When you look beside you and don’t feel you’re measuring up 

There she is. She’s sprouting up and beyond and into the wild wind. She’s got the kind of beauty that’s wholly, makes others whole and they stop dead at the sight of her, yeah even flying cars freeze to linger her, to wonder her.  

And when they stop she doesn’t have to say a word because her living says it all. Her living that transformed from her being  — and now this moment of fixation brings no hesitation to admit seeing for a glimpse of time something tangible of perfection, of peace, of glory and everything deep down to the soul that satisfies.

Yeah, she speaks no words, she just lives and looks up and grows up. And her companions just like her, just as glorious, grow with her, around her. No comparison to each other, no looking down and around, just up. She has no choice but to grow up towards her life source – the sun.

Yeah that girl, she’s a sunflower. Yeah, a literal sunflower knows it so well — grow towards the sun, your life source, and you grow strong. You grow magnificent. You grow into who you were made to be. 

So why do even more beautifying beings, worth so much more than a flower that fades, continue to look down and around in anxious defense? 

Grow with one only one straight shot gaze, they cry out, to your Life Source – only then will you grow to who you were meant to be.

May you reach broad and wide up the horizons today, with firm roots only tangible through seeking up at the bright Savior, aiming to soothe our size-up reflex and instead savoring those growing around you. 

Only then will the parade of awed faces freeze to linger it in, this harvest of unique, brave beings in the wild wind.

#growlikeasunflower #eyesupnosizeup #preachingtomyself #yourspringbloomiscoming

For the days when you feel you can’t go on

An honest, true story about doubts, hardship, and fire-refined faith – dedicated to those who have been through the storm of losing a little one.. may you be refreshed with a newfound hope this Easter season.

In memory of those lost to and currently fighting congenital anomalies

It’s just a number, right? Eighteen. Seems indifferent, detached, unimportant.

Until it’s a part of a human life, a beating heart, a growing boy. 

The long awaited boy, after she’s had four beautiful, hands-full girls. Four girls she’d tenderly loved and sacrificed for 17 years now. And when she’d decided not to try for this boy anymore, after the necessary procedure and subsequent doctor’s predictions of less than 1% conceiving – sterile.  Yeah, quite impossible, they said – but the impossible  – became  –   possible.

Because even after this supposed infertility there he came forth still and small inside of her, cells dividing and DNA replicating  – miracle child – fighting the odds. And on the day when they rubbed jelly on her belly, camera focusing in to her uterus, her soul, the picture became clear and they had an answer. It’s a boy.

 A  baby  boy. 

Yeah, the picture became clear – and murky all at once – because on that day was when her heart started to gape, so fast and black you’d believe everything would crumble and suck in underneath it until the whole world tipped – at least her world – because the news that followed was anything but favorable.

Still he kept growing in her softly and her heart kept flailing for a solid ground, a reason why nowwhy us, why him? 

Because the swarm of pictures and lab results confirmed her boy titled to a number. Eighteen. Later they explained it was an extra chromosome, a genetic disorder called Trisomy 18, and, ma’am are you listening? and her world tipped a little more, gravity forcing her to skid down in a spiral from any kind of grip of normalcy again.

Oh yeah, no grip at all and then the freefall came and she heard the murmurs explaining something about the baby having a 50% chance of being a stillbirth if she carries all the way and there’s no known cause, only risk factors and she starts wondering if she had eaten better or gotten more sleep or worried or yelled less or even prayed more would this outcome be different?

Would it be different if I’d…

And then the possibilities and guilt crashed down wave after wave as they described more about the baby potentially having kidney or brain problems, or a hole in his heart and she’d felt that hole full well and her chest rattled the big question,

Why, God? 

Why wouldn’t I rock him to sleep or watch him take his first steps or swing a bat or teach him to drive or take his first date to prom? At each lost memory her heart wrenched a little deeper, doubted a little more, begged for a miracle.

Was     it      my      fault?

But as the weeks went on and the pictures kept proving that there hadn’t been a miracle, no, the backdrop of black got heavier and her flicker of hope faded to helpless. If He is the Almighty, if He is Able why is He at a standstill?

