Learning to Love.

“Let your love be sincere (a real thing)…Love one another with brotherly affection (as members of one family), giving precedence and showing honor to one another.” Romans 12:9-10 (parts not included)

I have mentioned before that I struggle a lot with this whole love thing. I know, I know. It’s the biggest and greatest commandment God gives in the Bible.  It’s also the very fruit He says that we can determine whether or not we know Him, since God is love and therefore love comes from Him.

Within myself, I’m just not very good at it.

Thankfully, I’m learning that is actually the point.

When we attempt to muster up fruit on our own, we will always be found lacking. It is only by God’s grace- specifically through His Spirit, that we are able to love at all. Now, I’m not talking about love the way the world would define it. The world defines love as give and take. It would tell you that love is a feeling.

This is not the love I speak of.

The kind of love that is the very nature of God is a love that knows no bounds. It is patient, it is kind, it  keeps no record of wrongs,  it is not self-seeking- and it puts genuine concern for the person in front of me, no matter who they are, over myself.

“No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.”- 1 John 4:12

As I have been working on another book, so much of my writing energy has gone toward those efforts. I have not intentionally been silent over here; I just know that in the wee morning hours (my early dawn time with the Lord), He has called me to focus on that above all other writing. God is absolutely rocking my world as He is teaching me a lot about the Holy Spirit and how little I understand about so many things. He is uprooting so many preconceived, cultural-induced concepts of prayer I have had- and I cannot wait to share them with you all. It has been a season of growth and learning for sure.

So, back to this whole love thing.

Our girls are such a gift. If you have ever been around them, you know that this is not just a shallow cliché. There really is something about them that just exudes joy. God is teaching me so many things through their lives- chapters and chapters of lessons- but lately, He is bringing my awareness to how caring for and parenting our girls isn’t just about our family or Ally and Bailey Grace. When God entrusted our girls to us, He was giving us some clear wisdom on how to love the people in front of and around us. As I said before, I desperately need this. Today, I wanted to just touch on a few things I feel God wants us to take away from the girls’ lives.

1. See the best in people.

We always talk about how happy the girls are, how easy they are to love- but the truth is, if I’m honest, it doesn’t always feel this way. Lack of being able to communicate can leave them frustrated at times; lack of full rest (we have been told they never enter in REM sleep-like, ever) can leave them grumpy at points. Yet, somehow, it is much easier to fixate on the joy they bring rather than the challenges that can present themselves. We could all use this mentality more.

2. Be patient with others.

We have been working on the same skills for three years. Truly. Day in and day out, we have been attempting to help the girls do seemingly simple things like sitting, babbling, clapping, waving. Sure, we have reached a level of acceptance that causes us to not fixate on performance (a whole new topic); yet, you have to spend your moments doing something. (Besides the daily and often cuddling and tickling and giggling and kicking). At one point, Ally began clapping. For whatever reason, she has lost this skill. Yet, we continue to encourage her that, “She can do it”. Think about this level of patience for your fellow human beings. Do we spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, YEARS patiently loving people through growth? I know that often, my patience for people to “get it together” is lacking. We must be patient with the process and trust what God is doing in the lives of those around us.

3. Accept as is- mess and all.

This sort of goes along with the patient thing. Vomit and seizures are a daily part of our life. Cleaning up throw-up and watching my child’s brain misfire has become a normal thing in our house. Do I enjoy it ? Of course not. Is it any less painful each and every time? No. Yet, it is a part of the privilege of loving our girls and so I have determined it is worth it. Each of us has our own junk. There are going to be qualities or traits or habits or just specific health issues that aren’t pleasant in each and every person we come in contact with. We could focus on the mess or we could see the soul behind it all.

4. It is okay to not smile when you are in pain.

Bailey Grace and Ally smile a lot. Like, a whole lot. Yet, when they are hurting- they are not afraid to express their pain. When the girls get “just a cold” (again, another topic), they spend hours screaming and crying and looking miserable. I do not expect them to do anything else. In the church in particular, I think we do a horrible job of equating joy with happiness. We seem to think it’s the holier option to put on a happy face. Yet, Christ wept. He mourned. And, time and time again in the Word of God, there are examples of people who not only felt pain but expressed it (think David, Job, and so many others). We have got to stop being uncomfortable with others’ pain and simply allow them to express it. You don’t have to put on a happy face! The Body of Christ is a community in which we should have the freedom to experience all the emotions this human life brings- yet, rejoice in the fact that our faith and our hope is infinitely greater than our feelings.

5. Put others WANTS before your own.

Aly and Bailey Grace love making high pitched sounds. They enjoy kicking their legs and listening to music and laughing about the same things over and over and over. I want them to like the movie theater, or birthday parties, or restaurants more- but in reality, they appreciate and like the simple things much more. Because we love them, we choose to spend a lot of time doing these things instead of doing what “typical” families are doing. Why don’t I have this same attitude with those around me? This one has been a doozy for me. My expectations and my sense of entitlement is high. I wouldn’t word it this way, but on a pretty much daily basis, I fight the desire to think the world should revolve around me. God teaches us to humble ourselves and, “Do nothing from selfish ambition…but instead, consider others more significant than yourself” (Philippians 2:3). This is HARD and can only be done by the Spirit of God within.

Time is lacking, yet I hope these have been some great tidbits to chew on today as you attempt to love (other) fellow (imperfect) human beings around you. May we see the best in one another; may we be patient with each other, accept one another as is, put others’ wants before our own, and never expect our loved ones (or ourselves) to smile in the hard. By the grace of God, may we learn to love with the fruit only God Himself provides.

He is faithful.

In all things.

At all times.

No matter what.

To Him be the glory.


To the Type-A Momma As The School Year Begins.

Dear Type-A Momma,

I was flipping through a magazine the other day and saw this:


I thought of you.

I thought of you because, at one point, I was sure I was going to be you.

Before there were feeding tubes, seizures, wheelchairs, IEP’s, and therapy appointments- there was a woman who had all of the same desires for her family as you do.

