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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Treasures in the Sea

On the beach outside of Wilmington, North Carolina

Walking by beautiful houses all in a row with perfect white porch rails and muted pastel colors. Each house sitting up tall and peeking over the dunes as if to get a look at this great thing we call the sea. The sunlight glistening all bright and shiny with an almost silvery trail through the water as it begins to rise.  So powerful and majestic. White foamy waves crashing gently on the shore. Giving just a hint of the strength that lies beneath. But their gentle whisper is calming and soothing to the soul.  Washing away anything ugly on the shores and leaving behind colorful, sparkling treasures for curious little ones to find in the sand.

And it reminds me of You.  I see but the surface of You.  Only a hint of the greatness and power that lies within is evident to my frail, human eyes.  But what I can see is so awe inspiring.  Heart quieting. Be still my raging thoughts!  Hear the sweet whisper of His calming voice beckoning me to peace.  A gentle whisper that also roars with strength.  

And even when the weather is cold or stormy the sea remains.  Unmoved.  Hidden from me.  The waves continue to pound relentlessly with their whisper call regardless of sun or clouds.  I just don't see it because I don't come very often. Only when it's warm and the conditions are right in my life. And so it is with the Lord. You are ever present. Ever steady.  Ever here.  Ever calling.  We should slip down to the edge of Your presence to sit in the quiet more often. Wind, rain, storm, heat, or cold... You never change. But the opportunity for us to be changed by coming close to You is always there.  Your love.  Beckoning.  Deep calling to the deep hidden in us.

David said my heart pants like a deer for water.  It longs for you, Lord. Stir up a hunger within us God.  To visit your shores daily.  Your word says it is the glory of God to conceal a matter but the glory of kings to find it out. Help us to dig  our toes into the sandy beaches of the knowledge of You and unearth the treasures that You have waiting for us.  Hidden in your word and in Your presence.

Some treasures are for us, and some are for us to unearth and take to others. The thrill of excitement in my children's eyes is priceless when they find a whole shell.  They marvel that even far away from the beach they can hear the echo of the waves when they cradle it close to their ears.  And it's His plan for us to find treasures and take them to others.  When they hold it up to their own ears, they can hear the sound of their Daddy's powerful whisper calling to their hearts.  Echoing over and over again with a heartbeat that says I love you. With the whisper that is inviting them to the shore themselves to find the many treasures awaiting them. 

 For the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Awaken our hearts, Lord, that we might be wise and not miss those hidden things that were meant to be found.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

When you try...

I picked my sweet Alena up from her final dance rehearsal yesterday.  The big recital is tonight, and we have lived and breathed her dances at our house for the last few weeks.  When I was helping her buckle in she asked, “Mom, it doesn’t have to be perfect does it?  Nothing on earth can really be perfect, right?”  It’s amazing to me how profound questions can come from the mouths of little children who just finished kindergarten.  And there was such earnest seeking in her eyes.  Sometimes you know your kids probably won’t remember what you say but that you have a chance to plant a weighty seed that will burrow deep into their little hearts and bring fruit later… for the good or the bad.  It was one of those moments.

After a quick talk- there were  four of them in the car and Eliana was screaming for Dora while Alena herself was actually crying from a fall- we headed home.  While I was walking this morning and praying about a follow up conversation and pep talk for tonight, I thought of the last morning I spent with Makiah.  I was 16 weeks pregnant and not feeling great.  We snuggled up on the couch for a few minutes before breakfast.  She ran her little fingers all over my face and when I pulled back so she wouldn’t mess up my makeup, she said, “Mom I just want to feel your face.”  It was so unusual thatI let her and pulled her close.  Then out of no where she declared that I was perfect.  Sort of taken aback, I assured her that Mommy was far from perfect but that I did try.  She said. “Mommy, when you try, it’s perfect.”  Sometimes kids questions are profound, but sometimes their answers are too.  Words from heaven that have rung in my heart many times since then.  And words that I determined to pass on to her little sister today as well.

