He Knows.

January 1, 2014. 

We had absolutely no idea what was going on with Ally and Bailey Grace.

We didn’t know whether they had some “simple” developmental delays that were going to improve overtime; or a life-threatening illness that would cause them to leave us as soon as they joined us.

Yet, I felt a stirring. A stirring in my heart to share with the world our story. A pressing on my soul to flesh out many of the details of the circumstances and mainly, the work that the Lord was doing in our own spirits. My biggest hang-up with it all was that really, we didn’t exactly know what was going on. We didn’t know where it was all headed.

So why did I begin to share?

Because God.

He knew. 

He knew, and I began to believe with a zealous fervency that stepping out in faith and allowing others to see God work in the midst of our own mess is a beautiful, beautiful thing. I began to see that it is when we lay out our own weakness, questions, unknowns and doubts that His strength and sovereignty is most displayed.

Therein lied the beginning of His Hands, His Feet, His Heart.

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June 20, 2019.

For a few weeks, I have felt the same pressing I felt back in 2014. When I changed the name to Seeds and Leaven, I wondered if the name change within this new season was the thing God was asking for. I recent days I have been quite sure that really, His desire is more for my vulnerability to take a front seat again. I have squirmed away from it because of some of the same reasons I had reluctance 5 years ago.

I don’t want all the questions.

All the knowledge out there.

All the opinions of those who see a snippet but don’t have the full picture.

I am pretty confident however, that these logics are simply that- logical.

As I have been reminded of the work HE has done through the authenticity of the past few years, however; I have felt the push to step out in faith yet again and let His writing of the story that’s already been written be an encouragement to those around us.

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This view of Bailey Grace has been all too familiar in recent days.

After a couple years of (some) known and (some) unknown suffering, we have recently come to the conclusion alongside our medical team that it seems these changes in demeanor, seizures, and so on are most likely correlated with progression of disease.

She certainly has some good moments, even good days at times; but it seems these are happening farther and fewer in between.

We have prayerfully begun to make a lot of choices that many of you are all too familiar with. Choices about what’s more important to us- quantity or quality. Choices about what best serves Bailey Grace rather than what our own hearts wish was true. It is much easier to contemplate these things when it’s a hypothetical situation rather than a semi-reality in front of you.

And here’s the thing:

We just don’t know and we won’t know until the days continue to pass.

What in the world do you do while waiting around to see if your precious child is dying?

C66157E0-BBA1-4838-A59A-B7140040C9AF For I know the plans I have for you…- Jeremiah 29:11a

Seems like a cliché thing to write in a time like this, right?

One the things I love about God’s Word is that there is always more complexity to find. In different seasons and in different ways God often reveals new truths to us in ways only He could.

This week, this verse from Jeremiah kept coming to my mind. As James’s English has improved, he loves to be the one to pray at night. Earlier in the week, as he prayed, I believe God laid it on his heart to pray in this way:

God, you know everything. We don’t know. James doesn’t know, mommy and daddy don’t know, Ally and Bailey Grace don’t know, but You know.

For I know the plans I have for you…

He knows.

The One who wrote the story in His perfect wisdom absolutely knows the exact ways that every chapter of our lives is being laid out. He doesn’t go with us as a sidekick, anxiously awaiting alongside us for how everything is going to go down. No. He intimately invites us to participate in the beautiful, greater story that He has already seen fully displayed in all its glory.

It’s all pointing to Him.

So while we wait for Him to unveil the days- the beautiful, perfect, best planned out days- that He has ordained, we do a lot of this:

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We embrace the moments where Bailey Grace is able to be present, and then, we accept the moments where she is not as His very best for us in that very time. We pray to trust the sovereignty of a God who never leaves and never forsakes. We take thoughts captive and don’t invite the Enemy to make our minds a playground for his lies. We attempt to reach out to those around us to remind us of truths that can feel shaky in the midst of hard.

And most of all we believe.

