Join us for a conversation with Lianna Davis, bereaved mom, and author of Made for a Different Land. Lianna shares her story of losing her daughter, Noelle, at 42 weeks in her first pregnancy. Trusting in God's sovereignty, Lianna found hope in the living waters of Jesus as she navigated the deep waves of grief.
In this episode, we discussed:
Wanting to go to Heaven to be with your child
Asking theological questions after losing a baby like,
"How could a good God allow my baby to die?"
God's original plan for babies and why sin broke His perfect design
The kindness and mercy of Jesus to choose to die for us
The good news of the Gospel for the grieving mom
Getting unstuck in your grief and releasing your sorrow
Entering into deep emotions in the presence of Jesus
Why grief connects us to our babies and how to move forward
Is it okay to laugh and smile when you're grieving?
All about her book, Made for a Different Land
How to take comfort in God's sovereignty and plan for your life
The hard but beautiful work of sanctification
Full transcript below.
MEET OUR GUEST
Lianna Davis is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute. She has her Bachelor's in Women's Ministry, and she's a Master's student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
She is getting her Master's degree in Theological Studies. She has authored a book on baby loss called Made for a Different Land: Eternal Hope for Baby Loss.
Lianna lives in Illinois with her husband and her second daughter. Her firstborn, Noelle, enjoys Glory.
Connect with Lianna:
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MEET OUR HOST
Ashley Opliger is the Executive Director of Bridget's Cradles, a nonprofit organization based in Wichita, Kansas that donates cradles to over 1,400 hospitals in all 50 states and comforts over 30,000 bereaved families a year.
Ashley is married to Matt and they have three children: Bridget (in Heaven), and two sons. She is a follower of Christ who desires to share the hope of Heaven with families grieving the loss of a baby.
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Episode 43 | Living Waters for Deep Waves of Grief | Lianna Davis
Ashley Opliger: [00:00:00] You’re listening to the Cradled in Hope Podcast on the Edifi Podcast Network. I’m your host, Ashley Opliger. I’m a wife, mom, and follower of Christ who founded Bridget’s Cradles, a nonprofit ministry in memory of my daughter, Bridget, who was stillborn at 24 weeks.
Cradled in Hope is a Gospel-focused podcast for grieving moms to find comfort, hope, and healing after the loss of a baby. We want this to be a safe place for your broken heart to land.
Here, we are going to trust God’s promise to heal our hearts, restore our joy, and use our grief for good. With faith in Jesus and eyes fixed on Heaven, we do not have to grieve without hope. We believe that Jesus cradles us in hope while He cradles our babies in Heaven.
Welcome to the Cradled in Hope Podcast.
Ashley Opliger: [00:00:50] Hi friends, and welcome back to another episode of Cradled in Hope. I am so honored to introduce our next guest to you.
Her name is Lianna Davis, and she is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute. She has her Bachelor's in Women's Ministry, and she's a Master's student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is getting her Master's degree in Theological Studies. She has authored a book on baby loss called Made for a Different Land: Eternal Hope for Baby Loss, and she has also written a Bible study on the Book of Jude.
Since the loss of her firstborn daughter, Lianna has experienced a renewed relationship with Jesus Christ. She loves to focus on His grace and mercy for the forgiveness of sins. Her relationship with Him is one in which she possesses no merit that has not been gifted to her by Jesus. She is truly dependent on Him for every good work and deed. She is grateful to share the Good News of Jesus through her works and website.
Lianna lives in Illinois with her husband and her second daughter. Her firstborn enjoys Glory. I am looking forward to you hearing more about her daughter Noelle's story, as well as Lianna's book. You will be so blessed by her encouragement and the hope that she offers in this episode. Let's dive in.
Ashley Opliger: [00:02:04] Welcome, Lianna, to the Cradled in Hope Podcast. We're so glad to have you on today.
Lianna Davis: [00:02:10] Thank you so much for having me.
Ashley Opliger: [00:02:12] Well, I would love for you to share your story. I found out about you and your book, Made for a Different Land, and I'm really excited about getting to share about your book and your ministry connection to Hope Mommies.
But before we jump into that, I would love for you to share your daughter Noelle's story and give us an introduction of who you are.
Lianna Davis: [00:02:36] Great. Yeah. Thank you again for having me. And our daughter Noelle, we had a typical pregnancy with her. There were no warning flags. There were no complications. Everything was just normal. And we decided that we wanted to try to go into labor naturally instead of being induced, and so our doctor was on board with that.
