Bonus Episode - Wave of Light 2021
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This is a special bonus episode highlighting the program from the Wave of Light event that Bridget's Cradles hosted in Wichita, Kansas on October 15th, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. In this episode, we shared:
The program and announcements from Bridget's Cradles Wave of Light 2021 event
Ashley Opliger's speech and prayer from the event
A thank you to our generous corporate and memorial sponsors
The Shine Their Light Award Winners and David Steinhilpert's speech
Reading of Names of Babies in Heaven (for families that registered/attended or sponsored the event)
You can download a digital copy of our event program below:
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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 1,090 hospitals in all 50 states and comforts over 26,000 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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Ashley Opliger: [00:00:00] You’re listening to the Cradled in Hope Podcast where we believe that the hope of Heaven, through faith in Jesus Christ, has the power to heal our hearts after the loss of a baby. It’s a pain no mother should have to endure and we want this podcast to be a safe place for your broken heart to land. Here, we are going to trust God’s promise to restore our joy, use our grief for good, and allow us to spend eternity with our babies in Heaven.
I’m your host, Ashley Opliger. I’m a wife, mom, and follower of Christ clinging to the hope of Heaven. My daughter, Bridget, was stillborn at 24 weeks in my first pregnancy in 2014. In her memory, my husband and I started a nonprofit ministry called Bridget’s Cradles, and God has given us purpose in our pain and we’ve seen beauty come from ashes.
Although we wish you didn’t have a need to be listening to this podcast, we believe God has a reason for you to be here today. We pray this time would be a source of healing for you as we remember that Jesus cradles us in hope while He cradles our babies in Heaven. Though we may grieve, we do not grieve without hope. Welcome to the Cradled in Hope Podcast.
Ashley Opliger: [00:01:26] Hello, and welcome to the special bonus episode for Wave of Light 2021. On October 15th, Pregnancy And Infant Loss Remembrance Day, Bridget’s Cradles hosted a community candlelight vigil in Wichita, Kansas, in memory of our babies in Heaven.
We were so blessed to meet so many of you and give you a big hug. It was an honor to walk through the rows of twinkling lights together in remembrance of our babies in Heaven. I know many of you live out of state and participated in the Wave of Light from your own homes all across the country. Whether you joined us in person in Wichita or from afar with your candle burning bright for your baby, we hope you know that we were saying prayers for you and remembering your babies in Heaven with you.
The Wave of Light event in Wichita was a sacred time of remembering our babies and celebrating the hope that we have to see them again in Heaven through faith in Jesus. For this episode, we are going to share the program from the event as well as a reading of names of all the babies in Heaven whose parents either registered, attended, or sponsored the event. Before we get started, I want to thank our generous sponsors, whose partnership orchestrated such a beautiful event.
Thank you to our corporate sponsors. KWCH 12, Wichita Mom, Don Hattan Dealerships, Downing and Lahey Mortuaries, Fidelity Bank, Berry Companies, Sign Gypsies, CrossFirst Bank, Trinity Sales. Northrock Chiropractic Clinic, and Love of Character.
We also want to thank the grieving parents who donated in memory of your babies in Heaven as memorial sponsors of the event. We would like to thank the parents of Eva Grace Price-Coulter and Her Siblings in Heaven. Jack Monroe Siegrist, Ellowyn Grace Marie and Zoey Mae Singer, Gabriel Mason Broderick, Ava Lea and Ian Carter Schmidt, Sloane Eloise Steinhilpert, Irona Mikelle Cliver, Sarah Evelyn Willis, Timber Kai Pavlacka, and the Markley Babies.
Thank you so much for shining your babies’ lights to comfort others in their darkness of grief. We also want to thank all of our light sponsors, all of the families who sponsored a cluster of light in memory of their baby in Heaven. I also want to thank Sammi Young for taking pictures of the event and to Jonah Gibson for capturing the event on film. He will be producing a beautiful video for us as he has done in the past and we can't wait for you to see it.
We also want to give a huge thanks to Jeremy Miller of Drone-tography for capturing beautiful drone footage of the special event from the skies above. These videos will be posted on our social media channels [Facebook, Instagram] as well as YouTube, and you won't want to miss them.
And lastly, thank you to my amazing team of volunteers who helped me plan and orchestrate this event. Thank you to Amanda Farris, MaKayla White, Casey Siegrist, Stephanie Singer, Dena Broderick, and Kelsey Crone (and their husbands) for all that you did to make this event a beautiful night for families, I'd like to now open with a few announcements, and then we will have the reading of the names and then conclude with a prayer.
We are still selling our We Grieve With Hope Wave of Light T-shirts. They are $20 and they come in three different colors, pink, blue, or grey. They will be on sale through the end of the month. Visit bridgetscradles.com/Wave of Light, and there is a button to go to the T-shirt order form. All orders will be shipped directly to you and delivered by November 19th. They are not date or location-specific and can be worn year-round.
Now I would like to talk about the Shine Their Light fundraising campaign that we started this year for Wave of Light. This is the first year that we've ever had a fundraising aspect to our Wave of Light event.