Like all “good” moms, I envisioned breast feeding for a year, moving on to homemade baby food, organic perfectly-portioned meals and snacks, and then- when it was time to pack a lunch- I would lovingly and intricately carve out some semblance of an art project of a sandwich (all hormone-free of course)- with a sweet note to boot.

This was love, right?


When my daughters are dropped off at school next week-in their wheelchairs- this is what I will pack. As seizures continue to be complicated and illness is always a danger, our greatest hope is that they will simply be able to attend throughout the year without having to reevaluate whether or not they are healthy enough to do so.

Let that sink in for a bit.

I want to pose a simple question to you:

Is the first picture any more loving than the second?


When I became a mom to twins who have special needs, I had to reevaluate all the things that I considered as being a “good momma” before- because my version of being momma was going to look quite different. It is a sheer miracle that our girls were able to breastfeed for over half a year- a miracle I never take for granted. After trying to force our girls to swallow down the homemade foods that I had so carefully made, and after a couple poor swallow studies, I had to change my thinking about nutrition altogether. We found a handful of foods that the girls continue to be able to eat safely, and now, I’m simply grateful that they are able to keep nutrients in their body- the feeding tube being their main source of energy.

Frankly, I’m just overjoyed to be spending another day with them.

Does this make me a bad mom?

To me, you would quickly spout out, “Of course not!”

But what about to you?

When you have to redirect the dreams you had for motherhood because what God had planned simply looks differently than what you envisioned- can you be okay with that? Is it okay to merely be excited to just be present with your kiddos and have them here- nothing else added?

You see, fancy cut-out sandwiches and well-rounded extra-curricular activities and monogrammed outfits each day do not make you a good momma. Being the mother God intended you to be means you look to Him to determine which path He wants your little one to take. It means you accept where he/she is today without having to micromanage the future. It means spending quality time and hugs and loving- which may mean their lunch involves a pre-packaged lunchable from time to time- and that’s more than okay!

Momma- I see you because I was going to be you- and frankly, I like this version of me much better.

So in the coming weeks, as you begin to find yourself tempted to compare to the other parents around you; or as you see yourself not measuring up to some version of you that you have made up in your very own head, I want you to take a deep breath in and remember our family.

You are not called to be “that mom”. You are called to be YOU- the mom of the child/children God has graciously equipped you to parent in the specific ways that are best for them- no space sandwich or star cheese required.

And momma- you are doing a great job.


The Meeting: He Awaits Us in Heaven.

“Therefore let us go to Him outside the camp and bear the reproach He endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name.”- Hebrews 13:13-14



We were undiagnosed and unaware.

I remember begging God- begging Him with all the faith I could muster up within me- to give us answers.

I thought a diagnosis would give me what I needed to press on.

Isn’t it what we all do, really?

Envision the next thing as the thing that is necessary?


“For you have not come to what may be touched…”- Hebrews 12:18a

I pictured the meeting. Those of you in the genetics world know exactly what I mean. The one where, after getting the call that they have the answer, you go in and your doctor spends hours talking to you about the ins and outs of whatever is going on with your child/spouse/parent/loved one. I envisioned tissue boxes and sighs of both relief and disbelief.

July 19, 2016.

The case publication for the mutation the girls carry came out earlier this month. It’s funny how interested the medical community becomes whenever you have twins with a rare genetic disorder. I had fully anticipated that this case publication would be vague, futile, and probably not that helpful for our lives moving forward. In fact, I didn’t even read it when we first got the word that it was out. I got the email to schedule the meeting and didn’t even recognize it as such.

God had different plans. (Story of our lives, right?)

God gave me the meeting that I had desperately wanted for almost three years.


“Things shall not remain as they are.”- Ezekiel 21:26

I am treading very, very lightly here.

Very lightly because we now carry educated estimations-not facts-that are both personal and, in some ways, appropriately private.

Very lightly because this information does not necessarily apply to all (all seven of us, ha!) of the families with this mutation but rather for some specific variants of it.

Very lightly because I do not think that there is much benefit to airing out all the ins and outs at this time.

Very lightly because ultimately, as Psalm 139:16 so eloquently states,

“In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

Yet, there are vague things that need to be shared simply because we refuse to not let God get the full glory that He deserves in this story.

After all, things are most radiant in the Light.

So, as we sat in this blessing of a meeting where many if not all of Hugh and my thoughts were both appropriated and encouraged, a handful of things became clear:

The HECW2 mutation affects all major organs.

It gives the girls an inability to regenerate adult brain cells and has the potential to kill the ones that are already present.

Ally and Bailey Grace’s time on earth is going to be shorter than any parent would prefer.

I typed and re-typed the sentence above; the words feeling both unnatural and dramatic.

The truth is, no one knows what is going to happen to any of us. This is certainly factual- yet, for our girls, it is not a possibility but an assumption. The ins and outs of that statement are not going to be shared even within our immediate circles. God determines each of our days and the boundaries and lines are drawn by Him- and they are good.

Yet, this question that we have wondered but not even had the strength to ask was not answered but addressed in the meeting– and I am forever grateful for this particular physician and the respect that he showed us by bringing this unsaid to the table.

So, now what?

As we have been processing many things that were discussed that day, God’s Word has been as alive to me as maybe ever before- so much so that I almost want to simply type out about a hundred verses that would sum up how I feel.

To put it simply and bluntly: I do not fear the day of death that has been determined for our girls.

I know this may be extremely heavy for many of you. But I need you to hear me say that I do not fear not because of anything to do with this earth but because I know Who awaits them in heaven. Did you see that? Not what awaits them in heaven, but Who. Do I love the thought of our girls sitting and walking and running and jumping? Of course. Do I desire no more pain and no more suffering? A resounding yes. Last night, as Bailey Grace was having a seizure, I continued to whisper the story of the redemption of our bodies to her- the reality that one day, she won’t have to take seizure medications because she won’t have any more seizures. I long for this day for her. Yet- the thing I long for most is for Ally and Bailey Grace and all of us to be with our Maker because it is then we will be truly and fully and wholly free.

