Saturday, August 18, 2018

Two year celebration at Rubio's: Friday, 8/24/18

We're amazed at all that's been accomplished in just two years! Join us to celebrate with a fundraiser at Rubio's in Visalia near the Target on Mooney Blvd. at 5-8pm. Get the mobile flyer from our Facebook or Instagram story on the day of the event or use the one here on our website. This must be shown for us to get credit.
  • 52 care packages created in two years
  • 28 delivered in the last year
  • 7 requests made in the past two weeks
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Sunday, July 1, 2018

a fun week

Two fun things happened this week. First, we received our shipment of two dozen signed copies of Loved Baby by Sarah Philpott!! We sold 12 candles in April for 12 books, but she doubled the donation! She is such an incredible blessing to our ministry.

You can learn all about her at allamericanmom.net

Second, we had a Blaze Pizza Party fundraiser. I think we had around two dozen or more people eat pizza to support us! We'll be receiving 20% of the proceeds from all those orders. You can see several photos of people from the event on our Facebook page. If you ate at Blaze for us and took a photo, we'd love to see it! Post it to your page and tag us.

If you missed that fundraiser, we're having the next one on our second anniversary, August 26th, at Rubio's. More info to come about that soon!
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Friday, March 30, 2018

1 Candle: 1 Book Donated

We're so happy that Family Tree Candles and Sarah Philpott, author of Loved Baby: 31 Devotions Helping You Grieve and Cherish Your Child After Pregnancy Loss, are helping us out! During the entire month of April, one of Sarah's books will be donated for EACH candle purchased from Family Tree Candles! There are incredibly brave and special people behind both of these, so let me tell you a bit about them.

Sarah Philpott writes over at allamericanmom.net about her life as a Christian, farmer's wife, and mom in the South. A few years ago she experienced two back-to-back devastating miscarriages and was coming up short when she looked for a book on it, so she decided to write one. Her chapters are short, simple, and concise ranging in subjects from what one deals with physically to the myriad of emotions and remembering our sweet babies. With help from other women, Sarah's book also touches on different types of losses: miscarriage, still birth, and ectopic pregnancy. Nearly all the proceeds from the books sales are spent getting more books into the hands of grieving women who need it. Check out the book "trailer" below to find out more.



Meg Whitley is the creator and owner of Family Tree Candles. She's from Tennessee and pours a little southern charm into each candle she makes. Her candles not only smell great, but they are pretty, too. They are hand-poured high-quality soy wax candles in glass jars with gingham ribbons tied around each one, nestled inside a stamped canvas bag--ready for gifting! Fragrances are also added naturally with essential oils.

For our book drive, you can purchase a Loved Baby candle which comes in their ever-popular pineapple sage scent. For each candle purchased, Meg is donating the profit from the candle to purchase books that will go directly into our care packages. We have already put this book into several packages and have had excellent feedback on it, so we're eager to get more!

If you don't want to purchase online, you can purchase a candle directly from us and we'll order it for you. Thank you for your support! And give Sarah and Meg your support, too! Go follow them on social media!
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Sunday, February 4, 2018

Coming Together for AIOH 2018

In the fall, I (Amanda) started thinking about our annual fundraiser event: Always in Our Hearts. I considered what would be the same and different from last year. I dreamed of having it in a beautiful venue, but I didn't think we would be able to make that happen for a few years on our limited budget. I talked to my husband about my dream for event and a few others, and contacted Merryman Station in late November.

I knew about Merryman Station because the owner, Mandy Thomas, was in my Bible study group for a short time the year she and her husband purchased the building. I watched them renovate it for a couple years through Facebook and was impressed with the final result. Mandy had also shared with me her story of child loss, and I felt a kindred spirit with her through that.

When I thought about where I wanted to have our fundraiser eventually, I immediately wanted to have our fundraiser in this space to support Mandy and as a reflection of our ministry. Merryman Station has been part of the Central Valley for over 100 years; it's surrounded by orange groves and sits on the 198 in Exeter, just between the cities and the foothills. Inside and out, it's a rustic farmhouse haven. The wood and lighting make it cozy, but also reflect its age. Somewhat similarly, our organization stands for hope in the midst of turmoil. Those who have lost a child have suffered long and hard, and our loss never goes away; we just learn to live with it. On "the other side" of child loss and with Jesus Christ in my life, I know there is hope.

When I contacted Merryman Station, initially I was told that they were booked solid in January and February, but they would double-check their calendar to see if we could be squeezed in. After checking in with Mandy a couple more times in December, I was finally told right before Christmas that there were two openings for us to choose from in January! Incredible! And it would cost $1000 after our discount...WAN WAN WAN. We typically don't even have that much in our account, so I had no idea how we would pay for this venue, so I thought about it for a couple days.