My water broke right the night before we were about to get induced. My doctor was okay with waiting to be induced up to a certain time period, so it was two weeks. So I was two weeks after my due date and my water finally broke, so we were going to go to the hospital.
I had been just a little bit concerned, like there was maybe not as much movement, and I just figured it was because I was really extra pregnant. And I think I even called my doctor at that point and he had just said, “Drink some orange juice,” and I felt movement, and so I wasn't too concerned.
I got to the hospital parking lot, I still felt movement, and then got wheeled up to the room. We got settled in and got the ultrasound and there was no heartbeat.
I had the full nursery at home. I had everything ready, was a hundred percent expecting to have a typical labor delivery experience and then just the shock of there being no heartbeat.
I thought that God could do anything. I thought that He could bring the heartbeat back, bring her back, and I prayed about that. But as soon as the doctor came in, the doctor told us that this was serious and it wasn't just that the nurse couldn't find the heartbeat or that sort of thing, that there was no heartbeat.
And so we went through labor and delivery, had Noelle, buried her and she was just a doll. She was just such a sweetheart. Her features were so fun to be able to see. I felt connected with her, but I think I felt even more connected with her through the Lord in Glory. I just remember feeling like I could fly ahead myself, like I could just fly to Glory myself because I felt so connected with her and I wanted to be with her.
We buried her and we had a small service with family members. We sang the doxology, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” We are so thankful for the blessing of Noelle in our lives.
Obviously, it was heartbreaking to see that tiny little box go into the ground. In a perfect world, this should not happen. This would not happen if everything were as God created the world originally. And you just felt that; you felt the weight of death and the weight of sorrow of just that experience. And I think I felt both. I felt hope, but I also felt the weight of sorrow and it took months to get through that.
But in terms of Noelle, I'm so happy for her. I'm so glad that she is ahead in Glory and that she is seeing the Lord face to face, and that she is now also seeing my grandparents, who have gone ahead after Noelle preceded them to Glory. So they've gone ahead after her and can talk about, presumably, her mom and her family. And so that's our story of loss and then grieving and the hope of Noelle in Heaven.
Ashley Opliger: [00:06:07] Well, that's a beautiful yet heartbreaking story, and I'm so, so sorry for your loss. But I love your eternal perspective in the midst of your grief, even just saying you wanted to fly away to Glory with her.
And I want you to expand on that because so many moms will tell me that when their baby has gone to Heaven, they want to go too. And to the outside world, they almost would see that as being suicidal because it's like, “Well, you want to die now?” And it's not the same, and I've tried to explain that before.
There can be this longing for Heaven without necessarily longing for death. And that sounds like a contradiction, because obviously you have to die to go to Heaven unless the Rapture happens. But do you want to explain what those feelings were like? Because I would probably imagine you still feel that way. I still long for Heaven. So would you share more about how that felt then and how it feels now?
Lianna Davis: [00:07:05] Yeah. For me, it almost felt like there wasn't even going to be another option. It just felt natural, like part of me, this huge part of me now, who's grown inside of me in my body, has gone to be in Heaven. So that's where I'm going to go too.
I just couldn't imagine going through labor and delivery and there not being another outcome. And again, like you said, it wasn't suicidal. I wasn't planning to kill myself or that kind of mentality. It just felt natural. She's there. I'm going to go be there and I want to go be with her.
And I think just as a mother, you want to be able to prepare your child for what's next, and that's part of the role. I didn't get to prepare her for Glory because I didn't go first and tell her about it or anything, not like we can do, but just the analogy of we want to prepare our kids for what's next. We want to talk with them about what's coming up.
And I just thought, “If I'm not going to be able to prepare her, I'm just going to go experience it with her.” And I think there's something too about carrying a child and that child going straight to Glory without meeting them. It's like, “Well, of course, labor and delivery equals meeting my child.” And so I think that there's a sense in which you just imagine that's what's going to happen. “I'm just going to go meet my child now.”
That pairs too with a longing for Heaven right now. Like you were saying, I think that there's an acceptance, “That's not what's going to happen,” that comes into your life and just as the emotions and the intensity of the experience lessens and you get reintroduced back into day-to-day activities and day-to-day life, you come to over time accept, “I'm going to have further time on this earth and that's God's plan for me,” but there's still that longing there.
Ashley Opliger: [00:08:55] I agree. And I think there's something about losing your own flesh and blood, your own child, and burying them in the ground. And being at a cemetery, that just reminds you of your own mortality, that we're going to be one day in the ground unless Jesus comes back first.
