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Monday, December 24, 2012

I Believe

I hoist her up on the changing table to change the bazillionth diaper of the day.

"Mommy is a scared." Abby says.

I look at her with a puzzled expression. Where did that come from?

 "Mommy isn't scared, baby. I am just changing your diaper."

"Mommy is a scared," she says again.

The sight of her lips swollen up huge flashes through my mind. I have been struggling with fear since she was stung by the bee, and we got the diagnosis. Serious bee allergy... Anaphylactic reaction... Epi pens ... Likely to be much worse next time... The doctor's words float through my mind. If I learned anything from Makiah's death, it's that tragedy is often fiercely unpredictable and our control of life is tenuous at best. Nevertheless, an actual diagnosis that could potentially cause the death of another one of my children has made my insides tremble... fear rearing its ugly head.

But my 22 month old couldn't possibly know about any of that. .. the secret struggles of my heart. Then she says this.

"Mommy is a scared but de angel is a beside a mommy."

"Excuse me?" Now she has my full attention.

"Mommy is a scared but de angel is a beside a mommy," she says it as normally as if she had just told me she was hungry.

"Where is the angel, baby?" I ask in disbelief.

She points right next to me and grins.

Now, we have a toy nativity set, and I know she knows what an angel is. I think she is surely referring to that little plastic guy with the wings in the living room. So I ask if the angel is little, and I show her with my hands.

She shakes her head no and pulls herself up to standing on the changing table.

"De angel is a biiiiig!" She exclaims with arms spread out wide.

What just happened? I shake my head in bewilderment. Did she really just say that? I hug my girl close, and I notice that my heart feels a bit lighter...

I won't tell you what to think about this because I am not sure what to believe myself. I will tell you that it happened just that way. Would God allow a little child to see an angel that her mommy is blind to? He might.

What I can tell you for sure is that He is real. Jesus, I mean. And that God did allow his son to be born as a little baby into this broken, painful world. An innocent child meant to take the fall for all of us who have grown up and made bad choices and inflicted pain on others. Why? Because it is real! The perfect place he wants to take us to is real. His love is real. He is real. His angels are real.

What happened with Abby reminds me to marvel this Christmas. To fix my eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. Words quoted even by the President of the United States as he stood before the broken at Sandy Hook last week. Why? Because it is real. And this Christmas more than ever, I believe.


 
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bittersweet


The cold wind cuts bitterly across my soul.  The rumbling grey sky reflects my thoughts.  Knees pressed down in the sparse dead grass.  My fingers in the dirt.  I press them in as if I could dig her up and everything would be as it should.  I cry like a baby and trace my fingers across her name.  Oh, God, help me!

What can I do?  I ask it  as I straighten the tiny Christmas tree beside the cold hard stone.  Such a contrast…  the shiny colorful balls dancing with light right up there next to that grey, sour rock that screams of death.  What can I do when my life is like this strange juxtaposition of joy and pain?  Oh, I don’t feel it so deeply every day anymore, or I don’t think I could bear it.  But those special days.   You know, the special moments that holidays are full of…  watching the wonder in your tiny ones eyes when the lights and music of flashy floats pass by in the Christmas parade.  The sweetness highlights her absence.  And so the pain is heightened.  Bittersweet.  Moments of jagged knives ripping into my soul as I stand there smiling in the crowd.  Trying desperately to be full of holiday cheer.  Wanting not to miss a second with the three precious ones here now.

What can I do?  Worship music floats from the car where my babies wait for me.  Please make this pain count!  I pray to the God who sees.    I unclench my hands and let the grass slip from my fingers.  Please make my life count!  Pushing up, I get back on my feet.  At least on the outside I do. 

What can I do?  The only thing that comes to me.  It’s just this little word.  Write.  So I am.  I kissed my toddlers in their beds and with baby in my arms, I am pecking away with the one hand that is left. 

That’s all I have to offer.  What is left.  And so do you.  We live in an imperfect world where suffering creeps in slowly or seizes us suddenly, but none of us are immune.  And yet the place hidden down deep inside that screams “Please make this count for something!  Make my life count for something!” is the very proof that eternity exists.  Our longing for it, for something better, something more meaningful, more perfect is evidence that it is real.  And that we were created to be part of a larger story and that you and I have a part to play that no one else can play (if I may borrow words from John Elkins, author of Waking the Dead and other fabulous books).

So this Christmas I will offer the gift of myself to Him again in hopes that he truly can make something good of this mess I have become.  What else can I do when he came to be born just so he could die for that very reason?  To ransom me.  To take this mess of me and make much of my nothing.  Bittersweet.  A bitter cup for him to swallow, but oh how sweet that love would drink it for me!


For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ripples in the Water


 For two kilometers the little feet tread carefully down the dusty trail into the valley.  The blazing sun beats on his back and seems to mock the boy on his mission.  Ouch!  The toes complain as they stumble against a rock in the stream bed, but the little boy who owns them does not.  In fact his face turns quickly into a snaggle-toothed grin even as he winces.  A puzzling sight for curious onlookers. 

Two of his classmates splash in beside him with their buckets, hoping to scare away any slithery creatures that might be lurking nearby.  Filling their rickety pails quickly, the three children turn hastily to climb back up the hill to their village.  The parched lips of their friends at school beckon them to return with their precious cargo.   Besides the heat and dangers of snakes, this trip costs them valuable time in the classroom.  But today will be the last trip.  Today the long awaited well will be complete!

