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Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Breathtaking Proposal

The sky grew black
as the eastern hemisphere  rotated into the darkness. 
Away from the light of the sun the night became cold. 
The hearts had grown cold long ago. 
Plunged into darkness by a wayward choice. 
A stretch for power beyond ourselves.
A taste had sentenced the generations to darkness of heart and
coldness of spirit that even the  warm morning sun
 could not drive away.

Except that night there was a rather brilliant star
intruding on the inky blackness. 
The  dazzling twinkle taunted its pale brothers in the sky. 
And it drew the eye.  Captured the gaze. 
And for centuries before there had been twinkles of light
that seemed to point the way. 
Signs of hope given in the midst of despair. 
The light of miracles and divine intervention. 
Dotting history, they had grabbed the heart and drawn the gaze. 
Illuminating the path and giving hope of what was to come. 
Of WHO was to come.

In the chill of that night a muffled scream tore the silence. 
Searing pain and groaning agony
never experienced by this innocent before. 
It rang out with a prophetic echo. 
Foretelling the future groans, the ripping torment, the soul searing destruction of His innocent flesh. 
To be laid down in sacrifice. 
His life blood hemorrhaging away that a world in darkness might
be born new.

As the minutes crept by and the intensity became suffocating,
the darkness looked on and tightened its grip
on the world it had held since the fall. 
But Suddenly. 
After hundreds of minutes…
after hundreds of years…
the moment was here. 
The push.  A breath and a cry. 
A tiny little innocent cry that flashed like a bolt of lightening ripping time in half. 
The darkness reverberated and a pulse of light cut through 
dimensions we cannot perceive.  
All of heaven rejoiced with a thunderous sound.  
And hell trembled with confusion. 

It had never been done before. 
And who would have ever imagined a love so great? 
What God leaves his throne to become a man? 
To enter the darkness in order to defeat it. 
For others.  For us.  For you.  For me.

It was unthinkable. 
This plan set in motion by that very first cry. 
That downy wet head cradled in swaddling clothes and
laid in a humble bed of straw. 
He had crowned and come in human blood
so He could be crowned. 
With thorns and His own blood dripping. 
So He could be crowned with glory
and take home His bride. 
To whisk her away from the darkness she was once captive to,
the darkness she had once chosen. 
To make her clean and new and beautiful and
take her home to His forever kingdom. 
Such a love story had never been written.

And all creation held its breath as He took his first. 
And then everything changed. 
God was sticky and cold
and there was no warm bath for Him or snugly soft blankets. 
No incubator or decorated nursery or baby shower. 
Just a filthy barn, the loving arms of two young parents, some smelly shepherds, and a suspicious and
scornful family to welcome him.

And we are no longer alone in our filth and our pain. 
The coldness of our hearts and the futility of our situations. 
He is with us.  Hope is here.  Peace has arrived. 
He has come for us.  To hold us.  To walk with us. 
And if we will let him, to rescue us with His love.

And perhaps now the King is holding His breath, to see if you will take your first. 
The first of a new life. 
His royal nail scarred hand reaching out for yours. 
No offer could be greater.  No proposal more breathtaking.

And in our hearts we will whisper “Yes!” 
And with our mouths let’s shout “Yes!”
This Christmas Day.
And every day after.
Let us rejoice!
The King has come for us!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

In the Potter's Hands

I have had one Thanksgiving with Maddie Grace, two with the twins, Abby and Alena, and four with Makiah.  I don’t know what it is about the holidays that makes us want to look back.  I guess memories of love and togetherness, good food and fun all roll up into a sort of intangible slice of heaven.  Despite the chaos  and perhaps even wreckage we may pull those memories from.  

I mean its messy down here for sure.  Just in our family this week my grandmother had emergency brain surgery (she is doing great though).  My parents new house didn’t get built in time for us to get into it until this afternoon despite my mom’s lovely plans of being settled in weeks ago.  Two of the four littles here with the family have been sick so we are quarantined from the older folks and other littles.  Even though we are here in Alabama, we will likely need to have a separate Thanksgiving and miss out on visiting.  I mean, it’s just plain messy.  Not the way I planned.  And maybe it is in your family, too.

Every song I heard on the radio last week was about surrendering yourself and your dreams to the Lord.  I would change the channel and the next one would be singing about laying down your own plans and embracing whatever God has for you. Every. Song.  I have been in a spot of unknowing here lately and trusting is not something that comes easily to me since October of 2010.  Even this week I have the opportunity to be frustrated because not much has worked out how I envisioned it.   But last night I opened a classic book to read on my phone, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah W. Smith.  I liked the title and figured it might be something good to fall asleep to.

