Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

It happened this morning as I stared at the tree, Anna’s pink ornaments peeking out from behind twinkling lights, glowing, inviting me into love and longing.  I was also thinking of the babies, new to heaven, their parents, new to grief and my heart got swept away in the familiar grief current.  He must have read my mind- seen the ache, my Anna look and Benny said-
“Don’t worry mommy. Anna is the first one in our family that gets to be with Jesus and that’s amazing!”
I stared at Him…long and hard.  The child becoming the teacher and I felt my weak heart surging suddenly with truth.
“Yes Benny- it’s amazing.”
His words entered my pain, diffusing the ache and inviting me to join Him in the truest reality.
It’s been nearly a decade since Anna Rose made me a mother.  Nearly a decade of pregnancy.  Nine months of carrying her in my womb and now, nine years of carrying her in my heart.  And in that regard, I suppose I will be pregnant with her forever. 
We are in a season of advent, a season of longing for the coming Messiah.  A season of intentional expectancy for Him. This feeling, this experience of longing for a baby…I know it full well.
And so today I am making the choice to funnel all of my longing, all of my desperation for a baby, and for that matter all of my longings in life into a longing for Jesus.   Isn’t that what all of our longing is really begging for anyway?  Isn’t all of our longing really just a soul cry for that which are hearts were created to be satisfied by- a desperation for the fullness we can only encounter on bended knee at the stable, at the cross, at the threshold of heaven?
So Ben is right- though my grief is expected and even necessary especially at times like these, I certainly don’t have to worry.  Anna is the first one in our family to get to be with Jesus.  There are so many days when the reality of her absence forces me into a ball, into a corner, into the dark.  But today, under the twinkling lights of Christmas, and the sweet prompting from my second boy, my gooey middle…I am reminded of the deepest longing I have.  The one I can’t even fully get in touch with, the longing that usurps all other longings.  And that is for you Jesus…
Fill my heart with expectation and celebration for you this season- wonderful baby, Savior, Shepherd, Father and King.
Yes…come thou long expected Jesus.

Thanksgiving When It Hurts

Still birth, miscarriage after years of infertility, the early delivery and then loss of triplets.  These are the emails I received this week of Thanksgiving.  My heart is shattered.  Who can put me back together again?
Then there were the phone calls of desperation, of broken marriages and broken dreams, suffocating pain and lingering ghosts.  So many hearts overloaded with sorrow.  So many lives severed by the little deaths we suffer as citizens of earth. 
And I feel it all so thoroughly and deeply. Yes, I am shattered.  Who can put me back together again?
I run for the cross.  I run to the only place I have ever found peace and power.  In a heap, in a ball at His feet I cry for them.  I weep for their wounds.  I ache with unrestrained emotion for these who reach out to me.  And as I bow with empathy here at the cross, I remember the path I had to travel to get here myself…
And I wonder…
Have you ever hurled anger at the sky?  Have you ever screamed insult and accusation into the heavens?  Do you wonder how a God so good could possibly allow your pain, your misery?
I ‘ve been there.  I’ve done that- this angry and honest hurling and wrestling- fighting through guilt, grief and gut-wrenching fury at God.  That was my path until I finally came to a wall, an end.  And that end was the beginning.
I stared up into the marred, blood streaked face of the man who took brutality and murder so that my story could become embedded in His. Pain for love.  Death for Resurrection. Hell for Heaven. 
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.  Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows, But take heart because I have overcome the world!” John 16:33
Can you hear the compassion in Jesus’ words?  Can you hear His urgency and yet His certainty?  It’s an answer.  He wanted us to know that this world would be infested with trouble- the death of babies, infertility, abuse, cancer, broken relationships and sin. But “take heart” He proclaims.  Have courage, be comforted and confident. I HAVE OVERCOME!  I am the answer!  I am the resurrection and the life and whoever believes in me shall live! (John 11:25)

This is what I need as I kneel at the cross today.  This is what I need as I wade through the river of tears flowing from the hearts of the broken today. He has overcome and therefore life after death is available to the wounded, the grieving, the deceived, the angry,the ill, the lonely, the rejected, the miserable and despicable. Abundant life, even in the darkest night, is available to us all.  The death and resurrection of Jesus bought us that miracle and if you call on His name, it can happen to you again and again and again.  