And I think it really made Heaven so much more real to me, first of all, and second of all, just that longing to be there, but also realizing the urgency of the days that I do get to be here and how important it is to live each day to the fullest and for God's glory, because our babies’ lives were a vapor, but so are our lives in the grand scheme of eternity when we look at it through the lens of eternity.
And so I think really, at least for me, going to the cemetery week after week and visiting Bridget, it just reminded me that life is short. And not just for Bridget, but for us as well, and we have to do all that we can to glorify God.
And it gave me an urgency to share the Gospel because the Gospel is what is giving me this hope that I get to see Bridget again and that the grave has been defeated, that yes, I've buried her, but that's not where she is. She's alive and whole in Heaven and one day she'll be resurrected. So if that Gospel is what's giving me that hope, then I want to be sharing that Gospel with others.
And so I know you're doing that in many ways through the ministry of Hope Mommies, which is a Christ-centered ministry based out of Texas, and we love that ministry. And also you've written a book through Hope Mommies called Made for a Different Land.
So would you just transition now from your story and your grief? You're walking through this with the Lord. How did God open up these doors for you to do ministry and speak life and hope and truth into the loss community?
Lianna Davis: [00:10:55] Yeah. I think it first came through needing a community myself. And so the founder of Hope Mommies, Erin Cushman, she reached out to me. And a lot of different people reached out to me and wrote me really memorable and important things, and hers was one of them. It just struck a chord and I was like, “She gets it.”
She gets exactly the grief and the hope and the promises of Jesus, but the reality that this is so intense and weighty and how you don't see your way through it. You just have to trust the Lord that you're going to get through it and all of that combined, how you can have that intensity with the hope, and I thought she really got it. And so I connected with Hope Mommies through that way.
And then I think I just started interacting more with other moms and talking about theological matters, weighing in on different theological questions. And I majored in women's ministry in college, and so the Bible background and the theological background, I was able to use some of that.
And the answers from Scripture that were helping me, I was able to use that to answer the questions of other women. And I hope that was meaningful and helpful to them just as it had been to me.
And so it was through that, then I became a social media coordinator, so sharing quotes, sharing images that I thought would speak to moms and help. And then about that time, the blog started getting more active too, and we have a great blog coordinator.
And so, yeah, it was through needing a community like that, and then using the background that God had given me, And never would I have dreamed it would have been used that way, but it was. And then I'm starting to share more and write more online.
Ashley Opliger: [00:12:50] I love that you have a theology background. Theology is something I'm very passionate about and I love to dive into on this podcast, because I think it's so important that we have the right theology about God's character. Because a lot of times the questions that we're asking are sometimes not the right questions to be asking, or we have the wrong idea about how to answer these questions.
The biggest question that comes to mind that we talk about a lot on the podcast is, “How could a good God allow babies to die?” I'd love for you to expand on that question, but also these other theological questions that were coming your way, if you don't mind maybe sharing two or three that you see the most in this ministry and in your experience of walking other women through this.
Lianna Davis: [00:13:37] I think it really so much for me goes back to understanding where sin and death and sorrow came from. I think that's just so vital. If you look back and consider, it's really the Genesis model for what happens, just knowing that God created everything perfect in a perfect world, the way that He originally set forth, this would not have happened. This was not God's original design for babies to be separated from their mothers and for this kind of grief and loss to happen.
But it's man who rebelled. It's man who sinned. It's man who said that, “God's instructions are not good and I'm going to go live and follow my own way.” And from that comes just sorrow upon sorrow.
And so I think that for me, taking responsibility now, and whenever I say this, I always caveat, I don't want to ever say that a particular sin in someone's life caused the death of a child because in the Gospels that's debunked. You know, “What sin caused this man to be born with a disability?”
And they said, “Oh, it was to show the glory and power of God.” And so I'm not saying that a particular sin caused loss, but what I'm saying is taking that responsibility that it's my sin and my fallenness that is the reason that the world is so lost and so needy, and it's collective.
And so in pain and in such sorrow and it's collectively too, just as a human race, we fell and we disregarded God's goodness and so we went a different way.
So I think having that really clear in my mind always helps me because God is good. God always does good and He is good. And so this, His agency, is not ever connected to sin or to what caused this fallen state. That's one question or just one response that's always in my heart.
I think too, for me, I like to not look at pain or loss or grief without looking to the Gospel, to think that God knew, He knew what would happen with this earth. And from before time began, from before the ages began, He set forth that He was going to send Jesus to die. I mean, He was going to send His Son to come and die on the cross and die a sacrificial death and that He would have the power to be raised from the dead and resurrected and to give us resurrection from the dead.
