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Sunday, August 14, 2016

One More Hug and Kiss

School has started back and so has the flurry of activities.  Long, lazy summer days are gone and the race has begun!  Packing lunches, laying out clothes, doing homework, soccer practice, ballet…  I could go on and on.  It’s exciting and exhausting all at once.  I love new beginnings.  A fresh start.  A chance to be more organized than last year.  More intentional.  More loving.  

I think there is something in us that longs for new beginnings and fresh starts on the inside, too.  My mind can get caught in the blizzard of the to do list, but then I stop and remember there is a place of fresh starts available every morning.  The bible says His mercies are new every morning.  He is waiting.  Calling for us to carve out a little time.  Not out of duty but so we can bring the empty coffee cups of our lives and he can fill us up with a morning brew of His love.  And energy.  And focus.   There is no way we can love all these people around us in our busyness if our cups are empty.

Every night when I tuck my girls in bed, we read stories, say prayers, and do hugs and kisses.  My little Alena ALWAYS says “one more kiss and love, Mom!” Then she says it again.  And again. And again.  And again… Well you get the idea.  And she says it desperately and fervently as if I have never given her a hug and kiss.  By this time of day I am spent and I hate to admit that the constant begging to keep me from finishing bed time usually makes me grumpy.  I just can’t hug and kiss her enough to fill up that place in her that needs love.  

Really, she is a picture of all of us.  There is no person or activity that can fill up that place in us that is longing for love and affirmation.  When we keep trying to stuff hearts with anything other than the Authentic, we come up empty and craving more.  Take a minute to do a heart check.  Can you dig down below the frenzy of activities to find that place of hunger?  Only Jesus satisfies.  

Not just as a religious figure or an idea.  But in reality the presence of the Holy Spirit longs to fill you up with His love.  In the deep empty places.  Heart satisfying.  Peace.  Take some sips today.  Close your eyes.  Block out the distractions.  And let Him pour in…  One more hug and kiss.  He never runs short or gets grumpy.  In fact, your asking delights His heart.





Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Bridge of Hope

The thing about grief is how it surprises you.  I am sitting here in the auditorium laughing and chatting with the other ballet moms as we wait for the dress rehearsal to start.  It's been a breathless morning to get here on time with three well fed ballerinas with perfect buns and makeup.  Suddenly the lights dim, the curtain opens, and a slew of tiny people in sweet outfits start to dance. They aren't even my kids but out of nowhere the hot tears flood my eyes.  I am not even sure why at first.  Then I realize it's because my first ballerina didn't get to have a dress rehearsal.  Or a recital.  She absolutely loved to dance and twirl about the house.  When she finally started ballet, I think I was as excited as she was.  The company refunded our money of course,  and then I learned later that they did a special song for her at the recital where she would have performed. 

The headlines lately have been full of devastation.  News of people in places like Orlando that are now standing on the edges of a sea of grief.  People looking out into the waves that threaten to swallow them.  And even as my own grief occasionally catches me by surprise, there is a voice in my heart that I hear louder than my own tears.  There is an Answer to the pain in this world.  There is One who cares more deeply than any of us.  There is One who weeps over suffering and who comes humbly and gently whispering words of comfort  and love.  Mercy.  He offers us mercy.  

There is grief.  There is agony.  But Jesus!  Apart from Him we have no hope.  But Jesus! He came to bring Hope.  To reconcile us to God.  In our sin we are separated from God and face an eternity of being apart from all that is good because God is goodness and holiness rolled into one.  But Jesus! He came to bring resurrection life to our dead places.  When our life looks like dirt, we need the breath of God.  

In the Bible, Macaiah (the prophet that we named our Makiah for), was one of the few people who had an open vision of the throne room of God (1 Kings 22:19).  We prayed for our daughter that she would see Jesus.  I can recall her saying often that she wished she could see Jesus with her real eyes.  I remember the night she asked Jesus into her heart, the conversation began like this.  I told her she could see Jesus with the eyes of her heart and asked if she wanted to pray and ask him to forgive her sins.  We had been talking with her about the good news of Jesus death and resurrection for many months and she had a good grasp on it and had asked many questions.  Makiah prayed that night in her bed and told me that she felt Jesus giving her a hug in her heart.  