It is Who is in heaven that makes it heaven- not what will be gone or what will be present.

As I become more and more intimate with this Savior of ours, I long for the day that we all will be face-to-face with the Lord of lords and King of kings.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”- 1 Corinthians 13:12

Face-to-face with the Creator and Sustainer and Redeemer of the entire universe- knowing fully the One who fully knows us.

This is what we have to look forward to.

Friends, there are so many lessons and verses and encouragements I look forward to sharing as we continue on in this journey, but today, I really just want to confidently tell you that an intimate relationship with God- made possible only through the One who went outside the gate and shed His blood for us so that this relationship could be possible- is all that matters. It really is. He is giving us peace and joy and passion in the middle of a beautifully painful story He is writing- and I smile knowing how big His plans truly are.



“But as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.”- 1 Corinthians 2:9

His plans for us are good. His plans for Ally and Bailey Grace are good. His plans for you are good if yet you would place your trust in Him.

We do not know how long we will have our precious girls with us, but we do know that only God determines that.

We do not live every day in fear of those days, for we know the One who holds our hearts and will carry us through whatever He allows and ordains.

The truth is, this meeting on July 19,2016 is not the meeting that really matters- this meeting God Himself face-to-face- that is all this life is truly about.

Simply put: we have a good, good Father who we know can be trusted.

At all times.

In all things.

No matter what.

To Him be the glory forever and ever.


Numbered Days.

“For a thousand years in Your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night…so teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”- Psalm 90:4, 14


This has quite possibly felt like the longest week of our entire lives.

When Wednesday hit, Hugh looked at me and muttered, “Surely it has to be the weekend already!?”

The moments have absolutely creeped by- most of them painful.


“And the people became impatient on the way…and spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?”- Numbers 21:5

There have been times in this journey with our girls in which I stop trusting in God’s steps and, instead, start panicking. I don’t tend to get nervous or weary in the exact moments themselves; it is thinking about the future and more moments similar to these that I begin to feel faint.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to Him who has no might He increases strength.”- Isaiah 40:26-29

The Israelites had heard.

They had known.

They were given a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night.

Manna in the morning to provide their daily bread.

The Red Sea had literally parted and become dry in order for them to pass.

But those current moments.

Oh, those weary moments.


We have amazing community both near and far. People do their best to love us well and be the hands, feet and heart of Jesus both in word and deed. Yet, people are people and have their own lives and only so much serving can be done. There is a certain point where friends and family simply aren’t meant to understand, I think. And-when you are on your fifteenth crisis of the year, suddenly crisis stops feeling like crisis to both those around you and yourself and you simply get sick of being served.

Am I making sense to anyone?

Even though our drama is not made up- it still starts to feel like drama and you just get over it.

I know He says His plans for us are good yet,

“Why did You bring us up our of Egypt to die?”


There is not a way to explain what sickness looks like in our home. When your children cannot sit up themselves, every single cough requires assistance. We have spent hours and hours and hours, both day and night, watching Ally and Bailey Grace suffer greatly this week. They have coughed until they have coughed up blood- numerous times. We have gingerly given them pedialyte through their gtubes by a small syringe- only to have these small amounts coughed up. We have watched nurses try time and time again to find a vein that hasn’t been blown- stabbing over and over again as we hold down our already suffering little girls. We have seen them seize without end- illness causing their brains to misfire more than usual. And, while they may be twins, they are individual children with individual moments and needs- often occurring either one after the other or back to back. Watching and caring for one child going through the pain of this week would be hard- doing so for two is quite literally exhausting and excruciating. It has quite literally been a full-time infirmary both here and at the hospital.

In these moments, we have been sustained.

It is not these particular days that have made us weak- it is knowing that in the aftermath- our normal includes many more days like this.

It is recognizing that the seizures will still come.

It is the reality that our girls are going to suffer in many ways each and every day to come- bronchiolitis or not.

Oh, my weary, hurting momma soul.


“Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days…make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us.”- Psalm 90:14-15

As I was meditating on Psalm 90 this morning, God revealed so many life-giving truths to me. Friends, if a thousand years in His sight are but one day- maybe the secret to experiencing joy in this life is to see each day with that exact brevity.

Maybe our perspective and vision needs to be enlightened not only by His truth but through His heavenly hourglass.

You see, while this week has felt never-ending- God tells me it was but a breath.

And- while I would be lying if I said future days don’t feel daunting- thanks be to God that I have Jesus as both an example and an ever-living, always-present Spirit within me to carry, guide, assure and sustain.

“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross…”- Hebrews 12:2

God’s Word doesn’t say enjoyed the cross- it writes endured.

This tells me that Jesus gets it.

He is walking these breath-moments with us.

And— when these light and momentary afflictions are finished— we have eternity with no more tears, no more pain, no more suffering.

We simply have to endure a few more moments, each and every time.


who worthily connects this brevity of life with His recognition of sin? (Psalm 90:11)

We cannot fathom all that we have been saved from.

We will never understand the depth of our sin nor the magnitude of His grace.

This calls me to cry out,

“Let the beauty and delightfulness and favor of the Lord our God be upon us; confirm and establish the work of our hands- yes, the work of our hands, confirm and establish it.” (verse 17)

Lord, establish (initiate and bring about and achieve permanent recognition for) all that we do.

In our eating and drinking and dancing and celebrating- establish the work of our hands.

In our flipping of channels and scrolling through newsfeeds and posting of pictures- establish the work of our hands.

In our driving and working- establish the work of our hands.

In our touching of grains of sand and our hugging of a loved one- establish the work of our hands.

In our caregiving- establish the work of our hands.

In our suffering- establish the works of our hands.

In our living and in our dying- establish the work of our hands—

in all that we do-

establish the work of our hands that we may praise You both now and forevermore.

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

So We Fight.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed…with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.”- 2 Chronicles 32:7a-8b

Why do we watch reality tv shows?

We watch them because of the nature of what they are- real life.

We crave authenticity; we want the true story.


I never imagined that I would be blogging a lot of the details of our family’s life.