This is what I read.

“Suppose I were to be describing to a person... the way in which a lump of clay is to be made into a beautiful vessel.  I tell him first the part of the clay... is that the clay is put into the potter’s hands, and lies passive there, submitting itself to all the turnings and over turnings of the potter’s hands upon it. There is really nothing else to be said about the clay’s part... Now we come to the important part.  The potter takes the clay thus abandoned to his working, and begins to mold and fashion it according to his own will.  He kneads and works it, he tears it apart and presses it together again, he wets it and then suffers it to dry. Sometimes he works at it for hours together, sometimes he lays it aside for days and does not touch it.  And then, when by all these processes he has made it perfectly pliable in his hands, he proceeds to make it into the vessel he has purposed.  He turns it upon the wheel, planes it and smoothes it, and dries it in the sun, bakes it in the oven, and finally turns it out of his workshop, a vessel to his honor and fit for his use...

What can be said about man’s part in this great work, but that he must continually surrender himself and continually trust... And so the soul, abandoned to the work of the Heavenly Potter,  is changed rapidly from glory to glory into the image of the Lord by His Spirit.”  

And I hear the call to surrender myself.  Even my little insignificant daily plans.  I hear the whisper asking me if I will thank Him in every circumstance.  Will I allow myself to be comforted because He is with me and will not abandon me?  Will I draw near to His presence with praise or will I push back at what I am dealt?  God is sovereign, yes, but He has made us in His image.  Even though we are a lump of clay and He is the potter, He has graciously allowed us a choice.  Will we surrender our lives and our dreams, our very selves?  Will we trust that He is good?  Check your heart.  I believe you will hear the whisper.  Every day it is there.  Every day we can answer by picking up our cross and following Him.  

Because what He is designing us for is eternity.  This life is not the end game.  That beautiful vessel of honor that He has planned for us to be has an eternal destiny.  We cannot even begin to imagine what He is preparing us for and preparing for us!  

So I will embrace my messy week.  And entrust my dreams to Him again today.  And tomorrow I will give thanks because the Heavenly Potter is not finished with me, and my heart leaps for joy when I try to imagine what He ultimately has in store!  More than just memories and good feelings rolled up in a slice of heaven.  That holiday slice is just a mere shadow of what is to come!!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Luke 9:23  Then He (Jesus) said to them all, “ Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

Joshua 24:15  But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve... but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Psalm 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and courts with praise..

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Dora, Coffee, and Staying Desperate

Sitting in church with music swirling all around... it seems so clear who I want to be.  I want to be that person who gets up with the sun to read my bible (consistently).  I want to dig deep into scripture and uncover truths that bring life to the soul.  I want my house to be blanketed with peace because it is filled often and in many ways with worship.  I want to be my husband’s biggest cheerleader.  I want to be a patient and present mother who effectively disciples my children’s hearts and disciplines their behaviors.  I want my life to be marked by God’s presence and not the absence of it.

It all seems so clear.

And clearly unattainable.  

If I depend on me. 

I just can’t seem to change myself.  I just can’t seem to get it all together... to juggle the balls without dropping one.   Not in my own strength.  And I, of all people, should have learned by now that to live is to be desperate for God.  I sat in the pew chairs this morning and remembered not that long ago when the pain of each moment jarred my whole being, and I felt that the next breath was an overwhelming task.  I knew then.  Back then I was desperate.  I understood that I was totally helpless to run this race.  I knew an ocean of darkness would swallow me if He did not carry me.  And He did.

The danger of getting stronger is that I forget to let Him carry me.  Now.  When the waters of grief have receded a bit, but the piles of dishes and diapers have grown.  Perhaps it is not tragedy that threatens our souls the most.  Maybe it is the monotonous.         

The rhythm of the everyday routine. It lulls us to sleep.  Our weary eyes close and our thoughts drift far from how we were created to live.  Cascades of activities and work and chores wash over us.  Stripping the vibrance and the glory gleam from our eyes.  Slowly, the ebb and flow erode our dependance and our focus.  

