Why We Talk About the Death of our Child. . .

Today is February 1st, which means we are going into a month surrounded by everything “Heart.”

Valentine’s Day is upon us and along with the pink and red, we bring awareness to other things heart such as Women’s Heart Health, heart attack prevention, signs and symptoms of a failing heart.  We see the celebrities and political pleas to learn more about the heart as a woman.

But this month, I’d like to bring awareness to CHD’s, or Congenital Heart Defects which is actually something very close to my own heart.  

A Congenital Heart Defect is an abnormally formed and functioning heart.  Many CHD’s are now detected prior to birth through routine sonograms, however, many are not detected allowing babies to go home with life threatening defects.

In 1997, our son William was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) which went undiagnosed until it was too late.  As a result, William suffocated and died.  If only his echocardiogram was performed, we would have had options.  

We have learned so much about HLHS over the past twenty years, but not enough to prevent it or in many cases successfully treat it.  Raising awareness means getting a dialog going about demanding prenatal fetal echocardiograms and neonatal echocardiograms as routine testing prior to any discharge from the hospital.  Early detection means a greater chance of success in treating and beating CHD’s.

We know this first hand as our youngest son, Nathan received an echocardiogram prior to having stomach surgery at one month old.  His testing revealed a heart defect known as Fenestrated Atrial Septal Defect, which is basically multiple small holes in the heart.  He is doing great right now and is just 2 weeks away from his next echocardiogram to see how he is progressing.

After the death of William, each of our children received routine echo’s to rule out any CHD’s.  Unfortunately, many babies are still being sent home with dangerous and life threatening CHD’s.

We talk about our son’s death not to scare parents, but to make you aware that CHD’s are more common than you think and prevention can save lives.  Please take our experience and tragedy as an opportunity to start a dialog about bringing testing to light and making sure that each parent makes it their own priority to insist on these tests prior to leaving the hospital with that beautiful brand new baby.

Let’s keep February a heart month by having a heart for those living with, fighting and overcoming Congenital Heart Defects!

 

 

finding Ava. . .part 2 of 3

The first few days in the critical pod in the NICU were really a blur.  Since Phil was still suffering from a sinus infection- I was the only one allowed in to see her.  2016-03-03 13.50.55

I remember holding Ava for the first time when time literally just melted into nothingness.  I could have stared at her all day and it would have seemed like only a few seconds.  There was an instant bond with her.  From the moment I saw her little face through all of the tubes- she was mine.  I was shocked by how that maternal momma bear kicked into overdrive immediately.

Ava’s birth mom loved her dearly.  I know she still holds her in her heart.  She never held her, but watched as they whisked her away to get her breathing and check her out.  They later asked if she wanted to hold Ava.  She said it was already too hard to watch her leave that room. . .she couldn’t bear to say goodbye again.

That is love folks.  She watched a part of her own heart be ripped away and for the sake and love for this little girl- she chose a family who would wrap her in their family as their own.  She chose love and life over comfort and solace.  She chose us.

We never met.  She was going through withdrawal from the drugs that held her captive and meeting us was just too much.  She endured and suffered and waited the required 48 hours of counseling so she could sign the adoption papers allowing us to become Ava’s parents.  She truly wanted the best for that little girl.  And I will spend the rest of my life trying to live up to that trust.

Those 48 hours were a tilt a whirl of peace, sorrow, joy, and fear.

It was during all of those 48 hrs of waiting when we lost four other babies we were to adopt.  So the fear started creeping in the closer the signing time approached.

9:00am

That was the time the adoption agency was meeting with Ava’s Birth mom to sign the termination papers.  9:00am.  We’ve had times set before and 10, 20, 30 minutes pass and no answer.  Only to find out later that we would not be taking home a little one.  So knowing I would most likely throw up around 9:01am. . .I decided to go to our puppy nursery and socialize our newborns to keep busy.  I had my phone and texted Phil as our agency texted saying she was heading up the elevator.  To put our minds at ease- she let us know the birth mom was expecting her.  We were crying.

Crying because we were anxious, scared, happy, hopeful. . .just pure raw emotions.


Phil was at work feeding cows and I was walking into the puppy room when the momma dog, Cupcake, our chocolate lab greeted me at the door.  I let her out and as I approached the whelping box I started counting.  1, 2, 3, 4, 5. . .”where is 6?”  I saw little legs and he was on his tummy.  He wasn’t moving and was warm.  I saw Cupcake had been laying in the corner where I found him.  She had laid on him.  That big momma body was too much.

“No! No! No!!!!!!” I started crying out. . .”God help!  Help me! Help me!!!” ” No God, No!!!!”

At the exact moment Ava’s Birth mom was signing her papers. . .I was giving CPR to a puppy.

“Breathe little one, Breathe!!!!!”

Nothing.  He was gone and I broke down sobbing.  I held Cupcake while she licked him and said, “I’m so sorry. . .I’m just so sorry. . .I tried my best.”

My phone lit up with a text.

9:11am. . .so simple. . .so profound. . .it simply said. . .”DONE.”

DONE

Ava’s Birth mom had signed.  We were now her parents.  It actually happened.

I called Phil and he answered immediately.  “She signed!  She signed!!!!!”  We both wailed and hollered and cried and praised Jesus together!

I then spouted out. . .”But one thing. . . one of Cupcake’s puppies died.”  I’ll never forget this as long as I live.  Phil wasn’t surprised at all.  His reply?  ” I didn’t expect today to happen without loss.”

Loss.  Oh too true.  From the moment we announced we were embarking on the adoption journey- we suffered incredible loss.  Animals, puppies, friends, neighbors.  The incredible way God used each of those moments allowed us to feel the breadth of the sacrifice of adoption.  Adoption is beautiful and love and loss.  People forget. . .or want to forget the loss.  Jesus endured loss, God endured loss to adopt us as His children.  We too must endure loss when adopting.  The birth parents endure loss.

There is sorrow laced in joy.

I ran back into the house and one by one, grabbed each of our children and told them the good news. . .”she signed!  she signed!!!  Ava is ours!!!”

“Really?” my Matthew asked.  “Really!”  He cried.  They all cried.  This journey was a family journey of suffering and praying and hoping and losing and hoping again.  It was a time when our family grew stronger in our walk with God and closer together.  The kids were already in love with a child they had never met.


Phil received the clearance to see Ava!!!  Finally!!!!  He had seen pictures and video and Facetimed. . .but he was finally going to see his baby girl.  He just had to finish his work load and then would go up with me later that evening.

I, on the other hand, was heading up to see my little girl and try to get her to eat!

I prayed for safety as the tears filling my eyes made it difficult to see while driving.  I-35 was never more clear as I tried to keep my speed down heading to Ft Worth’s Baylor All Saints.