Another prophet, Isaiah, also had an open vision of the throne room of God.
He describes the scene in Isaiah chapter 6 saying the train of the Lord’s robe filled the temple as He sat on His throne.  Angels with six wings hovered above the Lord crying out about His holiness and glory with such powerful voices that the heavenly doorposts shook and the temple was filled with smoke.  Brilliant lights, thundering voices, and smoke filled Isaiah’s nostrils as the ground shook beneath him.  Immediately Isaiah felt he would die in the presence of such perfection and power as he was instantly aware of his own uncleanness before a Holy God.  An angel brought him a burning coal from the altar and placed it on his lips to atone for his guilt. Then Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord calling out, “Whom shall I send?  And who will go for Us?”  

Even now in our hurting world, the voice of the Lord is calling out, “Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?”  Who will take My love to the bleeding and the broken, to those standing on the shores of grief?  Who will tell them Jesus has made atonement for our guilt and offered himself to become the door by which people can step into peace and hope in this world and into heaven in the next.  There is only one door.  But on the other side is a place where there is no more tears or pain or sin or sickness.  Ever.  When people ask what is God doing about the pain, the answer is what God has already done about it.  He has built a bridge between himself and us.  He has crossed the chasm created by the wrong choices of man.  He is reaching out with the sweetest embrace if we will just take His hand and walk across into the arms of love.  

Will we tell them?  Will we love them across?  Will we answer like Isaiah did “Here am I.  Send me!”  Will we pray for them that they will have eyes to see and ears to hear the truth?  To see the love of Jesus that can change everything for them?  Even in the midst of suffering.  

Jesus did for me.  There are moments when grief catches me, but I don’t live there anymore.  I don’t live under that heavy darkness now.  My Makiah is seeing Jesus with her real eyes, and God has breathed the breath of His Holy Spirit and life into the heaping pile of mess that was my life after the wreck.  He is no respecter of persons.  He will do it for you.  He will do it for them.



Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Happy Double Digit Birthday Makiah!

Sweet Makiah,

Mommy remembers when I turned ten.  We had just moved to Cairo (yes, where you lived!) a few weeks before my birthday.  I invited two girls that I had just met at school over for a spend the night party.  I still played with cabbage patches and dress up clothes, but this year we added makeup and pretended to be teenagers.  I started a puff paint business with grand plans of selling t-shirts designed by yours truly.  Your Uncle Will and I practiced limbo tirelessly in the driveway with two yard chairs and a measuring stick in great hopes of being the Saturday afternoon limbo champs at the local skating rink.  Uncle John was only four, and I recall he was a whiz at playing Super Mario Brothers with me already on our nintendo.

Tonight the girls and I made brownies together for your 10th birthday.  Abby suggested we put a candle in one, tie balloons to it, and float it up to heaven so you could have a piece.  Maddie Grace sang to you, and Alena requested a candle to blow out for you.  I read a devotional from their book, "God's Little Princesses," tonight at bedtime and would you believe it was about heaven and imagining what kind of "jobs" we might have there?  We talked about you.  Maddie Grace wondered if you paint sunsets or rainbows there.  Abby is sure we won't work there at all, but we will just play with Jesus!

Last week Abby told us about a dream she had of heaven.  Cameron was tucking her in, and she said she wanted to be a kid in heaven.  When he asked her why, she said because it's fun to be a kid and play with Jesus.  He asked her how she knew, and she told him this... She said she dreamed she played in a field with a lamb and that she sat on Jesus shoulders.  She said there was a river there that was soooo clean and trees with big flowers and apples that were shiny all around them.  She said the streets were gold and there were golden cars, too.  She said the church there was so so big.

We wonder, Makiah.  We dream.  We hope.  We focus on what scripture tells us... that it has not even entered the mind of man the wonderful things that God has in store for those who love Him.  But you know!  You see!  Clearly now and not dimly as through a glass.  Abby's dream brings joy to this heart because although I don't know what you are like or what you do as a ten year old in heaven, I know you have gotten to play with Jesus as a kid.  To climb up on his shoulders.  To be covered over in such love and filled up with adventures and wonder without danger or sadness.