Today as I ache with you who ache, I am taking heart and I am allowing truth to piece me back together and to give me the courage I need to forge ahead with the grace to grieve and the power to be made whole.  I am claiming the empathy and compassion of Jesus because of the cross…and I am claiming His power because the grave could not hold him down! 
On Thursday I will pause to give thanks.  My first words of gratitude will be offered to the God who allowed my baby to die, the God who has invited me into the depths of his heart to deliver me, change me, restore and redeem me. And I will say to Him- thank you for walking out of the tomb and for bringing me with you.  
Friends who come to the table hungry for that which food cannot satisfy, I pray you will feel and know the pursuit of Jesus on your soul today and that you will have the courage to make it to the foot of the cross, to the threshold of the peace and power your fragments long for.  May you be made whole today and have the courage to take heart and utter thanks…even when it hurts.

Remembering You Once Again


I love this word, this name, this baby.  

This week has been a hard one.  I have felt lonely for her.  I have felt desperate for the past to be rewritten, and yet, so very grateful for every word that has flowed from His beautiful nail scarred hand. Words like eternity and resurrection.  Words like John, Ben and Elijah.  Words like comfort and Jesus.

It is so strange to be so filled with so much pain and so much joy all at once.  For me, the pain often precedes and intensifies the joy. My grief throws lifelines to all that is good, all that needs to be rescued as joy, so as to not drown in the waters of sorrow and strife.  Here is an example of that-

A few nights ago as I was working on a letter of remembrance for Anna to be posted today on TakeThemAMeal, I was overcome by sadness.  My Johnny came to me, hugged me tight and said, “Mama I’m praying for you.”  He started to walk away and then I grabbed him and pulled him back into my arms…clutching the life, the good. Out of desperation, grief threw a lifeline and joy was rescued.  And so I have learned to hold them together, death and life, joy and pain.

Today as I remember my Anna, I also remember all of the other little ones that have left their mama’s wombs or arms way before their dreams for them began.  I remember and I am reduced.  I remember and I am sad.

Recently I had a conversation with a friend who was suddenly awakened to the fact that her grief and longing for her miscarried baby was still very much a part of her.  The tears fell and I wanted to extract her pain-wanted to make it all right again- wanted to somehow redeem her situation. I wanted to validate her unique love and longing for her 12-week-old heavenly baby.  I wanted to validate her sadness.  I wanted to remind her that though her baby was only 12 weeks into his/her development, that her baby’s spirit was fully formed- complete.  I wanted to reveal to her the invisible thread connecting her spirit to that spirit…still.  I wanted to give her my hope of what I believe about our children and to give her my glimpses of heaven.

To those of you reading that know the pain of the loss of a baby…I am so sorry.  I am so sorry we sit in this waiting room of earth together, waiting for all that was lost to be redeemed.  And yet, sisters we are waiting.  There is someone to wait for.  All is not lost. Our babies, they are not ideas.  They are not what once was.  They are what will be.  And today I pray your pain is eased by the expectancy of this reality.  The God I have come to know in my grief is a lover of redemption and I know the plans he has to restore my pain and my relationship with Anna far exceed my wildest dreams.

Nine years ago I painted and hung three scriptures in Anna’s nursery.  Chris chose one of them…it now hangs in our school room as a reminder of the chief promise that we hang onto as we continue our life’s journey, continue walking through seasons of love and loss.

This is our banner-

“May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust and believe in Him so that your hearts may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13

Today in this national day of remembering the little ones we have lost, I pray this scripture, this prayer, over each soul who reads my words.  I pray you are filled with joy and peace admidst immeasurable grief.  I pray you are upheld by the author of true love and the restorer of all that is lost and I pray your hearts are embedded and overwhelmed by hope.

I am holding each of you in my heart today.

And lastly…

My dear Anna-  
your mama loves you, loves you, loves you.

Help Please!

Many of you know this story.  Many of you don’t.  I am asking for help for my dear friend Raegan.

This precious boy captured my heart and thousands of others in this world…but oh how he captured his family.  Theo had just turned one when Raegan flew to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in February of 2011.  Her birthday was the day she received him into her arms for the first time.  She stayed in Congo for five weeks and then flew back to America with her sweet Theo to bring him home to his daddy and big sister Mallaney and big brother Max.  Just a few months after that he was diagnosed with Leukemia.  Theo died just before his second birthday.

I can’t write that sentence without the wound in my chest ripping open.  I can’t think of Theo, of his unique, little, splendid, wonderful character and all the love and pain that has followed without weeping.

I love Theo and I love his mama…and I love her heart for children and for adoption.

In 1999 Raegan and I went on a three month mission trip together to Belarus.  I will never forget the day we visited a Belarussian orphanage and the tears spilled from her eyes as we loaded onto the bus to leave later that day. Though it was difficult for all of us to tell these precious ones good-bye, it was clear that Raegan’s pain and tenderness for the orphans was apart of a much greater story the Lord was writing for her life.  When she married Mike a few years later, I knew this couple was destined for greatness. I have walked with Raegan and Mike in grief over the past few years of sickness and death.  I love my friends deeply. I wish I could rewrite the story in a way that it made sense to me- in a way that takes away all the suffering they have endured.  But God’s hand is still at work.  He is still penning His beautiful script for them- still working all things, even the awful, into His redemptive plan for good.         

A part of that plan is…

Raegan and Mike are adopting again.  This time, two precious children, a little girl and a little boy from Uganda.  I wish I could post their pictures, BECAUSE THEY ARE PRECIOUS…But I can’t yet. So stay tuned.  I promise to update.

These children will be ready to come home soon and Raegan and Mike need help raising the necessary funds to be able to go and get their children.  I ache for the pain they have endured, but I rejoice in their courage to move forward and to continue to yes to the call God has placed on their hearts to grow their family and to “care for the orphan” James 1:27.

Isn’t this call for all of us in some way?  This is an opportunity to support a family who has endured so much and to say yes to God’s call for the church to care for the orphans of our world.     

Will you please join me in helping two children from Uganda to be placed in a loving family? Will you please join me as participants in God’s redemptive and beautiful plan to rewrite their stories?  

If you would like to read more of Raegan’s story, you can go to her blog at…

You can mail checks (tax deductible) to their adoption agency:  Please make sure to write”Raegan and Mike’s adoption” in the memo line.

Promise Kids A Future Inc.
C/O Jill Baker
117 North Broadway
Georgetown, KY 40324

Thank you in advance…and stay tuned.  I promise I will continue to update their story here. 

John. Fear. And Jesus.

He was heaving and I was scared.  What was the cause of this sadness from my seven-year-old boy?  What disrupted his sleep and mounted him on fear and panic?  The conversation began-

“What’s wrong John?  Why are you so upset?”

No words. Only sobbing. 

“Johnny, I can’t comfort you and help you unless I know what you’re thinking about. Please tell me.”

He just buried his head in my lap and the weeping and shaking continued.  After several minutes of continual urging, he finally uttered,

“I just can’t tell you.  I can’t say it out out loud.  It’s too bad.”

Twenty minutes earlier I had put him to bed.  Just like every other night, we had our bedtime conversation and cuddle and all was well.  What had transpired between then and now?  I backtracked trying to remember the details of our bedtime chat and then I remembered his last question to me…

“Mom do you wish you were in heaven so you could see Anna?”

I told John how much I longed to be with Jesus face-to-face and how I love and miss Anna and can’t wait to be with her, but that I am extremely happy right now and want to be right where I am.   

We talk about Anna and heaven often.  I had no idea that this question would so quickly snowball into such a real and deep fear of death.  John was afraid I was going to die. 

I remember at that same age worrying that if I had a bad thought, that meant, it would happen.  I also remember doing ridiculous little things to counter act these bad things like, if I skip every other stair on my way to bed each night, then my mom won’t die.  Maybe I was a little obsessive compulsive, but either way, fear and my own little remedies to combat it plagued me as a child. The enemy had convinced me that I was in control of good and bad- that I was responsible for life and death.

The conversation continued:

“Johnny are you afraid I am going to die?” 

The heaving got bigger and his head nodded a yes back and forth across my legs.  He clutched me as if to say, “don’t leave me.” My heart broke. I understood this fear all to well, and I hugged him tighter making sure he would feel each beat of my heart. And then I said,

“God has a good plan for mommy’s life, and there is no need for you to worry.  The enemy is trying to rob your joy and peace by making you focus on death instead of life and causing you to feel afraid.”

 And then we did what we often do with his anxiety and we prayed and thanked God that He was present with us and John visualized putting his worries in the box Jesus holds in His hands for worries like these.  I peeked, observing John with his eyes shut tight, his hands extended out in front of him. My heart swelled as I watched Him reach for God, knowing this was no technique…this was real. It was quiet for a moment and then John said,

“He is smiling at me mommy. Jesus is smiling at me.”