The music was blaring and the angles were praising God with me as I sang through breathless tears.

Reaching the off ramp, I came to a halt at the stop light where I noticed a homeless man.  Rugged and dirty- he turned to me and smiled.  I reached my hand into the back seat and into my purse.  Now, I didn’t have any money with me because every morning on that same overpass there was always someone with a sign asking for money. Each morning I would reach my hand back and feeling the rough paper money- I would grab a few bucks. . .well a five and a few ones and hand them out the window.  It was beginning to bewilder me that even though I never refilled my purse. . .I was always grabbing the same five and few ones.

Without looking. . .My eyes met this man’s. . .I reached my hand back into my purse knowing full well I had nothing and grabbed a five and a few ones.  As soon as my hand closed a fist around them. . .the man smiled.  It was Jesus.  I know it was my Jesus.  Standing on an off ramp, rugged and dirty to the eye. . .His eyes were a beauty I could not describe.  Each morning he took on a different look. . .but that morning, I cried and smiled and rolled down the window and handed what I had.  His hand covered mine and he said, “God bless and be with you my child.”  Although I had been driving up there at least twice a day for 2 days and had seen a person on that off ramp. . . I never saw anyone again after that.

The joy!  I can’t describe the joy of Jesus to you.  Yes, I was overjoyed knowing we had our little girl.  But knowing God the almighty listened to my little prayers. . .and took joy in my joy was more than my heart could handle.  The joy bubbled over into crying and love for anyone who crossed my path.  That is God people.  His love fills our hearts so we overflow with love and kindness and compassion towards others.  I imagine meeting God face to face one day will be so overwhelming that we will fall on our faces.  The joy. . .oh the joy!!!!!

I speed scrubbed at the NICU entrance and practically ran to Ava’s new pod.  “Ava. . .Ava Beth,” I whispered in her little ear.  She opened her eyes.  She knew I was her momma.

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I snapped a selfie of her and made the announcement public.

I was so excited for Phil to meet our little girl.  We scrubbed in and I saw it on his face as he saw the critical unit where Ava started out.  It was the spitting image of the same set up our son William had been before he passed away.  My hand held his and we smiled at each other.  Beauty from ashes.  We walked down the hall.

Ava was a little baby. . .but she literally disappeared in Phil’s big strong hands.  He was in love from the moment he learned about her.  What a dream come true.

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We spent the next two weeks experiencing the ups and downs of the NICU.  We had good days and bad days and let downs and hope.  But after two weeks, we signed our part of the adoption papers and were walked out of those NICU doors.  This time, with a full car seat!!!!  Ava was coming home!!!!

 

 

 

finding Ava. . .part 1

It was a typical busy Wednesday at Lamgo Farms.  And by “typical” I mean, I was managing the household on approximately 2 hours of sleep within a 48 hr period with two litters of puppies born two nights in a row; and my run without showering was now teetering on day 4.  But it was Wednesday, Guitar lesson day. . .and we tried to never miss out on music days that also coincided with an opportunity at a drivers Ed lesson.  So I slapped on some perfume, threw the hair up in a messy bun and out the door we ran.

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My hour sitting outside of Jacob’s guitar lesson was normally dedicated to either writing or working on email.  But only eight minutes after pulling out my laptop, the phone rang. “Tina” from our adoption agency lit up the screen. My hands fumbled as I tried to answer in a Hurry.

 

THE call.

 

If you are on the journey to adoption, you have dreamt of that moment when you get “the call.” I had played it over and over again in my mind. The match, the call I would make to my husband. But no matter how much I prepared for the moment at hand, the actual call was a complete surprise and handed down from God.

 

“Hi Sandi, so we have a baby girl that was born this morning around 4:30am. . .the social worker called us and she is yours if you want her.”

 

I jotted down a few bits of information on a wadded up Burger King receipt still on the dash-board, and then I said, “ I better ask Phil. I’ll call you right back.”

 

A little flash back:

 

Friday, the week before, I received an email from Tina asking for us to update our documents for the file. She was presenting us to a birth mom who was expecting a little baby girl. My heart wanted this so bad, but over a years’ time, we endured 4 failed matches. The desire to quit was strong in our hour of sorrow. So I prayed. I asked God to please have the birth mom choose someone else if we were headed for another failed adoption. We just couldn’t endure another loss. So if we were going to lose this baby- I wanted to lose it before I could get attached. It would be a let down not to have been chosen. . .. but that was far better than opening up that heart only to be hurt again.

 

I then, kneeling at the corner of our unmade bed. . . begged my God. I asked Him that if He wanted us to continue this adoption journey- to simply allow a phone call with a baby already born. No waiting time involved. I then took out my stack of ‘prayer cards turned prayer papers turned prayer notebook’ and wrote down the request.  The papers take me back four years.  Check marks beside the answered and miracles. . .one request still stood.  “Lord, please bring home our baby or babies.”

 

According to the agency- the birth mom was going to make her decision on Wednesday. Wednesday. . .Guitar lesson day.  This very Guitar lesson day.

 

Seeing Tina’s name on my phone wasn’t a surprise that day because we expected to hear back either way about this birth mom. But I could have never guessed the reason she had called. I could have never guessed that the original birth mom chose another family and then once that baby was born, decided to parent. I could have never guessed that God heard my prayer that night and not only did He spare us from the loss of another failed match. . .but that He also heard the specifics of my cry. He handed us a little girl, already born. . . Check.

 

Dialing Phil’s phone was one of the most joyous moments of my life:

 

Phil answered the phone and I responded, “It’s a girl!!!!” He said, “ok.” No excitement or surprise or anything.   He thought we had been chosen by the birth mom. “No honey. . .We have a girl!!!!”

 

Silence

 

I went on to tell him the story:

A displaced young woman, painfully addicted to drugs called the paramedics as she went into labor.  Staying at a friends’ house, she left in the early morning to make a call from a nearby gas station.  She was taken to one hospital who refused to help her, and then ended up at another, better hospital. 40 minutes later, a little girl entered the world.

 

Her birth mother looked at her, but didn’t hold her. It was too hard. The baby was whisked away and given oxygen.

 

She appeared to be about 4 to 5 weeks early. Since no prenatal care was given, her gestational age was estimated.

 

This sweet little girl was only hours old, but tested positive for heroin and later tested positive for meth. But she was perfect in every way.

 

I went on to give him The basics: Birth mom was white and although there was no knowing who the birth father was, it appeared that he was white as well. This little girl was a tiny blond with blue eyes.

 

Before I even finished the statistics. . .”YES! Ok, YES! Call Tina back now!”

 

Our decision to adopt this little girl took approximately 15 seconds. A baby girl. . .already born.

 

I called and texted Tina, hung up the phone and cried.

