I looked her right in the eye. I needed her attention. I was kind, but determined.
I took a shower and only remembered to shave one leg. I tried to look up the weather for the middle of April, hoping that Audrey would have a beautiful birthday. I answered a bunch of email, and realized that my inbox was eating them up without warning. I spent a few hours trying to send them to a place where they wouldn’t be deleted; there are about 350 that I haven’t gotten to yet.
I lined up my perfumes and tried to decide which one I wanted Audrey to smell when she comes. I held my nephew. I watched the girls hunt for eggs in our backyard (1/2 acre with no trees and a flat lot. When I say “search,” what I mean is “pick up”) I read. I cried. I didn’t make it to church because I was so upset that I couldn’t get out of bed. I prayed. I read all the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. I cried. I prayed.
The image of Jesus being mocked while he bled and suffered was unbearable today. More so than any other time I have read the story. His words, His shame, His pain. The fact that as I read those words, I am reminded that He knew my Audrey while He hung. He knew how many breaths she would have, how many tears I would cry for her, how I will run to her in heaven and rejoice that she doesn’t need her lungs there anyway because she is perfect. He knew these words before I typed them. His love is deeper than I can fathom. If you want to feel the Holy Spirit fill you, try something one day. Maybe today if you can make the time. Start by praying for God to reveal Himself in a new way to you, and then read through these words of agony and death, and imagine your face as what He saw. You were worth it. He still believes that. I hope you do too. When God turned away from His Son, and darkness crept across Calvary, He knew your face, your heart, your hurts. They are forever hidden within His wounds.
It always makes me laugh when Abby and Ellie watch Sleeping Beauty. They have seen it no less than 20 times, and yet, when it is time for Aurora’s finger to touch the spinning wheel, they cover their eyes and ask over and over, “What is going to happen to her?” The truth is that they know what is going to happen, but it doesn’t make it any easier to watch. There is time between her bleeding and her waking up. The in-between is where the doubt creeps in. Where you think that evil might just win, and that the great rescue will be stifled.
I know that He will raise up, He will conquer, but when I read about the cross I want to close my eyes until the in-between is over. Today, as I read each scripture, I was struck by something I have never put too much emphasis on before. Jesus did not return to His followers as a healed man. He had scars that told the story, that brought Thomas to belief. He was alive, fully alive, and yet, not unscathed. God chose to use these wounds to remind the world what He had overcome. It seems like if I were the writer of the story, I would heal them completely. Really show people what kind of power I had. Just make it look like it never happened…complete restotation. This isn’t what God chose for Christ, and it isn’t what He chooses for any one of us.
If we are called to suffer in the name of Jesus, we bear scars as well. He doesn’t hide them when trouble has passed, but rather He allows our paths to cross with those who want to touch them, to believe in them, to fall into the arms of the one who allowed them to be inflicted.
This is why I write to you all.
I have prayed many, many times that the eyes that read these words will run their fingers along the wounded hands of Christ, letting His suffering tell you the depth of love He has for you.
This life is not about being healed.
It’s about bearing wounds for the sake of the One who bore them for us. For you.
As a psychologist, I want to help people face these hard things. To turn them into beautiful gifts to be given back to the Lord.
It is as simple as recognizing that God has chosen your suffering for a purpose, and the splendor of His plan begins to be revealed as we trust Him to do that. Tonight, as I write, I am praying that whoever reads this will pray about what their scars tell about themselves, and what they could tell about Christ. If you want to share with me, please email me personally. I would love to hear all about how God redeemed/is redeeming your wounds. I have been so blessed to have others write and invite me to praise God through their stories…it makes me want to keep learning and listening.
I could go on and on, to try and make this sound as clear and meaningful as it does in my spirit, but someone has already done it much better than I ever will. These are the lyrics for the song “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” written by Stuart Townend. It will be on the new Selah CD, and I have been listening to it over and over again this Easter season. Be blessed, and be encouraged. Today is the day of new life and resurrection…oh, and of the love that NEVER lets go.
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory
Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom
First, (and most important!), my sister-in-law Nicol welcomed her sweet baby boy into the world last night. We saw a picture of him, and I can tell you that he is BEAUTIFUL. Congratulations, Nicol (and Greg and Summer!). I would tell you his name, but as I type this, they are still undecided…I’ll keep you posted!