Two more wells!!  Two more villages!  Two more schools where the children will now have clean water!  Two more times my baby’s pennies have been turned to dollars and then into wells!  Twenty two hundred new people given access to clean drinking water!  And last but not least, over 200 people heard the good news that there is living water that brings eternal life, and fifty made decisions to live for Jesus at the dedication services of the wells!

Can you feel the ripples?  The ripple of impact made across the world among a people you and I will probably never meet.  Can you see that precious smile of the little boy whose life just changed?  Or can you feel the joy that comes from pleasing the Father’s heart?   That special swelling that comes when his people partner with him to bring about his will on earth. 

And I just learned that a four year old pre-k Sunday school class has sent in the full $1800 they raised to build another well.  And a very special middle school has taken on the challenge of building a well for Makiah and for the character of their students.  And even now there is almost $1000 sitting in an account at Operation Blessing waiting for the difference to come in so another village will be changed.

Thank you for building Makiah’s wells!  You know who you are and every penny has counted!  Please consider making a Christmas gift that will truly change lives this year… in honor of a loved one here or  in memory of one who has passed away.  Donations can be made through PayPal using the link to the right on this blog or if you would like a tax deductable receipt, checks can be mailed to:

Operation Blessing International
Attn: Brenda Fansher, CSB 322
977 Centerville Turnpike
Virginia Beach, VA 23463

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



New Somanya, Ghana is a village of 700 people.



The village school children celebrate!



The previous water source for both villages was a stream over 1 mile away.



Nwneniso, Ghana is a village of 1500.

This well was built purely by well charms!  If you bought one, then this is your well!

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A Gift of Life in so many ways.  Will you consider this in your Christmas shopping?




Saturday, November 17, 2012

Smiles and Stickers

My washer and dryer seem to hum their tune endlessly these days.  Tiny pink pajamas and bibs and burp cloths and downy blankets stirring up the song.  I am in the kitchen dancing with the broom over a pile pure white.  Turns out the table is not a safe place to leave the salt shaker!  Tumultuous laughter leaks out from under the bathroom door where the twins are splashing in the bathtub.  I hear their daddy exclaim, "No cannon balls!"  Every few steps I stop to put little bit's pacifier back in her mouth and buy another minute or two.  I lean in to peer at the places that won't sweep up and notice they are tiny stickers stuck on tight.  I grin because I haven't seen stickers for two years until this past week.

And I wouldn't trade a minute of it.  I am absolutely giddy about my pink little loads of laundry.  When I am tempted to wish I wasn't dancing with the broom, I remind myself of the reason that my floors are constantly sticky!  So many little feet!  And when Lena leaned over and gave me the biggest smooch this morning, all the whining and crying of the week faded instantly into the background. 

Two years ago today Cameron and I were hidden away in the mountains trying to escape the screaming pain of our incredibly clean and silent house.   Her toys were all still where she left them.  I hadn't yet unpacked her suitcase from the trip she never came back from.  The last load of her dirty laundry still sat piled up by my washer.  No reason for clean clothes anymore.   I would never see her beautiful smile again.

But I have seen Maddie Grace's.  A big dimply, squinty eyed smile that she loves to give me a hundred times a day now.  There is not much better in life than the brand new smile of a brand new baby.  Maybe because it whispers of hope and brand new beginnings.  Perhaps a little bit of eternity seeps out from those littlest  lips all curled softly. A glimpse of heaven's purity and simple joy seeping from those eyes.

And I can't help but smile back from deep down on the inside.  I am thankful this Thanksgiving.  Standing right here in 2012 in the middle of a messy life and a messy house.  I am thankful for reminders of heaven and the promise of pure and innocent joy restored.  I am thankful that 2010 is over.  I am thankful that every year I am closer to Jesus and Makiah and the home my heart has always longed for.  I am thankful for the breath I just took and that I went Christmas shopping yesterday for toys  and that I have children to celebrate with and cry with.  And I am oh so thankful for smiles and stickers in my house again!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

He Still Sings

I would say I am sorry for not blogging more often, but really I am not.  It is hard to type while you are holding a baby and for the last 6 weeks my arms have been quite full!  Even now my newest bundle is pressed warm on my chest here in the overstuffed recliner.  She can feel the rhythm of my breathing soft against her head.  Her ear pressed in close to my heart.  The familiar beat lulling her to sweet sleep.

Is this how God longs to hold us?

Wrapped up tightly in strong but tender arms.
His life breath pouring over us.  
Our ears pressed tightly to His chest.
Pulled in close where we can hear His heartbeat.
And when we scream and struggle,
He whispers words of comfort.
And pulls us even closer. 
To hear the sweet song He sings over us.

Yes, I think this must be how it is.  Even when we don't comprehend the words of the song.  He still sings.  And eventually we learn to recognize the melody.   Then we stop our squirmy fighting and relax in arms so strong.  He still sings.   And we breathe in peace deep down.  Because really we are helpless on our own anyway.  Even in the darkness.  He still sings.  The melody of  love seeps in slowly.  Driving out our fears and doubts.  Even when we cannot understand.  He still sings.



