Finding Hope After Fraying

*Update to everyone who has left a comment. Erin and I want to let you know that your comments have been lovely, and we are honored that you’d be so open and raw in your sharing. Although we were unable to answer each one individually, we’ve read all of them with our hearts in our throats, tears in our eyes, and prayers for you. When my daughter-in-law chose to share so vulnerably, I asked her if she was braced that some may be unkind and judgmental. We’ve yet to have one such response. Instead we’ve received an outpouring of sharing from your personal lives. Your willingness to write so vulnerably on my blog is a clear indication that you trust this to be a safe place. I hadn’t expected that. Thank you.?

*Winners of the giveaway are Susan (start of e-mail address is froggy1…) and Linda (start of e-mail address is linlibr…). Ladies, you should’ve received an e-mail from me a couple of days ago. I hope to hear from you soon. ♥  

Guest post by Erin Woodsmall

( Some of you may wish to skip the post and scroll to the giveaway that’s below. The post might be hard to read, as it deals with losing a child.)

In Cindy’s next release, Fraying at the Edge, the dedication is to my younger daughter, Iris.


In memory of Iris Summer Woodsmall

January 15, 2016,

and to all loved and wanted babies

who never drew an early breath

And to the parents who suffer,

searching for ways to survive a lifetime

of missed hugs, laughter, achievements,

hopes, and dreams

In late December of 2015, my husband and I found out our much wanted third child had a form of lethal skeletal dysplasia and she could never live outside the womb. We lost her at 20 weeks, which is halfway through the pregnancy and only a few weeks shy of “viable,” if she had not had such a condition. Suddenly and unexpectedly, my husband and I faced grief unlike anything we had experienced.

When someone you love dies, especially so out-of-turn as losing a child, the grief of such loss feels as if a hole has been ripped in your lives and the former quilt of your family is frayed beyond recognition. How do we face the fact that there will always be a child missing in our family? How is that acceptable?

I don’t believe that God did this to Iris to punish her, an innocent baby, or us, her parents who truly love and long for her. Disease and death are consequences of living in this mortal world. Over the last seven months, I’ve tried to come to a perspective of acceptance of her loss, move forward in hope, and to weave the frayed pieces back into the greater tapestry of our family’s life.

One of the first things we did after Iris died was try to find some sort of physical memorial, but not a grave. I longed for a place where we could visit with our living children, a place where visiting her would be a natural part of our outings. Immediately, our state’s botanical garden came to mind. My husband and I began going there when we were in college, and later on we took our two young children there too. It was always a place of peace, beauty, and happiness. A garden is a promise of rebirth, as the plants and seasons go through their cycles of blooming and dying. We had a small memorial service for her in the spring, and we chose Revelation 21:5 as the quote on her plaque. “Behold, I am making all things new.”

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Because her rare diagnosis was such a random and unlikely thing to happen (less than 300 cases ever in the world), it felt like my luck had turned from good to bad, even though logically I knew as a middle-class American, I am so fortunate in ways that others can’t imagine.

We decided to try to have another child, but the specter of this disease and its reoccurrence rate (25% chance each pregnancy, once established that parents are carriers) loomed heavy. In addition, I had this nagging fear that because we were “struck by lightning,” so to speak, why wouldn’t something terrible but less rare happen? As the months went by, we found out we were expecting again, due in late December.

The weeks that followed as we waited for testing and results were very difficult. My husband and mother-in-law (hi, Cindy) had unwavering faith that the baby was healthy, but I was still feeling cursed. It was spring, about two weeks after my positive test that I found the first four-leaf clover.


I’ve never been superstitious, so I took a picture to send to my husband and moved on. But I found more, every time I went outside. And not just in our yard, but in my mother’s yard miles away and at the park. I stopped counting when I got up to thirty four-leaf clovers, but I continued to spot them throughout the weeks as we waited for results. According to what I read, they occur at a 1 in 10,000 chance.

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The leaves of the four-leaf clover are often said to stand for faith, hope, love, and luck, and the origin of the symbol came from Ireland (which my name, Erin, means.) I’m still not exactly sure what finding the clovers meant or if it was a coincidence, but it felt like a nod from God that things were going to be alright. I wasn’t unlucky or forsaken just because something bad had happened to me. And as much as it hurt (and always will) to lose Iris, our story as a family wasn’t over. Just because she is physically away from us does not mean that she is gone, and we have the promise of a heavenly reunion.

With this new pregnancy, we received good news twice over: a clear genetic test and a normal anatomy scan. No one knows what the future holds for anyone on this planet, but there is good reason to believe that we will bring home a healthy boy around Christmas.

Losing Iris left an indelible change in our lives. Our “quilt” will never be the same, but through love we can weave the frayed pieces in and accept that our lives are still filled with beauty, even in loss.

Cindy’s upcoming release, Fraying at the Edge,  is about a different kind of loss, but no matter what causes the fraying in life, we belong to the One who helps sew us together again.




1. Ties That BindFraying at the Edge

 For a chance to win a copy of Ties That Bind (book one, and winner of Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award) and Fraying at the Edgeplease leave a comment below. If you’re a winner, our goal will be to get them to you around, August 16, which is the release date for Fraying at the Edge. If you’re a first-time commenter, please read the “Helpful tips” section below.

Only comments made on my website will count as an entry. So if you’re reading this blog anywhere other than on my website and you’d like to enter the giveaway, please hop over to my site (link directly below) and leave a comment to enter. 

The deadline for entering this giveaway is Wednesday, August 10, at noon Eastern Time. TWO winners will be chosen using and will be contacted privately. As always, please remember that all of my giveaways are limited to US residents only. Please visit my giveaway rules and FAQ page for a complete explanation of the terms and conditions of this giveaway.

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