But there is another water that can wash over us.  Changing our hearts and cleansing our minds.  Restoring the glory reflected from the One in whose image we are made. It’s the water of the Word.  I have been saying to myself for weeks now that I needed to get together some verses to focus on that will help me in an area where I am struggling to trust God.  So this morning I finally did it.  No, I didn’t get up with the sun, and yes, I did use Dora to distract the little that was already awake.  But somehow I think  God doesn’t so much mind Dora and my coffee.   He just wants me to keep the Word pouring from my lips and spilling down into my heart.

And of course speaking truth over yourself and others is exactly what the sermon was about today.  And I know this is the way to stay desperate.  The path to Him bringing about the changes that need to happen in me.  In my weakness He is made strong.  If I will keep His truth before me and not go thinking I can run this race myself.   Not. One. Single. Day.  Dora and coffee just aren't enough all by themselves, you know.

God calls those things which are not as though they were.  Romans 4:17

Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.  For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.  Hebrews 10:35-36

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Happy First Birthday Maddie Grace!

We are finally getting settled in our permanent home here.  And I am exhausted. From unpacking a house.  With three babies.  And working a job.   I wish I had an amazing post full of deep things to share, but to be perfectly honest I can barely keep my eyes open as I type this!  Nevertheless, I have not shouted to the world how thankful I am even in this difficult season of Makiah’s heaven day to have a reason to celebrate...  my reason came as a complete and total surprise.  The BEST surprise of my life (my other kids weren’t surprises so I can say that).  She has blonde hair and blue eyes, and she loves to snuggle.  She cuddles and kisses and ends every night tucked in our bed where she has to be touching both of us.  She is vibrant and full of life and joy, and I can’t tell you how many times I have thought that she was sent to bring kisses from heaven!  

She is my Maddie Grace.  And she just turned one!  In case you missed the miracle of her coming, please check it out  HERE.   Her party was late because of the move. It landed between Kiah’s heaven day and the day we buried her.

God seems to know just what we need.  I mourned my Makiah, and I celebrated my Maddie.  All in the same week.  And Abby reminded me of the thing I needed to hear one night right smack in the middle of the two.  She had flopped onto my fluffy white duvet, and I was slipping her pajamas over her head.  “I have rainbow toes, Mom!”  Abby exclaimed.  I told her I knew and that we were wearing our rainbow toes to remember big sissy Makiah.  “Mommy, I want to show Makiah my rainbow toes,”  she said.  “Well, let’s ask Jesus if he will let Makiah see them in heaven.  Jesus, please let sissy Kiah see Abby’s rainbow toes.”   She repeated me.  Then, looking suddenly determined, she squeezed her eyes together and clenched her little hands into fists, and she burst out with “Courage, Mommy!”  I know I looked shocked.  She is only two, you know.  Where did that come from???   “Abby,”  I asked, “Why did you think to say that?”  Looking thoughtful, she replied, “Courage is... courage is God is not scared, Mommy.”  Then she flashed me a smile and took off down the hall.

Wow.  Even now it brings tears to my tired eyes.  Courage.  God is not scared.  Courage!  Sometimes that is what we need to walk through the days.  Sometimes we need to be like a little child.  So that we can enter the kingdom of heaven.  So tonight I am celebrating all four of the little people that God has sent me to teach me what that means.  But especially my Maddie Gracie because she had her very first birthday!

Maddie hates cake and cupcakes, but she loves pumpkin muffins!  

The twins descend on the pumpkins!

Sharing a caterpillar... Kiah would be proud!

Happy Birthday Maddie Grace!

And click HERE  for a few of Maddie Grace's official birthday pics!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Heaven Day Letter

Dearest Makiah,
Some days I feel like I am living in a different life.  New town, new church, new house,  new job, new kids.  (I did keep your Daddy, though!But the signs of you are still all around.  I folded your pink princess blanket and put it in our hall closet last night.  Yesterday Alena came out of my bathroom wearing your old rain boots.  She stomped around proudly in her diaper and your aqua blue boots with white polka dots.  In the move this past week I stumbled on a big box of size 5 clothes I had bought for you.  Tags still hanging forlornly.  I guess we had tucked them away after you left us, and I forgot.  And of course there are four sets of rainbow toes in our house today.  Eye catching.  Bright and wiggly.   Just like you.

At school I find myself looking for the second graders.  Imagining what you might look like now.   Would your legs be lanky and your adult teeth be crowding your still little mouth?  Would your hair be super long, “all the way to the bottom,” or would you have cut it short with your best girl friend who just donated hers to help others?  I wonder what our conversations would be like.  Would you still love to be tickled or would you be getting too big for that?  I wonder if you would still run to our bed in the middle of the night… your tender heart hauling all your stuffed animals with you so none would be left alone.