In the meantime, I started visiting and emailing local businesses and artisans to ask for donations for the silent auction. Some people never responded to my emails, others said "we get asked for a lot of donations so we have to be selective," but several others jumped at the opportunity to support us! Those who responded were extremely generous, kind, and excited about what we do. They knew there was a need for our organization and desired to support it. Over a dozen people gave us donations and we ended up with around 25 quality items to auction. CJ Hopper Photography gave us a $200 voucher!! I was shocked! Who gives away $200 of profit?? Wow.

After a couple days consideration about how to pay for Merryman Station and if it was worth it, I came up with an idea. I went over to my auto repair shop to ask for a $500 donation. Why there? I knew the owners are Christian as they're major supporters of our local Christian radio station. I felt like they're generous people, so what was the worst that could happen? They'd say "no" and I would table my dream venue for another year. I got a meeting with the owner, Santos, for Jan. 4 which was just 22 days before our event was to take place. He fully supported what we were doing and completely understood why I wanted to have the event in a special venue. He readily agreed to a $500 donation and wanted to find other ways to help us. Amazing!

Immediately, we let everyone know when and where our event would be. It was going to be the beautiful dream I had! I couldn't believe it!! My father-in-law's band agreed to play for our event at no cost so we could have live music. A couple weeks before the event I was reading in the Enjoy magazine about Component Coffee Lab, based out of Visalia with a mobile coffee cart. I sent an email asking "How does this mobile coffee cart work for an event I'm hosting?" He sent me a price, and I said that we couldn't afford that this year but perhaps in the future. He then asked if it was for a private or public event. I told him it was for a fundraiser for my nonprofit organization. A few minutes later, one of the owners, Jonathan, wrote me back saying they would show up for no charge to us ANNNDD give us a percentage of that night's proceeds. I nearly fell over when I read this, you guys! Seriously! Who does this?? These people don't even know me! He read a little about us on our website and "felt compelled" to help as a father and a Christian.

Donations for the silent auction continued pouring in, even on the day of the event! A majority of the tickets we sold were in the days just before the event when I wasn't sure we were even going to have enough people present to bid on all the fabulous items I had collected. On the day of the event, everything came together perfectly. It was all organized and just as I had imagined. Driving up that night to the building, all fantastically lit up, I felt like the belle of the ball. I teared up a little and smiled with a full heart of joy and gladness. It was a most beautiful and fun evening celebrating what we have accomplished and hope to achieve. It was a marker for our future that lies ahead. Nearly $1200 was raised by the silent auction items alone, and many individual gifts of $50-$100 were given during the month by those who were unable to attend. Component Coffee Lab donated 80% of their profits from the evening! (Go support these guys, people! They're at the Farmer's Market every Saturday and have a shop downtown now.)
This event wouldn't have happened without my husband. He watched our kids several times so I could go do stuff to prepare for the event. He helped me think through it all and fully-supported me when I felt overwhelmed by all of it. I'm also so grateful for my co-founder, Aubin, who put up with my to-do lists and went shopping for everything. I love you both!
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Thursday, January 4, 2018

RSVP to Always in Our Hearts 1.27.18

Join us on Saturday, January 27th at 7pm!

We're so thrilled to have our 2nd annual Always in Our Hearts fundraiser at the recently renovated Merryman Station just off the 198 in Exeter!! Tickets are $10 each to the first 60 people. We'll have delicious desserts, specialty coffee drinks from Component Coffee Lab, live music, a photo booth, and silent auction items from local restaurants and artisans. 

If you'd like to purchase a ticket, you can use the button below or contact us by email (sentfromheavenvisalia@gmail.com) and we'll send you an invoice for the number of tickets you want. Don't wait to RSVP! Tickets will go fast! Whether you can or can't come, we'll also need dessert donations for our guests. Thanks for your support!

You DO NOT need a PayPal account to purchase a ticket; this is just the platform we're using to receive payments to help keep your information secure. On the first screen, select the amount of tickets you want and click Continue. On the second screen you can log in to your PayPal account or click Pay with a Credit or Debit Card if you don't have a PayPal account. 
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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

1 Year, 1-a-Week Journal Prompts for Bereaved Parents by Aubin

As a parent who has lost a child I know how hard it can be to work through that grief and pain. When my son Liam was born very sick in 2011, I needed an outlet and a way to remember the ups and downs of the NICU and the CDH journey. I found writing in a journal or even blogging helped me better than anything else. I could be completely honest in my journal without fear of judgment. Sometimes all I needed was to write down all my fears and worries to work past them. So why would my grief be any different? I decided to start actively working through my grief through journaling and wanted to share these prompts with you. If you use all of them, you'll have enough to write one journal entry for a whole year.

