Joy-filled, Grief-filled Community

She’s really close, they think the baby may be born in just a few minutes!

My heart dropped after hearing these words. Tears instantly stung my eyes and started to flow without my ability to control them. Our dear friends we are in community with were having their second baby, a girl, only 6 weeks after Anna was born.

Though you may not be in the same position of having just lost your own children, my guess is that you are able to feel the same sorrow of loss in the light of seeing others gain. This is what naturally happens when you do life with people. It’s what shows that you are in fellowship. And – it’s ok. My hope is that as we learn to do community with those in grief and those who are rejoicing – that you are also pressed to follow the gospel pattern set in Romans 12.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15

The day after our friend’s baby girl was born, we got a sweet text from them asking us to come to their home and meet her. My first reaction was “I don’t think I can do that without crying.” but they assured us that it was their joy to remember with us, and it was their hope that their baby would be a blessing to us as well. This gesture of opening their life in the midst of rejoicing, to our life in the midst of grief, deeply moved us.

It’s not an easy thing to hold heavy grief in the middle of a setting where those around you are light-hearted and jovial. But it is also not easy to be in the position of “rejoicing” when those close to you are hurting. If you take a deeper look into Romans 12 and the pattern it is setting for community, it outlines many different ways that we are to live giving of ourselves or in other words dying to ourselves like it says in 2 Corinthians 4. “For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh
(2 Corinthians 4:11).

I cried in their living room after holding their sweet baby. And that was ok. They opened their life to us in a way that said “your hurt is just as significant as our joy.” And that is love. When you are able to lay down your own comfort whether that be in your joy or in your grief – by opening yourself to others, you are manifesting Jesus. Because Jesus poured out His life to secure those He loved. This is how we follow His example. By putting our comfort behind so that our brothers and sisters may be shown love. I saw Jesus SO clearly through their openness to us when it was not comfortable to be the one who “has”. But this exemplified Jesus. It WAS a blessing to hold their tiny baby, but mostly because they made such an example of doing the uncomfortable thing.

We are all in one of two positions. Those who “have” or those who “have not.” And both of these as Christians are to press us to live in a way that gives honor to the other. Rejoice with those who rejoice! It shows Jesus. Weep with those who weep. It shows Jesus. A new baby; a lost baby. A close mate; a far mate. A child walking with Jesus; a child walking away from Jesus. Your gifts whether good or bad are to be given and shared with each other. You have been given to give. Your life as a Christian whether in plenty or in want is meant to be poured out for your brothers and sisters first – and then to the world to show Christ’s sufficiency in all things.

And friends, He is enough for both. He is better than our best and He is more than enough in our lack. Give what you have been given for this shows Jesus most.

Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.John 13:35

More Precious Than Silver

“Lord you are more precious than silver,
Lord you are more costly than gold,
Lord you are more beautiful than diamonds,
and nothing I desire compares with you…”

I sang my daughter Corrie to sleep to this tune tonight being reminded of how precious it has been to me this last year of 2019. Each year at some point on January 1st, I sit down with my Bible and journal and ask the Lord to give me His heart for the year approaching. January 1st of 2019, the Lord gave me this verse to focus on:

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:7-9

The summary of that verse was the theme “Content in Christ” or “Jesus is Enough”. I hadn’t been looking for or expecting this to be what He directed me to in Scripture, but soon found out how the Lord’s providence had directed me there.

This year we have walked through more intense, acute pain than we have ever been faced with. Losing two children in one year has been the most heart-wrenching sorrow to call our own. But it is ours. How do we trust the Lord with a pregnancy that ended before we could hardly tell anyone about it? And how do we to trust the Lord with a pregnancy with an almost fatal diagnosis that lasted 24 whole weeks? How? This can only be done when you look at your life in context of Christ and not in context of you.

See, as unpopular as it is to say – our life is not for our dreams, not for our family and not for our prosperity. Though my flesh longs to have a happy, pain-free life… when I chose to follow Jesus, I signed up for a cross. Not for a pillow. What my God promises me is not physical healing, but that which will sanctify and heal my sinful, rebellious heart! If our focus after this year was to demand of God physical healing – we would have missed the whole point. God is not after our prosperous lives full of health and wealth. He is after our hearts. Sometimes it takes the lack of those things to even treasure the Pearl of Great Price (Matthew 13:45-46).

