The Prayers of the Saints.

“There was a time I could not imagine saying this, but you know, I would not take it away if I could. God has used it for the good.”

“As much of a hard, gut-wrenching time as it was… losing my baby taught me more about God than anything else that has ever occurred in my life. I can’t wish it away.”

“The struggle with infertility, albeit painful, has opened my eyes to others’ pain and made my intimacy with God deeper than I could have ever imagined if He had chosen a different path for us.”

Three friends. One, brutally assaulted in all the horrific ways you can imagine. Another, a child lost. The third, a woman struggling through years of infertility.

”I hope I can take my wheelchair to heaven with me — I know that’s not biblically correct, but if I were able, I would have my wheelchair up in heaven right next to me when God gives me my brand new, glorified body. And I will then turn to Jesus and say, “Lord, do you see that wheelchair right there? Well, you were right when you said that in this world we would have trouble, because that wheelchair was a lot of trouble! But Jesus the weaker I was in that thing, the harder I leaned on you. And the harder I leaned on you, the stronger I discovered you to be. So thank you for what you did in my life through that wheelchair. And now”, I always say jokingly, “you can send that wheelchair to hell, if you want.”- Joni Eareckson Tada, who has spent a lot of her life as a quadriplegic

Without realizing it, our prayers are often centered around one thing: relieving the people around us of temporary discomfort. We pray for the cancer to go away, for the delays to catch up, for the pain to dissipate. We are uncomfortable with the uncomfortable.

In a sense, we live as though suffering is the enemy and easy is the goal.

In ways, we live as if this is our home.

We all know that we are going to die someday. We have been promised that trouble is going to befall each of us. We sing, “Blessed be your name when I’m found in the desert place…” but when we find ourselves actually there, our natural instinct is the pray it away.

“and, knelt down and prayed, (Jesus), saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”- Luke 22:42

“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake.”- Philippians 1:29

Jesus Himself understood it. As a human, He grasped that suffering can be beyond painful. As we are staring at the Easter week ahead, I have been meditating on how much Christ truly suffered. He wasn’t just walking the road of physical, gruesome, martyrdom- He carried with His tattered body the weight of all the sin of all of mankind. One who knew nothing of the disgrace and disgust of sin and death but bore it for us. We hear this, we know this, yet we forget the weight of it. Quite frankly, we forget that if Jesus had been in a prayer group the night before His death, His initial, “Take this cup from me” prayer would have not been answered with a, ‘Yes’. Yet God.

”And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”- 1 Peter 5:10

The truth is, God cares much more about getting you to a place in which you view earth through eternal eyes than He does about relieving you of temporary pain. Does He meet us where we are? Of course. He promises to meet each of us in the middle of all of our struggles-hence, the road to the cross. Hence, the “nevertheless” in His will. Jesus carried it all so that, in your blink of an eye on earth, you don’t have to go at it alone. That’s how much He cares about these fleeting moments! Do I think that He wants us to come to Him and ask Him for all things? Absolutely! Does this healing sometimes occur? Yes! God can do any and all things, and time and time again in the Bible, God was glorified through the physical healing of His children. Yet the key in each and every situation and circumstance was that the center of the story was not the temporary relief- the center of the story was, and is, always God Himself. The faith is always the crux of the story. Sometimes, He is glorified through the power He shows in the earthly healing. Other times, His power is displayed through the faith bestowed in trusting and living each moment in the midst of the struggle. In fact, at times, it takes more faith to believe that eternal wholeness is coming instead of seeing visual proof of it.

“For we live by faith, not by sight.”- 2 Corinthians 5:7

I believe that as we come to Him for all things and lay them all at His feet, He does a work in our hearts that is nothing shy of a miracle. He transforms our minds and very beings to believe it when we say, “Yet not my will, but yours be done”. Instead of praying for ease, we begin to pray for intimacy. We no longer wish for what we think would be best; we humbly accept God’s will in each of our lives, trusting that more of Him is to come. And, as a Christ follower, isn’t that the goal? More of Him?

“And they’ll know we are Christians by our love…”Carolyn Arends

In the story God is writing in our family, we have been loved so well by those around us. We have had meals, calls, emails, texts, coffees, prayers, visits, toys, clothes, money, books, and more brought to our doorstep. Why? Because we want to comfort and embrace those that are walking through hard things. And, I believe that on many occasions, this love is best displayed in the midst of suffering. The world needs to see a people that are not always asking, ‘Why’ and trying to get the pain the go away. The world needs to see a people that understand that there is purpose in pain; that trust and hope in something greater than what this world offers; that have a holy anger for sin, suffering, and death… yet rejoice in the God who has already overcome those things.