 

I’m crying now just writing this. I’m sitting beach side while Phil is holding our sleeping daughter.  Our daughter.

If there was one thing I’ve learned during this adoption journey. . .it was that nothing…and I mean absolutely NOTHING goes according to plan.

Our adoption journey has been hard.  And I just want to stop and interject here for those either just starting the journey or traveling rough roads.  IT IS WORTH IT! DON’T QUIT!  Stay the course!  Cling to God!  Stand and be strong.  Have courage.  Have Faith!  God has overcome and He will see you through this journey.

Key word: Journey

Adoption is NOT a destination.  It is a journey.  It does not end with the baby or child in your arms.  Adoption is ongoing.

I imagined the call, the match, being at the delivery.  Holding my child while Phil holds me.  Bringing the baby home with the kiddos cheering at the door.  Sharing pictures with the birth mom.  I had it all planned out. (and God laughs)

Nothing went according to plan.  But it was all planned out by God and that is all that mattered.

It wasn’t long before Jacob was done with his lesson and back in the car.  It was 1pm and we were going to head straight to the hospital to meet our little girl.  I didn’t dare tell Jacob and holding my excitement was agony so I spilled.  “Listen, there may be a baby available so daddy and I are going to run to the hospital to check it out.”  We had so many disappointments and a total of 4 failed adoptions that it started wearing on the kiddos- I couldn’t be completely open.  But I couldn’t hide it either.

The phone rang again as I was driving.  “Tina” it said.  “So, there’s been a development. . .” My heart sank.  We’ve had these let downs so many times and I held my breath for a moment.  We couldn’t come up to the hospital right away because the baby was in the critical part of the NICU and another baby was being taken off of life support.  They were going to close that section to visitors and other parents while the parents of that sweet baby grieved and said goodbye.

“Oh my heart.  You know I know what that’s like.”  So we agreed to wait until dinner time to head up.  I was elated to meet our girl.  But I was dying inside as all of our sorrow seemed to surface in that one sentence given.

William

William was our second child.  Born and given as a complete surprise to us, his life on this earth was short.  Being infertile and finally conceiving with the help of fertility drugs, I had no idea I could conceive on my own.  Well, welcome to the story of William.

William was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.  The condition went undiagnosed so when we finally learned of his illness, he had lost his major organs and we eventually decided to take him off of life support.  The very thing this poor family was enduring had already been on our doorstep.  How horrible that one of my greatest days was their worst.  My heart broke for them.

The clock was closing in on 6 pm when we finally arrived at the hospital.  Our experience with our failed adoptions at the hospital did not go well. . .so we were nervous.  Telling ourselves not to get excited our stomachs were in knots.

Poor Phil was suffering from a nasty sinus infection and had just started antibiotics.  So we decided he would not enter the NICU.  That was hard for me.  Not only did we miss the birth, the birth mom, etc. . .we would also not meet our daughter together.  Phil wouldn’t even see her for 2 days.

We had no idea what being in another NICU since William would do to us.  But much like we imagined upon the security doors opening. . .the stench of the sterile environment hit hard.

Tina, the hospital’s Social worker and I entered.

As I was rolling up my sleeves, a stranger approached with tears in her eyes.  She worked at the adoption agency and had heard about our heartbreaking journey.  Emotions overcame her as she hugged me and offered her congratulations.  Was this really happening?

Soap, lather, scrub. . .all while singing “Happy Birthday to you” in my head. . .I washed my hands, my arms and back down to my hands again.  It was time.

I stopped at the nurses station for a moment for them to get my signature and drivers license, and then a nurse led me to a little ohio bed.

There she was.  We found her!  We finally found her!  We found Ava!

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avahand2“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. . .”

Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

in Pursuit of. . .YOU. . .

     My phone rang as I held open the door to the pediatrician’s office for my two little girls.  Annual check up’s and flu shots were on the docket.  The girls sat down in the waiting room while I stood in a corner in complete disbelief.  After learning that our birth mom had disappeared and after a few days of finally settling into the idea that it was over- we suddenly found the miracle we had waited for !  A little baby girl was already born and signing would take place the next day in a town about eight hours away.  The agency owner hopped on a plane while Phil and I rushed home to pack.  We put children, puppies, dogs and chickens to bed- entrusted the kiddos to a sitter and off we went. . .continuing on the adventure of a lifetime.

Were we crazy? What if we got all the way down there only to lose another baby.  But the agency owner’s information proved to be a 100% sure thing.  It was real. . .we were bringing home our baby.

An hour into the drive, we stopped to grab some BBQ.  At first we were planning to simply drive through to gain momentum on the road. . .but then Phil made a sobering remark.  “This is the last time we’ll be going out alone for a long time.”  We took about 20 minutes to stop and really soak in the moment.

In reality, we started our journey three years ago with the God-given revelation that we wanted to add to our family through adoption.  As of those two half eaten plates of sliced chicken and brisket, we had already endured three failed matches.  Of the three, two of those, we held.  We held those precious babies and fell in love, only to leave the hospitals and never see them again.  One boy and one girl.

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The pain and suffering we’ve endured over the years since saying yes to adoption. . .the hard work with little rest to save up the funds and get our home ready for a little one. . .and the spiritual and physical warfare on our family and friends had been unmeasurably great.

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But for some reason, God paved the way and gave our hearts the peace to continue down this road- no matter what.  And here we were. . .about 500 miles away from what we thought was the end of this incredible journey.

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

– Jeremiah 29:11

God knows our plans and He allows our scheduling and planning and calculating and re-calculating; but ultimately, He is in control.  And for many of us “planners,” this is a hard lesson to learn.  When walking through life with God, He moves and allows so that we may travel light with open hands.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

Our jobs, our finances, our marriages, and yes, our children are His.  I wish I was one to just travel with a life of open hands as to avoid my Lord constantly prying them open.  But as many of you have noticed. . .I’m a slow learner.  I know where I want “my” life to go.  I just struggle when the Lord leans over and whispers, ” I know that’s where you wanted to go. . .but here is where we’re gonna go. . .together.”

Trying to make it to a little town near the Texas/Mexico border, we slowed down on our intake of fluids so we wouldn’t have to stop so much.  But approaching just 27 miles to destination. . .We were both barely holding on.  Passing by a rest stop, Phil asked. . .going 75 mph. . .”would you like to stop?”  (And here it is. . .the biggest regret EVER) “NO! it’s just 27 miles. . .let’s go for it!”  

Go for it?  What was I thinking?  We’re 42 years old.  Our bladders are well beyond “go for it” behavior.  But it was so late, and we knew we just wanted to get there.  So, the rest stop came and went and well. . .we didn’t.  We decided to “Thelma and Louise” it.

Seventy-five miles per hour suddenly came to a screeching halt when out of no where in the middle of the night, red lights began lighting up in front of us.