We believe in a God who is perfect in all of His ways. Who is absolutely the Blessed Controller of all things. Whose promises are sure.

All the days of our lives were written before yet one came to be. (Psalm 139:16)

I do not know what happens next but I know the One who does and that changes everything.

He is good.

At all times.

In all things.

No matter what.

To Him be all the glory.

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On Mother’s Day.

“I’m screwing this all up”, I whispered, out loud to myself.
It was 9:15 in the morning, all three kids were at school, and I was frantically scourging around my house and inside my head at all the piles.

The piles of cluttered paper that I kept meaning to organize.

The mountains of laundry, wrinkled for a couple days now.

The toys strewn about and the crumbs sprinkled throughout different surfaces of our kitchen.

Five phone calls- all appointments for various medical and academic needs for the kids.

I had made two of them, and as I was calling a third, the phone rang.

It was the assistant principal at our school, wanting to “fit in” a conversation about James’s 504 before the end of the year.

I looked at the clock- 9:40.

I had about an hour before I needed to be at the school for one of the seemingly fifty, couple hour end of the year school events that continued to tear through the last precious days of the school year.

I sighed big.

I was frustrated not because of all the junk in front of me but because of the junk inside my own heart. 

“Yep,” I said aloud again. “I’m screwing this all up- this mom thing”.

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It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday, and you know what I really want?

I want the impossible.

I want my brain to slow down for just a few minutes, for my heart to let go just a tinge, and to be able to just be and bask in the reality of no emotional turmoil.

“Cast all your anxiety on Him” (1 Peter 5:7)

“Do not be anxious about anything” (Philippians 4:6)

I know. I know. But has any woman in any stage of this mom game found a way to actually make that happen when it comes to your children?

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I’ve changed my mind.

What I really want for Mother’s Day?

A couple of hours to breathe. To be my own person, to not be needed for things I can’t seem to do well on anyway, and to peruse through magazines about things that don’t really matter (houses, flowers, cooking, vacation) while dreaming about reading in the mountains while writing this blog page with no time constraints and responsibilities. After that? I want to open more magazines with even more irrelevancy and listen to some music while I make the very hard decision about whether to order stemless wine glasses or the taller ones.

If there is an award for the most unlikely Southern Baptist woman (momma) there ever was, it might now have my name on it.

But here we are.

Here, eyes puffy from sleeping too hard for too short of time.

Here, one child rocking in his bed because he’s nervous about Saturday (a day that lacks routine), one child sleeping (praise you Lord), and one child beginning to seize for what feels like the hundredth time in a week.

This is my life, and whether I’m screwing it up or not, there’s no getting out of it.

I know on Mother’s Day weekend I’m supposed to be writing about the gift of our children. I’m not supposed to say all the hard things in honor and respect of those who so desperately want to be on this journey and God continues to say, “not yet” to. But today, I just want to speak to the mom (maybe an introvert like me?) who wants to love Jesus with all she is and longs to love her family the way she knows she should but just can’t quite seem to settle down into whatever God has in front of her today:

You aren’t screwing this up. 

You actually can’t screw this up- and neither can I.

You see, what I’m learning is that the things that have been “screwed up” are the things that needed to be pruned in the first place.

My obsession (or even ability) to plan “my” schedule according to “my” idea of a good day?- Gone.

Hours spent “perfecting” my physical appearance (that also involved always shaved legs and rested bright eyes)?- Gone.

The opportunity to do what I want, when I want, whenever I want?- Gone.

My false security in my own attempts to make the people in my life “happy and healthy” at all times?- Very gone.

You see, motherhood has pruned me- God has pruned me- in ways that don’t often feel good. My flesh is selfish down to the bone; and if given a choice, it will always choose self. But God. God has given me this severe mercy of a gift of children who rely on me to show up for them every day. Some days, I confess I don’t want to show up. But because the Lord cares for my kids more than I ever could, He sustains and even equips me to do all the things- not the things I think are needed but the things He has in store.

