Happy Thursday, friends!
Honestly, I am really not sure there are words for me to put around how thrilled I am to share today's feature!!!
Today, the day after her birthday- which makes it seem all the more appropriate- I am featuring my Mom, Anne Bouchard. Y'all she has lived some life- she's most certainly gone through the valleys + experienced the mountain tops. She is wise beyond her years and as I continue to grow older, I can't help but see and yearn to grab hold of the wisdom we can glean from older women who are walking with Him.
I pray that your hearts are encouraged through reading part of her story and I also pray that it's a reminder of the power + importance of having relationships with women of all ages- both so that we can be poured into and so that we can pour out!
And, Mom- thank you! I know blogging isn't really your "thing" but please know it means the world to me to have your support as I yearn to encourage women through Flourish + Co!
Share where you currently live:
I now live with my husband, Jim, our black lab, Sadie, and our cat Mojo just outside Atlanta, GA. Our children, Katie and David, and their spouses, Matt and Teri and children all live in metro Atlanta, for which we will be forever grateful. Katie and Teri are both expecting babies in February, so this is a doubly exciting time in our lives. (You know about Katie's girls; Teri's will be joining 18 mo. old brother Biden). We also have two "unofficially adopted" kids/families who are a blessing to us as well, and both live in Indiana. They are Michael, who's married and has two sons, and Lauren, who's married and has a daughter and two sons. Our expanding family is a source of great joy.
Share where you grew up:
Laconia, New Hampshire and attended Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts
Share your favorite book and/or podcast:
The Bible is my favorite book, but as an avid reader there are many others that have blessed me, including Holley Gerth's, You're Already Amazing and Brene Brown's Gifts of Imperfection. I'm in a neighborhood book group in which we read a variety of books so I usually have one I can recommend.
Share your favorite quote and/or Bible verse:
Philippians 1:4-6: "In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He Who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Romans 8:28: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."
"Right is of no sex. Truth is of no color. God is the Father of us all, and we are brethren." |Frederick Douglass, ca. 1847|
Share your favorite beverage:
Ice water with lemon, Arnold Palmer or a margarita!
Share one of the biggest losses you’ve experienced:
The greatest loss I have suffered was the sudden death of our first child, Jeffrey, who was born very healthy and weighed over 8lb. at birth. He died before he was two months old. At the time Jim and I were going to a couples' Bible study where many in the group were of the "name it and claim it" strain, and we weren't sure what we believed. (Some of those people suggested that we hadn't had "enough faith" or prayed "hard enough" for him to be healed). Jeffrey's death marked the beginning of our search for Truth, as I realized that either the God of the Bible was a great farce or He was real. In the face of our grief, I was sure He was one or the other... As I sought counsel from the post chaplain (Jim was in the army at the time), I began to see His greater plan and hand at work. We attribute our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior to the loss of our son, always wishing that God could have seized our hearts in a very different manner, while holding on to the fact that His ways are for our good and His glory.
When we had the memorial service for Jeffrey the chaplain who had married us was able to be there fore us, and he talked about how God knows the pain of losing a son, for He gave His only Son for us... That fact made it clear to me that there aren't "multiple paths to God," because if there were, He would never have willed that brutal death for His Son, Who took our sin upon Himself that we might have life forgiven and forever in Him.
Following Jeffrey's death I would look at a framed verse on our bookshelves of Romans 8:28 which a believing friend had told me was one of her favorites. There were many days I thought about turning it to face the wall, because I didn't see how God was working for good. However, I now realize that the verse says He "works all things for the good of those who love Him and have been called..." It does not mean that the heartaches are not just that, but that in the course of our lifetimes as we walk with Him we begin to see how He is weaving a magnificent tapestry that only He can see.
Total healing never comes, but comfort does and has as I have learned about God's character and attributes. We've both been active in Bible Study Fellowship and have strong churches following each of our moves. Having an understanding of what God promises about Heaven, which is the eternal home for all who believe in Christ as Lord of their lives, has been incredibly comforting as well. Studying Revelation and reading books about our future lives in Heaven have provided comfort and joy, for then we will be reunited with all our loved ones who walked in faith.
Share some of the choices that have been most helpful in continuing to move you forward and supporting you while you are healing:
I'm a teacher at heart, so when "bad" things happen to me I try to discern what I can learn from those events. One sure lesson from loss is that we become better equipped to learn to walk alongside others who are suffering, and I have come to believe that our suffering deepens our faith, because it has withstood the fire and it expands our compassion. Jeffrey would be 36 now, so I and those close to me have had many losses since. Some of the lessons learned...
- we need to tell the story of our loved one's death and to retell it in the weeks following our loss... Strangely enough, I almost think that there is a certain number of times a person "needs to" and benefits from recounting it; that number varies from person to person
- we need to be able to weep and to grieve with someone beside us. That is indeed a gift. Americans don't like to think about death and we generally apologize for our tears. To be the friend who comes alongside the one grieving and is simply present with tissues, a shoulder and hugs is precious and rare, and that friend says clearly that no apology is needed when we weep
- we need to refrain from giving Scripture verses or other cliched phrases in the hours/days following a severe loss. There are no words to eliminate our pain; the most helpful ones for me were, "You will see him again." That gave me a glimmer of hope.
- We need to listen to ourselves and be true to ourselves. Honestly, I have sought counseling at different periods in my life to work through grief and depression issues- (that's another story!). They have truly been sent from God and have made a huge impact on my life and ministry.
- We do need help, but in the aftermath of loss we can't begin to sort out what's needed, so just jump in as you note what are obvious gaps.
- We need someone apart from our spouses with whom we can cry, esp. as in the loss of a child or the birth of a child who has unforeseen needs when both parents are grieving "equally." There were times I could tell Jim was a little less tormented than I, and I wanted him to have the gift of that day without my dragging him down.
- We need to expect the stages of grief, but a surprise to me was how they manifest themselves in a jumbled and disordered way.
Share some ways you have tried to incorporate laughter and fun in the midst of the hurt:
We love to play games, we adore our grandchildren and time with them, our dog and cat are essential family members, and we enjoy being together and sharing laughs, jokes, and family updates. Taking a ride for a day trip to the coast or a favorite somewhere, scenic and different, helps to change perspective. Family has become increasingly important as time has passed. Both of my parents have died, and there is something about being the oldest one surviving in the family that makes me mindful of how much I want to treasure my days. Together Jim and I pray that we will leave a legacy of faith for our children and grandchildren.
Share how this experience has been instrumental in leading you to where you are today + any tips/advice:
Today, I value the gift of life and children exponentially more that I did when expecting our first baby. Life truly is miraculous, and it is fragile, and not to be taken for granted. So I cherish each age and stage of these babies yet-to-come and Biden, and Katie's sweet girls who are almost 8 and 10, and say to all of you young moms that these days quickly melt into years that go far too fast. So it is essential to cultivate your marriage throughout these years with no guilt!
Soon Anne is launching www.simplifiedtutoring.net, which will outline the various tutoring services she offers throughout metro-Atlanta.
You can also find her here: