When God’s provision doesn’t feel good…

If someone asked you what provision means to you, what would you say?

I feel like most of us would say being financially stable, our family’s health, new homes, overall happiness, etc. are all examples of how we are provided for.

Nothing is wrong with wanting these things and seeing them as good provision from the Lord.

But, what if provision doesn’t come if n the way you expect? It’s challenging for us to see provision when it’s different than what we think it should be.

In Scripture, ‘provide’ can be translated to ‘to see’….So in Genesis 22 when Abraham names the mountain where he’s spared from sacrificing Isaac “The Lord Will Provide”…we can also say “The Lord Will See.”

He sees us. He always sees…therefore, He always provides. And His constant awareness of us means His constant provision.

Faith means knowing that every act of provision in my life is for MY good and for HIS glory. Even if it doesn’t look good to my worldly eyes.

Am I saying that Sophie’s illness and death are good? Absolutely not. I’m saying that I believe the Word of God is all true at all times. And because I believe that, I believe that He ONLY acts for my good. Sophie’s death was not good but, I believe He is and will continue to use her for my good and His glory. I believe that His plan for her life, my life, and the lives of those she has affected is so much bigger and more complex than my brain will ever be able to understand while I’m here. I believe that I can do ALL things through Him. I believe that He sent His Son to die so that I could be reunited with Him and with Sophie in eternity. And I also believe the hard stuff. I believe that in this world there will be trials. I believe that suffering perfects my faith. I believe the world is broken and that death, pain, and grief are part of being here. I believe it all. Does that make sense?

He’s providing all of it. The grace to get through the suffering. The whispers through His word that fortify our souls and encourage us. The joy that comes from the promises of redemption and victory over death, grief, and tears.

Yes, provision of the things we need to survive here on earth, is important but, the real provision… the provision for our souls…the fact that He sees us…that’s where we get our confidence to keep going.

He sees you. He’s with you. He will provide. Always.

Share with someone that might need a reminder that in the twists and turns of their life…they are seen.

*Song lyrics from Todd Wright Band

https://www.praisecharts.com/songs/details/71499/cant-see-sheet-music/

#SophietheBrave #DoMoreForSoph #GodisBigger #OneDayCloser #childhoodcancerawareness #lymphomasucks #cancermom #lossmom #childloss

The day time stood still…

I remember every second of December 22nd last year. There are a lot of the details of Sophie’s Lymphoma battle that are fuzzy but this day…this one is burned into my memory like a brand. The second worst day of my life.

On the 20th we had been given the ‘all clear’ to start the numerous tests needed to get Sophie’s stem cell transplant process started. We had a full body CT Scan and GI Tract ultrasound on the 21st. Then the BIG test day was the 22nd.

Aunt Jacy spent the night with Sophie and Jonathan and I got back to Cook Children’s in Ft Worth early that morning. We walked in to Sophie screaming and Jacy was very frustrated. The team at Cooks had come in to start an IV on Soph for her sedation…even though her chest port was accessed. Which is annoying but the port in an infection risk so I get them not wanting to go there. But Jacy had told them that Sophie was a very hard stick…starting IVs had been hell for us for almost 8 months…and that they needed to call the IV team because they have this magical red light that finds a good vein every time. They didn’t listen to her and had already tried to stick Sophie on one hand and in both feet (even though Jacy told them no one, in 8 months had ever gotten a foot line to go in).

Now, disclaimer-Cooks is AMAZING and the staff was amazing….they just didn’t know Jacy or Sophie because we’d only been there for 5 weeks. And they apologized for not listening. It was just very hectic to walk in on an already stressful day to Soph already screaming.

But, we got the IV in finally and calmed her down.

Transport came and took us downstairs to get started. Cook’s didn’t have a PET Scanner so we were escorted across the sky bridge to the next door Methodist Hospital.

It was raining.

A long morning of waiting, sedation, waiting, PET scan, waiting, spinal tap, waiting, bone marrow aspiration, waiting, hearing test, waiting, and heart echo then we were back in our room with a very tired baby. And it kept raining.

My mom, Mammy was there by then to trade off with Jacy and we waited. Results usually took at least 24 hours and with it being 3 days until Christmas, we weren’t expecting any news. So when our nurse came in and said our doctor was coming at 3:00 to conference we were concerned. But at the same time…this was our first day of testing at a new hospital, with new doctors, and stem cell protocol is a big deal so I thought ‘maybe they rush things for stem cell’. It was hope in my heart trying to keep out the panic.

You see, we suspected it was back but we hadn’t said it out loud…not even to each other. We rationalized the bed soaking night sweats with the fact that her tiny body was so weak and exerting her for 3 hours a day in therapy was causing it. We knew her…we knew a spike in her counts was a bad sign but her doctor was positive…and again new hospital-stem Cell…they knew what they were doing. But we knew her. We also knew the chances of it coming back were high. We knew we were fighting an uphill battle…the Everest of hills.

Then.

3:00. Time stopped.

I knew the second he walked in that it was back. His face said it all. He had been crying. Out doctor, the pediatric stem cell expert…one of the best in the nation…had been crying before coming into our room to tell us….it was back….it had spread….it was in her entire chest cavity, her bone marrow, her spinal fluid, and was now invading the right side of her heart. And we were done. She was done. Her poor little body wasn’t strong enough for the kind of chemo that would attempt to save her life. If we had tried that, she likely would’ve lost what little brain function she had left…she would’ve suffering more…and still would’ve died.

I was in bed with her and just fell on top of her. Jonathan leaned against the sink counter in shock. My mom had to sit back onto the couch.

She was going to die.

How long? Was our next question.

You know most people hear ‘3-6 months’ or ‘1-2 months’ and I don’t know what i was expecting…because nothing obviously was an expectation for this moment. But when he said…days, maybe hours. I just wasn’t expecting that. The chemo we were giving her was acting like a colander, stopping some cancer but letting some through. So no one knew how long it would take to take over once we took that chemo away.

A lot happened after that. Shocked phone calls to get the word out. Questions of what do we do now? Sobbing on the floor of the chapel. Sobbing in the shower. Walking aimlessly in a fog. Everything was in slow motion. Having the ‘funeral’ conversation.

Because no one ever sits with their spouse and says ‘hey babe, what would our child’s funeral look like? What funeral home should we use? Caskets, Flowers….’ imagine that conversation….then multiply it times 500 and you might get it.

But we had to have that conversation. While the shock was fresh… before it set in. I wanted that out of the way. I didn’t want to be worrying about planning things after. I just wanted to be her mom.

And that’s what I did.

The next day, two days before Christmas we were moved back to Children’s Health in Dallas. Our families helped us pack the room and Ronald McDonald and we put our baby in her car seat for the last time and drove her. I sat in the back next to the car seat….just as I’d done hundreds of times before….but this would be the last.

The fact that that was able to happen at all, let alone so quickly, was a miracle from God.

Even though Cook’s was great…Children’s was home. They knew and loved and cared for her for 7 months. And I wanted them caring for her at the end. Because I was done being nurse and caregiver. I wanted to get in that bed and be mama. To read books, watch movies, sing songs, rub hands, kiss cheeks, and stare. Just stare at her while I could.

And I did. For 13 days. When time stood still.

Grace upon grace

It’s been quiet over here lately because I’ve just been a little blah. Staying busy has been really good for me over the last couple of weeks but I just haven’t had much to say in the writing department.

That’s not true, I have a lot to say but, I just haven’t been able to articulate a lot of it.

Grief and stress have changed so much about me. They’ve made me a bit more distracted and ‘scatterbrained’. I’ve always been the person that tackled my to do list everyday and found immense pleasure in marking things off. Now, I seem to keep adding to my list and I’ll tackle something then get distracted and start something else. And while I absolutely love the flexibility of my part time work, it’s been hard for me to figure out structuring my own schedule. I’ve never had to do that before. I’ve been on student then teacher schedule pretty much my whole life. So now, when I can’t seem to get things done I get frustrated and overwhelmed at my inability to finish projects that are on my heart and I end up being even more unproductive. And the list of topics and articles I want to write just keeps growing.