When we have reached the very bottom...
The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.  Deuteronomy 33:27

This is a verse I memorized and turned over and over in my mind in the months before Makiah died.  I have hated it and loved it since...
The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”  
Zephaniah 3:17

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Forever

I can't get the words out of my head so I think I will write them.  Over and over I turn them.  Trying to wrap my mind around what they really mean.  For me.  Oh I forget for a few hours or maybe even a day or two.  But they just seem to keep tapping me on the shoulder, demanding that I pay them attention.

Do not love the world or anything in the world...

Well, if I am honest, I love a lot of things in the world.  I love most anything chocolate.  I like hot baths and good magazines, the cooking channel, and lazy days spent shopping (I don't have those anymore but I can still think they are fabulous!).  Mexican restuarants...  melty s'mores by a crackling fire on a crisp, cool night... I could go on and on.

...for if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Wow, that seems so strong.   Except maybe it means if the love of the Father is in me, I will be too full to love the world.  I won't have an appetite for earthly things... I am sure I will still enjoy them.  But maybe that God love can patch the holes in me, fill up the empty spaces so full I don't lean on my indulgences for support.  Maybe...

For all that is in the world- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life- is not from the Father but is from the world.  And the world is passing away along with all its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Passing away.  Temporary.  All this that we see and touch and drink and wear is temporary.  I kissed my little green eyed girl tonight and her preciousness grabbed me.  That she will live forever- somewhere- siezed my heart.  And I felt the weight.  It is not mine to control her, but it is mine to teach her and model for her and point her to that love.  That love of the Father that fills up emptiness and heals the cracks of brokeness.  I will influence my family's eternity.  How will I swing the pendulum?  Toward earthly things that are passing away?  Or toward the love that compels us to do His will?  I feel the weight of it so strong.  Only this one life to live, and I fall so short.

I hear a whimper from the little Grace gift sleeping near my bed.  And I am reminded to call for grace... because it is not my doing that can change my mislaid affections.  Only that Father love that waits patiently for me to turn off the ipad and the satellite and the cell phone so that by abiding with him my heart can learn to value Forever. 

 1 John 2:15-17

Monday, October 8, 2012

Happily Ever After

Hot tears flood my eyes as I see rainbow toe pictures posted on Facebook.  Makiah's beloved preschool teachers are still remembering her in their classroom.  Papillon salon in Thomasville is donating part of the rainbow toe pedicures to the Well Project.  Even a girl scout troop is remembering her.  I got an amazing card from a sweet prayer lady and another from a mommy who lost her own child.  She is remembering my girl even though we have never met.  A pile of clothes came for my new little ones from a sweet cousin who must know that I think shopping is better than any medicine!  I really didn't expect people to remember the 2nd anniversary of her heaven day.  My heart is pricked by the beautiful notes and pictures sent my way.

Not many of us would choose suffering if we were given the option.    I certainly wouldn't.  In a moment of agony just recently I gritted my teeth and told God between the sobs that I didn't want this story.  I would not have written it this way.  I don't even like sad movies.  I used to say I didn't want to watch a movie unless it had a happily ever after ending.  And that's how I thought my life would turn out.  Doesn't every little princess hope for that blissful epilogue?

But I can't change it.  I didn't write the story.  It was the one I have been given.  Makiah is in heaven, and her family is here without her on earth.  In some moments I want to act like my toddlers and scream about it.  For the life that should have been and the memories we will never make.  For the isolation that in many ways comes with losing a child (those who share a similar story will understand...).  For the loss of her in her sisters' lives.   In our lives.  It feels so strange to have parented for over 6 years and only have little babies. 

Other days I feel numb to the loss.  It's almost as if I am living another life.  That person I was is gone... disappeared with her daughter and the family that was.  If I can just keep from conjuring up the painful memories of how that life was swept away...

Then I think of the message I heard last week.  The same way the disciples who rowed their boat into the storm at Jesus' command saw Jesus do a miracle that those others left safely on the shore didn't witness, those of us who walk through life's darkest storms will see God's glory in a way that we wouldn't have if we had stayed on the shore eating fish and chips.  Tears and hope mingle at these words.  The pain is not for nothing!  I didn't write this story, and thank God because the ending He has promised is far beyond what I can imagine.

So on Makiah's 2nd heaven day, I am missing my baby beyond words.  I am thinking of dear ones whose loss is even more fresh than mine.  I am hoping that together we can "take heart" because in the end we will see the glory of God.  I am touched by those of you who have honored my sweet Makiah in so many ways and taken the time to bring a smile to my face.  I am thankful that we grieve with arms so full.  And I will spend tonight reading about heaven.  Because this is not the end of the story.  And the real end will be happily ever after...



July 2010

Our Family 2009
Makiah checking out her rainbow 2009

We remember...  words penned on many photos!

"I love you all the way past Peter Pan Land," my little one!


"He who learns must suffer.  And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our despair, against our own will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God."    Aeschylus


Click here to see all Makiah's Sisters with Rainbow Toes...




Saturday, September 29, 2012

Whispers and Kisses

Stroking softest cheeks.  Tracing perfect ears.  Running downy hair through fingers that cannot get enough.  A perfectly pretty package.  Such gifts of grace as these.  Four of them I have been given.  Three still near to me.  While gifts bring such joy, their loss brings such pain.  But when my sleepy thoughts hear the beckoning to wander down that stony path of agony and weeping, I will say not today.  I cannot stop the tear that slips beneath my eyelid, but I can avoid the torrents calling out my name.  I press  trembling lips to littlest cheeks  and tell her these are kisses.  And she will love them so.  But not as much as mommy.  I whisper near her ear.  A prayer of thanks to her Maker and that I will never forget.  Gifts formed in secret.  Healing wrapped in every touch.