I don’t know.  I do know that I am raw today with the wondering.  My heart is chaffed.  Torn a bit by all the sharpness of longing.  I once read that physical pain is a gift because it’s how we know our nerves our working, and it causes us to move in a way that is vital for survival.

Could this be a gift?  This pain?  I know YOU were a gift, sweet one.  But what about this story?  Our story.  Will it cause me to act?  Move me out of my comfort zone to a place that is vital for survival.  For me and for others?

The prayer on my heart for the last few months has been that I will not squander this.  “Squander what?” you ask.  This that I have seen to be true.  The word ringing in my heart .   It’s the answer to the question buried deep in us all.  No matter our theology or lack thereof.   Is there life after death?  Jesus tells us resoundingly yes. 

But what about the living dead?  Can there be life again after normal has been ripped away and you have been thrust out to join the ranks of the living dead?  After your heart has been crushed and the blackness of pain has enveloped you?  And Makiah, what your life and death have given me is this.  A chance for Jesus to show me undeniably the answer to that question.

It is Resurrection.  

Resurrection.  It is the only explanation for the overwhelming peace I feel most days.  For the joy that is often in my heart.  Resurrection.  It is the reason I wake up many mornings with a song in my mouth and a tune in my heart.  It is not because I have closed my eyes to reality, but because they have in fact been opened to reality.  I am alive again with the life that can only flow from the True Source of all things Good and Light and Life-Giving.  The only One who holds the keys to death and the grave.  The One who first blew life into our nostrils is the One who can do it again. And though the healing is not complete yet, the process is miraculously pointing the way to that day when all tears will be wiped away, and I will be made whole.

Whole like Jesus.
Whole like you, my sweet Makiah.  My darkest day was your most glorious.  The day I fell into the abyss is the day you stepped into His arms and the fulfillment of more than we can ever think or imagine.  I am thankful for how you have touched my life, little one.  I am changed.  And I believe now more than ever.  Because I have tasted resurrection here.   

I cannot wait to hold you in my arms and talk about His goodness.  But until that day, my prayer is that I will not squander what I have been given.  Because it was expensive. So very, very costly.  For Him.  And for me.

Three years closer to our reunion!  On this, your third heaven day.

I love you always all ways, sweetest  Makiah.
Your Mommy

Hugs with Kiah and the boots

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Counting Down...Houses and Hearts

Three days and counting!  Soon I will be counting the hours!!  For what you ask?  Until we move into our house here in this new town!  We have been staying in a temporary rental for the last 2 and half months… complete with air mattresses, playpens,  and paper plates!  It’s not so much the living out of a suitcase for weeks that bothers me.  It’s more the being unable to really settle in… and well, I admit the little critters that seem to own this house bother me just a bit.  And maybe the dirty carpet does, too.

Ok, so true confessions of a “pocket perfectionist” (i.e. I have areas I am a perfectionist about but others I am completely disorganized!)…  I can’t stand grunge!  You know the kind when your children’s feet turn black from crawling across the carpet despite your cleaning efforts.  It has made me a wee bit crazy.  Just a tad.  Ok, I admit, I try to stay gone as much as possible, but when I am here, I am cleaning!!

And the air doesn’t work very well so you have to keep all the blinds shut to keep the place from overheating.   You have to keep the light out.   Dark and dirty is how it feels despite my cleanings.   So I run.  I try to stay busy.  Distracted.  I go to stores or to the park.  I want to be anywhere but in this place that I just can’t seem to make clean.

So I avoid the house.

And I avoid the heart.

When the pain or the gunk builds up inside sometimes it is easier to run.  Away.  So much easier than to deal with the darkness that creeps in over time.  Or the residue of pain that is layered about.  It is uncomfortable.  Uncertain.  Despite our best efforts, we just can’t make it all disappear.  So we run.  And we stay busy.  Secretly, purposefully distracted.

But eventually the busyness loses its appeal.  The frantic pace no longer charms.  And we can hear Him calling.  Calling us to come away.  To let Him into that house of the heart where only the light of His love will cleanse and only the healing that flows from Jehovah Rapha, the God who Heals,  can sweep away the wreckage left behind by mortal wounds.  Wounds that the enemy of our souls meant to destroy us, but that Jesus transforms into a display of His resurrection power. 