Being that we are a nonprofit that is 100% run on donations and volunteers in order to fulfill our mission of comforting families with a cradle, resources and support, we wanted to give families the opportunity to fundraise in memory of their babies in Heaven to bless and comfort other families who knew the same pain and heartache as them. So we named this fundraiser Shine Their Light.
With Wave of Light being focused on light, we wanted to highlight how we, the parents, grandparents, friends, and family members of babies in Heaven can shine our babies’ light in this dark and broken world.
Their precious lives have a purpose, and I believe that God has a role for us in fulfilling that purpose. We can shine a light on pregnancy loss and comfort those who are heartbroken in the darkness of grief.
This fundraiser was launched two weeks before October Pregnancy And Infant Loss Awareness Month and will continue until the end of the month on October 31st. There's still time to donate or fundraise.
When we launched the fundraiser on September 15th, we shared that we wanted to award the top fundraising team a special Wave of Light Award at the event, and that teams would have a month leading up to October 15th to raise the funds in order to participate.
Little did we know that the winning team that would win on October 15th would have lost their precious daughter on September 14th, just one day before we shared about the Shine Their Light fundraiser, which was only one month and one day before the event.
When I first spoke with this couple, just days after their loss, they told me about the tragedy and heartbreak they had faced. But the primary focus of the conversation for them was that they wanted to talk about how they could honor their daughter's life and serve others in her memory for Jesus Christ.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead they set it on a stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.”
This couple that I will be awarding the Wave of Light Award to this year is a beautiful example of Jesus's words in Matthew and what it looks like to use their grief for good and light their lamp and sit it on a stand in memory of their baby. I am honored to present the Shine Their Light Award to David and Mattie Steinhilpert, who raised over $5,000 in memory of their precious daughter, Sloane Eloise.
Sloane went to be with Jesus on September 14th of this year at 31 weeks; she weighed three pounds, 10 ounces and measured 16 and a half inches. Sweet Sloane is truly blessed to have David and Mattie as parents. They illuminate the light of Jesus. Will you join me in honoring David and Mattie for blessing thousands of families through their generosity.
I'm now going to have David share his acceptance speech.
David Steinhilpert: [00:08:41] First off, I would like to thank Bridget’s Cradles for this opportunity to celebrate our babies in Heaven through the Wave of Light. Secondly, I would like to thank Bridget’s Cradles for this award. However, an award for the highest fundraising is not why we stand before you. Just one short month ago, my wife, Mattie, and I held our baby girl, admiring her precious face when she took her final breath.
Her passing did not come as a surprise in that moment. God prepared us that He was calling our daughter to her eternal home in Heaven, Mattie and I were rocked to our core, lost all physical and emotional control. A moment in time I will never forget. It was the hardest moment of our lives, but God couldn't have made His message clearer.
I stand before you today not to give a typical award speech as some of you might've expected. I stand before you today because God has breathed a message into our hearts through the death of our precious baby girl, Sloane Eloise. You see, I am standing here physically shaking, not out of fear, but because I can literally feel the presence of God in this place. The Holy Spirit goes before us tonight, as we share a common emptiness in our hearts.
Everyone here knows what I'm talking about. Either you have personally lost a child or have in some way or another been affected by the loss of a child. My prayer is that feeling of loss, sadness, grief, heartache, and unimaginable pain is something that will transform you. Child of God. My prayer tonight is this experience sets a fire within you and within your heart unlike any other earthly experience.
Our children may not be in our arms tonight, but rest assured, they're in the arms of the King of Kings Jesus Christ. My time to speak tonight is running out, so I wanted to leave you all with one final message.
As disciples of Christ, we are called in one capacity or another to spread the Gospel. I want you to think about the next words tonight, tomorrow, and for the rest of your lives here on earth. First John chapter one, verse five states. “God is light. In Him there is no darkness. If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.”
Each one of these light clusters represents our babies in Heaven. And if God is light, there is no darkness at all, I challenge each and every one of you to not only walk, but also spread the light of Jesus Christ on this world.
First Corinthians chapter 15, verse 52 states, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable and we shall be changed.” Thank you.
Ashley Opliger: [00:11:20] Thank you so much, David, for sharing such truth and shining a light in memory of your daughter, Sloane. We were so honored to shine her light at the Wave of Light, and we want to encourage all families that are listening to this podcast to shine their babies’ light in the darkness.
We hope you are enjoying this episode so far. We wanted to take a quick break to tell you about some other hope-filled resources our ministry provides to grieving families.
On our website, bridgetscradles.com, you can find many resources on grieving and healing including memorial ideas, quotes & Scripture, blog articles, featured stories, recommended books, and other support organizations. We share ideas on how to navigate difficult days such as due dates, Heaven Days, and holidays. We also have a page with ideas on how to care for a friend or family member who has experienced pregnancy loss.
In addition, every month I lead free 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. You can also join our private Cradled in Hope Facebook group for grieving moms to find friendship and support. We would be honored to hear your baby’s story and be praying for you by name.