I never want to think, “Oh, I've experienced more pain than God. I've experienced more loss than God. I've experienced more grief.” I have not. I mean, what I've experienced happened to me. But what God did, He elected to take this on for us. He elected to carry our sins and our griefs and our sorrows.
And that's amazing to me, after what I've experienced, to think that someone would knowingly elect to take that on and that He did that for us. And he did that to show the incredible kindness of His mercy and His grace for endless ages to come for anybody who would believe in Him, just anybody.
And I think that's just so beautiful too. I can never look at my sorrow without saying God's was infinitely more, because there was that infinite relationship. And the Father taking His wrath out on the Son for our sins, what kind of break in eternal bond or what kind of sorrow in eternal bond did that introduce into the Godhead for that moment?
I can't even fathom that and that's just beyond our comprehension. And I think we'll just marvel at it for eternity to come, that God would do that for sinful man, who decided to turn from Him.
And so I think just that, looking to the cross and looking to, “Where did this all come from,” that has helped me so much.
Ashley Opliger: [00:17:48] Those are such beautiful words, Lianna, and just such a beautiful illustration of the Gospel. I feel like what you shared was a presentation of the Gospel, that there was sin, there's a need for a Savior, and Jesus is that Savior, and He's the only way to the Father.
And I'm just feeling it on my heart right now, as anyone's listening to this and maybe you're hearing this for the first time or maybe it's just resonating with you for the first time what Jesus did for you and what Jesus offers us, I just want to open up this time and give you this opportunity to put your faith in Jesus and to know that He is a loving Savior who did not want this for you.
He did not want this for His earth, this brokenness, but He is the plan and the Savior to right every wrong, to wipe every tear away from your eyes and to one day live in this eternal Paradise with Him and with our babies.
And so it doesn't matter where you are listening to this. It doesn't matter what your past is, what sins you've committed. Jesus will wipe all of that away–your sins as far from the east as from the west, and that He wants to make a new creation out of you.
And so if you have never made that prayer or never made that decision to follow Christ, it is a simple prayer that you can pray. It's just a declaration of surrender to God that you believe in His Son, Jesus, that He is the Messiah that God sent into this world as a baby to die on the cross for our sins, that He rose three days later and that He is the One that can lead us to Heaven. He is the way, the truth, the life, and He's the only way to the Father.
And so, Lianna, do you want to share anything more about just this opportunity that anyone has, no matter what their past is, no matter what doubts they have or fears that they've had, or maybe even what they’ve felt about God through their grief journey, that every day is an open invitation for His love and His grace?
Lianna Davis: [00:19:51] Yeah. I want to just say it's regardless of how far you have gone from God, how much anger you have had toward God, how much resentment you have felt, how distant you have seen Him to be, He can redeem it all. And He is so good and so kind to me, even where you are at. He just wants you to share your heart with Him and share those feelings with Him and share those roadblocks with Him. He does not turn that away. He welcomes that.
I think it's just in welcoming God into my deepest feelings and into the hard feelings, the ones that I don't want to admit that I have, the ones where I say, “God, I feel angry and I'm sorry I feel angry, but this is where I'm at right now.” And He will lead and guide you through those emotions.
And He's not there to chastise you. He is there to help you and to guide you and lead you through. He wants to draw you to Himself. And He's just such a beautiful Savior.
Ashley Opliger: [00:20:54] Amen. Amen. If this is your first time making that decision, we would love to know that. And so we would be honored if you would reach out to us, whether it's through email or getting into our Cradled in Hope Facebook group, which we have links in our show notes for, but we would be honored to know about that and to walk alongside you in your faith journey and your grief journey of walking through your grief with Jesus because He wants to be with you.
He wants to sit in your sadness with you and ultimately heal your heart and bring joy back to your life.
And so that's what I want to talk now with you, Lianna, is your story of losing your first child, and then walking this road of healing with Him. And so would you share some Scripture that you really clung to in that time, as well as what prayer meant to you in those days and weeks and months after her loss?
Lianna Davis: [00:21:47] Yeah. I think one Scripture that comes to mind is that, “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases and His mercies never come to an end. They're new every morning. Great is God's faithfulness.”
I think one thing that I saw God doing for me was helping me release my sorrow. So I would feel stuck one day, or I would feel like I couldn't even shed the tears that I needed to cry. And He would just bring something into my life that allowed me to feel, allowed me to see, and allowed me to move forward.
