Tuesday, November 25, 2008

psalm 126:3

To our precious blog family,
First, let me apologize for being so delinquent in making any posts. It has been a whirlwind of a weekend and now we are at home! I am trying to figure out how to put pictures up here because there are so few words that I can come up with to express my joy and my gratitude.

We went in on Friday, filled with apprehension and some shock - after living for so long under a cloud, having to accept things as they were and embracing the bleakness of our reality as a part of a plan that we didn't choose but could live through with the Lord - it seemed strange, almost wrong, to be anticipating something so enormously wonderful. The surgery went smoothly, however, and within moments of delivery, we heard the first sweet cries belonging to a child we'd waited on not just nine months, but years. Conor and I wept. She had a head full of hair and, upon really getting a good look at her, we realized she was almost a carbon copy of her big sister! Five years difference in age doesn't seem to affect how genetics work. We even see resemblances to Copeland in our newest girl.

Many of you have asked about her name, even when we learned we were having a girl. For a long time, we deliberated and the only real consensus Conor and I could reach was that we needed it to be unique - after all, we had Sellers and Copeland as our first two! - and we wanted it to have significance. Emerette was Conor's great-grandmother's name. We never knew her, but this was the first time we'd chosen a name from his side of the family. I agreed that it was time to do so, but I wanted her middle name to somehow connect back to Copeland, which was my great-grandmother's maiden name. Looking back at family records, we found that the first Copeland to this country - a man by the name of George - had married a certain Sarah McClure in something like 1755. I immediately loved the way the names sounded together, and it seemed like a special way to honor our precious daughter who won't ever get to know her new baby sister.

We are, as I recently said to some friends, "delusionally happy"! It seems as though we have entered a season of tremendous joy and we are walking in it with great appreciation and deep praise for the Father. May He be given all the glory and all the honor!

More to come...

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Emerette McClure Farley

She is here! I am so sorry for the delayed posting. Boothe is a bit worn out, and I am not good at updating things. Thank you for your prayers. Emerette is doing amazing! She was born yesterday at 12:35(lunch time) at 6lbs 15 ounces. She looks just like her sisters, and I am so proud of her. Here are a couple pictures until Boothe updates.


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Thursday, November 20, 2008

the big day

Most of you probably know: we are going in tomorrow at noon to deliver our third daughter. I can hardly believe it. Actually, I almost sort can't believe it at all. As i recently told a friend, it's a strange sensation to walk into something that has been so fraught with anxiety and sorrow and just feel, well, normal about it. It's almost beyond my own faculties to take it all in. After living in "survival mode" for so long - operating under the mantra of, "well, this isn't good, but we'll survive it" - it's an odd thing to actually try to prepare yourself for blessing. To embrace it and believe it. And hope for it. I have struggled, for several days now, with fear, apprehension and unrest. I realize this is the work of the enemy. But the mind is often a bleak battlefield and were it not for your prayers, I know I'd be in an all too often losing fight.

We are asking specifically for prayer that the delivery (a c-section) will go like clockwork, no complications to speak of. I've never had a baby forego the NICU, so this would be the first. My prayers are that she will come out kicking and screaming - literally! The sonogram I had on Monday estimated her weight at a little over 7.5 pounds; while we know this is really just an educated guess, it warmed my heart to think she might actually be 'chubby'. So we shall see! It's a strange thing to have her so near even as I type and yet so totally unknown.

We will post pictures as soon as we are able. I can't wait to to show her off to all of you, the ones who've walked so diligently with our family through so much. It is with great excitement and joy that I look forward to witnessing the Father reveal Himself tomorrow.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

three weeks, 2 days

Tonight I realized it'd been six weeks almost since i last wrote on the blog and I felt compelled to put something down. I'm sorry. I suppose a part of me has wanted to sort of withdraw and just relax mentally. it's hard to believe that in a little over three weeks - three weeks from this Friday - we will be meeting our third daughter.

Even as I sat beside Sellers tonight while she "read" a Berenstain Bears book to me before bed, the whole time feeling the baby kick around at her sister's voice, it just doesn't seem real. I can hardly believe a few inches separate me from her now, let alone a few weeks' time. Every evidence is there to prove she's on her way... soon... but it still doesn't seem real.

Just for you to know the details, we are going in on Friday, November 21 for a c-section at noon (Nashville time). We will of course be posting pictures and sending updates as often as possible! I know for many of you this feels like it's as much a part of your own story - in its way - as it is for Conor and I. We, too, are anxious to see what marvels the Lord has up His sleeve. My only requests at this point are for a smooth, easy delivery. I've not yet had a baby who wasn't in the NICU (Sellers was delivered three weeks early due to an infection and consequently spent a few days there), so I am praying this will be my first!

If you get the chance, please go visit Youtube.com and watch Matt and Ginny Mooney's video documentary about their son, Eliot. I'm sure most of you have; it's fresh on my heart today because the Mooneys got to spend a few moments on "Oprah" this afternoon discussing their story. It wasn't nearly as long as they should've had to talk about that precious boy, but I can only imagine how many people have since watched the video and heard the Gospel proclaimed through the simplest terms: God loves to show Himself through weakness. I look forward to getting to meet Eliot when I've got Copeland back in my arms again.

More to come...

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

one year

Tomorrow is Copeland's birthday. I can hardly believe so much time has passed. Conor and I pulled up the video we were so graciously given for her memorial service and I was absolutely undone as we watched what should be by now familiar images flash across the screen. For him, perhaps they were; for me - well, I confess I can so rarely watch the video that each time I do, it's like a sort of reunion... remembering her face, her noises, just the way she was. And realizing, all over again, that she's gone. I would ask you simply to pray for us. Amazingly, in almost six months, God has given me really smooth days. Not to say that the sadness doesn't creep in on occasion, but life has been startlingly normal and... good. For some reason, after putting Sellers to bed tonight, the weight of all that was about to happen a year ago tomorrow - the beginning of the best and the worst week of my life - hit and I felt the very air being sucked out of me. The joy. That strange, panicked sensation that rocked my very being when the funeral home took Copeland's body away... it all returned afresh, as though twelve months hadn't really gone by. In some ways, as I've told friends, I just want tomorrow to be normal. It hurts too much to allow it to be anything more. It's too hard. And yet, in others, I know it will bless me to stop and do whatever it is I need to do - cry, laugh, simply remember - and give myself the freedom to indulge what I beginning to realize I've long suppressed. Whether that suppression is healthy, I don't know. I suppose I've done what I've needed to do to get by. But i found myself tonight uttering the same prayers I did a year ago: "God, just get me through this. Get me through whatever time is left between now and the moment i get to hold her again." Pray that our grief would be authentic... whatever that means. And pray, too, that as we embark on a new season, one filled with unspeakable joy, that I will have wisdom and maturity to open my heart and my arms to embrace the new life we are about to welcome into our family.

Thank you all for being one of the many who reached out to Conor and I over the last twelve months to carry our burden. Your letters and cards and e-mails and even - of course! - comments on this blog, have meant more to me than I can express. I am forever altered by the way you have loved me. It will always shape the way I love others from now on and it will give me strength as I continue to walk this path the Lord has called me to.

With deepest gratitude and sincerest affection,

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

sweet Joseph

Just when we begin to decide we've acquired enough spiritual maturity to wrestle with the "big questions" in life, the Lord will be faithful to remind us we don't have it all figured out and He's going to be a mystery until we see Him face to face.

Precious Joseph Peabody, whom I blogged about months ago after his diagnosis with a brain tumor at the tender age of three, passed away this past Thursday. He had celebrated his fourth birthday Wednesday. Conor and I have just returned from the visitation. To say I felt like an idiot trying to articulate anything of worth to sweet GIllian and Allen is a vast understatement. They will probably remember little of this night and be anxious to forget what they do recall. Allen's sister, Jennifer, reiterated to me what I knew for the first time - and, I pray, the last - almost a year ago when we handed our sweet Copeland over to the funeral home: death is horrid. Ugly. Evil. It's truly wielded in the fires of hell, meant to bind us forever in hopeless captivity. Jesus, Jesus, how we trust Thee! How we've proved Thee o'er and o'er! Praise be to God that this is not all there is... and what is to come can be incomparably greater than what we know now, if only we will throw ourselves at His scarred feet and breathe the words, "I need You. Save me. I cannot do this anymore on my own."

Pray for the Peabody family. Pray they will be comforted, somehow. Pray they will see Joseph in their dreams. Pray they will be able to find steadiness in their moments of panic, in the moments they feel the sudden, terrifying reality of separation from their sweet boy set in. I can attest to the fact that there is nothing like it. Pray Jesus gives them an amazing sense of peace and knits them close to Himself. Please visit their blog, www.prayforjoseph.blogspot.com, if you desire to leave a word of encouragement or peace. The next few months will be hardest, in some ways, as their world has been ripped at the seams while ours continues on in plodding regularity.

Come, Lord Jesus, come. Please come.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

what did she mean by that?

I've never responded to comments posted on my blog before, but my spirit is restless and I feel compelled to do so. I pray my heart is made clear here.

First of all, I let the post entitled "simplify" sit for a while after it was written because I was unsure of how it would be received. I want those of you who are reading my blog to understand that I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. That it is totally God-breathed and that even the parts of it that seem difficult to understand or process are still His Word. We can't dissect portions of it so that our feelings are better justified or defended. Having said that, I would tell anyone - gay or straight - that my personal beliefs on homosexuality must be shaped by the words of the Bible. Everything else in my life is! The Bible is very clear on homosexuality. Paul even writes in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 about homosexuality and says that it is a sin. I struggle to use that word because our interpretation of sin as modern-day Bible readers is sometimes so skewed; we often believe it gives us permission to begin alienating and persecuting the very "one anothers" Jesus calls us to love. What sin is, in its simplest form, is something that separates us from God. Homosexuality is a sin just like lying or cheating or even compulsive worry are sins. They are things that separate us from the Father because they are not a part of the way He created us to live in complete compatibility with Him. This is what I wanted to make clear by using the passage regarding living "well" - not just getting by. Where there is sin, there is a better way. A way to experience freedom in Christ that, in turn, points to living righteously. We will never be able to reverse the equation. Freedom in Christ - accepting His free gift of grace - must come before any decisions we make to live sometimes incredibly difficult but godly lives.

While I am utterly convinced that Scripture is not only clear but inerrant in this teaching on homosexuality as sin, I am also utterly convinced that Jesus is appalled at the way Christians treat homosexuals. Not because we are wrong to read the Bible as inerrant, but because we take the word 'sin' and allow it to justify an incredible abuse of our fellow man. We are called to love each other while at the same time hate the sins that entangle us. Hate the sin - the traps we fall into, the lies we believe about ourselves and about life. Satan is at the helm of our determination to mock, persecute and degrade homosexuals out of their homosexuality. I desire, as a sinner saved by Jesus' unbelievable grace, to say to my precious friends who are homosexuals - whether wrestling against it or embracing it fully - to simply exonerate the truths of Jesus: you are loved, you are dear to the Father, and if you so desire, He will equip you to live in a better way. It will not be easy. And I cannot say I understand it or can comprehend what that path will look like for you. But far be it from me to question His capability.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I have heard the Gospel - and it was foreign to me.
I have heard the Gospel and it was the gospel - good news.

The Lord has been giving me a word lately, over and over: simplify. I have believed these words were directly related to my materialism. I do love a good shopping spree. Not something the good Christian should admit to, I suppose. What I have realized is that He wasn't talking about those things at all. He was talking about my definition of my own salvation.

He sent a man to my family - my parents, my brother, Conor and I - this last week. A South African man who, along with his wife, has resided in the United States long enough to lose his lovely accent but, I suspect because the Lord appreciates a thing of beauty, still pronounces every syllable with the merry, lilting sound of someone entrenched in a world seas away. This is who brought me the Gospel. And it is on those terms that I hand it back to you. They aren't his terms, but rather the Father's, and so I am suprised after twenty-nine years alive to not have heard it before.

There are two stories here - both true. One involves me and a friend in a Starbuck's about a year ago. She is looking at me, knowing that I know she is seeing another woman, and tells me, plainly, as though stating a fact, "I know I could marry her. I know it would be all right. But something in me knows that if I were to marry a man, it'd be better." That is the beginning of one story. It is not over. But the second happened thousands of years ago and has long since been given its share of dust. Just like all other stories in Scripture, it holds truths that, were we to glimpse it clearly, would blow our minds.

This second story involves, ironically, two friends, as well. Two young men - one, the son of the king, Jonathan. The other, an aid to the king, and Jonathan's best friend: David. The king, a man named Saul, a man tormented by his own avarice and ambition, knows what many others are beginning to know: God has anointed this young man, this David, and is preparing him to rise in power. Power that leads directly to the throne. Saul determines to kill David. And so, in a field outside the palace walls, David and Jonathan weep together, knowing one will remain with a vengeful father while another must flee for his life. Jonathan reminds David of something that would bind their households together forever: a covenant made between them in friendship that said that the Lord was a witness between them in their commitment to each other, between not only David and Jonathan, but also their descendants - forever.

Later, when Jonathan, along with his father, is killed in battle, David is in anguish. He cries out for his friend, calling him a "dear brother" for whom he is "crushed" (2 Samuel 1:25). There is a great love between them that cannot be fully understood in words. A love that was entrenched in sacrifice and honor. And David is true to his word, true to the covenant he made with Jonathan. Because of his love for his friend, David asks, after years have passed, after he is the crowned king, whom in the house of Saul - whom in Jonathan's line - is still living that he may honor the covenant he made with kindness? There is someone. He's not a hero. His name is Mephibosheth. He is living in a land far from David, a land marked with barrenness and of no consequence. What's more, he's a man who has lost use of both of his feet. We can imagine how he approached the king when summoned, with great pain and tremendous humiliation: "Shuffling and stammering, not looking at David in the eye, Mephibosheth said, 'Who am I that you pay attention to a stray dog like me?'" (2 Samuel 9:8, The Message). David lifts his chin and tells him not to fear. From now on, he is one of the king's household. Royalty. He and his family will eat at the king's table and will never worry about provision again. Because David loved Jonathan, Mephibosheth's father.

But Mephibosheth is a man, not unlike his grandfather Saul, who is tormented. Perhaps it was his crippled feet. Perhaps it was the fact that his family once set plans to kill this good king. Perhaps it was shame over secrets in his past, or anger with the father David so dearly loved, or lack of faith in a God David so ardently worshiped. Whatever the reason, Mephibosheth is not a man who can understand David's offer. Imagine David incessantly bestowing favor upon this man and his family. Imagine how often he must have seen the bent body, hobbling from place to place, all but shouting out, "I don't feel worthy!" Imagine what it must have been like for David when, after years, Mephibosheth, as much a son to David as any of his children, looks into the aging king's eyes and says, "What right do I have to appeal to you?" Imagine the sorrow. The frustration. "Oh, Mephibosheth! Will you never understand? It's not about you! It's about Jonathan!"

You and I are Mephibosheth. A people - not Christians, but humans - who are marked by defect, caught up in our own web of shame and humiliation, bent over and broken down, unworthy and unable to bring anything to God to earn even a crumb from His table. And yet He invites us to be a part. To be His children. But just like Mephibosheth, we make that invitation about us. We decide it must hinge on our actions or our words or our ritual - be it baptism, or communion, or charitable services, or tithing, or praying, or reading the Bible, or going to church, or never cussing or smoking or drinking or lying or sleeping around or being gay. Because it doesn't make sense otherwise. The offer doesn't make sense. If we aren't good enough as we are, then surely we have to earn it? But it's not about us. It's about Jesus.

