Weakness In Light of His Strength.

Weaknesses. We all have them. Some of them affect us (and those around us) more than others; but there isn’t a person on this earth who carries strength in all areas. Our common thread is this: the world encourages us to hide those things which make us seem weak. In a job interview, when asked what our weaknesses are, we try to word an area where we lack in a way that presents as a strength (i.e. I am such a perfectionist that I have a hard time not completely tasks to a ‘t’; I love work so much I have to make myself leave at the end of the day to the expense of my family and friends, etc.). In dating relationships, we often try to conceal our imperfections in order to present ourselves in what we consider the best possible light. As women, we hide blemishes, dark circles, and other places on our faces and bodies that we find undesirable. There are items of clothing we spend lots of money on that make it appear we are more fit than we actually are. But, at the end of the day, there is only so much we can hide. The more people get to know us, the more our weaknesses come out.

Readers, I am coming to you today in a really weak place. I have struggled with knowing what to write the past few weeks because my heart feels so lacking in wisdom. This in-between has made me restless; and no matter how I try and pretty it up, I am just plain weak these days. I think we are so often scared to admit our weakness because, in ways, we idolize our areas of strength. Even as someone who writes in authenticity, I want to be able to come to you with a joy-saturated message each time. As I’ve been in the Word, searching for refreshment, seeking renewal, my emotions fail me and all I can really muster up is, “I need You, Lord.” He brought these words to mind this morning:

“But He (Jesus) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me .For the sake of Christ then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities For when I am weak, then I am strong.”- 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (emphasis mine)

You see, to admit weakness stirs up uncomfortable, awkward feelings in many of us. It’s too raw; too real. Even Paul was begging the Lord to take away this thorn in his flesh, this weak spot that the Lord continued to allow to exist. But here, God reminds us that, not only should we not hide our weaknesses; we should also make them known and rejoice in them. Why?-For the sole purpose of making God’s strength shine through even more.

Friends, here is my weakness today. I am ready for answers for our girls. I am sick of daily mustering up the energy to fight for joy as I sit restless. I am tired of some trying to encourage me to not obsess over an answer. I am frustrated with the continued encouragement of many around us to simply work on getting the girls stronger. Here is the thing: I see His strength in their weaknesses as well; therefore I rejoice. As their mom, God has given me eyes to see the perfection in exactly how He has created them, and while I continue to go to therapy and long to see them thrive to their fullest ability, I am very content with the way God made them in the here and now. My goal will never be to stamp their identity in whether their strength is outshining their weaknesses; for I know that this is not the Lord’s purpose for them as well. Our Father has made it clear that His goal for them for me, and for you, is always to make His strength known to us and to others in the midst of who we are. Our family’s journey is not about us. It is about the God in us.

Same goes for you. What are those things that you feel the need to hide? The imperfections that just won’t go away, no matter how hard you try? You see, the world would encourage you to cover those things up, but I want to exhort you to come out of the hiding in order to rest more fully in His strength. Friend: He can handle it. Yes, even that. His weakness is greater than your biggest strength, and the very thing you wish didn’t exist might be the thing He wants to use to make His glory known. This is where joy is found. This is where you can stop camouflaging and start living more fully. Dear reader, you do not have to hide. You have an audience of One and He is working around and within you in order to bring peace and healing to a broken world. Him. And, a funny thing happens when we begin to open up about the hidden things of our heart. When we stop feeling the need to hide, we start finding our way to freedom. We can be our true selves around everyone, knowing that the goal is to show Him in all His glory and strength anyway. The point was never to make your abilities known. The purpose is to point to Him.

My heart feels lighter as the words flow from my heart to these keys, because I know He is making all things new, including my attitude and emotions. Our flesh fails, but God is the strength of our hearts and our portion forever (Psalm 73:25). He will not leave me, or you, stranded in this place. His light always shines through the darkness, and His purposes for us stand firm. As we bring our hurts and hards to His throne, He takes them and molds them into something beautiful. I see this in Ally and Bailey Grace’s lives, and I see it in mine. Only Jesus. You see, we often want to wrap our imperfections up in a pretty package, but at the end of the day, my weakness is going to present as just that: weak. But strength, His strength. It will always triumph.