STOPPED!!!

To make a long story even longer. . .we managed to come across a little “conflict” between the police, state troopers, border patrol and two fine young gentlemen.

No, I was just kidding. . .I’ll shorten this part for you. . .

So, just at the time I was crawling over the back seat to retrieve our two “Dickies BBQ” cups to assist in my “let’s go for it” dilemma. . .the three rows of trucks in front of us released their air breaks and the bright reds began to let up.  Praise the Lord. . .we were moving again!!!

Now, since every patrol car was behind us. . .we may or may not have exceeded the speed recommendation for the remaining 20 miles.  Yes, I say 20 miles, because just 7 miles into our escape, we saw a gas station.  But hey, we already sat through 2 hrs of standoff with full bladders. . .what’s just another 20 miles?  Right?

Yeah, if you’re shaking your head, I’m right along with you.  But when you’ve lost feeling to your lower extremities and just praised God you survived a standoff. . .you pretty much admit you’ve lost all ability to reason.

Nearly convulsing, the GPS finally led us to our hotel. . .”turn right onto South ‘P’ street.”  We wanted to laugh.  We kind of did. . .I mean, the corners of our lips turned upward.  But an actual laugh at this time would have surely been fatal.

We made it!  Yes, we made it!  And we were exhausted as we fell into the bed at 5:30am.  We just had to hold on until 9 am to go to the hospital and sign for our daughter.  We were suppose to be back on the roads by noon.  What a miracle!


. . .who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

– 2 Corinthians 1:4

9am, 9:30am, 10am. . .10:23am. . .

Finally, a phone call from the agency.  “So, um, here’s the problem. . .”  Phil came around the corner and I just shook my head while trying to take in everything coming my way.  We had just finished crying out to God on our knees to please allow this little girl to come home to us.  The missed 9am deadline sparked our awareness that something was wrong.  We asked God to move quickly as we were literally losing patience.  And then the call.  The birth mother was wavering and feeling pressured to sign.  Something you don’t want to happen since being pressured can be means to over turn an adoption in the future.  Our birth mother was in custody and gave birth to an audience of Federal Marshals.  Not our place to judge.  Just our child to adopt and rescue.  With the birth mother soon to be discharged back into prison, she had to make a choice.  Allow us to adopt her baby or let Child Protective Services take custody and place the baby into a group home about 1 hour away since there weren’t any foster homes in the area.  Basically, an American Orphanage.

CPS was in talking with the birth mother so we hung up the phone to wait.  Only three minutes had passed when the call came.  “It’s over, CPS has taken the baby. . .the birth mother is hoping to gain custody once released from prison.”

We began to pack and quickly.  We didn’t even cry at this point.  Just silence.

The drive home was unbelievable.  Especially since there was a search stop to make sure we weren’t smuggling anything into the USA- and we had to explain the empty car seat.

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But the drug sniffing dogs smiled and let us pass and we started the long journey back. . .once again. . .with that !@&* empty car seat.  Yes, the anger phase.  I do believe we experienced all stages of grief approximately every 10 minutes.

We stopped to gas up and began to sob. . .then we began to experience Tourette syndrome moments where we’d just suddenly burst into profane song and then back to pure silence again.

There was a time when we both decided we just had to turn off the Christian music station.  It had become irritating.  No, we were not running from God. . .but in that moment of grief, we had lost our footing and just couldn’t stand up or even look up to see God’s sweet, sweet grace and love for us.  We were hurt.


 “In him we live and move and have our being; as even some of your own poets have said, “For we are indeed his offspring.””

We face-timed the kids and with every bit of the power of God inside us, we smiled and told them very causally that the baby just wasn’t going to work out and we would be home with pizza very soon.  Even though we were sure this was a sure thing, before we left the kids, we explained that this may not work, so we were gonna just check it out an then be home the next day.  Thankfully- their little hearts were protected and a nice family/pizza night at home with mom and dad holding them and smiling made all the difference.  We had agreed to keep the emotions to our bedroom or alone in the car.

Backing up a few hundred exits. . .in the midst of our anger, sorrow and deep, deep hurt came a prayer.  A moment of thankfulness offered by our friend in the Bible, Job.  Job talks about while losing everything. . .his children, wife, money and health. . .he learned to cope by dropping to his knees and offering thanks and gratitude to God.  “The Lord giveth and the Lord Taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”

During those final hours of travel, we had absolutely no idea how to carry on with our daily lives.  We were clearly heading into a sorrowful depression and the very thought of even trying for another child was completely out of the question.  We had actually quit this time.  We couldn’t drag our children through this, and we ourselves were struggling to make sense of our “foolish” actions.  2015-10-07 13.11.25

Did God indeed want us to adopt?  If so, why in the world would he allow this to happen.  And in such a horrible way?  How would we get up the next day and the day after that and say yes to another child only for it to be ripped away.

The answer came to us during the final forty-five minutes before pizza.  Because God did not give up on pursuing us as His children –  THAT is why we would NOT give up.  THAT is why we would grieve, and with thankfulness, stand back up and strap on our armor once again in this battle of fathering the fatherless and FIGHT for not just “our” child, but “His” child.  This is HIS child that He created.  He thought up this child’s personality, soul, looks, and just who would deliver and raise this child.  Every child is created with a purpose by God.  Every single one is special and loved beyond measure.  And every single being is pursued by a passionate God who loves so much, that in order to save. . .he sent His son to rescue so we could be adopted.

“The Gospels record how Jesus himself spent the night before his crucifixion in unspeakable agony, allowing the anguish of his soul to spill to the ground through his tears and blood.  He pleaded with his Father, “”If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.”” (Matt. 26:39)- Clayton King, Stronger

What if Christ had given up in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He asked for a way out, but asked for God’s will to be done.  His love for his children was so great, nothing could stop his sacrifices.  I am so thankful for this sacrifice.  For without it, there is no reason to live. . .and no reason to die.

And there you have the heart of the adoptive parent.  Adoption is hard.  Our adoption in Christ was hard.  It was costly.  Adopting a child is the mirror image of God’s love for us and how He calls us “His own.”  We hold His hand while walking this journey and because we are not alone. . .because He goes before us, we can trust in His care and guidance to ultimately arrive home.  This is His story.  We are just a chapter.

Our love for this child is great.  It knows no boundaries.  It is the same love we have for our other children both here and in Heaven.  We thank those who pray with and for us, who grieve our grief and who share our love for the Orphan.  Please continue to pray: Please pray for the babies that have not come home with us.  Pray the Lord grabs their hearts and protects them every single day of their lives.  Please continue to pray for our adoption journey.  Please pray for the birth parents of our children.  Pray God’s peace and comfort.  We know the Lord has our child or children and in His perfect timing. . .we will find them.

riding the wave to, “it IS WELL”

It’s here.