Secondly, we got a puppy. He is a Golden Retriever and his name is Sawyer. We are completely in love. Jody, you win the grand prize:) I had planned to fill up this update with stories about him, because he is good, good medicine. We spent an hour and a half out at a farm in Sparta, Tennessee watching the girls play with all of the puppies in the litter. It has been a long time since they laughed like little girls should. I spent most of the night sleeping next to his cage, because as long as I was in eyesight, he wouldn’t cry. Today I had a play-date with three of my best friends, and then enjoyed time outside trying to fly a kite while Sawyer chased the girls around and got to know his new stomping ground. I will post some pictures tomorrow…you cannot help but smile when you look at his sweet face.
There is so much of me that wants to stop here, because today was the hardest day since we found out that Audrey was sick. I knew it was going to be a day of big moments, but I wasn’t prepared (and how can you be?) for the toll that it would take on me.
We met with Susannah to discuss the road ahead…to be brutally honest, I don’t have the strength to share all of it here. I actually wouldn’t have written at all, but I believe that you will pray for us, and we need it desperately.
I hope to give you all more details when I have processed things, but here is what we are moving toward. Everyone is in agreement that I will need to have a C-Section, and that it would probably be wise to plan when we want to do that because of Todd’s schedule. Dr. Trabue and Susannah had looked at my ultrasound scans from last week, and we had to talk about some hard truths. Please join us in asking God for peace about these decisions. We are leaning toward the middle of April for several reasons, but we don’t feel like we have confidence in this. My mind and spirit need to rest tonight.
We spent the evening recording a song that we wrote for Audrey. Amy, Allan, and Jason, we are forever indebted to you for sacrificing yourselves. Your hard work and dedication reminded us that suffering reveals the beauty of God’s body of believers.
I have been trying to type this for an hour, and I can’t seem to get more than a few words into a sentence before I drift off mentally.
It is after midnight, and I need to just be in prayer for a little while…please join me. No doubt God will meet us there, and will redeem this brokenness the way that only He can.
Thank you for caring and for praying…
Usually I wait until the middle of a 3-child meltdown and call him to tell him to buy some hot tea and get over it.
Last night, as we got to our room (or rather, the “front” room of our suite) there was a plate full of fresh fruit, cheese, and chocolate-covered strawberries waiting for us, along with a bathroom full of spa soap and a view of a lake from the “back room.” As soon as we walked in, I told him I totally understood how hard life on the road was. Suffering for Jesus, that’s my baby.
For the record, if you have ever seen Selah in concert, you will know that what they do is NOT easy. They give more of themselves in a show than anyone I have ever seen, and will sit at a venue until they have talked to every single person who wants to talk to them. It isn’t part of “the show,” it’s part of who they are. But still. Seven months pregnant with 3 kids 5 and under. You pick a side.
We went to Joseph-Beth Bookstore this afternoon (my favorite!) and we had a great day reading and playing. I ended up in the baby book section and chose a photo album that I really loved and wanted to buy for Audrey. I held onto it and let my eyes (and heart) drift into the shelves of newborn baby books as I stood alongside a woman who looked about as far along as me. I could feel myself starting to crumble a little, but I couldn’t help but stare at all of the book spines and dream about how great it would be to worry about whether to put Audrey on organic food, or how to get her to sleep through the night. After a few minutes, I started to walk back to Todd and I took a last glance at the sweet photo album. That is when I realized that it wasn’t a photo album, but rather a baby book, designed to mark the milestones of your child’s first year. I threw it down on the bench. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and I barely held it together until I could find Todd. There are dozens of these moments every week. Hurtful, longing, broken moments. I am at a point where I just let them come. I sit with my sorrow for as long as it feels like I need to, and then I pray for the strength to carry it a little longer. I have the propensity to obsess over things, and it takes a deliberate, conscious shift in thinking so that the pain doesn’t consume me. Lord, you gave me this heart, and you know just how to love me despite it…
He made Himself known in little ways throughout the rest of the day. I’m always glad He chooses the little things, because that’s where I often look for Him. It isn’t always in the ways we expect, though, and we have to be ready for that possibility. Along those lines…
I have to share this story with you all, because it was just one of those “kid moments.”
I often pray for God to reveal Himself in ways that give meaning to what I am going through, and help me to share those feelings with others. He has always been faithful to that, and tonight was no exception.
I stayed in the church with the girls for the first half of the concert, and then decided to take them back to the (amazing!) nursery to play for the second half. I didn’t want to push my luck, and I think that Kate singing (loudly and about 2 words behind whatever Selah was singing) was starting to be “not cute” to the people who paid good money to hear the original version. While we were playing with play-doh, Abby started to talk about Audrey. She opens up more when her hands are busy and her mind is distracted, so I listened intently, waiting for glory to drop in my lap.