What does God wish you would be more real about with those around you in order to show Himself? There is a watching world all around us, and even those who don’t believe crave the authenticity of a heart content in Jesus, His grace, and the plans He has. My prayer is that as I lay out my weaknesses, that He would make Himself known all the more. That you, dear reader, would stand in awe at a God who can take a weak, sinful woman like me and reveal the cross and His great love. His perfection in the midst of imperfect me. Oh, how I long for the day when I stand at the gates and the only words I have to utter are the same words I utter today, “I need You, Lord”. He promises us now and always that this will be enough. Only Him. He is so very strong. Let’s choose to rest in Him today.

“I thank Him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He judged me faithful, appointing me to His service…the saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen”. – I Timothy 1:12, 15-17

To the Parent of a Child with Special Needs.

Dear Parent of a Child with Special Needs,

I see you. I see you waking up yet another morning, looking at your calendar to check and see which therapy or doctor’s appointments the day holds. I see you picking up, feeding, changing, holding, helping, sitting up, pushing around, positioning, carrying, cleaning up, take care of your child in ways you never thought possible. I see your blood pressure rise when you first notice your child has a stuffy nose, remembering the last time and how it ended up. I see you doing all you can for preventative care, with suctions, syringes, nebulizers, and more. I see you waking up in the middle of the night to do the very same thing; checking to make sure your child is still breathing at a decently comfortable rate. I see you recording every last ounce of fluid taken in or vomited up; sighing in relief each time a wet diaper appears.

I see you. I see you patiently attempting to get your child to drink and eat enough. I see you try method after method, day after day, to get your baby to hold their bottle or sip out of a sippy cup. I see you wipe away tears as your little one vomits during a meal, while patiently cleaning up and comforting your child all the more. I see you anxiously watching the scale at the doctor appointment, waiting to see a higher number than last time to appear; and feeling defeated if it does not.

I see you. I see you going to therapy after therapy appointment in which they each tell you five different things to work on at home in your spare time. I see you smile, nod, and make a mental note of what point you will try and do this throughout the day. I see you cheer your child on as they attempt to do the very same thing they have been trying to do for months. I see you wonder if they will ever reach another milestone; while continuing to make sure your little one knows you believe they can. I see you blink back tears as your child screams while the therapist places them in a new contraption or therapeutic suit, all the while assuring you it isn’t hurting your child, it’s just uncomfortable. You agree, but deep down inside, you wonder how they know that to be true. You wonder if it is all worth it. You think about whether or not, at the end of the day, you should just let your child be himself/herself, instead of pushing them over and over again. But, you continue, because if you don’t, what then?

I see you in the waiting room at one of many doctor appointments. I see you walk in nervously, wondering what news will be given at this one. I see you hold your child tightly as they poke, prod, examine, and analyze. I see you determined to not cry in the doctor’s office as they tell you yet another discouraging part of your child’s diagnosis or lack thereof. I see you jump each time the phone rings, hoping that the results are in from the most recent blood test. I see you checking the calendar to think back on when the test was actually given and when you should receive the news.

I see you. I see you in the grocery store, pushing your child around, hoping no one will stop you to ask his/her age. I see you watching the typically developing child across the aisle, munching on a cookie, pushing things off of the shelves, and running to and fro. The momma looks frustrated, and keeps asking him to stop. “No!” You think to yourself. “Don’t tell him to stop. Tell him to keep going!” I see you looking in amazement at all the milestones flippantly being reached around you; and as you do this, wishing for just a second that your child would pick up a cookie, push things off of shelves, run away from you. I see you feeling guilty for even thinking this way. I see you, because I am you.