 Today is William’s birthday.  Today he would have been 18 years old.  18 years!  A milestone.

The would, should and could have’s are great this year.

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It has been a particularly difficult year for us dealing with the ups and downs of adoption, the heart ache of family illness and tragedy of much loss.  This year, I have struggled in the waves the Lord has set me upon as He refines me, loves me and rescues me over and over and over again.

I have my Peter moments when I am all faith and float to a leisurely walk brimming the water as I shuffle my feet in the tides.  And then I am human. . .I am frail; and when the connection to my saviors eyes is broken. . .I not only sink. . .I nearly drown.


Tomorrow we celebrate William’s graduation from this life into the next.

We will grieve the loss of our precious son.  And we will start our day begging the Lord Jesus to keep us above the tidal wave.  Eighteen years is but a second for a bereaved parent.  He is thought of daily.  He is missed.  Our oldest son misses his little brother.  The constant void he faces throughout life is not unnoticed by us.  William’s siblings younger than him that never met him talk as though they know him.  “Let’s make a birthday cake, mom!”  They can’t wait to meet him in Heaven.

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HEAVEN. . .is a very real place for our children.  We talk a lot about what it will be like, what the Bible tells us about it. . .we talk about the people we will see again or meet for the very first time.  Our children talk about Heaven as though it is their Home, their birthplace they once knew.  They are not scared to go there.  They long to see Jesus.  And I am jealous at times of their strong faith and love for Christ.

It is by the great grace of God that my children love their savior and long to serve him.  In my many years of parenting and failings. . .God has held them tight.  We pray nightly that the Lord will hold their hearts and keep them close.  And He answers.


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Was it really well with my soul when I sat grave side and sang the words through tears?

The big question this year. . .just where is my “It is Well with my soul.”  We sang this at William’s funeral.  Was it really well with my soul that I watched my little boy suffocate and fall limp in my arms?  Was it really well with my soul that we had to remove him from life support?  Was it really well with my soul that we had to choose a casket instead of a crib?  Was it really well with my soul when I sat grave side and sang the words through tears?

I came across “It is Well” by Bethel music this week.  And it became very clear that the little meaningless speed bumps I was enduring throughout the day were NOT well with my soul.  And I had to examine why losing my son seemed well with my soul, but my daily tragedies were not.  What was the difference?

The difference is that I sang “It is Well” at the funeral.  I sang it in the shower.  I sang it in the car.  I hummed it at night as I cried to sleep.  I sang it as a prayer to God to help me believe it.  Our tragedies become God’s triumph when we hand it to Him and beg for trust, faith in our unbelief, and the peace that passes ALL understanding that leads us to actually ride the waves to our “it is Well” and mean it.

To sing those words and actually thank the Lord for a life given and taken is only of God.  I am not a strong woman. I am not a supernatural human being.  I am a broken sinner that was saved and rescued by Jesus’ blood; and when I am drowning in the waves. . .He reaches down and pulls me to safety.  He looks me in the eyes and says. . .It IS well. . .It IS good. . .It IS my will and it is my perfect plan for you.

Then and ONLY then can I say, “It is Well” for me.

Take a moment and listen to this. . .it is repetitive. . .pray to God to make your tragedies well with your soul so that God receives every bit of Glory he deserves.  Fall at the feet of Jesus and sing this out loud, in your head. . .hum the tune.

“Through it all, through it all. . .my eyes are on you. . .and it is well. . .with me. . .”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNqo4Un2uZI

Happy Birthday sweet William. . .I see your eyes. . .I smell your curly red hair. . .I hear your sweet soft voice. . .

“lead me to the ROCK that is higher than I”. . .The season of ALONE

“If we lose the house. . .then Billy loses all sense of security and later, never have a relationship. . .so he’ll just spend his whole life just alone.

There he’ll be, just alone, nobody with him, just like a bum.”

   One of my kids’ favorite movies, “Fun with Dick and Jane” outlines an upper middle income suburban family who suffers the wave of events caused by a corporate implode and instant loss of income.  My kids like it because it makes us laugh even when we ourselves have suffered through that particular season of “alone” in losing everything.  Granted. . .my husband and I picked ourselves up, dusted off and started all over again without resulting to thievery.

We laugh at the scenes because we finally found a moment when someone, even if they were fictional, realized our past struggle.  Which was very real. . .very hard. . .and YES very, very lonely.

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Being alone- isn’t that what we fear the most?  Being alone, lonely, excluded, set apart, rejected, misunderstood, disliked, invisible.

Why? God said from the beginning in Genesis that is was not good for man to be alone.  He Himself sets the lonely within our hearts by creating us to be in constant search of . . .HIM.

So let’s just skip over the causes of lonely, the outcome and the struggle and hop right into being satisfied with the company of the one and only. . .the creator. . .our Lord and Savior. . .the Great I AM!

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret.  The short version (and we all say. . .yay!).  Every single one of us will one day or another go through a season of ALONE.  A season where we are either all alone or have fallen into circumstances which set us apart from the average, the herd- so to speak.  Sometimes this is by our own doing and sometimes God leads us beside those still waters just He and I.  Time alone. . .together.

God who whispers in my ear. . .”let’s take a walk. . .just you and I. . .for I will NEVER leave you nor forsake you. . .YOU are my child.”

The question is. . .in those times. . .is God enough?  Is it satisfying to say, take the entire world, my belongings, my life Lord and give me just Jesus.  Well. . .is it?  For you and I most of the time the answer is a sobering NO.

The addict, the depressed, the OCD, the busy “I don’t even have time to sleep.” For those of us who are human- we fill the empty, the “alone” to fill the God given void that can only be filled by HIM.

“O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.  My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes- it also has gone from me.  My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague, and my nearest kin stand far off…But for you O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. ”

Psalm 38:9-11,15

I live in the country, have five homeschooling children and am in the process of adopting.  I guess you could say I stand in the season of Alone frequently.  I have found that I tend to grab my masonry tools and erect walls of solitude when I feel the world doesn’t see as I see, or understand what I’m going through.  Those are the moments I’m brought back to God who whispers in my ear. . .”let’s take a walk. . .just you and I. . .for I will NEVER leave you nor forsake you. . .YOU are my child.”

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” – Psalm 23:4

we can stand in the alone without being lonely.

The Valley of the shadow of death.  Yes, been there.  The sorrow over a failed adoption. . .yes.  The loss of a job. . .oh yeah.  The perils of family who doesn’t understand. . .um yep.  Disease, illness, loss, torn relationships. . .been there. . .done that. . .and yes, it felt alone.  But God. . .oh, yes. . .I’m throwing that back in all of our faces again and again.  But God!  Yes, we need relationships as God intended.  Yes, the Lord wants and gives the desires of our hearts.  But this broken world leaves us empty always wanting to fill and we can stand in the alone without being lonely.