I found myself asking this question after we lost our first baby: “Just as my brothers and sisters in persecuted countries choose to follow Jesus through their pain … Is Jesus worth believing in in the middle of my pain? Will I follow Him there as my persecuted brothers and sisters also follow Him?” The answer is the same for them as it is for us. Yes. Jesus gives LIFE in the midst of this insecure, death-filled world. That life is much deeper than physical life. It’s union with God Himself! Spiritual life then can never be shaken no matter what happens.

The year 2019 has given me a longing for heaven I knew I was missing before. Why long to see the face of Jesus when you have so many other things you dream of here? Friends, life becomes very black and white when suffering is close. Do not settle for this earth. Do not think that Jesus came just to give you a better story here on Earth. His redemption is primarily one meant to make your soul pure before Him so that when you see him you will not shrink back. Be ready! Press into knowing Him and being sanctified by His WORD so that we do not shrink at His coming! He is coming.

Our suffering this year has been the fire of the soul that burns all that doesn’t really matter away. Are we done? By no means. But as we look at eternity with fresh eyes, we see just a bit more clearly that ALL else is rubbish compared to gaining Christ. Remember this, friend, as you enter 2020. Don’t make anything else your goal than to gain the Pearl of Great Price. He’s worth it. He’s worth giving your whole life (and every specific aspect of it) to Christ.

“…For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:8b-11

A Band-Aid Won’t Cut It

‘My husband is a very gifted man,’ I thought to myself last night in bed. Though this is a very true statement, I meant it in more of a snarky kind of way. See, he has the gift of sleep. He could fall asleep within two minutes any time, any place and you know it’s real because he snores. Why I was up awake last night unable to sleep is another story.

Though I sounded snarky, pretending to be jealous of my husband sleeping soundly … I actually wanted to be awake last night. I wanted the minutes to linger and the day to not come to a close. It was the last night that I could say our daughter was born only “weeks” ago. Today was the switch that turned that special day into “months” ago. It has been 1 month since Anna was born and I could tell you what has happened each Wednesday since then:

  • The first Wednesday, a week after her birth, we were at the funeral home making arrangements for Anna’s burial.
  • The second Wednesday, we were traveling all day going to see my family for Thanksgiving and having some rest time alone as a family.
  • The third Wednesday was December 4th (the due date of the baby we lost in April) and we celebrated our December Baby while we were on vacation.

Why do I write all this? It’s not because I am attention-seeking. No, in this case we want the body to know what it’s been like. We want our life to be a useful tool for knowing how to reach out to those who are hurting. Grieving as a Christian should not cut us off from our community – it should only draw us closer to each other. We realize that in order to allow our brothers and sisters in, we must make ourselves vulnerable. This is not easy. I do not like attention – and being vulnerable opens your thought processes and wounds to be seen. But we feel strongly that this is an opportunity to be used and not hidden away.

Our fleshly side as humans normally reacts one of two ways. We can use our pain to suck attention, affirmation and be dependent on other people to fill those needs. Or we can lock our pain deep down and not let anyone see it at all by silently carrying the heaviness within. Both of these ways to grieve will never satisfy and won’t fix the hole that you are seeking to fill.

That’s why as brothers and sisters who are onlookers or as those who are walking through pain, we must remember this: It’s not about us. Jesus is always the answer that fills the hole in each human’s heart. When we have physical and emotional pain – it is no different. You can’t heal an internal sickness with a Band-Aid. You need medicine. Even if you ask for a million Band-Aids, they are not the answer. The first place you as onlookers should go is Jesus. The first place that we sufferers should go is Jesus.

Sometimes in the midst of deep pain, it is hard to think very deeply or clearly and that is when you brothers and sisters are needed. You are able to speak truth and speak Jesus in a clear way that can remind our hearts of our Rock. If the solution ever becomes “Oh, they need ME…” then you know perhaps there are not healthy expectations anymore. If the solution to a friend’s pain seems like shying away and holding back the comfort you have from the Lord, then perhaps it’s ok to leave that text of encouragement or to drop by a note with Scripture on it. Sometimes we need someone pursuing us when we have turned inward.