We are accepted because God made a covenant with His Son. And we can live in the freedom of that acceptance if we'll simply take Him at His Word. It's not about us. It's about Jesus.

So back to Starbuck's. What was it that this girl got that I didn't? How could someone who'd been living what everyone else around me would call a "fallen" life have an answer to a question I'd never thought to ask? How could God reveal the truth of Christ to me through her? The truth of Christ is this: we are free. My friend was right - she could marry her girlfriend. God would still love her if that's the choice she made. Why? Because it's not about her. It's about Jesus. And yet - does that mean just because it would be permissible it's automatically beneficial? No! Jesus came to set us free from right and wrong. We are not slaves to the law. We are not slaves to rules. We have been set free. But not so that we can bow to our human nature. Rather, so that we can listen to the quiet stirrings within us that point to something better. Something higher. Something holier. As Paul wrote in his letter to the church at Corinth: "Looking at it one way, you could say, 'Anything goes... But the point is not to just get by. We want to live well" (1 Cor. 10:23, The Message). My friend knew it. She knew there was something better. There was a way to live well! Not right! Well! Fuller, deeper, richer, more meaningful lives handed to us from the very Throne of Grace!

God has called me to simplify. This isn't about me. This isn't about my not being gay. This isn't about your not getting drunk - or whatever else we use to define our sense of self-righteousness. It's isn't about us at all. It's about Jesus.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

psalm 126:3

"The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy!"

Our girl is perfect!

These were the words written on one of those Christian-bookstore-type calendars hanging in the sonographer's office this morning. When we went in, I was so nervous and so unable to pray anything else, I simply began repeating over and over again in my mind, "Lord, please do great things for us today!" He was faithful. We were meant to spend an hour in the sonogram room and instead, spent only around 20 minutes - the baby was so active and so perfectly positioned that within less than half the time usually projected, we saw every single thing the doctors want "checked off" - organs, limbs, brain, heart, etc. She was incredibly "photogenic," as the sonographer put it, and Sellers - whom we took with us on a whim, since she's been adverse to going up until now - watched it all while happily gnawing on a lollypop. We are still somewhat reeling from the gift of this incredible news... the Lord truly has done great things for us, and we are indeed filled with inexpressible joy.

To say that words fail me in relaying my heartfelt GRATITUDE for your prayers today and throughout these days is an understatement. I prayed this morning that the Lord would use the joy of this victory to bring honor and glory to Himself in the same way He used our suffering. It is without a doubt that Conor and I are alive and functioning today because of HIM. He has been our sustenance and our joy and our strength. His Word has given us a firm footing to stand on when we have been shaken. We rejoice over this wonderful news not only for ourselves and the amazing blessing we know He is already pouring out on our family, but also as a message of HOPE for those who might feel all hope is lost. Do not fear! Our God is a God who loves us more than we love ourselves. He promises to give us the desires of our hearts if we will delight ourselves in Him.

Praying the blessing you have heaped upon us will return to you in hundredfolds...


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Thursday, July 10, 2008

help me with my unbelief...

First of all, I cannot begin this e-mail without saying thank you, thank you, thank you for the prayers I know you are continuing to lift up on our behalf. I have so many times been prompted to pray for someone and found myself distracted and even irritated because I have something else I need to do; I am humbled knowing that so many of you have probably faced those same distractions and still have chosen to stop and pray for Conor, Sellers and I. Thank you.

I will officially be 20 weeks pregnant tomorrow. As many of you know, this marks a significant milestone in any pregnancy. For our family, it's HUGE. On Wednesday, July 16, I will go in for my 20-week ultrasound, the most detailed and extensive one I will have. This is the sonogram where most babies with defects, disease or deformities are diagnosed. This is when we first saw "markers" for Copeland's Trisomy-18. That being said, you can imagine that the appointment next week is a little scary for me.

What you may not be able to imagine - what even I find hard to believe! - is that I feel, strangely, quite peaceful. I don't mean to undermine the Lord's incredible ability to truly give us a peace beyond explanation; I've lived that before, in moments where I should've been out of control with grief or despair. But I can also remember distinctly, months before I ever learned I was pregnant, laying in my bed at night wrestling with feelings of intense anxiety because I could not fathom how I would ever survive a 20-week sonogram again. How would I consciously go into that room - that same room - and remain calm, knowing that so much can go wrong? I felt the Lord tell me then, "Boothe, you aren't going today, so you cannot imagine how you will cope with it today. I will give you what you need when you do go." I have clung to that, and find that He is giving me what I need, even now, six days out. I do feel remarkably restful. And I'm so thankful for that. But I cannot say that I believe that peace means I should forgo asking you all to pray, speciflcally. So here are the requests we would ask you to place before the Father on our behalf for this significant day next week:

1. That the baby would be in a position where the sonographer can see everything she needs to, easily (Copeland was not, which caused a lot of stress).
2. That everything the sonographer is looking for will be present and in perfect health, from the organs and the brain to the heart and the limbs.
3. That the peace Conor and I feel will continue as a constant for us and that we will be carried these next few days as Jesus binds Satan, who seeks to attack us and convince us we are undeserving or unworthy of such a gift.

I wish words were fuller, or weightier, as I present my prayer requests to you. To say that they feel urgent is a vast understatement. My prayers, outside of praying the same things, will also focus on asking the Lord to prompt you to pray, as I know my faith will be stretched greatly in the next few days. I need your faith to sustain mine.

Thank you, again, for loving us and walking with us down this bumpy road. Believe...

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Monday, June 23, 2008

no eye has seen

"Because even if He killed me... I'd keep on hoping..."
Job 13:15

First there was the couple who hoped their twin boys would just get along. Then there was the guy who hoped the giant boat he was building really would end up needing use in the end. There was an old man who hoped God would make good on His promise to bless him with descendants that outnumbered the stars. There was a mother who hoped her infant son would be spared when she placed him amid the swaying waters of the Nile. And there was an entire nation of people who hoped that someday, someday, they'd be looking at the soil they were meant to inherit - not foreign ground they were forced to work.

Hope is woven through every story and life in the books of the Old Testament. But not so much in word as in - something else. No one has to say they're hoping for a child or a spouse or their father's blessing or deliverance or purpose or rescue. It's just there, in the lines that sculpt their faces in our minds as we read, that make them as real today as they were all those years ago. We know they hoped because we do, too, and we know that we would had we been in their shoes.

But the Bible doesn't think of hope as we do. The Bible-kind of hoping is different. If you look for the word 'hope' in the back of my Bible, for instance, the verb hope, the first mention of it isn't anywhere near any of these stories. Not that hope didn't exist. It just seems hope, in its purest, most God-given form, was meant to make an entrance on a stage a little more bizarre. A stage where it would seem totally inappropriate, in fact. God chooses to first place this verb - 'hope' - before us in the book of Job. A book I have hardly ever read and do not particularly enjoy reading. A book I read a few days in a row about a year ago and now am happy to pass over. But a book that, strangely, the Father seemed to feel was absolutely perfect for the introduction of the idea of Biblical hope. And He ties it to these words that come out of Job's mouth: "Because even if He killed me" - lovely - "I'd keep on hoping."

