“To give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” – Isaiah 61:3
Statement of Purpose:
With the focus always remaining on the absolute truth and true hope, as only found in God’s Word, through this group, we will seek to bring awareness to the “silent subject” of infertility and pregnancy/child loss, to bring legitimacy to grief and pain, and to encourage women to find a path to joy and a life full of counting the blessings of being a parent to a heavenly child. We will seek to share the opportunity for healing, peace, and even joy through tragedy.
About Perfect Joy:
The online Bible study/support group is an open group. Membership is open, at any time, to those experiencing infertility, pregnancy and infant loss, and loss of a [young] child. This group is for whether you need support yourself, or you desire to support others going through one of these issues.
Topical studies will vary. Biblical truth will be presented to help address common issues related with infertility and pregnancy/child loss, from a Scriptural standpoint. Open discussion will allow for stories to be shared and for lasting relationships to be formed.
God’s Holy Word will be our primary tool in this group. Holly Besser and Melissa Carswell have designed and utilize topical curriculum for the study, based on absolute truth from the Scriptures. This material pulls from Melissa’s counseling background, using the common stages of grief to assist in the process of healing and will also incorporate the resources from Perfect Joy Ministries founded by Holly. This will be achieved by bringing a greater awareness of the facts surrounding these difficult circumstances, through pregnancy and infant loss statistics and other such applicable facts.
About our Staff
Contact Info: email@example.com, (607) 687-0050
“You have the back of a 65 year old.”
“You may need a wheelchair by the time you are 40.”
“You need to decide what quality of life you want.”
“You’ll need narcotics, muscle relaxants, and pain killers for the rest of your life.”
“Pregnancy is not recommended..ever.” (repeated by over 20 doctors)
“Your medications will terminate any pregnancy you may attempt to have.”
“This baby is much too small…” “I can’t find a heartbeat.”
“You’ll need surgery to remove your thyroid gland as soon as possible.”
“You have cancer…” “You’ll need radiation…” “It can still return at any time.”
“Your spinal cord has grown around your herniated disc.”
These are just a few of the many words in endless succession from doctors and medical professionals echoing in the ears of Holly in her 20s and early 30s. Just barely out of her teens, she was only in her second year of marriage, when it all began. She had a new marriage “made in heaven,” but her precarious physical condition and the accompanying constant and severe pain – physical and emotional – was anything but “heavenly.”
Now, over a decade later, and after seven pregnancies – which include four miscarriages and 3 D&Cs – a thyroidectomy, a cervical spinal fusion, several months of withdraws to be free of pain-killers, and even cancer and radiation, Holly has emerged as a joyful wife and the mother of two young sons and a daughter. She has become an emotional and eloquent spokeswoman for, not only transcending 24-hour-a-day pain, but also how to survive and find triumph over loss and seeming tragedy. She knows, all too well, how such personal heartbreak can damage one’s sense of well-being, strain a marriage, and ultimately devastate a life. She has found victory over calamity and a deep-abiding joy through loss. She has learned to survive difficulty and how to thrive within it.
Many books have been written about coping with the death of loved ones. However, very little is said about the grieving process a mother goes through after the loss of a pregnancy or an infant child. Many people place the loss of a fetus somewhere in the category of losing one’s car keys to that of losing an actual desired and much-loved child. Miscarriage and stillbirth make people, sometimes, even spouses, uncomfortable. They don’t know what to say, so they may say something unintentionally hurtful, but usually they say nothing at all. The sorrowing woman is often left to mourn alone. “After my miscarriages, I just wanted a hug,” says Holly. “I have four little hand-made hats to signify the life of each one of my little ‘heavenly babies.’ It’s all I have. They were never in my arms, but will always live in my heart.”
In Joy Comes with the Mourning, published in December 2011, Holly has written from her heart about this neglected aspect afflicting approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies. The book includes her personal story along with the stories of fifteen other women, who have experienced infertility, miscarriage, or stillbirth first-hand. The author has found peace, contentment, and joy in her family and in her strong personal faith, and she writes compellingly of how God can be found in the midst of great personal pain and sorrow. This book can be found at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, or through contacting the author herself.
Holly founded Perfect Joy Ministries with the desire to reach out to hurting couples and families with the truth found in God’s Word. She longs to share the everlasting joy and peace, which she has found, with grieving parents. Perfect Joy Ministries provides “Joy Bundles,” free of charge, to parents, who have lost children. These hand-selected items are “hugs” of encouragement, as well as a tangible way to legitimize the pain and heartache these families are feeling. More information, pictures, and donation opportunities can be found at www.perfectjoyministries.com
Holly is currently pursuing a degree in Biblical counseling. She has done counseling and mentoring in several churches, and has written and taught a curriculum for teenage girls called, “Love, Dating, and Marriage” (unpublished). She currently counsels one-on-one with several women via email and online Christian support groups.
Heather Chrysler – Director of Public Relations
Contact Info: firstname.lastname@example.org, 607-972-1178
Melissa Carswell, MA, BCCC – Biblical Counselling Consultant
Contact Info: email@example.com, (607)621-7781
Melissa obtained her MA of Counseling from Liberty University in 2005 and went on to become Board Certified with the International Board of Christian Counselors in 2007. She founded and directed True Hope Counseling in 2004, while holding the Minister of Restoration position at New Life Ministries in Endicott, NY. Upon becoming a mother in 2007 this Counseling Center was shut down, but Melissa continues to counsel, life coach, and disciple on a part time basis out of her home.
After an early term miscarriage in the summer of 2005, due to Luteal Phase Defect, Melissa and her husband were then officially diagnosed with infertility in the Fall of 2006 after trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant a second time. A few rounds of Clomid later, they decided to surrender having biological children and ceased pursuing pregnancy in December of 2006. Three months later, Melissa was surprisingly pregnant. Miracle Rose was born in November of that same year. On July 13, 2009 Melissa lost baby Nathaniel to a ruptured ectopic pregnancy that resulted in life-saving abdominal surgery and the loss of her right fallopian tube. Chances for additional pregnancies seemed exceptionally slim given this new complication. However, in May of 2010, Melissa was again pregnant and Mason Lewis was born the following February.
During their time of infertility, Chuck and Melissa began seeking God’s face on adoption and foster care. This dream has recently started taking form, as they have purchased a church building and are renovating it into a home. Shiloh will be a place of refuge for special needs and medically fragile children within the foster care system, as well as for children who need to be adopted into a forever family.
Melissa has been working on a series of novels, “Full Hearts, Empty Arms” for the past three years–a series that follows the lives of women who are part of an infertility group. The heartbeat behind the start up of the Perfect Joy support group, is actually a result of both this novel-in-the-making, as well as Holly’s book and ministry. While the first novel is not even halfway completed, it remains a part of Melissa’s heart and she hopes to have a chance to finish it someday and find a publisher.
Please note: While continuing to develop this fiction series, Melissa will take care to work her characters in such a way as to protect the privacy and identities of the members of the Perfect Joy support group. Upon completion of the manuscript, whenever that may be, members will be invited to read the final draft and speak out on any issues they feel inadvertently betrays their private story.
The story of Shiloh, as well as every day heart thoughts about this journey called life, can be found at Melissa’s blog, www.hiddenvalleysimplicity.com
Carolyn Andreasen, Director of Outreach
Contact Info: Phone 607-625-4524 email: firstname.lastname@example.org