It is the sort of thing you need to follow the Spirit on, but this you can always trust: We need Jesus. He is the answer. I hope that this post is helpful in your life with those around you who are suffering or perhaps you are suffering. Either way, our efforts for peace are powerless if they don’t lead us to Christ. For those of you who are not in relationship with Jesus – I can say that everything else you look to for refuge and peace in the storm will only continue to leave you empty with no answers. Because using Band-Aids for an internal sickness will never do the trick. Jesus is your answer to fulfillment. Jesus heals our hearts like no person or thing ever could.

Thanks for reading today! We are, step by step, moving forward and expectant for what He has in store. If you have any questions please feel free to message us or email us on our contact page!

Steadfast

“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Psalm 103:8

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” ” Lamentations 3:21-24

It has been almost two months since we heard the news about Anna that turned our life upside down. Just three and a half weeks ago, our life was turned upside down again when our sweet Anna went to be with our dear Lord. So much changed in our life during that time. We were not sure what any aspect of our life would look like in the following days and weeks. Few things were constant.

But one thing never changed. The steadfastness of Christ remained during all of that time. And it remains today. He is faithful. He never changes. These verses in Lamentations are very precious to me. They were written at a time when everything was going wrong. These words declaring God’s constancy and faithfulness were not framed in rosy circumstances when the world was all that it ought to be. Suffering and deep pain were the background for the proclamation of glorious truth.

I think suffering can often be one of the most effective backgrounds for the declaration of God’s faithfulness. We see that in Paul’s life. We see it in Job’s life. And most of all, we see it in the life of our Lord when He is in the Garden of Gethsemane. The sharp contrast of the turmoil of life in suffering and the testimony of the goodness of God shows Christ to be the wonder that He is.

My suffering can be the stage where Christ is magnified. We must remember that ‘magnified’ in this sense is not making Jesus look bigger than He is, but showing Him to be who He truly is. We cannot glorify Jesus more than He deserves. In our suffering, we cannot declare Him to be too faithful. He is exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or imagine. He is steadfast and unchanging.

Our life circumstances are not all we wish them to be. We miss our daughter every day. Having more children seems far away today. But I know that Jesus is abundantly precious in a way that I did not know two months ago. He is using this to show me that He is worth more than anything else in this world. And I pray that through our lives, He shows the world His greatness and glory. He is steadfast. And He will always be.

Is Jesus Enough?

Is Jesus enough?
My soul cries aloud
In the dark? In the tough?
When I can’t see past cloud?

Is Jesus enough?
Can I trust him going forward?
Will the waters stay rough?
Will we make it shoreward?

Is Jesus enough?
I awake day to day
Continual burdens of stuff
On Him can I lay?

What do you mean?
Remember my soul!
On God we have leaned
Father is His role

There has never been lack
Only daily trust
His nature is fact
Look at Him you must!

Jesus is enough
For even every trial
Ignore the tempter’s bluff
It’s finished, the extra mile

Jesus is enough
Impossible is his game
Don’t you know that he is buff?
KING of kings is His name

Jesus is enough
Cling to Him, my dear
His promise is not fluff
He says that “I am here”

Blindfolded

What does anyone expect to hear from us after just losing our baby? There are many things to process, but the first few are things like this: 

  • Lifestyle being stopped and changed like hitting a brick wall going 100 MPH
  • Having to take every moment, one breath at a time
  • Choosing to be ok with not being able to fully process and blindly trust God with what we can’t even handle with our brain yet
  • Forcing ourselves to stay in this moment and not look ahead

Grieving is strange. But I think as Christians it makes our life very, very simple. We are stripped down to complete dependence (perhaps as it should be). Life becomes moment to moment and thinking too far ahead becomes a pitfall to being completely overwhelmed. We become babes in the hands of a gentle shepherd who knows how to lead us in the valley. It is exactly like being blindfolded by a good father, taking his hand as tight as your fingers can grip and stepping forward where he directs. This first week I have had to let Him lead me many different places I don’t know how to go. Places I never wanted to go.

