A Release from Remembering {And a Christmas Giveaway!}

November arrives and as the holidays come within reach, I feel a near physical ache. Holidays have a built in nostalgiahave you ever noticed that? Reflection is inherent in the joy of a holiday celebration. We look back on the year and remember its highs and lows; we take pictures to capture our family and friends as they are right now, so we can remember in years to come.

We reflect and remember, and for grievers there is an inescapable wondering that happens at the holidays. We remember what we have lost. What would she have wanted for Christmas this year? How big would I have been with the baby by now? These are questions that linger in my heart as I wander the Christmas decoration aisles of Hobby Lobby, and peruse Pinterest for ideas for family photography. I am seven holiday seasons in to remembering Gwendolyn, but this will be our first without our surprise baby.

Feelings mellow and deepen with time, and the vice-like fear that held me in my first Christmas without Gwendolyn has done the same. I feared forgetting. I feared the opinions of others. I feared awkwardness. I feared inauthenticity—that even the mundane details of holiday decorating wouldn’t tell the whole story of our family. Do I hang up a stocking for her? Do we memorialize in some unique way? How can she, part of my very heart, be acknowledged even in this?  I feared feeling—feeling the pain of her absence, making others uncomfortable with the blank spaces I longed for her to occupy.

Where do we turn when our hearts condemn us, making us prisoners of fear or anxiety or depression? Here is a beautiful verse that directs us: By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything” (1 John 1:20).

We need reassurance. We need to absorb and breathe in and live out God’s truth: God is greater than our hearts. And He knows everything. And this truth should inform every facet of my being. What an incredible comfort! God knows everything. He knows that I miss my babies fiercely, and He knows that I want to acknowedge them this holiday. God knows all of my fears. He also knows my babies, more fully than I do.

The more I know about the Lord and the more that I allow that knowledge to inform my thoughts and emotions, the greater the comfort (and joy, and peace, and hope) I have. As I have yielded even the holiday nostalgia and fears to Him, He has transformed it over the years. A verse from Isaiah has shaped how I approach the holidays and birthdays as each one brings me a bit closer to heaven:

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.”
Isaiah 49:14-15

My great fear of forgetting Gwendolyn—the anxiety of not having a member of our family represented during the holidays—has mellowed as this verse saturates my heart and mind. God is speaking about His beloved Israel, and He asks a rhetorical question: “Can a woman forget her child?” The answer is obvious. But even if! Even if the impossible should happen and something else steal a mother’s devotion, God’s love is higher and greater and more steadfast. We are engraved on the palm of His hand. There very well may come a day when age or dementia or illness steal my memories and awareness of all my beloved ones. But they are never forgotten before God.

This has given me great freedom to celebrate the reality of Gwendolyn and this little baby this Christmas—or not. Their value doesn’t depend on me remembering them. I’m free from the tyranny of fear, which enables me to honor them and recognize them as part of our family with great joy. We hang a stocking for Gwendolyn, and I write a letter to her each year. Blair and I are still processing how we want to honor our surprise baby in a way that is meaningful to us.

My prayer for you this holiday season is that God’s great love for you, realized in Christ Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, would bring you great peace. I pray that as you reflect and remember, that you will see the threads of God’s grace weaving in and out of your circumstances. I pray that you will have a deeply settled peace in how you honor your little ones that have gone ahead of you this holiday season. Merry Christmas, beloved ones.

In celebration that God does for us what we cannot do, enter the giveaway below! He has made us Hope Moms. Generous shops have donated to a Christmas, hope-themed giveaway collection this year. Two winners will be randomly selected, and the two items we have to give away today are: a “Hope Mom” bracelet and a hope anchor necklace (see items below). {And stay tuned for another giveaway on the blog soon!}

Entry details:

To enter the giveaway, simply comment on this blog post.

Only comments on the blog post (not on social media accounts) will be counted as giveaway entries. The winner will be announced tomorrow morning, at which time the giveaway will be closed. This giveaway ships to the continental US.

**UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed. Elizabeth Warren has won the “Hope Mom” bracelet, and Megan Hutchinson has won the silver Hope anchor necklace. Please watch for an email, Elizabeth and Megan. And to every mom who commented here, you have been prayed for by name. Grace and peace!  

“Hope Mom” bracelet

Hope anchor necklace (silver)

Christmas giveaway donations are from these shops. Thank you!

Dainty • Personalized • Handmade • P r e t t y. L i t t l e. T h i n g s. • Handcrafted in Chicago | Morse Code Bracelets, Rose Gold, Gold Initial

Personalized Necklaces and Custom Engraving

- Erin

Hope Mom to Gwendolyn and Baby Cush

Erin Cushman is the founder of Hope Mommies. She is married to Blair and has four children: Gwendolyn, who has been with Jesus since October 20, 2010, Malacai, who is three, Gemma, born in June 2015, and Baby Cush. She loves photography, gardening, cooking, reading, playing with her children, and especially loves when all those things combine.

Are you a writer who would like to join the blog team? Learn more and apply here.