Being a mom of children with special needs is isolating in many ways. It is hard to find your place in a sense, because in ways, it feels as if your life does not have much in common with anyone. Going to playdates with typically developing children feels awkward (and for those of us who have immune-compromised children, germy); but people without children can be hard to relate to as well. Because the girls do not have a diagnosis, I have not found a support group or fundraising group just yet; but I am members of many online groups in which I get to interact and bounce off day to day normals with other people. I have found that many of them, many of us, become bitter and stuck in our own stuff; and if you took a poll (and people were honest), I believe that most would say their faith has worn thin on this journey. I get it. But, I am here to tell you that it was never intended to be that way. In fact, I am here to encourage you that not only is God with you on this journey; He is the One that is writing it.

I know, I know. This journey has been tough. It has included a lot of suffering and struggle, and many of you might say that a good God would not allow these moments to have happened. A good God would save His children from any and all suffering, right? Here’s the thing friend: He did. My faith in Christ has been strengthened through this journey with our girls. Now, if you have suddenly become turned off by those couple sentences, please stick with me. I am not writing this from a place of ignorance. Far from it. I not only have one child with special needs, I have two. I know I am not the only one in this boat, and I am not asking for a medal, but I just want to make sure it is clear that if anyone has reason to get discouraged in all this, it could be me. After all, the medical community has been perplexed by our situation. Fraternal twins with the same undiagnosed, quite debilitating, disease? I was once told there was only a 6% chance this would happen, and that obviously whatever they have is rare, therefore it’s a super rare 6%. Many of them chalk it up as “unfortunate” or “bad luck”. But God.

First off, to be blunt, I do not want to serve a God that I can predict and understand. If I can fathom His doings in my mere humanity, then how is He God? If I could understand His ways, then where would the faith part come in? Secondly, here is where Christianity is different from all other religions: Christianity is about what God did for me, not what I can do for God. What makes this true is that God sent His only perfect Son to suffer so that our sins could be nailed to the cross and death would be no more. Without that perfect sacrifice, we would be stuck in our sin and imperfection forever. And, clearly, God knows more than we do about watching a child suffer. If He thought that making His Son suffer, making this His primary mission on earth, was important and was the best thing for Jesus, then we must know that He’s up to something in our pain. Yes, being a parent of a child/children with special needs is hard. Yes, there are layers of challenges that build up every day, but we must never think that there is not a God that controls it all. I do not want to serve a God that isn’t fully sovereign. I want to serve a God that chooses to bring that which is best into our lives, even if we cannot understand it at the time. Faith. Friends, when we view our children, regardless of their needs, as little ones made in the image of God, not by chance, but by His sovereign plans and power, it’s a game-changer. When I view my day to day tasks as worship to the Creator over all rather than mundane activities of survival, I can find joy. Beyond that, when I remember that, while our bodies are wasting away, (all of us), He is renewing my spirit each and every day, I can find joy even in the hardest moments. Hope. This did not happen by chance. He chose it all in His perfect wisdom, and He did it out of sheer love. A good, good, God. Worthy of our trust and our confidence. Able to carry our loads when it’s just too much. Making all of our ashes into something beautiful. Displaying His strength through our weakness as His megaphone to a bitter, hopeless world. Purposeful. This is why, instead of shaking my fists at the sky in our reality, I can lift my hands in praise. This is not mere positivity. You and I both know that no matter how many times we repeat, “I will be grateful today. I will lean in to happiness and lean away from hurt”, blah, blah, blah, it doesn’t help. Dead, futile words to a hurting heart. The power of God-the living God- now that is life. Only experienced when lived out in faith. I can guarantee you this: if you hand this journey over to Him, He will make His goodness known to you. He will take the day to days and produce hope in you that you never thought could exist. If you will choose to take Christ’s death for you on the cross as the substitute for all your junk, and allow Him to live out His ways through your body, He will give you joy in your family’s story. You take one step, and He promises to take the 99. Will it be easy? No. Will it take away the hard parts? Not at all. But, you will have the privilege of walking through each and every moment with the One who is writing the story with His own merciful pen. Assurance. Better, not bitter.