Friends, there is nothing wrong with praying ANYTHING. God wants us to come to Him with all things. My prayer for each of us, however, is that we would have the same attitude Christ had as He was about to carry the weight of all the suffering that has ever and will ever occur. That we would be able to say, “God is good!” not only when He chooses temporary healing; but also when His answer is, “Not yet”. That we would have the ability to see the beauty and the fruit of suffering; and that we would walk beside those who are doing so. That we could, as the friends I mentioned above, not fear pain and hard things; knowing that He is with us and nothing is permanently lost or broken when placed in His hands. In His kingdom, there truly are no bad things. I pray the goal would not be temporary relief; and instead, that the prayer would be peace in the storm. Praise God, because of Christ, we do not have to fear anything, for we know it is all filtered through His loving hands and that He has overcome. If He brings it, He is working in it. May we not run to suffering; yet may we embrace Him in the middle of it, knowing His joy is still the same. May His peace and His presence be the center of our prayers. May we live as if our citizenship is in fact in heaven, and may we rejoice in whatever God chooses to do in each of our lives, knowing He is good in all things.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…”- Ephesians 1:3, emphasis mine

What Matters.

“…what matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.”- Galatians 5:6b, The Message


This morning, it is a dreary, gray, drizzly day outside. The girls are still in pajamas, and they are playing with their ball and blocks (two of their most favorite toys currently) on a blanket in front of me. A candle is lit, coffee is in my hand, and peace in my heart. The weather outside does not bother me a bit. We had almost a full week of sunshine…beautiful, glorious, clear blue skies and signs of new life coming up all around us. Friends, Spring has come. It has arrived both outside and inside our home. The girls are well, and they have been sleeping better than ever this week. Refreshment for both body and spirit. I have found that we are able to embrace and appreciate these “easy” moments more than ever before. We do not know what is around the corner, none of us do. Yet, today, in this moment, I am grateful for some reprieve and rest after a weary and draining month.

beauty b

Before you are a parent, you begin to think about the different dynamics of parenthood that you want to “get right”. For Hugh and I, we discussed and watched those before us as they navigated this whole idea of teaching and modeling Christ’s love to their children. The things that I pictured versus our reality are somewhat different, and in recent months, I have been putting a lot of prayer into how to teach children with intellectual disabilities about the things of eternity.

There, I said it.

Our girls have an intellectual disability.

So many times in this journey, I have felt the weight of the possibility that this was true. I have rationalized why their cognition could potentially be right on track. I have gotten defensive at the mere suggestion that it was not. Yet another idol hidden deep within my heart. Hugh always does a great job of articulating how this journey with our girls has made us aware of so many more idols in our lives that we didn’t know existed prior. These idols of expectation, these assumptions that we have made about what our family will look like, this placing satisfaction and purpose in whatever normalcy we had falsely assumed would be our normal. For me, I did not realize how high I have placed cognitive ability in my heart. I have often found the things we get most sensitive and defensive about are the things that we are placing too much of our identity or worth in, and this is absolutely true when it comes to worldly intellect. At times, I have thought, ‘Lord, you can take away the girls’ mobility, you can take away their communication skills, but please, please, please, do not take away their cognition’. We do not know what the girl’s development will look like tomorrow, but today, it is clear that this is an area that looks differently than peers their age. A week or so ago, after we had already said goodnight, I simply said this to Hugh, “Babe-would you say that are girls are, you know, mentally…you know.” The dreaded r-word. Hugh stayed silent for a second and then replied, “Yeah, Mo. Probably.” I was automatically ashamed at how much that truth hurt my heart. The reality is, while we say the girls are “undiagnosed”, and the root of their development differences has not been named, we could tag a lot of different words onto their medical files if we really wanted to do so. But really-where is the benefit of naming these temporary differences? Beyond that, what does tagging worldly words onto the girls have to do with teaching them about eternity?