Sometimes God sets you apart, or gives the season of alone to free you up to be with Him.  To seek His Face. . .to turn to Him and be filled with him and him alone.

When drifting in the bog of lonely or suffering a season of ALONE. . .cry out to the only one that can fill you.  The only one who understands what it is like to truly be alone and be forsaken.

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“Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.  Let me dwell in your tent forever!  Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!  Selah

-Psalm 61:1-4 

forgiving when they won’t say, “sorry”

I am emerging from a challenging season in my life.   I’ve been engulfed in waves of hurt inflicted by other Christian brothers and sisters.  For me, it seems easier to forgive the lost or unintentional inflictions over the stabs gathered by those who are suppose to be my family in Christ.  My community. . .my church. . .my friends. . .my loved ones.

One thing I know is true about being in a church community. . .if you have not yet been hurt. . .you most likely have not opened up your heart, exposed your true self and invited those around you to jump fully into your life.

The church is a hospital for the spiritually, emotionally, and physically injured or broken.  It is a safe haven of hope in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is where we can feel safe to open up, expose our broken and pray for healing.  It is also a group of sinners, just like me, clinging to God’s great grace and mercy.

I am broken. . .I am messed up. . .I am a sinner. . .I am a Child of God!

If I am a sinner and I am in fellowship with other sinners. . .just what do I expect?  Why am I surprised when others just like me sin against me?

I have spent many hours weary and wondering just why this kind of thing happens and what next?  I think relationships in the family of Christ become strained when one loses focus on God and projects that gaze on the lives of others and self.  The horizontal view overtakes the vertical view.  And when we take our focus off of God. . .we sink, we fall.

It’s funny, when I see those pictures that depict Peter who had been walking on the water with Jesus and then begins to slowly sink ankle deep as he loses his gaze on and trust in Christ- it looks so peaceful.  I don’t think this is entirely accurate.

I believe when we take our gaze, our focus, our eyes off of Jesus, we plunge furiously into the sea with waves crashing over us.  Head under water. . .we sink.  We gasp for air only to find water filling the lungs.  We thrash around violently as we panic in fear.  We fight to get head above water and we choke and cough as the storm throws us around in between swells of fear and doubt.

There is no peaceful slow sinking when we take our eyes off of the Lord.  No God. . .no peace. . .no life. . .no air.  Life is a struggle without our God.  When we try to make it on our own or fix life the way we see fit. . .we are simply gulping more and more sea water and suffocating.  The horizontal view bouncing back and forth between self and others is exhausting and a losing battle.

The fix? Look to Christ.

When we take our eyes off of our situation, the people sinning around us;  When we put down the cake at our self- prepared pity party. . .we can once again see God.  We can fix our eyes on His and guess what happens?  We rise.

We find air to breathe, we no longer struggle as we reach up to hold the hand that holds us.  And we can once again walk on the water with Jesus.  We have peace as the waters are calmed in the light of His great presence.

But what about the hurt?  What about those darts that hit so hard?

While many do not sin when sinned against- we often get caught in the sink hole of sin that is caused by our reactions to the hurt.  I have a tendency to put up my guard.  “You hurt me, so I’m boarding myself up in my little castle surrounded with my own alligator-filled mote.  Don’t even try to cross over to knock on my door.”  This hard exterior is the build up of hurt turned calloused.

We lash out at others and offer our view without care or concern.  I am more guilty here than I’d like to admit.  I could barely go a day without complaining to my husband or mom about what this person did or that person said to me.  If someone asked if I was ok, I was more than willing to share my hurt and  without care of those involved.  The hurt had now morphed into a full grown grudge and I wasn’t afraid to share that grudge like a well spawned virus.

For literally almost a year, my hurt and anger flowed like poison through my veins.   And it has been killing me.  I went under and the waves nearly carried me away.

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What do you do when others have hurt you and simply won’t say “sorry?”

1. Cry out to God!  Who better to tell your secrets, your dreams, your wants, your hurt, your sorrow to?  God knows me more than any other.  He created me.  He dreamt me into existence.  He knows my thoughts before I do.  So, instead of griping to my husband or gossiping to my mom, I can talk to God anytime and unleash my entire heart.  He knows all about hurt, about betrayal, about those who turn their backs.

God has been right where I am.

2. Look UP to God!  Wounds often turn self-inflicted when our gaze turns from Vertical towards God to a horizontal view of those around us.  Our self-centered take on the situation keeps us busy bouncing back and forth between you and them.  There really isn’t time to look up and spend time with God.  This is where the Grace of God hits hard.  No matter how many times we have sinned, fallen, quit and taken our eyes off of the Lord, he is always there for his Children.  Opened arms, his grace is greater than my deepest sin and He will always extend his forgiving grace to me and rescue me from myself.  His hand reaches towards ours and if we take His hand. . .we once again rise to the water’s surface.

3. Trade in your Fear of Man into a Reflection of God’s great light.  Hanging on a cross. . .bruised. . .beaten. . .battered. . .tired. . .betrayed, Jesus kept his focus on his father and his purpose on earth.  His perfect life and precious death is our cheat sheet in times of betrayal and hurt.  As children of God, we are to reflect the light that was sent to suffer in our place.  That perfect pure light named Jesus Christ.  He is the perfect “Adam” that paid for our sin; and our goal is to strive to reflect His light.  Knowing this. . .knowing our great God and his love for us, we can offer forgiveness to those who have injured us so badly.  We have done so much worse to our Lord than any man can possibly do to us.  We are not without fault.  Because Jesus took on our sin in the flesh and put our sins to death- because of his great grace extended to us. . .we can now offer as reflection to the light- our own forgiveness to others.

This life. . .THIS life is not about us at all.  It is about a Great creator and God that sent His beloved son to right the wrong that sin caused.  The great rescue to the perishing.  The great forgiver who forgives.  We serve our purpose in life when we give glory to God in all that we do.  And forgiving those who hurt us in this great big family of God gives glory to God.

I can forgive because God has forgiven me.  I am free to let go of the hurt because my savior died on the cross so that I do not have to hurt.  My hope and joy are in Him.  My gaze on the light of His face blinds me from all others.

In Him I live, in Him I rejoice, in Him and only in Him. . .I forgive.

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in the morning when I rise. . .reflection on a September 12

I stayed home that morning when Phil drove Andrew to school in Denver.  Sitting in my bed, cuddling Jacob, I watched Fox News as we all tried to piece together the reasons for a plane hitting one of the World Trade Center Towers.  My dad was a pilot, my brother is a pilot. . .I couldn’t for the life of me understand why.  We made our way downstairs to the living room and I opened the TV cabinet doors to a world as I had known it falling apart.