Sometimes we feel that a little is not significant.  Or that what we could do is so far from perfect that we shouldn’t try.  What we forget is that our Daddy God is pulling for us.  That he is not that parent on the sidelines screaming at their kid on the field.  Zephaniah 3:17 says He rejoices over us with singing.  When we are in relationship with Jesus, we get to wear his team name on our jersey and every attempt we make on the field of life brings encouragement from our coach.  Each play we learn to hear his voice a little more clearly, and we literally bring joy to his heart.  No nothing is perfect on earth, but in our weakness, He is made strong.

On Makiah’s 11th birthday last month, her four year old teacher, Laurie,  and one of her babysitters, Jenn, both “tried and it was perfect.”  They both did special things with their students to raise money for Makiah’s Wells (to hear more about the well project and how it started just keep reading) and if the joy in my heart is even the smallest drop of how God feels when we “try,”  then it just blows my mind how happy he must be with us!  I have been bursting to share some pictures with you…

Jenn and Phillip teach school in Israel and their students raised 622 shekels ($172) for the well project and sent me a video of the kids singing happy birthday to Makiah!!  What compassion they are teaching these precious children!!

Makiah's Spot on the Rug
Makiah's sweet preschool teacher, Laurie, also sent me a copy of the post she made for the parents of her current class and I just have to share...

“Today we made a birthday card for a sweet little girl that used to sit on the butterfly spot of our classroom rug.  She loved bugs, tiny “fings," butterflies, and Jesus.  She was a dancing princess.  Her name was Makiah Kaitlyn King.  She will celebrate her 11th birthday in heaven.  

It amazes me that our classroom curriculum has us studying caterpillars and butterflies almost to the day of her birthday.  So many things about her celebration of life seem to be hugs from heaven.

Each year we take time to teach the children about Makiah’s sweet life and one part in particular… the day she gave her piggy bank.

At church one morning Makiah learned that little children like her didn’t have clean water.  And they sometimes got sick because they had to drink dirty water.   Her mommy said that Makiah showed up in the kitchen with her piggy bank in hand.  She wanted to give it all to help those children have clean water.  And she did.

Since her heaven day many wells have been dug in her honor.  With clean water came renewed hope.  The hope opened hearts and many souls have been saved.”

This precious lady went on to explain to me that when she shared the story she also told the kids they would be having a big birthday celebration the next day on Makiah’s birthday!  They each took home a butterfly bag and brought it back full of change.  The class gave Makiah a birthday gift as they sent their “piggy bank” money to help dig a well.  She said one of their precious children said, “We’re gonna help her finish her job!”  With her eyes a little wet and her heart so proud, the teacher gave this tiny one a big high five!  

Weighty words.  Hope from heaven.  We get to help finish her job.  (Click HERE and scroll to the bottom to join us in building wells.)

And we get to finish the job of Jesus.  He entrusted us with the last task.  To re-present him.  To proclaim the Father’s love.  To try.  And when you try, it's perfect.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Happy 11th Birthday Sweet Makiah!

Dearest Makiah,

In a few minutes it will be your 11th birthday!  We started celebrating you tonight.  I brought home tiny chocolate cupcakes after work, and we ate them before dinner.  The girls and I decided you would have liked that!  Your sister’s decided they want to send their balloons they got at the Mother Daughter Tea up to heaven to you tomorrow.   It was completely their idea!  Abby wants to tie a french fry on hers because you loved fries.  I guess she thinks you’d like a little french fry snack in heaven!

She also told me that a boy at school told her he was in love with her today.  Oh kindergarten!  It reminded me that you came home one day saying your sweet friend Isaiah had asked you to marry him on the playground, and you said yes because you loved him.  It also made me wonder what sort of conversations we would be having now if you were finishing up the fifth grade.  Would we be chatting about boys or sports or dance?