Your Daddy used to pray for you, that you would be an ambassador for Christ all over the earth and that you would touch many nations.  And so you have.  God has answered that prayer, though not the way we expected.   I added up all the individuals that now have clean drinking water because of the Makiah Well Project, because you gave the money in your piggy bank just before you went home to heaven, and it comes to a total of 6, 375 people!!  Suffering from lack of water has been alleviated for 6, 375 people, Makiah!  And better yet, sweet princess, 265 people made a profession of faith in Jesus... and 106 of those are children, which is dear to my heart.  Can God use those little children to do big things for the kingdom? Yes!  And your short life here on earth is proof of it.

I love you sweet princess, more than you can know!  Abby always includes you when she draws our family, and when we went to Disney, the first thing the girls told Cinderella was that it wasn't just four sisters.  They told her that the fifth sister is in heaven.  They haven't met you, but you aren't forgotten.  I pray Jesus will give you extra special hugs today and whisper that Mommy loves you.  I will always hold dear the day you made me a mommy.  Happy 10th birthday, Makiah!

Love you past Peter Pan Land sweet baby!
Your Mommy



*iDisciple made a video in conjunction with Compelling Creations, the jewelry company that designs the well charms,  about Makiah's Well Project.  We are thankful for the opportunity to share her story.  Please help us share this!

The video is out and can be viewed here...




Only $1800 builds a well.  Donations to the Makiah Well Project can be made by mailing a check to:

Operation Blessing International
Attn: Christine Coughlin, CSB 322
977 Centerville Turnpike
Virginia Beach, VA 23463


*Mark your gift clearly on the check for Makiah King and it will be credited to her account.

OR if you are interested in purchasing a well charm from Compelling Creations, 10% of the purchase of the well charm will be sent to Operation Blessing for the well project also.  
Check out the article and video on iDisciple for a coupon code.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Makiah's Gift- The Well Project

Sometimes I rush through bed time with my kids and get in a huff when they call me back ten thousand times for an endless litany of things.  Other days I stay with them longer and stroke their hair and remind myself to savor the moment.  It was one of those nights when Abby popped out with, “Mom, I don’t know how the Holy Spirit helps me.  When there are too many toys and you tell me to clean up, I don’t see Him moving ANY blocks!”  I tried not to giggle out loud.  But really, I think she is onto something.  A deeper question of humanity right from the mouth of a babe.  We often look at things around us and we don’t SEE God doing anything.

The truth is it is hard for us to acknowledge what we don’t see with our eyes.  We want God to be like us.  To fit in our box, and well, let’s be honest, it would be great if He would just do our work for us!  Sometimes when He doesn’t “move the blocks” we pout and wonder if He is really helping us at all.  But that’s just the thing.  He isn’t us.  He won’t do our job for us, but He will partner with us in our work.  He will give us the strength to continue.  He will help us to work with thankfulness in our hearts and a good attitude on our faces.  And He will whisper to our hearts words of wisdom about what to do next.  

When we look at people who are doing that- walking in God’s call to help others, doing it in love, and not giving up- then our eyes can SEE that God is real and that the Holy Spirit is helping us.  And that is exactly what I saw when I got a text from the mom of one of Makiah’s preschool classmates.  She contacted me last fall to let me know that her son, Cort, had been raising money for two years with his RA’s at First Baptist Church in Cairo to build a well in Makiah’s memory.  They had almost reached their goal, and this fourth grader was getting ready to stand up in front of his church and do a presentation to raise the rest. 

I was floored.  Floored because her preschool friend had not forgotten her.  After all, they were only four when she died.  Floored that Cort and his friends had the tenacity to take on raising the money for an entire well and stick it out for two years.  Floored at the courage of a child to stand up and challenge adults to such generosity.   And then floored when one of my high school friends, Charisha, contacted me to say that the Pine Level Baptist Girls in Action group has also raised money for Makiah’s Wells again this year!  They painted their toes rainbow colors and raised well money on her heaven day the last two years.

And for some crazy reason, I continue to be surprised when God dumps gifts of love like this on my heart!  I was also surprised in March when we were contacted by, Jill Felts, the owner of Compelling Creations, who designed the well charm necklaces that were sold in Makiah’s memory to raise money for building real wells in impoverished nations.  She had shared Makiah’s story with a group called iDisciple, and they became excited about helping us tell it. They came a few weeks ago to our house to film, and I will be posting that link here shortly!

