution, financial hardship, and loneliness: “ I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12–13 HCSB).

It looks like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego standing boldly before King Nebuchadnezzar, knowing they could be thrown into a furnace if they refused to bow down to an idol, but saying, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17­–18, emphasis mine).

It looks like Jesus in the Garden, asking God to take away the sacrifice and pain to come…but wrestling in prayer until He could say, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done” (Matthew 26:42).

Surrendered faith means still praying, still praising, from the depths.

It means still honoring God’s wisdom and ways (and timeline) even when they don’t match up to ours. Still obeying Him even when we don’t like the way our life is going.

It means being grateful for what we do have now, even as we pray for what we don’t have yet.

It doesn’t mean pretending to have a full heart when our heart has a hole.

It doesn’t mean flogging ourselves with unnecessary guilt by saying, “I must be sinful—and God must be angry with me—because I still feel sad about a loss or an unfulfilled prayer request.”

More specifically, it doesn’t mean saying, “I shouldn’t still want to be married after all these years being single. I should banish that desire completely and be completely content with God.” (Should we all, single and married alike, be content with God as our greatest love? Of course. But I suggest we can feel both things at the same time: we can be content with God as our Husband even as we still desire a godly husband on earth!)

It doesn’t mean saying, “I shouldn’t still want a child after all these years trying for a baby.”

It doesn’t mean saying, “I shouldn’t still want my wandering child to turn back to God. I should let them go.”

Maybe surrendered faith means we can say, “I may never stop wanting…to get married…to be a mother…to see my child come back to the Lord… but even if God never grants those desires, I will still love Him, serve Him, and trust Him, and I will still live a life filled with love and purpose.”

Maybe faith is taking our prayers from,

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart? (Psalm 13:1–2)

to

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me. (Psalm 13:5–6)

When David starts praising God, his problems haven’t gone away yet. (Notice these verses come from the same psalm!) David is likely still hiding in caves, fleeing his enemies, waiting for God’s promise to come true, but his faith is intact. Even as he waits and questions and prays, he finds gratitude and praise. He knows he is safe in God’s hands. He thanks God from the cave. He trusts God in the wait.

Now that’s a definition of surrender we can all fight to embrace. That’s surrendered faith.


If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

When God Says Wait: Navigating Life's Detours and Delays Without Losing Your Faith, Your Friends, or Your Mind

how to overcome insecurity

 

When Your Life Feels Wasted

8 Scriptures to Read When You’re Anxious

When Life Stinks

Wisdom Believes “Even If”

When Mugs Break: Lessons in Fear

On Pinkeye, Lice, and Love

Don’t forget to claim your free ebook! 


To thank you for reading, I’m giving away two audiobooks! Choose between When God Says, “Wait” and When God Says, “Go!”

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