 
My Maddie Grace

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Madelyn Grace

She is here in all her perfect squeezable little pinkness...

Madelyn Grace King

aka "Maddie Grace"
6lb 13oz and 20 inches long
born September 21st


Our fourth princess!

The Twins greet Maddie Grace in their big sister shirts... still not sure what they think of this little squirmy bundle!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Grace Like Rain

My bags are packed and itty, bitty clothes have that oh so sweet smell of baby detergent.  Red, yellow, green, blue, and purple... my toes are painted like a rainbow to remind me of the biggest sister in this special  hour that fast approaches.  Three and a half more days and I will be staring into the tiny, squished up face of a miracle.  My little  miracle.  Me- who thought that miracles were dead. 

 And this will be my third miracle in 18 months.  Life from death.

In my yard another life from death drips early morning dew.  Delicate petals of pink and yellow like miniature bouquets swirl around the butterfly bush.  A gift from the first anniversary of Makiah's heaven day.   This sweet plant withered away to nothing last winter.   Just on a whim I buried the root.  Down deep under heavy, dark earth.  And left it there through the cold of grey winter days.  Forgotten and covered by pine straw.

It caught my eye on the way to church Sunday morning. Big lush leaves and delicate bouquets in full bloom seemed to grab me.  It had lived.  Survived the bleak season of winter.  Stronger and more vibrant than before.  Enticing butterflies to dine near my back door.

As we stood and sang the lyrics "grace like rain falls down on me,"  I was picturing the butterfly bush.  And the rain of grace that has fallen down on my heart.  Dead and buried under deep dark earth in a nearby cemetery two years ago this October.  I cannot deny the colorful pairs of eyes- one blue set and one green- that look deep in my soul and greet me with delighted jumping and gleeful calls of "mouwnin" (aka "morning) and  "Mommy!  Mommy!" early each day when I come to their room to rescue them from the cribs. 

And in a few days another bouquet will join them.  The grace rains down.  And deep in the earth, the root has sprouted signs of life when I was not looking.  And suddenly, miracoulously there is color and vibrance and life from the depths of death so dark.

And the sadness of Makiah's approaching heaven day is not quite so overwhelming.  And I held her in my dreams last night.  A rare gift for me.  Bouncing pigtails and racing feet- she squeeled for mommy as we ran into each others arms.  Oh the joy!  Of what has been.  Of what is... in my dreams.  And of what will be again... one day.

In less than one hundred hours I will hold her newest sister in my arms with eyes wide open.  Oh the joy!  And the mystery.  Of the miracle.  And grace like rain.  That brings new life.


Thank you Mrs. Sandy and Aubrey!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Made For Glory

Pitter patter of the rain.  Splatting on my windows.  15 days until she's here.  My thoughts are splashing on the inside.  A foot rolls across my belly... from underneath!  I am amazed at the miracle.  That this little life has grown inside without a doctor's help!  Every test said this was impossible.  And we had the infertile years to prove it. 

My surprise.  My timely gift of joy.  When no one would have suspected that another little one was what I needed.  An accident?  Not in a million years!  Destined.  Purposed.  Created for such a time as this!  Made for glory.  His glory.

Last night I lay in bed and could not sleep.  Brave words have flown away.  Pounding heart and butterflies churning.  I read too much.  Writings from a magazine earlier... placental abruption...  cord choking the baby... no prevention... late term dangers.   Maybe she hasn't moved enough today?  Kick little one so mommy can sleep!  My thoughts turn to God and honestly, I find little reassurance.  Will he keep her safe?  Well, safe in His arms- yes- but safe in mine?  As much as we like to tell ourselves things will always be fine, I know now that is not the promise.  The promise is that though the fire engulfs you, you will not burn up.  Though the flood waters sweep over you, you will not drown.  Memories of the pain are still fresh.  And laying there in the dark, heart pounding, mind racing, the promise seems frail.  A hand to lift me out of the pit... but no gaurantee of  no more pits!

I read it this morning on the porch early.  "For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of  the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:6

I turn it over in my mind.  Let light shine out of the darkness.  I have been in the darkness.  Maybe the cracks in my soul and yours are there with purpose.  That at His command the light will seep out.  Something amazing coming from the nothingness that was the darkness within. Something from Him... placed by there by grace.  The knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.  The glory was in Jesus' face first.  In the suffering.  In the pain.  Shining out through cracks in flesh pierced by a crown of thorns.

We used to sing a song with Makiah.  To Makiah.  "You were made for glory" is one line sung over and over again.  I can picture her little face while she croned the song in the back seat of the car.  Music blasting.  Words of truth shaking mountains. She was made for glory. We were made for glory!

The pelting rain is slowing and so are my pounding thoughts.  Open hands are all we have.  Cracks for light to shine from the darkness.  I sing it soflty to the little one almost here. You were made for glory...  And peace seems to find me in the middle of the storm.