“Where is the one who is wise?…has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom…we preach Christ crucified…For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”- pieces of 1 Corinthians 1:20-25


Each and every time I go into the girls’ room in the mornings, they begin kicking their legs and squealing in excitement. They give me the biggest smile you could possibly imagine, and as I pick them up to get them changed and ready for the day, they grasp onto me with all their might and display a love purer, deeper, and wider than any so-called love from this world. We take care of the girls in the most raw, organic ways possible, and we anticipate this could be true until we or  they pass from this earth. We feed them, we change them, we dress them, we carry them, we determine where they go or do not go, we decide what they do for the day…and they are completely content with this. What a model of authentic love and trust they display! The girls’ love is one dimensional, pure, and contagious- a love truly from above. IMG_2096

“…and I said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”.-Matthew 18:3

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”- Matthew 18:10

What kind of wisdom really matters? And, if I really think about it, are the girls not wiser than most people I know? The truth is, being able to walk and talk and live independently does not make you wise. Ally and Bailey Grace live in such a way that anyone who knows them cannot help but see God through their little beings. It is why people are drawn to being around them or reading more about them! They offer joy-squealing, kicking, giggling, bright joy- to anyone they come in contact with. They do not have to know the “why’s” of this world- for they only know Love and that is more than enough. At the end of the day, in the midst of the Spring that has sprung in my heart, I am in disbelief that we are privileged to raise these precious souls. I get to spend my days serving and loving two little girls who display the fruits of the Spirit like no one else I know! They take each day as it comes, laughing and rejoicing in each of the moments they have been given. True, unabandoned trust to the One who created them in His image. Fearfully and wonderfully made, with a connection to their Maker that is infectious and absolutely beautiful. The world might give me a good, Southern, ‘Bless their hearts’…yet my heart already feels unimaginably blessed that this is the life He has given us. A purpose much bigger than I could have ever planned or imagined. Something I would have never prayed for yet can now not pray against, for it has taught me the beauty within suffering and the joy within living outside of the confines of normal. Our priorities have changed in the best way possible. IMG_0179 What about you? What things are you allowing to consume you that just plain don’t matter in the scheme of eternity? What things are causing you tears and pain that are really blessings? Where can you let go and allow God to reveal beauty within the ashes? I can promise you this: life is not going to look like what any of us thought it was going to, and that is a very, very good thing. The sooner we realize this, the sooner we embrace the reality that is instead of the cheap fantasy we imagined, the sooner we will be at peace and content with the shots that God has already called. Your current circumstances are God’s best for your life. Every day is a party and a celebration of the victory that Christ has already given us. The battle has already been won—let’s live like it! Each of us is defined by something much bigger than brains or external beauty. Our worth is found in the One who claimed us as His own. May we spend our moments, however many we have left, in peace and relief that He is Sovereign and He is good. Hope does not disappoint, friends. Hope does not disappoint.

“And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given us.”- Romans 5:5

Redefining Good.

Yesterday, the girls and I left one of their physical therapy appointments, and I had one thing on my mind: shoes. Not just any shoes, mind you. Shoes that fit their sweet, unique, tiny feet. We have tried pair after pair, and because of the way their feet were created, there just aren’t many pairs that will even slip on and stay on, much less feel comfortable to them. After our third stop, success was found-our Cinderella moment-the shoe fit!


Later on last night, we went to dinner as a family. Hugh and I ate way too much Mexican food, picked up ice cream to-go; and after feeding the girls their dinner, the four of us lay on a blanket and watched a movie- bellies and hearts full. It was a good, good day.

I began thinking, yet again, of this concept of normal as I lay in bed.

You see, I’m not sure much is “normal” about our life according to the world’s standards. There are so many details about our day yesterday that others could have seen as lacking. If I let my mind go there, I too could have found many crevices of discontent. Finding shoes for girls that do not walk. Eating dinner at the restaurant quickly to rush home and give our almost two-year-olds thickened bottles. The list could go on. If I change my thinking, however, do these moments have to be bad—or can they just be different than the norm? Sometimes, our joy is stolen simply because we are basing our satisfaction on our neighbor’s story instead of seeing the beauty in our own. As we lay there giggling on that soft blanket, I would not have traded my Friday night with anyone else. Whatever your night looked like, I hope you felt the same. For you see, the key to contentment and trust is in loving and living fully each of our moments. In a sense, I believe we must redefine good in order to be fully satisfied in the life God has loaned to us. Did you read that slowly? This life- it is on loan. These breaths- they are His to give and take away. Our moments- they are not ours. Even this theory of good…a false mindset. For you see, if He allows it, it has already been filtered from His loving hands. If it happens, it is good. Maybe not in the here and now, yet that’s not where our focus lies. Do we not prefer eternal goodness over temporary giddiness? Beyond that, there are some moments that if you really take a step back and look at them, they may be wholeheartedly awesome right here, right now. Don’t let someone else’s version of normal and right steal away the joy that is yours.


