“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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[HIS] Will not mine

“Those of low estate are but a breath;
those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
they are together lighter than a breath. 
Put no trust in extortion;
set no vain hopes on robbery;
if riches increase, set not your heart on them.

Once God has spoken;
twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God, 
and that to you, 
O Lord, belongs steadfast love.
For you will render to a man
according to his work.”
Psalm 62:9-12

I think it’s so easy to say -put your faith in God and not man. We say ‘Just trust in the Lord’ when really we are trusting in ourselves and in the culture around us to validate us…even though we love Jesus.

The world tells us…
If we just make enough money…
If our kids go to the right school…
If we can just hit that number on the scale…
If our marriages can look happy…
If people ‘like’ our social media posts…
If we are deemed successful at work…
If our kids are well behaved…
If we have a 401k…
If we go to church…
If we serve at church…
If we just pray…

Then we’ll be happy.

It’s not wrong to want those things. It’s not wrong to want to be comfortable and happy.

But what happens when you put your faith and trust…all of your eggs…in those baskets and then…your kid gets aggressive cancer. Then that cancer mutates in a rare and unforeseen way. All of those things go out the door…and you’re in survival mode.

Your trust can’t be in man. Because man can’t do anything without God. The doctors can’t fix her without Him. All the money in the world can’t fix it. Marriage, work, social media…the world…none of it can fix her. Your sense of ‘control’…the imaginary control that you think you have over your life is gone.

When you’re there…you lean on the Lord in a way that the world could never handle. The world would crumble under the weight of your full body, heart, and soul. The grief and worry. Your prayers and energy. The world can’t handle it-Man can’t handle it-But God can.

Man will always fail you in some way.
The Lord can never and will never fail. His love and goodness endure forever. His Will is far greater than ours. Even when His Will is to heal someone in Heaven than here on earth. His Will, not mine, not man’s, not the world’s…HIS. 

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True Surrender

“But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation. 
Thus shall you say to them: “The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.” 
It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens. When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses. 
Every man is stupid and without knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols, for his images are false, and there is no breath in them. 
They are worthless, a work of delusion; at the time of their punishment they shall perish. 
Not like these is he who is the portion of Jacob, for he is the one who formed all things, and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance; the LORD of hosts is his name.”
Jeremiah 10:10-16

Let’s talk idols. An idol is defined as an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship. Anything one values over God in their life. False gods, money, beauty, lust, success, power, fame…all of these are things that our culture worships.

Good things can be idols too if you value them over God. Seeking to make a difference, serving others, self-care…

An idol can also be a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered. Not a famous person…any person. Your spouse, boss, friends, pastor….your children….if you love and revere them over the Lord, they are an idol. 

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Seeking control over your life can be an idol. So can fear and worry.

It’s really easy being on a public platform, to value the approval of others. Am I saying the right thing? Posting appropriately? Am I being annoying? How many likes did that get?

The world can be your idol. Living your life as if THIS is all there is….

What are you holding onto? What can you give to the Lord or at least ask His help with? What are you valuing more than how HE sees you?

God promises that as we pray and meditate on His Word, the Holy Spirit will so satisfy us in Christ that our idols are destroyed.

Lately I’ve been asking the Lord to help me not let Sophie be an idol in my life. That He will grant my heart the ability to long for HIM more than I long for her. I pray I will seek to share HIS story through hers and that I will just be an obedient vessel writing what He puts on my heart. 

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God is Bigger than Doubt

“I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”
Jeremiah 32:27

I’ve re-read this verse so many times today. The Lord’s message to us here is so simple, NOTHING, not.one.thing is too hard for Him. Yet, for some reason we doubt Him all the time. We don’t openly call it doubt because for me personally, I fully believe my God is big and able. I truly believe all that He says He is. But I’d be lying if I said I’ve never doubted who He is.

I’ve asked myself Is the same God of the Bible that performed miraculous things…is that God capable of helping me? Is He big enough for the grief and pain that I feel? Does He see little ole me?

The answers, by the way, are yes. Even when I can’t see it.