1) What would you like other people to know or do after someone loses a child?

2) Describe a time you told someone (who didn't already know) about your loss.

3) What has been confusing during your grief?

4) What has been surprising during your grief?

5) What have you been thankful for during your grief?

6) How did you choose your child's name?

7) What do you now find difficult to do that you didn't before you lost a child?

8) If I could tell my child something, I would say...

9) Some well-meaning but hurtful things people have said or done are...

10) What are some secondary losses from the loss of your child.

11) Try writing your child's story in 100 words or less.

12) What quote or scripture has been meaningful or comforting? Why?

13) Write a bucket list for yourself.

14) Plan something in honor of your child on a day that means something.

15) Write a letter to your child.

16) Write an acrostic poem using your child's name.

17) Make a list of goals for yourself that you hope to accomplish by a year from now or what you would like to be different in a year.

18) Create a word cloud, print it or paste it in your paper journal or on your blog. You can use Wordle or Tagxedo.

19) What have you learned about yourself through the loss of your child?

20) How do you feel different than you did before you lost your child?

21) Have your priorities changed since you lost your child?

22) Pick a common, well-meaning quote someone has said to you. Do you believe that it's true? Why or why not?

23) What do you do when you feel like you're the only one grieving?

24) Has your faith changed? How?

25) What are the ways of grieving you feel society expects of you because you are a man or woman? Do you break these "rules"?

26) Which ways of grieving seem to bring you and your partner closer? Further apart?

27) What is one of your favorite memories from your child's life, even if he/she only lived in the womb?

28) What would you like your friends and family to do to honor and remember your child?

29) Is there anything that happens or anything you do that makes you feel most connected to your child?

30) What song has been meaningful or comforting? Why?

31) Write a list of words that describe your child.

32) If you could keep only one memory of your child, what would it be?

33) When you're having a particularly hard day, week, etc, what do you wish others would understand?

34) What are the questions people asked that you appreciated?

35) How have your relationships changed since you lost your child?

36) Do you have any new fears or worries since you lost your child?

37) How has your response to grief been different from those closest to you?

38) What emotion has been the most overwhelming through your grief?

39) What unanswered questions do you have?

40) What things are you still able to find joy in?

41) "Grief ambushes" are times when you experience a flood of emotions at an unexpected time. Describe some of the grief ambushes you have experienced.

42) Do you think your grief will ever end? Why or why not?

43) Although the Bible shares specific details about heaven, our human understanding is limited. What do you wish you knew about heaven?

44) Identify your own ideas about how you as a man or woman are supposed to "handle" your grief. Are you following these ideas?

45) No one can imagine what it's like to lose a child until they have actually experienced it. Has anything about your grief journey been different than you imagined it would be?

46) Are you doing anything unhealthy in response to grief or are you tempted to?

47) If death is a natural process of life, why do you think so many people act uncomfortable talking about it and various aspects of grief?

48) Identify the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs you have right now.

49) Has anyone said anything that made you feel they were trying to rush you through your grief?

50) How can you use your grief journey to help others?

51) Is anger about the loss of your child a good or bad thing?

52) How has grief impacted you physically?

53) Name a flower than reminds you of your child.
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Thursday, November 9, 2017

A peek into my journal

The following are unedited excerpts from my journal entries after my miscarriages. Some of these excerpts were prompted by a book I read called Hannah's Hope, which I highly recommend for Christians who are struggling with miscarriage, infertility, or failed adoptions. We also have some other journal prompt ideas for child loss parents.

written Dec. 2, 2015

"It's been two weeks and a day since our precious baby Taylor departed this world to be with you, God. We spent several hours at a friend's house today. I was SO tired at the end. It took so much energy out of me. She's such a fun mom, and I'm not so much.

I still fear losing more babies but feel a little better about it today. I don't know if I can be excited about being pregnant though, and I feel bad for Joseph [my husband] for that."

written Dec. 9. 2015

"It's been hard to be expected to live normally when I don't feel that way. I'm still deeply sad! Getting dressed, going to the bathroom, preparing food, and so many other things remind me [of the baby I lost]. I gained a few pounds while pregnant and now none of my pants fit well! ... All the impending waiting is making me crazy! Waiting for a period, then to take a test, then going to my OB, then the next appointment, and finding out the baby's gender"

written March 29, 2016 (after my second miscarriage)

"Oh, how I feel strange telling others that I have one son who is already 3.5 years-old! I know the questions in their head as in my own when faced with similar info: Did she adopt? Is she pregnant? Does she want more kids? -- I want to tell them I have two kids in heaven also, gone too soon from my life. Perhaps someday I will tell others this but I'm not ready now. I just want to ball my eyes out now and be able to believe that we can bring another baby into this world.

written March 30, 2016

"God, I want Philippians 4:6-7 to ring true for me, but it's difficult to do or feel any of those things! Don't be anxious?! Be thankful?! Know your peace?! How?! I want to get to these things, Lord. Show me Your way. I don't feel hope but only anxiety for the future."

written April 5, 2016

"I have wondered if God took our babies because we tried to have too much control of it. Since we didn't trust God fully with the situation, he chose to take our babies. However, this is punishment for my control and selfish desires, which God doesn't do...