In the last five and a half years, Cameron and I have buried a daughter, given birth to four more, moved to a new town, taken a new church, and started new jobs.  AND there have been 15 wells completed in Makiah’s memory during that time with Cort’s well being in process as number 16!!  There are so many things in life that we strive to accomplish and it feels like  the wheels are stuck in the mud.  The Well Project is not one of those things!  Cameron and I feel like we have hardly done anything and this has just taken off.  We offer our deepest thanks to all of you who have given over the years towards Makiah’s Well Project!  So many have purchased well charms or made direct donations that have affected the lives of those less fortunate!  In all the  craziness of the last few years I have gotten behind with blogging so here are the latest wells….


WELL #12  
San Isidro, Jaro, Iloilo City, Philippines
(Built by many of you!)

21 families with about 121 individuals benefit from this well

Their previous source of water was an old well 250 meters away that tasted of rust and was deemed unsuitable for drinking.  People live in concrete or bamboo homes and often suffer from diarrhea and typhoid fever. 

At the well dedication, 20 bibles were distributed, the gospel was shared by national pastors, education on health and sanitation was provided and 24 individuals came to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior!






WELL #13
Barangay Pagnamitan, Guiuan, Philippines
(Built by a preschool class in Oak Crest Baptist Church, Greenville, SC)

10 families with 53 individuals benefit from this well.

Previous water sources were a few shallow wells that depended on the high and low tide and rusty water pumps that smelled and were discolored.  After hurricane Yolanda these shallow wells were filled with mud, and villagers were forced to buy expensive, clean water from a mineral water refilling station.

The Barangay Chariman, Therisita O. Edin opened the well dedication ceremony where many people attended.  Philippino pastors preached on John 4:13-14 about the Living Water, and 40 adults and 35 children made a profession of faith!




WELL #14
Napakhedra, Madhya Pradesh, India
(Also built by Oak Crest Baptist Church)

350 people benefit directly from this well

The previous water source in this village was a government tap which was not easily accessible to the villagers and was only supplied during specified timings.  The villages here have many tribal groups and they live in structures made of mud walls with tin or asbestos roofing.

At the well dedication, the team from Operation Blessing taught about health and hygiene,  and a national pastor shared from Isaiah 55:1, “Come, all who are thirsty. Come to the waters.”  According to the report, “The villagers heard the message with much interest.”









WELL #15
Prey Kdouch (78km west of Phnom Pen), Cambodia
(Built by many of you!)
The previous water source was an open well and pond.  The primary occupation is rice or vegetable farming.  The local pastor presented the gospel using John 4:13-14 to those who attended the dedication of the well.  One lady said “Now that this new well is in my village, I will no longer have to walk the long distance to get water from the open well.  It was located in the forest, so it was a struggle to get there.  I had to make at least three trips a day to bring home enough water for our basic needs.  I always worried about my family’s health because the water was not clean and there were lots of chemicals around the stream.  Thank you for bringing hope to our village.  You have relieved us of much burden.”







Who knew a little girl’s gift in Sunday School, just before her death, could bring such change to the other side of the world.  Thank you for multiplying Makiah’s gift!  You have given practical relief through clean drinking water and planted many seeds in hearts who have heard about this water…

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14


Only $1800 builds a well.  Donations to the Well Project can be made by mailing a check to:

Operation Blessing International
Attn: Christine Coughlin, CSB 322
977 Centerville Turnpike
Virginia Beach, VA 23463


*Mark your gift clearly on the check for Makiah King and it will be credited to her account.

OR if you are interested in purchasing a well charm from Compelling Creations, 10% of the purchase of the well charm will be sent to Operation Blessing for the well project also.  
Check out the article and video on iDisciple for a coupon code.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Live Like It's Sunday

On good Friday we remember that Jesus gave up His life for us.  Not just that.  He was God.  Infinite. Limitless with all power and knowledge at His fingertips, but He left all of that and choose to clothe Himself in a human body perhaps for all of eternity.  For us.  To reach us.  To bring us into that circle of unbroken fellowship that the Trinity shares among itself.  Love cannot exist in isolation.  A requirement for love is fellowship.  One to give and one to receive and to repeat that over and over or else love is meaningless.  God is perfect and complete.  He exists in three perfect parts.  God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  God never lacked love.  And yet you mean so much to Him that He designed a master plan to extend that love to you.