Doubt affects us all. The reality is that no one’s faith is ever perfect in this life. It’s part of living here in a broken world full of sin. But, if something isn’t perfect, you know what is possible? Growth and improvement. My faith is not perfect, so it can grow and become stronger.

Doubt is like a gap between our faith and perfect faith. There is nothing Christians cannot doubt. Sometimes we doubt our salvation, God’s love for us, the reliability of Scripture, the existence of God, or the identity of Christ. But Jesus is the bridge for our gap.

It’s easy on this side to think-Is God really big enough to handle my problems along with everyone else’s? Where is God in this?

He is everywhere, always. In all places, at all times, with us all. 

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Sophie The Brave indeed

Courage is defined as strength in the face of pain or grief so it’s entirely appropriate that Beads of Courage are given to children going through medical suffering.

In children’s hospitals across the nation, children get a bead for each different test, surgery, scan, procedure, medication, or hardship they face during their treatments. There are programs for Childhood Cancer and blood disorders, NICU, cardiac conditions, and chronic diseases.

When a child is older, the incredible Child Life Specialists are able to use these beads to explain what is happening to them. They bring their name letters in and let the child start their necklace. It’s an incredible way for kids to have a visual and tactile way to process what is happening to them.

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For younger children, like Sophie, it’s a way for moms, like me, to keep track of what is happening. I am by nature an organized person so these beads were so therapeutic to me. Everyday I wrote down what Sophie went through, charter each thing in her head journal, and then requested the beads from our nurses every 21 days when the journal was full. Then I’d sit-usually late at night while my baby slept-and I spread out her ever growing necklace. I’d dump out the bag of 3 weeks worth of beads and start sorting. I put each color bead in its own pile and then made patterns. Yellow, black, white, rainbow, blue, bumpy…repeat. Green, pink, red, star…repeat. And on and on I’d go until I ran out of beads. Then I’d tie the necklace back together, walk over to Sophie’s bed, and hang it up on her IV pole….A few feet longer than it had been the day before.

I did it every 3 weeks for 7 and a half months. It helped me process what was happening. It told her story. I wanted every single thing she went through documented. It was her testimony. The physical proof of how brave and incredible she was being. I also wanted it to be able to show her one day when she was big enough to understand. These beads were so much more than a necklace.

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In December when we found out Sophie was terminal and we discontinued treatment, I almost stopped keeping track of her beads. I thought, what’s the point? She was dying. I would never be able to show her the beads. I’d never get to sit and tell her what each one meant and how she had overcome all of it. I’d never get the victory picture of her healed and whole, covered in thousands of beads. What was the point?

My mama, Sophie’s Mammy, helped me see that there was still a point. We didn’t know how long she had left but, however long it was…she still was earning those beads. She was still going through one of the hardest things a child could ever go through. Her story still deserved to documented. She knew I’d want that story-the complete story. She knew ‘what’s the point’ was my crushing grief talking.

So for 13 more days, I kept writing down each bead and giving the journals to our nurses. One precious nurse brought them in one night with ‘God is Bigger’ beads for me to add to her necklace.

And on that final day, January 4, 2018, Child life searched the entire hospital for one bead. The last bead. The butterfly.

 

Sophie was sick for 232 days. She has 1,344 beads. Her necklace weighs 3.5 pounds and is 45 feet long when stretched out. She had:

10-heart shaped-PICU

200-yellow-nights spent inpatient

26-red-blood or platelet infusions

116-Black-pokes with needles

181-white-chemo doses

137-rainbow-PT, OT, Respiratory, Speech

21-Acts of Courage

130-bumpy-days spent unable to walk…stuck in her bed

56-light green-X-ray, CT, PET, MRI, ultrasound

81-lime green-days with fever or neutropenia (no immune system)

28-Tortoise-spinal Tap or wound care visit

10-beige-Bone marrow aspiration

3-Orange-PICC placement & removal & port placement

13-magenta-ER visit or ambulance ride

76-purple-antibiotic infusions

35-times under anesthesia

20-aqua-tube placements (NG, G-Tube, Chest Tube, Foley Catheter)

52- grey-dressing changes

5-smiley face-hair loss/growth

5-Star-surgical procedures

125-light blue-mouth care

6-blue-clinic visits

3 fish- an upstream battle

1 Butterfly- flying free

And she earned every…single…one.