When I first began sharing our journey with the girls, I had no idea the type of following that would ensue. I hope you don’t hear any arrogance there- I know it’s not me that attracts the readers. There are plenty of much better writers out there. The story God is writing in our family, however, is unique- and people love to hear rare. More than anything, my prayer is always that you could read these details, see God carrying us, and trust that He can carry you, too.

He fights our battles.


The journey to the hospital for us is always a slow, slippery couple days. It usually starts with a seemingly harmless illness, followed by a turn for the worse, followed by the inevitable truth that we need to have some medical intervention. This illness has been no different really, other than that it came on much more suddenly, involved more complex systems of the body, and has yet to really affect Ally.

I would be lying if I didn’t tell you I’m just waiting for her to get sick.

Some would read this and nod their head in disapproval from my lack of faith.

I’m sure there’s some of that dabbled in.

Others would urge me to, “claim physical healing” over Ally’s little body- and I love the idea of this. The problem is I don’t see anywhere in Scripture that tells me it’s my way or the highway. Yes, our words have power- but God. He sits in the throne room and we have walked this journey long enough to know that He is absolutely in charge. His ways have been different than mine enough for me to simply say, “Thy will be done”. He knows my desires, and ultimately, I want my desires to line up with His purposes. This is the goal.

This post is going to be full of exhaustion and delirium. Sometimes, I think those are the best because they are raw and unrefined- real, if you will.

I have wrestled often with the verses above because I know God tells me He fights our battles- but it sure feels like our family is doing a lot of the fighting.

I am learning a lot about pride these days, and how much of it controls me.

While I share about our family truly in hopes He would get the glory and you would know Him more, I am humble and human enough to know that, whether I see it or not, there has to be a level of self involved in it, too. I think for any of us involved in social media, if we can’t recognize that has to be true, we are in a scary place.

So, today, I am praying that even in the midst of me- the Cheeks would disappear and you would know Him more deeply in these details.

I think God is teaching me that while He is ultimately the One fighting within the spiritual realms, our spirits certainly rage within the battle.

Jesus fought the greatest battle- the one at the cross- and already claimed the victory for us. The real battle has already been won.

So, if this is the case, what are we fighting for?

We fight to trust that He has in fact won- even in the midst of the evil and horrific things going on all around us.

We battle to believe that He is good- despite all the hurt and pain and brokenness surrounding.

We wrestle to cling to Him when it would be easier and more comfortable to simply lean on the fleeting pleasures of this world.

We continue to claim that He is good- most especially in the hardest corners of our lives.

This is what that looks like in our home:

I see Hugh on our porch, and I see a man that is fighting.

When we open God’s Word, when we speak to Him in prayer, it is not out of duty or to gain brownie points but out of essence.

We need Him.

We don’t bring formal, fake words- we cry out to Him with big, complex fears and hurts and disappointments.

The power in the Bible is that, as we do this, He does the changing. He transforms our thoughts; He lifts our view from petty things to eternal treasures. He takes us out of our own circumstances and fixes our eyes on Him- on His characters and His perfect plans. He reminds us to stop looking at the individual threads and strokes of the paintbrush and, instead, look at the final product- the beautiful tapestry that He is weaving- the finalized painting that He is accomplishing.

But friends, we have to fight to believe this.

The past 72 hours have been full of hard- not much sleep, lots of suffering from Bailey Grace, moments where I’m simply waiting for another ball to drop- with the added temptation to think about the fact that we could have been relaxing on the beach.

I could ask what in the world God is doing here- OR- OR– I could simply praise Him for being present and in control of all things.

So this morning, I read through Psalm 16- God bringing life and richness to my soul with each and every verse.

“I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good beside or beyond You.”- verse 2

“The Lord is my chosen and assigned portion, my cup; You hold and maintain my lot.”- verse 5

“The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, yes, I have a good heritage.”- verse 6

“…my heart instructs me in the night seasons”- verse 7b


This is how we battle.

We begin each day reading verses like the above- meditating on them and repeating them over and over and over until we begin to believe them again. We look past emotions and fears and current circumstances and look up to the One who says never will I leave you and never will I forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5). We don’t have to feel attached to these truths in our flesh to know that they are absolute in our souls.

This is what I want you to see. We are not a family with superhuman faith- quite far from it. We have many, many weak moments- of doubting, of frustration, of anxiety- yet He stays strong. No, we are not superhuman- but we serve a supernatural, omnipotent, holy and mighty God who is worthy of our praise no matter what the days hold.

Friends- whatever you are walking through- my hope is that you don’t grow weary of the fight. I know it’s hard- I know throwing up the white flag might feel easier at times- believe me. But God. He is worth it. He is for you. The ultimate battle has already been won. We are no longer slaves to fear- we are children of the living God.


Thanks be to God, because of Jesus, it is a good, good life.

All glory to Him today and always for making well our souls.

Distracted by Joy.

“For it was fitting…”- Hebrews 2:10a

beauty b

There are seasons of life that are sacred.

Sacred in that, sometimes most especially in grief and trials, the memory of them hits and postures in a particular way that cannot be expressed but can only be felt.

Those who have been privileged to walk through really hard things with people know exactly what I mean.

Only our Creator could prescribe some of the same emotions for the birth and death of another human being.

It’s seems paradoxical- but that’s our God.

His ways and His methods and His understanding so different than ours.

He is most certainly Other- and most definitely good.

Perfect even.


“For it was fitting that He, for whom and by whom all things exist…”- Hebrews 2:10a

It’s all for Him, you know.

Your specific story, the details.

Each chapter of your life is not just handwritten but BLOOD-SEALED by the God of the universe. He didn’t just read each chapter before approving it- He planned it intricately.

Every small detail bought with a price that now becomes the greatest gift ever offered- offered to all.

So Other.


“For it was fitting that He, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.”- Hebrews 2:10

Perfect through suffering.