Her faith was shattered and the pieces seemed to vaporize in thin air where it seemed she’d never be able to grasp them again. Her normalcy was now having no control over all the events around her, no, she just knew the emptiness was within her and she could try to run back but she’d never get the past again. How would they make it? 

Because the cold winter night came, five days before Christmas and the second-shortest day of sunlight in the whole year, and the darkness seemed to birth where no light would quench it. The moment unexpectedly came, 11 weeks before he was supposed to, but she fought and he was a fighter within her, and she was afraid but he was brave and the monitors kept getting louder and louder and the pain greater and greater until finally it was done and he was there and there  was   no   cry.   

My baby….

Where    was    the    miracle? 

The weeks that followed were just a haze, moments of outside window color then sunken down deep again under the covers that never got warm. The January cold seemed to follow her from the gravesite to every other area in her life and, if she was honest, wondered if she would ever motion in sync with the rest of the world again instead of lying there frozen in space?

What good was it to believe in miracles if they didn’t happen?

Why was my only son born to die? 

The clouds closed up and the earth shook as another mother lay at the foot of her Son’s slaying only moments ago. It was finished, and yet it was hanging in the air, this Son of her’s whom she’d been with in the whole of His living and dying. All was still and the crowd dissipated their condolences one by one until she felt left alone to grieve at the grave in which everyone else seemed to move right on past. His last cries wrung in her ears as she searched the same question he uttered in front of all to see, to scrutinize — my God,  my God, why   have   You   forsaken   me? 

Was I ignorant to believe in a miracle, she wondered?

They spat and laughed and she could not grasp if His Kingship was really true where was His crown of control on this cross instead of shameful defeat called death?

If He is the only Son of God, they mocked, let Him get himself down from the cross!

But he hung there still and quiet dying a death that appeared to not have authority or power but weakness, humiliation and failure. Why would God do that?

 Everything she had believed in seemed to cave in beneath her as she tried to push against the anger, tears and doubt.

 Her mourning grew deeper as the next couple days’ sun had risen and set again, but then the third rise came and she lifted her head up to hear the crowds stirring about on the streets – some in shock, some in terror, and some with an unshakable New Hope.

It was over 2,000 years ago that this God-man, God literally as a man came down to this earth as a baby. God as a baby. 

Why a baby, when He could have come in an earthquake or a hurricane, something mightier? Oh but He came all 8 pounds of flesh and blood in humble submission to our world – so he could relate, so He could feel what we feel, endure what we endure. He grew up and he came not to judge our world but to save it. He came to be with, to eat with, to live with, and to love. He came and He did not reject the lowly, the little ones, or the different ones.  He came but He did not merely come to be our friend or our teacher. He came as the image of the Invisible God- holy,   perfect,    and blameless,       but    not    scarless. 

He came to set us free from death, because of our death. 

He came because of our rejection to God, our wretched nature which seeks to water-down our need for God, while we are drowning instead with our strong “can-do” faces while we are crippling in all of our soul’s places. 

He came to bear death so that we would have an infinite freedom from it if we seek to know Him. 

He comes to offer eternal life – and not with a shout or an accusation or a disappointed face, but a Whisper.

Death has been swallowed up. May all who trust in and have a personal relationship with Jesus know that there will be second chances with lost loved ones, there will be a time for unfulfilled dreams and cheated baseball games, there will be a time for warm embraces and there will be a time for time. 

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” On that day His Father looked away as He willingly bore the wrath of God for the entirety of humanity’s wickedness. 

So where was the miracle in this dying?

It was not humiliation, it was not weakness, it was not lack of an answer – it was power at its greatest – agape –   burning    Love.

He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. – Isaiah 25:8

Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? – 1 Cor. 15:55

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. – Romans 10:9

For all of our angels – share the awareness – Trisomy 18

Dear Battered and Broken

I don’t know who you are, or why you are here. For some reason, though, our two paths, each traveling in their own directions through eternity, have crossed in this specific moment in time. If you are anything like me, battered, bruised, and broken down — then we have much in common. And if you have ever ran along your path sprinting towards that sweet destiny that promised to satisfy, only to discover the surprising sourness that it really offered — then we have both tasted those similar subpar promises. Because more often than not, I find myself dreaming and wishing rather than living and thanking. However, these dreams are often tainted by the screams of this world — be smarter, be thinner, be more accomplished, be better than anything but yourself.