Tonight I read the girls part of a book that Emmy and PawPaw gave you on your last Christmas- The Little Red Book with the Big Red Letters.  It’s about a little book who has to find out his purpose… Emmy wrote in the front that God has big plans for you, Makiah.  And the words sort of grabbed me tonight.  If we believe the bible and we believe Jeremiah 29:11, then truly God’s plans for us transcend death.  What kind of powerful God would he be if His plans were limited to this short, frail life on earth?  I could feel the sting of the words begin to recede a bit.  Of course God has big plans for you… still!  Because this is just the prelude.  And God’s divine intent for each of us extends beyond the constraints of time and place.  We pray, “Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  Why would Jesus say to pray this?  Because heaven and God’s kingdom are awesome, and purposeful, and exciting, and adventurous, and full of love and connection and perfect grace.  All the things we long for here.  They aren’t lacking in any way.

When I think of heaven, all that you are missing here pales in comparison.  I know that God created you for many beautiful purposes, Makiah.  Although I only have glimpses here, I believe.  And I know one day I will see.  Together.  With you.  When I was pregnant with you, before I even knew you were a girl, a lady spoke over you that you were going to be an Esther.  Surely you were beautiful.  And I have not unpacked all the meaning yet.  But Esther interceded to the King on behalf of her people.  Prayer is but talking with God.  And I know you do that.  Probably sometimes on behalf of your loved ones still on earth.  Revelation tells us the martyrs cry out to God to intervene on the earth.  Who knows but that you have come to your royal position but for such a time as this?  I can only speculate what earthly matters your prayers from heaven may have changed.  

I know more and more with each passing year, that your birth and death have solidified in me more than any other experience the revelation that Jesus is who He says He is, and He does what He said He would do.  Save, heal, restore.  Beauty for ashes.  Exchange garments of mourning for the the garments of praise.  I know you know, my dear.  But my eyes still see dimly.  Shout with me little one.  Although we are apart in body,  in both of our hearts we can proclaim the truth.  We can do the only thing that lasts.  Make plain His offer of love and life to all those whose hearts are still broken or searching or not sure if it can be real.   Your story.  Our story.  It is not all tears and sadness.  It is hope and certainty.  And a peace that surpasses understanding.  A peace that guards my heart and mind.  I will lend it my fingers and together we will lend it our prayers.  

I love you my oldest little one.  My precious precocious one whose name means “who is like Yahweh?”  My first baby.  My pre-teen.   My one who loves to dance and loves Jesus and chocolate and “tiny fings” and hair all the way down to the ground.  My sunshine who woke up singing and happy and loved to pop up beside my bed and say “The sun is up!  It’s time to get up!”  My little who touched my face with her hands so carefully on our last morning.  Who said I was perfect for trying.  Bringer of joy and miracles that we have only begun to see.  For if I have been set free from the darkness, how many more are there to come?  Promised one.  Who still lives.  With Him.  Happy birthday from one who wouldn’t trade our four years, four months, and four weeks for anything!  

Happy birthday from your mommy!

Love always all ways,


Makiah just born
One Year Old

Two Years Old

Three Years Old

Four Years Old

Monday, March 27, 2017

Fresh Perspective

I am sitting in a class listening to Danny Silk from Bethel Church in Redding teach about the Father’s love.  At the end he begins to describe a father son athletic team.  The son was born with cystic fibrosis, but together they have competed in 206 triathlons, 20 duathlons, and 26 marathons who.  I know in a second who he is talking about.  I have seen this video twice before, and I contemplate slipping out.  I am not sure I can handle watching it.  Tears slip out before it even begins to play.  

The first time I saw it was in an educational setting.  I imagined myself as the father and wondered if I could ever love anyone with that sort of sacrificial love.  The second time I saw the video was  a few weeks after Makiah died.  That time it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I was not the father.  I was the boy.  I was totally incapable of accomplishing anything on my own.  Completely dependent on the love of a father to carry my broken self across the finish line.  

I stayed to watch it a third time.   I am no longer viewing with a broken heart.  God has worked the miracle of resurrection life in me, and my heart swells with thankfulness and hope as I reflect on the last 6 years that He has carried me.  He has held me as we waded through tumultuous waves that I could never have even imagined before.  Never letting me slip away.  

