This month is very special: It’s the one-year anniversary of GPS Hope being a completely transportable national ministry!
What a journey this has been, both figuratively and literally! Learning how to live in a 420 square foot house on wheels full-time, to be able to offer support and resources to grieving parents, has been both interesting and rewarding.
First was the downsizing. Um, yeah… taking 35 years of married and family life and deciding what was going with us, what was being stored, and what we were parting ways with, was a huge project. Every drawer, every closet, every box and bin, the garage, the basement, the attic, the shed… every nook and cranny had to be picked apart and decisions made. Good thing I found the Kan Marie method before tackling all of that!
On October 24th, I followed my husband, Dave, with the car to our local RV shop to have them add the tow dolly onto the motor home. They had Dave watch them hook everything up and then directed me as I drove the car up onto it. Now, instead of 38 feet long, we were 58 feet in length.
With no chance for Dave to practice, we pulled out for the first leg of our six-month trip. And let me say I have been amazed and super impressed at how well Dave drives and maneuvers this thing!
I distinctly remember sitting in the passenger seat, looking behind me, and thinking how surreal it was that Dave was driving our house! (And even after a year, I still feel that way most of the time.)
Many of you have asked how this first year has been, living full-time in a motor home. Honestly, the transition went even better than we thought it would and it has been an extremely rewarding year!
But even though this first year in the Hope Mobile has gone great, I realize there are three things that got lost in the transition that I need to get back into my life, which will make this next year even better. I figured I would share them with you, just in case anyone reading this could use the encouraging reminder of making room for these things in your life as well.
Please note: If you are a grieving parent in those first few years, remember that we are several years down the road on this grief journey, which means we have fought our way out of the worst of the pain and darkness of the earthly loss of our daughter. It will probably take lots of time and persistence, depending on where you are in your own journey, to implement needed things back into your life.
#1. Know that there are times it’s okay to just rest
We need to realize that just like someone who has had major surgery has to have time to do nothing but rest and recover, we need to rest and recover from the “surgery” of our child being cut off from us, or whatever deep loss has come our way. And it isn’t a matter of “getting the victory” over it (which I felt guilty in the past for not being able to do, in grieving the death of my daughter, Becca – crazy isn’t it?).
Experts say that parents who have had their child die have been through a trauma, and many of us have PTSD, based on the circumstances of our child’s death. That means we need lots of rest. So, if you feel like you just can’t function, that’s okay and normal. Take it easy and give yourself lots of grace.
It is easy for me to convince myself that people are counting on me, so I must stay on top of making sure I have helpful content and stay consistent with what I put out there to give pareavors hope, not giving myself the same grace that I tell others to give to themselves.
I need to remember I am in this for the long-haul, and that keeping up with doing things the “right way” (taught by experts on the business side, which every ministry has) doesn’t always work for the unique ministry of GPS Hope. There are simply times I need a break for my own grief or need a time of rest to be able to effectively minister to other pareavors in theirs.
I know you will totally understand why this blog came out late (and probably didn’t even notice that it did…) and give me grace for it. I need to get better at giving it to myself, and not think I have to push myself harder when I really need to just rest.
#2. Taking communion
When I had my little prayer room under the basement stairs (in the house we sold to my son), I kept matzo crackers and grape juice handy so that I could occasionally have a time of reflection of what the death of Jesus personally means to me, especially after Becca’s death.
It was always a meaningful time that often came with tears, as I allowed the Holy Spirit to remind me how deeply God loves me.
It is mind boggling that He came to this crappy world for the purpose of dying an excruciatingly painful and shameful death, so that I would not have to be permanently separated from Becca and eventually my other children, my grandchildren, Dave, our parents, my sister and others I love deeply. He also did it to set me free from the chains the enemy puts on me while here on this earth!
I brought the matzo crackers with me, and we always have grape juice, but I can’t think of a single time I have taken communion in the Hope Mobile. I definitely need to get back to doing this!