Our household has been redefining normal for about six months now. In the beginning of this journey, we fought the details of God’s plan with tooth and nail. We wanted something different; we attempted to manipulate the plan and did everything we could to justify it. What did this bring us? More discontent. More frustration. More confusion. It’s not only exhausting to try and make someone, or two someones in our case, be someone or do something they are not made to do…it’s futile. God has said that each one of us is, “Fearfully and wonderfully made” in His image (Psalm 139:14, Genesis 1:27). Beyond that, He warns us,

“Woe to him who strives with Him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?”- Isaiah 45:9


I believe so many parents of kids with special needs are utterly broken and completely burnt-out and exhausted because they believe that being a good parent to their children is working, working, working in order to get them to do things that the world would say brings quality of life. But what does God say? Does God define quality of life with performance? Of course not! In fact, He claims the opposite. It’s what Christ came to do in the first place- to free us from feeling like we have to work for our freedom and for our salvation! For those of us who struggle with performance-based identity and works-based acceptance, this can be almost unfathomable. Yet God. He allows us to break free from the molds that society has attempted to place us in in order to show us who we truly are…an identity not based on us but on Him. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with going to therapy and supporting your child on in those settings, let us not forget that the purpose is not to change them into someone they were never meant to be, but to cheer them on as God unfolds the person HE created them to be, whoever that may be and whatever that looks like. The important thing to know is that milestone or not, neither lifestyle is “better” or “worse”; both are God’s choices and something to rejoice in and celebrate. In fact, what a freeing thing is it to celebrate ALL people around us- the souls within them- without trying to micromanage how that is portrayed. In ways, this is the very nature of the Gospel. We choose to look not at what someone seems to be lacking; but instead, we see the heart behind the earthly tent. We don’t look to actions, however seemingly good or bad; we choose to look at the WHO behind it all. This is what God did for you, for me, when He chose to take on our flesh at the cross. He based His love for us not on what we did or didn’t do; but on the fact that we were His children whom He dearly loved.


On this Saturday morning, I want to encourage each of us to redefine good. I want us to look at the moments ahead of us, open our fists, however clinched they may be, and give back these details to the One who gave them to us in the first place. I beg us to celebrate the souls of those around us without trying to mold the external into what we think the world wants us to. There is so much to be celebrated. In death and in life, He has overcome. He has intricately woven the details of this journey together; and He created each of us uniquely so that we could marvel at the creativity of our Blessed Creator. He whispers into the depths of each of us, into the heart of who we truly are, and He says, “You are enough. You are perfect exactly the way you are. I created you this way for a reason.” Today, may we celebrate this freeing truth with unabandoned trust and joy. May we not look to those around us or even our fleeting emotions to assure us otherwise. It is good because He is good.

These Earthly Tents + Other Ramblings.

One of my favorite things to do in the morning is to stretch my legs out as far as they will go whenever Hugh gets out of the bed to get ready for work. It feels kind of mean that I get to still lay there for a few minutes; but I love the feeling of my feet as they run over the covers. Usually, I lie awake as he showers and begins the day. I keep my eyes closed, hear the sound machine from the baby monitor in the background, and have a few moments of peace. Oftentimes the girls have sleep problems throughout the night, but it seems as if these few moments tend to stay quiet and restful.


Yesterday morning when I opened my eyes, it was as if I was awakening from a long, blurry dream. I spend hospital visits running on God’s sustenance, which often comes in the form of adrenaline and coffee, and it usually doesn’t hit me until a day or so after that what just happened actually happened. I rubbed my eyes, heard a couple of croupy coughs coming from the girls’ room, and remembered. Too many thoughts or no thoughts at all came to my mind, and instead of stretching and taking in a few moments, I just sat there, foggy and beginning to process the prior week. Hugh came in to brush his teeth and tell me goodbye, but instead of a, “Good morning” or, “Have a good day”, he simply said, “2 Corinthians 4 and 5 are quite possibly the best chapters in the Bible”.