God loves us. And He cares deeply about every detail of our lives. But He also wants us to grow up. There are things in us that we don't have to mature into; they're just a basic part of our DNA. It's not that these things are always wrong, but they aren't the best. The best was what we were created for, but we're now a part of a human race that will always be flawed until God sets us right again. And part of our journey, if we decide to follow Christ, is to figure out what the "best" things are - what we were created for. Interestingly we aren't alone in the figuring out - God longs to show us. But it does require some action on our part. Some reaching for the best. Here's an example: we are all born as dreamers. But it would seem that sometimes, God doesn't care about our dreams. We don't often get the job we've always dreamed of, or the spouse or the kids or the paycheck or even the things we'd label, on our own, as more worthy than others. Some of us dream of going into ministry only to find our efforts thwarted at every turn in the road. It's far easier to swallow God's blatant rejection of your dream to own a BMW than to see Him dispel your dreams of adopting internationally. It doesn't make sense. If what we dream of is good, dignified, holy even, then why does He say no? Because we can dream without Him. There is something harder to do than dream, something deeper and grittier and much more costly. Hope. It is the better of the two, and it is one of the bests we as believers are called to.

But hope is not something we are born with. It is not a part of our basic DNA. We are actually disinclined to hope, and this is because we are, in our human nature, creatures of fear. Hope is the opposition of fear - but not in an antonymical kind of way. In an opposing, force vs. force kind of way. God doesn't give us a spirit of fear - but we inherited it when we were born into sin. God tells us that hope is one of the three things that remain - beside it are faith and love - and what remains is certainly not of this world or of this flesh. What remains is His entirely. And without Him, we cannot taste or see or understand it. We like to use the word 'hope' because we intrinsically know it means something greater than 'want' or 'dream' or 'wish'. But we don't know why. When I learned I was pregnant, I felt the Father extending it to me. I was totally battered and entirely furious with Him and I honestly wanted nothing to do with it, but like the starving child whose pride has finally worn thin, I begrudgingly took HIs hand and held within my own something entirely new to me. I was hesitant at first because fear, as horrid and draining as it is, was a comfort. It made me feel sane, since fear is what so many seemed to think I should feel. And it made me feel powerful, since as long as I feared I was in control. Fear kept me from looking like an idiot. But, like I said, I was starving. So I reached out and took hold of Hope. And it was awkward. It still is. Hoping does not come easily. But I can do it now. Because, in some ways, He killed me. Or, more specifically, He killed my dreams. It was Him, after all, who let me starve. But now I am feasting. And it's like I never tasted in the first place.

Let God give you Hope. It will not feel good. Mostly because He usually has to strip something good away. But it will, for lack of a better word, blow your mind. God will absolutely blow the doors off of what you think He wants to do for you. When Paul writes to the church in Corinth that "no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" (1 Corinthians 2:9), he isn't making it up. And he isn't just talking about Heaven. There's so much to life that we often miss because we hold onto what we are convinced is the best. Let God give you the best. Stop trying to figure out how to get your hands on it. Stop trying to be good enough or to think in the right way or to accept where you are and what life has handed you (frustratingly, reverse psychology doesn't work on Him). Stop trying. Hold out your hand and ask for Hope.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

blessings abound

I know you have all been anxious.... we lost internet access yesterday - of all days! - but we're back in action and the new is
all WONDERFUL... we are having another little girl! I was shocked... I laughed right out loud while Conor looked down at me with a "see?" expression written across his face. We are of course thrilled. We don't officially have a name yet but we will let you know once we do.

Although this was not my 20-week appointment, our sonographer went ahead and did some "checking in" and measured most of the baby's limbs as well as her head and stomach. She is measuring perfectly. Right on schedule! She also looked briefly at the chambers of the heart, which some of you may remember is often affected by chromosomal abnormalities. Her heart looked great. But the most powerful moment of our time in the ultrasound room came when, as we constantly tried to shift the baby to see whether it was a boy or a girl, a tiny little hand raised up in a high-five motion, every single finger extended. This was such a blessing... one of the tell-tale signs of Copeland's Trisomy-18 was that her fists would not unclench. To see that little hand open up completely was literally one of the most liberating moments I've had in a long, long time. The Lord ordained it, of this I have no doubt; in all my pregnancies, I have never seen an image like that come across the screen before. If I can manage to get it scanned in properly, we will post a picture on the blog. It was a heart-stopping moment.

Thank you, thank you for praying. We felt so lifted up. Our 20-week is of course still July 16 but until then, the great news we received yesterday has comforted our hearts and continues to help us believe in good things to come.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

update - 16 weeks

Dear family and friends and prayer warriors we don't even know...

Conor and I are writing to ask for your prayers on two specific dates. In lieu of making this long and drawn-out, I will simply tell you that all is going well with the pregnancy and that the Lord has done TREMENDOUS things through your prayers and words of encouragement... I have felt such deep peace, such overwhelming joy in the anticipation of what is to come, and am believing He has big things in store for us. I know this is due to His faithfulness and to your commitment to pray our
family through this season. Thank you. Having said that...

We are going in Wednesday (6/18) for our 16-week appointment and will find out the sex of the baby! We cannot believe so much time has passed. Though most pregnant patients are required to wait until 20 weeks to find out what they're having, our OB has been very compassionate with us and is allowing us a "sneak peek" a few weeks early. We are truly thrilled. No matter what we find out, our hearts are full in thinking we will finally know a little more about this child. (For the record, Conor thinks it's a girl - I'm convinced it's a boy. So we shall see!)

Our prayer request for Wednesday is simple: that we will see, as much as is possible at this juncture, a thriving,
healthy child with absolutely no signs of deformity, defect or disease.

In another month or so - July 16 - we are headed to the OB's again for the "big" sonogram at 20 weeks. This will be a HUGE day for our family, as I'm sure you can imagine. This is the day the sonographer will check to see that every organ is
functioning correctly, that there are no "markers" for possible chromosomal abnormalities, and that the baby is measuring on schedule. While my heart is truly at peace that we are going to deliver a healthy child, in the last year I have had about five friends go to their 20-week appointments only to find that there were "red flags" that may have indicated possible problems. All five have delivered perfectly healthy babies. We live in an era where medicine has become such a finite science, and yet sometimes, it leads us to places of fear and uncertainty for no reason. My prayer request for our 20-week appointment
is that we would have a totally uneventful, "hitchless" ultrasound, free of any markers or signs of problems - a joyful time, smooth and easy. I know that if there were any indicators of problems - even false indicators - we would probably have to go ahead and have an amnio. I also know Conor and I, despite how well we are doing, are still fragile. So please pray for God's great mercy and tender compassion to fall upon us... pray we will have total victory that day and will beable to walk forward in that victory until this baby is here, in our arms.

Thank you for enduring what i promised wouldn't be a long! We love you all and we are so grateful to call you our brothers and sisters in Christ. We will be posting here again promptly on Wednesday to let you know who the newest addition to our family will be.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

12 weeks, 10 inches square

I have officially reached my twelfth week of pregnancy. What is normally a celebrated milestone is, for me, somewhat like crossing the point of no return. Most babies are not miscarried after 12 weeks. Or so they say. Of course there are always exceptions, but I have found that I tend to think of myself as the exception to the rule. Not something I'm fond of; in fact, this thinking is the voice that fuels whatever cynicism and pessimism I happen to hold onto. The voice that says, "Good things come to those who... aren't you." So, every day thus far has been about deciding not to listen to that voice. Sometimes I am weary and it takes too much out of me. But what I've found is that in listening, the weariness becomes absolute terror and fear. I'd rather be tired and trying to believe than without a glimmer of hope on the horizon.

Hope, our pastor said, is a gamble. I don't like this idea.

When I was in college, there was a man who stood on a box outside the main building on campus and shouted at the students and faculty walking by, screaming that the end was near and that they should repent of their sins. I was always curious: why did he think that approach would work? What made him feel like evangelizing in such an annoying manner would ever have any positive impact? Now, I didn't do any follow-up on that guy, so I don't know for sure if, indeed, he was without a single convert. But it still begged the question: wasn't he uncomfortable up on that box, yelling at the top of his lungs? Even just a little embarrassed?