What I want to make it clear that I am not saying is that whatever is going on with our children is a result of sin. Sure, there are consequences for things that have gone on in pregnancy or there after, but here I am talking about those things that were absolutely out of our control. When I say sin, I do not mean that the disability itself is the result of anyone’s sin. Far from it. What I mean is that you don’t have to look far to see that we live in a broken world in which, while Jesus has received ultimate victory over it all, the remnants of it still remain. But here is the beautiful part, and where Christ comes in: Any and all brokenness that remains has already been overcome. His love, His glorious, all-giving, love, did whatever it took to assure you that while this world still is full of struggle, this world is not our home. The trials are real on this side of heaven, but He has promised that He already took those on for our sake; and that our home in heaven will not include any of it. Eternal hope beyond anything this temporary place could offer.

Parent of a child with special needs: I see you. I am you. And, I know it’s hard. You are walking through the unimaginable at all times, many of you with loads much heavier than mine. I cannot compare our journeys, but this I am sure: My God can meet the needs of both of us. He wants to use this, and He is in control. If He chose this for your child, it is absolutely His best. Allow Him to mold that into your heart. He does not promise healing on this side of heaven, but rest assured that He has already healed, for all eternity, on the other. Because of what He did on the cross, one day, we can enter into a place where there is no need of a doctor or therapist because He will bring ultimate wholeness through Himself. No more sickness. No more worry. No more disability. Him. And, when I get there, I have a feeling I won’t be asking the “why’s” anymore. They won’t matter. Light and momentary afflictions in comparison to the eternity of joy that awaits. True freedom. My prayer for you today is that you could see Him the center of your story. No matter what appointment just happened. No matter where the day leads. His loving hand, guiding you through the very things He’s already earned victory over. Parent of a child with special needs: you are so very loved. You are seen. You are cared for; and what you are doing matters. There is purpose in it all, and you are never, ever alone.

Lovingly written,


Lessons on Love.


These girls. These beautiful, fearfully and wonderfully made, precious girls. Words cannot describe the daily joys and struggles that being their momma brings. I often say, sometimes through tears, that I am sure we are living with angels. As we have been reading through 1 Corinthians, so much of what is said reigns true in our lives:

“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”-1 Corinthians 1:26-31

In some ways, I feel like the girls have already made light of these truths in both my life and others. He has shed light on our own weaknesses, our own limitations, through the lives of Ally and Bailey Grace. He has glorified Himself by making His riches shine brightly and the world’s offerings dull and unpredictable. Him.

As I have been writing “the book”, I have found it difficult to find authentic words for the blog at times. I so want to portray all that God has asked me to in the book, and want to drain out every ounce of His goodness on those pages. That being said, there are some things that I just can’t wait to share. So many lessons learned from the precious lives that have been entrusted to us. While there are many, here are a few lessons I want to share today:

*God wants His children to thrive, not just survive.*

When you have a newborn (or two!), you expect to have to take care of all the baby’s needs. You find joy in each moment that you can offer that child nourishment, each second of hygiene taken care of, all the things that help that child feel loved. As Ally and Bailey Grace get older, their independence has not (yet) surfaced. I say yet because I have no idea what God has in store for their futures, but I do know that as of now, our day to day consists of taking care of two 16 month olds that are developmentally at the level of a six month old. We have somewhat stayed in the trenches of infancy. They do not feed themselves, and certainly do not have a sense of mobility or signs of independence. While my days have looked the same for quite some time, and in many ways this presents itself as mundane and challenging, I will tell you this: I love taking care of their needs. Not only that, but knowing their unique challenges makes me want to care for them even more. When I give them a bath, I want to treat each and every one like a spa treatment. I find such joy in making them feel nice and clean, and love their post bath massages and smiles as much as anything. I do not just want them to merely live; I want them to feel special in all their day to day moments. Friends, this is God-given. He does not just want you to walk around aimlessly. He finds intense joy in helping us thrive where we are; to bloom where we are planted.

