In 2014, Peyton Lauderdale sat in Bible study only months after losing her infant son. For an instant, she had a picture in her mind of women sitting together in candlelight, worshiping God and coming together, united in their losses. She didn't think much of it at that moment, but as days turned to weeks, she couldn't get the thought out of her mind.
Though no one wants to bury their child, there is a sense of closure one receives from the process. When a woman miscarries, she isn't given that same opportunity to say goodbye. Peyton felt called to help other women who had experienced miscarriage or infant loss to get that closure, even if it had been years since it had happened. Through months of hard work, amazing volunteers and some extremely difficult days, Gathering Hope 2015 was born.
On October 22, 2015, over 70 women came together despite torrential rains and an eventual power outage. When candles had to be their only source of light, Peyton's tears fell like the rain outside the doors. That image, that glimpse of a picture she had seen in Bible study of women supporting each other in candlelight was here. That moment had come to fruition.
Many people asked Peyton after Gathering Hope 2015 if she was having another event the next year. Over and over she put it away on a shelf in the back of her mind. She convinced herself that her job was done. She had done what she was called to do, and she was now moving forward.
That would not be the case.
In January 2017, Carol Vantine had launched her blog, Matthew's Song, a website dedicated to helping women and families whose lives had been affected by pregnancy loss. Carol had heard about Peyton and Gathering Hope from a mutual friend and she reached out to her. Peyton knew immediately that she was being prompted to bring back Gathering Hope, but she waited for confirmation.
After Carol and Peyton met for coffee the first time, it was obvious that their paths were meant to cross. Plans for Gathering Hope 2017 quickly began to fall into place and they couldn't be ignored. Volunteers filled positions quickly and the surrounding communities showed an outpouring of generosity. On October 22, 2017, over 40 volunteers and nearly 100 women gathered at the Summit in Aledo, TX to celebrate and remember the lives of the babies they lost too soon.
Miscarriage and infant loss affects 1 in 4 women. If your family hasn't been directly touched by this devastation, you know someone who has. The third annual meeting of Gathering Hope will be October 14, 2018 from 4-7. Doors open at 3:30 at the Summit. If you are the 1 in 4 and need to experience hope and comfort in your grief, we invite you to join us.
The event will include live music, a phenomenal guest speaker, Sarah Philpott, author of Loved Baby, and some time to talk with other women who have walked the same path. The evening is not a night to spend in sadness, but in drawing strength from other women and walking out the doors stronger because of the community that surrounds you. It will be an evening of love and an evening of remembrance. It will be an evening you won't want to miss.
For more information, find them online at www.gatheringhope.net or follow them on Facebook.