And one of those times, it was my first, like, “I'm going to sit down now and have a quiet time. I'm going to spend time with Jesus.” And it was my first time doing this after loss. And not that I hadn't read the Bible, but reading the Bible itself seemed like such a heavy task to me.
And not like I wasn't tuned into Scripture. I was searching it for answers, especially about, “Could I be certain that my daughter had gone ahead to Glory? Or what degree of certainty could I have? What hope does the Bible give that babies who die go to Heaven?” And I was searching the Scripture for that, for example.
But it was my first quiet time after loss where I just sat down and said, “I'm going to spend time with Jesus now.” And it was in John, where it says, “Rivers of living water will flow from you when you believe in Jesus.” And the concept of living water, that living, just something living coming from my heart that felt dead, like stone, I didn't even feel like I had a heart. I just felt like it had flown ahead to be with Noelle.
And so thinking that, “Wow. Something living can be flowing from inside of my heart because of the Lord in me through the Holy Spirit, I need that livingness to be in me.” But at the same time I was resistant because I didn't want to move ahead from Noelle and from this experience. It felt like this grief connected me to Noelle. And so I didn't want to move ahead from the grief, but my heart was so heavy with the grief that I needed this living flow.
And so I think that was one time when God just spoke to my spirit and allowed me to have the next release that I needed in grief as this kind of circular grief goes on and on, and you just need those next points for that next truth, that next comment from somebody, that next prayer from somebody, that can help keep you on track with Jesus.
And I think there was one time too where I had all this stuff on my heart, and I think it was Erin Cushman, I reached back out to her and I said, “I'm feeling all this stuff and what do I do with all this?”
And she just wrote back to me and she gave some thoughts, but then she said, “Have you talked to God about this?”
And I was like, “Oh man, I have not talked with God about these feelings.” And that's when I started to have a dialogue with Him. But the heart that I didn't even feel like I had, but my heart was waterlogged with, like, “It's just so heavy,” and it couldn't be picked up. But I felt like talking with Him allowed that to clear.
And it's hard to explain the work that God Himself does in a human heart, but that's the best that I can do. Opening up when you're looking to Him in grief gives you releases, gives you things to relate to and opens your heart up, and then He makes you feel lighter and helps you to walk the heavy road.
Ashley Opliger: [00:25:18] There’s two things that you said that were very profound and I want to come back to those. One is that you said there were moments where God would give you the opportunity to become unstuck in your grief, and many times that meant by allowing you to release your emotions and to cry.
And so often I think we see that as actually a setback of like, “Oh no, I'm entering into this grief and I am crying. That must mean I'm not healing or I'm not progressing.” But I believe very strongly you have to grieve in order to heal. You cannot heal without grieving.
And so many times in our support groups we talk about the importance of sitting in your sadness with Jesus and really letting yourself feel the weight of it. And it's hard to allow yourself to do it, which is why it resonated with me that you had a specific prayer for being unstuck, because we resist feeling our feelings sometimes, and we resist sitting in the deep, dark despair of grief.
But at the same time, that might be the very thing that we need to move forward and for God to get into that dark place to really do a healing work.
So would you talk about that more? Because I think women need permission for that and knowing that there's actually good that comes from being in that place.
Lianna Davis: [00:26:41] Yeah. I think it can feel so uncontrollable and I think for me, that's part of why going to the very sad feelings, sometimes the dark, really hard spots, it can feel so uncontrollable. And so you can want to not go there.
But I think going there and looking there with Jesus is a different picture because He just brings light and life and truth. And I think of John, where it says, “His light was the life of men.” And all I can say is having a relationship with Jesus just makes all the difference because He will go there with you.
And when you are going to these uncontrollable, very sorrowful feelings, but you're going there with somebody who is infinite, unchangeable, powerful, mighty, strong, gracious, kind, tender, loving, making of peace with us, and He is all of these things, when you're going there with Him, it's just different because you don't have to control. You don't have to feel like you need to control it all because He is there to help you through it. And He will give you what you need next. He just will.
And I think that He is just not glad that we're experiencing the sorrow, but He is just glad to be there for us like that. And I think that He takes that very seriously, to be there for us like that. I think it's something He's very intentional about and He just wants us to know that He is very serious and intentional about doing that work with us and being there for us in it.