Peace- like a flood it invaded the room and we were both floating.  I lay with John brushing blond locks from his sweaty brow and thanked God for this precious one I get to love and nurture in the truth.

And now it’s time for a confession…this mama is not so different from her son.  Worry and fear often seize me.  And that ugly lie from childhood- “you are in control of life and death” it berates me still.  Perhaps this is why the guilt was so brutal after Anna died.  And perhaps this is why I catch my breath each night when I watch my sweet ones close their eyes.

All this- it is big and it is deep.  Thank goodness there is a simple answer, though experiencing the results may require the biggest leap of faith you have ever taken.

John relinquished his fear to the only One who can truly carry his burdens and then he saw Him smile and there was peace.

Our God is the bearer of all burdens and His love begs to insert peace into the places in our life where the enemy injects fear.  I didn’t tell John I wasn’t going to die.  I don’t know the answer to that.  What I did, was lead him to relinquish his fear into the hands of love, and that love smiled back and peace invaded his heart.  He traded fear for peace.  Not logic, not an answer, not control or reason.  

He gave up fear with faith and Jesus did the rest.

“There is no fear in love, for perfect love drives out fear.  Fear has to do with punishment.  The ones who fears, is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

In a little boys bedroom with a red stripe painted around the wall and sports posters and pennants, I observed the driving force of Almighty God sending fear away as we called on His name. And in that moment, we were made perfect in love. 

I have held death in my arms.  I have watched my dear friend as she watched her child die.  Is death possible?  Do bad things happen?  Are we ransacked by grief and pain and do we wonder, “Why, God why?”  The unfortunate answer to all of this is a painful yes.  But let me tell you what else I can say yes to…

Have I experienced the miracle of peace invading me when earthly circumstances should only have yielded pain?  Have I experienced bubbling over joy since the loss of my baby girl?  Have I been so overcome with hope that my vision of heaven is as real as the house next door?  Have I seen Jesus smile at me and have I handed Him fear and gotten lost in His magnificent love?  Is death the end or is this pause just going to lead to the real life…the one we were all created for?  Have others in grief been comforted by the comfort I have received from the very hands and lips of Jesus?

From the lowest valley and from the highest mountain my answer is yes and yes and yes!

I can control nothing except how I respond to life and death.  And this response, this leap of faith, this peering at love, has been the most miraculous and breath taking leap of my life.

I am 34 years old, and I package my fears and extend them to Jesus and His worry box is perfect for problems like these…

We live and breathe and fall asleep under the loving and watchful eye of the only One who is in control.  Life, death…it all ends in the final chapter where no more tears and no more pain and no more fear are the words that end, rather, begin our new story. It’s a whole new way of writing, happily ever after, and all we previously feared will flit away on a  heavenly wind.

Do I struggle with fear? Yes. But what I fear more than death, is life without faith in the One who drives out fear and makes me peaceful and perfect in love.

Thank you Johnny for showing me how fear dissolves in child-like faith and for inviting me to the same. 

Ordinary turned Extraordinary

Today was an ordinary day. 

I weeded the flower bed I neglected all summer while watching my kids ride their bikes in the cul-de-sac.  I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cleaned up an entire roll of toilet paper the two-year-old claimed as his own.  I hauled this same two-year-old to a bath after he discovered a bottle of honey and decided his goldfish needed a lake to swim in.  I sprayed little hand prints off the glass and did a load of laundry. I answered phone calls and sent emails. I juggled work and home and school. I stopped a nose bleed. I disciplined. I yelled. I felt sick about it. I asked forgiveness. I snuggled. I counted my blessings. I encouraged. I reheated my morning tea this afternoon…

It was an ordinary day.
And then there was disappointment. A longing I have was thwarted and that pain was like a single drop of black food coloring falling into a clean glass of pure water- and just like that everything changed. Everything was stained by disappointment.  I began trying to make sense of it all through the dark cloud of filth, trying to see through death and sin.  I felt sad about all the expectations and dreams that are yet to be fulfilled and then…I was grieving.  Just like that, I was grieving.  Hope unfulfilled can do that- drag us down to the room in our hearts where our deepest sadness resides.  The baby’s nap gave me the perfect space to lay down and begin drowning in all this.  But the baby woke up and the older children needed snacks and love and there was a choice to make- stay in the darkness and loneliness of despair or reach out and clutch the hand that is always reaching out to me in the dark…the one already damp from my tears.

