We live in a world of comparisons. We compare relationships and possessions. Jobs and seasons of life. Spouses or lack thereof. Children. Bodies. Spirituality. Health. Friendships. Spirituality. Finances. Hardships. Everything. Comparison truly is the thief of joy, and it doesn’t take long for our minds to get us to a place of discontentment simply based at looking at those around us. The problem with comparison is that, from a worldly perspective, there is someone who is always going to be “better off” than us; and there is someone who will always be “worse off” as well. It is all relative. That being said, how fleeting and detrimental is this comparison game we play. But how do we find contentment in a world that constantly invites comparison? How do we get off the hamster wheel of always looking to others as the barometer for our happiness or success? I believe this can only be done when our vision is changed. When we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal (2. Corinthians 4:18). Beyond that, we must fix our eyes on Jesus. Why- Because He is the Author and the Perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). I am forever grateful that while He was enduring the cross for us, He was not playing the comparison game. What He did for us makes our small comparisons look ridiculous. I mean, if it was me, my dialogue would have gone as follows: “Wait- You want me to carry this cross and go through this suffering for all of them? For what they did? So they can live with us forever afterwards? That doesn’t seem fair!”
Jesus, however, being fully God and fully man, did not compare because He found joy in the will of the Father. He knew if it was in God’s Master Plan that it was good. He fixed His eyes on the eternal and not the circumstances or His temporary thoughts or emotions. So, when we are in the midst of wanting to compare any portion of our lives to the lives of those around us, let’s only seek comparison in this:
“I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”- Philippians 3:8.

Let’s set our thermometers of comparison to the one that only finds its comparison against knowing Christ. And everything-everything- is rags when compared to knowing Him. Why?- Because He’s conquered it all! He’s conquered death itself. He’s the source of everything good and above all evil. When compared, He makes all else look like nothing. The Lord offers us up a comparison that will actually bring freedom, not enslavement! It’s so easy for me to compare the challenges of our life to others. Why do our girls have such difficulty with seemingly easy movements? Why do so many people not have to spend their days in therapy and doctors’ appointments? (Although I know many also do!) And social media can make it even worse. (Why does that girl that I’m not even sure I actually know have a two month old that is doing cartwheels already!?) But you know, while I sit and play the comparison game, playing essentially in the mudpies of this earth, I know the Lord is patiently smiling, aware of the treasures that await. As I look to Him and not to those around me, He brings me joy in the here and now and changes my blurry vision to His perfect vision; my tiny perspective to His infinite perspective; the silly comparisons I choose to look at to the only comparison that matters. Friends, everything other than knowing Christ is a loss. It is not because Hugh and I are “good people” that we are able to walk through this journey with hope. Any of you who know as at all know that to be true. We are weak and sinful, and it is quite the opposite. We are at our weakest, but in our weakness, He continues to prove Himself strong and His mighty power is displayed. Compared to the hope we have in that, all other comparisons fade to dust. Let’s lean on His promises today. He is worthy. 

Lessons learned.

I woke up with tears brimming in my eyes today. Tears of joy and of gratitude for all that the next few days represent. This time last year, I was headed to what would be my last doctor’s appointment before our lives were forever changed for the good by our baby girls. For the good.  I was uncomfortable, sick, exhausted (or so I thought… I didn’t quite understand what exhaustion was before I went through the newborn trenches), and mostly anxious for getting our baby girls here “happy and healthy” as we all say (That phrase now is one of my pet peeves, which will be addressed at a later time). We had been praying the Lord would bring us our girls in His perfect timing, not one day sooner or one day later. Hugh had memorized Psalm 139 which is more symbolic than I could have ever known, and we were a lot of things. We were mainly clueless. The beauty of parenthood. We all start out that way, so blissfully ignorant. We have never met our little ones, and we all prepare as best as we can for the journey to come. Girls, on April 23, 2013, there was nothing that could have prepared daddy and I for the beauty and joy that was around the corner on April 24, 2013. There are more lessons that the Lord has taught us through your sweet lives than we could recount, many that are written on the pages of this blog. I will not be able to word or express all that I want to  share with the world as we await your first birthday tomorrow, but I want to give it a try because daddy and I are indebted to you and the lessons that we have learned through your little lives already. In a sense, this is a letter to You, my God; my version of a psalm of praise for giving us more than we could possibly ask for or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20).
When we first found out we were going to have twins, I reacted as gracefully as it comes: I cried profusely as the ultrasound tech attempted to find two heartbeats through my hysterics. She left the room to “give us a moment” (yes, it was awkward), and when Hugh asked me what I was crying for, I said, “I’m scared”. He responded, “Of what?” I quickly sobbed back, “The rest of our lives.” Girls, momma is no longer scared. While you have already brought more twists and turns than we could have ever anticipated, I have learned to celebrate each and every moment of each and every day because of you. I have seen that there is nothing to fear around the corner because God is already there. I never thought I could have survived a year with twins, much less a year with twins as special as you two. But you know what? God is good and  He has already walked this road for us therefore with Him, I have been able to step forward with confidence that whatever comes next is for His glory and our good.  
Ally Ruth and Bailey Grace, we are proud of who you are. Not only that, but we wouldn’t want you to be any different. Your beauty radiates from the inside out. Ally Ruth: your smile is absolutely contagious. Bailey Grace: your easy-going attitude is something that the rest of us would be wise to follow suit on. You both simply make people happy by your mere presence. The best part about this is: it isn’t because of anything you have done or are doing; it’s merely because of who you are as a whole. I could write a novel on all the amazing qualities you possess, but I would be amiss because that’s another lesson we have learned: it is not about you. Or me. Or any of us. It is about Him. You have reminded us that we can see Him in anything and everything, even our worst nightmares, if we just would choose to look. We are so very proud of you both for no reason other than that you are who you are.