Ashley Opliger: [00:28:28] Amen. I love that, and I agree with you. And the second thing that you mentioned is that your grief connected you to Noelle, and so in some ways you didn't want to move past your grief because then it feels like you're moving on from Noelle, which is of course not true. But I can resonate with that feeling, and I know so many moms listening can resonate with that feeling.
[It’s] something we talk about often in grief support because we'll mention that, for example, we'll be around family and friends and someone will say a joke and you feel tempted to laugh. But you don't want to laugh because you feel guilty for feeling happiness again, or you don't want your friends and family to interpret your laughter as you're okay and you're not grieving your baby anymore.
And so it's this juxtaposition of wanting to feel laughter and have a respite from your grief and the heaviness of that, and wanting to find joy again, but also not wanting to be perceived as you are fully healed or that you're not still grieving and missing your baby very much and that you still want support and encouragement from your friends and family.
But also personally, you might feel guilty for feeling those feelings because it makes you feel like maybe you're not honoring your baby, which is not true at all.
But would you walk us through those feelings? Because I think a lot of women listening can really resonate to what you said.
Lianna Davis: [00:29:56] Yeah. I remember feeling exactly like my laughter at a joke or a lighthearted moment, like it was, especially in those early days, those felt too soon or like I shouldn't, or it felt like I was dismissing of her or her memory because she was so connected to the grief in my heart.
But I think what helped me was switching my mindset from my grief connects me to Noelle to God's love connects me to Noelle. God's love is what connects the two of us and that's the strength. God is the strength that connects us. We have great love for Him. We have great love for each other because of Him.
And that's a literal connection, and it might not be one that makes me able to see her or have a conversation with her right now but it's a literal connection, that she is knowing Jesus, she's a part of the Church.
The Church is both here on earth, it's the Church militant, meaning we're still fighting the good fight against sin and against the devil and for the Lord and for His glory, and then the Church triumphant, the church in Heaven, but that has already achieved that rest and the rest in the Lord there in Heaven and rejoicing in the triumph of it.
But it's one Church, and so I am one Body. I am one with Noelle and that's through the love of Jesus.
And so when I didn't feel the pressure to maintain that connection with her anymore, I think that's what freed me of feeling like, “Oh, I can't laugh,” or, “I can't go have a good time.”
No, I can because it's the Lord that connects us. It's the Lord's love. And that is enough for me and letting the Lord maintain that connection. Only He can have the pressure, the weight of that. For Him, it's not pressure or weight, but for me, maintaining connection to my daughter was pressure or weight. How do I do that? But God maintains our relationship. God maintains our closeness. And that was just so freeing for me.
Ashley Opliger: [00:31:55] Yes. The way I always say it is that Heaven is near because Bridget is in the actual physical presence of Jesus. He's at the right hand of the Father in Heaven. And then I have the Holy Spirit, part of the Trinity, living inside of me. And so here I am in the physical presence of the Holy Spirit and she's in the physical presence of Jesus. And so we really are so connected through God and it just makes Heaven feel so much closer.
And then another thing that I thought of, in terms of moving on from grief, that also for me has made me feel connected to Bridget is that instead of the grief connecting me to her, aside from God connecting, which we just talked about, is now this idea of hearing the Gospel and doing ministry in her memory, but for God's glory.
And that is what's connecting me the most now is just being on fire and passionate about sharing the hope that God has given me with other people. And whereas the grief at the beginning was what more so made me feel this connection, now it's the serving and the giving and the loving and the sharing, all of these things that her life has inspired me to do.
And I don't know if you feel that same way, but that is a big part for me now of this connection, is just feeling as though her life has impacted mine so much that I now just feel so passionate about sharing the amazing hope of the Gospel.
Lianna Davis: [00:33:27] Yeah. No, I think that's so beautiful. I love that.
Ashley Opliger: [00:33:30] We hope you are enjoying this episode so far. We want to take a quick break to tell you about some resources our ministry provides to grieving moms.
On our website, bridgetscradles.com, you can find hope-filled resources on grieving and healing including memorial ideas, quotes & Scripture, featured stories, and recommended books and other organizations. We share ideas on how to navigate difficult days such as due dates, Heaven Days, and holidays.
In addition, every month I lead Christ-centered support groups for bereaved moms called Hope Gatherings, both in-person and online. You can find a list of upcoming dates and sign up for our next support group on our website.
Lastly, we would love for you to connect with us on Facebook and Instagram. You can find us on these three pages: @bridgetscradles, @cradledinhope, and my personal page @ashleyopliger. You can also join our private Cradled in Hope Facebook group for grieving moms to find community. We would be honored to hear your baby’s story and be praying for you by name. Now let’s get back to our episode.