Never perfect, but always purposeful.

Not always pretty, but wholeheartedly full of beauty.

There are some Mother’s Days in years past that I have felt a surge of gratitude and joy and excitement about this thing called motherhood- and praise God for the grace of that! Yet this year, I want to offer a different perspective- a perspective for those of you (us!) who are having a hard time seeing it all for the gift that it is:

God is working in your weakness.

He is not ashamed of you. He’s not mad at your inability to be the pinterest mom both in mind or heart.

He is working in this season to both mold you AND YOUR CHILDREN to be the Image Bearers He created you to be.

He knew exactly what He was doing when He made you momma of your specific kiddos- not because of your great track record or specific resume but because of His complete foresight and His full confidence in His own character and expertise.

He is God, after all. Our perfect Abba Father.

So today? Today, instead of adding more shame to your already shame-filled mind, why don’t you give yourself the greatest gift you could ever receive- the gift of the acceptance of His love for you in Christ. The gift of resting in His promises and grace. The gift of remembering He is working all things for His glory and our good- no strings attached. His love for us is sure.

Happy Mother’s Day, Momma.

You are so deeply loved.

 

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Reaching Forward.

“…forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.”- Philippians 3:13

Here we are.

It’s the week I have been thinking about for years now.

The week where our little family dynamic is going to change forever; the one week that includes so many pivotal, unknown changes.

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“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”- Hebrews 13:8

This time last year, we were preparing to go on the girls’ Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World. We had absolutely no idea our son existed, much less that a year later we would be traveling to bring him home. 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor my ways your ways, declares the Lord.”- Isaiah 55:8-9

4 days.

In 4 days, Hugh and I will get on a plane in Birmingham, Alabama and head to China to meet our son for the first time and bring him home forever.

15 days.

15 days away from my girls.

If you would have told me even a year ago that I was going to do this, I would’ve told you absolutely not.

I would’ve said it wasn’t possible, wasn’t wise even.

But God. Always but God.

Almost three years ago, I wrote a post entitled, “By Any Means Possible”. It’s words were inspired by the verse in Philippians 3 in which Paul says that, essentially, He is determined to know Christ- regardless of what it takes or what that looks like.

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From the moment we are entrusted with our children, each of us begins this dance of holding on and letting go. In the world of special needs, the grips of control can often become even tighter simply because our children don’t necessarily grow in independence. For five years and almost seven months- over 2,000 days of my life have been spent meeting the needs of Ally and Bailey Grace on an almost moment by moment basis.

Starting Friday, 15 of those days will be completely out of my control.

“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”- Hebrews 13:21-21

Here’s the thing.

I would tell you that caring for my girls is something I could never do on my own- that it’s God’s Spirit equipping me to do so. Yet, if I really believe this is true- then why do I think that I have to be present in order for them to receive the care they need?

“God is our refuge and strength, a very-present help in trouble.”- Psalm 46:1

A Very-Present Help.

He will be in China as we meet our son and begin to walk the very same dance of letting go and holding on. He will be in Alabama as the Cheek tribe- who are showing up joyfully and more fervently than ever before- cares for the girls. He is with you in these moments as you walk through whatever season of life you are in as well.

This is our God.

I need you to know that I have not spent the week trusting this and embracing it with open arms. I cried so hard at small group last Thursday that the tears just wouldn’t stop as we drove home. I tear up each and every time I think about Friday morning and our departure from Ally and Bailey Grace. I am not fully practicing what I am preaching…yet, as Paul says, one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil.3:13-14).

Friends, I am determined to show you my weakness in all this so that God’s strength can be all the more obvious.

As our girls are sick and my heart tension is high, I have found so much hope in the reality that God goes both before and behind and that He has promised He is getting the glory.

In the midst of a story that continues to play out in ways I would’ve never written or planned, I smile at the very-real, very-living truth that He both wrote it and has seen it all.

“In Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”- Psalm 139:16

For our family and for you.