Saturday is the in between day.  Jesus had died.  The resurrection had not yet occurred.  On earth things seemed hopeless and Jesus followers forgotten.  The lie that was perpetuated was that the Christ's crucifixion was final, His words had fallen to the ground, and the hope He represented for humanity was snuffed out.  Lies.  From the father of lies and the enemy of our souls.  But it was all the natural eyes could see.  Humanity did not know that in the spirit world Jesus was descending into hades itself to set the captives free and to take captivity itself captive!  

How many days do we live in the in between?  We have heard the words of Jesus and sensed the whisper in our hearts that perhaps we were created for something special.  Maybe we have even dared to believe that there is greatness in us… that our existence is more than just chance.  Do you hear the longing of your heart to believe that you are more than just this flesh that fades with age and will eventually be whisked away in the wind?  But perhaps your eyes cannot see the proof.  It seems in the daily grind as if this monotony is all there is.  As if this is really all you are.  That you are forgotten.

Lies.  Do not believe the lies.  We have a benefit Jesus followers did not have on that longest of all Sabbaths when they grieved in such darkness that they didn’t even know they were waiting for Sunday.  They could not possibly grasp the resurrection power that would hit the spiritual atmosphere of this world like a nuclear bomb in just a few short hours.   Such power emanating from Jesus as he slammed back into His body and broke death in two that the Bible says many holy people in the graveyard around Him was raised to life.  Many people were resurrected and walked around the streets of Jerusalem and people saw them!  Why?  Because death could no longer stand in His presence!  

Jesus resurrection life changes everything!  And it proclaims that you are worth fighting for!  That God would enshroud himself with humanity, endure the just penalty for our sins, and then defeat death itself in the greatest legal transaction of all time.  Love displayed perfectly without corrupting justice.  God embracing us without tarnishing his perfection with our sin.  He became our representative and took on every bad choice and evil that man has ever loved.  He bore in His body the weight of our transgressions.  Our crossing over the lines.  Why?  Because the perfect justice of God demands that sin result in separation from Him and that separation is called death.  Inner death of the heart.  Outer death of the body.  And eternal separation from all that is good.  But God, who had perfect unbroken fellowship of love without us, chose to run after us.  To pursue us.  To become us and then endure that penalty that justice demands. So. That. We. Don’t. Have. To.    And death could not hold Him!   Because He Was God.  Jesus was perfect so there was no legal ground for the enemy to keep Him.   

You are not forgotten.  The Word says He has engraved you in the palm of His hands.  Those resurrected hands still bear the scars of His love.  The mark of His passion for you.  For all eternity.  Jesus chose to wear it forever like a blazing emblem of his love for us.  Don’t run from Him!  Run to Him!  We know what Sunday held.  We don’t have to live with the unseeing eyes of Saturday.  We get to see the end of the story.  We get to experience the resurrection power that unravels the lies of the enemy and breaks the chains of insignificance.  We can be free from our poor choices and the weights that have held us down.  It is no longer who we are.  Choose freedom today if you have not before.  Believe that the King of the Universe decided you were worth dying for.  You. Are. Worth. It. And. He. Is. Worthy. Of. Your. Heart.  Don’t stay locked in the tower.  Let the Prince of Peace rescue you today.  And if you have been rescued already, throw off the hopeless, unseeing eyes of Saturday.  Live like you know the end of the story!  Live like it is Resurrection Sunday!




“I pray the eyes of your heart would be enlightened and you will know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His people,” Ephesians 1:18

Monday, February 22, 2016

Happy 5th Birthday Abby & Alena!

