Bright Green is the Color of Hope – The Gift of Life in Infant Loss

Genevieve and I met on a non-discript day in September, I imagine. Genevieve and I bonded sharing a tiny little office off the chapel of Concordia University in Chicago, Illinois.

Young and fresh and full of theological ideologies just waiting to be hammer out, we spent a fair number of hours gabbing about which classes were our favorites, bad boyfriend breakups, and philosophical dissertations on the lectionary selection of the week.

We grew up. We met handsome men, who were chasing after the Lord and could keep up with our theological rants and so we married them. We grew out. We each moved. We lost touch a little. Then Facebook worked its magic on the world and we vowed not to lose touch again.

We liked each other’s feeds. We commented on recipes we thought we would each like. We rejoiced together as babies were born and ministry happened and life did its thing. Then my world fell apart, and Genevieve was there.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be my turn, 3 years later, to hold Genevieve when her world fell apart. February 7th we should have welcomed Sebastian Alexander Sigmund Wagner to the world.

If the world were perfect, if Adam and Eve would have kept their grubby hands off that apple, we would have. Instead, we welcomed this precious little boy into his eternal rest in the arms of His Savior.

I created the Written in Iron Ink series of the podcast to reflect the testimonies of all the brave and courageous people I know going forth in this life and letting God write His testimony across their lives, their struggles, their joys, their losses, and their triumphs. When we go through stuff we want to know that it isn’t for naught, that God is at work, that ministry is being done, and that through it He ministers to us, and He ministers to His people.

I was blessed to sit with Genevieve and Rev. Geoffrey Wagner last month and talk about God’s work in and through the life of their stillborn son.

God has written a message on Sebastian’s tiny little life and the Wagner’s are the first to tell you that His message is Hope.

Our hands are grubby too. Adam and Eve aren’t the only ones to deal with the consequences of sin. From that day on our whole world struggles against the darkness of a world groaning for Christ to heal it. Death is our reality, and sometimes death that comes far too soon. The Wagner’s, in this podcast, help us to clarify God’s grace for the unborn, God’s work in every single life He creates, and the testimony that our Savior works for ministry to and among one another in times of grief.

Here are a few of the highlights:

Every pastor needs a pastor. Every pastor’s family needs a pastor.

Grief is an individual process and requires a judgement free zone. Spouses grieve differently from one another. Children need to grieve. Others who offer support and grieve alongside are a gift.

The promise of the Gospel is heard in the womb. We cling to the promises and the grace of God, the Word of God, rather than our own abilities and doubts. God works His testimony and ministry happens through the tiniest of lives.

I Love My Shepherd- Episode 16

Written in Iron Ink – Infant Loss

Resources for infant loss:

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep- Infant loss photography

Molly’s Bears – more than just a teddy bear

Grieving the Child I Never Knew: A Devotional for Comfort in the Loss of Your Unborn or Newly Born Child

Share – A National Organization for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support

Star Legacy Foundation: Stillbirth Education, Research, and Awareness

At the Death of a Child – booklet on infant loss and baptism

I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy (book)


At the loss of a friend, or I hate cancer

Day Two – At the loss of a friend, or I hate cancer
(Written 1/21/2016)
I opened my computer to write this post. A simple action of my morning. I’m surrounded by some of my favorite things, my husband (quietly working on sermon prep), my coffee, my computer, and my Lutheran Study Bible. I feel warm and cozy.
I open my Facebook feed to idly post a study update, when I see the post that I knew was coming for months, but feels shocking and sad and unfair all the same.
We lost my dear friend, Melissa, to cancer overnight.
I hate cancer. My children would tell me that we don’t use the word hate. But cancer, I hate. It robs children of mothers and fathers and grandparents. It eats up time that was meant to be enjoyed together with those we love. It has no boundaries. It touches all of us in some way. It fear mongers, and leaves us wondering when it will come find us. Disease, of any kind, is of Satan, but just like all the dark things on the path behind us and before us, God redeems that too. He redeems what cancer steals. I’m holding Him to it.
There is a time to die. We know it, but we avoid it. It seems so morbid to talk about it. It’s not tea party talk or baby shower talk. But why do we avoid it with those closest to us? Why do we feel so uncomfortable affirming the truth of it in our own lives? I have two theories…it’s a little bit scary, and it’s just so big.
We may avoid talk of death, but the Bible does not. There are 839 occurrences of muth, our word for die in Ecclesiastes 3, found in Strong’s Concordance. There is a place for the reality of death. As Christians we get to talk about it and shed light in a dark place with no hope. We have Jesus and we can offer His message to a world fearing death, avoiding death, and misunderstanding death.
If something exists, it is either purposeful and from God, or made purposeful by God. God gave us death to save us from eternal despair and destruction. Death is a door. A way into God’s new beginning. With Jesus we can see this. The scales fall and our eyes are opened to what new things God is doing through death-
Heaven (real and tangible), restored relationships, a different path, a desperate need for something else, for a Savior who loves us…
Death teaches us that eternity matters, and so do we. When things die, there is room for rebirth. Without death things become stagnant. Knowing this, we can appreciate that even the death of little things are purposeful…the death of our spring flowers brings winter rest, the death of one idea, births another, the death of an activity brings time for something more.
More than that, the death of things we treasure,
the death of a loved one gives us a greater depth of desire for God and eternity,
the death of a job opens the door to something new in our lives,
the death of a friendship can show us who we are and what we value more clearly.
Read Ecclesiates 3:1-2 again carefully –
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
“Everything in its time” invites death in. We can be comfortable with it, because we are comfortable with God’s hand on it, in it, and around it.
My life will not be quite the same without Melissa. We gathered around the Word together almost every Wednesday morning for 8 years. Her insights and affection have left a Jesus shaped imprint on my heart and soul. But I know, without a doubt, that God has a plan. He will make this beautiful. His work in Melissa’s death will not be lost. He will use this, and many of us will hear a new Word of Grace as we mourn her loss.
Dear Father, birth what you would birth and let die those things that you would have die. It is all in You. Help us to give it to you, for you hold it already. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Discussion questions:
Who have you lost that left an eternal mark on you?

What do you do to help others around you deal with grief?