The end is my favorite... you were made for glory!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lessons in the Dark

I read the book to them for the zillionth time.  Eyes sparkle as if the words have never fallen on their ears before.  "Open!"  "Open!"  The one with curls exclaims and drags the bag of legos to my feet.  We stack the tower that is never finished because little hands much prefer to knock it down.  Then we make our daily attempt at using the crayons until the adventurous one takes a bite or two.  Back into the closet they go while I am hoping she has not acquired a permanent taste for colored wax. They call for a "Nack!" and I whisk them into the highchairs for a snack of goldfish and applesauce.   Giggles fill the room as I tickle our way through naming the body parts of my captive audience.

Our days are mostly the same.  The routine doesn't change that much.  Except that it will in 4 weeks when we add another tiny, wiggly one to the mix.  I have the first short gasps of panic as I think of how we will all adjust when the grandmothers have gone home.  And I am in charge again.  Alone.  All day.  With all 3 of them!  How will we survive the busyness and the not sleepingness and the messiness and the toddler clingyness?  How will I meet all the needs of these three teensy pairs of eyes that will look to me almost every waking minute?

And then I remember.  The lessons in the dark. 

I remember the weight on my chest and how I could barely breathe from the pressing pain after she was taken from me.  The emptiness of aching arms.  The suddenness of disaster.  The grinding away to nothing of my heart that repeated itself each morning when my eyes cracked open.  And how I thought to myself,  "I can never live the same way again.  I simply cannot go on breathing if my focus stays on what I can see."  What I could see, and what I had seen, were just too terrible.  So in my drowning I grasped desperately for something more.  Something eternal.  I begged for a view of heaven... for both my literal eyes and my paradigm of life.  I thought if I couldn't learn to live in a way where my focus was on the eternal weight behind things,  then I simply would not be able to keep living.

It is so easy here in the light to forget what we have learned in the dark.  So I whisper a prayer that these most agonizing lessons will not be forgotten.  That my vision will not grow clouded by sinks full of dishes and crying and 10,000 dirty diapers.  That I will not feel the weight so much of things that are not really weighty. That I will be able to teach my girls in the light what Mommy had to learn in the dark.  In the deepest of darkness.  That I will not stop begging for a view of heaven here...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

So Easy to Miss

I admit my attitude was not the best... ok, so it was a lot worse than that.  I walked in the door from my first day back to work at my part time job with the school after being off for the summer, and my excited munchkins made a beeline for me.  I reached down to embrace one of them who was headed for my legs with arms outstretched.  Before we could hug each other, she projectile vomited all over me.  Lets just say even my shoes were filled... I mean filled!   Ugh!  (Now, I know this is totally gross, but don't you people read this blog because it is "real?" :)

My first thoughts, well, after "disgusting!!" were something like "Seriously, God?  I am eight months pregnant in 100 degree weather and the first day back from work looks like this?!"  I am sure none of you ever think that way... So the rest of that evening was hard.  We repeated versions of that welcome home scene quite a few times.  Between dodging puke, cleaning her and me, trying to keep her twin out of the nastiness, and frantically trying to sterilize the house, it was one of those nights to remember...  or maybe to forget!

Several hours later she and I are the only ones up.  The house is dark and quite and I sit rocking and holding her close.  The only sounds are our breathing and an occasional whimper from my little one.  I run my fingers through her soft curls and brush them against her sweet cheeks.  And then I feel a change.  It seems almost like a warmth blows through my chest, and my heart wakes up.  The specialness of the moments grab me.  And suddenly I am so so thankful to be there rocking my sick baby.  In my arms.  Her blue eyes focused on mine.  Searching for reassurance.  Her gentle breathing comforting me in a place deep down.

My heart swells with thankfulness.  For my sweet, little one.  Still here with me.  For these moments that waylay you  in the midst of all the yucky ones.  For the time I had rocking the other sweet, little one.  Not still here with me.  I am suddenly, overwhelmingly thankful for the Gift of these moments.

And to think, I almost missed it...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Living Water in the Philippines!


“And Rehoboam son of Solomon… did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord.”  The words seemed to reach up to me and curl around my thoughts  last night before I drifted off  to sleep.  It is so easy for us to “do evil.”  What earned the son of Isreal’s wisest and most glorious ruler, Solomon, this epilogue?  The simple fact that he did not purpose to seek the Lord.  I think of my own days… chasing toddlers, doing dishes, planning meals, sweeping the floors again and again.  It is so easy to seek other things- like a nap! Or that good feeling when the house is clean and the aroma of a healthy dinner wafts through the door to greet my hubby.  Or the satisfaction of talking with a friend.  None of these are bad.  But it is so easy for daily living to crowd out the one thing that makes all the difference in enjoying everything else…  the one thing that determines if we finish well…  the one thing that will not happen unless we purpose in our hearts to make it so.

To seek the Lord.   To look for Him.  To hunt as for hidden treasure.

And when the package came in the mail today, I was reminded again about what is really important.  I gently tore open the envelope.  The dedication pictures for Makiah’s fourth well had arrived.  Pulling out the papers, my eyes fell on these words:

The well dedication was attended by 31 people representing almost every family- beneficiary (48 families will benefit from the clean water)… Pastor Rick Azares shared John 4:13-14, and then prayed and dedicated the well for the glory of God.  Through the well dedication, 25 villagers accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  Pails and New Testaments Bibles were given to the family representatives.  Alongside the well dedication was a program for children where they sang, listened to bible stories, and received gifts…  21 children received Jesus Christ into their lives.”