Five years.  An eternity of days.  And yet it’s passed as quickly as a blowing breeze.  Time is a mystery.  Days that have often felt endless now seem to have fled like the shadows chasing after a setting sun.  It is a strange thing to watch your younger children out grow the oldest.  I have always had memories of Makiah to cling to as my little ones passed each new stage.  We have stepped across a threshold.  It’s like the tape ran out.  I am constantly surprised by the things my twins can do- things like writing words other than their name.  It’s almost as if my mind forgets that I will actually watch these children grow up.  We have been in the same season of parenting for almost 10 years, and the new journey into unknown territory constantly catches me off gaurd.  

I am excited.  I feel like I am standing on the edge of something really good that has taken a very long time to get to.  I am sad.  The new things are reminders in a different way of what we didn’t get to see Makiah experience.  Of our loss.  I am wistful.  I want to hang on to every moment and soak up every smile because I know one day I will be old and my house will be empty and I will long for these crazy, exhausting races I call a day.  I am thankful.  Little Abby and Alena, a combined 10 pounds and 13 oz of pink wriggling, crying cuteness saved my life.  

I had to live because they depended on me.  Because they were born.  Because my aunts and cousins stood on my back porch and prayed before Makiah’s funeral that the contractions I was having would stop.  Because my doctor friend came over at night in the weeks following the accident when I was panicking that maybe the lives in my belly had ceased and brought her doppler so I could hear their heart beats and keep on breathing.   Because my brother had called me on mother’s day during our battle with secondary infertility and just before Makiah’s death to tell me he felt in prayer that God had said I would be the mother of many children.  When I sat in the hospital on bed rest for weeks unable to pray, those words resounded through my being and gave me hope that these babies would live.  

On February 22, 2011 hope was born to me in a double portion.  And now it walks and laughs all over my house and needs me day and night.  Abby loves to make up songs about Jesus and his fire and how he will marry you and put gifts in your heart.  And Alena loves to dance to worship songs and to laugh quickly and cheer about things often.  At night I can barely escape their room because they need just one more hug and kiss.  

And their little arms hug a heart.  And their kisses bring healing from heaven.  The scars are there, but the bandages have impressions of little lips all over them.  My God knows what we need.  At just the right time.  In just the right way.   I am thankful.  And spilling over with gratitude tonight for all those who prayed when I couldn’t.  I had to live because of you.  


Happy 5th Birthday to my Abby and Alena!  My fighters, my survivors, my overcoming, victorious ones!














Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Heaven's Nativity

I could wrap my heart up in Christmas carols this time of year.  They are like a warm cup of coffee to my soul.  We were singing O Come Let Us Adore Him one Sunday and my imagination began to wander.  No.  It began to wonder.  And I stumbled into wonder.

Imagine with me.  For a minute.  What Christmas in heaven could entail.  This is not what heaven is like.  Heaven is better!!!  The Word says…

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

So go with me for a minute down the rabbit hole, if you will.  And know that nothing we can imagine can even come close to the glorious reality that is…

The backdrop is breathtaking- a bit like the terrain from Lord of the Rings.  A sky with strokes of brilliantly mesmerizing color spreads out as a canopy across the heavens.  The vibrant hues are not flat but almost have movement and texture that drape the sky the same way a set of luxurious curtains look when they gently pool against the floor.  A ring of sloping mountains reach up to the sky.  The inner face of the massive formations are covered with people like moss cloaks a rock.  The crowd stretches farther than the eye can see in every direction... a great sea of color and faces sloping down towards the valley in the center where there is a stage.  And yet there is no fear of heights or falling.   Pain has no jurisdiction here.

The hearts of the people are full of joy.  So much so that is can be felt in the air almost as an audible hum.  Perfectly synchronized, it’s melodious undercurrent ripples through the vast outdoor theater.   Although the crowd surrounds the center stage in stadium seating like fashion on the mountains, every person has a fantastic view.  With the toss of the head it’s as if each one has swooped down the mountainside at the breakneck speed of an eagle skimming just over the others to look directly at the scene below.  Yet they haven’t left their seats.  It’s almost as if each one’s eyes have their own zoom feature. Distance does not impede here.  

The crowd is completely absorbed in the drama below.  It is a reenactment of the birth of  a miracle.  Of the day when God stepped out of Heaven and into a body confined by time and distance and suddenly vulnerable to pain of every kind.  Perfection took on limits and embraced suffering with great intentionality.  Heaven stooped down to crawl in the dust of earth in pursuit of the very heart of man.  All eyes are riveted on stage as they watch the ultimate love story unfold and the revelation that they were the ones being pursued vibrates through each being.  Hope fills the air like water rising in a rushing tide as Mary cradles the bundle in her arms, a King in swaddling clothes, and the wise men bow down with noses to the ground before him.  