Watching  the second plane hit.  Chills traveled down my neck.  I immediately picked up the phone and asked Phil if he was listening to the news.  “Go get Andrew and get home.”  Denver is a big city.  During that hour, we didn’t know what was happening other than it was evident that this was intentional and we had no idea what city, plane, building, or field was next.

Over the course of two more planes and loss of life, I joined many in our nation as I searched the house for our American Flag.  I see it in a slow motion play back as my husband made his way home with Andrew.  Neighbors on a busy block hanging our stars and stripes on poles, sides of homes and mail boxes.  As I tacked up my last moments of freedom as we knew it back then, I wondered if this was how my Great Grandparents felt in Germany. . .or my Grandparents felt during Pearl Harbor.

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Even my own children do not know the reality of the loss of that day.

 The freedom we said goodbye to. . .the thousands of lives taken. . .the trauma and pain of generations past and to come in the moment that will forever simply be defined as 9/11.

The silence in the sky in the days to come was both scary and sad.  Our flight path nestled in the foothills that always left the sky painted with Airplane art was now clear and still.  There was an uncertainty in the air.  But God was there.

Today, I took a moment in our Homeschool day to reflect on our America before, during and after that fateful day.  I previewed a documentary on the “Falling Guy.”  A picture taken in a single moment capturing the leap of a man from his torture to his imminent death.

My children weren’t in the room with me as I cried and gasped and sobbed.  Have we forgotten who we were?  Have we heard the term 9/11 so often that it’s just another Historical lesson?  Are these people we watched perish even real to us?

Is 9/11 really real to you?  To your children?

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When it isn’t real to you- it won’t move you.  And if it doesn’t move you- then your life cannot change.

 You remain the same.

Like the death of Christ. . .when we really take in the depths of intense suffering and what that sacrifice did for us, we then can reflect on the ugly. . .such as Christ’s crucifixion, death and resurrection- it becomes real.  It moves us and we are changed from life old to the new.

While watching the man falling to his death from the tower- I also watched the horror of by standers watching as I did. . .hand over our mouths, crying, and saying, “Oh my God.”  The heat from the fire- the burning skin- the lack of oxygen was so intense that for some the leap out of a window proved to be the only relief.  For those of us watching the devastation that day, our hearts literally hurt in our helplessness.

It was so profound to see such loss of life in such great numbers.  Good people were lost that day.  Innocent people were lost that day.  It moved many to change laws, to review our way of living.  We FELT it. . .and it changed us.

When waving to a neighbor in our small country town- When passing a school bus full- when finding a seat on a full flight. . .we glance at faces and let them go.  Do we dare ask them if they know Jesus?  Do we care?  Do we stand there with hand on mouth, tears in our eyes, and say “Oh my God” you need to hear about Jesus and the way to Heaven.

It’s not real to us is it?  Death and the life after just isn’t real enough to motivate us to get up. . .talk to others about Christ and in an hour of desperation, love and helplessness. . .we should be tripping over each other to spread the word.  The warning that there is a day when this life will pass and those not in Christ will suffer immense torture.  Why are we watching these people figuratively “leaping” to their deaths without sorrow?  Do we care?


My husband and I are in the process of adopting.  We have a love for a child we have never met.  There is a burning in my heart for the orphan, the lost child. . .the one who needs to know they have an adoptive parent more loving than I that wants to rescue them. . .love them and one day take them home.

It is urgent to spread the word.  Perhaps because I’m getting older and life is seemly shorter and flying by me.  The GOOD NEWS of the Gospel.  That through the trials of this broken world, there is a God that loves us unmeasurably; and He has made a way for us to live with him in Paradise forever.  It is because of this good news that we can face the end of this world, knowing the next is better!

There is a world full of good people perishing. . .so why do we stand still?

For me. . .waking up on September 12 seemed hopeless.  It was the first morning of many mornings after.  As after the death of our own child. . .you learn to first open your eyes. . .you tell yourself to breathe and then you cry out to God to walk you through the day.  There can be joy found even in this broken world.  The Hopeless is replaced with Jesus, our hope in a desperate time of need.  He is our joy and our reason for the journey.

Many mornings in still full consciousness- before I open my eyes- the words from that song run through my head. . .”in the morning when I rise…in the morning. . .when I rise. . .in the morning when I rise. . .

Give Me Jesus

when it’s hard to say, I’m sorry. . .

 

Sizzling bacon behind me, toast jumping off the island in protest, and an empty jar of Miracle Whip started my day today.  Too late for breakfast, we dove into brunch.

We’ve been back to school now for three weeks and although the routine is settling in, the heart has been slow to follow.  The excitement is now over, and we are pretty much ready for our next break already.

We have children in many various life stages right now and along with certain stages comes attitude adjustments.  For both the children and myself.

While sitting at the kitchen table waiting for their meals, the children were finishing up on their morning school work.  One of the little ones had a request.  The actual request slips my mind now.  But nevertheless, I said NO.

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Behind my back, she made a face.  “Mom, she just sassed you when you weren’t looking.” I looked up to stare into a pair of baby browns staring right at me.

In an unusual soft and calm voice, I asked, “why would you do that?”  “That really hurts my feelings.”  The baby browns began to water and eventually bowed at the table.  She put down her pencil and ran to her room.

I praise God that my children truly have soft hearts and would never want to hurt someone’s feelings.  Especially their momma’s.  But they are sinfully human. . .

After a few minutes, my daughter emerged from her bedroom, with a little blanket over her head as she made her way to the living room sofa.

Embarrassed, ashamed, and full of remorse, my little girl was trying to hide herself from my presence.  I immediately recognized the behavior as my very own towards God.


So many times when I know I’m doing wrong, living wrong, acting wrong or just in a complete funk and have taken it out on God. . .I find it easier to put that blanket over my head and run from my Lord in disbelief, sorrow, and shame.  How in the world do I say “I’m sorry” to God when I’ve wronged Him.  How can He love me when I’ve taken a closed fist and shaken it so many times when struggles come my way.

Often, instead of falling to my knees in repentance, I “cover my head” and try to run far away.  It is so hard for me to receive his love and accept that this Heavenly Father still loves me greatly in spite of my constant failings and let downs.  His grace covers all.

I know that in my head. . .but those 12 inches or so to the heart can take forever.


 

As a mom, I don’t want my children running from me in embarrassment or shame.  I don’t want to see them sad or upset.  Which is why, when I find my little girl sitting on the sofa with a blanket covering her head, my heart breaks and I go to her. . .hug her and simply want to hear those evidentiary words of remorse. . .”I’m sorry.”  I want her to know I don’t love her any less.  As a matter of fact. . .my love grows.

