Do you ever wake up in the morning overcome with a feeling of possibility, hope and joy the day might hold? Today was like this for me. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and all was well with my soul! It was exactly what I needed after struggling with a major case of the down-in-the-dumps last weekend. This morning I felt restored, invigorated and inspired. I was ready to chase dreams and grab onto happiness.
I have no doubt this stemmed from a big dose of taking care of myself yesterday. My friend, Kate, invited me to the annual Every Woman Counts fundraising luncheon. Kate is one of five Iowa moms who endured the heartache of losing a daughter to stillbirth or infant death. They were connected through loss, but decided to channel their grief into stillbirth prevention efforts to keep other families from facing the pain of losing a baby.
They’ve helped to create Iowa’s Stillbirth Registry, the most comprehensive stillbirth data collection program in the country and have launched Healthy Birth Day, the 501c (3) nonprofit organization as a way to fund efforts to spread their Count The Kicks message. Count the Kicks teaches moms to track their baby’s movements during the third trimester of pregnancy, a practice that research has shown can reduce the stillbirth rate (1 in every 160 pregnancies in the US) Since Count the Kicks began in Iowa in 2009, Iowa’s stillbirth rate has gone down a whopping 26 percent, taking it from the 33rd worst stillbirth rate in the country to 3rd lowest.
And that’s not even the half of it! In a relatively short amount of time, Healthy Birth Day has created a network of supportive hospitals, doctors and advocates across the U.S. who are spreading the Count the Kicks message, including ambassadors in 18 states. This important public health campaign has recently gone global thanks to their kick counting app found in the iTunes and Google Play online stores. They recently launched their Save 6000 Babies campaign, a plan to replicate exactly what they have done in Iowa in all 50 States. If they can decrease the entire country’s stillbirth rate by 26 percent like they have done in Iowa they will save more than 6,000 babies every year.
They have turned their pain into purpose. They have bravely used their grief to help others avoid it. You can see how being in a room full of these women and the thousand plus others who showed up to support them would be inspiring, right? But that’s not all! The guest speaker at yesterday’s luncheon offered a message that cut straight to my heart too.
Rachel Macy Stafford, aka the Hands Free Mama, was there to remind me to breathe life into what really matters: the ordinary moments in our routine lives and the people in them. She shared the wisdom of her truth. When she spoke of how she learned that baring her scars and ugly truths resulted in people responding with love, my heart proclaimed a loud, “Amen!”
When Rachel said, “Your story does not have to be figured out in order to be shared,” it was as if God sent her to deliver that message directly to me! It was the validation I desperately needed at the exact hour I needed to hear it most. It was God’s way of telling me to keep going. Keep listening to that whisper I’m putting on your heart. Keep sharing your story. Keep trusting me.
After the event, I immediately purchased her new book, Only Love Today, and high-tailed it into the meet and greet line. I just had to tell her thank you! I had to hug her and express my gratitude for delivering the message I needed to hear. She’s one of those people you meet in life that instantly feels familiar. Experiencing her kindness, love and grace feels like reconnecting with a best friend. If you aren’t following her blog and reading her books yet, you must. Trust me on this.
So, you can see how an afternoon filled with brave and inspiring women might have something to do with my mood today. They’ve all turned broken hearts into beautiful purpose. They’re saving thousands of babies across the globe. And they’ve impacted a self-doubting new blogging widow in a profound way.
I know many of you are reading this today with broken hearts and uncertain futures too. I hope you will find the encouragement you need today. I pray you will be “noticers” (Thanks for that word, Rachel) of God’s whisper on your hearts. He has a miraculous way of taking our brokenness and transforming it into something beautiful and powerful. I have faith our stories aren’t finished yet.