Lastly, our Pinterest page has beautiful graphics of quotes & Scripture from this episode, along with many other resources that you can pin and save. We would also 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. We’d love for you to follow along and spread the word about the Cradled in Hope Podcast. Now let’s get back to our episode.
Ashley Opliger: [00:13:16] I now want to transition to the speech that I shared at the event. And then we will go into the reading of the names.
This past year. I lost a pastor who was instrumental in my faith journey. Pastor Dennis Turner of Christ.Church, formerly Eastside Community Church, was the pastor who taught the Bible in a way that made me realize that the Gospel was for me. I was a sinner in need of a Savior.
He baptized me in the ocean at age 21 and discipled me to be a fully devoted follower of Christ. His discipleship of me helped form the foundation in my faith that eventually led to my surrender to pursue ministry with Bridget’s Cradles after losing Bridget.
At the event on October 15th, we had several light clusters lining the lake and reflecting into the water. In the center of all of the light clusters, we had a white light cluster for Pastor Dennis to honor him.
He impacted my life more than words could say. I am sure that many people that were at the event and also are listening to this podcast have been touched by his life as well. Though I am grieving his loss. I am certain that he is alive in Heaven and that I will see him again one day.
At his funeral last month, his daughter, my friend Lauren, spoke and shared a section of Scripture from Revelation, the last book of the Bible, that gives us a picture of what is to come. However, she read it from a children's Bible. And right now I want to read this same passage to you from the Jesus Storybook Bible, to share with you the great hope that we have to see our children in Heaven again.
This is called A Dream of Heaven: John Sees Into the Future, from Revelation chapters 1, 5, 21, and 22.
“John was one of Jesus' helpers. He was old now and living on an island, which might sound nice, except it was a prison. The leaders put him there to stop him from talking about Jesus, but I'm sure you don't think a little thing like being in a cell in a prison, on an island in the middle of an ocean, could stop God's plan, do you?
One morning, Jesus appeared right there in John's cell. Jesus' eyes were bright, shining, like the sun. ‘I'm going to show you a secret, John,’ Jesus said, ‘about when I come back.’ His voice was like the sound of rushing waters. ‘Write down what you see, so God's children can read it and wait with happy excitement.’
Then Jesus gave John a beautiful dream, except John was wide awake, and what he saw was real, and one day it would all come true. ‘I see a throne, and on the throne is a King, and the King is Jesus. All around the throne, people are bowing down. They are giving Him their treasures. There are loud cheers and clapping, clapping, and bright laughter like a thousand waterfalls and everyone burst out singing a new song.
‘This is our King, the Lamb who died, so we don't have to, our Rescuer. All honor and glory forever and ever.’ And every creature everywhere in Heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea joins in. And then from all around, a wide immense beautiful silence. And I see Satan, God's horrible enemy, thrown down, defeated.
I see a sparkling city shimmering in the sky, glittering, glowing, coming down from Heaven and from the sky, Heaven is coming down to earth. God's city is beautiful. Walls of topaz, jasper, sapphire, wide streets paved with gold, gleaming pearl gates that are never locked shut.
Where is the sun? Where is the moon? They aren't needed anymore. God is all the light people need. No more darkness. No more night. And the King says, ‘Look! God, and His children are together again. No more running away or hiding. No more crying or being lonely or afraid. No more being sick and no more dying because all those things are gone. Yes, they're gone forever. Everything sad has come untrue. And see, I have wiped away every tear from every eye.’
And then a deep, beautiful voice that sounded like thunder in the sky says, “Look! I am making everything new.’ It was hard to squeeze all John saw into words and fit it onto a page and cram it into a book. All the words on all the pages of all the books in all the world would never be enough. ‘I am the beginning.’ Jesus said, ‘and the ending.’
One day, John knew, Heaven would come down and mend God's broken world and make it our true, perfect home once again. And he knew, in some mysterious way that would be hard to explain, that everything was going to be more wonderful for once having been so sad.
And he knew then that the ending of the story was going to be so great, it would make all the sadness and tears and everything seem just like a shadow that is chased away by the morning sun. ‘I'm on my way,’ said Jesus, ‘I'll be there soon.’
John came to the end of his book, but he didn't write The End, because of course that's how stories finish, and this one's not over yet. So instead he wrote, ‘Come quickly, Jesus,’ which perhaps is really just another way of saying: To be continued.”
Friends and family listening to this podcast, I pray that these words in the book of Revelation read from this children's Bible would encourage your hearts to know this story is not over. Our babies' lives, so brief on this earth and the separation that we have now between us, is temporary.
Jesus has defeated the grave. He is coming back and He will make everything right and new again. And we will be with our babies forever. We will never be separated from them again. I pray that you would understand this glorious hope, that you would be encouraged and wait with expectant hope for the reunion that you will one day have with your babies in Heaven.
We always say, from First Thessalonians chapter four, verse 13, “Though we may grieve, we do not grieve without hope”. I pray that you all would leave this podcast episode knowing that although we are sitting right now on this broken earth where we are grieving, filled with sorrow and heartache, that our King is coming, that we will one day be with our babies.
And so we do not have t