Do you ever have days like this- days when your unfulfilled longings usher you out?

At some point in my wallowing, I began thinking about the moment Jesus woke up from death. I wish I could have been there!  I wish I could have been in that tomb!  I wish I could have seen Him sit up, stand up and shred the garments that bound Him to the finality of every other man. I wish I could have seen the look on His face- the victory, the joy!  Did He speak to the angels?  Did they speak to Him? Did the ground beneath his feet quake from the sheer magnitude of the greatest miracle ever bearing His weight on the earth? I wish I could have experienced the resurrection of Jesus!

But then suddenly, my wishing gives way to revelation.

The tomb that I long to be in with Jesus- I am there.  In every moment of my life when my despair gives way to hope, He wakes up.  In every moment of my life when darkness is pierced with light, He stands up.  In every moment of my day when my sin is washed clean by His grace, the grave clothes fall, pooling at my feet and I am staring up into the face of the resurrected one and I am resurrected too.

Today I laid down in grief- laid down in hopelessness and despair.  I felt the earth and my citizenship here closing in on me. The hard dusty earth of a tomb outside of Jerusalem held my body and I ached with fallen world measures of sadness. But then, Jesus woke up and I added my grave clothes to His.  He smiled victory’s smile and I couldn’t help but to join in His joy.
Sadness, hopelessness, despair, the unknown, death- all of these- just a tomb awaiting a miracle, an end awaiting a Jesus kind of beginning.

Hope deferred led me to the greatest hope fulfilled.

And so…

Today was an extraordinary day.

Thank you Jesus that you come alongside of us and offer resurrection power for every weak moment we endure in this world.  Thank you that you woke up from death and that you invite all who trust in you to join you in new life.  Thank you Jesus that ordinary becomes extraordinary, dark becomes light and death becomes life in and through you.  And all you ask is that we come.

Friends who grieve- friends who struggle- friends who stare through a dingy cup…

Come and join the extraordinary.  Open your eyes to see the tomb you lay in and the one who stands before you.

Resurrection is calling.

Panic turned to Peace

I screamed, that shrill gut level cry that can only be manufactured in moments of terror. Thankfully, he stopped.  The car and its driver raced past unaware that my baby stood inches away.  It was a terrifying moment.  A moment that handcuffed and dragged me back in time, back to the fear and horror of death, back to trembling arms, bleeding heart and still baby.
I ran and grabbed Elijah into my arms and then felt the wave coming.  I squeezed him tight and quickly handed him off to my sister and ran inside to lock myself behind closed doors to let my lava heart erupt.  I kept reliving the moment- kept playing out alternate endings.  I couldn’t shake the image.  The thought kept surging through my mind- what would have happened if I hadn’t screamed? I quickly concluded- I saved his life.  I screamed and I saved his life.  That was when I heard His voice…the simultaneously gentle and convicting whisper that proclaimed, “No, I saved Him.”  And in that instant, all the dark and hazy colors of the moment turned instantly bright and clear and panic vanished. 

God allowed Elijah another day.  God has a plan.  I can control nothing.  Anna left this world before I wanted her too- but I could not have saved her either.  Life and death are not up to me and there is so much freedom from fear and control by surrendering to the loving sovereignty of God.

For years, I struggled with this idea- God in control.  I simply didn’t like it.  I would certainly not have allowed my baby to die.  I would have never allowed those horrid sentences into our life.  And yet, the sovereign hand of God did allow them to be written and I hated Him for it.  Just moments before Chris and I handed Anna to our nurse to be taken away from us forever, I painfully lamented to him “This isn’t fair!” He tenderly looked at me and said, “Kate the most unfair thing that ever happened was Jesus dying on the cross for you and me.” Chris offered me such glorious, healing truth in that moment- though it took years for me to begin to be healed by it.  Chris and I were both “saved” and yet I had no idea what that really meant- Chris cherished our savior in a way I did not. 

Three years later, this truth made a reappearance and in surrendering to it, all my panic over life and death turned to peace.  Without the death of Jesus, there would be no good ending, no reunion, no victory for anyone. It was coming to not just believe but to cherish the sovereignty of God that pierced through the layers of my grief hardened heart, infiltrating every area of my life with light. We get so angry at God for not editing out the bad stuff, and yet, He wrote the darkest sentences ever scripted into His own story…sentences studded with the brutal death of His perfect, beloved son, all to rescue you and me.  You and I can rest no matter how excruciating the sentences get, because God is sovereign.