Suddenly, angels fill the air, wings flapping.   Everyone catches their breath at once, and wonder grips each heart.  Awe.  The tremble of anticipation.  

Then

JESUS steps out on the stage- a grown man as He is now.  Emmanuel.  God with us. The hair on  his head is white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes are like blazing fire. And the praise thunders from every direction.  A torrent of song bursting forth from the four corners of the heavens. 

O come let us adore Him!
O come let us adore Him!

What? You recognize that song from earth.  Why yes. Perhaps God allows men to hear the melody of angels and those men teach them to us without knowing they were not the first to write the melody.  Or perhaps the Holy Spirit inspires unique praise from men and the Angels like it so much they add it to their heavenly anthems.  They often worship with us on earth you know. 

O come let us adore Him!
Christ the Lord.

Jesus.  Messiah.  The One who came to save.  The Perfect Lamb of God.  Without blemish.  Redeemer.  The One who takes back what was stolen. He holds up His hands.  All eyes can see He was pierced for Our transgressions.  He has indeed inscribed us on the palm of His hands, that we can never be forgotten.  He tilts His head and although there are multitudes, it's as if He is looking each one in the eye.  In a second that gaze from His flashing eyes has penetrated to the deepest core of every being and hearts swell instantly with the tangible, overwhelming presence of His love.  It’s as if we can't contain it.  And we can't.  Out it pours from our lips like liquid praise, an offering of sweet smelling incense rising before the throne.  

For He alone is worthy.  
For He alone is worthy.  
For He alone is worthy, 
Christ the Lord.

And the multitudes fall to their knees in awe and worship all across those great mountains… and you.  Feel the penetrating gaze of His love.  Put down your screen and fall to your knees in worship.  Let the song in your heart over run your mind and your mouth and pour forth from lips touched by His love.  Embrace. Awe. This. Christmas.  Because He is reaching to embrace You.


We'll give you all the glory
We'll give you all the glory
We'll give you all the glory 
Christ, the Lord



Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving- When what's Real and really important grips your heart

The air is crisp and cool.   Brightly colored leaves crunch underfoot while a handful still cling to their homes overhead.  It was almost time to pack for the trip home for Thanksgiving.  Warm hugs.  The sound of little running feet and giggly cousin laughter.  Muffled laughs after the littles have been tucked in.  Too many cups of piping hot coffee.  I love the fall.  I love family.   I couldn't wait.  

Then I got the call at work last week that the baby was throwing up.  I almost cried right there in my little office.  We have so generously shared the stomach bug with our family the last three years at the holidays.  I just couldn't believe it was happening again.  Sure enough, the kids began to fall like dominoes, and I knew we couldn't bring this gift home again.  What are the chances of this timing!? And then I remember... In the words of John Eldridge,

We have an enemy who is hunting us.  And as Priscilla Shirer says in her book, Fervent, it almost seems as if there is someone scheming against us.  Because there is!  The bible says our adversary roams the earth looking for those he may devour.  And one of his favorite strategies is to isolate us.  From God's love and the free gift of salvation that Jesus offers first of all.  But if he fails there, then he sets out to isolate us from family...  both natural and spiritual.  And to steal our joy.  And our peace.  

And for a little while I forgot all this and had myself a good pity party.  But then the little nudge of the Holy Spirit and the wise words of my husband came.  Why not make lemonade from our lemons?  So we did.  We waited a few days after all the stomach action had subsided and headed to a lodge in North Carolina.  It's only two nights, but it saved us from the little girls' tears and disappointment.  