And so it counts.  Her life I mean.  It counts again… 46 times to be exact.  And so does yours, if you partnered in the giving or praying to help build Makiah’s Wells.  And I am encouraged as I sit in my comfy living room not to slip into the mundane or the distractions of life lest I miss out on the good that can be done when we set our hearts on seeking the Lord.

One villager and mother of four said it better than I possibly can…

“I am so happy we are the beneficiaries of this project.  You have granted us physical water, but more important is that our hearts have been open to receiving spiritual water.  We were made to realize that it is Jesus, the Living Water, who gives us refreshing life.  To God be the glory.”

That is it… to God be the glory!


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.


The previous water source was 1.24 miles away.
The Village of Sitio Dawe, Barangay San Francisco, Concepcion in the Philippines


I am sitting here amazed at these pictures and I can't help but add one more picture of something AMAZING...  my first little nephew, who arrived one week ago!  Caleb Ryan, God has big plans for you my sweet little man!
My handsome nephew is here!  To God be the glory!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

All the Days of My Life

"I will dance for the King, all the days of my life..."  The music swirls around me during the morning worship service.  Memories reach in and wash over me.  Suddenly I am singing this song with her little legs wrapped around my waist and her blond head nestled into my shoulder... the weight of her arms tight around my neck.

Then a new picture fills my imagination.. her little arms in the air as she twirls on her tiptoes.  Tiny bare feet dancing gracefully with the song.  She is radiant with joy and pure delight shines in her eyes as laughter flows from her lips.  Blond curls swooshing about. 

I picture angels... commanding and majestic (forget chubby babies with wings- in scripture when people saw angels, they fell prostrate in fear!) gathered by the hundreds with booming voices ringing out the chorus.  Little children are swirling about their feet in total bliss.  Sounds that rival the delight of any Christmas morning break out with peals of laughter from the little ones mingled with the thunderous merriment of angelic praise.


And I imagine that she is dancing now as we sing.  That for an instant heaven and earth are joined in this place... connected by worship of The King.  Almost as if they are twirling about on a balcony overlooking our little congregation.  The bible says we are surrounded by a great crowd of witnesses you know... We who are still trapped by our flesh.  Who with eyes closed can see only in our heart's imagination what she can see with eyes wide open.

The song rings out "...all the days of my life."  And it's almost as if she is saying to me, "Mommy, that means forever!"  Not just the four short years that she was here. Not just the forty or eighty or however many I may linger... when we who call on His name go home to heaven, our real living begins!  Now we offer worship in faith with eyes closed and faces upturned, but then we will sing and dance in the very throne room of The King.

And I feel as if I was just giving her the very first lessons in worship.  How special that her Daddy and I had the privilege of introducing her to His Presence in our arms.  How special it will be when she takes me by the hand  and shows me the wonders of worship that I can now only imagine...

Click to hear a chorus "I Can See" written by my dear friend, Carmen Harrison, shortly after Makiah died...


"And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved..."  Joel 2:32 and Acts 2:21

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus..."  Hebrews 12:1

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Our House

I sit on the crisp white bed in Makiah's room for a long time thinking about it first.  Bouncing my eyes from the beautiful oil painting of a castle in the sky to the bright picture she painted of a house and then back to the shelf displaying her favorite things.  I thought we might sell our house and God would spare me from this moment, but it hasn't worked out that way.  Our family is growing and this baby will soon need a room.  So I sit on her bed contemplating what I am about to do.

I get a text.  It is from a friend far away.  She says I am on her heart and wants to know what I am doing.  Tears fill my eyes, and I think she must have a hidden camera in my house! She responds no... but God does.  She reminds me that He always fills in the gaps for us and that she is praying Jesus will wrap His arms  around me and that she wishes she lived close enough to help and hug me herself.  I am undone.  By the love of a Father sent through my friend.  Pushing my tears aside, I take a deep breath, grasp for strength, and plunge into the closet.  I have been sitting for an hour already and the girls will not nap forever.

Before Makiah died, she had gotten into the habit of saying that she wished our whole family (meaning grandparents and aunts and uncles) all lived in one big house.  I lost count how many times she said this that last summer.  Every time we said goodbye to a visiting relative she would exclaim her wish loudly with pouty lips and a pitiful expression!  After she died, her preschool teacher sent me all of her artwork.  Many of the pictures were of a big house and some included family members with labels (she had dictated to the teacher).  It became clear to me after she died that she wasn't just drawing a fantasy, but a shadow of something very real to come.  In fact more real than this wooden house with shutters that we shared here in this hot south Georgia field. 

A house where thieves do not break in and steal and moths or rust do not corrupt.....  A house where all our family can live close to each other.  A house that she would see before all the rest of us.   A house with enough rooms...

I finish the closet conversion.  All the baby's things are organized, and many of Makiah's tiny outfits hang ready to be worn by her little sister.  As I stare at the little clothes and blankets and a new pack of diapers, I am surprised at the little brook bubbling up inside me.  I think it is happiness.  Change is hard.  But the signs in front of me are of new life.  New life. 

And I know my friend must have really prayed for me.  And I think Makiah might be smiling to see her sister share her room.  And maybe she laughs because she already knows how beautiful the house is we will never sell... the one with plenty of rooms.



" But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;  for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."   Mathew 6:20-21

A collage of Makiah's art that still hangs in her room.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Unanswered Prayer

I am a magnet for four year old girls. We have been on a little vacation with my parents, and at the pool I seem to have constant companions who want to play with the twins. And they are all four year old girls. And my sweeties love it. And I cannot help but go there... to the what ifs.