Sitting here now I am reminded of a different truth.  Now that I have my legs under me again, I hear Him whisper that this is still the picture of Us.  My spiritual walk does not depend on my works.  It depends on His grace.  My job is not to peddle furiously to make it through the next leg of the journey.  It is to remember that I am still the boy.  It may get hot and I may sweat and I can’t quit.  But my role is to lean into Him.  To thank Him for the work He is doing.  To Look where He is steering us and to Listen to the words of love He is whispering as He runs.  To know He will not let me fall out of the boat.  

When the father in Team Hoyt  was asked what drives him, he shared that his son is able to communicate through a computer.  He told his father, “When I run with you, my disabilities go away.”  The love of a father.  The passion of a daddy to liberate his son.  I was struck with the realization that in my weakness, He is shown strong.  When we run this life race together, my disabilities, my weaknesses, disappear.

My burden is easy and my yoke is light.  I hear Him say.  Trust me.  Be Mary.  Not Martha.  We can all be Mary.  We can all sit and soak and be still and know that He is God.  

If the pace has made you weary, it’s time to see the Truth.  To get a glimpse of reality.  “And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32.  The Greek word for truth here also means “reality” as opposed to “illusion.”  When we feel that it all depends on us, we are living in an illusion.   Perhaps we need to have a change of PERSPECTIVE.  We need to see reality.  That we are yoked together with One who calls us His beloved.  The One who says, “It is not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6).   

The circumstance may not change.  It may be as permanent as losing a loved one.  Or perhaps your miracle is just around the corner.  But either way He changes US.  How?  Through His Word.  Through His presence.  Check out team Hoytt and when this father’s love blows your mind, remember that if we can give good gifts to our children, “how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Mathew 7:11).  Even if you have seen this before, I encourage you to watch it with fresh eyes.  Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you about Daddy God’s love for YOU as you watch.  Our hearts need a new infusion daily.

28Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.…”  Mathew 11:28-29

Cameron and I are launching a website together,   It is under construction and more will be coming soon about our new joint venture!  If you look now, consider it a sneak preview and not the grand opening!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

A Love Covenant and Hope

There are gifts and then there are GIFTS.  I felt so blessed this Christmas by family and mostly because I was able to see the faces of my little ones glow with the anticipation of Christmas morning.  The excitement of knowing that there are special surprises just for them is a precious thing to watch as it dances in the light of innocent little eyes.  There is a sweetness when their tiny feet are hit with a burst of joyful jumping and their lips with squealing.

This fall my heart had it’s own Christmas of sorts.  Two surprise gifts of love whose depth of meaning and kindness still leave me astounded.  And they were both given on October 8th.  Yes, Makiah’s heaven day.  Each year that passes it seems the Lord unwraps more layers of meaning to her life and death. This year there were two very special weddings on her heaven day.  My cousin and his precious wife who are beginning their sweet love story as they dive into their early twenties and a dear staff member who has been a widower for several years and his new love both tied the knot that day.  

Last summer at our family reunion… yes, we meet in Alabama. No, we don’t wear matching t-shirts- no offense if you do!  And yes, we actually love our extended family get togethers!… my sweet cousin pulled Cameron and I aside to tell us what was on his heart for his wedding day.  I will never forget this six foot five young man with tears in his eyes as he asked if they could do something special to remember Makiah at their wedding. We insisted that it really was not necessary, and he needed to focus on beginning his happily ever after although we were touched to the core.  But the words he said next had never crossed my mind before.  He said as he was praying about it, he felt impressed by the depth of meaning that marriage has in the bible.  Scripture says that marriage is a picture of God’s love for his bride, his people, the church.  And on October 8th six years ago, Makiah had met her groom in person.  There wasn’t a dry eye among us as he shared, and we hugged.  It has taken me some time to dip my toes into the depth of the picture of love that God was painting.