God, please help me to know when I'm emotionally healed from our losses. At this time I commit to trying to have another baby, no matter when it may be born. Children are a blessing that I need to accept when You are ready to give them."

written April 9, 2016

"God, some days and times I feel depressed and other times I don't. I know you're working through these times. I'm feeling more at peace about the past but still restless for the future...Please lessen the despair and anguish. Amen."

written April 12, 2016

"Help me, Lord, to store up my treasure in heaven instead of earth...I can't let my treasure rest in my family or my things. Help me live for You!"

written May 4, 2016

"Mother's Day is fast approaching. I would have been very pregnant with Taylor or noticeably so with Aryn. I would have received a flower at church for being the soonest expectant mother. Now, I would rather not be there.

written July 24, 2016

"Today my friends announced that they're expecting a baby. I'm thrilled for them but a flood of negative emotions came over me. I'm healthy, so why can't I keep a baby? How am I to remain faithful to God in this? I feel like an inadequate failure. My story in this isn't over, I know, and that scares me. What if it doesn't get better? I want to hold my babies. What if I lose another baby? I know that I'm not healed from this, but I don't know if I can keep waiting. Everyone else is having their third child while I sit awkwardly with one. One big blessing contained in my sweet son. I don't understand this at all but I know, God, that you can use it. Taylor would have been about a month old now, but I'm just left with empty arms, and a hurt heart."

About a month after this last entry, I learned I was pregnant with our rainbow baby boy. I should have journaled through my pregnancy because I had a roller coaster of emotions throughout it! I hope you have found this enlightening or comforting. Select Amanda's Story from the menu to read my journey through child loss and life after loss.
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Child Loss Memorial 2017

October is child loss awareness month and this year we held our very first memorial service to remember our babies gone too soon.

We invited our guests to write the names of their angels on our chalk board, allowing us to see them and pray for each and every one of their parents.



Aubin opened up the service by thanking everyone who came and talking about how she faces each day after her loss.


Candace and Rob Feely blessed us with beautiful music to worship God too.




Kim, the nurse from Care Pregnancy Resource Center came and spoke to us about the importance of our ministry as well as what they do at CPRC.


Amanda spoke about Psalm 13, 40:1-2 and 23. John 3:16. It was a powerful message of hope.
Amanda also took the time to record her message and you can view it here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9HCwkSQDWY&feature=youtu.be


We provided paper for our guests to write letters to their angels to attach to balloons we released.
It was a beautiful moment as we let them fly. Everyone took a moment to take in the scene and many of us teared up.






Amanda and I would like to thank everyone who came to support the families who have suffered the loss of a child. We also want to thank everyone for supporting our ministry and making it possible for us to help others through their pain. God has blessed us with the passion to share our stories and help others and paved a way for our work through each and every one of you. Thank you!

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Sunday, November 5, 2017

Journaling through grief

My journal is like my best friend who keeps all my secrets, always listens to me, and never offers strange advice. As I write in my best friend (AKA: my journal), my negative feelings slowly begin to fade. Sometimes I find myself writing things that I didn't even know I was thinking or feeling. Often I end up in a puddle of tears while trying to scratch out the final words of an entry. Pen and paper can bring feelings to the surface which I didn't even know were there--and sometimes those feelings are scary. But, at least I'm then aware of them and can deal with them.

Sometimes it's difficult to know where to start in your journaling though because you're completely overwhelmed by all the thoughts swirling around in your head, so here are some prompts to help you focus your journal writing.

There are 10 journaling prompts in the image created by IAmFruitful.org, but they can be used for any type of child loss and other times of grieving:
  1. I feel God's presence most when...
  2. Sometimes I feel guilty because...
  3. I feel like I'm missing out on...
  4. I feel angry because...
  5. I'm grateful for...
  6. I feel shame when...
  7. A Scripture that's helping is...
  8. God's showing me that He is...
  9. The hardest time of day is...
  10. I find the most hope when...
If you have experienced miscarriage, still birth, or early infant loss, then Sweet Julian's beautiful, free Baby Loss Journal PDF is another good option for journal prompts. They're particularly helpful for writing your story. And if you do write your story, we would love to share it with our audience, so please contact us if you want to share it!
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