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41 Replies to "A Release from Remembering {And a Christmas Giveaway!}"

  • Amanda
    December 4, 2017 (7:47 am)

    Thank you for this post. It resonates with me.

    • Bel Tucker
      December 8, 2017 (7:55 am)

      Dear Erin, thank you for letting us in- to a very private part of your heart. And very sacred part of it- bless you In Jesus’ name -with joy and love for those he has given and taken Away. And for all those God has allowed you to bring Hope to in His name. You are doing a very good work with your blog. Bringing hope to all Of us ! We lost a baby between Jonathan and Sam. Love you to pieces Erin Cushman. I’m crazy for the Cushmans.

  • Kristen
    December 4, 2017 (7:48 am)

    What a beautiful post and beautiful jewelry! My son Mark was stillborn in December 3 years ago, and it has always been a struggle deciding how to remember him for the holidays. I feel like I’m getting it figured out this year finally. Thank you for the reminder that whether or not he has a stocking or a new ornament doesn’t change how much he is loved and remembered.

  • Kathy Palmer
    December 4, 2017 (7:55 am)

    I hope I win that beautiful bracelet.

  • Erin B.
    December 4, 2017 (8:12 am)

    This is something I’m struggling with this Christmas. We honored our Johnny last Christmas with ornaments for the grandparents but just having had a miscarriage. I struggle with honoring him/her. Thank you for this comforting post!

  • Crystal
    December 4, 2017 (8:18 am)

    Thank you for sharing this. I have been struggling with these feelings this Christmas as the loss is still so raw from September. Blessings for a wonderful Christmas.

  • Janna
    December 4, 2017 (8:26 am)

    Thank you for these words. I’ve been struggling on how to remember my Joshua with this being the first Christmas without him.

  • Liz Sutherland
    December 4, 2017 (8:37 am)

    This was a beautiful reminder that our babies have such value apart from us, they have immeasurable and imperishable value in our God. In the last 5 months I’ve lost 2 babies and there is such a weight that comes with that, especially during the holidays. I’m going to remember the scriptures referenced often this month!

  • Meg
    December 4, 2017 (8:43 am)

    There is such freedom offered by Jesus. I am so thankful that that freedom comes also in even releasing our remembrance as it is such a fear of mine as well. Thank you for sharing this!!

  • Elizabeth Warren
    December 4, 2017 (9:22 am)

    I was unprepared how much I would struggle during the holidays. Thank you for your honest words and encouragement. Also those gifts are beautiful!

  • Gloria Lara
    December 4, 2017 (9:34 am)

    This Christmas, I should still be pregnant awaiting his arrival but here I am without him. I recall being afraid to forget him, afraid of feeling the feelings. I always pray that God will give me his peace that surpasses all understanding as the grief continues to unravel. He is missed dearly. Sweet boy💙

  • LaRinda Arneson
    December 4, 2017 (9:58 am)

    So amazingly perfect. Spoke right to my heart, as this is our first Christmas without Aria. Thank you for your words.

  • Krisann Watson
    December 4, 2017 (10:02 am)

    Thanks for sharing Erin! This is something I struggle with too. Thanks for encouraging us to do what works for us and our family. It is so comforting to know that Julianne could not ever be forgotten. Especially now as she has a new little brother and my mind is always occupied with other things.

  • Marli Wright
    December 4, 2017 (10:05 am)

    Thank you. I also worried if family would forget our son and what do I do to honor his memory. Those verses is what I needed to hear.

  • Serina Torres
    December 4, 2017 (10:16 am)

    Thank you so much for sharing this it touched my heart in so many ways, it’s been 1 year since the loss of my son and I miss him dearly each day but I know I’m my heart he is in a better place. My daughters and I always do something special on the holidays for their Brother.

  • Sam
    December 4, 2017 (10:41 am)

    This is beautiful. For us grieving mamas, the anxiety of “remembering well” can be overwhelming. I love the freedom here. Thank you for sharing.

  • Maria
    December 4, 2017 (10:49 am)

    Thank you for this encouraging post. My son MJ passed May 7. 2016 he was 9 months old. We are thankful to have the memories of last Christmas with him but it makes this Christmas even harder. We are trying to stay positive and thankful, and Hope Mommies is helping us with that.

  • Anne K
    December 4, 2017 (11:37 am)

    Our first baby, Regina, was still born March of this year. It’s hard knowing how to best remember her. It’s also hard when family members “remind” me of her as though they think I have forgotten her. I want to honor her well, but I know anything I do now is for me and not her. She is beyond anything I could do for her, experiencing greater things than I could have ever given her.

  • Jennifer Sorensen
    December 4, 2017 (11:54 am)

    Erin this is so perfect! I have no way with words and you expressed so much of what I have been feeling perfectly. Thank you for giving words to my thoughts!
    I’m sorry you’ve now had 2 losses. Praying comfort for your heart this season!