There is so much to celebrate tomorrow, but the fact that you are here “happy and healthy” will not be one of them. Karni Liddell, a Paralympics athlete that happens to have Spinal Muscular Atrophy, has said, “What does that even mean?” We have all said it, myself included, but here is the truth: we didn’t just want you here “happy and healthy”. We wanted you here so you could live the lives that God intended you to live, which would ultimately bring eternal joy that stems beyond any temporary happiness or pseudo-healthiness. And, however long He sees fit to keep all of us on this side of heaven, we will all continue to try and live that out, albeit imperfectly. The thing is, you both already seem to be more comfortable in your own skin than most people I know… and that’s contagious. You live life above the circumstances around you, and have taught us to do the same. Sure, we might have thought your first year of life would have included more milestones and less doctor’s appointments; more careless living and less therapy appointments. But, watching you both accept each day with all it entails which such an attitude of contentment and trust has taught your daddy and me to do the same and for that, we wouldn’t change a second of it. I could go on for days, but it is time to feed you guys and I want to breathe in these moments. Bottom line is this: If I could go back and do it ALL again-the constant morning sickness that never seemed to end, the sleepless nights, the unknowns, the worries, the testing, the sheer terror that came the moment I realized that my heart was sliced in two and came out in the form of two precious, beautiful baby girls- I would do it again a hundred times fold. To call being your mommy a privilege would be an understatement. I know I don’t deserve to be. All praise, glory, and honor to the One who gives us grace upon grace in this journey. Lord, THANK YOU. Bailey Grace and Ally Ruth Cheek: we celebrate you today, tomorrow, and every day after that. Happy almost Birthday, sweet girls! 


I am terrified of driving in a thunderstorm. I’m not talking about a little drizzle on your windshield. I’m talking dark contrast up ahead with sudden buckets of water streaming down your car. I have been this way for as long as I can remember. Some might think it is because I have been in a couple of fairly serious wrecks, which sounds appropriate until you realize that both of those occurred on extraordinarily sunny days. It is just one of those things I suppose. We all have them. Those fears that cripple us; the ones that wake us up in the middle of the night, that cause us to stop in our tracks. They can be as big as death itself or as small as a rain cloud. Either way, it all stems from the same place. Fear.
 I have watched several people I know walk through absolutely heart wrenching seasons this year. Friends who have, to put it bluntly, faced their worst nightmares as their new reality. From the outside in, many of you might see our family’s situation as just that. In many ways, you wouldn’t be far from the truth. Our girls still remain undiagnosed. We are in the midst of testing for a couple things that would be on our “worst nightmare” list, and if those come back negative, we will be on the neurologist and geneticist’s list as having something really,really rare that might leave us with a lifetime of unknowns. If we are only two of a handful of people to have a disorder, the likelihood of having a true prognosis is not high. And if I can be candid, this reality full of years of what-ifs and who-knows is almost as terrifying as some of the diagnoses we are waiting to hear back on. We just want to know what we are facing. If  we just knew more about the storm ahead, things would be better. Right?
While this may sound rational, I am convinced this is not the case. Think about it. What if God wrote all the details of your story down for you to read. The different seasons that you would walk through. The highs and lows. Things as raw and real as the day you died. The day your children would die. The cause of these deaths. If you would even be able to have children at all. If you would get married at all. If your loved ones would get cancer. EVERYTHING. Talk about living in fear. This would absolutely cripple us all. Friends, I am convinced that God in His wisdom does not tell us all the details because He delights in walking us through the journey. He wrote it. He has already walked it. And, He has conquered the good, the bad, and the ugly through His death on the cross. He does not give us strength for what will occur tomorrow; but He does promise strength for today. As Psalm 84:7 more eloquently puts it, He walks us through this pilgrimage strength to strength. Grace for today. Because of Christ, we no longer have to fear tomorrow or waste moments worrying about whether or not we will be able to handle all that it may hold. Without God’s saving action in our lives, we would be absolutely powerless to walk through the brokenness and unknowns of tomorrow, much less today. With it, however, we are secure. We can be fearless. My friends Julie and Hannah and their husbands come to mind. Neither of them know the other one, however, they both are walking through similar journeys that the world would call tragic.  But God intended it for good. I am watching them walk through something that even they would have said, “I could never make it through if _______happened.” In their weakness, God has made Himself known and portrayed His strength and they are not only “making it”; an incredible testimony is being left for the glory of God and His kingdom come. And I can imagine that once you have watched the Lord walk you through the unfathomable, your trust and foundation in His promises reaches a level that is unshakeable.

So what about you? The fears you have do not have to be monumental; they just have to be monumental to you. The Lord knows each of our hearts and He cares about all the details of our lives. For me, instead of living in fear of the future or fear of what it might entail, I want to live in light of the glorious news that Christ promises to carry us through every moment of every season, and that He will give us the ability to faithfully serve Him no matter what that looks like. Our hope does not rest in a diagnosis, whether it be what the world would consider good or bad. In God’s kingdom, there is no such thing as a bad diagnosis because it is all in His hands and for His good. No fear. Simply resting in His promises. Whether you are stumbling through your hardest days yet or coasting by without a care in the world, I pray you know that He wants to be your Burden-Bearer. No matter what storm clouds are ahead, He has already navigated the way to the eternal sunshine that is up ahead. He’s got this! There is freedom in the fearlessness.