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Happy 13th Birthday Makiah!

Dearest Makiah,

This is a different sort of birthday letter for several reasons.  The first is that this Saturday, May 11th, would be your 13th!  I can’t believe you would have been a teenager today!  I can’t help but wonder what your sweet little face would have looked like now.  How tall would you be and would you be begging to wear makeup?  Your daddy and I would be 5 short years from having our first kid in college.  I’ve known from the day you went home that these wondering, missing you moments would come along and tap me on the shoulder begging for attention as long as I still have breath.  

As I type this I am sitting in a room at the preschool waiting to celebrate your baby sister Eliana’s 5th birthday with her class.  We are singing to her early because she is a summer baby.  I bought her the prettiest pull apart flower cupcakes… the ones she ooed and awwed over as she draped over the cooler in the Kroger bakery.  And there is a pang of sadness, and I blink back a few tears because you can’t pick out your cake today.  

But staring at me on the wall right there in front are words that breath peace.  “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9  Wherever you go.  Even here.  Even on this journey that we did not choose.  Even on your 13th birthday when I will go to a mother-daughter tea at church with your little sisters. But without You.  Even there He says be strong and courageous.  He says He will not leave me.  

What makes the difference is knowing who it is that is with me.  

Who is with me?  The Redeeming God.  The God who has good plans for us, but who loves us enough to give us free will… all of us.  Even those who will make bad choices that will break the lives of others into pieces.  Into the first family and the second.  He will redeem it.

Who is with me?  The God who works in secret.  And that’s the second reason this is a different sort of letter.  I am marveling today amidst the missing.  He is the God who whispered to your little heart to give your piggy bank money in the offering for kids in Africa that didn’t have clean water just before the wreck.  He is the God who whispered the idea of selling well charms and raising money to build wells in your memory through Operation Blessing to a lady I never met and who didn’t know you just two weeks after you went home to heaven.  He is the God who moved on people’s hearts to give and 19  wells have been built in your memory with 5 of them being in Ghana.  And He is the one who orchestrated circumstances so that your Daddy was asked to preach his first overseas crusade- where? In Ghana!  The only place with 5 wells in one country built because of you!

Who is with me?  The God who knew years ago as the wells were being dug in that dry, dusty land and as your name was being inscribed on the plaques that wells were also being dug in the spirit.  Hearts were being prepared for the wells of living water to spring up- for wells of salvation to burst forth!  And I am sure it is no accident.  But the working of the mighty Hand of a Powerful God.  By the time I post this for your birthday, your Daddy will be almost back home, and Christ will have been preached in the very nation where 5 of those wells were dug!

Who is with me?  The Redeeming God.  The One who brings healing out of brokenness.  Joy out of mourning.   And those salty tears of dark grief that I wrote about in my very first blog will have been transformed into the salty tears of repentance for other precious hearts.  And into fresh water for parched lips.  And into living water for thirsty souls.  He is redeeming it!

And so on your 13th birthday I cannot buy you pretty cupcakes.  But I can write a love letter telling you what our Mighty God has done with your story and your dream and your family who loves you so.  I believe the gifts we can tell you of carry an eternal weight, and perhaps one day we will meet those precious souls together.  

Happy 13th birthday my beautiful Makiah!  Your Hebrew name and your life and legacy shout to us all “Who is like my God?!”  And we can smile through the tears because we know who is with us both wherever we go.

Love all ways always,


Makiah about 6 months old
Just a few days before she went to heaven


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