To Him be all the glory.

Press on, brothers and sisters.

View More: http://trishiaralstonphotography.pass.us/cheek-family-session

 

Heart Shift.

Behold, a king will reign in righteousness and princes will rule in justice. Each will be like a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.- Isaiah 32:1-2

We call them little things- guilty pleasures if you will.

We normalize them, and even celebrate them.

Sometimes, we define them as “self-care” or even hobbies.

At first glance, we wouldn’t be wrong about this defining.

Yet, “the Lord sees not as man see: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”- 1 Samuel 16:7

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 Recently, we had a faucet that had a broken part. It took us forever to finally call and get it fixed because it was such a subtle problem. There was no huge stream of water pouring out, only a small drip, drip, drip that eventually annoyed us enough to do something about it.

“For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water“- Jeremiah 2:13, emphasis mine

I couldn’t tell you how long I have felt this way. From the outside looking in, nothing has changed. It’s tricky, this internal heart stuff. I have coined it “dry” or “weary”, and many close to me would chalk it up to the recent circumstances of our life and some of the new hard that we have had with our Bailey Grace.

But if I’m honest, I’ve known it must be more.

“For I, the Lord, do not change.”- Malachi 3:6a

He doesn’t change. He doesn’t change and I know this. I have seen Him provide strength and endurance and even joy in the midst of what the world would say was despairing.

It is because I know this to be true that even I haven’t been buying my own excuses of, “it must be circumstantial”.

This morning, my soul literally felt nauseous as I vaguely tried to plead with the Lord to refresh me. And then, it hit me. Nausea only comes about when there is something in that needs to get out. If my soul was feeling this way, maybe it was time to do an inventory check of what I’ve been filling my soul with in the first place.

I want you to hear me loud and clear when I say that my time in the Word has stayed consistent, we have been in community regularly, there is not some huge blaring sin I can look at and say, “Well that needs to go”. It’s important that you know this because as I type these words, I’m confident this isn’t just a message for me but for you (otherwise, what are we doing here in the first place?!)

As I took a minute to flat out say to the Lord, “God, I feel internally gross and I don’t know why. Help, please”- He quickly brought to mind a handful of things that had heart shifted from good gifts to soul fillers.

“All things are lawful but not al things are helpful. All things are lawful but not all things build up.”- 1 Corinthians 10:23

We are about to talk through some theological gray areas. Can we all just agree to stay calm and look past theological differences (if they come up) for the sake of unity?

Good.

I’ve told this story several times to various groups, so forgive me if this is old news to you. Taking a longer shower, relaxing, and taking a minute to yourself are absolutely not bad things. Having a glass of wine is not a bad thing. Yet, there was a season of my life where I would abuse my “shower and get a second alone” time as a place to sulk in how hard I felt like our life was. I would turn on depressing music, pour that glass of vino, and request the Holy Spirit to stay quiet for just a few minutes while I had a short, hour long pity party. From the outside looking in, no one would’ve ever known all the ugly that was going on within during that time. But I knew, and God knew, and it was creating a barrier between the two of us.

Eventually, I hated that barrier enough to challenge my own thoughts during that time. These days, if I do take the opportunity to shower and relax, I try and make sure that I make it clear to myself and the Lord that He’s both welcomed and invited in that place.

Simple yet profound. 

So, this morning as I found myself feeling disconnected, I had an aha moment as I asked the Lord to reveal to me whatever junk I wasn’t recognizing as junk; and I want to share some things He revealed to my heart. My shifters are probably different than yours, but like a subtle leak in a faucet, they are all bound to slowly steal our joy.

Beloved, God looking at our heart means much more than giving up habits or behaving better or checking off a list of spiritual to-do’s that follow the rules of whatever church you are a part of. No. God looking at our heart means that what He’s going for is greater and more important than simply the surface. The fact He’s looking at your heart tells you the beautiful truth that He’s after your heart! He’s not pursuing your behavior or your actions. He’s pursuing YOU- the true you that by the grace of God found in Jesus doesn’t fade.