Ashley Opliger: [00:34:40] So I want to transition now to talk about Made for a Different Land, the book that you wrote. I would love for you to introduce it to us. First of all, share your heart behind it, what made you write it, and then really what the purpose of the book is so that our listeners can know about it, they can get it, and they can read it and find hope through it.
Lianna Davis: [00:35:01] I think I saw, for myself, I was looking for a book that really related the emotional intricacies of grief, and then took Biblical answers. C. S. Lewis's A Grief Observed, and I'm not comparing myself to C. S. Lewis, but C. S. Lewis's A Grief Observed really related the emotional intricacies of grief.
But then I didn't feel like it took you to Scripture at the end, that he gave hard and fast, the steady, solid-truth answers to questions. And so again, I wanted a book that I didn't see. And so I wrote the book that I wanted and it contains stories from other women who've been involved with Hope Mommies too, so it's not just my voice coming through.
That was really special to me that women would want to participate in it too, and women who had experienced loss at different stages of pregnancy and after pregnancy too, and so that was special. But I think just having a book where at the end, it's all about God's glory and it's all about how He is going to use what happens in our lives and what He allows in our lives to bring honor and glory to Him in the end.
And I think we're all going to get to Heaven and we're just going to praise Him for all the ways that He has used the grief and the pain that He's brought into our lives and has redeemed it and used it for His glory.
And I wanted a book that had that end and that goal in sight throughout, but also was very vulnerable and descriptive, even, about the emotional realities of grief, that this is not having that end of God's glory in sight does not mean that I don't have an emotional grief trajectory to bear and to endure and to travel through with the Lord. And it certainly does change over time.
So I had the opportunity to partner with Hope Mommies in the book a number of years after experiencing loss, but I used my writing from those first months after loss because I wanted it to be just very genuine and very true to what I was feeling then. And so that's what I did, and I hope it just ministers hope and God's hope and God's sovereignty to women, and just that it can be a blessing, just that it can be a help and that people can know Jesus more through it.
Ashley Opliger: [00:37:34] I love that. And we have Made for a Different Land linked in our show notes and in our e-blast if you're on our email list. And so you can click that link to go and purchase Made for a Different Land.
We are also doing a giveaway for three different copies that we will give to grieving moms who listen. You can go on to our social media pages, our Facebook and Instagram, to see the details of that giveaway, but be sure to check that so that you can be entered into the giveaway to receive a free copy of Made for a Different Land, signed by Lianna. And we're just so grateful for your willingness to give away your books.
And then also, like I mentioned, everything will be linked for our listeners to go and find a copy of that. But I think It's just such a beautiful concept that you have multiple women speaking into this book and just sharing hope and God's glory.
You mentioned His sovereignty, and that's, I know, a big topic of your book. And so I would love for you to just talk about what God's sovereignty has meant to you in your suffering.
Lianna Davis: [00:38:40] I think for me, if God weren't sovereign, then this just happened to me and nothing comes of it, and there's no good that comes from it. And that would feel uncontrollable and just sad, just despairing.
But when you think about God's sovereignty, which is the truth, it's that God allowed this in my life for a purpose, that God allowed this to happen because He is working out His purposes of greater glory for Himself through it.
And when you connect to God's glory, that's to enjoy God and glorify Him forever, that's our chief end and that's the goal of our lives.
And so when we connect it to the greater purpose of God's glory, then you can see, “Okay, these emotions that I'm feeling, they're for a purpose. God's going to use this. He's going to use my coming back to Him again and again, He is going to use these elements of my grief and this very loss for His purposes. And I don't know what all of His purposes are, but I know that He is working all things together for my good and His glory.”
And that's not, again, using that verse, it's not to say that, “Then why grieve?” God wept at the death of Lazarus when He was about to raise him from the dead. It's not to say, “Don't grieve.” It's to say that God is powerful enough and He is good enough to use all of the things that happen on a fallen earth to His followers for our good and for His glory.
And our good is His glory because we get to participate in that and glory in Him together forever and just that vision of, again, I picture Heaven and Heaven being all about the glory of God and just praising Him forever.
And when you look at loss back from a Heavenly perspective, I think it's just going to be such a different thing. Like, “Look what God did there! Look what God did there! Look at what good He brought out of it there! Look at who had hope because of that moment,” whatever it may be.