Ah, yes. Motivation to get up and fuel myself with His Word. As I read through these verses, so many emotions welled up in my eyes and heart.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”- 2 Corinthians 4:7


His power, not mine. This becomes clearer and clearer the longer we live this journey. Not external- internal. There are so many moments this was apparent at the hospital this week. As I sat in the ER with Ally as she got fluids, knowing we were going to get admitted simply because the scene was all too familiar, my exterior was already beginning to feel tired. My interior however, the God in me, was steadfast. As she had her second febrile seizure-like activity of the day- my heart beat fast and my hands became clammy, yet internally- focused and fixed. For every blood draw, vital sign, cough, vomit, test, cry, fever, dry diaper… His presence within me unmoved. The hospital? Transient. The extreme tiredness and lack of sleep I was experiencing? Temporary. Illness? Hallelujah- not permanent. All of these winters we experience in this life, both literally and figuratively, are simply not going to last. Three precious friends brought us flowers this week, and in each of the notes they left, God imprinted this reminder: Spring is coming. Always. In Christ, we have been given the ability to look to the same One in all circumstances and at all times. What a gift this is! What relief this brings in times of struggle. The same One we look to in our springs is the One we look to in our winters.


I always pack a familiar, soft blanket and lovey for the girls during the hospital stays. Why?-because it brings comfort and familiarity to an unpredictable and uncomfortable situation. How much more soothing is this God within us who has walked through anything and everything we will ever go through? He knows our moments, each and every one. And, not with a vague knowledge; but with an intimate knowledge that comes from being the Author and Perfector of each of our stories.

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”- 2 Corinthians 5:1

I enjoy camping, and Hugh and I have done so a couple times during our marriage. When we went camping in Yosemite, we didn’t anticipate how cold those California nights could be. While it wasn’t the most ideal sleeping situation, it didn’t bother me a bit because I knew it was temporary. In this chapter of Corinthians, the word, “tent” is used a few times to describe these transient bodies we live in. I love this analogy because it gives such a great picture of how we should view our time on earth: we are here for a visit. This world is not our home. In Hebrews, it is worded that, as a Christ follower, we are foreigners here on this earth. To any of us who have walked through suffering, this is manna for our souls. Our true home is in the heavens, face to face with our Maker. We are camping out here for however many days God sees fit; and then, in the blink of an eye, our days here will be over and eternity awaits for those of us who have faith to believe.


Before either of the girls were admitted to the hospital, I used to think of the hospital as a place where only critically ill patients stayed. In a sense, I thought every hospital room had an ICU patient. Once we stayed there however, I realized this was far from true. Our girls have not been in a critical situation as of now, yet the emotional strain that comes from these visits is big. Every alarm from a machine, every blood count off, every sleepless night…I am always waiting for things to go downhill. Not in a pessimistic way necessarily; but the reality of our life is that we don’t have a great idea of what our girls’ little bodies are capable or not capable of handling. The nights we spent at the hospital did not include sleep and in hindsight, I am immeasurably comforted and all the more convinced that this earth is a tent and my heavenly home is waiting.

The adrenaline has worn off, the girls are both still sick, and Ally spent most of the night coughing, coughing, coughing. (Which means yet again another sleepless night for us). Yet, last night, as I got up yet another time, a supernatural wave of satisfaction spread over me; for I realized that the more struggles and trials we walk through or watch others walk through, the more excited I get about our true home. This illness will pass, and while I do not know what lies around the corner, I do know Who wrote the next chapter and that brings me undeniable, absolute comfort.

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”- 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Do not lost heart, friends. These trials are not just preparation for us, but for you. Do you realize that this earth is just a temporary abode? Does this bring you joy, or disappointment? Are you living for the things of this world or for the things of eternity? Today, may we find true sufficiency in being jars of clay. May we humbly accept our own inadequacies as we look to Him, our Inner Strength, to be just that. Instead of becoming weary in our suffering, may we find joy in knowing that an eternal weight of glory awaits. A weight of glory incomparably greater than hospitals, cancer, worldly knowledge, earthly relationships, tragedy, illness, the unknown, even death itself. Not by sight, but by faith. We are not yet home. Let’s live in light of this truth in each of these passing moments.

“The greatest challenge in receiving great things from God is holding on in the last half hour”.-Streams in the Desert