A few hours before the accident Cameron had a bad feeling and we prayed Psalm 91 and asked for protection on our trip. An unanswered prayer. But what if God had answered us with a miracle? What if she were here with us?

I think back to another "what if." What if I had gotten pregnant again when I planned? The pinings for baby number two started when Makiah was barely one. My whole life I had been waiting for the day when I would have a rowdy house full of sweet little munchkins. Every month was a roller coaster of excited hoping and then a crash of disappointment when that little test was negative again. I remember purposely trying to turn my energy and focus on my time with Makiah. What if she was my only child? Then what a shame it would be to waste her one sweet childhood wishing for other babies that may never come.

Now I look back and see that if the Lord had given me what I so desperately thought I wanted- more children then- I would not have spent all of Makiah's short life being wrapped up in her. She was my little buddy and totally a mama's girl. We did everything together. Undistracted time with Makiah.   A blessing of unanswered prayer.

And the very miracle that I so desperately prayed for during those years found me this January... when I least expected it.  While I was busily nursing and caring for twin  eleven month olds, God  was giving me what I considered slight insanity.. an unrelenting desire to be pregnant again- against all common sense!  I started the process of infertility consultation with no idea whatsoever that our little miracle already had a heartbeat!   Just in time to help my broken heart feel the pulse of God's love still beating for me.

As I sit in the darkness riding home from  our trip, I think of how  so much of our understanding is darkened by our limited view... those few feet in front that the headlights may show us.  So much mystery that we cannot understand in the moment.  Unanswered prayers.  Miracles given without even a prayer uttered.   My husband and I mix our voices with the lyrics pulsing from our dashboard... "And Lord, unto You be all the glory..."

 And I see a little farther into the darkness.  The gifts and the pain of unanswered prayers are all for one thing.  His glory.

Hands on the bulging belly.  Eyes wet with the missing.  Lips curled up with the joy of the little one dancing deep inside.  And I sing it a little bit louder...

Unto You be all the glory.


My Romance by Christ for the Nations

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Crashing Waves



They seem to crash over me this week.  The waves.  Of grief.  My hubby told me once it was that way for him...  sorrow in waves.   My ears are filled with the sound of pounding on my heart’s shore.   

They won’t look at her picture or say her name anymore.  My babies.  They love to point to the grandparents’ pictures or call the name of their aunt “Lala” (aka Laura).  But they turn their heads now when I show them Makiah’s picture.  They used to imitate excitedly, “Kiah!”  Now they turn away with lips gone silent.  And inside I feel a desperate cry and stabbing pain.  A wish to right this wrong.

She isn’t real to them.  They have never seen her bouncing curls, felt her tickling touch, or heard her giggles.   She doesn’t come to visit.  Ever.   This mystery sister.   I know they are too young to understand, but that is not the point.  This is just the first of a hundred signs of the schism torn through our family… at least while we are here on earth.   And it feels like she never existed.  To them she didn’t.  Not in their life time. 

Do the living remember the dead they did not know?  We see the fingerprints of them all around, but truly life is about the living.  We are busy.  And the fleeting days are so full of things that are meaningless.  I try to think back to dilemmas of what to wear or eat or daily frustrations from 10 years ago… and I can’t remember them.  Those silly things are gone.  Whisked away by the swift broom of time.  As our lives will be.  What will I do that matters?  One day I will leave behind a picture of myself that will  grow dusty in someone’s attic while the living are busy about the business of life.  What will I do with the short time that is given me?  Will I leave behind more for my great, great grandchildren then a trunk of old journals and aging photos??? 

The questions swirl and the grief crashes and pounds… but now it’s time to get busy.  The dishes are calling.



 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?... But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
  Mathew 6:25 & 33


 For, “All people are like grass,
    and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fade, 
     but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
1 Peter 1:24-25
 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Extraordinary Ordinary

Babbling babies and muffin crumbs.  Sun glimpsing through rugged pecan trees.  Gentle breeze and soft, purring kitty.  Morning light stretches onto our porch.  And I am thankful.  Thankful that all five of us (baby number 4 included!) are sitting here in our normal groggy state.  Nothing new.  Nothing exciting.  And my heart is beating with thankfulness.

Yesterday we traveled home from visiting Cameron's parents.  Like we did that day.  We stopped at a mall for a short break.  Like we did that day... we had eaten in the food court, and Makiah and I played "I spy" while we waited for her Daddy to shop.  We made another quick stop to pick up something handed down for the new baby (thank you Melissa!!).  Like we did that day... the last time I touched Makiah was when we stopped to meet someone at a Mcdonald's to pick up a baby seat purchased from Craig's list.  When Cameron suggested we eat at Cracker Barrel (like we did that day!) I drew the line and had to confess my secret charting.  He hadn't noticed the similarities.  Or my inner churnings stuffed deep down where anxiety likes to grow.  I drove the last 2 hours, and I admit there were no sighs of relief until we were in the driveway.  Makiah died 23 miles from our house.  So very, very close.  We were almost home...