The truth is, maybe he wasn't uncomfortable. Maybe he stood up on that box and felt quite right in what he was doing. Maybe he believed that because he'd been baptized or said the Sinner's Prayer or went to church or whatever, he had something on the rest of us. Not in a malevolent or self-righteous way. Just in a way that's misguided. It occurred to me one day that if the box this man was standing on was a good six or so inches bigger than his feet, each way, then he might've actually had a pretty comfortable perch. The more room one has to shift and manuever, the more one feels a little less compelled to think about how they're going to remain atop. There's no reason not to start yelling. What more do you have to do?

Perhaps this can be said about our ideologies. The more room to wiggle we give ourselves, the safer we feel - the more we can decide what feels good to believe. What I have learned recently about God is that the box we get to stand on - and we have to stand on a box, we're called to - isn't comfy. It's not twenty inches square. We're lucky if it's 10. Someone - another pastor, Louie Giglio - recently said in a video I watched on YouTube (and to be frank, I don't know who Louie Giglio is, but I have to say, the man can speak) that no matter what I go through - no matter what you go through - God promises to carry me. What? That's the promise? Wait. I want the promise to go like this: "Remember all that crap you just endured? Well, you passed the test. No more. Now, sit back and enjoy the ride." See what I mean about 10 inches? There's not a lot of wiggle room here. If all I'm really promised when it comes to life is that God will see me through any and every situation that arises, then guess what? I have, by way of accepting this God and asking Him to be in my life, a built-in capability to go through just about anything and actually make it. It's like being one of those all-terrain vehicles when you'd really rather be vase on someone's mantle. We're designed to endure. We're made to experience life at a greater velocity, in more rigorous conditions. We're not supposed to get to stand on our box - where we're supposed to live and reflect Jesus in whatever capacity He's called us - and relax. Not that we can't know joy or peace. But they're not really joy or peace, not the true kinds anyway, if we've got some cushy set up. The minute that happens, we become like that man on my college campus: more interested in our box and what we can do to remind other people to get one, too, than constantly asking God just to keep us sturdy.

Now, don't get me wrong: sometimes, life is cushy. Sometimes things do go great. And I'm all for that. Believe me! But what I know now that I didn't know before is that the minute my understanding of God - not my circumstances - gets too comfortable, the minute I believe He's at all predictable, I better get ready. The box is about to become a great deal smaller. I'd better prepare to plant my feet firmly on whatever ground I've got beneath me. And that ground isn't always going to be what I wish it were. God's promises and God's Word aren't always what warm and fuzzy are made of. Just ask any regular man or woman who wants to know and love Jesus but who also happens to have a human nature. Not the easiest combination in the world. Remember when Jesus said we needed to hate our own family in order to follow Him (Luke 14:26)? Most of us know that simply means that following Christ - really following - is equivalent to one life-altering concept: sacrifice. The box just got a whole lot smaller.

But what I also know to be true now is that, just as we're designed for intensity and struggle, we're in the same breath made for adventure. To have our belief not only challenged but vindicated. I sincerely believe God will not only stand beside us in our darkest hours, He will make sure we know He's there. They're two different things. And the latter makes the former somehow not only easier to embrace, it makes it worth having. Adventure isn't something most of us look for in life these days. Perhaps it's stress or exhaustion, perhaps its apathy or ignorance. Perhaps it's a sense that adventure, in the whole, isn't to be had anymore. A notion for times gone by. The reality, I think, is that adventure - the true realization of what one feels in the deepest part of their heart, the actualization of what we're born knowing to be true - waits for those who are willing to stand on that box, no matter the dimensions, and look up. To expect that, at any moment, there might be more fullness to what we now know in part (1 Corinthians 13:12). That tomorrow, we might know more about this bewildering God than we do today.

So this is, for me, an adventure. Half because it is risky. A gamble. That's what hope is, after all (regrettably or not). And half because the box I'm standing on is outrageously uncomfortable for the moment. I'm hoping it'll expand a bit with time. But for now, all I can do is accept what room I've been given and keep looking up. Never stop looking up.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

a fine line

In the fall of 2005, Conor and I sat in a doctor's office and looked with wild eyes at a new, frightening chapter of life: we had miscarried our second child and were now facing a trial greater than one we'd ever expected. The pregnancy had actually caused something pre-cancerous to grow within me and I began chemotherapy shortly before Halloween.

A year later, after receiving permission to begin thinking about having another child, we were thrilled to learn I was pregnant again. Ten weeks in, at a routine ultrasound, we saw the baby on the screen - without a heartbeat.

A few months after that, we learned we were pregnant again. This was early 2007. That sweet baby was Copeland.

I don't write any of this to say that my story is unique, special. I write it for two reasons. One, because I want to remember. There's a loss in the forgetting. And, two, because instead of being unique, it's universal. And it's not just the idea of suffering. Suffering is a part of life, and we hear its refrain from the time we are young. But it is repeat suffering - loss after loss, sorrow after sorrow - that takes us by the scruff of the neck and demands we decide: will we fall on our knees or rise to our feet? Will we bow before a God who allows us to come to blows - again and again and again - or will we stand and walk away, convinced that it's impossible for such a god to exist?

I learned, tonight, of parents who recently lost their second child to a genetic disease that robbed their first of life only a year before. A disease that didn't show up in their eldest until she was nearing two and wouldn't appear in their youngest until after his older sister had been buried. Another mother lost a set of twin girls last summer at 20-odd weeks of pregnancy; just a few weeks ago, she and her husband learned they were pregnant again. "Redemption! Here's the plan God had all along!" This is the common Christian cry. Why shouldn't it be? But just a few days ago, that same young mother faced yet another heartbreak: miscarriage. Again.

We are such wonderful, beautiful creations. We look for redemption in everything around us. We can't help it. We look for the reason, the purpose, the story. The turning point. Every good writer knows that each story has to have two things to make it "work" - a climactic point where everything suddenly becomes something different, often something better, and a character who changes and becomes something different, often someone better. We like better. In fact, sometimes we don't mind trading in our present mediocrity for future elation, even if suffering is often strewn along the path. But we want the future elation to come soon. Now. Because the mediocrity doesn't look like mediocrity until it's eclipsed by elation. Until then, mediocrity looks like happiness. Let's be honest: it is happiness! We just begin, in the hour of suffering, to convince ourselves that what we believed would make us happy - the thing suffering took away - was really a trick, or a trap, or something we'd begun to make into an idol. That, eventually - soon, now - we'll see how that happy wasn't happy at all. What's really happiness is to come. It's better.

But what if better doesn't come? What if better just keeps taking its time or never even shows up? What if what everyone says is going to be the "blessing around the bend" keeps evading me? Why did I have to let go of my past joy to stand in present sorrow? When's the future going to make it feel worthwhile? What's the sense in all of it? Where's the redemption?

I heard a pastor say once, in a sermon I doubt I listened to at all, that "history is going somewhere". I doubt I listened because most of what he said was beyond my comprehension. But I caught that line. I like karma. I'm sort of built to like karma. We want to know that "what goes around, comes around". Strangely, this is the breath of the Gospel. Jesus came. He died. And good won. But we don't see the manifestation of that win in its entirety yet. Our life story isn't circular. It's not "do-good-get-good, do-bad-get-bad". David laments the prosperity of the wicked time and time again in the Psalms. Our story - God's story - is linear. It's a fine line going directly, pointedly, toward one end. And that end is His glory. In Jesus, "our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). Do we compare them? Of course. We wouldn't be human - and God's great love - if we didn't. But one day, we'll laugh. We'll realize in full that He was right. They weren't worth comparing.