Here is a picture of part of the wedding program from my cousin and his beautiful bride’s special day…

A Close Up

The other wedding was close to our home.  In fact Cameron officiated for our dear friend whom our children affectionately call “Papa Jim.”   He has served as a pastor for many years before retiring and working as volunteer staff at our church.  His feet never faltered on their faith journey as he walked through the painful loss of his first wife to cancer.   And God in his goodness has brought him new love and a promise of new beginnings.  A redemption of sorts that speaks hope to all of us.  If you had been there that day, you would have walked to the back of the church and into the fellowship hall for the reception.  Your eyes would have lighted on a table where instead of gifts for the happy couple, there was a basket to collect donations towards building a well in Makiah’s memory through the well project.  This couple was merging two households and so graciously decided to  start their marriage with a gift of eternal value- bringing clean water and the good news of the gospel to a people desperately in need.  And in memory of our sweet daughter.   When the final count was in, the gifts were enough to build an entire well!!

Thank you doesn’t even come close to expressing how deeply we were touched by both of these couples.  On a day that often makes me swallow hard, my God sent a message of the depth of his love covenant with us and his promise to redeem the hard things and bring about good even from tragedy.  If you don’t know a God like this, ask him today to make himself real to you.  You will not be disappointed.  

Friday, December 23, 2016


Four small kids.  A house to clean.  Presents to wrap.  Groceries to buy and food to prepare.  And a facebook friend who reminded me of this old post soooo I think I am going to cheat and post a link to This Post from 2013.  I pray the awe and beauty of Christ and Christmas will never leave you!  Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Adopted for Eternity

Two Sundays ago I was having breakfast with my kids before church and Abby announced that she had figured something out.  In her most serious five year old voice, she told me she knew that I had stolen her from her real mother and made up all these stories about when she was a baby.  I almost spit my coffee out!   I am a huge fan of adoption and the picture it paints of God’s love towards all of us, but ya’ll, this kid ain’t adopted!  Pardon my south Georgia slang!  And child snatching??? I mean, what in the world are they showing on Dora these days?!   

So that was last week.  This Sunday my baby girl, who is totally two, insisted that she was not going to wear that cute dress with the turkey on it. Now she doesn’t have many outfits that haven’t been worn by at least three other people first, but this is one that I bought brand new for her (I am a sucker for a sale).  There was weeping and gnashing of teeth, but I was determined she was going to wear the stinkin turkey dress on turkey week!  I mean, turkey dresses are only cute one week out of the year for heaven’s sake!

About the time we have almost gotten used to Eliana’s weeping and wailing as she walks around the downstairs mourning and declaring that the cute little turkey on her dress is food and she will eat it, Maddie Grace, my middle child who likes to keep life exciting, runs to Abby with the news that I have thrown her leaf art into the trash.  Like all mamas I try to save the special stuff, but there comes a point when the walls are covered over that I have to clean out.  I did it secretly of course, but count on a little to find it in the trash and rat me out!  Abby sobbed in a little ball on the ouch for a solid thirty minutes.  Besides that it hurt her feelings, I am sure it added to whatever case she has built in her mind that I have stolen her from her real mom.  All this before we leave for church at 9:15 in the morning.

Yesterday while I am folding laundry, I hear Abby’s voice floating up the stairs with a pretty advanced melody and words about how she just wants to know who she really is.  I am sorting socks and thinking the desire for a God-given identity, the need to know who you are, must be built in our DNA, when Alena, Abby’s twin,  appears in the laundry room door.  She asks me if Abby really came out of my tummy.  Seriously?!  “Is that what she is singing about?!” I ask incredulously.  Alena breaks into a smile as she nods, and we simultaneously burst into laughter.  At least someone gets the absurdity of this ongoing drama!