I know how my story ends. Redemption is the last and eternal leg of my life’s journey.  And all the pain, grief and darkness of this present age will disappear in the light of forever with Jesus, the beautiful, sovereign One.  Yes, He allowed my baby to die- but He also allowed His own baby to die so that all my earthly pain could be washed away in His beautiful blood.  This is a good story.  It’s filled with promise, with hope, because no matter how tough the sentences get, sovereignty spells triumph for the child for God.
This proclamation from Jesus says it better than I could ever dare to write:

” I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble, But take heart.  I have overcome the world!”  John 16:33

In the days that followed the near fatal accident, I pondered my life deeply. Am I living my life, my every moment the way I really want it to be lived?  Or am I trailing behind my circumstances, panting, as if they in fact own this ransomed soul?

I have one life to live.  Some days are good and some days are hard.  My scary moment with Elijah this summer opened my eyes to the beauty and joy I often miss because I am too focused on life and making it feel right instead of focusing on the giver of life, and letting Him make me right.


I want to say yes to Jesus.  I want to say yes to the hard and yes to being made right.  I want to say yes to joy and no to a hurried, frenzied, self centered, demanding existence.  I want to say yes to every moment of the day which bursts with the opportunity to extract more Jesus and more joy, simply by surrendering to His purposes for me.  I want to say thank you to the sovereign one- the one who took the nails for me, the one who rose to set me free, the one who held me as I held my lifeless baby- the one who gave Elijah another day, the one who cannot wait to see me at eternity’s door and to hand redemption into this eager’s mama’s arms. 

He is writing my story, weaving my sentences into the greater story of Him.  He is sovereign.  His story is good. I want to say yes to Jesus.


It’s been a long season and the running and panting continue.  I long for a deep sense of recovery, for a peace that circumstances cannot penetrate.  I long for a break from all the fretting and faltering, the hoping and striving, the faith-ing forward and the falling fearful that seem to accompany me everywhere.  I am in need of peace.  Do you know this feeling? The need for rest that eight hours of sleep and afternoon naps don’t touch?  A need for the kind of rest that unrelenting circumstances and unanswered prayers cannot subdue?  
I am a living paradox. One moment I am encouraging a friend over the phone, pronouncing the depth of God’s love and goodness for her.  The next I am phoning my sister in tears, in desperation for the pep talk I just gave.  I am in one moment effervescent with gratitude, and the next I am a grumbling mess.  I am enthralled by my three boys- grass stains and mini boxer briefs melting my heart and erecting a smile.  It’s a laundry room moment that is a museum of wonder and delight for me.  Do I really get to be their mama?  But how quickly this sunny experience is eclipsed by a dark pain and I am simply, tears streaming, heart aching, tutu skirt and leotard longing.

I can wrestle and rest in truth- attract and repel lies.  I can pronounce God’s goodness and shiver with fear in the shadows. Yes, I am a mess.  

As so often happens to me, my great mess leads to a great and holy clean up.  I have found my way back to rest.  I have rediscovered a path through the heavy and the hectic to the heart of God.  It was no discovery of my own- I can take no credit.  Rather, a holy initiation ensued and I found myself caught in the middle of it until I eventually began running in the right direction and found myself, literally, resting in the middle of a storm.  It all began six weeks ago when I received an email from my dear friend Karla sharing a dream she had about me.  The email read:
“There was an explosion in a barn and we ran together for a picnic shelter.  Once there I began reciting over you the first verse of Psalm 91:1.  ‘He who dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest in the shadow of the almighty.’”
Her words fell like a waterfall over dry, brittle me and some deep need within was stirred.

Later that day, I went to my mom’s to retrieve a book my grandmother said she had left there for me.  When I went to pick up the book, I caught my breath when I read the title; “Psalm 91.”  I grabbed the book and pulled it to my chest, heart racing from the irony (the providence) of what had just happened.  Psalm 91 twice in one day…. 
A few days later I sat on the floor lamenting my pain and frustration to Chris regarding my life- my thoughts and sadness over unanswered prayers.  He listened patiently and then after I had emptied the pot, he pulled me to my feet, hugged me and said patiently…tenderly, “Kate I need you to do me a favor, I need you to rest in God.” 