As Conor and I sat in the ultrasound room last week, watching the little heartbeat of this, our fifth child, flutter on the screen, all I could think was, "How senseless. Why in the world am I lying here, seven months after I delivered a beautiful little girl, looking at the same screen that revealed her tiny heartbeat a little more than a year ago? Why isn't she here?" Suffering, in our most basic - and most understandable - estimation is senseless. Even though I know thousands of lives were impacted by Copeland's life, I still grieve her loss. Nothing, nothing will redeem that loss for me. Not even another baby. Nothing. And yet, I look for it everywhere - the redemption. I crave it, I need it, I reach out for it. And thus I reveal within me the great, gaping void that can only be filled with the truth of Christ. He makes sense of the senseless. The fine line - my story, and yours - began and will end with Him. Every moment is Him. He is Redemption. He's the only Redemption.

I don't know what is around the bend. I know God has something good. But something good is not promised to be something perfect. Or something happy. Copeland was the best thing that ever happened to me. And the worst. How can such contradictory statements be true? Only in Christ. We know that road to Heaven is narrow. Perhaps this doesn't just mean man will find the world enticing, its ways distracting. Perhaps it means that the road is certain, and set and unwavering. That it doesn't meander about. The road is a line, a delicate but unaltered course taking us Somewhere - to see Someone - certain and set and unwavering. On our knees or on our feet, may He lead us Home.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

all is well

Good news... we went in and were able to see our precious new little life flickering away on the screen, heartbeat and all. Everything is measuring right on "schedule" and we left feeling a load lifted. I prayed specifically on the way there that the Lord would anoint our time, drape it in His peace, and surround us with angels. I prayed we would radiate something 'different', something that would reveal a glimpse of Him to all who spoke with us. Thank you for praying with us today. What might have been an extremely traumatic appointment was actually quite wonderful; the only tears I cried this morning were tears of hope.
More to come...

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Just wanted to let everyone know that we have our first sonogram and OB appointment tomorrow morning at 11:00 CST. We'd love your prayers. Obviously there's a great deal of hope and anxiety and joy and trepidation filling our hearts at this point. We are praying for peace as we enter the office and the ultrasound room - especially since both played a role in Copeland's life - and of course good news to bring home and share with all of you.

Thank you for continuing to lift us up. We will have word as soon as we can get to the computer tomorrow!

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Monday, March 31, 2008

zechariah 9:12

It has been weeks since I've sat in front of this computer to write. I can't say exactly why. Somehow, the words just stopped coming. Life got busy, things felt lighter - somehow I didn't need to say anything. I found the response to the last post interesting, certainly broader than I'd expected. Oh, I get dramatic sometimes. Caught in a whirlwind of emotion and fervor and I find I can't really slow my own thoughts down to consider what I'm actually saying. What I'm putting out there, for whomever to read. But, looking back, I suppose that's how it should be. Unaltered and totally raw. Truthfully, nothing has changed. I think and feel just as I did that night, over a month ago. But I am quieter this evening. Something has stilled me and I'd really rather not fight it.

This video was put together by the incredibly creative and visionary team at our church here in Nashville. All I will say is that, after six months of walking here, in this place, away from my precious girl, it felt surreal to tell our story again. It felt cathartic, and healing, and also a little sad. The sadness doesn't go anywhere. It seeps into cracks away from the places we most obviously feel during our busied, frantic days, but it's there - it remains. I had thought that once we learned we'd be expecting another baby, I'd feel less of it. That the sharpness of it would wear off. And now, as I sit in my sixth week of pregnancy - something really splendid, something I celebrate almost incessantly - I find that my heart is often heavier in missing her, in wishing it were she, again, inside, waiting to breathe life. And wishing that life would be long. I am filled with joy and anticipation, dread and suspense, apprehension and anxiety, hope and expectation as I sit only a few weeks into this wild, wondrous adventure. It is weird to share the news with so many at so early a stage, but I suppose it's fitting. Nothing in this journey for us has been off-limits - no depths, no heights. So somehow, despite the typical 'don't-tell-until-it's-safe' rhetoric most of us buy into these days, I have to tell. Is there really a 'safe'? Other than in the grips of Jesus, I think not.

What would it look like for each of us to live not just knowing about Heaven but wanting it? Longing for it? I don't think any of us can until it's more than either eternal choir-singing or a state of mind. Neither appeal very much to me, nor should they. No, I want a Heaven that looks like home. Only brighter, and richer, and fuller, and sweeter. I want a Heaven that, when I get there, makes me realize I've only been breathing what seemed like air. I've only tasted what seemed like food. And laughed what seemed like a real laugh. I want a Heaven where everything I love now is better. I think that's what I will find. Because everything good here is just a glimpse of what is to come.

I beseech your prayers. I don't think I can ask God to bless me because of what I've been through. I don't know if that's because I believe it's unbiblical; no, rather, I don't think that at all. I'm asking for blessing, though - and I suppose if I had to give a reason, I'd simply say it's because I believe He loves me. Nothing I've done or gone through deserves any extra heap of goodness. And of course He doesn't love me any more than He did before. I just understand His love a little more.

So I ask. I ask for health, and for life that is brimming over with fullness and hope and promise. I've even asked for more than one life! We shall see. It's a bit like asking for the proverbial Christmas BB gun. Perhaps a bit daring. But I happen to believe God likes to do things that make us smile. Here's to seeing what's up His sleeve.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008


I am tired. I really had no intention of writing anything tonight, but circumstances beg me to shift my agenda. Sleep can wait.

I recently received an e-mail regarding a new program that Oprah and her friends are advocating via her XM radio show. The program is called "A Course in Miracles." Apparently, the material for this course was delivered via an "inner voice" to a female professor several decades ago. It was published in the seventies, but only now is gaining a worldwide popularity. Some have claimed it to be the "new age Bible," though I'm not quite sure what that means.

I will first say that I like Oprah. I like her because I believe she is a woman who feels a compulsion to do good, to change others' lives, and to make wise choices. I am not, as I wrote in an e-mail earlier, one to "throw out the sinner with the sin" - or, at least I hope not to be. Therefore, what I write in the next few paragraphs is not an indictment against Oprah or any of her colleagues. I will say, however, that I believe her to be sorely - and, for the moment, treacherously - misguided.

In the Old Testament, God chooses a woman named Esther to be a part of the king's harem. She's Hebrew; the king, in turn, is not. Esther is beautiful - a characteristic that, obviously, was God-given. Her beauty is such that she is highly favored - and given the crown. Shortly after becoming queen, it is brought to Esther's attention that someone close to the king has planned a mass extermination of the Jews. Leaning on the godly wisdom of her uncle, Mordecai, Esther chooses to do something that could very well have elicited her death: she reports the possible annihilation to her husband and ends up saving her people. Of course, as Mordecai explains to her, this is no act of her own but rather, an act of Almighty God, who appoints leaders and those in positions of power to accomplish great things, to make differences, and to bring Him glory. "Esther," Mordecai essentially tells her, "you have perhaps been named queen for such a time as this."

Oprah is a woman, like most of the readers on this blog, who is trying to understand a God who loves her. But she is not walking toward truth. To be sure, she's seeking something. I am not that different from her. But my filter is guarded by the truths of Scripture. What "A Course in Miracles" teaches is derived, not from Scriptural truth, but from what I would wager is the exact opposite. As Paul wrote, we do not "struggle... against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:!2). Let there be no doubt that the teachings in this "Course in Miracles" are Satanic. I do not mean to dramatize. It is not in my nature to overreact to things of a spiritual matter. But I stand firm in my belief that anything that does not point us to a Christ who is resurrected, and upon whom alone we can depend for salvation, is a work of the enemy.

I am so flustered, my fingers so hurried as I type, my heart pounding in my chest, that I find it hard to ignore the compulsion I feel. perhaps out of the love I have for my Lord, my Savior, my Rock, my Love, my Truest Friend, to consider writing on the Nicene Creed. It seems to me that, if God has allowed Oprah a position of authority, a voice of influence, it is because we - women - are under attack. Open your eyes! This is not a time for dillydallying. Oprah's realm of influence is primarily female. Perhaps we live in an era where women are a threat like they never were before. Or. perhaps we live in an era where they are easier targets, unsure of their security in Christ. Who could doubt it? But, whether either is true, we know that, if we are under attack, we must plant our feet firmly in the truth. We must choose a veritable call to arms. This isn't about persecution or boycott. Not self-help, not religion, not church, not Bible-beating. It's about Jesus. Let us all cry out, "Give me Jesus!" and be done. It was finished, two thousand years ago. Let us not add or subtract from that one, great, critical Work.