We have some dear friends who are moving in the next few weeks. They walked through one of those sacred times with us- the beginning days of, “something is not normal” and, “what could it be?” with the girls. They prayed with us as we waited for fatal diagnoses for our two babies. They cried with us as we expressed fears and very rational new realities. They brought us food and friendship and truth. Their moving has brought back many memories from those beginning days, and as we were talking about this recently, someone stated, “I’m just so glad the girls don’t suffer. It would make it that much harder, you know?”


I reflected on this statement later, because I was so perplexed as to how someone who has been in the trenches of it all with us would not see the suffering involved. And then, it hit me.

As humans, so often our natural inclination is to focus on or see the bad in our circumstance. We fixate on the spilled milk rather than the morning as a whole. We think a flat tire defines an entire 24 hour period. We sigh with frustration when our exact, self-centered expectations aren’t met for the day. We don’t just want to have our cake and eat it too; we desire to plan out the flavor and colors and design as well.

Not Ally and Bailey Grace.

Our girls want and look for and crave and seek out the joy in each and every moment.

They don’t look behind or ahead.

They know that every moment holds infinite blessing if yet we have eyes to see.


“At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to Him-but we see Him.”- Hebrews 2:8b-9a

But we see Him.

If through Him, and to Him, and for Him are all things (Romans 11:36), then not only has He overcome every moment- He is every moment.

I know Bailey Grace and Ally are adorable. I know their smiles light up a room and that everyone is a sucker for twins much less twins with special needs. Yet- I don’t think this is what draws people to the girls. I believe with all my heart this God-given ability to look for the God in all things is both magnifying and infectious.

Deep down, we all want to be this way.

It is so easy for me to get caught up in the hard. To base our days on seizures and vomiting and unknown pain and the weariness of lifting two very heavy children everywhere we go.

I want to be the kind of person that sees the neighborhood children eating popsicles and running around the park and sees the beauty there. Instead, so often I filtrate my joy through the toxic glass of comparison.

Yet God.

He says that all things are under His control.

He reminds us that all things are fitting- based on His goodness and glory.

He hasn’t just seen each and every last detail- He wrote it.

Ally and Bailey Grace may have MR added to their charts (for the politically correct ones out there, intellectual disability)- but I think they actually are wiser than most of us.

They get it.

They understand that because of the grace offered by Jesus on the cross, all of our stories are magnificent miracles- down to every last moment.

They grasp that God is a part of everything therefore everything is absolutely perfect.

They don’t even have to strive to be distracted by joy- they just are.

I have yet to meet a person that isn’t attracted to this.

They don’t have to be seen in their suffering- they simply want to see Him and are therefore vessels for Him to be seen.

ally top bg bottom

Now we don’t see everything in subjection to Him- but we see Him.

Oh, that this reality would be enough.

Enough to get us through the hard.

Enough to bring us joy in the heavy.

Enough to remind us to see God in each and every trial and each and every celebration.

All Him.

Today, I am praying that, like Ally and Bailey Grace, I would not compare.

I am asking God to give me new vision to see the joy in every millisecond.

I am seeking fresh perspective in the truth that our lives are but a breath on earth yet eternity is forever.

I don’t want to escape the challenges nor put band aids on them; I simply want to see them from a much bigger angle- from heavenly lenses if you will.

I am praying the same for you.

May we find ourselves so distracted by joy today that all frustrations and unexpecteds and pains fade into the background in light of His presence in all things.

He is faithful.

At all times.

In all things.

No matter what.

To Him be the glory.


Lean Not on Your Own Understanding.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding…- Proverbs 3:5

“Look at the babies!”

A little girl, probably two years old, shouted this with glee as we passed her in the store. She was munching on a cookie and “getting into everything” as some parents say.

“Those babies are about to take a nap!” The mommy smiled.

“It gets better, I promise.” She winked at me.


My children no longer take naps.

They are three years old.

You are the fourth person who has told me that they look tired in a span of twenty minutes.

This is just how they are.

These are the things I thought. My response?

“That’s what I hear! Have a great day!” (insert enthused fake smile on my face).


“My brokenness is a better bridge for people than my pretend wholeness ever was.”- Sheila Walsh

As a parent of twins with special needs, I have connected with many caregivers throughout the past few years. I can tell you that one of the biggest struggles we all share is other people simply not understanding our world. There are many hurt feelings, broken relationships, and frustrations directed towards moments in which already opened wounds were poisoned with salt- most of the time unintentionally.

When we know better, we do better.

I am the QUEEN of opening my mouth without thinking. Word vomit, I call it. I shudder to think of the number of things I have said to strangers that were untimely at best and hurtful at worst. I say this because I am a firm believer that we have to assume the best in people- not against wisdom but in honor of the grace we have been so lavishly given.

Love believes the best in all…- 1 Corinthians 13:7

In situations like the one above, I truly know that she was just making conversation, completely unaware of our story.

I was wired as a processor. I am very aware of my emotions and the emotions of those around me, sometimes to a fault.  There has been a common theme around our family recently, one that no one has stated until Hugh- out of no where- spoke up a couple days ago while we were sitting on the couch waiting for the girls to fall asleep:

“Ally and Bailey Grace are getting a lot bigger”.


I know this.

I carry them around solo all day.

This is what I thought. What I said?

“Can we change the channel please?”

This signified much, much more in my heart than a television button.

Even as a processor, this is an area of our life that I absolutely do not want to touch. You see, I have watched people I know be a caregiver for one immobile loved one. While this is not to be taken lightly, it makes sense to me. But two?

Even the children’s rehab center laughed (not in humor but out of awkward nervousness) when I asked them how I was going to navigate getting the girls around as they got bigger.

Their lack of answer spoke volumes to me.

Now, those of you who have logically-wired minds are currently coming up with a list of devices or mannerisms or formulas for how this is all going to go down. I am sure that there are some practical answers here- but I kindly ask you to not give me ideas on transporting my girls after reading this post. We have plenty of knowledgeable people in our medical and therapy teams that will walk us down that road when the time comes. My heart is not grieved or worried about the actual logistics; my heart hurts over the reality that a time is coming in the distant near future where some of the freedom we have with our “babies” is going to be taken away.


Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.- Colossians 3:23-24

obey…not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord…- Ephesians 6:5a,6-8

Those of you who have read On Milk and Honey have heard me speak of the Newborn Trenches. These infantile days signify a season of life for parents with not much sleep and a baby’s complete dependence on a parent for their every need.

These Newborn Trenches?

They are our day-to-day life.

This “getting better” that that mother spoke to me in the store?

It is getting harder.

The girls are getting heavier, their needs are getting greater, and we are not getting any younger (and I’m pretty sure we are aging at a rapid pace- insert my constant eye bags and  Hugh’s gray nose hair recently spotted. Sorry, babe).

My confession to you is that sometimes, I want all this to be seen. I want at least one person to be a fly on the wall for one entire day. To watch me lift 60 pounds into a car, only to have someone vomit and have to unload the car yet again. I want to broadcast all the medications- times two- all the quick decisions- all the waiting for a seizure to stop- all the feeding debacles- I want the applause here. I want my friends who feel frustrated that I forgot to text back, seemed distracted when they last saw me, or cancelled at the last minute to understand the chaos that is my normal.

It’s ugly, but it’s the reality of my heart.

Yet- and you know where this is going-

Yet God.

He reminds me that I have an Audience of One and that He sees all. He looks at me; and  like the older brother in the story of the prodigal son, disappointed that the younger brother is getting a party- feeling cheated and unloved- He reminds me that the kingdom is already mine and that this grace in itself is enough to praise Him forever and ever and ever.

He knows our exact lot because He has written it and walked it.

And, when I am fearing wheelchairs or new medical concerns or prognosis or illness or the girls getting older (or worse, the girls not getting older)- He encourages me to not lean on my understanding but to instead, lean on Him.

Friends, I don’t know where your heart is. I don’t know what you are walking through that feels like you are alone or misunderstood or unseen. Hear me say this, however:

God is with you.

God is working.

He never tires, never quits, never gives up on you.

He is faithful.

His mercies are new every morning.

No burden is too heavy when placed in His mighty hands.

Even so, it is well with my soul.

Avoiding Hard: An Unbiblical Yet Culturally-Apparent Reality.

“Is anything too hard for the Lord?”- Genesis 18:14

We live in a society that avoids pain and discomfort. If we are sick, we take medicine. If we are cold, we build a fire; and if we are warm, we turn up the A/C or find a body of water to cool off in. We might say, “No pain, no gain”; but our lives do not reflect that we really believe this. In our Christian circles, even, our prayers model a community that desires both comfort and ease. If someone is sick, we ask God to heal them. If we are hurting, we ask God to take the hurt away. It seems as if the uncomfortable makes us all, well, uncomfortable.


I certainly grew up exactly in this way. I thought hurt and hard and pain were to be avoided at all costs. There was even an anonymous time in elementary school that a dear friend of mine and myself rode in our mothers’ cars instead of on the bus for a school field trip- after all, the bus was hot, smelly, and slow. Uncomfortable.

“For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life…”- Matthew 7:14

I have thought a lot about this concept of hard recently. As our adoption process has continued on, we have had a lot of people express concern for this upcoming family dynamic. It has been worded in many different ways, but the synopsis is the same: “Don’t you think that’s going to be really hard?”

My answer is always a resounding yes. Yes- it’s going to be extremely hard! Particularly those first six months, we will have three children developmentally completely dependent on us for all their needs. And- we know more than ever before that things come up and God’s plans look differently than ours and there are no guarantees that this child that is going to be a part of a family doesn’t have his own struggles. In fact, I would argue that whether or not he is a “typically developing” child, all human beings come with their share of abnormal and difficult. But- I don’t find anywhere in God’s Word that calls us to easy on this side of heaven. And- since when is easy the most satisfying way to live anyway? Since when does hard have to equal bad?

Think about some of the most fulfilling experiences or things in your life.

For me, I think about training and running in a half marathon. I remember quitting my job when I was the breadwinner for Hugh and I during medical school and traveling overseas to serve in a village in Asia for a month. I look back on gaining my Master’s in Social Work, getting married to Hugh, carrying and birthing and parenting Ally and Bailey Grace. Publishing a book. You see, none of these things were easy. In fact, all of them fall into the, “hardest things I have ever done” category. I would venture to say that yours would, too. But worth it? Oh, so worth it.

Friends, most of the things that matter in this life are not the things that just came to us. The things that satisfy the most are the ones that require sweat, blood, tears and a whole lot of faith. The things that please God are the ones that call us to cling to Him, confident that we cannot continue on without His help. One of the most beautiful things about the Gospel is the reality that God not only meets us in our brokenness; He calls us in our brokenness. I look at Moses- a man of poor speech and full of insecurity- yet called by God to command the people to turn from their wicked ways and serve Him. I see David- known as a murderer and adulterer (and let’s be honest, probably emotionally instable) by the world; yet known as a man after God’s own heart to God Himself. How about Abraham? He was called to a country that he did not know; asked to pick up his family and simply go. And- the Early Church- all persecuted and pressed and plotted against from every angle- except the One that mattered.

You see, the people of the faith that I admire and look to most are not the ones who have escaped difficulty altogether- quite the contrary actually. The people I am most affected by and encouraged by are the ones who, in the face of great difficulty, do not shrink back from hard but instead, look to the One whose strength is immeasurable and who knows no hard. If we want to people whose faith grows deeper, we are going to have to stop fearing the difficult and uncomfortable. If we desire to impact the world around us in the name of Jesus, we are going to have to do things that cause us to cry out, “Lord, if you do not show up here, I’m in big trouble”. From the outside world’s perspective, our journey with Ally and Bailey Grace might appear beyond challenging. Last night, Hugh had small group. In the short few hours that he was gone, Bailey Grace had a seizure that was longer than usual, Ally vomited all in her bed (and hair) for reasons unknown, and sleep took hours to actually come. From the outside looking in, this might sound miserable. But friends- may we not view inconvenient or difficult as unsatisfying. Instead, may we view it as an opportunity to live out the truths of Philippians 4 that promise peace beyond understanding.