  • Brittany Mondlak
    December 4, 2017 (12:53 pm)

    Thank you for this message. I have not been sure in how to feel during the holidays without our baby girl this year. Last year I daydreamed of what this year would be like with a 6 month old. Thank you for starting hope mommies.

  • Dawna S.
    December 4, 2017 (12:53 pm)

    The first Christmas my husband and I had together we were mourning the loss of our first baby from November and were pregnant again. Little did we know that was the only Christmas we would have with our second baby. Through the course of three years we lost a baby each year and all three are represented on our Christmas tree with ornaments. Although I don’t need ornaments or symbols to remember my babies by, I love seeing their ornaments on the tree each year.

  • Marie
    December 4, 2017 (1:38 pm)

    Thank you for posting. This will be our first Christmas without Elizabeth. I found your words encouraging.

  • Sarah
    December 4, 2017 (1:45 pm)

    I was not excited when I got my hope mommies box. I was actually really mad. Mad because I didn’t want it to be my reality. Mad that my baby didn’t come home from the hospital with me in July. And mad because our world is so broken. However, sometime in August, the spirit told me to pick up the Anchored devotional and it reframed what I was feeling in the light of eternity. My husband and I are both still sad a lot, and the holidays have been extra hard, BUT we are fully confident in the Lord’s grace and full of hope that the moments without our Charlie man will far outweigh the moments with him for eternity. Thank you for the box and thank you for letting the Spirit speak through you to my heart and to so many others.

  • Megan Hutchinson
    December 4, 2017 (2:42 pm)

    2 weeks ago I delivered my 3rd baby, he was stillborn. I keep thinking about how I should have done things differently during delivery to better remember my son, but it was all so sudden that I didn’t have time to process and before I knew it I was home from the hospital. I needed this today. Thank you.

  • Lacey Martin
    December 4, 2017 (3:01 pm)

    I love this post. We honor our Carson every day, but especially during the holidays. He has a stocking on our mantle and ornaments on our tree. Even though he is not here today, he will always be our first born. <3

  • Jennifer Joyner
    December 4, 2017 (3:38 pm)

    Erin, this is beautifully penned. I’ve often wrestled with this over the last few years. Thank you for sharing this passage and application.

  • Angie Yoder
    December 4, 2017 (3:49 pm)

    Beautiful. Relatable. Real.

  • Tara Jean Edwards
    December 4, 2017 (4:30 pm)

    Finding a way to include our little one during the holidays is such an emotional struggle. I fight those fears of her being forgotten and how to include her without people understanding.
    Everything you said. xoxoxo

  • Jen Wursten
    December 4, 2017 (5:07 pm)

    Thank you for this post. This will be our first Christmas without our first baby “Hope” and our precious Jackson, who we lost a few weeks ago at 20 weeks. Our first miscarriage due date is this month.

  • Kerry Vadala
    December 4, 2017 (5:39 pm)

    Thank you, Erin, for bravely sharing your heart and beautiful words once again with the Hope Mommies community! May God richly bless and encourage you as much as you do us!

  • Jen Baedke
    December 4, 2017 (6:52 pm)

    Love this post so much!!! This time of year is so hard with December 1st being 4 years since I lost my sweet Jayden!

  • Megan gillette
    December 4, 2017 (8:29 pm)

    Beautiful post! This will be the 2nd Christmas without our twin boys that were stillborn at 21 weeks. We honor them with an ornament with their names.

  • Kimberly
    December 4, 2017 (9:18 pm)

    I really needed this today! December 3rd was my due date. Our Caleb would have been five this year. Even though my loss was that long ago, I still felt alone at times. Earlier this year, I stumbled upon Hope Mommies and I am so glad I did. It has been such a blessing to have a group of friends that just “get me.” This is spot on how I have felt lately! Thank you so much for your encouraging words!

  • Katherine Fromm
    December 4, 2017 (10:23 pm)

    A beautiful post, Erin. Thank you

  • Ebone Humes
    December 4, 2017 (10:35 pm)

    This is always brings a myriad of feels what an on time post!

  • Ali Cruise
    December 4, 2017 (11:20 pm)

    This post is exactly where my heart is. Preparing for the holidays is so difficult, even at two years after losing our sweet boy.

  • Karrie Smith
    December 5, 2017 (5:37 am)

    Beautiful words of truth Erin!! Prayers for you this season. Much love and Merry Christmas.

  • Michelle
    December 5, 2017 (6:38 am)

    Thank you for sharing. What a beautiful and comforting verse that God remembers our children. <3

  • heather freitag
    December 6, 2017 (5:47 am)

    We lost our son 2 days before he was due to arrive by csection. Sayn it was the worst thing to happen in my life is an understatement. It has changed me as a person. I hope everyone has a great holiday. We miss our baby.

  • Cara
    December 7, 2017 (9:23 am)

    Beautifully written! This being our fiat Christmas without our daughter, I can only cling to God and hold onto hope and His comfort.

  • Lucy Smith
    December 7, 2017 (12:08 pm)

    It’s been almost 4 months since we lost Hudson. I fear that he will be forgotten, not by me, but family and friends. Nice post.

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