I encourage you to visit Oprah's website. Search for the XM radio schedule and, consequently, the "Course in Miracles." It is being taught by an attractive young woman named Marianne Williamson. She looks delightful. Oh, how my heart is hurting for the women who are already under the sway of something so deceptive! And how my blood boils thinking of those whom Satan is plotting, even now, to lure into its grip.

I am led to share with you the words of the Nicene Creed - http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/creeds/nicene.htm - because it strikes me that many, many women who claim to be Christians will somehow feel a comfort or a sense of homecoming when hearing Wiliamson's interpretation of these teachings. I pray that, as women in all different places of life, with burdens and heartaches totally unique and particularly gut-wrenching, God will, in His providence and mercy, give you a check in your Spirit - in effect, the wooing of the Holy Spirit, or the very Spirit of Christ - to know that these teachings are deceptive. In sharing this information with others, take heart in remembering that God ordained the king of Persia, Cyrus - who certainly did not know Yahweh - to accomplish His purposes (2 Chronicles 36). It is not beneath nor beyond our creative God to use unbelievers.

Do not be afraid. Though we, too, have been called "for such a time as this," we have also been called to great joy, great compassion and great hope because of this Man, Jesus. He has promised that He is able to keep us from stumbling - and also, that Satan Himself is a "stumbling block, [who does] not have in mind the things of God, but the things of man" (Matthew 16:23). Let us rest - and proclaim truth! - in knowing that, though we will have troubles - and sorrows, and heartaches, and insecurities, and calamities and tragedies - in this world, we can hope! For He has overcome the world.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

the mystery of truth

Someone, a girl I don't know, but one who is a mother and who is grieving the loss of her own child, said something to me today. "It's been two months. What am I supposed to feel? What am I supposed to say? Am I normal?" Oh, the great creeping notion of normalcy. It slinks around us and encircles itself about our feet and convinces us our calling is to fit into a category, or a box, or a statistic, or a quota. We love the idea of being corporate. And not that we shouldn't. But it's usually about following a crowd so that we can be loved instead of folding in just as we are because we are loved. We've bought into the idea that if we don't make sense to everyone else we must not make sense at all.

Someone else asked me tonight if I thought praying really did any good. If God already has this whole thing mapped out, then why pray? What's the point? I remember hearing once that prayer isn't about changing God; it's about changing us. I like that, it sounds pretty - and believe me, I know it to be true. Partly. But if prayer doesn't at least affect God then somehow, our relationship doesn't feel much like a relationship. It feels more like me talking to myself. When the Israelites built their golden calf out in the desert, after God had parted the Red Sea and shown them He was serious about delivering them from the Egyptians, I don't think He was angry because that was protocol. People doing naughty things? Check. God mad? Check. I think He was angry in the righteous sense - which means the kind of anger that comes from love. And love comes from a heart that's affected. It has to. Otherwise it's not love at all.

Here are a few of my favorite things: the smell of horses, the sound of the word 'indefatigable', Jane Austen, Hans Zimmer, going out to dinner with my husband, grapefruit for breakfast, hyacinths, gold earrings, the feel of cool grass on my feet in summertime, amaretto sours, chasing Sellers around the house... all these are things I'd call 'good.' I like them. They make me happy, or they make me smile, or they bring back fond memories of something special or a time I felt closer to something I want to be close to all the time. David once wrote that "apart from You, God, I have no good thing." So, for me, if I take that literally - and I love to take the Bible literally - that means apart from God, I can basically nix the grapefruit and "Pride and Prejudice." I believe a God who can give me these things is a God who's affected... who loves me. And so I'm going to keep on praying because I've got an in. The God of the universe gets me. I make sense to Him. My normal is the normal He made.

I don't really know where I'm going with this other than to say that I hope, tonight, or today, or whatever hour it may be when you read this, you feel like where you are is okay. Christians are obsessed with finding the formula, with making everything fit into a mold. When we talk about the Word of God being "inerrant" we want it to mean more than simply "total truth" - we want it to mean no one can debate or discuss or ponder or question or shout out to God in frustration. It is what it is - or is it? Everything that's true is a mystery.

Fight for your joy. Not your happiness, but your joy - whatever gives you the sense that you're closer to something that feels like Home. Loving God is like catching a scent on a breeze - it captivates, but it's untraceable. It cannot be created - it must be received. Let Him teach you to love Him. After all, we love Him only because He loves us. It's like the man in Mark said to Jesus as his son was seized by the demon: "Lord, I believe!" And in the next breath - "Help me believe!" Basically, "I get it! I believe it! I love You!" And then, "Okay, not really. But I think if You helped me, I could!" The complexity of the human heart! A great American thinker once urged his countrymen to "simplify." How? We are creatures woven in secrecy, fashioned after majesty, and filled with divine curiosity. Oh, that we would never shake these truths for ones less compelling!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

this is a little awkward...

What I'm about to write, if I were speaking it aloud before an audience, would come from a head looking down at the floor, cheeks flushed, feet shifting uncomfortably. I don't usually have much trouble sharing my heart, but this isn't really that at all. I've struggled for weeks now wondering if it, indeed, is something I ought to share in the first place, if it was something you'd be blessed by, and at this point, I'm simply going to hope that at least one of you will be.

For Christmas, Conor and I found out about a website called Blurb. Through it, we were able to make a book celebrating Copeland's life. It's comprised of blog entries as well as photographs. We went out on a limb and hoped it would turn out right; much to our delight, when it arrived on our doorstep Christmas Eve, it was absolutely beautiful. It's small - only 7x7" - which seemed fitting, somehow, and precious to us. Sellers has loved flipping through the pages.

My desire in telling her story, in ever getting on this computer and sharing my heart, is simply that the suffering we've sown will reap within you a harvest of hope, or joy, or compassion, or faith. If you have someone you'd like to share Copeland's story with in a more tangible way than via the blog, please feel free to order one of these books. Visit blurb.com and search "Copeland Fair."

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

say what you need to say

Recently, as I was getting my hair cut, I began to think about the part of the Bible where Jesus says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." When I was in high school, someone brought to my attention the fact that, whenever the apostle Paul wrote letters to struggling Christians, he usually began with "grace and peace" - a phrase that, were we to consider it closely, we'd see operates somewhat like an equation. Grace must first be received before there can ever be peace. As it turns out, Scripture is packed with these riddles; each word is placed precisely, meant to deliver an exact punch, so to speak. I became a little obsessed with this idea and, over the years, whenever a particular verse strikes me as poignant, I try to "plug it in" and decipher it. Most all of it seems to be more than what you see on the page.

So since Jesus says we should love HIm with our hearts first, I'm guessing that kind of loving is most important - or maybe the hardest. I sat in the chair and wondered what loving with our hearts really looks like. To say that you love someone with all of your heart is a pretty heavy statement, even more intentional than simply saying "I love you." It seems to have a desperation, a passion, a windswept feel to it. If I love God with all my heart - really, truly - then I love Him deeply, tenderly, unabashedly. I love Him so much it hurts me. If He were here, I'd want to take Him for a ride in my car to see the pastures behind my house. I'd play some John Mayer on my iPod and take Him to dinner at the local restaurant with the best crusted Tilapia. I'd want to look at Him in the eyes and hear His laugh and ask Him to tell me stories about His childhood and feel the weight of His hand in mine. Mostly, I guess, I'd want Him to love me. I'd want to know, without a shadow of a doubt that while I followed Him around like a puppy dog, hanging on His every word, He was doing the same. The kind of love that loves with the heart has no worry of being unrequited. Maybe that's why the Bible says that perfect love drives out all fear.