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Sophie’s beads tell her story. They tell of her bravery. They tell the excruciating journey or childhood cancer. And while I can’t ever sit with her and tell her about it…I CAN tell the world. I can tell anyone that will listen because, it’s her story, and it matters more than almost anything else in my life.

My Brave baby, I’m so proud to be your mama.

#SophieTheBrave #DoMoreForSoph #GodisBigger #OneDayCloser #BeadsofCourage #ChildhoodCancerAwareness #MoreThan4 #GoGold

The world doesn’t care that I’m grieving.

I’ve learned something in the last few days on our trip to Seattle for my sister’s wedding…the world doesn’t care that I’m grieving. My world felt like it stopped on January 4, 2018 when Sophie took her last breath but, it didn’t. Everything else outside of our little corner room on D6 at Children’s Health kept going. The clocks kept ticking, the hospital kept buzzing with activity, traffic still backed up, the sun still set, I kept breathing…and a whole host of other things kept going even though my body was stuck at 2:11 PM.

In the months following her death, I didn’t put myself into situations where i was around strangers much. I stayed in a bubble of people that know and care about me and Sophie. The world still moved on but, my people kept the bulk of change from slapping me in the face. Now, a few more months later, I’ve obviously re-entered the world a bit and am reminded daily that the world doesn’t care that my daughter died. My people care…but now that I’ve ventured outside of my comfort bubble of loved ones…the world is still big, it’s still turning, and it didn’t stop in January.

That became painfully obvious during our travels this week.

Grief does weird things to your brain. I now have, what I call ‘grief induced social anxiety’…I’m not a doctor but, I never had social anxiety or got overwhelmed easily before Sophie got sick. It now hits both Jonathan and myself pretty heavily sometimes…not all the time but, when it hits it’s pretty debilitating. Even with Zoloft on board.

In stressful situations, I get really overwhelmed all of a sudden, my heart pounds, I get really hot, tears tend to start leaking from my eyeballs and it leads to a full on sobfest.

And the world could care less.

On Friday, traffic didn’t care that we had a flight to catch for my sister’s wedding in Seattle. The 6 wrecks we passed had no clue that it had already been a hard week for me and neither did the construction crews that stopped us for almost an hour. The traffic in Seattle and the ferry schedules didn’t care that I was 200% overwhelmed by the time we got in our rent car at 7pm

Seattle time. None of it cared that I was on the verge of a full on panic meltdown. The rain and wet roads didn’t care that I was in tears because I was missing my sister’s rehearsal dinner on top of everything else. The world doesn’t care that I get anxious being away from home because I’m away from the cemetery…away from my girl. Then on our way home, yesterday, Hurricane Michael didn’t care that I was so ready to be away from large crowds and in my home on the couch under blankets. Airport delays didn’t care that the emotional hangover was setting in and I just needed to decompress at home for a bit.

Grief multiplies stress.

Stress multiplies exhaustion.

Exhaustion multiplies grief…..and on it goes, until it passes.

And the world doesn’t care but, Jesus does.

He knows the anxiety.

He knows the stress.

He knows the overwhelmed sense of panic.

He knows the tears.

He knows the grief behind it all.

He knows your heart.

He knows you.

He is the Shepherd that leaves the 99 sheep to find the one that’s lost.

And you know what? It’s already redeemed. Because we decided that driving home from Dallas at 1AM wasn’t safe so we got a hotel. Now, today, after 10 hours of sleep…we are going to visit the hospital and our sweet friend Addie. So yeah, Friday and yesterday’s travels were awful. But we had precious time with my family. My sister married her person in a gorgeous ceremony and we got to take in some incredible scenery.

We are thankful to be safely back in Texas. We are thankful to get to love on our nurses and friends.

So I’m calling that a win.

#SophieTheBrave #DoMoreForSoph #GodisBigger #OneDayCloser #AddiesArmy #WorldMentalHealthDay #1in5