There is peace like a river in my soul, and this- this is what I preach.

The truth is, it has taken many hard moments for the reality of the Gospel to fully settle in my spirit. It has taken quite literal blood, sweat, and tears (and a lot of vomit- so much vomit) for me to gain confidence in the fact that no matter what my circumstances or brokenness may look like- things are not as they appear. I know longer fear uncomfortable, for in all things- in plenty and in want- I find my comfort in Christ.

We are not called to an easy life on earth. We are called to be God’s hands, feet, and heart to a broken world. We are called to offer eternal healing in light of temporal hurting. And, if what we are really praying is, “Lord, make my life and the life of those I love on earth easy”- we are missing the point and we should not be surprised if His answer is, “My child, I love you way too much to do that”.

The hardest things that I have walked through have been the most fulfilling, which leads me to pray differently- not only for myself but for others as well. I know that ultimately, what I need-what you need- is not new circumstances. Ultimately, we need more intimacy and trust in our Creator. These days,  I don’t become fearful thinking about the adoption. Whenever I am led to a daydream that causes me to think, “How will we do that?” I am comforted by the Lord as He says, “Don’t worry- I’ve got this”. In moments where both Ally and Bailey Grace are sick and I am alone with them and both needs appear urgent- I am not truly alone and He gives me wisdom and discernment to know what to do and when to do it.

Friends, may we not be a people who bring a long list of temporal requests to the throne room. May we long for greater and bigger and better things- things much greater than temporal physical healing or ease. May we, like Christ Himself, be able to say, “Thy will be done”- not out of obligation but out of assurance that His will is best. He who calls will equip. He who promises is faithful. He who created will sustain.

Grace upon Grace.

In all things. At all times. No matter what.

***Have you or someone you know tangibly walked through a trial that displayed God bringing beauty from ashes? It could be cancer, or singleness, or financial hardship, or a job change, or a move, or disability, or an accident, or depression- nothing is too small. I would love to do a series of blogs this summer that focuses on encouraging stories of people walking through things that the world would see as hard-aka bad- yet God making Himself known and magnifying His glory through it. Message me or email (morganbcheek@gmail.com ) if you know someone or you yourself would be interested in writing a post on your story.***


Update on the Girls.


“Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I supposed that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”- John 21:25

Parking in the handicap spot always alludes to questions. A few days ago, a woman walked over to me and simply asked, “What’s wrong with the babies?” The questions don’t offend me half as much as they used to; and if we aren’t running low on time, I will take a few minutes to talk about the mutation. This particular day, the woman was not short of many questions, and she asked, “Are they going to get better?” When I responded with, “That depends on what you mean by, “better”.” She replied, rather quickly, “God will heal them”. My response, “He certainly can; and He ultimately will in heaven if not here.”

After her questions were satisfied, we parted ways, and I began thinking about some of her curiosity.

The question I get more often than any is, “How are the girls doing?”

I never know how to answer this, because the response depends greatly on what the person asking means.

I decided it would be appropriate to give a little update on this via the blog because I know that there are many praying and wondering.

Thinking practically, developmentally, the girls are at a very similar place as they have been for over a year now. They do not sit unassisted, cannot hold on to a toy for too terribly long, and are still not using words. They certainly have made some strides in interaction, and become more and more interested in the world around them with every passing day. We have been fitted for wheelchairs and those should be in shortly. From a positional standpoint, I am excited for the girls because I think they will be more comfortable in these than some other seating options. From a practical standpoint, your guess is as good as mine for how we will get out and about with two wheelchairs. I took the girls to the zoo and pushed two strollers for a practice round, and minus a lot of stares and some awkward turns, it wasn’t too challenging. I guess I just assume that the God who wrote this unique story will give us the grace to figure that part out when it comes.

Medically, we are still figuring out seizures and medications for Bailey Grace. She has a seizure basically every night, and continues to have some neurologically-off activity during the day at times. Ally’s seizures are controlled by a medicine that doesn’t cause too many terrible side effects; and for that we are grateful. One out of two ain’t bad, right?

So, will their development improve?

We are still waiting on the case publication for the HECW2 mutation to come out, but from the connections with other parents that we have made, we have realized that because the girls have a different variant than every other child known with the mutation, we are not going to get much more information regardless. We try to not concern ourselves with performance or prognosis, however.


Because we believe Ally and Bailey Grace are fearfully and wonderfully made- uniquely woven by our Creator who makes no mistakes. We do not have expectations that their development will regress or progress. Not because we don’t believe it could happen- simply because our hope lies in something-in Someone- much greater.

“I do not occupy myself with things too great nd too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul…”- Psalm 131:1-2

There is so much our family could focus on that would breed both expectation and frustration. Yet, as the verse in John 21 says so eloquently, why would we fixate on that when there is so much that God is doing in and through the lives of Ally and Bailey Grace?

There is not enough time in the day to write out all the ways we have already seen God’s faithfulness in this journey. Lately, as I have prayed for eyes to see, He has woken me up brimming with gratitude for all the blessings- and I will tell you that many of those things, the world would see as a curse.

It all depends on the lenses we are wearing, doesn’t it?

Our ability to see God in all things has a direct correlation to whether or not we are filling our minds with truth or lies. As we look at the Word of God, it is very clear that some of the greatest trials were often the biggest blessings when filtered through God’s loving and sovereign hands.

So much so that, these days, when obstacles or unpredictables or new hards come up, I smile because I can’t wait to see what God is up to. I’m on pins and needles, expectant not in a change of circumstance or a lifted trial- but expectant in the God who restores and uses all things for His glory and our good.

And, don’t you see?

Whatever brings Him glory always brings His children good.


This is the freedom of the Gospel.

This is what is offered in Christ Jesus.

Saving grace not only for eternity- saving grace that reaches the daily details of each of our lives- from this time forth and forevermore.

What’s not to rejoice in?

Friends, God promises that He will restore to those who claim Him as Lord all the years that the locusts have stolen (Joel 2:25).

What He sent- what He allows- is only purposed for reconciliation and oneness with Him.