If you have never had your own personal communion time, thinking it must be served to you by church leadership, let me just say that idea cannot be supported anywhere in the Scriptures. I encourage you to use whatever you have available and allow God to minister to you in a deeply personal way as you remember His death, burial and resurrection through taking communion.
I am embarrassed to say this, but I just don’t turn on the praise or worship music like I used to. I know (and used to teach entire sessions in children’s ministry trainings) that God created music to be a pathway to our soul.
Music moves us, and music changes us. It affects our brains and our souls, which in turn effects our thoughts, our beliefs, and our emotions, which in turn affects our actions.
As you can imagine, our passion for supporting parents who have lost a child can be a heavy load as we walk with those who are in such a dark and painful place, especially as this is our full-time ministry. Dave and I have to continually make sure we do not get trapped back under that heaviness, so we can effectively offer hope and healing to the parents God connects us with.
Putting on uplifting music is one of the easiest and fastest ways to do this. Even though I have play lists on YouTube to help with this, I have not turned to music often enough, and looking back I can see there were times I should have.
Speaking of looking back, it has truly been an amazing year. Here are just some of the highlights:
- One of our favorite things to do since living in the Hope Mobile has been to meet up with parents across the country and share a meal together. We are honored to be a safe place to hear their story, share their tears and laughter, and talk about how our children are probably excited that we finally met each other!
- Speaking at both local and national events in places like North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, St. Louis, and here in Wisconsin. We were able to minister to literally hundreds of grieving parents, helping to guide them to a place of hope, light and purpose after the death of their child.
- Adding “In Loving Memory” hearts on the Hope Mobile has also been a joy! We are so very blessed to take these children on the road with us so that anyone who sees our house on wheels also sees all the precious children who are still in the hearts of their parents. (We also have smaller hearts for many other loved ones who are no longer here on this earth.)
- Starting the weekly Grieving Parents Sharing Hope podcast almost instantly became our greatest outreach, with hundreds listening to each episode. It takes several hours of both my and Dave’s time to put out each week but is so worth it, based on the amount of feedback we get on how a specific episode has helped a desperate parent. (These emails and comments have brought many tears and much rejoicing!)
Finally, Dave and I want to thank many of YOU for your support in time, talent, and resources. We’re so excited about the next six months as we prepare to pull out for the next 6,000 miles on October 17th, and we can assure you that your investment in GPS Hope is reaping incredible returns for the glory of God.
If you are a bereaved parent, you can have your child mentioned on the GPS Hope podcast, the week of his or her birthday. Just click here to send us the information.
Would you like to follow us as we travel the nation in the Hope Mobile, giving support and resources to bereaved parents? Just submit your name and email to get exciting updates.
Expressions of Hope is written by author, speaker and singer Laura Diehl. She and her husband, Dave, are the founders of Grieving Parents Sharing Hope (GPS Hope). Dave and Laura travel full time in their Hope Mobile (a 38-foot motor home) to be more easily available for speaking and ministry requests, including being invited to hold one-day GPS Hope & Healing conferences.
Laura is a national keynote speaker and has also been a workshop speaker for events such as The Compassionate Friends and Bereaved Parents USA national conferences, along with being a guest on radio shows, podcasts and other media channels such as webinars with Open to Hope.
If you would like more information about Laura as a speaker for your next event or want more information on hosting a GPS Hope & Healing conference, click here.
GPS Hope exists to walk with grieving parents through the suffocating darkness of child-loss, guiding them to a place of hope, light and purpose.
We also support families, friends and coworkers who want to know how to support these parents both short and long-term.
- Check out the Grieving Parents Sharing Hope weekly podcast
- If you are a bereaved parent, we encourage you to connect with us on Facebook.
- If you are not a bereaved parent but want to support those who are, or want to follow us as we give hope to these precious parents, please connect with us at Friends of GPS Hope on Facebook.
- Subscribe to Laura’s YouTube channel.