The Lord doesn’t NEED us to say sorry for Him.  Remorse and repentance . . .turning from our self destructive ways and following the good Shepherd, seeing His forgiveness and growing in Grace are the reasons to say, “sorry.”

Perhaps I can understand why I tend to run from my Lord in shame instead of turning from my own pride to say, “I’m sorry Lord.”  “I’m so sorry Father for straying, for being upset and angry.”  In those moments when I struggle to look up and accept his great gift of grace. . .

He meets me and sits beside me in the pit.  He holds me and I feel his love;

and he makes it possible for me to say, “I’m so sorry.”

His yolk is easy. . .His burden light. . .and His mercies are new every single morning.  He is my Father.  See, it always goes back the the behavior of a loving father.

“He is conscious of every circumstance I encounter.  He attends me with care and concern because I belong to Him.  

And this will continue through eternity.  What an assurance!

-A Shepherds Looks at Psalm 23

for I know whom I have believed. . .

Across my cell phone screen I read the words from my husband. . .

“Honey, I’m so, so sorry.  Melissa’s kitty was killed sometime last night.  I found him on my way out to work this morning.  Tell her I am sorry.  I know how much she loved him.  It breaks my heart.  I don’t want my kids to know such sadness.  That is what really bothers me.  I try to protect them from pain. . .and it still finds them.”

 “I try to protect them from pain. . .and it still finds them.”

It was just yesterday on his birthday.  I woke in excitement to text him a big mushy Happy Birthday message when I read those words instead.  “What an awful way to start a birthday,” I thought to myself.  We met for his birthday lunch and in our heart to heart conversation, I paused to really think about what my husband had said.  Those words.  I try to protect them from pain.  My husband is not a huge fan of cats.  But his daughters are. . .and the grief and suffering they were going to endure was too much for him that day.  He was physically grieved at their grief.


So, is this what God feels when I am grieved?  He is after all, my Father.  I am his baby girl.  Does He hurt when I hurt?  The answer?  Absolutely!  I believe our Heavenly Father is truly grieved over our physical, emotional and spiritual pains and suffering.  God does not enjoy our suffering, but a fallen world requires it.

We live in a world where the Lion does indeed eat the Lamb. . .

Because of our fallen world to sin, we are all at one time or another touched by suffering in this life.  But praise be to our great God. . .he did as promised.  He is trust worthy. . .He made a way for those who have accepted him, believed, repented and have become His children.  Jesus paid the ultimate price on the cross for each one of us.  He suffered for our eternal freedom.  Jesus is our way to a new and perfect eternal life.  One day the Lion will lay down with the lamb.  Our suffering on this earth is momentary but reaps eternal benefits.

Why are we to suffer?

The great age old question.  #1: We endure our suffering on this earth to be witnesses for others that they may see Christ in us.  When we suffer and give God the Glory, we show a peek of Christ. . .the fruit of labor.  Jesus is at the center of our suffering.

” …we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” -Romans 5:2b-5 ESV

 #2: We suffer to be like Christ.  The Bible tells us clearly that we can count on suffering in this lifetime if we choose to follow Christ.  So why suffer for Christ?  First. . .let me tell you that I am never more near my Lord then when I am in a season of suffering.  I wish it wasn’t that way.  I wish I had the make of the individual that believes, endures and has hope without constantly being cast into the furnace.  But this is me. . .and my Father knows me.  He often has to put my feet to the fire to get me to cry out to him. . .to be closer to him and ultimately. . .grow and love Him more.

“Our adventure was to go down the road

of knowing God in suffering as far as it would take us.”

-When God Weeps, Joni Eareckson Tada / Steven Estes

Later that day, I sat down bedside by Melissa.  Poor baby.  She had been in bed for over a week suffering from a horrible virus turned bacterial infection.  She endured an allergic reaction to her antibiotic and now I was gonna have to tell her that her kitty was gone.  She played with that kitty every day.  She brushed him, fed him, held and loved on him.  Talk about kicking someone while their down.  But I knew I had to tell her.

She never cried.  She said she was sad and began scrolling through pictures she took herself of him.  From his nursing moments to his final days. . .she had it all recorded and smiled through the memories.

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“Melissa, you know that Jesus is sad for you, right?”  “Yeah,” she said smiling.  Her sweet soft voice sings praises to her Jesus.  She loves him so much and seems to suffer so much.  But she loves Jesus and trusts Him fully.  Perhaps that is my issue.  Perhaps I simply do not trust the Lord my God.

“Faith is believing that God is telling the truth.”- Tope Koleoso

#3, Finally, I believe the Lord leads us through pastures of suffering for our very own good.  This is actually incredibly hard for me to write today as I have been wading through our very own rough patch this week.  My husband, a farmer, was injured and will need surgery.  In pain, he cannot effectively work.  He is now limited in his abilities.  And for him, that is an intense suffering.  The costs of a surgery when we are in the process of adoption, added to a little girl trying to get well and then followed last night by one of our teenagers that is suffering from complex migraines.

Honestly. . .there was a moment today when I grabbed Phil’s hand and cried out to my Father, “please Lord, pull me from the fire.  I cannot endure!”

Phil still needs surgery. . .Jacob still has migraines. . .Melissa still lost her kitty. . .and we still will have go on working.  But you know what?  God answered me.  Still in my suffering- He held me close.  He wrapped His great healing arms around me and said, “Sandi. . .my dearest daughter. . .I LOVE you, I created you, I died for you. . .and I will hold you through this.  TRUST ME!  I delivered my children from slavery in Egypt. . .I parted the Red Sea. . .I provided Manna and water and a way.  I will keep you in the fire until you are purified. . .pretty. . .pliable. . .and I will remove you and protect you as to mold you but not harm you.”

Just as I held my child and told her she would grieve her kitty. . .Just as I held my husband’s hand and said, “Yes, you will have pain, but I am here and I will take care of you in your recovery.”  My great God will hold my hand through this fire.  I will walk unharmed to the other side.  And the purpose will be to get to know my sweet God more than I did before.  I will know the feel of his gentle yet strong arm. . .I will close my eyes and follow his footsteps to safer ground.  I will get the awesome opportunity to SEE His face. . .His promises and His great rescue!

 I will know my Shepherd and I will hear His voice and follow.

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God is certainly not enjoying my tears today.  As a matter of fact. . .every tear is gathered and bottled for my joy in Him in Heaven.  I can tread these waters. . .walk the bumpy path and smile.  Because He is there to catch me, lead me, guide me and protect me.  And as I walk in Faith and trust His plan for me. . .He smiles as I let go of my grip and fall into His will for me. . .for my good and His glory.  For I know WHOM I have believed and He will never let me down!

“which is why I suffer as I do.  But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”

-2 Timothy 1:12