“Mommy, I love Audrey more and more and more.”
“Honey, I know you do. So do I.” I watched her hands form a little heart with what was now a multi-colored heap of goo (don’t judge me for looking away for 20 seconds. You know you can’t keep that stuff separated either).
“But do you know who I love even more, mama?” I love her sweet, high little reflective voice.
“Jesus. I love Him even more and more and more. And do you know what else?” Her voice hushed to a whisper. I met her eyes and waited. She was clearly about to share something big. I leaned in closer, ready.
“I just tooted.”
She leaned back into her chair, satisfied that she had shared her heart.
I, in turn, had to leave the room because I was laughing so hard I thought she might think I was making fun of her. Sometimes, when you are looking for the deep, meaningful moment that will carry you through until the next day, God just gives you a chance to laugh at the world despite the fact that you don’t feel like laughing. I am so grateful to serve a God who knows our needs more than we know how to lay them before His feet.
I pray that this Palm Sunday finds you peaceful, reflective, and joyful. I pray that if you are taking painful steps today, you are reminded that the Lord has walked them ahead of you, knowing what waited for Him up ahead. Take courage and know that He walks as closely to you as He did to the crowds, 2000 years ago. Thank you for your wounds, Lord. I rest there tonight.
I am planning to update tomorrow night when we get home…we are taking a detour to pick up a little surprise that I can’t wait to share with you all.
See you then!
The ultrasound began with Angie (Patti had been called to another office) looking things over. Nothing really looked remarkably different, other than that she is facing up, so we got another look at that beautiful profile. We don’t think she is transverse…it looks like she is still in the “one leg down and one up” position. She looked cute as pie to me. In my head, as the list of visible problems grew longer, I kept thinking, “Now, Lord. It’s not too late. Do it now. Let everyone here see the miracle.”
Dr. Fortunato came in midway through and took over. He and Angie discussed things in scientific terms that I don’t understand, but after every string of words, he would look at me and translate. While the prognosis remains the same, I want to share a few details so that you can pray specifically for her. The first thing is that her kidneys (diagnosed as “polycystic” from the first appointment…remember the Belgian man?) don’t really fit the diagnosis anymore. They are not at all enlarged, which is part of what you would see with polycystic kidneys. This was really puzzling to him. At one point I asked what that meant, and he said, “When doctors give your child absolutely no chance of survival, we expect the development to continue to stay true to that prognosis. This doesn’t.”
Again, this does not “fix” the problem. Audrey’s kidneys are non-functioning, and the lack of fluid has prevented (from what we can tell) her lungs from developing. While her head, arms, legs etc. appear to be on track as far as growth, her little abdomen has started to fall behind; an indication that the lack of fluid is catching up with her. It is also an indication that her lungs are not developing, because while we can see lung tissue, there is not room for them to be a sufficient size. Dr. Fortunato also said that the heart was not the problem, but rather what it indicated about the lungs. This was new to us.
I cannot express to you how much we consider him a blessing to us. If you are ever in a position where you need someone to fight for your baby, you need to come to Nashville and see him and his partners. It is routine for them to treat a woman who was told to “go home and wait to lose the baby” when her water broke at 16 weeks, only to deliver a healthy baby close to full-term. If anyone knows how to rebel against logic, it is this man. And so, based on what they are seeing, we are faced with the same ultimate outcome. This is not a baby God intended for us to keep.
I feel like I need to address that last sentence. You may remember that I asked for you to pray for a miracle today, and you might feel like He failed me. He didn’t.
I want you all to hear me on this, especially those of you who are in a place of questioning as far as God is concerned. As much as I want to have my Audrey, I am (truthfully) completely at peace allowing Him to have the final say. It isn’t because I’m so super-spiritual or because I have a more direct line to God than anyone else. It is because He tells us we can trust Him with our lives, and I simply choose to believe Him.
I told Todd I was scared to write this post tonight, because the truth is that I really wanted to be writing something else. I wanted to be the leper who ran away with clear skin, praising God. I wanted to be the blind man.
Most of all, I wanted to be the one who watched Jesus resurrect his little girl.
What He chose to give me was a different miracle.
I prayed and prayed after my appointment about the words I would post, and I kept asking God for wisdom. As my parents and my grandmother left my house late this afternoon, I went to sit on our front porch with Kate. It was a spectacular day here today, well above 70 degrees and as clear as glass. But as we sat in the shadow of our house, it got cold. The wind whipped through and made us shiver. I was tempted to go inside, as neither of us were dressed for what was turning out to be a pretty cold evening. It was just so beautiful, though, and I felt my mind start to rest. It felt so good to just sit in the silence for a minute and gather my thoughts. I looked at Kate, thumb in her mouth, her other arm wrapped around her shoulder.