When we get to the throne of God, we won’t be worshipping our good deeds or service opportunities- we won’t be focused on other people or Christian accolades- it will be HIM that we are praising! We will be bowing down to Him- therefore the ONLY obvious satisfaction both in this life and the next must be have Him at the center.

You can fool yourself or others into thinking He’s the affection of your heart- but you can’t fool Him. And- we can’t offer a freedom that we aren’t walking in ourselves.

If your soul is feeling nauseous, might it be because you are allowing a lot of little things to pile up and shift things around in a way you were never meant to live?

God loves us too much to allow us to bring anything into our lives that carries the weight of our joy or happiness. Only He was meant to provide us that! He will always permit us to be temporarily disappointed for the sake of eternal satisfaction. ALWAYS.

Have you ever thought about the fact that some of the very things you are looking to find life in are the things that are killing you- not just physically, but your soul? (And-, “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”- Luke 9:25).

Christ follower, these words are for you: If you are feeling spiritually blah, it is not because God has moved or changed. It may not even be because of some blatant sin, but I guarantee you that distraction or “lawful but not helpful” things are crowding spaces that only God Himself is meant to fill. Today, I’m taking a moment to allow God to do some soul work- a heart shift if you will.

Satisfaction is found nowhere else.

May we drink from the well that never runs dry, bringing our thirst only to Him.

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He is Here.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven…everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”- Matthew 7:21, 24

Words.

They are a mysterious thing, if you really think about it.

Those of us who are able to articulate what is on our minds and hearts through the vowels and consonants tied together on our lips have quite a responsibility to use them wisely… and most of us (pointing all fingers toward myself!) don’t do this as wisely as we should.

“With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”- James 3:9-10

These things ought not to be so, but they are.

Isn’t there a lot of that around and within us?

It is all to easy to find spaces and pieces of ourselves and of others that simply don’t line up with identity of Image Bearers that we have been given.

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“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”- Romans 8:22

We may have a lot of things we don’t agree on, but at the end of the day, I think most of us would admit that this doesn’t feel like home. Sure, we can all attempt to bandage our wounds, tie our hurts up with pretty bows, and mask the places that just don’t seem quite right (or- almost worse- pretend they aren’t there); but if we were just gut-wrenchingly honest, we know.

We see it in tragedy. In sickness. In natural disaster. In war. In politics. In relationships. In the church.

Each of us could point out more than a handful of places that we are aware of that simply don’t seem like God’s best.

“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”- Hebrews 11:13-16

Let’s go back to this whole concept of words. There are human words, and then there is the Word of God.

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”- John 1:1

God’s Word is perfect because it lays out exactly who He is and who He says we are. And in the above Hebrews verses, God makes it very clear: This feeling you have that things aren’t they way they will be? You are exactly right! My plans for you may begin here but my purposes for you extend far beyond this place. What is seen is not what truly is. 

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I have been thinking about this a lot lately and about the reality that if this is what I truly believe, it should change everything. I know as Christ followers we say this- but really- I’m not just blowing smoke or giving a Sunday School pep rally cheer. If this is really true- then it’s not just true some days. It’s not meant to be lived out merely at your dying breath, or one day a week, or on certain holidays, or during what the world deems tragic. No.

The fullness of God is willing and able to meet you right here, right now.

God longs for you to trust Him with this moment, and the next, and the one after that.

I wrote this in my journal recently:

“I have come to a point where I am utterly sick of acting like the Enemy has lost the war but still has the power to win some of the battles. The truth is the only good thing about the Enemy is that he has already lost. He comes to steal. Kill. Destroy. That’s it. He’s the father of lies. And he has absolutely no control over me seeing as, “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Christian, it’s time to stop living like we are searching FOR victory and instead, live FROM victory only found in Jesus Christ”.

You know what I don’t think this means?