His Ruah, his breath fills us with Life.  And I need it.  Every day.  My house and my heart get dirty every day.  Why do I run?  Why the distractions?  I forget so quickly that His arms are holding me.  Even then.  When I am dirty.  Especially then.

And He waits so patiently.

Whispering to us to come.

To slow down.

To invite Him in with His cleansing light.

His breath of Life.


Not in three days.

No need to count the hours.

It is this hour that counts.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Letting Go

(Written last Monday night…)

I admit to feeling a wee bit queasy.  I have been anticipating this day for almost three years.  Even before the twins were born I wanted to fast forward my life  to get back to the place where I had a little one in preschool again.   It’s not that I wanted to miss the sweet moments, but I did want to skip the painful barely breathing days and just be a normal mommy of a preschooler again.    There are no emotional microwaves though, and in our humanness we are locked into time.  I am certain that the last three years have been the slowest of my life.  And now that the big day is here, I can hardly believe it!

Tomorrow morning I will pack my little ones up and take them to their first day of school in the two year old class.  They cannot wait!  Just like their big sister.  Their teacher’s name is Mrs. Robin.  Just like their big sister (even though we are in a new town and at a new school)!  They have pink and yellow and orange plaid dresses.  Just like their big sister.  I found myself saying out loud today, that God willing, they will graduate from preschool.  Unlike their big sister. 

The healing goes deep.  But the scars go deeper still. 

I feel it in the moments of what if… like the night of open house when a yellow jacket hovered insistently around Abby (who is allergic) in the middle of her pre-k classroom.   It is almost as if he was there to mock me with his buzzing.  Can I really send her off to school with that epi-pen to play outside everyday and hope that God will keep her here with me?  Can I open my hand and let go?  Of control?

I feel it in the fog of morning when I am just between asleep and awake.  Like yesterday before I opened my eyes... I was in the car with Cameron and Makiah.  And then the accident happened.  And I pulled myself to consciousness and whispered desperately to God,  “That is my moment of horror.  I don’t want to live there, God.  I give it to you again.  Please take it today.” 

Even as I write these words there is a knowing on the inside.  That the Healer of my pain will not cease to work until I am home with Him.  Safely out of control and free from moments of horror or fear forever.  And I know that the scars will not always run deeper.  Because our pain has an end.  A cap.  But my healing and yours flows from a never ending source.  Pain can’t outrun Him.  Sorrow can’t outlast Him.  It cannot overwhelm Him.  Because when we have reached the end of ourselves, living waters will continue to spring up.  Bubbling in our soul and filling us with Life.  Life abundantly. 

So I breath it in deep.  And soak up the strength.  It is only there for one day.  At a time.  A grace for today.  In the morning it will be there for tomorrow… when I hold their hands and walk them into that school for the first time.  And when I let go of little fingers and of control and turn away with empty hands,  He will hold mine.  And theirs.  And if you let Him, He will hold yours, too.

"...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."  Philippians 1:6

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The End of the Rainbow

    A sigh of relief escapes my lips as we drive into the eastern Atlanta
metro area.  The car rumbles heavy with babies and toys and snacks and all
the household goods it can carry.  A heart a tiny bit heavy with the weight
of our decisions.  The first hour of the trip Abby screamed solid.  Begging
to go back to “my house.”  I had a fine moment of parenting.  I was alone
with the three of them so it seemed like a good time for a first… to let
the toddlers each have their own big bag of cheddar sour cream potato
chips!  I am happy to report that the next hour on the road was quiet
except for the sounds of eager crunching.  Then droopy eyelids won and the
little, cheesy, orange fingers finally lay silent across bellies full of
saturated fat.  It’s true that standards do come down a bit by the fourth
child, you know!
  The grey sky begins to drizzle and I squint to see through the blurry
swish of the windshield wipers.  Then out of the corner of my eye, I notice
it.  Quite dazzling to be sure.  A bouquet of colors cascading perfectly
across the dreary heavens.  I think to myself it is the most beautiful
rainbow I have ever seen!  The stoic voice of my friend, the GPS, instructs
me along the winding roads.  As our path twists and turns I am intrigued
because it seems the end of the rainbow is getting closer.
    No one ever actually sees the end of the rainbow, do they?  I marvel
that the very minutes my family is arriving in our new town, there is a
rainbow painted across the sky to greet us.  I don’t think I have even
seen one since Makiah died.  Joy floods in with the memory of thousands of
toes painted in rainbow colors for my sweet daughter on her heaven day.
Then we turn the corner into the neighborhood where we are renting, and
there it is.  The arches of color seem to blend into a yellowish sort of
haze. I catch my breath, and we drive right through.  The end of the
    And I dare to hope.  In miracles.  That maybe this is not coincidence.
That maybe as in ancient days God is giving us a sign of his promise.  A
promise that our family will not see the same flood of destruction that we
have endured.  A sign that we are surely in the right place.  A place of
new beginnings.  A sign that we are in a new season.  One dear friend said
to me that she believed this move would be a new start for my heart.  Her
words have not left me.
    We have been in a season of darkness and pain.  But here to greet us
in this new place is one of the most beautiful of creation’s marvels.
Right here in the very neighborhood we are moving to.  Hope springs up.
Hope that this season will be full of joy and the marvel of God’s promise
of love.  Full of reflections of His glory.  And full of  the whisper of
things yet to come.  Stories yet to be told.  Adventures yet to be had.
The bright future He has planned for all who trust in Him when we round
that last corner.  To the place where no darkness or destruction can flood
our souls.  Only unimaginable light…