The first blind holding of His hand was while I was in bed at 3:30 AM on November 13. The pain was now timed and I didn’t want to tell Alex that it actually felt like contractions. It took us down a path I never wanted to go. Another time was after knowing she would be born. The emotional pain of bringing our second daughter into the world made us choose to get an epidural and fully embrace the few moments we had with her while she was alive. This choice forced me to let go of the joy of the pain to bring life into the world. When you know your baby is supposed to come those pains are normal and good. But when those pains only proved that the end is coming quickly, we chose to forego that physical pain and it was a surrender. But also an incredible blessing.

One of the biggest times of holding His hand was when we had to call the nurse to take Anna away from us. I couldn’t stop looking at her. I couldn’t stop holding her and touching her perfect features. To think that she could be this beautiful at 24 weeks made me so long to see her at 40 weeks and at 1 year and at 10 years! How could I say goodbye only having just met this beautiful little girl? My soul had to cling to Jesus like I never had before when we handed her over for the last time. And she left us. And we clung to Jesus. The comfort I had was that she had already left us and her physical body was not really her. One day I will go to her and that is my joy.

Her memorial was another time of clinging to His hand, and tomorrow is her burial which will be yet again one more tight grasp. These of course are the big events – but I also know that as the year ends and we step into another year, I will be in greater need of His leading than ever before. You might wonder how we will and have been getting through this without anger or doubt or the endless questions of “why?” The answer is simple and steadfast.

I know Jesus. I know He loves me. I know He has made me His daughter and gives ALL of the best of Himself to me. I am not insecure in being His. I know He gives me what is best. Even my broken bleeding heart is resting in assurance of His love. He is a gentle shepherd and knows me better than anyone alive. I trust Him. And when I do question His ways, I know He is gracious with me. It’s not because I am mature and “such a good Christian.” Not at all. It’s because HE is such a good Savior, Father, Lover, Keeper, and Comforter. He is good. I know that clinging to His hand is a safe place when I don’t understand.

When you KNOW Jesus deeply – all you can do is run to Him. Not away from Him. I pray that those of you who read along this journey sees His exceeding goodness. All else fails. But He never does.

This is where we are. Moment by moment, clinging to the one safe place we know. Dear fellow human… He can be your safe place too. Just run to Him!

His Glorious Grace

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6

When we are walking through the valleys of our lives, we must go back to the bedrock truths that guide our souls and sustain us through the waves and trials. The Scriptures anchor us in these realities, and we cling to Christ as winds and rains come in our lives. When we allow truth to define our lives instead of circumstances or our own emotions, there is a strength to stand. Pain and suffering remain, but Christ sustains us and His Word gives light in the darkness.

One of the foundational truths of the Word of God is that life is not about us. Think about that for a second. It is the most countercultural statement we could make in our world today. We come out of the womb ready to live for ourselves. We believe in what Paul David Tripp calls ‘the lie of self-sovereignty.’ All men and women fall for this. And even as Christians, we can catch ourselves in this mentality. We want things to go our way, and we react strongly when circumstances do not go as we want them to go. We want our money, and our nice job, and our health, and our happy family. And we can make the mistake of thinking that because we want some things that the Bible shows to be good things, that makes living life for ourselves okay.

The reality is that there is only one who is at the center of all existence, including ours. God created all of life, and He is sovereign and supreme over all of it. Only God knows the end from the beginning and is in control of the world. He is Lord over us, whether we acknowledge it right now or not. And God’s purpose is not centered on us. It is centered on Himself. The glory of God is the highest and best purpose in the universe.

This passage in Ephesians shows that even our adoption as children of God and our blessings in the heavenly places are unto the praise of His glorious grace. They are for His glory. He is proclaiming His own excellence. It is not because we are just so awesome and worthy. God is amazing. God is great. And because He is so great, He shows His incredible mercy to us by saving us, blessing us, adopting us, and restoring us to Himself. And we respond to that marvelous grace by living the rest of our lives to see that glory made known in our lives and the lives of those around us.