I don’t believe this means that heaven is here. I think that until Jesus comes back, suffering will be permitted for reasons only God Himself understands. We know this. We may pray against specifics when they head our way- and there’s nothing wrong with that. But God? His plans are greater, bigger, wider. I have many, many people who reach out very offended that I say that God allows suffering. I have no response other than that if I didn’t believe that, I would not believe in the truth and authority of the Word of God. Beyond that, I have seen in my own life and the life of most of the people whose faith I admire most that suffering is a gateway to knowing the Father more. Why? I’m not sure. Yet, I know that God’s light seems brightest when everything around me seems darkest.

What I DO think the above means is that we are able to trust in the goodness of the Father in spite of all that we see around and within. I think this tells us that the time is NOW to hold fast to His Words instead of fixating on the words of those around us. We must behold Jesus in order to see things as they truly are.

Where is God?

He is right here. 

He is Immanuel, God with us, a very-present Help that never even for a millisecond thinks about abandoning His own.

In spite of all that is around us, He is constant.

He is the ONLY One we can fix our full hope on, both in this life and the next.

And, smack dab in the midst of this broken place we live in but are not destined for, I want to make sure I don’t miss the opportunity to tell you that I believe this is absolutely true and that He is absolutely sovereignly good in all His ways. This is all that’s worth staking our entire lives and whole beings on. This is it. HE is the Answer. The time is now. Satisfaction awaits and is found in the One who will never, no never, no never forsake.

At all times.

In all things.

No matter what.

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”- Francis Chan

 

Every One of Them.

It was about 4 A.M.

For the past few nights, every night, at midnight, labs would be drawn.

In the wee hours of the next day, the results would come back.

Her platelets had been dropping lower, lower, lower.

No one had to tell me what this could mean.

I knew.

In a few hours, a bone marrow biopsy would be done to “rule out” leukemia as a source of why our girl was getting sicker and sicker.

Looking back, I realize the significance wasn’t in rather or not Bailey Grace had cancer; rather, the principle of the whole thing in my eyes was that here we were, in this place.

Here we were, after having her suffer for months with seizure, fever, vomiting.

Here we were, after going day after day and asking the Lord, “How long?”

Whether or not the flow came back with the dreaded C word- the fact that we were even having to go to this place felt intimately cruel to me- like a direct shot even.

Just too much.

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“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”- Job 1:20-21

He tore his robe and shaved his head in grief- and then- he worshipped.

If you ever need help with recognizing the reality that God permits suffering in the lives of His children, look no further than Job.

The man had everything taken away from him, and while he mourned and questioned and hurt deeply; He did so in a posture of worship.

So there I was, sitting with (one of) my medically fragile little girls, a five year old child who has suffered more than many in first world America will ever know, faced with very-present circumstance of even a small chance of a secondary, life-threatening diagnosis.

If you have read On Milk and Honey- I might as well have been back on that cold bathroom floor, tears streaming down and heart aching with pain.

“I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose for me…my soul is in the midst of lions..be exalted, O God, above the heavens!”- Psalm 57:2,4a,5a

Be exalted, O God.

I lifted my hands, turned on some praise music as low as the phone would go, and I let the tears flow as I preached the truth to my soul that God is good in ALL things. At ALL times. No matter what.

That afternoon, as we got the news that it wasn’t leukemia, and as the night unfolded all the details of the bacteria that was hiding out in Bailey Grace’s bone marrow, I confessed my disbelief that God knew exactly what He was doing. We went home a few days later with Bailey Grace acting better than she had in months.

IMG_6417 A week later, insert back in fever, seizure, vomiting spells.

Another hospital admission, more unknowns, more prayers and decisions that aren’t concrete for even some of the smartest physicians there are.

Oh, how complex these bodies are.

“For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”- Psalm 139:13-16

Every one of them.

Oh that you would not get so caught up in filling in the blanks of the medical details here that you miss the God above all the things we don’t yet know or understand.