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cradles, Cribs, and Crying

About 6 weeks ago, I started thinking through all the things I needed to do for us to move.  Perhaps this was crazy, but I thought the transition would be smoother if all my babies were sleeping through the night in playpens or cribs.  The twins have this down pat, but little Maddie Grace has been sleeping her whole life in a sleep and rock (which is, by the way, a fabulous product!).  She has bad reflux and she has slept well in her cozy little propped up position.  Ironically, Makiah slept the same way in a car seat forever it seemed.  They both like to cross their legs and prop their arms up behind their heads like old men in recliners!  Maddie has been getting too big for this little seat she sleeps strapped into and has been waking up a lot trying to move around.

So I determine it is time to do the deed and teach her to sleep flat in a crib.  She is my fourth baby and all of the others have made successful transitions to cribs, so I am thinking I have got this.  The hubby and I brace ourselves for two to three long nights of crying.  That’s all it takes for a little one to transition, right?  Wrong!  Double wrong in the case of sweet Maddie Grace!  It turns out that my happiest baby was also born with an iron will.  After exactly seventeen nights of  weeping and gnashing of teeth, I start to think this child will break us before we break her of her little cradle.  I know the battle is over at 1:45 am on the 18th night, when Cameron and I are huddled in Maddie’s room.   She is in our room in a crib and with our king sized bed letting the world know she will not sleep, and he tells  me he is going to put her outside on the porch (no, mom, we didn’t do it)!

One of those nights when I was rocking her and trying to calm her down, I stood between the two beds with her squishy little self snuggled in my arms….   on one side of the room is her beloved sleep and rock.  The place she has slept so peacefully for the first 9 months of her life.  It was a perfect fit for those early days and she was so comfortable growing there.  On the other side of the room stands the delicate, white mini-crib. It is the place of uncertainty for Maddie Grace, but it is also her future. 

 I think to myself how silly it is that she is doing all this crying about sleeping in one and not the other.  After all, they are only a few feet apart! I marvel that a  little change that seems like a no brainer from my perspective, is enough to throw my child into all out panic mode for weeks.    I whisper to her that mommy will love her and keep her safe in the crib just as much as in her old bed.  I say to her that I will be watching and listening and be just as close to her in her crib as I was before.  She just needs to trust me.

And then I hear it.  The whisper in my heart.  That I am really just like my precious daughter.  What seems like such a big change to me is really not throwing God for a loop at all.  In fact from His perspective, a move (or any big transition we make) is no more unsettling than sliding a few feet across a nursery to a new bed.  El Rohi.  He is the God who sees.  And He is there.  Listening for our cries.  Loving us like precious children as we take baby steps toward the future.  And the plans he has for us.  Whispering peace and words of promise to our hearts.  If we will quiet ourselves to listen, we will hear the still small voice.  Reminding us to trust Him.

Now if only I could get my Maddie Grace to understand the whisper!  Then our little chat could have solved the problem!  Just in case you are curious, she won.  I decided she could stay in that little seat until she was four and her legs dangled to the floor as long as we could SLEEP!  But in reality, she only spends about 4 hours in that little cradle these days.  Then the rest of the night finds her exactly where she really wanted to be all along… snuggled in our bed, right between mommy and daddy! 

Isaiah 30:15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength..."