As I was chasing the baby around the lobby at 5am this morning so the others could sleep (let's get real about what family vacation looks like at this stage of life),  I was reminded that in all things we have a choice.  To roll over in defeat or maintain with a white knuckled grasp our perspective and the joy that He gives.  Suddenly I was overwhelmed with thankfulness.  Thankfulness for this beautiful lobby that celebrates the nature God made for us to enjoy.  Thankfulness that it had a Dunkin Donuts that opened early! Thankful that I  could be up early praying before my other kiddos have opened their eyes (chasing a toddler and praying...  Who says it has to be  done kneeling by a bed?).  Thankful that I live in a country where I feel safe and where I can freely blog about the life inside me that Jesus has given.  And thankful most of all that I have little girls living and breathing that I can clean up after when they are sick or sneak out of the room with in the predawn hours.  

Breath prayers.  I exhale the thanks and inhale the peace.  

Lord, give us eyes to see and ears to hear what is really going on around us.  May we not take our loved ones for granted or waste a minute of this precious life.  Surrender.  May we let you in.  Our hearts and our thoughts, continually, Holy Spirit. May you fill us with the joy and peace that only comes from you.  And may it make those around us feel hungry for what is Real.   Thank you that you also are chasing us.  With your love.  Perfect love.  That casts out fear.  That conquers even the grave. 


Romans 8:38-39New International Version (NIV)



38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


From our 5:00 am adventure aka lobby exploration...







Thursday, October 8, 2015

Makiah's 5th Heaven Day

1 Peter 1:3-9

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.


Sweet Makiah,

Every year it takes hold of me a little deeper.   No, not your death.  The weight  of the Truth.  In His great mercy.  I have been Given.  A new birth into a Living Hope.  Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

I don't deserve the Grace that has met me in my pain.  Oh, the crushing blow of losing you in one horrific moment!   But oh, how much stronger was the gift that already had taken up residence in my heart.  A new birth.  Like tethers of steel binding me to His love.  Love that is stronger than death.  Love that has conquered death.  Resurrection life that has overcome even your death.  Even the separation of a mommy from her beloved child.

Your body is dead and daily mine is dying.  But I am born into a Living Hope.  What is inside is Life.  The black grip of death squeezed my heart until I thought it would not beat again.  But I underestimated the Living Hope.  I did not count on the Everlasting Arms arms that were waiting there, underneath, at the bottom, to catch me.

And I am born into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade... Kept in heaven for me.  We only take people with us into eternity.  You are part of my inheritance, sweet Makiah!  Kept there in heaven where our relationship, our time together, and the memories we will make together are waiting.  For my arrival.  They can never die, be spoiled, or fade like memories here!  Oh, the adventures we will have in eternity!

The tears trickle down as the smile takes my face.  An oxymoron?  Perhaps.  Even as verse four says we are shielded by God's great power and verse six says " though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials."  His shielding is not always what we expect.  The darkness descended and the storm beat with fury against our house.  But He has kept me.  And my faith is more genuine than before.  Refined in the fire.  Makiah, your life and death has brought a gift like no other.  And it is of greater worth than gold.  Every time I tell our story, I  know your life has more meaning than the moment before.  And one day we will hold hands and give praise, glory, and honor to Jesus together when He is revealed.

Though I cannot see Jesus or you, I love Him and I love you.  I believe in Him.  And I believe I will see you.  And I am filled by faith, even in the pain, even in the shielding that is both protection and suffering, with inexpressible and glorious joy!  Because this Life that has swallowed up the death in me confirms that right now I am receiving the end result of my faith, the salvation of my soul.

Makiah, I will think of you all day on this, your fifth heaven day.  And I will blow kisses to the sky and ask Jesus to hold you tight for me until I get there.  And I will not take lightly the task of teaching Truth to your sisters so they, too, will hold you one day.  Maddie Grace has been heard talking to your picture on the wall about her toys.  The twins ask often when you will come back to play.  It is hard to explain eternity and weeping forward to little ones.  Although, a few weeks ago Abby  told me the reason she slept late that morning is because she was wishing you could come back from heaven because she loved you so so much!  She said she cried happy tears because she wanted you  to come to earth again.     And Alena has dreamed of you.  Maybe our hearts are knit together in a way I cannot understand.  When I had to leave for work and you would cling to my leg and cry, I always told you that no matter where we were, there would always be a string connecting my heart to yours.  It is true, Makiah.  Even death cannot sever the strings of love that bind us.  Earth and heaven are more closely connected than I once thought.

Bound by love,
Your Mommy