I guess I am going to have to break out some videos of these two little squirmy babies covered in goop and pulled fresh from my c-section incision in order to convince Abby she belongs to me.  As I sit here typing about all this silliness, I can’t help but be struck by the thought that maybe God deals with this same incredulity.  Perhaps when his children are not acting like his children or maybe when we are sitting in guilt from our choices or we are stumbling around wondering who we really are, He is in heaven spitting out his coffee.  Surprised that we still don’t get it.  Wondering if Jesus will have to appear to us as He did to Thomas and let us feel the scars in His hands before we believe that He came for us.  That he has conquered our sin and completely freed us from guilt.  That he has unlocked the door of our personal prisons, whatever they may be, and if we will just reach out our hand to take His and walk through The Door we can come squinting out of darkness and into such gloriously blinding freedom.  Freedom we can only have imagined.  No longer groping around in the darkness searching for a purpose but stepping fully into the destiny we were made for.  Realizing that He has robed us with His righteousness and that when we are found in Jesus this is what God the Father sees when He looks at us- His children, created to do great works that He prepared for us before the foundation of the world.  God is not boring.  No, in fact he invented this thing called adventure and excitement and joy.    There is no substitute for finding out you truly belong to a Daddy who loves you, created you, will never abandon you, and made you for a destiny beyond what you could ever ask or imagine.  One that extends beyond the fragility of this dusty earth into eternity.  I am thankful this week that the God of the Universe has gone to such great lengths to reach us, bring us into His family, and convince us of who we really are... a treasure He thought was worth pursuing at every cost.  May we put aside our misgivings and Believe!

John 10:9-10
I am the door.  If anyone enters by Me he will be saved... The thief comes to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and  have it more abundantly. (-Jesus)

Galations 5:1  It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Makiah's 6th Heaven Day

Salt water stings.  It also heals.  I dig my toes a little deeper into the sand almost as if trying to get a grip.  To hang on. But the sand slips through.  The waves roll over.  The hold is lost.  So slippery.  Each moment in this life.  Time and moments roll mysteriously by.  I try to feel deeply, to love deeply in that second.  Because in a minute the wave is gone and another comes along.

A few weeks ago our late night drive with the kids to Cape Canaveral landed us at a beachside hotel in Daytona way past Cinderella’s curfew.  It just happened to be where we landed when we  couldn’t drive any further.  The next morning we spent a few hours on a beach I thought I would never return to.  Makiah played the last week of her life there on those same sandy shores.  I felt as if I was in her footsteps.  So close. As if I might turn around and catch sight of her sandy blonde hair flying in the wind. 

The week before she died I was on bedrest from complications with the twins.  I didn’t dare trek down to the beach but sat instead by the window in the condo and watched my girl and her daddy play in the waves.  She loved to chase the seagulls, and I remember I would look up from my books about parenting twins to discover I couldn’t find them anymore.  I would strain my eyes trying to catch a glimpse of them down the beach and feel frustrated when I couldn’t see Makiah.   A foreshadowing perhaps.

And now standing on that same beach where she dug her toes in.  And digging mine down deep.  Six years later exactly.  She has gone before me.  I strain to see.  To catch a glimpse of what is up ahead.  To love these sisters of hers as deeply as she would.  To    hold each moment closely but with the knowing that my grip is tenuous at best.  I watch them splash in the same waves and chase what seem to be the same seagulls.  All four of them.  

And my heart whispers to God, “Why did you bring me back here?”  Well, God and Priceline.  Besides the good rate and free breakfast with a view, why am I standing on this beach I never wanted to see again?  But I don’t really get an answer.  Just the sting of the saltwater on my newly shaven legs.  And the thought that saltwater stings.  And it heals.  

I hide behind my sunglasses and watch those four pairs of legs run furiously down the beach.  Determined to catch a seagull.  And I pray I will run like that.  The race set before me.  The story I didn’t ask for.  The daughter I didn’t want to lose.  The beach I didn’t want to visit.  The seagull I may not catch.  In this life.   But I want to run.  And not lose heart.  And trust that the God who has brought so much life back will continue to bring healing through the stinging.  There are no gaping wounds anymore.  Scars for sure, but not open wounds.  As the waves keep pounding the shore, so the pursuing love of my God has not stopped pounding on my heart.  Even when it was barely beating and the sting was unbearable and I thought my whole life was ruined and any chance of happiness dashed to pieces.  He was already carrying me.  Now six years later I stand where she stood right at the end and I hear Him saying Run.  Run.  Run to the end.  Because the end is not The End.

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.