Monday, July 8, 2013

Moving Day

Moving to our new house, Mama?  Will we take baby?  What about Daddy?  And my books?  Will we take my blanket and my soft pillow?  Little hearts are processing this transition as well as they can.  Moving is hard to understand when you are two.

Cardboard brown is everywhere.  Things disappearing as the days wear on.  The screeching sound of tape as we seal the boxes shut.  So many things hidden in this house.   Some things I had forgotten.  Others never discovered.  All to be uncovered in the moving,

The box of size 5 outfits with tags still hanging forlornly.  The hairbrush full of long blonde hair that tumbled down from the closet shelf.  Her pink silk pillow.  The bag of rocks she picked out when we visited the Grand Canyon.  Her rainbow colored clip dancing in the bottom of my makeup drawer.  Her art table hiding in the back of the pantry.  The bottle of her favorite salad dressing that sat unopened and unnoticed on a back shelf  for the last three years.   Her tiny pink apron that she wore when we were baking cookies.  Pretty princess dresses climbing down from the attic.  

The dollhouse.  I had to open and pack up the dollhouse.  I have had it locked all this time.  Untouched in a sort of timeless state.  Waiting for little fingers to come and play again.  I have already taken pictures of the little blonde girl tucked gently between her mom and dad in the upside down dollhouse bed.  But what I did not see until I moved them was the three girls, 2 older sisters and a baby, lined up underneath them.   

The second family.   Waiting patiently to be discovered.  You couldn’t see them until the first one was scattered.  I shake my head and tears well up.  I look at my mom, and she says with a quivering voice, “This is hard.”   I nod. 

A few weeks ago I was unloading the girls to walk into church.  As I started to unbuckle Abby, she ran her finger across my necklace- a tiny picture of Makiah.  “Mommy,” she said.  “Sissy Kiah.  Kiah not coming home.  Kiah not come home to see me.”  I took a deep breath.  I have been dreading these conversations for two and a half years, but it still seemed catch me off guard.  “No, baby.  Kiah is not coming home.  She is in heaven…”  Abby interrupts me suddenly, “In heaven with Jesus!”  She smiles as if she is satisfied and wriggles down from her car seat.

Big sisters who don’t come home are hard to understand when you are two.  And when you are much older than two… 

A sweet friend wrote to me on Makiah’s birthday that she hoped I would have sweet memories of her as I looked around at the spaces she inhabited.  And I did.  I can look at the fireplace and see her kneeling there playing with our little Christmas bear ornaments.  I glance at the bar and in my minds eye she is sitting there licking her spoonful of peanut butter.  In my bathroom I can see her long legs splashing in my tub while she plays with mermaids.  In our bonus room upstairs, affectionately nicknamed ‘the upper room,’ I see her twirling a sash and dancing to worship music.  Treasures hidden in my heart.  Memories of her in this space. 

I also found my missing journal.  The one I was keeping when Makiah died.  The last entry was 9/26/10… just twelve days before we lost her.  The last words I wrote were a result of some complications with the twin pregnancy.  I was 15 weeks pregnant.  I thought that was what I was writing about…

“Lord, help me to press into you and to come to a deeper place of knowing and believing you.  John 6:29 says the work God has for me is to believe in the One He has sent!  I know you will bring treasure from this trial.  Give me the grace to endure with joy and to cultivate an awareness of your presence.”

I had no idea what trial would engulf me.  And no idea that I would indeed find that in my utter helplessness the only work I could do was believe. In the One.  He has sent.   And no idea of the grace (Or the Maddie Grace!) that He would pour out on our weary souls.  No idea that you could keep on living after dying.  No idea that joy really does come in the morning. 

In the moving and the finding of bittersweet surprises comes another surprise.  The knowing that there really is freedom for those who are bound.  And there really is healing for the broken.  And there really is resurrection for the dead.  And the living dead.

Before my heavy eyelids lose their battle tonight, I want to say I am thankful that all the painful moments of leaving and loss are trumped in the end by this truth.  The truth that this is not really the end…

The dollhouse family

The 2nd layer

Sweet memories at our house

Makiah in our house

daddy daughter dance

Easter 2010

Playing with her favorite toys

Hugging the twins in our house

playing dress up

Makiah cleaning up toys while I was on bed rest.  She said "I will do it because you have babies in your tummy, Mommy!"
Bringing home the twins

Just turn your ipad sideways now...

The crew as we leave this home full of love and  memories!