So how does that apply in suffering? Job saw this truth firsthand in his life. When Job questions God and God responds to him, the first thing God does is turn Job’s eyes off of himself and on to God. God diminishes Job’s view of himself and explodes his view of God. Job sees how little he knows and how little control he has. God is so vast, and His wisdom and understanding is so great. Job shuts his mouth and responds to God’s greatness by recognizing His rule over all of life.

In my darkest days, I cling to this truth. My life is not about me. My suffering is not about me. And that actually frees me. I am not sovereign. All I can do is look to Him and trust that He is in control. He always acts out of His nature. He is always good, and He always does what is right and true. And I can put all my hope in that. He is trustworthy.

I am suffering right now. Losing my daughter has been the hardest trial of my life. I do not understand everything that is happening. And I have realized how little control I actually have. But everything I have in my life is because of God’s grace. Everything I do not have is because of God’s grace. And my life is for His glory. Anna’s life is for His glory. Life is all about Jesus. My suffering is not about me. And that frees me to give myself to Jesus, no matter what happens to me. He knows. And He is supreme over all.

Living Hope

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:3-9

This Scripture has been a rock for me in the most difficult and darkest days of my life. Today I hold it closely. Death has a way of distilling our lives down to the very core. We find out what we really believe and what is the true substance of our identity.

This past Wednesday, my sweet daughter Anna Nicole left this world and entered another. She was on Earth outside the womb for only 13 minutes. I won’t see her again in this lifetime. If that was all there is to the matter, I have no hope. That is absolutely devastating. If we have hope in this life only, we are to be pitied above all people.

But this world is not all there is. Jesus Christ conquered death. My sin has been washed by the blood of the Lamb. I will be with Christ. And I believe that I will see my daughter again. Because He lives, she also lives. That is the hope of the gospel.

This blog was started to talk about a hope that informs all of our life on Earth. ‘Homemaking in Heaven’ is about an eternal reality that then dictates everything that we think and do right here and now. We are not about making our home here. We are about preparing for the eternity we will spend with Jesus Christ.

We started this blog before we found out about Anna Nicole. The greatest trial we have ever faced was unknown to us at that time. But here in the middle of the valley, I cling to that hope. Jesus Christ is our anchor right now. He lives. And we will see His face.

Life is hard and heartbreaking. We grieve and mourn the loss of a beloved child. Tears and pain are present continually. But we are not uninformed about death. We do not grieve as those who have no hope. We look to Jesus. He is our living hope.

The Father’s Kind of Love

Fierce love. It’s the best way I can describe the way I love her (Corrie). It’s a gift I can only truly understand when I look at my God – who fiercely loved. Not willing to leave me in my sin but provide a way out by giving up His life for me. I have a wired instinct to love and pour my life out for her and I KNOW who that is suppose to look like. Jesus. Jesus created motherhood to look like him and I have never been more privileged to follow in his footsteps in this way. Being a mother is being broken and poured out – it’s love. It’s being Jesus. Corrie, it is my great honor to use my life to ensure that you know HIS life. Happy Mother’s day friends! You have a high calling!

Mother’s Day Instagram post 2019

This is the post I wrote on my Instagram on Mother’s Day of this year (2019). It perfectly reflects the burning heart I know every mom has for her children. It’s basically instinctual. There is a reason we moms are often referred to as “Mama Bears.” This paragraph above culminates what I want my motherhood to show. I want it to reflect Jesus, and I see how even in the way He created me as a woman, it was made to showcase Himself.

I have been struck with another aspect of this as we step into life with a child who will have more physical needs than most children. Instead of adding to my picture-perfect family with another spunky, free child with a normal birth and exceptional learning skills – we will be adding to our family what is not expected. What is vulnerable. What is weak. What is abnormal.

Most people, even me, react first with pity. But can I shift our hearts just a bit to remember our Father’s heart?

Where did Jesus tell us to go in being Christians? To the low places. What did Jesus say was the most “happy” or “blessed” state to be in? The poor, the mourning, the meek, the hungry, those who step up for peace, those who offer mercy, those who are persecuted. The vulnerable, the people with need and lack. I am reminded over and over in the scriptures below of what our Father’s heart burns deeply for. Why? Because it is only those who NEED Him, that will find Him. He knows that He can satisfy ALL desires and needs. Where does He send His children in his instructions on what our life should look like? The places of need.