In the midst of an unknown outcome, we serve a  Never-changing God who wrote every day of Bailey Grace’s life before yet one of them came to be.

“And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.”- Genesis 1:31

We are oh so tired of the circumstantial roller coaster. I am unbelievably weary from the ups and downs- from thinking, “Oh, she’s better” to spending the afternoon watching her absolutely not present and suffering.

I am beyond wanting to understand why- I just want to know what. Is this still infection? Is this just HECW2? When is the suffering going to end for her?

But God.

“For I will proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock, His work is perfect, for all His ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is He.”- Deuteronomy 32:3,4

There is not just power in these words, but comfort in them as well.

His work is perfect.

His ways are just.

Point blank: He knows exactly what He is doing and why He is doing it.

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What’s behind me reminds me that I can trust Him with whatever is next.

And maybe the Psalmist says it best:

I believe that I shall. (Psalm 27:13)

Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe never on this side of heaven… or maybe right around the corner? Only He knows.

God is God.

God is good.

God can be trusted.

To Him be all the glory.

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer’s; He makes me tread on my high places.”- Habakkuk 3:16

 

 

 

He is Able: Adoption Update.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory.”- Ephesians 3:20-21a

Currently, I am the only one awake in the Cheek house.

It is quiet; the kind of quiet that causes your soul to breathe in a little deeper. The kind of quiet that urges you to speak to the God of the universe; and, more than that, to listen.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.”- Psalm 19:1-2

Currently, we are battling a respiratory illness in our house. It’s the first true illness we have had in almost a year, which makes me feel nothing but gratitude. After giving Ally a breathing treatment around 4:30, my heart was stirred to wake up and look at the sky. He places the stars exactly where they need to be. He also, might I add, places the orphans in homes.

“…in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”- Psalm 139:16

These words. These words are much more than that; and they are seared more deeply on my heart than even the tattoo that reads it on my foot. This verse has carried our family through long days and even longer nights. God has revealed Himself to us through His promises, and we have seen His faithfulness. In light of that, we step forward into this new assignment He has given our family.

As I spoke this weekend at the Connecting Women’s conference, the Lord laid Ephesians 3:20 on my heart. I spoke of God’s abundantly more versus our abundantly more; and how His is always greater and yet mysteriously different than we could have written. I talked about Hebrews 11 and the women and men of faith whose lives were not easy or comfortable and yet whose experience of God was intimate and satisfying.

What I am about to share with you was on my heart and mind the entire time.

One day, we might give more details.

One day, there will be room for sharing all the ways that God made His paths abundantly clear to both Hugh and myself.

Yet today, I simply want to tell you this:

“Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!”- Romans 11:33

Inscrutable.

Impossible to understand or interpret.

Unexplainable even. These are His ways- not our ways, not our thoughts.

Yet perfect.

“As for God, His way is perfect.”- Psalm 18:30

And here is a promise for us to cling to:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”- James 1:5

He told us to ask, so we did.

He made His intentions abundantly clear to us; so much so that there was nothing we could do but step forward in faith.

God places the orphans in families, and, by the grace and God and the will of the Lord, as of yesterday it is official:

Hugh and I have a six year old son who currently lives in China.

Ally and Bailey Grace are not going to be big sisters; they are going to be little sisters.

A few months from now, we will travel to bring home the little boy who God has known was ours since before the beginning of time.

His paths untraceable.

His plans and purpose so very good.

We are overjoyed, excited, and yes, in our flesh, nervous.

We will spend approximately two weeks in China while Ally and Bailey Grace patiently wait for us to come home with their brother.

Have we ever left the girls for more than two nights? No.

But God?

He is faithful.

So we trust Him and cling tightly to Immanuel, the God who is ever and always with us.

He knows the way we take; and even when we are thrown off-guard, His heart is set and the journey is sure.

We do not know much, but one thing we do: He can be trusted.

At all times.

In all things.

To Him be the glory.