“Honey, do you want to go inside?”
She knew that the implication was that I was going to stay outside. She shook her head.
“No, I wanna stay with you.” She continued to stare straight ahead although her body gave a quick shudder, as if to acknowledge that she agreed that it was uncomfortable.
Against my better parenting instincts, I let her sit, and as I watched her bare feet resting on the cold brick, it occurred to me that regardless of the cost, she wanted to stay with me. She would rather shiver and suffer than be on the other side of the door.
This is how I feel about my Jesus.
It is cold. It is uncomfortable. It is not the perfect situation in my eyes. I am barefoot and unprepared for what happens when a summer day turns unexpectedly to a winter chill, but He sits beside me. I guess I always have the option to run and get warm, but like my Kate, I would rather see what He shows me from this perspective. If you live in Nashville, you probably know what is coming next.
Tonight, God gave us one of the most beautiful sunsets you have ever seen.
As I watched it, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that I only got to experience it because I didn’t do the comfortable, easy thing.
And as the sun pierced the sky, the only thing I could hear was a still small reminder.
It was worth every second.
“…in all these things we are more conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39
Love (and more love),
We have also been to the zoo, bounced around at birthday parties, grocery shopped, and many other mundane, day-filling activities. It is the “in-between” of life these days. I would love to invite you to be in these moments as well as the others, and that is why I am posting this little clip of our family. I hope you enjoy it:)
I also have 2 prayer requests..the first one is what all lifelong Christians (I have learned) refer to as an “unspoken.” For some reason that always makes me laugh because I like to pray for very specific things, and I had trouble as a new believer when people would say that at Bible Study and then I would go home and sit on my bed and rattle off all of these detailed requests and then I felt kind of silly just saying “And the ‘unspoken…’” It sounds kind of ominous to me. And I would rather sit at my kitchen table with some tea and talk about what was really going on. I’m not really an “unspoken” kind of person. I am an eye-to-eye, weep with you kind of person. Someone emailed me and asked about my background, and you probably won’t be surprised to know that I have my Master’s Degree in Developmental Psychology. As a sidebar, I also minored in English in college, and always dreamed of being a writer, so all of your kind words in this area have really meant a lot to me. People have asked me why I never did it, and I guess the answer is that I never really felt like I had found the thing that made me feel brave enough to try…that is, until my sweet Audrey reminded me who I was.
Regardless of my little diversion there, I would really appreciate your prayers tomorrow for a dear friend who is walking a “narrow road” of her own. So it isn’t really “unspoken”, but rather “semi-spoken.” That’s better.
The second prayer request is for my ultrasound tomorrow. It is a big one, because we will be meeting with Dr. Fortunato and talking about “the plan” from here on out. I still feel like I have so many questions and not enough clarity on any of the options, and so I am praying that I will feel direction in our decision making. This sweet baby girl, so much a part of our family, we want to respect her life in the most glorifying, beautiful way. We want to choose the best for her in any situation where we have a choice. We are all in love with her…how do you plan to lose someone who has already become a part of you? As we near what may be the end of the journey, we weep for our loss and heaven’s gain. I ordered a “resting gown” for Audrey the other day because I suddenly realized that we would have nothing to bury her in. The next day I felt terrible, like maybe I wasn’t diving for His cloak the way I should be.
Please pray that the conversations we have tomorrow will honor every bit of her life, and that we would all be willing to fight for her if God provides the opportunity. Pray for guidance in finding the middle ground between “plannng for loss,” and “hoping for miracles.” It has proved to be the most difficult part of my spiritual walk thus far.
Every time we walk into that office, I feel like it might be the day that they tell us that things are much better than they thought, and that God has healed her. I am crying while I type this, because I cannot even let my thoughts wander to the place where she would get to stay with us, and yet I want to ask you to beseech the King on our behalf. We believe that the Great Physician is still on the throne, and it is my greatest desire tonight that He would hear all of our voices pleading with him on behalf of a little girl, and that He would bless us with a miracle. I have felt your presence with me, friends, and I have felt your prayers. I am forever grateful to be able to type a few words and mobilize groups of people to pray for Audrey. Thank you so much for this offering…
I will definitely post tomorrow and update you on the appointment (it is at 1:00pm).
Humbly, gratefully, and in hope,