It’s like grief-induced Attention Deficit Disorder…Or that’s my self diagnosis.

But that’s where grace has come in such a big way. We’ve felt such profound grace since Sophie got sick and it carried us through her entire cancer battle. Then that grace multiplied to a level I’ve never experienced before in the last 13 days of her life. And getting through her death, the weeks after, and now almost one year of being without her….would just not have been or continue to be possible without it.

If you were fortunate enough to be in our hospital room during the last days or at Sophie’s service then you know what I’m talking about. It was just this physical feeling of a warm hug the second you stepped in. I wish I could bottle it and give it to those that need it.

But what’s so great about my God is that I don’t have to bottle it and give it to anyone. He offers it freely to anyone that needs it. Even if you don’t believe in Him…He’s still offering you grace…and you don’t have to do anything to earn it.

That’s a whole different conversation but, my point is…grace is what keeps me going. It’s not me that’s strong. It’s not me that makes up the words I write. It’s not me that has the strength to walk the halls of the hospital or comfort another grieving mom. It’s not me.

It’s Jesus and the grace that He pours into me and allows me to get through each day. It’s tangible and real in my life and when I have nothing to say or can’t seem to articulate the jigsaw puzzle that is my brain some days…I just ask for grace. Does that mean there aren’t days where i wake up swollen faced from crying into her stuffed giraffe that I sleep with? Or that I don’t feel crushed under the weight of her absence at some point every single day? No. But it does mean that I’m able to survive it. I’m able to have those moments…for as long as they last and then Grace picks me back up and helps me move through what’s next.

It’s not profound. It’s not some theological masterpiece of a prayer. It’s just grace.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” -Ephesians 2: 8-10

#Sophiethebrave #DomoreforSoph #Godisbigger #Onedaycloser

I Wish My House Was Messy.

My house is always clean. The laundry gets done quickly. The dishes are rarely stacked up in the sink. My counters are hardly ever sticky and nothing gets spilled. Everything gets put in its place and there is no clutter. My floor rarely needs sweeping and I never step on or trip over toys. My house is usually in perfect order . . . and it’s infuriating.

You see, my house used to be a wreck a lot of the time. We had diapers, wipes, blankets, books, applesauce pouches, Cheerios, toys, movies, and any other number of toddler paraphernalia strewn about the house. There were pink towels hung on the tub, sippy cups on the drying rack by the sink, random pacifiers hidden all over, and a trail of favorite toys leading to our daughter playing in the bathroom laundry hamper cabinet.

Now, there is none of that.

My daughter is gone.

Cancer took her from us three months before her third birthday.

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Where there once was sippy cups and tiny bowls, now there’s the coffee maker and a Rosemary plant I’m trying not to kill. The diaper bin is now full of her favorite things and put up in the closet with plastic bins of toys and clothes.The bathroom that once held her towels, bath toys, shampoos, soaps, and Tylenol now just has my stuff in it. I only have to worry about myself and my stuff each day. I no longer do extra laundry and dishes. There are no messes to sweep out from under a high chair and I only have to load my purse into the car. Diaper bags, snacks, car seats, extra clothes, strollers, and sunscreen aren’t on my radar anymore. In the evenings, I don’t end my night picking up the day’s mess and laying out what she needs for tomorrow. My grocery list is much shorter without extra milk, chicken nuggets, veggie pouches, diapers, yogurt, and Goldfish.

I’d give anything to have piles of laundry and dishes. I long to be late because I forgot snacks and had to change a diaper. I wish I didn’t get a full night’s sleep.

My house is always clean but, oh, how I wish it was messy.

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*Originally Published on Her View From Home*

Dear Military spouse on Veteran’s Day…

This post is not typical for me but, with it being Veteran’s Day, I wanted to share it anyways. I wrote this piece when a dear friend of mine’s husband deployed over the Summer.