This leads Hugh and I to be able to place priority not on the what-ifs or the whys involved with our precious daughters’ lives and instead to focus on the grace of God that is being lavishly poured out all around us and them.

We don’t have to dwell on the unknowns when we know that He’s a good, good Father.

We rejoice not in the suffering but in the One who ultimately conquered all the brokenness of the world at the cross.

And- when our cares are many- His consolations (His comfort) cheers and delights our souls (Psalm 94:19).

Each and every time.

Oh, how I pray and long for this in each of your lives as well.

His grace is enough- enough for all of you, all of me, all of our unimaginables and greatest tribulations and worries come true.

He is enough.

In all things. At all times. In all ways.



My Tilted Halo.

I have been dreading writing this post for about twenty four hours.

I woke up yesterday morning and already knew it was going to be written, and haven’t gotten it off my mind ever since.

I’m not quite sure why the calling the Lord gave me was to air my dirty laundry on the internet.

It’s certainly not comfortable– but needed. Goodness, it is needed.

There are too many Christians that present the Spirit in them but hide the flesh. They may speak about the sin in them but it is vague and often talked about in past tense. Through the years I have desperately, desperately needed Believers to step up and be real about their struggles- to speak to those of us who are being sanctified, who love Jesus deeply and seek Him authentically, but continue to wrestle with real, tangible, “it ain’t pretty” sin.

And really- isn’t that all of us?

I am going to warn you that for some of you, my halo is about to become a lot more tilted.

I have attempted to rationalize with myself why I shouldn’t have write this- how my witness would be tainted, how I might be seen differently to some- yet each and every reason put more weight in what man thought of me than God.

So, here we go.

Earlier in the week, I went to dinner with friends, and I point blank drank too much. Like, way too much. Not just a tinge of a headache. The kind of drinking that the Bible would signify as drunk. It was sinful, it was ugly, and it absolutely happened.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This has happened plenty of times in my life. It was a HUGE struggle of mine when I first became a Christ follower. But, it has been years and years and years since I crossed the line. I have walked through a million times why it happened- and then- I began to get more disturbed not at the sin of drinking too much but in my pride and shock of the sin itself.

The things that were running through my mind went as follows:

”A thirty-year old woman with twins with special needs who are currently battling illness? A blogger and writer in the name of Jesus that encourages others to turn from sin and turn to Him? Isn’t that a baby Christian kind of sin? Really?”

(Spoiler alert: there isn’t such thing as a baby Christian kind of sin. Sin is sin is sin.)

The Enemy was feeding me all sorts of lies- yet, hadn’t I sinned the day before, too?

Why was I taking a sin and basing its level of forgiveness on the consequences of it?

Why did I feel as if a sin that the world might name as bigger was actually greater in the kingdom of God?

The truth is- my righteousness has always been and will always be based in the name of Jesus.

No matter if I am standing in front of group of women preaching His faithfulness or drinking that extra glass of wine with friends- my standing with God is consistent.

As I look at God’s Word, turns out that most of the people He used were the broken who knew their need of a Savior; not the ones whose records appeared crystal clear.

And after all, God keeps no records of wrong anyway (1 Corinthians 13).

There will be some reading this that think, “See, this is why I don’t agree with this whole Christian thing. They feel guilty about having a good time!” – and for those of you who think that, let me let you in on something crucial:

I don’t want to stay away from sin because of some kind of moral standard. I desire to stay away from sin because the more I know God, the more I am aware of the death and pain that sin brings. The more I know God, the more He satisfies me and the less I desire to sin. It’s not a, “I shouldn’t do this”- it’s a, “I don’t want to do this because I want God more.”

But sometimes, as I recognized more than ever before, my flesh gets in the way.

There will also be some who read that have never had a drink in their life and think differently of my faith. For those of you who, if you are honest, feel this way, I want to gently ask you to think about how God would see you if suddenly tonight, you went out and drank too much. Would God see you differently? Would your righteousness be any less? If in your heart you can’t answer this with a resounding, ‘NO’… I encourage you to spend some time studying God’s Word and what He says about where our good standing with God comes from.

Friends, I’m sorry. I’m embarrassed and feel silly and I hope it never happens again. Yet- it’s His kindness that leads us to repentance, and sometimes, I think we need a good reminder of all that He has saved us from. The truth is, whether I understood it or not, that night is not what made me sinful. I have been sinful from the beginning, and until I meet Him face-to-face, this truth still stands.

“What shall we say to all this? Are we to remain in sin in order that God’s grace (favor and mercy may multiply and overflow? Certainly not! How can we who died to sin live in it any longer?”- Romans 6:1-2

Friends, I am writing this because I want to speak to those of you who might see someone like me, someone who is writing about faith in the midst of suffering, and assume that I don’t struggle with real live sins. For the person who thinks that Christians only sin through a little gossip here and there, a lack of patience every now and then- here you go. I seek Jesus daily, He is what I want my life to be about- and I am still a mess if not but for the grace of God. I am writing this for the person who feels like they have to get their own act together before they come to the throne. Forgiveness from God came before repentance- He forgave us when we were still in our sin- and being a Christ follower is all about recognizing the fact that He is the only reason we can come to God. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). Christ didn’t come to save a certain type of person- He came to save all who would come to Him in faith. He came to save us from all our sins- both the ones that feel forgivable and the ones that don’t. He is our judge- there is freedom in being able to confess our own sinfulness and still receive unconditional grace from a Holy God who has freed us from that we could not free ourselves from.

And, I refuse to care more about what my neighbor thinks than my Savior.

My prayer is that someone is reading this that desperately needed to know that you can come to Him and find forgiveness in the midst of all your junk. I pray you would be drawn more to the Love of God than the things of this world, and that when you fall short (as we all do each and every day) that you would come quickly to the throne of grace to receive full forgiveness from The Father- all in the name of Jesus.

Beloved: You are forgiven if you but ask.

All glory, and honor, and power to the One who set us free from death itself.

Only He is worthy.

“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.”- 1 Timothy 1:15

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”- Hebrews 4:16