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”- Matthew 7:11

If I, in my own weakness and frailty, have the desire to give the girls good things, how much more does our heavenly Father want do this for us? Let me make something clear: good things, dear reader. Not things that we think we need, or things that might sound good but will do nothing for our relationship with the only One that truly matters. Riches from heaven not trinkets from earth. The intricate care that I find such joy in bringing to our girls is nothing in comparison to the love He desires to lavish on us.

*God loves what makes us unique.*

Friends, our uniqueness was His idea! He created and formed each of us, and the things that make us stand out or different are for His glory and our good. Some of the reason that our girls are perplexing to physicians is because their development is unique from anything many of them have seen. While their growth motor skills are over a year behind, their expressive language and social skills are barely behind. They have their own Bailey Grace and Ally “isms”, one of those being that they pat and tap everything. You know what? As much as I know that it is a little weird, I love it. If I saw another child doing it, I wouldn’t blink an eye. When they do it, I think it’s pretty cute. Odd, maybe. But special because it is them doing it. Their interesting traits make me love them more, not less. This is how God feels about you! The things that separate you from the crowd are often the very things He wants to use to bring Himself glory. Having the privilege of loving our girls has given me the desire to celebrate the unique qualities in each of us, “For as in one body we have any members, and the members do not all have the same function”, so it is with humanity (Romans 12:4). You were made the way you are for a purpose, and as every fingerprint is one in its own, this world would not be the same without your special qualities. God loves the way He made you!

“….Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or “Your work has no handles’?”- Isaiah 45:9

May we each be thankful and content with however the Lord deemed fit to create both ourselves and those around us.

*Wake up with a smile, go to bed with a smile.*

Since the girls were a couple months old, they have taken on this attitude. When I go into their rooms in the morning, each of them greets me with a smile. When I put them in bed at night, the last thing they give me is a grin. I believe it is their way of saying that, no matter what the day held, they accept it as God’s good gifts. Oh, how I could benefit from this attitude. They truly seem content in all circumstances, and have smiled through some times that many adults would find challenging. They spend each day wide open, ready to love every person they see with the fullness that I believe can only come from Him. The joy they offer is contagious, and you want to be around them because of the light they exude. No matter the circumstance, these girls can always seem to find a reason to smile. As Matt Redman’s song, “Bless the Lord (10,000 gifts)” so eloquently shares, I want to have a, “Whatever may come and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes” mindset. Not because this life is easy, but because God is good; because He can be trusted in all of our moments- the hard, the easy, the unknown, or the predictable. The past, present, and future. All Him.

There are so many more lessons the Lord is teaching me, but these are the few tidbits I wanted to share today. Let’s walk through our moments with a smile, even the hards, knowing that He loves to see His children thriving, He celebrates the unique things that make you, “you”, and He is working all things together for His glory and our good. How wonderful it is to serve The Living God today!

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Goals. To do lists. We all have them. They look differently in each our lives, some of them more planned out than others, but the most miserable among us is the one who is walking aimlessly around, without determining the purpose for which he lives. In some ways, this plays out in our day to day living. Regardless, when death draws near, we all are going to ask (if given the forewarning or chance): what did I do while I was here? What was the purpose in it all?

This part of our journey has been pretty silent. There are test results pending that won’t come back for at least another month. Hugh is on the night shift, which means working at night and sleeping during the day. It seems like the days are filled with therapy, doctor appointments, home therapy, feeding, then bed. I sometimes feel as if I am paddling around the same small lake, or pond really, over and over again , without any inkling that I am going to be getting out. This analogy became depressing to me the other day, as it felt so real. Even sadder, I realized the girls had only known this pond, and it feels like they have no idea that a huge river sits a few steps away. Lies.