*Originally Published on Her View From Home*

Dear military spouse,

I see you.

I see you counting down the days until he’s gone for basic training. I see you proudly by his side after he graduates. Sometimes I see you head to the courthouse for a quick wedding so you can stay by his side. I see you uproot your life and leave your family and friends to follow him to base after base, town after town, state after state, and sometimes, country after country. I see you making each new place a home as you join local military family groups, find activities for your kids, and get your new network of support set up.

I see you making as many memories as possible as you count down the days to his deployment. You take trips and go on dates and make sure he has everything he needs. You print pictures for him to have with him, leave love notes in his pockets and bags. You try as hard as you can to help your kids understand why Daddy has to leave and you hold them when they don’t get it. You give them all time together when you just want all of that time yourself. You buy “Daddy dolls” for the kids, get maps so you can track where he is, and make paper chains to count down the days until he’s home. Your Pinterest is full of deployment survival guides, military wife devotionals, care package ideas, and welcome home sign ideas.

I see you clutching onto his neck as you tell him goodbye not knowing if you’ll ever hug that neck again. I see you hold it together so he doesn’t have to see you cry. Then I see you hit your knees and sob as soon as he’s gone.

I see you trying to start your version of “new normal”. I see you set up play dates for the kids, trips to see family, and projects upon projects to keep you all occupied. I see you posting every article out there in support of our troops and veterans. I see you lifting boxes into the post office with overseas addresses. I see you posting his address and asking for encouraging letters and needed materials for him and his fellow soldiers. I see you frustrated because you’ve had yet another issue with military paperwork or healthcare. I see you being both Mom and Dad while trying to not let Dad’s role disappear while he’s gone.

You crash into your bed that feels too big and too cold, so some nights you end up gathering your kiddos in with you. You don’t sleep much, thinking about where he is and worrying you might miss a FaceTime or Skype call. You sit with the daily knowledge that the person you love most in the world is probably in danger or at least close to it.

I see you announcing the baby that will arrive before he gets home. I see you attending showers, decorating a nursery, and making birth plans without him here. You lean on your support system and do it without someone to share it with. You go into labor and try to get him on Skype to see his child come into the world. You do the newborn stage and so many others as a single parent.

I see you and your kids decked out in red, white, and blue. I see you waiting anxiously as you wait for his plane to land. I see your perfectly lettered welcome home sign. Your kids are bouncing up and down and the baby has a onesie saying “I’ve been waiting my whole life to meet you!” I see you keep yourself from sprinting to him as he gets off the plane. I see you hold your restraint until he’s dismissed to leave. And then, I see you finally get your hug. You jump on him and wrap him up with your arms and legs. Your kids tackle him and the baby finally gets to meet Daddy. You are a family again and you get to start a “new normal” over again.

You stand behind your man as he fights for our freedom. You see the politics and social media opinions that hate what he does and what he represents all while knowing he could die doing it. He isn’t the only one sacrificing. You sacrifice. Your children sacrifice. Your families all sacrifice.

You are strong. You are brave. You are a military wife.

And you are seen.

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“God Bigger Man”

Job 26:7-14 
“He spreads the skies over unformed space, hangs the earth out in empty space. 
He pours water into cumulus cloud-bags and the bags don’t burst. 
He makes the moon wax and wane, putting it through its phases. 
He draws the horizon out over the ocean, sets a boundary between light and darkness. Thunder crashes and rumbles in the skies. Listen! It’s God raising his voice! 
By his power he stills sea storms, by his wisdom he tames sea monsters. 
With one breath he clears the sky, with one finger he crushes the sea serpent. 
And this is only the beginning, a mere whisper of his rule. 
Whatever would we do if he really raised his voice?!”

I don’t usually prefer the Message translations of verses…I’m an ESV and NIV gal but, today, this translation just was so good. It took the sometimes difficult wording of the Old Testament and brought it to life.