He had never packaged truth quite like this to me before and his plea for me to “rest in God” seemed to seep into every frenzied corner of my heart and mind.  Three times in one week, through three different sources Jesus was inviting me to the rest I so desperately needed.  I felt loved. I felt known. I felt gently pursued and I felt hopeful.  Deep processing began-

If I’m not experiencing rest, does this mean I’m not dwelling in Him?  Is believing in God not enough?  I am a Christian- I pray, I read my bible, I love, I proclaim trust, I serve.  Where is this promised rest?  Why am I not experiencing the peace which seems to be promised to me?  How do I dwell in God?

My friend Karla’s dream could not have been more accurate for my life circumstances and how I had been feeling.  Bombs had been going off all around me and I had just been pacing back and forth, shouting at heaven for rescue, pleading for circumstances to change instead of sprinting for the shelter of God.  I had been craving relief instead of peace, change without instead of change within, God’s action versus God’s love and results instead of relationship.     
Today I feel peace and not a single circumstance has changed in my life.  I am still a mess and life is still messy and I am still fighting through the stress. But, more than relief I want rest which I have been tenderly reminded can only come from dwelling in the shelter of the Most High.

How do you get there?
My words wear down the path all day long-
“Jesus I need you. Jesus protect me. Jesus guide me.  Jesus I’m a wreck. Jesus forgive me.  Jesus fill me.   Jesus be my answer. Jesus I believe.  Jesus you are good.  Jesus you have a plan.  Jesus thank you.”
In recognizing Him continually and in chanting His name, I am constantly opening the door into the dwelling place of God. And just like the beautiful promise of Psalm 91:1- rest does in fact follow the dwelling. 
Paul describes this same beautiful process in His letter to the Philippians-
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-8)
Peace comes as a result of living in Christ Jesus- rest comes as a result of dwelling in His shelter.
My dear mama- recognizing that her little girl was in need of rest, gave Chris and me a couple days away minus the little ones.  On our excursion I sat down with a book I have been eager to read and within the first few pages, rest was once again brought to my attention:
“Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
I smiled as I pondered rest once more- knowing God was determined to massage His truth, His promise, deeply into the recesses of my heart.  I meditated on this for a bit and then got ready to go for a jog.  About two blocks into my agenda, the sky darkened, lightening cracked and the sky began to fall- hard.  I knew there was a park up ahead and I remembered there was a gazebo there.  I ran as fast as I could and made it safely to the shelter.  I sat down frustrated that my plans had been abruptly taken from me.  But as I sat there, huddled in the center of the gazebo, storm raging all around, I looked up to realize that I had literally run to the shelter.  As I closed my eyes I sensed I was hidden under a much greater and unseen shelter. And with the eyes of my heart I suddenly saw a rainbow perched high in the sky above me. For the next 45 minutes I sat at His feet and rest was all that I knew.  Jesus was all that I wanted.
There have been seasons of my life when grief pounded harder than any storm I’ve ever seen and for this pain- there is a shelter, there is rest.  When guilt and remorse come pouring down and threaten me with depression and self-loathing- there is a shelter, there is rest.  When fear and worry rage and when even the step before me is unknown- there is a shelter, there is rest.  When the stress of work and kids and parenting and home schooling and laundry and a list of unreturned phone calls and emails stack up- there is a shelter, there is rest.  When friends call and write in pain, “My friend has just lost her baby, My marriage is suffocating me, my past is hunting me”- even then there is a shelter.  Even then, in the horrid restlessness of pain, there is rest.   
Who are you and what storm is wrecking havoc on your life?  Does the thought of deep peace sound like your last chance of survival?

Stand up. Stare your storm in the eye and run for the shelter. Call His name out as you go and dive into safety. Know that unseen eyes stare back at you- eyes that pierce through to the very core of who you are with the power to grip all that renders you weary. Yes, run to the Shelter and come home to rest.


Just Give Me Jesus!

When I hush the world, all of the sorrow and screaming scenes-

When I grow still within and shush myself, the fretting and the feeling-
When I push pause on everything around me, silence falls like a blanket and Just Give Me Jesus is all that I hear.

As I push play and resume living in myself, my home, my world, this is what I must clutch

Just give Me Jesus.