Maybe for you these screams come from a literal person — you can think of them, remember their looks, their words. Maybe they come from a tabloid or the TV — a screen where pretty faces and enchanting places hundreds of miles away makes you chase after that kind of literal far-fetched, blissful life. Or maybe, if you’re like me, most of them come from inside your own loud, clouded head.

It doesn’t make the accusations stab your heart any less, though. In fact, they bleed the most because you know the victim’s weak valves the best to sever the deepest cut. No matter which way these voices that cripple you find you (for me, it’s all three and I dare say for you, too), somehow certain ones collect at the focal of your being and have a tendency to linger there until they grow to dominate you, sometimes even destroy you.

Some people have an unusual ability to push the voices back and even believe they are not there for a while, walking through life balancing on a cable getting tighter and tighter until the last innocent splash hits the dam and the cable snaps and the floodgates are opened to pour out what was behind the wall the entire time. Others try to swim against the rushing waters, instead being always aware of the voices they are up against but not finding the strength to fight them because they’re gasping for dear life-breath. Others, still, are the ones spewing out the voices themselves, I believe, as a result of a wounded heart that has scarred and hardened to their own voices that have settled their home there much too long.

Do you see? It’s all around us, in each one of us — it saturates our entire being. This longing, this craving for a Voice. This craving to be a voice. We’re all running around chasing after something that at some point a voice told us it was worth the pursuit — maybe for you its climbing the ladder to that position, that place finally where you can prove yourself, or maybe its the white dress you dream of wearing every night while sleeping by yourself or maybe, just maybe–its to simply find enough courage to lift yourself up off the cold ground after you’ve been knocked down by the voices so much that failure yet again cripples you before you even move.

Truth is, you are chasing after voices because you were meant to follow the One Voice, you are stabbed by lies because you were meant to hear the Truth, and you desire to be a voice because you were magnificently designed after the One Who Spoke.

Dear battered and broken, wobbly and weak-kneed — do not miss this — if those voices surrounding you have clamored for your attention to follow only to be deceived, to believe only to be left broken, and you are left knowing at your core they will never, ever reach to relieve that deepest part of you (you can feel it, I know), that core that knows there is more to it than this — if you can feel that, if you have experienced that — then you are right where you need to be.

You are right where you need to be.

Because once your chase has been found to be directionless, your map to be found there’s no place on earth that’s true Home, and you have figured out that what you seek will never satisfy — then you are ready to look up from this pained world to listen and receive the sweet sound of not a shout, but His Whisper. And His Whisper does not accuse, does not trick, does not shame you for the way you have ran and stumbled and fallen to His Feet, begging — no, it picks you up in open arms and gently says “Come to me, child.”

“Then Jesus said, Come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest'” — Matthew 11:28

Are you ready to tune out those voices and listen to the One that sings melodies to you? Are you ready to stop chasing and instead be chased after by Him who is jealous for you? If you are like me and find yourself at this place often, where this world and your own self has left you despaired and left as a beggar for hope — then this weakness and this hole-ness is perfect for his holiness and his grace and his lavishing love to crash over you in perfect wave after wave.

Finally you and I will be able to not drown in the waters of voices but be called by His Voice away from the shore to the middle of the ocean of unending grace where you will not ever drown again but be hand-in-hand with the One who walks on waters.

“But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

–Matthew 14:27-29

Dear Lord,

I am tired of listening to the noise around me and in me. I am tired of pursuing things that leave me wandering away from You and empty. I am left a beggar at Your feet ready to come home. I crave to know you, and to hear and believe no other voice but Yours. Will you come and speak to my heart? Will you crash your waves of love and grace over me? Thank you for never giving up your pursuit for me. Please help me to trust you to stop listening to the voices that drown, but to walk above them and listen only to Your voice. Thank you for wildly loving me and speaking the Truth I crave to hear, the Truth that will set me free. Amen.