I am passionate about so many different things. When it comes to a career, I had a million different life plans for myself. I was never really stressed out about figuring out what I was supposed to choose; I just wanted to do it all. But God. You see, I see His faithfulness in it all. I see His footprints in the different parts of my journey that I have needed to be carried; His love enveloping me throughout. Him. Even in the here and now. Writing has always been my greatest passion. And here God is, taking our greatest pain and struggle and using it as an outlet to use the gifts He has given us. Grace.

The past few years, we have been graced with the opportunity to be taught under our pastor, David Platt. He is stepping down from that position in order to step into a position in which God has clearly called him. As he was talking to our church body about how He knew this was God’s calling in his life, I realized something: it was obvious to me the gifts that he has been given are absolutely perfect for the position which he is taking as president of the International Mission Board. We will miss him; but as there is a season for everything, his season at the Church at Brook Hills is coming to a close and we rejoice and celebrate all that God is going to do next, both in his family’s life and in our own church’s life. While I think most our church body could have told him months ago that he would be gifted for the position, God walked David and his sweet wife Heather through a process of determining this was God’s doing. Why? Because, as David said it last night, the goal is not the choices we make or the decision at the end. The goal is always God Himself. More of Him and less of me. It hit me in such a poignant way as these words left his heart and made their way to the pews. Here I am, feeling like I’m in some small pond, when I have been in the rivers of God all along. In all things and all seasons, He has been leading me on in an adventure to Himself. The word says this,

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father”. Colossians 3:17

Whatever we do. Giving thanks through Him. You see, even our ability to thank Him in the midst comes from Him and Him alone, for “from Him and through Him and for Him are all things” (Romans 11:36).

To some, these may seem like elementary truths. In ways, yes. But really, this is the crux of the Gospel: that in all our seasons, in our questions, in our struggles and in our joys, the goal is always more of Him. At the end of the day, in all our lives, the point is Him. And, how true it is that we would not know Him in the ways we do without all the pieces of the story He is writing. I think back on the past year, and whether God chooses to heal our girls on this side of heaven or the next, I am positive that this whole thing has been worth it. It has been beautiful both in our little family’s life and in the kingdom. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I know that I would not know Him in the ways that I do had He not allowed our family to be rocked by this new normal. The purpose isn’t for me to be faithful in trusting until we get a diagnosis. It’s not to begrudgingly walk through the day to day, joyless but hopeful. No. The point is to be led closer and closer to an all-knowing, all-loving, active God who is always and forever up to something. May I never mistaken His silence for lack of provision or lack of care. No. If He is being silent, rest assured it is for purpose. He is doing something. Knowing that the goal is Him changes everything. It causes us to smile at whatever is in front or ahead, knowing that our hearts and minds should always be fixated on Him, the author and perfector of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2). It reminds us, even in the mundane and in-betweens, that our purpose and our joy is still the same. Him.

So many people have said that Hugh and I must have big faith to continue to praise God in this story, and I am here to tell you that is not the case. We do not have big faith, but we serve a big God who is carrying us through it all. We are told if we have faith as big as a mustard seed than we can move mountains (Luke 17:6), but rest assured that power always comes from Him and Him alone. We are given this ability because of Christ, by God’s grace, and it is done through His Spirit. His doings, never our own. As my friend Kara says (whose book comes out, The Hardest Peace, on October 1st, and whose blog you should read to find out more: www.mundanefaithfulness.com): our prayer is always that we will stay beautifully kept in it all.

Where does this leave you today? Friend, the goal is Him. Whether you are bogged down by the day to day or coasting through easy moments, He is it. He is the purpose in it all. As He leads us down His rivers of mercy, let’s trust Him as the captain of our ship. Let’s never mistaken these rivers for our own little pond, for He is much, much bigger. Grains of sand in His infinite beach. Yes, you are a grain of sand. But He knows your name and He wants to give you the chance to know Him more deeply in all that today holds. We are not promised tomorrow. Let’s look to Him as the One who truly brings purpose to our days. He is the goal. He is worthy.