I think allowing yourself to rejoice, like, “God is allowing me to be faithful to this. I'm not rejecting Him because of this, and that's because of His goodness to me and because of His enabling work of the Spirit in my life. And that's good too. Praise God for that. Praise God that He is active in me. And that's a further testament to just who He is and His truth and the sense of His realness in my life.” And like, “Wow,” just marveling at the Lord.
So I think because God is sovereign and able to do all this good work for His glory through our traumatic and sorrowful life circumstances, it gives such meaning and purpose and depth and hope to what we experience. It just transforms it, I think.
Ashley Opliger: [00:41:38] I absolutely believe that the best sanctification happens through the trials and the grief and the sorrowful experiences that we walk through, which I wish it wasn't so, but I feel as though my faith has been strengthened the most and my theology refined the most through the darker and harder times that I've walked through in my life.
And the more that you go through and the more difficult times that you walk through with Jesus, and you look back on His faithfulness and His goodness, and how He strengthened your faith, and how He's bringing about the spiritual maturity in you, you almost welcome hard times, not as if you want them to come or that you are excited about experiencing them, but you view them differently.
Because, instead of asking the question, “Why me, God? Why is this happening,” you start asking the question, “Okay, God, what are You going to teach me in this? What good are You going to bring about from this? What impact in testimony am I going to bring out of the situation when You get me to the other side?”
It's not that we want to walk through these things, but we can view it with an eternal lens, that there is going to be good, and sanctification, and that ultimately God's trying to make us more like Him and make us more holy. And oftentimes it's these trials and the sadness that we walk through that does humble us and strengthen us and make us rely on His strength and His power.
So I love that you shared that and I love the beauty of everything that you've created in Noelle's honor and being able to share this hope with so many moms through the ministry of Hope Mommies and through this book. I would love for our listeners to be able to connect with you. So if you wouldn't mind sharing where they can find you, your website, your social media channels, and also where they can connect with Hope Mommies.
Lianna Davis: [00:43:39] Yeah, liannabdavis.com. My middle name is Beth, so L-I-A-N-N-A-B-D-A-V-I-S, and then Hope Mommies is hopemommies.org, and all the social media sites are linked through the websites too, so thank you for that.
Ashley Opliger: [00:43:52] That's perfect. Well, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your story. I would love for you to close us in prayer and pray for all the mommas’ hearts that are listening that have been touched by your story and are feeling the stirring in them to reach out to the Lord for help in their grief, to be comforted by Him. So I'd love for you to just meet these moms right where they are.
Lianna Davis: [00:44:17] That would be an honor to do so. Thank you.
Dear Jesus. You're just so good and kind and present, and You are our help, and You are loving, and You are wonderful, and You are faithful to us. You are true. You're just tender. I pray that the moms listening would come to know You for who You are and would come to know You in these ways, that we would not conform You to the image of who we think God is, but that we would be conformed to who Scripture says You are.
And I pray that the cloud of grief, though it hang low and though it be dark, I pray that it would not forever, for the moms who are listening, cloud out Your character and the truth of who You are. I pray that Your sovereignty, Your goodness, Your faithfulness, and Your Truth would resonate in the hearts and minds today, and that anything that was spoken that did resonate, I pray that each mom would take the opportunity to reflect on that before You and not let the opportunity go to waste.
I pray that if we hear Your voice, we would not turn away from that or discount it, but that we would take that as a special invitation and offering from You that we can go deeper and closer with You. I pray for Your hand upon both of these ministries involved in the podcast today and that Your light and Your Gospel and Your Truth would continue to go forward through these ministries in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Ashley Opliger: [00:45:52] Amen. Thank you so much, Lianna. It was an honor to have you on Cradled in Hope.
Lianna Davis: [00:45:56] Thank you so much for having me.
Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss new episodes when they release on the 1st of every month. You can also find this episode’s show notes and a full transcript on our website at bridgetscradles.com/podcast.
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If you’re interested in volunteering or donating to Bridget’s Cradles in memory of a baby in Heaven, you can find information on our website on how you can get involved and spread hope to other grieving families.
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Thank you so much for listening and sharing. Until next time, we will be praying for you. And remember, as Jesus cradles our babies in Heaven, He cradles us in hope. Though we may grieve, we do not grieve without hope.
Cradled in Hope is part of the Edifi Podcast Network, a collection of faith-inspiring podcasts on Edifi, the world’s most powerful Christian podcasting app. To listen to Cradled in Hope and find other podcasts by leading Christian voices, download the Edifi app in the Apple and Google Play stores or online at edifi.app. Thank you so much for listening.
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