And yet, though He isn't here for me to touch or see or hear, He's present. And most of the time, my love for Him is anything but from the heart. It's practical, convenient, disinterested, obligatory. It's angry and unforgiving and selfish and holds quite a few grudges. It's formulaic. I'm always looking for the equation, for the variables to plug in so that I can "figure Him out." Not really the picture of a romance.

Perhaps I must love Jesus first with my heart because until I do the soul and mind stuff is a little irrelevant. After all, knowing and understanding someone aren't worth much if you don't love them. We scramble around a lot, trying to decipher a God who just wants us to give Him the time to reveal His heart. Maybe your time with Jesus would look more like several hours in intense therapy. Maybe you'd take Him to the house you grew up in where you felt unloved and insecure. Maybe you'd remind Him that while you went to church every single Sunday for ten years straight and prayed for the same things over and over again, you're still lonely.

I still don't understand why Jesus took Copeland from me. And I don't know what He's doing with my life. But I can say that, despite the moments when I want to scream at Him and throw a few mugs, I'm pretty in love. He wins me over. He reminds me of the ones He loves, like the Mathenia family, who are suffering and agonizing over this crazy, confusing, love-struck God of ours who would still allow us to, well, suffer and agonize (cold-water-news.blogspot.com). He reminds me that, as someone mentioned the other day, if our galaxy could be shrunk to the size of the North American continent, our solar system would fit into a coffee cup. I'm insignificant. David said it best: what am I worth that You, God, even think about me? And yet - He does. Constantly. Every single thing about us matters to Him. And He wants to hear about all of it.

John Mayer has a new single out called "Say." It reminds me of my dad because, when I was growing up, we were always taught to communicate. Don't let the sun go down on your anger. Get all your crap out on the table. The Bible is filled with men and women who were totally screwed up. And yet God kept pursuing them, kept revealing bits of the fantastic story He had for them, because even if they were yelling at the top of their lungs, they were still talking to HIm. Maybe that's ultimately what loving someone is really about. Saying what you need to say. The vulnerability that comes from sitting down with someone and saying, "Well, here's the thing. I need You to love me. I love You. Something about You makes me feel like I don't suck. And yet I'm coming into this conversation just about as messed up as anybody can get. I've been hurt and abused and pushed around. Take me as I am, because it's all I've got."

Loving God with all your heart is just like everything else in the God-plus-us equation. If you take us out of it, He's still enough. He can give us the love we need to give to Him, and He can provide all that Love requires. We just have to be willing to ask for it.

Say what you need to say.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

pray for nathan and tricia

Sometimes God wants to remind us to get a grip. I needed that today. I needed to hear that there are people out there in the world who are suffering, and their heartache is different - and perhaps heavier - than my own. Sometimes it's good to remember that what we are facing, these trials and tribulations we are handed, are not uncommon to man. I read in David McCullough's masterpiece, "John Adams," a beautiful biography of one our founding fathers, that Adams and his wife, Abigail suffered the loss of two children in infancy. History will remind us, over and over again, that those who've gone before us have tred a path marked with many similarities to our own. There has always been joy. There has always been suffering. What triumphs to know that only one will remain.

Having said that, I ask you to pray for Nathan and Tricia. I don't know their last names; I don't even know where they live. I encourage you to visit the blog Nathan is keeping on behalf of his wife, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, and their newborn daughter, Gwyneth, who is herself in perils related to an early delivery. Every day, a new trial, a new sense that perhaps some terrifying report will bring on greater sorrow - or that news of a brighter nature will lift their hearts a bit. To live like this, to wonder what's coming next, is perhaps a kind of suffering in and of itself. Beacause I do read each comment that is made on this blog, I know how incredible it is to feel loved and prayed for. So I ask you to go and leave your own words of encouragement for this precious young family. Visit cfhusband.blogspot.com.

Come, Lord Jesus, come!

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

dwell in possibility

"I love You, O Lord my strength!
You are my Rock, my Fortress and my Deliverer;
You, my God, are my Rock, in whom I take refuge.
You are my Shield and the horn of my Salvation,
My stronghold. I call to You, O Lord,
Who is worthy of praise,
And I am saved from my enemies!"
-Psalm 18:1-3

The night before Christmas, Conor and I drove to my parents house for dinner. As we rode in the car (how strange is it that so many epiphanous moments hit me then?), I began to weep. I hadn't cried much in months. Months. And suddenly, without reason or even explanation, I began to sob. Conor looked at me and asked if I was all right, why I was crying? I remember what I felt then. Looking at him, I said, "I guess I'm emotional because, unbelievably, I feel so delivered." That moment will be forever etched in my memory. How is it possible that, after only a few months since my precious daughter passed, I feel delivered? How does that work? Only God knows. Only He is sufficient enough. Who is worthy of praise? Only He.

Last night, shortly after I fell asleep, I woke in a fit of terror, screaming at the top of my lungs. I've never done this in my entire life. When Conor finally got me to calm down so that I could articulate what was wrong, I told him that, in my dream, I had seen someone - a man - standing beside the bed. And I was practically clawing at Conor trying to get away. We prayed together, prayed over the house, but I woke this morning reminded of one thing: "...our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the authorities of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12). I am delivered. I am walking in the light of hope and promise and joy and victory. Let me make no mistake in saying that this is a threat. It's a threat to Satan, who wishes to deceive us, to convince us that whatever bondage we're in is permanent -- there is no deliverance to be hoped for. And where there is a threat, attacks are sure to follow. To paraphrase a British theologian, the stronger the faith, the surer the assails will be. Many of you have said that you felt compelled to ask the Father to allow you to carry some of the burden Conor and I were meant to carry during this trial. I have felt that load lifted; I have felt the weight and the agony of it taken away so many times, so unexpectedly. Now it is my heart that is aching, because I know that my desire and my innate sense that this is a story I'm supposed to share is only evidence of the fact that many of you are in bondage. My heart is heavy because of it. I am here to proclaim to you that you can be free. As Daniel was fond of saying, "There is a God in Heaven", and as David said, "[from Him] comes deliverance." Do not think your situation too bleak, your mistakes too many, your own heart too lost..

That night, Christmas Eve, Conor looked at me, after I had said I felt delivered, and spoke words that had more power than I could've anticipated: "Isn't it amazing that you can feel that way even when we don't have another baby?" Amazing, indeed. Let me be clear that having more children is the great desire of my heart. I cry out to the Lord every day, asking for His provision, reminding Him of His own Word which says that "a hope deferred makes the heart sick" (Proverbs 13:12). To endure every day not knowing, wanting, longing, is often so burdensome that I truly feel its effects physically. I can imagine many, many, share this bondage with me - a bondage that we could easily call "what if?" What if what I most long for is never fulfilled? What if I spend the rest of my life in this place? What if God forgets me? What if He doesn't desire to give me the desires of my heart? Perhaps the bondage is really about control, or discontent, or anger. Whatever it is, I must surrender every day and ask that God help me. Not to quit questioning. Half the Psalms are questions! I imagine Jesus loves to hear us ask what's going on in His mind! I need help believing that, even while the questions remain unanswered, God loves me. He can deliver me from bondage without giving me the desires of my heart. He can fill my spirit without filling my arms with another baby. What a mighty God we serve! May He pour out the fullness of who He is continually, on you and I, that we may experience a deeper, richer, more abundant life - no matter what our hands may hold.

Emily Dickinson wrote, "We dwell in possibility." Truer words may never have been spoken! On this side of heaven, we are continually breathing in the sweet fragrance of hope. There's no telling what God may have in store! We can rest assured it is more and better and sweeter than what our eyes can see or our ears can hear.

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