We even got home at the exact time we should have arrived on October the 8th 2010.  The story of two days written so similarly... except for the endings.  And I am thinking of how we don't know each morning how the day will end.  There usually are not hidden clues.  And how sometimes we are bored with normal.  Or wish that something were different.  And how often we don't even know what we have been spared when we unwrap a normal, boring day.  The wrappings are plain and maybe unsightly.  But oh the sweetness of the moments inside!  The extraordinary ordinary.  A gift worth noticing.  A Giver worth thanking. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Simple


Peanut butter and honey sandwiches.  It’s amazing how good the simple things can taste when you are really hungry.  It’s the first time I have had peanut butter on a sandwich since Makiah died.  Peanut butter in any form was her favorite food, and I just couldn’t bring myself to eat it.  Until today.  And it was good.  And I think she would have smiled.

There are a lot of things that I locked away and wouldn’t, couldn’t  do since she left us.  I wish I could say that I was quoting scripture and saying faith promises as I dug my way through the heavy dirt of the first year’s grief.  But I didn’t.  In fact, I didn’t really read my bible for an entire year.  A verse here and there maybe, but I just couldn’t seem to bear to read it.  The promises rang hollow, and it felt as though the words were mocking me.  But this January I decided something had to change in me or I would wither up and die inside.  Well, actually I thought I already had, and I needed a resurrection. 

So I bought a one year chronological bible.  I have never read the bible in a year (and I still might not because I am a month behind right now!), and I have never read it in chronological order.  I love that I just flip to the next date and read and the stories make so much sense in context!  I know there is great merit in lengthy scripture study and meditation.  But when you are really hungry and you haven’t eaten in long time, the simple things taste best.

Somehow as I am reading the Old Testament stories each night, I feel life blooming deep again.  I see the faith and pain of others and the mystery of a God whose ways are beyond our understanding but whose love is within our grasp.  And I know that for me the next step really is simple.  Just keep reading.  Don’t stop turning the pages.  Of  the Book.  Or the next day.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy Birthday Sweet Makiah!

Dearest Makiah,
Mommy and Daddy were there for both.  Your coming into this world and your going out.  Both were painful and messy- although in very different ways- but how beautiful were the moments in between!  Four years, four months, and twenty eight days of precious minutes.  Full of diapers and sillies and tears and messes.  Mermaids and "tiny fings."   Trips to the "liberry" and dreams of princess hair that "went all the way down to the bottom!"   Tickles in your "armpicks," peanut butter on a spoon that was "galicious" and veggies that were "asgusting." Memories pressed deeply into your mommy's heart.  Even if the details slip away when my mind is old and worn, the love of you is permanently engraved.

Makiah.  Makiah Kaitlyn King.  You told me often that you wanted people to call you by your whole name, silly girl!  Your name is special to my heart.  Makiah comes from a Hebrew name (spelled Macaiah) found in 2 Chronicles 18.  The story is of a prophet who spoke only the truth in the face of an entire generation of prophets that had become people pleasers and left God behind.  He was also one of the few people in the bible who had a vision of the throne room of God and stood in His Presence.  But most special to me is what the Hebrew word means- "Who is like Yahweh?"  Sometimes I would stop and think about how every time we said your name, we were really saying "Who is like God?"  And Kaitlyn means "pure."  So all together it meant "Who is pure like Yahweh?"  Your whole life was meant to point to Him.  Before you took your first breath, your name declared His goodness.  And now, even though you have taken your last, I pray that your story will ring out the truth that is still true.  That Yahweh is good and pure and there is no one like Him.  And though I cannot understand why your life story was written so short, I hope it will stand out against a generation of naysayers who have forgotten that there is but One God, and no other is like Him.

So that is mommy's birthday present to you today sweet Makiah.  On your 6th birthday, as you stand in the throne room of God and celebrate life in heaven, your mommy will shout through my fingertips and the tears- Makiah...  "Who is like Yahweh?"  Faithful.  Mysterious.  Good.  Pure.  Love.  The moments we had on this earth together could not have come from anyone less.  And in the eternity we have yet to spend in heaven together I know we will declare the mystery of your name in praise to the One who created us both.  Happy Birthday my sweet baby girl!

Love All Ways Always,
Mommy

May 11 2006... Makiah's First Breaths


1st Birthday




2nd Birthday



3rd Birthday



4th Birthday


Makiah aka Ariel with "Cinderella" and "Belle"

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Glimmer Remains

I pushed it down all week.  Deep inside I shoved the words.  I ran from the image.  Several time it seized my thoughts, but I shoved it away with the power of distraction.  Until today.  I am alone.  The ride home from work.  No one to distract.  No tv or Facebook.  No demanding cries.  The radio can't seem to play loud enough.

Wailing escapes and my defense crumbles.  The memories triggered.  The brakes and the crunching.  The goodbye I cant escape.  The little one I cannot find.

The lawyers have been to visit the impounded cars again this week.  She said she could not help but cry when she looked inside.  Shattered windows.  Cobwebs now growing.  But they are still there.  Her pink sparkly flip flops.  The ones she wore that day.  A sign of my princess and her life and glittering love.  Now sitting in the mass of tangled metal and mildew.

A reflection of this journey.  Here sit nuggets of beauty and brightness and sparkle of life.   But nestled in such messy brokenness. In such a crumpled wad of death.

Now parked.  I drop my head and clutch the steering wheel.  Quieting the torrent.  I say I am sorry  to the little one listening now inside me.  Then I hear the words springing from my dashboard.  "... So cry out to Jesus."   Again and again he sings it.  Pointing me to the way I should go.  Another glimmer in the mess.  I call and cling.  Desperate for more than a glimmer.