The last I wrote, I shared about all the pink, the pain and provision that surfaced in February- the dying and resurrection that always come when we grieve Anna.  The first of March I lurch forward desperate for Spring.  Today I am breathing in the fresh, fragrant air of April, young blossoms bursting with the promise of new life.  And I feel…very similar to my February self.
Bombs explode, buildings cave in, bodies break, hearts break, children drown and babies die every month of the year.  Spring does not eliminate excruciating sadness.
Just Give Me Jesus I scream from the inside out.
Just give me the One who can save us all from this infected world, save our souls from the chaos of sin, our bodies from the diagnosis of death.  And in my urgent pleading there is a sudden revelation, as if I have just figured something out, though I assure you the revelation has come a hundred, a thousand times before, and it is this:  
I already have it, the answer.  I already have the Him for which my heart screams.

Just give me Jesus…and He is here.
The slowing begins.  My breath stops running and begins walking. The smile creeps on. The sun rises and rays of truth splinter through dark thoughts and feelings.  And my feet- I feel them pounding hard on hard earth and suddenly this whole complicated world is just a map for which the answer can be poured out upon.  I feel joyfully urgent in the proclamation of a word, a name, an answer.
There are longings in my heart- deep ones, complicated ones yet to be satisfied.  Will they ever? I try my best to keep the longing buried. I cover it with heap after heap of all that I am grateful for.  But life happens, storms come, winds blow and the longing lays bare. These are the moments when all I can do is see it.  And then I feel it, this terrific ache that is too heavy to hold that needs to be placed somewhere strong.  So into His hands it goes once more. How many times I wonder, has He received my groaning, my weeping, dripping petitions to Him?
Just give Me Jesus.

Just give me the author of the best, truest story ever told.  The one that holds me like a pen and writes my life out, sentences layered with brokenness and wholeness.  Seasons go by and pages turn and the words just keep getting better even if they get worse because the author, He is Jesus.  
This afternoon I watched April showers and a lone bird, wind-blown and bouncing on the maple branch just outside my bedroom window.  Even under the melting world, she sang her tune.  We shared a moment and then off she flew. She was notes and wings and then she was soaring, flapping amidst falling sky. I took it all in.  I smiled.
Just Give Me Jesus.
Sing it with me?


Celebrating Anna

A few weeks ago so many of you prayed, comforted and loved our family during the eighth anniversary of Anna.  We celebrated and grieved her life, we exalted hope and we glorified Jesus as we sat in puddles at His feet, once again, immersed in divine love.

We explained to our three boys…are hearts are like these balloons, often deflated, and then, the breath of Jesus comes and we are full, emerging and rising higher and higher with hope, until one day, we will be laughing in His presence too.
I love our story…I love the nail scarred hands that wipe the tears, the peace that conquers pain, and the truth which always wrestles down deceit, commanding the enemy to flee. I love the hero of our story and I love that we the characters are called to simply abide in the shadow of His wings…the shadow of the Almighty.  This mama is desperate to toss out a few million ounces of the love and compassion I’ve received within the shadow- this place weeping, this haven of grace and regeneration. I pray that as I continue to share the mess of me and the might and mercy of God, that others in grief may be intrigued to join me in His shadow as well.
But for today,
I invite you into our sacred moments of celebration, our cherished hours devoted to Anna and the Father who holds us and binds us together in hope.  There are always roses, cupcakes, birthday books, and of course, pink balloons.  A special thank you to my dear friend Alicia who gave us these moments to hold in our fingers- Dear friend, I long for the day I will watch as you embrace your boys in heaven.  Thank you God that this day will come for all of us who grieve and hope in your name.

This is the way we honor Anna…

Today I stand in hope.  I stand in the assurance that all will be redeemed.  I lift my eyes from painful realities to peer into the face of Jesus, the one who gazes back with a love and tenderness that continually lifts me from the abyss of despair.  I love this God and I love His promises.  What if the last note my life played was hopelessness?  Thank you God that you have removed the sting of death.  Thank you God that this little one I long for will come running toward me, arms and joy spread wide. Thank you that by your grace I can tell the story, the one where you enter my darkness with your light and make all things new…again and again and again.

A new year has begun and I suppose my most earnest plea as I move forward is for the strength to remain in the shadow.  To do my living and breathing in the awareness of His presence just as I have grieved here.  And next year, when I once again trudge through the cold and dark of February, I will know… I am already home.

“He will cover you with His feathers.  He will shelter you with His wings.  His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”  Psalm 91:4