Testimony Tuesday {Brandi’s Retreat Experience}

My name is Brandi Popke, and I am Hope Mom to Madison and Hannah.  Madison would be 12 this year and Hannah would be 10.  Both of my girls were born full term, but only lived a few hours due to Polycystic Kidney Disease.  It was just this last year that I learned about the Hope Mommies community and the support it offers on social media.  I had no idea the amount of support was so great until I went to the retreat in March.

I signed up for the retreat as soon as I came across the information online—completely terrified and excited at the same time.  Other than my husband and a few loving friends along the way, I have traveled this journey of grief for the most part alone.  Not that there wasn’t people in my life that I could not turn to, but they had no idea of what I was going through.  The thought of being surrounded by women who have experienced the same searing pain of losing a child was hard to imagine.  I have learned very well how to stuff my feelings, put on my happy face, and push through in order to survive.  From the moment I arrived at the retreat, I knew this weekend with fellow Hope Moms was going to be different.  Over and over women were asking me about my girls in heaven.  This has never happened to me before!  People tend to avoid the topic of my girls because it makes them uncomfortable or out of fear that it will upset me.  But as any mother that has a child in heaven will know, we want to speak their names and for others to acknowledge them as well.  I have never spoken so freely of my girls in my life as I did in the three days that I was at the retreat.  Their names were written in nearly every room I went in, and I saw pictures of them every day.  Such a beautiful atmosphere was created to remind me of how loved and treasured they are.

In the year leading up to the retreat, I could feel God molding me and beginning to lead me in a new direction.  It has always been my prayer that God would use me, my girls, and our story to help others. I had no idea what that might be.  For about a year now, I have been volunteering as a client advocate at our local pregnancy center to encourage women choose life and be their support along the way.  This was one of the paths that the Lord put me on that was very much out of my comfort zone. I now believe that God has led me here to help me see these women as He does, and to put all of my bitterness and anger from my losses aside. I feel that He wants me to be able to fully comprehend that we are all worthy of His love and forgiveness.  Our local pregnancy center offers ultrasounds, confirmations of pregnancy, education classes throughout the pregnancy, and parenting classes.

At the retreat, I felt the amazing love of God first hand through the women who shared this terrible bond of child loss.  After assembling a Hope Box for the first time I couldn’t help but cry for what I never had.  How blessed will the women be who receive these boxes?  There was a fire ignited in me that night.  The broken and desperate women of loss in my community need this.  The women that are trying to fill that emptiness need to know that there are other mothers out there that have been where they are and will lift them up with the hope of Jesus Christ.  I went home and prayed, and prayed, and with the excited approval of our director we will be starting a local support group for loss moms.  I am about to embark on a whole new journey leading these women of loss and emptiness to the fullness of hope and healing of Jesus Christ.

Hope Mommies has let me experience the amazing power of God’s love with the encouraging support of other women who “get it.”   I am so thankful to Hope Mommies for providing a safe place for women to meet and uplift one another.  I do not want to make this journey alone, and I am so thankful that I do not have to.  We serve a mighty God who is there to carry us, even if we don’t notice it at the time.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”
Isaiah 43:2

- Brandi

Hope Mom to Madison and Hannah

My husband, Ryan, and I have been married for almost 14 years. Despite the odds given, God has blessed us with two healthy children . Our daughter Jessica is 12 and our son Jeremiah is 7.

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