Our Father’s heart is burning for those who need Him. He wants our hearts to deeply love and go there too. Is it comfortable? Is is natural? Sometimes no. But is it what will show the world that something else is directing our life? YES. Our lives are not about ourselves and what HE sees as significant is what WE see as significant. Those who need Him.

The world tells us that we should have aborted our little Anna because fighting for her life will completely alter our own. My natural human instinct wants to run away from pain and suffering too. But my God, who knew me, a rebellious, broken nobody, saw me as significant and embraced with joy the pain and suffering it took to redeem me (Hebrews 12:1-2). Do we see ourselves as “the redeemed handicapped?” Because that’s what we all were (or are). Those who have a need that we can’t fix on our own. Someone else had to fight for us. Do we see ourselves and our families as gifts of GRACE. Something we never deserved. Something only meant to show His goodness and not ours.

Our family may not look “normal.” It may not be Instagram-perfect for this world. But Oh LORD, may it reflect the absolute beauty and heart of the greater Kingdom we live for. May it show the heart of our Father who fiercely loves the unlovable! Oh Jesus, may your heart for us wretched sinners shine through. You perfectly satisfy, you perfectly redeem. May Anna’s life showcase all our need and remind us what showcases the Father most. Are you going to the low places? He came to the low places for you.

“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:26-27

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. (Those who give/deny self, what is not deserved to give)
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Those who deny self to be unstained)
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Those who make themselves vulnerable to make peace)
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:3-11

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.”
Isaiah 58:6-11

Kidney Beans

One of my favorite meals growing up was my mom’s chili. Though I would avoid the diced tomatoes – there was nothing better to me than eating those maroon colored kidney beans. I just loved them! To this day I have a special place in my heart for my childhood delight for those oddly shaped beans. Now when I look at kidney beans I think of my daughter. They take on a whole new meaning and add an even deeper spot of sentiment to them. And that’s what I want to write about. Does God use or care about our sentimentality?

I was a very thoughtful child. A shy, deep thinker and someone who would watch what everyone else would do and just follow along. I remember asking my dad questions about what he did when he was the ripe age of 9 – and he said he didn’t remember! I thought to myself, ‘I will DEFINITELY remember what it’s like to be a kid!‘ Soon after that I took up photography and writing in journals for that very point – to capture the memory. To hold onto the moment. To treasure deeply the feelings and thoughts that came into my heart and mind. I now have over 33 full journals sitting on my book shelf jam-packed with sentimental heart thoughts. It’s how I process through things, and it has grown into a deep personal time with the Lord!

This year I have also seen the pitfall of this gift of being extremely sentimental. Before, dates, places and special occasions caused a joy of remembrance to smile sweetly over. But we have been faced with pain and sadness to grapple with this year, and my heart has had to learn how these treasures are also a catalyst to remember our sorrow. When sentimental memories or anniversaries come along in light of our struggle, just as the joy used to be full – the tears are deep.

Though God has SO clearly given us grace to walk through this next season of trial and our faith is growing stronger, it still hurts. We are not inhuman. We mourn the fact that Corrie may not have a normal playmate or a sister to giggle with. We have to continually surrender our hearts when we welcome healthy babies into our circles. We have to discipline our minds to look to today – and not tomorrow or next year.

We all have things that can be used for joy and sorrow. All of us have things that can trigger happiness or sadness. But the most beautiful thing about those deep places of our inner being is that GOD knows each intricate part of those places. It was through this avenue that God first showed me His love. It is through this avenue that God has spoken to me His desires! Just has He has been faithful in every other practical way, He also asks us this question: “Do you trust me with your heart?”. Is He not able to lead you through the mountaintops as well as the valleys? Even in our pain, does He not walk there with us and show us His love the same? Yes. I can say that He does.

Be encouraged brother or sister. He knows your deepest thoughts and will use them to show you Himself. Trust Him with all of you. He knows it deeper than you do.