Job is listing the reasons that he clings to his faith instead of giving up in the face of his great suffering. (Remember: 10 kids gone, wealth gone, awful skin disease, etc.)

It’s so easy to see how BIG God is if you look for it. If we look around us, to the earth and waters here below, we see his almighty power. I mean hello, mountains, oceans too deep for man to explore, space….so much that we can never fathom….He made it all. Why would He make things that man, His creation, couldn’t get to and experience? Because He’s God-The Lord of all-Most High and Almighty….and He wanted to….do He did. He spoke and it was so.

His power and ‘bigness’ are everywhere we see and also everywhere we don’t see.

I think sometimes, seeing how big and powerful God is isn’t the problem. I think we can see that plainly but, the problem comes with something terrible happens. When your 2 year old gets cancer and dies.

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If He’s a BIG and GOOD God who is able to destroy evil with a breath….then why didn’t he cure my tiny baby? It would’ve taken zero effort….He could’ve healed her then gone back to all of the other much bigger things He does. But He didn’t. Or did He?

You see, I think we have miracles and healing backward. Are healing and peace amazing to see here on Earth? Absolutely!! Would I have rather had Sophie miraculously healed here and been a medical marvel? Absolutely!! Should we still pray and believe those are possible? Absolutely!!

But we also need to see that our version of healing isn’t all there is. The world looks and feels like the best place for us. We’ve come to see death as an end and not a beginning. Death-for those saved by faith through grace-is the beginning of Eternity and perfection with Jesus and all those who have gone before us. That doesn’t mean we should rush to get to death-we are called to live out our purpose and love others like Christ loved us while we are here. We just also have to accept the fact that everyone’s purpose has different timelines AND that we don’t get to understand the why behind each one.

Some are 98 or 56 years but, others are 21 or 2 years and 9 months. And still others are even 52 hours or a number of days or weeks inside their mother. Each life has a purpose. Not one is a surprise to God. No baby conceived or life ended catches Him off guard. And guess what? He’s big enough for all of them. He’s big enough for the long full lives and He’s big enough for the ones cut short.

And you know what else?
He’s big enough for those of us left behind when they’re gone. He’s big enough to catch our tears and comfort our souls until the day comes when Death is defeated for good and forever.

God is bigger friends. We don’t have to understand. Just have faith.

#SophieTheBrave #DoMoreForSoph #Godisbigger#OneDayCloser #VeggieTales

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*Photo from Sophie’s very favorite ‘Teggies’ episode: Where is God When I’m Scared?

Praise the Lord… in all things

Psalm 147: 1-9

Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.
The Lord lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre!
He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills.
He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry

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I read this morning that the Bible says the phrase ‘Praise the Lord’ 250 times. There are also over 8,600 times of worship throughout Scripture. Those are not solely during times of celebration and ‘good’ things. In fact, if you’ve read the Bible…you know that there’s a lot of suffering. There’s a lot of disappointment and waiting. There’s evil and hate. From Genesis 3 all the way through to Revelation, sin runs rampant and destroys lives. Yet, there’s still praise and worship. Why? Because of the promise of sin’s defeat. The promise that ‘it is finished’. In Genesis three, in the same breath that sin is introduced into the world…the Lord responds with the promise of the One who will come and crush it. Hope is restored right after it’s lost.

This scripture builds my hope.
Hope in that the very same God that numbered and named the stars…the God that raised mountains, filled the seas, and separated the heavens from the earth. That same God-heals my broken heart and lifts me up. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Think about that. The stars-innumerable as they are-we can’t even see them all with even the most intricate telescope. The same God that numbered and named them all….He numbered and named you too. He cares for you. He hears the cry of your soul when your mouth can’t find the words and catches every tear. He heals your heart when it’s shattered.

On days of celebration and days of desperate sadness, He’s there.
And because of that…He deserves all praise and all worship.

Death is defeated friends. It IS finished. We just have to wait faithfully for Him to return and take us home.
And while we’re here……Praise the Lord. 

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